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China miscalculated India resolve, needs exit strategy now, says former Ladakh corps commander

Former 14 Corps commander Lt Gen PJS Pannu (retd) told ThePrint that India is now in a much better strategic position, than when tensions began, on both banks of the Pangong Tso.

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New Delhi: China is still showing the 1962 syndrome, has misread India’s resolve to challenge its land-grabbing tactics and is now in need of an exit strategy as a military confrontation is looking very probable, former 14 Corps commander Lt Gen P.J.S. Pannu (retd) has said. 

The Leh-headquartered 14 Corps looks after the borders with China and Pakistan, and also guards the Siachen Glacier.  

Describing the situation at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh as “not only serious but extremely sensitive”, the retired lieutenant general, who also commanded a division at the McMohan line in the northeast, said that while the standoff is still on, India is in a much better position now in both banks of the Pangong Tso, following the military manoeuvres at the end of August.

I think the Chinese always felt and I think they sold it to themselves that Indians would be weak and they can be pushed around. Now they have realised that Indians are not a pushover,” Lt Gen Pannu told ThePrint. “They should have made these calculations earlier before they started this operation in the month of May itself. They should have known that India is not a pushover, but I think they are still living with the 1962 syndrome.” 

Knowing what they believe in, what they have done on the ground, I think the Chinese are surprised by this kind of a reaction from the Indian Army, he added. 

He said that there is no doubt it was a surprise when the Chinese came in large numbers while the Indian Army stuck to existing protocols to defuse the situation.

Indians realised that despite five rounds of Corps commander-level talks, China was not relenting and showed no interest in moving back,” he said, adding that when Chinese movement to grab more territory was noticed in the southern banks of the Pangong Tso, the Indian Army carried out a preemptive operation.

They (Indian Army) have occupied most significant and dominating heights along the Spanggur Gap, leaving India at a much more advantageous position,” Pannu said. “Today, India is at a dominating position if spoken in the realm of bargaining. Should push come to shove or military confrontation take place, India would be in a much better position. There has been a paradigm shift from the time it started and now.” 

Asked if India has upped its game, the former 14 Corps Commander said the game is still in play and one cannot draw a line on the score when the game is still on. 

However, currently in the running score, India is in a much better position whether you talk about the north or southern banks of Pangong Tso,” he said.

Also read: Fresh India-China corps commanders’ talks will have new terms of engagement, challenges

Ball in China’s court to find exit strategy

Lt Gen Pannu said the ball is in China’s court to disengage. “When I say the ball is in China’s court, it means that they are the ones who initiated the aggression and hence it is their move to disengage,” he added. 

He said India’s quid pro quo, known in military circles as QPQ, under which it has occupied certain territory (southern bank), is making China “absolutely uncomfortable” and they are surprised about it.

But still the Chinese will have to play ball … China will have to come out with an exit strategy… It should be China which should pick up the call and initiate a dialogue,” he said talking about leadership level parleys.

If both do not back off, either you are headed into a standoff which is going to be a longish standoff or you are going to fight a war … If they (China) end up fighting a war, it goes contrary to their own strategy of winning a war without fighting,” he said.

Asked why the Chinese did what they did, he said they miscalculated everything.

The former Army officer added that Xi Jingping and his advisors felt that the whole world is already suffering from the weight of Covid and hence it is the time to push around. 

They have made a calculation to make Xi the leader in the world. Xi is obsessed about himself and his power. They clearly need to work on an exit strategy. I hope better sense will prevail and they will come with a practical strategy,” he said.

Lt Gen Pannu added that the whole world needs to rally around and “catch this bully from all sides and do not allow this bully to destroy the world”.

Also read: Why LAC could end up like LoC with more Indian Army deployment after China tensions ease


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  1. There is a miscalculation. We think that saving “Face” is important for Chinese. Perhaps, culturally it is so. But, we are dealing with Communist party of China. They are shameless. They are unprincipled. The lack of political will of previous government especially Vajpayee and UPA governments must have given confidence to the Chinese to engage in this misadventure. This will cost huge money to both sides, especially to Indian side, which is already facing shortage of tax revenue.

  2. There was a cartoon in 1979, showing an old man with flowing beard(Khomeini) kicking in the a tough man (Sadam) in the back side. The next picture showed the leg of the old man getting stuck in the backside of the tough man that made him hobble behind the tough man.

  3. Your reporting itself is cause of why you are in danger of being extinct. Rather than saying journalism is in Danger you are in Danger. Sense mood of Nation and do some good reporting rather than attenpting to demeaning your own elected Govt for Vested reasons

  4. How did this Gentleman ever become a General?? It is China which has taken over thousands of km of Indian territory…………….It was PLA that butchered 20 brave Indian soldiers………….It is China which is threatening Indian military every day……………yet this ex General claims that PLA is looking for face saving exit………….PM Modi does not have guts to name China as he is fully aware a confrontation with China would lead immediately to a two front war with Pakistan army & PLA……………..yet this General claims that it is China which is under pressure…………….It is because of such dreamers that Indian army is stuck in this muddle !!!

    • The BJP has brainwashed the Hindus to adopt an alternative reality. The RSS ideologue Seshadri Chari wrote that China is cowering over an Indian military excercise with the US in the South China Sea.

      As the failures of extremists multiply, and there is no escape, it is observed they retreat into an alternative reality. It is like Hitler awarding a promotion to his General von Paulus on the day his army surrendered to the Soviets in the Battle of Stalingrad. What else could Hitler and his followers do ? He could not believe his army had surrendered and the Red Army will be at his bunker in Berlin. There was no way back from the wickedness for the Nazis and Germany. That is the situation for the BJP and India. There is no way back for the bhakts.

      • When squishy roshogollas think they have become Comrade Guerrillero Heroico or Che Guevara you have them spouting their lunatic gibberish over the comment section of every news magazine. Someone please inform the dog catchers.

  5. Persons who run the print think that they are well informed , but it is not a fact .Most of them are clueless about what can happen and what’s happening behind the scenes. They are just not aware of the fatal errors being made and what fatal errors have been made. All I can say is that things are not pretty good long since although they are steadily moving for the better but very slowly . Poor very slow decisions and clearances have left is on a very precarious situation that we now are trying to rush things.

  6. China needed such a setback to wake them up from their 1962 mindset. They were well into that mindset, otherwise they would never have tried the Galwan-like incident where they seemed to get a bloody nose. But being a democracy, India had to declare its causulaties, whereas China being a “controlocracy” didn’t disclose its casualties and news from media etc. about Galwan incident didn’t do a lot of harm to China although their army tasted defeat in the mind. But the top leadership in China were happy to hide that. But the Indian action south of Pangong Tso made a big impact on the Chinese defence as well as their top-leadership. Either they’ve to retreat or there’d be allout war. The way China is bullying its smaller neighbouring countries, and is showing off that its very strong, even a small setback for it becomes a big setback for them. So China should better think of an exit strategy and the sooner the better.

  7. There is much focus in the media on North and South Pangong. What about other areas like Depsang, Demchok etc. where the PLA seems to be at advantage in infrastructure terms?

  8. In cricket we have seen this play out time and again…The quicky comes speeding, sends in a couple of short balls, mouths some expletives and sees the batsman squirm. That is a sign for him to dominate the player and the game. But if the batsman pulls one of the short balls over the square leg or the mid-wicket fence, the wind is taken out of the pacer’s sail. He quietens down.
    It is time for India to take fresh guard. It seems it is already happening (even though the bowler may be using bottle tops to scruff the ball) .
    Never mind the rhetoric.

    • Modi declared that nothing had happened, the Chinese did not take land, and in fact they did not even cross the LAC.

      If the Great Hindu Hope tells you nothing happened, why are you asking India to take fresh guard, and smack China for six etc. ?

      That implies something happened, when the Supreme Leader of the Hindus said otherwise. You should be court-martialled for sowing doubts and undermining the morale of Hindus.

  9. Thanks to our Brave Indian Army and political will of Modi ji.
    If Pappu would have been there then we have lost all Laddakh.

    • Due to the political will of Modi and Shah, we lost in Galwan and Modi shamefacedly said nothing happened. But his body language was that of a dog that had been beaten. If RG had been in place, such an incident would not have happened in the first place.

      • RG in place????hahahahah….I cant even imagine what that j***r would have done..he would have ran to thailand leaving behind officers to deal. with situation…

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