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Chinese submarines may be moving towards Karachi

Chinese submarine currently prowling in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and attempted to dock at Colombo port two days ago is now likely to head for Karachi according to media reports emanating from Colombo'

The submarine was reportedly turned away from Colombo port in what is seen as a gesture when Prime Miniter Narendra Modi was on an official visit to the island.

Tthe docking of a Chinese Nuclear submarine at Hambantata port  three years ago when President Mahinda Rajapakshe was in power created a major storm in the relations with the neighbouring island nation.

Two days after the submarine episode Indian navy has dispatched four warships on an overseas deployment to Singapore as part of assignment in South-east Asia and Southern Indian Ocean and navy's act east policy.

The Yuan-class conventional Chinese submarine was "picked up" by Indian Navy's Poseidon-8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft as soon as it crossed the Malacca Strait on April 19-20 as part of the anti-piracy taskforce of the People's Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN).

Chinese navy has been regularly sending its nuclear and diesel-electric submarines to the Indian Ocean since December 2013 to extend its strategic reach in the region+ under the pretext is anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden. But submarines have hardly any place in anti piracy operations according to experts

The Navy has tracked several Chinese submarines in the Indian Ocean region till now. Two Chinese submarines, a nuclear one alternating with a diesel-electric one, are coming for three months each to the IOR every year. They usually come through the Malacca Strait, where they have to surface due to shallow depth, and exit through the Sunda Strait," he added.

India has lagged behind China in the underwater combat arena, with just 13 old diesel-electric and two nuclear submarines. China, in contrast, has well over 50 submarines.

China has also systematically forged extensive maritime links with several IOR nations, and is now even establishing its first overseas naval facility at Djibouti. It has increased its hold in Hambantata airport and chinese companies have considerable stakes in Colombo port.

Though China's primary aim may be protection of its trade and energy sea routes, India has reason to be wary of expeditionary forays in the region.

India, on its part, is slowly but steadily stepping up military ties with Asean countries as well naval deployments to the Far East to strategically counter all this.

Stealth frigates INS Sahyadari and INS Shivalik, anti-submarine warfare corvette INS Kamorta and tanker Jyoti, for instance, are part of the ongoing deployment to Singapore and south-east Asia in pursuance of the "Act East" policy.

The induction of eight P-8I aircraft, under a $2.1 billion deal inked with the US in 2009, has also helped the Navy keep an hawk-eye over the Indian Ocean region. Another four P-8Is, packed with sensors and weapons for anti-submarine warfare, will join the force soon.

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