A nation has recourse to war either to further from a position of strength the interests it has not been able to promote by political and economic means, or when cornered by a stronger adversary it finds no other means of safeguarding them. In either cast, ultimate defeat in battle pays its price Wars were formerly fought to a finish and the victor always managed to impose its will in settling postwar issues. Such settlements usually endowed the victor with economic or territorial gains, enhancement of its political influence, and some safeguards against the possibility of another confrontation, at least for some decades.
This does not hold good in the context of today’s short wars. By virtue of strong international pressure such wars are not fought to a finish, nor are underdeveloped countries capable of sustaining long wars, especially those countries which depend on industrial nations for their military hardware. The flow of a pipeline can be choked at the supplier’s will. This shortcoming may be overcome by prior stockpiling, but the cost of an inventory is usually far beyond the means of poorer nations.
War objectives have therefore to be achieved according to a tight time schedule. These objectives may be in the tangible form of economic and territorial gains or in war booty, or in the negative form of crippling the adversary’s economy, political structure and war potential. But the total gains should suffice to give the victor enough bargaining power to win concessions from the vanquished to further its national interests in some spheres, if not all. Negotiations for such settlements may be direct or through a third party acting as mediator. India’s losses and gains in successive wars have to be viewed in this context.
India held the valley and overall about two-thirds of the territory, Pakistan the remainder. Prolonged discussions ensued in various organs of the UN for years, without providing a viable solution to the problem.
In 1947, Pakistani tribesmen invaded Kashmir to force its accession to Pakistan. Maharaja Hari Singh, its ruler, opted for India and asked for Delhi’s armed help to throw back the invaders. The Indian Army rushed to the Maharaja’s aid. After some sharp, successful engagements, it was on the verge of throwing the raiders out when Pakistani Army units which had entered Kashmir in aid of the tribals confronted it.
The armies of these newly independent countries, Pakistan and India, waged an inconclusive war for over a year or so, when India took the issue to the United Nations. Hostilities halted with the two armies facing each other on what came to be later known as the ceasefire line, based an actual territorial possession and dividing the former state of Jammu and Kashmir in two.
India held the valley and overall about two-thirds of the territory, Pakistan the remainder. Prolonged discussions ensued in various organs of the UN for years, without providing a viable solution to the problem. Based on a Security Council resolution, the fate of the state was to be decided by a plebiscite under the aegis of the UN. To control exchange of fire along the ceasefire line and its further escalation into an armed conflict, certain safeguards were to be enforced under the Karachi Agreement.
Broadly, the agreement covered the induction of a UN military observer group to act as a watchdog against violations of the agreement. The group was directly answerable to the UN Secretary-General, and the cost of its upkeep was to be borne by both nations. Constraints were imposed on the force levels each country could maintain within the boundaries of Jammu and Kashmir. This level corresponded roughly to the troop strength each country had in the state at the time of ceasefire. In addition, certain ground rules were laid down for patrolling and manning the line, and making military preparations in the vicinity which would avoid physical contact between the two armies, although at places an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation continued.
“¦no Chinese government had recognized the validity of the Simla Treaty of 1913-14 between Britain and Tibet which accepted the MacMahon Line as the common frontier of India and Tibet.
It is a part of history that despite these safeguards and policing by UN observers Jammu and Kashmir was invaded again in 1965 with large scale infiltration-by Pakistan-trained guerillas a couple of months before the actual outbreak of hostilities. The observer group filed reports as a neutral party, referee of belligerence between the two countries. The system followed was for either confronting army to protest ceasefire violations by the opposing troops and these were duly registered by the group and investigated.
The report of the investigation, along with the observers’ recommendations, was sent to the UN, with copies to both armies for necessary action. In serious infringements a flag meeting of the opposing commanders was arranged with observers as mediators. Charges and counter-charges were made at these meetings, usually leading to no conclusive proof as to who sparked the incident, but in the end both parties generally agreed not to repeat such incidents in the future.
Despite that incidents occurred, depending upon the changing political moods in the two countries. In any event Pakistan went to war twice after that, and each time hostilities started the UN group evaporated into thin air. Its watchdog activities did not stop wars between Pakistan and India in 1965 and 1971.
After the emergence of independent India, the Kuomintang and communist regimes in China gave notice that they meant to restore China to its former primacy in Asia. Of immediate concern to India was the fact that no Chinese government had recognized the validity of the Simla Treaty of 1913-14 between Britain and Tibet which accepted the MacMahon Line as the common frontier of India and Tibet. The line was drawn on maps along the greater Himalayan watershed with certain local adjustments. On the emergence of a communist regime in China, Peking declared its intention to liberate Tibet and let it be known that it would not tolerate any interference with Tibetan affairs.
India did not however fear active hostilities on its northern borders for the reason that the vast Tibetan plateau and the Himalayas were considered a formidable barrier to aggression from that direction. Taking note of geography, and the superior Chinese military power, Nehru carved his Tibetan policy. On the whole India accepted the British interpretation with slight modifications, inspired by a desire to develop better relations with the new regime in Peking. India recognized Tibetan autonomy, but at the same time accepted China’s suzerainty as distinct from sovereignty.
Purely as a result of military weakness, India chose to follow a path of measured acquiescence. Nehru speedily recognized the Chinese regime, later accepted China’s forceful entry into Tibet in October 1950, defended its legal right to control Tibet, and supported Peking’s claim to the Chinese seat at the UN. After prolonged negotiations, India and China signed an agreement in Peking on 19 April 1954 enumerating the five principles of peaceful coexistence, but significantly India relinquished its inherited treaty rights.