NEW DELHI: China, Pakistan and Naxalites are a major source of worry for the Indian Air Force (IAF), Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, India’s Chief of Air Staff, said here on Tuesday.
According to the Indian Express, he listed China’s growing influence in the Indian sub-continent as a major security challenge for New Delhi. Delivering the inaugural address at 12th Subroto Mukerjee Seminar at the Centre for Air Power Studies, ACM Raha said that Chinese growing influence was with a strategic aim in mind, and it was being factored in India’s foreign and defence policies.
“China has increased its economic and military ties with all our neighbours. Rapid infrastructure development is taking place in the TAR (Tibet Autonomous Region). World’s highest airfield at Daocheng Yading, highest railway line from Xiniang, Qinghai province to TAR capital, development of the Gwadar port and Economic corridor through PoK (Indian term for Azad Kashmir) and Pakistan, development of roads in TAR up to Indian border and increasing economic and military ties with Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar are all strategic moves by China to contain India,” ACM Raha said.
Highlighting Beijing’s other regional moves, he said that “China has been making sustained efforts to make its presence felt in the IOR (Indian Ocean Region), including dispatch of submarines in the name of piracy control, with a strange logic.”
According to the Express, he said: “Incidents of border standoff in the north, issuance of paper visa to the residents of Arunachal Pradesh (AP) and claiming of Aksai Chin and part of AP as part of China have diluted the agreement of five principles, Panchsheel signed way back in 1954.”
Noting that the rise of China, India and Asean has shifted the global economic centre of gravity and hence, the strategic centre of gravity to the Asia Pacific Region, ACM Raha said that India faced a unique challenge — it has the dual task of physical security of the borders and maintaining harmonious relations with its neighbours.
Talking about Pakistan, ACM Raha observed that the “support of the Pakistan Army to the militant organisations and continuous interference in the internal affairs of Jammu and Kashmir will remain a source of friction between the two countries.
“Despite the grim internal situation, Pakistan has managed to strike a balance in its relations with China and USA. It has steadily built up its nuclear and ballistic missile capability with covert assistance from China and North Korea while continuing to receive monetary support and conventional weapons and aircraft from both USA as well as China. Their gamble of ‘Running with Hares and Hunting with Hounds’, while proclaiming itself as a member of GWOT (Global War on Terror) is paying off handsomely due to various geo-political reasons,” he added.
On the internal security challenges, ACM Raha said that it was becoming increasingly difficult to separate the internal threats to security from the external ones. The Express quoted him as saying: “In the recent past Naxalism has emerged as the single biggest threat to India’s internal security and has assumed serious and threatening propositions.”
Highlighting the IAF’s role in support of anti-Naxal operations, he said that IAF helicopters had flown 15,100 sorties since 2009 to transport 74,000 police personnel, 1,000 casualties and mortal remains and 1600 tons of load.
Published in Dawn, November 11th, 2015