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Sunday, 9 May 2010

From Today's Papers - 09 May 2010

Comments:- That Pakistan is the fountainhead of terrorism in the world could not have come as a sudden revelation to the US administration on the basis of yet another instance of a Pakistani's involvement in what could have been a terrorist episode in New York. The US policy pundits apparently feel that Pakistan is indispensable to their cause as of now - an important ally in the International war against terrorism. They probably feel themselves caught in a cleft stick of having to look the other way when Pakistan aids and abets terrorists in other parts of the world - for instance India - and continue to give and seek support. But when the strikes are too close home for comfort, such statements are issued, more for domestic consumption than anything else. Very realistically, what options does the US have in Pakistan? With its current involvements in Iraq and Afghanistan, and possibility of a belligerent Iran getting more so requiring action, US has no option but to keep Pakistan happy. At least for the time being.

Indian Express
Asian Age
Asian Age
Asian Age
Asian Age
The Pioneer
Asian Age
The Pioneer
Asian Age
Times of India
DNA India
DNA India

More flying hours for NCC cadets
Vijay Mohan Tribune News Service  Chandigarh, May 8 To give a fillip to adventure activities, the National Cadet Corps (NCC) is procuring 110 micro-light aircraft. These would be inducted in its air squadrons across the country.  NCC, the world’s largest youth organisation engaged in grooming students in leadership and discipline, has over 55 air squadrons. Many of them already posses a Zen micro-light aircraft.  These aircraft, which are basically twin-seaters weighing less than 500 kgs, are meant to give air wing cadets exposure to flying and experience in handling aircraft. Additional aircraft would enable more cadets to fly.  “Micro-lights have replaced gliders that were earlier being used for training,” Additional Director General NCC, Major General MS Virk said. “Every air squadron has been authorised two micro-lights and most of them now have one such aircraft in their inventory,” he added.  Under the current training syllabus, each squadron has been allocated 200 flying hours on the micro-light. In the past few years, on an average around 8,000 flying hours have been logged each year by NCC squadrons. Earlier, the NCC also had a few indigenously designed Pushpak two-seat trainers, but these have been phased out.  The NCC has already initiated the tendering process for acquisition of the aircraft and these would be inducted in phases over the next three to four years. Around 30 aircraft, wearing the NCC’s special colour scheme, are expected to be added to the fleet every six months once deliveries commence.  Given their lightweight, these aircraft would be able to operate from grassy surface, advance landing grounds as well as disused airfields where runway length available is as less as 1,000 meters.  The Karnataka Air Squadron has been made the nodal unit to train pilots and technical personnel for the micro-lights. Initially pilots and technicians would be trained by the aircraft manufacturer and later teams from the Karnataka unit would train subsequent batches at user units’ respective locations.

Clinton’s blunt warning to Pak Severe consequences if terror attacks traced to Pak: US 
Washington, May 8 The USA has finally warned Pakistan that if a terror operation like the Times Square bombing attempt were to be successful and traced back to the country, "there would be very severe consequences".  The blunt warning came from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton who acknowledged Pakistan's increased cooperation in the war on terror, but said the US wants and expects even more from Islamabad.  "We've made it very clear that if, heaven-forbid, an attack like this that we can trace back to Pakistan were to have been successful, there would be very severe consequences," Clinton said in an interview to CBS' "60 Minutes" programme to be broadcast Sunday.  Faisal Shahzad, a naturalised American citizen who was born in Pakistan and says he had terrorist training there, has confessed to planting the car bomb that fizzled out in Time Square last week. Investigations have also uncovered his possible links to the Pakistani Taliban and a Kashmiri Islamist group.  Pakistan's attitude toward fighting Islamic terrorists has changed remarkably, Clinton said suggesting Ialamabad was earlier playing a double game with lot of lip service but little action.  "We've gotten more cooperation and it's been a real sea change in the commitment we've seen from the Pakistan Government. [But] We want more. We expect more," she said in the interview excerpts of which were released on Friday.  Since the relationship with Pakistan turned around, the results are encouraging she said. "We also have a much better relationship, military to military, intelligence to intelligence, government to government than we had before."  "I think that there was a double game going on in the previous years, where we got a lot of lip service but very little produced. We've got a lot produced.  "We have seen the killing or capturing of a great number of the leadership of significant terrorist groups and we're going continue that," Clinton said.  But Defence Secretary Robert Gates has offered to step up assistance to Pakistan though he doubted Islamabad's capacity to expand its crackdown on insurgents with security forces stretched battling militants in tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.  "With their military operations in the west, they've started to be pretty thinly stretched themselves, as well as taking a substantial number of casualties," he told reporters on a trip to Kansas, Missouri Friday.  But the US was "willing to do as much ... as they are willing to accept," Gates said. "We are prepared to do training, and exercise with them. How big that operation becomes is really up to them."  Citing anti-American sentiment in Pakistan, Gates said, "They (Pakistani leaders) are also very interested in keeping our footprints as small as possible, at least for now."  Meanwhile, White House deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes also said Friday the US had been working with Pakistan and would keep assisting a Pakistani "offensive - the largest offensive they've undertaken in some years - in order to root out extremists within their borders, including the Taliban." — IANS

8 jawans die as Naxals blow up CRPF truck 
Raipur, May 8 Eight CRPF jawans were today killed when Naxals blew up a bullet-proof vehicle in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh, the first major attack after the Dantewada ambush which left 76 security men dead a month ago.The Naxalites triggered the IED blast near Pedakodepal village on the National Highway 16 in Bijapur, 284 km from here, and fired at the security personnel, Director-General of Police Vishwaranjan said.  Eight CRPF personnel of the 168 Battalion, including a driver, who were travelling in a Tata 407 bullet-proof vehicle from their company headquarters in Murkinal to nearby battalion headquarter, were killed, he said.One jawan was injured and another was missing in the attack, the DGP said."It appears that the security personnel ignored the instruction not to travel in any kind of vehicle in the Naxal-infested areas," state Home Minister Nankiram Kanwar said.The injured have been admitted to a hospital in Jagdalpur.According to CRPF sources, an eight-foot crater was formed on the road as a result of the blast.  Naxalites had on April 6 carried out their deadliest attack, killing 76 security personnel in Mukrana forests of Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh. — PTI

Three militants killed, 60-kg explosives seized in J&K
Press Trust of India, Saturday May 8, 2010, Srinagar Three militants, one of them belonging to Hizbul Mujahideen, were killed on Saturday in separate gunfights with security forces who busted three ultra hideouts seizing 60-kg explosives besides a huge cache of arms in Jammu and Kashmir.  Two militants were killed in a fierce gunbattle with security forces in Shah Nagri Forest in Handwara, some 80-km from summer capital Srinagar, officials said.        Security forces, acting on a specific information that some militants were hiding there, cordoned off the area, they said.  As the troops zeroed in on the militants, they opened fire triggering a gunfight in which two ultras were killed.        The identity and group affiliations of the slain ultras were yet to be ascertained, the officials said.  A Hizbul Mujahideen militant was killed and a policeman wounded in the exchange of fire between security forces and ultras at Mahore in Jammu division's Reasi district.  The gunbattle, in which a police constable was wounded, was still on as another militant was believed to be trapped in the area, police said.  The injured policeman was airlifted to Jammu city for treatment.  In another encounter at Kakote in Doda district on Friday night, police head constable Abdul Rashid was injured.  The militants escaped under the cover of darkness, the officials said adding a hunt had been launched to apprehend them.  Security forces busted three ultra hideouts in the valley and seized a large quantity of arms and ammunition, the officials said.  Sixty 60 kgs of explosives, 17 grenades, a rifle, seven detonators and 37 gelatine sticks were recovered when a LeT hideout was smashed in Kishtwar district.  The hideout was located in a cave in Nadigam forest area, 270-km from Jammu, the officials said.  A hideout each was smashed in Tral belt in southern Pulwama and in Kangan area in Ganderbal district.  The seizure included two rifles, five rockets, several hand grenades, an Under Barrel Grenade Launcher (UBGL), an IED fitted on a gas cylinder, a Pak-made pistol and an AK magazine with 14 rounds.  Hizbul militants barged into a house at Akhal village, 45-km from Srinagar, last night and shot dead a 27-year-old man.  The brother of the deceased was a Hizbul militant who had surrendered before security forces last year. He was killed to apparently avenge the surrender of his brother.                           

Pakistan test-fires Nuclear capable missiles
Associated Press, Saturday May 8, 2010, Islamabad Pakistan on Saturday successfully test-fired two ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, the military said, and released video of the launches, watched by senior military and political figures including the prime minister.  The Shaheen-1 missile has a range of about 400 miles (650 kilometres), while the second Ghaznavi missile could hit targets at a distance of 180 miles (290 kilometres), an army statement said.  Both can carry conventional and nuclear warheads.  Pakistan routinely carries out missile tests.  Saturday's test came less than two weeks after the leaders of India and Pakistan met in the Bhutan on the sidelines of a regional conference, hoping to improve relations that have been strained since the deadly 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.  Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and other senior army and civil officials witnessed the launches on Saturday, which "successfully hit the target areas," the statement said.  Pakistan became a declared nuclear power in 1998 by conducting nuclear tests in response to those carried out by India.  Islamabad test-fired its first missile that same year.  India and Pakistan have fought three wars since their independence from Britain in 1947, two over control of the Himalayan region of Kashmir.

Pak test fires Shaheen-I, Ghaznavi ballistic missiles
Rezaul H Laskar/PTI / Islamabad May 08, 2010, 12:37 IST  Pakistan today test fired two short-range ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear and conventional warheads and striking Indian cities, with Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani saying it was time for the world to recognise his country as a "de jure" atomic power.  The armed forces conducted "training launches" of the Shaheen-I missile with a range of 650 km and the Ghaznavi missile with a range of 290 km at the conclusion of an annual field training exercise of the Army Strategic Force Command.  The tests carried out in the presence of Gilani were aimed at "testing the operational readiness of Strategic Missile Groups equipped with Ghaznavi and Shaheen missile systems," said a statement from the Inter-Services Public Relations.  Addressing troops in the exercise area, Gilani "emphasised that it is time for the world to recognise Pakistan as a de jure nuclear power with equal rights and responsibilities," the statement said.  Gilani demanded that the country be given a waiver by the Nuclear Suppliers Group for civil nuclear energy cooperation as "energy is a vital economic security need of Pakistan and nuclear energy is a clean way forward."  "Pakistan is capable of providing nuclear fuel cycle services under IAEA safeguards, and this offer was also made at the Nuclear Security Summit" in Washington last month, he said.  Gilani said that "there is now a need for the world to move on beyond safety and security concerns. These were laid to rest at the Nuclear Security Summit (hosted by the US) where Pakistan forcefully projected her forthright stance on the issue and the world expressed satisfaction at Pakistan's nuclear security arrangements."  Pakistan had developed a "strong nuclear deterrence capability" and the armed forces are "fully capable of safeguarding Pakistan's security against all kinds of aggression," he said.  Gilani assured the military that his government will "continue to support the strategic programme and meet all its needs."  Both Ghaznavi, also known as Hatf-III, and Shaheen I, also known as Hatf-IV, can carry conventional and nuclear warheads and are capable of hitting Indian cities.  Apart from Gilani, the launch of the missiles was witnessed by a gathering that included Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Chairman Gen Tariq Majid, naval chief Admiral Noman Bashir, Strategic Plans Division Director General Lt Gen (Retd) Kahlid Kidwai and senior military officials.  The Shaheen-I was first tested in 1999 and entered service with the army in 2003. The Ghaznavi, believed to be based on the Chinese M-11 missile, was first tested in 2003.

Fittest will survive
Srabanti Chakrabarti  ‘D3 Commando Force: Dadagiri Against Terrorism’ aims to urge the youth to consider the defence forces as a possible career option, writes srabanti chakrabarti  Reality shows are not just about fun and entertainment. UTV Bindaas with its show D3 Commando Force proves just that. This new show will be the first step for aspiring young civilians to realise their dream of donning the cap of an Army commando. If the makers of this show are anything to by, Commando Force: Dadagiri Against Terrorism will convert civilians to commandos and help the nation fight terror. The show attempts to replicate the environment and arduous training sessions that go into making a real life Army commando; finding out whether the contestant ‘has it in him’ to become one.  To make the show closer to reality, UTV has partnered with ex-Army commando — Capt Albert Louis, Capt Kshitij Sharma and Capt Dharamveer Singh. All of them have spent substantial amount of time in the Army and are highly decorated officers. Their primary objective will be to train 14 young Indians and try to create commandos from them. The makers of this show have even created a state-of-the-art commando training centre at Kolwel near Goa where the contestants will undergo commando training including jungle survival tactics, water landings, night navigations, bootcamp drills, and fitness and weapon training. And, in line with the Darwinian thought process, this too will follow the policy of survival of the fittest.   The 14 contestants have been shortlisted after grueling audition rounds in Delhi, Lucknow and Mumbai, which attracted 6500 participants. Interestingly enough, the broadcasters are giving a nationalism flavour to the entire show to prove that this is different from the typical talent hunt shows that you see on television these days. Says Nikhil Gandhi, Business Head, UTV Bindass, “D3 Commando Force is our answer to the rampant acts of terror in our nation. Setting off with an objective to educate the torch bearer’s of tomorrow, D3 Commando Force is dedicated to impart knowledge on being socially responsible, fearless and intrepid in today’s times. Joining hands with the Indian Army, we take this campaign against terrorism to an-all-new-level and hope to create a new breed of young, confident and capable citizens who will be armed to fight this war on terror.”  Apparently, this the first reality show on Indian television to use real weapons, tactics and discipline of military units. Explains Vivaan Bhatena, co-host of the show, “This is going to be a completely different show where real life commandos will train civilians. These civilians will undergo commando training like they do at the Indian Army. The show will not be just about gags and bad words but missions, adventures and some real tough training.”  How are the contestants reacting to the grueling schedule? Says Captain Louis, former Para Commando, “They are very serious. After the initial training, we spent time with each person to find out their reasons for coming in this show.  It is akin to a real military camp and the contestants are going through very difficult physical tests. We are trying to make them physically and mentally fit like a true commando.” Interestingly, there are equal number of boys and girls on the show. The tests and challenges they undergo are the same.  But what happens to the people who complete the training successfully? Will they be taken in the Indian Army? Of course, not. However, there does not seem to be much clarity on the rewarding mechanism apart from the obvious cash benefits. Shalini Sheth, Programming Head, UTV Bindass tries to explain the situation by saying, “We take pride to be the pioneers in conceptualising a reality show on terrorism. We want to make the participants empathise on the pride that flows through their veins; the channel urges them to revisit the defence forces as a possible career option.”  The winners will of course get prize money, but whether they will get a preference over others while applying in the Indian Army is not known. The makers feel that through such programmes they will be able to make a difference where it matters most — changing the mindset of today’s youth. The spirit of nationalism and the keenness to join the army will increase manifold after seeing this on national television.  Captain Louis adds, “Discussions are still on with the Indian Army on how we can reward the winners of this show. Perhaps they will be allowed to spend time on a front for few days or meet high ranking officials. There will be definitely be a lot more than the cash rewards.” One does hope so!  Watch ‘D3 Commando Force’ on UTV Bindass every Saturday at 7 pm .

Army may take action against Col Balbir Singh
Correspondent Friday, May 07, 2010 AT 11:27 PM (IST) MUMBAI: There are chances that Lt Col Jagmohan Balbir Singh may face disciplinary action from the Indian Army. A Defence Ministry spokesperson said that Col  Singh was presently on “study leave” and stationed in Mumbai since June 2009.     In his last posting he was attached to Army's transport and supplies wing in the Maharashtra and Gujarat Area of Southern Command. “An application seeking for bail has been moved so that the case can be dealt with by the Army authorities,” the spokesperson said, hinting that there can be action against the officer. “First an inquiry would be held, and if found guilty, disciplinary action would be initiated,” he said.

Indian Army System Hacked
Looks like an Indian Army major had his computer hacked and classified data may have been leaked. Chinese again? Or Pakistan?      Some classified data of the tri-service Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) is likely to have leaked after an Army major's personal computer was accessed by online espionage agents, possibly from Pakistan, a couple of months ago.     Even as the military intelligence directorate's counter-espionage `B Wing' finalises its investigation into the "security breach'', the Army on Thursday strongly denied that the major has been taken into custody for spying for Pakistan.      "It's a case of computer hacking by an external agency. The matter is still under investigation, with the computer's hard disc being analysed by the forensic lab in Hyderabad,'' said a senior officer.      "However, there is no evidence to suggest an espionage case so far. After being questioned, the officer is back on duty with his parent unit in Port Blair. He was never taken into custody,'' he added.      But there is no denying the fact that the major, who belongs to 21 Bihar Regiment battalion working under the 108 Infantry Brigade deployed in the archipelago, had stored classified information on his computer, which was linked to the internet, in clear violation of orders not to do so.

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