Senior military commanders from India and China are holding the fifth round of talks today to discuss a more complex phase of de-escalation and disengagement by troops from the Galwan Valley, Gogra-Hot Springs, and Finger area in Ladakh sector along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). As per India Today TV report, China is practically refusing to discuss the standoff in Pangong Tso, dismissing to even acknowledge the Pangong Tso situation as a friction point.
China's reluctance to discuss the stand-off in Pangong Tso Finger may hinder the ongoing engagement and dialogue process at military and diplomatic levels to restore peace and tranquillity in the region.
Last week, troops of the two countries had implemented discussed disengagement protocols in full at three friction points- Galwan Valley's Patrol Point 14 and Patrol Point 15 and 17A, with soldiers creating a buffer zone of 3-4 km depth. Disengagement at Patrol Point 17A at the restive Gogra Post has slowed, but it is China's Pangong deployment that has been a major concern to India so far.
As per the report, the Chinese military has pulled back from Galwan Valley and certain other friction points but the withdrawal of troops has not moved forward from Finger 5 to Finger 8 in the Pangong Tso area as demanded by India.
Tensions between the two Asian giants, who share a 3,488 kilometre long Line of Actual Control (LAC) border, escalated manifold after violent clashes in Galwan Valley on June 15 in which 20 Indian Army personnel were killed. The Chinese side also suffered casualties but is yet to give out details.
After four rounds of talks so far on June 6, 22, 30 and July 14 to de-escalate from the build-up areas, government sources said the Indian side conveyed a "very clear" message to the Chinese army that the status quo ante must be restored in eastern Ladakh and it will have to follow all mutually agreed protocols for border management to bring back peace and tranquillity in the area.
The fifth round of Corps Commander-level talks between India and China are going on at Chushul, and while it is seen as positive that the two sides are still engaging at Chushul-Moldo, there is an increasing view that the Lt Gen level talks have achieved the maximum that they can at their level.
By Chitranjan Kumar