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Thursday, 1 October 2009

From Today's Papers - 01 Oct 09

Asian Age

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Asian Age

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Indian Express

Times of India

Don’t expect India to sign NPT in present form: IAEA chief
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 30
India today found an unexpected supporter from Mohammed ElBaradei chief of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in its opposition to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT).

In an interview to a private television channel, he said he did not expect India to sign the NPT but felt the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty could be more acceptable to New Delhi.

“I don’t expect India to sign the NPT in its present form. Maybe, the CTBT would be more acceptable,” said ElBaradei, who was presented with the prestigious Indira Gandhi award for peace, disarmament and development for 2008 by President Pratibha Patil earlier in the day.

His remarks assume significance in the wake of the United Nations Security Council adopting a resolution asking all non-NPT states, including India, to sign the NPT. India has made it clear that it will not sign the pact as a non-weapon state as atomic arsenals are integral to its security.

The chief of the IAEA said India has to lead efforts for complete nuclear disarmament, an idea it first mooted back in 1948.

ElBaradei said the world was looking at India for the future of nuclear energy research and development, according to a press release issued by the news channel.

Reacting to the reports saying that Iran was developing a secret uranium enrichment plant, he said Tehran was “on the wrong side of the law” by not declaring its plans when construction began.

Meanwhile, seeking international cooperation in its efforts for a major expansion in the nuclear programme, India today said benefits of atomic energy should not remain confined to a "privileged few" as it was vital to meet power requirements of developing countries.

"We need the concerted and collective efforts of the international community to promote peaceful uses of nuclear energy as widely as possible," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said at a function where ElBaradei was conferred the coveted Indira Gandhi Peace Prize.

Ex-Pak army men, ISI ‘trained’ 26/11 attackers
Ashish Kumar Sen writes from Washington

Former members of Pakistan's military and the Inter-Services Intelligence agency trained the gunmen who attacked Mumbai in November, a senior member of the militant group Lashkar-e-Toiba has told a US newspaper.

The New York Times said the militant revealed the Mumbai attackers were part of groups trained by officials at Lashkar camps in Pakistan. Other officials had "direct knowledge" that retired army and ISI officials trained Lashkar recruits.

“Some people of the ISI knew about the plan and closed their eyes,” one senior Lashkar operative in Karachi said, adding that he had met some of the gunmen before they left for the Mumbai assault. The operative, however, denied knowing about the gunmen's deadly mission.

Describing the nexus between the ISI and the militant group, the member told the newspaper “only a thin distance separated the Lashkar and the ISI, (which too was) bridged by former ISI and military officials.” The Lashkar militants spoke on the condition of anonymity so as not to upset others in the group or the Pakistani authorities. A senior US intelligence official told the paper the ISI was believed to maintain its ties with Lashkar. However, an American law enforcement official said no credible evidence had emerged linking the Pakistani government to the Mumbai attacks.

Senior ISI officials disputed suggestions that their agency was still consorting with the Lashkar. “Prior to 9/11, we had a very strong contact with the LeT, even on the leadership level,” one senior Pakistani intelligence official said in an interview with the newspaper. “But after 9/11, we broke our contacts with not only the LeT but also the Taliban.” The official bemoaned the manner in which these ties had allegedly been severed. “Today we think that it would have been better if we had not cut our ties with them the way we did,” the official said, “so that we could control them more.”

A Pakistani investigation concludes “beyond any reasonable doubt” that it was Lashkar militants who carried out the Mumbai attacks. The Pakistani authorities have arrested seven men linked to that attack, including Zaki ur-Rehman Lakhvi, Lashkar's chief of operations. A senior Lashkar militant said the group was divided — with the operational wing, led by Lakhvi, chafing for more attacks on India, and the spiritual wing, led by LeT founder Hafeez Saeed, advocating a more cautious approach. A senior Pakistani intelligence official said some members of the Lashkar might have acted on their own. “Lashkar went rogue,” the Pakistani intelligence official said. “Perhaps LeT or dissident factions wanted to emerge as a global player,” like Al-Qaida.

Indian and Pakistani dossiers on the Mumbai investigations, copies of which were obtained by the newspaper, reveal details of four houses and two training camps in Karachi that were used to prepare the attacks. The dossiers are "laced with barbs and recriminations, reflecting the increasingly acid tenor of the relations" between Indian and Pakistani intelligence services, the newspaper said. “The only cooperation we have with the Pakistanis is that they send us their terrorists, who kill our people, and we kill their terrorists,” said a senior Indian intelligence official in an interview. A senior Pakistani intelligence official made a zero with his thumb and forefinger when asked how much his agency communicated with its Indian counterpart.

Despite pledges from Pakistan to dismantle militant groups operating on its soil, the LeT has persisted, even flourished, The Times noted. "Indeed, Lashkar’s broader network endures, and can be mobilised quickly for elaborate attacks with relatively few resources, according to a dozen current and former Lashkar militants and intelligence officials from the United States, Europe, India and Pakistan."

Pakistani officials expressed concern that another militant attack on Indian soil would precipitate a military response from India. “Right now we cannot guarantee that it will not happen again, because we do not have any control over it,” a senior intelligence official in Pakistan said.

US military, intelligence and counterterrorism officials expressed with "grim certainty" that the Lashkar was planning new attacks. US officials have warned India about another Mumbai-style attack against multiple sites, a senior Defence Department official and senior counterterrorism official said.

Israeli officials issued a similar warning in September. Israel's counterterrorism bureau at the National Security Council said in a warning to Israelis travelling to India: “The terrorist group that carried out the serious Mumbai attack in India is planning to carry out a number of attacks across India, particularly against concentrations of western or Israeli tourists.”

Pakistan-based LeT determined to attack India again: Report

Press Trust of India / New York September 30, 2009, 11:43 IST

Pakistan-based militant outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba, which masterminded the Mumbai terror attacks, is "largely intact" and "determined to strike India again", a US media report said, quoting former and current members of the group and intelligence officials.

Despite pledges from Pakistan to dismantle militant outfits operating on its soil, and the arrest of a handful of operatives, Lashkar-e-Toiba has persisted and even flourished, since ten recruits killed over 180 people in Mumbai mayhem on November 26 last year, 'The New York Times' reported.

Indian and Pakistani dossiers on the Mumbai investigations, copies of which were obtained by the US daily, offer a detailed picture of the operations of Lashkar network that spans Pakistan. It included four houses and two training camps in Karachi that were used to prepare the attacks.

In fact, Lashkar's broader network endures, and can be mobilised quickly for elaborate attacks with relatively few resources, the daily quoted Lashkar members and intelligence officials from the US, Europe and Pakistan as saying.

But by all accounts Lashkar's network, though dormant, remains alive, and the possibility that it could strike India again makes Lashkar a wild card in one of the most volatile regions of the world, the report said.

Days back, Israel had also warned of a possible strike in India, saying militants were planning again a Mumbai-type attacks in that country, targeting large concentration of Western and Israeli tourists.

One highly placed Lashkar militant said the Mumbai attackers were part of some groups trained by former Pakistani military and intelligence officials at Lashkar camps. "Some people of the ISI knew about the plan and closed their eyes."

Even as new details emerge about the Mumbai attacks, senior American military, intelligence and counterterrorism officials have expressed grim certainty that Lashkar-e-Toiba is plotting new attacks.

The United States warned Indian officials this year about a Mumbai-style attack by Lashkar against multiple sites in India, according to a senior US counterterrorism official.

The unnamed counterterrorism official said that the information, gleaned from electronic intercepts and other sources, was not specific but it was significant enough for American officials to alert their Indian counterparts.

"There were indications of possible terrorist activity in the run-up to the Indian elections," in May, "and that information was shared promptly with Indian officials," the US daily quoted the counterterrorism official as saying.

Pakistani officials, however, say they've been kept in the dark. But, if there is one thing on which the intelligence agencies agree, it is that the consequences of a new attack by Lashkar could be devastating, the daily said.

"We do fear that if something like Mumbai happens in India again there might be a military reaction from the Indian side and it could trigger into a war. Right now we cannot guarantee that it'll not happen again because we do not have any control over it," a Pakistani official said.

Defence Ministry warned over foreign nationals

Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

No more visas for unskilled foreigners

Home Minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday said the government would not allow any semi-skilled or unskilled foreign nationals to enter the country on employment visas as the work could well be handled by Indians. Chidambaram, in the context of issuance of visas to Chinese workers, said: “We will only allow highly-skilled workers and specialists capable of performing tasks that have never been done in India before.

New Delhi September 30

In what raises questions over the nation’s security, the Union Home Ministry has told the Defence Ministry that several foreigners were working on sensitive defence-related projects in the country by “misusing” their visas.

The Home Ministry has pointed out that most of these foreigners had arrived in India on business visas and were working in various joint ventures between Indian and foreign companies. The rules for all foreign nationals working in India were the same and the Defence Ministry had been provided with all details, a senior official said while confirming the development.

All those working on projects need to have employment visas and just cannot walk in and out of the country on business visas. “They are not businessmen, they are employees. Every country has set norms in place to handle such visitors,” said a senior official.

Nationals of several countries, it is learnt, are involved in specialist jobs on various projects in the defence manufacturing sector. But, they do not have employment visas for this category.

Sources said employment visas were handled by Home ministry officials who screen applications by matching the same with intelligence inputs and reports regarding the person concerned. In case of business visas, the person working on a project does not come under this kind of scrutiny.

Notably, the issue came to light when the Home Ministry told the Chinese workers employed in petroleum, steel and other sectors to apply for correct visas or leave the country.

Bhardwaj takes over as Indian Army vice chief Thursday

by Indo Asian News Service on September 30, 2009

New Delhi, Sep 30 (IANS) Lt. Gen. P.C. Bhardwaj will Thursday take over as the Indian Army’s new vice chief.

Bhardwaj, who currently heads the Udhampur-based Northern Command that guards Jammu and Kashmir, will replace Lt. Gen. Nobel Thamburaj, who retired Wednesday.

‘The new vice chief will take charge tomorrow (Thursday),’ an army official said.

Bhardwaj has been appointed the vice chief bypassing the senior-most three-star general, Lt. Gen. V.K. Singh, who is tipped to become the Indian Army chief when incumbent Gen. Deepak Kapoor retires in March 2010. Thus, for six months, Singh would technically be reporting to an officer who is his junior.

In the normal scheme of things, Singh would have, in all probability, become the vice chief when Thamburaj retired. However, the defence ministry accepted Kapoor’s recommendation that henceforth, the vice chief serve a two-year term.

Bhardwaj has been the Northern Command chief since March, when he took over from Lt. Gen. H.S. Panag.

Prior to heading the Northern Command, Bhardwaj commanded the Leh-based 14 Corps that guards the frontiers with China and Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir, as also the Siachen glacier, the world’s highest battlefield.

Bhardwaj has vast experience in terror-hit Kashmir, having been the Brigadier General Staff of the Nagrota-based 16 Corps in 2000-01, when militancy was at its peak and infiltration was at its highest level.

He has also commanded the counter-insurgency Delta Force in the Doda region of Jammu.

An alumnus of the National Defence Academy, the Indian Military Academy and the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, Bhardwaj was commissioned into the first battalion of the Parachute Regiment in June 1970.

He has also received training at the Special Forces School at Fort Bragg in the US.

A recipient of the Vir Chakra during the 1971 India-Pakistan war, Bhardwaj has commanded the elite Parachute Brigade and was the defence attache to Myanmar from 1994 to 1997.

Indian Army, IAF hold joint exercises near China border

30 Sep 2009, 1914 hrs IST

With the aim of checking their preparedness, the Army and the Air Force carried out a joint exercise in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh near the Chinese border last week. Codenamed 'Operation Pralay', the three-day exercise involved all the frontline fighter aircraft, including Sukhoi, Mirage-2000, MiG-29, MiG-27 and IL-78 air-to-air refueling planes, Defence Ministry sources said in New Delhi on Wednesday (September 30). Army personnel with their Mi-17, Cheetah and Chetak helicopters also participated in the war-games, they said.

The exercise held between September 22 and 24 involved all the frontier air bases in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, they said. “The Army and the IAF carried out the three-day joint exercise with the aim of checking preparedness and jointness,” a source said. The exercise was coordinated by IAF's Shillong-based Eastern Air Command and the army's Eastern Command in Kolkata. The exercise came in the backdrop of reports of Chinese ground and air incursions in Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh, which both the countries have been trying to downplay.

Lt Gen AS Lamba, takes over as GOC-in-C Army Training Command, Shimla

17:50 IST

On the 19th Anniversary of the Raising of the Army Training Command (ARTRAC), Lt Gen AS Lamba, takes over as its 15th General Officer Commanding-in-Chief.

A graduate of thirty eighth course of national Defence Academy, he was commissioned into the Regiment of Artillery in Jun 1971.

The Officer has a vast experience of conventional warfare and unconventional Counter Insurgency operations, having participated in the 1971 Indo-Pakistan War, served on almost all fronts and served in Nagaland, Manipur and Sri Lanka with the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF).

The General is a graduate of DSSC, Higher Command Course and The RCDS at the Royal College of Defence Studies in United Kingdom, in 2003.

The General’s varied command assignments include the command of an Infantry Brigade in Counter Insurgency and later in OP PARAKRAM, 16 Infantry Division on Western Border and the elite 21 Strike Corps in Central India. His staff tenures include Brigade major in Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) and the North East, Colonel Administration and Brigade General Staff in the Eastern Theatre and appointments in Army Headquarters to include Deputy Director General, Additional Director General Operational Logistics and Deputy Director General Strategic Planning in Perspective Planning Directorates.

The General Officer was awarded the AVSM in 2004, and is also a recipient of the Chief of Army Staff Commendation twice and GOC-in-C’s Commendation. His civil qualifications include MBA, MA in international Affairs from Kings College London, MSc and M Phil in Defence and Management Studies.

The General Officer belongs to the elite PARA fraternity and is Colonel Commandant of the Regiment of Artillery.

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