Will never tolerate cross-border TERRORISM: Gen Naravane



NEW DELHI, Jan 12: In a stern message to Pakistan, Chief of Army Staff Gen MM Naravane on Tuesday said India will never tolerate cross-border terrorism and it reserves the right to respond with precision to any terror activity at a time and place of its choosing.
Addressing a press conference ahead of Army Day on January 15, he also said India must be prepared to deal with a "two-front" threat scenario as collusive approach by Pakistan and China was manifesting on the ground.
"Pakistan continues to embrace terrorism as an instrument of state policy. However, we are very clear that we have zero-tolerance for terror and we reserve our right to respond at a time and place of our own choosing and with precision," he said.
He said India has sent a clear message to Pakistan that it will not tolerate any terrorist activities.
Elaborating on growing cooperation between China and Pakistan, the Army chief said India must be prepared to deal with a "two-front" threat scenario suggesting that both may create trouble simultaneously.
"There is no doubt that a collusive threat exists. This is not just something which was part of some strategy paper or loud thought process. It is very much manifesting on the ground," he said.
"There is indeed increased cooperation between China and Pakistan in both military and non-military fields. And a two-front threat is very much something that we have to be prepared to deal with and in dealing with such a threat, we will have to see which is the more serious threat and prioritise and deal with that first," he said.
Talking about Jammu and Kashmir, Gen Naravane said though the situation in hinterland has improved, it has not yet reached a level when the government can contemplate moving troops out of the union territory.
Notwithstanding the coronavirus pandemic, Pakistan has been resorting to unprovoked ceasefire violations along the LoC and making concerted efforts to push militants into Kashmir.
Pakistani hostilities increased after India announced its decision to withdraw the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and divide the state into two union territories in August 2019.
Gen Naravane also said he was hopeful that India and China will be able to reach an agreement to resolve the eastern Ladakh standoff but at the same time asserted that Indian troops will maintain a high state of combat readiness to deal with any eventuality.
Addressing a press conference ahead of the Army Day, Gen Naravane said the operational preparedness of the Indian armed forces has been of very high level and they will continue to hold onto their ground.
"We are prepared to hold our ground as long it takes to achieve our national goals and objectives," he said.
Talking about increasing security challenges at the Line of Actual Control, the Chief of Army Staff said a need was felt about "rebalancing" of troops along the northern borders, adding "that is what we have put in place now."
The Chief of Army staff said he was hopeful that India and China will be able to reach an agreement for disengagement and de-escalation based on an approach of mutual and equal security.
"I am confident of finding a solution to the issue on the basis of mutual and equal security," he said.
Gen Naravane said there was no reduction in deployment of troops by both India and China in eastern Ladakh.
The Chief of Army Staff said Indian troops are maintaining high level of alertness all along the Line of Actual Control and not just Ladakh.
Nearly 50,000 troops of the Indian Army are currently deployed in a high state of combat readiness in various mountainous locations in eastern Ladakh in sub-zero temperatures as multiple rounds of talks between the two sides have not yielded concrete outcome to resolve the standoff.
China has also deployed an equal number of troops, according to officials.
Last month, India and China held another round of diplomatic talks under the framework of Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on India-China border affairs.
The eighth and last round of military talks between the two sides had taken place on November 6 during which both sides broadly discussed disengagement of troops from specific friction points.
India has all along been maintaining that the onus is on China to carry forward the process of disengagement and de-escalation at the friction points in the mountainous region.
Following the sixth round of military talks, the two sides had announced a slew of decisions including not to send more troops to the frontline, refrain from unilaterally changing the situation on the ground and avoid taking any actions that may further complicate matters.
This round was held with a specific agenda of exploring ways to implement a five-point agreement reached between External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi at a meeting in Moscow on September 10 on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation(SCO) conclave.
The pact included measures like quick disengagement of troops, avoiding action that could escalate tensions, adherence to all agreements and protocols on border management and steps to restore peace along the LAC.

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