Managing two front war – UPSC GS3

Context: The Chinese intrusions in Ladakh, resultant violence and the deadlock in negotiations, indicates the arrival of a worrisome two-front situation for India.
A two-front challenge for India:
  • From Pakistan’s side:
    • Deployments: Reports says that Pakistan had moved 20,000 troops into Gilgit-Baltistan, matching the Chinese deployments in Eastern Ladakh.
    • Ceasefire violations by Pakistan: four-fold increase between 2017 and 2019.
    • Hybrid conflict by Pakistan: using militants and limited military action in Jammu and Kashmir if hostilities between India and china broke out in Northern border areas.
  • Joint cooperation between China-Pakistan:
    • Recent Shaheen IX Pakistan-China joint exercise shows alignment in their strategic thinking.
    • China accounted for 73% of the total arms imports of Pakistan between 2015-2019.
  • Challenges for India: India is facing two dilemmas- of resources and strategy.
    • Resources: India has only about half combat squadrons needed for two-front war; it is neither practical nor feasible to build the level of capability tow engage at both fronts.
    • Strategy: Decision on allocation of resources will require the military to rethink its strategy for the western border.
      • While a defensive approach may encourage Pakistan to continue with its actions in J&K with a level of impunity.
Way forward:
  • Developing a Security Doctrine: with close interaction with the political leadership.
  • Capacity building: Ensuring the right balance with limited economic resources, based on a detailed assessment of China and Pakistan’s war-fighting strategies.
    • Focus on future technologies: such as robotics, artificial intelligence, cyber, electronic warfare, etc. along with major platforms such as aircraft, ships, and tanks, etc.
  • Using Diplomacy to its advantage:
    • Ensuring a friendly and cooperative relationship with neighbouring countries.
    • Strengthening current engagement with West Asian nations, including Iran, to ensure energy security, increase maritime cooperation and enhance goodwill in the extended neighbourhood.
    • Balancing India’s relationship with the USA and Russia as Russia could play a role in defusing the severity of a regional opposition against India.
  • Pacifying aggrieved citizens of J & K: by political outreach which could help in thwarting attempts of Pakistan to raise militancy in the valley.
  • Reducing the effect of a collusive Sino-Pakistan containment strategy: Through potential rapprochement with Pakistan provided, it can be persuaded to put an end to terrorist infiltration.
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