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Pakistan’s proxy war, China’s military drill test Indian Army on two fronts

LiveMint logoLiveMint 18-07-2017 Shaswati Das

New Delhi: The pressure on India’s military is increasing steadily. At the moment, it is under pressure on two fronts. While China is engaging in intimidating tactics on the eastern border, its ally Pakistan is conducting a proxy war on the western front.

India saw three ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the Line of Control (LoC), in Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri and Poonch districts on Monday that killed a five-year-old girl and an Indian Army soldier; and in the Balakote sector on Tuesday.

The violations continued even as the directors general of military operations (DGMO) of India and Pakistan spoke on Monday, with India making it clear that “all ceasefire violations were initiated by Pakistan” and that “the Indian Army reserved the right to retaliate appropriately to any incident of violation of ceasefire.”

With the stand-off with China worsening in Dokalam at the India-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction and India refusing to yield to Chinese threats, the steadily building pressure is now a test of the Indian Army’s grit and stamina.

With India’s western front actively engaged in everyday proxy war, the eastern front has begun to turn volatile as well with the Chinese army practising its military drills and testing its rocket launchers, on Tuesday, according to footage released by a Chinese news channel.

Although the Indian Army had deployed an additional 2,500 troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) earlier this month, it has also been raising and prepping the 17 Strike Corps for mountain warfare.

Despite China’s threats of its patience wearing thin, the Indian Army is confident that no battle will be fought along the eastern front.

Earlier in June, Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat stated that India was ready for “two-and-a-half front wars”—the ongoing proxy war with Pakistan, a potential battle with China and the militant situation in Kashmir.

“The Indian Army is completely ready for a two-and-a-half front war. Even the Prime Minister has said that for the last 40 years not even a single bullet has been fired on the Indo-China border,” Rawat said then.

The army chief however, admitted that the process from recruiting soldiers to training and deploying them would require three years.

Defence experts stated that while India and Pakistan would continue with trans-border attacks, both India and China were just trying to assert their dominion over the other.

“Both sides are being offensive now. It is now a question of domination and competitive conflict. India refuses to accept Chinese hegemony and China is trying to embarrass India through Bhutan,” said H.S. Panag, a former Indian Army officer and defence expert.

Senior government officials do not rule out the possibility of a localized conflict akin to the 1999 Kargil War.

A senior government official who did not wish to be identified added, “The likelihood of a full-blown war with China is zero. However, a localized conflict like the Kargil War is possible where they attack and we diffuse and vice-versa. Even the 1962 war was a localized conflict. But the Chinese military doesn’t stand a chance should a battle-like situation arise.”

Experts also added that unresolved issues between India and China were adding fuel to the fire.

“The Dalai Lama is in India and a Tibetan government is in exile in India. This was one of the causes of the 1962 war and it continues to be point of contention between India and China even now,” Panag added.

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