Afghan situation raises new security questions: Rajnath Singh

The situation in Afghanistan has brought up new issues from the national security perspective, and India is monitoring the developments there, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Monday. He said India is also concerned that “anti-national” forces should not take advantage of the changed scenario and promote cross-border terrorism.

“What is happening in neighbouring Afghanistan is raising new questions from the security point of view. Our government is constantly monitoring the situation there. Along with the security of Indians, our government also wants that by taking advantage of the situation being created there, anti-national forces should not encourage cross-border terrorism,” Singh said.

“At the same time, there are some other concerns as well, which can become a challenge from the point of view of national security but our government is alert, and is capable of facing any kind of situation. We are always prepared to deal with the threat arising from anywhere, whether sky, water or land.”

Delivering the third Balramji Dass Tandon memorial lecture virtually, the Defence Minister also spoke about the security challenges posed by China. “We want that the border issue between India and China should be resolved peacefully through talks. I want to assure all of you that under the leadership of Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi, we will not compromise on India’s border, its honour and self-respect. We will never allow the sanctity of borders to be disturbed.”

Referring to the nearly 16-month military standoff in eastern Ladakh, which began in May 2020, he said the reason behind the “controversy” was that “Chinese forces had ignored the agreed protocols”.

“It is true that there has been a perceptional difference regarding the border with China for a long time” and “despite this, there are some such agreements, protocols, following which the armies of both countries do patrolling.” But, he said, “we cannot allow the Chinese Army to act on the LAC in a unilateral manner under any circumstances, and will never allow it to happen.”

The government, he said, “has made it clear to the armed forces that any unilateral action on the LAC should not be ignored” and pointed out that this is what the Indian troops did in Galwan Valley on June 15, 2020 when they “bravely confronted the PLA soldiers and forced them to retreat”.

Ever since India became Independent, “it has been a constant attempt by many anti-India forces to create an atmosphere of instability within India, either on the borders, or through the borders”, Singh said, and added, “a massive effort has been made for this from Pakistan’s soil.”

As Pakistan was defeated by India in the wars in 1965 and 1971, he said it “has completely proved that they are not in a position to do full scale war with India”. “The inability to not wage a direct war with India forced Pakistan to work on two policies. On the one hand, it took steps towards finding a atomic way and on the other hand started work on the policy of giving ‘death of thousand cuts’ to India.”

However, he said that Pakistan has now understood that it has nothing to gain from ceasefire violations but a trust deficit remains between the two nations.

“That is why we are also in wait and watch position because the trust deficit is a big problem… However, since February, since the agreement between the DGsMO, there has been no ceasefire violation on the border. Till there is a trust deficit between India and Pakistan, we will always have to remain alert.”

Asserting that “no power in the world can separate Jammu and Kashmir from India”, Singh also pointed to the surgical strikes and Balakot airstrikes. He said such responses against terrorism “has seen another major change in the last seven years” which has led to the “increased morale of the army and security forces and their changed modus operandi”.

The forces, he said, “have not allowed a single major terrorist incident in the hinterland of India”. He expressed hope that the “the remaining terrorism in Kashmir will also end” and added that it is “because the strength that the separatist forces used to get there due to Articles 370 and 35A” has now ended.

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