While Old disputes like Kashmir lurk in the background of Indo-Pak relations, military rise of China continues to raise the ever present potential for conflict between India and Pakistan.
No matter how repeatedly China emphasises the idea of a peaceful rise, the pace and nature of its military modernisation is inevitably causing alarm. Most recently, China’s plans on building the CPEC has caused a stir and a likely escalation in tensions between India and Pakistan as experts foresee. Of all of China’s neighbors, China has been the closest and friendliest with Pakistan, and with the coming up of the “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor”, the political and military relations of both the countries have upgraded to a new level. In the past, the development of the K-8 fighter aircraft, designed and manufactured jointly by Hongdu Aviation Industry Corporation (HAIC) of China and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC), development of missiles, principal combatant vessels for Pak navy, establishment of training for Pak military personnel in military administration, tactical operations, military technologies, and equipment specific technologies, have disrupted India’s military planning time and again.
China’s military is developing ships, submarines, aircraft, intelligence systems and foreign bases in order to become a global military power. This ‘powerful’ emergence of China may well be seen as threat to India- Pakistan relations as Geo-politically, this friendship emboldens Pak. to up its ante for anti-India activities. China is now expected to raise its already substantial defence cooperation with “all-weather friend” Pakistan. Mentionable here is China’s role in making Pakistan a nuclear weapon power along with their delivery systems. That includes China’s guaranteed supply of fissile material to Pakistan and capacity building of Pakistan by China in terms of indigenisation of nuclear technologies, and licensed maintenance of critical Chinese components.
The unfolding security and intelligence cooperation between China and Pakistan along with attempts to rope in other regional countries like Afghanistan and Tajikistan, bilaterally and multilaterally (QCCM) with their inherent contradictions like annihilation of militants in Pak and China, negotiations of Taliban in Afghanistan and protection to terrorists like Masood Azhar are impacting the regional security including that of India. Transfer of Technology to Pak in various defence items like the JF-17 fighter, main battle tank Khalid, launching Pak satellites and most importantly China’s long and continuous foraying into the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), makes it imperative for India to consider its impact on the ever widening relations with Pakistan.
Clearly, India’s apprehensions over strategic and military ties between Beijing and Islamabad and the synchronous speedy rise of China as a military power, is unlikely to help resolve the bilateral disputes between India and Pakistan. There are several hurdles for India to overcome, with the rise of China. While both countries may have established substantial military infrastructure along the border areas, media has repeatedly reported Chinese military incursions into Indian Territory. Additionally, India is also heedful about China’s strong bilateral ties with Pak while facing trust deficit and media war with both.
While China is a stumbling block on India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), India’s response to opposition to the one belt-one road project is also not positive for Indo-Pak relations. India’s strong opposition to the “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor” that gives China a maritime hold on its western wing, and passes through Pakistan administered Kashmir that India claims as its own, has given reasons to India to up its ante on Baluchistan, thereby hampering Indo-Pak relations even further.
With inputs form AVM Manmohan Bahadur, CAPS