THE fresh flare up along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh has plunged the India-China relations to their lowest since 1962 war. In recent days, in a pre-emptive bid to halt fresh incursions by China, India has captured a few heights at Pangong Tso, China has strongly objected to this and termed it an occupation of its area. This has taken the situation to the brink. There is every possibility of an escalation. India’s action followed after the Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat’s statement last month that Delhi has “military options” to deal with Chinese incursions. By also occupying some areas, India is bolstering its negotiating position with China and forcing it to pull back from the areas it has occupied since April. As things stand, it seems unlikely that China will budge from the areas occupied by it. It sees them of strategic value and necessary to secure its core military and economic interests. If the recent media reports are anything to go by, China is in occupation of around 1000 square kilometres along the LAC. And it seems unlikely to let go of it, forcing New Delhi to also resort to military action to try and gain a similar advantage over China.
This makes the current stand-off along LAC very complex in nature. At the same time, India is also engaged in a perennial confrontation with Pakistan along the Line of Control. This has further complicated the matters. In fact, India, Pakistan relationship has become irreconcilable following the revocation of Article 370 in August last year. So, if there has to be a stable South Asia, it will involve a broad reconciliation among the three major powers of the region: China, India and Pakistan. And this would need resolving the existing differences and reconciling the contending interests of the three countries which essentially keep the region destabilized.
Needs is for a broader regional approach to work for an integrated solution to the conflicts and the competing interests that in turn trigger the recurrent conflicts. Neglecting this objective assessment of the situation is certain to aggravate the rivalries, especially the one between India and Pakistan. Dividing the two countries since their founding is the festering issue of Kashmir.
So far there has hardly been a regional effort that works to resolve issues in a cooperative framework. Each neighbouring country is looking to secure their respective interests rather than work together for a solution. The only way that the current destabilizing situation can be effectively tackled is for the regional powers including India and Pakistan to cooperate and find a comprehensive solution to the issues dividing them. And for such a solution to materialize it has to first address the core concerns of the neighbouring countries and take care of their respective interests.
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