India readying for limited conflict with China: US (Second Lead)

February 1st, 2012 - 5:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Washington, Feb 1 (IANS) The Indian military is preparing to “fight a limited conflict” with China, said a top American intelligence officer who added that New Delhi may not send troops or heavy equipment to Kabul so as not to provoke Pakistan.

“India is increasingly concerned about China’s posture along their disputed border and Beijing’s perceived aggressive posture in the Indian Ocean and Asia-Pacific region,” US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Senate Select Intelligence Committee Tuesday.

“The Indian Army believes a major Sino-Indian conflict is not imminent, but the Indian military is strengthening its forces in preparation to fight a limited conflict along the disputed border, and is working to balance Chinese power projection in the Indian Ocean,” he added.

India and China fought a limited war in 1962 and still dispute each other’s territory. Despite improved relations, irritants persist between the two Asian giants, often leading to major hiccups.

The official also said that India had expressed support for a strong US military posture in East Asia and US engagement in Asia.

He said the US wanted its relations with Pakistan to remain positive, but their interests sometimes differed as Islamabad viewed New Delhi as an existential threat.

Clapper said the US relationship with Pakistan was a “challenging relationship but an important one”, as the interests of the two countries were “not always congruent”.

Noting that Afghanistan remains a hot spot, Clapper said: “During the past year, the Taliban lost some ground, but …Taliban’s senior leaders continued to enjoy safe haven in Pakistan.”

Asked by panel vice-chairman Saxby Chambliss about what was being done about safe havens of terrorists in Pakistan, Clapper said they were talking to Islamabad about it.

“Al Qaeda will increasingly rely on ideological and operational alliances with Pakistani militant factions to accomplish its goals with Pakistan and to conduct transnational attacks,” he said.

“Pakistan military leaders have had limited success against Al Qaeda operatives, other foreign fighters and Pakistani militants who pose a threat to Islamabad,” Clapper said.

“We judge Al Qaeda operatives are balancing support for attacks in Pakistan with guidance to refocus the global jehad externally against US targets,” he said.

Clapper said India had significantly increased its engagement with Afghanistan in 2011, but New Delhi was unlikely to send troops or heavy equipment to Kabul because it did not want to provoke Pakistan.

India’s increased engagement is aimed at helping the Afghan government sustain its sovereignty and independence during and after International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) forces draw down.

“We judge that India sees its goals in Afghanistan as consistent with US objectives and favours a sustained ISAF and US presence in the country.”

CIA Director David Petraeus said that while Pakistan had conducted operations in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Swat, they had not pressured the Haqqani Network or Mullah Nazir’s group nor those in Balochistan.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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