Unquiet Border between Pakistan and India

Look Nepal 2014

India’s official position is that Kashmir belongs to India. Whereas Pakistan’s official position is that Kashmir is a disputed territory whose final status must be determined by the people of Kashmir. Islamabad has always maintained that majority Muslim Kashmir should have been a part of Pakistan. A United Nations resolution adopted after the first war called for a referendum allowing the people of Kashmir to choose which country they wanted to join. But that vote for self-determination has never been held. Pakistan wants that referendum should take place. It is interesting that neither country wants Kashmir to become an independent nation as it is a small part of the earth. With this view, attempts to solve the conflict through political discussions were unsuccessful.

In the context of these conflicts and disputes, India and Pakistan have fought numerous armed conflicts with each other since their creation following the end of the British Raj and the subsequent partition of India in August 1947. The two South Asian nations have been involved in three major wars, one undeclared war and numerous border skirmishes and military standoffs. The Kashmir dispute is the major one and it has been the root cause of all major conflicts between the two countries with the exception of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, where the dispute concerned the erstwhile East Pakistan.

India and Pakistan have fought at least three wars over Kashmir, as it is mainly called Indo-Pakistan Wars of 1965, 1971 and 1999 as followings. Much of the war was fought by land forces in Kashmir along the international border between Pakistan and India.

The Indo-Pakistan War of 1965 was a culmination of skirmishes that took place between April and September 1965. It was fought over the disputed border region of Kashmir. The five-week war caused the loss of 3,000 Indians and 3,800 Pakistanis. It ended in a United Nations mandated ceasefire and the subsequent Taskent Declaration (wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-Pakistan_War).

The War of 1971 was a military conflict between two countries during the period between 3 to 16 December. It was closely associated with the brewing in erstwhile East Pakistan culminating in the declaration of independence as Bangladesh from the state system of Pakistan. This war saw the highest number of fatalities of 3,813 Indians and 9,000 Pakistanis. After 14 days of armed hostilities, the war ended with the creation of Bangladesh.

Indo-Pakistan War of 1999 is known as Kargil Conflict. It was an armed conflict that took place between May and July 1999 in the Kargil district of Kashmir and along the LoC. The cause of the war was accused as the infiltration, blaming each other by both the sides, violating the de-facto border between the two states. This was one of the recent examples of high altitude warfare in mountainous terrain. The loss was somehow less in comparison to the past wars. The number of fatalities was 527 Indians and 453 Pakistanis. The war was ended with international support to force to withdraw the forces along the LoC. All these skirmishes and wars and tension along the LoC show that Indo-Pakistan border is unquiet. It has affected the general people of both the frontiers of LoC.

The unquiet border issue should be resolved amicably with a spirit of brotherhood, free and frank manner and reciprocity and justice. As the past approaches reflect that the leadership in Pakistan and of the Kashmir with a positive and flexible approach has put forth several proposals to resolve the dispute. But it seems that India has not responded well to reciprocate. According to the partition Plan of India in 1947, the accession of the State of Jammu & Kashmir, either with India or Pakistan, was to be decided in the light of its people’s wishes and the geographic contiguity of that area.

A free and fair plebiscite under international auspices as per United Nations Resolution should be conducted to determine the will of the people of that region. Mahatma Gandhi had once said ‘If the people of Kashmir are in favour of opting for Pakistan, no power on earth can stop them from doing so. They should be left free to decide for themselves. (Complete Works of Mahatma Gandhi (1947), page 413, speech at Prayer Meeting, 26 October 1947).

Most recently, Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif has invited India to come into dialogue mentioning that Pakistan is committed to resolve all the existing disputes including Jammu & Kashmir through the dialogue. Nawaz Sharif on February 5, 2014 said India should accept Kashmiri’s right to self-determination, and he invited it to resolve the issue peacefully through dialogue. Addressing a joint sitting of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir Assembly and Kashmir Council on Kashmir Solidarity Day in Muzaffarabad, the prime minister said his government was ready to discuss all outstanding issues with India, including Kashmir. He invited India to engage in a ‘comprehensive sustained and result-oriented dialogue process.’ Sharif stressed that the region will remain in the grip of “mistrust and tension” as long as the Kashmir dispute is not resolved in accordance with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people.

The Prime Minister of Pakistan said, unless the Kashmir issue was resolved, there would be uncertainty in the region. He hoped India would respond positively to this invitation for a dialogue and fulfill the Kashmiri people’s aspirations to decide their fate. Fundamental rights and self-determination needed to be enforced, the Prime Minister said, adding the struggle of the Kashmiris was a reaction to the ‘atrocities’ committed by Indian security agencies (The Hindu, Islamabad, February 5, 2014).

            The most important matter is that India must reciprocate and come into dialogue for the peaceful settlement on Kashmir issue with justifiable manner.

Note: It should be read continuously after the scanned first page of the article.

     

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Experiencing Nepal-China (Kodari-Khasa) border crossing

Experiencing Nepal-China border crossing at Kodari-Khasa

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            Nepal and China had entered into an ‘Agreement on Trade and other Related Matters between the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) of China and Nepal’ on Sept. 30, 1956 which was renewed last time on July 10, 2002. The agreement says, those who wish to travel to the other country shall hold valid passports issued by the sending country and visa issued by the receiving country. Inhabitants of the border districts shall hold exit-entry passes with photo affixed ID Cards for the purpose of border trade, pilgrimage and visiting relatives and friends. But they are not allowed to go beyond the border districts into the interior of the other country. Generally the limit is 30 km from the borderline. Those with certificates for pilgrimage can travel through the designated routes and allotted entry points. They are not permitted to stay in the border districts of the receiving country for more than a month. Either party has the right to refuge entry into its territory of any persona non-grata.

            All these points denote that there is a regulated border management system between Nepal and China. It means those who want to cross the border must produce valid passport and visa. But for the inhabitants of the border districts within 30 kilometer distance, identity card is sufficient. However, ID card was not necessary before 1 January 2006.

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            Any inhabitant of the bordering district who want to cross the Nepal-China (Tibet) and vice versa have to produce an authentic Identity Card compulsorily and those falling to comply with the rule will not be allowed to cross the border. The government officer, assigned by the Chief District Officer (CDO), provides ID cards to those who show the official identity card or citizenship certificate or other cards provided by the government. The ID card system was introduced as per the agreement reached at the ministerial level meeting of the two countries after the King’s visit to China in 2002.

            This new rule was enforced from 1 January 2006. Card distribution function was inaugurated by the Rastriya Prajatantra Party President Pashupati Sumsher JB Rana, as a chief guest of the programme. After the inauguration programme, Rana was heading for Ramike Bazar at Litin of Tibet’s border area. But he was stopped by the Chinese police without any consideration for his ID card. Rana was issued ID Card Number-1 signed by Chief of the Tatopani Immigration Officer Kamal Raj Yogi. But Rana was prevented from entering Tibet although he had been issued the necessary ID card for getting an entry permit to Tibet. Infuriated Rana turned back when he was not given an entry permit by the Chinese police even after showing his card. The incident occurred on the very first day of the introduction of the ID card system on the Kodari-Khasa of China (Tibet)-Nepal border. Most probably the program organizing committee had not informed to the Chinese immigration office that the chief guest of the program is visiting on the other side of the border.

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           However it may be, the people living near to the border areas can visit and run businesses in either countries by producing valid identity cards. After the implementation of identity card system, visa is not necessary for the residents of Taplejung, Sankhuwasabha, Solukhumbu, Dolakha, Sindhupalchok, Rasuwa, Dhading, Gorkha, Manang, Mustang, Dolpa, Mugu, Humla, Bajhang and Darchula, They are visiting the nearby areas of Tibet without producing visas. Besides, inhabitants of Kathmandu Valley are also visiting Khasa (Zhangmu), the commercial town of China border with the ID card.

          This scribe including my wife and relatives visited Khasa of China, crossing Tatopani and Kodari border on 1st February 2014. Infrastructure of the immigration office on the Chinese side was up-to-date as it was like any of the developed countries. We were on the line to submit the immigration permit brought from the Nepali immigration side with our original citizenship certificate. My wife and one of my relatives had the old type of citizenship certificates (on plain Nepali paper), not as the card format. Chinese immigration officer was about to stop them. But one official from Tatopani immigration office was with us. The Nepali official took guarantee for my wife and relative that they will come back from Khasa, and it was permitted to cross the border. The Chinese official stamped the Entry Mark on the immigration paper and told my wife and relative-  ‘Next time new citizenship certificate.’

            While we were making immigration permit at Tatopani office, the official had already told me that the Chinese official may not permit with this old type of citizenship certificate. So they were kind to us and joined one of the immigration officials and one armed police with uniform and one Sub-Inspector in plain cloth. They accompanied and escorted us up to the border crossing point and taxi stand. They managed one taxi cab for us with a reasonable fare to drive to Khasa town and they returned back to Tatopani. It was possible that Armed Police DSP Arjun Thapa recognized me as a Border Researcher, as I was talking with the security personnel at Nepal immigration office. Thanks god.

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          We returned back from Khasa town to the border crossing point. The same procedure was followed to show the permit paper and citizenship certificate. Chinese immigration official stamped the Exit Mark on the immigration paper and then we crossed the borderline. There was a red border line in the center of the Friendship Bridge on the Bhote Koshi River. We crossed the red border line and came to the Nepali side of the bridge. While we were taking some photographs on the bridge on the Nepali side, a Chinese police threw a piece of stone to our side and cried, not to take pictures.

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          After that we took some other pictures of the Nepali immigration gate. But there was no such systematic system in the Nepali side as the other side of the border. Anyway, we travelled to Khasa China Tibet via Tatopani and Kodari of Nepal. We travelled all the way from Kathmandu to Bhaktapur, Sanga, Banepa, Dhulikhel, Pachkhal, Dolalghat, Balephi, Khadichaur, Lamosangu, Barabise, Phulpin, Tatopani, Kodari and finally crossing the border to Khasa town of China.

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Need to update JICA funded topographic maps

Milan Article 70-11-30

Fighting of Maps on the Border

Fighting of maps on the border

          Joint Working Group meeting of Nepal-India Technical Level Joint Boundary Committee was held in Kathmandu from 2 to 7 July 1997. In the meeting Nepal produced the map of 1856 prepared by Survey of India to Indian team as the proof that Kalapani belongs to Nepal. Nepali Group said, Kalapani belongs to Nepal as the map depicts. But Indian Group did not respond regarding the Kalapani border issue. Indian team did not accept even to discuss on the Kalapani matter.

          In course of time, the next meeting of Joint Working Group was held in Kathmandu again on 22 January 1998. In this meeting there was a war of maps concerning Kalapani border issue. Nepali side said, the Survey of India maps of 1850 and 1856 have demarcated the Kalapani within Nepali territory. The Kalapani disputed issue should be resolved on the basis of these maps. In the mean time Nepal challenged that nobody has the rights to change the boundary line in lieu of these maps.

          Indian side responded that these maps have not been prepared scientifically. These maps are irrelevant and unscientific as there are no control points on these points. So India is not in a position to accept that maps. In addition, Indian side proposed that map of 1879 should be regarded as the authoritative map and Kalapani issue should be resolved on the basis of that map. It has to be agreed on this map.

          During the discussion Nepal produced a counter and said, there is written nothing on that map of 1879 regarding any point of initial agreement. So this map cannot be regarded as the authentic map. Nepal is not a position to agree on this map. Nepali side further pleaded, on this map the boundary line has been depicted by symbol on the watershed crest, south of Pankhagad Khola lower than Kalapani. On that map Kalapani has been shown on the Indian side. According to the Treaty of Sugauli, the western boundary of Nepal must be the River Kalee, but not the watershed crest. With this fact, Nepal is not in favour of that map to be regarded as the authoritative map.

          In such a fashion there was a kind of fighting between the maps of 1856 and 1879 (Nepal and India) regarding the western boundary of Nepal. So the issue of Kalapani has been stranded till this date.  

Greater Nepal weekly 70-11-16 

 

Visit to Sri Lanka (also identity crisis of Nepal)

 

Visit to Sri Lanka

(also identity crisis of Nepal)

            A delegation from Nepal Council of World Affairs (NCWA) had visited Colombo and Kandy in Sri Lanka on the invitation of Bandaranaike Center for International Studies (BCIS) from 10 April 2013. Purpose of visit was to foster and enhance relationship between NCWA and BCIS. During visit, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed between NCWA and BCIS at the BCIS Board Room.

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            It was a goodwill visit to strengthen the friendly relations between the two organizations of two countries. The Nepali delegation attended also as special invitees to the Language Award Ceremony at SBMEC Auditorium. Ambassadors of five countries residing in Colombo also attended the ceremony. Dinner was hosted by Bandhula Ekanayke, Director General of BCIS, at Hotel Hilton, Colombo in honour of Nepali delegation.

            Nepali delegation had visited Independence Square, Gangaramaya Temple, Galle Face Beach and other historical monuments in Colombo. Ambassador of Nepal to Sri Lanka Sushil Chandra Amatya had hosted a dinner in honour of visiting Nepali delegation. Sri Lankan dignitaries were also present at the dinner.

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            A travel was managed to visit Kandy from Colombo by train to experience the topography of Sri Lanka. While returning back to Colombo, the delegation experienced micro bus riding.

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            In Kandy, we visited the Temple of Tooth, Botanical Garden, Museum of Buddha Relic and other historical monuments. During the visit to the temple to tooth (at Dalada Maligawa), we met Gamini Bandara, Director of International Affairs, temple of tooth). While talking unofficially, he told us that Buddha was born in India. I vehemently opposed, as his saying is totally mistaken and misleading that Buddha was born in Nepal, not in India. In response he said, he had read such items in the book. He also said, while Sri Lankan pilgrims visit Lumbini, birth place of Lord Buddha they go to India.

            We protested and pleaded that Lumbini is located in Nepal, but not in India. So Buddha was born in Nepal. I had my visiting card with me as it was written ‘Buddha was born in Nepal.’ I gave this visiting card to Gamini Bandara and requested him to make corrections in his false and misleading statement and improve his scanty knowledge.

 Visiting Card

            After that, his face was rather blurred. I insisted him to make correction on his knowledge of Lord Buddha’s birth place. He finally said he will update his knowledge and information. He further said that he will read related materials. Such type of misleading about the location of Lumbini and birthplace of Buddha did hurt me very much and other members of Nepali delegation as well.

            It may be relevant to mention one more interesting thing, while visiting the museum of Buddha’ Relic area in Kandy. There were separate halls with the materials from Nepal, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh as well. There was an inscription mentioning that ‘Mayadevi gave birth Lord Buddha under a Saal Tree in Lumbini. But it is mysterious that the word ‘Nepal’ was written nowhere in those materials. The other thing is that, the materials from various countries like Pakistan or Bangladesh were put and managed under their national flag in the hall. But there was not installed the national flag of Nepal, where there were some materials brought from Nepal.

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            I don’t know whether this type of short comings have been made unknowingly or by mistake or intentionally. At least, the Ambassador of Nepal to Sri Lanka should take initiative to correct and improve on all these things to maintain the identity of Nepal. I think each and every Nepali Ambassador might have visited that spot. Why they are not so sensitive and serious on all these matters of national identity of Nepal ? They are representing Nepal.

            We talk very much on Nepali politics and political leaders. General folk people from Namle-Doke-Kharpane brothers and sisters to University teachers and intellectual personalities talk on politics too much anywhere, in tea shops and open discussions. One Chana Chatpate seller or Badam seller can talk and explain about Nepali politics for an hour. But they cannot speak for more than two-four minutes on the matter of national identity and overall development of Nepal, which is necessary for the protection of our sovereignty, freedom and integrity of Nepal; and means of economic development of the people of Nepal. It has to be thought seriously and come into action on these national issues by the government and political leaders on those types of sensitive matters.

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