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Thursday, 23 September 2010

From Today's Papers - 23 Sep 2010

Delhi ready to call Pak bluff on Kashmir at UN
Ashok Tuteja Tribune News Service  New Delhi, September 22 Going by the gratuitous statements made by the Pakistan Government on Jammu and Kashmir, New Delhi believes Islamabad will certainly raise the unrest in the Valley at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) meet at which the general debate gets under way tomorrow.    It would be naïve on our part not to expect Pakistan raise the unrest in the Valley…it is a possibility and we are prepared for it. — Official sources  "It would be naïve on our part not to expect the issue to be raised…it is a possibility and we are prepared for it," official sources said today even as they acknowledged that efforts were on to fix a bilateral meeting between External Affairs Minister SM Krishna and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmud Qureshi on the margins of the UN meet.  On Qureshi's reported statement asking the US to intervene between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue, the sources made it clear that there was no scope for third party or international mediation on it.  "Our position on Jammu and Kashmir is very well articulated and known to international interlocutors that it is an integral part of India…if there are any issues, they can be addressed bilaterally (by India and Pakistan)," they added.  India has taken exception to the statements on Kashmir made by the Pakistan Foreign Office last week and the two Houses of the Pakistan Parliament yesterday, alleging human rights violations there and calling for international intervention.  Despite the exchange of sharp words over Kashmir, the two countries are working on arranging a meeting between the two foreign ministers. Both Krishna and Qureshi will be together at several meetings on the margins of the UNGA during their nearly 10-day stay in New York.  These include the meetings of the representatives of SAARC, NAM, G-77, Commonwealth, Asian Cooperation Dialogue, bio-diversity and Conference on Disarmament, among others. Apart from that, they also will be attending several receptions being organised by delegations from different countries.  As of now, there is no bilateral meeting scheduled between Krishna and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi although the two could hold informal consultations on the sidelines of various multilateral engagements.  Krishna will attend a reception hosted by US President Barack Obama in honour of the visiting leaders from all over the world tomorrow. He will also have a bilateral meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at which the issue of American nuclear suppliers having reservations about the civil nuclear liability Bill, which was recently passed by the Parliament, is expected to figure prominently.

AFSPA: dangers ahead Why involve Army in a civilian matter?
 by Kuldip Nayar  THE Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) has been questioned from day one. Not only civil liberty groups but many others have also thought that the powers given to the armed forces, when posted in a disturbed area, were too sweeping and too authoritarian.  The Act, among other things, gives the armed forces authority to kill anyone in a disturbed area on mere suspicion. No questions will be asked and it will be presumed that the killing was because of exigencies of the situation. The controversy has got revived because of the government's proposal to dilute these powers. If it does so, it has the authority in the polity we have.  It is an elected government which is answerable to Parliament. In a democratic set-up, the military is under the government and does not have to question the order given. I am shocked when I find Chief of Army Staff Gen V.N. Singh saying that the Army cannot do without the AFSPA and retired Army Chief V.P. Malik telling the government that if it wanted the Army it has to have the AFSPA.  Whether the government withdraws the AFSPA or amends it, it is its business. But when it listens to the Army commanders and does not act as the situation demands, the government makes amply clear that it is not its own master. That the people are supreme does not mean that the rulers they elect will be hemmed in by the Army or such other forces.  Similar compromises have led to the rule or domination of the military in many countries which do not know how to swim back to the free waters of democracy. How can New Delhi behave in a manner which casts shadow over the pre-eminence of the people-returned government?  I believe that the Cabinet was divided over the withdrawal of the AFSPA from certain areas of Jammu and Kashmir. Some said that by doing so it would spoil the situation in the areas where the AFSPA would continue to operate. Ultimately, a Cabinet committee was appointed to look into the matter more closely and, subsequently, there was a meeting of main political parties. What surprises me is that there was no one participating in different exercises who even questioned the efficacy of continuing the Act which has been in force for about 52 years in the Northeast and 10 years in Jammu and Kashmir.  It seems the government does not want to go against the wishes of the military which is keen to retain the powers that the Act gives. The question to find out is the areas where the AFSPA should apply and for how long is for the government to decide, taking into account the situation prevailing there. But the government's decision has to be dependent on the conditions on the ground, not on the protest voiced by the military.  Yet, the more important aspect is whether the Act should be there at all. The government appointed the Justice Jewan Reddy Committee to find out whether the Act had outlived its utility. The committee unanimously recommended five years ago that the Act should be abolished. The defence forces did not agree to curtail their draconian power and the Act continues. The government went by the advice of the military, not what the committee, having some leading NGOs in the area, had said.  Two questions, therefore, come to the fore. One, is there any utility in having the Act on the statute book at all? Two, is it necessary to give such sweeping powers to the armed forces in a disturbed area? The ideal thing is not to call the Army to attend to the law and order situation. The force is trained to defend the country's borders, and it should be confined to the task it knows the best.  Yet, if insurgency within the country demands deployment of the Army, it cannot be left to the military to give the government a list of do's and don'ts. What it boils down to is that the power which the military has come to enjoy for a long time because of the AFSPA should be continued perpetually. The proposition itself is dangerous. The observation by the military that it cannot fight in a disturbed area without the AFSPA is not understandable. This amounts to dictating terms to an elected government.  The problem is that the BJP which, because of staying in the wilderness for more than six years, has become irresponsible in its behaviour. Even before the meeting of all political parties, L.K. Advani says that the dilution of the AFSPA will weaken the country's defence. And he praises the sacrifices of the defence forces in the same breath. Playing to the gallery at a time when India is beleaguered with many problems is like foreclosing the options which the ruling party has every right to consider.  The country is proud of the defence forces, which have withstood many odd situations and have risked their lives. But the BJP does not have any exclusive right on the armed forces. Dragging them into controversies neither helps the country nor even the BJP. The party must understand that sensitive issues, if politicised, can take an unwanted turn. Coming to power is important for a political party. But it has to see that while attempting to do so it does not weaken the democratic structure or even remotely support methods which may recoil on the nation one day.  Not long ago, a special force of the armed forces by the name of the Rashtriya Rifles was constituted to deal with civil commotion. It was imparted a different type of training. If the experiment has failed, something else should have been tried. But the perpetuation of the AFSPA is not a solution.  What is happening in Kashmir or in the Northeast may come to brutalise our society. Democracy will lose its savour. Rulers will rue the day when, probably in panic, special powers were given to the men in khaki. Laws are for fair and orderly governance. Those laws which authorise maiming or killing on suspicion have no place in a democratic polity, even for a short period.

Navy,coastguard satisfied with Coastal Excercise
PTI | 11:09 PM,Sep 22,2010  Kochi,Sep22 (PTI) Navy and Coastguard today expressed satisfaction at the successful completion of 'Neptune II', the three day Coastal Security Exercise off Lakshadweep islands, held from September 14. The exercise, the second in the series for the Islands, and scheduled by the Commander in Chief Coastal Defence, also saw the participation of elements from the Indian Army and Indian Airforce this time in addition to all other agencies involved in Coastal Security. In a special media briefing on the conduct of the exercise, Commodore MR Ajayakumar, Naval Officer in Charge and DIG BK Loshali, Commander Coastguard District headquarters praised the high level of security consciousness in the Lakshadweep Islands and emphasized the prominent role played by the Lakshadweep administration and the Police there in the success of the exercise. The conduct of NeptuneII involved the security agencies being divided into playing the role of anti-national elements and coastal defence force. "All the attacking elements were successfully neutralized by the Coastal defence force during the exercise, signifying considerable progress in the crystallization of the coastal defence architecture," they said. The Village 'Dweep' Panchayats and Island vigilance Committees played a robust role in successfully thwarting the 'attacking' force.The commitment levels and involvment of all the participating agencies came for fulsome praise from the officials who said that vigil was not let down even for a moment in the 49 hour long exercise.

Arunachal Pradesh accuses China of incursions
ITANAGAR: The government in India's frontier state of Arunachal Pradesh Wednesday accused China of making at least four incursions in the past one month and said the issue was brought to the notice of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.  "Our chief minister Dorjee Khandu and I met the prime minister and the defence minister in New Delhi late last month and personally apprised about Chinese army entering Arunachal Pradesh and staying on Indian soil on at least four different occasions during the past one month," Takam Sanjay, Congress Lok Sabha member from Arunachal Pradesh, told IANS.  He said the incursions took place in the Zemithang area in Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh in August.  "The Chinese army travels on muleback and there were mule tracks noticed in the area," Sanjay said.  "This is not the only instance of Chinese incursions as we know for sure they did intrude into the parts of Upper Subansiri district earlier this year too," he added.  The mountainous state of Arunachal Pradesh shares a 1,030-km unfenced border with China. The McMahon Line, an imaginary border now known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC), separates the Sino-Indian border along Arunachal Pradesh.  "It is time the Indian government takes up the matter very seriously and heightens surveillance system in the border to avoid recurrence of Chinese intrusions," Sanjay said.  India and China fought a bitter border war in 1962, with Chinese troops advancing deep into Arunachal Pradesh and inflicting heavy casualties on Indian troops.  The border dispute with China was inherited by India from the British colonial rulers, who hosted a 1914 conference with the Tibetan and Chinese governments that set the border in what is now Arunachal Pradesh.  China has never recognized the 1914 boundary, known as the McMahon Line, and claims 90,000 sq. km. -- nearly all of Arunachal Pradesh. New Delhi accuses China of occupying 8,000 sq. km of Jammu and Kashmir.  The Arunachal Pradesh government has from time to time been warning New Delhi about the Chinese incursions.  Indian intelligence officials in 2007 reported Chinese-built mule tracks near the Kayela Pass in Arunachal Pradesh's Dibang Valley district, bordering China's Tibet region.  After the 1962 Sino-Indian War, tension flared again in 1986 with Indian and Chinese forces clashing in the Sumdorong Chu valley of Arunachal Pradesh.

Antony to discuss Pak's 'dangerous designs' with US
Ajay Banerjee Tribune News Service  New Delhi, September 21 During his forthcoming visit to the USA, Defence Minister AK Antony will take up the issue of dangerous designs of Pakistan's continued support to militancy and express fears that the military aid and equipment given by the USA to Pakistan will be directed at India.  On AFSPA, his deputy bats for Army  Minister of State for Defence MM Pallam Raju on Tuesday said the Army was being "demonised" and made a "scapegoat" in Jammu and Kashmir. "It was not responsible for the current turmoil in the Valley….The Army's presence has in fact been helping the law and order situation," said Raju as he put his weight firmly behind the forces.  Ruling out dilution or revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Jammu and Kashmir, Raju said it was an "essential instrument" for the armed forces to move confidently in fighting terrorism.   Three senior Navy, IAF and Army commanders will accompany Antony on the two-day visit starting September 26. Admiral DK Joshi, who heads the strategic command at Andaman Nicobar Islands, Lt Gen Bikram Singh, GOC-in-C of the Eastern Command, and Air Marshal AK Gogoi, DG air operations, will be on the trip.  Antony will meet his US counterpart Secretary Defence Robert Gates. This is more like a reciprocal visit. Gates had visited India earlier this year.  India's focus during the visit will be regional security issues like the developments in Afghanistan. India is one of the countries that want the US-led NATO forces to stay on longer in the strife-torn country lest it should slip into the hands of the Taliban.  On Pakistan, India is looking to put things in perspective as regards its neighbour's "fight against terror". India has always opined that Pakistan was being selective and not taking action against groups that fomented trouble in India.

Raksha Rajya Mantri assures level playing field for Indian defence industry
Wednesday, September 22, 2010  New Delhi: "It will be my endeavor to create a level playing field to both the public and private sectors leading to an enhanced domestic capability and ensure that greater opportunities are given to Indian entrepreneurs "said Mr. M M Pallam Raju, Hon'ble Raksha Rajya Mantri, Government of India, in his address at the 3rd International seminar on Battlefield Management System (BMS), "The Power to the Edge".  'The offset policy in DPP is sure to provide a fair playing ground to both the public and private sectors leading to an enhanced domestic capability" said Mr. Pallam Raju.  Speaking at the two day seminar organized by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) along with Directorate General Information Systems he added that BMS will be the precursor of similar systems for our Para Military forces. To thwart threats other than war, Indian Army is aiming for full spectrum dominance. BMS will also address the counter-terrorism, counter-infiltration requirements and will act as a force multiplier. Mr. Raju was confident that the Indian industry will be able to develop such a system for the armed forces. Mr. Raju also inaugurated a capability exhibition which was oraganised parallel to the seminar  Gen V K Singh, PVSM, AVSM, YSM, ADC, Chief of Army Staff said that   all future operations are going to be joint operations and that the net centric concept is not just restricted to a single arm or service. To get the desired level of synergy, the flow of correlated and intelligent information between the three services is essential. To translate any joint doctrine into action, interoperatibility between the Army, Navy and Air Force is crucial. The Indian players will be able to develop acceptable solutions in the required time frame. He further added that a dynamic voice and data communication capability would be the heart of BMS.  Lt Gen V S Tonk, AVSM, DCOAS (IS&T), Integrated HQs of Mod (Army) said that in the course of developing the BMS many challenges will have to be overcome including integrating diverse systems. BMS will have to exchange information with Tac C31 systems and FINSAS of infantry.   Mr. Satish K Kaura, Co-Chairman CII National Defence Council and Chairman Samtel Group said Indian industry has come of age and is making forays into newer sectors, defence being one of them. However private sectors capabilities and potential have not been exploited fully. CII is committed to strengthen industry's partnership with Indian Army.  Mr. Rahul Chaudhary, Chairman, CII Defence Sub-committee on R & D, Technology & Indigenization and CEO Tata Power SED said that relevant, accurate, timely network centric tools are going to be very important for all the three forces.  DGIS Newsletter was released on this occasion by the Hon'ble minister. This international conference was attended by participants from more than 10 countries.          

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