The possibility of China and Pakistan joining forces in India’s farthest frontiers, illegally occupied by the two neighbours, will have “direct military implications” for New Delhi, warns a new defence ministry report.
Wary of Beijing’s strategic designs and its ever-increasing military engagement with Pakistan, the latest annual report for 2008-09, released on Thursday, alerts against the possibility of China “enhancing connectivity” with Pakistan through disputed territories in Jammu and Kashmir, including Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
The 1962 India-China war ended with China seizing some 38,000 sq km of Indian territory in Aksai Chin in the eastern-most fringes of J&K. Pakistan went on to unilaterally and illegally cede another 5,120 km of territory in northern Kashmir to China under a 1963 pact.
Apart from keeping an eye on Beijing’s military assistance to Pakistan and “other countries in our neighbourhood”, the report emphasised the need to “carefully monitor” the rapid expansion of Chinese military as it could have implications for India’s defence and security.
China’s largely under-reported but official defence budget for 2009 stands at over $70 billion compared to India’s $27 billion. The report stated: “India has taken note of the double digit growth in Chinese defence expenditure over the previous 20 years, which has led to significant modernisation of its defence forces.”
It focused attention on China’s strategic missile programme, space-based assets, its emerging blue-water capability to operate in distant waters, rapidly modernising infrastructure and operational capabilities in border areas.
The report said: “India will engage China to seek greater transparency and openness in its defence policy and posture, while taking all possible measures to protect national security…”
It squarely blamed Islamabad for planning and launching the 26/11 Mumbai terror strike.