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Friday, 26 February 2010

From Today's Papers - 26 Feb 2010






Indo-Pak talks end without much headway
New Delhi says talks first step to rebuild trust
n Issue of Saeed’s arrest comes up
n Islamabad raises Balochistan
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service
India on Thursday conveyed to Pakistan its concern over the beheading of Sikhs in its North West Province and asked Islamabad to protect religious minorities in Pakistan. The beheading of two Sikhs by the Taliban was raised by Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao at the talks. “We expressed our grave concern over the beheading of Sikhs and asked for action against those responsible for the crime. It is the duty of the Pakistan Government to protect all religious minorities in the country. The beheading of Sikhs has outraged the people in India with various Sikh organisations holding protest rallies and asking the government to take up the matter with Pakistan,” Nirupama said.
Step in right direction: US
Washington: The US today described resumption of Foreign Secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan as an "important step" in the right direction as it appreciated the both the countries for not succumbing to terrorist game plan.
Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs PJ Crowley commended the leadership of both countries for going ahead with the talks at the highest level after the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks, despite some recent effort by terrorist groups to derail the process. The US favours the resumption of "direct talks" between India and Pakistan and "encourages" them to proceed with the dialogue as it is in their mutual interest, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said. — PTI
New Delhi, February 25
A breakthrough eluded India and Pakistan at the Foreign Secretary-level talks with New Delhi rejecting Islamabad’s plea for the resumption of the composite dialogue process (CDP) and handing over three fresh dossiers to the neighbouring country linking elements in Pakistan, including JuD chief Hafiz Saeed, with terrorist activities on the Indian soil.
At the first official dialogue between the two countries after a 14-month hiatus, India focused on terrorism emanating from the Pakistani territory, while Pakistan raised the Kashmir, water and Balochistan issues. Sources in the Indian establishment asserted that 85 per cent of the discussion centered around the issue of terrorism. The sources said it was obvious from the tone and tenor of the Pakistani delegation that it was getting instructions from the Pakistan Army. “While we get our brief from the democratic government, the Pakistanis get briefing from the men in khaki.’’ The three-hour talks, being seen by diplomatic observers more as an exercise in scoring brownie points by the two sides, ended with Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir announcing at separate press briefings that they would remain in touch and continue endeavours to restore trust in the relationship.
However, it was quite clear from the statements of the two top diplomats that they would have to cover a lot of distance in putting the peace process between the two neighbours back on track.
To Pakistan’s demand for reviving the CDS, Nirupama told her opposite number that India certainly did not discount the achievements of the CDS that was conducted from January 2004-2007. However, the time was not ripe for it. “We have to create a climate of trust and confidence and adopt a graduated step-by-step approach to reach that stage,” she said. She said India had expressed disappointment at the lack of sufficient prosecuting action on the information provided about the complicity of Pakistan-based individuals and organisations in the Mumbai terror attacks.
“While acknowledging the steps taken by Pakistan to bring the perpetrators of Mumbai terror attack to book, I pointed out that these did not go far enough to unravel the full conspiracy behind the Mumbai attacks and to award exemplary punishment to the culprits,” she told the media after the three-hour talks at the Hyderabad House. She said that Pakistan had to take “expeditious” action on the investigations, “including by following up on the leads that have emerged following the arrest of David Coleman Headley and Tahawuur Hussain Rana in the USA”. Headley and Rana have been accused of being part of the Lashkar-e-Toiba and taking part in the planning of the Mumbai terror attacks.
The Indian Foreign Secretary said three dossiers had been handed over to the Pakistani delegation asking it to take action against terrorists on its soil. She made specific reference to the February 5 rallies, when these organisations openly talked about terror acts against India. Nirupama made specific reference to the February 5 rallies, when these organisations openly talked about terror acts against India.
On the Balochistan issue, Nirupama firmly rejected Pakistan’s charge that India was fuelling unrest there. New Delhi had never interefered in the internal affairs of any country. India also dismissed the Islamabad’s concern expressed that it was depriving Pakistan of water by making dams and said the Indus water treaty had stood the test of time to settle differences between the two nations on water sharing issues.
Pakistan did raise, what it calls the core issue of Kashmir, and India reiterated its position that the whole of Jammu and Kashmir, including Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) is an integral part of India.
Pakistan High Commissioner Salman Bashir acknowledged that terrorism posed a serious threat to the region, more to his country. He said Pakistan was in the forefront of the war against terrorism. India, which for years had been describing Pakistan as the epicentre of terrorism, needs to revisit this phrase in the context of Pakistan, he added. He said Pakistan favoured resumption of the CDP but was not desperate in that regard. New Delhi should stop making “unfair and unreasonable” demands. Islamabad was doing all that could to bring to justice those alleged to be behind the Mumbai attacks. However, the due process of law was to be followed in the matter.
He said India had given to Pakistan a dossier on Hafiz Saeed earlier, which was examined by the competent authority in Pakistan. The dossier, however, turned out to be more of literature than evidence of his complicity in the attacks in India.





Grieve not for martyred defenders of faith

Chitranjan Sawant

Thu, Feb 25, 2010 10:22:29 IST

HOW ELSE can a man die better, Than facing fearful odds
For the ashes of his fathers, And temples of his goods.

This indeed is a grand morale booster of the men in uniform who go to the frontline to fight against devils working for doom of democracy and defend the democratic values of life. In any case one day or the other, every soul that enters a body to do duty in this world is bound to leave the old body and be born again to carry on the cycle of birth and death.
SALUTE THE THOUSAND

In Afghanistan one thousand Americans have sacrificed their lives at the altar of freedom and faith. They are Defenders of the Faith. The values of life that we cherish as free people and the values of life that are under attack of Al Qaida and the Islamist terrorists called the Taliban, those values have to be defended, come what may. Defending our democratic way of life the Thousand soldiers that have sacrificed themselves in Afghanistan will be remembered by a grateful people for ever.

War is a war.

The experienced soldiers and their families know that when there is a clash of cultures, there is bound to be a clash of arms. When two armies believing in two different sets of cultures, they fight for their own faiths, in that fight some lives would be lost. The history of Man is full of Battles that were fought when Peace overtures failed. The history always repeats itself. The History of Man is repeating itself now. When negotiations fail, scores are settled through battles. It has been going on for many millenia and will go on for many more. Those who win, they taste the fruits of victory, those who perish in batle, they enter the Heaven. When the deed of the dead are eulogised, it is like entering

Heaven for him.

Yogeshwar Shri Krishna, a great leader, thinker and strategist exhorted his people that they must bear arms and use them to slay the enemy when a war to defend the Dharma, our values of life, is inevitable. A Man must protect and defend the Dahrma or the Faith. Sacrificing one's life for the cause of the country is our Dharma. Those who become martyrs are respected by the survivors. The surviving kith and kin must not grieve for the loved ones who are dead and departed. A remembrance Day for the martyrs will inspire the new generation to emulate the forebears. So grieve not for the THOUSAND who sacrificed themselves for a noble cause. Let the posterity remember them and draw inspiration from them. 

THE FINAL WORD

The fallen son of the brave in the battlefield sent a word to the loved ones through surviving brothers-in-arms :

WHEN YOU GO HOME
TELL THEM OF US
AND SAY
FOR THEIR TOMORROW
WE GAVE OUR TODAY.

These memorable words of the final message to loved ones sent by the martyrs are inscribed in the cenotaph in Kohime in India and are recalled time and again by soldiers,sailors and airman to draw inspiration and buttress self confidence in the battlefield.
May I say to the Peaceniks that they should not lower the guard when a battle is imminent, they should not denigrate the dead and the departed and must not look down upon a war as a means of solving the problems.Please remember, when Peace fails, War begins. Let us prepare for war to usher in Peace.




New Delhi, February 25
Lt Gen P K Rath, former commander of 33 Corps, today withdrew petition against his court martial in the Sukna land scam from the Armed Forces Tribunal here.
Giving reasons for the move, Rath's counsel Ajit K Singh said his client withdrew the petition as the tribunal had already ordered reconvening of the Court of Inquiry (COI) in the case allowing Lt Gen (retd) Avadesh Prakash, former Military Secretary, to cross examine six witnesses.
“During the COI and cross-examination by Prakash, we will also get the opportunity to present our side. So, we will wait for the outcome of the COI and then take further decision,” he said.
Asked if the reconvening of the COI would delay court martial proceedings against him also, he said: “Nothing can proceed until the COI is over as we are also part of it.”
Rath's petition in the Delhi High Court, in which he had contended that he had been singled out in the case and the “offence” against him had been “prejudged”, was dismissed on jurisdiction issue earlier this month. Thereafter, he had moved to the Principal Bench of the AFT here.
The Eastern Command, headed by Army Chief-designate Lt Gen VK Singh, had initiated the COI against Gen Rath after the Cabinet Committee of Appointments had approved his elevation as Deputy Chief of Army Staff, Rath said in his petition.
Rath, along with Lt Gen Prakash, is facing court martial in the case that relates to no objection certificate being given by the Army to a private realtor to construct an educational institution on a 71-acre plot adjacent to Sukna military base in Darjeeling. — PTI






India names serving Pakistani army officer in 26/11
NDTV Correspondent, Thursday February 25, 2010, New Delhi

A serving Pakistani army officer has been accused of involvement in the 26/11 attacks in a dossier handed over by India to Pakistan on Thursday. The officer is referred to as Major Iqbal, a pseudonym, according to sources.

India gave Pakistan three new dossiers at a meeting of the  Foreign Secretaries for India and Pakistan. The meeting lasted for an hour and a half in New Delhi. Sources describe the meeting as "constructive and useful." (Read: Highlights of Indo-Pak talks)

The first dossier focuses entirely on the trial and investigation related to 26/11.  India has named 8 people, including Major Iqbal and Hafiz Saeed, the leader of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD). India wants Pakistan to take action against these men and then hand them over to India.

Sources say 'Major Iqbal' is not the person referred to as 'Major General Sahib' in the phone conversations between the terrorists who carried out the attacks in Mumbai in 2008 and their handlers.

The role of 'Major Iqbal' is believed to have emerged in the interrogation by the FBO of US citizen David Coleman Headley, arrested in Chicago in September last year. (Read: FBI shares details on Headley's recces across India)

The second dossier is on Ilyas Kashmiri who served as a guru for David Headley, accused of being one of the major architects of 26/11. Headley visited India several times between 2006 and 2009, and surveyed the four locations targeted in the Mumbai attacks. Headley was arrested in Chicago in September, along with Tahawwur Rana. Both men have been formally accused of planning and executing 26/11.

Emails intercepted by the FBI show that Headley reported to Ilyas Kashmiri, believed to be a commander of the Al Qaida, and a top operative of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT). After the Pune blast, Kashmiri sent an email to a Pakistani website warning foreigners not to travel to India for the Hockey World Cup and the Commonwealth Games.

The third dossier says Pakistan is providing sanctuary to militants of the Indian Mujahideen and Khalistani supporters. India suspects that the blast in Pune earlier this month, which left at least 15 people dead, was a joint operation of the Indian Mujahideen and the Lashkar-e-Toiba. (Read: Chidambaram 'not optimistic' | Transcript)

Addressing the media after the meeting, India's Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said, of the meeting, "Our aims were modest." She added that India approached the talks with an "open mind but fully conscious of limitations imposed by large trust deficit between the two countries."

At the talks, India stressed that terrorism emanating from Pakistan has to end. Rao said she told the Pakistani Foreign Secretary, "The steps taken by Pakistan so far in fighting terrorism do not go far enough in dealing with 26/11 suspects." She said that India asked Pakistan to follow up urgently on leads on those involved with the 26/11 attacks, particularly after the arrests of Tahawwur Rana and David Headley.

Rao said that the Indian government also shared its objection over leaders of terrorist groups like the Jamaat-u-Dawa (JuD) holding public rallies in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir earlier this month, where they "openly incited violence against India."

Pakistan has also been asked to investigate the  groups that took responsibility for the  Pune blast. (Read: Pakistan blames 'Indian networks' for 26/11)




US asks India to raise defence FDI cap to 49%
Lalit K Jha/PTI / Washington February 25, 2010, 14:20 IST

Buoyed by its armament majors securing multi-billion contracts, US has asked India to raise its cap on foreign direct investment (FDI) in defence sector to 49 per cent from existing 26 per cent.

Making a pitch for this, the Obama Administration also wants India to undertake more sweeping reforms to attract new investments, saying this will propel New Delhi to a higher growth rate.

"Reforms to date have made Indian companies leaders in areas such as IT, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, and now increasingly, in manufacturing as well as in clean energy. We hope India will seize the opportunity to undertake new reforms that will both attract new investment and propel higher growth," Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake has said.

He was more particular on opening up of the defence sector, saying, "we are urging the Indian government to raise the cap on foreign equity in Indian defence firms from 26 per cent to 49 per cent to provide more opportunities for US companies interested in defence sales in India."

His comments at the Washington International Business Council meeting come as US defence majors Lockheed Martin, Boeing and other firms have bagged almost all the major Indian armed forces contracts worth more than $10 billion.

These includes sale of Hercules C-130 J transport aircraft and Boeing P-8A maritime reconnaissance aircraft. US companies are in strong contention for sale of next generation fighter aircraft to the Indian airforce.

Noting that the US recently had some important sales to India, Blake said there are significant new sales on the horizon, up to $18 billion worth of contracts, for which American companies are competing.

Calling India as a rising global power, soon to be the world's most populous country, with a trillion dollar-plus economy, Blake said it is a model of a tolerant pluralistic society in the region. "And it is a country increasingly comfortable with working with the United States," Blake said.

In July last year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited India and launched a Strategic Dialogue which called for increased collaboration in a number of areas that fall under five pillars: strategic cooperation; energy and climate change; education and development; economics, trade and agriculture; and science, technology, health and innovation.

In November, President Barack Obama hosted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for the first state visit of his Presidency, calling India an "indispensable" nation.

President Obama has also pledged to visit India in 2010, further underscoring the importance of India to the United States, he said. The State Department official said the strength of India's economy makes it the powerhouse of South and Central Asian regional growth.

"The Indian economy has been one of the fastest growing economies in the world since 2003, averaging 8 to 9 per cent growth in recent years... India's economy grew about 5.6 per cent in 2009, and is expected to grow 7.7 per cent this year. If India can sustain its economic reforms, it has the potential to sustain close to double digit growth rates for many years to come," Blake said.

One sign of India's prospering internal market is its growing middle class which now numbers about 300 million and is expected to double over the next 20 years to reach 600 million. To put that into perspective, that's roughly the size of the total population of the European Union right now, he noted.

As part of the US-India Strategic Dialogue, the US government is working with India to expand business opportunities, he said, adding the economics, trade, and agriculture pillar of the Dialogue is particularly important for business.

"Our trade has doubled just in the last five years. US exports to India were more than $28 billion in 2008. We expect that growth to continue into the foreseeable future as India's middle class continues to grow and as India's economy continues to open up. US investment also has grown very quickly, and now totals more than $16 billion," he said.

"The strategic cooperation pillar also is expected to offer numerous business opportunities. Last year, our two governments agreed on an end-use monitoring arrangement that will help the process of technology transfer between our two countries, and I think there's scope for further progress in that area," Blake said.






Navy Chief, Defence Secretary kick start 'TROPEX 10'
Thursday, February 25, 2010,16:41 [IST]
Kolkata, Feb 25 (ANI): Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Nirmal Verma along with Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar embarked the aircraft carrier INS Viraat operating on the eastern seaboard to kick start the first phase of 'TROPEX 10'.

The exercise involves the participation of most major combatants of the Indian Navy, as also participation of the Indian Air Force and the Indian Coast Guard.


Just as the combination of the two fleets and the elements of the sister services contribute to synergy, the presence of the Defence Secretary with the CNS is indicative of the close coordination and synergy of the Indian Navy and the Ministry of Defence, which is the key to enhancing effectiveness at the "business end" of the Navy.

The two Western and Eastern fleets of the Indian Navy are presently carrying out a Joint Work Up after which they will proceed for a 'mock battle' to test their tactical skills and operational readiness.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and Airborne Early Warning (AEW) helicopters of the Indian Navy, Air-to-Air Refueller, Jaguars and SU 30 of the IAF and advanced missile systems have also been deployed. Missile, torpedo and gun firings have also been conducted.

Several operational concepts, which have earlier been 'war-gamed' as part of a series of 'Table-Top Exercises' {these are played on paper, in the various Maritime Warfare Centres (MWCs) of the Navy}, are now being practically exercised at sea.

Lessons learnt during the exercise will be used to further develop the Navy's tactical and operational doctrines. Observers from Army and Air Force have also embarked various participating ships to gain first -hand experience of Naval combat operations. Conduct of joint operations is one of the focused aims of the exercise.

Overall, the exercise is intended to thoroughly test the human and material endurance of the Navy, the efficacy of its operational and logistics plans and its combat effectiveness. (ANI)






Procedures violated in ordering my court martial: Avadesh Prakash
IANS, Feb 25, 2010, 09.38am IST
NEW DELHI: Lt. Gen. (retd) Avadesh Prakash, the former military secretary at army headquarters who has won a temporary reprieve against a court martial ordered against him, alleges that the Indian Army chief violated a long-standing military practice in recommending the action.

The army chief, Gen. Deepak Kapoor, had violated a rule in place since 1993 that clearly prohibits anyone in the army from changing an order of taking administrative action against an officer to disciplinary action, Prakash said in a TV interview.

The Armed Forces Tribunal on Monday ruled that there had been a "mockery of justice" by an army court of inquiry into the Sukna land scam in which Prakash was allegedly involved and gave the former military secretary two months to cross-examine the witnesses in the case.

The court of inquiry had indicted Prakash in December 2009 for using his position of authority to pressure the 33 Corps based in Sukna in West Bengal, including its chief Lt. Gen. P.K. Rath, to facilitate the transfer of the land in question to his family friend.

The Eastern Army Commander, Lt. Gen. V.K. Singh, who had ordered the court of inquiry, had recommended Prakash's court martial. The army chief initially reduced this to administrative action but then reversed it to disciplinary action, apparently under pressure from the defence ministry.





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