LADAKH AND BEYOND

Ladakh is far from having settled down to peace. Chinese PLA is massing up troops in sensitive areas in the region, and India is in a state of preparedness in the event of a fresh face-off. Clearly, the problems in the region are far from being solved or even being in a state of freeze. The arrival of five Rafale fighter jets have obviously raised the confidence levels of the Indian military, but much work remains to be done before the security levels along the northern border are raised to satisfactory levels.

India has stated that the Chinese military has pulled out of Galwan Valley, the scene of killing of 20 Indian soldiers on May 5, but Chinese pullout from the sensitive ‘fingers’ area has not taken place. India is insistent and  rightly so, that a complete disengagement and withdrawal from areas the PLA crept into in the past couple of months are a pre-requisite to restoration of normalcy. The Chinese are dilly-dallying on the issue of troops withdrawal – after it made a promise to do so on July 6 at the NSA level talks, also involving Pangong Tso and Depsang areas.

It is important that peace is given a chance and it’s also important for India not to lose an inch of land to the Chinese. The original bilateral talks on the issues in Ladakh and beyond started on June 6. It’s going to be two full months now, and the issues are dragging. This Sunday’s talks between military top brass – the fifth round — too were high on promises, but low in terms of confidence-building. It’s three months since the Galwan Valley killings took place.

China might boast of a superior military, as India vacillated on its military requirements right from the turn of the century. This gave a clean two decades’ time for China to unilaterally raise its might in a frenzied build-up. India failed to take note. Today, even in the confused state of Covid spread, China is seen itching for a fight. The scenario suits China inasmuch as the fact that India’s isolation is worsening within the region. Close ally Nepal is alienated; and Afghanistan might sing a different tune sooner or later.

China’s economic might is what attracts nations in the region to the red dragon. China is wooing Bangladesh through economic cooperation pacts, while Pakistan is already in its pocket. It’s now wooing Iran, where India took a beating of late. India’s failure to set its house in order in the last 20 years is proving to be a major handicap.

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