Indian army chief General Bipin Rawat on Wednesday said the country must be prepared for a potential two-front war with China and Pakistan as reconciliation with the latter looked bleak.
Referring to the recent 10-week standoff with the Chinese army in the Himalayas, Rawat said the situation on India’s northern border could worsen in future, in which case Pakistan on the western front could take advantage of the situation.
According to the Press Trust of India, Rawat said credible deterrence did not take away the threat of war. “Nuclear weapons are weapons of deterrence. Yes, they are. But to say that they can deter war or they will not allow nations to go to war, in our context that may also not be true,” PTI quoted him as saying.
“We have to be prepared. In our context, therefore, warfare lies within the realm of reality,” said Rawat.
China and India agreed last week to de-escalate a more than two-month-old stand-off on their disputed border, just in time for the kick-off of a summit of the BRICS grouping of nations, which also includes Brazil, Russia and South Africa.
China has said its forces will continue to patrol in Doklam, known in Chinese as Donglang, and Wang added that he hoped India had learned a lesson from the incident. India and China have deep historical and cultural connections, but relations have seesawed since they fought a brief border war in 1962. Modi refused to join President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road initiative to knit together Asia and beyond, making India the lone country to boycott a summit in Beijing in May.
Besides the festering border dispute, which also covers areas at the other end of the frontier close to Pakistan, China and India have a series of disagreements. India is deeply suspicious of China’s close relationship with arch rival Pakistan, and of its growing military activities in and around the Indian Ocean, such as its first overseas
military base in Djibouti. In recent months India has upset China over the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who lives in India and is reviled by Beijing as a separatist.