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Raising corps along China border pragmatic: Khurshid

Terming as ‘pragmatic’ the government’s decision to raise a mountain strike corps along the Chinese border, external affairs minister Salman Khurshid on Thursday said the country prepares for peace as much as for ‘tough’ times.

‘In national interest, we will do whatever needs to be done at the appropriate level. We work for peace as much as for tough times,’ he said, adding that the government takes ‘steps whenever necessary’.

Speaking on the sidelines of an art exhibition, he said, ‘We live in a world which combines principles with pragmatism... we also maintain a rational, decent balance in our policies.’

Boosting the Army’s war fighting capabilities along the Line of Actual Control, government on Thursday gave the go-ahead for the creation of a corps including deployment of 50,000 additional troops along the China border at a cost of around Rs.65,000 crore.

The Cabinet Committee on Security headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh cleared the proposal in its meeting, sources said.

As part of the plans, the around 1.3 million-strong Army is expected to raise the new Corps’ headquarters at Panagarh in West Bengal along with two divisions in Bihar and Assam and other units from Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh.

Army chief Gen Bikram Singh and IAF chief Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne were also present at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) for providing any possible clarifications, if any, sought by the CCS members including Defence Minister A.K. Antony, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Finance Minister P. Chidambaram.

As per the plans, the IAF will also deploy its force multiplier assets such as six each mid-air refuelling tankers and C-130J Super Hercules special operations aircraft at Panagarh.

The army had sent the proposal in this regard in 2010 but it was returned by the government asking the three services to work together on plans to strengthen their capabilities in that region. The Army will also get a number of new armoured and artillery divisions along with it to be deployed along the Northeast region. The existing Strike Corps in the force include the 1, 2 and 21 Corps are all based close to the Pakistan border and are mainly armed to fight a land battle unlike the new Corps.

The Cabinet Committee on Security headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday had cleared a proposal for creation of a corps including deployment of 50,000 additional troops along the China border at a cost of around Rs 65,000 crore.

Asked to comment on reports of Pakistan funding terror groups on Bangladesh and Myanmar border, Khurshid refused to give a direct answer but said there are some areas of ‘disquiet’.
Agencies

Agencies

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