Defence minister Manohar Parrikar Saturday ruled out the possibility of recruiting women for combat duties in the armed forces. He said the nation could not afford to have a situation where a woman soldier is held as a prisoner of war (PoW) by an enemy country.
Parrikar was in Pune for the passing out parade of the 128th course of the National Defence Academy (NDA) in Khadakwasla and was speaking to reporters after reviewing the parade. Asked about the role of women in the armed forces, he said, “Barring combat duties, women are being recruited for all other duties. What if there is a war situation and our women soldiers are made prisoners of war? We cannot have that situation. But other than combat duties, participation of women will be surely increased in armed forces in a phased manner.”
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Asked about the shortage of officers at various levels, Parrikar said, “The figure of officer shortage which is being quoted at many places is not correct. Efforts are being made reduce the gap and it has now come down to 7,000 from 11,000.” He also pointed out that the intake of the NDA is being increased from 2,100 to 2,400 in order to fill the gap at the entry level.
Parrikar also reiterated his stand on the Pakistan defence minister’s comment that India was sponsoring terrorism. Pakistan was responding to Parrikar’s suggestion that terrorists should be used to neutralise terrorists.
“I have said that the answer to a bullet can only be bullet,” Parrikar said Saturday. He also used a Konkani proverb which suggested that there is no point in giving credence to remarks made by certain kind of people.
After reviewing the passing out parade, Parrikar interacted with the cadets and their family members at length and also spent time with several serving and retired armed forces officers.
Parrikar asked the cadets to cultivate a “sound mind” and sound body” to serve the country with an emphasis on moral and ethical values, PTI reported. He awarded the President’s gold medal to cadet A K Sinha.