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Wednesday, 8 September 2010

From Today's Papers - 08 Sep 10

  Make Games a grand success India’s honour is at stake
by Lt-Gen Vijay Oberoi (retd)  THE mess that the organisers of the 10th Commonwealth Games have made of it has sullied the honour and image of India. Unfortunately, while the Organising Committee (OC) has been in the eye of the storm, the mess is not confined to it. Here is a world class event, bid for by the country, for which ample time was available to the OC as well as to the entire Delhi Administration, and yet we find ourselves in such dire straits that neither the Games venues nor the infrastructure facilities in Delhi are ready. One should also not forget that the worthies of the Central government, who were supposedly keeping a close watch, continued to be somnolent till they were jolted by revelations in the media.  The media needs to be congratulated for bringing to the public domain how officials associated with organising the Games have misappropriated government funds and lined their own pockets. There is no end to such revelations, hoodwinking and passing the buck, but the culprits are either posturing or in a permanent state of denial while delays continue in all fields of activity, from infrastructure to what are euphemistically called “overlays”.  The latest are the gag orders issued to the coaches after the chief hockey coach, a Spaniard, in great anguish commented lucidly on the systemic failures of the nation in the field of sports, saying, “I have lost; your ‘system’ has won. I tried my best to change it; I pleaded, I cried, I did everything; but it won’t budge.” What a monumental shame!  The mess is not confined to the so-called world class infrastructure relating to the Games, but even in getting Delhi organised for the purpose. Let me mention just a few — the road communications within Delhi and the Metro extension; the grossly incomplete beautification drive undertaken by various agencies and not meeting even the targets of hotel rooms and other accommodation; all at such monumental costs. There can only be two reasons for this state of affairs — officials sitting over sanctions till their personal “demands” are met, and an abysmal lack of pride in the nation’s achievements. With every new revelation, the nation comes down another notch in the eyes of the world as well as our own people. It is not corruption per se that bothers the citizens, but the rampant loot of their hard-earned money, for public funds are after all created by numerous taxes which we all pay. Apparently, corruption no longer bothers us because it has now become a way of life in our country. There is no facet of India that is corruption-free.  In areas where a particular action may not be described as corruption, there is filching of public funds, again by both the high and the mighty as well as the officials who occupy the lower rungs of the bureaucracy, the police, etc. We seem to be so completely affected by our proverbial fatalistic outlook to life that we continue to withstand this onslaught of government officials and elected representatives without any major and collective backlash.  Reverting to the Games, once the media had exposed the skulduggery of the OC and the grossly inadequate preparations, it is to the credit of the Prime Minister that he moved fast, set up a Group of Ministers (GoM) as well as a Committee of Secretaries (CoS) to oversee all aspects of the preparations of the Games. A number of senior-level bureaucrats were also coopted to oversee each venue and expedite completion. It may well be a case of “too little too late”, but at least attempts are being made to retrieve a dismal situation.  At the same time, we have fallen into the trap of having “too many cooks.…”. So, there is a great danger of not meeting the aims and objectives.  In the Army, we cater for contingencies when the officer in command may become unavailable; his deputy takes over automatically and continues with his task. The advantages are obvious, but our political leaders as well as bureaucrats are loath to learn from the Army. So, we have a situation where the man in charge of the Games must be replaced, but we are unable to do so either on political grounds or because such a contingency was not planned for, and control could not change seamlessly.  There are also other major disadvantages. Besides diluting responsibility, we have managed to reduce accountability too. Resultantly, though the powers at the highest level have promised a full enquiry after the Games and severe punishment for those responsible, no one seems to believe it. Such is the loss of confidence of the “aam aadmi” in our leadership. Undoubtedly, a tragic situation! However, that is still in the future and such speculations at this time are unlikely to help in conducting the Games with a view to retrieving at least some of our image.  A few years back, the Army had conducted the World Military Games at Hyderabad, which were at a grand scale, with participation by over 70 nations. These Games were conducted flawlessly and earned kudos for the country. Luckily, some senior military officers who had played major roles in organising the military games have been coopted in the present games. They will undoubtedly do a stupendous job. One of them could have been made the deputy and we could have avoided the pitiable situation we are in. While on the subject of the military, how churlish it is on the part of the organisers to ask the serving personnel of the military who have been coopted for the most important tasks to do so gratis. Is this being suggested as a desperate measure to balance their books, although the paltry honorarium asked by the military is so minuscule that for the OC and the GoM to even suggest it is shameless, to say the least? It is only these military personnel who with their dedication and discipline will pull the chestnuts out of the fire for the OC and in doing so restore some of our lost image. Do pay them well.  At the end, it must be said that enough dirty linen has been washed in public. We need to end this now and concentrate on making the Games a grand success despite what has happened till now. There will be plenty of time and opportunity for recriminations and bringing the culprits to book after the Games. For the present, let us strive to put up a good show, for the sake of the country’s honour and reputation. In the long term, the nation will benefit. Once the Games are over, the media can go hammer and tongs after all the guilty and set examples for the future.  The writer is a former Vice-Chief of the Indian Army.

Pak-China strategic ties ‘not unexpected’ 
Inter-dependence between the two nations has seen an upswing in past 10 yrs Ajay Banerjee Tribune News Service  New Delhi, September 7 Even as the presence of Chinese soldiers in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) became a talking point in the Indian and US media, going by the 60-year-old relations between the two countries, the latest move by the Chinese was not “something unexpected” for security circles here.  The strategic inter-dependence between India’s two neighbours has seen an upswing in the past 10 years.  Besides supplying latest warships, fighter aircraft, guns, tanks and missiles, China has nuclear, defence and strategic cooperation agreements with Pakistan. In lieu, it gets a long-term toehold in India’s neighbourhood. It gets direct access to the Arabian Sea via the Gawadar Naval port located west of Karachi and has positioned Pakistan as a “secondary” deterrent to India. The Gawadar port is located just 180 nautical miles from the Strait of Hormuz, through which 40 per cent of all globally traded oil is shipped.  The total Chinese investment in Pakistan in heavy engineering, power generation, mining, telecommunications, sea ports and infrastructure is slated to touch $ 15 billion ( Rs 75,000 crore) by 2015, sources in the Indian security set-up said. Out of the 500-odd foreign firms operating in Pakistan, 60 are owned by the Chinese and more than 10,000 Chinese workers are posted on 120 projects in Pakistan, the sources added.  Apart from this, a sum of $ 3 billion worth of defence equipment and another $ 6. 16 billion soft credit for defence projects has been given to Pakistan. Separately, China is upgrading the Al-Khalid tanks and rebuilding the Ukrainian-origin T-85 tanks for the Pakistan army. The technology for surface-to-air missiles has been transferred and several medium guns and artillery pieces are offered off-shelf for purchase. Other projects include 155 mm guns to match the Indian Bofors. China offers a total of 38 training courses in warfare, intelligence gathering, artillery and engineering to the Pakistani forces. Some 30-odd military delegations from Pakistan have visited China since January 2008.  On the naval front, China supplied the first of the four F-22P frigates, the PNS Zulfiqar, in December 2009, the second PNS Shamsheer was delivered in March, the third one is slated for delivery by the end of this month. The fourth will be built in Pakistan after China transfers technology. A $830 million programme for submarines is in place.  For the Pakistan airforce, the two countries have jointly produced the Chengdu J-17 Thunder fighters that are powered by a Russian origin RD 93 aero-engine. This is the latest version of the RD 33 engine used on the Indian MiG 29 fighters. The first squadron of J-17 -- some 20 planes -- have already been stationed at the Kamra airbase near Rawalpindi. To match India’s Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS), a high-range reconnaissance plane, China will supply the first of the four radar-mounted IL-76s by the end of this year to Pakistan.  During the 1990s when the US treated Pakistan as a social pariah, China stepped in and the two countries formed high-level committees -- one for defence technology transfer and the other for defence and strategic cooperation. In 1951, Pakistan was the first country to recognise the then newly communist China. In 1961, just months before the Indo-China conflict of 1962, Pakistan voted in favour of China to restore its legitimate rights in the UN.

Army to relook into Capt Kohli’s death  
New Delhi, September 7 Defence Minister AK Antony has ordered a fresh probe into the death of Capt Sumit Kohli in Jammu and Kashmir in 2006 after his family claimed it was not suicide but murder.  The family had met Antony a fortnight ago and made a representation seeking an independent probe or a CBI investigation into the mysterious death of Capt Kohli, 26. He was serving with 16 Rashtriya Rifles in Lolab in north Kashmir when he was found dead with gunshot wounds in his room in the military residential facility in April 2006 on the last day of posting in the state.  Following the family's request, Antony directed Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar to get the case re-investigated, ministry sources said here today. Antony also wrote a letter to Veena Kohli, mother of the young officer, informing her that he had directed the ministry to urgently inquire into the case, they said. "I have directed the ministry to have the matter inquired urgently," Antony's letter to Veena said. Veena had demanded a probe independent of the Army, saying she had no faith in the Army which had held that Sumit had committed suicide.  Capt Kohli’s sister Namrata, speaking to PTI from Chandigarh over the phone, quoted Antony's letter to state that he had asked for an urgent probe into the officer's death.  He had won the Shaurya Chakra, the country's third highest peacetime gallantry medal, just two months before his death. On receiving the news of his son's demise, his father suffered a stroke and died a day after the officer's cremation. — PTI

Elimination of JeM Commander: A big success for security forces
 Umar Khitab is the third Divisional Commander of Jaish-e-Mohammad, who has been eliminated by the security forces in Mendhar area in the past eight months. His predecessors, Dawood and Tipu Alias Parbat Shikari were killed early this year. CJ: Rattan Sharma   Tue, Sep 07, 2010 11:22:53 KILLING OF JeM Divisional Commander Umar Khitab and apprehension of his accomplice Zubair Ahmed in a joint operation launched by security forces in Jat Thera area of Mendhar yesterday, is a big success for the security forces and a big blow to terrorist activities in this remote border area of Poonch district.   Umar Khitab is the third Divisional Commander of Jaish-e-Mohammad, who has been eliminated by the security forces in Mendhar area in the past eight months. His predecessors, Dawood and Tipu Alias Parbat Shikari, both JeM Divisional Commanders were killed in encounters with the security forces in January and February this year.   Umar Khitab s/o Faizullah and resident of village Bhatiqila in Malakand Agency Tehsil of NWFP in Pakistan was a hardcore terrorist, who masterminded and coordinated various violet activities in the past. His mother tongue was Pushto. Educated upto matric, the terrorist was trained in Pakistan for launching Fidayean attacks.      He had been active in Lolab area of Kashmir Valley till 2008 and co-coordinated terrorists’ activities of JeM and LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba) in Sopore and Lolab. In later part of 2009, he shifted his activities to Mendhar bowl. He was motivating local youths to join terrorist organisations and act as Over Ground Workers. He was also coordinating ground support for future infiltrating groups.    Umar Khitab was also involved in Hawala money transactions and coordinating distribution of JeM funds in the hinterland. Smuggling of arms, ammunition and war like stores was also part of his assigned duties.     His elimination in a very well coordinated and executed operation on September 5, is a major blow to terrorist activities in Poonch district in general and to JeM in particular. With his elimination, the local populace has taken a sigh of relief.

Burning Quran will endanger troops, warns US Army 
Press Trust of India, Updated: September 07, 2010 14:14 IST Kabul:  The top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan warned today that an American church's threat to burn copies of the Muslim holy book the Quran could endanger US troops in the country and Americans worldwide.  "Images of the burning of a Quran would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan - and around the world - to inflame public opinion and incite violence," Gen David Petraeus said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.  His comments followed a protest yesterday by hundreds of Afghans over the plans by Gainesville, Florida-based Dove World Outreach Center - an evangelical Christian church that espouses anti-Islam philosophy - to burn copies of the Quran on church grounds to mark the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States that provoked the Afghan war.      Muslims consider the Quran to be the word of God and insist that it be treated with the utmost respect, along with any printed material containing its verses or the name of Allah or the Prophet Muhammad. Any intentional damage or show of disrespect to the Quran is deeply offensive.  In 2005, 15 people died and scores were wounded in riots in Afghanistan sparked by a story in Newsweek magazine alleging that interrogators at the US detention center in Guantanamo Bay placed copies of the Quran in washrooms and had flushed one down the toilet to get inmates to talk. Newsweek later retracted the story.  At yesterday's protest, several hundred Afghans rallied outside a Kabul mosque, burning American flags and an effigy of Dove World's pastor and chanting "death to America."  Members of the crowd briefly pelted a passing US military convoy with stones, but were ordered to stop by rally organisers.  Two days earlier, thousands of Indonesian Muslims had rallied outside the US Embassy in Jakarta and in five other cities to protest the church's plans.  Petraeus warned images of burning Qurans could be used to incite anti-American sentiments similar to the pictures of prisoner abuse at Iraq's Abu Graib prison.

Army Captain's death: Antony orders new probe 
Vikram Chowdhary, Updated: September 07, 2010 17:51 IST  New Delhi:  For four years, Captain Sumit Kohli's family has asserted he was murdered. And now heeding to their demands Defence Minister AK Antony has ordered a reinvestigation into his death. Captain Kohli was found dead with gunshot wounds in his room in April 2006.  The Army's Court of Inquiry held his death was a suicide.  In 2006, the 29-year-old Captain was posted with the 18 Rashtriya Rifles in Kupwara, J&K. That January, he had been awarded the Shaurya Chakra for his gallant fight against insurgency in Kashmir.  Then suddenly, on April 30, he was found dead in his living quarters. That was the last day of his posting in Kashmir.      The Army claimed he had killed himself with his service rifle, an AK-47. And they give marital discord as the probable reason. His father died of shock.  Captain Sumit's family has ever since maintained that he was murdered by senior officers because he was going to blow the lid off some fake encounters in Kashmir in which civilians were killed.  "I am hopeful a through inquiry will be conducted now. Defence Minister A K Antony heard us out. I am confident he will help us," said Veena Kohli, Captain Kohli's mother.  However, sources at the Army headquarters say they are yet to receive any communication about the re-investigation.  For the last four years, Captain Kohli's mother has been fighting a lone battle. She believes the Army is hiding a lot. But now she sees a ray of hope and feels reinvestigation is a step forward which would restore her son's honour.

Armymen injured, militant killed in JK
September 08, 2010 02:07 IST Tags: Havaldar Jung Bahadur Thapa, Rifleman Deepak Thapa, Line of Control, north Kashmir, Bandipora Share this Ask Users Write a Comment  A militant was killed and three army jawans injured in three different encounters with terrorists in Bandipora and Kupwara district along the Line of Control [ Images ] in north Kashmir [ Images ], official sources said on Tuesday. Click!  An encounter broke out between security forces and militants in Lashkote village of Bandipora district, around 60 kilometres from here, last evening, the sources said.  They said an unidentified militant was killed in the exchange of firing while a jawan sustained injuries. An army spokesman here, while confirming the killing of the militant, said the operation was still in progress.  In Baktoor area of Gurez sector, troops were engaged in another operation following reports that a group of militants have managed to sneak into this side from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK), the sources said.  The troops intercepted the militants late in the evening, resulting in a fierce gun battle which was going on till last reports came in.  Two army jawans -- identified as Havaldar Jung Bahadur Thapa and Rifleman Deepak Thapa -- were injured in the exchange of fire between the two sides, the sources said adding condition of the Hawaldar was stated to be critical.  Another encounter broke out between security forces and militants in Vilgam forest of Handwara in Kupwara district, the sources said. They said heavy exchange of fire was going on between the two sides till reports last came in.

Tribunal shoots down army Kargil appeal
 OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT  New Delhi, Sept. 7: The brigadier has beaten his army for the second time.  The Armed Forces Tribunal today rejected an appeal by the Indian Army to review its order to rewrite the Kargil war history in the case of Brigadier Devinder Singh. The army will now have to set the record straight if it forgoes the option of approaching the Supreme Court.  Brigadier Singh commanded the 70 Infantry Brigade in the Batalik sector during the 1999 Kargil war. But his superiors, especially Lt Gen. Kishan Pal who was the 15 Corps commander — did not give him due credit in the After Action and Battle Performance Reports.  After 10 years of legal battle, Brigadier Singh, since retired, won an order in May this year in which the tribunal asked for the official account to be rewritten to acknowledge his role. But the army went for a cover-up, even conjuring up a fictitious brigade headquarters that was not shown to be under Singh’s command.  Singh was not asking for monetary or pecuniary benefits. He just wants his honour restored — even though he believed a gallantry medal and a promotion to the rank of major general were due to him.  The army sought a review of the tribunal’s order that questions the quality of generalship in the war and the distortion of the records in the official history called “Op Vijay: Account of the War in Kargil”.  Singh declined to comment on today’s order, wanting to wait for the official papers to be processed. An army source said: “The order has just been passed today. We have to study it to examine if further action can or needs to be taken.”  The army can appeal through a special leave petition to the Supreme Court against the order.  As if the unprecedented judgment in May was not enough, the tribunal was today categorical in its rejection of the army’s review petition. Its chairperson, Justice A.K. Mathur, said the army should be “thankful” that the tribunal had not asked for action to be taken that could be “worse” for Lt Gen. Pal. The entire Kargil War was in Lt Gen. Pal’s area of responsibility. He was at the time the general officer commanding the 15 Corps.  With the rejection of the review petition, the army will now have to expunge sections from Singh’s Annual Confidential Report and rewrite the official accounts in a manner that ensures him the credit that is his due.  Batalik was one of the toughest sectors in the war. Brigadier Singh led from the front, sustaining injuries himself, to evict Pakistan-backed intruders who had crossed the Line of Control and occupied crucial heights in Indian territory.  Brigadier Singh had also forecast a pattern of enemy intrusions during a war game in Srinagar before the war actually broke out in right earnest in May-June 1999.  He went to Delhi High Court in 2006 after appealing within the army for the corrections to be made. He had complained that his superior officers, notably Lt Gen. Pal, were biased in writing his reports.  After the tribunal was set up in 2008 the case was transferred to it. The tribunal found Brigadier Singh’s complaints justified. The brigadier now works for an aviation company.  The case of Brigadier Singh threatens to open a can of worms. There are at least three other officers who served in the Kargil war who have challenged the official account of the army on their roles and responsibilities.  Among the most sensitive of the cases is that of Brigadier (also retired) Surinder Singh, who was the commanding officer in charge of the 121 Kargil brigade. He was dismissed for having allegedly failed to patrol the LoC in his sector and not having detected the intrusions. Brigadier Surinder Singh has complained that he was made a scapegoat for the failure of his superior officers and he was in fact among the first to alert the higher command to the possibility of intrusions.  Eleven years after the war, the way it was fought, the lapses that allowed the intrusions into Indian territory and the role of its generals — the chief at that time was General V.P. Malik — are still hotly debated.  The war called Operation Vijay by the army and Operation Safed Sagar by the air force was treated as little more than sporadic fights at first.  Then defence minister George Fernandes predicted victory in 48 hours but the hostilities lasted 80 days and cost the lives of nearly 550 soldiers and young officers.

Raise a tribal regiment in Army: Ministry
Subodh Ghildiyal, TNN, Sep 8, 2010, 02.40am IST NEW DELHI: The Union tribal affairs ministry has asked the government to raise a 'tribal regiment' in the Army and step up recruitment of tribal youth on priority in central paramilitary forces to choke the supply of recruits for Maoists.  Union minister Kantilal Bhuria has shot off letters to the PM and ministers of defence and home, in a move which underscores government's growing concerns about how to tackle the Naxal menace spreading fast across the tribal heartland.  Bhuria has asked home minister P Chidambaram to ease eligibility standards to facilitate entry of tribals in CRPF and other paramilitary forces. The ST youth find it tough to meet the standards of education and physical fitness, especially height, even for the post of constable.  Bhuria wants educational requirement for STs to be relaxed to 8th standard and candidate's height to 5 feet 3 inches. General candidates have to be matriculate with height of 5 feet 8 inches.  The minister's pitch falls at the intersection of the contending viewpoints on how to counter the Maoist menace. A strong school favours tackling the underlying socio-economic factors, while others support a hardline approach centred on the use of force. Bhuria's prescription seeks to blend both. While new employment opportunities can tackle alienation, recruitment of tribals in the fight can help security agencies with better intelligence and familiarity of the battle terrain.  Arguing that Naxalism was a "serious challenge", the minister said gainful employment to tribals will significantly reduce the catchment area of Naxals, who tap jobless young men to fight the "rapacious system".  He said presence of tribals in forces will add value to anti-Naxal operations owing to their knowledge of the topography and people.  The suggestion goes beyond mere use of job avenues to wean away the potential fighting cadre for Naxalites. According to observers, formal employment to STs at par with the general youth will also blunt the criticism that state was pitting tribals against tribals by engaging them as special police officers (SPOs) on nominal wages.  Since the Centre-state concert took its battle against Naxals to places like Dantewada, local youth are employed as SPOs on monthly wage of Rs 3,000.  Besides the paramilitary, Bhuria wants the Army to raise a 'tribal regiment'. Though there is a ban, post-independence, on Army instituting new regiments after social communities, it is not clear if it applies to STs who do not signify a group in strictly parochial terms.  It is felt that a tribal regiment, besides providing regular source of employment for tribals, will serve the symbolic purpose of giving a sense of belonging to the pan-Indian group.

Canadian defence companies seek new markets in India
Published On Tue Sep 07 NEW DELHI—Canada’s MC Countermeasures Inc. makes some of the world’s most sophisticated radar jamming equipment.  “Even in a place like the English Channel, where there are a ton of boats, you can use our technology to isolate one particular bad guy,” says John Bednarz, an executive with the Ottawa company. “You jam his signal and he doesn’t have any idea you’re coming.”  While 15-year-old MC Countermeasures’ electronics may be state-of-the-art, Bednarz said the Canadian government isn’t interested.  So this week he’s in search of a contract that could more than make up for the snub at home. Bednarz is exploring whether India’s government is interested in made-in-Canada military technology.  MC Countermeasures is among seven Canadian defence contractors taking part in a landmark trade mission to India. The companies arrive Tuesday in New Delhi for a four-day visit to formally introduce themselves to the Indian military establishment.  The trade mission comes with India’s military at a crossroad. While the government here has historically spurned foreign contracts in an effort to develop domestic defence-sector investment, the requirements to meet the needs of a 1.2 million-member army are vast.  “You need tremendous patience and perseverance when you try to sell here because it can seem like you’re in a game of snakes and ladders, but the payoff can be huge,” said Rahul Bedi, a New Delhi journalist who writes for Jane’s Defence Weekly, a trade publication.  India has recently bought 650 battle tanks from Russia and will build 1,000 more under local licensing contracts, Bedi said, while the Indian Air Force has ordered 57 training jet aircraft from the U.K. to supplement a previous purchase of 66.  “No one else is buying like India,” he said.  By 2015, India may spend as much as $80 billion (U.S.) on defence-sector contracts, the consulting company Deloitte India reported recently. Of that, the army will spend $42 billion, while the air force plans to buy $24 billion worth of equipment.  But before Bednarz and others get dollar signs in their eyes, Bedi offers this warning: India’s arcane procurement system can be maddening.  “There have been instances when it has taken 45 years from the time a tender was floated to the time it was filled,” Bedi said. “Contracts have to go through 18 departments at various industries.”  Also, a new law on outsourcing requires that any military contract worth more than $60 million include provisions to subcontract 30 per cent of the work to India-based companies.  Still, foreign companies are finding ways to get contracts done. Last year, Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony said that just 30 per cent of this country’s military contracts are domestic.  The Canadian companies are hardly household names. Quebec’s Adventure Lights makes ultra lightweight, water-activated light beacons that can be seen for more than a mile in the open sea. Marport Deep Sea Technologies, from Newfoundland, will be pitching unmanned underwater vehicles that can be used in anti-submarine warfare and for mine detection. Tulmar Safety Systems, from Hawkesbury, is hoping to stoke interest in its constant-wear life vests designed for maritime tactical assault teams.  Tim Page, president of the Canadian Association of Defence and Securities Industries, an 850-member trade association, said the India mission comes after previous trips to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Next year, the association plans a mission to Brazil, another developing country with a surging economy.  “There’s definitely a learning curve with India,” said Page. The Canadian defence sector is currently a $50 billion-a-year business, Page said. International business accounts for about half, or $25 billion. U.S. contracts are worth about $20 billion a year for Canadian companies.

INDIA & CHINA  A visa row 
JOHN CHERIAN  There is another hiccup in India-China relations, but both sides now seem keen to downplay it.  RITU RAJ KONWAR  Lieutenant-General B.S. Jaswal. China's decision to deny him a visa set off a diplomatic tiff.  AFTER the apparent bonhomie at the Copenhagen summit and the BRIC summit, New Delhi and Beijing have once again got embroiled in a diplomatic tiff of sorts. The Chinese government's decision to refuse a visa to the Indian Army's Northern Command chief, Lieutenant-General B.S. Jaswal, made it to the headlines of Indian newspapers and television channels. The officer was part of a high-level Indian military delegation that was due to visit China. Lt-Gen. Jaswal is the top Army commander in Jammu and Kashmir. For the last couple of years, China has been issuing stapled visas for those born in the Jammu and Kashmir region and Arunachal Pradesh.  New Delhi retaliated by refusing entry to two Chinese military officers who were scheduled to attend a defence course in India. A Chinese army colonel was also refused permission to deliver a speech at an Army-run institute. Senior Indian officials had initially warned that New Delhi was also contemplating the cancellation of future joint military exercises and exchanges of military visits with China until Beijing “unties the knot it has tied”. These officials pointed out that India's sensitivity about matters relating to Kashmir was similar to Chinese sensitivities about Tibet. Indian officials said that China hosted the Army's Eastern Command chief last year despite China having made territorial claims over parts of Arunachal Pradesh. Indian officials feel that the Jaswal incident shows that China is probably more concerned about the Pakistan government's concerns about Kashmir than about fostering good relations with India.  New Delhi clarified at the outset of the controversy that border meetings between army officers from both the sides would continue. “While we value our exchanges with China, there must be sensitivity to each other's concerns. Our dialogue with China on these issues is ongoing,” said the External Affairs Ministry spokesperson.  Chinese Ambassador to India Zhang Yan was summoned to the Foreign Ministry after the “visa” incident. Indian officials were careful to deny that the issue of the denial of visa was discussed, but they suggested that they had conveyed their misgivings about the issuance of stapled visas for Indian citizens from Jammu and Kashmir. There have been calls from sections of the political establishment and the predominantly anti-Chinese national media that India should reciprocate by issuing stapled visas for Chinese citizens born in Tibet.  But by early September it became obvious that both sides were eager to downplay the issue. Indian officials admit that the two countries have a “complex relationship” and say that it is imperative for the dialogue process to continue until such time as the boundary dispute between the two countries is resolved. Indian Defence Ministry officials now say that the matter of Lt.-Gen. Jaswal's visit is being sorted out with their Chinese counterparts and that no defence exchanges have been cancelled. Indian officials say that the controversy will have a “short life”.  The visa controversy came in the wake of an article by Selig S. Harrison in The New York Times, which alleged that Chinese troops were in physical occupation of the disputed territory of Gilgit-Baltistan, which was originally part of Kashmir. China has made territorial claims on some parts of Kashmir. The suspiciously timed article suggests that China is using the territory to further its military as well as economic goals that are inimical to the interests of both the United States and India.  MANISH SWARUP/AP  THE DALAI LAMA at a public meeting in Tawang in November 2009. That India allowed him to visit Tawang drew China's displeasure.  The Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman described the article as “totally fabricated”. He said that China had sent a humanitarian mission to conduct rescue and medical aid to victims of the devastating flood that affected the area and the rest of Pakistan. Large stretches of the Karakoram highway, which passes through Gilgit, were washed away by the floods.  New Delhi has been complaining for some time that Beijing is trying to encircle it with the “string of pearls” doctrine. This term was first coined by a right-wing American think tank, which claimed that China was gaining access to ports in Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Pakistan to surround India militarily. Both Myanmar and Sri Lanka have strenuously denied these assertions and have asserted that the Chinese are only helping them to make some of their ports commercially more viable. With the Maoists emerging as a major political force in Nepal, New Delhi was concerned for some time that it would lose Nepal, traditionally under its sphere of influence. China is developing the transport infrastructure of Nepal along its borders by pumping in a lot of financial aid and expertise.  But the major factor deepening mutual suspicions between the two big neighbours is the unresolved border problem and New Delhi's tacit support for the Dalai Lama. China was unhappy at India's handling of the Tibetan protesters who tried to disrupt the passage of the Olympic torch in the run-up to the Beijing Games. Beijing also conveyed its displeasure after New Delhi allowed the Dalai Lama's visit to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh in November 2009. Tawang is the holiest place for Tibetan Buddhists and is the birthplace of the first Dalai Lama. Beijing did not directly criticise New Delhi for the visit but described the trip as part of the Dalai Lama's efforts to derail China-India relations.  The current Dalai Lama has said that he will in all probability be “reborn” in Tawang. Beijing wants to have a say in the anointment of the next Dalai Lama. If his “rebirth” is manipulated outside China, it could prove troublesome for Beijing. Last year, Beijing objected to an Asian Development Bank (ADB) loan to India for a hydroelectric project in Arunachal Pradesh on the grounds that the State was a “disputed territory”.  China also criticised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Arunachal Pradesh last year during the campaign for the general elections. Beijing has signalled on several occasions that it is willing to recognise Arunachal Pradesh as an Indian state if Tawang is ceded to China. The Dalai Lama used to describe Tawang as “Tibetan” until recently. But in 2008, after the last upsurge of violence in Tibet, he made it a point to describe Tawang as part of India. In 1947, Chinese authorities had asked the British to acknowledge Tibetan authority over Tawang. The Tawang monastery, built 300 years ago, is the second oldest Buddhist monastery in the world after the one in Lhasa.  Beijing was further agitated when Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao called on the Dalai Lama in July, immediately after the conclusion of National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon's official visit to Beijing. The Dalai Lama is given virtual head of state status by the Indian government. He had a meeting with the Prime Minister in August, the first official one the Indian government has chosen to announce so far. This meeting, too, came under criticism from China.  The Dalai Lama is on the Indian government's list of VVIPs who are exempt from frisking at airports. Naturally, Beijing has looked askance at a “splittist” being allowed to run a virtual government in exile in Dharamsala. Nirupama Rao, accompanied by top Foreign Ministry officials, had a meeting with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader and his inner Cabinet. There are many China watchers who are of the opinion that Beijing uses the Tawang issue whenever it wants to up the diplomatic ante with New Delhi. Given present-day geopolitical realities, India will never do territorial swap involving Tawang. It has placed two squadrons of Sukhoi-30 fighters near Arunachal Pradesh and is contemplating an increase of its troop presence in that State.  MANOJ DEKA  A BIRD'S-EYE VIEW of Tawang town in Arunachal Pradesh.  Shivshankar Menon, during his visit to Beijing, had conveyed India's concerns about China's road- and rail-building projects in Gilgit-Baltistan and the proposed construction of two civilian nuclear reactors in Pakistan. Beijing has made it clear that its road- and rail-building activity is for furthering its energy security and should not be viewed as a threat to any other country. It will be easier for China to import its oil and gas from the Pakistani port of Gwadar and transport it through northern Pakistan, thus bypassing the Malacca Straits.  China announced a nuclear deal with Pakistan after India and the United States signed the civilian nuclear deal. The U.S. has objected to the China-Pakistan deal on the grounds that Pakistan is not an NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) signatory and has a bad proliferation record. This move has angered Beijing and is seen there as yet another manifestation of the growing U.S.-India security partnership, which the Chinese leadership feels is primarily aimed against China.  Beijing is suspicious of what seems like coordinated diplomatic manoeuvring on the Tibet issue by Washington and New Delhi. Both India and the U.S. seem to have gone along with the Dalai Lama's preference for the 17th Karmapa, at present ensconced in Dharamsala, as the person who will take up his mantle once he exits the scene.  Beijing also fears that New Delhi is ganging up with other states inimical to China's growing stature, such as Japan and Vietnam, to challenge it in the South China Sea. China is embroiled in sea-based territorial disputes with the Philippines, Malaysia, Japan, South Korea and Vietnam. The high-profile military exchanges between the U.S. and Vietnam have only added to the suspicions in Beijing.  Most analysts are of the opinion that despite the diplomatic hiccups, India-China relations will continue to prosper. Economic ties between the two countries are booming. Predictions are that bilateral trade flows, currently at more than $60 billion, will double by 2015. Relations in the cultural and educational sectors are being strengthened. The Indian government recently announced that it was recognising medical degrees from Chinese universities. Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal will visit China in September to speed up collaboration between the two sides in the education sector.  According to China watchers like Air Vice Marshal Kapil Kak, Director of the Delhi-based Centre for Air Power Studies, the Indian government should not treat the “visa incident” as “a cause celebre”. New Delhi, he says, should take the incident in its stride, while at the same time be on high alert along the Line of Actual Control. Kak says that India should expect more such pinpricks from a China that is still trying to gauge the implications of the close India-U.S. strategic embrace after the signing of the nuclear deal. However, to the credit of both countries, not a single bullet has been fired in anger across the contested borders since the 1962 war.

Indian Army repatriates run away lady from PoK 
Poonch (J-K), Sep.7 : Officials of the Indian Army in Kashmir handed over a run away woman from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK to the Pakistan Army here on Monday after she crossed over to the Indian side.  Nazia Begum, a resident of Tetrinote village in PoK, had crossed the Makki post near the Line of Control (LoC) after fleeing from home.  On being questioned by the security personnel, Nazia revealed about her native place and said that she was a victim of wife-beating. She said she was running away from her husband’s daily torture.  “My husband used to beat me up. I ran away and continue to run. I crossed the canal and did not realise that I had crossed the border and from there I was caught.  When asked about the treatment she received from the Indian Army, Nazia said: “They gave me food to eat and treated me well.”  “They (Indian Army) gave me respect. Today, they gave me sweets and clothes for Eid. God shall bless the Indian Army. They give so much respect to their enemies also. God bless them,” said Nazia.  Officials of the Indian Army later released her from the Chakkandabad post and sent her back as a humanitarian gesture.  “We spoke to the headquarters and as a humanitarian gesture we released her because she has three young children. If she were trapped here, then it would have been a sad thing for her family. So we had a talk with the Pakistan Army, and at the army level, we released her at the Chakkandabad point, where the Pakistan army has taken her,” said Amit Nautiyal, Commanding Officer, 8 Kumaon regiment.  Crossing the Line of Control (LoC) is illegal and offenders can be imprisoned. By N.S. Sasan (ANI)

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