Gen. Bipin Rawat is the first military chief to speak on India-US-Japan-Australia quadrilateral approach; says India needs support on ‘assertive China’
New Delhi: Using some of the strongest words on Pakistan, Army chief Bipin Rawat Friday said that India will call out its neighbour’s ‘nuclear bogey’, and that the military is ready to cross the border if tasked by the government.
Rawat said ceasefire violations have gone up sharply as India is now directly targeting Pakistan army posts that support the infiltration of militants across the Line of Control.
Rawat also admitted that Chinese troops were still present in the northern Doklam region. He became the first top Indian military officer to link the quadrilateral approach between India, US, Japan and Australia to an ‘assertive China’.
“On the nuclear bogey of the Pakistanis, I think we have called the bluff. If we have to really confront the Pakistanis and the country gives us a task, we are not going to say we will not cross the border because they have nuclear weapons,” Rawat said at his annual Army press conference.
He said ceasefire violations had gone up drastically over the past year as the military’s policy was to respond to infiltration attempts by firing at Pakistani posts that provide cover fire.
“All of our ceasefire violations are against Pakistani posts supporting infiltration. A terrorist is a disposable commodity for Pakistan. Unless the Pak army feels the pain, there will be no change,” the Army chief said.
“They have suffered three or four times more than us. That’s why they keep asking us for a ceasefire. This will come only at one condition: that infiltration comes down.”
On the recent US pressure on Pakistan to crack down on terror havens, Rawat said it was too early to say that Pakistan had been isolated. “There are compulsions for the US to maintain relations with Pakistan, and Pakistan understands that,” he said, adding that India needed to be prepared to take on the issue by itself.
On the Doklam border crisis that saw Indian and Chinese troops face off last year, Rawat said the number of PLA troops in the region had thinned down, but India needed to be alert for the summer.
“The PLA has occupied the northern Doklam area. A large number of troops have gone back from that area. Tents, toilets and observation posts remain, but manpower has thinned down. Once winter gets over, we can expect movement again. We have to be prepared for that,” he said.
On countering China’s aggressive approach, Rawat said this could be done with a holistic approach.
“We don’t go in for alliances, but we are seeking the support of other groups of nations in the region to see that we are not isolated completely in Asia with an assertive China,” he said.
“There, we find that the quadrilateral (India-US-Japan-Australia) has been formed, and other countries are coming to support us in any way we want.”