New Delhi: Over 40 terror training camps are still functioning in Pakistan, Defence Minister AK Antony said on Wednesday, asking Islamabad to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure operating from its soil to show its commitment to the resumption of talks between the nuclear-armed neighbours.
"There are more than 40 terror camps in Pakistan. Pakistan must take action against terrorists and dismantle terror infrastructure," Antony told reporters on the sidelines of a conference on defence accounts.
Asked if the sub-continental peace process had restarted after the April 29 talks in Thimphu between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani, Antony said: "You cannot change neighbours. We are committed to the peace process. It is high time Pakistan took action to match its words."
External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said Tuesday he would be travelling to Islamabad for a July 15 meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Before this, Home Minister P. Chidambaram will visit Islamabad for a meeting of the SAARC Home Ministers.
He called for a "timely, transparent and judicious" process to procure weapons and equipment for the armed forces. He said the Defence Accounts Department had facilitated procurement of essential items for the defence forces and the capital expenditure utilised last year had been an all-time record.
"But, there has to be a transparent, timely and judicious use of funds for defence expenditure. The Government has tried to infuse more transparency in the huge defence outlay, which is over Rs 1.52 lakh crore for the current financial year," he added.
’India not paranoid over China’
Making it clear that India is not
paranoid over China, Antony said
that Sino-Indian bilateral relations were improving and
getting better, despite the border dispute.
"Nothing like that," was Antony`s response to reporters`
queries if the government was paranoid over China and if there
was any problem or bad feeling about Beijing.
The government has taken a conscious policy decision to
maintain "very cordial and friendly" relations with all the
neighbours, he said.
"In this context, we are trying to improve our relations
with all our neighbouring countries and this includes China
also. All are reciprocating well," he said.
Noting that Sino-Indian border disputes still existed,
the Defence Minister said the two governments had evolved
mechanisms to talk about these disputes.
"Despite these disputes, our relations are improving
(with China) in all aspects. China is today our largest
trading partner. Our cultural relations are improving.
"Regarding my ministry, disputes are there, but military
relations are improving," he said citing the example of two
Sino-Indian army exercises held in the last three years and
the visit of Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar to China earlier
"Our relations with China is improving and it is
comparatively better and the border is peaceful," he said.