M Fazal Elahi
India’s belligerent attitude and hegemonic tendencies has, as usual, motivated it to flex its muscles against one of its neighbours once again. But this time it has picked up a row with a gigantic and very powerful neighbor-China. Since the past month or so the Indian troops have been engaged in infiltrating the Chinese territory of Doklam with ulterior motives and instigating the Chinese forces to retaliate. In the wake of India’s continuous trespassing of the Chinese territory of Doklam and challenging the patience of the Chinese forces, the Chinese defense ministry lately issued a stern warning to India and reiterated its call for immediate withdrawal of Indian troops from the Doklam plateau. The Chinese defense ministry said that Beijing will determinedly safeguard the territorial sovereignty and security interests of the country. The Chinese defense ministry spokesperson Ren Guoqiang further said that “no country should underestimate the Chinese forces’ confidence and capability to safeguard peace and their resolve and willpower to defend national sovereignty, security and development interests”. The Chinese foreign ministry spokesman emphasized that the border in Sikkim had been settled in an 1890 agreement with the British, and that India’s violation of this was “very serious”. Indian Security analyst Jaideep Saikia told the BBC that Beijing had, for a while now, been trying to deal directly with Thimphu, which is Delhi’s closest ally in South Asia. “By raising the issue of Bhutan’s sovereignty, they are trying to force Thimphu to turn to Beijing the way Nepal has,” he said. Claims and counter-claims, allegations and counter-allegations by both sides may or may not be so important, but what is very important is for both sides to appreciate the gravity of the situation and try and resolve the gruesome issue amicably. If India continues to be adamant and does not respond positively to the Chinese demand for instant withdrawal of its troops from Doklam, it must be prepared to face the consequences that would be dreadful and could have devastating impact not only on India but also other countries of the region. One may recall that the region saw clashes between China and India in 1967. However, the latest development that has cropped up between the two Asian giants appears to be one of the most serious escalations in recent years. One only hopes India would act rationally, withdraw its troops from Doklam forthwith, and save not only itself but the entire region from an impending catastrophe.
M Fazal Elahi