Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The 'Bad Neighbor' Policy

Usually, when something doesn't make sense or there are multiple possible solutions to a question one applies the principle known as "Occam's Razor." This basically states that if there are two explanations the "simpler," the one with less assumptions, should be taken as the primary hypothesis. India's recent aggressions in the Indo-Bangladesh border leaves one with at least hypotheses, neither of which casts Delhi in a good light.

In the first (and the more simpler), we may surmise that Delhi has lost control over its far-flung Meghalaya-based Border Security Forces.

In the second Delhi has decided that, regardless of the pro-India government in power in Bangladesh, it will press its border claims. In this hypothesis Delhi doesn't appear to care that it is simply gift-wrapping more ammunition for the anti-India bogeyman speeches of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Jamaat-e-Islami.

This hypothesis would also tie into the first and will probably be verified upon the eventual press release from Delhi that the BSF units in question acted of their own volition and that it has summarily dismissed the low-ranking officers responsible.

In this latest incident, BSF troops took position within Bangladesh and refused to vacate until BDR troops took up a stronger position and forced the BSF to depart under "strong protests." The Director General of the BDR noted there were still some outstanding border claims leftover from the 1948 Partition (New Nation).

Bangla Nation hopes that the former hypothesis is the case, though this would be an embarrassment for the Congress Party. For the latter would signify that Delhi has little interest in being the 'good neighbor.' Taking Awami League's pro-India stance as cheap change would severely hamper a number of India's efforts particularly counter-terrorism and regional hegemony.

In counter-terrorism, India needs the cooperation of Bangladesh to effectively police and, eventually, govern the border. It is no secret that Islamist militant groups cross the Indo-Bangladesh frontier (see...).

India's status as sole regional hegemon would be challenged if the Awami League forsakes its pro-India stance. If Awami League cannot find a reliable political ally in the Congress Party where else would they turn? Certainly not to Pakistan, but to China.

Bangla Nation imagines that the last thing Delhi would want would be the Awami League cosying up to the People's Republic.

Rather than sending in the BSF to claim and possibly start a shooting-skirmish, Delhi (and especially the Congress Party0 would be well advised to diplomatically engage Dhaka on resolving the outstanding border issues, as well as the status of the enclaves and exclaves.

Addendum: In a odd twist, a pre-scheduled battalion-level flag meeting between the BDR and BSF was to take place as well in Jakiganj sub-district, not far from the recent flashpoints (Daily Star). This twist makes one wonder as to Delhi's grasp of this situation.

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