International terrorism, a pre-eminent threat to global peace and security - High Commissioner Ashok K Kantha
On an invitation extended by the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development, Government of Sri Lanka, Ashok K Kantha, High Commissioner of India, addressed the students and faculty of Defence Services Command and Staff College on the theme “India’s Foreign and Defence Policies.”
on 22 November 2012, Indian High Commissioner was cordially welcomed by Major General JC Rambukpotha, Commandant Defence Services Command and Staff College on arrival.
In his address, the High Commissioner touched upon India’s unique geographical location and key global and regional developments influencing India’s security environment and highlighted that India’s unique geographical position, maritime as well as continental entity, with its footprints and interests reaching well beyond South Asia and positioned as a bridge between different parts of Asia such as West Asia, Central Asia, East Asia etc. formed the key determinants of the India’s defence policies.
He underlined the transformation of global and regional balance of power, in which the risk of direct conflict between major states has markedly receded; transnational challenges like terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, energy security, climate change and the prolonged economic crisis have become the primary threats to global peace and stability.
He emphasized the need for a collective global response to these challenges and especially the ones emanating from non-states actors, failed or weakened States.
He drew attention to international terrorism as possibly the pre-eminent threat to global peace and security while pointing out India’s own experience as a victim of cross border terrorism for over two decades. He underlined the major risks associated with weapons of mass destruction possibly falling into the hands of terrorists and non-state actors and to the increased incidences of piracy, gun running and terrorism in the Indian Ocean region.
The High Commissioner highlighted that India’s overriding foreign and defense policy objective is to secure a peaceful and enabling international environment, both in the neighborhood and globally, so as to concentrate on domestic priorities of nationhood and inclusive development while ensuring independence and autonomy in India’s decision making.
He underlined that another vital objective is to protect and safeguard India’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and to deal with non-traditional threats to security which are increasingly becoming trans-national in character. He also underlined India’s recognition that transnational challenges can be addressed only through global efforts.
The High Commissioner drew attention to the fact that India has never pursued aggressive or expansionist policies and India’s armed forces have always been used to defend the motherland against external aggression. India has never sent troops abroad except for UN peace keeping operations or at the express specific request of the legitimate government of the country concerned.
India’s defense preparedness and credible deterrence includes nuclear doctrine of credible minimum deterrence, which envisages no first use of nuclear weapons, non-use against non-nuclear weapon states and voluntary moratorium on further nuclear tests. He underlined that India’s defense preparedness has not been at the cost of development and India’s defense expenditure remains modest at around 2% of the GDP and in per capita terms is among the lowest in the world.
The High Commissioner emphasized that a natural corollary of India’s non-aligned foreign policy has been to enhance engagement with all the major countries of the world, which has resulted in substantial strengthening of our relationship with all the major countries and regions of the world and India’s rapid economic and social transformation since early 1990s has provided opportunities to meaningfully engage with the rest of the world in an unprecedented manner.
India, at the same time, has been in the forefront of promoting South-South cooperation and continues to give highest priority to closer political, economic and other ties with our neighbors in South Asia and extended neighborhood.
He also referred to India’s successful “Look East Policy” launched in 1990s which is based on a cooperative paradigm of positive inter-connectedness of economic and security interests. He noted that there is a growing appreciation of India’s relevance and role in addressing cross-cutting global issues and India today is today a net provider of security in domains ranging from maritime security to UN Peace keeping operations and one of the engines helping to pull global economy out of recession.
High Commissioner Kantha highlighted that India is Sri Lanka’s closest neighbor and our bilateral relationship is extremely strong, anchored in common civilization heritage, shared interests and interlinked destinies.
He underlined that India has consistently stood for a united, strong and prosperous Sri Lanka and the defense cooperation between the two countries encompasses a wide array of activities such as high level exchanges, training, joint exercises and exchange of goodwill visits by Naval ships of the two countries. In recent years, the relationship has been marked by close contacts at the highest political level, growing trade and investment, cooperation in the fields of development, education, culture and defence, as well as a broad understanding on major issues of international interest.
Indian High Commissioner’s address was followed by an interactive session in which he responded to interesting questions raised by student officers. The event concluded with the presentation of a memento to the High Commissioner by the Commandant, Staff College.
- Asian Tribune -