Indian Air Force Chief R.K.S. Bhadauria has said that Pakistan has increasingly become a pawn of Chinese policy and the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan has opened options for Beijing to expand its influence in the region through Islamabad.
In his remarks during a webinar on Tuesday, Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria said: "US exit from Afghanistan has opened options for China in the region, both direct and through Pakistan, allowing it entry into Central Asia, a region they have been eyeing for long."
India's "most important" national security challenge is to understand China, its "possible game plan" and the deepening and evolving Sino-Pak relationship, he said adding:
"Pakistan is increasingly becoming a pawn in Chinese policy. Under the increased CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor) debt trap, we are going to further witness (its) military dependency."
On the nine-month old Ladakh standoff, IAF Chief said that China is trying to dominate the region.
"China's aspirations are on the global front and regional domination is a part of the route. Any serious China-India conflict is not good for China at the global front and does not suit their goal," he said.
The IAF chief also explained about the possible objectives for China to engage in a military standoff and change the status quo in Ladakh, saying that it could be military signalling or domination efforts with adequate escalation control.
"Was it deployment and training of their western theatre forces in a war like scenario where Galwan was an overreach or was it to fine tune and enhance their military technologies and fill the gaps or it could be planned to start border talks for new positions or was it just a misadventure that got escalated," he asked.
Talking about national security challenges, the IAF chief said there are very few major states that still have unsettled borders to the extent India does to its north.
"On our northern borders, the Himalayan barrier, which separated South Asia from China, has been literally flattened by the massive infrastructural development and the time it takes to travel large distances has really shrunk," he said.
"The western border has been active from the day Pakistan was created. In addition to the terrorism inflicted upon us through proxy actions, we have been thwarting continuous attempts by our adversary to breach our territory and sovereignty on many occasions," he said.
Without naming China, Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria also referred to what he called "debt-trap diplomacy" to achieve geopolitical goals by ensnaring the recipient countries with loans that cannot be repaid.
He said it has allowed "foreign created and controlled" ports and facilities very close to the Indian mainland and island territories. "With the new PLA doctrines underscoring the importance of developing force projection capabilities to counter US global dominance, there is a direct impact of such development on our security matrix," he said.
"For example, what happens if China was to use one of such launching pads for an action against us in a conflict situation? Does the third country port or launching pad become a target for us or not? What are the implications? It is something we need to factor in, it is something that needs to go into our planning process and thinking process," he said.
Pakistan air force gets latest fighter jets from China
Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has received 14 dual-seat JF-17 Block-3 aircraft from China. The jointly-produced dual seater JF-17 fighters were added to the air force's fleet during a ceremony held Wednesday at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) in Kamra.
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