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Tuesday, 6 October 2009

From Today's Papers - 06 Oct 09

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Terrorist sanctuaries no longer acceptable: Pak

October 06, 2009 04:10 IST

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmoud Qureshi said on Monday that terror sanctuaries are no longer acceptable in his country and his government is determined to take strong action against terrorists even as he acknowledged that there are elements in Pakistan who are sympathetic to the extremists.

"The sanctuaries that they had are no longer acceptable to the people of Pakistan," Qureshi told the popular NPR Radio's Morning Edition shortly after a suicide attack at the UN food agency's office in Islamabad [ Images ] killed five persons. "The government of Pakistan is playing its role to deal with that threat, and we have done so in a convincing manner in the last year-and-a-half. But today, as we put on the heat on the terrorists in Pakistan, in the tribal belt, they are fleeing Pakistan," he said. However, the minister admitted that "some elements" in his country still have sympathy for fundamentalists groups.

"I would say there are some elements in Pakistan that have sympathy for such elements, such fundamentalists. But the overwhelming majority of people of Pakistan have no sympathy for them," Qureshi said in response to a question.Qureshi said the US should share its intelligence with Pakistan if it has any information about presence of top al Qaeda leaders including Osama bin Laden [ Images ] in the tribal areas of his country.

"If the US intelligence is that clear, they should share that intelligence with us and we will help them catch him, because we have an interest in getting hold of Mullah Omar [ Images ] and Osama bin Laden. But we are not sure of their presence. If you are confident of the information that you have, we are your allies. Share it with us," he said.

The Foreign Minister denied reports that Mulla Omar and other top al Qaeda and Taliban [ Images ] leaders were in Quetta region of Pakistan. "If they were there, we could have chased them out by now, but we don't think they are there," he said. Cautioning the US not to underestimate the contribution of Pakistan, he said: "Without Pakistan's logistic support, without Pakistan's intelligence cooperation, without Pakistan's sympathy and without Pakistan being on your side, you wouldn't have achieved what you have achieved so far." Qureshi said he wants from the US a long-term commitment to Pakistan and the region so that when "you do recede, we ensure that we have in place structures to replace, and not create a vacuum that you created in the past".

He said Pakistanis felt being let down by the US when they "abandoned" the country after the end of Afghan war with the Russians. "You abandoned us. You left without seeing through the implications and the consequences that fight has had on Pakistan."

Lalit K Jha in Washington

Focus on destroying safe havens in Pakistan: US

October 06, 2009 04:05 IST

Noting that it would be difficult to win the war in Afghanistan without destroying "safe haven" of Taliban [ Images ] militants inside neighbouring Pakistan, the United States said on Monday that it would now focus on how to tackle the situation. "Obviously, this was an area that's just along the border. If there isn't a safe haven in Pakistan, it's harder for any attacks to come. And I think that's certainly part of the focus," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

The Obama Administration also ruled out leaving Afghanistan at this point of time with Gibbs saying, "such an option is neither being discussed, nor is on the table". Recently US President Barack Obama [ Images ] held a series of meeting with his key defense, security and intelligence aides to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. Obama met General Stanley McChrystal, the US and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Commander in Afghanistan, in Copenhagen over the weekend. This week, he is scheduled to brief a select group of US lawmakers on the current situation in Afghanistan and hold another two round of meetings with key policy advisors.

"The President and the team are focused on ensuring that we hear from all sides, both in dealing with Afghanistan and in Pakistan, understanding that part of what we can do to improve the security situation along the region in Afghanistan where an attack like that happened was to deal with safe haven areas in Pakistan," Gibbs said.

The White House spokesman said the discussions will not limit to military side but also some of the political and economic aspects of the situation in both the countries. It will take next several weeks for Obama administration to come out with its new Af-Pak policy, Gibbs said.

"I think the President believes strongly that we have a process that is working, that we ought to take the time to get this right. As you heard Secretary (of Defense, Robert) Gates say more than a week ago, it has been since sometime in the

mid-'80s since we actually had a strategy to deal with a country called Afghanistan," he said.

Is Obama leaning to China on Arunachal issue?

October 06, 2009 00:12 IST

In my article Why Barack Obama won't meet the Dalai Lama, I had reported as follows: "His Holiness is going ahead with his plans to visit Arunachal Pradesh in November, which could more or less coincide with Obama's visit to China.

The United States officials were reportedly worried that the Chinese anger, over the Dalai Lama's [ Images ] visit to Arunachal Pradesh, might come in the way of the success of Obama's promised efforts to persuade Beijing [ Images ] to resume its dialogue with His Holiness. It is not clear whether they gave any advice to His Holiness in this matter.

It is learnt that officials of the Obama administration have stepped up pressure on the advisers of His Holiness -- to persuade the Dalai Lama not to raise any controversy over Arunachal Pradesh for the time being -- till the American President succeeds in persuading the Chinese to resume their dialogue with the representatives of His Holiness.

The Obama administration is showing signs of greater sensitivity to the concerns and interests of China than those of India. Reliable reports indicate that it is veering towards a policy of neutrality on the issue of Arunachal Pradesh, which has been a major bone of contention between India and China.

It is believed to be dragging its feet on the implementation of the understanding reached between the preceding George Bush [ Images ] administration and the government of India, to undertake searches in Arunachal Pradesh territory for US Air Force [ Images ] personnel, who had gone missing in action during the Second World War.

It is learnt that the formats of the joint exercises between the three wings of the armed forces of the two countries, which were agreed upon during the Bush administration, are being reviewed in order to delete elements, which could cause concern to not only China, but also Pakistan -- such as joint exercises between the two armies in the Siachen area to enable US army personnel to get exposed to high altitude conditions, joint naval exercises in the seas to the east of India etc.

While the Obama administration wants to go ahead with the overall format of the strategic relationship with India, as laid down by the Bush administration, it wants to have a second look at those aspects which could cause concern to China.

There was one joint naval exercise off Japan [ Images ] involving ships of the navies of India, the US and Japan, after Obama assumed office. Such exercises are likely to be avoided in the future.

There is also a possibility of the US abstaining when the specific proposal for assistance from the Asian Development Bank [ Get Quote ] for a flood control project in Arunachal Pradesh comes up for approval before the ADB. The ADB's Board of Governors had earlier this year, after Obama came to office, approved a basket of projects proposed by India despite opposition from China.

It is learnt that ADB officials have been saying that approval for the package as a whole did not mean approval of each individual item in the package and that each individual item has to be approved separately. Efforts are being made to scuttle ADB support for the proposal relating to Arunachal Pradesh.

The Obama administration seems to be thinking that all that it needs to do to humour India and soften the blow -- due to its steady reversal of the pro-India policies initiated by the Bush administration -- is to accord the honour of a state visit to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [ Images ] in November and play up the ceremonial honours accorded to him.

In the last few days, officials of the US State Department have been briefing the media about the kind of honours that will be accorded to Dr Singh when he visits Washington. These are meant to show that there has been no change in US policies towards India under the Obama administration. The reality is that on every matter, which is of concern to India, greater attention is being paid to China's sensitivities and concerns.

India seeks high-speed boats to tackle LAC intrusions

Rajat Pandit, TNN 6 October 2009, 03:31am IST

NEW DELHI: India is quietly, albeit belatedly, taking steps to counter the massive build-up of Chinese military infrastructure all along the 4,057km Line of Actual Control.

After reactivating advanced landing grounds in eastern Ladakh (Daulat Beg Oldi, Fukche and Nyama) and ordering fortification of airstrips in Arunachal Pradesh (Pasighat, Mechuka, Walong, Tuting and Vijaynagar), defence ministry is fast-tracking infrastructure augmentation at highly-picturesque but equally-contentious Pangong Tso lake region.

Situated at an altitude of 13,900-feet in eastern Ladakh, the 134km-long Pangong Tso (Tso means lake in Ladakhi), two-third of which is controlled by China as it extends from India to Tibet, has seen a surge in Chinese intrusions in recent years.

Even this year, Army has recorded close to 100 "transgressions" of foot, motorised and boat patrols by People's Liberation Army in the strategic-located Pangong Tso area, on both north and south banks, till now.

MoD sources on Monday said Army project to procure 17 ‘‘quick-reaction team’’ boats for ‘‘reconnaissance and area domination patrols’’ in Pangong Tso, as part of the larger infrastructure augmentation, was ‘‘now being fast-tracked’’.

‘‘The global tender or RFP (request for proposal) for the 17 high-speed interceptor boats has already been issued after clearance from Defence Acquisitions Council, headed by defence minister A K Antony,’’ said a source.

These new boats, capable of carrying 16 to 18 soldiers with ‘‘high endurance’’, are needed since PLA has better-equipped boats which can outperform Indian ones at the moment.,prtpage-1.cms

Armed forces save over 1,300 flood-hit people

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Engaged in rescue and relief operations in flood-hit Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, the armed forces have, so far, rescued about 1,336 people, including a family of four stranded on a tree without food for a few days.

The tri-services personnel have been working round-the-clock to save marooned people and provide them with food, a Defence Ministry release said here on Monday.

The Army deployed 14 columns in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh along with life jackets, boats and medical teams.

Following an improvement in the flood situation in Mahabubnagar district of Andhra Pradesh, three columns of Army personnel were de-requisitioned from Monday.

The Navy also deployed 15 teams of its divers and experts to rescue marooned people.

Army to the rescue

BANGALORE: Even as the worst floods ever to the hit the state has started to recede after three days of continuous rain, defence personnel on Sunday continued with their relief operations in the flood-affected districts of North Karnataka.

The defence personnel dropped relief materials to the people in the marooned districts and rescued more than 200 people.

The Indian Army has been active in Bagalkot and Gadag districts, moving about 200 persons to safety in Ron taluk and providing rations to about 2,000 people in Hungund taluk.

Responding quickly to the state government's request, the army jawans moved overnight from Belgaum to Karwar where a landslide had occurred. They have been able to take out two bodies and are trying to recover more. The Indian Air Force flew one AN-32 from Hyderabad, carrying 1,500 kgs of relief material, and three AN-32 aircrafts from Central Air Command, Agra, which undertook 12 sorties.

One Dornier from Training Command, Bangalore carried 500 kgs of relief material, while two Avros flew from South Western Air Command, Baroda carrying 15 boats. Six MI8 choppers from Yelahanka flew over Hubli, Belgaum and Raichur for about 20 hours, dropping about 10.8 tonnes of relief material during the 14 sorties they carried out.

Two Chetak helicopters from Tambaram airbase, Chennai flew over Badami, Raichur, with 28 sorties and dropped about 3.2 tonnes of relief material. Five more Chetaks from Hyderabad flew 35 sorties in 26 hours dropping about 8 tonnes of relief material.

CM skips Koppal for second day

Koppal: Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa, who was scheduled to visit Koppal on Saturday and Sunday respectively, has put off the same by one more day with official sources maintaining that he would visit Koppal on Monday.

While one version said that the visit was put off as CM's helicopter could not take off due to bad weather, the other said that the CM chaired a prolonged meeting of officials in Bagalkot.

Meanwhile, ministers Katta Subramanya Naidu, Halappa and founder of Art of Living Sri Sri Ravishankar visited the rain affected areas in Koppal on Sunday.

After holding a meeting with officials, Katta stated that about eight villages near Hirehalla Dam, which face threat of submersion due to flood, would be rehabilitated.

He announced relief of Rs 25,000 each to houses that collapsed totally and proportionate relief to other damaged houses in commensurate with the extent of loss.

Sink differences, think of victims: Seer

Siddaganga Mutt seer Shivakumara Swamiji on Sunday asked the political parties to keep their differences aside and help people affected by the floods. He told reporters at the mutt that the Mutt would dispatch one lakh chapatis to the affected people in North Karnataka in a couple of days.

He said that the Mutt was thinking of bringing back children and students of the Mutt who had been to their native places in flood-affected areas.

Since it is a natural calamity even the government was facing a helpless situation.

Mysoreans will do an encore of generosity

Mysore: Suttur Mutt and Mysore Citizens' Forum (MCF) are preparing to support relief works and help marooned people.

After being lauded for rehabilitating thousands of tsunami-affected people at Mudaliarkuppam in Tamil Nadu, Mysoreans will now help the people hit by floods in the state.

Under the leadership of Suttur Mutt seer Shivaratri Deshikendra Swamiji, MCF is laying out an action plan to carry out temporary and permanent relief works in the worst-affected areas.

MCF has sought the details of requirement like medicines, clothing and others.

The forum has Rs 20 lakh at its disposal. It will raise more funds and donations from the public and institutions through local dailies and collection centres.

Kageri blames Navy for NH-17 flooding

Karwar: Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri, Minister for Primary and Secondary Education, has blamed the authorities of the Karwar Naval Base for the rainwater submerging the national highway at Arga, where the base is located.

He told reporters on Saturday that the canal that the naval base has built by the side of national highway is too narrow to allow free flow of rain water and is covered.

India to station all MiG-29s along Pak border

Daily Times Monitor

LAHORE: The Indian Air Force (IAF) has decided to station all its MiG-29 squadrons at Adampur to beef up air defence capabilities and react in the shortest possible time along the international border with Pakistan, the Indian Express has reported.

"We consider ourselves to be a strategic air power establishment of the IAF in the western sector, ever ready for operations," said Air Commodore HS Arora, Air Officer Commanding of the Adampur airbase.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defence has signed a contract with the RAC MiG aircraft corporation to extend the service life of the MiG-29 by 25 to 40 years. Arora said six MiG-29 fighters were being upgraded and flight-tested in Russia, adding the remaining aircraft would be overhauled in India with the aid of Russian experts. "The upgraded MiG-29 fighters will have better radar systems and avionics to help fighters, a new weapon control system and modernised RD-33 engines, which would increase the aircraft hitting capability from long ranges," he added.

Separately, the Indian army is planning to acquire 300 light tanks for deployment in the mountainous regions of the border with China and Pakistan, the Press Trust Of India has reported. It cited army sources as saying the tanks would be deployed in Jammu and Kashmir in the north and Arunachal Pradesh and Assam in the northeast.\10\05\story_5-10-2009_pg1_3

Australian Army chief receives Indian guard of honour

by ANI on October 5, 2009

New Delhi, Oct. 5 (ANI): Australian Army chief, Lieutenant-General, K. J. Gillespie, on Monday received a guard of honour at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The ceremony, held early in the day, was accompanied by light showers.

Indian Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor was present during the ceremony.

Lieutenant-General K. J. Gillespie is on a short Indian visit.

His visit comes close on the heels of Victoria Premier John Brumby's visit to India.

Brumby was in the country on a damage control and public relations exercise after a series of incidents of racial attacks on Indian students in Australia. (ANI)

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