Unfinished work along LAC; military, diplomacy at work: Jaishankar

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New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Wednesday said there was “unfinished work” along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China and that the militaries and diplomats on both sides were working to find a solution to the issue.

Jaishankar, speaking at Network18’s ‘Rising India Summit’, deplored attempts by Rahul Gandhi to draw parallels between the situation along the LAC with China and the Ukraine conflict.

“What is today happening in Ukraine, if you follow the two sides, is one would say that they are threatened by the expansion of NATO and the character of the regime in Ukraine,” he said.

“The West would say that Russians have expansionist designs. What is the analogy between that and India-China? There is no NATO in play here, there is no regime character in play here. I just don’t see the comparison,” he said.

Jaishankar also said “canards” were floated about buffer zones being created in India’s patrolling areas.

He said since the Galwan clash of 2020, the combination of military and diplomacy has made progress, but admitted that the two sides have not been able to “sort everything out”.

“Whatever has been done is mutual and negotiated. But this is still unfinished work,” Jaishankar said about the present situation along the LAC.

He said to understand the relationship with China, one has to understand the nature of the problem between the two countries.

“The nature of the problem between India and China is that two militaries, which were not deployed at or on or very near the LAC, have done so to a great degree after May 2020. Pre-May 2020, both militaries were primarily located in the depth areas where they had permanent bases and then they would patrol out into the LAC,” he said.

“In 2020, the Chinese breached that in violation of the 1993-96 agreement and brought forces to the LAC. Obviously we countered it. As a result, you have a very, very intricate situation of very multiple close deployments which, by military assessments, is a very dangerous situation to be in,” Jaishankar said.

The minister said India had cautioned China about the situation but then “Galwan happened which was proof of how volatile the situation can be”.

“I met my Chinese counterpart in September 2020 and he accepted that this was a dangerous situation. Since then, we have been trying to pull back the forward deployment but it can only be done if there is mutual agreement,” the minister said.

Jaishankar said that India may have made “some such unilateral moves” in the past “but found it was not reciprocated by the other side”.

“Everything that we have done is on the basis of the principle of mutual and equal security which means if we move back here, they move back there,” the minister said.

“There are places where we have forward deployments but we continue to work. When it (disturbances) started in the summer of 2020, people said India could do nothing,” he said.

“My sense is that the military has done what it should do. The military and diplomacy have worked in lockstep. To take away military commanders is ridiculous. Because military commanders know the truth, know the topography, who actually knows what mutual and equal security is,” Jaishankar said.

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( With inputs from )

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