With the territorial dispute between Sultanate of Brunei and China showing no signs of ending, India has decided to send its retired soldiers to the tiny island nation in order to boost its armed forces.
During their meeting at Bandar Seri Bagewan a couple of days back, Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari assured Sultan of Brunei Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah that New Delhi will provide all sorts of help to the South-east Asian country for countering Chinese threat. Vice President Ansari said that Brunei, which is dependent on British military support, should accept India’s offer and allow the Indian forces to replace British forces in the coming days.
Meanwhile, the visiting Indian leader and senior representatives of the Sultanate signed an agreement on bilateral defence co-operation in the presence of Sultan Waddaulah. Ansari announced that India will also strengthen defence ties with the neighbouring country by conducting joint military exercises. According to him, the two countries should exchange defence-related experience, information and training manuals, as they are facing threats from a common neighbour.
Although India and Brunei enjoy defence co-operation, they have so far signed no framework agreement to institutionalise the co-operation. As Brunei is a British protectorate, British forces are stationed there at the request of Sultan Waddaulah. In 2015, Brunei and Britain renewed an agreement in this regard for another five years.
With India planning to send retired soldiers to Brunei, the geo-political landscape of the region will certainly change in favour of India. The presence of Indian and British soldiers in Brunei will put China under tremendous pressure, keeping in mind that the US and Japan, too, have stationed their naval fleets in South China Sea.
During his visit to Brunei, Vice President Ansari also signed some Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs), including an agreement on health co-operation, with Brunei. On the basis of the MoUs, India and Brunei will exchange doctors, other professionals and experts, apart from regulating pharmaceuticals, medical devices and cosmetics. India may also build a fertiliser plant in Brunei.