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Army Chief calls for embracing 'unity of effort' for peace, stability in Indo-Pacific

Chief of the Army Staff, General Manoj Pande in a group photograph with the Chiefs of Armies/delegates of various countries at National War Memorial, in New Delhi, Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023. (Photo: PIB)

NEW DELHI (PTI): Indian Army Chief Gen Manoj Pande on Wednesday called for embracing the concept of 'unity of effort' as the guiding principle by like-minded nations to confront multifaceted challenges facing the Indo-Pacific region.

In an address at the closing session of the Indo-Pacific Armies Chiefs Conference (IPACC), he said the solutions to the challenges demand creativity, innovation, flexibility and inclusive collaboration.

The Indian Army hosted the two-day conclave to evolve a common strategy to ensure peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific. Delegates from over 30 countries, which included chiefs of around 15 armies, attended it.

"The common understanding achieved by us on various issues must now steer our aggregated course of action in the future. It is in this spirit of cohesion, that I urge each one of us to embrace the concept of 'unity of effort', as our guiding principle," Gen Pande said.

He said peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific are not abstract ideals and that they are the foundation upon which the dreams and aspirations of millions of people rest.

Gen Pande said the Indian Army stands committed to these ideals.

"I wish to acknowledge and appreciate the 'trust quotient' that you all fostered and helped build, during our deliberations," he said.

"The frank exchange of thoughts and ideas has reaffirmed that we are bonded by a common thread, of 'values' that stand for collective good, of adherence to 'international laws and conventions', of respect for each other's sovereignty and of a yearning for peace," he noted.

Talking about the outcomes at the conference, Gen Pande said the "commitment towards collaboration" has been the first takeaway.

"In an era characterized by rapid technological advancements and dynamic security paradigms, we acknowledged that our strength lies not merely in the individual prowess of our respective armies, but in the synergy and effect of our combined efforts," he said.

"We have affirmed our shared commitment to collaborate on regional security challenges, by pooling collective perspectives, expertise and experiences," he added.

The Indian Army Chief also underlined the need for "exchange of best practices" and harnessing the power of shared knowledge to address future challenges in the region.

"The need to give impetus towards enhancing bilateral relations through 'military diplomacy', is the next key takeaway. As military leaders, this gathering is well acquainted with the significance of military diplomacy initiatives," he said.

"We have also affirmed the need for open and sustained dialogue, as a cornerstone for fostering mutual understanding and cultivating relationships," he said.

"It clearly emerged that, through shared values of cooperation, collaboration, and pursuit of common goals, the foundations for a constructive engagement are laid. That is the only way ahead, to give effect to peace and stability," Gen Pande noted.

In a statement, the defence ministry said the event achieved the envisaged outcomes such as evolving a shared vision for military cooperation, fostering a sense of collective responsibility, sharing best practices, progressing defence diplomacy initiatives and reinforcing the importance of open and sustained dialogue to jointly address issues that impact the Indo-Pacific countries.

Gen Pande also held separate bilateral meetings with Chiefs of the armies of the participating countries.

He held one-on-one discussions with General Morishita Yasunori (Japan), Lt Gen Simon Stuart (Australia), Lt Gen Mguyen Doan Anh (Vietnam), Lt Gen Peter Mbogo Njiru (Kenya), Gen Sheikh Md Shafiuddin Ahmed (Bangladesh), Major General John Boswell (New Zealand), Gen Sir Patrick Sanders (UK), Lt Gen Mao Sophan (Cambodia), and Gen Jung Hwan Park of Republic of Korea, according to the Indian Army.

Gen Pande also held bilateral talks with Gene Pierre Schill (France) and Gen Datuk Muhammad Hafizuddeain Bin Jantan (Malaysia).

Lieutenant General MV Suchindra Kumar, Vice Chief of the Army Staff also held bilateral meetings with the heads of delegations of Brazil, Singapore, Mongolia and Thailand.

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