The Chinese incursions into our territory in the Ladakh region have the potential of escalating into a full-scale armed conflict between the two countries. Army Chief General M.M. Naravane’s visit to the forward posts to boost the morale of the armed forces and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s sudden trip to Moscow to probably placate the Russians are indications that New Delhi does not wish to be caught on the wrong foot while dealing with the treachery of its powerful neighbour; it has no intention of repeating what had happened during the Indo-Sino war in the early 1960s when the Dragon inflicted a humiliating defeat on us, taking advantage of then Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s political naiveté. Since then, the Indian armed forces have acquitted themselves creditably while foiling the nefarious designs of another neighbour, Pakistan in 1965, 1971 and in 1999. Young officers are determined to take on any challenge from China, and have displayed initiative by setting up positions on all possible vantage points in the conflict zone, thus acquiring a strategic advantage. They seem to be disillusioned with the prolonged negotiations which have been going on without making any headway, and the repeated incursions of the Chinese forces across the Line of Actual Control.
The Indian military might is not going to allow the Chinese to have their way and is fully determined to foil any further infringements of peace in the sensitive area. The possibility of Pakistan also jumping in if there is a war cannot be ruled out and therefore, India’s defence establishment has to be fully prepared to counter a two-front war on its borders. In this context, it is paramount that the Centre also takes the requisite steps to help bring back normalcy in the Jammu and Kashmir region, which would be one of the theatres of this kind of probable war.
It is evident that in the past 13 months, there has not been much headway in winning back the confidence of the people of this strife-ridden border territory. Two former Chief Ministers — Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah — despite their bitterness, seem inclined to help in resolving several contentious questions. The Abdullahs have been the most vocal advocates of the Indian cause in the Valley, where a sizable population is under the influence of Pro-Pakistani elements and sides with separatists. Therefore, within the troubled area, the forces that can assist New Delhi must be brought on board while simultaneous attempts should continue to woo Mehbooba Mufti and all those who have previously participated in the democratically held elections.
While it is a fact that certain families had squandered funds sent by New Delhi for the common people there, it is equally true that through a re-organisation process entailing a rational delimitation exercise, a lot of anomalies can be rectified. The Kashmir issue from the Indian perspective can only be taken care off through political means and continuous dialogue; the military solution cannot be long lasting.