China. Pakistan. Terror in Kashmir. Two and a half wars.
When massive stone pelting and rioting broke out in Kashmir after the killing of Burhan Wani last year, the security forces were taken aback because they based their assumptions on the truth, that Burhan was a nobody and that there would be no reaction. He was not the first terrorist to be killed and certainly would not be the last. Pakistan’s ISI, in cahoots with militant separatists like Asiya Andrabi created the myth of Burhan Wani overnight.
The ISI excels in psychological warfare and its post-Burhan management of the chaos in Kashmir was a master class in psy ops. But the CRPF is a force famous for learning on its feet. It knows the ground intimately. On the first death anniversary of Burhan Wani, ISI and the separatists in Kashmir had planned widespread rioting and stone pelting across the Kashmir Valley. Less than 5% of what they had planned actually happened on ground. Take a look at the local newspapers. So little was the stone pelting that, forget Indian newspapers, even Pakistani dailies did not give it more than a passing mention. The Burhan drama has fizzled out. Even if it picks up later, the initiative is lost. You do not celebrate a birthday a week after the date. It’s simply not done. Same logic.
India has called China’s bluff. China stared at India, and India did not blink. China knows that the year is 2017 and not 1962. Pakistan Army’s adventurism on the border is being responded to with ferocity that it has not seen in a very long time. Their bunkers are being decimated and their troops are dying. For the past few weeks, the infamous Border Action Teams of Pakistan Army are strangely ineffective, because Para SF is now hunting them. The attacks on security forces camps are down to a trickle. Everyday we hear of terrorists being killed. Stone pelters are still stone pelting, but every week their effectiveness reduces.
There is only one way to permanently keep China on the back foot, embarrass it and make sure that it is always on a slippery slope. We have the Dalai Lama. For decades, India has kept this relationship subtle so as to not embarrass the Chinese, and in the interim China has quietly gone about changing the demography of the Tibetan plateau. It is time to come out from the cold. Lets not be bashful about it.
The Dalai Lama should be facilitated in all possible ways so that he can meet the heads of states and the United Nations, and appraise the world of Chinese atrocities against Buddhists. Let black banners meet Xi Jinping wherever he goes. Let Tibetans protest outside Chinese embassies across the world.
Hong Kong has been the bedrock of simmering discontent against Beijing’s rule. Pro democracy protests are becoming commonplace. Very recently, a few public officials refused to take oath on the Constitution of China. That, coupled with a few more incidents prompted Xi Jinping, no less, to issue a very public warning to the people of Hong Kong. He did it because China was rattled.
When India openly supports pro-democracy forces, there will a rumble in the dragon’s belly. China is afraid of social media. It is afraid of contrary opinion. It may not be afraid of our armed forces, but if Tibetan protesters greet Xi Jinping with black flags outside the United Nations, China will not know how to deal with such a scenario. It never has. It is used to applying brute force upon its own citizenry.
The Indian Army has shown us the way. If you don’t blink and if you tell China that you are not impressed with all the optics of size and economy it so brazenly displays, China will be at a loss.
The two and half wars we are faced with are, to a very large extent, China’s doing. And these are power games between China and India.
It is now time to twist the dragon’s tail.
Major Gaurav Arya (Veteran)
17 Kumaon Regiment
The Indian Army
(Article replushed from blog of Major Gaurav Arya, Indian Army veteran of anti-insurgency operations in Kashmir)