Will China dump Pakistan? Will it continue to fluctuate in its policy on Kashmir? These intense questions and many more were raised at the international conference on the violence-hit state held in London on Tuesday.
The Chinese will finally dump Pakistan. This was the view expressed by Major General Ashok K Mehta about the warming relationship between the two countries at the conference on Kashmir.
The conference, facilitated by the British government think tank Royal United Services Institute, aimed to take stock of the Asian powers in the region, in particular the role that China has taken in the long standing dispute.
The general described China's involvement as part of a 'greater design' by which the rising power is hoping to use its position in Asia to gain access to the Arabian Sea.
"To bring China into Kashmir will add an unknown dimension," said Mehta.
China, historically fluctuating on its policy on Kashmir, has now grown closer to Pakistan and has demonstrated its stance on India's sovereignty in Jammu and Kashmir by refusing to stamp Indian passports from the occupied territory and denying a visa to Indian Lieutenant General B S Jaswal last August.
Mehta urged Pakistan and India to work together instead and not allow China to fulfil its wish to "tri-lateralise" a bilateral dispute.
Dr Ishtiaq Ahmad, Oxford University Fellow and commentator, retorted that there is no moral ground to question China's involvement and that India cannot tell China to stay out because India "never budges" on the issue.
Dr Ahmad believes the move by China is the result of inaction and unwillingness on the part of the Indian government to regard J&K as a serious issue.
"China shares a common frustration with Pakistan -- India not moving an inch," he said.
Dr Ahmed added that China deserves recognition for taking an interest in the region, adding that up to now the international community have paid little more than 'lip service" to Kashmir.
Access this interview at rediff.com