Doklam Double standard

When China began to construct a road near Doklam, India raised objections.
Doklam Double standard
File Photo

When China began to construct a road near Doklam, India raised objections. The troops stationed close by stopped the Chinese from making a road so close to what is known as the Chicken Neck area. This slice of a territory connects the main land India with the North-East of India. The fear on the Indian side was that if the Chicken Neck came under the eye of the Chinese dragon, it is only a matter of time that the dragon fires away the neck to let the seven contiguous sister states of North-East to come under the sway of its fierce tail. On the Chinese side the sovereignty over Doklam is a matter of fact. They claim that the shepherds in the area pay taxes to the Chinese authorities. The Indians believe that they are not Chinese authorities but Tibetan authorities, and the matter moves beyond Doklam to Tibet, as well as into Ladakh and Bhutan, and eventually brings in the whole Line of Actual Control from Arunachal to the Lake in Ladakh. Even summoning memories of old colonial treaties, and the 'treachery' of the Lama, stationed in Shimla.

Diplomacy wins the day

As the troops on both sides remained face to face for over two months, diplomacy was in progress. As the date of    BRICS summit in China came close, the news is heard that the face-off is practically over. The Indian side claims that the Chinese troops have withdrawn. And the Chinese side claims that the Indian troops have recognised Chinese sovereignty and returned to the Indian side. The media celebrates victory on both sides. Critically, for India the good news is that the bull dozers have stopped work on the road. All this is heard from the official circles and foreign affairs ministries of both sides. It will take some time for the true news to trickle in, and find out who has actually bowed out, and who has won the day in the standoff which threatened to bring the two countries close to a war.

Double Stand 'ish' Diplomacy

Why it is that diplomacy was used to resolve the issue at Doklam? Is it because China is a much superior power and could not be arm twisted into following the dictates of Delhi? Or is it because Doklam is so close to the mainland Hindu heartland and main vote back of the BJP, that a confrontation and the subsequent situation would be expensive? After all just some time ago Nepal was forced to see an economic boycott, and compelled to follow what was ordered by New Delhi. The same could not be used at Doklam. For instead of puny Nepalese the thing looking into the eye was the fire-spewing dragon, who was reminding Delhi of the sour memories of 1962.

Diplomacy has been put on the back-burner in Kashmir. One wonders why diplomacy is not deployed with Pakistan to, if not resolve, but at least put Kashmir in a peaceful environment. Even if Pakistan is ignored, what prevents New Delhi to work diplomatically with the people of Jammu and Kashmir, and seek some peace for the war-ravaged people? That diplomacy is not an option in Kashmir, smacks of something deeply sinister in Delhi towards the Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir. If Ajit Doval can visit Beijing twice to find a way out of the rising tensions between India and China, what prevents him to reach out to the people, officially declared to be integral citizens of India? Has it been officially, internally understood that diplomacy cannot work in Kashmir, and the only way left is incremental militarisation to bend the people to the will of New Delhi? This is what appears to be the understood position.

The state of Jammu and Kashmir does not have a dragon to back it up. With the result diplomacy is not the preferred method. It does not have a permanent seat in the Security Council, nor a fearsome standing army which performs drills in Srinagar to cast awe on Delhi. Hence no need to argue, convince or persuade. The belief is that the opening of communication with the people in J&K will send the signal of being soft to the rest of India, where it will not perhaps sell in terms of votes. And the reigning currency of the time is being hard on anti-nationalists. The harder you are on "anti-nationalists" the greater your chances of winning the soft corner among the electorate. The "surgical strikes" were tom tommed to convey exactly that hard image, and the determination to cut the neck of negotiations.

The Last Nail of 35 A

With the central government's refusal to support the state government on the issue of 35A, it is clear that the last thing on the mind of Delhi is diplomacy as a means to heal the wounds in Kashmir. On the contrary, the aim is rake up old ashes, open new wounds and try to win through courts what was lost in negotiations or through militarism. The petitions in courts with an open backing from the government are useful devices to fulfil a narrower dream of even narrower minds. In an atmosphere where even courts seem to reflect the pernicious underbelly of the majoritarian India, it does not look impossible that the route of judiciary will not pay for those who have closed the door of diplomacy and negotiations. But what will it achieve in the end? A feeble peace, which will temporarily satisfy the jingoists, but one which will long for a durable diplomatically-achieved peace and stability, to the contentment of both parties.

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