Thursday, August 9, 2001,
Chandigarh, India

M A I N   N E W S

Pak: remark outrageous

Islamabad, August 8
Pakistan today reacted sharply to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s speech in the Lok Sabha, describing as “outrageous” his statement that during the Agra summit President Pervez Musharraf had offered to take back part of Kashmir ceded to China if India and Pakistan reached an agreement on the Kashmir issue.

The Foreign Office spokesman, in a statement here, said Mr Vajpayee’s assertion yesterday that President Musharraf had told him that he would take back the portion of Kashmir from China once the Kashmir issue was resolved “is a figment of his (Vajpayee’s) imagination.”

The Prime Minister had said during talks with President Musharraf that he had raised the issue of one-third of Kashmir which was under illegal occupation of Pakistan, as also a portion of it which Islamabad had gifted to China. PTI



Defence officers seeking VRS
Shortage of personnel in armed forces
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 8
A serious shortage of personnel at all levels stares hard in the face of the armed force with an increasing number of officers and men seeking voluntary retirement and the youths staying away from the Services in preference to the lucrative job opportunities in the civil sector.

Despite the aggressive “image projection campaigns” undertaken by the three Services the number of shortfall in the intake of the personnel, particularly the officers, has been on the rise. This coupled with the increasing number of personnel seeking pre-mature retirement is creating a problem for the three Services.

Sources point out that if the present trend continued the three Services would certainly be able to achieve their objective of a ‘lean force’. Although the defence forces would not agree but this would also put a big question mark over they becoming a ‘mean force’ as the quality of candidates being recruited is also going down.

The government today admitted that with the opening up of the economy leading to new vistas of lucrative jobs in the civil sector, coupled with relatively risky and hazardous career in the armed forces, there had been some impact on the youth’s preference for a career in the Services.

As per the available figures, the image projection campaigns have had some impact on the intake of men in the Army. But there is a sharp increase in the shortfall of men being recruited in the IAF and the Navy.

The shortfall presently varies from 26 per cent in the Army to 28 per cent in the Navy to as much as 45 per cent in the IAF. However, there is a catch in the Navy figures also. While there is a decline in the percentage of personnel opting for the Navy. But, there has also been a subsequent decline in the number of vacancies in the forces.

According to the figures available 1,431 officers were recruited and commissioned in the Army during the year 1998 as against the vacancies of 2,590. This constituted a shortfall of more than 45 per cent in the intake.

The Army managed to cut down the shortfall to 37 per cent in 1999 and to 26 per cent in the year 2000 while subsequently increasing the number of vacancies.

This, however is not the case with the Navy. While the shortfall was of almost 38 per cent in the year 1998, it came down to 29 per cent in 1999 and to 28 per cent in 2000. But while the number of vacancies were 418 in 1998, it came down to 346 in 1999 and further down to 330 in 2000 which actually reflects the change in the intake scenario for the Navy.

The Air Force on the other hand is in great trouble with the percentage in shortfall increasing from 33 per cent in 1998 to more than 45 per cent in 2000. As against the vacancies of 737 personnel just about 407 were recruited and commissioned.

The figures relating to the number of Service officers and personnel seeking pre-mature retirement are equally revealing and disturbing.

As per the available figures while more than 40,000 personnel retired from the Army in 1998, the number increased sharply to more than 58,000 in the year 2000.

Similarly while 2700 personnel retired from the Navy in 1998, the number rose to 4023 in 1999 and then came down to 2,822 in 2000. The Air Force saw the retirement of 2,370 men in 1998 which rose to 3,316 in 1999 and then had a sharp upward trend in the year 2000 to see as many 4,875 men seeking retirement.

The sources point out that this when compared to the strength of just about 60,000 in the Navy and 1,5,000 in the Air Force reflects a disturbing scenario for the Armed Forces.

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