India needs to change its military and security policy: Shiv Shankar Menon


New Delhi: Former national security advisor Shiv Shankar Menon said that India should change its strategy and extend its military support for peace, as it has not made a single firm policy on Pakistan.

“Our approach and behaviour should change in defence of our interests in West Asia,” said during a lecture organised by the Society for Policy Studies (SPS) at the India Habitat Centre in the evening of Wednesday, as its seven million citizens working there.

“I’ve got no doubt that sooner rather than later India will have to make real political and military contributions to stability and security in this region that’s so critical to our economy and security,” Menon said.

Menon said that his about change and positions in West Asia including Iran, Turkey, Egypt and Israel. He added that these countries can together make a drastic development. Also, they can make free from old Western order.

“To my mind, this world is as much of a challenge as an opportunity for a country like India that wants to change the reality that we have inherited. I only hope that we once again show the wisdom to seize the day,” he said.

Menon gives opinion about the slow growth rate of India which is only 6.5 percent in 20 years.

“We can no longer assume that others will guarantee the safety of the sea lanes that carry our foreign trade and our energy supplies. Nor can we assume that a benign international order will keep the peace,” he said.

Menon started his career in Indian Foreign Service in 1972 as national security advisor and later as foreign secretary. He played a key role in India-US nuclear deal. He said that India’s policy on Pakistan was not working.

While Menon addressed to the audience, he said, “We will have to decide how far we wish to assume new responsibilities, and how far we are willing to compromise on strategic autonomy and work with others on these security issues,”

“At the same time, many more powers, facing the same uncertainty, are and will be willing to work with India in this effort, as we already see in maritime security and counter-terrorism,” Menon said.

“We can’t have one policy, dealing with many Pakistanis,” he said, referring to multiple actors there, each with a different notion and agenda — civil society, the government, the army, Inter-Services Intelligence, religious groups and terror outfits.

“So you run multiple policies,” he said, adding it was in India’s interests to have good relations with Pakistan. They, in any case, have nothing to lose, unlike India. “They have no tourism to talk about and no investment to start with,” he added.

Menon also said about his strategy on Pakistan, Sri Lanka, China and Israel, because of problems faced by multiple actors in Pakistan.

He gave the example of PM Narendra Modi surprise visit to Pakistan and how it led to the terrorist attack in Pathankot.

“Despite this, the prospect is that the dialogue process will continue with several engagements foreseen in the coming months. It is still an open question whether the optics of India-Pakistan dialogue can be converted to substantive results,” he said.

“India has consistently sought to find a modus vivendi or to normalise relations with Pakistan in our own interest.”

Considered an expert on China and fluent in Mandarin, Menon also spoke at length on India’s emerging relations with its northern neighbour with which it shares a 4,000-km-plus border.

“We need to find a new equilibrium with China,” said the key aide of former prime minister Manmohan Singh, who was also his special representative to conduct border talks with China.

“We have little to gain and much to lose if we treat our relationship with China as a zero-sum game. Since both countries have major internal reform and structural adjustment to undertake, the present pattern of cooperation with competition should continue for the foreseeable future, but there are new factors which suggest that India and China need to find a new equilibrium,” he said.

“As for the bilateral issues that divide us — like the boundary, trans-border rivers and China’s activities in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir — we have found ways to manage differences in the last 30 years while growing the relationship,” he added.(IANS)