Sources claim that the massive exercises will involve a large amount of equipment and troops, with a focus on rapid strike units.
In a move which could increase tensions, India will reportedly carry out military exercises in the western state of Rajasthan, according to INP. Tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbors are high due to a number of factors, and it seems unlikely that war games in border regions will do anything to defuse the situation.
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Rapid strike units to be focus of military exercises
The focus of the exercise is believed to be quick, high-intensity attacks on enemy territory, and will involve armored units, artillery pieces and infantry maneuvers. According to sources quoted by INP, the exercises will be the largest of their kind in recent times.
War games are scheduled for October-November, with a particular emphasis on the 21 Corps, one of three main “strike corps” of the Indian Army. Despite this focus, the exercises will involve nearly all of the Southern Army Command, according to a report in The Times of India. India currently boasts the world’s second largest standing army.
“The exercise, which will peak towards end-November, will also include a major airdrop of paratroopers behind (simulated) enemy lines. Such a large exercise is usually held once in four years to validate, fine-tune war-fighting strategies,” said one source cited by INP.
India informs Pakistan of troop movements under protocol
Movements of armored vehicles and infantry units have already been noticed from Jhansi to Hyderabad, and sources claim that the Pakistani government “is being informed” of the scheduled military exercises, in accordance with the “advance notice” protocol in place between the two nations.
The protocol obliges both sides to inform the other of any major movement of military assets when they are not at war. The Pakistani government has revealed that a formal notice of the planned exercises has been received from India.
M.K. Narayanan, former National Security Advisor, believes that when conflict occurs between two neighbors, one of the biggest risk factors is not being able to predict how the situation will escalate. “Both countries are nuclear powers, so both have a lot to lose if the relationship escalates into a conflict,” Narayanan told a joint meeting of 10 Rotary Clubs.
High-tech military equipment to be tested
Media reports have claimed that India may test its nuclear weapons, heavy artillery and drones in the exercises. Up to 30,000 troops may also be involved, with activity predicted to peak towards the end of November.
According to Daily Pakistan the drills will involve the use of surveillance images gathered by satellites and drones, in addition to ground and airborne radars. An airdrop of paratroopers behind enemy lines will also be simulated.
Defense analysts in Pakistan do not see the exercises as cause for alarm. India has been undertaking large military exercises around every 4 years for a considerable time. Instead of worrying about Indian war games, they suggest that Pakistan concentrate on improving its own military capabilities.
Many commentators point to Kashmir as the primary source of conflict between the two nations, but the situation is in fact far more complicated. Alongside historical disputes, a number of other geopolitical factors are increasingly affecting relations.
Geopolitical situation complicated in Asia
While India has traditionally maintained close ties with Russia, Pakistan has found an ally in China. This friendship is cause for unease in New Delhi given its historic enmity with Beijing.
China and Pakistan have agreed a huge raft of important deals in recent years, including plans for a huge $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Although Chinese cooperation with Pakistan may be viewed with suspicion in India, the fact that part of the corridor runs through Kashmir has ratcheted up tensions.
India has also accused Pakistan of supporting terrorist groups which have carried out attacks on Indian soil, and contribute to ongoing regional instability. At the same time, Islamabad has signed a number of important defense deals with China, including the purchase of 8 submarines.
Other defense deals are also being discussed with Russia as Pakistan modernizes its armed forces. It had been hoped that the accession of both India and Pakistan to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization would improve relations between the two neighbors, but so far that does not look to be the case.
The regional grouping is dominated by Russia and China, and both nations have expressed an interest in working to end the enmity between India and Pakistan in the interests of regional prosperity. Thus far it seems as though the historic rivalry continues to make normal relations impossible.