Nepal & Bhutan can’t delink from India due to geography: General Bipin Rawat

Published On: September 17, 2018 12:00 PM NPT By: Agencies

NEW DELHI, Sept 17: Army chief General Bipin Rawat said on Sunday that countries like Nepal and Bhutan cannot delink themselves from India as they are more inclined towards India “because of the geography”. He also said the geography does not favour their inclination towards China.

Rawat was speaking to the media after the concluding ceremony of BIMSTEC MILEX-18, a joint military exercise of BIMSTEC member nations, which was underway in Pune from September 10.

Replying to a question on Nepal’s absence in the MILEX-18 and its growing ties with China, Gen Rawat said: “They cannot delink themselves from India. Countries like Nepal and Bhutan have to be naturally inclined to India because of the geography. Geography favours their inclination towards India and not towards China. As our leaders say, Neighbourhood First and Act East. BIMSTEC is part of such efforts. We are strengthening our relationship with our neighbours. We are a bigger country, if we take the initiative, others will follow.”

Of the seven BIMSTEC nations, while troops from India, Bhutan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh were part of the ground exercise, Nepal and Thailand sent teams of observers.

“The best example of this is America and Pakistan relations, as it did not remain same… Therefore, we need not be bothered about all these issues and need to concentrate on how to keep the country strong,” said Gen Rawat.

“China is an emerging competitor. Everything is about economics. They are also looking for market and we are also looking for the same market and there is competition. So, whoever performs better will win the race,” he said.

Replying to a question on illegal migration in the region, and whether the issue would be discussed in the BIMSTEC forum in the future, he said: “Migration of population has always happened from economically weaker areas to stronger ones. Therefore, equal growth, as our leaders stress, is important. This phenomenon is not going to end unless there is equitable distribution of growth.”

At the press conference after the concluding drill of the BIMSTEC MILEX exercise, when asked whether such exercises would continue in future, Gen Rawat said: “India has initiated this exercise, as we have been given the area of counter-terrorism to look at in the region. The frequency of the exercise in future, whether it will always be conducted in India or elsewhere, is yet to be decided.”

Nepal's military exercise with China is just a temporary alliance: Army Chief Bipin Rawat

Answering a question about Nepal opting out of the Joint Military Exercise and its implications the Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre said 15 days ago, Nepal had hosted the 4th BIMSTEC summit at Kathmandu.

While addressing the media, Bhamre said there is nothing like good terrorism and bad terrorism. The entire world knows terrorism has become a global menace. It's not restricted by geographical boundaries. There is no political justification to any terrorist activity. Terrorists have no religion. Bhamre said that it is PM Narendra Modi's dream to have an international cooperation to eradicate terrorism. "We seek regional cooperation and then look beyond to eradicate terrorism," he said.

India is a leading country that is concerned about terrorism and has sought cooperation from BIMSTEC nations to counter terrorism.

While commenting about Nepal opting for the joint military exercise with China, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said that such alliances are temporary. Nepal will be closely linked with India naturally because of its geographical proximity with India.

He added India should not get too concerned about Nepal sending just its observers for the military exercise while joining China's military exercise.

He added that everyone looks for economic gains . He said China has the money and countries are taking it but are extremely cautious because of the conditions attached to such economic grants or loans. Bipin Rawat was confident that reality will start dawning on those who are too dependent on China.

The Army chief drew attention to what had happened in the past in CENTO. He said that in less than 70 years, equations have changed and relations keep changing so one need not worry.

"India should only focus in getting strong. Our approach should be to engage with our neighbour, take care of our neighbourhood and BIMSTEC is part of that. The motto is neighbourhood first and also act East. India is a bigger country. If we take the initiative, everyone will follow suit. The way India is evolving, other countries are also evolving. Market is common so the struggle is for the same space. The competition for economic growth matters, whoever does better will succeed so let us look at improving our systems," said Rawat. 

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