LIAM ROGERS WRITES — On June 30, 2020, the 14th corps. commander Lt-General Harinder Singh (of India) and South Xinjiang Military District chief Major General Lui Lin (of China) launched a third round of de-escalation meetings while The Indian Times reported that India will, among other things, be pushing for the “restoration of the status quo as it existed in mid-April.”
What is this all about? The Jammu and Kashmir Region has been the center of conflict since 1947, when the British pulled out of India and Pakistan with the Partition of India. Now, 73 years later, the region is still occupied by three of the largest nuclear powers in the world: China, India and Pakistan.
India initially claimed the land because of the Instrument of Accession to India, which was signed by the Maharaja Hari Singh, the last ruler of the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. Now India hopes to control the region in order to maintain power in the Indian Ocean as well as intercede in the partnership between China and Pakistan.
Given its geopolitical location, the region is highly desired by all three nations. Initially, Pakistan claimed it as sovereign territory due to the majority Islamic society. But when China annexed Aksai Chin, on the eastern side of Jammu and Kashmir in 1950, the Pakistani government found China to be a necessary ally to hold back India in the ongoing border war. Now, the two nations want to use the region as a part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), whereby China would have easier access to the Indian Ocean for trading and Pakistan would be able to retain Chinese military power.
Constant hostility between New Delhi and Islamabad forced the United Nations to permanently place peacekeepers on the border to supervise a ceasefire between the two nations. Since January 1949, the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) has been annually included in the UN’s regular budget.
Tensions between India and Pakistan still run high. In 2018, Indian Controlled Jammu and Kashmir witnessed India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi justify removal of the region’s autonomous special privileges under the guise of protection against Pakistani terrorist groups. As Modi stated at the “Howdy, Modi: Shared Dreams, Bright Futures” event in September of 2019, “India’s actions within its boundaries are causing discomfort to some people who are unable to manage their own country. These people have put their hatred of India at the center of their political agenda. These are people who want unrest. These are people who support terrorism and who nurture terrorism.”
Then on June 15, 2020, during the global pandemic, China’s springtime military exercises moved towards the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh. A clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers near the LAC resulted in a reported 20 Indian casualties. China has yet to report any casualties.
There has been little agreement between the Chinese and Indian governments as to who is at fault for these moves. A Chinese government spokesperson was quoted as saying the impasse was “entirely the responsibility of India.” For its part the Indian government believes that the Chinese crossed the LAC and took control over unoccupied land while soldiers were sent home due to COVID-19. Other sources have reported that China, Pakistan, and India have increased their presence in the Ladakh region.
This conflict began in 1947. Surely it can be resolved … perhaps even before the passing of another 70 plus years?