India and China have completed the disengagement of troops at several friction points along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, following a series of military talks and diplomatic engagements. However, experts caution that this is just the first step towards de-escalation and a long road ahead remains.
Disengagement vs de-escalation
Disengagement is the process of withdrawing troops from forward deployed positions to established locations. De-escalation, on the other hand, is a broader process that involves reducing military tensions and restoring the status quo ante.
India has made it clear that it is willing to disengage from forward deployed positions, but only if China does so as well. India is also concerned about China’s military build-up in the hinterland and wants China to reduce its troop presence in the region.
China has also agreed to disengage from forward deployed positions, but it has not yet committed to reducing its troop presence in the hinterland. China has also been pushing for a return to normalcy in bilateral relations, even though tensions remain high on the LAC.
The road ahead
The disengagement of troops is a positive step, but it is important to note that it is just the first step towards de-escalation. A long road ahead remains, and there are several challenges that need to be addressed.
One challenge is the different expectations of India and China. India wants China to reduce its troop presence in the hinterland and restore the status quo ante, while China is pushing for a return to normalcy in bilateral relations. It is unclear how these conflicting expectations can be reconciled.
Another challenge is the lack of trust between India and China. The two countries have been engaged in a border dispute for decades, and there have been several skirmishes along the LAC in recent years. This lack of trust makes it difficult for the two countries to reach a mutually agreeable solution to the current crisis.
Despite the challenges, it is important for India and China to continue their dialogue and work towards a peaceful resolution of the crisis. De-escalation is in the best interests of both countries.
Yes to temporary disengagement and de-escalation, but permanent de-induction ruled out
The Indian government has made it clear that it is willing to disengage from forward deployed positions along the LAC, but only if China does so as well. India has also ruled out permanent de-induction of troops from the region until the border dispute is resolved.
The Indian government’s position is understandable. China has been expanding its military infrastructure in the LAC region for many years, and it has also been trying to change the status quo ante. India cannot afford to let China consolidate its position in the region.
India’s willingness to disengage from forward deployed positions is a positive step, but it is important to note that this is just the first step towards de-escalation. A long road ahead remains, and India needs to be prepared for all contingencies.
India needs to maintain a strong military presence along the LAC to deter any further aggression from China. India also needs to continue to invest in its military and infrastructure in the region.
India also needs to work with its allies and partners to build a united front against China. The United States and other countries have already expressed their support for India in the LAC crisis. India needs to leverage this support to pressure China to resolve the crisis peacefully.
De-escalation and disengagement are in the best interests of both India and China. However, it is important to note that this will not be easy. India needs to be prepared for a long and difficult negotiation process.