Disengagement of Chinese troops in Ladakh

Even if in fits and starts, the process towards deescalation on the eastern Ladakh borders initiated now by the Chinese needs to be seen with a hope of resolution of issues on the remaining points/spots of discord in the near future as well which otherwise has engaged armies of both the countries in combat position for the last over two years. Disengagement of armies of both the countries from the Patrolling Point 15 in the Gogra-Hotsprings area, therefore, is a major step towards easing of tensions on the Ladakh border. In fact, even the timeline about it having been mutually agreed to by both the sides in respect of the process of disengagement and to be completed by 12th instant, is a development which, perhaps, had become long overdue. India’s persistent and uncompromising stand in respect of “not even an inch” and conveying its readiness for ”other alternatives” too if thrust on this peace loving country, have also to a larger extent really changed the scenario leading to de-escalation process. In this connection, it may be recalled that as many as 16 rounds of corps commander level talks were held between the two sides intermittently with an aim to resolve the stand-off but China never seemed to be inclined to reach an agreement mutually acceptable until in the latest round of talks held on September 8, 2022. Gogra area which includes Hotsprings and the south banks of the Pangong Lake were the two points needing resolution. What prompted, therefore, China agreeing to and in fact, starting the process of disengagement and going to the extent of setting a deadline too by which such a process of disengagement was decided to be completed, equally needs to be analysed in the perspective. Only after a week, the annual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is going to take place in Uzbekistan . Since China is one of the main founders of the SCO and has certain obligations towards other member countries which includes India, towards fulfilment of addressing and focussing on regional security issues and regional development, it cannot afford, therefore, to have one of the member countries (India) raise issues concerning regional security likely to be imperilled if unresolved if at all not specifying pointedly eastern Ladakh standoff directly by India in keeping with the diplomatic traditions of not bringing in bi-lateral issues for discussions in such summits. Since even on the contrary, nothing could be overruled, China, therefore, has taken the decision of disengagement to avoid a possible embarrassment directly or indirectly. How can a situation look like where possibly the leaders of two Asian giants meeting on the sidelines of the summit when an inertial situation existing on the eastern Ladakh all due to the hostilities exhibited by China remained unresolved even partially? Though till now there was no official confirmation or contradiction about the possibilities of an informal meet between PM Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping from either side but speculations to this effect have triggered and if it happens , the possibilities of more steps taken towards further easing of tensions on the borders can well be hoped. It is to be seen that India was going to host the summit of SCO next year hence de-escalation process must get all strength and importance. However, India not taking up the issue of not addressing regional terrorism and religious extremism seriously by the SCO which it is committed to focus on as per its policy and agreed agenda, cannot be overruled either, though it may not be referring pointedly to China’s latest but persistent moves to abort the joint efforts of India and the US to list Pakistan based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) ”leader” Abdul Rauf Azhar as a global terrorist. It had done so in the case of another terrorist Makki also earlier and even on many other occasions in the UN. International political equations are fast changing where not addressing and strengthening regional peace could flare up into a major conflict and where, no one’s hegemony and undue interference in others’ matters least altering territories or claiming any part without any basis, had any scope. How far and how much sincerely the implementation process by the (unreliable and unpredictable) Chinese have in fact been done and temporary structures etc earlier erected now demolished etc is scheduled to be duly verified and such a process carried out by the Indian Army. Creating buffer zones by both the armies is an important segment of the disengagement process which in simpler words means that these zones will be “no patrolling areas” hence no chances of any types of future minor skirmishes like incidents between the two armies.