New Delhi: Terrorism has been employed as a weapon of choice by non-state actors and irresponsible states to advance their political objectives in the region, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Thursday in a thinly-veiled attack on Pakistan.
In an address at a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) seminar on the role of women in the armed forces, Singh said the concept of security is undergoing a “paradigm shift” and the member states of the grouping will have to deal with challenges like terrorism collectively.
“The concept of security is undergoing a paradigm shift. The changing character of war is bringing threats from our borders to within our society and amongst the people. Terrorism is just the most obvious and diabolical manifestation of this reality,” he said.
“It has been employed as a weapon of choice by non-state actors and irresponsible states alike for the furtherance of their political objectives,” Singh said at the virtual event.
The defence minister said the SCO has rejected terrorism in all its manifestations, noting that women have been and will remain equal contributors in the fight against the menace.
“The SCO as an organisation has unequivocally rejected terrorism in all its manifestations and forms. The reality further reinforces the role of all citizens of the SCO in this fight against the common threat that is challenging us,” he said.
“This fight cannot be won by half the population of our region or a country. Women have been and will remain equal contributors in this fight, both within the armed forces and beyond,” he said.
In his speech, the defence minister also provided a brief overview of the role being played by women in the Indian armed forces.
“Our future is in our hands. It is for the SCO nations to ensure regional stability, promote peace, ensure gender equality and work towards the betterment of the entire region. We look forward to much greater participation and a bigger role of women in various tasks of the armed forces,” he said.
In his address, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat said the character of a war has evolved from a predominantly conventional one to a hybrid and grey-zone warfare, adding that cyberspace and outer space are the new revolutionary domains of war fighting.
“In consequence, the distinction between the roles of men and women in modern day war fighting is getting blurred by the day. The notion of gender gap is passe,” he said.
The Chief of Defence Staff said women have proved their mettle in demanding combat roles such as fighter pilots, paratroopers, submariners and the like, and their abilities in the cognitive and information domains are unmatched.
“Indeed, across the globe, countries are gaining valuable experience in the contribution of women warriors and the views shared today will help chart the course for the growing role of women in the emerging combat environment,” he said.
Secretary (West) in the Ministry of External Affairs Reenat Sandhu said the past decades have opened up new vistas for women in the Indian armed forces and the women military officers have created a niche for themselves at the global level in UN peacekeeping missions.
She said India created history in 2007 by deploying the first ever all-female Formed Police Unit (FPU) for UN Peacekeeping in Liberia.
“Due to their dedication, professionalism and motivation, the all-female Formed Police Unit proved to be a strong, visible role-model, gaining worldwide attention and illustrating the significant contribution that women can make towards global peace and security,” Sandhu said.
Representatives from almost all the SCO countries participated at the online conference organised by India. PTI