Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Terror apparatus in Pakistan intact: Army Chief

A soldier stands guard next to an infantry combat vehicle and Bofors gun displayed in front of the Gateway of India as part of Army Day celebrations in Mumbai on Tuesday. (Right) Army Chief General Dalbir Singh leaves the venue after addressing a news conference in New Delhi. Photos: Vivek Bendre & Reuters 

"It’s now trying to push in militants through international border"

“The recent strikes by terrorists not only reflect their desperation but are also a grim reminder that the terrorist infrastructure in Pakistan is intact and its support to the proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir continues unabated in spite of casualties to its own people,” Army Chief General Dalbir Singh said here on Tuesday. 

Interacting with journalists at the annual press conference ahead of Army Day on January 15, he said terror networks could extend from Afghanistan to our side and Jammu and Kashmir and the Army was keeping a close watch on the situation. 

“Threats and challenges have been growing, both in intensity as well as commitment, because of the active borders that we have,” General Singh said 

He said one would have to “wait and watch” if the Pakistan Army has had a change of heart since the gruesome attack on an Army school in Peshawar last month that drew world-wide condemnation including in India. 

On the recent flare-up in ceasefire violations along the International Border (IB), the Army Chief said the effectiveness of the counter-infiltration grid and counter-terrorist operations along the Line of Control (LoC) made it increasingly difficult for Pakistan to push in terrorists and so it was shifting the focus to the IB. 

“The commanders have a free hand to operate. I have given full freedom as far as operation is concerned. On the LoC, they have a free hand to retaliate to Pakistan firing in a manner that they feel is appropriate,” the Army Chief said. 

However, he underlined that the Army had “zero tolerance” for human rights violations. 

The effectiveness of operations was also shown by the fact that 2014 saw 110 terrorists being neutralised, the highest in recent years, of which 104 were killed by the Army. In comparison, 65 terrorists were killed in 2013, he said. 

J&K elections
General Singh lauded the Army and other security forces for ensuring a safe environment to voters in Jammu and Kashmir, which saw a high turnout in the recent Assembly election. 

On modernisation, he said the Army had identified 20 important projects, of which seven had been deemed critical and fast-tracked. These include artillery guns and third generation anti-tank missiles, both of which had been recently cleared by the Defence Acquisition Council. 

Others include helicopters, upgrading of armoured vehicles and infantry carriers; assault rifles, bullet-proof jackets, helmets and night vision devices. 

“Concerted efforts are being made to make up for deficiency of weapons and ammunition,” he said. Stating that India’s borders with China remained peaceful, General Singh said demarcation of the Line of Actual Control would be an important first step in resolving the border issue. 

Agreeing that the ratio of regular to short service officers was skewed, the Army Chief said the Defence Minister had approved measures to incentivise Short Service Commission and the file had been sent to the Finance Ministry for approval.

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