New Delhi: India needs to shift focus from its border with Pakistan to that with China, Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat said on Friday, cautioning that the country cannot allow its neighbours to drift towards China, virtually asking the government to effectively implement its ‘neighbourhood first’ policy.
Admitting that Chinese troops have been ramping up pressure along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), he asserted that China may be a powerful country but India too is not a weak nation.
In a media address on the eve of the Army Day, Rawat said countries like Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan have to be kept on board as part of a broader strategy to deal with China, and India must make “wholehearted” efforts to continue extending support to them.
“We cannot allow the neighbourhood to be drifted away from us — whether it is Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka or Afghanistan. These nations have to be kept on board, and I think we have to put in our wholehearted effort to ensure we continue to support them,” he said.
The Army chief’s comments assume significance given that in recent past, China has been deepening ties with some South Asian nations and providing them with huge financial aid, which, some experts feel, may draw India's neighbours including the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Nepal towards Beijing.