Misadventures can cost them dearly
The two friction points that can be identified are the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with India in Ladakh and Taiwan
As the summers set in, the security situation at the Indian borders becomes all the more difficult. Although the ceasefire with Pakistan holds along the Line of Control (LOC) and the International Border (IB), attempts to infiltrate terrorists, money, weapons, drugs , etc. in Kashmir continues and is expected to increase in the coming months.
Ladakh have not seen a substantial clash since the massive face-off in 2019. The possibility, however, of an escalation remains present all the time, especially as talks between formation commanders at the Ladakh and diplomats from both countries are far from the peak stage.
The global security situation also leaves much to fear. As the Russian-Ukrainian war reaches a stalemate, India is under increasing pressure to side with the West. India, of course, insists on remaining neutral and is certainly not ready to go against its old traditional friend, Russia. The problem is that in the context of the protracted war, China may have ideas to exploit the situation with mishaps in its own neighborhood. The two friction points that can be identified are the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with India in Ladakh and Taiwan.
With the West unhappy and Russia unable to help, India may find itself alone in the face of the Chinese threat. China, on the other hand, can always count on its vassal state, Pakistan, to come to its aid.
The silver lining is Pakistan’s precarious financial situation. Lately, the country’s prime minister has been making a beeline, hat in hand, for every possible capital city in the world from which a ‘dole’ can be extracted. He went to Russia earlier where he couldn’t get anything since the war started the day he landed there.
Recently, Khan visited China to boost the country’s image during the 24th Winter Olympics (Winter 2022) which had been boycotted by the West to protest against alleged human rights abuses in the country’s Xinjiang province. Imran Khan wished to project himself as a great leader who had been entrusted with an important international role while China viewed him as a representative of a vassal state called upon to flaunt international representation. He secured a meeting with President Xi Jinping with great difficulty.
China is also quite cut off from Pakistan for its inability to expedite CPEC and ensure project security. The attack on Chinese engineers and workers working on the Dasu Dam project and the recent attacks in Noshki, Panjgur and Kech in Balochistan, coupled with the massive protests in Gawadar against Chinese fishing trawlers, have forced China to reconsider his options. All of the above may well be a good reason for the lukewarm reception Imran Khan received from the Chinese during his recent visit. Significantly, China has not gone beyond its standard position that Kashmir is a dispute best resolved under the auspices of the United Nations and/or bilateral talks.
In short, all does not seem to be going well in the so-called “higher than the mountains” and “sweeter than honey” relationship between China and Pakistan. Strategically speaking, the situation translates into a situation where China will not hesitate to ask Pakistan for help in its own conflict against India, but it is not ready to help Pakistan on the Kashmir issue or other factors that taint India-Pakistan relations.
Apparently, it would be better if Pakistan abandoned its self-destructive obsession with India and Kashmir and instead focused on getting out of the debt trap and improving its financial situation. It simply has to put in place the structural reforms that would allow the influx of foreign funds into the country. The Pakistani government’s current practice of borrowing from China to pay interest on loans taken from other countries will only exacerbate the financial mess the country finds itself in.
Easing a divisive approach against India, however, is not a path the country is likely to take when it comes to its policy in Kashmir. There, the dictates of the Pakistani military will reign supreme and the Deep State will never consider de-escalation of the conflict as an option.
India can therefore expect a summer that will see a hardening of positions along the LOC as well as the LAC. Anti-India operations will continue and every attempt will be made to take advantage of the world’s concern over the situation in Ukraine to first pressure and then blame India for taking a belligerent stance. The end result will be avoidable environmental degradation.
The confrontation will be supported by a good use of the domain of information and psychological operations. Already, Pakistan-sponsored lobbies in the US are active in mopping up the Kashmir issue saying India erred in not holding assembly elections in the Union Territory Jammu and Kashmir as promised; insinuations are made that journalists are not allowed to move freely in the region. Such acts are harbingers of what awaits India in the coming summers when it comes to Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
A link between Pakistan and China against India will add a perilous dimension to the already fragile security environment obtainable in the world today. The opening of another front of conflict is not something the world can desire or afford. The Indian Army Northern Command which is responsible for the Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh theater is ready to meet any challenge. She will act, as always, with responsibility and maturity. It now depends on the neighbors to restrain themselves from such misadventures which can cost them dearly given their precarious positions.