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Thursday, 25 August 2011

From Today's Papers - 25 Aug 2011





Pakistan won’t allow its territory to be used for terror activities: Khar

Beijing, August 24 Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar today said her country has “no interest” in allowing its territory to be used by non-state actors against its neighbours.  “We have made it clear to our neighbours and we make it clear again that Pakistan has no interest for its territory to be used by any non-state actors against any other country, “ Khar, who is on her maiden visit to China, said.  Her statement comes after China initially blamed militants trained in Pakistan-based terror camps for recent attacks in its restive Xinjiang province.  “Pakistan just seeks the world’s understanding for the current challenges that Pakistan is going through...we are the ones and our people are the ones that are paying the price, who are experiencing the brunt of it,” Khar told reporters here after her meetings with Premier Wen Jiabao and Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.  Khar said Pakistan was increasing its counter-terrorism cooperation with China. “Terrorism today knows no borders... the statement vis-a-vis Pakistan involvement (issued earlier by local Chinese government blaming Pakistan based terror camps) of any sort was misconstrued,” Khar said.  “We respond to that by increasing cooperation. Pakistan is already cooperating. We must make this even more robust,” she said responding to questions over China’s rare allegation that militants of the separatist East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), who carried out attacks in Kashghar in Xinjiang province, were trained at Pakistan-based terror camps.  The 34-year-old Khar, who arrived here last night, wound up the visit after her meetings with Wen and Yang. Her visit surprisingly got little play in the Chinese official media today.  During his meeting with Khar, Wen reaffirmed China’s support for Pakistan’s efforts in preserving national stability and promoting social and economic development.  He called on the two sides to promote the sustainable development of the Pakistani economy and to expand cooperation in trade, investment and technology, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.  Later she held talks with her Chinese counterpart Yang, who pledged to further promote bilateral ties hailing the China-Pakistan relationship as a “high-quality strategic cooperative partnership”.  Yang and Khar also exchanged views on international and regional issues of common concern.  Khar said developing friendly relations with China is the cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy and that her government and all sectors of society agree on cementing their traditional friendship. She thanked China for its support to Pakistan in social and economic development.  She said Pakistan hopes to make joint efforts with China to enhance cooperation in various fields, including energy, infrastructure, agriculture, and finance, and to further promote the strategic cooperative partnership of Pakistan and China.  Her visit comes ahead of proposed visit of Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari to take see the trade fair at Xinjiang in the coming weeks. — PTI


ITBP to boost its women power May also get hard duties, including high-altitude postings

Vijay Mohan/TNS  Chandigarh, August 24 The Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force (ITBP), tasked with guarding the Himalayan frontier against China, will be increasing the intake of women in is rank and file. Also on the cards is an increased operational role for its women personnel, who may soon be deployed in high-altitude areas.  At present, the ITBP has four companies of women constables. “We plan to raise the strength of women personnel so that they form at least five per cent of the force’s total strength,” ITBP Director General RK Bhatia said.  The force has 49 battalions and 13 others are being raised as part of its restructuring and expansion. A battalion has about 900 personnel. Bhatia added that no separate vaccancies or cadre has been sanctioned for women constables and they are being recruited within the force’s overall sanctioned strength.  The ITBP inducted the first batch of women constables in January 2010. Since then, they have primarily been deployed on “soft” assignments like guard duties at static establishments, office duties at headquarters or looking after women pilgrims during the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. Security of the Rashtrapati Bhawan, select VVIPs and several Indian embassies overseas is also being handled by the ITBP, where women constables are deputed.  The ITBP chief said that the forces is also considering expanding the scope of their duties and they could also be deployed in high altitude areas and on border guarding duties where the presence of women constabulary is warranted.  ITBP officers said that the increased intake of women has been necessitated due to an expansion of the forces as well as its operational commitments, including disaster management and anti-Naxal operations, which requires a close interaction with female populace and children.


IAF rescues mountaineers trapped in Ladakh

Tribune News Service  New Delhi, August 24 In a daring rescue operation, two foreigners out on a mountaineering expedition in the remote Zanskar Valley in Ladakh have been saved by IAF pilots, which conducted a rescue sortie in near darkness to pick up the two from an altitude of more than 17,000 feet and with almost no landing space in the snow-clad peaks.  Notably the Chetaah/Chetak variant of the chopper has almost no night flying capability and the place where the two were saved does not even have radio contact or accurate ground coordinates. The two, foreigners Kristina Chnapekova from Slovakia and Valasske Mezrici from Czech republic, were suffering from high-altitude sickness and were rescued after the IAF’s 114 helicopter unit named “Siachen Pioneers” was tasked for the mission in the evening on Monday.  The SOS to the IAF that a nine-member trekking expedition comprising Czech and Slovakian nationals was near the Shinkun-La pass, around 60 km south-east of “Padam” in Ladakh. Some members of the expedition developed high-altitude sickness. One member of the team had succumbed to sickness and two others were in critical condition when the team requested for air rescue by making a call (probably using a satellite phone) to the embassy of their country in New Delhi.  The New Delhi-based Western Air Command tasked the Leh-based 114 HU with the rescue mission and asked Commanding Officer of the Leh Air Force Station, Air Commodore SP Wagle to supervise and coordinate the mission. With almost negligible details, planning was done from the mission. A helicopter rescue team led by Wing Cdr AS Rajput planned the rescue mission, including route, fuel planning, power calculations and flight safety aspects, all had to be managed in the limited available daylight time.  The next task of the pilots was to make an accurate assessment of the location as any error would have stalled the mission for the day as darkness would have engulfed the area. Squadron Ldr S Agrawal, Flt Lieut A Bharmoria and Flt Lieut Dipin Chakravorty’s flew off from Leh. The next challenge was to spot the mountaineers. Once that was done, the next critical step was to land in very limited space on a mountain side. However, the team was able to successfully airlift and take the duo to Leh for treatment.  A spokesperson of the IAF said, “The Siachen Pioneers crew displayed highest level of professionalism, planning and courage without fearing for their own safety.”


Army wants govt to review FDI cap in defence supply sector

Mumbai, Aug 24 (PTI) Army Chief General V K Singh today emphasised the need to procure defence supplies from domestic industry as far as possible, and said the armed force had asked the government to examine if FDI in the sector can be increased.  "The support for the armed forces (in defence procurement) should come from within and not from outside. There is a great scope for SMEs and MSMEs for supplying critical components," Singh said.  Calling for simpler procedure for defence procurement, Singh said the Army had requested the government that it may look at how technology can be harnessed and whether FDI can be increased.  "With the present cap on FDI, may be enough incentive is not there for people to get together and set up something," he said.  He was speaking at an interactive meeting ''Indigenization of army supplies'' organised by the All India Association of Industries here.  Singh called for indigenization of the Army supplies and encouragement to the domestic industry to harness critical technology.  "There is a lot that can come from our own industries, yet we, for various reasons, are depending on suppliers from outside," he said.  There is now an awareness in the government too that the army must indigenise more, Singh said.


Agni-II ready for testing from Wheeler Island

BALASORE: India is all set to test its 2,000-km range Agni-II missile from Wheeler Island off the Orissa coast next week. The test will be conducted by the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) of the Indian Army.  Defence officials said preparations for the scheduled test are on at the launching complex since the past one week. A team of Army personnel and scores of DRDO scientists are camping here for the crucial test. "Agni-II's user training trial is likely to be conducted any time between August 29 and 30 to give the necessary confidence to the armed forces that the two-stage, solid-fuelled missile can be fired whenever required," said a defence scientist.  The indigenously built weapon is a two-stage solid propelled ballistic missile that weighs 17 tonne and is 20 metre long. It can carry a payload of 1 tonne over a distance of 2,000 km. Agni-II was developed by Advanced Systems Laboratory along with other DRDO laboratories. The missile is part of the Agni series, which included Agni-I with a 700-km range and Agni-III with a 3,500-km range. While Agni-I and Agni-II have been already inducted, Agni-III is in the process of induction.  Agni-II is a ready-to-fire missile with a launch time of about 15 minutes. The missile uses solid propulsion booster and liquid propulsion upper state. The strap-down inertial navigation system provides the necessary guidance, accuracy and uses an advanced composite structure for protecting the payload during the re-entry phase.  The missile technologists are leaving no stone unturned to make this trial of Agni-II missile successful as the fear of technological glitches haunts them. Agni-II, an already-proven missile, had developed snags twice consecutively during user training exercises in 2009, putting the entire DRDO fraternity in an embarrassing situation.  However, during a similar test on May 17 last year, the missile was claimed to be tested successfully.  The scientist said the DRDO was working on multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles technology for the Agni series of ballistic missiles, which would help the missiles carry a bunch of nuclear warheads in a single payload, each of which can hit different targets along separate trajectories.


Showdown with Govt: Army says can’t change chief’s birth date

Countering the defence ministry’s instructions on considering May 10, 1950 as Army chief General V K Singh’s correct date of birth, Army headquarters has written back questioning how changing official records could be considered legally viable.  Setting the stage for a fresh confrontation with the defence ministry, which had held last month that 1950 should be considered as Singh’s correct year of birth and not one year later as many records reflect, the Adjutant General’s (AG’s) branch has written to the ministry asking for a legal explanation on changing records. The branch has written to the ministry asking it to spell out the reasons for concluding that 1950 is the correct year of birth.  While the ministry has not reacted to the letter, officials said the communication is yet to reach the top bureaucracy.  The Army’s view is that records can only be changed on the basis of official documents that can verify the date of birth, like a matriculation certificate, birth certificate or similar records that are considered legal by government departments. The only such document in the Army’s records is Singh’s matriculation certificate which records May 10, 1951 as his date of birth.



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