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At 75, India's Kashmir challenge shifts foreign policy focus

For decades, India has tried to thwart Pakistan in the long-running dispute over Kashmir. Kashmir is a painfully beautiful Himalayan territory, claimed by both countries but divided.

Due to its relentless competition,Pakistan has always been the focal point of New Delhi's foreign policy.

However, in the past two years, after deadly border clashes between Indian and Chinese soldiers in the Ladakh region of Kashmir, policymakers in New Delhi have increasingly turned their focus to Beijing. This is an important shift in national policy. 75th anniversary of independence.

India's ever-growing economy is now much larger than Pakistan's, and combined with Beijing's increasingly aggressive influence across Asia, "New Delhi is becoming increasingly It's growing around Beijing," he said, Lieutenant General D.S. From 2014 to 2016, Hooda headed the Northern Command of the Indian Army, which controls Kashmir, including Ladakh.

A history of challenges

Kashmir has been plagued by riots, blockades and political turmoil since India and Pakistan gained independence from her 1947 British colonial rule. I have struggled with strategy. Two of the four wars India fought against Pakistan and China. The three countries' tense borders meet in disputed territory in the world's only tripartite nuclear confrontation.

Since the 1960s, India has been an active member of the Non-Aligned Movement. The Non-Aligned Movement is a group of over 100 nations that theoretically did not ally with any major power during the Cold War. Despite its conflicts with neighboring Pakistan and China, India's non-aligned stance remained the cornerstone of its foreign policy, and its diplomats were primarily focused on overturning Pakistan's claims to Kashmir.

"Kashmir has, in a way, been at the center of our foreign policy concerns," said a seasoned diplomat who served as India's foreign minister from 2002 to his 2003. Kanwarcival said.

However, the current military confrontation between India and China over Ladakh's disputed border has caused a severe escalation of tensions between the two Asian giants} Standoffs continue despite 17 diplomatic and military talks.

For decades, India believed China was not a military threat, said Huda, a former military commander. But that changed in mid-2020 when military tensions escalated as clashes erupted high in the Karakoram Range in Ladakh's Galwan Valley.

Constantino Xavier, Fellow of the Center for Socioeconomic Progress, a New Delhi-based policy group, said, "Galwan represents a strategic inflection point. as well as helping to create a new Indian consensus on the need to reset the entire relationship with China." At least 20 Indian and 4 Chinese soldiers were killed in a wind battle.

The fighting saw the Hindu nationalist-led government, led by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, strip Kashmir of its state status, abolish semi-autonomy, and force local politicians, journalists and correspondents to It happened a year after he cracked down.

The government also divided the Muslim-majority areas into his two federally controlled regions (Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir), ending inherited protections for land and employment. did.

The government claimed the move would entail only administrative changes, part of a long-standing Hindu nationalist pledge to assimilate the predominantly Muslim Kashmir into the country.

Pakistan was outraged by India's change and claimed that Kashmir was an international conflict and that its unilateral change of status violated international law and UN resolutions on the region.

But the main diplomatic challenge to New Delhi's move in Kashmir came from an unexpected rival, China.

'The most dangerous place in the world'

Beijing has lashed out at New Delhi,and raised the issue at the UN Security Council. . - again inconclusive - discussed for the first time in almost 50 years.

India has consistently maintained to the international community that Kashmir is a bilateral issue with Pakistan. To Pakistan, he reiterated that Kashmir is India's internal affair. To critics on the ground, he adamantly argued that Kashmir was a matter of terrorism and law and order.

was facing However, a crackdown on dissent led to a full-scale armed rebellion against Indian rule in 1989. Since then, the ongoing conflict has killed tens of thousands of people in the region.

With India and Pakistan becoming nuclear states in 1998, Kashmir became a potential nuclear flashpoint. President Bill Clinton has described Kashmir as "the most dangerous place in the world".

Many of India's foreign policy experts believe that despite deep feelings of Indian dominance in the region, New Delhi has decades of experience in thwarting foreign pressure for change in Kashmir. I believe we have been successful throughout.

Today, policy makers in New Delhi face a fundamental challenge with China as a larger force in Asia and an endorsement of Pakistan's stance on Kashmir.

Pakistan "now has a more complex political role as a partner in China's power," said Paul Staniland, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago. ``This gives them a certain amount of influence and influence.''

As geopolitical conflict deepens in the extended region, Kashmiris say India is open to any form of dissent. Since they have shown no tolerance, even if they do, their civil liberties are restricted and they are largely silent.

The emergence of the 'quad'

China's rise as a global power will see India and the quad, the new India - US, India, Australia , the Pacific Strategic Alliance between Japan accuses Beijing of economic coercion and military maneuvers in the region to upend the status quo.

India's old non-aligned stance, rooted in the Cold War era when confrontations raged thousands of miles (kilometers) from its borders, has come to an end. The entire region has become a focal point of geopolitical competition and rivalry between the great powers close to India's borders.

"We are hedging China to curb its ambitions by letting them know there is a new security line being built against any attack by China, at the heart of the quad. We recognize the need," Sibal, a former diplomat, said.

At a time when quads are at the center of debate among strategic thinkers in India, New Delhi is significantly beefing up its infrastructure along its long, dangerous and borderless border with China. The Chinese government sees quads as an attempt to contain economic growth and influence.

"This is how we are sending a signal to China that we are ready to work with other countries to suppress you," Sibal said.