“Pakistan does not like to stay quiet even on New Year’s day… They started crossborder firing at 12.30 in the night and don’t seem to learn any lessons. There are ceasefire violations… Whenever they want infiltration to be done, many times they do the firings at night…I don’t think that we have allowed that to happen… Our response is more than double the capacity.” While what Mr. Parrikar stated is quite true about India’s responses on the IB/LoC and is one of the main reasons for Pakistan’s desperation, it is high time the BJP government forms a clear and constant policy on dealing with Pakistan’s duplicity, lies and its army’s/ISI’s intentions/plans for the future.

The deportment of Mumbai underworld honcho Chota Rajan, reportedly giving Pakistan enough jitters to highly tighten Dawood Ibrahim’s security, is a definite indication that Rajan may know a lot about Dawood’s anti-Indian activities. While on the diplomatic front there has been some assertiveness in the recent past, considering how well armed Pakistan has become in conventional and nuclear weapons, major aspects of the firm policy should be expediting arms replacements/acquisitions, which Mr. Parrikar is pursuing.

Prior to his departure for Russia and Malaysia, the Defence Minister, in an interview to Russian news agency TASS, expressed that the India- Russia relationship should be enhanced. “I have always seen Russia as an all-weather friend for India – the two countries have always had a great relationship. I believe that this relationship should be enhanced. My visit to Moscow will be an attempt to help the relationship blossom further… There are many issues that can always be in such relationships, and I think the best way is to have them resolved. I see a certain enthusiasm to resolve them from both sides as well as possibilities to involve Russia in the Make in India programme,” he reportedly said. Interacting with media, Mr. Parrikar said there will be discussions to prepare ground for inking some deals when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Russia in December 2015 for joint production of Kamov Ka-226 helicopters and the purchase of S-400 missile systems, which he expects will be coordinated by November.

The minister added that there are also proposals for small private-sector companies interested in tying up with Russian companies to manufacture spares for Su-30 jets. Purchase of48 more Mi-17V-5 helicopters is to be negotiated and finalised Reportedly, another nuclear powered submarine is to be procured on lease for which a deal may be signed during Mr. Modi’s visit. Before Mr. Parrikar’s visit, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) cleared two projects for the upgradation of engines and avionics of IL-76 and IL-78 aircraft from Russia for Rs 4,300 crore. Also clearing projects worth Rs 12,000 crore, the DAC passed a proposal worth Rs 1,400 crore to procure multi-purpose vessels required to carry out multiple tasks such as recovery and placement of targets. These will replace the existing tugboats. In a significant development, DAC also cleared deepsea submarine rescue vessels which are required for the recovery of submarines or personnel on board a submarine in case of an accident. So far, India does not have a submarine rescue vessel and has been depending on the US for help.

In Moscow, the Defence Minister discussed several military projects with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu, ranging from the acquisition of S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems to the leasing of a second nuclear-powered submarine. Russia is still to address India’s technical and price concerns over the fifth-generation fighter project, which envisages IAF inducting the Sukhoi T-50 (PAK-FA) jets. Under the original plan, 127 of these fighters were to be built in India for over $25 billion. But India is now also examining the possibility of directly buying 60-65 Sukhoi T-50s since the co-production plan is much delayed. Mr. Parrikar is also believed to have conveyed India’s concern on the growing Russia-Pakistan military relations, particularly the recent sale of four Russian Mi-35 attack helicopters to Pakistan and reports of Pakistan negotiating to acquire Su-35 fighters, considered more capable than India’s Su-30 MKI, although Moscow has reportedly denied that.

Lt Col Anil Bhat

Col Anil Bhat (retd) is an independent defence and security analyst he is also an Editor at Word Sword Features

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