Tribune News Service
New Delhi, October 15
The ongoing border tensions with China were “tactical” rather than an existentialist issue and have arisen from dishonouring of agreements. “That is the primary cause of disruption (in Sino-Indian ties),” says External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.
Speaking at a webinar hosted by a western media conglomerate, Jaishankar was initially sharp in his responses. “We can keep going round and round and my response will be the same… These are ongoing discussions and there is not very much I want to say in public,” he said while refusing to talk on the talks with China or whether the Indian Army will be deployed permanently in eastern Ladakh even during the winters.
“First of all we regularly patrol the LAC. It is not a question of temporary or permanent army presence. The discussions are going on and the first rule of my business is not to predict what is still going on,” he said.
“There is something confidential between us and China. Wait and see how it plays out…What is my thinking, I will keep it to myself,” Jaishankar said on being asked a similar question.
He later observed that the options given to him were tactical. “I am not minimising the seriousness of the border situation. The gravity is there. Rather than say it is the biggest challenge, in a sense it is a tactical issue and an expression of the larger structural challenges we face.
“I would put it slightly differently. Can a rising China and rising India find equilibrium? What you are seeing on the border is an expression of the inability to meet that challenge,” said the Minister.
“The Pakistan issue is again bigger than a tensions issue. There has been for decades cross-border terrorism by Pakistan. There is an underlying issue about what is Pakistan about, how does it see India. Is the use of terrorism, in this day and age, as an instrument of statecraft legitimate and permissible?” he asked.
China-US trade tension too was a tactical issue. “The overarching context is that it is harder to find common ground. It makes it much more difficult to conduct diplomacy. These are my priorities (India-China, Pakistan-India, US-China tensions) but are a larger reflection of geopolitical realities,” he observed.
Jaishankar also found no relationship between the presence of the Dalai Lama in India or the change in status of Ladakh and the border tensions.