British India included some of our neighbours. Burma was separated in early thirties. As we all know, in 1947 India was divided in to two nations, unfortunately on the basis of religion – Pakistan came into existence. East Pakistan was further declared as an independent sovereign state named Bangladesh, in 1971, after a long war (including a civil war like situation). In 1947 all princely states were left to choose either to merge with India or Pakistan or to remain independent. The then King of Jammu & Kashmir opted to merge with Indian Union but the same was not acceptable to Pakistan. We have fought four battles & in all where Pakistan was badly defeated. In 1971 the line of control were drawn between two countries as per the Simla agreement & it was further agreed to solve the border disputes through peaceful dialogue. Unfortunately Pakistan never respected the Simla agreement. Now Pakistan is involved in covert attacks as they know that they know that war is an impossibility. As tolerance is our hereditary character, Pakistan benefits from our inaction in tackling this terrorism.
India has some border disputes with China too. China refused to accept McMahon line as an international border. In the battle of 1962, India was badly defeated & a large part of our territory was captured. We even severed diplomatic relations with China. After a long gap the then PM, Rajiv Gandhi, Visited China & restored diplomatic relations. Although a number of bilateral discussions have taken place – the border problem remains un-resolved. It was agreed to develop commercial, cultural etc. relationship between the two countries. Accordingly India is a big business partner with China. But unless boundary problem is solved, we cannot remain in peace. China often crosses the LAC and has an expansionist policy. China claims Meghalaya as its part. In bilateral relation China is on the gainers side as balance of trade is in their favour.
Pakistan on the other side handed over north east part of POK to China which made it convenient to develop the Karakoram high way between Pakistan & China. Recently China has made an agreement with Pakistan to develop a seaport in Arabian Sea which will provide China direct access to Arabian sea. China has a clear policy to encircle India & accordingly they developed strategic relationship with even Srilanka & Nepal. In this scenario, Modi First visit as PM to China will have sufficient optics to gladden hearts in both sides of the Himalayas. Modi has had good chemistry with China since his tenure as the CM of Gujarat. It is to be seen how he mixes dialogue with jargon to solve the long outstanding border disputes & favourable balance of trade which is only possible if he can buy some space for Indian exports.
Bangladesh has also certain border disputes since its inception. In a historic move, Lok Sabha unanimously passed 100th constitutional amendment that ratifies the 1974 Land Boundary Agreement. It is expected that in Rajya Sabha too the Bill will go through. India in general is not very successful in resolving border disputes with neighbours. The LBA ratification is a major breakthrough because it suggests that we can also solve border disputes with other neighbours in coming years.
Pakistan & China should understand that peaceful borders are mutually beneficial.
By Dr Dinesh Mishra