India has to be prepared for a two-front war and build deterrence that ensures conflict is not an option for its adversaries, National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval said at the Hindustan Times Leadership summit on Saturday.
“India has two neighbours, both nuclear powers (which) share a strategic relationship and a shared adversarial view of India,” Doval told a packed audience of policy-makers, diplomats and industrialists.
Taking a cue from former foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal, who was chairing the talk, Doval expressed concern at Pakistan’s continued use of terrorism as a part of its foreign policy.
“Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) can bleed India but it cannot degrade a strong civilisational nation like us,” he said.
Doval also said the government had received reports of Chinese personnel working in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) to build infrastructure and New Delhi had expressed concern to Beijing and Islamabad.
However, the NSA expressed optimism that India had been able to engage both countries and “economic inter-dependence” can prove to be a framework to build peace in South Asia.
“Economic development is the best way to ensure security and 9% growth will make us totally secure,” Doval said. “A strong economy is the surest means of protecting the country and creates vested interests which will ensure India’s protection.”
Doval is a former Intelligence Bureau director who provided key background for the Prime Minister’s trips to the US, Australia, Myanmar and Fiji and the engagement with South Asia.
“In a changing world order India is engaging powers who have conflicting views. So we engage China and Japan as well as Russia and the United States.”
Covering a slew of issues that have dominated India’s security concerns, the NSA also underlined Prime Minister Narendra Modi government’s focus on emerging technological threats from cyberspace.
“We are seized of it, we have huge experience, scientific capabilities but we have lost out on technical issues. Root servers are in other countries, mostly in the US and even private corporations have become very powerful,” he said.
With cyber space emerging as an engine for powerful economic growth, the government will continue to keep a sharp eye on it, the NSA said.
Full Coverage: HT Leadership Summit