Pangong Lake disengagement: An unclear picture

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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh informed the Rajya Sabha last week that after nine rounds of talks with the Chinese side, “We have now been able to reach an agreement on disengagement in the North and South Bank of the Pangong Lake.”  The agreement was that the Chinese side would keep its troop presence in the North Bank area to east of Finger 8. Rajnath clarified that “Reciprocally, the Indian troops will be based at their permanent base at Dhan Singh Thapa Post near Finger 3.” Here lies the rub. Before the face-off began in May last year, Indian troops held Finger 4 from which they used to go up to Finger 8 on patrolling. Rajnath’s statement makes it clear that we have agreed to give up our base at Finger 4 and retreat to Finger 8. Whether the Chinese side will allow us to patrol up to Finger 8, only time will say. The simple and obvious question is, why did we agree to retreat to Finger 3? These fingers are on the north bank of the Pangong lake.

To add to the anxiety of the people, Rajnath said, “It was our view that troops of both sides, who are now in close proximity, should vacate the forward deployments made in 2020 and return to the permanent and accepted bases.” It is known to the entire world that in a demonstration of their great valour and fearlessness, the Indian army captured a number of strategic hilltops in a daring operation during the night of October 29-30. The operation turned the tables on the Chinese. From those hilltops we could maintain round-the-clock vigilance on the movement of Chinese infantry and artillery columns, tank regiments and missile batteries. China has been repeatedly asking India to ‘de-link’ the border issue from all other bilateral issues. In plain language it means that while the Chinese sneak into our territory and sit tight there, India engage China in pleasant talks about economic cooperation and other issues of mutual interest. None except the most gullible will believe that the so-called agreement on disengagement in Ladakh will end China’s hostility to India.

To become the sole superpower in the world, China will first have to establish her complete domination of Asia. And India is the biggest obstacle to that grand dream. So, India will have to be militarily humiliated, economically left far behind and its unity and integrity weakened. The 1962 aggression was also in pursuance of this policy of humiliating India and reducing the rising stature of Jawaharlal Nehru in the comity of nations. China’s imperial ambitions have to be thwarted In order to contain China, India should actively develop military cooperation with the small countries of Asia and try to bring them into a joint security architecture to counter China. If we fail to do this, China will try to turn all our neighbours against India. The recent coup in Myanmar is an ominous development. China’s tongue-in-the-cheek reaction to the Myanmar Army’s snuffing out of the nascent democracy in that country speaks volumes. Nepal’s sudden intransigence against India has also to be taken note of. The disengagement in Ladakh is just a passing (and temporary) phase in a far bigger drama that is unfolding.

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