It is not surprising that in the wake of the Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar’s most recent visit to China, Beijing has hinted at its solution of choice to resolve the border dispute. India, this solution goes, can have the rest of Arunachal Pradesh and freeze the border at the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh and in the Central Sector, but will have to cede the Tawang Division containing the Tawang Monastry, which is at the very core of China’s Tibet problem. “The major reason the boundary question persists is that China’s reasonable requests have not been met,” says Dai Bingguo, the former Counselor in the Zhongnanhai and one of the latter day architects of China’s India policy. “If the Indian side takes care of China’s concerns on the eastern section of the border, the Chinese side will respond accordingly and address India’s concerns elsewhere.” http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/china-ready-to-cede-land-for-part-of-arunachal-pradesh/articleshow/57438182.cms.
So, what’s the problem with Dai’s solution? First of all it only exacerbates India’s strategic problems while robbing Delhi of the one serious leverage it does have — Tibet. With Tawang in Chinese custody, China will kill two birds with a single stone. It will position China permanently on this side of the Himalayan watershed and enable it to consolidate its military position on the plains. That strategic problem the Chinese PLA faces of credibly sustaining military actions on the Indian side of the LAC will be instantly gone. Beijing will then feel free to build up militarily on its own territory in the Tawang wedge with what horrific results for India’s security can only be imagined.
But let’s assume Dai’s solution is a mere negotiating gambit — the first move, what should India’s response be? Not jump on this wretched deal as the best Delhi can get, which I suspect is what Jaishankar will suggest to prime minister Narendra Modi. This counsel Modi should reject with extreme prejudice. A reasonable counter should skirt around the Tawang issue by promising measures to ensure the Tibetans in India don’t pose any security problems to China in the future, and to tie this up with Beijing getting Pakistan to vacate its occupation of Balawaristan (Gilgit-Baltistan and all of the Northern Areas). To sweeten this transaction, Delhi could offer to sign on to the CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) project.
Of course, this is “a bridge too far” for the Chinese to get to, let alone cross, and is generally unrealizable even with Beijing’s friendship with Islamabad that in Chinese words is “deeper than the sea, and higher than the mountains”, but that’s the whole idea. If China can forward a perfectly ridiculous, one-sided, solution of India ceding Tawang and tout it as reasonable, then why should Delhi quail at responding in kind with a nonsensical remedy with an equally straight face?
The larger strategic calculus is simple enough. Resolving the territorial squabble by other than legitimating the LAC as international border makes no sense, because now the Indian Army is fairly well entrenched at the eastern and the western ends, and however much the PLA may huff and it may puff, it cannot easily overcome the Indian military buildup in these regions. Should an Indian government at any time begin to think strategically for a change and shift the Indian armed forces’ operational focus north and east-wards, away from Pakistan, Delhi will have the monies to get 17 Corps going, raise two additional mountain offensive corps, and the wherewithal to conduct a remorseless kuttayuddha (covert war) in Tibet using Tibetan exiles in India, and to link up this effort with the activity of the radicalized Uyghur Muslim “splittists” gathering strength with the defeated Baghdadi’s ISIS guerillas now reportedly streaming back home, and intent on realizing a “river of blood” in Xinjiang — yea, per the old saw of the enemy of my enemy is my friend — then we can create a really bad situation for China at its western extremities. To obtain that condition, why not persist with the status quo?
Isn’t it time to rid the Maldives of the troublesome President Abdulla Yameen Gayoom? He is proving to be a major headache. When he visited Delhi in April 2016, he gave no indication of what he had up his sleeve. And, in any case, is Indian intelligence even in the neighbourhood so poor that the Modi govt had no inkling of Yameen’s long-lease of the Faafu Atoll to the Sauds? If there’s any strategic foresight anywhere in Delhi, it is time to show it in Male. Modi should immediately dispatch a naval flotilla with a MARCOS contingent to the Maldives and instruct the Indian High Commissioner there, Rajeev Shahare, to visit with Yameen and tell him to nix any draft-agreement leasing any Maldivan atoll to anybody except India, and definitely not to Saudi Arabia, the locus genesis of the Salafi-Wahabbi incubus infesting the Islamic regions, the rest of the world, and India’s Kerala. This may crimp Modi’s not fully baked strategy of cultivating Riyadh and the Gulf emirates, but Maldives in India’s backyard cannot be allowed under any circumstances to pass under Saudi and hence wahabbi-terrorist control.
Shahare should remind Yameen that just as the Indian Army’s airborne ops (Op Cactus) in 1988 summarily dealt with the mercenary coup d etat-ists headed by Abdulla Lutufi, and saved his relative the then beleaguered President Abdul Gayoom’s goose, a dose of pointed MARCOS attention may do him no good. Liberalizing the Maldives, forcibly if need be, is not a bad idea for Delhi to undertake. A government of the Maldives Democratic Party requires to be installed in Male with India’s trusted friend Mohammad Nasheed as President.
It is because India has not taken care to preserve and protect its national interest by periodic displays of good old “gunboat diplomacy” that it has suffered so many reverses in its maritime approaches. Time for Modi to correct this situation, for Abdulla Yameen to depart the Male shore, and to round up the salafists, including the locals, who have taken up the radical Islamist Cause. May be the Faafu Atoll can be turned into a Guantanamo -style hard prison for Islamic extremists.