Should Nepal and Bhutan be inclined to India? Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat believes so. Speaking on the sidelines of the closing ceremony of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation- Field Training Military Exercise, also known as BIMSTEC-MILEX 18, he said on Sunday that geography favours Nepal and Bhutan’s inclination towards India.
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“Countries like Nepal and Bhutan have to be inclined to India because of geography. Geography favours inclination towards India and as far as an alliance (with China) is concerned, it is a temporary thing,” said General Rawat when asked about growing alignment of Nepal with China.
Taking Pakistan and the United States as an example, he said such ties were for short time and bound to change along with the situation at the global level. “The best example of this is the relation between America and Pakistan. It is not the same as what it used to be 70 years ago. Therefore, we need not be bothered about all these issues. We need to concentrate on how to keep our country strong,” said Rawat.
General Rawat said the leadership in India believes in building relations with its neighbouring countries. “We are a bigger country and if we take the lead, everybody will follow suit. That is why we stepped into this (by organising the military exercise),” he continued.
He claimed that the country looked at China as a contender because of “economics”. “They (China) are looking for a market and so are we. There is competition. Whoever does it better will win the race,” he added.
The general replied to a query on whether the issue of illegal immigration would be added to the BIMSTEC discussion in future, saying it was not a new phenomenon.
“Migration always happens from an economically weaker nation to a stronger nation. Therefore, equal growth is important. This phenomenon is not going to end unless there is an equitable and good distribution of growth,” said army chief.
Earlier, Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre, while addressing the press at the military function, said that Nepal had participated by way of sending observers.
“In all the previous summits they (Nepal) have participated. This time it was a military exercise and this is the same period when their command changed (new General taking over as CoAS of the Nepal Army),” Bhamre said.
“They (Nepal) have sent their observers so there was participation from them. We need not look at any other angle,” he added. While contingents of India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Bhutan took part in the military exercise that went for week-long, Nepal and Thailand skipped it and sent observers instead.