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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 12/9/21

India's controversial Chief of Defense Staff Gen. Rawat killed in copter crash

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India's first Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) General Bipin Laxman Singh Rawat, was killed Wednesday in a helicopter crash along with his wife and 11 others. General Rawat was a controversial military officer, according to The Wire.

Over nearly two years as CDS he ruffled many feathers within the upper military, official and diplomatic echelons with his outspoken, and, at times unusual and atypical views.

In his three-year appointment as CDS on December 31, 2019, the four-star general was deemed the foremost dedicated military advisor to India's defense minister, Rajnath Singh.

As army chief, till end-2019, Rawat had warned the country to be prepared for a simultaneous 'two-front' war against China and Pakistan. Critics say he did not initiate measures to either thwart such an outcome or prepare for it. At a seminar at the Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS) in Delhi in September 2017, he had declared that despite all three countries possessing nuclear arms, "warfare lies within the realm of reality" along India's northern and western borders with China and Pakistan, according to The Wire.

In 2017, General Rawat said that India did not "see any scope for reconciliation with Pakistan as its military, polity and people have decided that India wants to break their country into pieces". Consequently, Pakistan could "swing into action to take advantage of India's preoccupation with China" he stated, further highlighting the nightmarish two-front war situation; but he offered neither solution nor remedy, The Wire said.

Gen Rawat further stipulated that it was a 'myth' to assume that nuclear-armed neighbors like India on one side and Pakistan and China on the other, do not go to war. "Credible (nuclear) deterrence does not take away the threat of (conventional) war."

Clash of Civilizations

On September 15, 2021 General Rawat talked publicly of the "clash of civilizations" theory to describe China's growing ties with the Islamic world - a euphemism for Pakistan.

Speaking in New Delhi on the changing geopolitical scenario, General said: "We are seeing some kind of a jointmanship between the Sinic and Islamic civilizations. You can see China now making friends with Iran, they are moving towards Turkey" And they will step into Afghanistan in the years to come". Is that going to lead to a clash of civilizations with the Western civilization?" The world, he said, is in "turmoil".

However, Indian Minister for External Affairs, Jaishankar next day distanced the government from General Rawat's statement.

During his meeting with the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) gathering in Tajikistan's capital Dushanbe, Jaishankar, said India had never subscribed to any clash of civilizations theory. He said India and China had to deal with each other on merits and establish a relationship based on mutual respect.

Other instances of controversial statements

In October 2019 General Rawat said: "The Kashmir territory occupied by Pakistan is not controlled by the Pakistan establishment but it is controlled by terrorists. Pakistan occupied Kashmir is actually a terrorist-controlled part of Pakistan." This drew the attention of Pakistan military spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor who attacked the Indian Army chief of repeatedly issuing 'irresponsible statements to strengthen his candidacy' for the newly proposed post of the Chief of Defense Staff (CDS).

In February 2018, Bipin Rawat stirred a very serious row when he remarked that the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) has been growing faster than the BJP in Assam because of the support of Muslims, with Pakistan and China pushing Bangladeshi migrants into the North-east part of the country to destabilize India.

Tellingly, the BJP said that the army chief needs to be saluted for his comment. In response, AIUDF posted on Facebook: "General Bipin Rawat has made a political statement! Why is it a concern for the Army Chief that a political party, based on democratic and secular values, is rising faster than BJP? Alternative parties like AIUDF, AAP have grown because of the mis-governance of big parties. By making such a statement, isn't the Chief of Army Staff indulging into politics which is against the constitutional mandate given to him?"

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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