New Delhi: The “fragile peace” in Jammu and Kashmir was achieved at a great cost and now has to be maintained by building on the gains, Army Chief Gen. Dalbir Singh today said even as he accused Pakistan of continuing to support proxy war in the state.
On the occasion of 67th Army Day, Singh said that the past year was full of challenges for the army as it was engaged in effectively countering the “external threats” over vast land borders. It also efficiently handled internal security challenges and met its international commitments under United Nations, he said.
“The spectrum of operations has significantly increased over time,” he said, noting that security challenges have grown and become more complex. Referring to J-K, the Army Chief said that the security situation there, though stable, requires consolidation. The handsome voter turnout in the just-concluded election in the state—the highest ever for Assembly elections—reflects the trust of the people in the security system, he said.
On the challenge posed by terrorism, Singh warned that “the desperate strikes by the terrorists recently in our country as well as in Pakistan... are a grim reminder that the terrorist infrastructure across the border remains intact and Pakistan's support to the proxy war continues unabated”. The Army Chief added, “This fragile peace in J-K has been achieved at great cost, together we need to build on our gains.”
On the situation along the border with China, Singh said that due to an improvement in ties, “mutual trust has increased”. He said there has been increased interaction between the two forces, including border-post and flag meetings.
The Army Chief also said that the situation in the North- East was “peaceful and under control”.
However, the influx of illegal migrants, inter-tribal rivalry, slow pace of development and presence of external support structures remain a potent challenge, he said. “We need to keep our ears to the ground to foresee any untoward development,” the Army Chief said.
Singh said that achieving greater synergy in operations with the navy and the air force remains a fundamental objective for ensuring success on the battlefield.
“We are working towards greater integration. There is joint review underway to enhance the operational capability of our island territories in keeping with the evolving geo-strategic environment,” he said. He said that the army needs to focus on war preparation, which is its “primary task”.
The Army Chief further said that meeting a wide range of challenges and commitments requires regular capability enhancement and modernisation of weapons and equipment. “To focus our efforts, we have a priority-based plan which will be implemented in the next two years,” he said. Singh added that the raising of accretion forces, including the Mountain Strike Corps, is progressing as per laid-down timelines.
“These accretions will significantly raise our forces' capability on the Northern and Northern Eastern borders. Concurrently, infrastructure development to include road and rail communication, defence works and habitat to meet the large capability gap remains an ongoing priority,” he said.
Singh noted that cyberspace has emerged as the new domain of warfare where a country was constantly under threat. “We have put robust cyber defence architecture in place to protect our networks,” he said.
He pointed out that a number of proposals have been put forward to the 7th Pay Commission to address the legitimate aspirations of officers and soldiers.
“'One Rank, One Pension' is an old demand. Our veterans are emotionally attached to this demand. I am confident that the government will implement OROP soon,” he said. Singh also reviewed an impressive parade by the Army and, for the first time, it was led by an all-women officers' contingent. The parade also saw soldiers displaying their combat skills.
Actual explosives were used for the display and the earth shook with each explosion as the Army gave a glimpse of its war maneuvers.