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V.P. Malik deplores use of Army for internal security

By Our Special Correspondent

CHENNAI, FEB. 9. The former Army chief, Ved Prakash Malik, today called for strengthening the Central police organisations, paramilitary forces and armed units of the State police for meeting the challenges of internal security. It was undesirable to use the Army for the job.

"Excessive and continuous involvement of the Army for internal security is good neither for the Army nor for the nation," Gen. (retd.) Malik said. He was delivering a lecture on `National Security Challenges' jointly organised by the Madras University's Department of Defence and Strategic Studies and the Observer Research Foundation.

"Most of the States have neglected their armed police," he observed, while outlining the many dimensions of the internal security problems that included the threat from naxalite groups in various States in India. On the impact of India's immediate neighbourhood on security, he said it was necessary to keep destabilising forces at bay. In this context, he wanted the government and the people to foster social and political cohesion in the country, `with greater emphasis on border states'.

"Don't upset SAARC"

Gen. Malik advocated use of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation for engaging our neighbours and cooperating with them on regional issues. "Don't neglect SAARC. India cannot afford to say SAARC is irrelevant," he said.

Later, answering a question on India pulling out of the Dhaka SAARC summit and political developments in Nepal, Gen. Malik said he would not want to comment on the day-to-day developments. But he said he believed that nothing should be done to upset SAARC.

Ties with neighbours

Gen. Malik also answered questions on recent developments in India-China and India-Pakistan relationships. He advocated a pragmatic and realistic approach to security challenges. He wanted India to face up to terrorist challenges in both political and military terms, and in an entirely self-reliant way. Its recent decision to reject overseas aid after the tsunami attack in December was a pointer towards its increasing self-confidence.

Defence planning

He said India had a reasonably large defence allocation, but it was ineffective unless there was proper planning.

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