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Akhila asked: Are Chinese intrusions and Pakistan’s ceasefire violations case of India’s foreign policy failure?

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  • S.D. Muni replies: Chinese incursions and Pakistani ceasefire violations against India are the result of a difficult and adversarial neighbourhood. To the extent that India has not been able to make this neighbourhood friendly and resolve the disputes involved, it may be treated as a failure of policy on India's part. But in international relations, you need two to tango. You need two hands to clap or shake hands. Pakistan from its very birth has built its identity and nationalism on a perception of hostility towards India. Without this perception, the army in Pakistan could not have remained in power for such long durations. It is not just a coincidence that ceasefire violations on the Line of Control (LoC) take place whenever a civilian government starts talking about peace and normalisation of relations with India. While India has had its shortcomings in dealing with neighbours in general and Pakistan in particular, the roots of India-Pakistan problem lie within Pakistan's army dominated polity.

    The Chinese incursions could be seen as an effort on the part of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) towards strengthening its claims and bargaining position on an undefined border and vague Line of Actual Control (LAC). Perhaps, this is their move to get prepared to negotiate the border from a position of strength in view of China's phenomenal economic growth and unprecedented military modernisation. But China is also passing through an internal civil-military imbalance where PLA has become more assertive and politically ambitious. This is reflected in China's territorial nationalism, not only in relations to India but also other neighbours like Japan, Philippines, Vietnam, and in the South China Sea region. The new Chinese leadership under Xi Jinping is trying to control the PLA's excessive enthusiasm. Let us hope that China in its transition to a great Asian power remains sober and peaceful.