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South Asian Conflicts

Strategic positions in South Asia

1. India is strategically encircled by Pak, China & Burma. India & China are fighting for mastery of Asia.
2. Tibet has gold, copper, gemstones & radioactive ores. In Tibet, 5% are Chinese settlers. Dalai Lama’s Buddhism mixes Mongolism with idol worship. Communists are dead against these non communists and call them ‘devils worshipping Buddha’ and wanting independence. Riots occur and even possessing a photo of Dalai Lama means beating and imprisonment. Dalai Lama fled and resided in India for long. He had in 1914 sought British help during Indian independence & declared Tibet free from China. China invaded Tibet in 1950 and killed 1 lakh Tibetans in 1959 in riots. CIA along with ISI supplied weapons for the Tibetan rebels. The tibetan exiles in the neighboring countries were encouraged to fight the Chinese occupation of Tibet. It is believed that in 1962 USA made peace with China (to oppose the Soviets) and persuaded India to stop help to Tibet & asked Nepal to arrest its leaders. This is called “The Great Betrayal” of the anti Chinese Tibetan cause. In 1970 China put up new military roads, 514 air bases and missiles capable of reaching Indian metros in deployment in Tibet.
3. Burma (Myanmar) Is full of jungle terrain (Rangoon) and has Chinese support. It is one of South Asia’s richest nations, having teak, fertile land & oil reserves. Burma is on India’s eastern flank adjacent to Arunachal Pradesh in India. Arunachal Pradesh thus, is a highly strategic region.
4. Nepal Is a highly strategic location along Indo Chinese Himalayan wall border; wanted by China & India, and in war, can be occupied by either side. King Birendra, after 1972 played diplomatic game with 2 countries. India had imposed a trade blockade which nearly wrecked Nepal’s economy because of Chinese links. There is a separatist Gurkhaland movement who want to detach Nepal. Sikkim and Ladakh became part of India (under its protectorate) as China annexed Tibet. Several guerilla groups, primarily ULFA were setup in Bhutan. In 2003, Royal Bhutan Army along with the Indian Army began miltary operations against these guerilla camps.

Afghanistan – Soviet Conflict

About 70 million barrels of oil/ day are consumed by the world. India could use the Iran & Gulf sources of oil, whereas China could use the sources in Indonesia and South China Sea. In 1980 the US depended on the Gulf for 33 % of its oil. In 1980, the Gulf provided 33 % of US oil and 70 % of Europe oil, 80 % of Japan oil. The Soviets wanted to go via Afghanistan to Pakistan and then via Iran to the oil rich Gulf. Afghanistan has never been annexed by British, and the Afghans were a proud warrior race.

1. The Communists encouraged the Afghan Communist Party & two militant Organizations. These along with the KGB mounted a coup and in 1979 Hafizullah Amim (the King) came to power. He instituted a reign of terror and great disorder resulted. Communists (USSR) decided on war as an action. Soviet commandos (the Spetnaz) stormed Amin’s palace and executed him. The Soviets had earlier constructed a Trans Afghan highway as part of the assistance to Afghanistan (the highway was actually constructed for Soviet Tanks & Armoured Vehicles). The Soviets wanted to go via Afghanistan to Pak and then via Iran to oil rich Gulf. Then the Soviet tanks came via the highway and occupied Afghanistan. The mujahideens proclaimed Jihad against Godless Soviet infidels. They had only 0.303 Lee Enfield Rifles. By 1989, there were 3500 tanks, 8000 Armoured vehicles, 400 aircrafts, 400 choppers & 4000 guns on Iran’s border.

2. US Forces were 11,000 km away and thus the CIA, MI6 (British) & Saudi & China ran the anti Soviet Afghan Jihad, and the US footed the bill. USSR via Afghanistan via Pak or Iran wanted to access the Gulf (Iraq, Kuwait). Peshawar (in Pakistan), one of Asia’s most important trading centres is near Afghanistan below Khyber Pass and is in NW Frontier Province administered by Pak. This is a strategically important window to Afghanistan. In the past 43 British expeditions from Peshawar have failed!

3. Prof. Rabbani Burhaniddin – fought for Afghanistan with his bitter rival Pakistani mujahideen leader – Engineer Gulabudin Hekmatyar & eventually became President of Afghanistan. (Pakistan – Zia ul Haq with CIA). The KGB encouraged rivalry and staged false ambushes, raids & left fake evidence encouraging the Mujahideen to fight each other. Thus the Jihad nearly died its death in 4 yrs 1979 – 1983. Soviet Airpower was a great problem for Afghanistan. The British SAS “Blowpipe” & Chinese “Anti aircraft weapon” were too heavy and worthless. CIA sent shoulder fired Stingers and brought down Russian Sukhois fighter aircrafts. By 1985 Soviets had 1,40,000 men in Afghanistan.

4. The ISI was convinced that Soviet & India would invade Pakistan. The CIA, MI-6 became allies and 600 million $ per year flew via ISI to Mujahideen. ISI gave logistic supply, combat planning, medical support , ordinance & intelligence. In 1989 Gorbachev Michael, appalled by the stalemate situation and expenses, called off the conflict. All this happened because of Zia ul haq President & ISI Director Gen Akhdar Abdul Rahman Khan. In June 1988 the Soviets openly threatened that Zia & Akhdar would pay personally for the impending defeat. In Aug 1988 a military Aircraft carrying both and 30 senior Pak military offrs crashed. Inquiry concluded sabotage by Toxic gas released into cockpit. USSR along with CIA & Benazir Bhutto engineered it – is one opinion. 1990 – 3 yrs later after Soviets left Afghanistan the Soviet Army lost its fear inspiring reputation & Soviet Union collapsed – 1990.

5. 1989, Soviets were driven out from Afghanistan. Soviets, USA, desired a weak divided Afghanistan rather than an Islamic stronghold. Hence encouraged a civil war between rival tribes.

6. In 1995, a new force Taliban in Afghanistan took charge of violent civil war which was a product of ISI supported by the CIA, to be rid of civil war. The Taliban was led by the one-eyed Sheikh Omar. It seized much of Afghanistan. Russia viewed Taliban as a threat. Pakistan wanted to build a pipeline from Karachi to Middle-east (Central Asia) to make Karachi an imp export port. Iran wanted to export Middle East resources via its ports to the world. Iran cooperated with Russia to combat Taliban by encouraging civil war. Osama Bin laden settled in Afghanistan and supported Taliban. US fired > 100 cruise missiles to kill Osama in Afghanistan & destroyed Taliban. Osama wanted to oust US, European pow- ers supporting the corrupt Saudi Royal family—jihad against US force in Saudi.

7. After Soviets left Afghanistan, the US cutoff all arms & money to
Mujahideen. They denounced Islamic warriors as terrorists. US + USSR joined hands to combat the spread of Islam. The Mujahideen now either

  • joined Kashmir struggle
  • joined Osama to drive US from Middle East
  • joined Madrassas for Theological studies in Afghanistan
  • went back to homes in a. Algeria b. Morroco c. Lebanon d. Egypt e. Jordan f. Saudi g. Gulf

Islamists who had come together to avenge humiliation suffered by them at hands of USSR & West in past – Mujahideen
Bottom Note: Fascism was led by Mussolini in Italy, while Nazism was led by Hitler in Germany.

India – China Disputes

India has the 2nd largest army and China has the worlds largest army. China encircles India via Pak, Tibet, Burma, Naval occupation of Eastern Indian Ocean
1. Tibet – In 1950, Delhi let China annexe Tibet which controls head waters of Indian Rivers.
2. Burma (called Myanmar) – has a strategic location & rich resources.
3. Pakistan – Is China’s only window on the west & China will not let Pak lose to India.
4. Indian Ocean – is the site of naval rivalry in eastern Indian Ocean.
China has accelerated its Intermediate missile Program. China is encircled by Russia, India and Vietnam (hostile). India may be joined by Japan & US later in its anti Chinese attitude. A major war is expected for mastery of Asia between India & China in next decade.

Indo China War

China & India have disputes over Tibet, Nepal Bhutan & Sikkim, in the Himalayas.
• In 1950 China invaded Tibet. Nehru was an admirer of Gen Mao Tse Tung. After invasion China did not withdraw its troops from bordering Himalayas.
• In 1959 Chinese (Tibet) troops entered. Ladakh & Arunachal Pradesh occupying 100,000 km sq of Arunachal Pradesh and also 50,000 km sq of Aksai Chin (Ladakh) by road via secret highway from China (Sinkiang) to Aksai Chin.
• In 1914 Viceroy Lord Curzon sent Sir Henry MacMahon drew Mcmahon line – poorly drawn with bad nib between British Raj (now India) & Tibet (now Chinese). Hence dispute between India China.
• In 1961, India took back Goa from Portugese.
• In 1962, China offered a treaty to give Arunachal Pradesh
and keep Aksai Chin, India refused.
• In Oct 1962, a confident India occupied their disputed
Chinese Positions and 4 Chinese Mtn Divs attacked and the battle lasted for 1 month. Chinese announced ceasefire & occupied Aksai Chin


1. India formed New Mountain Divisions
2. In 1963, India began its nuclear program.
3. China constructed the Karakoram Highway from Sinkiang (China ) to Pak (Gilgit) along with Pakistan
4. In 1983, India lifted a Mountain Battalion by chopper (porter or mule) to Siachen and created permanent posts at 8,000 – 16,000 ft, a tactical advantage. Kargil was the main operating base for Siachin.


1. Pakistan rushed its troops by road into Siachin (80 km long; 20,000 ft high) and into bases in the Khapalu Valley, supply to Siachin is easy unlike India, who had to air lift its supplies.
2. The Battle of Siachin, in 1984, left 100 Indians and 100 Pakistanis dead. During the battle, the Infantry alongwith Artillery support was used by either side.
3. In 1999, India built a road to Siachin (since choppers can take only 1⁄4 of their regular load since depending on temperature of the environment, the air is half as dense & hence there is less oxygen to burn fuel with)
4. In 1999 June, the Kargil war took place.
5. Ops at Siachin cost India $400 million and it cost Pakistan $200 million.

The rough estimates are 1000 die every year and 10,000 are wounded.