New Delhi: A full-fledged intense war between nuclear armed India and China is unlikely, but chances of a skirmish cannot be ruled out, former Army Chief General V.P. Malik said. As India and China remain in wait-and-watch mode with a standoff continuing along the border in Sikkim, retired Army Chief Malik, who was heading the Indian Army when the Kargil conflict took place in 1999, also said the situation cannot be compared with 1962.
"I don't expect the situation is likely to develop into a high intensity extended conflict, but skirmishes cannot be ruled out either in Chumbi valley or anywhere else along the border," General Malik told IANS.
He hoped the conflict could be resolved through dialogue.
"There are attempts being made diplomatically to resolve the situation. One hopes that it gets resolved but one has to be prepared for all contingencies. If a military confrontation takes place we have to be prepared," he said.
"I suppose both sides are prepared. As far as soldiers are concerned their job is just in case diplomacy fails and there is a confrontation then they have to cope up with that," he added.
The former Army chief said the situation today cannot be compared to that of 1962, adding that the two nuclear-armed nations may not have a long war.
"We are no longer in 1962 kind of a situation. Don't forget both countries, China as well as India today are nuclear nations. They are both conscious of their responsibility," he said.
Amid a stand-off in Doklam, close to the India-China-Bhutan tri-junction, both India and China have been reinforcing troops along the border.
At Doklam, the point of the stand-off, there are around 350 troops on the Indian side and around the same number of soldiers on the other side of the border. There have been no increase in troops or any movement on the Chinese side that may indicate a possible conflict.
The soldiers have been asked to be on high alert, and artillery guns have been moved to different points. Army officials in New Delhi have refused to comment on the situation.
On Friday, another flag meeting between Indian and Chinese Army officers over the ongoing standoff in Doklam remained inconclusive.
The flag meeting at the designated point in Nathu-la was attended by a Major General rank officer from the Indian side and an equal rank official from the other side.
Usually flag meetings are held between Brigadier level officers.
Another flag meeting is expected to be held soon, and may involve a more senior Lieutenant General level officer, according to sources.
The standoff close to the tri-junction of India-China-Bhutan started on June 16, after a construction party from China's People's Liberation Army entered the Doklam area and attempted to construct a road.
A Royal Bhutan Army patrol attempted to dissuade them and the ambassador of Bhutan publicly stated that it lodged a protest with the Chinese government through their embassy in New Delhi on June 20.