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Thursday, 6 August 2009

From Today's Papers - 06 Aug 09

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Action against Major-Gen for bungling
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 5
The Army has initiated disciplinary proceedings against a major-general from Army Ordnance Corps (AOC) for alleged bungling in procurement of equipment and supplies meat for troops proceeding abroad for a United Nations peacekeeping mission.

Sources said Major-Gen Anil Swarup, officiating Commandant of the School for Materials Management, Jabalpur, has been attached with Headquarters 9 Corps in Himachal Pradesh for commencement of disciplinary proceedings.

He could face a possible trial by general court martial, depending upon the outcome of further proceedings.

The orders for his attachment came a day before he was to retire from service at the end of last month.

He had challenged the proceedings against him in the Delhi High Court. A stay imposed by the high court on subsequent proceedings was vacated last week.

The Army thereafter invoked Section 123 of the Army Act, which empowers it to take action against individuals who have retired.

Earlier this year, a court of inquiry (COI) presided over by Lt-Gen PC Katoch, Director-General Information Systems at Army Headquarters held General Swarup blameworthy of financial misappropriation in the purchase of items like clothing, accessories, generator sets and associated equipment for a unit deploying overseas on a United Nations mission in 2007.

The COI found that prices of items so procured were heavily inflated vis-à-vis general market rates.

The findings of the COI were forwarded to the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command, Chandimandir for directions, who ordered disciplinary action against the blameworthy officer.

The alleged misappropriations took place when General Swarup was posted as Additional Director General (ADG), Ordnance Services at Army Headquarters.

Proceedings are also underway against another AOC major-general, who had held
the same post.

Pakistan bans JuD, LeT

Press Trust of India, Wednesday August 5, 2009, Islamabad

The Pakistan government has banned 25 religious and other organisations, including the Jamaat-ud-Dawah, Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Toiba, the Interior Ministry said on Wednesday.

The ministry presented a list of the banned organisations in the National Assembly or Lower House of Parliament. It also said the Sunni Tehrik had been put on a watch list.

Among the organisations included in the list of outlawed groups are JuD, LeT, JeM, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariah Muahammadi, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Al-Akhtar Trust, Al-Rasheed Trust, Tehreek-e-Islami, Islamic Students Movement, Khair-un-Nisa International Trust, Islami Tehreek-e-Pakistan, Lashkar-e-Islam, Balochistan Liberation Army, Jamiat-un-Nisar, Khadam Islam and Millat-e-Islamia Pakistan.

A majority of the groups have been linked to terrorist attacks and suicide bombings in Pakistan. India has blamed the JuD, LeT and JeM for several attacks on its soil, including the Mumbai attacks and the 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament.

Pakistan banned the JuD after the UN Security Council declared it a front for the LeT in December last year. The LeT and JeM were banned by the country in 2002.

N.Korea-US nuclear standoff may ease
by Rupert Cornwell

As always, it is hard to read the mind of North Korea, and never more so than now, after a string of provocative missile tests by the regime and speculation over Kim Jong-il’s health and grip on power. It is widely believed that he is about to transfer power to his youngest son Kim Jong-un.

It would nonetheless have been astonishing had what was clearly a carefully choreographed event not led to freedom for the two journalists. For Mr Clinton to return empty-handed after meetings, not just with the two women but with Mr Kim and some of his senior aides, would have been a humiliation that would have served the interests of neither party. Beyond that however, nothing was certain.

The White House yesterday was sticking to the fiction that the visit was “solely private”, denying reports that Mr Clinton had delivered a message from President Obama during his meeting with the North Korean leader. In fact, this first high-profile use in the Obama era of the former president as a special envoy, surely is anything but a freelance operation.

The opening for it came with a change of language by Mr Clinton’s own wife. The Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently began urging an “amnesty” for Euna Lee and Laura Ling, implicitly conceding that the two had broken the laws of North Korea.

Such adjustments do not happen by accident – nor does a full dress meeting with Kim Jong-il within hours of a visiting dignitary’s arrival, welcomed by a high-level party including the North Korea’s chief nuclear negotiator.

Given the regard in which the former US president is held in Pyongyang, the visit might do a lot more than secure the release of the two women. It may also pave the way for a breakthrough in the tortuous nuclear dispute between the US and North Korea.

North Korea may have decided that after the recent escalation of tensions with Washington, it is time to cool things down – and that Mr Clinton’s visit, ostensibly a mercy mission, is the ideal vehicle for something much broader and of mutual benefit.

Unfiltered talks with a top American of the stature of the former president satisfy the North’s craving for direct bilateral dealings with the US. For Pyongyang, this is something of a coup, as it represents confirmation of the regime’s legitimacy and importance. Some will say the former president’s visit is a mistake that rewards bad behaviour. But Washington may be prepared to concede this in the hope of making gains on the nuclear issue.

Ironically, the last former US president to go to North Korea was Jimmy Carter in 1994. The then occupant of the White House was Mr Clinton, grappling with an earlier crisis over Pyongyang’s secret nuclear programme in which Washington came close to bombing the North’s key nuclear facility at Yongbyon.

By the end of his presidency, relations improved to the point that Madeleine Albright, the Secretary of State at the time, went to North Korea, and only lack of time prevented Mr Clinton doing so himself. His officials counselled against an 11th-hour mission that might have ended in failure. That ambition has now been fulfilled.

— By arrangement with The Independent

Children from J&K visit Western Command Headquarters
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 5
Thirty children from Ramban district of Jammu and Kashmir today visited the Headquarters, Western Command, Chandi Mandir, as part of an educational tour being conducted by the Rashtriya Rifles.

Interacting with the children, the GOC-in-C, Western Command, Lieut-Gen TK Sapru asked them to spread the message of peace and communal harmony and also witness the rapid development made by the nation in the field of information technology, education and medical facilities during their trip.

Before arriving at Chandigarh, the children visited places like Baglihar Dam, Jallianwala Bagh, Wagah border, Golden Temple and Army Public Schools in Amritsar and Beas.

During their stay here, they were taken to Chhatbir zoo, Sukhna Lake and the Rock Garden. They will also visit Bahu Fort and Bag-e-Bahu, near Jammu, before their tour culminates on August 8.

The tour is being organised as part of Operation Sadbhavana.

Independent Kashmir the only option: Pakistan

Nearly three weeks after the Indo-Pak joint statement in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Pakistan today insisted that there was no change in its foreign policy and raked up its demand for an "independent Kashmir [ Images ]" for "long-lasting" peace in South Asia.

Asked if Pakistan's foreign policy had witnessed a U-turn in recent times, Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said there was no major change in the country's stance on issues concerning external affairs.

"There has been no change in our foreign policy. We want an independent Kashmir. We want the Kashmir issue to be resolved in accordance with the wishes of the people," Basit told newsmen here.

There was no mention of Kashmir in the Indo-Pak joint statement that was issued on July 16 after the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [ Images ] and his Pakistan counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani [ Images ] in Sharm-el-Sheikh on the sidelines of the summit of Non-Aligned Movement.

In the joint statement India and Pakistan said "dialogue is the only way forward" and New Delhi [ Images ] agreed to "discuss all issues with Pakistan, including all outstanding issues".

"On a basic level until the issue of Kashmir is resolved we cannot imagine long-lasting peace in the region," Basit said.

He said with a democratically-elected government at the helm in Pakistan, the diplomatic tools available with it had increased.

"We can use these tools better to achieve our foreign policy objectives," Basit said.

He maintained that dialogue was necessary to address all issues between the two countries.

"As far as India is concerned, we have issues, which should be resolved through dialogue. We have always tried to do so. Presently terrorism is a major problem before us which needs to be addressed," he said.

Infiltrators keep off

By: MiD DAY Correspondent Date: 2009-08-06 Place: Delhi

While the netas talk only peace, the Army has devised a three-rung system to make the border impenetrable

Even as five rounds of composite dialogue process and a number of high profile visits later the stalemate between India and Pakistan continues, the Indian Army has formulated a new response to one of the most controversial issues between the two countries cross-border infiltration.

Though post 26/11 it was proved beyond doubt that India had left too many porous points for the ultras to enter its territory yet the focal point of cross-border infiltration the Line of Control is in the process of being made insurmountable.

Instead of countering the militants through isolated check posts and patrols, the Indian Army has put in place a three-tier security system along the Line of Control. The system is part of the Army's new counter-insurgency (CI) philosophy.

The first tier of the CI grid begins right at the line of control in the form of border fencing. If a terrorist manages to cross, which happens rarely, then he never escapes the next rounds that are manned by a large number of troops, said a senior army officer, requesting anonymity.

The second ring of security leads to another ring of heavily armed soldiers who form the ultimate line of defence.

"There is no empty patch in the entire areas and the soldiers are posted in a very close-knit formation so that the entire area is covered," the officer said.

The new CI grid has already started paying dividends.

A recent infiltration bid which was occurring simultaneously from five points along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir was not only successfully foiled by the troops but an area commander of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen Noor Mohammad was killed.

The dreaded terrorist Noor Mohammed managed to escape through the border fencing he got killed between the second and the third tier. He was armed with an AK-47 and three magazines while the terrorists killed on other spots were also heavily armed.

Areas under south Kashmir in the Pir Panjal range are the hot bed of terrorism and the most suited for the militants trying to cross over from Pakistan. There has been a sudden spurt in the militant activity as the infiltration becomes almost impossible as the winter sets in. "They are trying to maintain their presence in the area and this is the best time for them. More such infiltration bids cannot be denied but this time we are more prepared. All the infiltration bids in the recent past have been foiled," the officer said.

Bindra set for Territorial Army

He had the gun and now he will get the uniform! Beijing Olympic Games gold-medallist Abhinav Bindra will soon don the Indian Army’s olive green uniform, as the ace rifle marksman gets ready to be inducted in the Territorial Army (TA).

“He will be commissioned as an honorary Major in the 102 TA (Infantry) battalion of the Punjab Regiment under the Western Command. The battalion’s headquarters are in Kalka near Chandigarh and it is currently based in the valley,” said a high-ranking Army official.

Last year, cricketer Kapil Dev was commissioned in the 150 TA (Infantry) battalion as an honorary Lieutenant Colonel. “Bindra will be the TA’s ambassador and I am sure he will motivate the youth to become part of the defence forces,” said another Army officer on condition of anonymity. All that remains now is for his name to be approved by the TA Directorate.

The officer said that once the formality was completed the badges would be pipped on Bindra’s shoulders at a ceremony in the Delhi to be attended by top army officials.

“But some minor formalities need to be completed, before the date for the ceremony is announced. Most likely, it will be in the second or third week of the August,” he said.

The honorary rank will make Bindra eligible for the World Military Games.

“By selecting Bindra for this honour, the Army has acknowledged his achievement,” said a sportsperson.

Army vice-chief’s appointment kicks up a row

DNA Correspondent / DNA

The Indian military establishment will see sweeping changes in the next few weeks. While most changes are routine and necessitated by retirements and end of tenures across the army, navy and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), one appointment has raised many an eyebrow.

The army’s refusal to appoint the senior-most Lieutenant General, VK Singh, the next vice-chief has kicked up a serious debate. Many are wondering if there is a larger design behind the move. By tradition, Singh should move to Delhi and take over from General Deepak Kapoor when he retires as the army chief.

Sources said the army headquarters had recommended Lieutenant General PC Bhardwaj, chief of the Udhampur-based northern command, as the next vice-chief. They said the defence minister may have made a last-minute intervention to salvage the situation, but Singh, who heads the Kolkata-based eastern command, may not become the vice-chief. An MoD officer said defence minister AK Antony would go by the army

chief’s recommendation.

On the other hand, lobbying is under way by various groups for the post of the next DRDO chief. Incumbent M Natarajan, who is also scientific advisor to the defence minister, is retiring at month-end. His replacement will be chosen by the government from the military research agency’s senior chief comptrollers, who include BrahMos missile corporation chief A Sivathanu Pillai, chief of aeronautical laboratories Dipankar Banerjee and VK Saraswat, who is in charge of missile and strategic systems.

Meanwhile, the navy is set for about a dozen peaceful changes at the top. Vice-Admiral and eastern naval commander Nirmal Verma will take over from Admiral Sureesh Mehta when the navy chief retires at the end of the month. Vice-Admiral Anup Singh, presently deputy chief of the integrated defence staff, will replace Verma as the eastern command chief.

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