Fresh LAC Standoff

IN a fresh flare-up between India and China along the LIne of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh, Indian Army has pre-empted yet another Chinese attempt to intrude into Indian side of LAC at Pangong Tso lake. The attempt to transgress this time has come as a surprise as the two countries have been unsuccessfully negotiating a disengagement over the past three months. Earlier on June 15, twenty Indian soldiers were killed during a clash between the armies of the two nuclear armed neighbours at Galwan Valley. If anything, the fresh clashes between the two sides shows that the ongoing stand-off is nowhere near resolution. In fact, the fresh clash has made it even worse. It has underlined the growing unpredictability of the situation and unless resolved early to the satisfaction of the two sides could escalate into a bigger confrontation. Already, the Chief of Defence Staff General BIpin Rawat has warned of a military action to push back China from its side of the LAC if the ongoing talks fail. And with talks going nowhere and China making yet another bid at intrusion into Indian side, it seems that the options for New Delhi are narrowing dangerously.

China, on the other hand, has denied that it has intruded into Indian side. It said the two sides are communicating regarding conditions on the ground. Where do things go from here is anybody’s guess. It would need the two sides to tread cautiously and ensure things don’t get out of hand. A war is the last thing the region would want amid the coronavirus pandemic. India can hardly afford to be distracted at a time when the number of the Covid-19 positive cases has crossed 36 lakh and around over 65000 people have died. What is more, the number of the daily cases has shown an exponential rise, with now over 80,000 people reporting sick daily. Besides, the depleting economy hit hard by the badly implemented nationwide lockdown hardly affords the government any space for war. China, on the other hand, has successfully tackled the pandemic, even though being the country of origin of the deadly contagion.

The pragmatic option to address the stand-off is through negotiations, even if they take time, and at the same time, bolster defences along the LAC so that fresh intrusions are detected early and pre-empted, as was done in case of the latest attempt by China to take over Indian land. But the long term solution to the recurrent border tension with the communist giant is to engage in a meaningful dialogue to delineate the unresolved border. This alone will be a guarantee for a durable peace between the two countries.

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