India Moves Its Missile Defense System Into Ladakh
India, China stand-off may have long term repercussions on the politics and geography of the region, independent observers say
India on Saturday deployed advanced quick-reaction surface-to-air missile defense systems, called Akash, on its borders with China in the northern Himalayan region of Ladakh.
The deployment comes as the Indians claim that the Chinese side was increasing fighter aircraft and helicopter activities along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), de facto border of India and China in the disputed region of Jammu and Kashmir in the Himalayan Valley.
“As part of the ongoing build-up in the sector, the air defense systems of both Indian Army and the Indian Air Force have been deployed in the sector to prevent any misadventure by the Chinese Air Force fighter jets or the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) choppers there,” confirmed government sources to a local news agency.
Akash is said to be a medium-range mobile surface-to-air missile defense system. Their deployment comes even as India and China are holding rounds of discussion to de-escalate the situation at the LAC.
On Monday, the Indian Army also allowed the holding corps to use firearms at the LAC, in “extraordinary circumstances”.
“There is no change in the rules as such. Our side will only react to provocations and in case of extraordinary circumstances,” Lt. Gen. Vinod Bhatia, the former Indian director-general of the military operations, told Anadolu Agency earlier.
Meanwhile, in a show of support for India and challenging China, the U.S. has reportedly moved three super carrier battle groups into the Indo-Pacific region. The last time there were three US aircraft super-carrier groups in the Pacific ocean was three years ago because of North Korea, a local newspaper wrote.
Independent observers say the stand-off may have long term repercussions on the politics and geography of the region.
Ladakh and Kashmir Valley are posited in the Himalayan Range where the world’s third largest glacial estate resides and therefore is called the Third Pole. Other two being North Pole and South Pole.
The region is the water tower for several countries, including India and Pakistan, and an entry/exit point of the multibillion dollar Pakistan China Economic Corridor (CPEC) passing through Gilgit-Baltistan and China’s Khasghar city.
Ibrahim Wani, a professor of South Asian Studies, sees a link between the standoff and India’s opposition to China’s economic ambitions under CPEC. “These events and casualties are actually symptoms of the developing arc of escalation. This arc runs from Gwadar (a port city in Pakistan being developed under CPEC) to Galwan. The escalation is connected to the competing political economic interests and alignments.”
“We seem to be moving in the direction of pre-WWII situation”, a senior Pakistani defense official told DesPardes earlier. He was commenting on the situation in the Himalayan Valley post-Delhi’s abrogation of its special status.
Things have been moving one step forward, two steps backward in the region amid Pakistan’s stance for “enduring stability in the region” — a doctrine Pakistan Army Chief Gen. Bajwa presented –observers call it akin to looking toward horizon not a treetop view.
“That’s a nation island and a proverbially “where all can live peacefully and happily ever after”.
That would mean resolving all disputes, not just differences. Kashmir remains one of the unfinished agenda since decades, when the British left the subcontinent by dividing it into Pakistan and India.
Last week, a senior Pakistani defense official posted in the Middle East told DesPardes, “We’ve to fight for Kashmir. No one will give us on a platter”.
(Both senior Pakistani defense officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they’re not authorized to comment officially).
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