Border seal will hit India-Pakistan ties: Chinese experts


New Delhi: India’s decision to seal its border with Pakistan by 2018 is “irrational” and will lead to a major setback in bilateral ties with Islamabad, a Chinese daily on Tuesday quoted analysts as saying. The move reflects India’s “Cold War mentality”, one expert said.

The sealing of the border, announced by the Indian government last week, will complicate the regional security situation and impact ties between India, Pakistan and China, the experts contended in state media. The Chinese media has only reported on the India-Pakistan faceoff till now, sourcing articles solely from official Xinhua news agency in line with directives from the government about local media reporting on sensitive issues.

On Tuesday, the Global Times, a newspaper tied to the Communist party mouthpiece People’s Daily and known for its mostly hawkish views on India, published the views of Chinese experts who seemed more than worried about the way New Delhi is dealing with Islamabad, which, they said, was China’s “all-weather strategic ally”.

Neither the experts nor the newspaper commented on the “surgical strikes” carried out by India along the Line of Control to target terrorist bases.

“India’s decision to completely close its border with Pakistan is ‘irrational’ and would lead to a major setback in bilateral relations,” the Chinese analysts told the Global Times.

“India is making a very irrational decision, since no exhaustive investigation has been conducted after the Uri incident, and no evidence proves Pakistan is behind the attack,” said Hu Zhiyong, a research fellow with the Institute of International Relations of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.

Echoing Hu, Wang Dehua, from the Shanghai Municipal Center for International Studies, said the sealing of the border will disrupt efforts for peace by India and Pakistan.

“The country’s decision reflects its Cold War mentality, and would only cause deeper hatred among residents living in Indian- and Pakistan-controlled Kashmir,” said Hu.

“Since Pakistan is China’s all-weather strategic partner, India’s decision would make China-Pakistan-India relations more complicated,” Hu noted. The attack on the army camp in Uri last month left 19 Indian soldiers dead, one of the worst cases of peace-time casualties inflicted on the armed forces. 

A fuming India blamed Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed for the strike. Last week, home minister Rajnath Singh said the 3,323-km border between the two countries would be “completely” sealed by December 2018 to prevent infiltration and help border forces monitor the sensitive frontier more efficiently.

The Global Times, quoting Xinhua, noted that Singh’s statements followed “repeated ceasefire violations allegedly made by Pakistan and heightened tensions, particularly in the aftermath of” the terror attack in Uri.

The Chinese media refers to Jammu and Kashmir as “India-controlled Kashmir” and the part held by Pakistan as “Pakistan-administered Kashmir”. The only border China has with Pakistan – if it can be called that – is where its frontiers meet PoK.

(There have been a few occasions in the recent past, however, when the Chinese media, including Xinhua, have used the phrase “Pakistan-controlled Kashmir”.)

The newspaper quoted Hu as saying that a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue is in the interest of China’s homeland security, especially its western regions.

The article didn’t make any reference to China’s repeated extension of its block on India’s bid to get the UN Security Council to label Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a terrorist.

Beijing’s move to prolong the “technical hold” imposed in April has given Azhar – the suspected mastermind of the January attack on Pathankot airbase– another six-month breather.

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