Gilgit-Baltistan An Integral Part Of India
Pakistan has raked up the issue of Kashmir at the UN forum time and again. Last fortnight, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari raised the issue of Kashmir at the UN again when he said in his address to the General Assembly that Kashmir “remains a symbol of failures, rather than strength of the UN system.” Mr Zardari further said that his country’s principled position on territorial disputes remained a bedrock of its foreign policy and that resolution of the Kashmir issue could only be arrived in an environment of cooperation. What Mr Zardari or other Pakistani leaders do at international fora is a Pakistani ritual. If they stop doing it, fanatic Mullahs and Pakistani public, surcharged with doses of partisan and false history teaching, will not let them remain at the helm. Secondly, this is the only mantra to keep Pakistan united at the time of crisis. But our government does not seem to understand this true picture, and therefore, in his response, External Affairs Minister of India, SM Krishna made an oft-repeated, worn-out statement that Kashmir is an integral part of India, instead of exposing the misdemeanour and transgression of Pakistan. It is noteworthy that Indian Parliament adopted a resolution in 1994 which states that Jammu and Kashmir, which also includes Gilgit-Baltistan, is an integral part of India. When Pakistan raked up the issue of Kashmir referring to the UN resolution, why did the UPA government not raise the issue of Pak-China’s horrid nexus in Gilgit-Baltistan? Recently, Pakistan passed a bill by exerting pressure on Gilgit-Baltistan assembly that it should be made the fifth province of Pakistan. While, Pakistan raises the issue of Kashmir referring to the UN resolutions, India has not been able to muster enough courage to expose the conspiracy of Pakistan in Gilgit-Baltistan, which has already been declared a disputed area by the UN assembly. From strategical point of view, Gilgit-Baltistan is extremely important to India. Keeping in mind the internal and external challenges to our country, we should not overlook the activities going in this region. Furthermore, China is continuously tightening its grip over Gilgit-Baltistan stronger day by day. A large chunk of Aksai Chin is already in illegal occupation of China. Fifty years ago in 1962, India had to pay the price in the war against China because even then the Congress-led government had failed to preserve and sustain the tactical and strategical interests of the country. For last few years, China has been carrying out strategic encirclement of India–by establishing connectivity between Gwadar Port and Aksai Chin in Pakistan, and Tibet, by forming army posts in Myanmar, listening posts and army posts in Thailand’s Coco Island, connecting them with Hambantota in Sri Lanka. Despite all these ominous developments, our government is neither able to protest against these portentous advances, nor is it able to take a strategic lead over China in any area. Instead it is getting weak against China due to its myopic strategic vision.
So much for the great diplomacy of Mr. Krishna and the great bonhomie that he seemed to have created! Every time India gives Pakistan something big. To name a few, just recently India gave Pakistan the ‘most favoured nation’ status and gave easy of visa regime. And Pakistan President reciprocated this favour by raising the issue of Kashmir in the UN Assembly. In fact, Pakistan is still pursuing Kashmir in the UN simply out of desperation and to keep its population at home satisfied. The government of Pakistan knows that it has systematically destroyed all hopes of a permanent solution to the Kashmir problem by bringing in a third country–China–and doling out a part of the disputed territory to it. Against this backdrop, it is interesting to note that SM Krishna was in Pakistan recently, shaking hands with Hina Rabani Khar in the Cabinet-level talks for confidential building measures (CBMs). But given Pakistan’s statements in the UN on Kashmir issue that ‘umbraged’ him, will he now concede that all these CBMs are nothing but a mere eyewash and lip-service for the sake of formality. The ground reality is that all these CBMs are a waste of time and money. Therefore, the government should invest time and money to consolidate homeland security so that we are in a better position to defend ourselves from threats. For, India taking umbrage at Pakistan’s reference about Kashmir in the UN may just be blown away by the four winds without any effect to those concerned. Sixty years ago, since the time a misplaced high-mindedness of a country, with an obvious nudge from some foreign powers, rushed to the UN on Kashmir, it has failed to evoke any effective and positive response on the sovereignty issue. Military advice, to the contrary at the outset, might have been considered adventurous but rejected. “Principled stance”, “step by step bilateral approach” and such oft-repeated words would not reach an amicable solution. All that is necessary for India to do is to stand firm, make no significant concessions, and quietly watch Pakistan’s long slide into irrelevance, as it seeks ever more desperate ways to obtain that ever elusive “victory” over India.