Indian options on current Ladakh situation…

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Kanwar Muhammad Dilshad
WE have always missed opportune
time to resolve the Kashmir dispute.
In 1962 India/China war, we should have attacked or at least moved our troops on the Line of Control (LoC) to force India into a solution. Many such opportunities came our way to solve Kashmir issue but we failed to avail them.
Now, skirmishes are going on between China and India and China has massed its troops in Ladakh. This is the time that we should also move our forces along the LoC to send a message to India and internationally that now China/Pakistan forces are one. This should be our new foreign regional strategy that Pakistan and China should adopt. India can be given a choice to join militarily and economic grouping or face collective adversary. Once an economic and military grouping is made among India, Pakistan, China, Iran and Afghanistan, an era of regional peace will usher. We can then cut our military expense for better domestic economic development.
Indian options on current Ladakh situation: The Indians have created the present Ladakh crisis by their belligerent behaviour in the region since Modi’s re-election last year. India has tried to treat China as if it is one of the SAARC countries. The open threats to CPEC(China’s jewel in its OBOR vision) because it is running through Pakistan’s NAs and the revocation of article 370/35-A for IOJ&K with bifurcation of Kashmir and Ladakh into Union territories(with ramifications for Askai Chin area) has been seen very seriously by China. The Chinese are prudently extending the perimeter of security for CPEC (by moving onto Shyok River and India’s Subsector North through Galwan valley) and also ensuring that no envelopment move can germinate from western side of Askai Chin which can threaten Western Highway from Tibet to China.
Following are India’s options in order of priority: 1. Negotiations to save face like done by China at Doklam and return of Chinese troops to LAC. Some curtailment of road making (by India) to placate China and claiming it as peaceful resolution. 2. Saving face by limited escalatory response like flights by helicopters, show of force through troop build up and firing (without causing Chinese casualties) along LAC incursion points. Then using Russia (to convince China) to deescalate situation and stabilising LAC. 3. Military response to restore status quo or push Chinese back at one or two points of incursion (Galwan valley being priority. Based on assumption that Trump will openly come out in India’s diplomatic and logistic support. However, this will only be done if build up of about two-division strength takes place in Galwan valley and finger areas three to eight in Pangong Lake.
Rider clauses: 1. India will not go to UN as it means internationalising the J&K dispute by India itself. 2. Pakistan will be pressurised by US & its money lenders like IMF/WB etc to remain out of the fray (like in 1962). Whether it is possible in present environment is another issue. 3.Whatever additional Indian troops move into the area, they are now there to stay — whichever way the situation plays out. Both China and Pakistan will now have to factor in this aspect for the future.
—The writer is former Federal Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan and currently Chairman National Democratic Foundation.

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