Agusta: CBI, ED summon IAF ex-Chief Tyagi
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, April 29
The CBI today summoned former Air Force Chief SP Tyagi and former deputy Air Chief JS Gujral for questioning in connection with its probe into the alleged corruption in Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal.
It would be the second time that the duo would be questioned as both had been examined in 2013 too.
Sources said Gujral had been called for questioning tomorrow and Tyagi — summoned by the ED as well — on Monday. The fresh round of questioning was necessitated after the April 7 verdict of an Italian court convicting two defence major Finmeccanica (AgustaWestland is its subsidiary) officials for paying kickbacks for the deal with India during the UPA regime.
Relations with Pakistan
S Nihal Singh
Are official talks a subterfuge?
THE Indo-Pakistan talks are, more often than not, playing blind man’s buff. The point about New Delhi inviting Pakistan’s foreign secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry for a meeting with his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar was to start the process of talking all over again. The outcome was in keeping with low expectations as became clear from the recital of well-worn themes by the two sides: stop terror and the centrality of Kashmir.
There are interesting nuances though to this meeting of the two foreign secretaries, the first since the Pathankot attack. First, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dramatic stopover in Lahore last Christmas to meet Mr Nawaz Sharif soon yielded place to relations taking a dip. This week’s talks sought to give a push to keeping a conversation going. And the Pathankot attack prompted Islamabad to countenance the Pakistani origin of the attackers although the visit of its team to the scene of the crime has led to the usual inspired leaks.
The Delhi talks produced the familiar narratives, and the Pakistanis this time had an alleged Indian spy to spice their version of events. The resonance of the two countries’ relations on their peoples being what it is, neither side can stray from the script. Is it then a ruse accepted by the two sides to hold secret talks behind the facade of the usual name-calling to arrive at a compromise?
The contours of the policies of the two unfriendly neighbours are well known. Kashmir has acquired an almost surrealistic quality for Pakistanis because their leaders have been telling them since Partition that it was “stolen” by India after attempts to acquire it by force through irregular and regular troops failed. The policy then employed by a succession of Pakistani rulers was to bleed India through a thousand cuts.
It does not take a Sherlock Holmes to discover that terrorists, with the connivance of the Pakistani authorities, are nurtured, trained and equipped by organisations such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, the latter under Masood Azhar, to commit murder and mayhem in India. In course of time Islamabad had to grapple with the problem of separating ‘good terrorists’ from ‘bad’ because the latter variety was going after the Pakistani power structure.
There was another twist to the Pakistan story because, especially in the reign of Mr Sharif, the army had tightened its grip on foreign and security policies, particularly in relations with India, China and the US, and on the key to the bomb. Given its history, the army has been a power factor after the early deaths of the iconic Muhammad Ali Jinnah and his successor Liaquat Ali Khan. It consolidated its power after the sad end of the showman Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, particularly during the present ostensibly civilian regime.
In India, the coming to power of Mr Modi represented a break from the past. The last years of the UPA-II were problem-ridden, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh beholden to his own party chief and demanding coalition partners. Ironically, despite his emotional attachment to his former home in Pakistan, he could not make a single visit to the neighbouring country in his 10 years in office.
Hopes were high at one time on both sides that Mr Modi, as the head of an ultra-nationalist party enjoying a majority government, could make a new opening in traditionally stalled relations. The analogy, of course, was that it needed a Richard Nixon to make peace with Communist China. He invited Mr Sharif, among other neighbouring leaders, to his swearing in, and when after a time, talks were stalled in a familiar quagmire, he took the daring step of greeting Mr Sharif in his Lahore home.
Pathankot followed, as if on cue, to stymie the upswing in relations —nothing like a terror attack to bring back the familiar rhetoric on the two sides. But one interesting difference this time was that Islamabad did not dismiss Pakistani provenance in the attack. So the question remains: where do the two sides go from here? The simple answer New Delhi came up with was to resume talking under the cover of a high-level conference on Afghanistan.
Unfortunately, the device of the national security advisers (NSAs) of the two countries forming another channel of communication does not seem to be working. For New Delhi, it had the benefit of keeping the Pakistan army in the loop because its NSA is a retired general. But apart from breaking the ice through a meeting in Thailand, the two NSAs are repeating the narrative of the political channel.
Efforts in the past to open a separate secret official channel led to interesting ideas being thrown up, but in the end they could not stand the test of working through the bureaucracy of the two countries to reach the top to be converted into negotiating positions. If the two sides do not use talks they may have in future as a camouflage for real discussions, there is little prospect of a beginning to the end of a long process of reconciliation.
The world is littered with unresolved problems between countries left over by history and passionate debates. The subcontinent’s Partition was a great human tragedy while bringing freedom. Pakistanis have the more difficult task of reconciling with India because they have not quite decided what the shape and goals of their country should be. Islamabad also has an ideological problem, with the Muslim world in the Middle East seething in ferment and extremist tendencies coming to the fore. The moderate Pakistani, particularly among the professional and middle classes, might be in a minority but it is a significant minority.
The Modi government’s attempt seems to be to test the limits of Pakistan’s existing juxtaposition of forces in an effort to keep the conversation process going — to “keep in touch”, according to the official script. The terrorists have the advantage of springing a surprise.
Privilege notice against MoD
The Congress today submitted a breach of privilege notice against the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for a statement on the AgustaWestland deal it put out while Parliament is in session.
RS members Shantaram Naik and Hussain Dalwai submitted the notice to the secretariat today claiming that the ministry statement was in violation of the rules of the House. The statement should have been made in Parliament, they said. Sources privy to the development said the members contended that publishing of a clarification through a government website constitutes a breach of privilege of the House and that of the members.
The ministry said the Italian firm was not blacklisted during the Congress regime, rather all defence procurements from AgustaWestland were put on hold by the NDA government. On Wednesday, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said he would respond after 7-8 days as he had to peruse papers as regards the case. — TNS
41 soldiers killed in Siachen since 2013
Forty-one soldiers have lost their lives in Siachen Glacier since 2013, the government said today. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in a written reply in Lok Sabha said 10 soldiers were killed in 2013, eight and nine in 2014 and 2015, respectively. Till March 31, 14 soldiers have died this year, Parrikar said, adding medical equipment existed in all posts for emergencies. pti
25,000 dowry deaths during 2012-14
Around 25,000 women were either killed or committed suicide due to dowry harassment by their in-laws between 2012 and 2014, Union Minister Maneka Gandhi said in the Lok Sabha on Friday. Around 30,000 cases of dowry were registered during the same time, she said in a written reply on implementation of the Dowry Prohibition Act. PTI
Temples, trusts deposit 1,512 kg gold
Banks have collected about 1,500 kg of gold from temples and trusts under the Gold Monetisation Scheme (GMS) since its launch last November. Under the GMS, 2015 approximately 1,512 kg of gold has so far been deposited by temples or trusts, Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha said in a written reply to Lok Sabha Friday. PTi
11,997 cases of cyber frauds
Nearly 12,000 cases related to credit/debit cards and net banking were reported during April- December 2015. As many aas 13,083 and 11,997 cases related to ATM, credit, and debit cards and net banking frauds were reported by the banks during 2014-15 and 2015-16 (up to December 2015), respectively, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in a written reply to Rajya Sabha. PTI
Notices to those named in Panama Papers
Responding to questions on tax evasion and black money, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday said in the Panama Papers leak case, notices had been issued to all those whose names had appeared. The minister said Section 138 of the Income Tax Act barred the proceedings of a case to be made public till a case was filed in a court. PTI
Ruckus over killing of cattle traders
The Rajya Sabha witnessed ruckus during zero hour over the killing of two Muslim cattle traders in Jharkand in March. The issue was raised by JD(U)’s Ghulam Rasool Balyavi who got emotional during the debate. He was supported by Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad who said, “Houses have been burnt, minorities have been beaten up... This is extremely sad.” TNS
Stop construction in PoK: Army to China
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Tribune News Service
Jammu, April 29
India has asked China to cease its construction activities in parts of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, the Army said on Friday.
This was disclosed in a written statement issued here today by Northern Command spokesperson Colonel SD Goswami.
He, however, said there had been no instances of incursions by Chinese troops into Indian territory while adding that _there was no proper demarcation of the Line of Actual Control between the two countries.
“There are areas along the border in Ladakh where India and China have differing perceptions of the Line of Actual Control. With both sides undertaking patrolling as per their perception of the Line of Actual Control, transgressions do occur,” read the statement.
“Regarding construction activities in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, the government has seen such reports and has conveyed its concerns to China about its activities _and asked it to cease _such activities,” added Colonel Goswami.
India, it may be stated here, has registered its protest against the $46-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that runs through a part of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
In April 2015, China and Pakistan signed an agreement to build the China-Pakistan Economic _Corridor through Gilgit-Baltistan. It will extend up to Gwadar Port in Pakistan and give China access to the Indian Ocean and beyond.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had visited China from _April 17 to April 21 to improve ties between the two countries.
In 2011, then General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Northern Command_Lt Gen KT Parnaik had said the Army had ample proof of the presence of Chinese troops along the Line _of Control between India and Pakistan.
“In fact, a number of times soldiers have spotted Chinese soldiers in bunkers along the Neelam valley in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir near the Gurez sector of north Kashmir,” he had said.
General Parnaik’s statement was substantiated on March 13 this year when Chinese troops and their senior officers were spotted at forward _posts along the Line _of Control on the _Pakistani side opposite the Nowgam sector in north Kashmir.
In December last year, Northern Command chief Lt Gen DS Hooda had visited China to fine-tune Line of Actual Control channels.
While Pakistan and China have been working expeditiously to complete the China-Pakistan _Economic Corridor, at least 70 border roads in Jammu and Kashmir remain incomplete.
These roads, a majority of them in the strategic Ladakh region, were sanctioned in the _last five years.
Pull down Adarsh: HC
Seeks action against officials for ignoring irregularities
Tribune News Service
Mumbai, April 29
The Bombay High Court today ordered the demolition of the controversial Adarsh Co-operative Housing Society building at Colaba in Central Mumbai on the grounds that it violated the provisions of the Coastal Regulation Zone Act. The court, however, granted a stay on its order for 12 weeks to allow lawyers representing members of the Adarsh Society to challenge it in the Supreme Court.
A Bench comprising Justices RV More and RG Ketkar also asked the Ministry of Defence to act against its officials for not taking action on irregularities during the construction of the building.
It asked all parties, including the Ministry of Defence and the state government, to restore the plot on which the Adarsh building stood.
The Ministry of Environment and Forests had on January 16, 2011, ordered that the building be demolished in three months. However, members of the society moved the Bombay High Court.
The Adarsh Co-operative Housing Society was originally planned as a six-storey building to house women who lost their men in the Kargil war. But in a few years, the building grew in height as politicians, bureaucrats and Army officers jostled for flats.
The scam came to light in November 2010. The then Chief Minister Ashok Chavan had to resign after it was revealed that he had obtained multiple flats in the names of his relatives.
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