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Monday, 19 October 2009

LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR (REALLY?!)

India seems to be going through a rough patch as far as its relations with two of its neighbouring countries is concerned. India’s relations with China and Pakistan are testimony to this. In this post of mine I shall be discussing some of the current Sino-Indian and Indo-Pak issues.

As if the perennial Kashmir border issue with Pakistan was not enough, now China has once again stirred up the Arunachal Pradesh border row. China claims that Arunachal Pradesh is a part of its territory. While on the other hand India has time and again said that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of it. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee made a very intelligent remark in this context. He said that the 13th October assembly elections in which 72 percent of Arunachal Pradesh’s citizens voted reinforces the fact that Arunachal Pradesh is very much a part of India.

The issue snowballed into its current size when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Arunachal Pradesh on October 3. This visit by Singh set threat bells ringing in China. Ever since tensions only seem to be spiraling between the two countries. Home Minister P. Chidambaram has clearly stated that Chinese workers can come to India only on employment visas and no more on business visas.

Yet another bone of contention between these two countries is Chinese President Hu Jintao’s statement regarding China’s decision to continue to support projects in the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK). To this the External Affairs Ministry responded via an official statement which declared that China shouldn’t help in the development of any activities in PoK as it is well aware of India’s concerns in this context.

The silver lining of this dark cloud is that Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao has expressed the desire to meet his Indian counterpart in the ASEAN Summit scheduled for the coming week.

Now I shall move on to our next neighbour i.e. Pakistan. Not long ago, it was all over the news that Pakistan had arrested seven men for involvement in 26/11 Mumbai blasts (excluding Hafiz Muhammad Saeed- the founder of Lashkar-e-Tayyeba and allegedly the mastermind behind the 26/11 attacks). This effort on part of Pakistan was appreciated both by India and USA. India was finally getting to see Pakistan make the right moves in the right direction. Though not much has come in on the proceedings of the seven men but Pakistan not charging Saeed with the 26/11 Mumbai attacks (citing no evidence against him as the reason) despite the fact that India has given Pakistan all the evidence against him hasn’t gone down well with the Indian security agencies.

Next is the ‘someday active, someday passive’ Balochistan issue. Pakistan has pulled India unnecessarily into this futile controversy. India is too busy trying to tame tensions and terrorism at its borders to be instigating terrorism anywhere else in the world.

All these issues put together in one frame give out a clear message that either India needs to brush up its diplomatic skills or pull up its socks and be on guard all the time.

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