Dr Muhammad Khan
AS a successor state of British India, the Indian leadership assumed all the roles of its colonial master right from its independence in 1947. This fact was later interpreted by Indian writer, Bhabani Sen Gupta in his writing about the Indian future strategy in South Asia and beyond. Mr Gupta clearly outlined Indian goals as a regional hegemony. He said, “The Indian elephant cannot transform itself into a mouse. If South Asia is to get itself out of the crippling binds of conflicts and cleavages, the six will have to accept the bigness of the seventh. And the seventh, that is India, will have to prove to the six that big can indeed be beautiful.” Whereas, the bygone has never proved to be a beautiful and agreeable neighbour, rest six have suffered desperately in the last seven decades.
Pakistan is the only country which proved as a reluctant state to accept the Indian hegemony. The net result was its disintegration in 1971 by provoking ethnic factor and creating hate against the Federation of Pakistan through socio-political unrest in its eastern wing (former East Pakistan). Despite its extreme act of disintegration of Pakistan, India continued conspiring against the State of Pakistan through its direct and indirect acts of destabilizing Pakistan through terrorism and extremism. Indeed, India has been waging a war against Pakistan in all fields; undermining its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The recent disclosure of Indian media outlets in 119 countries by EU DisinfoLab is a major revelation of indirect Indian war against Pakistan.
Bangladesh faced Indian onslaught, immediately after 1971 and still unable to come out from Indian supremacy, despite a passage of five decades. It’s more of an Indian colony, facing multiple constraints in the realization of its sovereignty and territorial integrity. As outlined by writer Kathryn Jacques, India totally dominates over the domestic and foreign policies of Bangladesh right from 1975. Indeed, the ‘turbulent political life and economic woes of Bangladesh’ are part of Indian regional dominance. A coercing Indian policy; where its neighbouring states would be bound to look towards India for the solution of their domestic issues and foreign relationship. Indeed, these issues are created by India, thus key to their solutions lies with New Delhi.
The sovereignty and territorial integrity of two sovereign Himalayan states; Bhutan and Nepal have been constantly undermined by India ever since the 1950s. Indeed, India wanted Bhutan, Nepal and Sikkim as its parts. However, it could only force Sikkim as its part in 1975 despite Chinese resistance. India, however, faced stiff resistance from sovereign states of Bhutan and Nepal. Since then, “Bhutan has found it hard to gain diplomatic independence” despite a new agreement in 2007. As per Global Times, “Bhutan’s subordination to India is a remnant of the British Empire.” In 2017, India used Bhutan for the projection of its power politics on the issue of ‘Doklam’ which is a disputed part between China and Bhutan. China wanted to construct a road in Doklam which was obstructed by India in 2017.
Despite its predominant Hindu character, Nepal remained under Indian influence for over seven decades. Its struggle to come out of the Indian influence was countered through Indian sponsored Moist insurgency which lasted until 2006. In 2020, Nepal unveiled a new map, claiming its sovereignty over its own integral parts under Indian influence which peeved New Delhi. Nepal seriously protested with India over the construction of a road, inaugurated by Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. The road connects Dharchula in the Indian State of Uttarakhand to the LipuLekh called the Kalapani territory, which is a Nepali territory since centuries.
The tiny island state of South Asia, Maldives, otherwise facing a drowning situation with only 1.3 meter higher than the sea level has been badly influenced by India since the decade of 1980s. India stage-managed a drama of attacking and rescuing this state in 1988 and thereafter New Delhi has been constantly dominating over its policies, ruling elite and the domestic hierarchical system. Indian RAW sent disguised terrorists from Sri Lanka for a coup d’état led by businessman Abdullah Luthufi which failed owing to a timely reaction by Maldivian National Security Service. Since then, there is no peace in this country since its politics are manipulated by New Delhi. The current ruling class of Maldives is trying to spearhead India; “India Out” campaign in the Indian Ocean archipelago. Maldives is being pressurized by India to part ways from the Belt and Road Initiative and its closer ties with China.
The three-decade long insurgency of LTTE against the Government of Sri Lanka was fully supported by India. Indeed, Indian bid to become a real regional hegemon was countered by the Sri Lankan military once India sent its heavy military forces for the peace keeping mission in that country in 1987. Indian military was beaten back and thereafter India fully supported the rebels (LTTE) by all means to punish that state. India is against the Sri Lankan Government getting closer to China and Pakistan. As an island country Sri Lanka has a very unique and strategic location in the Indian Ocean, therefore, India is fearful of its international relationship with external powers. In Afghanistan, the entire Indian involvement is aimed destabilizing Pakistan through promotion of terrorism while making use of Afghan soil. Indeed, Indian strategy against its neighbours is based on: imposition of Indian hegemony and an Indian Order in South Asia. Through such an order, New Delhi would be able to keep China and other major powers away from the South Asian region. This strategy is all about the subjugation of South Asian States which runs counter to the essence of the modern state system. In this entire Indian drive, Pakistan has been the sole obstacle against Indian subjugation of South Asia and its emergence as a major power.
— The writer is Professor of Politics and IR at International Islamic University, Islamabad.