M A I N   N E W S

Army for recognition of ground position in Siachen
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 21
As India and Pakistan are trying to work out a diplomatic solution to the Siachen Glacier, Chief of Army Staff General J.J. Singh today said that New Delhi had conveyed to Islamabad that ‘‘some form of acceptance and verification of the existing ground position was essential, before any withdrawal could take place’’.

‘‘We have to have some kind of documented proof of the positions the two sides held as a prelude to any solution’’, General Singh said while briefing media about the just concluded top army commanders conference here.

The Army Chief said that the focus of the almost week-long deliberations had been on taking stock of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and North-East and modernisation drive. He said his force proposed to spend Rs 1,900 crore on the armament-acquisition programme this year with the arms proposed to be procured including new artillery and air defence guns, more surveillance equipment and upgradation of the army aviation wing.

Dwelling on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, the Army Chief said there was ‘‘a groundswell’’ of peace in the state which had been boosted by recent measures like reopening the bus routes between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad and other confidence- building measures. He, however, said till terrorist infrastructure was dismantled across the border violence would continue.

When asked specifically about information on the terrorists infrastructure in Pakistan and the effect of the recent earthquake in the region on it, the Army Chief parried the question by saying that it was a very major devastation.

Defending the ‘‘humane-face’’ approach, he said the Army would continue its ‘‘velvet-glove’’ approach in Jammu and Kashmir so as to bring the people to the national mainstream.

‘‘Without the people’s participation’’, he said, counter-terrorism operations could not be successful and added that along with this a coordinated approach was needed through socio-economic, diplomatic, political and military measures to keep the situation under control.

The Army Chief said the success of the Army's humane approach was evident as the militant-attrition rate had gone up to 7:5, the highest since 1996, while the Army casualties had come down by 40 per cent.

He said as part of the new strategy, the Army would finalise its low-intensity conflict doctrine within a year as well as a peace-keeping operations doctrine.

On joint services doctrine, General Singh said the document had been drafted by the Integrated Defence Staff and would be in place soon.

On the modernisation drive, he said thrust was being laid on upgradation of artillery, air-defence systems and Army aviation. ‘‘Never since Operation Vijay have we been more prepared and this year, the funds for capital acquisitions are as much as one and a half times more than the last two years’’, he said.

He ruled out the possibility of changing the regimental character of the Army saying ‘‘let us continue as we are. The Army's strength is the regimental spirit and tradition and this cannot be undone in a summary manner’’. 

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