Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites

Loading

Thursday, 20 October 2011

From Today's Papers - 20 Oct 2011

 

 

 

 

China relents No longer stapled visa for Kashmiris

CHINA has at last realised that it had not been fair in its treatment of visitors from Jammu and Kashmir whom it issued stapled visas till a few months ago. Beijing has now stopped the discriminatory practice, and one hopes it will be pragmatic while dealing with visitors from Arunachal Pradesh too, as it is an integral part of India. New Delhi has been closely observing China’s visa policy with regard to the residents of J and K. The last batch of 12 Kashmiris who went to China in September as part of a delegation of 500 Indians under a government-sponsored exchange programme were happily issued pasted visas. India noticed this change for the first time since December last year though China had been claiming for a few months that it had not been treating Indians from J and K differently.  New Delhi has been perturbed over China’s unreasonable behaviour as this amounted to not accepting J and K as a part of India. Contrary to this, Beijing has been increasing its presence in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) despite protests by New Delhi, saying that China’s growing activities in PoK, which India considered as its integral part, are illegal. But China has been unmindful of India’s concerns. China indirectly gave the impression that it considered PoK as a “territory of Pakistan” and J and K as a “disputed area”. This became a major irritant in relations between India and China.  Those from J and K and Arunachal Pradesh (China calls it South Tibet) who wanted to visit China have been suffering owing to the unrealistic Chinese visa policy. In July this year five members of an Indian karate team from Arunachal Pradesh could not take part in a prestigious championship in Quanghou in China. The Government of India had issued instructions that no one with a stapled Chinese visa should be allowed to board a plane from any Indian airport. Let us hope that China will continue with its latest visa policy, which may go a long way in improving relations between the two neighbours. 

 

 

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2011/20111020/edit.htm#1

                  

Kayani: US must think 10 times before anti-Pak offensive

Afzal Khan in Islamabad  Not ruling out the possibility of a US ground offensive against militants in the North Waziristan tribal region, Pakistan’s all-powerful Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has said that Washington will think “ten times” before launching such an attack. The Haqqani network is based in the restive tribal region.  “They [the US] might do it [attack North Waziristan] but they will have to think 10 times because Pakistan is not Iraq or Afghanistan,” Kayani was quoted as telling members of Parliament’s defence committee during a three-hour briefing at the General Headquarters.  The US has been putting up pressure on Pakistan for years to go after Haqqani network militants in North Waziristan, who cross the border to attack US and NATO forces in Afghanistan. The pressure has become intense since US Navy Seals killed Osama bin Laden in May in Abbottabad.  However, Kayani did not specify what Pakistan would do if American troops, now massed on the Afghan side of the border, did move into North Waziristan hunting for the militant Haqqani network.  Acknowledging that the US was pressing Pakistan to launch a military operation in North Waziristan, Kayani said that the ongoing build-up of Afghan and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops along the Pak-Afghan border was a tactic to intensify that pressure.  “We have made it clear to the US that we will decide the timing of any such action according to our situation and capabilities. We have also told them that the problem lies within Afghanistan. If anyone convinces me that everything will be sorted out if we act in North Waziristan, I will take immediate action,” a parliamentarian, quoted Kayani as saying.  General Kayani’s statement came hours after senior Afghan defence officials said the country’s security forces and their NATO allies have launched a new push against the Haqqani network.  Leaving no ambiguity over reasons behind the operation, AFP quoted an Afghan defence ministry official that the action was tied to recent spats between Washington and Islamabad. While he declined to specify the operation’s scope, another senior official from the ministry said it was “largely against the Haqqani network”.  According to Afghan Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak, the operation has been codenamed “Knife Edge” and was launched two days ago. “This operation has been launched along the border because the enemy has been lately operating along the border on both sides; sometimes on this side and sometimes on the other,” Afghan Chief of Army Staff Sher Mohammad Karimi said.  General Kayani said that Pakistan had spelled out its position on Afghanistan to the Obama administration in writing in 2010 and had asked the Americans to elaborate on their position but they had not done so. “We have long-term interests in Afghanistan, others might have short… For short-term gains, we cannot lose (sight of) our long-term interests,” Kayani said.  But responding to a question on Pakistan’s interests in Afghanistan, Kayani sought to dispel the perception that Pakistan was seeking so-called strategic depth in Afghanistan.  However, Kayani did not deny that Pakistani secret agencies maintained contacts with ‘certain elements’ within the hierarchy of Afghan insurgent groups. “That is where we get our information, the intelligence, from,” Kayani yielded. “The important thing is how we use the information gathered from these elements. You can do it positively and negatively.”  In a Press release issued by the military after a recent Corps Commanders’ meeting, Kayani is said to have stressed that the Pakistan Army does not need US aid and that he had told American officials that he means what he said.  More troops along Afghan border  Pakistan has deployed additional army and paramilitary troops along its border with Afghanistan. Regular army and Frontier Corps troops have been sent to areas along the border with Afghanistan to stop militant attacks, chief military spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas said.

 

 

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2011/20111020/main2.htm

                  

MiG-29 crashes in HP; pilot’s fate unknown

Tribune News Service  Kullu/Jalandhar, Oct 19 The search for the wreckage of an IAF MiG-29 aircraft, which crashed somewhere in the Himalayan ranges in Lahaul-Spiti around 8.30 pm yesterday evening, was suspended on Wednesday after the sorties failed to locate the wreckage or the pilot. The search and rescue mission will resume on Thursday even as the IAF ordered a court of inquiry to investigate into the causes of the crash.  Two MiG-29 aircrafts had taken off from the Adampur Air Force Station on a night flying sortie as part of the on-going exercises of the Western Air Command. While one of the aircrafts successfully flew to Leh and returned, the other one, being flown by a Squadron Leader, crashed. Eyewitnesses reported seeing a ball of fire streaking through the night sky before exploding with a bang.  This is the third air crash reported in Lahaul-Spiti in the last 50 years. An army helicopter had crashed near the Suraj Tal glacier a decade ago while an aircraft carrying over 60 army personnel had crashed in the early sixties, killing all its occupants. The wreckage of the plane was found over 15 years later.  Defence spokesman Naresh Vig said that the high altitude and the mountains were making the search operation difficult. The Adampur Air Base, he said, lost radio contact with the aircraft at 8.30 pm.

 

 

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2011/20111020/main5.htm#1

                  

Indian Army vice chief reviews operational preparedness on borders

The Indian army vice chief, Lt. Gen. A.S. Lamba, Wednesday reviewed its operational preparedness in Jammu and Kashmir, which borders China, Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Pakistan.  He held a meeting with the Northern Command chief, Lt. Gen. K.T. Parnaik, at the Northern Command headquarters Udhampur Wednesday, according to an army spokesman.  The vice chief, according to the spokesman “discussed the operational preparedness of Northern Command.”  The need for upgradation of infrastructure along the borders, especially along the Line of Actual Control with China in Ladakh region, also came up for discussions.  He also reviewed the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir. The Indian Army is actively involved in anti-insurgency operations in the state battling with Pakistan sponsored terrorism for the past over two decades.

 

 

http://www.prokerala.com/news/articles/a254576.html

                  

Unsung and unheard, the Rashtriya Rifles plays a critical role

Nitin Gokhale  The Rashtriya Rifles's contribution to peace and stability in Jammu and Kashmir is immeasurable. The force has been able to create a situation conducive for civil governance, says Nitin Gokhale.  For a counter-insurgency force that is largest of its kind in the world, the Rashtriya Rifles receives very little attention in discussions and writings on India's endless war in Kashmir.  Staying out of the limelight, however, does not take away in any way the immense contribution made by this force in the past two decades in India's fight against Pakistan's proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir.  In its 21st year, it is useful to look back at the evolution of the Rashtriya Rifles into a unique force and also understand its future roadmap.

It is important to remember that officially the Rashtriya Rifles is still a 'temporary force', since clearance to raise the force was given under the provisions of Union Composite Table, Part II.  So, theoretically, if the Union government wants, it can disband the 80,000-strong force with an executive order.  However, given the relentless attempts by Pakistan to send highly-trained and heavily-armed terrorists into Kashmir, the chances of such an eventuality in the near future remain low.  Moreover, like the Assam Rifles in the north-east, the Rashtriya Rifles in J&K has emerged as a force that now has unmatched knowledge of the terrain, the people, local dynamics and most importantly, intelligence.  It is now the spearhead of the Indian Army's sub-conventional war doctrine.  In many ways, the Rashtriya Rifles remains a unique experiment in the army's glorious history, mainly because never in the past has such an 'all-arms', polyglot composition worked in tandem to produce such magnificent results.  After all, this is the only force where infantry soldiers work shoulder to shoulder with personnel drawn from other arms and services.

The beginning was not easy though. The Rashtriya Rifles was born under very difficult circumstances.  The initial proposal was to have a new para-military force under the home ministry's control and made up of superannuating soldiers, regular army volunteers on deputation, ex-servicemen and lateral inductees from various para-military forces and central police organisations.  Although good on paper, this proposal never took off and the since the situation in the Kashmir valley was deteriorating swiftly, the army had to find quick answers. So the top brass under then Army Chief General S F Rodrigues decided to make the Rashtriya Rifles an all-army force.  The government was still reluctant to put its full weight behind the idea. Old timers recall that the dominant thought process in 1990 at the highest levels in government was still to push in two divisions of the army -- the 39th and 6th -- into counter-insurgency operations.  The army brass resisted fiercely and insisted on a specialised counter-insurgency force.  Looking back, that decision not to deploy the 39th and 6th division (the latter army HQ reserve) was perhaps the most crucial advice that the army gave to the government.  Today, those two divisions are free for their conventional role even as the Rashtriya Rifles has grown into a 65-battalion (nearly seven divisions!) force which has honed its counter-insurgency skills and may now be ready to do dual tasking of guarding the Line of Control.

However, it is useful to recall that the initial sanction was for only two sector headquarters, each comprising three battalions.  Under General Rodgrigues, a crack, proven CI formation -- the 8th Mountain Division -- raised and then continuously based in Nagaland for over two decades was shifted to the valley. But even that was not enough.  So as General Rodgrigues made way for General B C Joshi as Chief Of the Army Staff, he simply bulldozed his way through both the military and civil bureaucracy to raise more Rashtriya Rifles units during his short tenure.  General Joshi's view was: India was going to be involved in an extended counter-insurgency similar to the prolonged deployment in Nagaland and Manipur in the north-east. So a new force -- like the Assam Rifles in that region -- was needed which could be permanently located in Kashmir to counter the insurgents.  So General Joshi demanded and got 10 more Rashtriya Rifles sector HQs or 30 battalions equivalent to three divisions. His logic: In the bargain the army would have three additional battle-hardened divisions, ready for rearguard action during any future war.  In nearly 20 years since then, General Joshi's prediction has come true! The Rashtriya Rifles units are now as battle-hardened, seasoned and effective as any infantry formation.  It wasn't, of course, all easy in the beginning. The initial Rashtriya Rifles units had certain inherent weaknesses in their class and composition. Although the logic of keeping the unit composition a mixed one was sound -- to avoid charges of bias in a class or regional based units -- it created problems in the field.  The early Rashtriya Rifles units have been described as 'transit camps', with troops coming and going at regular intervals. The camaraderie and cohesion usually evident in regular army units was missing among diverse troops.  There were also numerous problems of administration and even of indiscipline. However, because of the highest quality of leadership displayed by army officers, those initial hiccups were overcome gradually.  It also helped that under the next COAS, General Shankar Roy Chowdhury, a new formula was evolved on the basic composition of Rashtriya Rifles units. Each regiment was told to raise two Rashtriya Rifles battalions and provide 60 per cent of the strength for each unit. The rest 40 per cent were drawn from all services and arms.  Additionally, the Commanding Officer and his No 2 were drawn from the same regiment. This ensured basic cohesion and discipline. The new formula also engendered a sense of ownership amongst the regiments.  Now as a matter of routine one finds a Rashtriya Rifles battalion proudly displaying its parent regiment's name on display boards and sign posts.  So, across Jammu and Kashmir it is now common to see boards proudly displaying signs such as 36 RR (Garhwal) or 40 RR (Dogra)!

Apart from the cohesion now more than evident, on a larger scale, the Rashtriya Rifles has allowed other arms and services to get a first-hand battle experience they would otherwise have lacked.  Officers from Armoured, Artillery, Engineers, Signals or even those from the Ordnance and Supply Corps would not have had the chance to gain real combat experience had it not been for the opportunity provided by Rashtriya Rifles.  Over the past two decades, many officers from these arms and services have distinguished themselves in conflict and have in fact earned gallantry awards aplenty.  Today the Rashtriya Rifles has a separate directorate in the army HQs and is spread over five CI Force HQs, equivalent to a division.  While two are in the Kashmir valley -- CI Force (K), CI Force (V) -- the other three, CI Force (U), CI Force (D) and CI Force (R) are located south of Pir Panjal.  These 63 battalions of Rashtriya Rifles form the main CI grid in Jammu and Kashmir, thereby relieving regular army units for training and deployment in their original conventional role.  Aware of the potential of these battle-hardened Rashtriya Rifles battalions, the top military leadership in the Northern Command is now gradually thinking of assigning a new role to these formations.  Accordingly, Rashtriya Rifles battalions deployed in Kashmir's hinterland where militancy is at low ebb in the past few years are now being assigned a role along the Line of Control. By doing this, the top brass is readying the Rashtriya Rifles units for multi-tasking in the future.  If militancy remains confined to encounters along the LoC, as has been happening over the past few months, several Rashtriya Rifles units located in the hinterland may find themselves without much of a job.  If these units are slowly given the experience of guarding the LoC, many more infantry battalions can be freed from LoC deployment and can then be trained or redeployed in high altitude areas along the Line of Actual Control with China in Ladakh or in Arunachal Pradesh.  After all, India is planning to raise a full-fledged Mountain Strike Corps in addition to two mountain divisions already under raising in the north-east.  All these plans will fructify quickly once the government decides to regularise the Rashtriya Rifles and not keep a sword hanging on the army's head by giving piecemeal extension.  The current formal clearance for the Rashtriya Rifles, it must be emphasised, is only up to June 2013.

To implement and fine tune the new strategy, the government will have to redefine the Rashtriya Rifles's role and absorb it as a regular force and not keep it hanging as an ad hoc formation.  In the past 20 years, the Rashtriya Rifles flag -- a rifle green cloth with the regimental crest in silver zari in the centre and a crest that has two crossed rifles with the Dharma Chakra in the centre, has become an integral part of Kashmir's landscape. Its motto Dhridtha and Veerta in Hindi is visible all over J&K country-side.  Its contribution to bring back peace and stability in Jammu and Kashmir is immeasurable. The force has been able to create a situation conducive for civil governance in coordination with local population, police and civil administration.  The sacrifices made by the troops of the Rashtriya Rifles are accurately reflected in the over 4,000 individual decorations, 31 Chief of Army Staff unit citations and 46 general officer commanding-in-chief unit citations that have been conferred on it.  It is a force that needs to be supported and nurtured further to keep the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir under control.

 

 

http://www.rediff.com/news/slide-show/slide-show-1-unsung-and-unheard-rashtriya-rifles-plays-a-crucial-role/20111019.htm

                  

Army roped in for development of Naxal regions

Rather than being pushed into a direct confrontation with Naxals, the Army will use its skills to develop projects rapidly in such areas.  The Rural Development Ministry has been impressed with the Army’s development initiatives in villages around its newly established training facility in Chattisgarh’s Narayanpur district. The 71 Infantry Brigade, the first Army formation to be sent to Naxal-affected Narayanpur, has helped set up bridges, improve school buildings and bring electricity to villages. At a meeting in Delhi last week, Central Army Commander Lt Gen V K Ahluwalia briefed Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh on these initiatives.  The Army will contribute not resources but expertise. The ministry is particularly keen to use the Army’s skills in establishing prefabricated structures. The Army regularly uses such structures to construct bridges, buildings and other infrastructure during the movement and relocation of troops. Two critical projects identified by the ministry are bridges and houses built. House under the Indira Awas Yogna, for instance, can be built faster with prefabricated parts.

Sources said Lt Gen Ahluwalia explained how the Army helped ramp up school infrastructure, set up computer literacy camps, desilt ponds and improve roads. The Army carries out such initiatives regularly wherever it is deployed but this is the first time this has happened in Naxal-hit Narayanpurt. The 71 Brigade, which has completed its training and moved out of the camp, also set up a free medical aid camp and veterinary clinic, bored hand-pumps and tubewells for villagers, and held a special camp to guide local youth on employment in the armed forces.

Sources said that the projects were initially carried out in seven villages but will spread to other areas as the next brigade moves in for training. “Development work will continue with each successive brigade that goes there for training. This is a practice that the Army follows wherever it is deployed,” an officer said.

 

 

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/army-roped-in-for-development-of-naxal-regions/861910/2

                  

Pak army chief snubs US on raid - Kayani tells ally to think 10 times before attacking

Islamabad, Oct. 19 (Reuters): Pakistan’s army chief told Parliament’s defence committee that the US should focus on stabilising Afghanistan instead of pushing Pakistan to attack militant groups in a crucial border region, a committee member told Reuters today.  Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani’s comments could deepen tensions in the US-Pakistan relationship, an alliance critical to efforts to stabilise Afghanistan before the end of 2014 when Nato combat troops are due home.  US secretary of state Hillary Clinton arrived in Kabul today for meetings with President Hamid Karzai. Unconfirmed reports suggested Clinton may visit Pakistan tomorrow.  Kayani said Pakistan alone would decide if and when to launch a full-scale offensive in North Waziristan, which western intelligence agencies say is a sanctuary for militants who cross the border to attack US-led Nato forces in Afghanistan.  “We have made it clear to the US that we will decide the timing of any such action according to our situation and capabilities.  “We have also told them that the problem lies within Afghanistan. If anyone convinces me that everything will be sorted out if we act in North Waziristan, I will take immediate action,” Kayani said.  He added that the US would have to think “10 times” before taking any unilateral action there. Pakistan is not like Iraq or Afghanistan, the parliamentarian quoted Kayani as saying, suggesting that any North Waziristan operation would be very risky.  The MP spoke on condition of anonymity.  “The problem lies in Afghanistan, not Pakistan,” the parliamentarian quoted Kayani as telling the committee in a national security briefing at General Headquarters in Rawalpindi. “They (US) might do it but they will have to think ten times because Pakistan is not Iraq or Afghanistan,” Kayani said.  The US, the source of billions of dollars in aid, has urged Pakistan over the years to go after militant groups in North Waziristan, a rugged mountainous region where militants have forged ties with powerful tribes.  “The purpose of this briefing was to mobilise support domestically and to signal to the US that this is the line we are not going to cross at this stage,” political analyst Hasan Askari Rizvi said. “They have signalled what can and what cannot be done.”  Admiral Mike Mullen said before retiring as chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff last month that the militant Haqqani group that attacked US targets in Afghanistan was a “veritable arm” of Pakistan’s spy agency, the ISI.  The remarks infuriated Pakistani leaders, who denied links to the group and said Pakistan had sacrificed more than any other country that joined the US “war on terror” after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the US.          “All intelligence agencies have contacts. Don’t the CIA and (the British spy agency) MI6 have such contacts? It is through these contacts that we get information,” the parliamentarian quoted Kayani as saying.  “The nice guys don’t give you information. It is contacts like this that yield intelligence. It is about whether you use this information positively or negatively.”  The pressure on Pakistan has become acute since US special forces killed Osama bin Laden in May in a Pakistani garrison town where he had apparently been living for years.  The unilateral raid infuriated Pakistan’s powerful military, which described it as a violation of sovereignty. In Washington, some angry officials wondered if elements of Pakistani intelligence had sheltered Osama.         Pakistan said it had no idea he was living in the town of Abbottabad, about a two-hour drive from Islamabad.  Although ties have been severely damaged over the issue of militancy, few expect a complete rupture.  Pakistan’s powerful military, which sets security and foreign policy, has been reluctant to attack North Waziristan, saying it was stretched fighting homegrown Taliban fighters elsewhere in Pakistan.  Analysts say Pakistan maintains ties with the al Qaida-linked Haqqanis because it sees the group as a lever in Afghanistan, where India is vying for influence.     

 

 

http://a.tribalfusion.com/p.media/aGmNnARErQPVFsPHbv1WvmVAvO3cZb10UYZdUmqn2Pn7QPFA4W3r1HnImWEy36Q03Gn8TcJbUVnfRPUoUtYVUbZbX2FZatVEjmVErlPaBGScQIRr6tPtYiVcUQ5r6modIrYqPO2HbESGjH46vZcpW6tUWf8XbfkUcFXxKsQCI/2879146/pop.html

                  

Tender sticks IAF's neck out

In a major security goof-up, the Indian Air Force has made public several sensitive chopper landing zones and Army locations along the Line of Control (LOC) with Pakistan and Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China in a tender floated for hiring helicopters from private and public sector companies for logistical support to forward posts. The Defence Ministry is likely to order high-level probe into the lapse.  The 30-page tender, technically known as Request for Proposal (RFP) issued on October 18 and posted on Defence Ministry’s website, gave exact details and location of more than 80 landing zones and forward bases including longitude, latitude, dimension, height at which the helipads are located and nature of terrain. All these locations are situated in Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh and some other parts bordering China and Pakistan.  Admitting that such sensitive and classified information should not have been revealed in a tender, officials said here on Wednesday the Defence Ministry might seek an explanation about the blunder. They also said a similar tender was issued about ten months back with similar details, except detailing co-ordinates of landing zones.  The 84 helipads, whose details were put on the website, are located in places including Kishtwar, Kupwara, Tangdhar, Kanzalwan, Parkian Gali in Jammu & Kashmir and Tawang, Daporjo, Bhawani Drop Zone, Yangtze, Forward Post Tapukhar and Taksing in Arunachal Pradesh near the Chinese boundary. The RFP also gives out the dimensions of the helipads located in the sensitive areas in these two areas.  Some officials defended the decision to put out the details in the tender claiming that these locations were easily available on the Internet. Sources, however, said a Government document like a tender was authenticating information thereby making the job of the adversary all the more easy in targeting crucial bases.  Faced with shortage of helicopters to maintain logistical support to forward bases, the IAF recently decided to hire helicopters from private and public sector companies in India.  These helicopters will ferry troops, equipment including weapons and essential items, and the crew will be Indian who are cleared by the Intelligence Bureau.  Sources said the IAF needed helicopters to airlift supplies and troops to at least 60 locations in the northern sector facing Pakistan and China and 25 locations in the eastern sector along the LAC.  The IAF is looking for helicopters capable of carrying more than 2,000 kilos of supplies and can land and take off in rugged mountainous terrain and high altitude. They clarified that these helicopters will only be used as cargo platforms and not used in combat role.  Elaborating upon the decision to hire helicopters cleared by the Government, officials said the existing fleet of the IAF including helicopters and transport planes including AN-32 was inadequate to meet growing requirements.  With China rapidly modernising its infrastructure all along the 4,500 km long LAC, India too was addressing these issue in the right earnest. Several airfields in the north-east were now getting upgraded and some helicopter landing zones strengthened in Ladakh and Kashmir region.  Moreover, the Government had asked the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) to hasten the process of building strategic roads in Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh.  Incidentally, the BRO had now hired public sector Pawan Hans helicopters to airlift heavy equipment like bulldozers to inaccessible areas as the IAF expressed its inability to spare helicopters for this purpose.

 

 

http://www.dailypioneer.com/pioneer-news/todays-newspaper/14599-tender-sticks-iafs-neck-out.html

                  

120 Army, paramilitary officers to join IPS by next year

NEW DELHI: Around 120 officers of the Army and paramilitary forces are expected to join the Indian Police Service (IPS) by the end of next year through a 'limited' departmental examination. These officers will be in addition to the 150 inducted into the IPS through regular civil services examination.  A notification for the 'limited' examination is expected to be brought out by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) soon.  Faced with an acute shortage of IPS officers, the home ministry had last year decided to hire officers through the limited examination. Any officer belonging to the Army and paramilitary forces, having served for a minimum of five years and below 35 years of age will be eligible to appear in this examination.  Currently, IPS officers are recruited either through civil service examination conducted by UPSC or are promoted from state police services.  Sources said these officers would be hired in two batches of 60 each. The first examination is expected to be held in March 2012 and the officers are likely to join by the end of next year, they added.

 

 

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/120-Army-paramilitary-officers-to-join-IPS-by-next-year/articleshow/10421842.cms

                  

China relents No longer stapled visa for Kashmiris

CHINA has at last realised that it had not been fair in its treatment of visitors from Jammu and Kashmir whom it issued stapled visas till a few months ago. Beijing has now stopped the discriminatory practice, and one hopes it will be pragmatic while dealing with visitors from Arunachal Pradesh too, as it is an integral part of India. New Delhi has been closely observing China’s visa policy with regard to the residents of J and K. The last batch of 12 Kashmiris who went to China in September as part of a delegation of 500 Indians under a government-sponsored exchange programme were happily issued pasted visas. India noticed this change for the first time since December last year though China had been claiming for a few months that it had not been treating Indians from J and K differently.  New Delhi has been perturbed over China’s unreasonable behaviour as this amounted to not accepting J and K as a part of India. Contrary to this, Beijing has been increasing its presence in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) despite protests by New Delhi, saying that China’s growing activities in PoK, which India considered as its integral part, are illegal. But China has been unmindful of India’s concerns. China indirectly gave the impression that it considered PoK as a “territory of Pakistan” and J and K as a “disputed area”. This became a major irritant in relations between India and China.  Those from J and K and Arunachal Pradesh (China calls it South Tibet) who wanted to visit China have been suffering owing to the unrealistic Chinese visa policy. In July this year five members of an Indian karate team from Arunachal Pradesh could not take part in a prestigious championship in Quanghou in China. The Government of India had issued instructions that no one with a stapled Chinese visa should be allowed to board a plane from any Indian airport. Let us hope that China will continue with its latest visa policy, which may go a long way in improving relations between the two neighbours. 

                  

Kayani: US must think 10 times before anti-Pak offensive

Afzal Khan in Islamabad  Not ruling out the possibility of a US ground offensive against militants in the North Waziristan tribal region, Pakistan’s all-powerful Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has said that Washington will think “ten times” before launching such an attack. The Haqqani network is based in the restive tribal region.  “They [the US] might do it [attack North Waziristan] but they will have to think 10 times because Pakistan is not Iraq or Afghanistan,” Kayani was quoted as telling members of Parliament’s defence committee during a three-hour briefing at the General Headquarters.  The US has been putting up pressure on Pakistan for years to go after Haqqani network militants in North Waziristan, who cross the border to attack US and NATO forces in Afghanistan. The pressure has become intense since US Navy Seals killed Osama bin Laden in May in Abbottabad.  However, Kayani did not specify what Pakistan would do if American troops, now massed on the Afghan side of the border, did move into North Waziristan hunting for the militant Haqqani network.  Acknowledging that the US was pressing Pakistan to launch a military operation in North Waziristan, Kayani said that the ongoing build-up of Afghan and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops along the Pak-Afghan border was a tactic to intensify that pressure.  “We have made it clear to the US that we will decide the timing of any such action according to our situation and capabilities. We have also told them that the problem lies within Afghanistan. If anyone convinces me that everything will be sorted out if we act in North Waziristan, I will take immediate action,” a parliamentarian, quoted Kayani as saying.  General Kayani’s statement came hours after senior Afghan defence officials said the country’s security forces and their NATO allies have launched a new push against the Haqqani network.  Leaving no ambiguity over reasons behind the operation, AFP quoted an Afghan defence ministry official that the action was tied to recent spats between Washington and Islamabad. While he declined to specify the operation’s scope, another senior official from the ministry said it was “largely against the Haqqani network”.  According to Afghan Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak, the operation has been codenamed “Knife Edge” and was launched two days ago. “This operation has been launched along the border because the enemy has been lately operating along the border on both sides; sometimes on this side and sometimes on the other,” Afghan Chief of Army Staff Sher Mohammad Karimi said.  General Kayani said that Pakistan had spelled out its position on Afghanistan to the Obama administration in writing in 2010 and had asked the Americans to elaborate on their position but they had not done so. “We have long-term interests in Afghanistan, others might have short… For short-term gains, we cannot lose (sight of) our long-term interests,” Kayani said.  But responding to a question on Pakistan’s interests in Afghanistan, Kayani sought to dispel the perception that Pakistan was seeking so-called strategic depth in Afghanistan.  However, Kayani did not deny that Pakistani secret agencies maintained contacts with ‘certain elements’ within the hierarchy of Afghan insurgent groups. “That is where we get our information, the intelligence, from,” Kayani yielded. “The important thing is how we use the information gathered from these elements. You can do it positively and negatively.”  In a Press release issued by the military after a recent Corps Commanders’ meeting, Kayani is said to have stressed that the Pakistan Army does not need US aid and that he had told American officials that he means what he said.  More troops along Afghan border  Pakistan has deployed additional army and paramilitary troops along its border with Afghanistan. Regular army and Frontier Corps troops have been sent to areas along the border with Afghanistan to stop militant attacks, chief military spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas said.

                  

MiG-29 crashes in HP; pilot’s fate unknown

Tribune News Service  Kullu/Jalandhar, Oct 19 The search for the wreckage of an IAF MiG-29 aircraft, which crashed somewhere in the Himalayan ranges in Lahaul-Spiti around 8.30 pm yesterday evening, was suspended on Wednesday after the sorties failed to locate the wreckage or the pilot. The search and rescue mission will resume on Thursday even as the IAF ordered a court of inquiry to investigate into the causes of the crash.  Two MiG-29 aircrafts had taken off from the Adampur Air Force Station on a night flying sortie as part of the on-going exercises of the Western Air Command. While one of the aircrafts successfully flew to Leh and returned, the other one, being flown by a Squadron Leader, crashed. Eyewitnesses reported seeing a ball of fire streaking through the night sky before exploding with a bang.  This is the third air crash reported in Lahaul-Spiti in the last 50 years. An army helicopter had crashed near the Suraj Tal glacier a decade ago while an aircraft carrying over 60 army personnel had crashed in the early sixties, killing all its occupants. The wreckage of the plane was found over 15 years later.  Defence spokesman Naresh Vig said that the high altitude and the mountains were making the search operation difficult. The Adampur Air Base, he said, lost radio contact with the aircraft at 8.30 pm.

                  

Indian Army vice chief reviews operational preparedness on borders

The Indian army vice chief, Lt. Gen. A.S. Lamba, Wednesday reviewed its operational preparedness in Jammu and Kashmir, which borders China, Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Pakistan.  He held a meeting with the Northern Command chief, Lt. Gen. K.T. Parnaik, at the Northern Command headquarters Udhampur Wednesday, according to an army spokesman.  The vice chief, according to the spokesman “discussed the operational preparedness of Northern Command.”  The need for upgradation of infrastructure along the borders, especially along the Line of Actual Control with China in Ladakh region, also came up for discussions.  He also reviewed the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir. The Indian Army is actively involved in anti-insurgency operations in the state battling with Pakistan sponsored terrorism for the past over two decades.

                  

Unsung and unheard, the Rashtriya Rifles plays a critical role

Nitin Gokhale  The Rashtriya Rifles's contribution to peace and stability in Jammu and Kashmir is immeasurable. The force has been able to create a situation conducive for civil governance, says Nitin Gokhale.  For a counter-insurgency force that is largest of its kind in the world, the Rashtriya Rifles receives very little attention in discussions and writings on India's endless war in Kashmir.  Staying out of the limelight, however, does not take away in any way the immense contribution made by this force in the past two decades in India's fight against Pakistan's proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir.  In its 21st year, it is useful to look back at the evolution of the Rashtriya Rifles into a unique force and also understand its future roadmap.

It is important to remember that officially the Rashtriya Rifles is still a 'temporary force', since clearance to raise the force was given under the provisions of Union Composite Table, Part II.  So, theoretically, if the Union government wants, it can disband the 80,000-strong force with an executive order.  However, given the relentless attempts by Pakistan to send highly-trained and heavily-armed terrorists into Kashmir, the chances of such an eventuality in the near future remain low.  Moreover, like the Assam Rifles in the north-east, the Rashtriya Rifles in J&K has emerged as a force that now has unmatched knowledge of the terrain, the people, local dynamics and most importantly, intelligence.  It is now the spearhead of the Indian Army's sub-conventional war doctrine.  In many ways, the Rashtriya Rifles remains a unique experiment in the army's glorious history, mainly because never in the past has such an 'all-arms', polyglot composition worked in tandem to produce such magnificent results.  After all, this is the only force where infantry soldiers work shoulder to shoulder with personnel drawn from other arms and services.

The beginning was not easy though. The Rashtriya Rifles was born under very difficult circumstances.  The initial proposal was to have a new para-military force under the home ministry's control and made up of superannuating soldiers, regular army volunteers on deputation, ex-servicemen and lateral inductees from various para-military forces and central police organisations.  Although good on paper, this proposal never took off and the since the situation in the Kashmir valley was deteriorating swiftly, the army had to find quick answers. So the top brass under then Army Chief General S F Rodrigues decided to make the Rashtriya Rifles an all-army force.  The government was still reluctant to put its full weight behind the idea. Old timers recall that the dominant thought process in 1990 at the highest levels in government was still to push in two divisions of the army -- the 39th and 6th -- into counter-insurgency operations.  The army brass resisted fiercely and insisted on a specialised counter-insurgency force.  Looking back, that decision not to deploy the 39th and 6th division (the latter army HQ reserve) was perhaps the most crucial advice that the army gave to the government.  Today, those two divisions are free for their conventional role even as the Rashtriya Rifles has grown into a 65-battalion (nearly seven divisions!) force which has honed its counter-insurgency skills and may now be ready to do dual tasking of guarding the Line of Control.

However, it is useful to recall that the initial sanction was for only two sector headquarters, each comprising three battalions.  Under General Rodgrigues, a crack, proven CI formation -- the 8th Mountain Division -- raised and then continuously based in Nagaland for over two decades was shifted to the valley. But even that was not enough.  So as General Rodgrigues made way for General B C Joshi as Chief Of the Army Staff, he simply bulldozed his way through both the military and civil bureaucracy to raise more Rashtriya Rifles units during his short tenure.  General Joshi's view was: India was going to be involved in an extended counter-insurgency similar to the prolonged deployment in Nagaland and Manipur in the north-east. So a new force -- like the Assam Rifles in that region -- was needed which could be permanently located in Kashmir to counter the insurgents.  So General Joshi demanded and got 10 more Rashtriya Rifles sector HQs or 30 battalions equivalent to three divisions. His logic: In the bargain the army would have three additional battle-hardened divisions, ready for rearguard action during any future war.  In nearly 20 years since then, General Joshi's prediction has come true! The Rashtriya Rifles units are now as battle-hardened, seasoned and effective as any infantry formation.  It wasn't, of course, all easy in the beginning. The initial Rashtriya Rifles units had certain inherent weaknesses in their class and composition. Although the logic of keeping the unit composition a mixed one was sound -- to avoid charges of bias in a class or regional based units -- it created problems in the field.  The early Rashtriya Rifles units have been described as 'transit camps', with troops coming and going at regular intervals. The camaraderie and cohesion usually evident in regular army units was missing among diverse troops.  There were also numerous problems of administration and even of indiscipline. However, because of the highest quality of leadership displayed by army officers, those initial hiccups were overcome gradually.  It also helped that under the next COAS, General Shankar Roy Chowdhury, a new formula was evolved on the basic composition of Rashtriya Rifles units. Each regiment was told to raise two Rashtriya Rifles battalions and provide 60 per cent of the strength for each unit. The rest 40 per cent were drawn from all services and arms.  Additionally, the Commanding Officer and his No 2 were drawn from the same regiment. This ensured basic cohesion and discipline. The new formula also engendered a sense of ownership amongst the regiments.  Now as a matter of routine one finds a Rashtriya Rifles battalion proudly displaying its parent regiment's name on display boards and sign posts.  So, across Jammu and Kashmir it is now common to see boards proudly displaying signs such as 36 RR (Garhwal) or 40 RR (Dogra)!

Apart from the cohesion now more than evident, on a larger scale, the Rashtriya Rifles has allowed other arms and services to get a first-hand battle experience they would otherwise have lacked.  Officers from Armoured, Artillery, Engineers, Signals or even those from the Ordnance and Supply Corps would not have had the chance to gain real combat experience had it not been for the opportunity provided by Rashtriya Rifles.  Over the past two decades, many officers from these arms and services have distinguished themselves in conflict and have in fact earned gallantry awards aplenty.  Today the Rashtriya Rifles has a separate directorate in the army HQs and is spread over five CI Force HQs, equivalent to a division.  While two are in the Kashmir valley -- CI Force (K), CI Force (V) -- the other three, CI Force (U), CI Force (D) and CI Force (R) are located south of Pir Panjal.  These 63 battalions of Rashtriya Rifles form the main CI grid in Jammu and Kashmir, thereby relieving regular army units for training and deployment in their original conventional role.  Aware of the potential of these battle-hardened Rashtriya Rifles battalions, the top military leadership in the Northern Command is now gradually thinking of assigning a new role to these formations.  Accordingly, Rashtriya Rifles battalions deployed in Kashmir's hinterland where militancy is at low ebb in the past few years are now being assigned a role along the Line of Control. By doing this, the top brass is readying the Rashtriya Rifles units for multi-tasking in the future.  If militancy remains confined to encounters along the LoC, as has been happening over the past few months, several Rashtriya Rifles units located in the hinterland may find themselves without much of a job.  If these units are slowly given the experience of guarding the LoC, many more infantry battalions can be freed from LoC deployment and can then be trained or redeployed in high altitude areas along the Line of Actual Control with China in Ladakh or in Arunachal Pradesh.  After all, India is planning to raise a full-fledged Mountain Strike Corps in addition to two mountain divisions already under raising in the north-east.  All these plans will fructify quickly once the government decides to regularise the Rashtriya Rifles and not keep a sword hanging on the army's head by giving piecemeal extension.  The current formal clearance for the Rashtriya Rifles, it must be emphasised, is only up to June 2013.

To implement and fine tune the new strategy, the government will have to redefine the Rashtriya Rifles's role and absorb it as a regular force and not keep it hanging as an ad hoc formation.  In the past 20 years, the Rashtriya Rifles flag -- a rifle green cloth with the regimental crest in silver zari in the centre and a crest that has two crossed rifles with the Dharma Chakra in the centre, has become an integral part of Kashmir's landscape. Its motto Dhridtha and Veerta in Hindi is visible all over J&K country-side.  Its contribution to bring back peace and stability in Jammu and Kashmir is immeasurable. The force has been able to create a situation conducive for civil governance in coordination with local population, police and civil administration.  The sacrifices made by the troops of the Rashtriya Rifles are accurately reflected in the over 4,000 individual decorations, 31 Chief of Army Staff unit citations and 46 general officer commanding-in-chief unit citations that have been conferred on it.  It is a force that needs to be supported and nurtured further to keep the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir under control.

                  

Army roped in for development of Naxal regions

Rather than being pushed into a direct confrontation with Naxals, the Army will use its skills to develop projects rapidly in such areas.  The Rural Development Ministry has been impressed with the Army’s development initiatives in villages around its newly established training facility in Chattisgarh’s Narayanpur district. The 71 Infantry Brigade, the first Army formation to be sent to Naxal-affected Narayanpur, has helped set up bridges, improve school buildings and bring electricity to villages. At a meeting in Delhi last week, Central Army Commander Lt Gen V K Ahluwalia briefed Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh on these initiatives.  The Army will contribute not resources but expertise. The ministry is particularly keen to use the Army’s skills in establishing prefabricated structures. The Army regularly uses such structures to construct bridges, buildings and other infrastructure during the movement and relocation of troops. Two critical projects identified by the ministry are bridges and houses built. House under the Indira Awas Yogna, for instance, can be built faster with prefabricated parts.

Sources said Lt Gen Ahluwalia explained how the Army helped ramp up school infrastructure, set up computer literacy camps, desilt ponds and improve roads. The Army carries out such initiatives regularly wherever it is deployed but this is the first time this has happened in Naxal-hit Narayanpurt. The 71 Brigade, which has completed its training and moved out of the camp, also set up a free medical aid camp and veterinary clinic, bored hand-pumps and tubewells for villagers, and held a special camp to guide local youth on employment in the armed forces.

Sources said that the projects were initially carried out in seven villages but will spread to other areas as the next brigade moves in for training. “Development work will continue with each successive brigade that goes there for training. This is a practice that the Army follows wherever it is deployed,” an officer said.

                  

Pak army chief snubs US on raid - Kayani tells ally to think 10 times before attacking

Islamabad, Oct. 19 (Reuters): Pakistan’s army chief told Parliament’s defence committee that the US should focus on stabilising Afghanistan instead of pushing Pakistan to attack militant groups in a crucial border region, a committee member told Reuters today.  Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani’s comments could deepen tensions in the US-Pakistan relationship, an alliance critical to efforts to stabilise Afghanistan before the end of 2014 when Nato combat troops are due home.  US secretary of state Hillary Clinton arrived in Kabul today for meetings with President Hamid Karzai. Unconfirmed reports suggested Clinton may visit Pakistan tomorrow.  Kayani said Pakistan alone would decide if and when to launch a full-scale offensive in North Waziristan, which western intelligence agencies say is a sanctuary for militants who cross the border to attack US-led Nato forces in Afghanistan.  “We have made it clear to the US that we will decide the timing of any such action according to our situation and capabilities.  “We have also told them that the problem lies within Afghanistan. If anyone convinces me that everything will be sorted out if we act in North Waziristan, I will take immediate action,” Kayani said.  He added that the US would have to think “10 times” before taking any unilateral action there. Pakistan is not like Iraq or Afghanistan, the parliamentarian quoted Kayani as saying, suggesting that any North Waziristan operation would be very risky.  The MP spoke on condition of anonymity.  “The problem lies in Afghanistan, not Pakistan,” the parliamentarian quoted Kayani as telling the committee in a national security briefing at General Headquarters in Rawalpindi. “They (US) might do it but they will have to think ten times because Pakistan is not Iraq or Afghanistan,” Kayani said.  The US, the source of billions of dollars in aid, has urged Pakistan over the years to go after militant groups in North Waziristan, a rugged mountainous region where militants have forged ties with powerful tribes.  “The purpose of this briefing was to mobilise support domestically and to signal to the US that this is the line we are not going to cross at this stage,” political analyst Hasan Askari Rizvi said. “They have signalled what can and what cannot be done.”  Admiral Mike Mullen said before retiring as chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff last month that the militant Haqqani group that attacked US targets in Afghanistan was a “veritable arm” of Pakistan’s spy agency, the ISI.  The remarks infuriated Pakistani leaders, who denied links to the group and said Pakistan had sacrificed more than any other country that joined the US “war on terror” after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the US.          “All intelligence agencies have contacts. Don’t the CIA and (the British spy agency) MI6 have such contacts? It is through these contacts that we get information,” the parliamentarian quoted Kayani as saying.  “The nice guys don’t give you information. It is contacts like this that yield intelligence. It is about whether you use this information positively or negatively.”  The pressure on Pakistan has become acute since US special forces killed Osama bin Laden in May in a Pakistani garrison town where he had apparently been living for years.  The unilateral raid infuriated Pakistan’s powerful military, which described it as a violation of sovereignty. In Washington, some angry officials wondered if elements of Pakistani intelligence had sheltered Osama.         Pakistan said it had no idea he was living in the town of Abbottabad, about a two-hour drive from Islamabad.  Although ties have been severely damaged over the issue of militancy, few expect a complete rupture.  Pakistan’s powerful military, which sets security and foreign policy, has been reluctant to attack North Waziristan, saying it was stretched fighting homegrown Taliban fighters elsewhere in Pakistan.  Analysts say Pakistan maintains ties with the al Qaida-linked Haqqanis because it sees the group as a lever in Afghanistan, where India is vying for influence.     

                  

Tender sticks IAF's neck out

In a major security goof-up, the Indian Air Force has made public several sensitive chopper landing zones and Army locations along the Line of Control (LOC) with Pakistan and Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China in a tender floated for hiring helicopters from private and public sector companies for logistical support to forward posts. The Defence Ministry is likely to order high-level probe into the lapse.  The 30-page tender, technically known as Request for Proposal (RFP) issued on October 18 and posted on Defence Ministry’s website, gave exact details and location of more than 80 landing zones and forward bases including longitude, latitude, dimension, height at which the helipads are located and nature of terrain. All these locations are situated in Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh and some other parts bordering China and Pakistan.  Admitting that such sensitive and classified information should not have been revealed in a tender, officials said here on Wednesday the Defence Ministry might seek an explanation about the blunder. They also said a similar tender was issued about ten months back with similar details, except detailing co-ordinates of landing zones.  The 84 helipads, whose details were put on the website, are located in places including Kishtwar, Kupwara, Tangdhar, Kanzalwan, Parkian Gali in Jammu & Kashmir and Tawang, Daporjo, Bhawani Drop Zone, Yangtze, Forward Post Tapukhar and Taksing in Arunachal Pradesh near the Chinese boundary. The RFP also gives out the dimensions of the helipads located in the sensitive areas in these two areas.  Some officials defended the decision to put out the details in the tender claiming that these locations were easily available on the Internet. Sources, however, said a Government document like a tender was authenticating information thereby making the job of the adversary all the more easy in targeting crucial bases.  Faced with shortage of helicopters to maintain logistical support to forward bases, the IAF recently decided to hire helicopters from private and public sector companies in India.  These helicopters will ferry troops, equipment including weapons and essential items, and the crew will be Indian who are cleared by the Intelligence Bureau.  Sources said the IAF needed helicopters to airlift supplies and troops to at least 60 locations in the northern sector facing Pakistan and China and 25 locations in the eastern sector along the LAC.  The IAF is looking for helicopters capable of carrying more than 2,000 kilos of supplies and can land and take off in rugged mountainous terrain and high altitude. They clarified that these helicopters will only be used as cargo platforms and not used in combat role.  Elaborating upon the decision to hire helicopters cleared by the Government, officials said the existing fleet of the IAF including helicopters and transport planes including AN-32 was inadequate to meet growing requirements.  With China rapidly modernising its infrastructure all along the 4,500 km long LAC, India too was addressing these issue in the right earnest. Several airfields in the north-east were now getting upgraded and some helicopter landing zones strengthened in Ladakh and Kashmir region.  Moreover, the Government had asked the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) to hasten the process of building strategic roads in Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh.  Incidentally, the BRO had now hired public sector Pawan Hans helicopters to airlift heavy equipment like bulldozers to inaccessible areas as the IAF expressed its inability to spare helicopters for this purpose.

                  

120 Army, paramilitary officers to join IPS by next year

NEW DELHI: Around 120 officers of the Army and paramilitary forces are expected to join the Indian Police Service (IPS) by the end of next year through a 'limited' departmental examination. These officers will be in addition to the 150 inducted into the IPS through regular civil services examination.  A notification for the 'limited' examination is expected to be brought out by Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) soon.  Faced with an acute shortage of IPS officers, the home ministry had last year decided to hire officers through the limited examination. Any officer belonging to the Army and paramilitary forces, having served for a minimum of five years and below 35 years of age will be eligible to appear in this examination.  Currently, IPS officers are recruited either through civil service examination conducted by UPSC or are promoted from state police services.  Sources said these officers would be hired in two batches of 60 each. The first examination is expected to be held in March 2012 and the officers are likely to join by the end of next year, they added.

 

No comments:

Post a Comment

 

Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal