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Sunday, 28 June 2009

From Today's Papers - 28 Jun 09

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India was never a threat to Pak: Army

Press Trust of India, Saturday June 27, 2009, Hyderabad

Chief of Army Staff General Deepak Kapoor on Saturday sought to allay Pakistan's apprehensions over the positioning of troops along its border by asserting that India was never a threat to its neighbour.

"It's their own perception of threat, but India has never been a threat to Pakistan despite having superior forces," the Army Chief said, reacting to a statement made by Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on troop deployment along the border.

"We on our side like to live as peaceful neighbours," he told newsmen at the Combined Graduation Parade of the Indian Air Force cadets at the Air Force Academy at Dindigul. General Kapoor was the reviewing officer at the parade.

Replying to a question, the Army Chief said adequate troops were positioned along the border with Pakistan.

"We will be happy if Pakistan fights terror not only on its western borders but also on the eastern border (India), General Kapoor added.

To a question on China, the Army Chief said, "We have reasonably good relations with that country and there is no question of any kind of threat".

India never a threat to Pak: Army Chief
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, June 27
Allaying Pakistan’s apprehensions over positioning of troops along the border, the Chief of Army staff General Deepak Kapoor today said India never posed a threat to anyone despite having superior forces.

“It is their own perception of threat but India has never been a threat to Pakistan despite having superior forces,” the General said here, reacting to a statement made by Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on troop deployment along the border.

“From our side, we would like to live as peaceful neighbours,” he told newsmen after reviewing the Combined Graduation Parade of the Indian Air Force cadets at the Air Force Academy at Dindigul near here.

Answering a question, the Army chief said adequate troops were positioned along the border with Pakistan.

“We will be happy if Pakistan fights terror not only on its western borders but also on the eastern border (with India),” Gen Kapoor said.

Asked about possible threat from China, he said, “We have reasonably good relations with that country and there is no question of any kind of threat.”

Stating that there were some problems in terms of the unresolved border dispute, Gen Kapoor said a mechanism had been put in place with top leaders on both sides trying to settle the border dispute with China. “Hopefully, it gets resolved soon,” he said.

On the question of shortage of officers in the Indian Army, he said they were planning to increase the tenure of short service commission officers to fill the gap to an extent.

Plans were afoot to open second training academy for Army officers which would materialise soon, Gen Kapoor said but did not specify where it would be set up. The Commandant of the Air Force Academy, Dindigul, Air Vice-Marshal KJ Mathews was also present.

Earlier, the Army chief reviewed an impressive combined graduation parade and awarded the President's Commission to the flight cadets on behalf of the President. A total of 173 Flight Cadets passed out from Air Force Academy as flying officers to share the responsibilities of safe skies.

Pak: 22 militants killed as fighters strike Taliban bases

June 27, 2009 18:07 IST

At least 22 Taliban [Images] militants were killed and scores wounded as Pakistani war planes kept up their relentless strikes on the bases of Tehrik-e-Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud in restive Waziristan, while police shot dead five other radicals in Karachi on Saturday.

"Two Pakistani jets strafed bases run by commanders closely linked to Baitullah Mehsud in Makeen and Ladha, killing 12 to 15 militants and wounding another 17," an army statement said.

Pakistan Air Force fighters have been carrying out heavy air raids on major towns and on Taliban concentrations in South Waziristan as a softening of tactics before unleashing a major ground offensive targeted to get Mehsud and other high-value militants of Taliban and Al-Qaeda [Images], dead or alive.

Five more suspected Taliban militants were shot dead by police in a mid-night raid on the outskirts of Karachi.

"Police surrounded the house where the militants were hiding and asked them to surrender," a spokesman of the city police said.

"The militants opened fire which was retaliated by the police in which five militants with suspected links to Baitullah were killed. But six others managed to escape," he said.

Police recovered huge quantities of arms and ammunitions, suicide jackets and explosives from the house. Later, the spokesman said, the militants were apparently plotting large scale suicide bombings in the city.

In other incidents, militants fired six rockets at a para-military fort in Wanna, the main town of South Waziristan, an official said.

The security forces in turn shelled Taliban positions near the town killing two militants and injuring three others.

The running skirmishes between Taliban and military came as army continued to move troops, tanks and heavy artillery in preparation for a confrontation, which experts say would be one of the biggest test for Pakistani security forces in decades.

Ranged against heavily armed troops would be an estimated 12,000-15,000 Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants equally well armed but masters of hit-and-run tactics, learned from years of bloody experience in Afghanistan.

Though the army has been moving reinforcements for weeks in-and-around Wanna, there is yet no clue when the D-day would come.

"We cannot give you a timing. But we are moving at the right speed," Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmoud Qureshi told mediapersons at Trieste in Italy [Images], where he is attending a meeting on Afghanistan, Pakistan called on the sidelines of the G8 meeting.

Spending on defence sector may increase

K.V. Prasad

Emphasis on modernisation of tri services

NEW DELHI: In about a week’s time, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, in its second innings, will present its first full Budget, and there is anticipation that spending on the defence sector will be on the rise.

The emphasis of the government — as outlined in President Pratibha Patil’s address to Parliament — is that the defence forces will be fully enabled with modern technology to repel any threat, undertake steps to enhance combat efficiency, and address its requirement of modern warfare.

Criticism over allocation

Over the last two financial years, the government raised allocation to the Defence Ministry by over 10 per cent In the interim budget, the outgoing government provided Rs.1,41,703 crore, which was Rs.27,000 crore above the revised estimate of Rs.1,14,600 crore for 2008-09.

The trend is expected to be maintained, though there has been criticism that during the last five years of the UPA government, the total budgetary allocation remained between 1.97 per cent and 2.41 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product; much less when compared to India’s neighbours’, especially Pakistan.

Of the Rs.1,41,703 crore, capital expenditure amounted to Rs.54,824 crore, of which over Rs.40,000 crore was earmarked for modernisation, and the balance meant for capital acquisitions, including replacements.

Besides the ongoing modernisation of tri services, ordnance factories and the Defence Research and Development Organisation, the budget would have to take care of the increase in revenue expenditure, in the form of higher salaries and proposed changes in pension following the consistent demand for the ‘One Rank One Pay’ policy.

50 p.c. allocation to IAF

Nearly half the capital expenditure budget meant for defence goes to the Air Force, with the Navy and the Army sharing the other half. The Ministry has some ‘big-ticket’ deals in the offing, including the $10.2 billion 126 Medium Multi Range Combat Aircraft, for which the IAF will begin field trials this August.

There are also moves to acquire 197 Light Utility Helicopters for the Army and the IAF, while the Navy has already signed a deal for three Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft, besides negotiating the price of the Aircraft Carrier Admiral Gorshkov (rechristened INS Vikramaditya).

On an average, the Ministry plans to spend around $10 billion (Rs.40,000 crore) each year on capital expenditure, which, in a five-year range at conservative levels, would be at least $50 billion.

Besides acquiring new fighter aircraft, the IAF has been getting funds for upgrading its existing fleet of strike and transport aircraft, and for improving and upgrading airfields.

The Army has been receiving funds for artillery, missiles, and air defence, while the Navy has focussed on the development of an indigenous aircraft carrier, submarine, and on developing other platforms and shoring up assets for enhanced coastal security.

Terrorist threat still high in J&K says Antony

ANI Posted online: Thursday , Jun 25, 2009 at 1437 hrs

New Delhi : India on Thursday said infiltration from Pakistan has declined in the recent past, but the threat from terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir is "real" and there is no question of lowering the guard. "Of late, there has been a decline in infiltration in the borders but we cannot say it is an improvement," Defence Minister A K Antony told reporters after addressing the Unified Commanders' Conference here.

He made it clear that "there is no question of lowering our guard, especially in Jammu and Kashmir, as even now these terrorist outfits are working there. It is a real threat." Antony said the relations between India and Pakistan can "move forward" only if strong action is taken by Islamabad against anti-India outfits operating from across the border. "We are emphasising and trying to convince Pakistan that they have to take strong actions against the anti-India groups operating from there. Only then the two countries can move forward and we can help in improving relations," he said.

He termed the security situation in Pakistan as a "matter of great concern" for India. On India's plans to raise two mountain divisions in Arunachal Pradesh, he said, "India is not against any country. We want to maintain friendly and cordial relations with all our neighbours but at the same time it is our duty to increase our capabilities."

About his proposed meeting with US National Security Advisor (NSA) James Jones tomorrow, Antony said the security situation in the region, especially Afghanistan, is likely to figure among other issues in the discussions. "We are going to discuss the security scenario around us. While discussing this, we cannot avoid Afghanistan. Taliban is a threat to world peace and threat to our region and a threat to India also," he said. On the progress made on the issue of a Unified Command for the armed forces, the Defence Minister said that after initial resistance, the three services have realised the need to work together.

"There has been considerable progress in the last eight years. Initially there was resistance from three services but now they have realised the necessity of jointness because in the modern times just one service cannot protect the security of the nation and meet challenges," he said. "That realization is there. So, things are moving very fast and this conference is a turning point," he said.

When asked if the controversy on the issue of price of Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov could have any negative impact on Indo-Russian defence relations, the Minister said, "Discussions are going on for Admiral Gorshkov. As far as our defence relations with Russia are concerned, they are very cordial. There is no doubt about that."

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