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We Want Good Relations With Pakistan, But We'll Never Let Our Guard Down: Manohar Parrikar

He was speaking at the 11th Aero India show in Bengaluru.

15/02/2017 8:23 AM IST | Updated 15/02/2017 9:08 AM IST
Amit Dave / Reuters

Even as four soldiers, including an officer, and 15 others were injured in two separate encounters in Bandipora and Handwara and a huge cache of arms and ammunition recovered from Mendhar in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar guardedly welcomed the relative calm along the India-Pakistan border.

Four terrorists were also killed in the incidents and arms and ammunitions, including a Pika Machine Gun, AK-74 and AK47 rifles, Chinese-made grenades and over 500 rounds of AK-47 were also recovered.

Speaking to the media in Bengaluru on the sidelines of the 11th Aero India Show, Parrikar on Tuesday said:

"I welcome, if General Bajwa has managed to restrain his forces. We want to keep good relations with Pakistan and China, but at the same time, I want to reiterate that our defence preparedness is independent of developments in Pakistan."

The Defence Minister was reacting to the relative calm along India-Pakistan border since General Qamar Javed Bajwa became the Army Chief of Pakistan last October. Although terror strikes have continued in J&K, There has been a sharp decline in cross-border firing since October 2016. And India is keenly watching the border.

Top government sources, however, ruled out any immediate talks with Pakistan.

"India will decide when to engage," the source told HuffPost India.

US Must Clarify Before Being Part Of 'Make In India'

Parrikar also said that US companies wanting to participate in the Make in India programme must come with a firm guarantee from the US President Donald Trump's government. While President Trump has vowed to get employment back to US, both Lockheed Martin and Boeing — defence manufacturing giants of the US — have offered to build the F-16 and F-18 in India under the 'Make in India' programme.

The fighter fleet of India is declining sharply. The Indian Air Force needs at least 42 squadrons of fighters (each squadron has 14-16 fighters) but has only 33 fighter squadrons. And in the next four years it will lose at least 10 squadrons of fighters.

India is examining a proposal by the US defence manufacturing to build fighters in India for the Indian Air Force. Parrikar seeking a guarantee from the US administration, is a clear indication that India wants clarity from the Trump administration.

"US companies often promise cutting edge technology, but transfer of technology is blocked by Congress. We want clarity on what is on offer," a top Defence Ministry official said.

Air Chief Flies Tejas

Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa on Tuesday flew the indigenously made Light Combat Aircraft Tejas in Bengaluru. Tejas, which has been in the making for three decades, has been inducted into the IAF. The first squadron of the Tejas was formed in July 2016 with two aircraft.

It cannot, however, be deployed for operations yet. It needs better radar and also needs to be Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missiles among other things. The much delayed Final Operational Clearance (FoC) is expected by the end of 2017.

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