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Wednesday, 20 January 2010

From Today's Papers - 20 Jan 10







Be accountable: Vice President to security bosses
NDTV Correspondent, Tuesday January 19, 2010, New Delhi

Vice President Hamid Ansari has added a new twist to the ongoing security debate in the country. At a lecture on Tuesday, he said that intelligence agencies must have political oversight.

And listening to his views was beleaguered outgoing National Security Advisor (NSA) M K Narayanan.

The Vice President suggested that intelligence agencies like the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and Intelligence Bureau (IB) must have political oversight, especially as they have tremendous financial and operation clout that is largely unaccountable.

"A parliamentary standing committee on Home could be a way out," he said.

Narayanan has been eased out as the NSA. Many see this statement as a vindication of Home Minister P Chidambaram's plan to have all counter-terrorism agencies under one body.

P Chidambaram had told NDTV that this is critical, and the NSA can continue with his other responsibilities.

"The NSA still has a lot of work. It advises the Prime Minister on very many issues aside from terrorism, like civil nuclear agreements, border issues and others. And the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) should converge under National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC). Agencies dealing with terrorism must be under NCTC," he said.

But the shake up of India's security bosses could have further repercussions. Former NSA Brajesh Mishra has suggested that India does not need an NSA.

"We have parliamentary system of government. Now you have an NSA who has immense powers but has no responsibility to Parliament. That can't be done in a parliamentary democracy. So what I want to say is that either we don't have the National Security Council System (NSCS), or if we want to have it we must have a minister in charge of national security who is responsible to Parliament," Mishra said.

These views fit in perfectly with Home Minister's plans for a total revamp of India's internal security system and make it accountable. How soon that will happen is, however, anybody's guess.






China denies hacking Indian Govt computers
Press Trust of India, Tuesday January 19, 2010, Beijing
China on Tuesday dismissed as "groundless" India's charge that Chinese hackers had attempted to break into sensitive Indian government computers, a week after American internet giant Google levelled a similar allegation against it.

"I can say that these accusations are groundless," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu told reporters when asked to comment on National Security Adviser M K Narayanan's reported comments that Chinese hackers may be involved in a December 15 attempt to penetrate Indian government computers, including that of his office.

"The Chinese government is firmly against hacking activities and will deal with relevant cases in accordance with the law," Ma said.

He also claimed that China itself was the "biggest victim" of hacking activities.

Narayanan told The Times of London that his office and other government departments were targeted on December 15, the same date when Google reported cyber attacks originating from China. He said the attack came in the form of an e-mail with a PDF attachment containing 'Trojan' virus which allows a hacker to access a computer remotely and download or delete files.

"People seem to be fairly sure it was the Chinese. It is difficult to find the exact source but this is the main suspicion. It seems well founded," he was quoted as saying.

Last week, Google had threatened to shut down its operations in China after uncovering hacking attempts into e-mail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.





LoC: Second ceasefire violation in 24 hrs
Press Trust of India, Tuesday January 19, 2010, Jammu
In yet another ceasefire violation along the Line of Control (LoC) and the second in 24 hours, Pakistani troops on Tuesday fired light and medium machine guns at an Indian border post in Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir.

There was cross-border firing from LMGs and MMGs on the Sabzian Forward Defence Location along the LoC this afternoon, a senior Army officer of the 16 Corps said, adding that there were no casualties or injuries to anyone on the Indian side.

Infiltration attempts from Pakistan and ceasefire violations have been on the rise in recent months with such incidents happening at regular intervals.

Firing was going on intermittently from the Pakistan side and troops guarding the border have retaliated, the officer said.

The reports also said two mortars were fired from Pakistan, which exploded away from the border post.

"There was no casualty on our side in the firing from across the border", the officer said.

It appears that the firing is aimed at giving cover to infiltrating militants, he said, adding that the troops along the border are alert and vigilant to foil any fresh infiltration bids.

Pakistani troops fired five rockets and opened small arms firing last night on the forward Kranti post along the LoC in Krishnagati sub-sector of Poonch. BSF troops had foiled two infiltration bids by militants along the Indo-Pak border in Jammu region on Monday.

Troops have further intensified patrolling and are keeping a close watch on the movement despite the thick fog along the LoC.

Security forces are on high alert in the run-up to Republic Day with additional deployment of personnel at vital installations.







New Delhi, January 19
IAF wants to put up an impressive flypast to show its newly acquired Airborne Warning and Control System and 28 warplanes at this year’s Republic Day parade in the Capital. But, it fears the Delhi fog could play a spoilsport.

“Fog is a recurrent feature in this season. If the weather is bad, there are certain limitations clearly laid down. And if it does not meet the criteria, obviously the flying won't happen,” IAF's Vice Chief (Space) Air Vice Marshal M Matheswaran told reporters here today. However, he said flight safety would not be compromised.
"So, only if the weather permits, everything will go as planned. In different weather patterns, some formations will be watered down," Matheswaran said, to a specific query in this regard.






New Delhi, January 19
Army chief Deepak Kapoor suffers from hearing impairment after exposure to heavy booming sound of artillery guns during a demonstration on anti-terror operation in the US in July last year.

The disability, which puts him in a low medical category, will fetch him 20 per cent extra pension after his superannuation in March, the army sources said. Kapoor realised about his hearing impairment after he underwent examination at the Army Research and Referral Hospital in November last year.
The sources said the General visited the hospital after he experienced difficulty in hearing in his left ear. Kapoor told the doctors that he had been experiencing problem in hearing from the left ear ever since his visit to the US in July last year. He said it could be because of exposure to booming sounds of small weapons and gunfire during a demonstration by US troops on anti-terror operations. Kapoor himself had fired from a few weapons during the demonstration. — PTI






We're not hackers but victims: China
Press Trust Of India
THE WEB AND THE SPIN: China says Internet firms operating in the country have to follow its rules.

Beijing: China on Tuesday dismissed as "groundless" India's charge that Chinese hackers had attempted to break into sensitive Indian government computers, a week after American internet giant Google levelled a similar allegation against it.

"I can say that these accusations are groundless," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu told reporters when asked to comment on National Security Adviser M K Narayanan's reported comments that Chinese hackers may be involved in a December 15 attempt to penetrate Indian government computers, including that of his office.

"The Chinese government is firmly against hacking activities and will deal with relevant cases in accordance with the law," Ma said.

He also claimed that China itself was the "biggest victim" of hacking activities.

Narayanan has told London The Times that his office and other government departments were targeted on December 15, the same date when Google reported cyber attacks originating from China.

He said the attack came in the form of an e-mail with a PDF attachment containing 'Trojan' virus which allows a hacker to access a computer remotely and download or delete files. "People seem to be fairly sure it was the Chinese.

It is difficult to find the exact source but this is the main suspicion. It seems well founded," he was quoted as saying.

Internet search leader Google had last week threatened to shut down its operations in China after uncovering hacking attempts into e-mail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.





Taliban challenge
Need to review Afghan security 
The Taliban attack on the “heart of Kabul” on Monday has provided fresh proof, if it was needed, that the extremist elements in Afghanistan remain even today capable of striking anywhere in the war-torn country. They carried out a series of blasts targeting the buildings housing several ministries and a shopping mall in Kabul’s high-security area, resulting in the death of 12 persons, including seven Taliban activists. Perhaps, the Taliban intends to convey the message that US President Barack Obama’s decision to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan to wrap up the multinational drive against the militant forces there cannot lead him to win the “war on terror”. The use of force alone is not sufficient to achieve the objective in Afghanistan. What course the coming international conference on Afghanistan, to be held in London, suggests remains to be seen.
Depending on the Afghanistan Army at this stage for mauling the Taliban, comprising highly motivated groups of insurgents, appears to be risky. Anti-US and pro-Taliban elements seem to have found entry into the ranks of the armed forces. The suicide bomber who killed eight American civilians, most of them CIA officers, in Khost province, bordering Pakistan, on December 31, 2009, was an Afghanistan Army officer. While the army needs to be cleared of elements of doubtful integrity, efforts are also needed to prevent the occurrence of incidents like the killing of civilians in anti-Taliban operations which strengthen anti-American sentiments among the people. Last year alone 600 civilian casualties at the hands of foreign forces were reported from various parts of Afghanistan.
What helps the Taliban more than anything else in breaking all security barriers is the widespread corruption in the government. The Taliban’s destructive designs cannot be defeated so long as the extremists are able to use bribes to send their suicide bombers into the areas having even the tightest security. In the villages, people no longer depend on the government’s security arrangements. They have started forming their own anti-Taliban fighter squads, of course, with official encouragement. The villagers’ initiative is a sad commentary on the capacity of the Afghanistan government and the multinational forces to make the people’s lives safe. 






Black flags greet Gen Kapoor in Nepal

An off-the cuff remark reportedly made last month could overshadow all other issues on agenda during Indian Army chief General Deepak Kapoor’s four-day Nepal visit that began on Tuesday.

Black flags greeted Kapoor on his arrival at Tribhuwan International Airport and nearly 1200 Maoists staged demonstrations outside Indian Embassy and Singha Durbar—the official seat of Nepal government--to register their protest against his statement and alleged Indian interference in Nepal.

In the past weeks, a lot of media space and political hype has followed Kapoor’s alleged statement expressing reservation on en mass integration of former Maoist rebels into the Nepal Army.

The comment made at an official dinner during his Nepalese counterpart General Chatraman Singh Gurung’s India visit had led Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda to term it as India’s “naked interference” in Nepal’s internal affairs.

The Indian Embassy tried to do a delayed damage control by issuing a statement this month that media reports had “highly distorted” Kapoor’s remark and it didn’t reflect the Indian government’s position, but it failed to act as a balm.

Although External Affairs Minister SM Krishna expressed India’s displeasure at baseless mudslinging by Maoists during his meeting with Prachanda on Saturday, the former prime minister and his party colleagues have not put an end to their anti-India rhetoric.

On Monday, the opposition Maoists, who have launched a national awakening against foreign powers, boycotted parliament seeking a reply from Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal on Kapoor’s remark.

Kapoor’s goodwill visit is expected to increase defence cooperation between both neighbours. He will meet the Nepalese Prime Minister, Defence Minister, Nepal Army chief and visit several military training establishments as well.

Kapoor will also be conferred the honorary rank of General of the Nepal Army by President Ram Baran Yadav on Thursday as per tradition between both nations. The Nepal Army chief was also conferred the similar title during his India visit.

The Army chief’s reported statement made last month on the need for India to develop capability to engage in a two-front war with Pakistan and China has also led to lot of negative reactions in Pakistan.






* Nepal govt denies reports of arms import from India


Kathmandu, Jan 19 (PTI) Nepal has refuted Maoists' allegation that Nepalese army had purchased arms and ammunitions from India.

The army had acquired 100 vehicles including trucks, gypsies, water tanks and ambulances but not weapons as alleged by the Maoists, Nepalese defence minister Bidya Bhandari said yesterday ahead of Indian army chief Deepak Kapoor's visit to Nepal.

She, said there would not be bulk integration of the Maoists combatants into Nepal's army.

"For any decision on integration of Maoist combatants, the defence ministry and Nepal army should agree," she said.

The Maoists had boycotted the Legislative Parliament yesterday alleging that the government had acquired arms from India in violation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.





UN chief appoints Indian army commander top Sudan envoy
News - Africa news
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has appointed a high-ranking Indian military official, Jasbir Singh Lidder, to a top political position in Sudan, where he would head the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), PANA reported Monday.

UNMIS is overseeing the implementation of North-South peace accord in Sudan.

The top Indian military officer, who has brokered several agreements in Sudan's former trouble spots in the South, would become the UN Secretary-General's Deputy Special Representative.

He would deputize another Asian diplomat, Ashraf Qazi, who is the current UN Special Envoy to Sudan.

Qazi is a Pakistani national.

The newly-appointed Deputy Special Representative for Political Affairs for Sudan, Lidder of India, arrived in Khartoum Sunday to assume his responsibilities with UNMIS, a statement by the UN Hybrid Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) said Sunday.

"Lidder's appointment to head the mission's substantive sections was announced last December by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon," the UN statement said , adding that "Lidder brings to the position extensive experience on the ground in Sudan, in addition to a long and distinguished career with the Indian military, serving most recently as Commandant of an elite infantry school."

Prior to that, he served for more than two years as Force Commander of the United Nations Mission to the Sudan (UNMIS), where he facilitated the relationship between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA).

The two different armies fought each other for 21 years before a 5 January Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) was signed between the Southern Sudan and the Northern Sudan.

Lidder also assisted in conflict-resolution activities and the protection of civilians and played a major role in the transition from the African Union Mission to the Sudan (AMIS) to the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), the force commanders said.

In the mid-1990s, he served as Chief of Staff in the military component of the United Nations Operation in Mozambique (ONUMOZ).

During his military service, Lidder held a number of important operational, command and staff positions, including Additional Director General of Military Operations in the Indian Army, General Commanding Officer of a division and Brigade Commander.

Lidder attended the National Defence Academy, as well as the Army War College, in India.

He has a master degree in philosophy in defence studies and management and another in defence and strategic studies.

Born in India in 1949, he is married and has two children.





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