Indian military establishment go into a huddle to fine-tune its strategy

With the Taliban coming back to power in Afghanistan, Pakistan and China have changed their military commanders, overseeing borders with India. The abrupt change of guard on its northern and western borders has forced the Indian military establishment to go into a huddle to fine-tune its strategy regarding its critical borders.

On Tuesday, Pakistan Army announced the appointment of a new commander for its Rawalpindi-based 10 Corps, which is responsible for the security of Line of Control along India border. While Lieutenant General Sahir Shamshad Mirza has been posted as the commander, Rawalpindi Corps, Lieutenant General Muhammad Chiragh Haider, has been given the responsibility of the Multan Corps, which is one of the main strike Corps of the Pakistan Army.

Reshuffle in the Pakistan military happened days after Pakistan’s powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed met with Taliban co-founder and deputy prime minister in the new Taliban government in Afghanistan, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.

India and Pakistan military are following the ceasefire agreement since February along the border.

Meanwhile, China appointed Gen Wang Haijiang as the new commander of the People’s Liberation Army’s Western Theatre Command, overseeing borders with India. He is the fourth commander to head the Western Theatre Command in the last ten months. Gen Haijiang replaces Xu Qiling who was only promoted to the post in July. It is notable that Chinese President Xi Jinping, who heads the Central Military Commission (CMC)—the overall high command of the Chinese military—visited Tibet in July this year. Observers of the Chinese military claim that repeated change of guard in the Western Theatre Command, which is the PLA's biggest theatre command, reflects Chinese leadership's displeasure over tackling of Sino-Indian border situation.

Xi Jinping, on Tuesday, promoted five officers, including Commander of the PLA WTC Wang Haijiang, Commander of the PLA Central Theatre Command Lin Xiangyang, Commander of the PLA Navy Dong Jun and Commander of the PLA Air Force Chang Dingqiu and President of PLA National Defence University Xu Xueqiang.

Armies of India and China have been engaged in a standoff on certain friction points in the disputed territory in eastern Ladakh. Despite multiple rounds of military and diplomatic negotiations, both sides have not yielded complete disengagement. In the last military commander's talk, which happened on July 31, both sides agreed to disengage from the area of Gogra, which is Patrolling Point 17 A. The troops in this area have been in a face-off situation since May last year. But Depsang and Demchok flashpoints are yet to be resolved.

The Indian military is also apprehensive that with the Taliban back in control, there is a possibility of spill over of terror.

A key defence ministry official observed that "Islamic State Khorasan and Al-Qaeda in South Asia consider India as the main target. We had an experience. When Taliban was in power, all terror groups were flourished under their patronage."

Major General Shashi Asthana (Retd), chief instructor at United Service Institution of India and strategic and security analyst, believes that India's preparedness on LAC should continue as hither-to-fore. "Taliban’s rise doesn’t pose any territorial threat to India, but an ideological threat from fundamentalist elements, who may get encouraged by voices of extremism and launch wolf warrior attacks," he said.