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Five Reasons Why India-Nepal Border Dispute, Bilateral Ties Went From Bad To Worse?

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India-Nepal border dispute has diplomatically isolated New Delhi in its own backyard. EurAsian Times gets you an analysis of why India-Nepal border dispute deteriorated and has jeopardized strong and healthy cultural, social, linguistic and economic ties between two nations.

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Nepal and India have garnered a reputation for being “world’s closest neighbours” and are one of the few Asian nations that share open borders. It is no coincidence that while thousands of Nepal’s Gurkha soldiers serve in the Indian Army, the small nation’s army chief is an honorary general of the Indian Army.

Nowadays, both India and Nepal are embroiled in a bitter border dispute. As EurAsian Times had previously reported, the spat with Nepal picked pace in May when India inaugurated an 80 kilometres long road originating from Ghatiabgarh and terminating at Lipulekh Pass, a disputed region claimed both by India and Nepal.

Post the inauguration, hundreds of youths in different cities of Nepal began demonstrating against the alleged encroachment by India. The Nepal Ministry of Foreign Affairs also objected and a few weeks later Nepal came up with the new map officially including the disputed territories of Lipulekh, Limpiyadhura, Kalapani as Nepali territories.

Birat Anupam, a senior reporter at Nepal’s National News Agency puts forward five factors causing long-lived resentment from Nepalis towards the Indian state establishments.

1.    Blockades on Nepal by India

The senior reporter believes that the blockades that India had imposed in Nepal in 1975, 1989 and 2015 have caused mass-infuriation towards the Indian state. 

He writes that “Land-locked Nepal is sometimes called “India-locked” because it borders India to the east, west, and south,” while maintaining that New Delhi had taken advantage of its geographical position.

 

2.    Nepal’s Border issues with India

The border between India and Nepal, about 1800 kilometres long stands wide open with no deployment of Nepali or Indian troops. The senior reporter writes that India’s has strong border guards deployed to protect adjacent Indian borders who have been accused of encroaching into Nepali lands.

“There are countless instances where Nepali migrant workers returning from India are extorted by Indian border guards. These incidents also serve to foster anger against India in Nepal,” he writes.

 

3.    India has claimed Buddha’s birthplace

It is globally known that Lord Buddha was born in Lumbini which forms an important part of Nepal not only due to its cultural and spiritual value but also due to its touristic significance.

However, India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, during his address at the 74th session of United Nations General Assembly had rather said that India “ has given the world … Buddha’s message of peace”.

“This was widely criticized on social media platforms in Nepal, increasing anti-India sentiment among Nepalis,” writes Anupam. He also mentions that “some Indian films, books, and public figures say Buddha was born in India, generating strong public protests in Nepal.”

 

4.    India’s Big-Brother Behaviour towards Nepal

Nepal takes pride in being one of the oldest sovereign countries of South Asia even when other South Asian giants like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh were colonised, Nepal was free of the British clutches.

“However, many figures in Indian politics and media habitually call Nepal India’s “young brother.” Nepalis do not endorse the framing of India as Nepal’s “big” or “elder brother,” often used by veteran Indian politicians, intellectuals, and journalists,” emphasises the expert.

He criticises India’s narrative of being the big-brother due to the larger size and quotes Nepal’s Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli who stated that “Any country can be big or small in size or population … but nationality cannot be smaller or greater. All countries should get equal opportunity to exercise their sovereignty.”

5.    Unequal Diplomatic Agreements

India and Nepal share numerous diplomatic relations that includes several treaties and agreements. However, the reporter believes that the general masses of Nepal see these relations more largely beneficial to India than Nepal.

“For instances, the Gandaki, Koshi and Mahakali water agreements with India are heavily disliked by the majority of Nepalis. These agreements, they say, have given India the upper hand over the use and control of Nepal’s precious water resources,” writes the senior reporter.

Apart from the water agreements, the 1950 Peace and Friendship Treaty is highly unpopular in Nepal. Anupam says “there are strong civilian and independent intellectual voices calling to revise this treaty, which is seen as a formal diplomatic document putting Nepal under the Indian security umbrella,”

Originally Penned By Birat Anupam for Diplomat. Edited by: Vipasha Kaushal

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Ladakh Now, Kashmir Next: Why India-China War Is An Attractive Option For Many In India?

I now believe that a big event is needed for the resolution of the Kashmir issue, and the India-China war could be that big thing – J&K resident 

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As India-China border standoff continues in Ladakh, people living in the Kashmir Valley see war as an attractive option. Kashmiris living in Jammu and Kashmir are rejoicing at the prospect of a war between India and China and expect something positive from the border clashes.  

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Kashmiris have taken to social media to share computer-generated images sarcastically reminding India about its inability to halt Chinese aggression. The pictures shared in Kashmir are completely in contrast to the anti-China images being shared in other parts of India.

Images shared include Chinese President Xi Jinping wearing a traditional Kashmiri garb preparing a traditional wazwan meal while another image shows Xi’s face superimposed over a local bus driver who is calling out to commuters that the bus is headed to Ladakh – the place where Indian and Chinese troops clashed.

Apart from the trolling on social media platforms, Kashmiris are also discussing the possibility of Chinese military occupying the disputed region. “Ladakh Kheow Chenan (Ladakh has been taken over by China)” is the most discussed topic these days. During a demonstration on June 21 in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir’s largest city, protesters mocked the police by chanting “Cheen aya Cheen aya (China is coming)” slogans.

According to experts at EurAsian Times, discontent and gloom amongst Kashmiris have been on the rise since the abrogation of Article 370. The scrapping of Article 370 took away the special status enjoyed by the Kashmir and divided the state into two Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Most importantly, the abrogation of Article 370 by PM Narendra Modi led Indian government quashed the possibility of an independent Kashmir, a dream envisaged by many Kashmiris.

Following the historic decision, Kashmiris living in the union territory have complained about increased military presence, detention of people on arbitrary grounds and, lack of internet services and lockdowns.

Speaking to Nikkei Asian Review, Waqas Ahmad from Srinagar said that abrogation of Article 370 was the last nail in the coffin and it broke the back of every Kashmiri and the fear of settlement of outsiders seems a reality to all Kashmiris.

So far, the Indian government has granted 25,000 domicile certificates to non-locals which allows them to get a residency certificate for education, employment and buying land.

For Kashmiris, China Brings Hope

While Chinese aggression has been condemned by Indians across the length and breadth of the country, Kashmiris have endorsed China’s aggressive move. For them, the introduction of China spells ‘hope’.

Younis Ali, a political science student in Pulwama, explains the logic behind supporting the Chinese. He says that Kashmiris have tried everything to forward their cause including peaceful protests and militancy, but neither has yielded any results.

”I now believe that a big event is needed for the resolution of the Kashmir issue, and the India-China war could be that big thing,” Ali says.

Specialists on Kashmir also agree with what locals say. Gowhar Geelani, an experienced journalist Kashmir, says that people are of the view that a new geopolitical situation could be to their advantage in terms of ending the political uncertainty in Kashmir. He also noted that Pakistan’s weak economy and military “has also led some to pin their hopes on a stronger China.”

Michael Kugelman, a South Asia expert at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, explains that Kashmiri joy stems from seeing their oppressor bogged down by an emboldened, aspiring superpower that is a bitter rival of New Delhi and a close friend of Islamabad.

Speaking about human rights violation in the region, Ashok Swain a professor at Uppsala University in Sweden, says that Kashmiris are excited about the Ladakh clash because of the perception that China has become a party to the Kashmir conflict, after experiencing hopelessness and despair with “the near silence of the international community over serious human rights violation.

According to a report on the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir that covers the first six months of this year, at least 229 killings in different instances of violence have taken place in the region.

The report cites “extrajudicial executions of at least 32 civilians in J&K, besides killings of 143 militants and 54 armed forces personnel.” It was put out by the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, a prominent human rights group.

Swain adds that with the introduction of China into the Kashmir conflict, India has lost the military and diplomatic advantage it enjoyed over Pakistan.  China’s open opposition Article 370 as well as the strength it showed in the border clash have revived the hope of Kashmiris of an open alliance between Pakistan and China on the Kashmir issue.

At present, New Delhi and Beijing are looking for a peaceful solution to the conflict in Ladakh. Today PM Narendra Modi flew to Leh, Ladakh to take stock of the situation, boost the morale of troops and send a covert message to Beijing.

China was quick to announce its displeasure over Modi’s surprise visit to Ladakh and warned Indian from taking any action that may escalate the situation.

New Delhi and Beijing have been at each other’s throats since the first week of June. Both countries have engaged in the rapid military infrastructure development, troop buildup, air patrols, weapon deployment and even fistfights, which ended with casualties on both sides.

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EurAsian Region

China On Its Side, Pakistan Going All Out To Woo Russia; Counter India-US Alliance

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Pakistan Foreign Minister SM Qureshi in conversation with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov expressed Islamabad’s desire to have a long and multidimensional relationship with Moscow. Can the growing closeness between Pakistan and Russia change the political and diplomatic relationship between New Delhi and Moscow?

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The Russians are seeking the development of ties with Pakistan to limit the US influence in Asia,” wrote Farzad Bonesh, a researcher and analyst of international affairs. “But it should be noted that one of the most important goals of Russia’s foreign policy is to increase its international influence and advance its economic growth,” he added.

In recent years, the United States has had stronger ties with India than with Pakistan. With Washington’s strong stance against Islamabad’s inadequate response to the allegations of sheltering terrorists have led to weakened ties between the two nations.

“Pakistan is trying to use Russia to balance its foreign policies regarding India and the United States,” stated Bonesh. He further wrote that Pakistan is also trying to use its connections with Russia to gain advantages over the US by considering the regional and international confrontations and rivalries.

Russia and Pakistan plan to enhance their economic trade which was mere $800 million in 2018 but is expected to grow in the future. “So far, the two countries have been simplifying procedures and encouraging trade by establishing an intergovernmental commission on trade and economic cooperation,” observed Bonesh.

He further wrote that unlike the trade relations between Russia and India, which amount to $10 billion a year, the volume of trade is inconsistent with its real potential. “In fact, the current volume of trade between the two countries compared with the overall volume of Russia’s foreign trade is very small,” stated the author.

Till 2014, Russia had a policy of not supplying any weapons to Pakistan. According to the author, the continued cooperation between the US and India in a series of important agreements in the field of defence has resulted in Russia and Pakistan going forward with more defence cooperation and weapons trade.

Pakistan has shown support for Russia’s “intention to cooperate” with the Taliban. Bonesh believes that the security interests of Russia and Pakistan are also influenced by the security and political stability of Afghanistan.

“A significant number of ISIS forces moved to Syria from Russia’s Muslim republics and some of them have further moved from Syria into areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan”

The reason between the closeness between Russia and Pakistan can be due to “limiting the US’s influence”. However, the author believes that the cooperation and relations between Russia and Pakistan cannot create the conditions and basis for a strategic, lasting and interdependent alliance in the fields of security, politics and strategy, because, for Russia, India is still an important country in South Asia. Thus, Moscow is taking careful steps with Islamabad to continue having healthy relations with India.

He concluded with explaining Moscow’s concern that the expansion of its relations with Islamabad will force India to move closer to the United States. “India’s market is larger than Pakistan’s. The arms trade between India and Russia still has great potential, while the deals signed between Moscow and Islamabad so far have not been very important,” he concludes.

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Asia Pacific

Philippines ‘Almost Ending’ Defence Pact With The US Shows Chinese Threat & Influence: Experts

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The Philippines has applied brakes on its plan to end a critical defence pact with the US. When President Duterte suddenly announced to cancel the Philippines-United States Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) a move didn’t go well with the country’s defence establishment and Duterte was forced to suspend the unilateral decision.

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The Philippines-US VFA is a bilateral agreement which allows the US troops to visit the Philippines and conduct joint military exercises and operations in the region. The Philippine Senate ratified the VFA in 1999 but in February 2020, President Duterte announced the termination of the defence pact which allowed military and humanitarian cooperation between the two nations.

“No more [American] bases” in the Philippines, Duterte directed. “They have to start to talk to us because they have to go.” He also called on the U.S. to “correct” travel bans and sanctions imposed on his inner circle. 

After an announcement to terminate the agreement, the order comes into effect after 180 days which allows for a dialogue between the two nations. The US government refused to agree to President Duterte’s suggested “correction”.

Last week, a formal letter by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs indicated “political and other developments in the region” for suspension of the termination order previously announced by the President.

According to Richard Heydarian, an Asia-based academic, columnist and author, the first thing this change of heart highlights the Philippines’ growing anxieties over China’s strategic opportunism in the South China Sea during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has created a dangerous security vacuum in Asia. “China’s expansionism has been creeping as its rivals struggle to contain coronavirus outbreaks,” he added.

Filipino President has long been accused of being a Chinese puppet. This decision to terminate the VFA saw an internal pushback and was even challenged in the Supreme Court. Since the VFA had been ratified by the legislative upper house, the senators argued that its cancellation would require its agreement.

The People’s Liberation Army has been ramping up its military operations in the South China Sea which has threatened its South Asian neighbours. “China may have further spooked its neighbours when a source within its Army suggested that it may soon impose an Air Defense Identification Zone across disputed waters to monitor and even restrict international navigation and overflight,” observed Heydarian.

“The crucial thing that the reversal reflects is Duterte’s growing strategic maturity, namely his reluctant recognition of the importance of security assistance from the U.S,” said Heydarian. He further added that Duterte’s about-face reveals the U.S.’s enduring influence in a region where China’s rising assertiveness has alienated smaller powers.

The humanitarian assistance by the US was particularly seen during the 2013 Haiyan superstorm that hit the Philippines. It displaced more than 14 million people with over 6000 deaths. Thousands of American soldiers were deployed to assist communities across the central Philippines.

“Now that the pandemic is devastating, the Philippine economy and threatening both public health and humanitarian crisis, Duterte has opted to lean on long-standing allies such as the U.S,” said Heydarian.

He concluded with saying that this episode contradicts the long-running accusations that the Filipino leader is nothing but a Chinese puppet. “Duterte may say that he “loves” China, but even the proud populist had to recognize how he needs American military assistance more than ever,” he added.

Via: NAR

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