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Pak still supporting terrorism: Pranab Mukherjee

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October 18, 2006 23:35 IST

Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday asserted that there was "no apparent change" in Pakistan's support to cross-border terrorism not only in Jammu & Kashmir, but also in other parts of the country despite New Delhi's best efforts to improve relations with Islamabad.

He also expressed concern at the "marked deterioration in the internal situation of Pakistan, which has serious implications on overall stability and peace in the region."

"Occasional restrictions placed on terrorist groups by Pakistan remain cosmetic and reversible. Terrorist training and communication infrastructure in Pakistan and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir are intact," he said, in his address at the Combined Commanders Conference in New Delhi.

However, Mukherjee noted that the situation in J&K is "well under control" and the violence has been brought down considerably through effective measures by the security forces.

On the north-east, he said the security situation is steadily improving there and normalcy has been restored in most parts of the region.

Commending the armed forces for their commendable role in assisting the civil authorities in handling the security situation, he, however, called upon them to observe restraint so as to avoid any undue suffering to innocent people.

On the issue of force modernisation, the minister said there has been an increase in the allocation of funds on capital account for this purpose.

"Moreover, enhanced powers have been delegated to the forces to ensure faster disposal of procurement cases. To introduce greater transparency and accountability in defence procurement, the Defence Procurement Procedure 2006 and the Defence Procurement Manual 2006 have been improved," he said, but added that the forces should also ensure the serviceability of equipment is maintained at high level alongwith the modernisation programme, "as this is an important aspect of operational efficiency."

Referring to his recent visit to Siachen, he expressed the commitment of the government to provide the troops there the best equipment and at the right time. "Consideration of costs and finances will not be allowed to come in the way," he asserted.

The defence minister said that jointness in war preparation is an important objective towards which we must proceed steadily and the government has already finalised the Joint Doctrine.

"Our efforts in the services should be to make requisite structural changes to achieve jointness. Jointness and integration is not only a desire but a necessity. It is a process that is destined to grow," he asserted.

Among others who addressed the Combined Commanders' Conference included Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil and Finance Minister P Chidambaram.


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