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Did Jaishankar, Wang Yi really break the ice in Moscow? India can’t forget — winter is coming

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Since the five-point India-China joint statement made in Moscow on 10 September after the foreign ministers meet between S. Jaishankar and Wang Yi, there has been no news of fresh action along the Line of Actual Control in the ongoing conflict. However, there have been important statements highlighting the seriousness of the situation in eastern Ladakh. After Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said in Parliament that China has mobilised troops and weapons on the LAC, and violated all bilateral agreements, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi hit back, saying that the government had misled the country on Chinese encroachment. The Minister of State for Home Affairs, Nityanand Rai made a bizarre statement in Parliament that there has been “no infiltration at the Indo-China Border in last six months”. Ironically, by default, he was correct because the Chinese have not infiltrated but intruded and captured our territory.

But that’s all happening in the political arena. What explains the lull along the LAC after 10 September? Is it the lull before the proverbial storm or the one being utilised by both countries to plan for a face-saver solution?

Time is at a premium because winter sets in by 30 November. While the disengagement process, when finalised, will take 7-10 days to implement, the de-escalation of additional troops inducted is likely to take nearly a month. This is more, in our case as both the roads to Ladakh close by 15 November. In case the peace process fails, then both sides may either have to settle for maintaining the volatile status quo or seek to make strategic or tactical gains before the winter sets in. It is pertinent to mention that in 1962, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) commenced its offensive on 18 October and announced a unilateral ceasefire and withdrawal on 19 November.

I analyse the operational situation along the LAC, implications of the five-point agreement, likely problems in the disengagement process and prognosis, based on my assessment.

Also read: Taking Russia’s help on China and US on Maldives — a new Indian realism is underway

Apart from the Galwan-style confrontation attempted by the PLA at Mukhpari on the intervening night of 7 and 8 August, in which, both India and China accused each other of firing warning shots, there also seems to have been a similar incident at the junction of Finger 3 and Finger 4 ridges, where allegedly 100-200 warning shots were fired by both sides. There has been no other belligerent action by either side along the frontline. Both sides remain poised for escalation at face-off points and also the reserves remain in a state of readiness........

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