NEW DELHI: India’s new Army chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane on Wednesday said the armed forces were focusing on building capability to thwart any threat from China and that he hopes maintaining peace along the disputed border stretching more than 4,000 km, or the Line of Actual Control, will help an “eventual solution" between New Delhi and Beijing.

Naravane also issued a warning to Pakistan on assuming office as the chief of the 1.2 million-strong Indian Army on Tuesday, saying India “reserves the right to pre-emptively strike at the sources of terror".

On Wednesday, Naravane said while most attention was focused on the “western front" including the de-facto Line of Control with Pakistan, India’s northern border “also requires equal amount of attention". The focus on India’s western border stems from Islamabad’s support to terror groups, while with China India has an unsettled border dispute dating back to the brief, but bitter, 1962 war.

“It is in that context that we are now going in for capability development even in the northern borders, which includes the northeastern parts of our country," Naravane said. The Indian Army chief is seen as an expert on China. He headed the Eastern Command, which is responsible for securing India’s eastern borders with China, before taking charge as the Vice Chief of Army Staff in September.

Naravane’s comments come against the backdrop of incursion attempts by Chinese soldiers in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh in recent years. In 2017, Chinese and Indian troops were locked in a 73-day long standoff at Bhutan’s Doklam region, with Indian troops preventing the Chinese from constructing a road that could have threatened India’s access to its northeastern region. The Doklam standoff was considered one of the most serious confrontations between the two countries in decades. Intensive diplomacy between the two countries saw the disengagement of troops.

The standoff was also seen to be a result of the unresolved border dispute. However, despite many rounds of talks between India and China since the 1980s, the two sides have not been able to reach an understanding. The latest round of talks took place in New Delhi in December.

Meanwhile, India’s newly appointed Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat on Wednesday said his priority was to ensure greater synergy between the Indian Army, Navy, and the Air Force.

He also said the armed forces stayed far away from politics and that they will work according to the directives of the government in power. The remarks came amid allegations that the forces were being politicised.

“I want to assure you, that the Army, the Navy and the Air Force will work as a team. The CDS will keep control over them, but action will be taken through teamwork," Rawat, who stepped down after completing three years as India’s Army chief on Tuesday, said after receiving a ceremonial welcome by the three services. As CDS, Rawat will head the newly created department of military affairs.

The Congress on Tuesday had raised questions over Rawat’s appointment as CDS, saying the position was “ambiguous" and would create “difficulties" in the established military order and the government. Some politicians have also accused Rawat of having political leanings. The remarks by the Congress drew a sharp response from the Bharatiya Janata Party, with information and broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar deriding the Congress as a “confused party".