With no sign of any de-escalation along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, the current on-ground positions of Indian and Chinese troops look likely to congeal into a “new normal” through the fast-approaching winter and perhaps even well beyond.
The next round of military talks are on the anvil, but are yet to be scheduled and it is significant that the Indian side does not seem in a hurry to set the date. As movement in and out of areas like Pangong Tso will become highly restricted by mid to late November, the clock is ticking fast on any realignment of troops.
Sources said the ground situation, where Chinese troops are on the spurs in the Finger 4-8 area and Indian forces are on the southern heights along the lake and have also re-positioned themselves on the northern bank, is likely to remain the de facto position in the foreseeable future in the absence of a political breakthrough.
Though India seeks a complete withdrawal of Chinese troops from Pangong Tso as well as other areas along the LAC, the advantage it wrested in late August by taking control of strategic heights on the southern bank serves to checkmate the People’s Liberation Army and provides a vantage point to the narrow valley.