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Friday, 6 January 2012

From Today's Papers - 06 Jan 2012
BSF resource planning project goes live
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, January 5
A Rs 229 crore project of the Border Security Force (BSF) to provide seamless countrywide connectivity for real-time exchange of data was inaugurated today by Union Home Minister P Chidambaram. Launching the data centre of the project at the BSF headquarters here, Chidambaram said, “It will be useful for efficient management and quick decision making."
Termed as Intranet Prahari Project (IPP) and executed by NIIT technologies, it will connect some 237 locations of the central police force.
AFSPA not on the backburner: Omar
Tribune News Service
Jammu, January 5
The last three years were both “the best of times” and “the worst of times”, said Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today, quoting from ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ by Charles Dickens, after completing three years in office. The youngest Chief Minister had taken over as CM of the troubled and sensitive border state on January 5, 2009 at the age of 39.

‘A Tale of Two Cities’ was written by Dickens in 1859 and was set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution.
The Chief Minister and his Deputy, Tara Chand, released a report card of the National Conference-Congress coalition government and called on the Governor to present him with a copy.
Asked to spell out his position on Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA), which he had declared in October would be lifted ‘soon’, the CM said, “ the issue is not on the backburner — just because it is not being talked about — does not mean that it is not being pursued.”
The Chief Minister indicated that the cabinet sub-committee set up to examine the feasibility of taking over control of some of the hydel power plants operated by the public sector National Hydel Power Corporation ( NHPC) would be submitting its report this week. Recalling that the proposal had been endorsed by the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisor, Dr Rangarajan, the Chief Minister hinted that the cabinet would be taking steps to take control of the plants.
The state government, the Chief Minister said, was seeking more funds from the Centre to buy more power and also chalking out a plan to deal with pilferage of electricity and transmission and distribution losses.
On Army Chief’s age, we had to go by rules: Khurshid
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, January 5
Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid has said that the Government had decided to reject the statutory complaint made by Army Chief VK Singh to correct his age because “there are rules by which we had to go by”.
In an exclusive interview with the Editor-in-Chief of The Tribune, Raj Chengappa, Khurshid went on to explain, “Nobody in government thinks of Gen VK Singh as anything but the most outstanding Chief of Staff. I think he is held in very high esteem. I don’t think anyone believed that he has misrepresented the facts and he is not telling the truth as far as the facts are concerned. There are some facts, that are established and again these can be argued. Not all these facts relate to the actual rules that apply. Hard cases make bad law. There are rules by which we have to go by.”
The Army Chief, in his complaint, had stated that his correct date of birth was May 10, 1951 and not 1950 as per Army records and had wanted it to be corrected.
As to the reason why his Ministry advised the Defence Ministry to reject the Chief”s complaint, Khurshid said, “Not all rules are malleable or flexible to the extent of accommodating facts that are unanticipated. The thing about the rules is that you cannot keep changing them simply because in a particular case those rules give you an outcome that is not entirely to your satisfaction or entirely to the comfort of people involved. It is rules that have been interpreted in a manner which does not allow us to take a decision other than the decision that has been taken. I don’t want to comment any further.”
In the wide-ranging interview, Khurshid admitted that it was a mistake to rush through the Lokpal Bill. He agreed that the Government acted under pressure of public expectations and public demonstrations and that it was a ‘bad idea’ to follow a tight timeline. “If you ask me now, that was a mistake. People were questioning our bonafides. Therefore, we went through with the tight timeline and I think it was a bad idea. We should not have tried to cut our losses: a more flexible timeline would have allowed us to do a much better job on all fronts,” said the Law Minister, adding that the ambiguities in the Bill will be taken care of before the next session of Parliament.
Glossing over differences with ally Trinamool Congress, Khurshid said that Mamata Banerjee could not be expected to go along with the Bill without looking at all the implications. The Government would factor in her concerns, he added.
“It may have been inconvenient to the Parliamentary Affairs Minister but that is not the end of the world,” said the Minister. Asked if he also thought the ‘minority quota’ in the Lokpal Bill to be a bad idea, he responded by saying, “Diversity is an idea, whose time has come; whether you like it or not, it is a part of the maturing of Indian democracy and the demands for diversity are growing”. The country needs to have an Equal Opportunity Commission, he felt.
He pointed out, “Even the BJP, which may not have said yes, has not said no either.” Asked to comment on the prevailing view that the quota could be struck down by the courts, Khurshid said that though he was aware that ‘reservation’ for OBCs did not extend to institutions like the Supreme Court, the High Court and the Lokpal, the courts are increasingly taking into account the changing and growing aspirations for diversity and he would rather have the apex court carry out a judicial review.
Asked how corruption in the judiciary could be weeded out, Khurshid replied that the Judicial Accountability Bill would set standards and mechanisms to ensure that a ‘judge is thrown out long before he gets corrupt’. The Government did not want judges to appear before ‘a constable of the police’, he said.
On the controversial issue of withdrawing the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) from certain areas in Jammu & Kashmir, Khurshid declared that the Law Ministry’s considered view was that the Governor ‘is the final authority’ in this matter and can act on his own discretion. “It is a very special case” and there are provisions under which the J & K Governor is to accept the aid and assistance of the council of ministers and others, under which he can act on his own.
The Law Minister clarified that his Ministry had already cleared the Punjab legislation on Anand Marriage Act. “In the normal course, it would apply only to Punjab but what we want to do is to make provisions so that Anand Marriage can take place anywhere in India or even abroad,” he explained. The draft is now with the Union Home Ministry.
Age issue not affecting my decisions, says Army Chief General VK Singh
New Delhi:  Army Chief General VK Singh has told NDTV that there are perceptional differences between him and the Ministry of Defence on the age issue but there is no rift. Speaking to NDTV's Nitin Gokhale in his first television interview after the unseemly controversy erupted, General VK Singh has made it clear that the age issue has in no way affected any decision-making either within the Army or between the Army and the Defence Ministry.
Here is the full transcript of the interview:

NDTV: I have to start with the raging controversy about your age and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) stand that they will not grant what you have been asking for, your comment.

General VK Singh: I think the issue is being played out too much. There is no controversy between the MoD and me. There's no fight between the MoD and me. There are perceptional differences, and it's totally a personal issue. And it is only something which concerns me and not the rest of the army. So, I would like to assure you, that as far as I'm concerned, it is not transcending, in any way, into the army. We are as prepared, as good as we were yesterday or as well-prepared as we'll be tomorrow.

NDTV: But in the public perception, as you have seen, the battle is seen to be have been joined from both sides, you and the defence ministry. How do you dispel this perception, because there is this fact that the papers given out in RTI reply say that your Date of Birth is what they are maintaining, and you have said that this is 10 May, 1951? Why don't you just clarify a little bit what is the problem there?

Gen Singh: See, a lot of papers are being bandied about. People are trying to prove their point. That is not the issue at all. It is not something for personal gains so far as I'm concerned. It was an issue concerning my integrity and that is where I've put it, and pegged it and that is where, so far as I'm concerned, the matter ends.

NDTV: So if your integrity and your honour is protected and they give you your due would you accept the decision of the Government?

Gen Singh: Well, I've already said that so far as I'm concerned it is totally a personal issue. It is an issue that has to be decided by whosoever wants to decide, and for me personally. It doesn't concern anything else.

NDTV: And you are saying that it will not transcend any other decision making?

Gen Singh: It is not in any way affecting either my decisions, or that of people under my command.

NDTV: What about the Ministry's decisions vis-a-vis the Army?

Gen Singh: I don't find any effect out there and I'm quite sure, we have a team there and as well as a minister who goes beyond all this.

NDTV: Ok. Let me move on to other aspects then. You had initiated the process of transformation in the Indian army, you had done that study yourself and now you are trying to implement it, how far have you come in that process?

Gen Singh: See, our aim was to make the Army more agile, more lethal, more responsive, and networked so that it is able to meet future threats. To that extent certain steps were laid down. One of the things we looked at was restructuring of our organizations into groupings that will take place in battle. So, we have validated these.

Certain changes have come about because of our validation in test bedding. These are coming into effect. We also looked at theaterization of our combat and combat support as well as logistic support elements. The test bedding has taken place and it will come into effect. Certain things out of this, because it concerns legacy organisations carrying on for years, will take a little time till mentally. People get prepared to handle them.

We also had the issue of ensuring that our headquarters become more responsive, because over a period of time in the old headquarters we kept adding people. It added onto the chains of decision making. We're trying to sort that out. Certain things in the army headquarters have been implemented. More things are in the pipeline, and it will go down to the other formation headquarters.

NDTV: You have said before and when we have talked earlier as well, that the capability building of the Indian army is not adversary specific but capability based, now does that still stand given the kind of constant needling that happens along the line of actual control and also the possible projection that there could be skirmishes along the China frontier. How do you see those threats?

Gen Singh: See, what I'd said was that at the moment we're a threat-based organization. We're moving towards a threat-cum-capability based one. And as the years go by, we will become a totally capability-based force. It has various implications like what kind of equipping norms you have, what kind of training that you do, what kind of resources you have to rapidly deploy to various places. So, these are things that are being put into effect now and by the time we see the result, it will take some time. It is not that overnight we can change something. What you talked of, needling, I don't find any this thing. Yes so far as we're concerned, we're prepared to meet various types of threats that will emanate, whether it is any border that we have. And to that extent, I feel satisfied that we've done a fair amount of work. We have our preparedness that will be able to meet the requirements of the time.

NDTV: And what about the internal situation? Do you see increasing involvement of Indian army in internal situation?

Gen Singh: We have been involved in two parts of the country for a very long time, the North-East and the North. Things are becoming better; they're not totally, absolutely alright. And to a certain extent, I think we have to see how things pan out in the times to come. You know, to immediately say that okay, today things are very fine, let's stop everything, I don't think that will be a correct approach. In this particular game, you have to be patient you have to be cautious, you have to look at how the future comes out and then look at how you can decrease your involvement.

NDTV: What about Kashmir? How do you see it panning in the next couple of years if not more?

Gen Singh: See Kashmir in 2011 has been good after what we saw in 2010. However, there are few factors we need to factor into it. One is, the infrastructure across the borders is still intact. A large number of trained terrorists are waiting out there. We don't know how the internal situation out there will work out which can have its own dynamic effect on these. Therefore, we need to study the internal dynamics in J&K much better. Yes and these dynamics comprise of what kind of overall worker base is there. Is the revival of some of the people left out from jails taking place? Are there more people coming in? They may not come through the fence that is put up; they may come from other routes which happen, which you're aware of. We have to look at what kind of separatist ideology is being preached and harboured and what kind of impetus is being given to it. All those combined will tell us what kind of approach has to be taken. I think a wait-and-watch policy will get us better results.

NDTV: So that again brings me to the Army's stand on the Armed Forces Special Power Act. Does your stand remain the same?

Gen Singh: See I think we've said enough on this, I don't want to create more controversy. Like I said, let's wait and watch, let's see how things pan out, let's not be in a hurry to head-long rush into something. These are not matters in which you should take decisions, which you may regret later and therefore, let's be patient.

NDTV: The 2 years that you have been more or less in the chair now and the day you took over you talked about setting the internal health of the army right. How far have you come in that endeavour and how do you see it panning out in next couple of years?

Gen Singh: See I had stated a reality and we embarked on various things. I can say today, that within our own structures, we've become more transparent. Secondly, we've also sent a clear message that certain things will not be tolerated, come what may. And to that extent, you're aware of some high profile cases that have been tackled in typical army disciplined way. We've not shied away. And this was a part of this message we wanted to give to people and tell them, look here, if you are honest, you are upright, carry on. But if you are deviant towards what the army lays down in terms of ethos and values, there can be problems. And I think once this message is given, within the army, some kind of internal reform, confidence building is taking place and to that extent, at the moment, I'm satisfied that we have been able to start things, where people say wrong is wrong, and right is right.

NDTV: What about taking all those cases, the high profile cases that you spoke about to their logical conclusion, because very often in the past one have seen you know that they sort of are started off well, disciplinary action and court marshals take place but at the end of it very little gets done or do you have a different view on this?

Gen Singh: No, some of the cases I're aware of some of our general officers who were court-marshalled, they were punished. The courts decide this. I mean, that was the court's decision what kind of punishment they give. We don't come into play. Similarly, there are certain cases that happen that came to the fore during the last year and a half plus. Some of them we investigated and we found that our capability to go further was not there and therefore, they were handed over to the required investigative agencies and they're proceeding well. Where we were concerned and our processes were concerned, I think they have been done in a time-bound way. Now, rest of the investigating agencies, I don't want to make a comment on them, and I'm quite sure they're doing their work.

NDTV: But at that point of time you had also spoken about giving more powers to the Corps of Military Police, investigative powers, at least a suggestion was there, has anything happened on that front?

Gen Singh: See it was part of our transformation and it is being put into effect, we have trained our people and like I said, certain structural changes are mindsets that need to change. That takes time. It is happening, and I'm quite sure that what we're looking at as an army, as part of our transformation and military police was part of it. It will happen. Certain things of changes of military police have already taken place.

NDTV: You had also at the army commanders conference taken a decision to transform the process of the training and scholar warrior, kind of a concept that you wanted to introduce or re-introduce maybe. What is the concept really?

Gen Singh: See the concept is that there is a need for our people, not to stop learning after they get into the army. Aim is that they must progress, become experts and enhance their knowledge base so that they contribute greatly to the benefit of the army. And to that extent our professional military education and education for our jawans are two fields that we have concentrated on. Where professional military education is concerned, our army training command has put in a lot of measures to enhance the professional military education and we will start seeing the results in years to come. Similarly, where the jawans and our JCOs are concerned, aim was to bring up their educational level and to that extent we had gone into collaboration with the IGNOU. Certain things are already moving, larger numbers have enrolled, and I'm quite sure that was days go by, we will have people who will retire as graduates which is a big jump from what he was doing earlier. Similarly, we've tied up with some good universities where we can send our people for expert courses and that is happening already. So this is all a part of making the scholar soldier.

NDTV: You spoke earlier about making the Indian army lean and agile and capable of handling any threat in the future. What about, let me say modernisation and the procurement process, because even you have plans in place for transformation, if it is not backed by adequate modernisation and speedier procurement, how do you tackle that problem that is there?

Gen Singh: See modernization and procurements have been a problem over a period of time. Couple of reasons have been that our own indigenous and technology base in defence-related industries is limited. So you have to go outside to procure and therefore to ensure transparency, credibility of the system etc, there is a laid-down procedure. Yes, it is time consuming and therefore, things get delayed. We also have a problem where one complaint or one letter, you know, can put everything to a stop. That has to be examined, you also have a problem where some firms because they've taken a particular action, they get either blacklisted or a black mark comes against them and therefore, the whole process gets delayed. We've given our points of view to the ministry they're working at it and I'm sure, between the forces and the ministry we will be able to find solutions that will hasten this up. And this is also one of the areas where the task-force that has been set up under Mr Naresh Chandra is also looking at it because this is a concern for everybody.

NDTV: But is there then a proposal or a wish, if not a proposal to integrate in real terms to have your people in uniform to be attached or working as cross postings, with the ministry officials, is there a proposal to do that?

Gen Singh: See they are there...there's one area already there which is the acquisition wing of the ministry. We have people from all the three services who are there, who go through the force's proposals. And they are an interface between us and the ministry officials; they work in conjunction with them. This is already there. Rest has been left to the task force as to how they look at the entire structure.

NDTV: But is the wish there to be a part of decision making?

Gen Singh: It'll make things better, I mean, that was one of the recommendations made by the Kargil committee also. I think ultimately we must look at organisations that will contribute in a much better manner.

NDTV: In decision making as well. You need to be part of the decision making at the highest level. Is that a problem at the moment - that you send a proposal then it comes back?

Gen Singh: See certain lacunae were found by the Kargil committee. Now those are being examined by the task-force. The services have all given their own input into this. I think they will take an overall macro view as to how to ensure better integration.

NDTV: Let me come back to the infrastructure problem, I mean again we have spoken about this before, along the northern borders and the China frontier specially, how slow or how fast has it been in the past year and a half or so?

Gen Singh: It has got two factors. One is - what is that proposal, which state it is in and second is the type of environmental laws that we have. Lot of work has been done, lot of areas, where the Environmental Ministry has cleared our projects. We have a problem at times at the state levels, where the land has, you know, been claimed as forest land, and therefore, various rules apply to it and that is where things do get delayed. We're trying to find a methodology. I think both the services and the ministry are seized of it because we cannot allow infrastructure, development timelines to go beyond a certain time. I'm quite hopeful that the way that the impetus is being given, we will be able to meet most of our timelines, most of our timelines. There will still be some areas where it will be declared some sort of sanctuary or something. Now you have to find a way out of it. And I think it will require will on the part of the state concerned, the ministry of environment to come to some sort of a system, where we can look at the nation's security needs.

NDTV: Do you think, very often the national security interest if i can use that expression is overlooked in decision making, for instance, the critical shortages in artillery. Everybody knows for last 20 years we haven't or more than 20 years we haven't acquired any guns? Why is it stuck where it is stuck right now?

Gen Singh: Firstly let me correct an impression. There is no critical shortage. There is a problem with modernisation. You know, sometimes it gets coupled into saying that for the last 20 years nothing has happened therefore, we're woefully inadequate, we are not. We're not woefully inadequate. Yes, if we modernise, it will be better. See, like I said, the procedural aspects are such and I've always said this, there are a lot of faults that the services themselves have committed faults and to that extent, the army has committed. I mean we took a decision at one point of time; we'll have a particular caliber. But after few years we changed that caliber. Now, obviously then, the whole procedure goes haywire. You've got to have a level playing field for everybody. So these are some of the areas where you get bogged down. We have worked out a philosophy for our artillery system. I'm very positive that this will succeed. Lot of thought has gone into it, it has been presented to the Defence minister and we have his support in this to go ahead and it will combine both, indigenous work as well as what we procure from outside.

NDTV: What about armour, because there is also a problem of, I mean at least one hears about it that the army is not very keen on getting the Arjun tank into the army?

Gen Singh: No, it is not that. We have worked out the way the tank is, how it fits into our operational plans as per its capability. So accordingly we have pegged a particular number which is going to happen. Yes, there are certain lacunae in what came in which are being improved after all everybody wants a better thing. So now it's becoming Mark II, certain things will come out with Mark III which would probably be the ultimate. So that is not an issue. Some of the problems actually that because you can say a certain amount of concern is the type of quality control regime and accountability that we have. This is something that we're pushing for. That look here, if let's say a particular barrel, it goes off, we must hold someone accountable. Don't we do that with private industries? You can't shield people. Now, that is something we're trying to ask someone to do. Let's hold people accountable so that our quality control mechanism becomes better, which transcends into a better product that comes to the army.

NDTV: I am going to come back to the first question that I asked you, because that is something everyone wants to know. Is there a rift between you and the Ministry?

Gen Singh: There is no rift between me and the ministry. We are as cordial as we've ever been. If you've seen signs of any rift, I don't know. But personally I haven't seen any sign of a rift.

NDTV: But that's the perception which everybody is going around with.

Gen Singh: See the problem is, when the media gets into it, you must find every small thing. Now for example, I was seeing in the media- (Army) Chief meets the Adjutant General. Now the Adjutant General comes and meets me 10 times a day. What is so special about it? So I don't think these perceptions are right. There is no rift.

NDTV: Do you think your honour has been put at stake and therefore you want to take the stand you have taken?

Gen Singh: See, integrity is an issue which I have flagged and it's totally a personal issue and that is where it ends.

NDTV: So you are hopeful it will be resolved?

Gen Singh: I don't know. I've got no clue of it. And I do not want to comment on it.

NDTV: But you will continue to hold on to that thought that integrity and honour is your right?

Gen Singh: I'm sure, each one of us holds on to that particular value. It is not just me, you also, anybody who's there.
Things could have been handled much better, says Gen. Singh
New Delhi, Jan. 5: The army chief, Gen. V.K. Singh, will take a decision in the interest of the organisation he heads on the issue of his age and will not be guided by personal pique, he has told The Telegraph.

Unhappy with slurs cast on his character, the general maintained that his honour and the prestige of the army he heads will guide his response to the defence ministry’s refusal to accept May 10, 1951, as his date of birth (DoB).

“Things could have been handled much better,” Gen. V.K. Singh said in an interview on Thursday morning, asked if he was under moral pressure because the defence ministry had turned down his request to correct his date of birth. “It is the dream of many people to be the chief of this proud army and I am proud to be where I am.”

Excerpts from the interview:

The Telegraph: What do you think of the difference of opinion regarding your date of birth? You have made repeated complaints. Does this threaten to disrupt governance?

Gen. Singh: It has always been a question of integrity and honour and nothing else. Whatever complaints were put up was to ensure that systems and processes remain intact.

TT: There have been doubts that this may threaten the relationship between the civilian government and the military.

Gen. Singh: This has nothing to do with civil-military relations. But these are issues that could have been handled better.

TT: By contesting the defence ministry order on your date of birth, have you risked the rules?

Gen. Singh: I have scrupulously maintained the procedures and decorum laid down in the services. Even if there are personal issues that I have been agitated about, it has always been with the feeling that the organisation is always supreme.

TT: Is it still frustrating?

Gen. Singh: This is a proud army and I am proud to be the army chief. Very few people get to be the army chief of such a large force. It is a matter of great pride. Many people dream of getting here.

TT: There is a public interest litigation (filed by ex-servicemen) requesting the Supreme Court for orders to correct your year of birth to 1951.

Gen. Singh: I have nothing to do with it.

TT: Are you under pressure?

Gen. Singh: I cannot allow that to interfere with my work. I am just leaving for the airport now. (The general was leaving for a three-day official trip to Myanmar.) I have responsibilities to shoulder.

Gen. Singh has got legal advice from four former chief justices. But he said he was not headed to court just now.

Ministers in the government are understood to be trying to reach a compromise without letting the chief feel humiliated. But there are still contentious issues that are holding up a rapprochement.

On Wednesday, law minister Salman Khurshid told television channel NDTV: “Just nobody, nobody should believe the general has not spoken the truth.… He is an outstanding officer. But there are rules.”

During the conversation, Gen. Singh spoke about “Exercise Sudarshan Shakti”, which the army concluded with the Indian Air Force last month. He said the exercise tested concepts that might have a far-reaching impact on the force in synergising land battles with aerial support.

Gen. Singh and Southern Army Commander Lt Gen. A.K. Singh were the architects of the drill and worked on conceptualising it for more than three years.

The general was also looking forward to his Myanmar visit that he said would involve talks on confidence-building measures and securitising the open border.

Despite the professional demands, the dispute over his date of birth remains a distraction. Within the army, the rank and file is desperate for information on how events may unfold now that the defence minister has turned down the chief’s “statutory complaint”.

In the ministry, bureaucrats say that the dispute was a product of Army Headquarters itself. The adjutant general’s branch, the keeper of personnel records, has Gen. Singh’s DoB registered as May 10, 1951. The adjutant general’s branch is the authority for such records.

But the military secretary’s branch, responsible for transfers and postings, has Gen. Singh’s DoB registered as May 10, 1950, a year earlier.

In Parliament, defence minister A.K. Antony said in a reply in September that Gen. Singh’s promotions as corps commander, army commander and army chief were on the basis of the 1950 record. The defence minister also said that the army chief was due to retire on May 31, 2012. This was when the chief’s statutory complaint was still pending.

But Gen. Singh has asserted in official complaints that all his promotions till then were on the basis of his DoB as May 10, 1951.

He has taken legal opinion from four former chief justices and a former solicitor-general who gave statements in support of his arguments.

But Antony has acted on the basis of the opinion of attorney-general Goolam E. Vahanvati who said changing — Gen. Singh says “correcting” — the DoB now will lead to complications and have an impact on the line of succession.

Current Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen. Bikram Singh may be next in line to be the army chief if Gen. Singh retires in May this year. If his tenure is extended — Gen. Singh has not asked for it —current Northern Army Commander Lt Gen. K.T. Parnaik may be in contention for the chief’s office.

The controversy over Gen. Singh’s DoB was stoked in 2008 when he was Eastern Army Commander based in Fort William, Calcutta. He ordered the court of inquiry into the attempted transfer of land in Sukna in the strategic north Bengal corridor. Former military secretary Avadhesh Prakash was last year found guilty in that case by a court martial that has stripped him of his privileges.

There may yet be a resolution to the dispute over the army chief’s DoB. All his official papers — passport, PAN card, identity cards — have his DoB as May 10, 1951. The government is not challenging that. The resolution may be the outcome of a political trade-off here: the government will not challenge the official documents and thereby give a nod to efforts to redeem his honour.
Pakistani troops target Indian border posts
Jammu: Pakistani troops violated the ceasefire along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir and fired at Indian posts in the Krishna Ghati sector of Poonch district late Wednesday night to facilitate infiltration of terrorists to this side of the frontier, Army sources said.

At around midnight Wednesday, Pakistani troops opened fire at the Indian Army's Kranti and Kirpan posts in the Krishna Ghati sector, about 220 km north of Jammu, from across the LoC, the sources said on Thursday. The firing was to facilitate the infiltrators from the Pakistani to the Indian side, the sources added.

Indian troops fired back and the exchange lasted for more than 90 minutes, the sources said, adding the infiltration bid was foiled, the sources claimed. It was also described as the ceasefire violation by the Pakistani Army.

Both India and Pakistan had agreed to silence the guns of their armies on the borders in November 2003, but Pakistan has violated it several times since 2005 onwards.
Army housing norm under HC scanner
MUMBAI: The Bombay HC on Thursday admitted a petition filed by an army officer challenging a rule that does not permit an unmarried army officer with dependant parents to avail married accommodation.

Justices D K Deshmukh and Anoop Mohta were hearing a petition filed by Lieutenant Colonel J Georgg, a bachelor, challenging Rule 4 of the Army Order 1986 that defines 'family' as husband, wife and children and excludes father and mother. He said the rule is unreasonable and ultra vires to Article 14 of the Constitution (right to equality). Georgg was commissioned in the Indian Army in 1991 and was posted in Mumbai in June 2009. He was allotted married accommodation on the grounds of his father, a retired colonel, and his mother were receiving medical treatment. On November 12, 2011, he was posted in Srinagar.

Georgg's application to retain accommodation was rejected on November 28, 2011, and he was asked to vacate the house by January 12. His plea said he was given married accommodation after it was clarified that a single officer is eligible for the same on administrative grounds and depending on the merits of the case.
India ready for talks with govt of any kind in Pak: Foreign secy
NEW DELHI: As Pakistan stares at another spell of uncertainty in the wake of the ongoing strife between the army and civilian government, India on Thursday said it would prefer democracy in that country but was willing to talk to work with any dispensation to normalize ties.

Foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai said irrespective of one's liking, India has to find a way to get along and manage a normal relationship with Pakistan irrespective of who is in government there.

"We will obviously prefer to deal with a democratic government in Pakistan. But we will learn and live with any kind of government that Pakistan has," he told at an interactive session with participants of Jagriti Yatra 2011 here.

Mathai was responding to a question from a participant whether a "weak democracy" in Pakistan is a problem for India to deal with it.

"We have found that democracies don't go on war.... Generally, in any democracy, the government of the day tends to be focused on the most priorities of the people and those that we know from our own experiences that priorities like the day-to-day problems, development issues and sometimes that of survival," he said.

The FS said India has had a "chequered history" in dealing with Pakistan in the past.

"Be that as it may, we can choose friends but you can't choose neighbours. Whether you like it or you don't like it, you need to find a way to get along and manage a normal relationship irrespective of who is in government in Pakistan," he added.
Kayani meets top Chinese defence officials
Beijing: China and Pakistan today pledged to strengthen their military ties and step up their defence cooperation to a “new level” as Pakistan’s Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani held talks with top Chinese military officials in Bejing.

“China and Pakistan pledged to strengthen military ties and bring existing cooperation to a new level”, state-run Xinhua news agency reported after Kayani’s meeting with Chinese Defence Minister Gen Liang Guanglie in the Chinese capital.

Pakistan army chief General Ashfaq Kayani. Reuters

Kayani, who in the recent months hardened his stance towards cooperation with US and is locked in a political conflict with the civilian government over memo scandal, arrived here last night on a five-day visit.

“China values its traditional friendship with Pakistan,” Liang said, adding that Beijing hopes to develop pragmatic and effective cooperation with Pakistan in the national defence arena, the report said.

Liang said the bilateral “all-weather friendship” held between China and Pakistan is a strategic choice and is in accordance with the fundamental interests of both nations.

China hopes to safeguard regional peace and stability with Pakistan and contribute to the security and development of the two countries, he said.

Kayani said Pakistan attaches great importance to its relationship with China, adding that both countries have extensive common interests in both international and regional affairs.

Earlier Kayani held talks with Gen Ma Xiaotian, deputy Chief of Staff of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

Ma was recently in India to take part in the second round of defence dialogue between the two countries.

Kayani and Ma exchanged views on regional security and military relations between the two countries, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hong Lei told a media briefing in Beijing today.

Ma told Kayani that China and Pakistan have established all-weather friendship over a long period of time.

The two militaries have conducted all dimensional, wide ranging multi tiered exchanges, Hong said.

The two sides have cooperation in defence security consultation, military drills, personal training, college exchanges, equipment construction as well as non traditional security, Hong said.

China would like to enhance the strategic communication with Pakistan side and consolidate the foundation so as to advance the bilateral relations, he said.

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