Canada-India spat over Khalistan issue is unlikely to affect military diplomacy, as the former’s military delegation will be attending the 13th Indo-Pacific Armies Chiefs’ Conclave (IPACC) India is hoisting for two days from September 25.
Canadian Army chief will be among 15 heads of armies from 22 countries that will take up issues of mutual interest to build common perspectives through partnerships for peace, security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
Major General Abhinaya Rai, Additional Director General (ADG), Strategic Planning at Army Headquarters, confirmed at a curtain raiser press conference on Wednesday that the Canadian Army chief, along with his delegation, will be attending the two-day biennial Conclave from September 25 at Manekshaw Centre, Delhi Cantonment. “When we look at relationships with some of our neighbours where we may have stand off but we continue to engage them at all levels at the military level and at diplomatic level. And I am referring directly to China here,” Major General Rai told reporters on a query whether the Khalistan row will cast a shadow on the important event.
“Our diplomatic efforts as our military efforts with Canada will continue to be there. As part of IPACC, they will form an important part of this journey,” Major General Rai emphatically stated on a day when the Ministry of External Affairs put out an advisory to Indian nationals, asking among others, students, living or travelling to the country to exercise utmost caution due to growing anti-India activities and “politically-condoned” hate crimes.
A Canadian military official present there also echoed similar sentiments, insisting that the diplomatic friction will not cloud the defence engagement between the two countries.
Parallelly, the 47th Indo Pacific Armies Management Seminar (IPAMS) and Senior Enlisted Leaders Forum (SELF) will also take place on those two days, which together with the IPACC, is co-hosted by Chiefs of US Army and Indian Army. Rai, however, ruled out the IPACC discussing geopolitical tensions around Taiwan, hinting at China, and stated the forum will only “focus on collaborations” since it, as per him, offers a unique opportunity to have common perspective towards shared vision on Indo Pacific.
Vice Chief of Army Staff (VCOAS) Lieutenant General M V Suchindra Kumar described hosting of the triad of IPACC, IPAMS and SELF in the same year as India’s G-20 and SCO Presidency as a matter of great pride and “a befitting tribute to the commencement of Amrit Kaal”, as India strives to become “the Developed Nation or Vishwaguru by 2047, in the spirit of inclusiveness and utmost respect for the rules-based order”.
Lt General Kumar observed that “with a population encompassing 64 percent of the world’s inhabitants, a GDP contribution of 63 percent, and a significant share of the world’s merchandise trade at 46 percent, the Indo Pacific undeniably holds a pivotal role in the world economy”. According to him, this region also commands authority over 50 percent of global maritime trade, emphasizing its central position in international commerce.
“India’s geography bestows it a geostrategic location along vital Sea Lanes of Communication. This positioning, coupled with the fact that 90 percent of our trade and energy resources traverse these global commons, makes India an inalienable part of the Indo-Pacific,” the Vice Chief of Army said.
This edition of the IPACC is themed ‘Together for Peace: Sustaining Peace and Stability in Indo-Pacific Region’ Lt Gen Rai said, we aim to build upon the accomplishments of the previous year’s gathering in Bangladesh. “Within this framework, during the IPACC roundtable, the Chiefs of Indo-Pacific Armies will address the issues of ‘Role of Military Diplomacy in Mitigating Crisis’, ‘Enhancing Military Collaboration and Inter-operability through Training’ and ‘Need for Self-Reliance by Modern Armies’, he elaborated. The bilateral meetings on the side- lines will help foster closer interaction and understanding of each other’s perspectives.