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Saturday, 21 November 2009

From Today's Papers - 21 Nov 09






'Pak terror groups plotting more 26/11-like strikes'
Lalit K Jha/ PTI / Washington November 20, 2009, 13:17 IST

Manmohan SinghAs the first anniversary of the Mumbai attack nears, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said he receives intelligence inputs daily suggesting that Pakistan- based terrorists are plotting more 26/11-like strikes in India.

Terming as "tragic," Pakistan's use of terror as state policy, Singh said India is ready to resolve all outstanding issues with the country on the condition that it will not allow its territory to be used against its neighbour.

In an interview to the Washington Post ahead of his state visit to the US, Singh said India has been a victim of Pakistan-aided terrorism.

"Every day I receive intelligence reports saying that terrorists based in Pakistan are planning other similar acts (similar to 26/11)," Singh said in the interview that would be carried in the daily's print edition on Sunday – the day of his arrival here.


He, however, asserted that Pakistan has "nothing to fear" from India, and it was a "tragedy" that Pakistan has come to the point of using terror "as an instrument of state policy".

"We are committed to resolve all the outstanding issues with Pakistan through bilateral negotiations. Our only condition is that Pakistan should not allow its territory to be used for acts of terrorism against India.

"If Pakistan really honours that commitment, we can go back to negotiation to resolve all outstanding issues between us," he said.






China has direct link with Kashmir: Mirwaiz
Srinagar/New Delhi, November 20
As he plans to visit China, Hurriyat Conference leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq today kicked up a controversy by saying that Beijing has a “direct link” with the Kashmir issue, drawing strong objection from the government to his views.

The government asserted that there was “no room” for any third country in resolution of the Kashmir issue which was confined to India and Pakistan.
It said it had no objection to Farooq travelling to China or anywhere else but he would be stopped if his visa is stapled on a separate sheet of paper instead of passport.
“I believe that China is not a party to the conflict (over Kashmir) but China has a stake as far as peace in the region is concerned. So, the Hurriyat Conference welcomes the approach adopted by China and America jointly in terms of addressing the issue of Kashmir in South Asia,” he said.
Rejecting the Mirwaiz’s view, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said in New Delhi that “with regard to the Jammu and Kashmir issue, the scope of resolution is restricted between India and Pakistan and there is no room for any third country”. The Mirwaiz said he was visiting China at the invitation of an NGO, which wanted him to speak from the Kashmiri point of view on the Kashmir issue and South Asia.
“I would go and present the Hurriyat point of view which is basically that Hurriyat wants to address the Kashmir issue politically,” he said.
External Affairs Minister SM Krishna said: “He (Farooq) is free to travel wherever he wants” and that the MEA encourages such visits whether these were to “Pakistan or China”.
Rao said: “We have stated on many previous occasions that we have not prevented Kashmiri leaders from travelling abroad”. She, however, said if the question was in the “context of approach taken by the Chinese government of issuing visas to Indian citizens who are residents of Jammu and Kashmir (on separate sheets of paper instead of passport)”, the Indian government does not “subscribe to this approach which discriminates on the basis of domicile”. — PTI






Security reviewed 
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, November 20
Following a tip-off by intelligence agencies and less than a week to go before the first anniversary of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, the security scenario in the country was reviewed at a high-level meeting here.

The Defence Minister AK Antony reviewed the preparedness and operational capabilities of the three services at the meeting and asked them to remain alert and vigilant around the anniversary of the attacks. Antony asked the Navy, which is the overall in-charge of coastal security, to better its coordination with Coast Guard and other agencies so as to plug gaps.
The recent developments in the 26/11 investigations, especially those concerning David headley and his accomplice Tahhhawur Hussain Rana, were also discussed during the meeting, which lasted for two hours.






Cops drive away jawans from Gateway of India
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, November 20
Thirty personnel of the State Reserve Police Force guarding the Taj Mahal Hotel in downtown Mumbai were chased away from the Gateway of India across the road Thursday night after local newspapers published photographs of them using the monument as living quarters. The jawans had to make do with a sulabh shauchalaya for their public conveniences.

The SRPF personnel have been camping at the Gateway since the terrorist attack at the Taj Mahal Hotel on November 26 last year. However, the Maharashtra government was unable to provide them with appropriate accommodation because of which the SRPF personnel were forced to string up clotheslines on the monument and use a corner of it to cook their meals. After they were driven out by men from the Colaba police station nearby, the SRPF personnel were found sleeping on the parapet walls and benches lining the seafront. The brutal eviction of the SRPF personnel sparked outrage in Mumbai after television channels showed footage of policemen throwing out their belongings.
Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil rushed to the spot this morning and ordered tents to be provided to house the SRPF jawans. "There is a shortage of accommodation for police personnel in Mumbai. We are trying our best," Patil said later. 





Army foils infiltration bid along LoC
November 21, 2009 00:53 IST

Security personnel on Friday night foiled an infiltration bid, after a brief encounter with militants along the Line of Control [ Images ] in Balakote area, nearly 190 km from Jammu.

Troops patrolling the forward area along the Line of Control in Balakote in Poonch district observed some movement of militants and opened fire on them, said Brigadier General Staff, 16 Corps, Gurdeep Singh.

Firing started from across the border, resulting in an exchange of gunfire for a brief period, he said, adding that the encounter has stopped and a search operation will be carried out on Saturday morning.

No casualties or injuries have been reported in the incident, he added.





Damage control on China
India needs to be wary about US intent
The US attempt to mollify India on President Barack Obama’s support for a wider role for China in South Asia during his recent visit to Beijing was to be expected considering the preposterous nature of the US stance. The moment Mr Obama sang a tune that could not but be music to China’s ears it was clear that he had bitten more than he could chew. That US undersecretary of state for political affairs William Burns was pressed into service for damage control was indication enough that the Americans realised that they had goofed up. With Prime Minister Manmohan Singh all set to hold talks with Mr Obama in Washington, the Americans could hardly have allowed the shadow of that outrageous statement to loom large over the talks.
That the Obama administration is prepared to bend over backwards to appease China because of its awesome economic and strategic clout was clear from the fact that Obama chose to visit China before India. The Americans are, however, making much ado about the fact that the first state visit in Obama’s presidency is from Dr Manmohan Singh. It is all very well for the US to pursue the “healthiest possible partnership with China” but to assign to it the role of a watchdog of South Asia is quite another matter. Based on its own experience, India regards China as a biased and interested party in regard to Indo-Pak relations and can justifiably not countenance a role for Beijing in sorting out issues with Pakistan. That accounts for the deep sense of disappointment in India over the US attitude to South Asia reflected in Obama’s joint statement with Chinese President Hu Jintao earlier in the week.
India can draw comfort from the fact that there is a great deal of goodwill in the US for this country as is reflected in the resolution passed by the House of Representatives welcoming Dr Manmohan Singh. There is also a mutuality of interests on economic issues. Yet, India will have to be wary of the new US administration’s real intentions. It would indeed be prudent not to get carried away by American sweet talk.





Q+A-S.Lanka's top general signals bid for presidency
Fri Nov 20, 2009 12:05pm EST
By Shihar Aneez

COLOMBO, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Sarath Fonseka, who quit as Sri Lanka's top general after the end of a 25-year war, has said he plans now to fight for democracy and human rights, fuelling speculation he will soon announce his candidacy for the presidency. [ID:nCOL426892]

He said on Monday he would announce his decision on entering politics this week.

Here are some questions and answers on Fonseka:

WHO IS SARATH FONSEKA?

A soldier from 1970, Fonseka was the army commander who spearheaded victory over the Tamil Tiger rebels. Known for his volatile temper and win-at-all-costs attitude on the battlefield, Fonseka was nearly killed in April 2006 by a Tiger suicide bomber, but returned three months later to launch a 34-month campaign that defeated the rebels.

WHY DID HE RESIGN?

Fonseka in his resignation letter accused President Mahinda Rajapaksa of sidelining him despite his contribution to the victory, and of sullying the army's reputation by falsely alerting India that a coup plot was afoot in October.

WHY THE SPECULATION HE WILL CHALLENGE RAJAPAKSA?

He has recently spoken out on democracy, human rights, and media freedom, areas in which the opposition and Western nations say the administration of Rajapaksa has done too little. Both the Marxist Janatha Vimukthi Peremuna and pro-business United National Party have said they have spoken to him and are ready to adopt him as their common candidate to defeat Rajapaksa. Fonseka has not responded to this yet.

WHY IS HE DELAYING HIS ANNOUNCEMENT?

Analysts say Fonseka wants Rajapaksa first to announce the date of a presidential poll which the government has said is due by April. The president on Sunday dodged the date announcement, in what analysts saw as a tactic to buy time until the Fonseka flap settles down.

CAN FONSEKA TAKE VOTES FROM RAJAPAKSA?

Fonseka has at least as much claim as Rajapaksa to credit for victory in the war, a key factor in the incumbent's popularity.

WHAT ABOUT THE ECONOMY?

If Fonseka enters the presidential race, economists expect Rajapaksa to spend more to woo voters with public-sector wage hikes, subsidies and new state jobs. Rajapaksa has already promised public sector pay increases from January. But implementing this will be very difficult due to strings attached to a $2.6 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). If Rajapaksa decides to cancel the IMF loan, investor confidence in the $40 billion economy will be badly dented. (Editing by Andrew Roche)





Beware Of Lanka’s Chi-Pak Axis

image

INDERJIT BADHWAR
Senior Journalist

IN MAY 2006, TEHELKA carried my column arguing that a flawed understanding of newly-elected Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s politics had kept India from a crucial role there. Inactivity by India in the Sri Lankan crisis, I argued, would only hasten a process that could turn the island into a battleground of big power rivalries inimical to India’s long-standing interests – enforcing a Pax Indiana on the Indian Ocean.

After some 80,000 deaths over 25 years of conflict and the annihilation of the LTTE, there is an imminent danger that unless India engages constructively with post-war Sri Lankan polity, New Delhi could suffer severe setbacks in new domestic and geopolitical manoeuvres that threaten to alter the power dynamics in the region. China and Pakistan have taken advantage of India’s virtual non-involvement in the island during the last three years and have made impressive headway through arms shipments and economic and political ties.

Powerful elements of India’s security establishment fail to understand that despite Sri Lanka’s dependence on Pakistan and China for weapons during the last five years — there was no alternative for Lanka, in the face of India’s refusal to supply spares or offensive weapons — Rajapaksa was a bulwark against pro-Chinese and pro-Pakistani lobbies in his own country. It was a delicate balancing act. However, parliamentary and presidential elections early next year may radically alter all that, leaving India in a tough bind.

The character of Sri Lanka’s secular, non-aligned government — which has always been in India’s interests — is now under severe threat from a resurgence of right-wing supra-nationalist forces banding together under the banner of war hero Gen Sarath Fonseka, former army commander, who has decided to run for president against Rajapaksa.

Fonseka is a brave soldier who had his guts blown out by an LTTE suicide bomber in 2006. He is, however, a militarist, openly pro-China and provocatively anti-Indian, having recently described Indian politicians as “a bunch of jokers”. He is backed by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), a pro- Maoist, pro-China, anti-Tamil group that has been virulently anti-Indian since the early 1970s, when its armed insurrection to overthrow the State was brutally crushed by Sri Lanka with the help of India. Later, the JVP entered mainstream politics and, during the last elections, secured 13 percent of the popular vote. It decided to support Rajapaksa because of his tough stand against the LTTE. Rajapaksa was a moderating influence on the JVP during the last four years.

Former prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s UNP has also jumped onto the Fonseka bandwagon, his only agenda being to recapture power at any cost. He is a weak, effete, fickle politician who, like his former President Chandrika Kumaratunga, played a double game of cozying up publicly with New Delhi through personal relationships with Indian leaders, while making defence and economic deals with China and inviting European countries to set up oil exploration ventures in ocean beds strategically close to India.

Fonseka’s differences with Rajapaksa are fundamental and have grave strategic portents for India and neighbouring countries. Last May, Indian pressure — just before the last stages of the general elections — mounted on Rajapaksa for a quick end to the war, in order to stave off a prolonged period of uncertainty about Tamil votes at home. Fonseka refused to listen to his President and insisted that the war should be one of prolonged attrition, no matter the cost, rather than a surgical attempt to retake Mullaithivu.

So deep were the differences that two weeks before the war was won, the General went on a long visit to China. The final operations were conducted under Rajapaksa’s brother Gotabhaya, the Secretary of Defence. This was also a way for Fonseka to absolve himself of any personal responsibility for collateral civilian damage during the final push.

The President and the General were also at loggerheads over the size of the army. Fonseca wanted to increase its postwar size to four lakh (more than twice its current size), while Rajapaksa wanted to demobilise and warned that an army that size (almost half the size of India’s) would be seen as a serious destabilising factor in the region and could pave the way for a massive militarisation of government and, perhaps, even a military ruler backed by the Chinese and Pakistanis.

In fact, Colombo got the jitters when, recently, to celebrate Army Day, Fonseka moved a huge armada of tanks to Bandaranaike Stadium. Rumour mill had it that the tanks would trundle into Temple Trees, the presidential palace to stage a military coup, but that, mercifully, did not happen.

Even sharper differences prevail between Rajapaksa and Fonseka over the return of 2.5 lakh Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to their homes. Rajapaksa wanted the pace hastened and has been releasing them in batches. But just before Fonseka demitted office, he sent a huge contingent of some 20,000 IDPs back to the camps, following their release.

Adding to Fonseka’s ire and further fuelling his determination to challenge Rajapaksa are presidential inquiries into reports that link Fonseka’s son-in-law Danuna Tillekaratne to money laundering and shady arms deals –massive commissions from US-registered Hicorp International and British Borneo Defence for arms purchased as an exclusive agent; a deal done with the help of Colombo-based Pakistani arms dealer Ahmed Nissar. An official communiqué to the President specifically calls for the investigation of Fonseka’s role in helping his son-in-law.
In the last three years, China and Pakistan have taken advantage of India’s non-involvement in SL

During the last three years, Indian emissaries, including National Security Advisor MK Narayanan, Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon and former foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee, have held innumerable private discussions with Rajapaksa in which they have expressed reservations about Colombo’s growing links with the China-Pak axis, repeatedly getting the commitment that he will never let his country be used by any power for hostile posturing against India.

He has spoken publicly in favour of India’s nuclear programme, acknowledged India’s supremacy in the Indian Ocean region and demonstrated his friendship with practical gestures. He made India the first country he visited following his election in 2005. He also showed regard for India’s sensibilities by cancelling orders for a Chinese 3-D radar ordered by the Chandrika-Wickremesinghe government, as well as giving India first priority in exploration rights in the Kankesanthurai (KKS) – rights that had been signed away to the Danish government by Chandrika and Wickremesinghe.

Whenever he is confronted by his having given the Chinese the Hambantota Port modernisation contract, or the agreement to develop an SEZ near Colombo, he argues that he has not given away any bases – these are commercial deals. He needs to hasten economic recovery and post-war reconstruction and the Chinese — unlike the Indians — give him favourable long-term concessional loans and execute turnkey projects that are also open to bidding by the Indians. And here’s the irony: the Indians accuse him of giving away too much to the Chinese, while his own countrymen and opponents accuse him of pandering to the Indians.
Fonseka is backed by a pro-Maoist, pro-China, anti-Tamil group that has been virulently anti-Indian

With Sri Lankan elections a few months away, Rajapaksa’s biggest challenge is to defeat the resurgence of right-wing forces in the country who threaten to change the entire power equation in the region. The President demonstrated political skills that enabled him to walk a political tightrope in getting Chinese and Pakistani support during the war, while still being able to curb their influence.

If the right-wing ultranationalists prevail in the upcoming elections, the first thing they will do is double the strength of the armed forces, which will not be a healthy development for India or the region. They will open up the country to Chinese and Pakistani influence. As they are opposed to devolution of power, they will also postpone Rajapaksa’s attempts at arriving at a far-reaching settlement with Sri Lankan Tamils, including implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which implements devolution.

Any postponement of a political settlement of the Tamil problem or delay in resettling IDPs will have consequences in Sri Lanka as well as India and could lead to further unrest. The danger signals are easier to read than tea leaves. How long will Pax Indiana’s opacity prevail?




India to consider buying Patriot missiles
Published: Nov. 20, 2009 at 11:00 AM

NEW DELHI, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- India could sign a multibillion-dollar arms deal with the United States to purchase patriot missiles, a report on Indian television has said.

The Indian army has requested a briefing with U.S. officials to discuss the Patriot-3 Anti-Missile System, according to the Times Now television Web site, whose report is unsourced.

The system is expected to include missile launchers and an upgraded AN/MPQ-65 radar to enhance detection in high-clutter environments.

The briefings are likely early next year after which demonstrations could follow. The Times Now report noted that the Patriot missile system was used extensively in the 1991 Gulf war as well as in the Iraq war.

Meanwhile, the Indian air force has informed the Defense Ministry that it wants 10 C-17 military transport aircraft. The aircraft was on show during the India-U.S. training exercises in Agra last month.

No official statements have been issued by the Indian Ministry of Defense.

The National Aerospace Laboratories has confirmed that the third prototype of the Saras civilian aircraft will be ready by the end of 2010.

It was eight months ago that the second prototype of the 14-seater plane crashed during a test flight, killing three people on board, a report in the Hindu newspaper said.

M.S. Chidananda, head of the Center for Civil Aircraft Design and Development, said that Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. would manufacture the aircraft at its Kanpur facility. The aircraft is to be just over 1,000 pounds lighter than the second prototype and is expected to get an airworthy certification by the end of 2011.

The Indian air force said in June that it would buy 15 Saras, a project that was started in 1991 in conjunction with Russian developer V.M. Myasishchev Experimental Design Bureau.

The project almost came to a halt when it was hit by U.S.-imposed sanctions in 1998, after India's nuclear tests in Pokhran. Its maiden flight was in May 2004.

The first prototype weighed around 11,290 pounds using two 850 hp Canadian Pratt & Whitney turbo-prop engines of the push-pull configuration. This was later replaced by an upgraded PT6A 1,200 hp engine that was also used in the second prototype, whose weight was pared down by 880 pounds through use of composite materials.

A court of inquiry into the crash of the second prototype found that wrong engine relight drills given to the pilots caused the crash.

The Saras basic configuration closely resembles the Embraer/FMA CBA 123 Vector, which never went into production.





Antony reviews security scenario ahead of 26/11 anniversary
2009-11-20 18:00:00

With less than a week to go before the first anniversary of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, Defence Minister A.K. Antony reviewed the security scenario in the country in a high level meeting here on Friday.

The meeting lasted over two hours.

National Security Adviser M K Narayanan, Army chief General Deepak Kapoor, Air Chief Marshal P V Naik, Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma and Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar attended the meeting.

The meeting came in the backdrop the Federal Investigation Bureau (FBI) investigation of Lashkar operatives Thawwur Rana and David Hedley and subsequent interrogation of people who came in their contact in India.(ANI)






PM urges young military members to know true history of country

CHITTAGONG, Nov 12 (UNB): Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina urged the new-generation members of the Armed Forces to know the true history of country's independence and democracy on their own effort so confusion did not cloud anyone's vision in the march forward.

"Try to know about the true history of the country. Because, in the past, by inserting untrue information into the textbooks, children and new generation like you have been confused," she said addressing the National Standard Presentation Parade of the East Bengal Regiment (EBR) of Bangladesh Army at Chittagong Cantonment Thursday.

Hasina observed that knowing true history of the country' s independence and democracy was a national responsibility of every patriotic citizen.

The Prime Minister also requested the people of all walks of life to project the authentic history of Bangladesh and the sacrifices made by the freedom fighters to liberate the country for the new generation.

After her arrival at the Chittagong Cantonment

helipad, the Prime Minister was brought in a ceremonial motorcade to the Parade Ground where Chief of Army Staff General Md Abdul Mubeen, Chittagong Area Commander Major General Md Shamim Chowdhury and EBR Commandant Brigadier General Abu Sohel received her.

A smartly turned-out contingent of the EBR presented a parade on the occasion. The Prime Minister inspected the parade and took the salute.

Hasina expressed her government's firm commitment to continue its effort to improve professionalism of the members of Bangladesh Army and ensure their development in every field of work.

"We are pledge-bound to build a modern, digital Bangladesh. In line with our pledge, our efforts to increase capacity of Bangladesh army will be continued."

Hasina described the Bangladesh Army as the most disciplined force of the country that had been formed with the representation of the people of all regions, classes and social strata.

She noted that their excellent harmonious coexistence irrespective of religions and colours in the army would encourage all.

The Prime Minister said her previous 1996 government had implemented several programmes for the development of Bangladesh Army.

She listed a number of steps like procurement of sophisticated weapons, imparting modern training, increasing manpower, introducing medicare facilities for the close relatives of army personnel in combined military hospitals, infrastructural development, introducing rice in their lunch and tiffin allowances.

The Prime Minister greeted 28th, 29th, 30th and 32nd East Bengal Regiment batches on their attaining the capacity of carrying the national flag, saying that the Regiment had played an outstanding historic role in the emergence of an independent and sovereign Bangladesh in 1971.

She recalled that despite resource constraints, Bangabandhu took massive programmes to build up strong and independent armed forces in the war-ravaged Bangladesh immediately after the country's War of Liberation.

Sheikh Hasina said on return home on January 10, 1972, he (Bangabandhu) requested the Indian allied forces to go back to their country and the quick return of the Indian formidable military to their country was a rare example in world history.






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