`Cautiously watching China`s military growth`

PV Naik said anything that impacts on the nation`s growth is a matter of concern.

New Delhi: Observing that India is watching
"with caution" China`s military modernisation, IAF Chief Air
Chief Marshal PV Naik Monday said anything that impacts on the
nation`s growth is a matter of concern.

"Anything that upsets the growth of the nation
(India)...is a matter of concern. It is viewed as such and
planned for," the Air Chief said at his annual press
conference here.

"All neighbours -- borrowing Chanakya`s quotes -- have to
be watched with caution on the impact and growth of our
nation. So we watch all neighbours, be it the smallest or the
largest, with caution," he said.

He was responding to a query on what he thought of the
military infrastructure development of China and also by it in

However, he said, India strongly believed in the
sovereignty of every neighbour and their right to do what they
wanted within their country`s boundaries. "We are neighbours
and we must respect the sovereignty of each country."

He said the IAF`s modernisation plans were
"capability-based and not adversary-specific" and that it was
dictated by the national aspirations.

"Even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said that India`s
area of responsibility extends from Hormus Straits to the
Malacca Straits and beyond. Yeh hoga future mein (It will
happen in the future). We see what capability is required to
meet this aspiration and accordingly modernisation and
procurements are planned," he added.

Naik said the procurement plans of the IAF stood on "four
pillars of see, reach, hit and protect".

Asked if the IAF too was tweaking its doctrines to match
the Army`s new doctrine of preparing for a two-front
simultaneous war with Pakistan and China, Naik said, "Air
Force prepares for multi-front war. It is not single-front or
other front or something.

"It is in terms of allocation of forces that you
distinguish. Otherwise, we are preparing for
multi-dimensional, multi-faceted, multi-front war."

‘AFSPA needed’

Naik also justified the
need for the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), whose
removal has been demanded by the Jammu and Kashmir government,
saying "legal protection" is a must for the troops to
efficiently perform their tasks.

"A soldier fighting anywhere at the request of the
government and not voluntarily, must have legal protection
otherwise he would be left inefficient to complete the job in
which either the central or the state government has interest
in," Naik said.

The IAF chief was asked to comment on the need for
AFSPA for the troops to operate in areas such as Jammu and
Kashmir and some parts of the Northeast states.

J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and various human
rights organisations have been demanding the withdrawal of the

On the issue of withdrawal of the Public Safety Act in
J-K, Naik said it was government`s prerogative to take a
decision and refused to further comment on the issue.