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Pakistan must become secular for peace, says Army chief General Bipin Rawat

Speaking on other issues Gen Rawat highlighted the increasing role of women in the Army.

pune Updated: Dec 01, 2018 14:18 IST
Nadeem Inamdar
Nadeem Inamdar
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,Army chief General,Bipin Rawat
Army chief General Bipin Rawat (centre) at the passing out parade of 135th course of the National Defence Academy (NDA), in Pune on Friday.(Rahul Raut/HT PHOTO)

Maintaining that India has a clear policy on terror and talks, Army chief, General Bipin Rawat on Friday said that if Pakistan wants better ties with India, it should become a secular state rather than be an Islamic state.

“If they have to stay together with India, then they have to develop as a secular state. We are a secular state. If they’re willing to become secular like us, then they seem to have an opportunity for engagement ,” he said, speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the passing out parade (POP) of the 135th course at the National Defence Academy (NDA), Khadakwasla.

When asked about Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s statement that Pakistan will respond with two steps for every step that India takes for peace, Rawat said, “There is contradiction in what they are saying. One step from there should come in a positive manner, we will see if the step has effect on the ground. Till then, our nation has a clear policy - terror and talks can’t go together.”

Speaking on other issues Gen Rawat highlighted the increasing role of women in the Army. Stating that several areas have been identified for expanding women’s role in the Army, he said, “You will see an increase in the role of women in the armed forces. We haven’t yet taken them in front-line combat role. We feel we aren’t yet ready. Western nations are more open. Boys and girls are operating together in big cities here, but people in the Army don’t only come from big cities. Majority of them are from rural areas where mingling between men and women is still not very open. We are exploring how women can be given Permanent Commission,” he said.

He pointed out that permanency is needed in some fields and male officers in a command-oriented Army don’t fit everywhere. “Keeping women officers in fields like language interpreter, military diplomacy, information, cyber and psychological warfare will be beneficial. They are already present in the Army’s education and law departments,” General Rawat said.

When asked about reports that defence cantonments may be merged with the local civic bodies, the Army chief said such possibilities were being explored, but only for civil areas of the cantonments.

“We want to increase military stations. Cantonments are a British legacy. There are 237 military stations and 62 cantonments. We are exploring the possibilities whether civil areas of the cantonments can be merged with local civic bodies for better services to people and remaining areas can be converted into military stations,” he said.

261 cadets graduate from NDA

On Friday, 261 cadets graduated from the National Defence Academy (NDA) as they passed through the portals of the prestigious Khetrapal parade ground. These included 186 cadets from the Army, 21 from the Navy and 54 from the Air Force, inclusive of 16 cadets from friendly foreign countries such as Afghanistan, Bhutan, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Tanzania, Tajikistan, Mauritius, Vietnam and Sri Lanka.

Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat reviewed the passing out parade and in his address, complimented the cadets for their exceptional drill movements.

Academy Cadet Captain Jaipreet Singh won the President’s Gold Medal for standing first in the overall order of merit. Academy Cadet Adjutant Parimal Parasar won the Silver Medal for standing second in the overall order of merit and Squadron Cadet Captain Swapnil Gupta won the Bronze Medal for standing third in the overall order of merit. ‘Charlie’ Squadron bagged the prestigious ‘Chiefs of Staff Banner’, for being the Champion Squadron which was presented during the parade.

First Published: Dec 01, 2018 14:16 IST