What If India Had PoK?
The Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), which is the central reason for the Indo-Pak dispute, still lies in the control of Pakistan despite it being an integral part of India, since it was illegally annexed by Pakistan in 1947. Since then India is struggling to get it back and establish full governmental control over the area; but, it has been unsuccessful in doing so.
But assuming that if India had PoK, what were the advantages that India would enjoy?
- India shares a 106 KM border with Afghanistan in the northern region of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
- We (India and Afghanistan) would have a solid, undisputed border. We could use the same intact border to keep Pakistan under pressure. If, the three countries India, Afghanistan and Iran would be able to get together (also by the means of complete, official connectivity of land), it would have been easier to keep Pakistan’s bad activities under check. However, the Indian Government over the last decade has managed to build very strong diplomatic ties with Iran and Afghanistan, so, India’s ambition to curb its neighbor’s bad activities is in a considerably good progress; but it would have been much more effective if India had PoK.
- Another big advantage of having a border with Afghanistan is that a gas pipe line can be put up:
Way 1): which starts from Tajikistan, enters Afghanistan and then runs into India [462 km if taken from Srinagar (India) to Murgab (Tajikistan)].
Way 2): i) This way of importing gas and oil is currently in use. If the product is to be transported to Iran by road, from Tajikistan, the distance is [2428 km if taken from Kulob (Tajikistan) to Chabahar Port (Iran)]. Then from Chabahar
to Mumbai is 1435 km and to Kandla is 1000 km. So, to Mumbai, the total distance is (2428 km + 1435 km = 3863 km) and to Kandla is (2428 km + 1000 km = 3428 km). ii) So, way 2 is extremely long and expensive to transport. iii) It runs through the whole length of Afghanistan (Approximately 1533 km); which is a constantly war torn country which can compromise the safety of the products. iv) The ships which come from Chabahar to India have to cross a significantly big area of the Pakistani waters in the Arabian Sea. In a standoff or a war-like situation, the Pakistan Navy would block all the trade taking place and put India and Iran at a big loss. So, India and Iran would be kind of dependent on Pakistan for their trade.
- It would put an end to all the separatism, militancy, terrorism and all the other anti-national activities taking place in the Kashmir valley, as the dispute would be solved forever and the border would be sealed. So, all the separatists would have no other choice but to accept the takeover of PoK by India and would not cause any more trouble. As the BSF would be well established at the border, no terrorists or militants would be able to enter India.
- With Pakistan having control over PoK, China looked at it as a great opportunity to further expand its trade into Africa and cut short the distance by a huge margin.
- Old Route: Example if a shipment has to be transported from Shanghai (China) to El Sokhna (Egypt) (if we consider the minimum distance), the shipment had to travel an enormous distance of 15492 km. This increased the transport cost hugely and also had an effect on the pace of the trade.
- New route: The China Pakistan Economic Corridor(CPEC) , which was built as a part of China’s policy of One Belt One Road(OBOR), has now cut the distance drastically [if taken from Kashgar(China) to Gwadar (Pakistan) the distance is 2035km, and from Gwadar (Pakistan) to El Sokhna (Egypt) is (if we consider the minimum distance) is 5199km. So the total distance is 5199km + 2035km = 7234km]. A massive difference of 8258km.
- Pakistan has allowed China to build the CPEC over the illegally occupied area of Kashmir which actually belongs to us and is in dispute for many years, which is extremely wrong. This corridor is not only an economic corridor but also a strategic corridor which they are using to suppress India at the Kashmir issue. India is fully concerned into the matter as, the highway passes through a disputed area between Pakistan and India.
- If we had PoK, there would have been no direct border contact of Pakistan and China as the part of Kashmir that Pakistan has occupied keeps Pakistan and China away from each other as it lies between the two countries, giving India a huge upper hand and the whole power of letting such a project happen, as, before putting up any such corridor, they would have to ask India as it would be passing through our land. And in case of any kind of misbehavior by any of the countries, we would always have the opportunity to cut off their connection. So, there would not have been any bad activities. With this advantage, we would always be free to put the gas pipeline into Central Asia. And the CPEC (if India had given the permission to do so) would have yielded a huge amount of royalty.
- If had the whole PoK, it would have been a huge boost to the tourism industry as the state’s natural beauty has been attracting tourists for many years, and also the safe and secure environment would encourage more people to visit the valley.
- It would bring overall peace and stability to the whole region allowing all the three and the other countries in the vicinity to progress and trade freely.
- But, even if today, India does not have PoK in its control, we should not lose hopes of getting it back, because one or the other day, we are going to have it.
This article is written by Parth Kulkarni exclusively for defenceupdate.in.