China trying to change status quo, Doklam-like events may recur : Army chief

Highlights
  • The Army chief said that Doklam row was a consequence of Beijing’s attempt to change the “status quo.”
  • “Such instances are likely to increase in future… My message to the troops is to not let down the guard,” he said.
  • Confirmation for annual joint military exercises with China is still awaited this year: Bipin Rawat.

Blaming China for the ongoing standoff at Doklam, near the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction, Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat said on Saturday that it was a consequence of Beijing’s attempt to change the “status quo.”

“During flag meetings with China, we tell them that we (India and China) should go back to the pre-June 16 position at Doklam plateau. But we haven’t been able to come up with a resolution as there are different perceptions about how it should be done. Hence, it should be dealt with at diplomatic and political levels,” he said.

Gen Rawat was in the city to deliver the General B C Joshi Memorial Lecture, titled “India’s challenges in the current geo-strategic construct” at Savitribai Phule Pune University.

“Let’s say this stand-off gets resolved, but our troops on the border should not feel that it cannot happen again. Such instances are likely to increase in future… My message to the troops is to not let down the guard,” he said.

Commenting on the recent scuffle between the troops of both the countries in the Ladakh region, he said both countries had a joint mechanism to resolve such issues amicably.

“The LAC has not yet been settled between the two countries, and hence each country has a different perception about it. So, at times, you have a clash as each one tries to patrol the area up to its limits. But these things are normal. Our aim is not to escalate things and get back to normalcy. We are living on the border peacefully,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the lecture.

On China, Gen Rawat said, Chinese armed forces had made significant progress in capabilities regarding force mobilisation, application and sustenance of operations. He said China continues to enhance influence in the regional security environment “by increasing defence/economic partnerships in the neighbourhood, especially in Pakistan, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. The CPEC passing through POK challenges India’s sovereignty”.

He expressed concern over the increasing presence of transnational actors in Pakistan with fundamentalist ideologies.

“Pakistan’s unabated reliance and support to jihadi groups has serious ramifications. This can lead to the possibility of Pakistan being a conduit for eastward spread of fundamentalist ideology,” Gen Rawat added. He refused to comment on Lt Col Prasad Purohit’s case, saying that the matter was still sub judice.

China yet to respond on joint military exercise: The Indian Army had recently sent an invitation to China for an Indo-China joint military exercise in October. “However, we are yet to get a response from the Chinese counterpart,” Gen Rawat said.

Doklam standoff: We have mechanism to resolve such issues: General Bipin Rawat ::

Talking about India-China ties in the backdrop of the ongoing Doklam standoff, Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat said that there may be standoffs, but that does not mean that it lead to complete breakdown of international relations.

Gen Rawat was speaking to media after delivering lecture on “India’s Challenges in the Current Geo-Strategic Construct” in Pune.

When asked about the 3-month-old standoff at Doklam, General Rawat said, “There may be standoffs. Standoffs are one issue and they are related to one sector. But that does not mean that it leads to complete breakdown of international relations. Other things will continue in the manner they are expected to happen.”

General Rawat tried to explain to the media that in his lecture, he has highlighted the same, no matter what happens, the diplomacy between the two countries, the dialogue between the diplomats, between politicians will continue to happen.

Talking about the recent Ladakh scuffle wherein some of the jawans of both Indian and Chinese Armies were involved in stone pelting and physical assault which was initiated by the latter, the Army chief said they are perceptions of Line of Actual Control ( LAC ).

He explained, “Our boundaries are not yet settled. There are perceptions on both the sides, China says my boundary is still here and I say my boundary is still here. So in that gap between the boundary, both sides keep moving and patrolling, so at time you have a clash as each one tries to petrol to its limit. So these are normal things, but we have got mechanism to resolve such issues, we have commanders who talk, we discuss things out. These are normal things which are happening because of differing perceptions.”

The chief emphasized that their aim was not to let these things escalate, he said, “Our aim is whenever such things happen, get back to normalcy and not let it escalate because we are living on the borders peacefully.”

Continuing with the topic of Chinese Army officers avoiding flag meetings, Gen Rawat said flag meetings were happening and the recent flag meeting happened at Chishul that too at Generals’ level. Though, no resolution on the ongoing problem came out.

For that both the countries are having talks at diplomatic levels.

General Rawat also shared about the 2017 Brics Summit that China is going to host next month at Xiamen.

He said, “Next month China is going to host the 9th Brics Summit. We are members of the Brics. So this does not mean that everything will come to a standstill. Everything will move as normal.”

BRICS international relations conference will be attended by five member states i.e. Brazil , Russia, India, China and South Africa.

At the same time, Gen Rawat alerted his men that even if this standoff gets resolved, the men in olive at the LAC have always have to be vigilant because these things might again repeated. The infantry has been tasked to defend carry of patrolling, and to defend our borders.

When asked about his views on Lt Col Prasad Purohit’s Malegaon 2008 blast case, the chief cleared it by saying that commenting on this issue will not be correct, especially when the matter is subjudice.

“People immediately start commenting that the accuse is manipulating the things, he is influencing things and then his bail will get in problem and he will be told to go back so it’s better not to say anything on the issue when the matter is in the court.”

Headquarters Southern Command and Savitribai Phule Pune University have jointly instituted an annual lecture series in 1995 in the memory of late General BC Joshi, who was Chief of Army Staff from 01 July 1993 to 19 November 1994, in recognition of his contribution to higher education and furthering university-defence forces interaction. The memorial lecture is held by Savitribai Phule Pune University and delivered by the chiefs of defence forces.

By: TNN

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