Fighting nuclear terror biggest challenge: PM
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, September 29
Warning that the spectre of nuclear terrorism posed a formidable challenge to the global community, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today deeply regretted that the global non-proliferation regime had not succeeded in preventing nuclear proliferation.
“Global non-proliferation, to be successful, should be universal, comprehensive and non-discriminatory and linked to the goal of complete nuclear disarmament,” he said inaugurating a three-day international conference on peaceful uses of nuclear energy organised to commemorate the birth centenary of Dr Homi Bhabha, who pioneered India’s nuclear programme.
His remarks came just days after the UN Security Council adopted a resolution calling for stopping the spread of nuclear weapons, thus bringing renewed pressure on India to sign the CTBT and the NPT.
Amid the raging debate over the success of the Pokhran II and suggestions that the country should conduct a few more nuclear tests, the PM made it clear that India was committed to voluntary, unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing. “India is proud of its proliferation record and is committed to global efforts of preventing the proliferation of all weapons of mass destruction,” he said.
He also announced that as a nuclear weapon state and a responsible member of the international community, India would constructively participate in the negotiations of a fissile material cut-off treaty (FMCT) in the conference on disarmament.
He firmly told those questioning India’s credentials as a responsible nuclear power that the country had an updated, effective and comprehensive export control system and remained committed to not transferring sensitive technology and equipment to other countries that did not possess them. In this connection, he said the IAEA had a crucial role in promoting the peaceful use of nuclear energy, while reducing proliferation risks.
Supporting US President Barack Obama’s timely initiative to convene a global summit on nuclear safety in 2010, he also took note of the fact that Washington and Moscow were negotiating further cuts in their nuclear arsenals. “States with substantial nuclear arsenals should take meaningful steps on nuclear disarmament,” he added.
He was of the view if the “power of atom” was used for the universal good, the possibilities were unbounded. “But if we do not, the consequences would also be devastating for the peace and progress that all nations seek for their people,” he said.
He underlined that if India was able to manage its nuclear energy programme well, its three-stage strategy could yield potentially 470,000 MW of power by 2050. This would sharply reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels and would be a major contribution to global efforts to combat climate change.
Nuclear programme has allowed India to "think big": PM
Press Trust of India / New Delhi September 29, 2009, 16:32 IST
Prime minister Manmohan Singh said today the country's nuclear energy programme has allowed India to "think big" and that power from nuclear plants would reduce its over dependence on fossil fuels and combat climate change over the next decades.
He also said there will be "huge opportunities for the global nuclear industry to participate" in India's nuclear industry which is "poised for major expansion".
India sees increased power production as key to sustain its economic growth. The country currently relies on imports for about 70 per cent of its oil needs and the Planning Commission estimates that about 600 million people are not on the national grid.
Adressing an international conference on peaceful uses of atomic energy here, Singh said that 470,000 megawatts of energy could come from Indian nuclear power stations by 2050.
"This will sharply reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and will be a major contribution to global efforts to combat climate change."
The prime minister told delegates at the conference that India is looking forward to the "full and effective" implementation of the agreements it signed with the international community and their reciprocal commitments.
Lapses force Army to hold fresh inquiries
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, September 29
The reassembling of the court of inquiry (COI) to investigate alleged irregularities by a Lieutenant General in the procurement of dry rations has focused attention on the shoddy manner in which some recent sensitive and high-profile cases were handled.
Procedural irregularities in conducting COIs, which are meant to investigate an issue and fix responsibility, thereby forming the basis for further corrective action, and subsequent legal proceedings have resulted in the Army having to carry out the entire process afresh.
This has raised the issue of availability and commitment of a large number of senior officers, utilising valuable man-hours in terms of witnesses, support and administrative staff and expending government resources for reiterating the exercise.
While in some cases COI proceedings have been quashed by High Courts, in others, Army Headquarters directed reassembling of the COI after the proceedings were forwarded by lower formations for ratification.
The reassembling of the COI in General Sahni’s case comes after the Armed Forces Tribunal this month quashed earlier proceedings and ordered the Army to initiate fresh time-bound investigations.
Army sources point out that the most common violation while conducting COIs is non-compliance of Army Rule (AR) 180. A letter by the Army Headquarters issued on July 2, 2007, states that it is mandatory to comply with AR 180. This rule gives an accused the right to be present throughout the inquiry, to give any statement or evidence to cross-examine any witness in matters where his character or military reputation is affected.
The Army Headquarters also ordered reassembling of the COI in the case of Brig Bhupinder Singh, Commandant of the Kumaon Regimental Centre, on similar grounds. He had been accused of misbehaving with a junior officer’s wife and some other irregularities, but the COI had acquitted him of the primary charge last month. Another COI has been reassembled to investigate allegations against a Major General form the Army Medical Corps. He had been accused of supervisory lapses and some other irregularities, sources revealed.
A COI presided by a Major General has reassembled in central India to investigate alleged misappropriation of operational funds. The COI had reportedly established several irregularities, but there were procedural lapses in its conduct.
Sources in the Army Headquarters said a number of other COIs forwarded to New Delhi are being perused and some of them may have to be reassembled. A number of cases filed by senior officers, including a Major General, are also pending before the high courts or the AFT where proceedings have been challenged for not affording them full opportunity under AR 180 or some other procedural lapses.
J&K: Army jawan, police officer commit suicide
September 29, 2009 23:57 IST
An Indian Army [ Images ] jawan and a Special Police Officer allegedly committed suicide by shooting themselves with their service weapons in Jammu and in Doda district respectively, a police spokesman said on Tuesday.
Sepoy Vibodh Bharti of Tamil Nadu serving with the 85 Armoured Regiment, who was on guard duty on Monday night at Ratnu Chak Military Station on the outskirt of the city, shot himself with his service rifle, he said.
His colleagues shifted him to Military Hospital, where he was declared brought dead, he said, and added that the army had instituted a court of inquiry into the incident.
In another incident, SPO Satish Kumar shot himself dead with his own service rifle at his residence at Kulhand village in Doda district late last evening after a tiff with his wife, he said.
His wife also consumed poison and was rushed to a local hospital in serious condition.
The police have initiated inquest proceedings in both the cases, the spokesman said.
Indo-US defence drill off
OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
New Delhi, Sept. 29: A dozen officers of the armed forces preparing to go for a joint drill with the US were left red-faced after their trip to Japan was cancelled, an action that has raised questions on where the India-US military-to-military relations that have intensified over the last five years were headed.
The officers — eight from the navy, three from the army and one from the air force — were called to New Delhi from their separate stations across the country. They were preparing for the last 10 days in the capital.
The armed forces had got an “in-principle” approval for the exercise — an annual feature — last December, a navy source said. But a defence ministry source said, “the file for the requisite permissions was not moved in time”.
The source added that the defence ministry had “cleared it”. For international military exercises the armed forces also have to take clearances from the finance and external affairs ministries. The personnel involved are also checked and cleared by the Intelligence Bureau.
The failure of the armed forces to send a team to a regular annual drill immediately cast doubts on claims that India-US military relations were being strengthened. This was because there were other drills that could not be held this year.
In April, a contingent of the US naval special forces — called Seals — had reached Goa for an exercise with the Indian Navy’s Marine Commandos. Five days before the drill was to start the armed forces were asked to defer it. The move annoyed Pentagon.
In another case, after the permission for a drill was given at the last minute, a US officer told his counterpart: “I believe you guys in Delhi also reach late for your own wedding.”
An India-China army exercise (named “Hand in Hand”), said to be annual event since December 2007, has also been dropped from this year’s calendar.
Exercise Habu Nag, the drill for which the 12 officers were preparing, was to be held in Okinawa, Japan. Last year the exercise was held in Visakhapatnam — the third since it was initiated.
Defence ministry sources are quick to refute insinuations that the India-US military relationship was hitting stumbling blocks. They point to two major exercises scheduled in October. The latest in the series of Cope India — an air forces and paratroopers drill — is slated to be held in Agra from October 19 to 24.
Coinciding with it, the latest version of Exercise Yudh Abhyas is to be held near Babina. In scale and scope both these exercises are much bigger than Habu Nag. For Cope India, the US air force is deploying a C-17 Globemaster heavy lift transport aircraft, a C-130J Super Hercules and threeC-130H transport aircraft.
The Indian Air Force complement includes an IL-76 heavy lifter, four AN-32 transporters and two Mi-17 helicopters. For Yudh Abhyas, the US is deploying a big contingent of Stryker vehicles for the drill with the Indian army’s armoured corps. The Stryker deployment will be the largest by the US military outside Iraq and Afghanistan.
'Pak must conduct reappraisal of its efforts to engage India'
Agencies Posted online: Tuesday , Sep 29, 2009 at 1420 hrs
Islamabad : Pakistan must conduct a reappraisal of its efforts to engage India and it should independently ascertain whether certain persons allegedly involved in militancy enjoy protection and if so, why? Asking for reasons for the current hold up in the bilateral dialogue with India, the Pakistani media has called upon its government to show greater flexibility.
Calling India and Pakistan must find means to move forward, The News daily commenting on the recent meeting of Foreign Ministers of two countries counseled its own government that Mumbai cannot be forgotten.
Nor should be attempts be made to find out who was responsible be abandoned as this would raise the possibility of more terrorism of a similar nature. But other mainstream Pakistani media said if India refuses to hold dialogue, Islamabad should take up its substantive issues with India like Kashmir issue, sharing of water and the situation in Afghanistan globally.
The influential Dawn newspaper, in an editorial titled 'Stalemate', acknowledged that there was "not much more that (Pakistan) can or should do" to ensure the resumption of the composite dialogue, which was suspended by India in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks.
It said Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi's suggestion that he would be willing to travel to India if it could help "change attitudes there towards engagement with Pakistan" was a move that is "frankly unadvisable" as Islamabad has "already made all the gestures necessary to indicate its willingness to talk".
The daily advised that the "foremost lesson for Pakistan" is that when the two sides finally re-engage, "and this is inevitable given the outstanding issues between the two countries Pakistan should demand that the big issues, Kashmir, water, Afghanistan, etc, should be addressed upfront".
The Daily Times, in its editorial titled "Indo-Pak dialogue: some basic questions", called for a comprehensive reappraisal of Pakistan's efforts to engage India in a dialogue. It should decide whether future talks should get India to move towards an overhaul of bilateral relations or the resumption of the composite dialogue "just for the sake of talking".
"In short, does Pakistan want this exercise to be meaningful or is it simply to concede to more of the same which, in terms of results, was almost nothing?" it said. The Daily Times also called for a "re-examination of the regional status quo among the stakeholders in Pakistan" before resuming talks with India.
"If disputes are not settled, as they are unlikely to since India, for the most part does not even accept them as disputes, what are Pakistan's options? Since the talks will not happen in a vacuum, attention must be paid to global opinion about this issue," it said, adding that "the world is siding with India".