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Tuesday, 25 October 2011

From Today's Papers - 25 Oct 2011





Indo-Pak bonhomie It can change atmosphere in S. Asia

The way India and Pakistan handled Sunday’s incident relating to an Indian military helicopter straying into Pakistan-occupied Kashmir is bound to promote positive thinking on both sides. The officials concerned in the two countries acted with responsibility, leading to the helicopter and the crew members coming back to India safely. The Pakistan government’s reaction after the unintentional violation of airspace owing to misjudgement on the part of the helicopter’s pilot showed that the old mindset was giving way to a new one vis-à-vis India. That is why Pakistan quickly accepted India’s viewpoint that what had happened was not deliberate. As cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan said in New York, over 80 per cent Pakistanis no longer thought that India was their “enemy number one”. That dubious position has been occupied by the US. There is need to create an atmosphere in which India and Pakistan do not consider themselves as enemies. If they continue to cooperate in this manner both will benefit immensely in various ways.  The helicopter-related incident was preceded by other major developments between India and Pakistan. One is Pakistan’s decision to grant the most-favoured nation (MFN) status to India and the other is the two countries agreeing in principle to ease their visa regime for different kinds of travellers. India accorded the MFN status to Pakistan a long time ago. Now India is thinking of allowing the import of Pakistani textiles and some other goods with little restrictions as has been done in the case of such goods from Bangladesh. Traders on both sides are in an upbeat mood. Significantly, India has also not opposed Pakistan’s efforts to become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.  The warmth that is seen in the subcontinent today may lead to a better outcome of the coming SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) summit. This may also help in the handling of terrorism more effectively. Terrorists are nobody’s friends. Pakistan should know it better than any other country. Its policy of achieving geopolitical objectives by sponsoring terrorist groups has harmed Pakistan as much as other countries in the region. These destructive elements will disappear if Indo-Pak bonhomie remains undisturbed.


Army debriefs copter crew, screens GPS records

New Delhi, October 24 The Army today ‘debriefed’ its four-member crew, including two pilots, of the Cheetah helicopter, which had yesterday by mistake strayed into Skardu in the Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). The ‘debrief’ was conducted at the Leh headquarters of the 14 Corps and the crew was asked about its four-hour stay in PoK.  Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) sleuths would also be putting forward its list of questions to the crew.  The records of the global positioning system (GPS) aboard the Army Aviation Corps copter are also being screened to ascertain how and why the pilots strayed into PoK airspace. Inclement weather is being blamed for the lapse.  The copter carrying three officers and one Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) had taken off from Leh yesterday and was bound for Bhimbhat in the Drass area. However, it strayed into PoK territory at around 1320 hours yesterday but was allowed to fly back in the evening.  Sources said the crew members on their return had revealed that they were grilled for around four hours by Pakistan officials. However, they were treated well. Questions were asked in English, Urdu & Hindustani.  Army sources said once the crew landed, it was surrounded by Pakistan Army officials and taken to a building, where the members were questioned.


Move to induct ex-Armymen in IPS slammed 

Vijay Mohan/TNS  Chandigarh, October 24 Even as the government has given a go-ahead to the proposal to induct short-service commission (SSC) Army officers and ex-paramilitary officers into the Indian Police Service (IPS) and the notification in this regard is expected shortly, the move has apparently not gone down well with the IPS cadre.

Based on the recommendations of the Kamal Kumar Committee, the government had agreed for a ‘limited competitive examination’ through the Union Public Service Commission to induct the aforementioned officers to overcome the serious shortage of IPS officers. The first batch of such officers is expected to be inducted next year and this would be in addition to the regular entry through the Civil Services examinations (CSE).  However, the report of the committee, headed by retired IPS officer Kamal Kumar, states that strong reservations were voiced against the induction of Army officers. “It was pointed out that the Army itself was suffering from an acute shortage of officers, which was much greater than that in the IPS, and it would not be prudent in the overall national interest to poach Army’s resources,” the report says.  “The argument against the discharged SSC officers was that apart from the difficulties in imparting meaningful training to them in conceptual and practical skills of crime investigation and aspects of policing at their late age, it had also to be kept in mind that those who were not found good enough by the Army for further retention, may hardly be found useful for the IPS,” the report added.  According to figures released by the Ministry of Home Affairs earlier this year, the IPS cadre has an authorised strength of 4,720 officers. The present posted strength of the IPS is 3,393 officers, leaving a shortfall of 1,327 officers.  To mitigate the situation, the batch-size of IPS (direct recruitment) was increased from 88 in 2005 to 150 in 2009. Besides the new mode of induction to the IPS through the limited competitive examination to recruit around 80 additional officers annually was also brought in.  The limited examinations are expected to continue till 2020. Officers of the Army and paramilitary organisations like the BSF, the CRPF, the ITBP and the CISF who have put in at least five years service and are below 35 years of age would be eligible for writing the limited examination.

The Issue  n Based on the Kamal Kumar Committee's suggestions, the government has agreed for a 'limited competitive examination' through the UPSC to induct ex-Army and paramilitary officers to overcome shortage of IPS officers.  n The first batch of such officers is expected to be inducted next year.  n However, the panel report says that strong reservations were voiced against the induction of Army officers. The Army itself was suffering from an acute shortage and it would not be prudent to poach its (Army's) resources, it adds.



Pak scrambled combat jet after Indian chopper strayed: Report  

Islamabad:  A report in a Pakistani paper says the military scrambled a combat jet after an Indian Army helicopter strayed into Pakistani airspace yesterday. The Dawn newspaper also says that the Indian crew was warned that the aircraft would be fired at if it tried to escape.  Pakistani authorities forced the Indian helicopter with a four-member crew to land after it flew across the Line of Control near Skardu yesterday.  The helicopter and crew were allowed to leave several hours later after the Directors General of Military Operations of the two sides established contact.  The Dawn newspaper quoted its sources as saying that a Pakistan Air Force plane was "scrambled immediately after spotting the helicopter and at the same time the Air Defence, through its communication system, warned those on board that they would come under fire if they tried to escape".  Chief military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas had not provided details of how the helicopter was forced to land on the Pakistani side.  Once the Directors General of Military Operations established contact, the Indian side said it had violated the airspace by mistake.


Army lodges protest with Pakistan

The Army has lodged a strong protest with its Pakistan counterparts over ceasefire violations, when Indian Forward Posts along the Line of Control in the Poonch sector were targeted by LMG (light machine gun) firing late Saturday night.  “We have lodged a protest through hotline contact,” a senior army officer told PTI here on Monday.  The Pakistani troops had violated border ceasefire along the LoC and targeted two Indian posts — Kranti-1 and 2 — with LMG fire at Krishnagati.  The troops had fired from their post, Daku and Yellow Bump, on the Indian posts for one and half-hours, drawing retaliation from the Indian Army.  The firing took place after the Indian troops, guarding the borderline, detected movement of suspected elements during an infiltration bid. It was the second ceasefire violation by Pakistani troops in about 30 days.


River & weather play tricks with copter

New Delhi, Oct. 24: Stunned soldiers perched on a mountain-top post on the Line of Control watched nonplussed as one of their helicopters flew over them and into Pakistani territory on Sunday an hour after noon.  The chopper from the Army Aviation Corp’s 666 Siachen Falcons squadron was returned to Kargil in India five hours later, much to the relief of New Delhi and Islamabad, neither of whom want to precipitate a military crisis at this time.  But the incident has led to long faces in the Indian Army and security establishment and there is a sense of wonderment over how the two sides managed to prevent the incident from snowballing despite the sensitive region in which it occurred.  Pakistan especially would be touchy about aerial intrusions, particularly after the American raid that took out Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad in May this year.  In India, the army aviation wing is already talking about the poor navigational aids that they have to operate with in some of the harshest terrains in the world.  The Indian soldiers — Lt Colonel S.P. Verma (engineer officer), Majors R.G. Raja and G. Kapila (pilots), and Subedar Adhilesh Sharma (assistant to the engineer officer) — were debriefed by superiors last night and today. They were trying to determine how the Cheetah helicopter went across.  A senior officer in Leh said the Cheetah was expected to land at Bhimbat near Drass, about 250km west of Leh, around 1.20pm. The weather was turning bad at the time. The General Officer Commanding of the Leh-based 14 corps, Lt General Ravi Dastane, who was scheduled to fly to Srinagar in another helicopter around the same time had to return because visibility was almost zero over the Zojila Pass.  (He was scheduled to attend a meeting of the Unified Command on the Armed Forces Special Powers Act at which defence secretary Shashikant Sharma was present).  Helicopter pilots in the terrain largely navigate their way through river valleys following visible markers. The Line of Control also is not even. It is sometimes aligned along ridgelines (watersheds) and at times follows valleys.  The last Indian outpost in the Drass sector where the sentries saw the helicopter flying across into Pakistan’s Gultari sector reported the sighting shortly before the helicopter lost radio contact at 1.17pm.  The ridgeline above which the chopper flew is at 11,000 feet and above.  This is the region where the Indian Army was engaged in a 50-day war in 1999 to evict Pakistan army-backed intruders who had occupied heights overlooking the strategic NH 1A from Srinagar to Leh.  Initial reports suggest that the pilots of the Cheetah — a single turbo-shaft engine machine originally adapted from the French Alouette about 25 years ago — were supposed to fly along the Dras river valley.  The river is in Indian territory. They were to turn west over the point at which the Shingo river meets the Drass. The Shingo flows into India from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).  Poor visibility, according to initial reports, obscured the pilots’ view of the confluence and they mistook the Shingo for the Drass flying upstream over it and into PoK.  The Indian Army, however, had little idea about the whereabouts of the helicopter till Pakistan’s Geo TV news channel reported that it had been asked to land at Skardu.  That was when Dastane, the 14 Corps chief, contacted the vice-chief, Lt General A.S. Lamba, who in turn started the process to bring back the men and the machine by asking the Director General of Military Operation to activate the hotline.  Indian defence officials acknowledge that the Pakistani establishment was co-operative from the moment the request was made. They understood that it was an error because they know how difficult the terrain and weather can be, said a senior officer.  Also, the Cheetah was neither armed nor carrying surveillance equipment. Its mission was to fly the engineer to Bhimbhat to repair another helicopter that was grounded.


Call to disclose secret deals with US

peakers at Defence of Pakistan Council (DPC) of All Parties Conference on Monday demanded of the political and military leaderships to disclose the details of secret agreements with Washington under which criminal silence was being maintained on drone attacks and US threats of aggression besides ignoring the joint resolutions of elected parliament and the Prime Minister’s APC.  A joint declaration of the conference announced that the nation was united and stood behind the armed forces against the US threats and it was up to the political and military leaderships to shun US slavery and prepare for answering Washington’s threats by cutting of Nato supply line and reducing US presence in Pakistan.  The conference was chaired by veteran religious leader Maulana Samiul Haq and addressed by a large cross section of religious leadership, intellectuals, leaders from tribal areas, minorities, military experts and other notables. They appealed to the Pakistan army to stop operation in tribal areas and take necessary steps to restore and strengthen Armed forces’ relations with masses. The declaration accused president House of “under US control” and “striking secret deals with US to pledge country’s sovereignty” and demanded all deals with US be made public. It warned that after suffering humiliating defeat in Afghanistan, the US wanted to throw the entire blame of its defeat on Pakistan and could also push India for aggression on Pakistan.  The declaration asked the Supreme Court to take suo motu notice of drone attacks and ensure that Army and the government must fulfil their responsibilities of national security under Article 245, besides demanding Washington to compensate for killing over 3,500 civilians drone attacks.  The declaration asked 65 per cent youth of the nation to realize the gravity of the situation as the capitalist system was on the verge of collapse like communism and the global situation was moving towards Islamic system. The youth must assemble on the platform of DPC to secure their future and national security requirements.  It also warned the nation against the devastating affects of Afghan trade agreements and awarding of Most Favourite Nation status to India to establish Delhi’s hegemony in the region on Washington’s dictation. It also condemned the “deliberate” attempts to destroy Railways and PIA and both defence institutions of the country, in order to weaken our defence.  The declaration appealed to religious scholars to highlight the requirements of national defence and unity in Friday sermons on Oct 28 and announced to hold the next APC in Islamabad soon after Eidul Azha and holding a grand public meeting at Liaquat Bagh, Rawalpindi in November. The declaration expressed sorrow over non participation in the conference by noted political and religious parties like PPP, PML-N, JUI-F, MQM, ANP, PTI etc. observing that it showed that their priority was not national defence and security.  Maulana Samiul Haq said US was creating an atmosphere to persuade a world support attack Pakistan by making allegations after allegations on Islamabad and ISI to furnish its charge sheet. He expressed satisfaction over overwhelming participation of country’s representative leaders in the APC and the strong message they had given to the US that her forces would meet a unified public resistance if they dared to set foot on Pak soil.  Former ISI chief Gen Hameed Gul referred to a recent speech of US president Obama in which he accused Pakistan of harbouring terrorism and demanded Islamabad to honour its agreements. He asked that all such agreements which Obama was mentioning should be made public. He said if Parliament’s resolutions were not implemented people’s confidence on leaders would be vanished. He said US wanted to destroy Pakistan without firing a bullet by creating internal rifts, civil wars, and terrorism. He alleged that US had recently made a heinous attempt to sow the fresh seeds of enmity between Saudi Arabia and Iran.  Jamaatud Dawah Ameer Hafiz Saeed said US would either attack Pakistan itself or make Delhi to start aggression on Islamabad from the east. He demanded that drones should be shot down to restore public confidence which had badly shattered over country’s military and civil leaderships who had opted to keep silence over drone attacks by ignoring the parliament’s resolutions  Jamaat Islami Ameer Munawwar Hasan said whole nation was suffering till today the criminal mistakes Gen Musharraf made on US threats. He said nothing earned bad name for army more than calling the US war on terror as “our war”.  He said the US was still repeating the same threats while the rulers and military leaders were cowing down before US threats by ignoring the parliament’s resolutions. He warned that if resolutions were not implemented then patriotic parties would not participate in them again.  PML-Z leader Ejazul Haq demanded ending of agreements with Afghanistan and MFN status to India. He said all such moves were directed to establish Indian hegemony in the region.  Awami Muslim League president Sh Rasheed said present government had allowed drone attacks. He said need of the hour was to unite the entire nation against the present rulers who were selling off the country’s interests.  Gen (Retd) Shafeeq Ahmad warned that country’s next war would be tough, horrible and long like that Afghanistan and Iraq were facing in which fight would be spread to streets. He said US; Israel and India would jointly attack Pakistan in possible next war, and could possibly destroy our nuclear installations and occupy some major cities as well.  He said country needed compulsory military training for all citizens like that of Israel, and prepare a People’s Army to meet the coming defence challenges. He said Pakistan should make defence pacts with China, Iran and Turkey against our enemies, and if possible we should give our bases to China.  Istaqlal Party chief Manzoor Gilani demand Pakistan army to take charge of its original duties of national defence and return the right to rule back to the masses. He said whether its elected government or dictatorship in the country, Army is top of every government, making arbitrary deals like NRO or EBDO, sending leaders to exile or dismissing elected governments. He warned that unless Army revert back to its original constitutional role, defending the nation was not possible.  Talal Bugti’s representative said country’s peace and defence was possible only when army and agencies stop making operations against its own people.  PML-Q leader Ajmal Wazeer and Ch Zaheeruddin, Maulana Mohammad Ahmad Ludhianvi, Hafiz Tahir Ashrafi, Allama Riaz Hussain Najfi, Tanzim Islami Ameer Dr Akif Saeed, Pastor Abraham Daniel, Sikh leader Sardar Sham Singh, MQM-H leader Shamshad Ghauri, Maulana Abdul Rauf Farooqi, Pir Saifullah Khalid, Mufti Habibur Rehman Darkhwasti, Zahid Mehmood Qasmi, Abdullah Gul, Moazzam Butt, and others also addressed the conference which also offered Fateha for Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi, Saudi crown prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz and PPP leader Begum Nusrat Bhutto.


Indo-French Joint Military Training Ex Shakti – 11 Comes to an End

15:41 GMT, October 24, 2011 An Indo-French Joint Military Training Exercise SHAKTI – 2011 has been held at Chaubattia with effect from 09 to 21 October 2011 under the aegis of Garud Division. French Army has been represented by four Officers and 50 troops of the 13 Mountain Infantry Battalion while an equal number of officers and troops participated from Second Battalion the Bihar Regiment, under the aegis of 99 Mountain Brigade of the Indian Army.  Exercise Shakti – 11 the first ever Indo-French exercise between the two nations which aimed not only at training troops in Counter Terrorist Operations but also in enhancing defence cooperation and military relations between the two nations. It has provided an ideal platform for the personnel of the two countries to share their experiences on counter terrorist operations; especially in mountainous terrain. The exercise was conducted in the areas adjoining the salubrious town of Ranikhet which provided an excellent opportunity for the contingents of the two countries to practice and rehearse drills and procedures related to operations in this rugged terrain.  The activities conducted during training includes familiarization with weapons & equipment being used by both the countries, introduction to the organization, concept and basic tactics at infantry company and platoon level and modalities of conducting complex operations like Area Domination Patrols, Cordon and Search operations and Search and Destroy Operations in counter insurgency environment. Personnel from the French contingent also got a chance to fire infantry weapons being used by the Indian Army during day as well as night.  The training culminated in a 48 hours Consolidation Exercise in which troops of both nations carried out a daring Search and Destroy Operation in the general area of Pilkholi village on the outskirts of Ranikhet. The troops had reached the area of operations after a grueling march throughout the night of 20th Oct 11 and thereafter carried out a precise, well coordinated and executed operation to neutralize the 2 terrorists hiding in the dense forests of Pilkholi. The search and destroy mission included clearing and destruction of a terrorist hideout, employment of the Quick Reaction Teams to neutralize escaping terrorists and carrying out a thorough search of the dense forest. The highlight of the event was an audacious and surgical Raid by heliborne commandoes of both armies on a simulated target. The commandoes of the French Army also employed their Paragliding skills and laid effective stops by employing three paragliding commandoes during the raid. The final phase of the exercise was reviewed by Brigadier General Herve Wattecamps and Colonel Bertrand Lavaux as representatives of France and Major General Rajesh Arya, Vishishtha Seva Medal, General Officer Commanding, 6 Mountain Division and Brigadier A K Yadav, Commander, 99 Mountain Brigade representing India.  The General Officer Commanding during the interaction with the press, said ‘During the course of training, besides honing their counter terrorism skills and sharing their experiences on the Counter Insurgency/ Counter Terrorist operations, the troops developed a remarkable mutual understanding and inter-operability that will further strengthen relations between our two great armies.’ The General Officer declared the exercise an ‘unprecedented success’.



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