Source: Times of India
NEW DELHI: India has dispatched four warships, including a frontline destroyer and a stealth frigate, on a long overseas deployment through the strategic Malacca Strait to Malaysia,Vietnam and Philippines.
The four warships from the country’s Eastern Fleet — stealth frigate INS Satpura, guided-missile destroyer INS Ranvijay, missile corvette INS Kirch and fleet tanker INS Shakti – will make port calls at Klang in Malaysia, Da Nang in Vietnam and Manila in Philippines before returning to India towards end-June. Eastern Fleet commander Rear Admiral P Ajit Kumar is leading the flotilla.
“Constructive engagement is our principle weapon during peacetime. The idea is to enhance security and stability in the entire Indian Ocean Region (IOR) by engaging with regional and extra-regional maritime powers,” said a senior officer.
India, of course, is also building strong maritime security bridges with countries like Japan and Vietnam in a bid to counter China’s “string of pearls” maritime construct in the IOR.
Incidentally, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is currently inTokyo, said on Tuesday that India shares with Japan a strong strategic interest in expanding cooperation on maritime security and promoting regional stability.
India views Japan as a “natural and indispensable partner” in the quest for stability and peace in Asia. Ensuring sea lanes remain open and free is vital for the region’s prosperity, given its dependence on oil imports from the Middle East, he added.
India feels its central location in the Indian Ocean, astride major commercial routes and energy lifelines like the Malacca Strait, makes it a major stakeholder in the region’s security and stability.
Just last week, while laying the foundation stone of the Indian National Defence University, the PM had held that India was “situated at the strategic crossroads of Asia and astride one of the busiest sea lanes of the world”.
While exuding confidence about India’s growing military might, Singh said, “We have also deepened political, economic and strategic relationships in the Asia Pacific, Indian Ocean and West Asian regions.”
“We have also sought to assume our responsibility for stability in the IOR. We are well positioned, therefore, to become a net provider of security in our immediate region and beyond,” he added.