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Sunday, 15 August 2010

From Today's Papers - 15 Aug 2010

Antony promises quality rations to jawans Says defence modernisation plan on right track
  New Delhi, August 14 A week after government auditors exposed Army supplying stale food to jawans, Defence Minister AK Antony today gave an assurance that efforts were in progress to improve quality of rations given to them.  In his message to the armed forces personnel on the eve of 64th Independence Day broadcast over radio, Antony said necessary provisions had also been made for supplying special rations for jawans deployed in counter-insurgency operations and high-altitude areas.  “The government has taken several welfare measures for the defence personnel. We are making efforts to improve the quality of atta, rice, vegetables, tea, pulses and other items. Similarly, we have made a provision for special rations to troops deployed in counter-insurgency operations. Special rations have also been authorised for additional troops serving in high-altitude areas above 12,000 feet,” he said in his address.  The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had in its report last week slammed the Defence Ministry for supplying rotting food items that were unfit for human consumption to jawans, particularly those in Jammu and Kashmir and North-East.  Alerting the defence personnel about the “several challenges” brought on by India’s rising economic stature, Antony said the development in and around neighbourhood had forced a review and upgrade of the nation’s security apparatus.  “The challenges to our nation’s security are indeed varied and manifold. The security measures taken by us are often misunderstood by some nations. However, we have always been a peace-loving nation and we will continue to strive for peaceful relations with all our neighbours,” he said without naming either Pakistan or China.  Antony said post 26/11, the government had initiated several steps to strengthen the security apparatus, particularly along the coastline.  “We have cleared the setting up of four air enclaves at Goa, Kochi, Vizag, and New Mangalore. Coastal security has been strengthened, with acquisitions of new systems and platforms,” he said.  Noting that the armed forces all over the world were modernising and becoming technology-intensive, the mnister assured that the defence modernisation plans were on the right track.  “We want to give our armed forces the latest and the best possible equipment. The success in the development of the indigenous nuclear submarine INS Arihant must be replicated in other fields too,” he added.  Antony said the Defence Ministry had accorded top priority to create infrastructure and build all-weather roads in inaccessible areas. — PTI

  Kayani’s extension Pak Army Chief firm on taking on India
by Sankar Sen  General Kayani, after a three-year stint as Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, has got another three-year extension. Many Pakistanis view his extension as a topi drama (drama enacted by the people who wear the beret), an attempt by the army to make people believe that the democracy is in place. Clearly, Kayani was writing his own orders.  In the last two years, Kayani could have overthrown the elected government and established martial law. The US government has now decided to retain its Ambassador to Pakistan, Anna Patterson, for an unspecified period even though she had already spent four years in Islamabad.  Kayani has been described as a “soldier” by US officials. US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Moullen is a close friend of General Kayani. The US has studiously avoided taking a public position, but US diplomats and military officers had indicated noticeable desire to see him at the helm of affairs. Kayani, however, has avoided projecting himself as ‘America’s choice’.  Kayani shares the strong and traditional suspicions of India nursed by Punjabi officers of Pakistan army who view India as a bitter enemy of Pakistan and a graver threat than the Taliban. Musharraf started as a fierce adversary of India, but mellowed down over the years. Kayani shows no signs of mellowing down. He is of the firm view that Pakistan should try to take on India in every possible way.  The documents made available by an organisation called Wikileaks now indicate that Pakistan allowed ISI representatives to meet the Taliban in strategy sessions to organise the militant groups to fight American soldiers and Indian interests in Afghanistan. It encouraged Haquanni networks to kill Indians resulting in bomb blast in the Indian embassy in Kabul. General Kayani ran the ISI network during 2004-07, a period from which many of the reports are drawn.  Developments in Afghanistan have strengthened General Kayani’s hands. The Pakistan Army has a feeling that after years of marginalisation, the US needs it more than ever. By making apparent its desperation to leave Afghanistan, the Obama Administration has provided a sense of indispensability to the Pakistani military.  The West can only leave early and save face if it is able to bring moderate Taliban to the negotiating table. ISI which has been a patron of the Taliban for two decades, therefore, becomes a crucial conduit for the West to come to an understanding with the Taliban. Thus, Washington has no choice but keep the Pakistan army in good humour.  Another reason is geography. America’s supplies of food, fuel and rations and ammunition to its troops have to go through Pakistan. Alternative route through Iran is not feasible politically and the route through Central Asia remains to be developed. Pakistanis are extracting geo-strategic rent from the US.  This undermines India’s interest in Afghanistan in a dramatic fashion. The last thing India wants to see is a return of elements of India hating Taliban in the reconstituted government in Afghanistan. As Pakistan seizes upper hand in Afghanistan, General Kayani is in no mood to talk, much less to listen to India.  The Pakistan army is playing for high regional stakes. It wants to eradicate India’s influence in Afghanistan and regain strategic depth by brokering a settlement which will bring those Afghan Taliban sections to power that it supports. Further developments in India have emboldened Pakistan in hardening its attitude. The growing Naxalites’ threat, turmoil in Kashmir and constant fear in India of another Mumbai-type terror attack have given an impression that India is unable to deal with crucial security issues.  Some strategists have suggested that India should deal directly with the Pakistan army as they are the real decisionmakers. Americans understand this. They prefer to deal directly with the military dealings as the civilian government is only for the sake of form. Indian Foreign Service officials, who deal with Pakistan, also know that when they talk with the Pakistan government, they are actually talking to the army but using a via media. The India policy in Pakistan is directed and scripted by GHQ in Rawalpindi. This has always been the case. Whenever a Prime Minister tried to make his own policy, as Nawaz Sharif did, he had to pay a heavy price.  The scenario in Afghanistan remains hazy. According to Dr Henry Kissinger, former US Secretary of State, “America needs a strategy, not an alibi.” It is in US’ national interest to prevent jihadi Islam from gaining additional momentum which it will certainly do if it can claim to have defeated the US and its allies after overcoming the Soviet Union.  A precipitate withdrawal will weaken governments in many countries with significant Islamic minorities. It is being hoped that the US will be able to turn over the responsibility to an Afghan government and national Army whose writ runs across the country, and the turnover is to begin next summer.  Neither the premise nor the deadline is realistic. India has to rethink seriously its policy of peaceful negotiations with Pakistan and should not show any impatience about resumptions of talks. It has also to think of fashioning a new bold policy towards Kabul. Otherwise, it will lose grounds in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Major who died saving 10 colleagues in Kabul gets Ashok Chakra
  New Delhi, August 14 Major Laishram Jyotin Singh, who with bare hands fought with an armed terrorist and saved 10 colleagues during an attack on Indians in Kabul in February, has been posthumously given the Ashok Chakra, the highest peacetime gallantry award.  The officer, from the Army Medical Corps, engaged the terrorist who struck on February 26 at a hotel, which housed members of Indian Medical Mission.  The 37-year-old from Manipur showed exemplary courage when a heavily-armed terrorist, after detonating an explosives-laden vehicle and killing three guards, entered the hotel building to kill any survivors.  As the terrorist was firing from his AK-47 rifle and lobbing grenades, the officer charged at him with bare hands and pinned him down.  The Major continued to grapple with armed terrorist and did not let him go till the terrorist panicked and detonated the explosives on his suicide vest, resulting in the instantaneous death of the two. Kirti Chakra, the second highest peacetime gallantry award, has been given to Captain Davinder Singh Jass (posthumously) and Chhattisgarh Superintendent of Police Vinod Kumar Choubey.  Jass was given the award for counter-terrorist operations in Jammu and Kashmir while Chaubey will receive it for anti-Naxal operations in Chattisgarh.  Besides the Ashok Chakra and two Kirti Chakras, 112 gallantry awards, including two Bar to Shaurya Chakras, nineteen Shaurya Chakras, two Bar to Sena Medal (Gallantry), 80 Sena Medals (Gallantry), three Nao Sena Medals (Gallantry) and five Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry) have been given to armed forces and police personnel. — PTI

Forgotten heroes of India's first army, Updated: August 14, 2010 23:11 IST Ads by Google  Singapore – Buy 1 Get 1 Free on International Flight Tickets. Book Now!  Mumbai:  In a small Udipi restaurant on Singapore's Serangoon Road, a group of octogenarians greet each other with "Jai Hind". They remember phone numbers with difficulty, but lucidly recall their INA days.  Each of them carries copies of a certain certificate with pride. It is the only, slim testimonial to prove that they belonged to the first real national army of India, their homeland which is about 3,000 km away.  Bala A Chandran, Girish Kothari and Kishore Bhattacharya were once members of the Indian National Army (INA), a band of revolutionary fighters that Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose created in 1943 from among Indian immigrants in Singapore and other parts of South-east Asia to fight the mighty British military machine.   There is still a vibrant subculture of participants and descendants of INA in Southeast Asian countries including Singapore, Japan, Thailand and Malaysia.        Bala Chandran joined the Balak Sena, Kishore Bhattacharya the Tokyo Cadets while Girish Kothari the Officers' Training School at Nissun Camp (Yishun of modern day Singapore). Whichever wing of the INA they were a part of, the single-minded intent was to be among the 45,000 Indians from the diaspora who fought against British occupation of India.  After Bose's disappearance on August 18, 1945, INA's men and women were left largely to fend for themselves against the returning British Army. Keeping in mind Bose's rift with the Nehru-Gandhi camp and his radical views on the Civil Disobedience Movement, it is not difficult to discern why.  Today, after several years of neglect after Independence, the ex-INA members, with some exceptions, were refused service in the Indian Army the only recognition of Bala Chandran, Kothari and Bhattacharya's place in India's history is their certificates from the Ex-INA Committee, a committee set up in Singapore after the war and later "approved by" the Indian Government. Dated July 2007, these certificates are a classic example of too little too late.  Bala Chandran was just 14 when he joined the Balak Sena - the youth wing of the INA. A third-generation Indian in Singapore, he caught only stray words from Netaji's speech at the Padang because he did not know Hindustani, and still was moved to tears. When he reached home, he could not sleep.  "I knew I had to do something," he says. Coming from a relatively affluent background, he faced stiff opposition from his family. Still, the next day found him at the INA headquarters. When he was offered the job of a peon he did not hesitate because at any cost he wanted to be a part of the war effort.  Bala Chandran still recalls the night he, along with a few other young cadets, decided to defy army orders and under cover of darkness reached the office of INA seniors Major General Alagappa and Major General Loganathan at the Chancery Lane bungalows with an urgent request to allow them to fight at the Burma border.  Kothari had come to Singapore in 1940 to eke out a livelihood for his really poor family in Junagarh. And yet he put the very real material needs of his family on the backburner as he plunged into the independence struggle and decided to join the INA.  He recalls that after the war was over and the INA summarily disbanded, he left the INA quarters with nothing but the set of clothes he was wearing. He telegrammed his father, who immediately wired back, "Send home money."  "Those days our spirits were different you know," he says with a smile. "We happily survived on a daily breakfast of soya beans fried in vegetable oil and a lunch of soya beans and obi. We just wanted to see a free India."  And still, after Independence when he travelled across India in search of employment, he did not get any response and was forced to come back to Singapore where he lives with family.  Kishore Bhattacharya has come to their meeting point on Serangoon Road after a recent intestinal surgery, walking with a stick and assisted by his wife. "I have to come because you mentioned Netaji," he says with difficulty. He recalls his days at the Seletar Camp where he had the opportunity to personally interact with Netaji. On hearing his name, Netaji had told him in Hindi: "You are Bengali? Welcome!"  K Kesavapany, director of the Institute of South East Asian Studies, puts it aptly: "Bose built an army of Indian outcasts." In the INA, Netaji recruited Tamil Malayans considered "non-martial" and ignored by military tradition. They were rubber plantation workers with their history of colonial oppression.   The Prisoners Of War (POWs) who formed the backbone of the INA were burdened with the guilt of serving the Raj - distrusted by their British Commanders and Indians alike. With the Rani Jhansi Army, Bose empowered women as an equal party in the military struggle for freedom. And despite the subsequent defeat of the INA on the battlefield, lives changed forever for those who had lived through these glorious, inspiring times. An army veteran, KR Das, in Subhas Chandra Bose: A Malaysian Perspective, mentions: "He turned the servile Indian labourer in the plantations of Malaya into a proud, self-respecting man...when the planters returned after the war, they found a different Indian...they organised themselves into powerful labour unions and negotiated with the employers on an equal level."  Bala Chandran recalls: "When the British returned, there was a noticeable change in their attitude towards Asians." The word coolie was replaced by a more politically correct 'labourer' and higher positions were offered to Asians in the bureaucracy.  So, while demands of everyday life took over after the war, a wider purpose of life remained even for the Indian soldiers in Singapore. Bhattacharya joined the Singapore police, Kothari delved into community service providing medical and educational aid to the poor through the local Gujarati Association.   Inspired by INA ideals, he tried to bring all Indians under one umbrella but failed and had to reconcile himself to working within his community. "Only Netaji could do that you know the INA had no religion," he says.  Bala Chandran involved himself with grassroots issues he joined the Labour Party of Singapore and continues to work for the betterment of the working class.  Did they ever think of going back to India, the motherland they had set out to liberate?  They are unanimous in their reply that the "truncated freedom" achieved over Partition and communal riots is not the India of their dreams. Whenever they have gone to India they have also been disturbed by the rampant corruption.  "We were advised to request the Indian government for pension or free railway pass. But we did not join the INA for compensation and when nothing was done for us, we left it at that," says Bala Chandran.  Today, Singapore is where they belong. But they are quick to add: "Whether Singaporean or Indian, we will always be INA men at heart."  Many believe the seed of India's final victory lay in INA's defeat. The Red Fort trials of the INA leaders, staged by the British, raised a patriotic storm, which refused to die down.  Eminent historian Ramesh Chandra Majumdar observes in his book Three phases of India's Struggle for Freedom: "There is... no basis for the claim that the Civil Disobedience Movement directly led to Independence. The campaigns of Gandhi... came to an ignoble end about 14 years before India achieved Independence... The revelations made by the INA trial, and the reaction it produced in India, made it quite plain to the British... that they could no longer depend upon the loyalty of the sepoys... This had probably the greatest influence upon their final decision to quit India."  Netaji had kept his promise to his people: "Give me blood, I shall give you freedom."

Indo-US Strategic Security Dialogue to be held in Washington
 Press Trust of India / Washington August 14, 2010, 10:54 IST  The next round of Indo-US Strategic Security Dialogue would be held in Washington this fall, the State Department has said.  Preparations for the meeting was discussed during a telephonic conversation between India's Foreign Secretary, Nirupama Rao, and the Under Secretary of State Arms Control and International Security Affairs, Ellen Tauscher.        India can hope for double digit growth with GST implementation More "Under Secretary Tauscher and Foreign Secretary Rao discussed preparations for the next round of the Indo-US Strategic Security Dialogue to be held in Washington this fall," the State Department said in a statement.

Army Major killed in action gets Ashok Chakra
TNN, Aug 15, 2010, 02.34am IST NEW DELHI: An Army major, who died fighting a terrorist bare-handed to save 12 of his colleagues during an attack on Indians in Kabul, has been conferred the Ashok Chakra, the country's highest peacetime gallantry award.  Major Laishram Jyotin Singh, an Army doctor posted in Kabul, fought a heavily-armed terrorist during an attack on Indians at a Kabul hotel on February 26. "He gave up his life for the sake of five of his colleagues, one of whom unfortunately was still charred to death, and another succumbed to his injuries five days later. His sacrifice, in addition, also saved the lives of two officers, four paramedics and two Afghan civilians still alive within the compound," the defence ministry said on Saturday, while announcing the gallantry awards on the eve of Independence Day.  The 37-year-old doctor from Manipur showed exemplary courage when a heavily-armed terrorist, after detonating an explosives-laden vehicle and killing three guards, entered the hotel building to kill the survivors. As the terrorist was firing from his AK rifle and lobbing grenades, Singh "charged with bare hands at the armed terrorist and pinned him down to ensure that the terrorist could no longer lob more grenades or direct fire at the officers cornered in a burning room," the statement said.  The Major grappled with the terrorist until the latter detonated his suicide vest. Kirti Chakra, the second highest peacetime gallantry award, has been given to CaptainDavinder Singh Jass and Chhattisgarh SP Vinod Kumar Choubey (both posthumously).  Jass was given the award for counter-terrorist operations in Jammu. Vinod Kumar Chaubey will receive Kirti Chakra posthumously for anti-Naxal operations in Chattisgarh. Besides the Ashok Chakra and two Kirti Chakras, 112 gallantry awards, including two Bar to Shaurya Chakras, 19 Shaurya Chakras, two Bar to Sena Medal (Gallantry), 80 Sena Medals (Gallantry), three Nao Sena Medals (Gallantry) and five Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry) have been given to armed forces and police personnel.

Country's security up due to developments in neighbourhood: Antony
2010-08-15 00:10:00 Last Updated: 2010-08-15 00:20:14  antony antony  New Delhi: Defence Minister A K Antony said on Saturday that rising economic stature of the country had brought with it several challenges and the security apparatus has been upgraded in view of developments in and around India's neighbourhood.  'Our rising economic stature has brought with it several challenges. The developments in and around our neighbourhood have forced us to review and upgrade our security apparatus. The security measures taken by us are often misunderstood by some nations,' Antony said in his address to the armed forces personnel on the eve of Independence Day.  'However, we have always been a peace-loving nation and we will continue to strive for peaceful relations with all our neighbours,' he said.  Paying his tributes to martyrs and conveying his greetings and best wishes to both uniformed and civilian personnel of the three wings of armed forces on the occasion, Antony said that the country's forces guard the land, sea and air frontiers in harsh weather conditions and in forbidding terrains.  He said the government had taken several steps to strengthen the security apparatus, particularly along the coastline after 26/11 Mumbai attack.  'We have cleared the setting up of four air enclaves at Goa, Kochi, Vizag, and Mangalore. Coastal security has been strengthened, with acquisitions of new systems and platforms,' he said.  Pointing out that the government would like the modernization process to proceed hand-in-hand with indigenisation, the minister said that success in the development of the indigenous nuclear submarine - INS Arihant - must be replicated in other fields also.  Antony said steps had taken steps to address problems of soldiers serving in high altitude areas.  The minister said that thought the forces faced tremendous pressure, the need for exercising maximum restraint cannot be over-emphasised.  'I wish to stress that any instance of human rights violation anywhere will not be tolerated,' he said.  The minister said that a pilot project has been launched at 20 locations across the country for rail e-ticketing.  'With this facility, the system of railway warrants will be replaced and Armed Forces personnel will be able to book and print e-tickets through IRCTC websites at unit locations. This project will be gradually extended to more than 5,000 army, air force and navy units across the country,' he said.

I-Day: US warns of terror threat
Ashok Tuteja Tribune News Service  New Delhi, August 13 The United States has warned its citizens of a continuing threat of terrorism in India in a report that comes on the eve of India’s Independence Day.  The ‘Worldwide Caution’, released by the US State Department, is, however, being seen as part of a routine exercise undertaken by Washington to update information on the security threat to American nationals across the globe.  “In India, there is a continuing threat of terrorism as attacks have randomly targeted public places frequented by Westerners, including luxury and other hotels, trains, train stations, markets, cinemas, mosques and restaurants in large urban areas,’’ the State Department said.  Current information suggested that Al-Qaeda and affiliated organisations continue to plan terrorist attacks against US interests in multiple regions, including Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. These attacks might employ a wide variety of tactics, including suicide operations, assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings and bombings.  US citizens have been advised to maintain a high-level of vigilance, be aware of local events, and take appropriate steps to bolster their personal security.  Referring to Pakistan, which celebrates its Independence Day tomorrow, the report said a number of extremist groups continue to target US citizens and other Western interests and Pakistani officials. Suicide bombing attacks continue to occur throughout the country on a regular basis, often targeting government authorities such as mosques and shopping areas.  About war-ravaged Afghanistan, it said remnants of the former Taliban regime and the Al-Qaeda terrorist network, as well as other groups hostile to International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)/NATO military operations remained active. There was an ongoing threat to kidnap and assassinate US citizens and NGO workers throughout the country.  Indian officials said there was nothing new in the State Department report. The US administration had been issuing travel advisories to its citizens from time to time. However, the officials were not enthused by the timing of the ‘Worldwide caution’ since the Independence Day celebrations are round the corner.  “We are already in a high state of alert but such advisories bring undue pressure on our forces,” one official said.

 Trouble in Sino-US ties Obama needs to focus on Asia
by Harsh V. Pant  What a difference a few months make! Sino-US relations are their most turbulent ever today. This is indeed surprising after all the hype surrounding the Obama Administration’s outreach to China in its early days in office.  The Obama Administration tried to pursue a policy of cooperative strategic engagement vis-à-vis China. It attempted to construct a cooperative partnership under the assumption that China wants to operate within the international order, given that the US and China share the same threats and interests, including terrorism, economic instability and nuclear proliferation. As was suggested by the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, the multi-polar world would be a multi-partner world where the US could use its unique global role to foster cooperation among major powers for collective benefits.  China was key to this worldview. The Obama Administration went all out to woo Beijing - Obama refused to meet the Dalai Lama, did not raise the issue of human rights while visiting China last year, postponed the decision to sell arms to Taiwan and downgraded India in America’s strategic calculus. But China read it as a symbol of US decline and saw in it an opportunity to assert itself as never before. The regional allies of the US became nervous and urged the US to restore its traditional leadership in the region.  It was China’s growing economic and political clout that forced the Obama Administration in the early days to toy with the idea of G-2, a global condominium of the US and China whereby China can be expected to look after and “manage” Asia-Pacific. This was enough to shake up the US allies in the region from their slumber. Realising that their security concerns were being sidelined in Washington, Tokyo, Seoul and Canberra made a concerted effort to make the new US Administration realise that such an arrangement would permanently marginalise the US in the strategic landscape of Asia-Pacific.  Moreover, major players in the region started re-evaluating their own security doctrines. Even Kevin Rudd, the recently ousted Australian Prime Minister and a great Sinophile, was forced to come up with a security strategy for Australia that sought to hedge its bets vis-à-vis the potential threat from China and an unwillingness on the part of the US to play the role of a regional balancer.  The misguided notion of “Chimerica”, however, soon faced its inevitable demise. After the Obama Administration notified the US Congress that it planned to sell weapons systems to Taiwan worth $6.4 billion earlier this year, China was markedly aggressive in reacting to these developments as compared to the past. Not only was the US Ambassador to China called in by the Chinese government to protest against the arms sales and warned of serious repercussions if the deal went through, China also cancelled some of its military exchange programmes with the US and announced sanctions against American companies that are supplying weapons systems to Taiwan. This announcement of sanctions came as a surprise and was a sign of a new assertiveness that China had been displaying on the international scene for sometime now. For the first time, China decided to penalise US companies that were engaged in commercial arms transactions and were not in violation of global non-proliferation norms.  The idea of “Chimerica” was always too good to be true. But the rapidity with which the Sino-US ties have unravelled over the past few months has even surprised those who were cynical about Barack Obama’s overtures to China to begin with. The state of Sino-US ties has been so pitiful in recent months that while the Chinese Commerce Minister was openly warning the US that it would suffer more if it decided to levy punitive tariffs on Chinese imports, Chinese military leaders have been contemplating the possibility of an all-out war with the US to gain the status of global super power.  This changing Sino-US dynamic is palpable on the issue of China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea and America’s response to the challenge. The US has undertaken military exercises with South Korea to underline commitments and has even offered to mediate on disputes in the South China Sea much to Beijing’s irritation. It should be a surprise to no one that China wants the South China Sea issue to be resolved through bilateral negotiations rather than between China and ASEAN. This allows China to divide and rule. The disillusionment with China in South-East Asia is at an all-time high and the US is being asked to restore its leadership role in the region.  Geopolitical competition between China and the US is in full swing in East Asia as China’s growing economic and military capabilities as well as assertive diplomatic posture upend the regional balance of power. Washington is struggling to make itself relevant in the new strategic realities in the region. In its attempt to court China, the Obama Administration was quick to downgrade the burgeoning strategic partnership with India forged during the Bush period. If there is a meta-narrative in Obama’s foreign policy approach, it is defined by a desire to court America’s adversaries while ignoring friends and potential allies.  After rejecting the balance of power politics as a relic of the past, the Obama Administration no longer has a strategic framework with which to view and organise its Asia policy. In any case, it has been much too preoccupied with domestic issues to give any serious thought to Asia’s rapidly evolving strategic landscape. It is to be hoped that the emerging problems in its relations with Beijing will convince Washington that it needs to take its friends and allies in Asia more seriously.n

 US warns India-Pakistan of possible terror attack
 The state department in the notice said that In India there is a continuing threat of terrorism as attacks have randomly targeted public places frequented by Westerners. CJ: Adolf Desjardins   Fri, Aug 13, 2010 17:26:51 IST Views: 13    Comments: 0 Rate:  1 out of 5 2 out of 5 3 out of 5 4 out of 5 5 out of 5 0.0 / 0 votes   UNITED STATES has issued a fresh warning in India, Pakistan and Middle East about a fresh terrorist attack. The information was passed on Thursday. US has also asked these countries to stay alert and take precautionary measures so as to avoid another terror attack from taking place.   The notice was issued as a “worldwide caution” by the state department, which  testified it by saying that it has received specific information about terrorist cells in South and Central Asia. The attack, as anticipated by the US intelligence says that there is a possibility that these will be either carried out in India or Pakistan against US government facilities, citizens or its interests.   The state department in the notice said that In India there is a continuing threat of terrorism as attacks have randomly targeted public places frequented by Westerners, including luxury and other hotels, trains, train stations, markets, cinemas, mosques, and restaurants in large urban areas. The organisations that the US government fears may possibly carry out the attacks are al-Qaida, Taliban elements, LeT, home bred sectarian groups and other such organisations.   The department supported its findings by adding that terrorists and their accomplices have demonstrated their willingness to attack Americans or Westerners. The obvious methods of attack have been identified as vehicle-borne explosives, improvised explosive devices, assassinations, carjacking, rocket attacks, assaults or kidnappings.

Army leading relief efforts as flood rendered millions homeless
  ISLAMABAD—Pakistan's army is playing the leading role in rescue efforts after the worst floods in decades, but it will not divert forces from the battle against militants, military officials said on Friday.  The floods, the country's most severe natural disaster, began two weeks ago and have killed more than 1,600 people, forced 2 million from their homes and disrupting the lives of about 14 million people, or 8 percent of the population.  The army has deployed about 60,000 troops for rescue and relief operations out of a force of about 550,000 soldiers. Soldiers in helicopters and boats have plucked numerous survivors from the water that has inundated the Indus river basin. Army engineers are rebuilding broken bridges and washed-out roads while other units have set up relief camps.  But there has been worry, especially in the United States, that the Pakistani military would have to withdraw some of its 140,000 soldiers fighting militants in ethnic Pakhtun lands in the northwest, along the Afghan border, to help with the floods. "The involvement of our troops in relief activities will have no impact on our fight against militants," said military spokesman Major-General Athar Abbas.  "We were mindful of this factor when we carried out deployment for relief activities and I don't think there will be any need to withdraw troops from the western border," he said. The mountainous northwestern has been largely spared the worst of the floods and most troops involved in relief work were from units in the flood areas, said a senior security official."We have not withdrawn any troops from the western border and we hope we will not need to do so," said the official, who declined to be identified.  "There has been an impact on our training activities as most troops involved in relief efforts were undergoing training, but our activities, operations as well as deployment along the border with Afghanistan have not been affected at all," he said.  Even before the floods, the Pakistani military said it had no immediate plans for any major new offensive in the northwest. Despite US pressure to root out all militant enclaves in the rugged northwestern border lands, the military has said it must first consolidate the gains it has already made.  If the floods worsened, and more soldiers were needed to help, the military was more likely to pull units off the eastern border with old rival India, security analysts said. There is still a worry that militants will take advantage of anger with the government over its perceived sluggish response to the floods to step-up recruitment.  US Defence Secretary Robert Gates on Wednesday expressed concern that militants would seek to expand their influence by aiding flood victims as the government struggled to reach them. Charity groups linked to banned factions have been quick to step in to help, as they did in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake in 2005 centred in Azad Kashmir.—Agencies

Audit finds lapses in defence canteen operations
 2010-08-13 19:40:00  India's audit watchdog has found lapses in financial and business operations and the pricing and quality of goods of the Canteen Stores Department (CSD) that sells household products at cheaper than market rates to armed forces personnel and their families.  The report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, tabled in the Lok Sabha Friday, says the 3,600 unit-run canteens (URCs), or retail outlets, of the CSD across the country have been kept out of the 'purview of parliamentary financial oversight as they are considered to be regimental institutions'.  This despite the fact that these URCs get soft loans and quantitative discounts through the CSD from the Consolidated Fund of India, it says.  'Neither the budget documents nor the proforma accounts of CSD reflect the operations of the (URCs) that are also not subject to the accountability regime for operations funded by the Consolidated Fund of India,' the report says.  The CAG said it was denied access to the URC records by the Army Headquarters in Delhi 'in spite of repeated requests'.  The matter was taken up at the level of the defence minister too but to no avail.  In the interest of transparency, the operational results of the units should be disclosed in the proforma accounts of CSD after ensuring that the units follow uniform accounting principles, the CAG has recommended.  This would enable the financial statements of CSD to provide a 'true and fair view of the complete operations of the organisation'.  Praising the CSD for its 55 percent increase in gross turnover (Rs. 6,955 crore in 2008-09 from Rs. 4,481 crore in 2003-04), the report says the gross and net profit however had not shown commensurate increase during this period.  'This was mainly due to increase in cost of goods purchased for sale as also increase in quantitative discount given to the units.'  It says that evidence indicated that grants given to various organisations of the armed forces out of CSD profits did not follow the provisions of General Financial Rules (GFR) of the government.  'Grants were given to organisations without even insisting on application for funds. Statement of accounts was never sought before sanctioning the grants. Receipt of utilisation certificates was not watched, as required under GFR. Utilisation certificates were never insisted from major recipients namely the army, navy or air force for the grants provided.'  The proforma accounts prepared by the CSD did not follow the generally accepted regimen of financial reporting, it said.  During the six years from 2002-2003 to 2007-08, Rs. 883.46 crore was transferred in the form of quantitative discount from the Consolidated Fund of India to the URCs.  Evidence also indicated that benefit of quantitative discount (QD) has never been passed to the consumer.  'Such discount could not be viewed as a trade discount as units operated in a captive market with pricing determined in accordance with the existing policies. QD was in fact another way of transferring money from CFI to non-public fund without conforming to the provisions of the GFR,' the report says.

Concern in LS over Indian soldiers drifting to Pak in floods
 Members in the Lok Sabha, including from ruling Congress, on Friday questioned the government's silence over reports that 33 soldiers had drifted away to Pakistan during last week's flash floods in Leh in Jammu and Kashmir.  Raising the matter during Zero Hour, Manish Tewari (Cong) said 33 jawans of 15 Bihar Regiment, posted on the Line of Control, were washed away in the flood and mudslide following a cloudburst.  "Whether these reports (on being washed away) are correct or what happened to them (soldiers), we do not know," he said.  The role of Pakistan Army has been questioned several times as "we saw what happened to Lt Saurabh Kalia who was tortured by them," he said.  Kalia and his patrol party of five jawans of the Indian Army, who had reported Pakistani intrusion during the Kargil conflict, were captured alive on May 15, 1999, from the Indian side of LOC. They were kept for three weeks and subjected to unprecedented brutal torture, evident from their bodies handed over by Pakistan Army on June 9, 1999.  Tewari said the government should inform the House on the matter immediately. He drew support from members from all sides, including the opposition benches.  Shahnawaz Hussain (BJP) said it was a major tragedy in which 600 people had died and 33 soldiers posted along the LoC had drifted away in the floods to Pakistan.  Questioning as to what the government was doing about it, he asked whether relatives of the deceased should themselves go to Pakistan and look for them.  "There is no statement by the government. The Defence Minister has not even expressed sympathies," he said.  Amid chants of "shame, shame", he said nobody in the government seemed to be concerned about the fact that the soldiers guarding the border had drifted to Pakistan and their bodies were untraceable.  "They were not tourists, they were guarding the border but the government is silent," the BJP member said and sought a response from the government.  Making a brief intervention, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said though the subject related to the Defence Ministry, he had information that 25 soldiers and three loaders had drowned.  The incident happened near the Line of Control in an area which had been retrieved from Pakistan during 1971.  He said it was not true that the government had done nothing in the wake of the disaster. He said he along with his Cabinet colleague Farooq Abdullah had gone to Leh immediately after the tragedy and visited the affected areas.

 ASC Centre (North) to be shifted to Bangalore
 Express News Service First Published : 13 Aug 2010 03:06:54 AM IST Last Updated : 13 Aug 2010 07:45:23 AM IST  BANGALORE: In a move which is expected to address both the shortage of officers in the Army and contribute to Bangalore's growing economy, the Gayabased Army Service Corps Centre (North) will be shifted to the city by the end of next year.  Chief of Army Staff General VK Singh, who was in the city on Thursday, told reporters that the Army would be shifting the ASC Centre (North) to Bangalore where the Army Service Corps Centre and College currently exists.  "Wherever the Army goes there will be concurrent economic benefits. We are looking for land and will shift by the end of next year resulting in over 5,000 officers undergoing training here," he said.  At present there are 3,000 officers undergoing training at the ASC Centres in Bangalore and Gaya. Under a unified ASC, 5,000 officers can undergo training, he said.  After relocating the ASC Centre (North) to Bangalore, a new Officers Training Academy (OTA) would come up at Gaya to address the shortage of officers in the Indian Army. The Indian Army currently faces a shortage of 11,500 officers.  Earlier in the day, Gen Singh, along with Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, laid the foundation stone for a housing project for Army personnel at Whitefield.  The project, which is slated for completion by April 2012, is worth Rs 600 crore, and will have a total of 1,524 apartments of 2/3/4 bedrooms configuration with Penthouses on the 13th and 14th floors.  The chief minister said his government was committed to according necessary approvals for the speedy implementation of the project. The government had waived the development charges of nearly `1 crore, due to the BDA from this housing project. He further elaborated on the beneficial schemes undertaken for the Defence Forces such as reduction of House tax payable by jawans residing in the state by 50 per cent.  Gen Singh awarded diploma certificates to exservicemen who successfully completed a course in 'Assistive Motor Devices' organised at the ASC and Centre. Under an initiative called 'Project Samarth,' which envisages vocational skills training of the exservicemen to enable their reemployment in private sector, about 28 PBORs (persons below officers rank) were trained at the Callidai Motor Works company based in Chennai.  The jawans from the Madras Regimental Centre who underwent a 10day training in servicing and sales of specialised Wheelchairs manufactured for persons with disability, will now work as district and state level coordinators of the company for the sales and services of its products.

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