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Plan Ready, Indian Army Will Act At Right Time To Seize ‘Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir’: Former Indian General

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India on Saturday re-asserted its claim on the entire region Jammu and Kashmir including parts ‘occupied’ by Pakistan and said that the  Indian army is ready to take action when the right time comes.

Former Army Chief and current Union Minister, VK Singh, said that entire Kashmir belonged to India, including parts currently under the administration of Pakistan. This statement comes at the heels of increased tensions between the two neighbours over the Kashmir.

Singh, speaking at E-Agenda Aaj-Tak, was confident about India’s position in the global world and said that the international community would support India and not Pakistan on the Kashmir issue.

Singh also spoke about the image of PM Modi and the global influence he garners would benefit India. He also said that outsiders’ judgment on incidents in Kashmir are wrong since only the people on the ground can give a true account of the incidents, clearly referring to Handwara encounter in which Hizbul Mujahideen commander, Riyaz Naiku, was eliminated.

While no concrete plans of India’s future actions were given by the former military leader, he reassured that when the time comes, India will know what to do.

‘I will not tell you that we are going to do this, or we will do that or what we have to do. It will happen when the time comes. A plan is ready. The day we see an opportunity, action will be taken,’’ he concluded.

Apart from all the militant activities and counter-terrorism operations extensively reported by EurAsian Times, both India and Pakistan have also indulged in a proxy war using both military might as well as soft power to assert their dominance over the region.

On April 30, a seven-judge bench of the Supreme Court in Islamabad, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Gulzar Ahmed, had allowed Islamabad to organise general elections in Gilgit Baltistan and set up a caretaker government until the elections.

India claims the Gilgit Baltistan region as an integral part of India and strongly condemned the decision of the apex court of Pakistan. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) issued a demarche to protest what it called Pakistan’s attempt to make “material changes” to the disputed area, by bringing federal authority to Gilgit-Baltistan which has functioned as a “provincial autonomous region” since 2009.

“The Government of Pakistan or its judiciary has no locus standi on territories illegally and forcibly occupied by it. India completely rejects such actions and continued attempts to bring material changes in Pakistan occupied areas of the Indian territory of Jammu & Kashmir. Instead, Pakistan should immediately vacate all areas under its illegal occupation,” an MEA spokesperson said in a statement.

V.K. Singh also spoke on scheduled elections in Gilgit Baltistan and said that the Pakistan government is not able to manage the rest of the country and it is the army that decides what happens.

Earlier, as EurAsian Times reported, India retaliated with a subtle manoeuvre when the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) included regions of Gilgit-Baltistan and Muzaffarabad, territories currently under Pakistan controlled Kashmir in its daily weather bulletin. The IMD has now added this supplement in the Jammu and Kashmir meteorological subdivisions.

The Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson – Aisha Farooqi in a tweet stated –  Pakistan rejects Indian move for “inclusion” of Azad Jammu and Kashmir & Gilgit-Baltistan in Indian TV weather bulletin. This is another mischievous Indian action in support of a spurious claim and further evidence of India’s irresponsible behaviour.

Kashmir has become a hotbed for violence as both India and Pakistan hold each other responsible for the instability and brutality. Militancy has also seen an increase, with 36 militants neutralised by India and 20 armed personnel casualties since April 1. Regardless of the global coronavirus pandemic, New Delhi and Islamabad are not willing to relent on the Kashmir dispute.

Asia Pacific

US Could Recognize Tibet As An ‘Independent Country’ As US-China Tensions Escalate

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Does the US plan to recognize Tibet as an independent country? In a bid to increase pressure on China, a Congress member in the US has introduced a bill that aims to recognize Tibet as an independent country and challenge One China Policy.

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U.S. Congressman Scott Perry introduced a bill in the US Congress last week which directly challenges Chinese claims over Tibet. The bill, H.R. 6948, would authorise the U.S. President to recognise the Tibet Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China “as a separate, independent country, and for other purposes”. The bill was also referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Perry, a war veteran from Pennsylvania, has also introduced a similar bill for Hong Kong. For the bill to become law it has to pass the House and the Senate before it goes to the President for the seal of approval.

The introduction of the bill comes after earlier this month, the US Senate gave nod to a legislation to block Chinese firms from getting listed on the American stock exchanges. According to experts at EurAsian Times, these decisions come at the time when the US is looking to mount pressure of China for its mishandling of the virus and relentless bullying in Asia.

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Tibetans Welcome Move

The introduction of the bill has been enthusiastically welcomed by Tibetans everywhere. Many prominent Tibetans took to social media to applaud the move by Washington which has raised faint hopes of independence from Chinese occupation.

Tenzin Tsundue, a poet, writer, and Tibetan activist based in New Delhi shared his thoughts on his Facebook and welcomed the move and labelled the bill introduced Scott Perry as a good move.

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Another Tibetan writer and political activist, Tenzin Dorjee, also shared the news about the bill. New York-based Dorjee encouraged fellow Tibetans and supporters to write to Rep. Perry’s office to thank and praise him for this unprecedented initiative.

Many Uighurs, an ethnic Muslim group, have also welcomed the decision by Rep. Perry. China has been on the receiving end of condemnation from the international community for forcing ethnic Uighurs to be interned in concentration camps in Xinjiang.

Estimates suggest that 1-2 million Uighur Muslims from Kazakhstan and China have been detained in Chinese camps for ‘de-radicalization’ purposes.

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The Tibet Dispute

To understand the Tibetan dispute, one must go back a century. Tibet declared independence after the collapse of the Qing dynasty in 1912 and functioned as an independent protectorate until 1950.

The situation changed when communist China, under Mao Zedong, wrested control from Tibet a year after the Chinese civil war.

The Tibetans signed a 17 point agreement handing over its sovereignty to Beijing, the first time China ever exercised control over the region. The Chinese use the same document as proof of Chinese sovereignty over the pristine Himalayan region while the Tibetans claim that they were forced to sign the document.

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Currently, the region is administered by China as the Tibetan Autonomous Region. Tibetans accuse China of carrying out large scale human right violations as well as changing the ethnic makeup of the region by encouraging large scale migration of Chinese Han people.

Often referred to as the ‘roof of the world’, Tibet is strategically important to China. It allows Chinese access to India due to its proximity and can be used as an airbase at the time of crisis, such as in the present Sino-Indian conflict.

India got involved in the Tibet dispute after it offered refuge to Dalai Lama, the leader of the exiled Tibetan government, in Mcleoganj in 1959. Since then India has given shelter to many Tibetan refugees at odds with the Chinese government and this has led to an increase in Sino-Indian tensions.

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For the US, the issue of Tibet has come to life after decades. The CIA covertly supported indigenous Tibetan uprisings in the 1950s but this stopped after Richard Nixon came to power in 1971.

While it is unlikely that the US goes to war with China over Tibet, the latest bill can be used to deter Chinese expansionist ambitions in both Asia and the Pacific. China has made provocative moves in the South China Sea, Strait of Taiwan, Hong Kong and near the Line of Actual Control with India.

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Why Are Australia’s Most Critical Allies – The US & China Furious With Canberra?

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For Australia, tension and diplomatic squabble between the U.S and China can be no good. China is the biggest trading partner of Australia while the U.S. remains its closest ally since the World War II.  

The scuffle between the US and China leaves Australia in a difficult position. Secure friendship with Washington and face backlash from Beijing or strengthen ties with Beijing and risk decades-old alliance with Washington.

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Recently, the U.S-Australia relationship suffered a jolt when US secretary of state Mike Pompeo warned that Victoria’s Belt and Road agreement with China could see the US “simply disconnect” from Australia. He also said that such a deal could allow China to do ‘harm’ and threaten the Five-Eyes Partnership with Australia.

‘’We will not take any risks to our telecommunications infrastructure, any risk to the national security elements of what we need to do with our Five Eyes partners,” he said. The 56-year-old added that while he does not know the exact nature of the project, the US would simply separate if the deal has an adverse impact on the ability to protect telecommunications from private citizens, or security networks for defence and intelligence communities.

The southeastern state of Victoria remains the only state in the country which has signed a Belt and Road agreement with China. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has called the partnership important for Victorian jobs and remains confident that a good partnership between Australia and China is in everyone’s interest. The agreement fastracks China’s involvement in infrastructure projects in the state.

Australia-China Relations

For a developed country, the Australian economy is heavily dependent on China. Even though Canberra and Washington are allies when it comes to trade, China is the biggest market due to its geographical proximity and constant demand. Maintaining a balance between the two giants is risky and it recently proved why.

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Prime Minister Scott Morrisson and foreign minister Marise Payne are the reason behind the Chinese backlash Canberra has faced in recent weeks. Marise Payne took it upon herself to announce that Beijing and the World Health Organization are to blame for the spread of the coronavirus and issued the cry for an independent inquiry into the matter.

PM Morrison did try to rally support from the U.S. and the European Union but to no avail. To China, it appeared as an Australia vs China situation, wherein the former made no apparent attempt to discuss the proposed inquiry with the latter, but insisted that they must cooperate.

As expected, Beijing was furious with the developments with China’s ambassador to Australia warning of a possible boycott of Australian goods. The prophecy did come true as just weeks later Beijing blocked beef imports from four abattoirs, imposed new customs requirements on Australia’s iron ore and slapped a 40 per cent tariff on Australia’s barley exports. Although it gave some explanations for its decisions, Beijing’s exact reasons remain unclear.

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Canberra pulled the plug on the independent inquiry and rightly so considering the economic impact of a fallout with China. Instead, it later focussed on what it should have done in the first place and supported the European Unions’ call for an independent inquiry with oversight from WHO.

US-Australia Ties

From Australia’s perspective, the U.S. is still its strongest ally. But how much Canberra can rely on Washington remains to be seen. Unlike the former Presidents who have graced the White House, Trump has a different approach to international relations.

He remains uninterested in leading the world at the time of crisis and does not feel the need to assert his power and position over international agencies. Instead, he acts irrationally, puts the interest of American people above the world and threatens to end international treaties and obligations.

While Donald Trump did support Australia’s call for an independent inquiry, he did so only via twitter and did not re-assure its support to Canberra when it faced a backlash from Beijing.

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In the new global environment of mistrust and disorder, Australia will need to change the way it operates, writes Jonathan Pearlman. Pearlman is correct in his analysis and Canberra needs to hold its own and act without counting on support from the US.

Rather than being belligerent towards Beijing, Canberra should allow China an opportunity to act in good faith but still be wary of Chinese intentions.

With Beijing warning Australia of grave economic consequences if it does not distance itself from Washington in the ongoing US-China scuffle, Canberra needs to proceed with caution. Neither can it afford to contribute to increasing US-China tensions nor can it damage ties with Beijing.
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Asia Pacific

Aksai Chin Is No Doklam; Indian Army Will Pay ‘Heavy Price’ For Aggravating Border Dispute – Experts

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While India-China border conflict has worsened with Beijing deploying additional troops along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, it is no coincidence that India’s open boundary neighbour – Nepal has also been build up pressure against New Delhi at the same time.

Experts talking to EurAsian Times have been raising alarm bells over simultaneous timing of Indo-China’s military disputes together with India-Nepal’s border disputes that both picked pace in early May.

Background of the Conflicts

The conflict with China involves the undemarcated boundary between India and China, which is known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The boundary is so severely disputed that New Delhi claims it to be 3,488 km long while Beijing believes it to be around 2,000 km long.

The armed forces of both nations attempt to patrol the regions that they dominate with a differing point of views leading to border conflicts in regions like Ladakh and Sikkim.

Meanwhile, the dispute with Nepal falls at the tri-junction of India, Nepal and China. The issue ignited with Nepal when India inaugurated a new 80-kilometre long road to Kailash Mansarover in Tibet via the Lipulekh pass near the disputed region of Kalapani.

This led to mass-scale protests followed by many diplomatic and political actions undertaken by the otherwise friendly neighbours.

India-China Conflict

On the evening of May 5, it was reported that around 250 Chinese and Indian soldiers got engaged in a violent face-off which continued till the next day, leaving many soldiers injured from both sides.

“The issue was resolved locally by the morning of May 6,” the sources had confirmed. Pangong Tso Lake, a large part of which is claimed by China has witnessed similar incidents in 2017 and 2019 a well.

Just about three days later, on May 9, another face-off was witnessed between the soldiers of India and China near the Naku La sector, a pass at a height of more than 5,000 metres in North Sikkim. The scuffle involved around 150 soldiers left four Indian and seven Chinese soldiers injured.

Army sources had responded that “it should be noted that temporary and short duration face-offs along the Sikkim border occur as the boundary is not resolved. Troops resolve such issues mutually as per established protocols.”

While Beijing accused the Indian Army of trespassing into its territory, claiming that it was an “attempt to unilaterally change the status” of the LAC in Sikkim and Ladakh, New Delhi outrightly refuted any such claims and said the Chinese military was rather hindering normal patrolling of the Indian troops.

Many experts opined that such issues may continue to occur at the undemarcated borders and will be resolved as per protocol. However, the more recent Galwan valley standoff paints a contrasting picture.

It is reported that China has erected around 100 tents in the last two weeks and has even brought machines to construct bunkers, amidst a vehement objection by the Indian soldiers.

The aggressiveness of China can be noted in China’s Global Times, a newspaper under the control of Chinese Communist Party which goes on to say that “the Galwan Valley is not like Doklam because it is in the Aksai Chin region in southern Xinjiang of China, where the Chinese military has an advantage with advance infrastructure. So, if Delhi escalates the conflict, the Indian military could pay a heavy price.”

It was reported that China has been profoundly deploying more soldiers in the region. In response, the Indian Army has also been building up its military presence in Pangong Tso lake and Galwan Valley.

India-Nepal Conflict

On May 8, the Indian defence minister inaugurated a new road to Kailash Mansarover via the Lipulekh pass near the disputed region of Kalapani which reignited tensions between the two neighbouring countries that claim the region as a part of their nation.

On May 11, the Nepal Ministry of Foreign Affairs sharply objected and mentioned that “In light of this development (the road), the Government of Nepal called upon the Government of India to refrain from carrying out any activity inside the territory of Nepal.” The situation went as far that Nepal even threatened India to deploy its troops over the region.

Some 10 days later, Nepal launched a new map that included the disputed regions of Lipulekh, Limipiyhura and Kalapani as a part of their territory. India staunchly opposed the map even as New Delhi had also included the disputed territories in its own region since October 2019.

The spokesperson for the Indian Ministry of External Affairs — Anurag Srivastava said the map released by the Nepalese government is a unilateral action that is not based on any historical fact or evidence.

The China Factor in Nepal

Amidst the hurly-burly of the newly ignited Nepal’s concern, experts have found a China connection that finds its way deep into Nepal’s politics.

A PhD. in International relations student tells EurAsian Times that “The issue with Nepal could have been sorted well within our bilateral framework. But, the sudden change and approach of Nepal towards India, could not rule out China’s backing to Nepal’s government up against India. And also to the internal political power interplays within Nepal”

Generally, China’s position in Nepal has not been in question due to its external nature that does not interfere in the country’s politics “-a standard diplomatic stance.” However, “Over the past decade, mainly after the abolition of the monarchy in 2008, China began to increase its influence with regard to all political parties” believes Kamal Dev Bhattarai, a Kathmandu based Journalist.

The transition from Monarchy to a parliamentary republic with a multi-party system in 2008 changed Beijing’s stance with Kathmandu.

“In the past, one could notice China’s involvement in the development of infrastructure but not in soft areas. Of late, China has been penetrating in Nepali politics as well as in society,” says political analyst Chandra Dev Bhatta.

Since the controversial road that Nepal objects to is also the first road that provides connectivity to the Indian troops deployed on the Line of Actual Control with China in Uttarakhand, it is believed by defence experts including the Indian Chief of Army, that “Nepal may have raised the issue at someone else’s behest.”

China vs India: Speculations

While some critics believe that the global blame of Covid-19 pandemic on China and the stringent FDI policies put against China by India along with some supply chains moving out of China has triggered China to take up violent means on all frontlines, others rather think it to be unlikely.

“China has opened up the border in all three sectors — in Sikkim, Ladakh and via Nepal in Uttarakhand. Some reports said China was trying to build a road along the Amo Chu in Bhutanese territory. Clearly, the intention is to put India under pressure” writes a media expert on defence.

Also, since China’s is currently amidst ‘2 Sessions’, two-week annual meetings of the CPCC (Chinese People’s Political Consultative Process) and NPC (National People’s Congress), it has been seen that the general sensibility during this time tends to be on harsh and bold moves.

Review By: Vipasha Kaushal

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