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Army chief says be ready for two-front war

Kalyan Ray, DH News Service, New Delhi, Sep 7 2017, 0:40 IST
Army Chief General Bipin Rawat. PTI file photo

Army Chief General Bipin Rawat. PTI file photo

Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat on Wednesday not only warned of Chinese threats from the north as the communist country was flexing its muscles, attempting salami-slicing but also suggested that India should be ready for a two-front war as China's long-term ally Pakistan may fish in troubled waters.

“As far as the northern adversary is concerned, flexing of muscles has started. Salami slicing, taking over territory in a very gradual manner, testing our limits of the threshold is something we have to be wary about and remain prepared for situations which could gradually emerge into conflict,” Rawat said at a seminar organised by the Centre for Land Warfare Studies here.

In military terms, 'salami slicing' refers to a number of small, secretive operations that are strung together to achieve a larger goal that would be difficult to accomplish in a single operation.

The cautionary note from Gen Rawat comes within days of ending a 73-day stand-off at Doklam in Bhutan near India-Bhutan-China tri-junction on the construction of a strategically important road.

The Army chief hinted at the possibility of Pakistan coming forward to aid its ally China in case a conflict breaks out.

“Whether these conflicts will be confined or limited in space and time or whether they can expand into an all-out war along the entire front (remains to be seen). The western adversary taking advantage of the situation developing along the northern border is very much likely,” he said.

This isn't the first time the Indian military leaders spoke about the has spoken about the possibility of a two-front war, but the timing of the remarks is crucial as it came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping met on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Xiamen in China and spoke of the need to "do more" to prevent border aggression.

On the nuclear deterrence, the Army Chief said, having the nuclear weapons wouldn’t prevent anyone to go for a war.

“Credible deterrence does not take away the threat of war. Nuclear powers don’t go to war and that nuclear weapons are weapons of deterrence, yes they are. But to say that they can deter war, they will not allow nations to go to war, in our context that may also not be true,” he said.

On Pakistan Gen Rawat said, “We don’t see any scope of reconciliation, because their military, the polity, and the people in that nation have been made to believe that there is an adversary, India, which is all out to break their nations into pieces.”

He wondered how long Pakistan would continue to bear the proxy war. “When will the country decide the threshold levels have been crossed? Because of the proxy war, there is always scope for conflict with our western neighbour,” he added.

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