by Yogita Kadu

With the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, the aggression is increasing day by day, and India is asked to stop sitting on the fence and take a stand for Ukraine’s Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity. And we have responded in line with the UN Charter and its basic principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity, though, without falling into any camp – West or East. But, one observed fact is that when Ukraine’s territorial integrity is concerned, India is supposed to take the West’s side. But where had been the Western nations when India’s territorial integrity was threatened right under their noses?

In April 2022, US Congresswoman Ilhan Omar visited Pakistan-Occupied-Jammu and Kashmir. In October 2022, Donald Blome, the United States' representative to Pakistan, visited Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Blome repeatedly referred to PoK as AJK (Azad Jammu and Kashmir). China is making inroads into the territory and using this land to fulfil its ambitions.

Thousands of Chinese engineers and workers are deployed in PoK, for the implementation of China’s Belt and Road Initiative and specifically, CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor) which includes Gilgit-Baltistan, illegally occupied by Pakistan from 1947-1948.

Gilgit Baltistan is a part of the erstwhile princely state of Jammu and Kashmir which had acceded to the Indian Union on 26 October 1947. In November 1947, Pakistan illegally occupied it and later, through a controversial agreement in April 1948, the area was brought under the control of the Pakistan State, while the other part of PoK was allowed to maintain the fa├žade of an independent entity with the so-called name ‘Azad’ Jammu and Kashmir.

Also, in 1963, Pakistan illegally leased Shaksgam Valley, the Indian Territory in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK) to China in exchange for military and nuclear technology.

Aksai Chin was a long-ignored corner of the subcontinent, but the Chinese built a military road through it in the 1950s in order to connect Tibet with Xinjiang. The Indian discovery of the road and objection to the Chinese presence in the sector was one of the factors leading to sharp border clashes between the two countries in 1962. At the conclusion of the conflict, China retained control of about 14,700 square miles (38,000 square km) of territory in Aksai Chin. The area has remained a point of contention between the two countries since then.

The West knows all this, as well as the fact that since the 2020 Galwan incident, a stand-off has existed for 2 long years along the LAC, and still, the West has ignored this incident as just some border dispute between two nations. The disengagement has followed between the Indian Army and the Chinese PLA at Patrolling Point (PP) 15 in Gogra-Hot Springs, but India’s demand to restore the status quo prior to China’s transgressions in April 2020, has not yet been accepted. There is instead a creation of a buffer zone meaning that the points the Indian Army was able to patrol earlier, can no more be patrolled. This in simple language means a loss of territory. The West knows this but does not openly support India. There are no UN resolutions.

The West knows the deep cuts and thousand wounds, yet there is no discussion about India’s Territorial Integrity. The Indian Army fights infiltration along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir as well as frequent assertive intrusions across the Line of Actual Control, even as this article is written.

Notwithstanding India’s concerns, the United States in September 2022 provided USD 450 million F-16 sustainment package to Pakistan with no objection to the deal from the Senate. According to the US State Department, Pakistan’s F-16 program is an important part of a broader US-Pakistan bilateral relationship, and this proposed sale will sustain Pakistan’s capability to meet current and future counterterrorism threats. Well, terrorism thrives in Pakistan.

In October 2022, the global money laundering and financing watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) removed Pakistan from its list of countries under ‘increased monitoring’ after four years. Pakistan had been on the ‘grey list’ since 2018 because of ‘strategic counter-terrorist financing-related deficiencies’.

The West must realise that China and Pakistan’s policy towards India had always been based on ambiguity and deceit and that, not backing India militarily, will be an ineffective policy as regards Afghanistan, the region beyond Afghanistan, as well as the Indo-Pacific.

According to China, border disputes are very natural between two neighbours and economic cooperation should go along with the border settlement and resolution. This working solution was alright in the 1980s and 1990s, but now after the violent clashes in Galwan, and the recent military deployment across Pangong Tso, India will seek answers as to where the Indo-China relationship is heading.

Yes, agreed that every country works for its best interests first, including the US and Europe. But expecting India to then feel guilty about cheaper oil purchases in the market is way too much.

The evolution of the West’s relationship with India is gradually taking place but at a much slower pace. It is marked with suspicion. The United States in the past agreed to share nuclear technology with India, but only after fierce lobbying by rich and prominent Indian Americans.

Even when it comes to transfer of technologies and co-production, the West seems reluctant. The attitude of ‘defence corporations and defence industries need to survive, and hence there is a need to sustain wars around the world’ will bring no peace.

Way Forward

1. The West needs to increase its defence cooperation with India, and supply advanced arms and ammunition, in the face of vivid aggression.

2. The attitude of ‘Either you are with the US or against us’ should change. India has its own diplomatic strategic autonomy; India maintains that multilateralism is the way forward. India has bilateral as well as trilateral arrangements for defence and economic cooperation.

3. Europe and the US, Canada, Japan, and Australia must provide India with the transfer of technology and train Indian engineers to build Indian versions of modern tanks, HIMARS, Infantry mobility vehicles, infrared turrets, anti-tank weapons, stealth technologies and NASAMS to name a few.

4. Agreed that Pakistan is too nuclear to be avoided and that Pakistan should not lean on China for weapons, hence, the bitter pill of maintenance package and technical assistance was digested by India. But it would be in the best interest of the G7 countries to supply the best of the weaponry systems and military hardware to India instead of Pakistan, because Pakistan cannot be trusted when it comes to arming terrorist groups like JeM or TTP, or even supporting ISIS-K, a global threat.

5. India is a trusted partner - its growth reflects a positive growth without posing any economic threat, its rise reflects the continuity of culture and civilization, and in its security lies the security and stability of the South Asian region, the Indo-Pacific and beyond.

The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of IDN and IDN does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same