China has said that it is ready to seek a mutually acceptable solution to the border issue with India which has festered since May last year. Although an agreement to pull back from the Pangong Tso area was reached this February, negotiations to resolve the remaining friction points in eastern Ladakh have stalled. And even if the Indian army has denied any flare up of tensions along the LAC since February, it cannot be denied that India-China relations are at a low point.
But there is much mutual benefit in New Delhi and Beijing resolving the border issue. That the foreign ministers of the two countries recently met to discuss the situation in Afghanistan as part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation mechanism shows that regional stability requires India and China to cooperate. For, if the Taliban do take over in Afghanistan and choose to go back to their old ways, then they could pose a security problem for both New Delhi and Beijing. Afghanistan could become a haven for terrorists targeting Kashmir and Xinjiang.
True, China may think it could use Pakistan to control the Taliban. The latter, however, are not completely subservient to Islamabad. On the contrary, Pakistan has its own security concerns about the Taliban. Therefore, in such a complex situation it is up to India and China to work to stabilise Afghanistan and ensure that it doesn’t become a terror launchpad in the region. After all, India and China are neighbours and cannot escape their geographical realities. It would be best to restart the border negotiations and resolve the LAC once and for all.
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