Monday, March 05, 2012

Lease Of Gilgit-Baltistan: Silence of Congress government intriguing

Northern Frontier Under Threat  


JAMMU, Mar 3: It was some 15 days ago that a disturbing report appeared in a section of print media about the lease of the strategic Gilgit-Baltistan region to China by Pakistan. Gilgit-Baltistan was part of the princely State of Jammu and Kashmir as it existed on August 15, 1947, when the British quit India after dividing her or after creating out of it Muslim Pakistan. Pakistan occupied Gilgit-Baltistan and other areas of the state (read PoK) after rape, murder and pillage not because Pakistan was powerful enough to grab the Indian territories but because of the follies of the Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. Nehru had ordered a strict ceasefire at a time when the Indian Army was about to evict the invaders. Nehru did it to please Sheikh Abdullah. It is all history.

It was in February 1994 that the Congress government at the centre under Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao took the Indian Parliament into confidence and adopted a resolution on PoK, Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan and the low-intensity proxy war Islamabad had unleashed in the late 1980s to bleed India with a thousand-cut and grab the Indian Jammu and Kashmir. It was a historic resolution in the sense that it was supported by all the political parties. The resolution required the Government of India to capture the areas Pakistan had illegally occupied after loot, plunder and murder and merge the same with Jammu and Kashmir/India.

It was hoped that the Government of India would give effect to the resolution and capture PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan, but nothing of this sort happened. In fact, the attitude of New Delhi towards these Indian territories underwent a change after the demise of Narasimha Rao. It forgot the resolution. However, it was with the rise of Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister that things turned extremely dangerous for India. He adopted a policy towards Pakistan and Kashmir which was not based on the country's paramount interests or his government adopted a policy which was not based on the country's geo-political interests. The result was that Pakistan and its agents in Kashmir got highly emboldened. Everyone is aware of the grave evils that followed after the adoption of new foreign policy by Manmohan Singh.

Did New Delhi under Manmohan Singh react to the report about the lease of Gilgit-Baltistan to China by Pakistan, China which has been quite active in these areas for many years now constructing military roads and doing other things all calculated to weaken the Indian influence along the very crucial northern frontier? It did not react despite the fact that the Pakistani move was ill-motivated.
Panun Kashmir, a frontline organisation of displaced Kashmiri Hinfus, was the first to take the initiative yesterday by holding a press conference on the issue. Expressing grave concern over this development, Panun Kashmir leaders, including Ajay Chrungoo, said that the "reported lease (of Gilgit-Baltistan) is a severe blow which Pakistan and China have administered to India. It is more so because the Government of India seems to be frantically seeking a peace and improvement of relations with Pakistan, including the settlement of the so-called dispute of Jammu and Kashmir at this juncture". "It is highly disturbing that the reported lease of the region of Gilgit-Baltistan to China by Pakistan has not evoked the concern and attention that it should have from the Government of India," they said, and added that the "unconcern and unimportance demonstrated by the Government of India to this development seems to emanate from the traditional policy of the Government of India of leaving the crucial features of the frontiers of India in the north unclaimed and undefended".

The concerned and perturbed Panun Kashmir leaders hit the nail on the head when they stated that "at a time when Pakistani military establishment and the Jihadi war machinery is relentlessly trying to seek a withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan at its terms and conditions, the increased collaboration of Pakistan and China in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir and Northern Areas of the state only reveal that Indian pursuit of peace with Pakistan is one-sided and almost bordering on humiliation". "The Government of India has never chosen to wake up to the reality that Pakistan has always sought simultaneously to create a Pak- American alliance, along with a Pak-Chinese Axis along the northern frontiers of Jammu and Kashmir mainly to acquire control of Himalayas to contain the role of India in determining the future Asian balance of power and confine Indian military presence to merely Shivalik plains situated east of the river Ravi," they also bemoaned.
They were absolutely right when they said that the "Government of India's almost silence on the reported lease of Gilgit-Baltistan to China and the contours of its policy to settle the issue of Jammu and Kashmir only reflects a suicidal inclination of the Government of India of accepting the division of the northern frontiers of Indian nation as a basis for a future cooperation between India and Pakistan", and added that "it is shocking that the Government of India is not showing even a semblance of resistance to the strategic and diplomatic offensive of Pakistan and has, instead, been allowing Pakistan to lay down terms and conditions in all areas and aspects concerning Jammu and Kashmir".

Will the Congress government at the centre realise the gravity of the situation and act in the best interest of India? It must refashion its policy towards Pakistan and China; "reclaim the Gilgit-Baltistan region and the Dardic dependencies", which are legitimately Indian; and "withdraw from the so-called peace process" with Pakistan. It is also time for the main opposition BJP to take on the Congress government and expose the weaknesses of its foreign policy. The opposition, like the Congress, is equally responsible for what the damage Pakistan and China have been causing to the Indian sovereign interests.

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