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Tuesday, 19 May 2009

From Today's Papers - 19 May 09

Telegraph India

Asian Age

The Pioneer

Asian Age

Asian Age

Asian Age

The Pioneer

Lankan army claims LTTE chief dead
Chandani Kirinde writes from Colombo

The man considered one of the world’s most ruthless terrorists, the chief of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was killed by the Sri Lankan army along with his top aides as the army took control of all areas in northern Sri Lanka on Monday, according to the statement issued by military officials.

The news of V Prabhakran’s death, which was announced shortly after noon on Monday, was greeted with the sound of fire crackers as people took to the streets and celebrated. In the run-up to yesterday’s celebrations, roads have been lined with national flags while vehicles and homes flew the flag to herald the end of the bloodiest era in the modern history of the country.

Sri Lankan armed forces have militarily defeated the LTTE and freed the nation from three decades of terror, Army Chief Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka said in an address over national television.

Among others killed along with Prabhakaran were his son Charles Anthony and LTTE intelligence chief Pottu Amman, who along with the LTTE leader was the mastermind behind the assassination of former Indian Prime Minster Rajiv Gandhi. Also killed were Sea Tiger leader Soosai and Nadesan, the leader of the political wing.

A journalist from the state-run television station that is with troops in the north said that the guns have fallen silent and troops were engaged in mopping-up operations. President Mahinda Rajapaksa will address Parliament today and will officially announce the end of the war against the LTTE.

PTI adds: Prabhakaran, who led a ruthless movement for a Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka that decimated a score of Sinhalese and Tamil leaders and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, was shot dead by Sri Lankan special forces as he tried to stage a dramatic breakout from the army encirclement, a military spokesman said. With his killing, the army brought the curtains down on the 30-year-old war that claimed over 70,000 lives.

Prabhakaran and his top aides were driving in an armour-plated van accompanied by a clutch of rebels in a bus and approaching the Special Forces. A two-hour exchange of fire followed and the forces fired a rocket at the van brining an end to the battle, army sources said. Prabhakaran's body was pulled out from the van and identified, they said. Prime Minister Ratnasri Wickramanayake said the army says they have killed him. “The next step would be to undertake development in the north (Tamil areas),” he said.

Celebrations broke out in the capital here as news spread of the death of Prabhakaran, who led the longest armed struggle in South Asia for nothing less than a separate homeland for Tamils.

After Prabhakaran
Sri Lanka now needs a healing touch

A day after the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam conceded defeat, proclaiming that its 26-year battle against the Sri Lankan armed forces had reached its ‘bitter end’, comes the army’s claim that they have gunned down its leader Velupillai Prabhakaran and his top commanders. Though die-hard supporters of the eelam (freedom) cause are bound to rue the fall of Prabhakaran whose commitment to it was unswerving, there is understandable jubilation in Sri Lanka which bore the brunt of a civil war that took 70,000 lives, including those of several top national leaders, and shattered the economy of the beleaguered country. Successive heads of state and government had been promising to defeat the LTTE but had failed. President Rajapakse has succeeded by resorting to unalloyed military solution.

Prabhakaran lived by the gun, operating from underground hideouts since 1972 in his fight over the discrimination against ethnic Tamils by the Sinhalese-majority Sri Lankan state. He chose violence to achieve his aim. In the early years of his struggle, he set about eliminating the top leaders of Tamil groups that did not see eye to eye with him. In due course he assumed dictatorial sway over the LTTE, motivating the cadres to do or actually die for the cause. At its peak, the LTTE controlled one-third of the land area in the country and managed to acquire its own fleet of aircraft and some naval ships. It was the assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 and Sri Lankan President Premadasa two years later who set the international community against the Tamil Tigers and led 32 countries to place the outfit on the terrorist list. This was a reflection of the LTTE’s transformation from an organization of freedom fighters to a dangerous organisation that motivated mostly young, impressionable minds to plant bombs and kill indiscriminately anyone who stood in its way.

The decimation of the LTTE is virtually total. But if serious resentment is not to build up again among the Tamils, it is imperative that President Rajapakse’s regime shows statesmanship. It must begin a process for a meaningful dialogue with saner representatives of Tamils in the north and the east. The impoverished, displaced Tamil masses need to be duly rehabilitated. Tamils in general would need to be absorbed in the country’s mainstream and made to feel emotionally one with the rest of the country. This is not a time for euphoria. It is a time to re-build the nation and to heal old wounds. A spirit of reconciliation after the victory can over a period of time lead to harmony and peace in the nation that it has not seen for years.

Pak making new generation of N-weapons: US officials

Press Trust of India / New York May 18, 2009, 15:49 IST

Pakistan is producing more bomb grade uranium for new generation of nuclear weapons, even while being racked by insurgency, raising questions on Capitol Hill whether billions of dollars in proposed US military aid could be diverted to its nuclear programme.

The fears among the members of the US Congress have been raised by a confidential briefing by top military commander who has told them that Pakistan is rapidly adding to its nuclear weaponry. Islamabad's moves to expand rapidly its nuclear weaponry, the New York Times said might complicate the US Administration's moves to speed up military and economic aid to Pakistan.

The paper said Pakistan efforts to build new nuclear weapons has been a source of concern to Washington, because it is coming at a time when the US is increasingly focused on trying to assure that Islamabad 80 to 100 nuclear bombs and missiles don't fall into the hands of terrorists groups. US feels that Pakistan's moves to multiply its nuclear weapons is also ill-timed as it comes when President Barack Obama has called for a passage of treaty that would bar nations from producing more fissile material.

Obama administration has conveyed to the Congress that all military aid for Pakistan was to help boost its capability to fight terrorism and not to be diverted to any other strategic programmes, the paper said. Washington has only earmarked a $100 million aid for Islamabad's classified programme to secure its weapons and fissile material from seizure by Taliban or al-Qaeda or militant with "inside loyalties". But Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen assertions before the house armed forces committee that the Pakistan nuclear arsenal is increasing has caused discomfort on the Capitol Hill. The Congressional briefings have taken place as Congress is considering proposals for a $3 billion aid over the next five years to train and equip Pakistan army and para-military formations in counter terrorism. The aid would be in addition to $7.5 billion in civilian assistance.

Military Hospital commandant indicted
Procured medicines worth Rs 10 crore illegally
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 18
An Army court of inquiry (COI) has found large-scale irregularities in the procurement of medical supplies by a Brigadier posted earlier as the Commandant of the Military Hospital in Jalandhar, it is learnt.

Sources in Western Command said the COI had prima facie established that medical supplies worth about Rs 10 crore were purchased from unregistered vendors over more than a year, in violation of regulations.

Based upon findings and opinion of the COI, the General Officer Commanding 11 Corps, Lt Gen VS Tonk has recommended disciplinary action against the officer. Disciplinary action implies that the officer could face a possible trial by a general court martial subject to the outcome of subsequent proceedings.

The recommendation of the GOC 11 Corps has been forwarded to the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command, Lt Gen T K Sapru for his directions, sources said.

The COI, presided over by the General Officer Commanding 7 Infantry Division, Maj Gen TS Gill, was ordered by Headquarters 11 Corps, on the directions of the GOC-in-C, Western Command, after the Army received complaints regarding the procurement of medical supplies at the hospital.

The commandant against whom the allegations were levelled has been approved for promotion to the rank of Major General. At present he is posted on a staff appointment. He claimed during the COI that he was being implicated and that boards of officers were held to register vendors.

The terms of reference of the COI included investigation into the procurement of medical supplies worth several crores of rupees from unregistered vendors during the tenure of the Brigadier as the hospital commandant.

Further, procurement for the Field Medical Stores Depot, Jalandhar, were alleged to have been made when the officer commanding the depot was on leave and a non-technical officer was officiating. Non-technical officers, sources said, did not have the power to make purchases.

It was also alleged that the Brigadier kept the writing of the annual confidential reports of some of his subordinate officers in the hospital pending for a few months after relinquishing charge as the commandant. The COI also investigated into alleged lapses into the purchase of orthopaedic equipment, collection and use of funds generated through sponsorships for fashion shows and award of contract for a wet canteen in the hospital.

Pakistan denies it is expanding nuclear arsenal

By ZARAR KHAN – 10 hours ago

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan denied Monday it was expanding its nuclear arsenal, a week after the top U.S. military officer said there was evidence it was doing so.

Pakistan is battling a growing insurgency by Islamist militants with links to al-Qaida and the Taliban. Washington is considering giving it billions of dollars in aid to help fight the insurgents, who are also blamed for attacks on U.S. and foreign troops in neighboring Afghanistan.

At a congressional panel last week, Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, was asked whether there was evidence that Pakistan was adding to its nuclear weapons systems and warheads. He simply replied: "Yes."

But Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira denied that assertion Monday.

"Pakistan does not need to expand its nuclear arsenal but we want to make it clear that we will maintain a minimum nuclear deterrence that is essential for our defense and stability," he said. "We will not make any compromise."

Pakistan, a desperately poor country of 170 million people, is thought to possess more than 60 nuclear weapons under a program that began when its traditional enemy, India, started producing them.

The advance of the Taliban has raised some concerns in the West that the weapons may one day fall into militant hands. A more likely scenario, analysts say, is that Islamists may infiltrate its nuclear facilities and get hold of nuclear knowledge and material.

"I want to tell the world in categoric terms that, with the blessing of God, Pakistan's nuclear assets are safe and will remain safe. No one, no matter how powerful and influential, eyeing on our national assets, will succeed," Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said earlier, apparently referring to a common Pakistan belief that the United States wants to seize the country's weapons.

Pakistan is under intense international pressure to battle the insurgents. Last month it launched an offensive against between 4,000 and 5,000 militants in the Swat Valley area that the U.N. refugee agency says has so far driven nearly 1.5 million people from their homes. About 100,000 of them are now in sweltering refugee camps.

The offensive has so far enjoyed broad public support, but other military operations in the northwest, including one just last year in the Swat Valley, faltered amid criticism by lawmakers and the public, many of whom sympathize with the militant's pro-Islam and anti-American rhetoric.

On Monday, the government convened a meeting of political parties to bolster support for the current operation.

Legislators approved a resolution that urged them to "to make efforts to unite the nation in the face of the insurgency" in the Swat Valley, Kaira said. But the document did not contain language explicitly supporting the military offensive there.

The offensive was launched after the extremists failed to abide by a peace deal and advanced on the capital, generating anger and alarm among many Pakistanis. But analysts warn opinion could quickly turn against the operation if the fighting dragged on or if the refugees crisis was badly handled.

Pakistan says more than 1,000 militants have been killed so far, a claim that has been impossible to verify because journalists have largely been barred from the battle zone. It has not given any figures for civilian casualties, but refugees say they have occurred.

Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said infantry troops were now moving into the main towns of the region after three weeks of mostly aerial bombardment of insurgent positions, camps and training grounds in the hills.

He said the army wanted a "quick and speedy operation so we can clear the area and allow the internally displaced people to return."

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