It is a great relief that the Chinese have ended their stand-off in Ladakh and pulled out their troops from Daulat Beg Oldi (May 6). What dominated television studio debates for the past two weeks, with experts talking about conflict, has fortunately been amicably settled to mutual satisfaction. Diplomacy has paid off. The government must be complimented.
One must appreciate the beleaguered government’s sustained diplomatic efforts in holding talks and flag meetings with China and finally persuading them to withdraw. Though it has ended on a peaceful note, the picture on page 1 speaks volumes — “you’ve crossed the border, please go back.” The lesson India must draw is that it has to be alert hereafter and tighten security measures right across the border. My question in this context is: why are we still in reactive mode? It’s about time that we shifted to proactive mode to resolve all vital border issues with our neighbour firmly and permanently.
At last China relented and withdrew. And India too “withdrew,” but as Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has asked recently, withdrew from where to where? Was it a retreat from our own land? In any case, China can never be trusted. Its territorial ambitions go beyond all geographical boundaries. The dragon can spew fire without any provocation, and without warning. Our so-called neighbours too are a part of this game. We should be frank enough in admitting that we are surrounded more by enemies than friends. The report on page 1, “Nepal may turn to China for satellite plan” (May 6) is proof of this. Are we not a soft state? Why are we afraid of China? Despite knowing full well that we are no match to China, we have not been making any sincere effort to strengthen our defence. Worse, we are demoralising our defence forces by restricting their freedom, and neglecting their needs. Does our government have a strategy for defending ourselves in case of an aggressive act from either China or Pakistan? It is for the government to answer this question.
The Chinese stand-off seems a precursor to an invasion. The government has to nip mischief in the bud either by signing a treaty or by seeking international help for an amicable solution. The External Affairs Minister should stop making meaningless statements comparing such incidents to be “like acne on the otherwise pretty face of India-China relations.” In the name of resolving issues, India only mitigates them.
India’s tactical move to take up positions on the Chinese side seems to have worked for now. But the country should not remain in a mirage that China would never do it again. The two countries cannot afford another war. It is high time the Indian leadership engaged with China diplomatically and resolved the long-pending dispute over the McMohan line and Aksai Chin. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar once famously said: “Boundary-marking is the task of a surveyor; boundary-making is the task of a statesman.”
Syed Sultan Mohiddin,
Keywords: Chinese incursion