Thorny Mediation

By Adeel Mukhtar


Adeel Mukhtar


Temperature in the Himalaya has exacerbated along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between China and India. The two countries do not perceive the LAC as a settled issue, and have battled a war in 1962.  Recently, India and China went up against one another in 2017 in Dokhlam, a vital tri-intersection between Bhutan, China and India, which is likewise a contested region between China and Bhutan. China entered Dokhlam to build roads and India, which was at that point dubious of Chinese intentions, reacted by sending its soldiers to stop the development. Luckily, the circumstance did not heighten because of back channel diplomacy. This time the scenario appears to be hazardous as Chinese have entered what India guarantees its own domain, which is a blow for India. As a result, both sides have been on high alert in the Galwan Valley of Ladakh, blaming each other for intruding over the contested area.

According to Chinese Foreign Ministry, “China is committed to safeguarding the security of its national territorial sovereignty, as well as safeguarding peace and stability in the China-India border areas. At present, the overall situation in the border areas is stable and controllable. There are sound mechanisms and channels of communication for border-related affairs, and the two sides are capable of properly resolving relevant issues through dialogue and consultation.”

There were, however, no quick official Indian remarks on the issue. In any case, interviews with previous Indian military authorities recommend the issue triggered after India’s development of roads and air landing strips. “Today, with our infrastructure reach slowly extending into areas along the LAC, the Chinese threat perception is raised,” said Nirupama Rao- former Indian foreign secretary. He further added that “Xi Jinping’s China is the proponent of a hard-line on all matters of territory, sovereignty. India is no less when it comes to these matters either.”

The President of United States of America Donald Trump, while showing concern over the dangerous escalation of situation in the region, offered to intercede between India and China. “We have informed both India and China that the United States is ready, willing and able to mediate or arbitrate their now raging border dispute,” Trump tweeted. The US President also said that Indian PM Narendra Modi has been despondent vis-à-vis situation on LAC. “I can tell you; I did speak to Prime Minister Modi. He’s not — he’s not in a good mood about what’s going on with China,” Trump told reporters.  "I would do that… You know, I would do that. If they — if they thought it would help if I were the mediator or the arbiter, I would do that. So, we’ll see.” India has, however, turned down Trump’s proposal to intercede that New Delhi is working with Beijing to resolve the issue.

Trump had in 2019 said while offering to intervene India between and Pakistan to an immediate solicitation from Prime Minister Imran Khan that he had been asked by Modi before too. India had denied that attestation and quickly dismissed his offer. However, New Delhi took more time to dismiss Trump’s intervention offer on China. There is general view that perhaps the US offer to mediate has chafed India. White House authorities did not remark further on the president intercession offer. Also, there have been no clarifications for it, then again, actually it could be a piece of the developing abhorrence for India in the US, which has been reacting reluctantly in the recent past. India, on its part, seems disappointed by the US as Trump tweeted to mediate between China and India and not to support India unconditionally, reflecting increasing weakness of Indian leadership.

Pakistan, being a victim of power politics in the region, stands with China, because its strategic interests also converge on Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) conflicts, whose special status was ended with the India’s abrogation of Article 370 of its constitution. India has also been building illegal dams in the region in the wake of New Delhi’s hydro warfare against Pakistan by stealing Pakistan’s share of water from the Indus. Having said that, Pakistan needs to be more cautious of Indian hegemonic designs in the region, as evident by New Delhi’s grabbing of Nepal’s territory.