Pakistan has maintained a diplomatic silence with respect to the tension between India and China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). However, behind the curtain, it is quite pleased with the course of events and is egging China along while maintaining a poker face. The mask, however, comes down on the numerous occasions when Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan lets loose his signature diatribe against India and metes out veiled threats of a nuclear escalation over the issue of Kashmir. Behind these innuendos lingers the attempt to pressure India with threat of a two-front war involving both China and Pakistan.
Post the abrogation of Article 370 and bifurcation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories Imran Khan went across the world, hat in hand, attempting to garner support for his anti-India crusade. He has berated even the United Nations for remaining quiet on the issue of atrocities against Muslims in India. The “Islam in danger card” is played by him blatantly to get support from the Muslim Nations; he has not succeeded in his evil designs.
However, through his constant haranguing he seems to have been successful in convincing Chinese President Xi Jinping that the new status of Ladakh is against Chinese interests. He has also played the bogey of a possible Indian attempt to regain Gilgit-Baltistan to fuel Chinese insecurities with regard to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). This is one reason, among others, behind the aggressive posture that China has adopted in the Eastern Ladakh sector.
Multiple means are being applied by Pakistan to keep the two front war option alive. While the Pakistani prime minister does not go beyond innuendos, retired generals and so-called defence experts of Pakistan are put to use to give direct warnings. A retired General of Pakistan, Lt General Asad Durrani, who has also been chief of the notorious Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has talked about a combined China-Pakistan effort against India on the Kashmir issue.
Pakistan is using many covert means to assist all weather friend China in the ongoing situation. It is quite obvious that Pakistan sponsored terrorism is all but over in Kashmir but the country is not willing to relent in its efforts and is using all means available to keep the terrorist pot boiling over there. Ceasefire violations are frequent and so are desperate bids to infiltrate terrorists. Innovative methods like use of UAVs to provide arms and ammunition to the small indoctrinated local cadre are being resorted to. Most of the weapons and equipment being thus transported is of Chinese origin. Frantic efforts are being made to reengineer violent disruptive activities like stone pelting with the larger aim of going back to the times of Hartals (strikes) and Bandhs (lockouts). The objective is to keep the Northern Command of the Indian army, that is responsible for both Kashmir and Ladakh theatre, under constant strain on all fronts.
Apart from the foregoing, Pakistan is also providing assistance to China in the military as well as the psychological operations domains. Military assistance is forthcoming mainly in the form of sharing of intelligence. While China has all means for technological and electronic intelligence Pakistan assists with the provision of human intelligence as collected over time by the ISI. An article in The Print dated 11 August 2020, says that, “as per US intelligence, China had a much better understanding of Indian troop positions and movements ahead of the 15 June Galwan Clash in Ladakh. The assumption is that Pakistan had shared its intelligence on Indian Army with China, thereby making a valuable addition to Chinese operations.”
It is well known that China has blocked Twitter, though many over there access it through VPN. For its psychological operations in this sensitive domain, China is relying on “good friend” Pakistan. Many accounts emanating from Pakistan that were earlier operating in Urdu language have now converted to Chinese. In an article on the subject carried by the Hindu newspaper, an example has been given of one such account, ‘xiuying637’, that was earlier run as ‘hinaarbi2.’Though suspended now, it was tweeting information related to the Chinese military and the border clash. The information was in favour of China. “Many of the ‘Chinese’ accounts that mushroomed on the social media this summer and spread false information about the border clash with India have been traced to Pakistan, in what is believed to be a coordinated disinformation campaign aimed at India,” says Ananth Krishnan, the author of the aforementioned article in the Hindu.
Thus, Imran Khan’s fascination with “bleeding India” continues as does his hallucination of sucking India into a two front war. He feels that such a situation would portray him as a strong leader and resurrect his failing political career. He is not fooling anyone, since his weak political position and dependence upon the Pakistan army for his survival is known to all. Not surprisingly, now people like Farooq Abdullah have been incorporated in such evil machinations. It is not difficult to understand where his statements like “hope that Article 370 will be restored with Chinese help” are coming from.
India is not likely to be cowed down by such infantile tactics. The Northern Command of the Indian Army has proved beyond doubt that it is capable of meeting the twin challenge of Chinese aggression in Ladakh and increase in terrorist activity in Kashmir quite easily. India is well prepared for a two front war too, more importantly, the whole world backs India. The manner in which Imran Khan is manipulating China is a double edged sword that will ultimately fall upon him. The world is fed up with China; when the country goes down it will take Pakistan along. If Imran Khan does not relent from his war mongering and consistent threats of “consequences” he will end up with egg on his face as has happened so many times in the past.
(The author is a senior journalist and columnist)