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?
At this moment of transition, what construct does one place on the outgoing Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo’s participation in the cloak-and-dagger meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu in the mega city of Neom being built on the Red Sea?
The fragility of the agreement is transparent in the pulls and counter pulls that have obviously gone into the headline. There is unbridgeable distance on the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s role, for instance. The Taliban will not talk to Ghani whom they describe quite brazenly as a US “toady”.
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.