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Pincer Move
Pakistan-China collusion in Karakoram seriously threatens north Kashmir

Soldiers training for posts at the Siachen Base School
Soldiers training for posts at the Siachen Base School

When Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), General Deepak Kapoor told his audience during a seminar in December 2009 that the Indian Army needed to build capabilities to fight a two-front war, he was merely articulating a deep-embedded obsession within the service. With two military-held lines, in the east with China and in the west with Pakistan, and the baggage of wars and crisis with both, the Indian Army has constantly been juggling with the twin threats to nation’s territorial integrity.

General K.V. Krishna Rao was probably the first COAS in 1980 to devise a sensible roadmap to address these threats. According to him, the main threat was Pakistan, but China could not be ignored especially when the 4,056km disputed border with it was neither agreed on maps nor on the ground. His priorities, thus, were development of infrastructure with viable lines of communication along the disputed border with China over 15 years (1980 to 1995) in a step-by-step approach; and to give special attention to North Kashmir where Pakistan and China have a land link-up.

In an interaction with FORCE in 2005, he said that his military assessment was accepted by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Being an astute observer of China, who had lived through the ignominy of the 1962 war, Mrs Gandhi understood the importance of having a credible military muscle when talking with China. While giving the go-ahead to General Rao with his infrastructure development plan (Operation Falcon), the Prime Minister instructed that special attention should be given to Tawang (Arunachal Pradesh), as it should not fall in any future war with China. She also enquired if India’s action would lead to a war and use of nuclear weapons by China. Gen. Rao told her that China was unlikely to use nukes in case of a border war.

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