Army Chief General MM Naravane on Friday (February 12) said the changing security situation along India’s international borders amid China’s increasing aggression in the neighbourhood calls for a review and focus on the Northeast.
Speaking at a seminar at United Services Institute, Naravane said China’s growing presence in the Indo-Pacific region, its dominance over weaker nations and trade measures like the Belt and Road Initiative call for an increased regional security for India.
“The rising footprints of China in India’s neighbourhood and its attempts to unilaterally alter the status quo along our disputed borders have created an environment of confrontation and mutual distrust,” The Print quoted Naravane as saying.
Pointing at the rising Chinese investment in India’s old partner Nepal, at a time when the latter is in the throes of political instability, and India’s bonding with Bangladesh, Naravane said the dynamics in these countries is bound to impact the security environment in the northeastern states.
He said the Eastern Command is already working on building strong bilateral ties with India’s southeastern neighbours.
“Regional and internal connectivity is acutely linked to security. It is central to unleashing the potential of the Northeast and balancing the influence of China,” The Print quoted Naravane as saying.
“With failure to deliver on promises, delivery deficit has plagued our efforts at improving regional connectivity. The Kaladan Multimodal Transport Project and the Trilateral Highway have both seen cost and time overruns,” he added.
The army chief said there should be an apex body that could coordinate between different agencies working towards strengthening the country’s borders.
“Multiple agency involvement and varied sources of funds coupled with environmental factors remain major stumbling blocks,” he said.