By Syed Ali Mujtaba
India-China Showdown in LADAK looks imminent. The current India- China standoff in Ladak is due to Home Minister Amit Shah statement made during debate on abrogation of Article 370 on 5th August 2019 where the Home Minister made territorial claims over Aksai Chin.
China that physically controls the Aksai Chin then objected to India’s Home Minister’s claim and had raised its concern in UN Security Council.
Then on October 11, 2019 Chinese leader Xi Jinping who met Indian Prime Minister at Mamallapuram, near Chennai, suggested to have told Mr Modi to have a joint mechanism with Pakistan to settle the entire gamut of land boundary issues. The Indian leader giving initial nod to such proposal did commit to any forward movement after that.
The Indian side is going ahead with its plan and is constructing road to have faster access to Aksai Chin which has infuriated the Chinese.
As a result China wants to cut off all the Indian land access to Aksai Chin. China has plans to achieve this objective by pushing the disputed Line of Actual Control at three different border locations of Ladakh. The territories are; Lukung Lake and Shyok & Chang- Chenmo Rivers.
The Chinese motive is to construct permanent military structures on the Indian side of lake and rivers its forcible push on the LAC through intrusion is a part of its game plan to get into the Indian side.
India and China are engaged in negotiations from May 20, 2020 but the area commanders have failed many times. The negotiation even at a higher level cannot hammer out any deal.
In such situation, India and China both are exploring military options to test themselves and both sides are increasing their military presence in the contested region. A war like situation is created in Ladak and some of the locations are exactly the same spot as of 1962 war.
Now given military power of both the countries, any such confrontation is going to head where, is anybody’s guess. China has 10 times financial and military muscle than India; it can easily sustain a low intensity war for a long period of time. What it wants is to make India sweat out economically and politically and exhaust all other options and then come to the negotiating table.
The option before India is to take a legal course. But can India do so and go to International Court of Justice or United Nation General Assembly after unilaterally abrogating Article 370 and making territorial claims over Aksai Chin and over Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.
India so far has prevented any outside influence for last 70 years or so it has never cared about the UNGA’s resolutions on J&K seriously. So now if it wants to get legal protection from international bodies, will it be successful?
China holding the veto power along with the P5 countries in the UN Security Council. It will quash any legal course that India may be seeking from the international bodies. India has exhausted its legal option by abrogating the Article 370 and reorganizing the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories.
The diplomatic option for India is to engage Russia and America to cut a deal with China. It is sure that Americans would never come to rescue of India because of the political situation in that country.
Russia may stick its neck into cutting a deal with China only if India guarantees to leave the US camp and accept it as the only all-weather friend.
Even if that happens will Xi Jinping listen to Putin and if so at what cost? Any such negotiation with India –Russia and China may end up on Chinese withdrawal from the current forward position only on the condition that India leaves its claim over Aksai Chin. Will India accept such a deal?
Now in such case what is the other option left for India? Can India go to Pakistan and ask to strike a deal China? Well everything is fair love and war and such option cannot be ruled out.
In such case what will be Pakistan’s demands. Obviously it will ask Indian side of Kashmir lock stock and barrel. Will India accept such a deal?
So it is not in India’s interest to strike any deal, involving any third party as has been doing so since past seventy years of so.
In such case, India has to choose between military confrontation and negotiation directly one to one with the China. India also has to choose it wants to fight the Covid-19 war or a war the China? It’s a Hobbesian choice.
At the moment it is too early to cast any verdict in this unfolding story. We can only wait and watch the developments. Once all this is over, it will be then the time to does a cost benefit analysis of the abrogation of Article 370.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at email@example.com