Is China Behind Kashmir Ceasefire Between India and Pakistan?

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New Delhi and Islamabad’s sudden agreement to halt skirmishes along the Line of Control comes soon after India-China deal to end Ladakh stand-off.

Analysts believe US administration of Joe Biden may have been in the loop.

South China Morning Post

An article in SCMP says “mystery surrounds the circumstances in which the South Asian foes agreed to call a halt to the thousands of skirmishes that have taken place along the LoC since their air forces clashed in February 2019.” There is an “absence of any explanation from either Islamabad or New Delhi,” says the report.

“…the timing of the ceasefire reinstatement with Pakistan suggests the moves may have been choreographed with China,” it adds.

Analysts also believe, the article says, that “the newly installed administration of US President Joe Biden was in the loop, if not actively involved, because it wants Pakistan fully invested in persuading its Taliban allies to agree to a political settlement for Afghanistan – as did his predecessor Donald Trump.”

Karachi-based foreign affairs expert Amb. G R Baloch says “Change of guard at the White House is the prime trigger”. The Biden administration’s interest in India as a strategic ally plus its focus on human rights and democracy up the ante in PM Modi’s chamber.

Anything wrong with all these? Not really so.

One analyst refers to Pakistan’s Special Assistant to PM Imran Khan, Dr. Moeed Yusuf saying in an interview with Karan Thapar in October 2020 –which was the first by a Pakistani official with any Indian media since annexation of occupied Kashmir by India in August 2019, –that India had sent message expressing desire for talks.

Another refers to Pakistan Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa’s two statements last month. He had made gesture for resolving tensions, in his view. Speaking at the PAF Academy, he said: “It is time to extend hand of peace in all directions.”

It was quite a quid pro quo for peace in the volatile region, says the observer, “amid India having played all its cards with China in Ladakh and losing the game”.

To quote Indian defense analyst Pravin Sawhney, “Most Indian top security analysts don’t understand disruptive technologies & are unable to comprehend that state-on-state wars will be fought with fewer soldiers in combat – so, they get geopolitics also wrong!”.

According to an Asia-Pacific based observer on South Asia and expert on US-China relations, “There’s a lot of speculation, but in the absence of evidence it is difficult to assert with confidence whether China played a role in the recent ceasefire. Looking back to past experiences, he says, it is known that since 1998, when first India and then Pakistan, tested nuclear weapons, and Indian PM Vajpayee, in a letter to President Bill Clinton, wrote that it was “Chinese threats’ and Pakistani challenges aided by China motivated Indian tests, that China was deeply concerned.

In his view, “in 1999, when Pakistan initiated operations in Kargil, China was troubled by the potential for escalation and urged both sides to calm down. Chinese focus has been on shifting South Asian attention to economic endeavors, with CPEC/BRI being the vector of this effort. So, it can be assumed that even if India received no effective advice from China, Pakistan is likely to have received polite encouragement to mitigate threats to CPEC’s realization”.

CPEC is a multibillion dollar regional trade autobahn and therefore a game changer not only for Pakistan but others also who are vying to operationalize connectivity all around the wider region.

Peace has therefore been an add-on to Pakistan’s arsenal alongside its battle-hardened armory –sometime understandably, and at times as a surprise. This realization got delivered (again) on Delhi doorsteps, one analyst says.

It also found space in the ongoing Taliban peace talks.

At the end of the day, the proverbial saying “silence is golden” led to the peace pipe smoking, says observers, –and is a litmus test for the sustainability of the doctrine of “enduring stability”.

Why? It takes two to tango and more than two to travel together. Whether it is in Kashmir issue or in Afghanistan peace matter, regional interests override bilateral give and take through direct talks, one observer says.

To quote one Islamabad-based security analyst, sooner or later “Pakistan may be asked to do more” in the region. And “Pakistan is ready with its arsenal of peace and armory,” one observer says.