Tuesday, June 21, 2011

No army operations against Maoists: General VK Singh

General VK Singh, chief of army staff, on Thursday categorically stated that the Indian Army was not involved in any ground operations against Maoists in the country.
In a reply to a question posed by DNA on the sidelines of a lecture delivered by him in the University of Pune, Singh said, “There are no army operations against the Maoists. We are only involved in training and guiding the paramilitary forces fighting them.”
When asked if the army had increased its presence along the North-East border with China, the general said, “We are at peace with China and there are no problems on the North-East.”
The general put the spotlight firmly on China during his lecture on the topic, ‘India’s role in South Asia: Strategic challenges and opportunities in 21st century’ at the Yashwantrao Chavan National Centre of International Security and Defence Studies.
He said, “China is clearly following a path of regional hegemony. It is quickly developing economic bonds with all our neighbours. It is also pitting one neighbour against the other.”
In a bid to counter China, Singh stressed that India needs to forge active business ties with its neighbours. “South Asia is easily the most economically disconnected region in the world despite the presence of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). India needs to review all its trade barriers with its neighbours quickly, as China is already doing so,” he added.
Singh recommended that India pursue a free trade policy in the region. “We need to give more than we take from our neighbours. There is an urgent need to be proactive in our business transactions with our neighbours.”
Shifting his attention to terrorism, Singh identified Afghanistan and Pakistan as the trouble spots. According to him, a multi-faceted approach is needed to tackle the problems in Afghanistan.