MiG-29 naval fighters on the deck of INS Vikramaditya

China is using Pakistan as a tool to contain India, so the redeployment of an aircraft carrier, warships and nuclear-powered submarines to North Arabian Sea is a clear signal to Beijing, rather than Islamabad, analysts told RT.

Despite the heated tensions around the Kashmir region, “India does not base its defence preparedness on what Pakistan does or does not do,” Gopalaswami Parthasarathy, former Indian envoy to Pakistan, said. The country is much more concerned about “what China does to contain Indian influence in the Indian Ocean,” he told RT.

Pakistan is an instrument used by China to contain India through supplies of weapons, missiles and even nuclear weapon designs.

“Pakistan, by itself, does not worry us. We can more than match and manage Pakistan,” he reiterated.

Indian military journalist, Shiv Aroor, also said that the naval forces of the two neighbours “aren’t near peers in terms of numbers, strength or capability — Pakistan, for instance, doesn’t operate nuclear submarines or aircraft carriers.”

However, “if maritime hostilities [between India and Pakistan] ever did break out in whatever form, China would almost definitely be in the mix,” he warned, acknowledging that such scenario would be a problem for New Delhi.

China has a significantly larger navy than India’s, with a much more robust submarine force.

As for the deployment of Indian naval assets, it is “about as no-nonsense a message, as you can send,” he said, adding, however, that “war is realistically and hopefully a very remote possibility in the circumstances.”

Dozens of Indian warships, including the INS ‘Vikramaditya’ aircraft carrier and several nuclear-powered submarines, were withdrawn from maritime exercises and sent close to Pakistani territorial waters on Monday.

In the meantime, Aroor said, deploying a naval group this powerful to “deny area – or in extreme events, create blockades across crucial shipping channels” isn’t entirely “off the table.”

“Nobody thought India would conduct air strikes inside Pakistani territory,” the journalist added. “That line has been crossed… The ball in most ways is in Pakistan’s court now.”

The Indian Defence Ministry explained that the move was intended “to prevent, deter and defeat any misadventure by Pakistan in the maritime domain.” It indicated that the flare-up between the two countries, which began after a suicide attack on Indian troops by a Pakistani-based terror group in February and led to shelling and even aerial engagements in the border area, is far from over.

India’s relations with its other major neighbour, China, are also rather strained, as the two of the world’s most populous countries and fastest growing major economies are bound to compete. In 2017, skirmishes between Chinese and Indian troops broke out over China’s road construction in the disputed Doklam plateau in the Himalayas, but a major escalation was avoided.