CHENNAI, India, 28 February 2021
The sudden peace moves between India and China/Pakistan have caused surprise to people both in India and Pakistan, and perhaps even in other countries. Of course, people in China may not even know about these developments, as they receive news only from state-controlled media.
Certainly, peace-loving people in India and Pakistan and even in China would have been pleased to know about the peace initiatives, as they have all along been thinking that confrontation and tension between these countries have been counter productive, forcing them, particularly Pakistan and India, to spend their scarce resources in procuring military equipment and having clashes across the border from time to time. Compared to India and Pakistan, China has a much stronger economy and spending power, and it can afford to divert resources to conduct military operations, unlike India and Pakistan.
It is very well known that Pakistan, which is an Islamic country, has a number of Islamic extremists, who demand that the Islam religion alone should exist in the world. It is believed that many Islamic extremists in Pakistan have a long arm and have close links with Islamic terrorist groups in the world. Of late, even the government of Pakistan has admitted this fact but could do nothing about it, and Pakistan itself has been a victim of Islamic terrorist attacks in the past. Unfortunately, the politics in Pakistan is mixed with religious fanaticism, high level of corruption amongst the politicians, and military having excessive control over the government.
In such conditions, the Pakistan economy has been shattered with a debt burden reaching alarming proportions. In such a confused scenario, China has gained a vice-like grip over Pakistan through the years, and many people now even suspect that Pakistan has become virtually “an extended territory of China”.
Certainly, the Pakistan government — which has been highlighting the Kashmir issue and making it look like a justifiable reason for its conflicts with India — cannot make any peace moves with India without approval from China.
One cannot be blamed if one would doubt whether Pakistan’s peace moves with India are genuine and will stand the test of time. It is difficult to believe that overnight Pakistan has shed its animosity towards India and has reconciled itself to the present situation, where part of Kashmir belongs to Indian territory.
China has a totalitarian regime with so-called communist governance. Obviously China has unconcealed ambition and greed to become the superpower in the world. Today, expanding its territory and becoming a dominant player in the global trade seems to be China’s only objective. As part of its territorial expansion plan, China forcibly occupied Tibet, a peaceful region with religious-minded people, several decades back. The atrocities committed by China in Tibet are condemned around the world by many people, but China would not care. China is claiming Indian territory and also has territorial disputes with several countries such as Japan, Philippines, and Vietnam. China says that it would occupy Taiwan forcibly any time that it would choose. With the least care for world opinion, China is suppressing the freedom movement in Hong Kong and is reported to be oppressing Uyghurs living in China.
In such conditions, peace moves by China with India not only cause surprise but suspicion about China’s ulterior motives.
Many political researchers are now debating what could be the reason for China/Pakistan initiating peace moves with India, even without any evidence of Pakistan shedding its claim on part of Kashmir and China still occupying large area of Indian territory and further demanding that Arunachal Pradesh, an Indian province, belongs to China.
Certainly, Pakistan in today’s conditions cannot have friendly relations with India, which would be severely opposed by Islamic extremists in Pakistan. Obviously, Pakistan could be forced by China to create an impression of its interest in initiating peace moves with India. It cannot be mere coincidence that China, an ally of Pakistan, is now talking about having peaceful relation with India.
Launching peace initiatives with little evidence of change in policy and approach with regard to disputes with India raises more suspicion than hope.
Perhaps China wants to create an impression around the world that it would stand for peace as its objective. Perhaps this is a ploy by China to gain acceptance in the world about its ‘superpower status’. If China really want to improve its global image as a responsible country, it has to admit that it has occupied Tibet unjustifiably and should restore independence to Tibet. Similarly, if Pakistan too wants to change its image as a terrorist-ridden country, it has to show proof that extremists will not have the last say in Pakistan.
As of now, prevalence of immediate peace between India and China/Pakistan appears to be a utopian expectation and nothing more than a mirage. While the present scenario is a subject of great interest to observers around the world, this could end up as a matter of mere sensation after some time.
About the author
NS Venkataraman is a chemical engineer as well as social activist in Chennai, India. He is the founder trustee of Nandini Voice for the Deprived, a Chennai-based not-for-profit organisation serving the cause of the deprived and down-trodden, and working for probity in public life.
More articles by NS Venkataraman on Tibet Sun.