Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who is currently visiting South Korea, on Thursday warned Pakistan over Kashmir. Without taking Pakistan’s name, Singh warned that India’s defence forces are capable of protecting as well as thwarting any evil plan. “India has never been an aggressor in its history nor will it ever be. But that does not mean that India would balk at using its strength to defend itself,” Singh said during the keynote address at ‘Seoul Defense Dialogue’. He also added that, ‘Defence diplomacy is a key pillar of India’s strategic toolkit. In fact, defence diplomacy and maintaining strong defence forces are two sides of the same coin. They go hand in hand.’
‘I thank the Government of RoK (Republic of Korea) for inviting me to address at the ‘Seoul Defense Dialogue’ which is a prestigious multilateral security dialogue, a forum that offers a sound platform for discussions of the pressing defence and security issues facing the world today,’ Singh said at the beginning of his address. Highlighting the ancient ties between two nations, Singh said that, ‘It is a privilege to be here on my first visit to Seoul. The region has been a part of India’s national consciousness for millennia. We have ancient cultural links. Buddhism spread from India to East Asia and was introduced in Korea over 2000 years ago.’ He also brought up the unique link between Ayodhya and Korean Royalty. ‘Our people are linked through family ties that can be traced to the legendary Queen Heo Hwang-ok, who travelled all the way from Ayodhya to marry King Suro of Gaya in present day Gimhae. These linkages form a strong underpinning for our contemporary ties,’ Singh said.
‘Our quest for common prosperity and security requires us to evolve a common rules-based order for our region, the Indo-Pacific region. This order must be based on sovereignty and territorial integrity and equality of all nations, irrespective of size and strength,’ Singh said during his address. In what can be called a message for China, Singh said that, ‘We must provide to all nations the right of equal access to the use of common spaces on sea and in the air. We advocate an open and inclusive architecture for the Indo-Pacific region, with ASEAN centrality and equal access to the global commons.’
The Union Defence Minister also gave a mantra for defence ties. ‘If we work together on the basis of the five principles that have characterized Indian thought and policies for centuries – the principles of Samman (respect), Samvad (dialogue), Sahayog (cooperation), Shanti (peace) and Samriddhi (prosperity), our success is assured.’
While Beijing has been aggressive about its ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative, Singh also spoke about new Delhi’s neighbourhood policies. ‘A key feature of India’s Neighborhood First Policy is also its engagement with its neighbors in sub-regional groupings of IORA and BIMSTEC, apart from a trilateral maritime cooperation format with Sri Lanka and Maldives to improve Maritime Domain Awareness and cooperation,’ Singh said.