Calming The LAC

INDIA and China are pulling back their troops from the south bank of Pangong lake area in eastern Ladakh following their agreement for “synchronised and organised disengagement”. Unlike last year when the mutual understandings between the two countries didn’t lead to disengagement on the ground, this time the agreement has been promptly translated into action. The videos and images released by the Indian Army have shown the two sides vacating the areas occupied by them over the past year. According to media reports, the Chinese have withdrawn 130-140 tanks, 30 artillery guns and some 2,000 troops from South Bank of Pangong Tso lake and 30 artillery guns and some 4,000-5,000 troops  from the South Bank of the lake.
This is a welcome development after a yearlong stand-off that brought the armies of the two countries eyeball to eyeball. At times it appeared that the neighbours were on the verge of going to war. One such occasion was on June 16 last year when twenty Indian soldiers lost their lives in a bloody skirmish. There were other uneasy times as well when the two countries brought tanks to the border. But as it has turned out now, the restraint and the  dialogue  has paid off.
There are, however, three other major friction points which will need to be sorted out now. There has so far been no progress in the dialogue over the restoration of status quo ante in these areas. But there is hope that like Pangong Tso, the two countries will find a diplomatic solution to all the friction points along the Line of Actual Control, sooner than later. Solution to Pangong Tso stand-off has brightened the hope.
The problem in the negotiations so far has been that China has been loathe to go back to the status quo ante and has asked for mutual withdrawal. The incursions in the first place have been staged by China and the communist giant is not ready to vacate it unless India also withdraws from a portion of the border on its side of the LAC. But New Delhi can hardly afford to do it, not least because it considers the area its own. Doing so will be politically costly for the BJP government at the centre which is already facing severe flak for vacating Kailash ranges as part of its Pangong Tso agreement. But through sustained negotiations they certainly can find a way out. For a peaceful neighborhood it’s important that India and China reach a modus-vivendi.

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