Indian strategists favour increasing defence ties with Pakistan
* Demand enhanced military presence in Central Asian States
By Iftikhar Gilani
NEW DELHI: Top Indian strategists have called for engaging Pakistan’s military as it continues to be a powerful institution in that country.
At a day-long seminar organised by the Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS) under the Chatham House rules that bar quoting individual speakers, top generals called for military ties with Pakistan while discussing the topic of “Defence Cooperation as a Tool for Enhancing National Interest”.
The seminar was called to examine the present status of India’s defence cooperation and to evolve a vision for future defence cooperation.
Admitting that defence cooperation with Pakistan was a distant dream, the generals said that increasing cooperation on disaster-relief operations along the borders could be an ideal beginning to military ties
They believed that defence cooperation could play a key role in regional and global security and called for its enhancement with countries in the region to improve bilateral and multilateral ties.
Military presence: Demanding an enhanced military presence in Central Asian Sates, they favoured increasing defence cooperation with Iran to counter the influence of China.
The meeting’s participants called on the government to train, arm and equip a portion of the Afghan Army
The generals and experts recommended setting up a multi-discipline academically-oriented facility in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, along the lines of the Asia-Pacific Centre for Security Studies in Honolulu, Hawaii.
The strategists, who included present army chief General Deepak Kapoor, former army chief Gen Shankar Roychowdhury, and a host of generals and officials of the External Affairs Ministry, also stressed the need to clearly define the vision and aim of defence cooperation with countries around the world. “So far defence cooperation has only been restricted to platoon or company level interaction. Also, there is a need to evolve systems and mechanisms for joint consultations with the Ministry of External Affairs, the Ministry of Defence and the Chiefs of Staffs of the armed forces while formulating a comprehensive national strategy with regard to defence cooperation,” they added.
Inaugurating the seminar, Defence Minister AK Antony and Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor highlighted the importance of defence cooperation in India’s overall strategy in dealing with the emerging security situation in the country’s immediate and extended neighbourhood.
General Kapoor held that much more would be done in the field of defence cooperation to further advance India’s national interests and foreign policy objectives.
“India has wide ranging interests in international defence and military cooperation. It has been used as an effective tool of foreign policy and is one of the main forms of engagement with many countries such as Bhutan, China, France, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, the United Kingdom and USA,” Antony said.