The original State of J&K which acceded to India in October 1947 comprised 2,22,236 sq km. But today India is in physical occupation of only 1,06,566 sq km of the original state of J&K. Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK) is 72,935 sq km less 5,180 sq km of Shaksgam Valley leased to China in 1963. China Occupied Kashmir (COK) consists of 37,555 sq km of Aksai Chin plus Shaksgam and territory nibbled over the years, all totaling up to 42,735 sq km.
|The Author is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army|
Post Partition of undivided India in 1947, the entire State of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) was acceded to India by the then ruler of J&K, Maharaja Hari Singh through an Instrument of Accession signed on October 26, 1947 post massive Pakistan infiltration. For the Partition, British barrister Cyril Radcliffe arrived in British India for the first time on July 8, 1947. He was given exactly five weeks to draw the borders between an independent India and the newly created Pakistan. Radcliffe had never visited India earlier and probably had never seen a map in his life. He chaired two boundary commissions, one for Punjab and one for Bengal, consisting of two Muslims and two non-Muslims – none from military or with military background. Over a Century of British rule in India and five weeks to Partition the Country by a novice - Radcliffe! Mountbatten declared Independence only on August 15 though the resulting boundary award was announced on August 17. Radcliffe sailed back for England on August 18, Partition along the Radcliffe Line ended in violence that killed one million people and displaced 12 million.
The original State of J&K which acceded to India in October 1947 comprised 2,22,236 sq km. Independent India’s border in the northwest touched Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan and border to north with China Occupied Tibet (COT). Pakistan had no border with China. But today India is in physical occupation of only 1,06,566 sq km of the 2,22,236 sq km of the original state of J&K. Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK) is 72,935 sq km less 5,180 sq km of Shaksgam Valley (Indian Territory) illegally leased to China in 1963. China Occupied Kashmir (COK) consists of 37,555 sq km of Aksai Chin plus 5,180 sq km Shaksgam and territory nibbled over the years, all totaling up to 42,735 sq km. US and regional Pakistani media had reported in February 2012 that Pakistan was considering leasing Gilgit-Baltistan (72,971 sq km) to China for 50 years. Today we have a Line of Control (LOC) with Pakistan and Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China.
On Partition of India, the British conspired an invasion and capture of J&K through Mountbatten (Governor General of independent India), Lockhart (C-in-C Indian Army) and Douglas Gracey (C-in-C Pakistan army), keeping Nehru in dark and Jinnah in picture. Pakistani invasion of so-called Razakars had a mix of Pakistani Army regulars – all armed by Pakistan Army. Clement Atlee had become Prime Minister of Britain but Churchill was still in the advisory loop. Churchill hated India despite 2.5 million Indians fighting in World War II that enabled British victory. Churchill instructed Douglas Gracey, C-in-C Pakistan army to let India-Pakistan fight but “keep a piece of India”, so that both keep fighting in perpetuity. Douglas Gracey organised fall and massacre of Skardu Garrison, which was holding on for eight months. The complete garrison including women and children were massacred. Gracey, however, spared Lieutenant Colonel Sher Jung Thapa, the Garrison Commander. Gracey who in his younger days was commanding a Gorkha Training Centre in India liked playing hockey. He had noticed Thapa’s hockey skills and coaxed him to join J&K State Forces. Fall of Skardu threatened Kargil and Leh, for which Indian Army had to mount attacks, including to securing Zoji La, with more loss of lives.
During the India-Pakistan Karachi Agreement of 1949 held under aegis of the United Nations, the Ceasefire Line (CFL) marked went east only till NJ 9842, beyond which it only said “thence North to the Glaciers”. 1972 onwards CFL was termed Line of Control (LOC ).
British officers of Pakistan Army guided Pakistani infiltrators into Shyok and Nubra Valleys of Ladakh but the Nubra Guards of Ladakhis fought and made them retreat. When the Indian Army was going after the retreating Pakistani infiltrators, Mountbatten and Lockhart persuaded Nehru to call a ceasefire and approach the United Nations for arbitration – another trap which Nehru fell for. British plan was for Pakistan army to get a foothold in J&K, making it party to dispute when referred to UN. Importantly, British wanted to keep Gilgit–Baltistan with a country of their making (Pakistan) to fight communist threat of Russia and China on borders of Kashmir. What an irony that Pakistan today has become vassal state of Communist China and is wooing Russia too for armament.
During the India-Pakistan Karachi Agreement of 1949 held under aegis of the United Nations, the Ceasefire Line (CFL) marked went east only till NJ 9842, beyond which it only said “thence North to the Glaciers”. According to Captain S.K. Sinha (later Lieutenant General and Governor J&K) orders to mark the CFL only up to NJ 9842 came from Delhi – another British mischief. Also the CFL was marked on a 1:2,50,000 map with thick sketch pen and did not follow the watershed principle. Marking a 1:2,50,000 map with a thick sketch pen itself meant a difference of up to one kilometer at any point – cause for perpetual friction. 1972 onwards CFL was termed Line of Control (LOC).
During 1967-70, maps by Pakistan, UN and other global atlases depicted CFL correctly. But in 1967, the US Defense Mapping Agency began showing Indo-Pak boundary on Tactical Pilotage Charts from NJ 9842 to the Karakoram (KK) Pass without justification or any documentation; cartographically giving entire Siachen-Saltoro area to Pakistan. This possibly was by design because of the soft corner US-UK had towards Pakistan. In addition, US wanted to establish relations with China that eventually led to President Nixon’s visit to Beijing in 1972. Following the US Defense Mapping Agency began showing Indo-Pak boundary on Tactical Pilotage Charts, many officialprivate cartographers and atlas producers followed suit and Pakistan eventually started claiming this as boundary. India ironically slept.
In 1962 when Nehru directed the Army to throw PLA out of one illegally occupied post, China launched a massive preplanned invasion. In 1963, Pakistan leased Shaksgam Valley in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK) to China in exchange for military and nuclear technology.
In late 1970s/early 1980s, many expeditions applied to Pakistan to climb peaks in the Siachen area due to Pakistan claiming the area. In 1978, a German Siachen-Kondus Expedition with a Pakistani liaison officer entered Siachen via Bilafond La and established the base camp on the confluence of Siachen and Teram Shehr. The documentary “Expedition to the longest glacier” was shown on German TV in 1979. In April 1984, India successfully pre-empted Pakistani designs to occupy the Saltoro massif – a fact and admission of the strategic significance of Saltoro admitted by Musharraf in his autobiography ‘In the Line of Fire’. Ever since then Pakistan has been looking to grab more Indian Territory, its last big venture being the failed Kargil intrusions during 1999. It has not given up and still hopes to capture J&K in conjunction with China.
The McMohan Line is the demarcation line between Tibet and Northeast region of India, negotiated between Tibet and Great Britain at the end of the Shimla Conference (October 1913–July 1914) and named after the chief British negotiator, Sir Henry McMahon. The document has been signed by the Tibetan representative but China refuses to acknowledge the McMohan Line. In sharp contrast, China used an old sketch of the Kuomintang Regime which it had overthrown to claim the nine-dash line in South China Sea. Unfortunately, Jawahar Lal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister was inclined excessively towards China at the cost of India’s strategic interests. When General Robert Lockhart, first C-in-C of India took a strategic plan for a Government directive on defence policy to Nehru, he took one look at the paper and shouted, “Rubbish! Total rubbish! We don’t need a defence plan. Our policy is ahimsa (non-violence). We foresee no military threats. Scrap the army! The police are good enough to meet our security needs.” Instead of helping Tibetans against Chinese invasion, Nehru was supplying rice to PLA. He also told US, UK and UN to go ignore Tibetan protest to UN saying that would distract from the Neutral Nations Repatriation Commission in the Korean Peninsula – as scripted by former ambassador R.S. Kalha.
In 1963, Pakistan illegally leased Shaksgam Valley (Indian Territory in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK) to China in exchange for military and nuclear technology.
While our western and north-western threat to security is still as prominent as before, a new threat has developed from the north and north-east. Thus, for the first time, after centuries, India’s defence has to concentrate itself on two fronts simultaneously.”
Simultaneously, the Commandant of Defence Services Staff College at Wellington told students in October 1950: India’s back door has been opened, and Himalayas have become the boundary with a large, powerful and expansionist China; India’s eastern regions have become vulnerable - within range of bombers from bases in Tibet; defence of mountainous frontier would cost India more than it can afford; if Kashmir issue is not solved, India would have unmanageable defence burden, and; India would have to pay dearly for failure to act before China became stronger and was free of her commitment in the Korean War.
About 2.5 million Indians participated in World War II, most of who were disbanded at the end of war in 1945. India could have easily mobilised 2-3 Divisions from these trained soldiers and helped Tibet retain its independence from the rag-tag PLA but we did not. Nehru continued to believe China’s legitimate interests must be acknowledged to reduce international tensions. A.G. Noorani writes that “integrating the China into the international community by conceding its right to the Chinese seat at the UN Security Council was in fact a central pillar of Nehru’s foreign policy.” India became aware that China had built a road through Aksai Chin (Indian Territory) and established PLA posts there much after all this was completed. Aksai Chin was annexed by China without firing a shot or violence – compared to killing close to one million Tibetans in Tibet till now.
In 1960 Chinese Premier Zhou En Lai visiting India said there would be no war but was waiting for an opportunity with the Indian Army poorly equipped. In 1962 when Nehru directed the Army to throw PLA out of one illegally occupied post, China launched a massive pre-planned invasion. Indian’s could have continued fighting in some places but the weak higher military leadership ordered withdrawal. PLA eventually withdrew because of inability to sustain itself across the Himalayas through winters. Nehru died a disillusioned man backstabbed by China. In 1963, Pakistan illegally leased Shaksgam Valley (Indian Territory in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK) to China in exchange for military and nuclear technology. Zhou En Lai visited Pakistan and suggested to Ayub Khan that Pakistan should prepare for a prolonged conflict with India instead of short-term wars, advising Pakistan to raise a militia force (read terrorists) to act behind enemy (India) lines.
In 1966, Zhou En Lai meeting a Pakistani military delegation in Beijing raised his clenched fist and said, “This is capable of delivering a forceful blow, but if you cut off one finger, the fist loses its power, not by one-fifth, but by fifty per cent. If you wipe out a couple of hundred thousand of the enemy spread over a long front, its impact is not as great as wiping out an entire battalion or a brigade but enemy’s morale is dealt a devastating blow. We know this from practical experience.” China supports Pakistani terrorists both at the UN and against India-Afghanistan. Through a bloodied Maoists insurgency, China has successfully brought Communists to power in Nepal, drawing Nepal in its strategic sphere. China has announced it will bear costs of teaching Mandarin in Nepal’s schools which the government has accepted. Naturally, teachers will come from China well versed in ideological and psychological treatment of the upcoming generation. PLA deployment inside Nepal is likely in very near future.
China-Pakistan have proxies in Myanmar like the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) and the United Liberation Front of Western South East Asia (ULF WSEA) bringing together nine insurgent groups of northeast including NSCN and ULFA. Insurgent and banned organisations in India have China-Pakistan links. Despite overt bonhomie, China has been against India’s entry into the NSG and UNSC as a permanent member. All Chinese companies and individuals working abroad are pledged to help gather intelligence for their country and Chinese development projects have PLA presence.
The recent PLA intrusions in Eastern Ladakh during May 2020 took us by complete surprise. Ironically same had happened in Kargil during 1999. The brutal surprise attack on our troops in Galwan Valley by PLA using swords and clubs was in complete disregard to border protocol. Our brave soldiers gave a befitting reply to the PLA, killing over 43 of them compared to losing 20 of our own braves. Both sides took hostages which were later exchanged. The pre-meditated attack was to convey a message to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. After protracted military-to-military talks on June 22, both sides had agreed to disengage but then PLA has reestablished its post at Patrol Point 14 and has built up in Depsang. China’s history of backstabbing has been repeated.
Our policy makers were of the belief there will be no war. As such defence allocations were minimal and military modernisation dumped. We failed to realise that China’s policy was always based on surprise, ambiguity and deceit and that it is power that China and Pakistan understand – hard power is a deterrent by itself, soft power not backed by hard power is ineffective and soft power coupled with diplomacy is no substitute for hard power. The dual threat across the LOC and LAC and China baring its fangs should serve as a wakeup call. To add to this, Nepal has gone hostile and possible PLA deployments in Nepal will compound our problems manifold. The next surprise by China may be around the corner.