- Nov 4, 2011
Taking over Pakistan controlled Kashmir is war with China and Pakistan
While there is no doubt that New Delhi has made a resolve that the entire Jammu and Kashmir is part of India, be it Pakistan-Controlled Kashmir or China-held Aksai Chin, a more nuanced narrative is required to understand what are the repercussions of getting back Azad Kashmir.New Delhi,UPDATED: Dec 12, 2022 12:26 IST
Now that elections are over, we may hear less of ‘India is ready to take over Azad Kashmir’, but wait for the next round of polls. This might make a comeback.
While there is no doubt that New Delhi has made a resolve that the entire Jammu and Kashmir is part of India, be it Azad Kashmir or China-held Aksai Chin, a more nuanced narrative is required to understand what are the repercussions of getting back Azad Kashmir.
There is a Parliamentary resolution of 1994 passed in both houses that says the entire Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh are an integral part of India. The map of India also shows the entire region within the geographical boundaries of the country.
However, things are different on the ground, with both China and Pakistan in possession of these areas. It’s time we cut the hyperbole and let the citizens know the actual ground situation.
To put it simply, India faces the threat of China and Pakistan coming together in a scenario like this. India’s action in Azad Kashmir will likely prompt a Chinese intervention.
China’s economic and strategic interests in Azad Kashmir have almost turned parts of the region into a Chinese colony.
This is even more significant in the wake of the statement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, “This is not an era of war.”
Pakistan ceded Shaksgam Valley which is north of the Siachen Glacier, held by India in 1963, which paved the way for the Karakoram Highway by Pakistan and China.
To the west of Siachen Glacier is the Gilgit-Balitistan region or the northern areas under Pakistani control. To the west of India’s J&K is what Pakistan refers to as Azad Kashmir.
In the current context, there is too much at stake for China as it looks to expand the China Pakistan Economic Corridor which cuts through areas occupied by Kashmir.
CPEC is a bilateral project between China and Pakistan with a large network of roads, railways and pipelines spanning across 3000 km that will facilitate trade between China, Pakistan and other countries in the region.
The project aims to enhance infrastructure in Pakistan and also connect China’s Xinjiang province to ports like Gwadar and Karachi in Pakistan, giving a fillip to trade between the two countries. Pictures of Chinese PLA soldiers have emerged guarding CPEC projects.
Xinjiang borders India’s Ladakh and CPEC cuts through the strategic Karakoram Range going into Pakistan. The 1300 km long Karakoram Highway connects China and Pakistan across the Karakoram mountains, making it the highest paved international road in the world.
The Karakoram Pass is north of Ladakh and is strategic for India and China as it falls on the boundary between the Indian Territory of Ladakh and China's Xinjiang autonomous region in Tibet. The all-critical Siachen Glacier under Indian control falls in the Eastern Karakoram Range. Other countries bordering Xinjiang are Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Mongolia to the northeast.
The official launch of CPEC took place on April 20, 2015, when Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chinese President Xi Jinping signed 51 agreements and Memorandums of Understanding with a combined value of $46 billion.
China has been eyeing to extend the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which is the flagship project of CPEC. BRI is the new name for the earlier OBOR, One Belt One Road CPEC and another five corridors which deliver infrastructure development in more than 65 countries, accounting for 60% of the world’s population and 40% of global GDP, according to the CPEC website
The US withdrawal from Afghanistan and takeover by the Taliban has prompted China to push forward its cherished dream of extending the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to Kabul.
Former Indian Air Force Chief RKS Bhadauria, when in service while speaking at an event in 2020, said, Pakistan is becoming a pawn in Chinese policy and could use the country to enter Afghanistan after the exit of US forces.
“The US exit from Afghanistan has opened options for China in the region, both direct and through Pakistan, allowing it entry into Central Asia, a region they have been eyeing for long,” he said.
India is closely tracking China’s response to developments in Afghanistan and sources say Beijing is looking at opportunities to exploit Pakistan for enhancing its reach in the war-torn country.
According to reviews by the security establishment in India, China has once again proposed the construction of the Peshawar-Kabul motorway as an extension of CPEC in Afghanistan.
With this kind of foothold in the Azad Kashmir, it’s unlikely that the Chinese will sit back and see a military operation in the region. Chinese aggression in eastern Ladakh is part of its ploy to deny India any chance of dominating the Karakoram Highway, among others.
The developments in Eastern Ladakh since May 2020 are a clear indication of Chinese intentions and it is certainly not limited to Aksai Chin.