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Wednesday, 23 September 2009

From Today's Papers - 23 Sep 09

The Pioneer

Asian Age

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Asian Age

Telegraph India

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Kashmir Times

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Times of India

Times of India

DNA India

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Ex-Armyman, a suspected ISI agent, arrested
Sanjay Singh
Tribune News Service

Patna, September 22
An ex-armyman suspected to be an operative of Pakistan’s ISI was arrested by the Special Task Force of Bihar police here on Monday night. The police recovered very sensitive military documents pertaining to deployment of troops and the upcoming Indian Ordnance Factory at Rajgir in Bihar’s Nalanda district from his possession.

Additional Director-General of Police (Headquarters) Neelmani said that Sudhakar was picked up from a house in the Kankarbagh area of the state capital on a tip off. Neelmani described his arrest to be a “big catch”.

Patna SSP Vinit Vinayak who interrogated the alleged ISI agent, told media persons that the man named Sudhanshu Sudhakar was a native of Dheng village in Sitamarhi district on the Indo-Nepal border. He was recruited in the Indian Army in 2002 for its EME centre at Secunderabad. But he was court marshaled on the charges of indiscipline and subsequently dismissed from service due to his suspicious activities in 2007.

Sudhakar told the police that he was on the pay-roll of an ISI module in Kathmandu named Rana for the past two years. He had met Rana thrice during this period and passed on classified information about the Indian Army like location of EME units and kind of missiles deployed on the western border. The police recovered five different SIM cards beside a Nepali number SIM card and mobile phone set from Sudhakar.

Counter terrorism officials issue alert across US

Associated Press, Tuesday September 22, 2009, Washington

Counter terrorism officials have issued security bulletins to police around the US about terrorist interest in attacking stadiums, entertainment complexes and hotels, the latest in a flurry of such internal warnings as investigators chase a possible bomb plot in Denver and New York.

The two bulletins, sent to police departments on Monday and obtained by The Associated Press, say they know of no specific plots against such sites, but urged law enforcement and private companies to be vigilant. These two bulletins followed hard on the heels of a similar warning about the vulnerabilities of mass transit systems.

The bulletin on stadiums notes an Al-Qaida training manual specifically lists "blasting and destroying the places of amusement, immorality, and sin... and attacking vital economic centres" as desired targets of the organisation.

"While DHS and FBI have no information regarding the timing, location or target of any planned attack, we believe it is prudent to remind transit authorities to remain vigilant," Homeland Security spokesman Sean Smith said on Monday night.

Separately, law enforcement officials said a Colorado man may have been planning with others to detonate backpack bombs on New York City trains in a terrorism plot similar to past attacks on London's and Madrid's mass-transit systems.

The investigation and the earlier warning about mass transit system have already prompted officials around the nation to step up patrols.

China’s military modernizes

By Amando Doronila

Philippine Daily Inquirer

BEIJING—The streets near our hotel, leading up to Tiananmen Square, are lined with military vehicles every day, participating in rehearsals for what is billed as China’s biggest military parade in a decade scheduled for Oct. 1, their national day celebrating the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. The military hardware that China will unveil in its show of force is still under wraps until the parade, but curious Beijing citizens throng the rehearsals to take a peek into how powerful militarily their country has become since the communist revolution liberated China from Kuomintang rule and capitalism.

As the anniversary approaches, the festive spirit rises along with the patriotic fervor stemming from a sense of achievement in an economy that has been booming for nearly two decades. The parks in the capital are full of people, young and old, doing graceful exercises to the tune of rhythmic music.

In a rare interview published on Monday, Defense Minister Liang Guanglie said that China’s military now possesses most of the sophisticated weapon systems found in the arsenals of developed Western nations. “This is an extraordinary achievement that speaks of our military’s modernization and the huge change in our technological strength,” Liang said.

He cited J-10 fighter jets, latest-generation tanks, navy destroyers, and cruise and intercontinental ballistic missiles as among the Chinese defense industry’s biggest achievements. He said the military’s goal is to achieve complete mechanization and computerization by 2020 and to produce a fully modern army before mid-century. Liang said he believed the parade would “display the image of a military force, a civilized force, a victorious force.”

The 2.3 million-member People’s Liberation Army is the world’s largest standing military and its modernization has been accompanied by gradual steps toward greater engagement with the outside world. Liang said China had contributed 13,000 troops to United Nations peace-keeping operations along with three navy flotillas that have joined in anti-piracy patrols off the coast of Somalia.

At the military parade to mark the 60th anniversary of China’s navy last April, Chinese military leaders openly admitted that they wanted to build bigger and better warships for missions far away from the country’s coastal waters. BBC quoted analysts as saying that despite improvements in recent years, China’s navy is still not on par with those of the world’s leading powers.

According to BBC, China has been building up its navy to cope with new threats and a changing political landscape. China used to focus its military spending on island forces, to counter potential problems from Russia, India and Vietnam. As those land-based threats receded, new areas of possible conflict have emerged at sea, BBC pointed out. “China has become more assertive in its claims over a string of islands to its east and south. This has led to arguments with, among others, Japan and Taiwan, a self-governing island that China says must be reunited with the mainland.”

China has been involved with, among others in Southeast Asia, the Philippines in territorial disputes over islands in the South China Sea, the Spratly Islands. In an interview at the Chinese foreign ministry last Friday, a group of visiting Filipino journalists raised the issue of the growing concerns of Filipinos over the build-up of the Chinese navy into a blue water, ocean going fleet.

Ma Jisheng, deputy director general of information in the foreign ministry, admitted that China’s relations with its close neighbors “are not as good” as they ought to be. “The South China Sea should develop as a sea of peace,” he said. “Territorial issues are only one aspect of bilateral relations. Trade is another.”

In the face of China’s naval expansion plans, Ma tried to allay Southeast Asian fears of aggressive Chinese intentions. He said, “It is not important whether our military technology is advanced or not. It is important how these weapons are used. We support and emphasize a policy of independence and peace in the region. We oppose any country interfering in the policy of another country. We want the South China Sea to be friendship sea. We do not have any intention to pursue some military actions in the South China Sea. We have never intended to solve South China Sea issues with military power. Our policy is the diplomacy of peace.”

BBC has reported that China operates the largest submarine force among Asian countries, consisting of 8 to 10 nuclear-powered submarines and 50 to 60 diesel-electric submarines.

The Chinese navy has been following a three-step strategy in its modernization program to develop a relatively modernized naval force that can operate within waters stretching from Japan in the north to Taiwan and the Philippines in the south. It aims to develop a regional naval force that can operate beyond the first island chain, which includes Guam, Indonesia and Australia.

According to BBC, China seems particularly keen to have an aircraft carrier, a warship that has symbolic power as well as practical uses. At the moment, China does not have such a vessel, despite the great strides made by its navy over the last 10 to 15 years.

Khan's disclosures vindicate India's stand on nuclear proliferation issue

Press Trust of India / New Delhi September 22, 2009, 11:42 IST

India's position that disgraced Pakistani nuclear scientist A Q Khan could not have acted individually stands vindicated with his admission that Islamabad was involved in the proliferation activities involving China, Iran, North Korea and Libya, experts say.

"In any case, it is very well known that A Q Khan and Pakistan had worked together in proliferation of nuclear technology. It was also known that China and Pakistan were working together. The letter by Khan is a confirmation of all these," former National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra said.

Commenting on the disclosures by Khan, former Foreign Secretary Shashank said the letter, written by Khan to his Dutch wife Henny, vindicated India's assertion that Pakistan's nuclear proliferation could not have been an individual's activity.

"The letter confirms India's assertion that Pakistan's proliferation business could not have been an individual's activity," he said."The network was running for a very long period of time and known to many governments and that there had been efforts to hide these activities," the former Foreign Secretary said.

Khan, in the letter, had said that Pakistani government and the military had a hand in the country's nexus with the controversial nuke programmes of Iran, North Korea and Libya.

The letter, details of which were published in the 'Sunday Times', was written by Khan to his wife after his arrest in 2003. Former High Commissioner to Pakistan G Parthasarathi was of the view that Khan's disclosures confirm China's help to Pakistan in developing its nuclear arsenal.

"It is a nuclear scientist blowing the lid on the fact that before Pakistan developed its enrichment capacities, the designing that A Q Khan got were passed onto China and China developed it and these guys nearly reverse engineered what the Chinese gave them," Parthasarathi said.

Mishra said the content of the letter also established the stand of the NDA government that China had helped Pakistan to develop nuclear weapons.

"Finally, the revelations confirmed what the NDA government had said at the time of Pokhran II. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had written a letter to the US, the UK, France and Russia in which he had said that China helped Pakistan to acquire nuclear arms. So India did not have any option but to conduct the tests," he said.

Former DRDO scientist K Santhanam said Khan was a national hero in Pakistan till he was found peddling nuclear technologies to other countries.

"When the bubble bursts, (Pervez) Musharraf could not prevent taking action against A Q Khan who was earlier honoured with Pakistan's highest civilian award," Santhanam said.

"In a sense, A Q Khan was a national hero for Pakistan as he put his country on the global nuclear map. Later, there were some developments in which he was found to have peddled nuclear technologies to some countries. Normally, sensitive technology trade is not done but he was doing it for pecuniary gain," he said.

No incursions, trust us: Chinese diplomat


ENTER THE DRAGON: China's Ambassador to India, Zhang Yan, has told the Indian media 'nothing is happening'.

New Delhi: Days after the Indian Government asked the media to eschew 'hype' over reported Chinese incursions, China's Ambassador to India Zhang Yan on Tuesday met Home Secretary G K Pillai in New Delhi and tried to clarify the picture.

"Nothing is happening. You listen to your leaders," Zhang told reporters when asked about his nearly half-an-hour meeting with Pillai.

The Chinese Ambassador's meeting came in the wake of repeated assertions by top Indian officials and the Army Chief that reported incursions have occurred due to differences in perception of the Line of Actual Control.

Even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh downplayed the incursions amid reports about Beijng's unhappiness at the way Chinese border transgressions have been reported in the Indian media to conjure up a China threat.

Seeking to deflate hype over reported Chinese intrusions across the undemarcated border, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao on Saturday stressed that there was "no significant increase" in incursions across all sections of the over 4,000 km border between the two countries.

"Contrary to the popular perception, the situation along the border has remained peaceful for decades," she said.

National Security Adviser M K Narayanan and Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor also cautioned against the media hype and stressed that there was nothing alarming about the reported incursions.

Narayanan expressed concern, saying that if such reports continued, "someone somewhere might lose his cool and something might go wrong".

Underlining the developing nature of relationship between India and China, Nirupama Rao, a former ambassador to China, said the leaderships of the two countries are in regular communication over important bilateral issues.

"We remain in constant touch over all mutual issues. The leadership-level understandings and communication remain open all the time," Nirupama Rao said.

Hand-in-Hand drill with China loses touch


Trucks on their way to the China border. (Picture by Eastern Projections)

New Delhi, Sept. 22: India and China are not going to be “Hand in Hand” this winter, abandoning the joint army drill of that name that is easily the biggest confidence-building measure between the two countries.

“We have not held any meetings to plan out the drill,” a senior army officer who would normally be involved in the liaisoning told The Telegraph today. “It is unlikely that there will be an episode of the exercise this year when our soldiers would have been expected to visit China since they were here last year.”

This season, there has been a flurry of reports — some confirmed officially — on repeated transgressions along the India-China border and the symbolism of the joint army exercise normally scheduled in December was expected to send out the message that the two sides were keeping the peace. India and China signed a memorandum of understanding in 2006 expressing their mutual desire to hold joint military exercises and institutionalise a “strategic dialogue”.

“Exercise Hand-in-Hand”, a joint training operation began in December 2007 when 103 soldiers of the Indian Army’s 15 Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry landed in Kunming, in China’s Yunnan province, for an eight-day drill. It was followed-up in December 2008 when a contingent of 130 from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, were received at the commando school in Belgaum, Karnataka, for drills with the 8 Maratha Light Infantry.

Both armies had agreed that the exercise — called a “joint training operation” —would be held every year. But after just two episodes, it looks like it has floundered.

When the first drill was held in December 2007, the world’s militaries took notice of the symbolism of two armies, that had gone to war in 1962, practising together. Soldiers of the companies involved struck a short-lived but warm friendship when they drank, danced, sang and, of course, attacked a mock enemy in a war game that ended with much fire and smoke in the Yangmei mountains close to Kunming.

A senior defence ministry official here said one of the reasons for not holding the drill this year was the austerity drive of the Centre. “It costs a lot of money to requisition an Indian Air Force aircraft and fly the soldiers to Kunming with all their equipment and sustain them,” he said.

In other words, the defence establishment in Delhi has concluded that the symbolism of the joint army drill is not worth it. The official points to the navy drills to make the point that military-to-military relations will continue. Indian warships made port calls in Qingdao and a Chinese PLA Navy warship visited Kochi in August. But a joint exercise of the two airforces, proposed in 2006, has not taken off.

“There seems to be a non-seriousness about the military drills,” agrees Shrikant Kondapalli, China-India border disputes expert with the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis. The scenarios for the wargames were highly unreal — for example, in December 2007 soldiers of the two armies were jointly targeting a terrorist group that had supposed wedged itself near a trading post on the international border.

China is India’s largest trading partner. But the unsettled disputes along the 3,500-km-long border irritate the bilateral relationship that threatened to go into a tailspin this month after the Indian army chief, General Deepak Kapoor, confirmed that there were intrusions, including a helicopter landing, by the Chinese military in disputed territory.

Subsequently, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, national security adviser M.K. Narayanan and General Kapoor said the tensions were not worrisome and a senior home ministry official even threatened to prosecute two journalists for writing a report — vehemently denied — that there was firing across the border in July.

“The symbolism (of a joint training operation) in this background is of value,” says Kondapalli. “But I think the two sides have concluded that even if the exercise is not held, it will not impact on bilateral relations.”

Territorial Army to raise, deploy all-women wing in northeast, J&K

Ajay Sura , TNN 22 September 2009, 03:49am IST

RAJOURI: The Territorial Army, a reserve force of trained civilians for the Indian Army, proposes to raise two all-women battalions, and deploy

one each in insurgency-hit areas of northeast and Jammu and Kashmir.

The project has the defence ministry's nod and is being given a final shape, sources said. At present, women can only join as doctors and nurses in the Territorial Army, which has a strength of 40,000.

The decision to deploy these battalions, around 300-women force, in counter-insurgency areas has been taken in view of an increasing number of women in militancy operations and to help deflect any kind of allegations of sexual abuse of local women by male soldiers, Rajouri-based spokesperson for TA unit of 38 Rashtriya Rifles said.

These battalions would primarily be used to investigate and interrogate women militants and female residents during counter-insurgency operations. They would also be deployed at the gates of fencing near the Line of Control for checking the movement of local residents, especially women.

There are incidents when a lot of hue and cry is raised and allegations of human rights violations levelled against officers carrying out search operations in insurgency-hit villages, the officer added. There have been instances when suspected women militants have managed to escape when such ruckus is kicked up, the spokesman said.

With the deployment of women battalion, we would not only be able to curb militancy but our operational procedure would also become more transparent. The necessity to set up all-women TA battalion was felt when the security agencies observed that terror outfits were using women against them, he said. They have clear instructions from their mentors that once across the border, they are to rely heavily on women ground workers to hit out at security officials involved in counter-insurgency operations, he added. Many women have been arrested in the past, who worked as couriers and overground workers of militants.

The Territorial Army is a voluntary, part-time Citizens Army, consisting of people who are not professional soldiers but civilians eager to do their bit for the country's defence. It acts as a reserve for the regular Army in times of need and draws men from the 18-42 age group.

On joining the TA, officers have to undergo mandatory training of arms handling and crisis management. In Jammu and Kashmir, the Army guards around 740 km of Line of Control (LoC) and the Border Security Force (BSF) 216km of international border. The BSF has now inducted women battalions and deployed them along the border.

Security forces ready to meet terror threats: Chidambaram

Press Trust of India / New Delhi September 22, 2009, 11:36 IST

In the backdrop of intelligence inputs of a possible terror threat during the festive season, Home Minister P Chidambaram today said security forces would give a "swift and decisive" response to such challenges.

"We are increasing our level of preparedness to meet any terror threat or terror attack. And in case of a terror threat or terror attack our response will be swift and decisive," he told reporters on the sidelines of a function to mark the inauguration of 22 new police stations in the capital.

Chidambaram said security and intelligence forces were capable of dealing with any threat to the nation.

"Don't present an alarmist picture. We are fully aware of the threats from across the border. We have good intelligence. We are taking preventive steps," he said when asked to comment on reported threat to the assembly elections in Maharashtra next month.

Israel had issued a travel warning last week for its nationals which said there was an "imminent and concrete" input of terror strike by LeT.

Victorian Premier John Brumby had cancelled his planned trip to Mumbai following a travel advisory from the Australian Government that terrorists may be planning terror attacks in the city. Chidambaram also lauded the Delhi Police officers on the arrest of a top naxal leader Kobad Gandhi following a tip off from Central intelligence agencies.

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