Counter China on Tawang solution, and rid Maldives of Abdulla Yameen

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.”

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.

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
This entry was posted in Asian geopolitics, Central Asia, China, China military, Cyber & Space, Decision-making, Geopolitics, Great Power imperatives, guerilla warfare, India's China Policy, India's Pakistan Policy, India's strategic thinking and policy, Indian Air Force, Indian Army, Indian Navy, Indian Ocean, Maldives, MEA/foreign policy, Military/military advice, Pakistan, Pakistan military, SAARC, society, South Asia, Special Forces, Terrorism, Tibet. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Counter China on Tawang solution, and rid Maldives of Abdulla Yameen


    There is absolutely no question of India ceding any land, not even land on the tip of needle to China. Instead, China must withdraw its claim on Arunachal Pradesh and return Aksai Chin to India. That is the only solution. Otherwise we must exploit Uighur Separatists and Tibetans in India to start a holy Proxy War against Chinese Occupation of Xingiang and Tibet. China Has hurt India in plenty and now it’s payback time.
    We are ready !! Game On…

    • Socho says:

      Is that why you Indians treat north east Indians so shabbilly in Delhi? And you call them as part of India but treat people like coolie ?ok

  2. Socho says:

    You write ” 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””.
    Indian downfall is usually because Indians think of themselves too much clever by half when they are the most stupid people around _ not even realising who their enemies are or freinds ( very few friend for India btw ).
    This so called chaniykyan strategy everyone knows and those Uighur Muslims will rest satisfied with China only and not against India?

  3. Socho says:

    As an Indian i can say that ever since that MM Singh became unelected prime minister, the Indian government has been bootlicking Americans so much that today any PM who goes to America fist bribes Americans with billion dollars worth of contracts for junk American military hardware.
    That has been going on for decade now.
    Russia has no obligation to India if India can tolerate Americans finding Pakistani military build-up then why should russia deny friendship with Pakistan? 
     India has been traitor to Russia 
    Russia must not give s400 and 5th generation war planes to India.
    Besides Indians elites are salivating with prospect of bribe in pushing for junk American old f16 anyway.


  4. Socho says:

    Confucian scholars were filling the ranks of senior officialdom and remained hostile to commerce and foreign contacts. The Confucianists had little or no interest in seeing China develop into a great maritime trading power. The Confucianists saw internal trade as enough. The government ended its sponsorship

  5. Socho says:


    Indian anglophile class -especially indian english language media -is a race of Coolies and traitors.
    the same class of indians who are doing propaganda agasinty china today are the same people who forced rajiv gandhi in 1987 to make friendship with china(and recognise tibet as part of china) why-? because the usa had ben friend with china since 1984 and wanted india tobe friend too as opposed to russia.-therefore the indian parasite class foll=made the Indian foreign policy viz china not to suit india but to suit american interests-it is doing the same but in revere direction this time because their anglo-american masters want them to do so.the same indian elite class (for example the president of ranbaxy one MR. Singh,, chairman of FICCi at the time in 80s was vehemently opposing any defence increase or of of buying of defence equioments while asking for freidnship with china as desired by usa ain 80s). the same FICCi is making propaganda agasint DRDo and(with 6% of defence budget) and indian scintisits saying it has not kept the develpopmnet of innovations and kept the 50 yurs old mig 21 not in shape!.) These same indian traitors want india to buy 40 yrs old arms (like junk f16 and f-18) from america knowing fully well that it comes with a heavy conditions unlike almost condition free and better arms(new mig-35) from russia.-but then thse elites are agents of angnlo american interests -so no surprise here-it is high time that thse elites are killed or kicked out of india-these are allwais(iraqi traitor) of india.• Russia is already supplying India with the Sukhoi-30MKI, an advanced “fourth generation” warplane that consistently defeats its Western counterparts, such as the frontline US fighters, the F-15C and F-16. Versions of the Su-30 are also being sold to China, Venezuela, and Malaysia.

  6. &^%$#@! says:

    These are all the consequences of India opting to become a coolie vassal state. Sad, but true!

  7. MS says:

    Fresh take on old vexing issue. I have lost interest in pondering over arms purchases and wrong decisions in that regard-too frustrating an excercise but you could keep contributing in that area.

    What is fresh here, Mr Karnad! Could someone show the third para of this column to the PMO. And then the other paras telling the disaster that could be wreaked upon us, should we choose to ignore our strength and behave in a timid manner and shock the brave amongst us.

    We can’t see today into the future and China also does not think India can really soar high considering the sluggishness in decision making and implementation in India. So, we have to pass through by first rising up and do what you mention, and then by doing so, gain respect of Chinese. A strong India will help China by providing stability in Asia. Not here to comment but compliment you on a fresh and bold take.

  8. raja says:

    Kindly shed some light on efficient democracy characteristics.

  9. &^%$#@! says:

    Is this a joke? From
    on XVII Corps:, “The Armour regiments – named Tipu Sultan, Maharana Pratap and Aurangazeb – will be positioned in the eastern Ladakh region, where temperatures could plunge to -45 degree during winter.”.
    “Interestingly, Tipu Sultan, Maharana Pratap and Aurangzeb are the names of three tanks of a regiment the Indian Army has positioned about six to eight months ago in eastern Ladakh”

    Which Indian in his/her right senses would name an asset (be it a single tank or an armored regiment) after Aurangazeb. There was an Aurangazeb road in Delhi, now a tank/tank regiment depending upon who one wishes to believe.

  10. &^%$#@! says:

    Is this a joke? From
    on XVII Corps:, “The Armour regiments – named Tipu Sultan, Maharana Pratap and Aurangazeb – will be positioned in the eastern Ladakh region, where temperatures could plunge to -45 degree during winter.”.

    • Socho says:

      Not only that.
      Stupid Indians have encourAged the khalistani type separatists by putting all songs in the capital city of Delhi in pinjabi-A vulgar language derived from Piscachi !
      As if only Punjabi are to be catered in the capital city and as if they are not supposed to understand Hindi or English!
      We Indians are our own enemy.

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