Indian Army Chief Says Hopeful For Amicable Solution To Ladakh Standoff
The Indus River flows through the Himalayan, Karakoram and Nanga Parbat mountain ranges in the Ladakh territory. (Photographer: Prashanth Vishwanathan/Bloomberg)

Indian Army Chief Says Hopeful For Amicable Solution To Ladakh Standoff

Bookmark

Army chief General MM Naravane on Tuesday hoped for an amicable resolution of the military standoff with China in Ladakh through talks and based on "mutual and equal security" even as he said the collusive threat from China and Pakistan cannot be "wished away".

Naravane at the same time asserted that Indian troops are fully prepared to deal with any eventuality along the Line of Actual Control and will hold their ground as long as it takes to achieve the "national goals and objectives."

The Chief of Army Staff was addressing a news conference here ahead of the Army Day on Jan. 15.

On increasing security challenges at the LAC, he said a need was felt about "rebalancing" of troops along the northern borders and subsequently steps have been taken to put adequate focus on the borders with China.

"I am sure that through dialogue and discussion, we will be able to reach an amicable solution based on the principle of mutual and equal security and in consonance with the talks...I am very hopeful for a positive situation. But as I said, we are ready to meet any eventuality," he said.

"We are prepared to hold our ground as long as it takes to achieve our national goals and objectives.

The Army chief said the Indian troops are maintaining a high level of alertness all along the LAC and not just in Ladakh.

"Our operational preparedness is of a very high order and the morale of the troops is high. Whatever has transpired in the last year has highlighted the need for us to restructure and for us to enhance our capability," he added.

Asked about the actual situation in eastern Ladakh, Naravane said it remains the same that was prevailing last year, and there has been no change in the status quo.

To another question on the same issue, he said the situation remains the same to whatever existed earlier.

India and China are locked in a military standoff in eastern Ladakh since May 5 last year.

Referring to the overall security challenges facing India, he said Pakistan and China together form a potent threat to national security.

"There is no doubt that Pakistan and China together form a very potent threat and there is an aspect of collusivity which cannot be wished away. That is also very much part of our strategic planning and calculus when we are formulating our plans," he said.

Naravane said there has been increasing cooperation between China and Pakistan in both military and non-military sectors and the possibility of a two-front threat is something India should be prepared for.

When queried on China's mobilisation of troops in May last year, the Army chief said it was not new as they came to the region for training and India was monitoring them. However, he added the Chinese Army had the "first mover advantage".

"We had the first-mover advantage in August as they did not know we will surprise them," he said, in an apparent reference to Indian Army capturing a number of strategic heights along the Pangong lake in August last year.

Naravane also said China has withdrawn some troops from depth areas on conclusion of training and noted there is no reduction in deployment of personnel at the frontline.

"Every year PLA (People's Liberation Army) troops come to traditional training areas for training. With the onset of winters and completion of the training period, the training areas have been vacated and since these training areas have been vacated, it is fair to assume that those troops who were in depth areas on the Tibetan Plateau have gone back to their garrison," he added.

Also read: India, China Resume Diplomatic Talks Over Ladakh Standoff

"However there is no decrease in strength either on their side or on our side as far as friction points are concerned."

On Pakistan, Naravane alleged that the country continues to use terrorism as an instrument of state policy.

"Pakistan continues to embrace terrorism as an instrument of state policy. However, we are very clear that we have zero-tolerance for terror and we reserve our right to respond at a time and place of our own choosing and with precision. This is a clear message that we have sent across," he added.

Naravane said the Army is carrying out a restructuring with an aim to transform it from manpower-driven force to technology-intensive force, adding it is looking at the application of high-end technologies like big data, artificial intelligence and quantum computing.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.