IB sees big China Army surge in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir
Around the time that Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was attending the swearing-in ceremony of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, China was busy building up a formidable presence by steadily increasing the deployment of People’s Liberation Army troops in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
Over the last few weeks, specifically since the process of Lok Sabha elections began in the country, the Chinese have strategically increased the presence of PLA personnel, engineers and technicians in the PoK region by about 1,000 people.
A classified Intelligence Bureau report, submitted to the home ministry on June 4 and accessed by this newspaper, while spelling out these details, has cautioned security agencies to remain vigilant about the sudden Chinese surge in PoK.
“Pakistan’s directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has been cozying up to China, which has led to an increase, estimated to be around 12,000 [total presence], of Chinese PLA troops, engineers and technicians (most of whom are also from the PLA). One of the PLA battalions withdrawn from Khunjerab Pass earlier has been re-deployed again, which too has led to the increased numbers,” the report says.
According to the secret intelligence note, China has started adopting an aggressive posture in PoK after its repeated intrusions in Ladakh’s Chumar region were strongly resisted by India, both at the diplomatic level and on the security front.
Top government sources said the note has been circulated to key security and intelligence establishments in the government in an attempt to sensitise and prepare the border-guarding security forces accordingly.
The fact about Chinese presence in PoK is fairly well-known, but, importantly, the recent developments over the past few weeks are being described as the single-biggest Chinese build-up in recent times.
“It seems the Chinese security agencies took full advantage of the fluid political situation in our country ever since the Lok Sabha election process was initiated in April. Now that a stable and firm government is in place, one would be able to deal with the situation with more clarity,” a senior intelligence official said.
Intelligence sources also claim that allowing a recent increase in the presence of PLA personnel in PoK is part of a bigger game-plan by the ISI to keep the Chinese in good humour so that they invest more, particularly in the infrastructure sector.
“This is as much of an economic as a security or a strategic issue. And the present arrangement suits both China and Pakistan since the former gets a sizeable presence in the PoK region while the latter benefits from development,” the official added.
Some of the key strategic infrastructure projects that the Chinese are involved in the region are mining work in Gilgit, Satpara, Baltistan, work on modernisation of the Karakoram highway, five bridges on Jhelum, four dam projects for generating 12,000 MW power.
With a BJP-led government in place at the Centre, sources said, there would be a significant change in New Delhi’s Pakistan and China policy and the Centre is clearly keeping itself well-equipped with all possible information for that.