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Pakistan’s Olive Branch to India March 2021 Perceptionaly under China’s Nudge
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Dr Subhash Kapila | Date:09 Apr , 2021 1 Comment
Dr Subhash Kapila
is a graduate of Royal British Army Staff College Camberley and combines a rich & varied professional experience in Indian Army (Brigadier), Cabinet Secretariat and diplomatic/official assignments in USA, UK, Japan, South Korea, and Bhutan.

Pakistan’s extending an olive branch to India repeated twice since January 2021 by Pakistan Army Chief has analytically not arisen from some divine revelation but seems to be under China’s nudge. China seems to have concluded that emerging geopolitical geometries will impose heavy costs on its Pakistan Army’s strategic patronage.

China would not have come to the above unexpected conclusion had India not audaciously and firmly confronted China militarily on the China-imposed dangerous and explosive military confrontation against India in Eastern Ladakh since April 2020.

China and Pakistan earlier this year were making conciliatory moves towards India since early 2021 stands analysed by this Author in an earlier Paper of mine. Geopolitical imperatives were cited for this abrupt change of tack.

Geopolitical landscape relevant to China and Pakistan in March 2021 has unfolded even more disadvantageously for both these implacable military adversaries of India resulting in loss of geopolitical leverages with the United States that they thrived on in past decades.

China and Pakistan stood politically isolated in global geopolitical calculus by early 2020 due to China’s aggressive military adventurism in the Western Pacific and Eastern Ladakh against India.

China drew global ire when in opening months of 2020 Major Powers discovered that China had willfully withheld critical information on outbreak of China Wuhan Virus19 resulting in global economic breakdown and millions of deaths amounting to China’s ‘Crime against Humanity’

Pakistan emboldened by lack of global concerted action against China’s military adventurism and ‘Crime against Humanity’ felt emboldened to ratchet up its own border provocations against India along the LOC.

A year later both China and Pakistan military adventurism against India spun on its head under the force of geopolitical pressures stacking against them.

What were these geopolitical pressures? China worked towards a regime change in Washington by manifold ‘influence operations’. Both China and Pakistan hoped that if President Biden was elected as President he would dispense with ‘Hard Line’ policy stances against China and Pakistan. The converse happened. President Biden despite his inclinations to soften US stances was convinced by US public perceptions of China that China was no friend of the United States and was tirelessly working to undermine US global standing and influence.

Resultantly, the United States under President Biden has opted to continue the ‘Hard Line’ policies against China existent under outgoing President Trump. The latest US-China diplomatic faceoff at Alaska indicates that US-China confrontation by all portents available point towards increasing military confrontation between these two Pacific Giants.

Pakistan has seen no openings by President Biden to accord it special preference in South Asia with reference to Afghanistan. The United States suspiciously views the China-Pakistan Axis and its end-aim objectives as in US strategic calculus both the China Pakistan Economic Corridor and Chinese control over Pakistan’s Gwadar Port are assessed by US strategic analysts as inimical to American security interest in the region.

Overarching the above disturbingly for China and Pakistan is the intensified institutionalisation of the US- India Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership and India joining United States led security groupings like The QUAD explicitly aimed at checkmating China’s militarism in Indo Pacific.

Currently, China has generated explosive flashpoints from Japan’s Senkaku Islands, to South China Sea disputed islands with Philippines and Vietnam and Eastern Ladakh with India. China’s strategic vulnerabilities abound in terms of turbulent unrest in Xingjian, Tibet and Hong Kong. China intends to raise its military confrontational stakes with United States over Taiwan.

Contemporaneously, if Pakistan Army escalates its military confrontation with India along the LOC dangers exist of India striking back at Pakistan Army’s aggressive impulses with disproportionate military force not only along the LOC but also across the international boundaries with Pakistan.

Pakistan could with the above scenarios unfolding leave China in an unenviable position of either being obliged to intervene in an Indo-Pak War actively on the side of Pakistan or be a passive spectator as India cuts Pakistan to its true strategic size. In both cases China is bound to end up as a loser.

In earlier decades it has been well analysed in strategic circles that should China intervene in a major Indo Pak War offensively then possibilities exist that the United States would have no option but to likewise checkmate China’s offensive operations against India siding with Pakistan.

In 2021 co-relating the unfolded geopolitical geometries heavily weighted in favour of India globally the China due to Pakistan’s strategic follies could face a “Three Front War”. This eventuality seems to be weighing heavily in Chinese military contingency planning.

Thus, it would be fair to assume that China has currently nudged Pakistan Army at the Army Chief level to twice extend olive branches to India for cooling down along the LOC. Freed from the worries and obligations to defend its “Iron Brother” Pakistan then China would be free to militarily concentrate on the Western Pacific.

China’s conciliatory moves towards India since January 2021 seem to be generated by the same impulses and the underlying logic of avoiding a “Three Front War”.

Indian media reports suggest that Pakistan’s olive branches to India stem from back-channel diplomacy brokered by UAE. Be as it may but on strategic analysis even if UAE may have brokered the present peace initiative but strategic logic suggests that China mindful of the balance of power being heaped against it and a ‘three Front War” scenario possibly has nudged Pakistan towards peaceful gestures, even so they may be transient.

Concluding, while all peace initiatives are and should always be welcomed but going by past demonstrated records of China and Pakistan India need not be euphoric and not be swayed by Indian media euphoric hype. India’s war preparedness and military buildup be continued at present pace to ‘Dissuasion Levels’ which make China and Pakistan think twice before escalating military confrontation with India.


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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

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One thought on “Pakistan’s Olive Branch to India March 2021 Perceptionaly under China’s Nudge

  1. I wonder how this writer being a former Indian military high ranking staff officer continues on a spree of breast-beating bravery re the standoff in Ladakh again and again in IDR as now in here:

    ” China would not have come to the above unexpected conclusion had India not audaciously and firmly confronted China militarily on the China-imposed dangerous and explosive military confrontation against India in Eastern Ladakh since April 2020.”

    The stark reality is here:

    “Despite no breakthrough yet again in the marathon military … Indian Army sources had said that “no action plan could be finalised” for completing the partial troop disengagement at Gogra, Hot Springs and Demchok, let alone any progress on the far more intractable issue of blocking of Indian patrols in the strategically-located Depsang Plains, during the 13-hour military dialogue at Chushul on Friday.”

    It reminds me of the observation made by former Defence Minister George Fernandez in the past that “the nation has no shame”. It seems some of the Indian Army Officers are also included therein!

    Read more at:

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