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Saturday, 3 October 2009

From Today's Papers - 03 Oct 09

Indian Express

Asian Age

Indian Express

Asian Age

The Pioneer

Asian Age

Telegraph India

The Pioneer

Asian Age

Asian Age

Asian Age

The Pioneer

Asian Age

Indian Express

The Pioneer

Indian Express

Times of India

Hindustan Times

Pakistan invites India to work in Afghanistan
Smita Prakash

New Delhi, October 2
In a marked shift in policy, Pakistan has invited India to work alongside it in Afghanistan to rebuild the war-ravaged country. New Delhi has agreed. External Affairs Minister SM Krishna stated this in an interview on Thursday. Krishna said that he was pleasantly surprised by Pakistan's suggestion and has expressed India’s willingness to work together for rebuilding Afghanistan. “In Afghanistan we are doing something constructive, something appreciated by the people of Afghanistan. We have gone there to rebuild Afghanistan and I am very happy to hear from the Pakistan Foreign Minister that both India and Pakistan should work together to rebuild Afghanistan,” he said. “I am very surprised by the change in policy by Pakistan. India doesn’t have any other agenda rather than rebuilding the country,” he added. India has invested in infrastructure projects such as roads, hospitals, schools and the new parliament building in Kabul and the reconstruction aid totals $1.2 billion.

Effective channel with Pak

He said that India and Pakistan should work on an effective channel to deal with all issues concerning the two countries. India will continue to talk to Pakistan, but there’s no guarantee that the composite dialogue will be resumed. he said: “I do not know about back channel or front channel, all that I would be interested as Foreign Minister of this country is an effective channel between Pakistan and India. It could be the back channel, it could be the front channel. I think it doesn’t make any difference as long as it becomes effective.” He reiterated that Pakistan needs to make constructive efforts towards bringing the perpetrators of 26/11 to justice before any dialogue can be resumed. On ceasefire violations by Pakistan in recent months, the he said: “There have been some incidents of ceasefire violations in the last few months on the international border and these have been taken up with Pakistan as and when they have occurred.”

Tie-up with Iran on gas pipeline

India is interested in co-operation with Iran in the oil and gas sector issues. “Well India’s economy is growing very rapidly and India needs lots of energy. Issues of pricing, security and financial guarantees have been areas of discussions with respect to the pipeline,” said Krishna. “Bilateral cooperation will be further discussed in the joint working group likely to be convened this year and when that takes place we might find some answers,” he added. The Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, also known as the IPI pipeline or the Peace pipeline, is a proposed 2,775-km pipeline to deliver natural gas from Iran to Pakistan and India. India has not officially pulled out from pipeline talks after rounds of discussions, but quit talks following tensions with Pakistan. Indian officials have cited security and viability of the proposed pipeline as the main reason for parting from the project. — ANI

Pak forces poised to strike Taliban epicentre: report

Press Trust of India / New York October 2, 2009, 13:19 IST

Pakistan army is poised to storm into militants main stronghold of South Waziristan to target what senior military officials say is 'Talibans Epicentre'.

The 'D-Day', The New York Times reported today is coming in a few days quoting senior Pakistan military and security officials, who are expecting "a stiff resistance".

Military build up- both ground troops and armour- has been completed and the army has enforced a three month economic blockade of the area, where US suspects that even the main leadership of the Al-Qaeda including its chief Osama Bin Laden may be sheltered.

"This is where we will be fighting the toughest of all battles" senior military officials were quoted who said the army was now ready to re-enter the area, having decided it could wait no longer.

Since June, the paper said thousands of army soldiers were sitting on the fringes of the area, waiting for orders from the military high command to move in.

Thousands of civilians have left the area following calls from the army and re-located to Dera Ismail Khan and Tank both in North West Frontier Province, giving the army a relatively free hand to mount an operation.

"For three months, the military has been drawing up plans, holding in depth deliberations and studying past operations in the area, where previous campaigns ended in failure and resulted in some of the Pakistan army's' highest level of casualties," Times said citing senior military person.

Even now, the paper quoted military officials as saying they expected stiff resistance once again in an area which they called "epicentre of Taliban in Pakistan and a secure base for Al-Qaeda".

The past two operations in South Waziristan ended up with the military bogged down and suing for peace resulting in a series of accords that ultimately strengthened the hands of Taliban.

An operation in January 2004, 'Operation Zalzala' followed by another in February 5, 2005 both ending in failures. With the failures went any pretence of state authority in Waziristan, as the government in effect ceded control to emboldened militants.

Military officials are hoping things would be different this time, drawing upon their experience gained after taking on militants first in Bajaur, then in Mohamand and most recently in Swat.

The paper quoting military strategists said the best time for Pakistan army to have stormed the Taliban citadel was immediately after the slaying of Tehrik-i-Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud in US drone strikes in August.

But a senior Pakistan military official said in addition to needing to wait for the forces as resources to be available, the military wanted to see the repercussions of Baitullah's death.

"We thought Baitullah's death would unravel the Mehsud militant group and galvanise the tribe to stand up to the people they have suffered from," officers said. "It didn't happen."

The Pakistan army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has made two aerial trips to oversee his troops preparations and during the visit described Waziristan as an intelligence black hole.

"We have to move in" Kayani said recently.

The Times said it is not going to be a cake walk, saying that Pakistan army would have to overcome 6,000 to 7,000 Mehsud fighters who have been thickened by foreign elements, particularly Uzbeks, who have a reputation as ferocious fighters.

Then there is the Haqqani network, which uses the area as a base for its operations in Afghanistan, and there is Al-Qaeda, which depends heavily on the Mehsud fighting force.

"They will defend there power base and fight till the very last" military officials admitted.

Strength ensures peace
Antony, IAF chief evoke confidence

It is good that Defence Minister A K Antony and Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal PV Naik have reassured the country in no uncertain terms that India is busy strengthening its capabilities, just as China is doing. After the drubbing we got in 1962, there are bound to be misgivings in the minds of many whether we are now any better prepared to withstand a similar onslaught. That is why Mr Antony was candid in admitting that while earlier we were “doing nothing”, the government in the past few years has been bolstering the infrastructure. As was mentioned by the air chief some days ago, our air power is only one-third that of China, but we are not sitting ducks either, as was the case in 1962. Much has happened in these 47 years and, in fact, learning from the past mistakes, defence is getting the priority that it deserves. There are numerous shortcomings, but at least things are on the upswing. The nation seems to have learnt the lesson that building strength is the best defence for the country.

This confidence shows in the way India has been dealing with China. Despite the 1962 war, India has engaged with China maturely without letting the past cloud the future for ever. It has rightly not allowed itself to be perturbed over minor incursions and arguments by the Chinese in various sectors. What is all the more creditworthy is the fact that the Indian Army joined in China’s 60-year celebrations whole-heartedly. On the whole two nations have sought to ensure that pending a border settlement peace and tranquility should prevail all along the Line of Actual Control.

Unfortunately, China has soured the atmosphere by starting to issue visas to Kashmiris on separate sheets and not on their passports. The move is being seen as an attempt by Beijing to question the status of Jammu and Kashmir. Apparently, all this is being done to please Pakistan. There is need to take up the matter with China. While good-neighbourly relations have to be maintained, that does not mean that New Delhi should take irritants lightly.

IAF upgrading six airstrips in Arunachal

October 01, 2009 18:15 IST

Indian Air Force is upgrading six airstrips in Arunachal Pradesh bordering China to improve its capabilities to move troops there quickly, Air Chief Marshal P V Naik said on Thursday.

Naik said these airstrips, called Advanced Landing Grounds (ALGs), would be to augment the IAF's air maintenance in the border state on the pattern of the three new ALGs made operational in Ladakh region in Jammu and Kashmir [ Images ] and in the western region bordering Pakistan in the last two years.

The IAF has opened the Daulat Beig Oldi, Fukche and Nyoma ALGs in Ladakh since May last year. Among the new ALGs in Arunachal Pradesh to be upgraded are Along, Walong and Machuka.

"It is long overdue. These should have been done much earlier. But we got a go-ahead only now and we are undertaking this particular task," he said.

On whether a repeat of Sino-Indian war of 1962 was possible, he said, "I do not think it is possible now".

"I am confident, are you?" he said, when asked if he was confident of warding off the Chinese threat.

"I am sure there should be no lack of confidence in our public as far as preparation of our country or armed forces is concerned for any eventuality," he said.

© Copyright 2009 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.

Karnik is SASO of Western Air Command
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 2
Air Marshal Ajay Shriniwas Karnik has taken over as the Senior Air Staff Officer (SASO) of the strategically important Western Air Command. He takes over from Air Marshal Paramjit Singh Bhangu, who has been elevated as Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, South-Western Air Command at Gandhinagar. Commissioned into the fighter stream in June, 1972, Air Marshal Karnik has logged over 3,000 hours in the MiG-21 and MiG-29.

A fighter combat leader and a qualified flying instructor, he is an alumnus of Air War College, University of USAF, Montgomery, USA. He has commanded a MiG-29 Squadron and important air bases in the desert and coastal region. He has also served as SASO at southern and eastern air commands, where he oversaw disaster relief operations in the inhospitable terrain of the North-East. He has been decorated with the Ati Vishist Seva Medal and Vayu Sena Medal India for distinguished services.

Army changes pattern of commendation badges
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 2
The Army has changed the pattern and manner of wearing badges issued for commendations awarded by Chief of the Army Staff and officers of the rank of Army Commanders and equivalent to military personnel.

According to policy directives issued by Army headquarters, only two types of badges would be worn and not more than one each for commendation by the Chief.

Stars embossed on the badge would denote additional commendations issued by an officer of the same rank. A maximum of three stars would be permitted on each badge. Earlier, a separate badge would be worn on the flap of the left breast pocket for each commendation awarded to an individual. A commendation is recognition of services rendered by an individual and its award is the prerogative of the Army Commander.

The Army has also changed the nomenclature of the Army Commander’s commendation. These would now be referred to as Army Commendation instead of the earlier GOC-in-C’s Commendation or VCOAS’s commendation (vice chief).

You can't shoot downs Naxals, govt tells IAF

3 Oct 2009, 0453 hrs IST, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: The centre has rejected a proposal for allowing Indian Air Force personnel to fire at Left-wing extremists. Sources said that the

government was clear on its policy to restrict the role of IAF in anti-Naxal operations to evacuation, rescue and airlifting of the civilian security forces.

MHA was against engaging either the Army or IAF in the fight against Naxalites as it felt that this may only alienate the tribals further. Besides, the civilian forces are seen to be handling the human issues relating to Left-wing extremism with more tact, as compared to the military which is trained to take on the 'enemy' with full force and might.

Even though the home ministry had earlier considered engaging Rashtriya Rifles in the counter-Naxal operations, the option was ruled out after the view emerged that the Maoists are best handled by civilians forces like CRPF and BSF, who are at the state's disposal and work jointly with the police, even as the Army must concentrate on the borders.

The option of engaging the armed forces in the fight against Naxalites, including the big offensive coming up in November, was also shot down by the affected states.

Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh had opposed the proposal for armed forces' involvement in countering extremism saying that it could lead to human rights issues as the Army personnel are trained to take on the 'enemy' with full force as in a battle.

Air Chief Marshal Pradeep Vasant Naik had on Thursday said that the Air Force has sought permission to open fire in self-defence after one of the air warriors was killed by Maoists. He expressed worries about collateral damage.

However, defence minister A K Antony had said the government was yet to take a decision on it. Meanwhile, CPI on Friday opposed any use of the Army or Air Force in anti-Naxal operations saying it would have repercussions.

Alleging that the government had 'almost inducted' the Army to fight Maoists, party general secretary A B Bardhan said there was information that CRPF's logistics were being monitored by the Army.

"The Army should not be used to fight a war against our own people. The Indian Air Force is also being mobilised,” he said addressing a press conference after a meeting here of his party's national executive.

Though the government has ruled out using the armed forces directly in operations against Naxals, CPI leader said the Army was already calling the shots.

"In the name of fighting Left extremism, which the prime minister has called the greatest threat to India, they have almost inducted the Army to fight Naxalites. This is unprecedented. The police should do the job," Mr Bardhan said.

Asked if this would be his position if Army was sent into Lalgarh, he shot back "yes, I will oppose Army being used anywhere." Mr Bardhan said that four or five districts in Bastar were surrounded by paramilitary forces. He also alleged that the operations were directed at anyone shouting "lal salaam", which was also a Left slogan.

"Its a war of extermination against those who hold the red banner," he said.

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