IAF grounds entire Sukhoi-30 fleet
Glitch in seat ejection one of the main reasons
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, October 22
India’s frontline fighter jet, the Sukhoi 30-MKI, has a new problem — automatically ejecting pilot seats. So far, the IAF has lost a personnel and a plane costing Rs 100 crore in three such incidents.
The IAF has grounded its entire Sukhoi-30 fleet and is undertaking a thorough technical check. The fresh trouble comes for the Sukhoi close on the heels of repeated mid-air engine failures that have forced a modification in the aircraft.
“The flying of the Su-30 fleet has been temporarily suspended,” said IAF spokesperson Wing Commander SS Birdi on Wednesday. The fleet of about 200 twin-engine Su-30s would be back in air after a technical review.
The move came after a Su-30 was involved in an accident in Pune on October 14 in which both ejection seats had "fired" while the aircraft was coming in to land. It was the third such incident. Both pilots got ejected due to a malfunction in the system. The pilotless jet crashed 20 km short of the IAF base at Lohegaon. No loss of life or damage to property was reported.
In the first incident in 2008, an Airman carrying out a pre-flight test at the Bareilly Sukhoi base had died. The seat ejected on its own when he was sitting in the cockpit making checks. The airman, who was thrown 50 feet up in the air, hit the roof of the hangar, killing him immediately.
The second incident occurred in Jodhpur this year when the one of the fighter jets was taxing to take-off. The seats ejected and the pilots were thrown about 100 feet up in the air. They made a safe landing with the help of parachutes. Since the plane was taxing and was at a very slow speed, there was no damage, sources said.
“A Court of Inquiry is in progress in Pune crash and certain specific checks are being conducted on the aircraft,” said the IAF spokesperson. Sources said these specific checks pertain to pilot seats – the NPP Zvezda K-36DM. The original equipment makers in Russia and the integrators of the plane, the Bangalore-based Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, have been informed, source said.
Trouble-hit frontline fighter
Sukhoi-30 pilots are getting ejected automatically due to a malfunction in the system. The Pune crash is the latest example. Though no loss of life was reported in the crash, the IAF lost the ~100-crore plane
In 2008, an airman had died while carrying out a pre-flight test at the Bareilly Sukhoi base
The fresh trouble comes for the Sukhoi close on the heels of repeated mid-air engine failures
The fleet of about 200 twin-engine Su-30s would be back in air only after a technical review.
India to install cameras along India-China boundary
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, October 22
India will use long-range surveillance equipment along the India-China boundary to keep a watch on the movement of Chinese troops. It is planning to create a system to view live footage of an event at the boundary at the headquarters of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) in Delhi.
Speaking about dealing with Chinese incursions, ITBP Director General Subhash Goswami said, "We can face any war-like situation. And we can give a good account of ourselves, but having said that we would like to have more surveillance equipments on the border. Certain areas need to be covered through technology.
He said, "A surveillance camera is installed at Thakom Post near Pangong Tso Lake in eastern Ladakh. It gives live footage of the Thakom area and Pangong Tso Lake. We can see the Chinese boats in the lake and their movements.”
CBI registers graft case against RAW officials
Syed Ali Ahmed
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, October 22
The CBI today registered a corruption case against officials of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and three directors of a private firm on charges of cheating and forgery for the supply of pre-fabricated shelters used for erecting high-altitude tents to a covert unit of the intelligence agency.
The case has been registered against three directors of Delhi-based Sai Baba Builders —- Shyam Sunder Bhatter, JPN Singh and Manjari, wife of SP Singh who was the additional private secretary of a former Chemical and Fertiliser Minister in 2002, CBI sources said.
They said the directors of the firm had been detained. The CBI has raided four places —- three in Delhi and NCR and one in Kolkata where one of the directors resides. “The CBI has registered a case against a Delhi-based private firm along with its directors; unknown officials of the Special Frontier Force (SFF) — a covert unit operating under the external intelligence agency RAW; unknown officials of the Cabinet Secretariat and others,” the CBI spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said, “It has been alleged that wrongful favour was shown by the officials of the SFF and the Cabinet Secretariat in the matter of the preparation of a tender, procurement, supply and installation of the pre-fabricated shelters, purchased from the company, for the SFF troops during 2009-13.”
It was also alleged the private firm bagged a contract to supply the pre-fabricated shelters through forged documents without any bank guarantee. The tender was awarded in two phases —-the first in 2000-2011 and another in 2010–2014. The sources said the case is related to alleged corruption in the supply of high-altitude tents worth Rs 21.6 crore required by the SFF during 2009-13.
China subs ‘pose worry’ for India
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, October 22
China’s submarines are now regularly operating in the Indian Ocean, a matter of worry for India as its depleted fleet of ageing submarines could be tested by the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) fleet – some 60 in number, including nuclear powered, with ability to fire long range nuclear missiles while remaining under sea.
US Naval Institute (USNI), a 135 year-old US think-tank, in a report on its website yesterday cited a discussion conducted last Monday at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington DC which said: “India’s sub-surface (undersea) challenge is likely to increase in the future”.
China’s submarines are now operating for the first time in the Indian Ocean, the USNI said. Sources in the Indian Navy said US had in the past shared inputs on China’s submarines operating in the Indian Ocean and most of these are nuclear powered.
Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, while speaking at the core group meeting of the NATO-backed Munich Security Conference in New Delhi yesterday, was candid. Without naming China, he said: “The Indian Ocean region is peace, we have to be extremely vigilant to see that balance is not disrupted and we have standard practices.”
“China is constantly improving underwater operations and investments in platforms, sensors, and even oceanographic research”, Thomas Mahnken of Johns Hopkins School of the Advance and International Studies was quoted by the USNI.
China’s interest in underwater operations in the Pacific and Indian Oceans should be viewed as part of an ongoing competition, he said.
India’s existing submarine plan announced in 1999 had spoken about having 24 modern submarines by 2030, half way through, not a single vessel has sailed. The first one of the lot of six Scorpene submarines is not expected before end of 2016. Nations have a growing dependence on underwater infrastructure—cables for communications of all sorts, and for mineral and fuel extraction, prompting military response.
The American think-tank said. “Indian Navy has 11 boats (submarines) deemed operational”. In July this year, the US Department of Defecne released a report ‘Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2014’ that listed the submarine prowess in the hands of Beijing.
Operating in Indian Ocean
China’s submarines are now operating for the first time in the Indian Ocean
The US had in the past shared inputs on China’s submarines operating in the Indian Ocean and most of these are nuclear powered
Pakistan's military adventurism
Right environment to turn the heat on Islamabad
Just over a year ago Mr. Nawaz Sharif was swept back to power, prompting expectations that he would tackle the country's security and economic crises, and improve relations with India. But one year is an eternity in the politics of Pakistan. The US is refusing to pledge additional aid beyond what was promised earlier under the Kerry-Lugar legislation. Even “all-weather friend” China has expressed disappointment that Sharif's government has not done the requisite preparatory work for utilising aid that Beijing had promised for the development of Pakistan's ailing power sector. The only silver lining is the increased remittances from Pakistan’s workers in the Gulf despite calls by Imran Khan to workers to halt such inward remittances.
Instead of acting circumspectly in such a situation, Pakistan has chosen to escalate tensions on its borders with Iran, Afghanistan and India. The tensions with these three neighbours with whom Pakistan shares land boundaries have arisen because of support to cross-border terrorism. This support is rendered by state agencies to extremist Sunni groups, ranging from Lashkar e taiba to the Afghan Taliban and Jaish e Adl. The tensions with Iran have risen because of the support that the extremist Sunni group Jaish ul Adl receives in Pakistan's Baluchistan Province, where the Pakistan army is simultaneously engaged in a bloody conflict against Baluchi separatists.
Tensions with Iran escalated last year when Jaish e Adl mounted cross-border ground and missile attacks in Iran, resulting in Iranian casualties. An Iranian spokesman warned that the Iranian forces would enter Pakistani territory if Pakistan “failed to act against terrorist groups operating on its soil”. Virtually coinciding with this was an incident when Jaish e Adl kidnapped five Iranian border guards and moved them into Pakistan. Iran not only warned Pakistan of cross-border retaliation, but also brought repeated incursions from Pakistan soil to the notice of the UN Security Council in writing. Ever since the pro-Saudi Nawaz Sharif, whose links with radical Sunni extremist groups are well documented, assumed power, Pakistan has moved towards rendering unstinted support to Saudi Arabia, even in the Syrian civil war. It has also unilaterally annulled the Pakistan-Iran oil pipeline project, prompting action by Iran, seeking compensation.
While Nawaz Sharif was commencing negotiations for a peace deal with Tehriq e Taliban in the tribal areas of North Waziristan, bordering Afghanistan, the Army Chief, Gen Raheel Sharif, disregarded the views of the Prime Minister. He launched a massive military operation, involving over 50,000 military and paramilitary personnel, backed by artillery, tanks, helicopter gunships and fighter jets. An estimated one million Pashtun tribesmen have fled their homes. They are now homeless and facing barriers, preventing their entry into the neighbouring provinces of Punjab and Sind. Not surprisingly, ISI “assets” like the Mullah Omar-led Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network have been quietly moved out from the battle zone, quite obviously into ISI safe houses.
Unrest is brewing amidst the displaced Pashtun tribals as the army is unwilling to coordinate its operations with civilian relief agencies. The displaced and homeless Pashtun tribals, will inevitably, in due course, resort to terrorist violence across Pakistan. The special treatment meted out to ISI assets like Mullah Omar and the Haqqani network would have been carefully noted by the new Ashraf Ghani dispensation in Afghanistan, as a prelude to more serious attacks by the Afghan Taliban acting out of the ISI and army protected safe havens in Pakistan. Pakistan's western borders will be neither peaceful nor stable in the coming years. The escalating tensions with Iran, the partisan stance on Saudi Arabia-Iran rivalries and the military action in North Waziristan have invited criticism within Pakistan.
The escalation of tension with India across the Line of Control and the international border has to be seen in this context. What better way for the army to divert attention from its misadventures in the west than to revive the “India bogey” in Pakistan? Such an action would also test the resolve of the Narendra Modi dispensation in India to deal with cross-border terrorism. Moreover, with state assembly elections due in J&K in December, the Pakistan army would strive to ensure that the credibility of these elections is questioned by ensuring a low turnout. Hurriyat leaders like Shabir Shah and Yasin Malik have already been commissioned to stir up discontent and discredit the Indian Army during the floods.
What Pakistan had not bargained for, as it attempted to test India's resolve from August onwards, was the robust response that it received not only from the Indian Army, but also from the Border Security Force. This was accompanied by an ill-advised diplomatic effort to seek UN intervention in Jammu and Kashmir. Both Nawaz Sharif and his otherwise realistic NSA Sartaj Aziz seem to forget that the world changed dramatically after 9/11. The Western world led by the United States has come to realise that Pakistan-backed terrorist groups are as much a threat to their security as to that of India. Pakistan also seemed to ignore Mr. Modi’s unambiguous stance that dialogue and terrorism cannot go hand in hand. They also evidently misread the significance of the Obama-Modi Joint Declaration averring action for “dismantling of safe havens for terrorist and criminal networks, to disrupt all financial and tactical support for terrorist and criminal networks such as Al Qaida, Lashkar e Taiba, Jaish e Mohammed, the D-Company, and the Haqqanis.”
Pakistan’s military adventurism on three fronts across its borders with India, Afghanistan and Iran has created just the right environment to turn the heat on Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Apart from mounting a media offensive, it is time for India to get world attention focused on Pakistan-sponsored terrorism and the plight of Baluchis, Shias and other minorities in that country. In any case, there should be no question of a sustained dialogue process till Pakistan fulfils its January 2004 assurance that territory under its control will not be used for terrorism against India.
Need for a long-term plan now
It can be considered the biggest strategic failure of Indian diplomacy that even after more than six decades, India has not found a way to neutralise the malevolence of a neighbour one-eighth its size
Harsh V. Pant
Pakistan has a way of making its presence felt in India’s foreign policy and national security matrix that, much to New Delhi’s chagrin tends to steal India’s diplomatic thunder. At a time when Prime Minister Modi was trying to project himself as a global statesman with a successful visit to Japan, a visit to Gujarat and then Delhi by the Chinese President, and a ‘rock-star’ reception in the US, Pakistan decided it must get some attention.
So the Pakistani Army did what it does best. It escalated tensions along the border in an attempt to ratchet up pressure on India. It started with unprovoked mortar shelling on forward Indian positions along the Line of Control (LoC) and over the next few days, the firing spread to the international border and intensified.
Accusing India of “deliberate and unprovoked violations of the ceasefire agreement and cross-border firing,” Pakistan promptly shot off a letter to the UN Secretary General asking for an intervention by the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan, a body for which India sees little role after the signing of the 1972 Simla Pact. The UN decided to ignore Pakistani shenanigans and has merely reiterated that India and Pakistan need to resolve all differences through dialogue to find a long-term solution to the dispute.
Pakistan is facing multiple crises. Its global isolation is increasing by the day. US forces are withdrawing from Afghanistan starting December 2014 and Beijing is increasingly dissatisfied with Islamabad’s attempts at controlling the flow of Islamist extremists into its restless Xinjiang province. Tensions are rising also on Pakistan’s borders with Iran where Pakistani Sunni extremists are targeting Iranian border posts, forcing Iranian policymakers to suggest that if Pakistani authorities “cannot control the common border, they should tell us so that we ourselves can take action.” And the new government in Afghanistan under Ashraf Ghani is likely to go even further in developing close ties with New Delhi.
Domestically, the Kashmir issue is once again becoming a political football with Bilawal Bhutto Zardari bombastically declaring that Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) would get back entire Kashmir from India. Imran Khan is breathing down Nawaz Sharif’s neck and the Pakistan Army’s struggle against domestic Taliban seems to be going nowhere.
All this is happening at a time when there is renewed confidence in India about its future as a major global player under the Modi government and when the world is ready to look at the Indian story afresh. No wonder, the Pakistani security establishment is nervous about its growing irrelevance — and what better way to come into global prominence once again than to try to create a crisis in Kashmir!
Despite the election season in India in the last fortnight, the Modi government’s reaction has been creditable so far. Rahul Gandhi came out of hibernation to attack the Prime Minister for ceasefire violations by Pakistan. The government, however, ignored the opposition’s many taunts and confidently made clear to Pakistan that Indian forces would “make the costs of this adventurism unaffordable.”
This gave the Indian military much-needed operational space to carve out a response which was swift, sharp and effective. Together, the Indian government and the nation’s military have underlined the costs of Pakistan’s dangerous escalatory tactics by massive targeted attacks on Pakistani Ranger posts along the border.
Now the Modi government needs a long-term plan to handle Pakistan. It can be considered the biggest strategic failure of Indian diplomacy that even after more than six decades, India has not found a way to neutralise the malevolence of a neighbour one-eighth its size. Business-as-usual has never been an option for India, and yet India’s Pakistan policy in recent years has struggled to move beyond cultural exchanges and cross-border trade. Pakistan has continued to train its guns at India and drain India's diplomatic capital and military strength, while India has continued to debate whether Pakistani musicians should be allowed to enter India. This disconnect between Pakistan's clear strategic priority and India's magnificently short-sighted approach will continue to exact its toll on India unless Delhi makes it a priority to think outside the box on Pakistan.
Pakistan has a revisionist agenda and would like to change the status quo in Kashmir while India would like the very opposite. India hopes that the negotiations with Pakistan would ratify the existing territorial status quo in Kashmir. At its foundation, these are irreconcilable differences and no confidence-building measure is likely to alter this situation.
India’s premise largely has been that the peace process will persuade Pakistan to cease supporting and sending extremists into India and start building good neighbourly ties. Pakistan, in contrast, has viewed the process as a means to nudge India to make progress on Kashmir, a euphemism for Indian concessions.
The debate in India on Pakistan has long ceased to be substantive. The choice that India has is not between talking and sulking. Pakistan has continued to manage the façade of talks with India even as its support for separatism and extremism in India continues unabated. India should also continue to talk (there is nothing to lose in having a low-level diplomatic engagement after all) even as it needs to unleash other arrows in its quiver to manage Pakistan. Smart policy for India means not being stuck between the talking/not talking binary. It’s not talking that matters but under whose terms and after years of ceding the initiative to Pakistan, it is now for India to dictate the terms for negotiations.
If Pakistan manages to put its own house in order and refrain from using terrorism as a policy instrument against India, then India should certainly show some magnanimity. Indian policy makers had long forgotten poet Dinkar’s immortal lines: kshama shobhti us bhujang ko, jiske paas garal hai, uska kya jo dantheen, vishrahit vineet saral hai. (When a serpent that has venom, teeth and strength forgives, there is grace and magnanimity in its forgiveness. But when a serpent that has no venom and no bite claims to forgive, it sounds like hypocrisy and amounts to hiding its defeat with noble words.) Modi has done well to remind Pakistan that India can impose serious costs in response to Pakistan’s irrational behaviour and he should now build on that.
Pakistan’s India obsession is not about Kashmir. The very manner in which Pakistan defines its identity makes it almost impossible that India will ever be able to find a modus vivendi with Islamabad. New Delhi should be ready to face this hard reality. The Modi government has made a good start and now it should follow through with a long-term strategy vis-à-vis its immediate neighbour.
Escalating tension is not good for either country
While there will be no open war between India and Pakistan in the normally understood sense, this does not prevent Pakistan from activating its tools of terror
There has been an escalation of tension between India and Pakistan in the recent few days. The Line of Control (LoC) has witnessed serious exchange of fire at the border for nearly a fortnight. Prime Minister Narendra Modi referred to the border firing in one of his election rallies in Maharashtra. Modi said that Pakistan was getting the befitting lesson and it would not dare to open fire on the border.
It may be recalled that the cease-fire agreement between India and Pakistan came into effect in November 2003. Thereafter there had been periodic fire from Pakistan side, which had to be routinely returned by the Indian forces posted at the LoC. Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh made a statement that Pakistan should understand that times have changed in India, an obvious reference to Bharatiya Janata Party under Narendra Modi coming to power at the centre with majority of its own.
Reverting to the situation on the LoC, the Border Security Force (BSF) was handling the situation on the international border and it was BSF which was doing the firing across the LoC in Poonch, R.S. Pura and Arnia sectors. Reports say that instructions to Director General BSF, D.K. Pathak went out from the National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, who was in direct touch with DG, BSF over the period of 5 days in the first half of October 2014. The BSF reportedly fired more than 10,000 mortar shells, not to speak of countless ammunition, leading to an unprecedented situation in the border. Pakistan reported that 2 civilians were killed and about 100 injured on their side and also that scores of villages witnessed vacating of houses by the civilians moving away from the border.
The former Chief of BSF E.N. Rammohan commented that earlier the exchange of fire was confined to LMGs and MMGs and now, mortars are being used which spelt danger to civilian lives who lived within 5000 meters range. He went on to comment, "civilians dying like this is absolutely absurd". An analyst had written that the flare up on the border came at the height of campaigning for Assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana when Modi referred to Pakistan being taught lesson at a public rally in Maharashtra on October 9. A BSF Commandant said, "I am very proud, nobody, not even Indian Army has fired as much as we have into Pakistan since 1971 war. There were no restrictions this time and we kept on firing. Even the Army cannot boast of so much. At least no Army infantry battalion had fired mortars.”
In Pakistan, Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif was a worried man and he summoned all the senior army officers for taking stock of the situation. Nawaz Sharif also dispatched his trusted adviser Shahryar Khan to Delhi for back channel work and to bring out normalcy on the border. Khan is the President of the Pakistan Cricket Control Board and his visit to India was ostensibly to discuss cricket fixtures with India, did not go much beyond that level, since no senior Indian back channel representative met him during his stay in Delhi. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, meanwhile held a meeting attended by all senior Army commanders. Prime Minister Modi said that India had to be prepared for a changing world which demanded new thinking on economic, diplomatic and security policies. He asked them to be fully prepared for any eventuality. He also said that security challenges would be more unpredictable and invisible.
On the Pakistan side, the Army Chief Gen. Raheel Sharif said at the Military Academy on October 18, that Pakistani forces are fully capable of meeting any external threat and that any aggression against Pakistan would get a befitting response. The Pakistani Army chief also digressed to the subject of Kashmir and said that the people of Kashmir should be allowed to decide their fate in the light of UN Resolutions.
The growing tension between India and Pakistan had not escaped the attention of foreign observers. The Australian scholar Christopher Snedden, who has specialised on the subject of Kashmir and teaches at the Asia Pacific Centre for Security Studies, Honolulu, has commented that India's new belligerence towards Pakistan is unhelpful and cited the cancellation of talks by the Indian Foreign Secretary with her counterpart in Pakistan over the Pakistan Ambassador's meeting with Kashmiri separatists. Snedden went on to say that such meetings had routinely taken place in the past.
Pakistan Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif had attended Modi's oath taking ceremony as the Prime Minister of India in New Delhi, on May 16, 2014, which he did ignoring the advice of the armed forces and hardliners, who were against his visiting India for the occasion.
The border tensions and the disproportionate level of Indian reaction would lead to Pakistan analysing and reviewing various options to retaliate against India. While there would not be any serious flare up between Indian and Pakistani forces in any sector. Pakistan Army Chief and the ISI Chief of Pakistan would be seriously exploring multiple ways of hurting India.
At the diplomatic level, Pakistan had activated its diplomatic representative to brief UN members on the unfulfilled UN resolution for holding plebiscite in Kashmir for ascertaining views of the Kashmiri people regarding their options between India and Pakistan.
While there will be no open war between India and Pakistan in the normally understood sense, that does not prevent Pakistan from activating its tools of terror like Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed in carrying out serious attacks within India. The National Security Guard (NSG) Chief J.N. Choudhury had warned on October 16 that the Al Qaeda and the ISIS may join hands with terror groups like Indian Mujahideen and carry out multi-city multiple attacks in the country at the time of their choosing. Terror organisations like Lashkar-e- Toiba and Jaish-e- Muhammed will also be carried along in their dastardly scheme.
The tensions between the two countries have to be seriously examined and ways and means to bring back normalcy should be worked out and implemented. India stands to lose much more if terrorist organisations are deployed in various cities in the country at a time of Pakistan's choice. As this possibility is strong, this needs to be given serious consideration.
Now that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has demonstrated his strength once again by decisively winning the elections in Maharashtra and Haryana, it is time for him to turn to the important issue of easing tensions between India and Pakistan. There was no meeting between Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan during the UN session in October as Modi was not interested in meeting with his Pakistani counterpart. The next opportunity comes up in November during the SAARC meeting in Nepal. It is hoped that the two Prime Ministers will have one to one meeting, with or without officials and work out a road map for future course of action.
Pakistan Army warns India against 'misadventure'
Although Pakistan wants peace on its borders, its army is prepared to respond to any form of aggression from its neighbours, Pakistan's top military spokesman on Wednesday said.
"We do not want to disrupt peace but if the other side resorts to aggression then it will be responded accordingly," Dawn quoted Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asim Bajwa as saying.
The warning comes following an intense exchange of weapons' fire between Indian and Pakistani forces along the line of control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir.
Tensions remained high along the LOC.
Pakistan soldiers on Wednesday again resorted to firing from across the International Border in Samba district of Jammu and Kashmir in yet another act of ceasefire violation.
"Pakistan Rangers resorted to small arms firing at Narainpur BoP along IB in Ramgarh sector of Samba district at around 1030 hours," said Ramgarh Station House Officer (SHO), Satesh Kumar.
Confirming the ceasefire violation, a BSF spokesman said that Indian troops had retaliated to the Pakistani firing in brief exchanges.
"There was no loss of life or injury to anyone in the firing," the spokesman added.
The latest ceasefire violation comes 72 hours after the last instance of firing from across the border by the neighbouring country's troops on the night of October 19 in Pargwal sector of Jammu district.
Pakistani troops had also violated the ceasefire on Oct 18 and 17 by resorting to firing on BoPs in the Makwal and Allah mahi Da Kothay (AMK) areas of Jammu district.
Before that, the ceasefire was violated twice on Oct 17 along the Line of Control (LoC) in Hamirpur sector of Poonch district. Ceasefire violations also took place on Oct 16 night.
In firing from across the LoC in the Saujian-Kirni-Shahpur belts of Poonch on Oct 15, a seven-year-old boy, Riyaz of Kuiyian Gotirian village, was injured.
On Tuesday, India's Defence Minister Arun Jaitley warned Pakistan that India's armed forces would strongly retaliate to any future unprovoked attacks by Pakistan, and that their strength is greater.
He said that India is ready to have talks with Pakistan, provided it "creates" the environment for the talks to happen.
India, China army exercises in Pune next month
In the fourth such exercise, the armies of India and China will participate in a drill focussing on counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency in Pune between November 16 and 27.
India and China zeroed in on a new location and time to conduct the exercise at a final preparatory-level meeting after the Army expressed concerns about Bhatinda, which is close to the Pakistan border, as the venue for the “Hand-in-hand” exercise.
Even earlier, it was decided that the exercise would be held in Barrackpore, West Bengal, but it was later changed to Bhatinda.
Around 180 Indian troops led by a Colonel-rank officer will participate in the drill, which will be conducted under the aegis of the Army's Southern Command. This would be the fourth Army exercise between the two countries and the second in India. The first one was held at Belgaum in November 2008, while two others took place in China – Kunming in 2007 and Chengdu in 2013.
The Chengdu exercise involved about 160 personnel of the Indian Army’s 16 Sikh Light Infantry and, in the similar strength, troops from the 1st Battalion Infantry Division of the People's Liberation Army, 13 group, took part.
At the end of last month’s meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and China President Xi Jinping, the two countries released a joint statement that a fourth joint Army exercise would be conducted at a mutually convenient time. The specifics were, however, not mentioned as the Army was having second thoughts about holding the exercise Bhatinda.
A trust-building exercise between the two armies, the mock war drill comes in the wake of the recent flare up at the Chumar sector in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir. A two-day meet of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs was held here earlier this week.
The two countries discussed new avenues to reduce border tension, including opening up a new location for border personnel meetings and setting up hot lines between the two armies.
Army chief to visit Bhutan
General Dalbir Singh will go to Bhutan Oct 31 on a four-day visit, his first international trip after becoming the army chief, sources said Tuesday.
He was supposed to visit the Himalayan nation last month. However, the tour was called off due to a standoff between India and China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The visit is in line with the Narendra Modi government's efforts to strengthen ties with all neighbours.
The army chief will also visit Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar in the coming days, the sources said.
Bhutan shares a 699-km long boundary with India. It also shares a 470-km long boundary with China.
Like India, Bhutan also has unresolved border issues with China.
Border tensions: Amid fresh India fire, army warns against provocation
The Pakistan Army said on Wednesday that it wanted ‘peace’ with India but would effectively respond to any provocation from across the Line of Control (LoC) and Working Boundary, as the two armies again exchanged fire near Sialkot.
“We are desirous of peace but will retaliate if Indian forces violate the ceasefire,” the chief military spokesperson Major-General Asim Saleem Bajwa told reporters in Bannu after a friendly cricket match at the IDP camp there. Pakistan’s T20 captain Shahid Afridi also participated in the exhibition match.
The statement from the director general of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) came a day after Indian Defence Minister Arun Jaitley warned Pakistan of more “pain” if it continued to violate a ceasefire on their disputed border in Kashmir and said it was up to Islamabad to create the conditions for a resumption of peace talks.
“Our conventional strength is far more than theirs. So if they persist with this, they’ll feel the pain of this adventurism,” Jaitley told NDTV in an interview.
The two sides exchanged mortars and intense gunfire this month, killing at least 20 civilians and wounding dozens in the worst violation to date of a 2003 ceasefire.
It was not clear what actually instigated the latest tensions, as both sides accused each other of starting the hostilities.
The Pakistan Army on Wednesday again accused India of resorting to ‘unprovoked’ firing in villages near Charwa sector in Sialkot. The ISPR said the Indian troops targeted the civilian population. However, there was no loss of life reported in the latest skirmishes.