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Monday, 17 October 2011

From Today's Papers - 17 Oct 2011





S China Sea Row India fishing in troubled waters, says Chinese daily

Ashok Tuteja Tribune News Service  New Delhi, October 16 In what is bound to raise many eyebrows in New Delhi, a leading Chinese daily has charged India with ‘fishing in troubled waters’ by inking an accord with Vietnam for joint oil exploration in the South China Sea.  “China must take practical actions including those to make these projects fall through. China should denounce this agreement as illegal. Once India and Vietnam initiate their exploration, China can send non-military forces to disturb their work, and cause dispute or friction to halt the two countries’ exploration,” the state-run Global Times said in a commentary.  India and Vietnam signed the accord during Vietnam President Truong Tan Sang’s visit to New Delhi on Wednesday, ignoring Beijing’s objection.  China claims full sovereignty over the entire South China Sea. It has asked all countries, including India, to refrain from undertaking any activity in the area. However, India’s contention is that it is undertaking oil exploration in the blocks offered to it by Vietnam.


Army giving cops, paramilitary men tips to deal with IEDs

New Delhi, October 16 Army has trained over 2,000 troops belonging to the Central paramilitary forces and various state forces to deal with Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), frequently used by Maoists to carry out attacks.  The training is being conducted at army training facilities located under the Lucknow-based Central Command and over 60,000 police personnel have been trained since 2006 for counter-naxal operations, Army sources said here. The courses are conducted on need basis to train the CPMF troops and state police personnel operating in the Naxal-hit areas, they said.  IEDs are frequently used by the Naxals operating in areas of Chattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand and other Maoist-affected areas.  The training imparted by the Army includes lessons on identification of explosive devices buried in ground and defusing them safely.  Army has a established Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for handling IEDs which has proved its efficacy in all theatres of operation. Paramilitary forces and the state police have developed their own mechanism to identify and defuse the IEDs, but the Army training has further enhanced these capabilities, sources said. — PTI


IAF buying radars to check bird hits

New Delhi, October 16 The Indian Air Force is planning to procure and deploy bird detection radars at its various airfields to reduce the risk of accidents caused due to bird hits. “The Defence Ministry intends to procure Bird Detection and Monitoring Radar System to reduce the risk of bird strike in air operations at various airfields,” the IAF said in a Request for Information (RFI) document released on its website.  The RFI for the acquisition will be issued by the service after it gets response from the manufacturers across the world.  Bird hits are the reason behind at least nine per cent of the aircraft mishaps in the country as several cities and towns have come up close to IAF airfields such as Hindon, Jodhpur, Lohegaon and Agra.  The IAF has been taking various steps to reduce the risk of bird hits. Under former Director General (Air Safety) Air Marshal VK Verma, the force had started various practices across major air bases to check birds getting close to airfields.  According to the data released by a Parliamentary panel, the IAF has lost 999 aircraft between 1970 and August this year and human error and technical defects were the main causes behind these crashes.  “In 39.5 per cent of the cases, technical defect is the cause and in 39 per cent of the cases, human error has been found to be responsible,” the report had said. — PTI


India explores options abroad

India has been batting on the back foot in handling its affairs at home, but on issues of foreign policy it has lately been looking for new openings, showing greater confidence in itself. In at least four areas it has made moves which befit a nation of billion-plus people keen to emerge as a major power of the 21st century.  The country has chosen to explore oil and gas in the South China Sea; abstained on the vote on Syrian resolution in the Security Council; the Prime Minister has met President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the sidelines at the United Nations to promote better ties with Iran; and, most significantly, signed a strategic partnership agreement with Afghanistan.  All these initiatives are aimed at making the point that a country like India cannot but follow a foreign policy that is independent in nature and is aimed at protecting its national interest, without meaning to harm the interest of any other nation, in the region or beyond.  It is possible the Chinese are going to feel upset with India about its decision to explore oil and gas in the South China Sea -- which in Beijing’s reckoning belongs to its area of influence. The abstention on the vote on the Syrian situation and the Prime Minister’s meeting the Iranian President in New York may have made Washington unhappy; but India has its reasons and the right to pursue a policy that advances its interests without tripping on other countries toes.  The most important, perhaps a departure, is India’s decision to go in for a strategic partnership with Afghanistan. The strategic partnership agreement, signed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Hamid Karzai, provides for India to train the Afghanistan National Army and the supply of military equipment to enable it to do its job better against the security threats the country is facing.  Many in Pakistan are bound to feel disturbed by India and Afghanistan signing the strategic partnership agreement. Islamabad has always been living with the self-cultivated belief that Afghanistan is a part of its strategic depth it has been seeking to achieve.  Afghans, irrespective of their dispensation, have never liked the notions of strategic depth, which smack of Pakistan’s extra-territorial ambitions, or at least a keenness to have a quisling rule in Kabul to govern Afghanistan -- for Islamabad.  The strategic partnership agreement between India and Afghanistan cuts into Pakistan’s plans to acquire this strategic depth in Afghanistan and as such is certainly bound to be unpopular with the Pakistan Army.  Essentially, Pakistan has been wanting to fill the vacuum in Afghanistan, first left by the Soviet withdrawal and now after the US has pulled out its troops in 2014. After the Soviet withdrawal two decades ago it sustained the Taliban regime in the 1990s until it was replaced by US-Nato troops in the wake of 9/11.  The induction of US-Nato troops aimed at fighting al Qaeda terrorists operating from the Pakistan-Afghanistan border was never liked by Pakistan. It followed a strange two-track approach which ostensibly was meant to support the US war on terrorists and at the same time backing the Taliban groups in Afghanistan on the sly. This kind of a two-faced policy followed by Pakistan was bound to lead to a fractured relationship between the US and Pakistan one day.  The Haqqani group’s attacks on the US-Nato interests in Afghanistan have made mending the US-Pak relations extremely difficult. It looks like Islamabad may soon have to choose between Haqqani and the US.  For years, India has been kept at bay by Pakistan and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Indian Embassy and other interests in Afghanistan have been attacked by the ISI-backed Taliban. Even if the level of India’s training to Afghan National Army and the supply of equipment to ANA to augment its capability under the new agreement remains low, any Indian interest in Afghanistan is bound to get under Pakistan’s skin, although it is the sovereign right of Afghanistan to enter into arrangement with another country, particularly when it wants to equip itself to deal with threat to its security.  It is not that Indian presence in Afghanistan is going to be massive in size that should cause fear in Islamabad. India has already been training a few Afghan army personnel in India. The new agreement may eventually lead to training in Afghanistan itself and supply of some basic military equipment.  A day after signing the agreement for strategic partnership, Dr Karzai in a keynote lecture in New Delhi felt it necessary to assure Pakistan, which he described as “a twin brother” and India, “a great friend”. It is unlikely that his assurance and any that India might convey, are likely to be taken at face value by Islamabad, judging from the reports that the Pakistan top generals are already discussing the new situation.  India also does not want to be sucked into any internal Afghan conflicts as it knows about the fate that other powers – the Soviet Union or US-Nato and others, have met after getting into the country’s internal power struggles. India does not want to be a part of any game, great or otherwise --- often played by international powers in the past.  New Delhi’s only strategic interest is that Afghanistan should emerge from its continuing travails and grow according to its own genius, as an independent country, free from any foreign interference.  India has already been favouring the idea that an international conference should be called to work out the future of Afghanistan after the US-Nato troops have pulled out from the war-torn country.  Participants in this conference should be the permanent members of the UN Security Council, the European Union, and Afghanistan’s, regional nations like India, Pakistan, Iran and Central Asian neighbours. This conference should guarantee a kind of international status that ensures Afghanistan’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, non-interference into its affairs by any outside power, among other things.  The idea for such a conference has always been looked at with scorn by Pakistan which has considered Afghanistan to be its redoubt and a part of the strategic depth.  The US has so far been lukewarm to the idea of such a conference, mainly because it did not want to hurt Pakistan’s sensitivities, but in view of the kind of the problems that are now dogging the US-Pakistan relationship, it may come to the view post-pull out guarantees for Afghanistan more favourably. Several other western countries are increasingly accepting the need for such a conference.  Much depends on how the Pakistan Army top brass reacts to the present situation in the region. There is a possibility that it may misunderstand Indian intentions.  Rightly considered, India and Pakistan should think of ways for how they can cooperate with each other in the economic development of Afghanistan. This will require statesmanship of a high order and an element of mutual trust, which in turn will help resolve India-Pakistan problems and ensure durable peace in the region.


Holding The Passes Until Winter

October 16, 2011: Indian troops in Kashmir are bracing for lots of action along the Pakistan border in October and November. These are the last two months that Islamic terrorists based in Pakistan can sneak across, before snow closes the passes for five months.  Over the last decade, Indian Army troops have increased their border defenses, using heat sensors and night vision equipment, plus other new equipment, to make it more difficult for infiltrators to get across undetected. Thus, so far this year, 80 Islamic terrorists have been killed on the border, with many more captured or forced to retreat back into Pakistan. This has caused a growing shortage of trained Islamic terrorists inside Indian Kashmir, and made that do survive more vulnerable. It's believed that only 30-40 terrorists made it across so far this year. A side effect of the shortage of personnel is that the remaining terrorists are more vulnerable. Thus so far this month, 20 Islamic terrorist leaders in Kashmir were killed, one of them the longest surviving (since 1989) Islamic terrorist in the Kashmir.  These improved border defenses have caused problems back in Pakistan, where terrorist training camps have prepared more men for action than can be gotten across the border. Terrorist morale has suffered and the trained terrorists have become difficult to control. Some have gone elsewhere in the Pakistani tribal territories, to join other terrorist groups that stage attacks inside Pakistan. This is not what the Pakistani government wanted when they set up those terrorist training camps years ago.





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