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Monday, February 19, 2024

Pravin Sawhney’s Ladakh assessment: Indian policy blunders & way forward

Sawhney attributed the Chinese PLA's act of carrying out intrusions to the 1993 agreement for peace and tranquillity, the Wuhan consensus of 2018, and the lack of military reforms in the Indian army.

On May 5, when the Chinese PLA through a series of well-coordinated and meticulously executed incursions surprised the Indian side — many eyebrows were raised and the Indian military’s readiness came under question.

The Chinese PLA started to build up their defences three to five kilometres across North Sikkim and East Ladakh — which as per the Indian narrative, falls under their ambit of control.

Now, when the recently held talks between the Indian general officer commanding, Lt General Harinder Singh and Commander of the Tibet Military District Maj Gen Liu Lin failed to produce any tangible results — a stalemate persists.

Read more: Comprehensive analysis: Indo-China standoff in Ladakh

Which side benefits from stalemate?

Pravin Sawhney, Editor Force magazine, in a video analysis uploaded on 8th June has comprehensively analysed the repercussions of this stalemate for both sides — particularly the Indian side. He argues, the Chinese side will benefit enormously from the stalemate.

The Chinese PLA which is stationed inside the Indian territory, according to Sawhney; the longer they stay there, the firmer their defences will be and the more difficult it would be to force them out. Eventually, leaving an open space for more extensive military intrusions.

Sawhney, while mentioning the interoperability between the Chinese PLA and the Pakistani army building up in the Subsector North and Siachen, claimed that it will further strengthen during the prevailing stalemate.

Another very important aspect of war which is less talked about is the Cyberwarfare. He argues that the Chinese with their microsatellites weighing 10-100kg can easily disrupt the Indian communication network by striking their satellites.

All in all, India, in no way, will benefit from the ongoing stalemate ever since the talks were downgraded and the onus was shifted to lower-level military commanders. As per Pravin Sawhney’s analysis, the Chinese PLA would further consolidate their position; the concession currently being offered might also be taken off the table.

Read more: Ladakh consensus reached between India and China

Three major blunders committed by India

Sawhney attributed three blunders which allowed the Chinese PLA to carry out the intrusions in the first place.

Firstly, he mentioned the 1993 agreement for peace and tranquillity, which created the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Rightfully so, Sawhney points out that it is this agreement that paved the way for military intrusions in the first place. And that too, without being labelled as an act of war.

Second, he mentioned the 2018 Wuhan consensus reached after the Doklam standoff of 2017. Sawhney opines that even though India clearly came out as a loser from the Doklam standoff, they branded themselves victorious. This, he argues, was a fatal mistake as anticipating no more conflict, the Indian soldiers were pulled back once the crisis was over.

On the flip side, the Chinese troops in stark contrast, remained stationed at their earlier positions and started developing their military ecosystem and habitat. In a span of little more than 2 years, 200,000 Chinese troops are training on their side of the border, hence making it easier for intrusions to take place.

Third blunder committed by the Indian side was linked to the lack of military reforms and training which leaves the Indian army in no position to match the well-entrenched Chinese PLA troops.

Why should General Bipin Rawat resign, according to Pravin Sawhney?

Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, who became the chief in 2016 has been regarded by Pravin Sawhney as being a major part of the problem, and the cause of the many shortcomings on the Indian side.

Sawhney argues, while Gen Rawat continued to claim the high standards of the Indian army’s military preparedness for meeting any contingency; the on-ground situation is quite different.

Read more: Indo-Sino crisis: Modi between rock & a hard place

On moral grounds, a plea for resignation is also made. The inefficacy of Gen Rawat’s military reforms; tall statements of India’s capability to fight a two-front war; incorrect comprehension of China’s style of war, treating it as a hybrid war — all, according to Sawhney, makes up for a strong case for the dismissal of the CDS.

Way forward for India

According to Pravin Sawhney, the ongoing standoff with China should be treated as a wakeup call for India. A new set of long-overdue comprehensive politico-military reforms should be made. Modi should seize the opportunity and make peace with Pakistan while it is willing, to secure at least one side of the border.

Read more: Ladakh: India-China troops face off again

Eventually, to give peace a chance, cooperation with China remains a precondition for preventing military intrusions — and saving itself from the accompanying embarrassment in the future.