The collapse of the Soviet Union 30 years ago was a tragedy for half the world but frothed with possibilities for the other half which the West spilt, mistaking rampaging markets for democracy.
In a scenario where decision-making was highly personalized, once Bhutto gave Ayub Khan the assurance that India would confine the fighting to Kashmir, he gave it the go-ahead. The question then arises: who gave Bhutto the guarantee that, come what may, the Indians would be constrained to fight only in J&K? The answer probably lies with China or, more precisely, with Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai.
Believe it or not, as many as 83 Indian soldiers are in Pakistani captivity, some dating from as far back as the 1965 and 1971 wars, and it appears that successive Indian governments have either forgotten about them or not strained themselves to get them back.
What motivated Mrs Gandhi to release the POWs? What went on behind the scenes? Were there any compelling circumstances at play that have remained unreported?
The Treaty of Amritsar, between the East India Company and the Dogra ruler, Raja Gulab Singh on 16 March 1846 was a watershed, for it not only created the princely state of Jammu and Kashmir under the suzerainty of the British Indian Empire, it also virtually defined the southern, eastern and western boundaries of a new political creation that elevated the Dogras into being the key players controlling northern India.
Given the nature of the terrain, the Indo-Tibet boundary was always going to be a problem. Apart from its vastness—extending from the Karakorams in the west to the area beyond the Lohit River in the east—the actual demarcation could never be done.
His fighting credentials apart, Gulab Singh’s overall grasp of the strategic situation in northern India at that time was quite extraordinary.
A recap of major events during the early period extending from Ashoka to Ranjit Singh helps us to understand the region and the importance of modern day frontiers better.