India to prepare for pincer strikes by Pakistan, China

India to prepare for pincer strikes by Pakistan, China

Recent review with three service chiefs pegged armed forces requirement at Rs 239,123 crore

The Defence Ministry will seek thousands of crores of extra budgetary allocation from the Finance Ministry to prepare the armed forces for a pincer attack situation, involving simultaneous offensive from China and Pakistan on eastern and western borders respectively.

“We are going to ask for more money from the Finance Ministry as we have to prepare for new and emerging threat perceptions. As armed forces need more equipment, defence budget has to be enhanced,” Defence Minister A K Antony said in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday responding to a debate on the working of the Defence Ministry.

Though the 2012-13 Budget for the Defence Ministry is Rs 193,407 crore, a recent review with the three service chiefs pegged the requirement for armed forces modernisation at Rs 239,123 crore—a deficit of Rs 45,716 crore.

Antony did not mention either China or Pakistan in the House. However,  sources close to the minister said he indicated a coordinated attack by India’s two neighbours, which have an active collaboration on military matters.

Underscoring the importance of having a second look at the defence budget in the backdrop of new and emerging threat perceptions, he said even the Rs 1.93 lakh crore defence budget was 15.5 per cent less than the estimates prepared by the three services, which asked for 2.5 per cent of the GDP as defence budget rather than the existing  1.9 per cent.

On Monday, the Rajya Sabha members flagged China emerging as India’s new security threat overtaking Pakistan. Summing up, Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley said on Tuesday: “A new axis is emerging between China and Pakistan. We do not want repeat (of) the same mistake as in 1962. The armed forces should be prepared for 90 day full spectrum war.”

Responding to that Antony said India had a “volatile and dangerous neighbourhood,” and growing proximity between China and Pakistan was a cause of worry.

“Threat perceptions are changing so we are changing our strategy. New directions were given to the armed forces to meet the challenges for emerging security scenario,” he said, hinting at the possibility of a joint coordinated strike.

Antony said that the Cabinet Committee on Security in 2009 had approved creation of two infantry divisions, one parachute battalion, one pioneering company (engineers) and a joint air defence centre under the eastern command as well as one army regiment, one artillery brigade and one pioneering company under northern command.

Under the 12th plan, there is a proposal to raise a new offensive corps and special divisions for high altitude areas. The proposals have gone to the Finance Ministry for approval.

India is also improving road and air connectivity in areas close to the border and proposed 14 new strategic railway lines. A proposal to buy ultra-light weight howitzer from the US will be taken up at the next meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council.

Urging Antony to give “somewhat higher priority” to defence preparedness along with transparency, Jaitley requested the defence minister not to act on anonymous letters – a practice that Antony follows for the sake of transparency- though it is not needed as per the rule book. “It’s bad to be prisoner of your image,” he said.

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