National Security Advisor Ajit K Doval on Tuesday said India would like to address all its problems with Pakistan through talks, but stressed the need for an “effective deterrence” to deal with terrorism originating from the neighbouring country. He also said India wants friendly relations with an economically-growing China, without compromising on “territorial interest”.
Doval was delivering the keynote address at the core group meeting of the Munich Security Conference here — his first public interaction after taking charge as the NSA in the Narendra Modi government. His remarks come amid the India-Pakistan standoff over ceasefire violations in recent weeks and the India-China face-off in Ladakh sector. Considered a hardliner, Doval’s remarks are being seen as a conciliatory overture towards the two neighbours.
“We would like to resolve our problems through negotiations, through talks. I can’t think of any problem that cannot be resolved through
negotiations. But on the other hand, India would like to have an effective deterrence to deal with terrorism,” he said.
Pitching for early finalisation of the UN Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, which is being stalled by countries like Pakistan, Doval said, “On the international front, nothing has happened except conferences. The UN resolution is pending… People could not define terrorism… Pakistan said ‘freedom fighters’ should not be treated as terrorists.”
On the government’s neighbourhood policy, he said the aim is to ensure development of the region, see “whether the fruits of India’s growth and development would have a spillover effect” and assure neighbours that India’s growth “is not a threat”.
Doval said India wants to resolve any conflict through talks. “But at the same time, India would like to have an effective deterrence capability that is credible, that is seen and known by people… that India cannot be taken for granted, that its legitimate rights cannot be trampled upon, that it becomes an instrument for stability in the region rather than a cause for conflict,” he said.
Doval also underlined that while India wants friendly relations with China, there would be no compromise on “territorial interest”. “While we would like to take every opportunity to develop the relations to their best extent, we will never be able to make any compromise on our territorial interest and sovereignty at the cost of our national security,” he said, adding that they are “totally inalienable.”
“I find that there is a positive signal from the Chinese and they also feel that we should sit together and resolve our boundary dispute amicably and as early as possible so that there is more cooperation,” said Doval.
“We see China as a very important neighbour. We had some bad experiences in 1962 and we have got disputes. That is the ground reality. You have to sit with them to find a solution. But there is a lot of scope for economic cooperation. We also have many types of common problems,” he said.
Luan Jianzhang, vice chief of the Communist Party of China’s international department policy research and lead speaker from China at the conference, later told The Indian Express, “If the relations between India and Pakistan improve, we can start trilateral talks on counter-terrorism.”
Responding to a query on whether the al Qaeda or ISIS poses a bigger threat, Doval said: “There is nothing like a big or small threat. We consider terrorism a threat.”