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'PLA is now concentrating on Arunachal Pradesh'

By RASHME SEHGAL
Last updated on: November 17, 2021 08:49 IST
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'Why wouldn't so strategically-minded an adversary, such as China, not militarily exploit to the maximum Indian timidity, stupidity, and cupidity all along the LAC and legitimate, as it has done so often in the past, the fait accompli of incremental territorial grabs which, by the way, is its strategy and policy as implemented on the ground?'

IMAGE: The Indian Army beefs up security at the Line of Actual Control in the eastern sector in Tawang by deploying M-777 ultra-light howitzers. Photograph: ANI Photo

National security expert Dr Bharat Karnad, emeritus professor of national security studies at the Centre for Policy Research is not surprised at the Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat's comments on the precarious security situation on both our northern and eastern borders.

Dr Karnad spoke out to Rediff.com's Senior Contributor Rashme Sehgal about how the Chinese have now turned their focus towards our eastern border. The first of a two-part interview:

 

Why has General Rawat stepped into troubled waters by contradicting the US department of defence report highlighting that China is building a 100 house civilian village in Arunachal Pradesh?

Apparently, General Rawat is unable to resist his urge to rise to every media bait, rather than refer the question, as he should have done, to the MEA which articulates the country's responses on all external-related issues.

ISRO satellites would have confirmed to our military intelligence wing by now whether this construction has taken place on the ground?
MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said on Thursday that India had taken note of the DOD report and that this was not unexpected since China had undertake similar construction activities.
Even if this construction is taking place to accommodate their military, this is akin to a warning signal for us.

Yes, Indian satellites have enough resolution to identify encroachments by the Chinese even in mountainous areas and, over time, to pinpoint the structures that have come up.

Such information would have been available to the Defence Image Processing and Analysis Centre (DIPAC) and hence to the military, defence ministry, MEA and the rest of the government as soon as the first ingress was made by the PLA many years back.

This much is evident from the Pentagon report's mentioning that 'these infrastructure development efforts' had occasioned 'consternation' in the Indian government, and the subsequent MEA statement that such illegal buildup by China has been ongoing for several 'decades' which, in fact, is a damning indictment of the government as much as of the army, and the Indian military, generally.

This is not the first time this has happened. We were witness to the strange drama where Prime Minister Modi said on June 19, 2020 that there 'is and has been no intrusion by the Chinese' which contradicted the press note issued by the MEA on June 17 after External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had spoken to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi that the Chinese had crossed the LAC and erected a structure there?

This is obviously a case -- all too frequent in the Government of India, of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing, and the brain of this entire organism -- the PM and the PMO, not being sure what the immediate response and the longer term policy should be and therefore unable to coordinate positions taken by the PM, MEA, and the armed services.

The PLA occupies 1,000 square kilometres of our land.
We appear to have agreed to their terms in Hot Springs and the Depsang Plains.
What effect will this have on our army commanders when they go for talks with their Chinese counterparts on this contentious issue?

India may have agreed to keep talking and, presumably, negotiating with the Chinese for the restoration of the status quo ante, which Foreign Minister S Jaishankar has repeatedly said is the prerequisite for return of normalcy to bilateral relations.

Except, by withdrawing from the Kailash Range heights held by the Special Frontier Force units in return for minor pullback by the PLA from terrain features Fingers' 3 and 4 on the Pangong Tso, India not only lost the army several important vantage points, but the Modi government the negotiating leverage to obtain the PLA's withdrawal from the Y-Junction on the Depsang Plains.

And, it has permanently unsettled India's negotiating strategy, assuming there is one, by accepting, ipso facto, the Chinese annexation of the area proximal to the Karakorum Pass of national security interest to India.

What will the repercussions of this be for India given that there are 23 such 'areas of differing perception', be along the entire length of the India-China boundary stretching from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh to the east?

Why wouldn't so strategically-minded an adversary, such as China, not militarily exploit to the maximum Indian timidity, stupidity, and cupidity all along the LAC and legitimate, as it has done so often in the past, the fait accompli of incremental territorial grabs which, by the way, is its strategy and policy as implemented on the ground?

Already, after 13 rounds of talks, it appears as though India has conceded Hot Springs and the Depsang Plains to China, so it should come as no surprise that the Chinese are now asserting themselves in the Eastern Sector?

Having secured their western flank by first pushing then freezing the Indian forward line in ladakh, the PLA are now begining to concentrate their attention on Arunachal Pradesh they call "South Tibet" to acquire which is Xi Jinping's dream end-state.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com

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