New Delhi: National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval Saturday said there were fewer than 10 cases of Indian youth wanting to join the Islamic State and Muslim leaders in India had unanimously come out against the jihadist group.
Addressing the HT Leadership Summit, Doval also said Pakistan was "using terrorism as an instrument of state policy" and that India will have to prepare for a "two-front war" - one engaged diplomatically and economically with the two nuclear-armed neighbours, China and Pakistan, and also build up its deterrence.
On cases of Indian youth being drawn to the IS, he said: "We know for certain at least five or six cases where some youth showed inclination, but their parents went to police and the intelligence agencies and sought their help to prevent their wards from joining the IS."
He said there were two confirmed cases - one of a youth who died and of another youth. But the total number was below 10.
Doval said the most important factor was that Muslim leaders unanimously denounced the jihadist group.
"Not even one Muslim religious leader has supported the IS. All of them have issued fatwas against it, saying it is wrong and given a very, very strong message against it, and that it should not be done," he said.
The former top intelligence official said he very strongly feels that despite the threat posed by the IS and the Al Qaeda and their wish to bleed India, "the inherent strength of the country is so strong that it is not going to degrade the country".
"Indian society has taken it in its stride. They can bleed us, but if anyone thinks India has been degraded, it is mistaken, India's inherent strength is beyond physical," he said.
Mentioning Pakistan and China, he said "the two are nuclear powers, both do not have any representative democratic form of government, both have adversity towards India".
He said the focus was on increased economic engagement with China and Pakistan, and also to use soft power, without losing out in national security interest.
He said the electioneering in Kashmir for the assembly polls was peaceful and there has been least violence in the state so far.
"Pakistan is using terrorism as an instrument of state policy. We have to prepare for a situation of two-front war. The challenge is to engage them diplomatically, create economic interdependence, and engage in various other fields, and at the same time build our deterrence capability."
To a question on construction activities by China in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, he said India has taken up the issue with both countries from time to time, "and the government should prepare itself for related consequences".
He said cyber space was increasingly becoming the new front for war.
"Increasingly depending on modern means of communication, of transferring money, even chemical and biological weapons... we have to be prepared for that."
He said India will have to focus on technological upgrade, especially indigenous to meet future challenges.
On upgrading of the weapons systems, Doval said, "it is not a matter of great pride" to be called the largest weapons importer in the world. "It is a matter of great disgrace."
He said the most important factor will be if India achieves nine percent economic growth, which will "ensure sustainable surpluses to provide for forces, a strong economy will serve the country".
For this, manufacturing should be given highest priority as that will fetch highest number of jobs.
"India is at the cross roads, globally there is an environment where people want India to rise, people want to engage with India, and wants us to address their issues. We should make use of this opportunity", he said.
Doval said the present government was "strong with considerable clout in the international arena" with a large youth population and a huge diaspora.