It has been said before and needs to be reiterated at every opportunity, but it needs to be believed. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday declared that India is committed to regaining Gilgit-Baltistan and Pak Occupied Kashmir for restoration of territorial integrity. Pakistan knows that such a declaration by the present Indian Government is by no means hollow or a mere formality, as was often the case before. Action may take place at any time to achieve the goal.
In similar fashion, in his meeting with the departing Chinese envoy to India, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar has clearly specified that a withdrawal from the friction points along the Ladakh border is necessary for normalisation of relations. That some success has been achieved is an indication of the fact that India’s military and diplomatic approach has made the necessary impact. It is a fact that China has traditionally been the aggressor, never failing to move forward with its ‘slice and dice’ strategy. The times, however, are changing and the Chinese have been made aware of this fact. There is no doubt that there will be further tests ahead, but clarity of policy and display of resolve on the ground serve as an effective deterrent.
The claims on Indian Territory are by no means essential for Pakistan or China for the furtherance of their national interests. The one reason that they have persisted with their hostility is because they have believed India to be a soft target, temperamentally incapable of hitting back. This mindset is being made to change. All three countries stand to benefit enormously if normalisation is achieved with mutual respect for national boundaries. The Ukraine War has shown more than anything else that nothing can be taken for granted, even as the consequences of a miscalculation impact on the entire world.
While India’s unwillingness to toe the US line regarding the ongoing crisis has been appreciated, it should be realised that a similar approach will be adopted towards others. India’s interests are being clearly defined and put first. This should make it easier for other countries to shape their policies for the future. And that is exactly India’s intent.