India not an invader, committed to peace in Indo-Pacific, says Army Chief

Chief of Army Staff Bipin Rawat
Chief of Army Staff Bipin Rawat.(File Photo: IANS)

Nov 1: Army chief General Bipin Rawat on Thursday said that India has had no “extra-territorial ambitions”, but was committed to ‘uphold and strengthen” peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.

Speaking at a seminar on “Evolving Geo-Politics of the Indo-Pacific Region – Challenges and Prospects”, General Rawat said: “Our security policy flows from two basic cardinals — we have no extra-territorial ambitions and we have no desire to transplant our ideologies on others.”

He said that India was committed to ensuring a “conducive” external and internal security environment and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

“India is committed to uphold and strengthen the rule-based order in the Indo-Pacific, work alongside all powers which promote peace. In our context historically, India’s central position in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) has enabled deep economic and cultural linkages in the Indo-Pacific,” he said.

He said that most countries in the Indo-Pacific region shared overlapping economic and military interests.

The contested sovereignty of maritime territories pose a major challenge in East Asia and the South China Sea and these disputed maritime boundaries are threatening international waters, Gen Rawat said, speaking at a seminar on ‘Evolving Geo-Politics of the Indo-Pacific Region-Challenges and Prospects’.

“Disputed maritime boundaries, evolution of global terrorists, rise of non-state actors operating outside the fabric of international laws remains a geo-political challenge…India will continue to engage internationally for greater integration,” the Army chief said.

He said that in the quest for peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region, a greater role for India was being recognised by the world, “leading to an outreach never seen before”.

He said that all initiatives in pursuit of “viable regional security architecture” were underpinned by the need to achieve a free, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific region “where rule-based international order is respected by one and all”.

Beyond the fields of defence and security, prospects of cooperation existed in capacity building of smaller nations, increased trade and people-to-people interactions and harnessing the blue economy.

“Institutions like the UN need to reinvent themselves and adapt to the rapidly changing realities of our times. I would say no matter how complex the world order may seem, none of us can grow in isolation. We need to continue attempts to bridge strategic mistrust and forge partnerships. We need to work with all partners,” he said.

He added that the Indian Army was investing in capability development towards tri-services efforts on all fronts.

“Our joint exercises with international partners continue to evolve progressively. We strive to enable greater Indo-Pacific security linkages,’ he said.

In a special address at the seminar, Australian High Commissioner Harinder Sidhu said if invited, Australia was willing to join the Malabar Exercise.

She said that shared interest, and its strategic location in the Indo-Pacific should make Australia among the top partners of India.

Malabar is a trilateral military drill involving India, the US and Japan. Australia is keen on joining the naval drill.

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