The nation has been experiencing a rush of adrenaline on the Sino-Indian LAC conflict and seems to have forgotten both the ‘Carona Virus” as well as our belligerent neighbour “Pakistan”. The Pakistani establishment has been closely watching the developments of Ladakh with great cynosure and interest. It is not that, they are without their own set of problems with the present pandemic having inflicted more than two lacs of their population with about 4300 deaths. The Chinese have injected relief material to help their worthy friend Pakistan to tide over the present crisis.
Pakistan is beset with internal strife and economic issues too. It’s manufacturing, agriculture, and exports have collapsed. Their debt had mounted to astronomical proportions and the much-touted CPEC has been stalled. The Balochi insurgents are also gaining ground as was evident in the recent attack on the Karachi Stock Exchange. This scenario gives an ideal opportunity for China to give its largesse to Pakistan and make it more subservient to its cause as was evident when the Pakistan Army moved its two divisions in the Gilgit-Baltistan area. However, if anyone is suggesting Chinese collusive with Pakistan it would be farfetched. It is unlikely that Pakistan can get embroiled in the Sino-Indian conflict considering its own precarious economic and internal situation.
It would also be interesting to go through the recent Harvard Belfer Centre report, wherein it has been stated that the Indian Army has a clear edge over the PLA when it comes to operations in the high altitude regions. Therefore, it would remain a myth as far as Chinese superiority to dictate its terms, in the event of a conflict with India.
India on the other hand is taking this opportunity to bolster its defence preparedness. After almost a decade of negotiations, India and the US signed the Communications Capability and Security Agreement (COMCASA) opening the doors for India to procure high-end technology equipment and enhance interoperability between the two countries’ forces. The Artillery recently inducted new guns including K9 Vajra self-propelled guns and the M777 Howitzers to replace Bofors after a gap of almost 35 years.
The Indian Armed Forces shopping list is ready to enhance its striking edge and equip itself with its unfinished agenda of the critical military state of the art equipment. The bureaucracy seems to have no option but to accept the need of the hour. The Indian Army is going in for Sig Sauer Assault rifles from the United States as well as AK-47 from Russia, which would replace the beleaguered, 5.56 mm INSAS rifle. Apart from these under the emergency powers of VCOAS, various types of ammunition, drones, anti-air missiles, and ground to air munitions are being procured.
In the present geo-political scenario, the international opinion has gravitated towards India. There seems to be emerging a clear alignment of nations. The Chinese strategic myopia has been exposed. It is now trying to forge military alliances with countries that are inimical to the United States and its allies. The recent development of a military agreement between China and Iran is a case in point.
As far as India is concerned, the present Sino-Indian conflict should be viewed as a blessing in disguise. The present situation has galvanized the Govt to look inwards towards augmenting its defence preparedness. The vulnerabilities in terms of outdated equipment, firepower, mobility, and surveillance and air defence systems are now being addressed through fast track means. There cannot be any two opinions that a nation that needs to be heard in the World community has to have its pillars of defence and economy very strong.
Despite the fastest growth rate in the world, India’s defence outlay has been 1.58 percent of the GDP (lowest since the 1962 war) among its adversaries – China and Pakistan. The defence outlay of China is 3 percent and Pakistan 2.5 percent of the GDP. This has severely affected the modernization of Indian defence forces, however, some of the adhoc strategic weapons purchases like Rafale multi-role combat fighter jets from France, S-400 missiles system from Russia, and indigenously build Arihant submarine are a ray of hope for defence modernization. To dominate its adversaries, India has to allocate its defence outlays to around 3 percent of its GDP to make the army strong to face any two-pronged attack in the future.
The nation has therefore now to set its objectives towards furthering its economy and defence. In a strategic scenario where we may have to address both China and Pakistan, there would be a requirement to focus on infrastructure development of the border areas as well as modernization of the defence forces. It would also be imperative to give the necessary punch to our paramilitary forces such as ITBP, BSF, CRPF, etc to be able to carry out effective border management and control internal strife. As the opportunities do not come every day and to put into words of Sun Tzu, “Amid the chaos, there is also an opportunity.”