By Sajjad Shaukat
Although India and China agreed to avoid flare-ups along their border on January 17 this year, yet despite the 15 round of talks, the issue still remains unsettled owing to Indian obstinacy. Both the countries had fought a bloody war in 1962 over a disputed border.
Indian hegemonic designs to dominate the region can well be judged from its plans to spend huge amounts on military build up and purchases of sophisticated arms and weapons from France, Germany, Israel, Russia and USA. Indian leaders openly state that India will defend its national interests beyond South Asia. On the one hand, Indian rulers assertively advocate regional peace, but on the other, they mislead the world by cunningly projecting their threat perceptions. These are certainly source of concerns, especially for China and Pakistan which are particular targets of India’s duplicity.
In this regard, in November, 2011, The Chinese media hit back at India’s proposed military build-up on the border and its recent relationship with East Asian nations such as Japan and Vietnam at the cost of Beijing. In this respect, China’s official newspaper ‘People’s Daily’, recently reported, “East China Sea and South China Sea issues continue to expose some countries’ envious, jealous and hateful attitude towards China…India has begun to consider Beijing as an opponent.” While China’s state-run news agency Xinhua warned, “if India intends to antagonise its neighbour by taking China as an imaginary enemy and gets unwisely involved in affairs which fall within others’ backyards, it would hold its national strategies as hostage and put at stake its own national interests.”
Today, China is India’s biggest trading partner with which New Delhi has signed a number of agreements in various fields, but American support, it is playing a double game with Beijing. In this context, in the mid of October, 2011, as part of its second phase of military expansion against China, Indian government has given the go-ahead for the deployment of BrahMos cruise missiles in Arunachal Pradesh along the Chinese border. With a range of 290 km., these missiles are being deployed to improve India’s military reach into the Tibet Autonomous Region. The three BrahMos missile regiments raised so far have also been deployed in the western sector to counter the presumed threat of Pakistan. Indian new scheme has coincided with the revival of propaganda campaign that China has allegedly been deploying troops in Pakistan’s areas of Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Kashmir and FATA. Both Beijing and Islamabad have denied this false accusation.
Besides, as part of its military adventure against China, Indian government is planning to increase the strength of the Indian Army by almost 100000 soldiers over the next five years. It would also be the largest increase in deployment along the China border since the aftermath of the 1962 war. It will also focus on Indian islands with the larger view of securing maritime routes crisis-crossing the Indian Ocean.
As regards Indian military build up against Beijing, on May 31, 2009, after 43 years, New Delhi re-opened its Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) airbase in northern Ladakh, which overlooks the strategic Karakoram Pass and is only 8 kilometers, south of the Chinese border-Aksai China area. New Delhi has also erected more than 10 new helipads and roads between the Sino-Indian frontiers.
On April 20, 2008, The Times of India had written, “By having a full-fledged airstrip at DBO, India will be able to rush in troops and supplies to the region during emergencies.” The paper quoted Western Air Command Chief Air Marshal P K Barbora revealing, “Yes, we have also plans to land our AN-32 transport aircraft at DBO. It is part of the Indian Air Force to improve air maintenance of the far-flung posts in the region”.
In this connection, Defence Ministry planners are working on building additional airfields and increasing troops—raising two new mountain divisions to be deployed along the 4,057-kilometer Line of Actual Control (LAC).
With the help of Israel and America, on 26 February 2008, India conducted its first test of a nuclear-capable missile from an under sea platform after completing its project in relation to air, land and sea ballistic systems.
Notably, Indian Navy Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta had disclosed that New Delhi “will soon float tenders to acquire six submarines”. Mehta also accused Beijing saying, “Indian Navy would keep a close watch on the movements of Chinese submarines which are operating out of an underground base in the South China Sea” and “wish to enter the Indian Ocean”. However, under the pretension of China factor, New Delhi and Israel, with the tactical support of the sole superpower are plotting to block the sea lanes of the Indian Ocean for their joint strategic goals.
It is mentionable that in October, 2011, India hosted the leaders of Vietnam and Myanmar, highlighting its intentions which it is following regarding its ‘Look East Policy’ as it is building close security and economic relations with these two nations in East and Southeast Asia. In fact, New Delhi designed this policy to initiate its influence in the region, while main aims behind are to sabotage the interests of Beijing.
During her trip to New Delhi, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on July 20, 2011 urged India to be more assertive in Asia, saying that the country should play more of a leadership role. She explained, “India has the potential to positively shape the future of the Asia-Pacific.” Clinton further said, “India should play a role as a US ally in regional forums such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).”
It is noteworthy that on October 15, 2010, Indian Army Chief General VK Singh had openly blamed that China and Pakistan posed a major threat to India’s security, while calling for a need to upgrade country’s defence. Indian former Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor had also raised similar allegations. So, under the pretext of presumed threats from China and Pakistan, New Delhi which signed an agreement of civil nuclear technology with the US in 2008 has been acting upon the direction of the latter to counterbalance China and destabilizing Pakistan including Iran.
Particularly US clandestine aims could be judged from the fact that on November 2, 2011, America agreed to sell India the most expensive—the new F-35 fighter jets. In a report to the US Congress, the Pentagon said, “We believe US aircraft such as the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)…to be the best in the world”, referring to the radar-evading F-35 jet.
Unlike India, Pakistan mostly prefers to develop its arms, equipments and aircraft with the joint cooperation of China. For example, the JF-17/FC-1 is designed as a co-operative venture between Pakistan and China to replace Chinese A-5C (massively modified MiG-19), F-7P (MiG-21+), and French Mirage 3/5 aircraft. In this connection, defence analysts opine that unlike the US F-35 fighter jet, the JF-17/FC-1 fighter is better due to its quick system of surveillance, reconnaissance and target acquisition.
Nevertheless, recently, India also decided a major purchase of US F-16 and F-18 fighters. The Pentagon’s government-to-government program of foreign military sales to India has included C-17 and C-130 aircraft, radar systems, Harpoon weapons and specialised tactical equipments. Besides acquisition of arms and weapons from other western countries, America which emerged as a potential military supplier to India has lifted sanctions on New Delhi in order to import nuclear technology.
In fact, Pakistan’s province, Balochistan where China has invested billion of dollars to develop Gwadar seaport, infuriates both US and India. With the help of India, US desires to control Balochistan as an independent state in containing China and restraining Iran. It is due to these reasons that Washington and New Delhi are creating instability in Pakistan by backing Baloch separatists to complete their hidden strategic agenda. In this regard, Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) gets logistic support from India, while another separatist group, Jundollah (God’s soldiers) is also harming the cordial relationship of Pakistan with China and Iran. In the past few years, their militants kidnapped and killed many Chinese and Iranian nationals in Pakistan, while committing other subversive acts in the province and Iran’s Sistan-Baluchistan. Tehran had directly indicated American CIA for patronage and funding of that type of terrorist attacks.
It is of particular attention that in May 1998, when India detonated five nuclear tests, the then Defense Minister George Fernandes had declared publicly that “China is India’s potential threat No. 1.” India which successfully tested missile, Agni-111 in May 2007, has been extending its range to target all the big cities of China.
Nonetheless, with the support of US, India’s military adventure against China is likely to destabilse whole of the Asia because of its chain reaction.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations