NEW DELHI: Indian Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane on Tuesday tore into India’s adversaries while addressing the annual media conference, launching targeted attacks at Pakistan and China over their continued provocations along the Line of Control (LoC) and the Line of Actual Control (LAC), respectively.
He was stern in his statement to Pakistan over the cross-border terrorism near the Kashmir Valley, and said that India will choose the time and place of retaliation and will hit back with precision.
“Pakistan continues to embrace terrorism. We have zero-tolerance for terror. We reserve our right to respond at a time and place of our own choosing and with precision. This is a clear message we have sent across,” General Naravane said.
He said that the security forces have maintained high level of alertness along the borders and a detailed roadmap has been laid out to meet the challenges of the future.
“We have maintained a high state of alertness all along the northern borders. We are hoping for a peaceful solution but are ready to meet any eventuality. All logistics are taken care of. A broad roadmap has been prepared to bring in all the new technologies to develop a technology-enabled army to meet challenges of future… We are very clear that we will not tolerate terrorism,” the Army Chief said.
On Sino-India conflict…
“Pakistan and China together form a potent threat and the threat of collusivity cannot be wished away… There is increased cooperation between China and Pakistan in both military and non-military sectors. The two-front threat is something that we should be prepared to deal with… We will hold on to our positions in eastern Ladakh, and hope for a solution based on mutual and equal security. We keep modifying our preparedness based on geopolitical developments and threats… The Indian Army is fully prepared to deal with any threat facing the nation,” the General Naravane reaffirmed.
Referring to the heightened situation along the LAC with China since May 2020, the Army Chief said that last year “we had to walk the talk and rise to the occasion in dealing with challenges”.
“The last year was full of challenges, and we had to walk the talk and meet the challenges. We did so and came out on the top… There was a requirement of rebalancing towards northern borders and that is what we have put in place now. We are prepared to hold our ground as long it takes to achieve our national goals and objectives. The main challenge was Covid-19 and the situation at the northern borders,” he said.
His statement comes a day after reports claimed that around 10,000 Chinese People’s Liberation Army troops in Eastern Ladakh have pulled back from their hostile positions near India.
“Every year PLA troops come to traditional training areas. With winter and completion of the training period, training areas have been vacated. It will be fair to assume those troops who were in-depth areas in Tibetan Plateau have gone back, and that’s the reduction in strength on the plateau,” he said.
Commenting on the possibility of de-escalation along the Sino-India border, Naravane said that New Delhi is hopeful of a resolution with Beijing soon.
“Talks (between India and China) will be used to address the issues on the basis of mutual and equal security… Hope we will be able to reach an agreement for disengagement and de-escalation… There has been no decrease in strength either on their side (China) or our side as far as the friction points our concerned,” he said.
The treacherous winter conditions near Ladakh are testing times for troops from both sides of the borders, but the casualty figures have not seen a rise even though the deployment is bigger than other years.
“Even though we have more troops at high altitude, cold injury casualties this year have remained constant with the past. It was 0.13 per cent last year and is 0.15 per cent this year,” the Army Chief said.