Confident that the armed forces can meet a two-front threat should it arise, the military brass say there’s no evidence yet of China and Pakistan being in collusion while the Ladakh standoff continues. Yet the security establishment has been keeping an eagle eye because there’s increasing intelligence on the Chinese helping Pakistan improve its military infrastructure, especially in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
This, sources said, suggests that their militaries are attempting “better integration”.
Late last month, the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), sources said, provided intelligence on China helping Pakistan set up a new missile system in PoK.
The input, sources said, conveyed that PLA and Pakistan Army personnel were carrying out construction work for installation of a surface-to-air missile (SAM) system near Lasadanna Dhok in PoK.
It said approximately 130 Pakistan Army personnel and 25-40 civilians were working at the construction site. The control room for the system, sources quoted the intelligence report saying, would be located at the Pakistani Army’s brigade headquarters in Bagh district.
Ten PLA personnel, including three officers, will be stationed at the control room, the report stated. The R&AW, sources said, mentioned that similar construction had also been reported at Chinari in Jhelum district, and Chakothi in Hattian Bala district of PoK.
Earlier, in June, intelligence agencies said Pakistan had posted a senior Army officer at the PLA headquarters in Beijing for “better integration” of the two militaries.
On February 5, the Indian Coast Guard sighted a Chinese warship in Pakistani waters. The frigate Jiangwei-Il was spotted not very far from Porbandar, around 11 nautical miles inside Pakistani waters.
The Pakistani and Chinese navies conducted a bilateral exercise in January. Sources said China is also helping Pakistan acquire naval assets. At the moment, Pakistan is waiting to receive eight Yuan class submarines and four Type 054A frigates.
Areas key to CPEC, BRI
Pakistan’s deep ties with China is no secret, but greater economic and military cooperation in PoK and Occupied Gilgit-Baltistan also point to Beijing’s vested interest there. Because these areas are key to the CPEC and BRI, projects at the heart of Chinese expansionism.
Three days ago, IAF chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria said India is “aware that China and Pakistan are cooperating closely, and Pakistan now is increasingly dependent on China for their defence supplies, and they are doing a lot of exercises together… this activity in terms of their bilateral exercises is on the increase”.
While he ruled out a “collusive threat” saying “there is no such indication”, he said India is prepared for a two-front threat and is “observing all the activities across”.
On September 3, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat warned of the two-front threat from China and Pakistan, but said Indian armed forces were fully prepared to deal with it.
Speaking at the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) conclave, General Rawat said China and Pakistan have been collaborating militarily, economically and diplomatically.
“Chinese economic cooperation with Pakistan, in Pakistan-occupied Jammu and Kashmir, along with continued military, economic and diplomatic support mandate high levels of preparation by us,” he said. “This also poses the threat of coordinated action along the northern and western fronts, which we have to consider in our defence planning,” he said.