Former Indian government officials and military analysts have told Russian media sources that India's large scale naval deployment, including nuclear submarines and an aircraft carrier, was fundamentally aimed at sending a message to China, not necessarily Pakistan.
A major naval deployment exercise called TROPEX 2019 involving some 60 ships and an equal number of aircraft had been slated to run from January to early March, but according to reports quickly turned into a real time operational situation following the Feb. 27 crisis over Kashmir.
Notably, the games which had already been underway at the time of the crisis had involved the INS ‘Vikramaditya,’ a Russian-built aircraft carrier, and multiple other nuclear submarines essentially becoming "active" as the situation unfolded.
But now Indian analysts in an interview with Russia's RT have presented the interesting prospect that the TROPEX 2019 naval exercises-turned-"active" was "a clear signal to Beijing, rather than Islamabad."
"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," the analysts, including former Indian envoy to Pakistan Gopalaswami Parthasarathy, told RT.
Parthasarathy insisted that “India does not base its defense preparedness on what Pakistan does or does not do,” however cited India's greater concern as “what China does to contain Indian influence in the Indian Ocean.”
Once India's top envoy to its rival nuclear-armed neighbor, Parthasarathy continued, "Pakistan is an instrument used by China to contain India through supplies of weapons, missiles and even nuclear weapon designs." And he emphasized further while significantly downplaying Islamadad as a threat: “Pakistan, by itself, does not worry us. We can more than match and manage Pakistan.”
According to Indian military statements the continued deployment of the vessels is intended “to prevent, deter and defeat any misadventure by Pakistan in the maritime domain.” Indian Navy statements further confirmed that the warships which had been part of the TROPEX 2019 exercises had “swiftly transited from exercise to operational deployment mode.”
Their continued operational deployment in the Arabian Sea and beyond in the Indian Ocean threatens to bring tensions further to a head between Islamabad and New Delhi following recent revelations that each side had informed the other of missile launch preparations last month, nearly stoking an all out war.
Echoing former diplomat Parthasarathy's sentiment, Indian military journalist, Shiv Aroor, also noted that Pakistan doesn't maintain nuclear submarines or aircraft carriers. Thus the real concern is “if maritime hostilities [between India and Pakistan] ever did break out in whatever form, China would almost definitely be in the mix.”
He warned further that "China has a significantly larger navy than India’s, with a much more robust submarine force."
Last year, following a terror attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi reportedly by a group angered over China's deep investment and construction inroads into Pakistan as part of President Xi's Belt and Road initiative, which has seen $60 billion go toward China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, Chinese officials reaffirmed the bilateral alliance between Beijing and Islamabad as "higher than the mountains and deeper than the sea."
Statements made at the time by Lijian Zhao, deputy chief of mission at the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad, described further that "The friendship has never been empty talks, but deeply imprinted in hearts of Chinese and Pakistani people."
At the same time India and China have emerged as the region's largest economic and military rivals vying for influence in central Asia, and at times in recent history and beyond even entering into armed confrontations along disputed border sections.
Indian officials have given a public "debriefing" of the TROPEX 2019 exercises on Monday presumably as part of continued war propaganda to scare off any potential Pakistani aggression. This comes after over a week ago Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said the country was ready for war and its army would respond if attacked by India or “any superpower” during a speech in southeast Pakistan's Chachro town.