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Monday, 18 January 2010

From Today's Papers - 18 Jan 10

New Delhi, January 17
Army officials in Leh were a part of a meeting convened by the Jammu and Kashmir government that agreed that China was encroaching into the land with "specific design" to grab a particular area to extend its control till Indus river.

"As per all maps and evidences, the Dokbug pasture (in Northeast of Leh) land undisputedly belongs to India and China is moving with specific design to grab this area to extend its control till Indus (river)," according to an official report.
During the meeting chaired by Commissioner (Leh) A K Sahu and attended by Brigadier-General Staff of 14 Corps Brig Sarat Chand and Colonel Indraj Singh, it was also agreed that all agencies must take "coordinated and effective measure to destroy the Chinese design and save our territory." Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor, however, has recently dismissed the allegation that Indian land had shrunk along the Line of Actual Control.
The Army Chief had raised this issue during a Unified Command meeting earlier this week in Jammu and Kashmir as well but state Chief Secretary S S Kapoor made it clear to him that the state establishment did not agree with the Army's perception.
Other state officials present at the meeting said there was evidence suggesting that the Indian land had shrunk with China in the Himalayan town.
Originating in the Tibetan plateau in the vicinity of Lake Mansarovar in Tibet Autonomous Region, the river runs a course through the Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir, then enters Northern Areas (Gilgit-Baltistan)and later merges with the Arabian Sea near the port city of Karachi in Sindh.
The total length of the river is 3,180 kilometres (1,976 miles) and it is Pakistan's longest river.
The Dokbug area is the same place where "Rebos" (nomads) take their cattle during this period for grazing. In December 2008 and early last year, the nomads were driven out from the area by People's Liberation Army of China.
"The meeting decided that no such things would be allowed to happen in future and the morale of the nomads would be boosted through appropriate interventions from our side," the report said.
The meeting, which was attended by officials from the Jammu and Kashmir government, Ministry of Home Affairs and Army, "also felt the need for strengthening the patrolling."
Last year, Chinese troops had entered nearly 1.5 km into the Indian territory on July 31 near Mount Gya, recognised as International border by India and China, and painted boulders and rocks with "China" and "Chin9" in red spray paint.
The 22,420 ft Mount Gya, also known as "fair princess of snow" by Army, is located at the tri-junction of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir, Spiti in Himachal Pradesh, and Tibet. Its boundary was marked during the British era and regarded as International border by the two countries.
Before this, Chinese helicopters had violated Indian air space on June 21 along the Line of Actual Control in Chumar region and also heli-dropped some expired food. — PTI

BSNL floats tender for dedicated defence network
Press Trust of India / New Delhi January 17, 2010, 15:01 IST

State-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) has floated a tender for building exclusive optical fibre cable network for the armed forces in lieu of their vacating radio waves which would be auctioned to mobile services operators for offering 3G services.

The tender, which was in the offing for a long time now, will set in motion the process to vacate spectrum by defence.

Citing security reasons, the Defence Ministry have been reluctant to release the spectrum in their possession unless a dedicated optical fibre alternate network is laid.

The armed forces, which occupy a bulk of the 3G airwaves, will move their communication requirements to the new network, thus freeing up airwaves for commercial telephony.

The Department of Telecom (DoT) in May last year had signed an MoU with Defence Ministry to set up this dedicated network. Later, the Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure also cleared this Rs 10,000-crore project.

The tender is for roll-out of OFC network, to be owned and operated by the Defence Services under the Project Implementation Core Group (PICG) of Ministry of Defence, said a BSNL official. The telecom major was made the coordinator for the entire project by the empowered Group of Ministers.

The tender is for procurement, supply, trenching, laying, installation, testing and maintenance of optical fiber cable and accessories for construction of exclusive optical NLD Backbone and Optical Access routes on Turnkey basis for defence network, said the official.

A highly resilient exclusive OFC based nationwide optical backbone for 414 Defence sites and optical gigabit access networks at 219 Army sites will be rolled as part of this project, official said.

The implementation of this project will be undertaken jointly by BSNL and PICG, whereby all essential project monitoring, installation, testing and acceptance tasks will be carried out by joint teams.

After successful implementation of this project, all the network assets created for this project will be handed over by BSNL to the PICG for subsequent operations and maintenance.

The Empowered GoM had made BSNL Chairman Kuldeep Goyal the chief of this project.

Pak fumes, says report on its nuke arsenal outlandish
THE BEST DEFENCE: Pakistanis take particular in their country's nuclear weapons.

Islamabad: Pakistan's strategic assets are as safe as those of any other nuclear weapon's state and are fully safeguarded and secure under a well-established command and control system, the foreign office said on Sunday.

A report on the Times Online website on Sunday doubted the safety of Pakistan's strategic assets and claimed they could fall into the hands of the militants, but a foreign office spokesman dismissed the story as the "outlandish musings by an academic".

Online news agency quoted the spokesman as telling a private TV channel that the report was part of a "conspiracy" against Pakistan.

"Pakistan's nukes are safe and neither the militants nor any other group was capable enough to take over our atomic assets," the spokesman added.

He also rejected the suggestion that there was any danger of Pakistan's strategic assets falling into the wrong hands.

The Times Online report said: "The US army is training a crack unit to seal off and snatch back Pakistani nuclear weapons in the event that militants, possibly from inside the country's security apparatus, get their hands on a nuclear device or materials that could make one.

"The specialised unit would be charged with recovering the nuclear materials and securing them.

"The move follows growing anti-Americanism in Pakistan's military, a series of attacks on sensitive installations over the past two years, several of which housed nuclear facilities, and rising tension that has seen a series of official complaints by US authorities to Islamabad in the past fortnight," the report said.

Pak rejects report on threat to nuke facilities
January 17, 2010 21:54 IST
Pakistan on Sunday junked as "rubbish" a report that elite US troops were ready to counter any move to hijack the country's nuclear arsenal and said it was "a figment of the imagination".

Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said the insinuations made in the report were baseless and Pakistan government had devised and implemented a foolproof safety and security regime for its nuclear arsenal and related materials.

"We are very much confident about our nuclear weapons capability and our custodial controls," Basit said.

He described the news report as "rubbish and a figment of the imagination" of the reporter.

The Sunday Times newspaper had reported that the US Army is training a crack unit to "seal off and snatch back Pakistani nuclear weapons in the event that militants, possibly from inside the country's security apparatus, get their hands on a nuclear device or materials that could make one".

Basit said certain lobbies in the West, particularly in the US, do not like Pakistan's status as a nuclear weapons state and were trying to undermine its nuclear programme.

"Such propagandist reports do not serve any purpose except to unnecessarily keep Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme in focus for no good reason," he said.

US officials had never expressed concern about Pakistan's nuclear arsenl during official meetings and had instead expressed confidence in the country's custodial controls, Basit said.

He also said Pakistan never wanted to make South Asia an atomic region or to take part in an arms race.
"Pakistan only wants to fortify its defence. Pakistan went nuclear in response to Indian threats and any wrong use of its nuclear arsenal is simply out of the question," he added.

Give 5th pay panel benefits to CRPF men: HC to Centre
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
Even as the anomalies in the sixth pay panel recommendations have been by and large sorted out, pharmacists in the Central Reserve Police Force are still to get the benefits suggested by the Fifth Pay Commission (FPC) around a decade ago.

Observing that the FPC recommendations concerning the pharmacists have not been implemented till date, even though steps were initiated in 2000, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has now directed the Centre to consider and decide the implementation of the fifth pay panel suggestions within four months.
The grievance of the pharmacists was that there were inadequate promotional avenues for their cadre in the force. The FPC had made certain recommendations for upgrading their payscale and service conditions. Though principally accepted by the government, they were not implemented in absence of a final decision. Pharmacists working in other Central government departments, however, were given the due benefits.
Holding that promotion was an important and relevant incidence of service as it brings in efficiency, the court held that the case of the CRPF pharmacists be considered in the light of similar benefit granted to similarly situated persons in other organisations.
The court, however, observed that though the petitioners have been provided promotional avenues in view of the SPC and it may not be necessary for the authorities to implement the recommendations of the FPC, the respondents are, in any case, under obligation to pass a reasoned and speaking order in this regard and communicate it to the petitioners.

After lull, a 'hot' year ahead for J&K?
RAJEEV DESHPANDE, TNN, 18 January 2010, 03:00am IST

NEW DELHI: The pressure on Pakistan to restrain jihadi groups planning attacks on India is wearing thin. A spate of strikes in Jammu and Kashmir in the new year have corroborated intelligence that Pakistan’s military is unleashing terror tanzims intent on reviving their bloody campaign.

The evidence gathered by central agencies and the Army in J&K points to a concern across the border over reports of increasing normality in the state in the past year. Not only did the number of violent incidents dip, the space for civil society and governance has grown steadily in the absence of the gun.

A recent review of security in the state attended by defence minister A K Antony has pointed to a fresh determination to disrupt the fragile peace in J&K with fidayeen attacks. The attack on a police station at Sopore on Saturday was a typical example of the jihadi plan to terrorise the population and instil a sense of fear and uncertainty.

Well-placed sources pointed out that it was not as if jihadi groups had been totally hobbled in the past year after the Mumbai 26/11 attacks as the Lashkar-e-Taiba plot involving US national David Headley and Tahawwur Rana, a Pakistani based in Chicago, has tellingly revealed.

But US has been exerting pressure on Islamabad to keep J&K calm so that Pakistan is more fully involved in the war against Taliban and al-Qaida.

The US interest in Pakistan releasing troops from its eastern border to take on the Pakistani Taliban and supporters of the jihad in Afghanistan is obvious but it would seem that efforts to check Lashkar and other groups like HuJI, Jaish and Hizbul Mujahideen may be failing. With its focus on Kashmir undiluted, the military is again prepared to facilitate LoC crossings more frequently than was the case.

With Pakistan ready to shrug off US pressure, a “hot” year could lie ahead for J&K with army and paramilitary units asked to gear up for a stepped up proxy war. The electronic chatter which would often carry complains of mujahids being forced to wait in camps is now changing, showing a sense of anticipation and planning over attacks in J&K.
Many such camps are in close proximity to Pakistan army units and cannot move an inch without clearance of the military.

The preparedness to run the Kashmir operations even if it complicates matters for US has posed a fresh set of questions for Indian security establishment. There is a growing view that the Obama administration is looking for a way out of Afghanistan and jihadi pressure on India is likely to increase. Though US can hardly afford to exit Afghanistan and leave the field to the Taliban, the American presence cannot be counted on for too long.
Given the centrality of Kashmir, a “core” issue that defines the Pakistan military’s identity, it is not willing to risk any stability in J&K lasting long enough to begin convincing the people of the benefits of settled, democratic rule. This also rules out any progress on the India-Pakistan engagement this year despite the willingness of Pakistan president Asif Zardari to give it a go.

The Pakistan government is looking too divided and ineffective to present a cohesive entity capable of delivering on peace. All the more so when the military-ISI establishment’s links with Lashkar are surfacing more clearly than before.

Indian Army chief arriving Tuesday
Indian Army chief General Deepak Kapoor is arriving on a three-day official visit to Nepal Tuesday at the invitation of Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) Chhatra Man Singh Gurung,said Nepal Army's (NA) Directorate of Public Relation (DPR).

Issuing a press statement Monday, NA DPR said, General Kapoor will attend a Wreath Laying ceremony at 'martyrs memorial' and receive a guard of honour from Nepal Army on Tuesday and meet with CoAS Gurung, after his arrival.

On Wednesday, General Kapoor will visit the high altitude military  academy of Nepal Army in Jomsom, Mustang and the pension distribution centre of the Indian Army in Khara. He will also visit the western regional headquarters of Nepal Army in Pokhara and attend a dinner to be hosted in his honour in the evening.

On Thursday, General Kapoor will visit the traning centre for peace keeping missions centre in Panchkhal of Kavre. He will meet with Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal and defense minister Bidhya Bhandari in Singha Durbar the same day.

President Ram Baran Yadav will award Kapoor the honorary rank of General of Nepal Army amid a special function at the President's office, Shital Niwas, Thursday evening. General Kapoor will host a reception in honour of CoAS Gurung the same evening.

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