GUWAHATI: Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat on Saturday stressed that the country needs to ensure that the consequences of instability in its neighbourhood are addressed.He also said there is a possibility of threat to Jammu and Kashmir as well as to the North-eastern region due to the situation in Afghanistan which the Taliban has taken over a few months ago but the threat can be negated by working on internal monitoring.

“India’s national security landscape is stressed on account of security scenario emerging from subcontinental threats…We need to address consequences of instability and volatility in our immediate and extended neighbourhood and it remains our immediate priority,” Gen Rawat said.

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Delivering the first Ravi Kant Singh Memorial Lecture here, he said a close watch should be kept on the situation in Myanmar as well as the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, with the danger of the latter being exploited by fundamentalist elements.

He also said India’s relations with Bhutan and Nepal have always been robust and any issues with these countries have been addressed in a positive manner.

Gen Rawat said internal security challenges of the NE region have serious international dimensions as extremist outfits have connectivity, including hideouts across the border, and their members frequently use porous borders to escape security forces.

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He, however, added that in recent years there has been a reduction of violence in the NE region and lauded the combined efforts of security agencies and civil society for achieving it.

Gen Rawat said it was crucial that the land link of the region with the rest of the country is maintained through the Siliguri corridor.

This vulnerable corridor will always remain a cause of concern and any attempt to block it by any element must be nipped in the bud, he added.

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“India has to be on alert of the possible impact of the situation in Afghanistan in Jammu and Kashmir. We have to seal our borders. Internal monitoring is essential,” he told a press conference.

To a question if the change in regime in Afghanistan could pose danger to Assam and the Northeast, Rawat said a ‘likely threat’ could be there.

“We have to defend ourselves. We need to educate our people on the need to be conscious of their own security,” he said.

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The North-eastern region, especially Assam, is advantageously positioned to project India’s soft power to the world, the chief of defence staff said.

“North East region including Assam is a land of potential. In fact, it has the potential to be the pivot for projection of soft power of India in the regional countries,” Gen Rawat said.

He stressed the need for developing multi-model connectivity through development of means of transportations to access ASEAN and other markets.

He also highlighted the potential of developing the manufacturing and services sector in the NE region, which can help it cater to the international market.