CHIEF of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat on Saturday said incidents like the ongoing Doklam standoff between Indian and Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) were likely to “increase in the future” with China “attempting to change the status quo between the two countries”.
Saying that the Chinese armed forces had made “significant progress in capabilities for force mobilisation… and sustenance of operations, particularly in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China”, Rawat said, “The recent standoff in the Doklam plateau by the Chinese side attempting to change the status quo, are issues which we need to be wary about and I think such kind of incidents are likely to increase in the future.”
However, the Army chief also said there were “joint mechanisms” to address such situations. “Pockets of disputes and contested claims to territory continue to exist between our two nations. These are due to differing perceptions on the alignment of the LAC. Transgressions along LAC do happen. And sometimes these do lead to some kind of misunderstanding between forward troops deployed along the LAC. However, we do have joint mechanisms in place…” He was speaking on the topic ‘India’s Challenges in the Current Geo-Strategic Construct’ at the General BC Joshi Memorial Lecture at the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics in Pune.
Later, during an interaction with the media on the sidelines of the event, when he was asked to elaborate on why he said Doklam-like incidents were “likely to increase”, he replied, “What I am trying to say is we should not be complacent. Let us say this standoff gets resolved, our troops on the border should not think it cannot happen again; it can happen in another sector. It is always better to be prepared and be alert rather than think that this will not happen again. So my message to troops is, do not let your guard down.”
He also said that China was yet to confirm its participation in an annual joint military exercise. “We do have joint exercises with China that have been conducted over the past several years, but this year, the confirmation from the Chinese side is awaited,” he said, adding, “But on the other hand, diplomacy between the two countries and the flag meetings do continue.”
On Pakistan, Rawat said, “Pakistan continues to wage a proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir. The increasing presence of transnational actors in Pakistan with fundamentalist ideologies is a matter of grave concern… This can lead to the possibility of Pakistan being a conduit for the eastward spread of fundamentalists and Islamic State ideology.”
As per tradition, the Gen B C Joshi Memorial lecture is delivered by a serving service chief. The lecture was organised by the department of defence and strategic studies of Savitribai Phule Pune University and the Southern Command Headquarters.