By Arun Joshi
It is now absolutely clear that the tensions are escalating on the Indo-China border in eastern Ladakh and this will have great strategic implications for the national security in its entirety as also create new threats to its territorial integrity and sovereignty .fault lines in the south Asian geo-strategic landscape.
Over the past one and a half years , the situation of standoff in eastern Ladakh , has seen many firsts like the violent clashes in June last year and thereafter the half-hearted efforts to de-escalate and disengage on the borders , there has been no straight-line approach by China , though it has been insisting its reported faith in resolving issues through dialogue.
As a result of this approach , now the situation has reached a point where it has moved beyond the military phrase of “ matter of concern”. It is a straight threat to the Indian sovereignty , and unfortunately India is left with no other option but to give a matching response in the cold desert dotted by the high Himalayas through which the Line of Actual Control- LAC- passes through . The LAC defines the mutually accepted border between the two countries until the whole issue of the final demarcation of the boundary is done.
The exist9ng situation in which the tensions have escalated , and where the army has voiced serious concerns of LAC becoming another LoC- Line of Control that divides Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan – is reflective of worsening of an already bad situation in the region .
Army chief M M Naravane , while analyzing situation on the Indo-Chinese border in eastern Ladakh , had observed : “ If they ( Chinese ) continue to stay for the second winter ( 2021 and 2022) , it will definitely mean we will be in the LoC kind of situation . “ This, when translated in the military terms , means permanent deployment of troops and war machinery on the borders which extracts a huge cost .
When the LAC also turns into LoC kind of situation , it means that it Indian army will have to be vigilant two fronts , and accordingly stretch its resources to ensure that it is not caught unawares at the time when any misadventure is undertaken by the other side . The deployments at the LAC and LoC , in tactical terms may mean looking at a situation at two different places and against two countries . In practical terms , it means being alert to the combined strength of China and Pakistan , who are all-weather friends . Their reasons to stand up to India may appear to be different as China is seeking to undermine India’s security and its influence at the world stage ,the fact that Beijing and Islamabad’s strategic interests in keeping India on toes converge at the places like Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan occupied Jammu and Kashmir , which legally belong to India , but are under the complete control of Pakistan. China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative , the China- Pakistan Economic Corridor ( CPEC) is a prestigious pilot project , passes through these areas that border Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh , which are now two union territories in the Indian union.
The continuous deployment of forces on these borders have the potential to disturb the strategic equilibrium and it poses a serious threat to the Indian sovereignty on the territories . Pakistan can step up infiltration from across the LoC , forcing the Indian army not to take an eyelid off the situation there. The infiltration per se doesn’t constitute ceasefire violation , but it is greatly interlinked to ceasefire violation in a sense because it gives rise to the temperatures on the borderline , which directly impacts the internal situation in Kashmir . First, if the infiltration bid is successful – the armed terrorists succeed to sneak into the Indian territory from across the LoC- they serve as a military replenishment for the militants already active in J&K, and even when it is intercepted , it serves as morale booster to the militants and their sympathisers that there are groups and powers coming to their support . This is where the internal situation gets disturbed. The Indian army has become so much integral part of the counter-terrorism operations that there has hardly been an encounter in which the army is not a participant. This leads to the internal instability and that has its own cost.
This is where India needs to work out a new strategy to save its sovereignty and also not to lose its standing in region in the neighbhourhood and beyond.
About the Author:
Arun Joshi is a senior journalist based in J&K. He has worked with Hindustan Times, Times of India, Indian Express, and The Tribune. He has authored “ Eyewitness Kashmir: Teetering on Nuclear War” and three other books.
This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write up have nothing to do with it.