One of the greatest external threats that India faces today is that from China’s growing presence in the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK). Both Pakistan and China being dangers to hamper India’s sovereignty, the Sino-Pak nexus in the POK is very much alarming.
This is further attested through a well laid research of eminent political journalists. In the words of Selig S. Harrison of The New York Times, “Islamabad is handing over the de facto control of the strategic Gilgit-Baltistan region in the northwest corner of the disputed Kashmir to China.” He went on further to mention that there has been an “influx of an estimated 7,000 to 11,000 soldiers of the Peoples’ Liberation Army” of China in this region.
Frist in 1962, Aksai Chin, northeastern part of Ladakh was taken. Later in the year 1963, China had has also managed to annex the parts of Shaksgam valley under their direct control from Pakistan. This has enabled China to have an alarming presence on both the eastern and the western fronts of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Today, the Chinese authorities possess more then 20 per cent of the Kashmir valley as compared to India’s 40-45 per cent and Pakistan’s 35 per cent.
China’s footprints in both the eastern (Aksai Chin) and the western (POK) high-tension borders with India have much in it to hit the alarm button. Any further Sino-Indian war would leave India to be trapped in between Scylla and Charybdis. This is believed to form the crux of the Chinese strategy of String of Pearls that is designed to crack the Indian political and regional integrity. It is a sort of Salami Strategy so effectively used by the Communists during their march from Soviet Russia to Eastern Europe. Piece by piece take surround and take control of things.
China has also involved itself into several developmental aspects in the disputed regions of POK. Currently it is reported that China is strengthening the overall infrastructure therein. In the year 2006 an agreement is signed in between China and Pakistan for upgrading the existing Karakoram Highway that connects China’s Xinjiang with Gilgit-Baltistan of Pakistan.
Once this development is complete it will be very easy for the PLA to move its troops from the eastern to the western front to bowl over India if the two countries ever engage into a war. This road link will also facilitate China much to have a free access to the oil-rich gulf countries through Pakistani sea ports.
China has also signed a memorandum of association (MoU) with Pakistan in building a hydropower project in POK. Pakistan, in spite their illegal occupancy in the area, has even asked for the Chinese cooperation in different fields like that of agriculture, dams, education, fisheries, and investment.
All these have been the major reasons contributing severe headaches to the Indian political and military strategists.
Not only that China is happy by increasing their presence in the POK, but also they have strategically worked on to strengthen their occupancy in Aksai Chin that once belonged to India. This part forms an integral part of the Kashmir valley and is located north of Ladakh. It is also claimed by India for over an extended period of time but of no avail. It is in 1996 that both the belligerents have resolved their territorial disputes as per the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Aksai Chin, though is a high altitude desert with very little human inhibitions and no permanent settlements, is strategically important. It is through this part that the road link that connects Lazi and Xinjiang in Tibet runs through. The areas of Aksai Chin is also located on the higher plains and also close to New Delhi and other major cities of India.
Although India has repeatedly asked China to cede Aksai Chin, China is in no mood to give its possession back to the original owner. The high altitude advantage of the place also allows China to overlook all throughout the central Asia, and therefore, help it to counter any offensive measures directed to its way.
It is for this locational advantage that India, although is intimated with information regarding the development of Chinese missile silos close to the border areas have remained defensive.
In case if any hostility arise in between India and China, the latter could have a formidable edge over its opponent by rumbling down the heavy equipment’s towards India. Even in the wake of any Indo-Pak war, China could extend its support to Pakistan through Aksai Chin as it lies close to the area contributing to Indo-Pak border dispute. Aksai Chin, therefore, hangs as the sword of Damocles to India…but they may another agenda…
To control entire Kashmir…and create C.O.C.K – Chinese Occupied and Controlled Kashmir.
The question is will India go for a scorched earth policy when we start retreating from the forward areas?