'The Chinese have not crossed the LAC in Galwan.'
'They are on their side of the LAC and we are on our side.'
"The first step is to clarify the LAC. There are 23 disputed spots between India and China out of the 4,000 km of boundary line. Let India and China decide where the LAC is. But then it is a long haul and cannot be resolved overnight," Nitin A Gokhale, editor-in-chief, StratNews Global, a long-time Rediff.com contributor, author and strategic affairs expert tells Rediff.com's Syed Firdaus Ashraf in the third segment of a multi-part interview.
- Part 1: 'Pinpricks by China have never stopped'
- Part 2: 'With China, Indian soldiers have a much tougher job'
You say it is a game of patience. Can you explain why we as a country are more patient with China vis a vis Pakistan whom we drove away from Kargil?
Kargil was far bigger.
It was 180 km from Batalik to Mushkoh valley.
Pakistan's intention was to cut off the highway between Srinagar and Leh.
They were firing.
Here there is no firing.
They have just come and sat there.
There is eight km involved, maximum.
It is a narrow road which has the breadth of one Humvee perhaps.
It does not affect us strategically or tactically, nothing.
If India wants, they can fire artillery and they will run away.
They too can fire and there is nothing to be achieved at Finger 4 and Finger 8.
There is no strategic advantage.
Whereas in Kargil, they (Pakistan) were trying to cut off the access to Ladakh and thereby put pressure on Siachen.
That is a longer story and a far bigger story.
This standoff is nothing like Kargil at all.
Those who are saying so are talking through their hat or they are trying to make a sensational headline.
What about claims that that 60 km of India territory has been captured by China?What is your take on it?
No. Not at all.
I have been there at Galwan valley.
It cannot take 20 to 25 people.
The Chinese have not crossed the LAC in Galwan and that area.
They are on their side of the LAC and we are on our side.
There was a standoff for 24 hours at patrol point 14 which is a meeting place.
They went back to their territory.
We are back in our territory.
It is impossible to bring in 10,000 people to Galwan valley because it is so narrow.
You can see the topography in some videos.
They have built some 14 km of the 21 km road and 7 km still remains.
Therefore they want us to slow down as we are one km away from Patrol Point 14.
No Indian territory has been taken by the Chinese.
They come, they show their banners and flags and we too do that.
This has been happening for the last 60 years.
I am absolutely sure no Indian territory has been taken over by China.
Is there a viable solution to the LAC problem?
The first step is to clarify the LAC.
It can shift as per every commander's perception.
It can change, and I am just saying hypothetically.
The Indian side has a perception of LAC limits, which we call as patrolling limits to which our patrol goes up to.
Take, for example, three parallel lines, and, say, the extreme left line is the Indian line and extreme right is the Chinese line.
The line in between is no man's line.
Now if the Indian patrol goes to the extreme right line which is India's perception of the LAC, the Chinese from the extreme right come to the extreme left line.
When they come to the middle line, which is no man's land, and that is where clashes and encounters happen.
That is the problem.
So, the first step is to clarify the LAC.
There are 23 disputed spots between India and China out of the 4,000 km of boundary line.
Let India and China decide where the LAC is.
But then it is a long haul and cannot be resolved overnight.
I won't say that.
Are the old protocols useless?
They serve their purpose.
As you started with the interview, not a single bullet has been fired at the border.
That is a big plus and no bloodshed has happened.
What has not worked is strategic guidance from both the leaders at Wuhan and Mamallapuram (Mahabalipuram).
It has not percolated to the ground reality.
Therefore, one more -- if not summit meeting then one step below like special representatives -- meeting on both sides or foreign secretaries meeting and decide as to what outcome they want.
Because if you see the noises being made in China it is that the border situation is stable and controllable.
We are saying peace and tranquility is required at border.
Both sides recognise that they need to solve this.
Maybe two more rounds of negotiations over this particular incident and look at the larger modus vivendi, like something new, what new mechanism is to be put in place to avoid these kinds of things, and you need guarantees from both sides.
Production: Aslam Hunani/Rediff.com