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Tuesday, 18 August 2009

From Today's Papers - 18 Aug 09

DNA India

The Pioneer

Asian Age

The Pioneer

Indian Express

Hindustan Times

Indian Express

Asian Age

Asian Age

Asian Age

Asian Age

DNA India

DNA India

Asian Age

The Pioneer

The Pioneer

The Pioneer

The Pioneer

Times of India

9 Pak intruders nabbed on Kutch coast

Ahmedabad, August 17
On a day when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke of terror groups in Pakistan plotting fresh attacks in India, the Border Security Force said it foiled an infiltration bid today by arresting nine Pakistani nationals who had alighted from a boat in the coastal Sir Creek area in Kutch district.

"We had information some people from across the border were trying to infiltrate into Indian territory. So we conducted a special operation and apprehended nine men," a BSF spokesperson told PTI. "All of them are middle-aged and arrived in a boat that has been seized," he added.

Last year the terrorists who attacked Mumbai, had hijacked an Indian fishing boat from near the marshy Sir Creek area, which is prone to crossborder intrusions, before reaching close to the city in that boat.

“The men who were apprehended today looked like fishermen but, following interrogation, it was found they were not fishermen”, the BSF spokesperson said. Arun Kumar Sinha, IG (Gujarat Frontier), said preliminary investigations showed six of the arrested men were engaged in fishing activities while three were not. — PTI

President's bodyguards convicted in rape case

Sidhath Pandey, Tuesday August 18, 2009, New Delhi

The Presidential Bodyguards are the last line of defence for the nation's first citizen.

On Monday four former jawans of this elite service at the Delhi's Patiala Court were present handcuffed under police escort.

On October 6, 2003, these four men overpowered a 17-year-old and her boyfriend who had gone to the Buddha Jayanti Park behind Rashtrapati Bhawan. Two of them acted as lookouts while the other two gang-raped the teenager.

After a six year long legal battle, the judge on Monday just took a two minutes to pronounce all of them guilty.

"They can be sentenced for 10 years or perhaps seven years," said Ranbir Sharma, Advocate for Harpreet Singh.

Six years ago these four men had the duty and honour of guarding the President. However, they fell from grace and the law has finally caught up with them. They will be sentenced on the 22nd of this month.

President’s elite guards guilty of student rape


New Delhi, Aug. 17: Four suspended soldiers of the President’s Body Guard were today convicted in connection with the daylight gang-rape of a 17-year-old student in the Rashtrapati Bhavan’s backyard.

The Delhi University student and her boyfriend had gone to Buddha Jayanti Park on October 6, 2003, when they were attacked by the four men, who were in uniform. After robbing the couple, two of the soldiers allegedly raped the girl while the other two kept watch.

The President’s Body Guard is an elite cavalry regiment of the army and is based in the Rashtrapati Bhavan, where its primary duty is to escort and protect the President.

Then President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam did not make any public statement on the crime but his long-time secretary P.M. Nair has written in his book The Kalam Effect: “Kalam, normally so composed, was more angry than I had ever seen him.”

A city court found all four men guilty of kidnapping and robbery. Harpreet Singh and Satyendra Singh have been convicted also of gang-rape, and Kuldeep Singh and Manish Kumar of being accomplices. “I convict all of you. The argument on quantum of sentence would be heard on August 22,” the additional sessions judge said.

Harpreet and Satyendra can be jailed for 10 years or for life while the other two can expect at least seven years. The convicts, all of whom are in their early 30s, have already spent nearly six years in jail.

The men belong to Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh and are cadres of the 1990-1995 batch of the army. Three of them are married.

The President’s Body Guard is a mounted unit, with horses for ceremonies at the presidential palace and BTR-60s, which are armoured personnel carriers, for use in combat. In 2003, it had seven officers, 15 NCOs and 140 enlisted men.

The prosecution presented 25 witnesses but the clinching evidence came from the victim who identified the four men and gave a detailed description of the crime.

Defence lawyer Ranbir Sharma said he would appeal in Delhi High Court after he received a copy of the judgment. He suggested the prosecution case had holes and that some evidence may have been planted. “The boyfriend of the victim, who claims the accused beat him up badly, couldn’t identify them,” Sharma said.

The families of the accused, some of whom were in Delhi today, said they respect the verdict. “If the court has found him guilty… if he has done this, he should be punished,” said Satyendra’s grandfather Ganpat Singh.

Aid to Pak is directed against us, India tells US

India on Monday said that it has conveyed to the United States that all forms of aid provided to Pakistan is 'invariably directed' against New Delhi [ Images ] and providing more arms to Islamabad [ Images ] will not help the peace process in the region.

"We have told the US that particularly in the case of Pakistan, whatever aid in whatever form has been given to them, is invariably directed against India and this has been emphatically registered with the US government," External Affairs Minister S M Krishna [ Images ] told reporters when asked about US' plans to provide more military aid to Pakistan.

Indicating that arms supply to Pakistan by the US would be a big hurdle in creating peace in the region, Krishna said, "We would like the region to be cleared of any armament competition and we would like the region to be peaceful and sending more arms in the region will certainly not help the process."

He said it was the US' responsibility to ensure that the aid provided by it to any nation was used only for the purpose for which it was sanctioned.

Commenting on a controversial bill relating to women passed by the Afghanistan government recently, the minister said, "You know that India is a civilised nation and you know that it always respects women. We would certainly expect this to be reciprocated by various other countries subject to the law of the land of that country."

Gallantry award for IAF sergeant
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 17
Presence of mind shown by IAF sergeant Bipin Kumar onboard a service aircraft flying at 25,000 feet prevented a major incident and saved lives of 42 IAF and army personnel last year. As a mark of recognition, Bipin has been decorated with the Vayu Sena Medal for gallantry on occasion of the Independence Day.

Posted as a flight engineer on an AN-32 aircraft number 48 squadron in Chandigarh, Bipin was detailed for a sortie to Leh on November 6, 2008. The aircraft took off from Chandigarh at 5.30 am with 38 Army troopers and four crew members. All was normal till the check doors warning beeped in the cockpit, indicating that one of the doors was not secure.

It was due to the professional acumen of Bipin that he left the cockpit to check the reason for the warning activation in the cargo compartment that indicated that only one light was on, instead of all four that indicated that the door was securely shut.

Ensuring that the passengers were safe, he assisted the captain in emergency measures. The crew was able to handle the emergency effectively and managed to land the aircraft with a hanging rear ramp-door at Chandigarh without further incident.

Who rules Pakistan?

A seemingly minor incident was reported by India's Hindu newspaper. It said that in a surprise move Lt. General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the Director General of Inter Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) indicated that the three Indian military attaches of the army, navy and air force could come and have a cup of tea in his office. This was a surprise move because protocol-wise such requests are made, and in the case of India, seldom listened to. The three went there on July 3.

What went on in the conversation is not fully known. According to the Hindu of July 23 General Pasha suggested, i.e. demanded, that in the next round of Indo-Pakistan dialogue ISI should be given a seat. For, after all, Pakistan's India policy and much else is dominated, if not conducted, by ISI. He could have said that the entire orientation of Pakistan foreign policy is governed by the Pakistani army, the main talking arm being the ISI. The cornerstone of Pakistan's foreign policy is relations with the US. As a corollary, what goes on in Afghanistan has been ISI's remit.

The importance of the army in Pakistan is shown by its budget structure. As a minister said recently, over 80 percent of Pakistan's budget is exhausted by just two items; defence and debt servicing. The reality is somewhat more than this bald statement. Internal security as such is also within the four walls of the army's duties-cum-privileges.

Indian authorities were pulled in two different directions by this demand. Realism would seem to suggest that there was substance in what General Pasha said. Why not give ISI a seat in the Indo-Pakistan dialogue? But the whole ethos of India's political system is against it. In this respect, although there is some erosion at the edges, the Indian army is largely subordinate to the government.

No government is ever so foolish as not to take the views of the military high command as an input in their decision-making. But presence of an army general in inter-governmental talks would be a violation of the ethos of Indian politics. One does not know what the final decision of the Indians will be, but one will be mighty surprised if India accedes to this demand.

But what Shuja Pasha was saying is a reality insofar as Pakistan is concerned. Pakistan has had a recognised term for its government during the 1990s -- troika. At that time, it simply meant that three persons count: the army chief, the president and the prime minister. But that system was the reality behind formal democracy. But what obtains today would require a new dimension to the troika. Now it has remained three: the Pentagon in Washington, President Zardari and the Army Chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani. The poor prime minister has been neither here nor there in real power terms, though he tries from time to time to assert himself and proclaim that he is the chief executive of the country. The very fact that he has to proclaim it shows that there are widespread doubts about it.

Some would be amazed by the inclusion of a foreign government's agency, no matter how powerful it is. One includes it because of the extensive role that it is now playing in Pakistan. No week passes when a top general of the American army or Nato forces is not visiting Islamabad. They all come basically to meet the army chief and to get a briefing from him, and to brief him regarding what is needed. America's role is not simply intrusive, it is also decisive. The military offensives in FATA and Malakand show that the American word is paramount.

As for President Asif Ali Zardari, he is truly in command of the National Assembly as well as many other organisations of the state like the Senate and the Sindh Assembly. The reason for it is that he is also the party chief of the Pakistan People's Party; which he controls tightly. All the PPP deputies in various Assemblies take their orders from him. Thus, he has come to acquire a crippling control over the Senate and National Assembly. In NWFP and Punjab the PPP is a junior partner of a coalition that does not wish to remain a coalition. But the president wants the unwilling coalition to stay in Punjab. Therefore it stays in Punjab, NWFP and Balochistan; in Sindh it does not matter because the PPP is in the majority, though it has taken other parties as coalition partners to give substance to its refrain of reconciliation meant for ensuring a share in power in the other three provinces.

Insofar as the army chief is concerned, it is unnecessary to emphasise that his word counts, and it is sought in any difficult situation. The government of Pakistan has handed over the entire national security question to the army; army agencies control much else. In any crisis, such as the one on March 15 when the lawyers' rally had swelled to impossible proportions, the army chief, probably on Pentagon's advice, forced Zardari to surrender and do as the lawyers' movement leaders said -- to restore all the sacked judges without any conditions.

It was total surrender by Zardari because he was holding out against the restoration of the judges. What else lay behind his antipathy to the restoration of the judges is not known. Typically, it was the army chief who conveyed the government's decision at midnight to the lawyers' leader that the government had agreed to all their terms.

The democracy in Pakistan is fledgling at best. There are powerful vested interests such as the landed aristocracy. A vast majority of the members of the Assemblies are landed gentry; they do not pass any legislation that hurts big landlords, nor do they allow any taxes on themselves. Then there is the military; the government survives at the mercy of the army chief.

During the last 40 years three coups have taken place (one coup took place in 1950s when Pakistan was united). The army in Pakistan is definitely not a subordinate department of the government. At most, it can be said that it is coeval in political importance of the government on day-to-day basis but inheritantly stronger because it can throw any government into the dustbin anytime.

Pakistan's troubles are due to two factors. One, it has no political class that understands its problem and is efficient enough to lead the country out of its troubles, while its government knows how to spend without being ready to increase tax-GDP ratio, or lead the country to produce more efficiently to cover the cost of imports. Efficiency in terms of cost, quality and packaging is not insisted upon.

On top of it all, the powers that be are dead set on running an arms races with India in all spheres -- nuclear weapons, missiles and conventional armaments. Islamabad is on a borrowing binge, but donors are tired of lending to what they say is a failing state. When and how will Pakistan change its ways?

M.B. Naqvi is a leading Pakistani columnist.

North Korea puts troops on alert over South Korea-US war games


August 17th, 2009

SEOUL - North Korea Monday put its troops on alert as an annual joint South Korean-US war game commenced and accused its neighbour of planning an attack.

North Korea would react to any provocation with a “merciless and prompt annihilating strike at the aggressors with all offensive and defensive means, including nuclear deterrent”, state media quoted the high command of the Korean People’s Army as saying.

South Korean’s defence ministry played down the statement, saying it was part of Pyongyang’s usual posturing in reaction to the annual war games. A ministry spokesman said South Korea could not detect any unusual army movements in the North.

The military exercises, which were scheduled to end Aug 27 involves 10,000 US troops and 56,000 South Korean soldiers.

Earlier Monday, North Korea said it was to reopen its borders for South Korean tourists and family reunions for relatives divided by the inter-Korean border as well as ease access to a jointly operated industrial park in a North Korean border town.

Madhavan's defence mechanism

KUNAL M SHAH , MUMBAI MIRROR 17 August 2009, 09:14am IST

So what if R Madhavan’s plans to join the Indian army were thwarted? He has kept alive his love for the defence force through his films. After he played a dashing air force pilot in Rang De Basanti, he plays Lieutenant Colonel Rajesh Rao in his next film, Sikandar. Madhavan, who wanted to be an army officer ever since he was a young boy, plays an army commander of the area where Sikandar, whom the film is based on, lives.

Talking about Madhavan’s reaction after he heard the script, director Piyush Jha said, “After the narration, I sat back wondering where this was leading. Then Madhavan suddenly smiled and said that he believed the role of Lt Col Rajesh Rao was made for him. He told me that he was a diligent NCC cadet in his growing years. He wanted to join the army but his application was rejected because he had crossed the age cut-off by six months. He was also awarded the Maharashtra Best Cadet award when he was 22 years old. This granted him a trip with three other NCC Cadets to England where he received training with the Royal Army, the Navy and the Air Force.”

“After Madhavan lost out on being in the army, he took lessons in public speaking, which eventually helped him enter the film industry. Somehow, he couldn’t follow that dream and ended up becoming a film star instead,” added Jha.

Jha, of course, wasn’t oblivious to Madhavan’s army aspirations. He said “But, I didn’t tell him that I knew about his desire to be an army man and that’s precisely why I had approached him for the role.”

• After Madhavan lost out on being in the army, he took lessons in public speaking, which eventually helped him enter the film industry – Piyush Jha Director

Check out Madhavan’s Pics

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