A peaceful roadmap

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A peaceful roadmap

Sushma Swaraj has done well to walk the talk on India’s stand on Doklam

Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj's statement in Parliament that bilateral talks and not war is the solution to the ongoing stand-off at Doklam is in confirmation with the measured and restrained response New Delhi has taken ever since tensions began at the tri-junction two months back. In fact, in a forceful speech, Swaraj sought to kill two birds with one stone — Beijing and the Opposition. With reference to China, New Delhi has maintained a firm yet nuanced stand that the only way out for the current stand-off at the tri-junction is through dialogue, with a condition that bilateral talks can happen only when both countries withdraw their troops at the border. To this end, India had made a good beginning to end the impasse when National Security Advisor Ajit Doval sought a meeting with his Chinese counterpart last month. On the other hand, China has refused to show any positive signs to defuse the crisis. On the contrary, it has maintained a stubborn stand that “meaningful dialogue” was impossible until India withdrew its troops. To put pressure, it has been using its state-run media and has been constantly reminding New Delhi about the consequences of the 1962 war.

Certainly, a unilateral retreat is out of question. India will always defend its own interests as well as those of its ally, which in present case is Bhutan. It is in the interest of Beijing to understand that this time around no psychological pressure on New Delhi will work. The Chinese have, perhaps, forgotten that there has been a paradigm shift in India's foreign policy ever since the Narendra Modi Government was sworn-in. Chinese have also forgotten that its lust for power and territorial squabbles have cast it in bad light and has alienated it in the international community. Global powers are no more unknown about Beijing's aggrandizement policy, whereby it seeks to change the status quo on the ground to claim territories. Besides, Beijing must also not forget that India's standing on the global stage is more secure today than it was before. The ball is now in China’s court — diplomatic channels are open for it to end matter. Neither India nor China can afford to go to war.

Meanwhile, it is unfortunate that the Opposition has taken a narrow view on the Doklam issue and asked the Government to step up military presence at the borders to discourage threats. At a time when the border issue is at a contentious phase, a mature and sensible Opposition that stands with the Governmnet’s stand is all the more necessary. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj rightly lashed out that instead of trusting the Indian Government or taking a brief first from the Foreign Secretary on this matter and understanding India’s position, the Congress vice president sought to meet the Chinese ambassador to be informed on critical issues. To this end, Swaraj minced no words to slam the Opposition. Peaceful negotiations and not ruptures will solve the tri-junction issue. After all, it’s not just a matter of solving issues, but bilateral ties too have to be maintained.

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