The situation along the Line of Actual Control is “tense”, so said the Indian army chief Gen. M M Naravane at the conclusion of his recent visit to Ladakh, the remote region that is occupying the centerstage at the headlines all over as the real danger is not just the tension but the fear of its escalation.
Tension is palpable from Ladakh to Beijing, Delhi and elsewhere. Who knows that how the tensions graduate to the real-time conflicts. It is a of war-like situation on the borders. Gen. Naravane captured the image of the situation on the borders where Indian and Chinese troops are locked in a battle of nerves with their physical manoeuvrings that have affected the national security of both the countries.
This is not something that can be resolved so easily. It is obvious the way the diplomatic and the military level talks have run into a tangle of questions, where exactly the LAC runs and where exactly the two armies should be without touching the live-wire conditions?
That this situation is near-explosive can be deduced from the fact that now it is not seen as merely a situation along the Line of Actual Control, but also as to how the Line of Control that divides Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh between India and Pakistan will behave. At the moment LoC is also having its regular skirmishes between Indian and Pakistan armies where soldiers and civilians are dying regularly. Both sides accuse the cross-LoC shelling on the other. The euphemistic term of the ceasefire violation is used. But the truth is that it is consuming lives. Accusations cannot hide the ground reality.
Pakistan, as it is obliged to echo whatever Beijing says, it accused India of having created a situation at LAC by carrying out what it called illegal constructions close to the borderline.
Imran Khan Government’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who by his utterances has created stress and strain between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia is a favourite of Beijing. He flattered China when he said, “ while China wished to resolve issues through dialogue, it cannot remain oblivious to India’s illegal constructions.” He went a step ahead and urged the world community to take notice of “India’s hostile policies.”
This brings things at dangerous crossroads. It might have been a compulsion for Pakistan to support China, its benefactor, especially when the United States of America has distanced itself from Islamabad for its own reasons, though Washington is in continuous need of Pakistan in resolving issues in Afghanistan. It wants its troops back. Otherwise, the US has discarded Pakistan, like it did in the past too.
The crucial matter here is that China and Pakistan view India leaning toward the US in changing equations in the new world order emerging after outbreak of the pandemic caused by novel corona virus. It originated in China. That’s a fact known worldwide.
The problem, however, is that China accuses India of falling into the American trap. A trio of confrontation – with China and Pakistan on one side – and India on the other- has surfaced. It is ominous for the stability of the region, which is already fragile. Any confrontation would be catastrophic.
This is the time that a new brand of diplomacy be employed. There is no point in highlighting the weaknesses of China in this pandemic season that refuses to disappear. China has suffered no less, partly because of its well-known attempts to hide the effects of the virus and then claiming that all is well. China’s economy is in downslide, despite some figures suggesting that China alone is doing good in these times of economic distress that has crippled the world and left millions jobless even in the rich countries.
China is facing a major crisis of food security. Its food security is under threat. Its government has already come out with warning signals on this score, leaving no one in doubt that what it is going through. We know it all.
The new brand of diplomacy is not all about the meeting of high officials, ministers and the telephonic conversations to work out a solution to the crisis, though some may argue that without them how the things can be sorted out. The demand of the situation is that scholars who understand the peoples of the two countries and the sentiments they represent meet and find a solution that is acceptable to both the countries. This will create public opinion that will make it easy for the leadership to do the things which they otherwise think are unthinkable.
This means setting up a stage for not only resolving the present crisis on the borders having a dangerous potential of exploding at the slightest of the spark from either side, but also to maintain a relationship between the two sides where peace and tranquility is palpable on the ground and the psyche in the years to come with no interruption to be caused by any stand off or showdown. Military strength can be exhibited, but the diplomatic strength works better through sweet and polished tongue.