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Wednesday, 17 September 2008

From Today's Papers - 17 Sep

Pakistan Demands Immediate End to US Incursions

Pakistan Tuesday demanded an immediate end to incursions by US forces into its territory, as the country's jets and helicopter gunships pounded insurgent positions in the tribal areas along the Afghan border, killing 10 rebels and two civilians.

"The sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country would be safeguarded at all costs," Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said in a meeting with British Secretary of State for Law and Justice Jack Straw in Islamabad.

The statement came one day after US forces allegedly tried to cross into Pakistan's tribal district of South Waziristan but were forced to turn back to Afghanistan after the country's security forces and armed tribesmen fired warning shots.

It was the latest of a series of military incursions by the US, which is concerned over Pakistan's inability to control Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters who attack international troops in Afghanistan from its lawless tribal region.

US attacks have strained Washington-Islamabad relations, with Pakistan briefly blocking the NATO supplies through its land to Afghanistan earlier this month.

Straw agreed with Gilani that foreign incursions into Pakistan's territory would be "counterproductive", but said he hoped the country would continue providing passage to NATO supplies, according to the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan.

Gilani insisted Pakistani armed forces were fully capable of handling any situation within their territory, where security forces are battling against the rebels.

On Tuesday, thousands of troops backed by tanks and artillery pushed into the district of Bajaur, particularly in the Rashakai, Loi Sam and Tang Khata strongholds of Taliban and Al Qaeda-linked fighters from Central Asia.

"At least 10 militants and two civilians were killed in the fresh aerial attacks on militant targets and 18 people, including five civilians, were wounded in the strikes, which are to continue through the day," said a security official.

Fighting in the Bajaur district broke out in early August when dozens of rebels attacked a checkpoint on a strategic hilltop along a route previously used by militants to cross into Afghanistan and attack international forces.

Pakistan talks tough on US raids
NDTV Correspondent
Tuesday, September 16, 2008 (Islamabad)

For years India has been tempted but, quite rightly, refused to cross the Pakistan line of control to attack terrorists base camps.

Now, America is doing just that by going into Pakistani territory to smash terrorists camps on the Pak-Afghan border.

Pakistan has warned America that it will shoot to kill any US troops that enter Pakistani territory. The military has told its field commanders to take action if US troops launch a similar raid.

"The orders are clear. In case it happens again on ground or in the air, open fire," said army spokesperson Major General Athar Abbas.
Hundreds of people have reportedly died and tens of thousands more displaced by the clashes. Dozens of troops have also died in the conflict.

Contempt notice to defence secy
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 16
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued contempt notice to the defence secretary over the government’s failure to release pensionary benefits to an 80-year-old veteran as directed by the court earlier.

In its verdict delivered on March 11 this year, a division bench comprising Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Mohinder Pal had allowed a petition filed by ex-reservist Harjinder Singh, seeking sanction of reservist pension.

The court had directed that his pension, along with arrears of three years and two months preceding the date of filing the petition, be released within two months from the date of the court’s order. Any delay in the matter would be “inexcusable”, the court had observed.

Residing in an old age home here, the 80-year old veteran has been battling for his pension since he retired in 1967. He had taken up the matter on numerous occasions, but the controller of defence accounts had turned down his pleas on the ground that he had been discharged upon his own request.

Harjinder had put in over 17 years colour service, including reserve service. Service rules stipulate that 15 years service is required for grant of reservist pension. He had moved the High Court in 2006. The HC, in its order had also observed that voluntary retirement cannot be a ground for refusing pension.;

Ist fratricide in IAF

New Delhi, September 16
In the first fratricide in the Indian Air Force (IAF), a sergeant today killed his senior at the Kalaikunda Air Force Station in West Bengal, the official sources said here.

"Sergeant D.S. Rajput killed junior warrant officer D.C. Mishra with his service weapon, a machine carbine, this morning at Kalaikunda," the sources said. A court of inquiry has been ordered into the incident and the accused has been put behind bars.

Fratricide cases have so far been reported only in the Indian Army. Last year, 23 such cases claimed the lives of three officers, four junior commissioned officers and 16 soldiers. Of these, nine cases, involving two officers and seven soldiers, were reported from Jammu and Kashmir and the remaining 14 from the northeast region.

Lt. General Chandele gets Eminent Engineer of the Year award


New Delhi

Tue, 16 Sep 2008:

New Delhi, Sept 16 (ANI): Lieutenant General AKS Chandele the Director General of Corps of Electronics and Mechanical Engineers and the Colonel Commandant was today conferred the prestigious "Eminent Engineer Award 2008" by the Institution of Engineers (India) on the occasion of 41st Engineers Day.

The cemony took place at the 'Engineers Bhawan' with participation from the Railways, Defence and other public and private sector enterprises.

While speaking on the occasion, Lieutenant General AKS Chandele stated that Army has made immense contribution in the preservation of environment.

He further said that the Corps of EME has been nominated as nodal agency to monitor the phasing out of Ozone Depleting Systems being used in the Army.

Every year, September 15 is observed as "Engineers Day" to commemorate the birth anniversary of Bharat Ratna M Visvesvarya, a towering personality in the history of Indian engineering, who was conferred Bharat Ratna in recognition of his invaluable contribution in the fields of construction and public transportation.

The scroll of honour was presented by Mangat Ram Singhal, Minister for Industry, Labour, Employment, Election, Land and Building, Government of NCT of Delhi. (ANI)

Prince William puts wedding plans on hold for RAF career



Tue, 16 Sep 2008:

London, September 16 (ANI): Prince William has put on hold his wedding thoughts with his girlfriend, Kate Middleton, to serve in the Royal Air Force.

The 26-year-old Wills' military service was due to end in December but his decision to become full-time Search and Rescue pilot with the RAF will delay hisarriage plans for at least two years.

"From January he will start an intensive 18-month training period at RAF Kinross in Scotland," the Sun quoted a royal source, as saying.

"This rules out him marrying any time before the summer of 2010. It may not be what the public wants to hear, but the champagne must stay on ice for now," the source added.

On completing his training successfully, the future king will then move on to a three-year operational stint on Sea King helicopters.

"Joining search and rescue is a perfect opportunity for me to serve in the Forces operationally, while contributing to a vital part of the country's emergency services." The Sun quoted him as saying.

Flying Officer Wales, as the Prince will be known, can expect to earn around 30,000 pounds as a pilot, working 24hour shifts dealing with mostly civilian emergencies across the country. (ANI)

US says ISI needs to be revamped
NDTV Correspondent
Tuesday, September 16, 2008 (Washington)

The US believes that Pakistan's controversial spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence or ISI, needs to be reformed.

Assistant US Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Richard Boucher on Tuesday said, "It has to be done... but so far no steps have been taken to do so. "

The US views ISI with deep suspicion, especially after its hand in the bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul.

The US officials believe it retains links to the Taliban and other militants blamed for attacks on US forces in Afghanistan.

US lawmakers question Pakistan funds
Associated Press
Tuesday, September 16, 2008 (Washington)

US lawmakers are promising close scrutiny of the Bush administration's request to divert hundreds of millions of dollars in anti-terrorism aid to upgrade Pakistan's ageing fleet of US-made F-16 fighter planes.

The Bush administration says the upgraded F-16s will allow Pakistan to better conduct precision attacks on terrorists. But the planes have not traditionally been used in anti-terrorism operations. Pakistan sees them as an asset in its arms race against rival India.

Democratic Rep. Gary Ackerman says updating the F-16s may not be the best way to fight extremists.

The comments came as a Pakistan army spokesman said the military has ordered its forces to open fire if US troops launch another air or ground raid across the Afghan border.

US officials call F-16s component of Pakistan’s national defence

By Khalid Hasan

WASHINGTON: United States administration officials, refusing to wilt under hostile questioning from a number of congressmen over what the latter projected as a sweetheart F-16 deal with Pakistan, described the aircraft as a “transformative element” in US-Pakistan relations and a “component of Pakistan’s national defence”.
The officials, including Donald Camp of the State Department’s South Asia Bureau and Vice Admiral Jeffrey Wieringa of the Defence Security Agency, were testifying before a House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee hearing presided over by Rep Gary L Ackerman, who has a long record of being overly and often unfairly critical of Pakistan.
Ackerman’s main thrust at the hearing lay in his assertion that the US was using American tax-payer’s money to bail out Pakistan by diverting money from Foreign Military Fund credits to enable Islamabad pay the instalments due on F-16 upgrades.
Ackerman was unabashedly sarcastic on several occasions. Even the title of the hearing ‘Defeating Al Qaeda’s air force: Pakistan’s F-16 programme in the fight against terror’ reeked of sarcasm.
The veteran legislator also called Pakistan as “the world’s leading sub-prime borrower”, namely someone who borrows without the ability to repay. He also made fun of Pakistan’s economic vulnerability. Ackerman also claimed that there were videos of Pakistanis shooting at Americans, an assertion that took most present at the hearing by surprise because such a claim had not been heard being made before. Ackerman mocked Camp for what he implied was the State Department official’s ignorance about the alleged videos.
Camp told the congressmen that Pakistan has requested that the administration allow it to use a portion of its 2008 and 2009 FMF commitment, totalling $368 million for the midlife F-16 update programme. Pakistan had committed that it will make all additional payments beyond this request from its national funds. Even with the Pakistani request, Camp emphasised, over 83 percent of the F-16 programme will have been funded through Pakistani national funds. He told the subcommittee to note that Pakistan has a “consistent payment record on the three other foreign military sales cases”.
He stressed that F-16s provide a ‘critical counterterrorism capability’ to Pakistan and the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) had recently made extensive use of its aging F-16 fleet to support Pakistan army operations in Swat Valley and in Bajaur Agency. The PAF had flown 93 sorties in August this year in anti-Taliban operations. He disagreed with Ackerman that Pakistan wanted the F-16s against India, while emphasising that the aircraft was part of Pakistan’s national defence.
Camp told the subcommittee, “I would like to emphasise the strategic importance of Pakistan to US interests, not just regionally, but globally. While the F-16 plays an important role in Pakistan’s efforts to defeat extremism, it also has achieved strategic importance as a symbolic barometer of the overall state of our relationship of trust between our two militaries. We ask for your support to approve the administration’s request to redirect the remaining $110 million in 2008 Foreign Military Financing for the Midlife Update and an additional $142 million in the future.”
The administration has already released $116 million for updates of the Pakistani F-16 A and B versions of the plane.
Camp, driving his point home, told the congressmen, “Updates to Pakistan’s F-16s will make these aircraft far more effective against terrorist targets, while helping with these payments will provide the newly-elected Pakistani government valuable fiscal flexibility as they deal with rising food and fuel prices.”
Camp said the Pakistan’s F-16s will not upset the regional arms balance. He also called the aircraft a “symbol of pride” for Pakistan.
Pakistan had originally planned a total purchase of F-16s valued at $5.1 billion principally from its national funds. The 2005 Kashmir earthquake and subsequent financial constraints made Pakistan reduce the number of new planes from 36 to 18, which lowered the overall value of the deal to $3.1 billion. The 18 new planes are valued at $1.4 billion, with the remainder of the $3.1 billion dedicated to associated munitions (valued at approximately $641 million) and 46 Midlife update kits for Pakistan’s existing F-16 fleet, estimated to cost $891 million.

Editorial: Troubling developments in India-Pak relations

India’s defence minister, Mr AK Antony, has accused Pakistan of backing the terrorists who have recently bombed the cities of India. Pakistan has already accused India of funding terrorists and insurgents in Balochistan and FATA. India has just started making noises about Pakistan fishing again in the troubled waters of Kashmir. Pakistan accuses India, similarly, of turning off the Chenab waters that belong to Pakistan under a treaty arrangement.

There is a danger here of lurching back into the old postures of hostility that one thought were being replaced by a new interest in normalisation and bilateral trade. Both sides are tentative and erring on the side of exaggeration in anticipation of what might happen instead of what must not happen. It is therefore ominous that Pakistan’s army chief, General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani, has visited the Line of Actual Contact and Control in the Northern Areas and referred to the “national consensus” on Kashmir in Pakistan.

While the Indian press has been cautious in its opinion, India’s defence minister has predictably tried to shake off responsibility by saying: “Terrorists have sanctuaries in neighbouring countries that are used as bases to carry out attacks in India”. The reference was clearly to Bangladesh and Pakistan. He added: “A large number of non-state armed groups have sanctuaries in our neighbouring states who use these bases and resources to carry out acts of terrorism across India”. He also made a reference to “nuclear weapons proliferation” as a signal for India to remain vigilant. But this time the finger was pointed at Pakistan.

The Pakistani press highlighted the story on the Chenab waters but was editorially cautious. Our commissioner under the Waters Treaty has always preferred alarmism to missing out on breaches, and this time too he has warned that India may be blocking Chenab waters in violation of the Treaty. But the federal secretary for Water and Power has been commendably non-alarmist, saying that all rivers are running low and Chenab too could be low for both India and Pakistan, and that a determination of the actual storage at Baglihar hydel project in Kashmir will clear up the facts in a day or two. But one still fears that Urdu editorials, pointing to famine next year because of India’s “act of blocking waters”, may whip up completely undue passions.

The Indian prime minister, Mr Manmohan Singh, is a low-profile head of the government. He is not the kind of person who will assert himself to actively change the paradigm of Indo-Pak relations and their historical triggers of tension, but he may allow a big change if someone else initiates the move from within India. His defence minister is clearly not a man to break old patterns and give the government in Pakistan a chance to come into its own and implement what is clearly a policy of reconciliation with India. On our side, now that the PMLN is out of the ruling coalition, the article in the Charter of Democracy committing the PPP government to rapid normalisation of relations with India “without prejudice to outstanding disputes” will be more acceptable to the JUI and ANP.

Pakistan is in the cross-hairs of terrorism and it doesn’t control its own territory enough to put an end to terrorist activity inside Pakistan or in its neighbourhood. It can’t rebut accusations coming in from various parts of the world that its tribal areas are training and sending out suicide-bombers. Even in Bangladesh the terrorists now threatening Dhaka and New Delhi have a background of Afghan jihad and have allegedly mostly received their training in Pakistan. But what has happened in the past can no longer be made the basis of today’s lack of trust and alarmism. India and Pakistan need to consult together and move towards a coordinated plan to face up to the challenge of terrorism.

Pakistan’s newly elected PPP government has to seek support at the international level to approach India for further normalisation and implementation of its new trade policy. India is a slow-mover when it comes to radical changes of state behaviour. Its position of a status quo power has ingrained in it the habit of sitting pretty even when it should be leading a new regional initiative. Therefore it is no surprise that new thinking within the framework of SAARC has mostly come from the small South Asian states and not India. However, India may today be face to face with a new era of internal instability at the hands of Indian Muslims who are increasingly turning to violence and don’t mind aping the strategy and tactics of Al Qaeda.

Pakistan must undertake a major diplomatic effort to counteract the national mood of seeking out two undefeatable enemies to sharpen the instinct of jihad among its population. The media must stop propagating the view to the common man in Pakistan that the only way we can react is by fighting wars with the United States at the global level and India at the regional level. *

Israel army chief offers counter-terror training for Indian armed forces news
16 September 2008

New Delhi: Israeli army chief, Maj Gen Avi Mizrahi, has offered to impart counter-terror training to the Indian armed forces. He was recently in India on a three day official visit.
During the course of his stay, he paid an unscheduled visit to the northern Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir, which has historically been the target of terrorist attacks from Islamic jihadist groups infiltrating across the line-of-control (LoC).
It is reported that Gen Mizrahi visited forward areas around Akhnoor and also addressed senior Indian Army officers in the region.
It is being given to understand that under a proposed agreement, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) may likely impart training in counter-terror warfare to Indian soldiers. These would involve training in urban settings as well as more typical guerrilla environment.

India and Israel discuss military co-operation

* Israeli army chief to meet Indian minister of state for defence production

By Iftikhar Gilani

NEW DELHI: The Israeli army chief met senior military officials in India on Tuesday and discussed joint military training and exercises. Maj Gen Avi Mizrahi, the chief of the Israeli ground forces, arrived in New Delhi on Tuesday on a three-day visit. He met the three services chiefs of India– Gen Deepak Malhotra, Admiral Sureesh Mehta and Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major. He also visited the headquarters of the Defence Research and Development Organisation.

Sources in New Delhi said that Mizrahi discussed matters of mutual concern, including joint military training and exercises for the two armed forces, during his meetings with the Indian military officials. Israel has offered to train Indian troops in counter-insurgency and anti-terrorist operations, the sources added.

Meeting: Mizrahi is also scheduled to meet Minister of State for Defence Production Rao Inderjit Singh. He would not be able to meet Defence Minister AK Antony and his deputy MM Pallam Raju as both are currently abroad.

India and Israel have shared defence co-operation since diplomatic relations between New Delhi and Tel Aviv were established in 1992. The ties have become stronger in recent times with India emerging as the largest purchaser of Israeli arms since the beginning of the 21st century.

India has purchased the Phalcons Airborne Early Warning and Control Systems from Israel that would be fitted onto the Indian Air Force’s three IL-76 heavy-lift transport aircraft. It has also bought the Green Pine radars that warn of incoming enemy ballistic missiles. The Indian armed forces also use Israeli unmanned aerial vehicles for intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance. The Indian Army uses Israeli night-vision equipment, particularly in Indian-held Kashmir.

Indian Army moves into Wiltshire

For the first time in over 60 years soldiers from the Indian Army are training with British troops on Salisbury Plain.

Nearly 140 men from the Punjab-based 16 Mechanised Infantry Battalion are exercising with 3rd Battalion (Staffords) The Mercian Regiment (3 MERCIAN), acting as the enemy' in a major military training exercise.

The exercise was held this morning at Copehill Down military training village.

The Indian soldiers from Bravo Company, 16 Mech Inf Bn, arrived at the end of August from their base in Batiala, Punjab, and will be in the UK for a month, based at Westdown Camp on Salisbury Plain.

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