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Wednesday, 26 October 2011

From Today's Papers - 26 Oct 2011

 Wishing everyone a very Happy Diwali

Helicopter straying into PoK Army will change codes of helipads, call signs in Ladakh
Ajay Banerjee/TNS  New Delhi October 25 Two days after an Army helicopter strayed into Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) after crossing the Line of Control (LoC) in the Drass sector, the code names of the helipads that dot the Himalayas in Ladakh will be changed along with the calls signs of the pilots of the Army Aviation Corps operating in that militarily sensitive mountainous region.  The process has started and will be completed over the next couple of days. Sources said the move has been initiated after it was suspected that Pakistan authorities, who questioned the four Army personnel during their stay in the PoK, had read the global positioning system aboard the copter to establish whether or not the Indian crew was speaking the truth.  Indian authorities had said the helicopter carrying two pilots, an engineer and a Junior Commissioned Officer had strayed into PoK airspace due to inclement weather conditions.  The LoC in the Drass-Kragil sector runs across a ridgeline that has an average height of 11,000 feet. The incident occurred around 1.20 pm on Sunday and the Indian crew was released four hours later following intervention from the Directors General of Military Operations and senior diplomats on both sides.  It was but quite obvious that Pakistan authorities, after quizzing the Indian crew, studied the GPS to establish whether or not they were speaking the truth, admitted a functionary. However, he added that there was no major cause for alarm. All that needs to be done is to change the code names of helipads and call signs of pilots, he added.  The process of changing call signs of pilots is a continuous one and at times these are normally changed once a week. An official explained the codes of helipads are not by the name of the place. For example, a helipad in Drass will not necessarily be called Drass. It could be identified by just a number or even a alpha-numeric code.  The Cheetah does not have any other guiding system for the pilots like an international navigation system (INS) or an electronic command and control suite.  The copter that strayed into the PoK had a GPS system on-board which records its movement and on a prompt from the pilot, displays the coordinates and code names of the helipads in the vicinity. This information is recorded on the hard drive of the GPS.  Army sources, however, down played the apprehension that Pakistan would now be able to read the coordinates of India’s helipads.
J&K grenade attack: Army trying to find a pattern
Tribune News Service  New Delhi, October 25 The Army Headquarters here has tasked the military operations directorate to study the pattern in today’s attacks in Jammu and Kashmir and identify which groups could have been responsible. The state has a vast presence of the Army and the 15 corps is headquartered in Srinagar.  An assessment will be made as to who were the people behind these attacks and what were their cross-border links.  Sources said though it was too early to say anything about today’s serial-attacks, however, knowing the past, such events can be used by acerbic separatists to whip up an anti-Army and an anti-India hysteria.  This could very well be the handiwork of some locals who want to pursue their narrow goals. The Jammu and Kashmir government has been advised by the Union Home Ministry to be on the vigil.  A senior functionary who is in the know of Kashmir matters said hundreds of militants are waiting to cross the line of control (LoC). “The suspicion is that these militants will attempt to cross over into India during the winter months,” he added.
Lessons from RDX haul
Need for strong surveillance systems  The recent haul of RDX by security agencies in Ambala offers a critical lesson for the need to maintain surveillance along highways. Intelligence agencies were able to avert a major terror attack in the national capital on the basis of an interception of a message from Nepal. The intercepted message identified the city and the car number which made it somewhat convenient for the security agencies to detect the vehicle which was eventually found to be parked at the Ambala railway station.  But what would help is a strong surveillance system, especially comprising close circuit television (CCTV) in public places and along highways. With a staggering 4.2 million CCTVs, the United Kingdom is, for example, known for its CCTV surveillance. At one camera per 14 persons, the UK is in an extreme sense considered to be a country with ‘endemic’ surveillance. About 1.5 million of these have been installed in city centres, airports, railway stations, bus stations and retail outlets. A considerable percentage of cameras have been installed along highways. Although the primary rationale behind installing cameras on highways is to detect over-speeding vehicles, the fact remains that it helps detect highway crime and movement of vehicles transporting criminals. There is a need for similarly stepping up public surveillance in India, especially along highways. Considering that the country is afflicted by terrorism virtually everywhere, such surveillance measures will come in handy both in detection and in investigation. A case in point is how CCTV footage led to the arrest of a commuter who shot dead a toll booth attendant at a toll plaza in Gurgaon following an exchange of rough words.  In the recent case of the car found with RD explosives, however, it has been revealed that the picture quality at all the toll plazas it crossed all the way from Jammu to Ambala is so poor that it is difficult to identify the occupants. In addition to increasing CCTV surveillance on the highways, the government needs to ensure that all cameras installed are with high resolution and have inter-connectivity between toll plazas. Indeed, increased surveillance has become imperative to ensure security. 
Copter straying an ‘error of judgement’
A day after a Cheetah helicopter strayed into Pakistan occupied Kashmir, Indian army on Monday launched a preliminary probe into the incident and multiple agencies began debriefing of all the four crew members aboard the chopper.  “It was not an error of intention, but an error of judgement. Probe has been initiated to establish the exact reason behind the error on the part of the pilot. The crew is being de-briefed at Kargil base camp. We were told by the crew that they were treated well in PoK,” said an army official. De-briefing is a routine exercise which involves multiple agencies including intelligence agencies questioning the armymen after a mission.  Two Army Aviation Corps pilots Major RG Raja and G Kapila, ferrying an engineer Lt Col SP Verma and a JCO Subedar Akhilesh Sharma, had taken off from Leh to repair a technical snag in another Cheetah grounded in Bhimbat in Drass sector. But due to bad weather conditions, the pilot crossed over to PoK, where it was forced to landed by Pakistani army.  The helicopter and crew were allowed to leave several hours later after the Directors General of Military Operations of the two sides established contact. Army sources said the Pakistan army personnel questioned the two pilots and two crew members about how they came there and other related issues in an effort to ascertain their motives.  Meanwhile, an unnamed official said in normal circumstances, military personnel of a hostile country “were not freed in hours, but it had been done to give benefit of doubt because Pakistan did not want to vitiate the atmosphere and derail the composite dialogue process.” —With Agency inputs
Rajput regiment soldiers' meet
CHANDIGARH: The 19th annual get-together of one of the highly-decorated regiments of the Indian Army, Rajput Regiment was organized on Sunday evening at UT guest house. Event was attended by senior serving and retired officers of the regiment and their wives.
Apache Block III Remains the Finalist in India’s Attack Helicopter Selection
Russian news agency Novosti reported today the Russian candidate for the Indian Army procurement of 22 attack helicopter, has not met Indian requirements and has dropped from the competition, leaving the Boeing AH-64D Apache Block III the only competitor. According to the agency’s Russian sources the Russian Mi-28N ‘Night Hunter’ failed in meeting 20 criteria, mostly on technical ground and maturity issues involving its sensors and combat systems integration. Russia was ready to offer the 22 helicopters at a flyaway cost of $600 million, less than half the value the Pentagon mentioned in the notification to Congress in 2010.  While this may pave the way for New Delhi to select the Apache, being left as a sole bidder could actually delay the process of ordering the U.S. helicopter since sole bidder programs are extensively regulated under new anti-corruption policies. Selecting the AH-64D will also pave the way for India to receive the AGM-114L-3 Hellfire Longbow anti-tank guided missile for the first time. The failure of the Russian helicopter also means a setback for the two companies counting on providing the weapons for the helicopter – European MBDA Missile Systems and Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. Both competed on supplying the missiles for the Mi-28N or Ka-52 helicopters, hoping to win a ‘short cut’ into future Indian Army and Air Force programs.  India plans to field one of these missiles another anti-tank guided missile with a weaponized version of the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH). This ‘Weapon Systems Integrated’ Dhruv Mk.3 (‘Rudra’) is currently being completed at HAL and will be made available for the testing soon. Field evaluation trials (FET) of the MBDA Missile System’s Pars 3 LR and Rafael Advanced Defence System’s Spike-ER, both ‘fire-and-forget’ anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) are expected to commence as soon as HAL delivers the Rudra for testing.  India is expected to field another ‘third generation’ missile with its Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) fleet, slated to replace the Mi-25/35 currently in service with the Air Force and Army. The Indian MOD determined that as a fully indigenous program, the missile to be used with the LCH will be the NAG, developed by India’s Defense research & Development Organization (DRDO).
MBDA awaits Indian nod for trials of anti-tank missile news
Naples, Italy: European missile making consortium MBDA has said the field evaluation trials of its Pars 3 LR fire-and-forget anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) is slated to get underway soon. The ATGM has been shortlisted alongside Rafael Advanced Defence System's Spike-ER for the Indian Army's weaponised Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) 'Rudra.'  ''We are waiting for the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) to give us the schedule for trials. Hopefully, the dates will be finalised soon,'' MBDA's Peter Meuthen told a group of Indian journalists at the company's facility at Fusaro, north of Naples, Italy.  MBDA is a four-nation European missile making consortium which is eyeing a strategic partnership with India in defence development and production.  Besides jointly developing a short-range surface-to-air missile (SR-SAM) with India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), it has also offered nearly a dozen tactical weapon systems for deployment with the Indian armed forces.  The Pars 3 LR, Meuthen said, is a high precision weapon system with a broad target spectrum. ''It is highly effective against mobile and stationary targets equipped with latest armour protection, field fortresses and bunkers, besides other high-value targets,'' he said.  Pars 3 LR boasts a maximum operational range of seven kilometres and is said to possess high resistance to jamming.
China seeks military bases in Pakistan
ISLAMABAD - While Pakistan wants China to build a naval base at its southwestern seaport of Gwadar in Balochistan province, Beijing is more interested in setting up military bases either in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan or in the Federally Administered Northern Areas (FANA) that border Xinjiang province.  The Chinese desire is meant to contain growing terrorist activities of Chinese rebels belonging to the al-Qaeda-linked East
Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) that is also described as the Turkistani Islamic Party (TIP).  The Chinese Muslim rebels want the creation of an independent Islamic state and are allegedly being trained in the tribal areas of Pakistan. According to well-placed diplomatic circles in Islamabad, Beijing's wish for a military presence in Pakistan was discussed at length by the political and military leadership of both countries in recent months as China (which views the Uyghur separatist sentiment as a dire threat) has become ever-more concerned about Pakistan's tribal areas as a haven for radicals.  Beijing believes that similar to the United States military presence in Pakistan, a Chinese attendance would enable its military to effectively counter the Muslim separatists who have been operating from the tribal areas of Pakistan for almost a decade, carrying out cross-border terrorist activities in trouble-stricken Xinjiang province.  There have been three high-profile visits from Pakistan to China in recent months; the first by Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar; the second by President Asif Ali Zardari and the third by the director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence, Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha.  The Pakistani visits were reciprocated by the September 28 visits to Islamabad by Chinese Vice Premier Meng Jianzhu and Public Security Minister Meng Jianzhu. This was prompted by two bomb blasts in Kashgar city of Xinjiang province on July 30 and 31 in which 18 people were killed.  The explosions provoked senior government officials in Xinjiang to publicly claim for the first time in recent years that the attackers had been trained in explosives in ETIM/TIP camps run by Chinese separatists in the Waziristan tribal regions of Pakistan.  The Chinese allegation was described by many in the diplomatic circles of Islamabad as a clear sign of the growing impatience of Beijing with Islamabad's failure to control radical groups operating within its borders.  The Chinese charge was made on the basis of a confession by a Uyghur militant arrested by the Chinese authorities. Pakistan swiftly extended all possible cooperation to Beijing against the ETIM/TIP network. "Terrorists, extremists and separatists in Xinjiang province constitute an evil force," said an August 1 statement issued by the Pakistani Foreign Ministry after Chinese President Hu Jintao rang Zardari to express his grave concern over the growing activities of "terrorists" belonging to the Pakistan-based ETIM/TIP network.  In a subsequent video released on September 7, ETIM/TIP corroborated earlier Chinese claims that it was involved in attacks in Xinjiang in July.  The ETIM/TIP, run by natives of Xinjiang province, a Muslim-dominated region three times the size of France, is fighting against the settlement of China's majority Han ethnic group in the western province, describing its struggle as a freedom movement.  The ETIM/TIP maintains that the Chinese are a colonial force in Xinjiang province - which it refers to as Turkistan - and emphasizes Islam over ethnicity. Though the ETIM/TIP network on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border has been much weakened in recent years in the wake of the killing of many of its top leaders in US drone attacks, hardcore Uyghur militants are still shuttling between China and Pakistan, mainly because Xinjiang province shares a border with Pakistan.  The ETIM/TIP presence in Pakistan was first confirmed when one of its founding leaders, Hasan Mahsum alias Abu Muhammad al-Turkistan, was killed by Pakistani security forces in South Waziristan in October 2003.  The next one to be killed by the Americans in a drone attack was Memetiming Memeti alias Abdul Haq al-Turkistani, the ETIM/TIP chief, who was targeted in North Waziristan on February 15, 2010. Abdul Haq was succeeded by Abdul Shakoor Turkistani, a Chinese Uyghur, who is well known for his friendly terms with major Taliban groups in Waziristan.  He has taken control of overall command of Chinese and Uzbek militants in North Waziristan, due to his past association with the late Abdul Haq and late Tahir Yuldashev of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.  Beijing believes that the Chinese rebels operating from the Pakistani tribal areas are well-connected to al-Qaeda, which not only trains them but also provides funding.  Thus, Pakistan and China, which have cooperated for a long time in the field of counter-terrorism, have intensified their efforts to nip the terrorism in the bud, especially after the Kashgar blasts.  In fact, it was in the aftermath of the May 2 US raid which killed al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in his Abbottabad hideout that Islamabad started playing its China card aggressively, perhaps to caution Washington against pushing it too hard. Shortly after the Abbottabad raid, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani traveled to Beijing.  Accompanying Defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar had stated on May 21 that whatever requests for assistance the Pakistani side made, the Chinese government was more than happy to oblige, including agreeing to take over operations of the strategically positioned but underused port of Gwadar on the Arabian Sea on expiry of a contract with a Singaporean government company.  He disclosed that Pakistan had asked China to begin building a naval base at Gwadar, where Beijing funded and built the port. "We would be grateful to the Chinese government if a naval base is constructed at the site of Gwadar for Pakistan," he said in a statement. Mukhtar later told a British newspaper in an interview: "We have asked our Chinese brothers to please build a naval base at Gwadar port."  Knowledgeable Defense Ministry sources in Islamabad say that by having a Chinese naval base in the Gwadar area, Pakistan intends to counter-balance Indian naval forces.  However, diplomatic circles in Islamabad say Beijing, which has no military bases outside its territory and has often been vocal in criticizing American moves for operating such bases, first wants to establish military bases in Pakistan, which could be followed by the setting up of the naval base.  Therefore, Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie promptly dismissed (on June 6) suggestions that Beijing was carving out a permanent naval presence in India's neighborhood.  Answering questions at the 10th Asia Security Summit, organized by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, Liang disclaimed moves to build naval bases at Gwadar and at a Sri Lankan port. Emphasizing his credentials as a member of the Chinese State Council and Central Military Commission, he said:      We will have a very serious and careful study of an issue of such importance to the government and the military like the reported move for establishing naval bases in Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Indeed, we will have exact plans and set up a panel to discuss it if the move were for real. However, I haven't heard of it.     Asked by Manish Tewari, the Indian Congress party's spokesman, to spell out China's core interests in South Asia and the Indian Ocean area, Liang said:      The core interests include anything related to sovereignty, stability and form of government. China is now pursuing socialism. If there is any attempt to reject this path, it will touch upon China's core interests. Or, if there is any attempt to encourage any part of China to secede, that also touches upon China's core interests related to our land, sea or air. Then, anything that is related to China's national economic and social development also touches upon China's core interests.  The Chinese desire to have military bases in Pakistan is not a new one and has been discussed in the past.  An article published on the official website of the Chinese central government ( on January 28, 2010, signaled that Beijing wanted to go the US way and set up military bases in overseas locations that would possibly include Pakistan. The obvious purpose would be to exert pressure on India as well as counter American influence in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The article stated:      Setting up overseas military bases is not an idea we have to shun; on the contrary, it is our right. It is baseless to say that we will not set up any military bases in future because we have never sent troops abroad. As for the military aspect, we should be able to conduct a retaliatory attack within the country or at the neighboring area of our potential enemies. We should also be able to put pressure on the overseas interests of potential enemies. With further development, China will be in great demand of military protection.   Analysts say although it might not be politically feasible for the Pakistani government to openly allow China to set up military bases on its soil, Islamabad might allow Beijing the use of its military facilities without any public announcement as a first step.  The Chinese demand to set up military bases in Pakistan has gained momentum at a time when the Indian military leadership is already raising a hue and cry over the alleged presence of People's Liberation Army (PLA) troops in the Pakistan-administered part of Kashmir as well as in the FANA, which was earlier called Gilgit and Baltistan.  In August 2009, the Pakistan government passed the Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order to grant self-rule to the people of the area and create an elected legislative assembly. Gilgit-Baltistan thus gained de facto province-like status without doing so constitutionally.  Gilgit Baltistan province borders Pakistan's Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province to the west, Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor to the north, China to the east and northeast, Pakistan-administered Kashmir to the southwest, and Jammu Kashmir to the southeast.  Although the supposed Chinese military presence in Pakistan's northern areas of Gilgit Baltistan has been a matter of intense speculation in India, it was on October 5 that Indian army chief General V K Singh went public for the first time with the Indian establishment's assessment of the kind of Chinese presence in the northern areas of Pakistan. "Around 4,000 Chinese including troops of the People's Liberation Army are present in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir," Singh told journalists in New Delhi.  However, senior Foreign Office officials of Xinjiang told this writer during a briefing in Urumqi, the capital of the province, that the Indian army chief's claim was fallacious and must be based on some misunderstanding.  Despite the fact that diplomatic ties between China and India have improved in recent years, they are still at odds over territorial claims from both countries dating back to the India-China border war in 1962.  While India and Pakistan control Pakistan-administered Kashmir (Azad) and Jammu Kashmir states respectively, China claims part of northeastern Kashmir that it says is a part of Tibet. Therefore, Beijing is highly critical of India's support for the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet in 1959 and set up a government in exile in the northern Indian hill town of Dharmsala.  The Indian army chief was not the first senior military official to have talked about the alleged Chinese presence in the northern areas of Pakistan.  In April this year, Northern Army Commander Lieutenant General K T Parnaik, while addressing a seminar in Jammu and Kashmir, said that the Chinese footprint in Pakistan-administered Kashmir was increasing steadily and its troops were actually present along the line of control (LoC) that divides the disputed Kashmir area.  "The Chinese presence in Gilgit-Baltistan and the northern areas of Pakistan is increasing steadily. There are many who are concerned about the fact that if there was to be hostility between India and Pakistan, what would be the complicity of the Chinese. Not only are they in the neighborhood, but the fact is that they are actually present and stationed along the LoC," Parnaik said.  Zhang Xiaodi, the director general of the foreign affairs office in Urumqi, told this writer in a meeting on October 10 that there is no truth in the allegations leveled by Indian military officials. "There are only Chinese construction teams working in the northern areas of Pakistan on certain development projects being carried out by Pakistan and China jointly. The presence of People's Liberation Army troops there is out of question."  At the same time, there are those in the Pakistani Embassy in Beijing who view the Indian army chief's allegation against the backdrop of the Pakistan army's recent decision to include for the first time Chinese troops in military exercises along the border with the Indian states of Punjab and Rajasthan; the 101 Engineering Regiment of the PLA took part in exercises with their Pakistani counterparts in August this year.  Analysts say China's deepening strategic penetration of Pakistan and the joint plans to set up not only new oil pipelines and railroads but also naval and military bases, are enough to set alarm bells ringing in New Delhi and Washington. The repercussions are particularly stark for India because both Beijing and Islamabad refuse to accept the territorial status quo and lay claim to large tracts of Indian land that could come under Chinese sway once Beijing is allowed to establish military bases in Pakistan.  The fact that Gilgit and Baltistan is located in the Pakistani-administered part of Kashmir presents India with a two-front theater in the event of a war with either country. By deploying troops near the LoC and playing the Kashmir card against New Delhi, Beijing is clearly signaling that Kashmir is where the Sino-Pakistan nexus can squeeze India.  Amir Mir is a senior Pakistani journalist and the author of several books on the subject of militant Islam and terrorism, the latest being The Bhutto murder trail: From Waziristan to GHQ.  (Copyright 2011 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)
Classified data might have been taken from Indian Army's Cheetah chopper, indicates defence ministry   Read more at:
There have been concerns that Pakistan might have taken data from the Indian Army's Cheetah chopper, which recently strayed into Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).   Sources in the ministry of defence told Headlines Today that the Pakistan Army did strip-search the helicopter, as is the norm for such violations.   It was being ascertained what kind of data were accessed by the Pakistani authorities.   However, sources said such choppers do not have its own navigation system and pilots use commercially available hand-held global positioning system (GPS) devices.   Sources said data in the GPS is at no stage a dictionary of helipads and air bases and hence no secrets could be compromised. They said pilots usually access the flight path, destination and a few helipads or bases in the vicinity in case of bad weather or requirement of alternative landing sites through their handheld GPS systems.   I don't think there was any secret information: Minister Allaying fears that the country's security might have been compromised after Pakistan downloaded all data from the Indian chopper, Minister of State for Defence Pallam Raju said the aircraft had no classified defence information.   "I don't think there was any secret information. It is regular information that is needed for any flying machine," Raju said.   Read more at:


  1. Dear sir,
    I am a regular reader of Jottings. Please accept my appreciation ffor the good coverage. For the last few months the news shown in the GREEN background is not clearly readable, I would request if the background could be changed so that readers at my age can read easily. Thanks
    Col OP Batra

  2. Dear Col Batra,

    Thank you for the input. Hope it's better now.




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