Mountain Strike Corps
China-Pakistan collusion to create the third front within India (already accounted as half front by Indian Army) will continue, plus border transgressions and doling money to villagers in the border belt to manipulate perceptions
The New Year gift to the armed forces by the Finance Minister P. Chidambaram was slashing their modernisation budget by ` 10,000 crore. Barring an odd year, considerable portion of the defence budget gets surrendered through bureaucratic manoeuvrings in any case. The surprise was more this time because Defence Minister A.K. Anthony appeared to have taken note of the increased China-Pakistan nexus and announced in Parliament last year he would bid for additional defence budget allocations. The 2012-13 defence budget allocation was actually ` 45,715 crore less than the Services projections, to which another ` 10,000 crore shortfall is now added.
Last year, media had also reported Finance Ministry turning down Army’s proposal to raise a Mountain Strike Corps though the proposal remained alive. No amount of perception management can obfuscate the growing ChinaPakistan collusive threat. During an international seminar held in South Korea last December, Chinese participants were vehement that China will go to any length to protect her ‘claimed’ territories.
Chinese claims to entire Arunachal Pradesh need to be viewed in this context and it would be serious mistake to view this in isolation. Chinese claim to Arunachal Pradesh must be viewed in conjunction with her illegal occupation of Aksai Chin and Shaksgam Valley, domination of Karakoram Pass, Chinese strategic investment of PoK and northern Nepal in guise development projects, Pakistan leasing her Gilgit-Baltistan for 50 years, crafty calls for India to vacate Siachen and Chinese claims to Bhutan’s Doklam Plateau. Chinese maps showing Arunachal Pradesh and South China Sea as Chinese territory and whole of Jammu and Kashmir as Pakistani territory are deliberate.
The new ‘Princelings’ regime of China is already showing signs of increased aggression. Not only are the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Generals part of the all powerful politbureau, more significantly, the PLA Chief does not report to the Chinese Government but to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The Catch-22 is akin to Pakistan. You can keep talk- ing at governmental level but PLA and Pakistani military will do what they want. By ignoring Chinese direct meddling in India’s internal affairs, the threat will only magnify. Ignoring Chinese preparations for future large-scale conventional wars on multiple fronts including informationised and mechanised for potential Asia-Pacific and Indian war scenarios would only be at our peril. India never allowed any political activity by Tibetans on Indian soil yet China gave sanctuary to the United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) cadres after they were routed from Bhutan. Chinese nationals with fake documents on mission to contact Naga insurgents were apprehended last year and now assault rifles are being supplied by China through Kachen rebels in North Myanmar to the PLA in Manipur and Indian Maoists.
Continued emphasis on ‘peaceful’ rise by China is belied by her actions; provocations both in South China Sea and against India while also hurting India economically through a grossly unbalanced bilateral trade. We should have no illusions that PoK is already a strategic objective of China and can no longer be treated as an Indo-Pak issue. PoK ensures Chinese access to the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, to Afghanistan and CARs. This in turn restricts any power projection by India to the west. China-Pakistan collusion to create the third front within India (already accounted as half front by Indian Army) will continue, plus border transgressions and doling money to villagers in the border belt to manipulate perceptions. The fact is that we have been weak in Eastern Ladakh for past several years in areas contiguous to Aksai Chin. At the same time, a pusillanimous approach would be foolish. We actually, need two Mountain Strike Corps—one in Ladakh and the other preventing Chinese claims to Arunachal, in addition to levelling asymmetries in space, cyber and electromagnetic domains. If China makes a move into what she claims as “South Tibet”, we must go for “North Tibet”.
LT GENERAL (RETD) P.C. KATOCH