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South Asia Security Monitor - No.303

On disputed borders, Indian army deploys high-tech boats;
US. walks back hopes for a Taliban peace deal;
China: No federalism for Nepal, please

Edited by Jeff Smith & Amanda Sawit
October 10, 2012


ON DISPUTED BORDER, INDIAN ARMY DEPLOYS HIGH-TECH BOATS
The Indian army has deployed new QRT (quick-reaction team) boats to patrol the disputed waters of Pangong Tso (Lake) in eastern Ladakh, on the Himalayan border between India and China. Control of this 134-km-long lake is split between both India (1/3) and China (2/3), and it has been a flashpoint in the half-century-old border dispute. For years, Chinese soldiers have frustrated their poorly-equipped Indian counterparts, deploying 20 fast, well-armed boats on the lake while Indian troops were handicapped by slow and outdated vessels. The addition of 17 US-made QRT boats capable of carrying 16 to 18 soldiers each will provide a more equal balance of forces. (Times of India, October 2 2012)

US WALKS BACK HOPES FOR A TALIBAN PEACE DEAL
US military officials have abandoned their hope for coercing the Taliban into a peace deal, formerly a central component of the US strategy to end the war in Afghanistan. The strategy has instead been replaced by a far less ambitious goal of encouraging the Afghan government and Taliban to work out a deal among themselves in the coming years—a deal whose success would also depend on support from Islamabad. Underscoring the tough road ahead, one senior military officer told the New York Times: “It’s a very resilient enemy, and I’m not going to tell you its not. It will be a constant battle, and it will be for years.” While the US will work to establish the groundwork for eventual peace talks, many fear the gains achieved by the two-year surge of forces could disappear once US troops fully withdraw. (The New York Times, October 1 2012)

CHINA: NO FEDERALISM FOR NEPAL, PLEASE
In a recent article The Hindu’s correspondent Prashat Jha contends that Beijing’s growing influence in Nepalese domestic politics could lead to social and political division within the country. Beijing’s inroads in the past five years appear to be motivated by China’s fears over the activity pro-Tibet elements operating in Nepal. Now a new element appears to motivating Beijing: A senior Chinese party official reportedly conveyed China’s “security concern” with the possibility of Nepal adopting federalism soon after Nepal’s Constituent Assembly failed. “Their message was China prefers a unitary Nepal, but if federalism has to happen, it should not be based on ethnicity. This is the first time that China has intervened so directly in our domestic affairs,” a “senior Maoist leader” told The Hindu. A leader from the Nepali Congress Party told the paper that China didn’t want to deal with “multiple power centers” across the border. (The Hindu, October 5 2012)

INDIA TO CONTINUE TRAINING SRI LANKAN TROOPS
Despite political opposition in India, Sri Lanka announced that it was “very firm” on continuing with a program whereby Sri Lankan soldiers are trained inside India. A rash of protests in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu against Sri Lankan pilgrims raised questions about whether Sri Lanka would reconsider sending defense personnel to India, and would seek alternatives in countries like China. (The Tamils that populate Tamil Nadu share kinship with the minority Tamils on Sri Lanka, who accuse the Buddhist majority Sinhalese of repression). In an attempt to tamp down those fears, the Sri Lankan Economic Development Minister told the press that his country looks to India in a “much bigger way” than China, and that they did not intend to break the “long history” of sending new batches of defense personnel to India for training. (IBN Live, October 3 2012; The Times of India, October 3 2012)


Related Categories: South Asia; South Asia Program

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