China encircling India by backing its adversaries in S Asia

Written by: Shubham Ghosh

The revelations made by Abu Jundal, one of the key suspects of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, that the Chinese were training Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militants in para-gliding proves again that no matter how much New Delhi tries to underplay the 'China factor' in various quarters or try to bridge the gap with Beijing, the northern neighbour has not really parted with its old design to try cornering India in every possible way.

India-China Mythri Stal

One of the most effective way for China to hit India is to adopt the Kautilyan strategy, i.e., befriend the enemy's enemy and who else can better serve Beijing better than Islamabad? It was way back in the mid-1960s when China had advised Pakistan to carry out a prolonged war against India instead of a short and decisive war which shows that Beijing was always inclined to lend support to the idea of sponsoring anti-India terrorist activities.

A recent publication has said the late Chinese Premier Chou-en-lai had asked Pakistan to set up a militia which would target to destroy the enemy's strategic centres, target the logistics and do everything possible to destabilise it, but in a covert manner. It was only after carrying out a long, destructive war that Pakistan would be able to gain an operational advantage over India.

Engage India in low-key warfare, China's advice to Pakistan

The Chinese had conveyed this to Pakistan's military leader General Ayub Khan on the eve of the 1965 war against India. The reason for undertaking such a prolonged war tactic was simple: Pakistan could never match India in an open war. China had even assured Pakistan that it would keep a pressure on India, as long as it seemed necessary, but the Pakistanis must carry on fighting.

According to some, the Pakistani military leaders were not familiar to the concept of low-intensity warfare involving the citizens. It was China which had explained to them the significance of unorthodox warfare tactics for according to the former, it was suitable to nations which did not have a sound military-industrial capacity for an outright war. Pakistan thus got its very first lessons of promoting a terrorism-based war strategy against India from China.

For China, backing rogue but brittle regimes to gain a long-term advantage over a bigger and more challenging adversary is a standard strategic option. It also showers favour time and again over North Korea just to ensure that the authoritarian regime does not crumble, which will not only create huge refugee problems for China but also give the USA a chance to intervene in areas close to its border.

Coming back to South Asia, Islamabad has inched more closer to Beijing, particularly at a time when its relation with the natural ally, the USA, has seen a decline. Even Pakistan's presence in the Cento (Central Treaty Organisation) during the Cold War days did not mar its relation with China, perhaps owing to the fact that both had a big adversary in India.

The strategic alliance between the two countries saw a major development in 1963 when the Sino-Pak Agreement was signed, settling the border issue between them. The days of the ping pong diplomacy and the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971 had seen how a strong Washington-Islamabad-Beijing axis had developed to counter Indira Gandhi's aid to the Bangladeshi nationalist movement. The Kargil War of 1999 was another evidence when Pakistan had toed Lai's mantra to take on India.

Not possible for a brittle Islamabad alone

The Sino-Pak strategic alliance explains to a great length that Islamabad alone could not have succeeded in unleashing and maintaining the reign of terror over such a long period of time against an enemy, which is powerful and developed than it in every other respect, unless there was a help from some quarter. Studies have revealed that there are nearly 2,500 madrasas in Pakistan which produce about 3 lakh terrorist soldiers every year.

Outfits like the LeT and Jaish-e-Mohammed backed by the ISI, which also fuel secessionist movements in various parts of India in some way or the other, are engaged in an eternal battle to unsettle India. Given Pakistan's brittle economic condition, it is not possible for it to back such a huge operation by itself. There are two sources of aid for Pakistan.

The USA, naturally, would not help Pakistan sustain militant activities and that leaves only China as the service-provider. Beijing has been a major benefactor of Pakistan in terms of military hardware and terrorism software.

Nevertheless, Beijing is too shrewd a customer to allow any slip of foot on the international stage.

Recently, expressing its support for Pakistan when the latter was witnessing a frozen relation with the USA, said Islamabad had made 'great sacrifices during its fight against terror' and it deserved sympathy and not humiliation, something which the recent US drone attacks meted out to it.

China's anti-India plans:

Beijing, although it declares time and again that it looks forward to improve bilateral relations with India, the reality is starkly in contrast. China is trying to cripple India economically by flooding the latter's domestic market with cheap goods and also allegedly backing fake India currency-note rackets which act through channels active in Nepal and Bangladesh. It is not a big deal to allure needy souls from the poor countries in the South Asian region to facilitate the illegal cross-border trade.

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