India, Pakistan, and China regarding the Kashmir region

Seokhyun (Nathan) Baek, Writer

After an Indian jet was shot down on February 27, 2019, by a Pakistani SAM over the disputed territory of Kashmir, tensions between Pakistan and India have escalated. 

Pakistan and India have conflicted over the disputed region of Kashmir ever since the partition of the two countries from British rule. After a series of wars and conflicts surrounding the poorly managed border, China, India, and Pakistan remain in a standoff to seize control over the region. India claims that the region is theirs due to the Kashmiri leader’s choice to join India. Pakistan rests on the claim that Kashmir is rightfully theirs due to the overwhelming Muslim majority in the region. Meanwhile, China’s broad interests in the region have led to increased tension and conflict surrounding the mineral rights and resources the area has to offer. According to the CIA, the Kashmir region is the most likely flashpoint for a nuclear war, so we need to ensure that the region remains stable and that The China Communist Party does not remain unchecked for its aggressions. 

Despite the economic gains of globalization, it may violate nations’ sovereign security and rights during the process. The CCP tends to stage itself with an aggressive stance, particularly in volatile zones. Thereby, the CCP gains leverage of globalized zones, threatening democratic means; yet if nations isolate, democratic means can be conserved.

In recent years India has cut total arms sales, but under the Trump Administration, imports from the United States rapidly increased. With India’s current situation between the CCP and Pakistan, they will be pressured to increase their importance to deter and defend against the CCP. America should increase Foreign Military Sales (FMS) and Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) of arms to India. This will create a coevolution status (both parties adapting to each other’s demand) by allowing advancements in Indian military capabilities and deterrence against the CCP while also furthering American national interest by creating an increased strategic partnership with India in the long-term goal of an alliance and advancing American economic interests. In 2021 India purchased predator drones from the United States in response to the rising Chinese influence. Every additional fighter plane or drone sold to India results in interoperability between the American and Indian militaries. This will achieve short-term American interests of increasing the strategic partnership with India and will assist in showing strength against the CCP by decreasing their influence in the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia.

According to The Tribune, India was the second-largest importer of arms from 2016 to 2020. India has one of the largest militaries; however, they spend a majority of their budget on importing arms. To fulfill the long-term interest of a military alliance between the United States and India, the United States should invest resources in advancing and modernizing India’s military-industrial complex through their indigenous defense system.

Aid packages are a significant incentive to cooperate within international law. Germany, a NATO ally to the US, is one of the largest foreign aid donors to China, being one of the Development Assistant members in 2017, donating about 710.34M USD to China. Additionally, according to the U.S. Embassy, the U.S. has supplied approximately 5 billion USD aid packages towards Pakistan since 2009. If peaceful cooperation cannot occur between the nations, leveraging aid would be a viable solution. On the other hand, improving and implementing more robust aid would motivate each country to reach a conflict-free resolution to spread stability in the region, playing into the US’s national interests. As a long-term goal, the aid packages could be used to promote coevolution with Pakistan. The capital delivered could be directed towards increasing access to education for all genders, ensuring human rights are upheld, allowing citizens to have stable access to clean water, and other parts of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. This would be in America’s interest by increasing the US’s soft power, and it would help Pakistan improve the quality of life in the country. By assisting the region instead of punishing it, Pakistan and other countries in the region can see that reliance on China is not sustainable. A partnership with the U.S. is beneficial, which would follow the Biden administration’s liberal perspective on foreign policy and advance American interests.

The Line of Actual Control (LAC) divides the Kashmir and Jammu region into three factions: China, India, and Pakistan

The events occurring on The Line of Control between India and Pakistan illustrate that the administration surrounding it is its primary source of increasing tension. Because the borders are unclear and disputed, it is not easy to maintain peace in the region. The region/administration needs to institute a mechanism to peacefully resolve these disputes through dialogue, which should take a joint Pakistani-Indian council. The United State’s role in this council would be to leverage the partnership with both states to enhance diplomacy and act as a neutral perspective. Within the Kashmir region, the border between Pakistan and India should be treated similarly to the Sino-Indian border with the Border Defense Cooperation Agreement. At the joint Pakistani-Indian council, a firearm prohibition should be put in place to reduce the risk of misunderstandings and improve communications between the two nations by outlining future procedures for border incursions. Furthermore, the U.S. should suggest that the respective countries’ militaries issue orders that their aircraft do not fly within the area of the established border. The establishment of this council would achieve the long-term goals of increasing stability and by helping to prevent future incidents such as this one.

India wishes to regain access to the water that the Himalayas bear and to preserve its cultural ties to the region. The CCP’s primary interests lie in what is inside the colossal Himalayan mountains in Aksai Chin and Ladakh. The natural resources like Lead, Zinc, and Jade prevalent near the LAC border are precious to the Chinese for their economy’s machinery and jewelry sectors. This approach will be mutually beneficial if India accesses the water and China the minerals. The two nations can explore these interests to reach a negotiated agreement that can decrease tensions, prevent violence near the border, and usher peace in the region. Even if the CCP does not follow through on the negotiations, the rest of these policy recommendations would still advance American national interests and South Asian stability. The U.S. can hold a position in these talks as a non-aligned third party to encourage negotiation and peaceful dialogue. A solution could also institute free trade zones (FTZ), ensuring that cooperation and coevolution through a multilateral symbiotic relationship thrive. Free trade zones in areas like Shanghai and Hong Kong have been essential to the economic upkeep of the nation. However, establishing an FTZ in Tibet, China, India, the US, and Pakistan could gain greater access to the Chinese marketplace and establish a healthier relationship in the region.

The aggressive outburst between the nuclear powers of Pakistan, India, and China has created a tricky situation. If the CCP seizes areas from India, it would prove embarrassing for the United States on the global stage and provide the CCP an opportunity to expand its power in South Asia unlawfully. Hence, the U.S. has a chance to moderate peace in the South Asian region and achieve substantive financial gains.