Chinese Incursion Aimed At Safeguarding Karakorm Highway

Chinese Incursion Aimed At Safeguarding Karakorm Highway

2 May 2013
The Daily Excelsior
Fayaz Bukhari

New Delhi: Last month’s incursion by Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Daulat Beg Oldi sector of Leh has been done to safeguard the Karakorm highway that is new major trade route for China as it connects the country with Gwadar port in Balochistan Pakistan, highly place military sources said here. The PLA made an incursion in Despang valley, DBO sector Leh and has established a camp on Despang Bulge at an altitude of around 17000 feet. The PLA now overlooks the DBO sector and gives strategic depth to them. The PLA has rejected any incursion in DBO sector during 3 flag meetings held since April 15 and say that they are holding their own territory. Karakorm Highway that connects Pakistan with China, also known as friendship highway, is vital for Chinese interests as it is trade route for the country. It connects China with Gwadar port whose control was handed over to a Chinese company early this year. Sources said that Gwadar port could become China’s naval base in the Indian Ocean and enable Beijing to monitor Indian and US naval activities. The port has also been called the western-most link in China’s string of pearls strategy. China and Pakistan are planning to link the Karakorm Highway to the Gwadar port through the Chinese-aided Gwadar-Dalband in railway, which extends up to Rawalpindi. Sources said that the incursion in DBO sector is part of joint strategy by Pakistan and China to stop growing activities of Indian army in the sector that poses term threat to both Chinese and Pakistani interests in the region. Sources said that after the DBO airfield was made operational in 2008 by Indian Air Force, both China and Pakistan felt it threat to its interests as air strip is close to the Karakorm highway that connects China with Pakistan. The Air filed offers India a means to snap the road connectivity between China and Pakistan. Since the Karakorm highway is vital for Chinese interests and they were of late feeling threat to it from India after the DBO air base was made operational by Indian Air Force in 2008 which is hardly 7 kilometres away from Karakorm highway. Indian Army was also planning construction of road to DBO which was against Chinese and Pakistani interests in the region. Indian Army could have easily snapped supply line of Pakistani troops based at Siachin glacier by strengthening its DBO sector. Sources said that China is developing its own western region and has been building a network of roads in Pakistan, and intends to lay pipelines and a railway track. The Depsang Bulge where the PLA is camping since April 15 after they made incursion some 19 kilometres inside Indian Territory has been providing defensive depth to DBO for Indian Army. The DBO is thinly held and it has just one company of Ladakh Scouts, and four companies of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police. Sources say the sector can now become highly militarised after Chinese incursion due to its importance because of Karakorm highway. Ladakh region shares a 646 kilometre long LAC with China, which is not demarcated at several places. The PLA in the past has intruded into Indian territory in Ladakh several times but this is for the first time they are holding any territory.