MIRPUR           -      President, Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK), Sardar Masood Khan on Monday said though China-India standoff had led to active clashes but there was no risk of a wider war, for the time being, because of India’s cautious and muted response due to its forces’ decisive routing at the hands of the People Liberation Army (PLA).

President AJK, Masood Khan made these remarks at a virtual conference on “China & India Standoff – what next: Implications for Pakistan, Kashmir Movement” organized by the Corporate Pakistan Group.

 President Masood, who had served in China as a diplomat for eight years, said India had underestimated the steely resolve, nationalism and professionalism of the PLA.

He said China and India’s capabilities might match in certain areas but in many dimensions, China outstrips India and could easily out-compete it.

China had, he said, an estimated 320 nuclear warheads compared to India’s 150. The number of PLA forces is 1.6 million compared to India’s 1.2 million (this is without counting the reserves). Last year, according to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), China’s defense expenditure was US $ 261 billion while India’s expense was US $ 71 billion, making them the second and the third largest defense spenders after the US. “The contrast is stark”, he said.

“But machines do not fight wars, nations do”, President Khan said adding that other factors like command and control, soldier morale, discipline, the justness of the cause, internal situations and the state of the economy played a pivotal part in determining the outcome of wars.

He said that India would not fight even a limited war because it did not want a repeat of the 1962 war for which the violent extremist BJP-RSS regime excoriated Nehru till this day. “Modi does not want to go down as a new Nehru in history”, he said.

Besides, India’s economy has plummeted drastically and is incapable of sustaining any prolonged conflict. Despite their bluster, President Masood Khan said, Indian armed forces had no history of fighting equals and winning. Their hallmark was the killing and maiming their own people or of occupied territories after disarming them, he commented.

“They have deployed 900,000 troops in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir to fight, according to their own claims, 230 militants. That’s their power; that’s their strength”, he said.

The AJK President said the total volume of China-India trade was US $ 90 billion, with India exports goods and services worth only US $ 16 billion and with a deficit of US $ 54 billion.

India’s hype about economic sanctions against China, he said, was nothing but an exercise in self-flagellation and self-mutilation. “Above all, India does not have any moral high ground because it has waged wars against all its neighbours and has made the entire region turbulent”, he added.

Turning to India’s motives to stoke volatility along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh by building roads, bridges and permanent settlements in Galwan Valley and at Pangong Lake, President Khan said the BJP-RSS regime wanted to scupper the Belt and Road Initiatives (BRI) and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), as well as to promote its agenda of lebensraum, irredentism and expansionism to realize its monomaniacal dream of Akhand Baharat.

Its strategic planners, he said, were also trying to do the US bidding to become a counterweight to China. But, China saw these moves as attempts to encircle and isolate China’s phenomenal rise.

President Masood Khan said that it is neither prudent nor advisable to fish in troubled waters. Pakistan and Kashmiris, for one, did not want war and instability in the region. But in the emerging scenario, it was imperative for Pakistan to align its position with China even more closely in the strategic, military, political and diplomatic realms. Pakistan, he said, should side with China to salvage the BRI and CPEC among others.

The AJK President said that following recent developments in Ladakh, Kashmir had been further internationalized and debunked India’s myth that Kashmir was a domestic/internal problem. In the recent talks between Chinese and Indian officials to defuse the border spat, China specifically objected to the designation of Ladakh and AJ&K as Union Territories and the direct control of these disputed territories by Delhi.

President Masood Khan said in the aftermath of the BJP-RSS regime’s illegal actions of August 5 and October 31 last year, China had opened two pathways – diplomatic and military – which were beneficial to Pakistan.

The first pathway was diplomatic when it, as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, facilitated three meetings of the Security Council on Kashmir. Secondly, by repulsing Indian advances in Ladakh, it had opened up a military dimension which should act as a deterrent vis-à-vis Indian aggression against China and Pakistan as well as the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Sardar Masood Khan appealed to the United States to not just stand by and watch passively South Asia go down the path of war and confrontation but instead demonstrate leadership in a non-partisan manner, notwithstanding the huge internal distractions it was facing in regard to Covid-19, protests against racism and the upcoming US-Presidential race. “It should play the role of a good faith peacemaker. Siding with India emboldens it to commit aggression”, he said.

The President also appealed to Washington to help Pakistan and China put Kashmir back on the UNSC’s “horseshoe”.

In regard to Pak-China relations, the President quoted an excerpt from American writer Denial Markey: “Rather than publicly talk down China’s initiatives (in Pakistan), US diplomats should talk up US ones”.

Masood Khan appealed to the international civil society to start a sanctions campaign against India to highlight and stop genocide in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K).

He also appealed to the 10-million strong diaspora community to open new avenues for Kashmir diplomacy and communicate with Indian civil society which opposed Hindutva, violent extremism and brutal occupation of Jammu and Kashmir by the BJP regime.

The Conference was attended by Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayyed, Chairman Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Maj Gen (retd) Athar Abbas, former Director General ISPR and Dr Huma Baqai, Associate Dean and an Associate Professor at Institute of Business Administration (IBA).  From abroad, Daniel Markey, Senior Research Professor of the International Relations Johns Hopkins University, Professor Adil Najam, Dean Boston University, and Sajjad Karim, former Member European Parliament joined in.