India's Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat has said India would not compromise its position in Ladakh and that the restoration of status quo ante as it was in April 2020 was the only way ahead. "It has been spelt very clearly that there will be no compromise," General Rawat was quoted by India Today on Thursday.
In a wide-ranging interview with India Today magazine, his first after taking over as CDS on January 1 this year, General Rawat said there was hope for a resolution, but it was a hard road ahead.
"There is hope of a resolution, but at the same time, we must prepare for the worst-case scenario. Everybody is hopeful, everybody wants a resolution, but at the same time we must not lower our guard and must be prepared for things not working out the way we want them to," General Rawat said.
He foresaw the possibility of dialogue at the political level to break the impasse. "Of course, negotiations will happen at the political level--it is already happening at the military and diplomatic levels. Some resolution will (need to) be found because you don't remain in eyeball (to eyeball) confrontation for years to come."
The military standoff between India and China in eastern Ladakh--triggered by multiple Chinese incursions backed by a heavy troop mobilization in May this year--entered its eighth month in December with no signs of a thaw, India Today said, adding: "Close to 100,000 soldiers from both sides are deployed in the region, with soldiers in some locations as close as a few hundred metres away. A severe winter has enveloped the region and temperatures have plummeted to as low as 20 degrees below zero."
The last big standoff between the two countries--at the Sumdorong Chu valley in Arunachal Pradesh--lasted seven years, India Today recalled. It began in 1987 and was followed by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's visit to Beijing in 1988--the first by an Indian PM in 34 years. Even so, troops finally stepped back only seven years later in 1994.
General Rawat says comparisons between Sumdorong Chu and Ladakh would be incorrect. "That's not the way we want to go this time. The climatic conditions in Sumdorong Chu and Ladakh are very different."
36 helipads to come up in Ladakh by April next year
To provide 24x7 connectivity to remote areas, in the strategic Ladakh region, 36 new helipads are being built, the Hindustan Times reported Friday.
The new helipads will add more teeth to the armed forces in the region where India has been engaged in a protracted stand-off with China, the HT said.
The government spokesperson said that this is the biggest helipad project to have ever been undertaken in Ladakh. These helipads would not only connect the 36 remote locations of Ladakh to the district headquarters but also help in bringing them on the tourism map during winters, the spokesperson added.
A senior government official said that more such helipads will come up across the region and they can be used by the Indian armed forces during the times of contingencies.
In a major boost to the Indian Air Force's (IAF) combat capabilities, eight US-made Apache AH-64E attack helicopters were inducted into the IAF on September 3 at the Pathankot airbase. The AH-64E Apache is one of the world's most advanced multi-role combat helicopters and is flown by the US Army.
New Delhi cannot afford to play geopolitical games: Global Times
New Delhi seems to have given up its strategic autonomy and tied
itself to the chariot of US hegemony, constantly provoking China from the
border issue to intentional economic confrontations, Chinese Communist Party
paper the Global Times said Thursday.
In a comment written by Dai Yonghong, director of the Institute of Bay of Bengal Studies at Shenzhen University, the Global Times pointed out that India, which for a time had enjoyed high expectations of a very promising economic-growth potential, is now sliding downward amid a painful contraction, which could last three to five years. Per latest IMF estimation, the Indian economy may shrink 10.3 percent in 2020, comparing to the average 3.4 percent contraction of other South Asian countries.
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