China’s activities in Pakistan occupied Kashmir a matter of concern

India and China are, to an extent, destined by geography to be “rivals” and Beijing’s increasing assertiveness while dealing with disputes is “most disconcerting,” West Bengal Governor and former National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan has said.

“To some extent, China and India are destined by geography to be rivals: neighbours with large populations, old civilisations, rich and venerable cultures, and disputes with regard to their borders,” Mr. Narayanan, who is also a former chief of the Intelligence Bureau, said.

“The two countries are, nevertheless, far apart civilisationally and in their make-up. Elected accountability in India is an important point of difference,” he said in the keynote address at the annual Australia India Institute conference on India here on Thursday.

“China’s activities in Pakistan occupied Kashmir are very troubling for India. Its not-so-subtle wooing of some of India’s neighbours to India’s detriment is a cause of concern.”

The strategic fallout of China’s policy of building advantageous power relationships on India’s periphery and beyond, was “forcing” New Delhi to sit up and take notice.

“Potential for a conflict also exists, as competition between India and China for new energy sources intensifies, with China moving aggressively into West Asia and elsewhere. Both countries are, however, conscious of possible miscalculations,” he noted.

Both were anxious to lower the threshold of concern. The border remained quiet with several other structures in place for discussion and negotiations.

Mr. Narayanan also referred to relations with Pakistan, saying the challenge that India faced in dealing with Islamabad was very different from that it faced in its dealings with China.

“India cannot possibly rest easy unless there is a distinct change in Pakistan’s attitude. Pakistan possesses one of the world’s biggest armies, one that is equipped with a rapidly growing nuclear arsenal,” he said.