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Sep 26, 2018
United Kingdom
United Kingdom
Is India ready for a war? It may be one of the world’s mightiest military powers but it cannot afford to unleash the dogs of war simultaneously against China and Pakistan.

As the world’s third largest military and with a defence budget of 67 billion U.S. dollars, India aspires to become a world military power. Yet, India’s confrontation with Pakistan and China can be termed as a big challenge because of its military and para-military involvement in internal insurgencies, particularly in occupied Jammu & Kashmir and in its north-eastern states. The recent standoff between the Indian and Chinese military on the Ladakh front and periodic firing along the Line of Control (LoC) at Pakistani forces reflects a dangerous scenario with far-reaching repercussions for South Asia.

India’s two-pronged front with China and Pakistan is, however, a recent phenomenon. If armed conflict along the LoC with Pakistan has been going on for long, India’s border with China has remained peaceful for a long time. In July 2017 though, a military standoff between India and China in the Doklam territory located inside Bhutan and China’s objection to India’s infrastructure project in Ladakh along the Darbuk-Shyok road, made things difficult for New Delhi. In the summer of 2020, Indian and Chinese forces stood eyeball to eyeball in the Gulwan Valley in Ladakh. In June there were reports of clashes between the two forces, leading to physical casualties for India and China. Since then, an uneasy calm prevails over the strategic Gulwan Valley while India is blaming China for encroaching inside its territory.

The India-Pakistan territorial disputes are as old as the partition of the Indian sub-continent in August 1947. The Sino-Indian border disputes emerged in the late 1950s and took a dangerous turn when, in October 1962, the two countries went to war over their border called the MacMohan line. Although India lost this war with China, its expansionist designs and power ambitions in the region continued unabated leading to the dismemberment of Pakistan in December 1971 and its occupation over a major chunk of the Siachen Glacier in 1984. Since 1962, India had decided not to open a front with China but continued its efforts to strengthen its military positions along the disputed territory, namely Aksai Chin located in Ladakh and in the North East Frontier Agency (NEFA), now called as the Indian territory of Arunachal Pradesh. Gulwan Valley inside Bhutan is another conflict zone between China and India because Beijing lays claim over the territories of eastern Bhutan which is to the detriment of New Delhi.

Since 1996, when China and India signed an agreement to launch military confidence building measures in order to avoid the use of force, a relatively uneasy calm has prevailed on the disputed parts of the border. Interestingly, both India and China agreed to prevent armed escalation of conflict by allowing boxing and wrestling matches of their forces in order to release their energies against and avoiding physical use of force. In 2020, a red line was established by both countries with reference to their 1996 agreement, which was crossed and scores of Indian and Chinese troops killed in eastern Ladakh.
Military asymmetry between India and China is a reality, which the former cannot undo despite seeking American support.
One cannot rule out a Sino-Pakistan nexus and their age-old friendship, which is viewed with suspicion by both India and the United States. New Delhi has long considered strategic ties between China and Pakistan with contempt and is of the opinion that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is another project by the two countries to encircle India, particularly by reinforcing their cooperation along the Karakorum Highway, in what it calls the disputed territory of Gilgit and Baltistan. Hence, growing strategic ties between China and Pakistan in the light of escalating border tensions between China and India need to be analyzed and examined in some detail.
Can the Indian military embark on activating hostilities with Pakistan and China? Is the Indian military capable of confronting its neighbours, Pakistan and China, at the same time? These are the questions which are raised in the context of growing tensions between Pakistan and India on the one hand and India and China on the other. One needs to take into account three major realities while analyzing the current scenario as far as the three major countries of South Asia are concerned. First, any military engagement involving China, India and Pakistan is unlikely because all the three states possess nuclear weapons and the outbreak of war will have lethal consequences. Nuclear deterrence is thus termed as a ‘blessing in disguise’ but it has led to a ‘no war and no peace’ situation along the India-Pakistan and the Sino-Indian border. Viewing a long standoff with China over its western border encompassing Ladakh, India has embarked on an ambitious project of modernizing its infrastructure so that its army can easily get logistics and supplies confronting Chinese forces along the border.
Second, India can certainly widen conventional and nuclear asymmetry with Pakistan because of the weak economy of its western neighbour but New Delhi cannot match the Chinese military and the world’s second largest economic power. Military asymmetry between India and China is a reality, which the former cannot undo despite seeking American support. It is India’s nightmare in view of what it calls ‘Dragon China’ that a two-pronged pressure from Islamabad and Beijing along its borders would create a dangerous predicament for New Delhi.
The current aggressive Chinese policy vis-a-vis India is also based on the unilateral abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution which granted occupied Jammu & Kashmir a special status. Asks Indian writer Sushant Singh, “Can India transcend its two-front challenge?”
The Indian military is mindful of the fact that it cannot fight a two-front war as the insurgency in the occupied Valley of Jammu & Kashmir has provided China an opportunity to exert pressure on its border along the Ladakh union territory. Third, unlike India, where the military is engaged in large-scale counter insurgency operations in J&K and its volatile north eastern states, the militaries in China and Pakistan are not bogged down in coping with secessionist movements. The Indian state should be mindful of the fact that unless it is economically and politically stable it cannot embark on military adventures neither with Pakistan nor with China. In 2019, the Hindu nationalist government of Narendra Modi embarked on absorbing Jammu & Kashmir by revoking Article 370 and 35-An on August 5 and promulgating the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which enabled Hindus, Sikhs and Christian nationals from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan to seek Indian citizenship. India is in turmoil now. Being domestically in chaos, its military will not be able to open simultaneous fronts against both China and Pakistan.
Instead of an open war with Pakistan and China at the same time, India is seeking an option for psychological warfare with its age-old adversaries by raising issues like CPEC, Tibet, Xinxiang, controversial islands in the South China Sea and Hong Kong. In that case, close strategic and defence cooperation between China and Pakistan and pursuing economic-political stability by the state of Pakistan is the need of the hour in order to effectively deal with Indian designs in the days to come.



Jul 15, 2019
Good to hear that, need to remind your Netas and Generals who seem to be at ease with this notion.
China should escalate by sending more troops and equipment. Make India do the same and then laugh at the Indian popsicles come jan-feb.
If betas were serious about war slogans, war would have been started already.

They but just slogans for image sake. War will happen when chaina forces it on india.
And so far even China not willing to do that.

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