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18 May 06. The Defence Minister Shri Pranab Mukherjee today asked the top brass of Armed Forces to adopt an integrated view while considering India’s national security in order to encompass contemporary changes in policies for optimum utilization of resources.

Addressing the Unified Commanders’ Conference here today, Shri Mukherjee said it is imperative to undertake an integrated review at regular intervals of the path being followed by the defence forces based upon a pragmatic threat analysis of the environment to evolve force capability.

“In the prevalent operational environment, defence services are required to provide a full spectrum security as well as response. The warfare today encompass spheres such as political, economic, social, diplomatic, and many more. Wars have become costlier and there is a shift to asymmetric warfare. The response therefore towards such myriad challenges has to be integrated, flexible, innovative and in real time”.

Shri Mukherjee appreciated the process of integration of the Indian Armed Forces in the last four years and said that we can learn from the example of Andaman and Nicobar Command which is functioning well. He however, called for setting tangible goals to ensure that the required pace of restructuring and transformation is maintained. “There is a need to evolve a road map towards furthering the process of joint commands so as to make resources available for modernization”, he said.

The Defence Minister dwelt at length on the security environment in our neighbourhood in particular and the world in general. Talking about Pakistan, Shri Mukherjee said that there is a window of opportunity towards peace. “Though terrorism from across the border continues to strike at regular intervals, and across the length and breadth of the country, the overall situation is more positive than a year ago. India-Pakistan relations have witnessed notable progress in the two rounds of composite dialogue and third round currently underway. It is significant that people to people exchanges are taking place in large numbers”.

He however said that attempts for infiltration and sneaking in of militants from across the border are continuing. Also, the instruments and camps used for supporting terrorism are still in place. “The decline in terrorism in the Valley is on account of sustained efforts by Indian Army and paramilitary forces. No evidence is available to suggest that Pakistan has taken measures to completely dismantle the terrorist infrastructure within Pakistan and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. Therefore, while it is necessary that we continue with all sincerity our dialogue process, we cannot afford to become complacent in this regard”, he said.

Turning to China, Shri Mukherjee said developing friendly cooperation with Beijing is one of the priorities of our foreign policy. “We seek friendly, cooperative, good neighbourly and mutually beneficial relations with China. At the same time, we are also seeking to address our differences, including the border issue, through peaceful dialogue, without allowing them to affect the comprehensive development of our relationship”.

The Defence Minister said that the security concerns of Indians working in Afghanistan is being addressed in consultation with the Government of Afghanistan. India has pledged $ 650 million towards the reconstruction and capacity building in Afghanistan and we will remain vigorously engaged with the newest member of SAARC.

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