No breakthrough in de-escalating border tension despite military, diplomatic talks

army convoys moves to Ladakh-Leh

India and China have lately failed to make a breakthrough in reducing border tensions in the sensitive Ladakh sector despite intense negotiations at the military and diplomatic levels, and the disengagement process at some points of the contested Line of Actual Control (LAC) has virtually halted, people familiar with recent developments on this front said on Wednesday.

The stalemate comes after top Indian and Chinese military commanders held talks on July 14 to discuss the road map for disengagement between their forces. The ground situation remains unchanged in the sector where both armies have amassed almost 100,000 soldiers in their forward and depth areas, said one of the officials cited above, asking not to be named.

“There has been no forward movement in the disengagement of troops in friction areas along the LAC including Pangong Tso and Depsang. The overall de-escalation of conflict is a long way off,” said a second official, who did not wish to be named. He said the conflict was likely to stretch into to the winter months and the Indian armed forces were prepared for a long haul.

Defence minister Rajnath Singh indicated last week that the negotiations to resolve tensions were complex. During a visit to Ladakh, he said progress in negotiations should help resolve the border dispute but added that he “couldn’t guarantee to what extent the situation will be resolved.”

The disengagement process has barely made progress after the last round of meeting between senior Indian and Chinese commanders on July 14.

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On Wednesday, Singh asked the air force to stay prepared for any eventuality while addressing top commanders.

Experts said the situation was complicated and there was no quick fix.

“The ball is in India’s court. The Chinese would be happy with status quo as they are already sitting in what we consider to be Indian territory. They have only carried out minimal disengagement. The government now needs to start thinking what to do next to break the deadlock,” said former Northern Army commander Lieutenant General DS Hooda (retd).

India has moved three extra army divisions, fighter jets, several squadrons of frontline tanks, additional artillery and fully-ready mechanised infantry squads to the Ladakh sector as part of its efforts to strengthen deployments in response to Chinese military build-up.

The build-up on both sides includes fighter jets, helicopters, tanks, heavy artillery, missiles and air defence systems.

The Indian Air Force could also deploy its new Rafale fighters in the Ladakh sector as part of India’s overarching plan to strengthen its military posture in the region, officials previously indicated to HT.

India and China remain committed to “complete disengagement” which is an “intricate process” and “requires constant verification”, the Indian Army said in a statement last week.

Source: Hindustan Times