First China, now Pakistan: India is preparing to fight on two fronts

The Indian Army said it killed 127 “terrorists” in the first six months of the year, which is about 30% more than a year ago

For decades, the Indian military has talked about a two-front war with Pakistan and China, so that politicians focus on defense spending. Now this scenario is looking more and more realistic as conflicts erupt on both disputed borders.

Earlier this week, negotiations between the main commanders of the Chinese and Indian armies in the Ladakh region ended without a major breakthrough, a second such attempt to calm the situation, as 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese soldiers were killed on June 15 during their worst clash for four decades.

India has waged four wars with China and Pakistan since it gained freedom from British rule in 1947, but it never had to defend both borders at the same time. Indian military officials are increasingly worried that China and Pakistan may unite against New Delhi at a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is facing a sharp increase in coronavirus infections.

“As for the war on two fronts, it is possible,” said General Manoj Mukund Naravane, chief of staff of the Indian Army in May.

Indian and Chinese troops are still deployed from along the country’s northern border, an unnamed and contested line of actual control, in which tensions increased in early May. Both sides have accumulated thousands of soldiers, artillery pieces and tanks in different places. The army stated that more diplomatic and military negotiations were planned on Wednesday to “ensure peace and tranquility” after the military-level negotiations ended without a clear result.

In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters that China hopes that both sides “will maintain close ties through military and diplomatic channels, ease the situation and reduce the degree of tension along the border.”

At the same time, the 742-kilometer Control Line of India with Pakistan has become equally active and tense. Indian troops faced regular cross-border shelling and participated in counter-terrorism operations in the interior.

The Indian Army said it killed 127 “terrorists” in the first six months of the year, which is about 30% more than a year ago, according to a senior security official who asked not to be named in an interview with Reuters, citing rules for dealing with journalists .

According to the official, in 2020, incidents with cross-border shelling recorded by the Indian military also doubled compared to 2019. The Pakistani Foreign Ministry in a statement on Wednesday accused India of more than 1,500 “ceasefire violations,” including the deaths and injuries of civilians on their side of the Kashmir border this year. Some military units, which typically move to support rebel operations along the Pakistan border in the summer months, have now moved to the border between India and China.

“The Indian army is a well-led professional force, organized, equipped, trained, experienced and interested in taking on any obligations to which it can be attracted, whether internal or external,” said the representative of the Indian army, Colonel Aman Anand in response to questions.

“Collusion between Pakistan and China to simultaneously preserve the western and northern borders of India is at the same time difficult to prove, but cannot be ruled out,” said Vipin Narang, associate professor of political science in Massachusetts.