Guwahati, Oct 24 : Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat on Saturday said that to counter China’s influence, India has to further increase its engagement in neighbouring countries.
Noting that China is making “huge” inroads in South Asia, he said that in the Indian Ocean Region also, the country reinforced its position as a rising global power.
“Recently, geo-strategic competition and large investment by China in the region is being observed to create a posture to provide sufficient security to its interests,” the CDS said while delivering the first Ravi Kant Singh Memorial lecture series titled “Assam at Crossroads: Geopolitical events in its neighbourhood impacting Northeast India”.
He said that Myanmar and Bangladesh were the main recipients of Chinese military aid in the recent past, while significant investments were made in Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldives to expand its strategic foothold.
“Such attempt and adventure in the neighbouring countries would go against India’s national interest and these are potential threats to India’s territorial integrity and strategic importance.”
Gen Rawat also said that Pakistan’s state-sponsored terrorism, coupled with non-state actors’ role, against India is a stumbling block to the peace process between the two neighbours.
Partnership between China and Pakistan on a wide range of issues, including providing military hardware to Islamabad and supporting the country in international forums, is an anti-India nexus, he said.
Talking to the media after the seminar, the CDS said that India-China border issues have to be seen in its totality, and not as issues about the Ladakh sector or northeastern states.
He said that last year like earlier years, there was “some problem” and talks are going on occasionally at different levels, including the political, to resolve these issues.
“Issues were taking a long time to resolve, but they are getting resolved much faster than in the 1980s.”
With China’s have a habit of utilising money power to gain popularity in a country, he said that “our Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) has already clarified that India believes in security and growth for all”.
“We have to apprise our neighbours that India is a permanent friend and engage with them on equal terms and mutual development,” he said, emphasising strengthening cultural ties with the neighbours.
Regarding the recent violent incident against the security forces and the civilians in Jammu and Kashmir, he, without naming Pakistan, said that India’s western adversary is indulging in a proxy war.
“Killings in Jammu & Kashmir are a part of an attempt of the neighbouring country to spread fear and panic among the people. People should not be feared or fall prey to such designs. The intelligence network is also being strengthened,” the CDS said, adding that exodus from the Valley should not be allowed at all.
He said that Home Minister Amit Shah visited Kashmir to give confidence to the people that the security forces and the local administration would bring the situation under control.