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January 5, 2000
Fernandes blames US for duplicity on terrorism issue
Defence Minister George Fernandes Wednesday criticised the United States for ''overlooking'' Pakistan's support to terrorism and said India would mobilise world opinion to declare Pakistan a terrorist state.
''When it comes to Bin Laden, the US fires not one but scores of missiles with high precision technology ..... What the US and the world need to realise is that terrorism understands no country's borders,'' he told reporters after inaugurating a national seminar on 'The Challenges of Limited War: Parameters and Options.'
''Therefore to aim at Bin Laden and overlook what is happening across the borders in India at the hands of Pakistan, is not addressing the question,'' he added.
The defence minister said the present focus of the Indian government would be on mobilising world opinion to get Pakistan declared a rogue state.
Commenting on the statement made by Pakistan's military ruler General Pervez Musharraf that he would not let his country die at any cost and would not hesitate to use nuclear weapons, Fernandes said ''there is a very loud contradiction in that statement which is not very obvious to the Pakistani leadership.''
Earlier, speaking at the seminar organised by the Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis, Fernandes emphasised the need for long-term planning in defence matters and said the type of defence our country needed during the new century depended on the nature of the challenges and threats as well as ''our own thinking and planning about how we intend to fight and win those wars.... Military strategy, doctrine and training need to be forward looking...''
However, given the inevitable limitation on national resources for defence, the premium on making the right choices increases tremendously. The over-riding priorities of socio-economic development define the framework within which defence policy had to be situated.
He said India had understood the dynamics of a limited war after it declared its nuclear weapon status. Nuclear weapons did not make war obsolete but simply imposed another dimension on the way warfare could be conducted. The Kargil war, he said, was handled within this perspective.
Pakistan on the other hand, had convinced itself that under the nuclear umbrella it could take Kashmir without India being able to punish it in return.
''There was a worse error in judgement that Pakistan made after the nuclear tests in May 1998 when its allies started believing that India would be deterred in any war imposed on it. There was a perception that the overt nuclear status had ensured that covert war could continue and aggression across the Line of Control could be carried out while India would be deterred by the nuclear factor,'' the defence minister said.
Fernandes said India would have to monitor global trends as the methods of employing military power had been undergoing significant changes and the armed forces had moved much closer to the process of diplomacy. In more modern times, the soldier and the diplomat needed to work hand-in-hand particularly since the application of military power could serve only if directed by political goals and objectives.
''The critical issue is what sort of war are we likely to face in the next five or 25 years and therefore, what sort of capabilities should we create for that purpose. The building of such capabilities has to start much ahead of the time they will be needed. This requires deep understanding of the trends and parameters that will affect the nature of war and fighting in the future, '' he explained.
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