India committed to safeguarding its interests in Ladakh: Antony

UNIFIED COMMANDERS  CONFERENCE - 2013New Delhi, April 30 (IANS) India remains committed to a peaceful resolution of the situation caused by a Chinese incursion in Ladakh and will take every possible step to safeguard its interests, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said Tuesday.

Addressing the Unified Commanders’ Conference here, Antony said the current situation in Ladakh was not created by India.

“The current situation is not one of our creation. However, we remain committed to a peaceful resolution of the situation, through military and diplomatic dialogue within the framework of the agreements for maintaining peace and tranquility,” he said.

“At the same time, I wish to emphasise that there should not be any doubt that the country remains unanimous in its commitment to take every possible step, at all levels, to safeguard our interests,” he added.

Antony said that bilateral relations with China are, at times, bedeviled by border issues, particularly along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

“The recent developments are no exception. Among the various initiatives to safeguard our border, the thrust has been on development of our border roads and advance landing grounds,” he said.

On April 15, a Chinese platoon set up camp 19 km inside Indian territory in Ladakh’s Depsang Valley.

India has tried through meetings with local military commanders and through diplomatic channels to get China to vacate the area. China, however, insists that it has not intruded into Indian territory.

Referring to the security situation in Pakistan, Antony said the capability of the Pakistani Taliban to strike at will at innocent public and strategic targets is worrisome.

He said Pakistan’s growing nuclear stock needs to be factored in our overall strategy towards our western neighbour.

The defence minister reiterated the government’s strong commitment to the modernization of the armed forces and to ensure the all-round welfare of the troops.

“Despite financial constrains, funds will never be an issue when it comes to national security. However the onus lies collectively on all of us to make the optimum use of the financial resources with all the honesty, transparency and fairness,” he said.

Dwelling at length on the recent changes in defence procurement procedure (DPP) to encourage the indigenous defence industry, Antony said the objective is to bring about greater efficiency in the procurement process and to strengthen the country’s defence manufacturing base.

He expressed confidence that the changes in the DPP will lead to greater integrity and transparency in the procurement process.

“We should not give any chance to any agency to point fingers at our defence procurement process and acquisitions,” he said.

The defence minister said the contemporary concept of security encompasses not merely military threats but also cyber-attacks, insurgencies, organised trans-border crimes, pandemics and natural disasters.

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