The Asian Age – In J&K Valley, rebuild bridges and reach out

Modi has been unable to build a consensus on a peaceful solution of the Kashmir problem.

S Nihal Singh

Op/Ed, 24 April 2017. All the do-gooders seeking an out-of-the-box solution to the Kashmir imbroglio miss a central point. Can a BJP government at the Centre and in a coalition in the state surmount its inherent limitations to prove equal to the task?

The answer, as events in the Kashmir Valley prove each day, is a qualified “no”. To begin with, the BJP’s ideological blinkers and narrow definition of nationalism make any solution of the problem more difficult.

Added to this mix, the macho culture the BJP cultivates, as opposed to its concept of weak coalition governments of the past, is eminently unsuited to tackling the problem. Witness the suggestion of a BJP minister in the state Cabinet recently suggesting that stone-pelting protesters should be shot.

The tragedy is that the one politician who could make a bold move to untangle the situation is inhibited by his own upbringing in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its long arm over the government’s decision-making process.
To add to a series of failures, Prime Minister Narendra Modi erred in believing that the impasse would work to his advantage even as the frustrations among the young in particular grew.

Besides, the decision to speed up the “Hinduisation” of the rest of the country inevitably riles the people of the Valley.

Mr Modi’s limitations can best be judged from his public declaration some time ago that a vast majority of the cow protection units were goons, only to eat his words in less than 24 hours to suggest that goons were participants in only a few of such units.

We are living with the consequences of such mixed signals: the lynching to death of a Muslim dairy farmer transporting cattle and, more recently, of a nomad family severely beaten up in Jammu because they were with their cattle, their only source of livelihood.

Proposals for a solution of the Kashmir problem have been repeated ad nauseam. Begin serious talks with all sections and parties in the Valley, including the separatists, and set up parallel talks with Pakistan.

The latter prospect has receded in view of Pakistan’s decision to hang an Indian to death after a secret military trial on spying charges. But there is nothing to prevent discussions with Kashmiris in the Valley, once the ground has been prepared.

Mr Ram Madhav, the BJP’s pointman for Kashmir, had to make a quick trip to the state to try to stem the growing fissures in the coalition; whether he administered a slap on the wrist of the erring BJP state minister for his foolish comment is not known.

On his part, Mr Modi seems unable to discipline his partymen to refrain from making provocative remarks that seek to raise issues of cow protection and other concepts to keep the communal pot boiling.

Thus far, for party political reasons or otherwise, Mr Modi has been unable to build a consensus on a peaceful solution of the Kashmir problem. The abysmal scale of voting in the Srinagar byeelection made the country sit up and even the May date for the bye election in Anantnag seems unrealistic.

Members of mainstream parties, including the state’s ruling party, are hiding, instead of campaigning, with terror of the gun dominating the environment.

The projected meeting of the state chief minister, Ms Mehbooba Mufti, with the Prime Minister will lead nowhere unless the latter is clear on how to begin resolving the problem. If he can get rid of his own inhibitions, he must convince the RSS leadership that the country requires a different approach to Kashmir.

The only BJP leader who had a measure of credibility with Kashmiris is Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who headed a coalition government, and sang the song of insaniyat (humanity). But you cannot begin the process if your leitmotif is to shoot the stone-pelters.

In a sense, the question boils down to Mr Modi’s capacity to make a sharp U-turn in the larger interest of the country by prevailing upon the RSS to give him the room to resolve an old problem which bears the burden of the subcontinent’s tragic partition and its murderous consequences.

He could get past the RSS for a time in Gujarat, but it was one state, not the whole country, and the RSS is riding high with the BJP’s victory in the 2014 election bringing three decades of coalition governments to an end. Its dream of a Hindu rashtra is within grasp.

Before setting out for Rawalpindi as the first Indian newspaper correspondent to be posted in Pakistan after the 1965 war, I had a meeting with Indira Gandhi on the morning of April 21, 1967.

In her view, Field Marshal Ayub Khan had to give in to pressure from Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (then foreign minister) and associates to adopt an anti-India stance because the latter felt that only such a posture could keep Pakistan together.

She said no Indian government could placate Pakistan on Kashmir, adding, “And what new solution can there be on Kashmir?”

The actors on the two sides have changed, but Mrs Gandhi’s words ring as true today as it did then. It is thus essential to begin the task of reconciling with the people in the Valley in a dramatically changed environment in India.

She espoused secularism and although the secular creed is still enshrined in the Constitution, Mr Modi’s followers in the BJP and the RSS are doing everything in their power to push their concept of the Hindu rashtra.

Where do we go from here? There is only one sane argument: create the mood for reconciliation by making moves on the ground. Mr Farooq Abdullah’s suggestion to impose President’s rule is no answer.

Rather, the answer lies in building bridges to the people of the Valley. Inevitably, terrorists of the local and Pakistani provenance must be answered with the gun.

But New Delhi’s best answer would be otherwise to sheath the sword and befriend the Valley and its people by assuring them of autonomy and fair play.

S Nihal Singh has four editorships under his belt, with globetrotting stints in Singapore, Pakistan, Moscow, London, New York, Paris and Dubai.

http://www.asianage.com/opinion/columnists/240417/in-jk-valley-rebuild-bridges-and-reach-out.html

The Asian Age – J&K: FIR against Army for tying man to jeep, using him as ‘human shield’

The video went viral on the social media and evoked angry response across Jammu and Kashmir and the country alike

Srinagar, 17 April 2017. A FIR has been registered in connection with a video of a young man who was tied to the front of an army vehicle and paraded in a village of central Kashmir’s Budgam district, as a sign of warning of same consequence for stone-pelters.

FIR No. 38/17 U/S 342/149/506 & 367 RPC was registered in the Beerwah Police Station on 13 April.

The video went viral on social media and evoked angry response across Jammu and Kashmir and the country alike.

Former J-K chief minister Omar Abdullah had tweeted the video on Friday saying, “Here’s the video as well. A warning can be heard saying stone-pelters will meet this fate. This requires an urgent inquiry & follow up NOW!!”

A number of videos appeared on the social media in wake of the by-polls in Srinagar parliamentary constituency on April 9, when as low as 7.14 voter turnout was registered.

The re-poll at 38 polling stations on April 13 recorded 2 percent voting.

Internet services were also shut down on the night before elections on April 9 and were resumed completely on April 13.

Another video that was widely circulated on the social media and TV channels was of an armed CRPF personnel exercising immense restraint even when he was being attacked by few protestors.

The Jammu and Kashmir police, on complaint of the CRPF, later registered a case to investigate the matter.

http://www.asianage.com/india/all-india/170417/jk-fir-against-army-for-tying-man-to-jeep-using-him-as-human-shield.html

The Statesman – Altering Gilgit-Baltistan status unacceptable: India

New Delhi, 5 April 2017. The Union government on Wednesday asserted that Gilgit-Baltistan, which Pakistan wants to make a new province, are India’s territory with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj telling the Lok Sabha that it would be wrong to think that India will let go of any part of its territory.

She was responding to Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leader Bhartruhari Mahtab remark, wondering if the government has even properly responded to Pakistan’s move to make Gilgit-Baltistan its fifth province.

Noting that some Western countries had criticised it, he asked, “What is our government’s response?” and urged the government not to forget history or it will be condemned to repeat it.

In her response, Swaraj said the Indian government had opposed Pakistan’s move the very day it got to know about it.

“Even raising a doubt over this government that it will let go of some area will be wrong,” the minister added.

She noted that both Houses of Parliament had passed resolutions which had reiterated India’s claim over Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) and Gilgit-Baltistan, both under Pakistan’s occupation, and the government was bound by it.

She also quoted a BJP slogan which underlines India’s claim over the territory and noted that its founder Shyama Prasad Mookerjee had “sacrificed” his life over this. “We are bound by Parliament’s resolutions and also our resolve,” she said.

http://www.thestatesman.com/india/altering-gilgit-baltistan-status-unacceptable-india-1491385854.html

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Times of India – Devise new strategy in Jammu & Kashmir, time running out

Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay

Op/Ed, 7 April 2017. Given his brilliant oratory, unceasing use of alliterations and catchphrases of consequence, one always expects something out of the ordinary in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speeches.

His recent address while launching the Chenani-Nashri Tunnel was widely publicised and prominence given to the juxtaposition of two choices before the people of Jammu and Kashmir, tourism or terrorism.

Now, consider this statement: “Terrorism feeds on intolerance and arrogance, tourism breeds tolerance and empathy. Terrorism seeks to erect walls of hatred between faiths and communities; tourism breaks such barriers.

Terrorism detests pluralism, whereas tourism pays tribute to it.” Most will presume it was part of Mr Modi’s speech not used by TV channels for its reiterative characteristic.

The trouble is that these lines are not the current Prime Minister’s but that of former PM Atal Behari Vajpayee. Matters become knottier as the assertion was made 15 years ago, in May 2002, in the backdrop of rising threats in the post-9/11 world, the December 13, 2001 attack on India’s Parliament and close on the heels of the Gujarat riots.

Neither Mr Vajpayee nor Mr Modi can be denied their right to put forth their contention. However, anxiety swells because Mr Modi’s replication of the argument demonstrates that even after a decade and a half, the Centre views tourism as a panacea for terrorism.

There is no attempt to recognise that terrorism, civilian unrest in Jammu and Kashmir, or elsewhere in the country, have several causative reasons and different solutions.

Mr Modi declared that among the choices people had, dialogue was not one of them. He also did not explain the official monotony and why the government was not exploring alternatives to the path it has pursued since the situation got completely out of hand last year after militant commander Burhan Wani was killed.

Since the tactics that were adopted have not doused the fire in the Valley, it may be time to explore if other approaches would be more suitable.

But since the government refuses to evaluate alternative strategies, there is no escaping the sense that Army Chief General Bipin Rawat’s off-the-cuff statement in February, that those who “obstruct our operations” (read stone-pelters) and don’t support the security forces, shall be “treated as overground workers of terrorists”, is official policy.

As the recent incident in the Chadoora area of central Budgam district indicates, the security forces will henceforth make no effort to distinguish terrorists from civilians.

This is virtually indistinguishable from the State declaring the people as terrorists. Faced with such a stance, can the people be expected to join the mainstream and partner in building a tourist paradise?

Prior to General Rawat’s provocative declaration, the groundswell of public backing for plans to ferment trouble and replicate last autumn’s disturbances, was waning.

However, the declaration that the Army would treat mobs as “anti-nationals” virtually pushed some people into the arms of terrorists and separatist groups.

The government doles out freebies to secessionist leaders, but adopts a tough posture against the people, the opposite of what it should be doing to restore normality in the state.

The trouble with the Kashmir policy is that it is as unidimensional as the ruling party’s definition of nationalism and what constitutes anti-national activity. Disagreement, disaffection, dissatisfaction and even scepticism is seen as anathema. Any action to express these sentiments is painted in a single hue and branded unpatriotic.

Sadly, the BJP plays to the gallery even in the sensitive state and its leaders articulate views with an eye on the Jammu and Ladakh electorate, besides addressing majority community voters from other states.

Mr Modi chose to use stones as a political metaphor. Given that stone-throwing has come to stay as a form of protest, and in certain cases as a tactic to provide cover to escaping or sheltering terrorists, the Prime Minister’s sarcasm, that stones have immense power, was not lost on anyone.

He argued that while the misguided hurled these, the other lot laboured to cut through the rocks to carve out Kashmir’s destiny.

The state needs much more than Mr Vajpayee’s poetry and Mr Modi’s oratory. Moreover, the people need to be invited for discussions with someone with a benign face.

Nearly 25 years ago, the demolition of the Babri Masjid triggered a sense of isolation and loss of identity among Muslims across India. By then, Kashmir was on the boil but Muslims in the rest of the country had little empathy for its “cause”.

Over time, growing Hindu belligerence obliterated this distinction and “being” Muslim became a bond. Anxiety among Muslims has intensified in the wake of the Uttar Pradesh polls.

Kashmiri Muslims still have different issues to those in other states, yet they remain connected because they are seen as a monolith by ruling party supporters.

Jammu and Kashmir has a coalition government only in name, not in spirit, and representatives from different regions remain as alienated from each other as the people. Home-grown terror has expanded its footprint and altered its character since the 1993 blasts in Mumbai.

Crowd-sourcing of terror has emerged as a global challenge and must ring alarm bells in India too. Terrorism can take root without external Chenani-Nashri Tunnel as several triggers for self-radicalisation exist. Terrorists will find new avenues to spread mayhem and the state will have to clutch on to every straw in the wind.

Instead of this, and unearthing individuals and groups who despite disaffection with the state still oppose terrorists, the government is snuffing out all beacons of hope. Tunnels are built to circumvent difficult terrain.

Instead of gloating over infrastructural achievements and listing future projects, it is time to use beneath-the-surface passageways as political metaphor.

The situation in Kashmir does not warrant attempts to conquer mountains that obstruct. Innovative routes to safety and tranquillity must be constructed.

This project needs to be initiated immediately to evade the tempest that this coming summer surely promises to trigger.

Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay is the author of ‘Narendra Modi: The Man’, ‘The Times and Sikhs: The Untold Agony of 1984’.

http://www.asianage.com/opinion/columnists/070417/devise-new-strategy-in-jk-time-running-out.html

DNA India – Sikh body demands fresh probe into the Chattisinghpora massacre

Srinagar, 20 March 2017. A Sikh body here today demanded a fresh probe into the Chattisinghpora massacre which claimed the lives of 35 Sikhs on this day in 2000.

“After 17 years, the people of Jammu and Kashmir, especially the Sikhs of the Valley, are still waiting for the justice. We urge the state and central governments to nab the culprits of the massacre,” Chairman, All Parties Sikh Coordination Committee, Jagmohan Singh Raina said in a statement issued here.

He said it was “unfortunate” that the government is maintaining “silence” on the issue.

“We urge the state and central governments to go for fresh a probe into the incident. If they fail to do so, then we will consider it as a huge injustice with the Sikhs of Kashmir,” Raina said.

“We will not rest till the real culprits of the massacre are brought to justice,” he vowed.

After the massacre on 20 March 2000 in Chattisinghpora village in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district, the security forces claimed to have killed five “militants” responsible for the murder of the Sikhs at a nearby village.

However, a CBI inquiry, ordered by the state government after massive protests, revealed that the deceased were civilians who were abducted and killed in a fake encounter.

http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report-sikh-body-demands-fresh-probe-into-the-chattisinghpora-2360423

The Hindu – Don’t declare Gilgit-Baltistan as a province, separatists warn Pakistan

India, Pakistan have no right to alter geographical status of J&K, they say

Peerzada Ashiq

Srinagar, 18 March 2017. Separatists on Friday opposed the Pakistan government’s move to declare Gilgit-Baltistan as its fifth province.

In a joint statement, Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik said, “Kashmir, Ladakh, Jammu, Azad Kashmir [Pakistan-occupied Kashmir] and Gilgit-Baltistan is a single entity.”

The separatists said since the political destiny of Jammu and Kashmir was yet to be decided any proposal to declare Gilgit-Baltistan as the fifth State of Pakistan was “unacceptable.”

Referring to Pakistan as “a prime party to the Kashmir issue”, the separatists said such a step may hamper the disputed status of Kashmir.

“We hail the role of Pakistan regarding the issue in international fora. However, any deviation in its stance about Kashmir and its geographical entity is improper and will prove detrimental for the Kashmir cause.”

They said no division, alteration and changes were acceptable unless the people of erstwhile J&K get an opportunity to decide the future course of the State through a referendum. “Both India and Pakistan have no authority or right to alter the geographical status of the State,” they added.

Mr. Geelani, the Mirwaiz and Mr Malik expressed the hope that Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif “will fulfil the country’s commitment regarding the geographical entity of Jammu and Kashmir”.

The separatists’ reaction comes days after, a committee, headed by Pakistan’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, had proposed giving the status of a province to Gilgit-Baltistan.

The committee suggested that a constitutional amendment be made to change the status of the region, through which the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passes.

Placed under house arrest

Senior separatist leaders, including Mr. Geelani, the Mirwaiz and Mr Malik, were placed under house arrest on Friday in the wake of their call to hold “peaceful street protests after Friday prayers”.

JKLF chairman Malik, while condemning the police action, said, “Casting or boycotting vote is a democratic right of every human. If the rulers really believe in democracy, battle of ideas and freedom of speech and choice, they should refrain from terrorising pro-boycott people and allow the resistance camp to run a boycott campaign in a peaceful way”.

Two parliamentary constituencies, Srinagar and Anantnag, are having by-polls on April 9 and 12 respectively.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/dont-declare-gilgit-baltistan-as-a-province-separatists-warn-pak/article17523856.ece?homepage=true

Dawn – Troubled waters: India fast-tracks hydro projects in held Kashmir

Jammu & Kashmir, 16 March 2017. India has fast-tracked hydropower projects worth $15 billion in India-held Kashmir in recent months, three federal and state officials said, ignoring warnings from Islamabad that power stations on rivers flowing into Pakistan will disrupt water supplies.

The swift approval of projects that had languished for years came after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi suggested last year that sharing the waterways could be conditional on Pakistan clamping down on anti-India militants that New Delhi says it shelters.

Pakistan has opposed some of these projects before, saying they violate a World Bank-mediated treaty on the sharing of the Indus river and its tributaries upon which 80pc of its irrigated agriculture depends.

The schemes, the largest of which is the 1,856-megawatt (MW) Sawalkote plant, will take years to complete, but their approval could prove a flashpoint between the nuclear-armed neighbors at a time when relations are at a low ebb.

“I say the way you look at these projects, it is not purely a hydro project. Broaden it to a strategic water management, border management problem, and then you put in money,” said Pradeep Kumar Pujari, a top ranking official in India’s power ministry.

Pakistan denies any involvement in the 28-year armed insurgency in held Kashmir and has repeatedly urged New Delhi to hold talks to decide the future of the region.

Foreign ministry spokesman Nafees Zakaria said he would confer with the Ministry of Water and Power on the proposed Indian projects, saying it was a technical matter.

He noted, however, that India would be attending a regular meeting of the Indus Commission later this month in Lahore, even though the broader peace dialogue was on hold.

“It seems that finally India has realised the importance of this mechanism under the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) for resolving water disputes related to the Indus water and its tributaries.”

Triple power

Six hydro projects in India-held Kashmir either cleared viability tests or the more advanced environment and forest expert approvals in the last three months, two officials in India’s Water Resources Ministry and the Central Electricity Authority said separately.

Together these projects on the Chenab river, a tributary of the Indus, would triple hydropower generation in Jammu and Kashmir from the current level of 3,000MW, the biggest jump in decades, added the officials, declining to be named because the approvals had not yet been made public.

“We have developed barely one-sixth of the hydropower capacity potential in the state in the last 50 years,” the senior official at the Indian Water Resources Ministry said.

“Then one fine morning, you see we cleared six to seven projects in three months; it definitely raises concern in Pakistan.”

Pakistan’s water supply is dwindling because of climate change, outdated farming techniques and a fast-growing population.

A 2011 report by the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations said New Delhi could use these projects as a way to control Pakistan’s supplies from the Indus, seen as its jugular vein.

“The cumulative effect of these projects could give India the ability to store enough water to limit the supply to Pakistan at crucial moments in the growing season,” it said.

India says the projects are “run-of-the-river” schemes that use the river’s flow and elevation to generate electricity rather than large reservoirs, and do not contravene the treaty.

Environmental groups have questioned whether the government has followed proper procedures in fast-tracking projects located in a highly seismic area.

Blood and water

Modi told a meeting of government officials on the Indus treaty last year that “blood and water cannot flow together”, soon after India blamed Pakistan-based militants for a deadly attack on its troops in held Kashmir.

Modi’s message was two-fold, Indian foreign ministry spokesman Gopal Baglay said. Terrorism had to stop and India must fully utilise the economic potential available to it within the Indus treaty.

The projects that have won technical approvals in recent months are Sawalkote, Kwar, Pakal Dul, Bursar and Kirthai I and II.

Most of the projects have been held up for at least a decade awaiting multiple clearances. Sawalkote, which was cleared by a government-constituted environment committee in January, was first given techno-economic approval in 1991.

It is now up for forest clearance from the state authorities, after which the Indian government will finalize financing and begin construction.

Some projects like Pakal Dul were stuck in litigation, but that has been resolved, India-held Kashmir’s Power Minister Nirmal Singh told Reuters in Srinagar. “Things are now in a position of take-off,” he said.

In January, India’s senior federal officials made a presentation on energy security to Modi in which they proposed interest subsidies and long-term loans for hydro projects above 100MW, according to the document seen by Reuters.

But Himanshu Thakkar, coordinator of South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers & People, said some projects had been cleared without impact assessment studies and public consultation.

“It’s on one river, the Chenab, where you are doing so many projects. This is a very vulnerable region. It’s landslide-prone, it’s flash flood-prone, earthquake-prone,” Thakkar said.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1320850/troubled-waters-india-fast-tracks-hydro-projects-in-held-kashmir

The Times of India – India suspends cross-border trade with Pakistan

Jammu-Jammu & Kashmir, 15 March 2017. Indian authorities suspended cross-border trade with Pakistan along the Line of Control (LoC) on Tuesday after Pakistan continued unprovoked ceasefire violation in the border district of Poonch. The firing severely damaged the Trade Facilitation Centre (TFC) at Chaka-da-Bagh.

On Monday, the cross-LoC bus service from Poonch to Pakistan’s Rawlakote had been suspended as a “precautionary measure”.

According to TFC officer Tanveer Ahmed, trucks were sent by Indian traders to ‘zero point’ at Chaka-daBagh on Tuesday, but Pakistani authorities didn’t open the LoC gate. “After waiting for some time, we returned,” Ahmed said.

Sources said there was no likelihood of trade resuming on Wednesday. On March 1, Jammu & Kashmir police recovered a cache of arms and ammunitions being smuggled in a truck along the Muzaffarabad-Srinagar route.

A Chinese pistol, two pistol magazines, 14 rounds of pistol ammunition, four AK magazines, 120 AK ammunitions and two Chinese grenades were recovered from a “camouflage cavity” of the truck by police.

Trading between two sides began in 2008 but has since witnessed highs and lows. Pakistan suspended trading in August 2016 without sighting any reason.

On November 2, tension along LoC and the International Border had led to the suspension of trading and the Karvan-e-Aman Bus Service.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/india-suspends-cross-border-trade-with-pakistan/articleshow/57641340.cms

The Hindu – Dalai Lama’s Arunachal visit irks China

Warns of ‘serious damage’ to relations with India.

Atul Aneja

Beijing, 4 March 2017. The China-India border dispute came into sharp focus on Friday after the Chinese Foreign Ministry warned New Delhi not to allow the Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal Pradesh, the State which is at the heart of the Sino-Indian dispute in the eastern sector.

China’s sharp response against the visit by the Tibetan leader in exile followed a call by a former Chinese boundary negotiator, who stressed that if the two sides managed to overcome their differences in the eastern sector, the final settlement of the boundary dispute would be well within grasp.

“China is gravely concerned over information that India has granted permission to the Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal Pradesh,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a briefing.

He warned that an invitation to him to visit Arunachal Pradesh will cause “serious damage” to Sino-Indian ties. “India is fully aware of the seriousness of the Dalai Lama issue and the sensitivity of the China-India border question.

Under such a background if India invites the Dalai Lama to visit the mentioned territory, it will cause serious damage to peace and stability of the border region and China-India relations,” he said.

‘Stick to commitments’

“We have expressed concerns to the Indian side, urged India to stick to its political commitments and abide by important consensus the two sides have reached on the boundary question, refrain from actions that might complicate the issue, not provide a platform to the Dalai clique and protect the sound and stable development of the Sino-India relations,” he said.

The remarks followed the conclusion of the China-India strategic dialogue, led by Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar last month.

Mr Geng’s stand came in the wake of the “carrot” offered by Dai Bingguo, a former State Councillor and China’s Special Representative for the boundary talks, that both countries stood at the “gate” of the final settlement, provided they could overcome their differences on the eastern alignment.

The former official signalled that China was likely to reciprocate in the western sector, which includes the disputed Aksai Chin, if India demonstrated flexibility along the eastern boundary.

“If the Indian side takes care of China’s concerns in the eastern sector of their border, the Chinese side will respond accordingly and address India’s concerns elsewhere,” he observed.

The “eastern sector” dispute is over territory south of the McMahon Line in Arunachal Pradesh, which includes Tawang. The McMahon Line was the result of the 1914 Simla Convention, between British India and Tibet, and was rejected by China.

Referring specifically to Tawang, Mr Dai underscored that the “disputed territory in the eastern sector of the China-India boundary, including Tawang, is inalienable from China’s Tibet in terms of cultural background and administrative jurisdiction.”

“From the perspective of international law, the Simla Accord, as well as the ‘McMahon Line’ which it created, are not only unfair and illegitimate, but also illegal and invalid,” he observed.

Mr Dai highlighted that an Agreement on the Political Parameters and Guiding Principles for the Settlement of the India-China Boundary Question, that was signed in 2005 has been “fundamental” in advancing the boundary talks.

He said that this agreement pinpointed that the two countries should make “meaningful and mutually acceptable adjustments to their respective positions on the boundary question in order to reach a package settlement.”

http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/dalai-lamas-visit-to-arunachal-irks-china/article17404585.ece?homepage=true