India’s relation with Pakistan Part VI (Pakistan Links with China): Target IAS 2018 and Beyond

One China-Pakistan irritant for India was the readiness of Pakistan to give up to China its claims to the Trans-Karakorum Tract (Shaksgam valley) in 1963.

 

This was greeted with dismay by India, which of course claimed that the Shaksgam valley was part of India through India’s wider claims to Kashmir.

 

Further reports of Pakistan allowing entry of Chinese forces into Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, in Gilgit and Baltistan, were of concern to India in the summer of 2010.

 

 

In wider terms, one problem that India faces with Pakistan is that it may on its own have an undoubted power advantage over Pakistan, the hopes of maintaining any strategic parity with India of which disappeared after defeat in the 1971 war and the division of Pakistan.

 

Pakistan’s response to its diminishing power position vis-à-vis India has been to develop its own nuclear weapons programme (with the assistance of China) and to strengthen its foreign policy alignment with China in general.

 

This so-called ‘all-weather friendship’ between Pakistan and China operates as a more sinister ‘nexus’ in Indian eyes, in which ‘China thus operates as a “force multiplier” for Pakistan vis-à-vis India’.

 

 

New Delhi increasingly sees Pakistan as not so important in its own right, but as offering dangerous opportunities for China’s attempt to encircle India, coming, as it were, down from the Himalayas, down the Indus to the Indian Ocean, in effect blocking India along its north-western flanks.

 

China’s links with Pakistan are also seen as threatening with the build-up of the deep water port of Gwadar, opened in 2008 with Chinese funding, and offering berthing potential for a growing Chinese naval presence in the Indian Ocean.

 

Pakistan’s links with China do constrain India to some extent. This did not stop India from military action in 1971 (Bangladesh) and 1999 (Kargil), but the dangers of facing a two-front war against Pakistan and China did stop India from taking military action against Pakistan in the wake of the Mumbai bombings of 2008.

 

Ironically, India’s military planners did, in 2010, move towards accepting such a two-front war against Pakistan and China simultaneously.

 

 

 

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