Tuesday, December 25, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Pak redeploys N-missile
Troops move close to Punjab border

Islamabad, December 24
Pakistan has redeployed nuclear-capable medium range ballistic missile batteries in the last 48 hours and moved its troops and air force closer to Sindh-Rajasthan and Punjab borders, sources said.

Pakistan recently carried out soft test of Shaheen-II, a two-stage, solid-fuel missile capable of carrying 1,000 kg to 2,500 kg to a distance of 600 km. Pakistan also has 1500 km range Ghauri and 100 km short range M-II missile.

Columns of the Pakistani troops left Punjab and Sindh cantonments late Saturday evening and yesterday to take positions closer to borders with India, officials confirmed. Among the corps that received movement orders on Saturday were Pakistan army’s strike corps 1 and 2 based at Mangla and Multan.

Pakistan’s doctrine of riposte is based on the premises that the Indian Army — on the basis of its huge presence in Kashmir — may be able to penetrate at some points into the Pakistani side of Kashmir but Pakistan can easily balance the loss of territory in Kashmir by making advances in Punjab.

At the same time Pakistan naval flotilla of frigates and submarines is patrolling the sea, senior Pakistani officials said. The Pakistani navy has also commissioned its surveillance aircraft P-3 Orion to gather maritime intelligence.

“The 350 fighter aircraft of the Pakistan Air Force are enough to raise a formidable challenge to 800 aircraft of the Indian Air Force,” Pakistan Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal Mushaf Ali Mir told reporters in Rawalpindi.

In recent past the Pakistan Air Force has improved the capacity of the F-16 fighter aircraft to jam the Indian radar system, according to Pakistani military analysts. The Indian Air Force is equipped with Russian MiG-29 to match the US-supplied F-16.

As build-up of Pakistan’s strike corps on the border with India continues, Islamabad has approached Washington for de-escalation.

President Pervez Musharraf called US Central Command Chief General Tommy Franks last week and was reported to have received an assurance that US Departments of State and Defence were working closely with New Delhi to diffuse the tension.

“But the Indian troops build-up on the borders is contrary to the assurances given by Washington to Islamabad,” the sources said.

At least about 2,000 US military personnel are currently stationed at various locations in Pakistan, while US servicemen are also monitoring Pakistan’s airspace.

Meanwhile, a PTI report said the Joint Chief of Staff Committee of Pakistan’s defence establishment met here today to review the security situation in the light of military build-up on both sides of the Indo-Pakistan border.

Defence officials here said the committee meeting, held ahead of the arrival of President Pervez Musharraf from his visit to China, was presided over by Lt-Gen Aziz Khan, one of the seniormost Generals of the Pakistan army. The meeting also reviewed the defence preparedness of Pakistan’s armed forces. UNI


Leave of Pak defence personnel cancelled

Islamabad, December 24
Pakistan has cancelled leave for troops and recalled all its military personnel on leave as part of its high alert to the build-up of Indian troops in Rajasthan, Sindh and Central Punjab borders.

All defence personnel on leave have been directed to report for duty at the earliest, an action taken to face any eventuality, defence officials here said.

Reports reaching here said there was movement of heavy defence equipment towards border areas.

Defence officials closely monitored the situation at the borders and have taken all “appropriate measures,” the officials were quoted as saying by Dawn.

Besides the military build-up on the international border, the tension on the Line of Control (LoC) dividing Kashmir was also mounting, the paper said, adding that Pakistan had already re-deployed its troops along the LoC, which had been unilaterally withdrawn by the government last year. PTI

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