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January 11, 2002
1517 IST
Updated at 1544 IST

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Our second strike is ready: Army chief

Army Chief S Padmanabhan on Friday said the situation on the borders with Pakistan is 'serious', but assured that the Indian Army was fully prepared to meet any eventuality.

The army chief said only a 'brave' or a 'foolish' man could speculate whether a stray incident could trigger a war in the present circumstances.

Addressing a press conference in Delhi, the army chief said that any attack on India or its assets - military, economic or human - would invite a response, which would render the attacker non-existent.

Significantly, he confirmed that India was ready to strike back at any one who made it the target of nuclear weapons.

"Our second strike is ready," he said.

However, he said that any country will have to think a hundred times before actually using nuclear weapons as it will affect not just the target but also other countries in the region - directly or indirectly.

Asked whether the Directors General of Military Operations of the two countries were in touch with each other, he said: "There is no more than wishes for the new year."

Gen Padmanabhan parried a question on whether the forces on the front favoured de-escalation, saying he wanted to respond but was not in a position to do so.

He said that the military co-operation between Pakistan and China was an old relationship and that India's own relations with China were cordial.

He said that he did not expect China to do anything that would be detrimental to India's interests in the present circumstances.

The army chief asserted that the Republic Day parade would be held as usual this year with some amount of modifications.

There would be a cut down in participation in terms of marching, he said and added that everything else would be as usual. "The commentary would be organised by us," he said.

The army chief also said that the air defence artillery would be in position all over the place.

PTI

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