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India's Relations with Neighboring countries

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India and its Neighbours/159

CHAPTER 15

INDIA AND ITS NEIGHBOURS

India is a vast country with Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and Bangladesh sharing its land frontiers and Sri Lanka and Maldives touching its maritime borders. Besides these seven countries, Afghanistan is also Indias neighbour due to its physical proximity with India. Indias relationship with all its neighbours has not been the same. Sometimes there have been differences and problems with them. Our bilateral relationships besides being guided by historical, cultural and developmental factors have also been influenced by international politics. It is necessary for us to know about Indias relations with its neighbours. India-Pakistan Relations Pakistan is the outcome of the partition of British India at the time of Independence. M.A. Jinnah, who is regarded as the father of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, propounded a two-nation theory. He declared that

Hindus and Muslims were two separate nations and that Muslims should get a separate country. Contrary to this, Mahatma Gandhi, the father of our nation, believed in a secular India, a home of all religions and cultures. But eventually India was divided into two countries, India and Pakistan. India followed the secular path whereas Pakistan opted for a theocratic state. Pakistan has been an important factor in Indias foreign policy. Indias relationship with Pakistan has also influenced Indias relationship with other countries to a certain extent. India has always sought peaceful, cordial and friendly relations with Pakistan. But Pakistan has yet to respond to Indias friendly gestures and help establish healthy neighbourly relations. This is possible only when Pakistan stops cross-border terrorism, a kind of undeclared war against India. The issue of Kashmir remains the root cause of tension between the two countries. Pakistan claims the territory of Jammu and Kashmir on

160/Social Science: Part II

Sketch map : Indias neighbouring countries

the basis of its two-nation theory which collapsed long before in 1971 with the creation of Bangladesh. But, for India, Jammu and Kashmir being its integral part, is a crucial factor for the maintenance of its secular personality.

The Kashmir Problem Under Indian Independence Act 1947, Jammu and Kashmir was one of the princely states which was given the right to join either India or Pakistan or to remain independent. The state was a model of communal

INDIAS NEIGHBOURING COUNTRIES AT A GLANCE Population Length of (Millions) Borders with India 1068.6 149.1 3310 30 Oct 1947 Radcliff Line 1946, demarcates India-Pakistan boundary. Mac Mahon Line 1914, demarcates India-China boundary. 30 Oct 1945 Land Frontier: 15200 km Coastal line: 6100 km Date of Admission to UNO Remark

Country

Capital

Area (Sq. Km)

India

New Delhi

3287263

Pakistan

Islamabad

796095

China

Beijing (Peking) 25.2 0.9 49.5 146.7 4096 17 Sept 1974 1458 19 Apr 1948 587 21 Sept 1971 1752 14 Dec 1955

9561000

1288.7

3917

24 Oct 1945

Nepal 46500

Kathmandu

147181

Bhutan

Thimphu

Myanmar

Yangon (Rangoon)

676533

Bangladesh Dhaka

148393

Radcliff Line 1946, demarcates India Bangladesh boundary. about 80 km away from Indias mainland in Indian Ocean.

Sri Lanka 298 0.3 -

Colombo

65610

19.3

-

14 Dec 1955 21 Sept 1965

India and its Neighbours/161

Maldives

Male

about 450 kms away from the Indian mainland in Indian Ocean. It consists of over 1200 small coral islands (199 inhabited) in the Indian Ocean. Until 1969, it was called the Maldive Islands. 80 19 Nov 1946 borders Pakistan occupied Kashmir side of Indias land.

Afghanistan Kabul

647497

28.7

162/Social Science: Part II

harmony where Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus lived together in peace. The roots of the problem go back to 1947 when Pakistan-backed tribesmen invaded the then princely state of Kashmir. This prompted Maharaja Hari Singh, the ruler of Kashmir to sign an agreement on 26 October 1947 to join the Indian Union and Kashmir became an integral part of India. Indian forces were rushed to Jammu and Kashmir. India also took the matter to the UN and charged Pakistan with an act of aggression against India. The UN arranged a cease-fire on 1 January 1949. Despite Indias insistence on the vacation of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), Pakistan did not vacate it. The popularly elected Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir once again made it clear that Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of India. Pakistan was frustrated in its venture to capture Jammu and Kashmir with the help of tribesmen. In subsequent years, Pakistan adopted different tactics from time to time. These included Pakistans decision to join the western military alliances, transfer of a portion of Pakistan occupied Indian territory to China, open aggression against India, export of cross-border terrorism and intrusions in the Jammu and Kashmir area. After the India-China war of 1962, Pakistan moved closer to China. In 1963, Pakistan handed over a large

portion of land to China from its illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir territory. The illegal transfer of Indian land to China and the China-Pakistan collusion against India further deteriorated IndiaPakistan relations. Chinese support and the US arms supply to Pakistan prompted it to declare a war against India in 1965, with the sole objective of conquering the whole of Jammu and Kashmir. But Pakistan was defeated. Both the countries signed the T ashkent Declaration in January 1966 and agreed to settle their disputes through peaceful methods. The erstwhile Pakistan consisted of East Pakistan and West Pakistan, both situated miles apart on the eastern and western sides of India. In the General Election of December 1970, the Awami League Party of Sheikh Mujibur Rehman won the election by securing a majority. But the military rulers of West Pakistan did not accept the leadership from East Pakistan. Therefore they chose to flout the peoples mandate. The voice of Bengali Muslims was crushed by the Army. A civil war broke out between the armed forces and the civilians. About one crore Bengali Muslims took refuge in India. The Peoples army called Mukti Bahini fought for the independence of East Pakistan as a separate state of Bangladesh. India, situated close to its borders, found itself economically strained by the sudden influx of

India and its Neighbours/163

refugees. No longer could India be a silent spectator to the ongoing massacre and murder of democracy in its neighbourhood. India raised its voice at international fora against the inhuman acts carried out against the innocent and unar med Bengali Muslims of the East Pakistan. Angered by Indias protests, Pakistan launched a massive attack on India in 1971. The 1971 war was a historic one in many ways. The Indian armed forces helped the Mukti Bahini and fought against the Pakistani forces. About one lakh Pakistani soldiers surrendered before the Indian forces. Such a large number of Prisoners of War (PoW) had not been made even during the Second World War. The creation of Bangladesh came as a blow to Pakistans two-nation theory which it seeks to apply in the case of Jammu and Kashmir. After the war, the Simla Agreement was signed between India and Pakistan in July 1972. The release of Pakistans PoWs and the vacation of the territories of West Pakistan won by India, were agreed by India. In return, Pakistan recognised Bangladesh as an independent sovereign country. The importance of the Simla Agreement lay in the commitment that both countries agreed to settle their problems, including the Jammu and Kashmir problem, through bilateral negotiations in a peaceful manner. But the spirit of the Simla Agreement was not carried out by

Pakistan. It missed no opportunity to raise the Kashmir issue in international fora. Pakistan provided financial and material assistance to terrorists in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir. The militancy killed civilian population, government officials and armed forces. The lives of Kashmiri pandits became miserable. They were compelled to flee and take refuge in other places. Relations further deteriorated when both the countries conducted their nuclear tests in May 1998 and declared themselves as nuclear power states. To normalise the relations between the two countries, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited Lahore on February 20, 1999 by bus. This visit popularly called bus diplomacy was hailed by the world community. The Prime Minister of India Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee expressed Indias deep desire for peace, goodwill and friendship with Pakistan. The famous quote of his speech says, we can change history, not geography; we can change our friends but not neighbours. The two Prime Ministers, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Shri Nawaz Shariff signed the Lahore Declaration which contained the ideals of peace, friendship and cooperation. But Indias efforts were frustrated when Pakistan illegally occupied Kargil on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The intention behind the Kargil occupation was to cut of f the

164/Social Science: Part II

Indian Prime Minister Smt. Indira Gandhi and Pakistan President Shri Z. A. Bhutto signing Simla Agreement

Srinagar-Leh link highway and thus disconnect the Laddakh region from the rest of Jammu and Kashmir. India was shocked over this happening. The world community, including the United States and China supported Indias position and favoured Pakistans withdrawal from Kargil. Indian forces succeeded in forcing the enemy to retreat. Pakistan had never been isolated like this b