Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites


Thursday, 20 January 2011

From Today's Papers - 20 Jan 2011

Pinpricking by China India needs to take it up seriously  During his recent Delhi visit Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao described the India-China border dispute as a “historical legacy”, which, in his opinion, “will take a fairly long period of time” to be resolved. Indeed, the way China has been raising it time and again inspires little hope of resolution. The latest from China is that its official Map World website, an answer to Google Earth, mentions India’s Arunchal Pradesh as a part of Chinese territory. Another objectionable entry in Map World is that it shows Aksai Chin in China’s Xinjiang province, denying India’s sovereignty over it.  The Map World challenge came soon after China issued stapled visas to Indian sportspersons from Arunachal Pradesh wanting to visit China. This was on the lines of the Chinese practice of issuing stapled visas to visitors from Jammu and Kashmir. Earlier China refused to issue a visa to anyone from Arunachal seeking to visit China. Those in India who thought that there was some change in China’s policy have to revise their views, as Beijing has come out with an explanation that there is no change in its perception and it continues to consider Arunachal as South Tibet and a part of China.  These are, no doubt, pinpricks which can lead to a major crisis between the two emerging global powers. There is need to take up these issues seriously through the “working mechanism for consultation and coordination on border affairs”, set up during Mr Wen’s December visit to India. China must respect India’s sensibilities and should avoid any demonstration of the border dispute in the manner it has been doing so far. Both have been gaining substantially in terms of rising bilateral trade for some time. The economic gains may get threatened if the border dispute is not kept aside to be settled in a spirit of give and take.
Oil, Islam and diplomacy Geopolitical realities can’t be ignored by G. Parthasarathy  Over the past two decades, India has crafted an imaginative “Look East” policy. This has resulted in growing economic integration with its economically dynamic eastern neighbourhood, while ensuring that it is a constructive partner and participant in evolving an inclusive security architecture for the Asia-Pacific region. Sadly, our horizons, as we look westward, appear to end with our “AfPak” neighbourhood, with little effort for pro-active diplomacy in the oil-rich Gulf region, where over 4 million Indians reside and work and from where we get over 70 per cent of our crucial oil imports. Moreover, with India’s trade deficit growing rapidly, our balance of payments is crucially dependent on the increasing remittances we receive from overseas Indians—$46.4 billion in 2008-2009.  Our Persian Gulf neighbourhood contains two-thirds of the world’s proven petroleum reserves and 35 per cent of the world’s gas reserves. Moreover, as energy demands increase worldwide, it is these countries maintaining 90 per cent of the world’s excess production capacity, which alone can meet the growing demand of the rapidly emerging economies like China and India. Our major suppliers of oil from the Gulf are Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, the UAE and Yemen. Iran provides 17 per cent of our oil imports, with some key refineries dependent on Iranian crude. Moreover, Iran remains our transit point for trade with Central Asia and through the Caspian, with Russia. With Pakistan denying us transit to Afghanistan, we have cooperated with Iran for reducing Afghanistan’s dependence on Pakistan, by development of infrastructure for Chah Bahar port. Iran is also providing political, diplomatic and material backing to the forces in Afghanistan which share our misgivings about the Taliban. At the same time, however, unlike their Arab neighbours, the Iranians have been unreliable in fulfilling signed contractual commitments with India, on supplies of LNG.  The Persian Gulf remains the crucible for ancient civilizational and sectarian Shia-Sunni rivalries between the Persians and the Arabs. The depth of these animosities was exposed when, alluding to King Abdullah, WikiLeaks revealed the “King’s frequent exhortations to the US to attack Iran and put an end to its nuclear weapons programme”. The Saudi monarch reportedly told the Americans “to cut off the head of the snake (Iran)”. Riyadh has even reportedly offered over-flight facilities to Israeli warplanes, in the event of an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Interestingly, even before Iran attacked the Osirak nuclear reactor in September 1980, the Director of Israeli Military Intelligence, Mr. Yehoshua Saguy, publicly urged the Iranians to do so. Less than a year later, on July 7, 1981, Israeli F-15s bombed and destroyed the Osirak reactor, after overflying Saudi territory. More than the Americans, the Israelis have astutely played on Arab-Persian rivalries to ensure that they remain the sole nuclear power in the Middle-East. Moreover, despite all talk of their solidarity with the Palestinians, a number of Arab countries maintain covert and not-so-covert ties with Israel’s Mossad.  The sectarian dimensions of the rivalries in the Persian Gulf also cannot be ignored. Iran has consistently stirred up Shia minorities in Yemen and Kuwait and the Shia majority in Sunni-ruled Bahrain. This rivalry is also being played out in Iraq, where the Shia majority has accused its Sunni Arab neighbours of backing extremist Sunni groups. Paradoxically, after endeavouring to follow a policy of “dual containment” of both Iran and Iraq for over a decade, the Americans are now finding that their ill-advised invasion of Iraq has only brought Iran and Iraq closer together, with a number of Iraqi political and religious figures beholden to Tehran for the support they have received. While Arab regimes may be dependent on American support, the mood in Arab streets is distinctly anti-American a phenomenon the Iranians are cleverly exploiting.  India’s relations with Arab Gulf States have shown a distinct improvement after the visit of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah in January 2006 and Dr Manmohan Singh to Riyadh in February-March 2010. India has received Saudi assurances of meeting of its growing requirements for oil. The desert kingdom and home of Islam’s holiest shrines appears to recognise the need to reach out to countries like India and China even as it maintains its strong security ties with the US. Moreover, our relations with Oman, the UAE and Qatar have expanded significantly, with Qatar emerging as an important supplier of LNG. We, however, seem to have run out of ideas in fashioning a new relationship with Shia-dominated Iraq even as China seals lucrative deals for oil exploration in a country that has the greatest unutilised capacity to boost global oil production. Our efforts to train Iraqi-professionals on petroleum-related matters could, however, serve us well in the long run.  While a partnership with the US certainly has its merits in developing our relations with the Arab Gulf countries, we have given an impression of behaving like an American client State in dealing with Iran. This was evident in the unseemly and hasty manner in which we cancelled our partnership with Iran in the Asian Clearing Union——-an arrangement advocated and supported by ESCAP since 1974. This action seriously disrupted payments for oil supplies at a time when even American allies like Japan have ensured the continuity of their oil imports from that country.  One sincerely hopes that the lure of World Bank and IMF patronage is not unduly affecting such decisions. Moreover, if we have reservations about the Iran-Pakistan- India gas pipeline because of legitimate doubts about the security of energy supplies through the volatile and violent Balochistan province of Pakistan, why are we hastily joining the proposed a Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline? Is Taliban-infested Afghanistan a haven for peace and stability? Or is it because of the diktats of others?  Our relations with Iran should be based on hard-headed assessment of national interest and calculations of Iranian reliability on issues of energy supplies and not on sentimentalism about the so-called “civilisational affinities”. Persian Emperor Nadir Shah did not exactly endear himself to the people when he invaded, pillaged and occupied Delhi. With Israel and the US now agreeing that Iran won’t be able to build a nuclear weapon till 2015, there is an opportunity for India to work with others in the International Atomic Energy Agency and the UN Security Council to craft innovative measures to deal with the Iranian nuclear impasse. Similarly, while our principled support for the legitimate rights of the Palestinians should continue, our relations with the Gulf Arab countries should not inhibit our ties with Israel. These relations should be determined and fashioned by the larger geopolitical realities.
Obama throws a grand welcome for Hu Last updated on: January 20, 2011 01:10 IST Share this Ask Users Write a Comment US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao walk past guests at the South Lawn      Next's Aziz Haniffa reports on President Obama's grand welcome for Chinese premier Hu Jintao.   President Barack Obama welcomed Chinese President Hu Jintao to the White House at an elaborate South Lawn ceremony replete with marching bands, gun salute and guard of honor on a chilly and overcast winter morning, which did not deter several hundred dignitaries and Chinese Americans to cheer enthusiastically the Chinese leader's arrival waving US and American flags.  Obama predicted Hu's visit could set the tone for the next three decades of US-China relations.  Obama said, "Three decades ago, on a January day like this, another American President stood here and welcomed another Chinese leader for the historic normalization of relations between the United States and the People's Republic of China.  On that day, Deng Xiaoping spoke of the great possibilities of cooperation between our two nations. Looking back on that winter day in 1979, it is now clear. The previous 30 years had been a time of estrangement for our two countries. The 30 years since have been a time of growing exchanges and understanding. And with this visit we can lay the foundation for the next 30 years," he added.  Obama continued that "at a time  when some doubt the benefits of cooperation between the United States and China, this visit is also a chance to demonstrate a simple truth.We have an enormous stake in each other's success.In an interconnected world, in a global economy, nations -- including our own -- will be more prosperous and more secure when we work together." Image: US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao walk past guests at the South Lawn Photographs: Jason Reed/Reuters
UN top official on human rights visits Srinagar January 19, 2011 22:18 IST Tags: Margaret Sekaggya, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human, Kashmir Valley, UN, Srinagar Share this Ask Users Write a Comment  The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Margaret Sekaggya met members of the local civil society and various human rights activists in Srinagar [ Images ] on Wednesday evening.  Margaret arrived in Srinagar on Wednesday afternoon on a two day visit to Kashmir [ Images ] to 'asses the human rights situation in the Valley'.  This is the first visit of the UN special rapporteur on human rights to Kashmir Valley after the outbreak of militant violence in 1990 which has claimed thousands of lives.  Margaret met various human rights activists, family members of the victims and members of the local bar association on Wednesday evening.  She is likely to get an official briefing on the situation in the state before her departure to New Delhi [ Images ].  Her visit comes in the wake of the over five-month-long deadly civil unrest that left 112 dead and hundreds others injured last summer.
Green revolution in cold desert a food source for army SHYAM G. MENON Namgial Dorje Chagzotpa at his small farm in Saspol  Ladakh is not a farming frontline.  Yet on the streets of Leh and in villages away from town, vegetables have been making their presence felt; an unlikely green in the tourist image of a cold desert. So much so that over 50 per cent of the annual vegetable demand of the Indian Army, which has a massive presence in Ladakh, is met locally. Not to mention, 25 per cent of the demand for milk.  Supplied by 16 Ladakhi co-operatives, revenues from sales to the army are around Rs 16 crore a year. Much of Ladakh gets only one crop. In some parts, where water is more plentiful or warmth lingers longer, two crops exist. The main cereals are barley at high altitude, wheat and buckwheat. They are usually consumed locally; the region’s cereal-based dishes are nutritious. The picture wasn’t always as upbeat.  Phuntsog Wangchuk Kalon is secretary of the Association of Farmers’ Co-operative Societies of Ladakh. He is among the many people who returned to Ladakh after higher studies elsewhere but among the few who chose to be in farming. The co-operatives negotiate directly with the army; there are no middlemen. They speak in one voice and protect farmers’ margins. It is an arrangement that has worked with the farming co-operatives positioning themselves as a second line of defence. The original seed for this attempt at self-reliance was sown by former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, after the humiliating 1962 war with China.  In Ladakh, most people move out for higher studies after school. While the majority of them return to Ladakh and a culture they closely identify with, the premium attached to a respectable job attracts them to tourism or government. Phuntsog is among few Ladakhis who returned and became a farmer. Five years ago, he was however forced to write to farmers highlighting the neglect of agriculture by authorities.  Things have improved since — the farmers have secured land for a mandi in the middle of Leh and central funds worth Rs 15 crore have been assigned for a cold storage. With cold-storage facilities and cold-chain infrastructure, it will be possible to lengthen the shelf life of Ladakh’s produce and bridge the gap between the onset of summer thaw and the new crop. This could take Ladakh’s share in vegetable supplies to the army’s local units to 75-80 per cent. But transporting the crop by road outside the state continues to be unviable, Phuntsog said.  Self-sustained farming and high altitude cold desert have authored the close-knit Ladakhi society. The region has ample sunlight, mostly organic cultivation and few pests. Water scarcity is built into the paradigm of farming. Despite reports of rising average temperature and the cloudburst of August 2010, winter freeze and generally cold climate remain a reality. “More than warming, the climate is erratic,’’ Phuntsog said. Agriculture typically depends on glacial streams for water. There are also bore-wells. According to Phuntsog, it is alright to drill for subterranean water because, if not used in Ladakh, that water simply shifts to lower elevation. He also reposed hope in what the electricity generated by the Chhutuk and Alchi hydroelectric projects could do for irrigation.  However, Ladakhi agriculture has issues to tackle. About 50km from Leh, on the banks of the Indus is the village of Saspol. Traditionally this place, graced by two mountain streams, has two crops. Not any more, and it is no fault of water or weather.  Farming is labour-intensive and in Ladakh, a land of few people, labour used to be a matter of mutual help. “If there is work on my farm, my fellow villagers volunteered to work with me in return for food,” Namgial Dorje Chagzotpa said. His farm is a small green patch with vegetables and apricot trees, a greenhouse by the side, the whole complex guarded by walls and doors. The seniors of Saspol continue to work for each other the old way. They save the money earned and send the young off to study in Jammu and Chandigarh. On return, many of these youngsters shy off farm work. “Labour is expensive now,’’ Phuntsog said. Farm labour has become a mix of local and migrant. Local means wages in food plus money. Migrant labour, available only after roads from the plains open in summer, is expensive and prone to fluctuation, depending on work in the plains.  According to Namgial, rising labour cost impacts cereals, as procurement price is still an issue. Local cereals have to battle for market space with multi-crop competition grown to higher yield and scale. On top of that, these imports, already subsidised by the public distribution system, get further subsidised in the border district.  Vegetables though were alright and he supplied the co-operative that in turn fed the army.
Pakistan says dialogue minus Kashmir fruitless   Thursday, January 20, 2011   By Mariana Baabar ISLAMABAD: Weeks before Pakistan and India meet in Bhutan next month, Islamabad has sent a clear message to New Delhi that Kashmir is still an outstanding issue between the two, and no amount of dialogue and meetings could improve relations unless the status of the disputed state comes under discussion.  While Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir winds up discussions with the civil and military establishment ahead of his expected meeting with his Indian counterpart in Thimpu at the sidelines of a Saarc meeting, it would only be if India is ready to discuss “all outstanding issues” that a meeting at the Foreign Minister’s level could be possible in Delhi in the coming months. The dialogue, which had come to a halt following the Mumbai attacks, was further stalled when a common agenda for future talks could not be agreed upon in Islamabad.  Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi highlighted this point during a joint press conference with the visiting Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nickolay Mladenov at the Foreign Office Wednesday.  “Pakistan wants to have productive and constructive dialogue with India to resolve all outstanding issues including Kashmir. There is growing realisation in India that the movement in Jammu and Kashmir is “indigenous” and it should be resolved through political means”, Qureshi told a questioner.  Mladenov and Qureshi said that their countries are supportive of the reconciliation process in Afghanistan, which strived to bring normalcy in the land locked state, but this process should be led by the Afghans themselves. Bulgaria and Pakistan made this statement at a time when all neighbours including ‘not immediate neighbours’ are trying to secure their ‘strategic’ interests in that country.  Qureshi pointed to the hype in bilateral relations with Afghanistan where the rhetoric from Kabul is no longer being targeted at Pakistan. To a query, he replied, “Pakistan and Afghanistan are developing their relations at all levels and there has been a qualitative change at military and political levels during the past few years,” he said.  The FM said Pakistan is geared up to train the Afghan National Army and police, as the relations between the two countries have improved in the recent past. Bulgaria is one of those European countries, which has strongly defended Pakistan in the EU for trade concessions leading to improvement in its economy.  Mladenov said the world community must take collective stand against radicalism. There should be religious harmony all over the world to fight these elements. On Thursday both countries sign an agreement to promote economic ties and expand bilateral trade and investment, while linkages between their universities will also be established.  They announced that they have decided to expand and strengthen their bilateral relations in various fields including defence, economy, trade and culture. Bulgaria has offered assistance in generating coal energy to help Pakistan overcome its energy crisis. Qureshi said both countries have decided to expand political consultations and the next round will be held later this year.
Defence alert over Pakistan's air space violation 2011-01-20 05:30:00  Jammu, Jan 19 (IANS) Two Pakistani aircraft Wednesday flew close to the Indian border in the Jammu region, triggering an air defence alert. The reported air space violation will be taken up with Pakistan through proper external affairs ministry channels, officials said.  Two light aircraft were flying low near the Ranbirsinghpora area of Jammu region where Border Security Force (BSF) has posts and their flight path was picked up by India's air defence units.  'Soon after, the Indian Air Force (IAF) alerted its air defence units and the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for air space violations were activated,' IAF spokesperson Wing Commander T.K. Singha said.  The two olive-green aircraft with Pakistan Army insignia emblazoned on them, had come close to the border area for about a couple of minutes, which is a breach of bilaterally agreed norms on air space.  The 198-km international border from Kathua bordering Punjab to Akhnoor north of Jammu is manned by the BSF. The Indian army is the second line of defence here.  'Yes, two light aircraft were sighted. Appropriate air defence procedures always follow whenever the situation warrants,' Singha said.  The air defence SOPs could be a simple radio warning to the pilots of the aircraft violating the air space or it could be activating its air defence missiles and rockets to scrambling fighter aircraft from an air base nearby to chase them away and escorting the enemy aircraft to land on Indian soil.  Normally, the forces on the border are under instructions to shoot down any aircraft violating the air space, but before the troops could react, the aircraft flew black to the Pakistani side, officials said.  India has enough sensors along the borders to locate such air space violations, including ground-based radars, aerostat radars and the recently acquired airborne early warning and control system called as 'eye in the sky'.  According to the data provided to parliament in December last year, Pakistani military aircraft, helicopters and spy unmanned aerial vehicles have violated Indian airspace on 23 occasions last year.
Army reviews situation in Jammu and Kashmir  Jammu, Jan 19 – The Indian Army Wednesday reviewed the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir ahead of the forthcoming Republic Day Jan 26, which has come to greater attention this year because of Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) plans to hoist the national flag in Srinagar on the day.  The meeting was chaired by Corps Commander of 16 Corps Lt. Gen. J.P. Nehra, who is also the security advisor to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, at the corps headquarters at Nagrota, 13 km north of Jammu.  According to sources, the meeting focussed on two issues – first, tackling the threat by militants to disrupt the Republic Day function, information of which was intercepted by the security forces; and second, BJP’s planned march and unfurling of the tricolour at Lal Chowk in Srinagar.  The march, as per the route, is scheduled to pass through Jammu.  ‘It is an extraordinary situation and it would have to be dealt with a high degree of carefulness,’ a participant of the meting told IANS.  The meeting also was attended by the state’s Director General of Police Kuldeep Khoda, Commissioner (special bureau) Tilak Devasher, Jammu’s Divisional Commissioner Pawan Kotwal and Inspector General of Police (Jammu) Dilbag Singh.  An army press release said: ‘The meeting reviewed the security situation in Jammu region in the light of forthcoming Republic Day.’  ‘There is a need to be more vigilant in view of the possibility of terrorists attempting to disrupt the existing peace in the region, especially during the coming week on account of the Republic Day,’ Lt. Gen. Nehra said.  ‘The downward slide in terrorism was attributed to the high degree of dedication and cohesiveness amongst all the security agencies in the state but this should not lull us into complacency,’ he added.  At the same time, he reiterated that the army would show ‘zero tolerance for human rights violations’.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal