Situation in Ladakh Alarming; Brace for Hard Bargain with China to Diffuse It

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Syed Ali Mujtaba | Clarion India

Situation in Ladakh is quite alarming with the People’s Liberation Army of China moving 5 kilometre inside Indian territory after crossing the Line of Actual Control. To avoid an all-out war, India may have to go for a hard bargain with the neighbouring country to defuse the situation.

At a time when it is fighting a global pandemic even as the goal of $5-trillion economy is still elusive, can India afford to go to war? Can our prime minister reinvigorate the sick economy at such a short notice and take on the might of a recalcitrant neighbour in the battlefield?

I am sure PM Narendra Modi will be back with his ‘Deshwasio’ phrase, asking the countrymen to bear the expenses of war and save motherland. Will, the people respond with “Heil, mein Führer!” and do so to please this ionic leader of India.

Here I like to quote General Sam Manekshaw’s oft-quoted line he uttered while interacting with former Prime Minister Gandhi when she broached the idea to go to war with China. The celebrated general told her point blank, “Only a military man knows the India’s vulnerability against China in case of war, politicians have no clue about it.”

So, our PM needs to pause before deciding to go to war with China. Going by the military might, this well-fought war is unlikely to be short-lived, rather it may put our sovereignty at stake.

As far as negotiation with the neighbouring country are concerned, it is unlikely to end in a resolution agreeable to both parties. It is because the incursion is a deliberate and well-thought-out plan undertaken by China with an aim to demand its pound of flesh from India on the negotiation table.

On the negotiating table, the Chinese side might either demand some economic benefits or political settlement with India for pulling back its troops.

The economic favours that China could demand are hard to fathom. However, one can presume it might entail India’s entry into the Regional Comprehensive Trade Agreement or joining the one belt-one road policy, both of these have been rejected by India.

The political settlement could still be a bad bargain for India. This has come out in the open after the Modi-Li meeting at Mamallapuram, near Chennai on October 11, 2019.

After this meeting, the Chinese media reported that its leader had suggested Indian leadership to have a joint mechanism with Pakistan to settle the entire gamut of boundary question with India. It reported that Modi had given a nod to this proposal but did not commit to any forward movement.

As we all know this joint mechanism may bring into the territorial dispute of the J&K that has aggravated due abrogation of Article 370 and creation of Ladakh as a Union territory. The fear is the kind of situation that is developing in Ladakh will not give an easy exit route to India.

So, the Modi government has to make up its mind about the bargain it may get in any such negotiation to defuse this crisis. At the heart of this situation is the Modi government’s move to reorganise J&K state. If India faces loss, the responsibility has to be fixed on the current government.

Tail piece: I was witness to a discussion at a think tank in Chennai where a retired colonel was narrating the land boundary dispute with China and Russia which resulted in a bloody skirmish.  The Chinese side then used a special gun that killed 500 opponents in one fire. There was more blood spilt on the ground than water in the lake nearby.  I pray this never happens with India-China dispute.
—————————————————————————————————–Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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