Singapore: In a veiled hint at Pakistan, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Saturday said that networks of radicalism and terrorism, as well as their support structures in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond, continue to pose a threat to all peace-loving societies.
Addressing the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, he stated that there were three main security challenges facing the Asia Pacific region, in which the first one was the traditional threat of disputes over territorial issues escalating to military conflict.
“While no single region has a monopoly on nationalist rhetoric, we need to pay special attention to its linkages with territorial disputes and alternate readings of history in this part of the globe. Regional frameworks for security management must enshrine a commitment to the peaceful resolution of disputes without the threat or use of force,” he said.
Asserting that terrorism remains the foremost challenge to the region, Parrikar added that networks of radicalism and terrorism as well as their support structures in the region and beyond continue to pose a threat to all peace-loving societies.
“We need to oppose terrorism resolutely everywhere, de-legitimise it as an instrument of state policy and cooperate unreservedly to locate, thwart and destroy terrorist networks. The security frameworks in our region still do not give enough attention to terrorism. This must change,” he said.
Talking about the third challenge, the Defence Minister highlighted on the challenges rising in the maritime domain which is susceptible to a continuous spectrum of threats.
Emphasising on the vulnerable Indo-Pacific waterways, Parrikar said that terrorism visited India from the sea in Mumbai in November 2008 resulting in the deadly 26/11 massacre and that piracy on the Eastern shores of Africa impacted the insurance premiums for all Indian ships, adding that the situation in the South China Sea continues to be viewed with concern.
“We have traditional links with the countries in the South China Sea. More than half our trade passes through its waters. While we do not take a position on territorial disputes, which should be resolved peacefully without the threat or use of force, we firmly uphold freedom of navigation and overflight in accordance with international law, in particular the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea,” Parrikar said.
Calling on all nations to work towards actions to lower the temperature, and prioritise developmental and growth considerations above all else, Parrikar asserted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision for the Indian Ocean as captured in the acronym SAGAR or Security and Growth for All in the Region, encapsulates India’s approach to the broader Indo-Pacific region.
“We are not only committed to safeguard India’s land and maritime territories and interests, but we will also make our capacities available to other regional countries. Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief or HADR is a major focus of our efforts. The evacuation of citizens of a number of countries from Yemen, post-earthquake efforts in Nepal and the assistance provided to Sri Lanka as the first responder following recent floods are examples,” he said.
Batting for collective action and cooperation as the way forward to deal with maritime threats like terrorism, piracy and natural disasters, Parrikar said that it will also improve trust and confidence and reduce the scope for military competition.
“Recently, we have launched maritime security dialogues with Australia, China, France, Japan and the United States. These allow us to share security perspectives and explore possibilities. Going beyond the traditional notion of security, we are also building economic cooperation with maritime neighbours to reap the benefits of the Blue Economy,” Parrikar said.
Stating that the Indo-Pacific is a heterogeneous region with a diversity of political systems, security perspectives and developmental choices, the Defence Minister added that there is no doubt that the region will remain the driver of global prosperity for decades to come.
“India’s contribution, as the fastest growing major economy in the world, which is the result of energetic efforts of my government, will be a significant factor in ensuring this. I am equally confident that the countries of the region will rise to the challenge and find the will and the means to tackle the security threats it faces,” Parrikar said. (ANI)