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AUGUST 2013 ISSUE


Formidable Threats
In a war with Pakistan, India will be up against not one but two enemies
 


Pakistan COAS, Gen. Kayani with PLA officers during a joint exercise
Pakistan COAS, Gen. Kayani with PLA officers during a joint exercise

Is a two-front war with Pakistan and China possible?

China does not need to go to war with India. Pakistan, at present, is satisfied with its strategy of proxy war against India. However, a limited two-front war into the future started by Pakistan in Northern Kashmir (Siachen) is not ruled out; Chinese involvement in it will be indirect with its asymmetrical capabilities. India’s political and military leadership, unfortunately, has shown little appreciation of what it may be up against.
China accomplished the incredible by its three-week intrusion in April 2013 in Northern Ladakh against India. With mere 30 border guards, it did successful military coercion resulting in a total capitulation of India’s political leadership. This showed a lack of understanding in Delhi of Chinese diplomacy where counter-coercion does not necessarily translate into war. Moreover, China which is pitted against the US for supremacy in Asia would stay away from a border war with India. However, its coercive diplomacy, especially one achieved with minimal show of strength, has provided numerous strategic gains to Beijing.

Five of these gains are: One, Beijing will now be more forceful and open in its support to Pakistan. Two, Chinese involvement in Northern Kashmir with Pakistan will increase exponentially. Three, China will undertake strategic encirclement of India with more credibility, as India’s estranged neighbours will look up to Beijing with deference. Four, Delhi will feel constrained in undertaking strategic reach (especially its Look East Policy) for worry of stepping on Chinese toes. And importantly, the pace and mechanism of the disputed border resolution will be dictated solely by China. For example, with Beijing’s Border Defence Cooperation Agreement presently under bilateral discussions between India and China, China will ensure that India’s military preparedness on the disputed border will lack punch. Having achieved so much with so little effort, China’s focus will be on enhanced economic relations and military transparency with India to achieve its strategic aims unhindered.
 
 
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