Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba cautions against terrorist attacks from sea
Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba on Tuesday cautioned against possible terrorists are being trained to carry out attacks from sea.
Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba on Tuesday cautioned against possible terror attacks from sea even as authorities dismissed as “false propaganda” Pakistan’s claim it had thwarted an Indian submarine’s attempt to enter the country’s waters.
In his inaugural address at the Indo-Pacific Regional Dialogue here, Lanba said, “We also have reports of terrorists being trained to carry out attacks with varying modus operandi, including through the medium of the sea.”
This “brand of terror”, he said, could become a global problem and the Indian security establishment is working to address the menace. He urged the global community to come together to eliminate all forms of terrorism while reminding an international audience of the “horrific scale” of the Pulwama suicide bombing on February 14 that killed 40 troops.
Reiterating the government’s stand that Pakistan was behind the attack, he said the Pulwama carnage was perpetrated by extremists aided and abetted by a state that seeks to destabilise India.
As chairman of the chiefs of staff committee, Lamba is India’s senior-most military commander, and his comments came against the backdrop of tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours.
In a statement, the Indian Navy dismissed Pakistan’s claim that an Indian submarine had sought to enter Pakistani waters. “Over the past several days, we have witnessed Pakistan indulging in false propaganda and spread of misinformation. The Indian Navy does not take cognisance of such propaganda,” the statement said.
India’s military deployments “remain undeterred” and the navy “remains deployed as necessary to protect national maritime interests,” it added.
The Pakistan Navy claimed it used special skills to thwart the Indian submarine. Pakistan also released a purported video of an Indian submarine trying to sneak into its waters. The image showed the footage was recorded at 2035 hours on March 4.
People familiar with developments said all major powers with a presence in the Indian Ocean knew no Indian naval vessel was in the vicinity of Pakistani waters at that time.
The Pakistan Navy had also claimed the Indian submarine was not targeted in view of the country’s “policy of peace”.
People familiar with developments said the UN Operations and Crisis Centre had made it clear to members of the world body that enhanced monitoring measures adopted in view of the India-Pakistan tensions had been terminated. They said this was an indication that the United Nations was not buying into propaganda about an imminent conflict.
Pakistani jets made failed attempts to target Indian military installations in Rajauri sector on February 27 in retaliation for the Balakot air strike, carried out after the Pulwama attack and described by India as a “pre-emptive, non-military” strike.
A day after the aerial skirmish between the air forces in which both sides lost a jet each, the Indian military last week warned Pakistan it was prepared to respond swiftly and strongly to any misadventure.
The navy chief also drew attention to China’s growing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific to establish dominance, without naming the country.
“A unique blend of strategised financial aid, creeping territorial accretion, information operations, legal ambiguity and military assertiveness is being wielded by aspiring great powers to establish regional dominance,” he said, adding this had put the region’s delicate stability under renewed pressure.
Mounting debts have led countries such as Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Pakistan to give control of territories, which are of strategic significance, to China, in what global experts call Beijing’s “debt-trap diplomacy”.
Touching on the subject, Lanba said, “On multiple occasions over the last few years, we have witnessed such assistance being offered for projects with suspect financial viability, limited local participation, and unequal benefit for the recipients”. He emphasised that some projects were undertaken only to support political and strategic designs with almost no benefit to locals.
He said it was important to create an environment in which multiple options were available to countries looking for financial assistance to prevent them from getting “entrapped” by those with unscrupulous designs.