The “deteriorating” situation on the Line of Control in Kashmir came up for discussion between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Friday, according to statements from Islamabad and Beijing.
The phone call between them comes amid speculation that China and Pakistan are presenting a common front in the stand-off between the Indian Army and PLA troops at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, which may require India to prepare for a “two-front war” if action increases at the LoC as well.
On Friday, India issued a demarche to Pakistan over growing incidents of ceasefire violations by Pakistan forces along the LoC and the International Boundary (IB).
“Foreign Minister Qureshi underscored that regional security situation was deteriorating and underlined that India’s belligerent posture and expansionist policies were imperilling peace in the region,” said a release from the Pakistan Foreign Ministry, which also referred to the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. “[Mr. Qureshi] also briefed [Mr. Wang] about the repeated violations committed by India across the LOC,” the statement said.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said the two Ministers exchanged views on “the situation in Kashmir, Afghanistan and South Asia.”
“[Mr. Wang said] both China and Pakistan must work together to meet the risks and challenges and safeguard the common interests of the two countries and regional peace and stability” said the statement issued in Beijing.
Significantly, the conversation took place on a day when Mr. Qureshi announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19.
Countering Pakistan’s allegations on the LoC, sources in the Government of India said New Delhi had registered a “strong protest at the continued unprovoked ceasefire violations by Pakistan forces along the LoC and the IB which are in contravention to the 2003 Ceasefire Understanding.”
“This year, till June 2020, 14 Indians have been killed and 88 Indians injured in more than 2,432 unprovoked ceasefire violations carried out by Pakistan forces,” said the sources, adding that Pakistan’s firing was meant to provide cover for cross-border infiltration of terrorists.
“Despite these concerns having been shared, including through the channel of Director Generals of Military Operations, the Pakistan forces have not ceased such activities,” the sources noted.
Pak. posting in China
When asked if India’s concerns of a two-front war were growing, President of the Centre for China Analysis and Strategy Jayadeva Ranade told The Hindu that it was a “possibility”, and pointed to the recent posting of a Pakistani military officer to China’s Central Military Commission’s Joint Staff Department. He termed it significant.
“China has major strategic and financial investments in Aksai Chin-PoK and Gilgit-Baltistan wider area as represented by the CPEC (China–Pakistan Economic Corridor). But I feel Islamabad might hesitate to get directly involved because they would anticipate a massive retaliation by India before it switches its entire attention to China”, Mr. Ranadeva said.
India has fought with Pakistan at the LoC on several occasions and with China at the LAC in 1965. However, it has not so far had to deal with a “two-front” situation. Last month, Army Chief General Naravane said India “must remain alive” to the threat of a two-front war, and in January 2020 referred to “dual task formations” as a countervailing strategy.