"The principal purpose and objectives of our (India's) foreign policy have been trapped between four lines: the Durand Line,; the McMahon Line; the Line of Control (LoC) and the Line of Actual Control (LAC). To achieve autonomy, an absolute necessity in the conduct of our foreign policy, we have to first find an answer to this strategic confinement". Former Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh of India.
Mr. Jaswant Singh's quote above captures the essence of the former Indian Foreign Minister's 2013 book titled "India At Risk: Mistakes, Misconceptions and Misadventures of Security Policy". The book covers nearly seven decades of India's policymakers' obsession with its two nuclear-armed neighbors.
The book covers a lot of ground starting from the departure of the British colonial rulers and the partition of the sub-continent to the current situation in South Asia. Like many of his fellow Indians, it appears that Mr. Singh has still not reconciled with the reality of partition and the creation of Pakistan as a sovereign and independent state. In the very first chapter of "India At Risk", Mr. Singh writes:
"By doing so (agreeing to partition), we then effectively forsook, rather destroyed, the essential security of a united Indian sub-continent, bound by the Himalayas in the north and the east, and the Indian Ocean as a shield to peninsular India. We failed to maintain as physically inviolable our natural geographical boundaries. In consequence, we created great subsequent national security challenges. It is self-evident that because of this one act, this artificial and rather irrational vivisection, we created for ourselves, such fundamental problems as challenge us till today."
Mr. Singh offers the standard Indian narrative of events ranging from the 1962 war with China (which he blames on Nehru), the 1965 and 1971 wars with Pakistan (for which he holds Pakistan responsible), , Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests in 1998, Kargil conflict in 1999 and the usual narrative of "Pakistan-sponsored terrorism" for precipitating the 2002 India-Pakistan stand-off (and his heroics in averting a war).
Among all of these narrations of events by Mr. Singh, there's one real revelation for me: the PNS Ghazi, the Pakistani submarine lost in 1971, was not sunk by the Indian Navy as was claimed at the time; it actually sank as a result of an accidental explosion while it was laying mines to block the Visakhapatnam Harbor in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.
Mr. Singh mentions Durand Line twice in his book; at the beginning and the end. It's the line that divides Pakistan and Afghanistan. While he writes at length about McMahon Line (along Tibetan section of China-India border) as well as Line of Actual Control (LAC between India and China outside the McMahon Line) and Line of Control (LOC in Kashmir between India and Pakistan), he does not elaborate on Durand Line at all. This begs the following questions:
Why does the Durand Line concern Indian policymakers?
Why is the Durand Line brought up by the author but not discussed?
Was Mr. Singh told by Indian intelligence agencies remove any discussion of it for fear of exposing their shenanigans along Durand Line?
What is India up to in border areas between Afghanistan and Pakistan? Is it using Afghanistan as a "second front against Pakistan" as described by former US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel?
Why is the self-styled Baloch government in exile (whose leaders travel with Indian passports) so vehemently opposed to the Durand Line?
Mr. Jasawnt Singh has covered a lot of ground and pointed out the failings of Indian policymakers in looking beyond India's immediate neighborhood, particularly their obsession with Pakistan and China. It also appears that he been to forced by the Indian government to abstain from any discussion of India's proxy war against Pakistan via the Afghan territory.
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