Recently, General Manoj Pande, 29th COAS of India, had stated that China did not want to resolve Line of Control (LOC) dispute in Ladakh. He is absolutely right. Chinese intentions are to keep India under check and remain a threat in being. In so doing, it has been making inroads into Indian neighbourhood too. The purpose is to contain India and confine it into its geographical boundaries with hostile neighbours. In this attempt, Pakistan is its big ally. China uses it as an extended military arm of PLA. Pakistani leadership thinks that it can use its chinese leverage to browbeat India. Actually China was using it.
Politically and economically speaking, Pakistan is in doldrums today. It is not only politically unstable but it faces a civil war situation. Its Western borders, with Afghanistan, are in turmoils due to Baloch insurgency and terrorist activities of, Afghanistan based Tekreek-E-Taliban of Pakistan (TTP). Many a Chinese nationals, working in Pakistan, have been killed in their attacks. This has annoyed China and the claims of Chinese friendship ‘higher than Himalaya and deeper than the ocean’ have come under threat. The so called game - changing project of “CPEC” has suffered badly though not yet been fully halted, because of Pakistan’s geo-strategic location and its importance to China to keep India engaged. In spite of all this, therefore, Pakistan still remains an ace for China to checkmate India.
China, therefore, has pinned all its hopes on the Shehbaj Sharief government, now in control of Pakistan, though not fully stable. Supporters of former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan are threatening violent agitation. Their main grudge is against Pakistan army who had refused to support Pakistan’s Tehreek-e- Insaf (PTI), leading to fall of Imran Khan’s Government. Imran khan does not like Army’s neutrality and taunts the Generals that only animals were neutral. The youth support to him was causing serious headache to army and present regime.
All said and done, Pakistan was heading for a disaster, if its Army does not intervene. Should it intervene and control, then, Pakistan’s Generals are a fair game for China. So, India can not take a sigh of relief, till Pakistan becomes politically stable and stops being an 'Errand Boy' of China. Neither Sharief brothers, nor Imran Khan and not even Asif Zardari can tilt the Pakistan’s public opinion in favour of India. It is a fallacy therefore to expect Pakistan to be ever friendly with India! The day Pakistan army drops “enmity with India" narrative, it will cease to exist. This is the only reality.
In the year 2022, while India was under the spell of “Grey Zone warfare” , also called WOM (War by Other Means). It was fighting an insurgency from North East to J&K and Maoists in Chhatisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra or many other places. Though the movements may be home made but they are definitely abetted from outside. India must identify external abettor, too. Most strategist might point a finger at Pakistan, but it is not so. Pakistan is a small player in the whole game. Mastermind of this game is China. This is what India should take note of.
Grey Zone warfare aims st internal explosion of one’s adversary. Internal weaknesses or vulnerabilities are fully exploited to weaken the core. It is a method most common between two militarily equal nations like India or China or USA and Russia. In Chinese lexicon, it is slso called “Unrestricted warfare” which draws its inspiration from famous quote of Sun Tzu which says: “To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.”
China has been therefore keeping the pressure on the LOC, while sparking internal fires of secession. It picks up small issues and magnifies them. The visit of Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh in April 2017, led to China using threatening language to intimidate India. It had warned India of its repercussions. It did not resort to open aggression immediately but it did lead to Dhoka La face -off in July 2017 in Sikkim. It also began supporting some internal problems in terror/Maoist violence infested areas of India. Thereafter,the spurt in the militant activities in North East, Maoist region of Central India and Kashmir was aimed at keeping India tied down while China was busy acquiring a “Super Power status” in the world.
China and Pakistan have most often played “Good Cop" and "Bad Cop" with India, respectively. China always incites Pakistan but herself adopt a soft approach. In view of her priority for Taiwan and likely confrontation with USA in South China Sea, it would not like to involve herself in a major military conflict with India. China though wants to take advantage of US/West involvement with Russia in Ukraine, but it was hesitating to annex Taiwan — its long cherished “one China policy.” This is a clear indication that all that glitters about China was not gold.
China continues to encourage Pakistan to rev up militancy in J&K through her ‘strategic Assets.’ Kashmir has become a focal point in China’s global ambitions of dominating oil-rich Gulf region through her ‘One Belt-One Road’ (OBOR) project to reach warm water port of Gwador in Balochistan province of Pakistan. While OBOR might be the openly pronounced reason; the more important and compelling reason was mineral wealth of Balochistan, such as Coal, Gold, Copper, Zinc and also the gas. Another Spin-off advantage to China for her presence in Balochistan would be to cut off Taliban/AlQaeda/ISIS link to Uighur Muslims of Xinjiang province, which can present serious internal security threat to China.
OBOR, therefore, came with a lollypop of an economic package of $46 billion in a 30-year loan bonanza to Pakistan. It was called China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) On the face of it, economic package seems very lucrative but the devil was in the details, which short-sighted Pakistani leadership, both military and political, was unable to see through because Pakistan's only obsession is to acquire Kashmir. It does not matter, if, in the bargain, Pakistan was destroyed or loses its sovereignity.
Even now Shebaj Sharief Government is looking at China to revive CPEC. It is not drawing lessons from what was happening in Srilanka! Before Srilanka, Ghana, Tonga, Mongolia and many other countries have become victims of Chinese debt - trap. But Pakistan’s collapsing economy, does not give it any other option but to be a willing stooge of China. Some say that Pakistan might become an “autonomous region of China” like Tibet.
China, therefore, has been systematically using Pakistan against India through economic lollipops like CPEC by exploiting the psyche of Pakistan Army’s deep desire to keep animosity with India alive. Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK), despite Indian claims, is the key to this OBOR project. This is why it has been inciting Pakistan to make Gilgit-Hunza region as her Fifth province. It seems the process has started. Have no doubts, China, thus, supports Pakistan sponsored “Militancy” in Kashmir. In so doing, it has ‘outsourced’ her ‘Sub-conventional’ war on India to Pakistan. Pakistan and North Korea are two trumps in her bag, which she is using to checkmate India and USA, respectively.
China has entered in Balochistan province of Pakistan in a big way though her economic package. According to some reports, it had allegedly enhanced CPEC package to $65 billion. Gawador port is being developed by China at a further cost of $1.53 billion to get a direct access to Persian Gulf. An exclusive Chinese city , over an area of 3 Lakh square feet was being developed, where Pakistani citizens will not be allowed. Pakistan might not realise but China has come to stay in Balochistan permanently. It will never move out. Pakistan might have unwittingly bartered the sovereignty of Balochistan for a tempting CPEC.
Chinese presence in Balochistan, in Pakistani military perceptions, curtails Indian involvement in Balochistan through Afghanistan. So, the Generals of Pakistan believe! But CPEC is like a “strategic condom”, which will exploit the mineral beauty of Balochistan, and make Pakistan poorer. It is estimated that the said loan would amount to $90 billion to be returned by Pakistan to China over 30 years.
Thus, Pakistan has permanently enslaved herself to Chinese sovereignty. To keep her amused, China will keep Pakistan busy with India over Kashmir. As such, it would continue to incite Pakistan against India and thus ensure that Kashmir pot was kept boiling. This is the new reality India must note that other than Pakistan Army, it is China who would not allow any settlement on Kashmir. China, in September–October 2010, had inducted a PLA contingent of 10-12000 troops into Gilgit-Baltistan region of POK.
Over the years, it will induct more troops as an excuse to protect infrastructure at Gwador and escort its rail-road convoys to Kashghar, in Xinjiang province. Therefore, India has to take note of Chinese pincer from POK, in the event of a conventional war with China or even with Pakistan. This is a new threat to her security. And why not, if you note that China is in illegal occupation of some 43180 (38000+5180) square Kilometers of Aksai Chin and Shaksgam valley in J&K.
Pakistan is now her important cog in the 'Outsourced war' on India not only to keep her militarily engaged but also slow down her economic growth. Besides, it would support Maoists/Naxalite and other militants of North East, South & Central India. The main purpose of the outsourced but low cost war on India is to engage Indian army and cause attrition to it, thereby reducing her military potential to match Chinese military might.
Thus, India be very sure of it before thinking of talks over Kashmir with Pakistan. This is part of ‘Outsourced-War –Strategy’ of China. We must accept the fact that not only Pakistan Army but China also now would not allow any solution between India and Pakistan on Kashmir. There is a long dark tunnel in Indo- Pak relations ahead, despite Chinese lollipops of direct talks with India.
About The Author
Col. Rajinder Kushwaha is an ex-NDA, commissioned into 3 Bihar. He is a battle-hardened veteran who served in ’71 War & has operated extensively in various insurgency environs across the country. He is a renowned author, and a highly respected defence & national security expert writing for several reputed publications such as ‘Defence and Security Alert’ (DSA), the ‘Indian Defence Review’ (IDR) among others. You can reach him on Twitter: @RajeeKushwaha, Email ID: [email protected]
(Views expressed are the authors own, and do not reflect the editorial policy of 'Mission Victory India')
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