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China-Pakistan nexus in terrorism: Chinese telecom gear “Ultra Set” meant for Pakistani army seized from terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir

The officials said that the device operates on radio waves for message transmission and reception, with each "Ultra Set" linked to a control station located across the border. 

The equipment seized by security forces from terrorists has indicated an increasing China-Pakistan nexus at the Line of Control (LoC) and its angle in infiltration and terrorism incidents in Jammu and Kashmir. Notably, on Sunday (23rd June 2024), security officials stated that encounters with terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir have led to the seizure of highly encrypted Chinese telecom gear “Ultra Set”, equipment used by the Pakistani army that has ended up in the hands of terror groups.

The officials added that this has also raised concerns over undetected infiltrations from across the Line of Control and terrorists potentially residing in the outskirts of cities and villages. 

According to the officials, the seized equipment indicates that state actors in Pakistan are assisting terror groups by providing them with training, weapons, and ammunition.  

Officials aware of the matter said that the seizure of the mobile handsets used by foreign terrorists, primarily from Pakistan and its occupied Kashmir, indicates that terror groups are receiving training, weapons, and ammunition from state actors in Pakistan.

As per reports, the security forces had seized Chinese equipment from terrorists in two separate encounters in Jammu and Kashmir. These specialized handsets, exclusively customized by Chinese companies for the Pakistan army, were seized following a gunfight on the night of July 17-18 last year in the Sindarah Top area of Surankote in the Poonch district of the Jammu region. Four foreign terrorists were killed in the Surankote encounter. 

Earlier, the security forces had seized this equipment on 26th April, this year after an encounter at the Check Mohalla Nowpora area of Sopore in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district. Two foreign terrorists were gunned down in the Sopore incident.

Furthermore, the “Ultra Set” handsets have also been found in the south of the Pir Panjal region. Strikingly, it combines cell phone capabilities with specialized radio equipment that does not rely on traditional mobile technologies like Global System for Mobile (GSM) or Code-Division Multiple Access (CDMA).

The officials said that the device operates on radio waves for message transmission and reception, with each “Ultra Set” linked to a control station located across the border. 

They added that the two “Ultra Sets” cannot reach out to each other. They further noted that Chinese satellites are used to carry these messages which are compressed to bytes from the handset to the master server in Pakistan for its onward transmission.

The officials asserted, “This is yet another help being extended by China to its key ally Pakistan.” 

Beijing has been actively bolstering the defense capabilities of the Pakistani army along the LoC for quite some time. This support includes constructing steelhead bunkers, provisioning unmanned aerial and combat aerial vehicles, installing encrypted communication towers, and laying underground fiber cables.

Additionally, Chinese radar systems including the “JY” and “HGR” series have been deployed to improve target detection capabilities. Further, advanced weaponry like the SH-15 truck-mounted howitzer has been observed at various locations along the LoC. 

These efforts are viewed as reinforcing China’s strategic interests in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), particularly in relation to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

As per reports, the intercepted communications indicate that Chinese troops and engineers have been involved in infrastructure development along the LoC. However, the presence of senior People’s Liberation Army (PLA) officials at forward posts was not detected. 

Chinese involvement includes the construction of underground bunkers and tunnels in PoK’s Leepa Valley. These efforts are believed to support the establishment of a direct route between Pakistan’s Gwadar Port and China’s Xinjiang province via the Karakoram Highway, a region under Chinese occupation.

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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