Security Update: The Tribune India
Significant structural changes recently introduced in the functioning of the Ministry of Defense and the Armed Forces Headquarters were highlighted at a recent three-day conference in Bengaluru, at the training command headquarters of the Air Force. The conference was held to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1971 Indo-Pakistani conflict and the birth of Bangladesh. The event was opened by Minister of Defense Rajnath Singh. The main speakers were the Chief of the Defense Staff, General Bipin Rawat and Secretary of Defense Ajay Kumar.
India and its Quad partners should focus on expanding cooperation with key organizations such as the Gulf Cooperation Council and ASEAN.
It is evident that the three services – Army, Navy and Air Force – now operate in a more integrated and institutionalized structure, where responsibilities and powers are well defined and structurally integrated. This is a crucial development, as the previous defense structure, developed during colonial times, required fundamental changes to meet the strategic imperatives of the 21st century.
Rajnath Singh asserted that the 1971 war was not fought for conquest or territory. “The congruence of our thinking and our politico-military actions has led to the birth of a new nation (Bangladesh) in Asia, ending injustice and atrocities.” He added: “It is the synergy and cooperation between the three services and the government that have ensured the success of our country in such a huge campaign. The congruence of the politico-military thoughts of our country gave birth to a new nation in Asia, overcoming exploitation and injustice, and proving once again that where there is righteousness there is victory. of the country in 1971.
Although there have been references to Pakistan, the main focus has been on the challenges now posed by an aggressive and assertive China.
General Rawat, who is also secretary of the Department of Military Affairs, referred to the “gray zone war”, which covered Pakistan’s use of terrorism. However, the focus is currently on security threats posed by China. One worrying development for India is China’s technological advance in cyberspace and space. Aggressive postures will remain the cornerstone of China’s expansionist policies, which we must beware of, General Rawat noted.
A full account of the challenges posed by China came from Secretary of Defense Ajay Kumar. He said: “We cannot ignore what China has set for itself. It no longer wants to be just a regional power, but aims to be a world-class military power by 2049. It has increased its capabilities in the terrestrial, space and cybernetic domains over the past decade, particularly in the electromagnetic spectrum and drones, among other things. ‘
Presentations by former military officials and diplomats, including Lt. Gen. Ata Hasnain (retired) and this writer, who followed the views expressed by the minister and serving officials, focused largely on China’s role in the Indo-Pacific, including in the subcontinent. They also focused special attention on China’s role in Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Indian Ocean. It was clear that China has adopted a long-term policy of “strategic containment” of India, supported by its unprecedented long-term role in helping Pakistan develop and deploy nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles capable of hit targets ranging from New Delhi to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. China has also followed a policy of supporting political parties and individuals in neighboring South Asian countries, which are to be used to undermine relations with India.
India is strategically located and able to exert maritime influence through the sea lanes of the Indian Ocean, from the oil-rich Strait of Hormuz to the Strait of Malacca, through which 36 million barrels pass daily. of oil. This sea route represents 64% of the world oil trade. China’s main concerns about Quad stem from the group’s ability to control the flow of its vital energy needs across the Indian Ocean. India and its Quad partners should focus on expanding cooperation in a coordinated manner with key organizations such as the Gulf Cooperation Council and ASEAN. China is seen as an acquisition power that has disputes over sea and land borders with no less than 16 countries in the Indo-Pacific region. Moreover, China’s policies were also aimed at becoming the preeminent power in all of South Asia, be it Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives or Bhutan, located at the gateway to India. Beijing conducts its policy in South Asia and beyond, in close cooperation and coordination with its partners in Rawalpindi.
As Pakistan seeks to prevent SAARC from playing a constructive role in South Asia, India must activate groupings like BIMSTEC, which includes its neighbors in Southeast Asia, to promote regional connectivity in South Asia. and with its ASEAN partners. According to plans drawn up two decades ago, South Asia should have been a prosperous and economically integrated region, which unfortunately has not been the case, mainly because Pakistan has consistently undermined efforts for greater economic integration in South Asia. Pakistan, meanwhile, believes its interests are best served by strengthening ties and economic integration with Afghanistan and Central Asia. It’s easier said than done. India has in the past demonstrated the importance of its close relations with Iran, the Arab Gulf countries and Tajikistan in Central Asia, even as its relations with Russia remain strong.