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Show more honesty, Pranab tells Pakistan

August 14, 2004 18:36 IST

India will not tolerate obstruction in the erection of fencing along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee asserted today in New Delhi.

In his customary Independence Day eve broadcast to the armed forces, he asked Pakistan to show more 'honesty' in curbing cross-border movement of militants.

Rejecting Islamabad protests over the fencing work, in its last stages over 560 km of the mountainous LoC terrain, he made it clear New Delhi will not brook interference.

''The work is being undertaken keeping in view the nation's security. It is being erected well within Indian territory,'' Mukherjee said.

Noting that of late there had been indications of some positive changes in Islamabad's attitude, the minister said Pakistan had to shed its attitude for restoration of friendly ties with India by stopping support to militant activities.

''We want peace with our neighbours and to resolve all disputes through dialogue. Pakistan should make honest efforts. If terrorism ends, this will not only help both countries, but will have a very positive impact in the South Asian region,'' Mukherjee said.

Emphasising that extensive modernization was being undertaken of the three wings of the armed forces, Mukherjee warned that corruption would not be tolerated in the weapon acquisition programme.

Disclosing that the government proposed to bring more transparency in the weapon purchase procedures, the minister made it clear that efforts would be made not to surrender any budget capital outlay.

He said in the new budget, defence expenditure had gone up, keeping in view the need to rapidly modernise the armed forces.

He said as part of the process, more advanced jet fighters will be inducted into the Air Force, which is facing fighter depletion problems. More bulletproof jackets, snow gloves and night vision equipment will be procured for the forces engaged in anti-militancy operations, he added.

The minister said long-range guns, rocket systems and advanced light helicopters were being purchased.

He said efforts were under way to remove hurdles in the way of warship acquisition and building programmes, so that the country's shipbuilders could manufacture sophisticated weapon platforms.

Mukherjee said the nation had confidence that the shipbuilding industry will rise to the occasion as he disclosed that the Indo-Russian Brahmos supersonic cruise missile was ready for induction into the Navy's warships.

Patting the jawans and officers for displaying exemplary courage and service to duty in the conduct of anti-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir and in Northeast, Mukherjee told them, ''It is due to your relentless efforts that a large number of misguided youths had come overground and surrendered.''

Similarly, he said, it was the efforts of the armed forces, which had resulted in many militant outfits coming to the dialogue table.

On relations with China, Mukherjee touched on talks to resolve the boundary dispute. He expressed optimism that the two countries will reach an accord.

The minister praised the work by the Border Roads Organisation, Territorial Army, Coast Guard, Rashtriya Rifles and the Defence Research and Development Organisation.

He told the jawans, the government had given the green signal to a major project worth more than Rs 17,000 crore to build more married accommodation for families of officers and men on difficult assignments.

Mukherjee said a medical scheme for ex-servicemen on a one-time down payment was being enforced.


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