Government on Saturday expressed serious concern over the U.S. equipping Pakistan Army with modern weapons and asked Washington to ensure that they were not used against India.
“United States decision to provide sophisticated weapons (to Pakistan) is a matter of serious concern to India. The U.S. should ensure that these weapons are not targeted against India”, Defence Minister A. K. Antony told reporters here.
Noting that the issue had already been taken up with the U.S. Defence Secretary during his visit to India recently, he said the American explanation that Pakistan Army has to be strengthened to fight terrorist outfits like Al-Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan was not convincing to India.
Mr. Antony, who inaugurated a new building at the Coast Guard Station at Vizhinjam near here, said, “Our past experience is bitter” on this issue.
The Defence Minister said he told U.S. Defence Secretary that even though they were providing equipment to fight terrorists, Pakistan Army was deploying them on Jammu and Kashmir borders.
“This is a matter of concern to India and I hope that the U.S. will take a serious note of this,” Mr. Antony said.
He said while India preferred to carry on talks with Pakistan, Islamabad should take firm action to dismantle as many as 42 terrorist camps operating on its soil.
“Unless these terrorist camps are destroyed, it is a difficult situation. We want some action (by Pakistan) to dismantle these camps,” he said.
On infiltration from across the border into Jammu and Kashmir, Mr. Antony said the situation in the State had improved and tourists had started visiting it again. However, there were forces that still create trouble.
“Normalcy is returning and tourists are coming. But some forces against India have not reconciled with the situation. So, they have redoubled their attempts to infiltrate but our forces have by and large checked their attempts,” he said.
After Mumbai terror strikes, Indian forces had been maintaining an “eternal vigil”. It was due to the alertness of the defence forces that many attempts by terrorists to strike were foiled, he said.
Rejecting the criticism by certain defence analysts that the acquisition of equipment for the Army had been less in the last few years, Mr. Antony said, in fact, this had doubled in the last five to six years.
On Naxal violence
Mr. Antony ruled out the use of military to combat Naxal violence, saying a permanent solution to deal with it was to strengthen State police forces.
However, he said military would provide logistic support like training and assistance to State police forces in their effort to combat the Naxal threat.
Coast Guard Air Enclave
Earlier after inaugurating the Coast Guard Administrative complex, Mr. Antony said the Coast Guard planned to set up Coast Guard Air Enclave at Kochi, Goa, Mangalore and Vishakapatnam.
Indian Coast Guard Director General Vice Admiral Anil Chopra said Coast Guard would be strengthened by inducting 85 more ships by 2012.
As part of expanding its marine intelligence gathering activities, Coastal Surveillance Network has been established, Mr. Chopra said.