In a world largely unsettled by the COVID-19 pandemic, with all norms cast aside, the need for peace and cooperation seems ever more imperative. However, South Asia remains bereft of regional peace and security due to the hegemonic designs of India’s far-right government, which is purposefully locked in disputes with its neighbors. Due to the aggression in its rhetoric and policy, and having no qualms to disturb peace through any irresponsible act, the region has entered into a dangerous phase with a fraught security environment. It is clearly reflected in how India forcefully attempted to assimilate IOJ&K with a heavy-handed approach, its re-intensified border dispute with China, igniting border dispute followed by a serious diplomatic row with Nepal and provocations against its other neighboring countries, all of which is intensifying tensions in the region.
India’s actions, both at home and abroad, portend negative outcomes not only for its neighbors but also its own citizens. There have been instances in the past where India was directly or indirectly involved in nefarious activities in other countries. Recently, as per a report by Global News, the news and current affairs division of the Canadian Global Television Network, RAW and IB were found involved in a destabilizing effort to covertly influence Canadian politicians to support the interests of Indian government using money and disinformation through an operation which began in 2009. Earlier, a report by EU Disinfo Lab uncovered a pro-India influence network aimed at influencing policymakers in Europe with 265 coordinated fake media outlets. This Indian network of terrorism and disinformation further complicates the South Asian security environment.
The brazen military aggression fueled by Hindutva and the country’s hegemonic ambitions can surely have repercussions for the South Asian security and stability. As per SIPRI fact sheet April 2020, India is the third largest military spender after United States and China. With unchecked weapons accumulation, obsessive spending on defense equipment and focus on indigenous production, the RSS-led BJP government has raised alarm as it seeks strategic dominance which is adequately reflected in the recent aggressive military posturing.
The state of Muslims under the BJP rule and growing Hindutva-driven Islamophobia in India has made the situation more dismal. UN Secretary-General’s acknowledgement of anti-Muslim hatred and Islamophobia while speaking at the meeting organized by OIC on the theme of "COVID-19 Solidarity: Promoting Co-Existence and Shared Responsibility", and the assessment that it could pose a threat to international peace and stability, and OIC’s criticism of growing Islamophobia in India speaks volumes about the state-sponsored violence against Indian Muslims that has entered a dangerous phase during the BJP-RSS dispensation.
IOJ&K has been ruled from New Delhi for more than half a century with utmost brutality. To integrate IOJ&K into its territory, India has gradually eroded any sense of IOJ&K’s autonomy by revoking its special status. To create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation, diverse techniques are used to generate the fear of torture and death, making safety synonymous to submission to violent governance. There are unending tales of atrocities committed by the Indian forces. Often found mass graves in IOJ&K narrate the fate of countless Kashmiris who were mercilessly killed. The fact is that Indian Army is above the law and its soldiers perpetrate these atrocities with impunity since they are not charged with war crimes. If those mass graves are opened, it will unearth a suppressed reality, i.e., decades-long unabated abuses, disappearances, arbitrary arrests and extrajudicial killings that include torture, encounters staged by the police and enforced disappearance of civilians and Kashmiri residents.
The civilians across the Line of Control in Azad Jammu & Kashmir are also routinely made a target of India’s aggression. As COAS reiterated during his visit to LOC in Puna Sector, “India is trying to shift the global attention away from worsening humanitarian crisis and violence in IOJ&K to LOC by targeting innocent civilians across the Line.” He also made it clear: “Kashmir is a disputed territory and any attempt to challenge the disputed status including any political cum military thought related to aggression will be responded with full national resolve and military might. Disturbing the strategic stability matrix in South Asia can lead to dire consequences. Pakistan Army is fully alive to the threat spectrum and will remain ever ready to perform its part in line with national aspirations.” The recent violation of Pakistan’s airspace by two Indian spy quadcopters in May: 650m in Rakhchikri Sector and 700m in Nekrun Sector along the LOC respectively, that were taken down by Pakistan Army, and the continued escalation along the LOC shows India’s inclination and desire to intensify tensions. However, India shouldn’t miscalculate and venture into misadventures that may cost the country heavily.
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