Five-point consensus just the beginning of long road to peace

Published: 14th September 2020 07:38 AM
Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane (left) interacts with troops during his visit to review the security situation in Ladakh | pti

After months of Chinese obstinacy, Nature seems to have played a part in shortening the odds on disengagement along the LAC in eastern Ladakh, as both Beijing and New Delhi are aware that adverse weather conditions would make the aggressive stand-off positions difficult to manage in winter.

Racing against time to resolve the deadlock, both agreed on a five-point consensus, pointing out that the current border situation is not in the interest of either side. Troops should continue dialogue, quickly disengage, maintain proper distance and ease tensions, the mechanism said.

The plan was unveiled after the first face-to-face meeting between Indian and Chinese foreign ministers S Jaishankar and Wang Yi on Friday in Moscow got distilled into a joint statement, setting the political roadmap for resolving the stand-off. “As the situation eases, both sides should expedite work to conclude new confidence building measures to maintain and enhance peace in the border areas,” the mechanism stated, defusing speculation for now on the possibility of a limited war.

While tranquillity has since been observed along the LAC, it's up to the military leadership to work out a tangible disengagement plan on a reciprocal basis. If the situation on the ground satisfactorily eases, a possible meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the forthcoming G20 summit in Saudi Arabia in November could formally reset bilateral ties.

As things stand now, the substantive relationship for decades despite an unmarked border has gone frigid, especially after the Galwan Valley violence. The situation can be remedied only if there is peace and tranquillity along the border, Jaishankar emphasised.

While there was no mention of India's demand on restoring status quo ante on the LAC in the joint statement or the separate readouts of the positions taken by both foreign ministers during the talks, the Chinese version did not blame India for the crisis either, indicating nuancing on both sides. But if past experience is anything to go by, China does not necessarily walk the peace talk. A fully verifiable pullout from frontline positions is non-negotiable. The joint statement is just the beginning of a long road to a tranquil LAC.

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