Indo-China border conflict: Larger perspective

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Dr Muhammad Khan
THE Realist School of International Relations
advises the statesmen and military com
manders, ‘Never involve militarily beyond your potential’. Potential of nations is assessed and determined not through their standing militaries and military equipment but through national resolve. The national resolve is a collective will of a nation to attain what it considers justified achieving. The Indian leadership seriously lacked prudence and a national resolve to fight against China in 1962, thus lost the Sino-China war with unremitting humiliations. After arrogant and boastful statements by ambitious General Bipan Rawat that Indian military can fight two-front war, India once again dared to escalate militarily along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in East Ladakh region. The initial results of this military escalation are humiliating and degrading for Indian Army and Indian nation. Indian military escalations, after changing the status quo of occupied Jammu and Kashmir invited Chinese military incursion into East Ladakh from three areas.
As per ‘The New York Times’ and ‘BBC’ the Indian military raid over a Chinese post resulted into killing of over 20 troops which include the commanding officer of an infantry battalion. Apart from these killings, there are dozens of soldiers captured by Peoples Liberation Army (PLA). This all happened despite the military commanders from both sides agreed for a peaceful resolution of border issues along the LAC, a week earlier. Even there has been symbolic pulling out of the Chinese troops to the pre-escalation positions. Indian Army, however, did not wait for the next phase of talks between local military commanders and tried to achieve the surprise over its Chinese counterpart, but badly repulsed and suffered heavy casualties. Earlier in May 2020, Chinese and Indian soldiers fought fiercely but there were incidents of firing. Like wrestlers, soldiers from both sides of the de facto border fought with fists. Later, they resorted to the use of rocks and wooden clubs, some possibly studded with nails or wrapped in barbed wire.’ No firm arm was used until Indian soldiers physically assaulted the Chinese positions. It is also said that since junior officers were reluctant to attack Chinese military, therefore, the commanding officer, Colonel Santosh Babu had to go himself with his troops and died.
The international security analysts believe that neither India nor China can afford a war at this critical juncture of history, where entire humanity is under severe attack of Covid-19. Then, new strategic alignments are in the making. Ashley J.Tellis, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington says, “Neither PM Modi or President Xi want a war, but neither can relinquish their territorial claims either.” Owing to disputed nature of Jammu and Kashmir State the border between both countries remained un-settled till a UN-mandated resolution of the Kashmir dispute is agreed upon. The unilateral Indian act of changing status of the State in August 2019 caused a provocation with clearly identified larger Indian designs of regional hegemony. Besides, the overambitious and irrationally overblown Indian political leadership misled by its preposterously miscalculated and crazy military commanders have caused this escalation in mountainous Himalayan region. For creating and occupying a new military appointment in Indian military hierarchy; Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Rawat and his colleagues have wrongly projected Indian military potential to its overzealous and credulous Indian political leadership of BJP.
Bharat Karnad, a professor of security studies at the Centre for Policy Research at New Delhi said, “Whatever India might want to do it’s not in a position to do. The Modi Government is in a difficult position. We are not prepared for this kind of escalation.” The reality is that ‘India is in no position to risk a war against China, indeed, it was never. Under the contemporary situation, India is getting slipping from achieving the economic targets. “It slips deeper into the economic and health crisis caused by the coronavirus, which has cost the country more than 100 million jobs.” Besides, India lacks a national resolve; the collective will with a clear national goal. It lacks a national harmony, especially with the advent of the Hindutva ideology, undoing the special status of Jammu and Kashmir State and the Citizen Amendment Act-2019. Among the Indian masses, especially the minorities, there is a feeling of being unprotected in their own country. Hindutva, RSS, BJP, Ajit Kumar Doval and Indian military are considered as anti-thesis of original Indian Constitution.
The Hindutva-led RSS has pushed India towards social unrest and political split. Indian Army is over fatigued with 900,000 troops deployed in occupied Kashmir and disrespected for its human rights violation in Kashmir. The Sino-Indian military conflict in East Ladakh has badly exposed Indian military capabilities, its military strategies and above all its boastful military commanders. After a military brawl with Chinese Army where it lost its acclaimed territory and military men, India has surrendered to Chinese military might in the region. The political leadership of India under Prime Minister Modi and his domestically aggressive team has lost its credibility. Indian misadventure and military miscalculation against China has authenticated Chinese ascendancy and its superior strategies. Indeed, Chinese did what Sun Tzu said, “Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”
— The writer is Professor of Politics and IR at International Islamic University, Islamabad.