90% of damaged LoC fence repaired
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, September 13
Away from the relief and rescue efforts being carried out by the armed forces in flood-ravaged Jammu and Kashmir, Army troops have managed to repair most of the damaged fence along the 749 km-long Line of Control (LoC).
Almost 10 km of fence, largely in the Akhnoor sector, had been washed away or buried under mudslides in the floods that followed heavy rain since the start of this month. More than 90 per cent of this has been re-erected, sources said.
The work to repair the fence is being carried under heavy security with gun-toting troops keeping guard against any intruders.
Restoring the fence along the LoC and also along the 198 km-long international border is the top-most priority, officials said. The Border Security Force (BSF) is deployed along the international border. The fence is a 10 ft-high obstacle of iron girders with coils of barbed wire strung across and it acts as a first obstacle for intruders from PoK.
Almost simultaneously, work is on to repair bunkers, observation posts and shelters used by troops. Some of these had been flooded and were filled with muddy waters forcing evacuation of troops of the Army and BSF with helicopters.
Sources said there were radio intercepts that terrorists based in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) will try and enter Kashmir using the gaps in the fence hoping that the Army’s guard is down. August, September and October are traditionally seen as peak months for infiltrators.
A few IAF and Army Aviation helicopters have reportedly been hit by stones thrown by people, which could have been incited by separatists. Some of the stones hit the copters as there are small “dents” on the body frame. This can turn serious incase the stone is sucked in by the engines or it hits the rotor blades. The copter can drop like a stone killing the crew and those being rescued.
Situation under control in flood-hit areas of Jammu, says Army
Tribune News Service
Jammu, September 13
The General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the White Knight Corps Lt Gen KH Singh today said the situation in flood-affected areas in south of Pir Panjal range was under control and it was returning to “near normalcy”.
The GOC also said the Jammu-Srinagar national highway, the main road link connecting Kashmir valley with the rest of the country, would be thrown open for light motor vehicles soon.
The highway had been closed for traffic following massive landslides that swept away nearly 250-metre stretch near Ramsu in Ramban district following incessant rain and flash floods.
The officer, however, said the jawans of Army and Border Roads Organisation (BRO) were on job and the highway would be cleared for light motor vehicles soon.
“The situation is under control and it is returning to near normalcy. All major arteries in the south of Pir Panjal range have been restored,” the GOC added.
Pak for normalising relations with India
New Delhi, September 13
Pakistan today made a strong pitch for normalisation of ties with India after last month’s “political setback” and said in diplomacy one should keep or leave the “door ajar” so that whatever was possible could be achieved.
The remarks were made by Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit here, days after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said there was no “full stop” in diplomacy while replying on the future strategy towards talks with Pakistan.
Addressing a meet of businessmen from India and Pakistan, Basit also talked about his meeting with India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval earlier in the day and said both agreed that destinies of the two nations are inter-linked and there was a need to move forward.
“We both agreed that the time has now come to get out of this pattern (taking a step forward and two steps backward) and to have a new narrative which helps the two countries to keep moving forward. That is easier said than done,” Basit said at the meet, held on the margins of Pakistan trade fair here.
“Unfortunately, there has been a setback last month. I would say a political setback. But that should not in any manner deter us from continuing with our efforts and I am confident that things will come back on track,” Basit said.
The Pakistan top envoy said there were complex problems between the countries but, irrespective of that, India and Pakistan should move forward.
“We understand that the complex problems would not go away. They will be there. On certain issues, we will have agreements or compromise quickly but on other issues we will perhaps have to wait longer. But important is to keep moving forward and we hope that this trend will continue in days, months and years ahead,” he said.
Basit said where diplomats have failed, business community on both sides have come a long way in bringing the two countries together. “We hope that we (diplomats) would be able to follow your (businessmen) footsteps and try to build on the work which you people on both sides have been doing. — PTI
Expansion: The Call of the Hour for Indian Army
India is the largest importer of arms in the world and is also the world’s fourth-largest military. India is among the countries that boast of a large defence budget and the Indian army is a force to reckon with; yet there seems to be a dire need for a stronger army. Times have changed and with possible situations of war among other things, new India needs a stronger army, that can take on any threat – foreign or indigenous. The army is in dire need of an overhaul and modernization. Expansion for the army needs to happen in two aspects, first is to expand the Army internally by revamping and modernizing it and secondly by expanding its presence across the world.
In the first avenue, the Indian Army seems to be in a critical condition, Reports indicate that we do not have the firepower to wage a battle for longer than 20 days and the Army urgently needs new field artillery. The Indian Air Force has repeatedly voiced concerns about the obsolete nature of its ground-based air defence systems. The Indian Navy’s depleting and aging submarine fleet poses its own set of challenges with only 13 conventional diesel-electric submarines. With all these difficulties India understands the importance of expansion and a total revamp.
Currently around 2 per cent of GDP is being allocated to defence, an amount that is drastically lesser than some of its volatile neighbors. For example China announced its military budget for 2014 at a figure of $132 billion, knowing the reticency of China the real figure may be even 40 per cent higher. In comparison India’s defence budget though higher than the last governments budget was set by finance Minister Arun Jaitley at 2.29 trillion Indian rupees or $38.35 billion for 2014-15. Though much lower than China’s this budget allocation seems to be a concrete step towards the plan of expanding the Indian Army.
Two countries with the world’s largest and second largest population are touted to be the next superpowers in the world. India and China are competing against western countries as well as each other. While China as mentioned above has military capabilities that are unknown and possibly much higher than what is being shown, as the next superpower China has managed to establish and make its presence felt globally, with troops positioned strategically around the world in countries from Europe to Pakistan, the Chinese army is one army that even the giants of the west are afraid to clash with fearing its unknown fire power.
India alongside procurement and training also needs to make its military presence felt globally. With territorial disputes with its neighboring countries like Pakistan and China, and internal insurgencies as well the Indian army needs to be capable of dealing with unforeseen situations.
In order for India to meet future threats and challenges, forging military relationships with other countries, and creating military bases around the world strategically should be an integral aspect of India, which requires undertaking and creating force structures for joint operations around the world. America has bases all over the world in over 170 countries and is undoubtedly the strongest military presence in the global scene. China too has positioned itself strategically and in case of war would be able to attack efficiently. India currently has only one military base outside of India, Farkhor in Tajikistan. We need to amp our presence starting in South Asia and then globally.
Indian Prime Minister Narender Modi visit to Japan was in many ways a landmark trip and it marked the beginning of India maintaining its sphere of control in Asia. India and Japan sought to boost defence ties, they agreed to look into upgrading a ‘two-plus-two’ format for security talks by bringing together their foreign and defence ministers, and directed officials to launch working level talks on defence equipment and technology cooperation. In Asia another powerful supplier of arms is South Korea, and as allies India and South Korea have always been on friendly terms. India, a major importer of arms and military hardware purchased eight warships from South Korea.
It is a very strategic move for India to make its presence felt in countries that could help in countering the influence of other regional powers in South Asia. In the long run maintaining a good military relationship with such countries is beneficial to India.
Outside Asia, India has been very efficient in setting up military facilities abroad, countering piracy by patrolling the Indian Ocean and protecting the crucial sea lanes of communication. Traditionally the Middle East and India have always had excellent relations, with a large number of Indians present in these countries. Qatar and India have harbored excellent relations and have signed agreements that enable India to have a solid access to the Middle East. The defence pact between the two countries is also a historic pact where they have jointly agreed that if need arises they will jointly produce weapons and artillery. India has vowed to protect Qatar from external threats. This resource rich country also is of strategic importance for India. What India needs now is an army that can expand across the globe and work with other countries to build a solid army with excellent resources and training. The potential of the Indian army is immense and as the next superpower, India has to position itself strategically and utilize the armed forces.