India has to be prepared for a two-front war and build deterrence that ensures conflict is not an option for its adversaries, said National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval, while speaking on future threats at the Hindustan Times Leadership summit on Saturday afternoon.
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“India has two neighbours, both nuclear powers (which) shave a strategic relationship and a shared adversarial view of India,” the NSA said. He also confirmed that the government had received reports of Chinese personnel working in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) to build infrastructure and New Delhi had already expressed concern to Beijing and Islamabad.
Taking a cue from former foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal, who was chairing the talk, Doval expressed concern at Pakistan’s continued use of terrorism as a part of its foreign policy. “Pakistan’s inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) can bleed India but it cannot “degrade a strong civilisational nation like us,” he said.
However, the NSA expressed optimism that India has been able to engage both countries and “economic inter-dependence” can prove to a frame work to build peace in South Asia.
But clearly the NSA was keen to reinforce Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plans for a new economic paradigm. “Economic development is the best way to ensure security and a 9% growth will make us totally secure,” Doval said. According to the NSA “a strong economy is the surest means of protecting the country and creates vested interests which will ensure India’s protection.”
Echoing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call ‘Make In India’ Doval stressed on the need to put manufacturing on India’s highest priority. “We have a strong decisive government, considerable clout in the international arena and world calls human resources.
Doval, a former Director, Intelligence Bureau, and a much decorated intelligence office also provided context for Prime Minister’s diplomatic whirlwind taking him to the US, Australia, Myanmar and Fiji besides engaging South Asia with vigour. “In a changing world order India is engaging powers who have conflicting views. So we engage China and Japan as well as Russia and the United States.” The reason for this sustained engagement is driven by the fact that India’s economic engagement with the rest of the world had grown from 14% to 40%.
Covering a slew of issues that has dominated India’s security concerns, the NSA also underlined the Modi government’s focus on emerging technological threats from cyberspace. “We are seized of it, we have huge experience, scientific capabilities but we have have lost out on technical issues. Root servers are in other countries, mostly in the USand even private corporations have become very powerful,” he said.
With cyber space emerging as an engine for powerful economic growth,the government will continue to keep a sharp eye on it, the NSA assured.