New Delhi, Dec 30: Pakistan has drawn up an ambitious plan to procure close to 600 battle tanks including T-90 tanks from Russia, primarily to bolster its military might along the border with India, intelligence sources said on Sunday.
Most of the tanks Pakistan was procuring will be able to hit targets at a range of 3 to 4 km, the sources told PTI.
Apart from battle tanks, Pakistan Army is also procuring 245 150mm SP Mike-10 guns from Italy out of which it has already received 120 guns, they said.
The sources said Pakistan was eyeing to buy from Russia a batch of T-90 battle tanks –- the mainstays of the armoured regiments of the Indian Army—and that the move reflects Islamabad’s intent to forge a deeper defence engagement with Moscow.
Russia has been India’s largest and most trusted defence supplier post-Independence.
The sources said as part of the mega plan to significantly revamp its armoured fleet by 2025, Pakistan has decided to procure at least 360 battle tanks globally besides producing 220 tanks indigenously with help from its close ally China.
Pakistan Army’s move to enhance its armoured corps comes at a time when the Line of Actual control in Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed growing hostilities in the last one year.
But, when the Indian Army is focused on counter operations, the Pakistan Army was fast reducing its gap with Indian forces in fighting a conventional war, sources said.
The Indian Army had drawn up a mega plan to modernise its infantry and armoured corps.
However almost all the procurement projects including the Rs 60,000 crore Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) programme are stuck due to a variety of reasons.
At present, India’s armoured regiments, comprising mainly T-90, T-72 and Arjuna tanks, have much more superiority over Pakistan, but sources said Islamabad was seriously planning to bridge the gap at the earliest.
As against around 67 armoured regiments of Indian Army, the number of similar regiments in Pakistan Army is around 51, the sources said.
They said, at present, over 70 per cent of the tanks in Pakistan’s armory have the capability to operate during night which, they said, was a matter of concern.
Besides eyeing to procure T-90 tanks, Pakistan Army is also in the process of inducting Chinese VT-4 tanks as well as Oplod-P tanks from Ukraine, the sources said.
Trials for both Oplod and VT-4 tanks have already been conducted by the Pakistan Army.
At present, Pakistan is learnt to have around 17 units pf Chinese origin T-59 and T69 tanks, which comprise 30 per cent of its total tank strength, the sources said.
It also has 12 regiments of Al-Zarar tanks, which makes 20 per cent of the tank fleet while Ukrain origin T-80-UD and T-85 UD as well as upgraded version of T-59 tanks comprise the rest of the 50 per cent tank fleet, they said.
“The Pakistan Army is carrying out modernisation of its armored regiments in a calibrated and time-bound manner which is not the case in India,” said an expert, who wished not to be named.
He said it was a matter of concern the way Pakistan was modernising its tank fleet. The Indian Army has also raised an independent tank brigade which is stationed in Ladakh but it is not enough, the expert added.
Upcoming snow spell: Avalanche warning issued for Kashmir, Ladakh districts
Srinagar, Jan 19: Kashmir areas experienced fresh snowfall on Saturday, with the weather office forecasting more in store for the next three days.
“A western disturbance (WD) is presently active over the state under whose influence moderate to heavy snowfall is likely to occur in the valley till January 23 after which the intensity of the WD will start decreasing,” a Met Department official said here.
District administrations have set up helplines to help prevent any untoward incident due to the heavy snowfall.
Meanwhile Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan Saturday issued fresh avalanche warning for nine avalanche prone districts of Kashmir division.
The warning has been issued for the avalanche-prone areas of district Anantnag, Kulgam, Budgam, Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora, Ganderbal, Kargil and Leh.
As per the hand out, the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir has directed the Deputy Commissioners of all these districts to advise the people living in avalanche prone areas not to venture out to avoid the loss of lives.
The Div Com also directed the concerned DC’s to take all the precautionary measures and to keep the SDRF, Police and Para-medical staff with ambulances in readiness to avert any untoward incident.
While the nightlong cloud cover increased minimum temperatures throughout the valley on Saturday, the maximum temperatures are expected to drop further, the weather official said.
Srinagar recorded minus 2.0 degrees Celsius, Pahalgam minus 4.4 and Gulmarg minus 7.0 as the minimum temperatures.
Leh town had minus 9.2 degrees Celsius and Kargil minus 18.9 as the night’s lowest temperature.
Jammu city recorded 8.3 degrees Celsius, Katra 9.1, Batote 3.9, Bannihal 2.3 and Bhaderwah 1.3 as the minimum temperatures.
UN clearly did its job: Guterres on Kashmir human rights report
United Nations: United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Friday hoped that India and Pakistan will engage in a “meaningful dialogue” to resolve their issues.
The UN chief also said he has been offering his “good offices in relation to the dialogue between the two countries that, until now, had no conditions of success.”
Guterres was speaking to reporters at the UN headquarters in New York.
“I hope that the importance of both India and Pakistan is such in international affairs, I hope that the two countries will be able to engage in a meaningful dialogue,” he said.
The UN chief was responding to a question on his repeated urging of dialogue between the two South Asian neighbours.
In relation to the human rights situation, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has produced recently a very detailed report. So, the UN has clearly done its job in that regard, Guterres said to a question by a Pakistan journalist on the situation in Kashmir.
Day after grenade attack, forces conduct search op in Lal Chowk
Srinagar: A joint search operation was launched by the forces and police in the commercial Hub Lal Chowk area of Srinagar on Saturday.
The search came a day after the grenade attack took place in the locality, which left a vehicle and windowpanes of some shops damaged.
Witnesses said that a large contingent of police and paramilitary troopers were deployed near the Clock Tower here while the frisking was also intensified.
They said that drones too were used during the operation.
However, a top police official said that it was a routine exercise ahead of upcoming Republic Day.