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Monday, 19 January 2009

From Today's Papers - 19 Jan

Terrorism and Kashmir problem

Pakistan has made certain moves to deal with terrorist organization and individuals expected to have been responsible for Mumbai terrorist attack. However Pakistan has a game plan and its entire moves centre round this plan. While it is giving an impression of acting against the perpetrators of attack under pressure, it is conveying to the world community that terrorism against India cannot be eliminated until resolution of Kashmir problem. In other words Pakistan is linking terrorism against India to Kashmir problem. Musharraf too has said the same while giving lecture in America. Mr. Abdul Gaznavi. Spokesman of Lashkar-e-Toiba stated in Srinagar that LeT will shun arms against India in case Kashmir problem was resolved peacefully. Unfortunately USA and Western world too seem to be seeing merit in this line of thinking. Mr. Miliband's statement on this subject and Mr. Barak Obama's plan to appoint an envoy to deal with Kashmir problem is a result of this thinking. There is therefore likely to be tremendous pressure on India to make a move forward on resolution of Kashmir problem. While there is no harm in making a move forward in resolving Kashmir problem it cannot be possible the way Pakistan wants with mediation of the third party and linking it directly with attack against India. Two problems have to be addressed independent of each other. The Prime Minister has already drawn road map for this and that is the boundaries cannot be redrawn. These can however be made irrelevant. For the boundaries to become irrelevant the terrorism has to end first and not after resolution of the problem. And Kashmir is a problem to be resolved directly between India and Pakistan and not through mediation of third party. Facilitators yes but no mediation has to remain India's policy. The world must realize that pressure on India to resolve Kashmir problem in view of terrorist threat will be perceived as success by terrorist organizations world over. Having tasted blood in Kashmir these will become more bold and active. It is therefore in the interest of world community that the Kashmir problem is addressed independent of terrorism. The terrorists must be beaten globally, may starting from Pakistan. Safe sanctuaries for the terrorists in Pakistan must end first before tackling them elsewhere including Afghanistan.

Lt Col(Retd) Harbhajan Singh Cheema

Indian help in 26/11 probe welcome: Pak

Islamabad, January 18
Asserting that all "culprits" behind the Mumbai attacks "must be apprehended", Pakistan today said Indian investigators will "be more than welcomed" to help in its probe into the terror strikes.

Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik also said anyone found to be involved in the "heinous" attacks would be prosecuted under the country's anti-terror laws.

Malik's comments came a day after he acknowledged that the evidence about Mumbai terror attacks given to Pakistan by India contained "leads and good clues".

"All the culprits (involved in the Mumbai attacks) must be apprehended. Who will support such acts?" he told reporters in Lahore today after a meeting to brief opposition PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif and his brother, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, about Pakistan's probe.

Earlier, during an interview with Geo News channel, Malik said Pakistan's investigations into the Mumbai attacks are being conducted under the country's laws and the government will not accept any foreign pressure in this regard.

He said no assistance would be sought from foreign countries though Indian investigators will "be more than welcomed" to help in the probe.

"Pakistan is very open and the inquiry officers have been bestowed with full powers to fulfil their task," Malik said.

India should reciprocate Pakistan's gestures in the same spirit and allow Pakistani investigators to travel to the neighbouring country, he indicated. The Pakistani inquiry "cannot proceed without the provision of legally tangible evidence", he remarked.

If anyone is found to be involved in the "heinous" attacks, the person would be prosecuted under Pakistan's Anti-Terrorism Act, the interior ministry chief said.

Malik also told the channel that if India persisted with its demand for the extradition of Pakistani nationals allegedly linked to the Mumbai attacks, Pakistan would seek the handing over of persons involved in the 2007 bombing of the Samjhauta Express train.

After reports appeared in Indian media suggesting a possible link of the Malegaon blast accused with the train attack, political leaders here have been saying that the government should seek the extradition of Indian nationals, including Col SK Purohit, for the bombing of the cross-border train that killed nearly 70 persons, including Pakistanis.

"If the Indian demand for handing over the accused in the Mumbai attacks persisted, then the accused of the Samjhauta Express case might be asked for" by Pakistan, Malik said.

Replying to a question about Indian fears of Talibanisation of the region, he urged Indian authorities to share their findings in this regard with Pakistan and cooperate with it in its bid to exterminate terrorism and extremism from South Asia.

He also said Pakistan is part of the world community and a member of various international forums and is thus bound to fulfil its international obligations.

Malik told the media in Lahore that action had also been taken against outlawed groups like the Jamaat-ud-Dawah by the provincial government of Punjab. "Don't forget, (the Jamaat's headquarters at) Muridke is in Punjab (and) major action has been taken by the government of Punjab," he said.

Malik said he would meet leaders of other political parties soon to brief them on Pakistan's probe into the Mumbai attacks. — PTI

31 rebels killed: Army

31 LTTE rebels were killed as Sri Lankan forces seized a boat manufacturing unit and a 'highly fortified' camp of the guerillas in Maruthampuvel area of the northern region according to Sri Lankan army.

31 LTTE rebels were killed according to the army as Sri Lankan forces seized a boat manufacturing unit and a 'highly fortified' camp of the guerillas in Maruthampuvel area of the northern region.

"Troops found two fast attack boats, two water jets and seven small boats used for suicide missions inside the facility suspected to be funded by foreign NGOs," Sri Lankan defence ministry said. The troops were led by Brigadier Nandana Udawatta and had entered the South of Puthukkudiyiruppu jungle area in Mullaittivu on Saturday (January 17, 2009).

Sri Lankan soldiers are now penetrating Muthiyankadu jungle, where LTTE fighters have been taking refuge withdrawing from all direction.

The troops in the battlefield are engaged in fierce battle against the rebels as the latter fight tooth and nail to defend their last hideout.

Major Prabhath Kodithuwakku is leading the infantrymen spearheading the battle in the region together with another batch of troops led by Major Chandana Wickramasinghe.

The claims regarding the casualties from both the sides cannot be independently verified as the journalists have been barred from traveling to the conflict zone. Just a day earlier the rebels claimed to have killed 51 Sri Lankan soldiers, but the claim was denied by the army.

The Jaffna peninsula is considered the heart of the separatist insurgency that has continued for the past 25 years.

Pakistan troops kill 15 militants

15 militants were killed and 1 paramilitary soldier was wounded in a northwest tribal region in Pakistan during a raid conducted as part of an operation against Al-Quaeda and Taliban insurgents.

15 MILITANTS were killed and 1 paramilitary soldier was wounded in a northwest tribal region in Pakistan during a raid conducted as part of an operation against Al-Quaeda and Taliban insurgents that has so far resulted in the elimination of around 1,700 insurgents according to Pakistan military.

The raid was conducted in the Darwazgai section of Mohmand tribal area on Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Issuing a statement in this regard the Pakistan military official said, "Fifteen militants were killed in a successful raid by security forces on a militant stronghold in Darwazgai area of Mohmand Agency." He further added, "One security forces personnel embraced martyrdom in the encounter."

The operation against the militants has been on for months and the campaign was extended into Mohamad a few weeks ago.

The US has praised the offensive mounted by Pakistan on the militants. Ever since the Taliban regime was taken down by the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 the lawless tribal areas of Pakistan have suffered much violence on account of the Al-Qaeda rebels having taken refuge in the region.

Vision-corrected aspirants now stand a chance in IAF

New Delhi, January 18
Aspiring to join the Indian Air Force (IAF) as a pilot but have vision probl ems? Don't lose heart for you may be eligible to commander the force's helicopters or transport planes.

From this year, the IAF has relaxed selection rules after which candidates with poor vision acuity can fly helicopters and transport planes after undergoing corrective surgery like LASIK and radial keratotomy. The only condition is that the vision-corrected candidates have to meet basic post-surgery requirements set up by the IAF.

"From this year onwards, we have relaxed the physical requirement regarding vision for all service officers in the graduate entry level. If they have undergone an eye correction surgery but meet the basic post surgery requirements set up by us, they stand a chance," Lt-Gen Yogendra Singh, Director General, Armed Forces Medical Services and senior Colonel Commandant of the force, said.

The IAF's condition comprises completion of one year of the vision-correction surgery at the time of application, post-surgery eyeball length of not more than 25.5 mm and cornea thickness of not less than 450 microns.

This relaxation is applicable for "pilots flying transport aircraft and helicopters and all officers in the technical field, aeronautical engineers, basic air staff, non-technical staff, ground duties officers, security officers and meteorology officers and officers in the medical field of the IAF," Air Marshal P Madhusoodanan, DGMS (AIR) said.

However, he made it clear that "the relaxation will not be applicable at the entry level at National Defence Academy."

This relaxation was first attempted with the Army in 2004. — PTI

Indian help in our probe welcome: Pak

PTI | January 18, 2009 | 17:26 IST

Asserting that all the 'culprits' behind the Mumbai attacks 'must be apprehended', Pakistan on Sunday said Indian investigators will 'be more than welcome' to help in its probe into the terror strikes.

Pakistan can, in fact, hand over fugitives to India

Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik also said anyone found to be involved in the 'heinous' attacks would be prosecuted under the country's anti-terror laws.

Malik's comments came a day after he acknowledged that the evidence about Mumbai terror attacks given to Pakistan by India contained 'leads and good clues'.

"All the culprits (involved in the Mumbai attacks) must be apprehended. Who will support such acts?" he told media persons in Lahore on Sunday after a meeting to brief opposition PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif and his brother, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, about Pakistan's probe.

Earlier, during an interview with Geo News channel, Malik said Pakistan's investigations into the Mumbai attacks are being conducted under the country's laws and the government will not accept any foreign pressure in this regard.

He said no assistance would be sought from foreign countries though Indian investigators will 'be more than welcomed' to help in the probe.

"Pakistan is very open and the inquiry officers have been bestowed with full powers to fulfil their task," Malik said.

India should reciprocate Pakistan's gestures in the same spirit and allow Pakistani investigators to travel to the neighbouring country, he indicated. The Pakistani inquiry "cannot proceed without the provision of legally-tangible evidence", he remarked.

Malik also told the channel that if India persisted with its demand for the extradition of Pakistani nationals allegedly linked to the Mumbai attacks, Pakistan would seek the handing over of persons involved in the 2007 bombing of the Samjhauta Express train.

After reports appeared in Indian media suggesting a possible link of the Malegaon blast accused with the train attack, political leaders here have been saying that the government should seek the extradition of Indian nationals, including Col S K Purohit, for the bombing of the cross-border train that killed nearly 70 people, including Pakistanis.

"If the Indian demand for handing over the accused in the Mumbai attacks persisted, then the accused of the Samjhauta Express case might be asked for" by Pakistan, Malik said.

Replying to a question about Indian fears of Talibanisation of the region, he urged Indian authorities to share their findings in this regard with Pakistan and cooperate with it in its bid to exterminate terrorism and extremism from South Asia.

He also said Pakistan is part of the world community and a member of various international forums and is thus bound to fulfil its international obligations.

Malik told the media in Lahore that action had also been taken against outlawed groups like the Jamaat-ud-Dawah by the provincial government of Punjab.

"Don't forget, (the Jamaat's headquarters at) Muridke is in Punjab (and) major action has been taken by the government of Punjab," he said.

Malik said he would meet leaders of other political parties soon to brief them on Pakistan's probe into the Mumbai attacks.

Cops hope to seize more ULFA arms trove
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, January 18
High in the spirit in the wake of yesterday's recovery of huge cache of arms and ammunition belonging to the banned United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) from Sadiya in Tinsukia district, the Assam police hopes for more such recovery in near future.

GM Srivastava, director general of police (DGP), today said the banned outfit, most likely, had hidden more such arms and ammunition in several locations in the state and that the police would soon zero in on those as specific investigation was on for it.

He said cache of arms and ammunition were kept hidden for use by ULFA cadres who had returned after training in the bases in neighbouring countries like Myanmar and Bangladesh. "It is difficult for ULFA cadres to sneak into the country from their training camps outside the country. So the outfit keeps the arms and ammunition ready within the state for their use," the DGP said.

Israel calls ceasefire; Militants fire rockets

PTI | January 18, 2009 | 17:28 IST

Ending its three-week offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip that left over 1,200 people dead, Israel on Sunday declared a unilateral ceasefire, but Palestinian militants fired a barrage rockets into the Jewish state hours after the "fragile" truce took hold stoking fears of fresh violence.

The ceasefire came into effect at 2 am local time (0530 hours IST) after Israeli Premier Ehud Olmert made an announcement in this regard last night.

"We have reached all the goals of the war, and beyond," Olmert said, adding, "Hamas was hit hard, in its military arms and in its government institutions. Its leaders are in hiding and many of its men have been killed."

The truce was announced after 22 days of fighting that killed over 1,200 Palestinians, half of them civilians, according to Palestinian and UN officials. Thirteen Israelis, including three civilians, also died.

Responding to the Israeli announcement, Hamas said it did not consider Olmert's declaration a ceasefire as long as Israeli troops remain in the Palestinian territory.

"The troops on the ground are a declaration of war against the Palestinians," Osama Hamdan, a representative of Hamas which rules Gaza, was quoted as saying.

Hours after the truce came into effect, Gaza militants fired a volley of rockets into southern Israel and exchanged fire with troops in northern Gaza, reports reaching Jerusalem said.

After the rocket attack, Olmert warned that the ceasefire was being reassessed. It has been proved again on Sunday morning that the ceasefire 'is fragile and it has to be reassessed on minute by minute basis', he was quoted as saying by the media.

Indo-Bangla military camp begins in Feb

KOLKATA, Jan. 18: The Indian and Bangladeshi armies will jointly train and conduct a counter-terrorism exercise at Jorhat from 22 February to 7 March. Five officers and 15 other personnel from the Bangladesh army will take part in the exercise and train with the special para commandos of the Indian Army.
The platoon level strength of Indian and Bangladeshi army personnel will for the first time take part in such a joint exercise, said Group Captain RK Das, CPRO, ministry of defence. This exercise was conceived as both are threatened by terrorism. India has been conducting such exercises with various countries at Mizoram, he said. n SNS

India Inc wants share of 2000cr defence textile biz

19 Jan 2009, 0306 hrs IST, TNN

NEW DELHI: Seeking a share of the Rs 2,000 crore a year clothing requirements of more than 15 lakh defence and 12 lakh paramilitary personnel, an industry chamber has urged the government to favour the domestic textile sector over imports as they had the capability to deliver world-class military gear.

In a study conducted by FICCI after consulting DRDO, the industry chamber said many material currently in use were outdated and needed immediate upgrading. It said the government should leverage strengths of the domestic textile industry rather than being dependent on imports.

It said Indian companies were capable of manufacturing "21st century battle suit embedded with nanotechnology that can stop bullets, detect chemical and biological agents, monitor wounded soldiers' vital signs, administer first aid and also communicate with headquarters".

"All this would be feasible in the Indian context, provided our defence forces promote more exchanges with the industry and encourage domestic manufacturing and innovation in technical textiles," a FICCI statement said.

It said many Indian manufacturers were left out in the bidding race mainly because the tenders were phrased in such a manner where it helped a select few.

At a time when exports have gone down substantially, especially hitting the textile sector, the demands seem to be perfectly timed as the prospects of largescale unemployment in the industry is already haunting the UPA government ahead of general elections.

"When demand for our textile products is weakening in the overseas market, strengthening industry-defence partnership would provide new avenues for Indian textiles," FICCI said.

Providing an approximate size of the potential market for textiles in Indian defence, FICCI pointed out that the expenditure on uniforms alone was to the tune of Rs 2,000 crore ($400 million).

Besides uniform, technical (military-grade) textiles are used in many other areas in defence like parachute, bullet-proof jackets, geo-textiles for border roads, tents, mosquito nets etc.

FICCI added that domestic companies often complained of not receiving contracts from defence forces because of the lowest bidder concept, even if their products were of better quality, more durable and more suitable for defence personnel.

The study said it was important to have indigenous manufacturing capability in this area as it would ensure reliable and uninterrupted supply of defence requirements during exigencies.

Army to woo students through textbook covers


http://www.expressbuzz.com/edition/images/trans.gif

Express News Service

First Published : 18 Jan 2009 09:34:23 AM IST

Last Updated : 18 Jan 2009 12:50:00 PM IST

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Indian Army has placed a fresh request before the Kerala Government for getting Army photographs and recruitment info printed on school textbook covers.

Last year, the Army Recruitment Office (ARO), Thiruvananthapuram, had approached the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) for getting military photographs printed on the back covers of the books in a bid to acquaint students with Army life at a young age.

The idea has caught on elsewhere, so the Army has now placed fresh requests before the State Education Department and the SCERT to print both photographs and information regarding the Army selection process on the textbook covers, Army Recruitment Office Thiruvananthapuram Col M.S. Bisht told 'Express'.

Following a request by the Army Headquarters, New Delhi, the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and the Karnataka Education Department have agreed to help out, he said."The NCERT and the Karnataka education department plan to start publishing photographs and information related to the selection of commissioned officers from the next academic year onwards. This will create awareness about the Army in school children and also introduce them to the selection process," Bisht said.

By publishing Army photos and info on the back covers of school textbooks, the Indian Army is focusing on selection to the officer cadres. The Army at present suffers a shortage of about 11,000 officers, but does not plan to relax selection parameters since quality is the key word.

While hundreds of students appear for the Combined Defence Service (CDS) examinations every year, most of them are ignorant about the actual procedures involved in selection to any of the three services of the armed forces."There are quite a few streams for both boys and girls to get selected as officers in the Army. They include the technical entry scheme, Indian Military Academy (IMA), National Defence Academy (NDA), Officers Training Academy (OTA) and the Special Entry Scheme for women. These details too will be published along with the photographs," he said.

Indian Army's Arjun and Bhishma MBT's heads for summer time face-off news

17 January 2009

New Delhi: The Indian Army and the country's premier defence research organization the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) will jointly carry out comparative trials of the indigenously developed Main Battle Tanks (MBT) 'Arjun' and the Russian T-90S 'Bhishma' this summer. The face-off, which has been put off repeatedly for reasons unknown, has been on the cards for quite some time and is slated for the month of June.

If successful, the trials are expected to pave the way for rapid induction of the Arjun MBT into service. The army has been resisting placing large orders for the Arjun MBT saying that the indigenously designed and built tank represented "mid-level" technology as compared to the Russian T-90S 'Bhishma's more cutting edge technologies.

The DRDO may suggest that the Arjun is yet to be tested on a level playing field. Certainly, reports emerged last year which suggested that the Arjun had failed tests in the summer heat of Indian deserts, which drew quick rebuttals from DRDO and the ministry of defence.

Both the entities then hinted that the evaluation process may have had some glitches. Minister of state for defence production Rao Inderjit Singh went so far as to suggest "sabotage" as being a reason behind the tanks performing below expectations during the trials

DRDO has long argued that for proper maturity of indigenously developed technologies large orders from user agencies are a must. Compared to the Arjun's meager 124, the T-90S Bhishma has already garnered a mindboggling 1,657 orders from the Army.

The overall MBT force structure proposed in 2006 would suggest a force of 2,473 higher-end tanks (1,657 T-90 Bhishma, 124 Arjun tanks, and 692 upgraded T-72M1 Ajeya). These numbers are likely to have changed and a force level closer to 3,800 MBTs may be likely.

"The comparative trials of Arjun tanks with the Russian-made T-90s would take place this summer in June, before the army gets to induct the indigenously developed tanks," a defence ministry source said.

The trial in June, sources said, would be the first of the series under which the army and the DRDO would test and compare technologies and capabilities of the two tanks. They also suggested that both the tanks would be subjected to various other comparative tests in the coming months and the whole process would likely be completed by June 2010.

Detailed analysis of the tests would be carried out after the trials.

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