“India needs peaceful neighbourhood”

Singapore: India needs a secure and peaceful neighbourhood for its growth as the country faced “difficult history” with some of its neighbours and was still fighting external forces fomenting state-sponsored terrorism, Minister of State for Defence M.M. Pallam Raju said.

Addressing the seventh Sangri La Dialogue here on Saturday, he said: “India’s economic growth has created an enormous sense of optimism in our society, this is not quite the case with our neighbours.

Some are seriously afflicted by terrorism, itself a cause for concern to India as a neighbour. “Such concerns are further aggravated when that terrorism spills over into India, through state sponsorship or otherwise.

“Undeniably, we have a difficult history with some neighbours and the political challenges are no less formidable than the physical terrain of our borders.”

Mr. Raju said India’s security challenges emanate from forces that ideologically challenge the country’s pluralistic and secular character and many of them receive support from outside.

“By espousing ethnic or religious extremism and advocating separation, they seek to threaten the Indian identity. Many of these groups obtain sustenance from outside,” he said at a security conference here.

He said India’s defence policy “aims to deter the exploitation by external forces of our internal vulnerabilities while we fashion a domestic political response, which draws on our democratic strengths.”

Mr. Raju said the country needs a secure and peaceful neighbourhood as terrorism spills over into India.— PTI

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