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Wednesday, 11 January 2012

From Today's Papers - 11 Jan 2012
India, China keen to mend fences
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 10
India and China appear making a sincere attempt at mending fences in 2012 after the last year was marked by sharp differences between the two countries over a plethora of issues, particularly over India's oil exploration plans off the Vietnamese coast in the South China Sea.

It is understood that the much-anticipated boundary talks between the Special Representatives (SRs) of the two countries would be held here next week. National Security Adviser (NSA) Shivshanker Menon will lead the Indian delegation at the talks while the Chinese team will be headed by State Counsellor Dai Bingguo.

Ahead of the boundary talks, Menon made a rare appearance at a function organised by the Chinese Embassy last night and made all the right noises on the Sino-Indian ties. He rejected the theory of an 'adversarial relationship' between the two Asian giants amid the recent irritants and called for greater all-round cooperation to scale up strategic trust that would enable them to shape the evolving international order.

"Relations between India and China and their new equilibrium hold an important key to the emerging economic and strategic landscape of Asia and, to a certain extent, the world," Menon said. "There is enough space for both India and China to realise their development aspirations," said Menon, a former Indian envoy to China.

In a bid to keep sensitive bilateral ties an even keel, China’s ambassador to India Zhang Yan acknowledged that there were "differences and challenges left over by history," an obvious reference to the boundary dispute, and called for greater trust and cooperation to resolve these issues.

Without naming any country, the Chinese envoy said some forces were trying to create a wedge between the two countries but asserted that they would not succeed in their evil designs. ''Cooperation between India and China will benefit each other but the confrontation will hurt both of us,'' Zhang said.
Age issue: No ill-feeling, says Army Chief

New Delhi, January 10
Indian Army Chief General VK Singh Indian Army Chief General VK Singh today chose to down play the controversy surrounding his age saying “there was no ill-feeling” and went on to term it as “personal matter that had no connection with the organisation (The Army)”.

He remained non-committal on whether or not he will move court to seek redressal on the matter. When asked by reporters if he had kept the option open on approaching court to settle the dispute over his year of birth, said “It is a personal issue and I desist from making any public comment on it.” He was talking to reporters on the sidelines of his visit to a NCC camp here today.

The question was asked in the context of the Defence Ministry rejecting his statutory complaint for not treating May 10, 1951 as his year of birth as against May 10, 1950.

Asked if ill-feeling between him and the Ministry were over, Gen Singh said, “When there were no ill-feeling at any point of time (on the age issue), how can they be now". — TNS
Warship captain sacked after misguided order leads to death

Read more at:
New Delhi:  The captain of  the INS Talwar,  a frontline frigate of the Indian Navy,  has been removed from command after his order caused the death of a young officer at sea.

Captain Rahul Parmar allegedly ordered young officers on board his ship to dive into the sea off the coast of Gujarat. He allegedly wanted to test their bravery and readiness for emergencies.  One of them-  a sub-lieutenant and the youngest officer on the ship - drowned. The tragedy occurred on December 20.

The INS Talwar was on patrol duty;  it has been used for anti-piracy operations in the recent past.

A Board of Inquiry has been completed by the Navy; it has asked for the removal of  Captain Parmar.

Read more at:
IAF plays key role in restoring power in Kashmir
The Indian Air Force played a major role for the quick repair of the snapped transmission lines following the recent snowfall, restoring power to the Kashmir [ Images ] valley.
Click here!

Defence spokesman S N Acharya in a statement said, "On January 6, there was an extensive power break down in Kashmir valley. State government gave a requisition to IAF through Power Grid Corporation. A helicopter recce was conducted to assess the faults along with Power Grid engineers in snow clad and difficult terrain from Ramban to Banihal. The plan of winching down the technicians close to the towers having faults was made."

"On January 9, the IAF MI-17 flown by Wing Commander Anurag, Wing Commander Saxena and  Flt Lt Tomar did a successful mission in dropping four Power Grid engineers along with five tons of crucial repair equipment at Chanderkot helipad near Ramsu. From there the personnel were dropped near the faulty towers by a Cheetah Helicopter being flown by Wing Commander Nitin Welde, Flt lt Nainwal and winch operator Sqn Ldr Abhijit Kumar, the winching operations was carried out as there were no helipads, roads near these towers," the statement said.

"This is the first unique well coordinated mission to repair major power failures undertaken by IAF and Power Grid Corporation. This extremely difficult task was outcome of meticulous planning and nicely executed by the joint team of Jammu and Udhampur Air Forces Bases," the statement added.
Age row is personal issue, says army chief
NEW DELHI: Indian Army Chief General V.K. Singh on Tuesday downplayed the row over his age, saying it was his personal issue and not linked to the armed forces.

"I have said this is a personal issue and there are no differences with the defence ministry. I desist from making comments. It is a personal issue, nothing to do with the organisation. There is no problem with the ministry and me," Singh told reporters here on the sidelines of a defence function.

The army chief and the defence ministry are locked in the row with the general insisting that he was born May 10, 1951 and not in 1950. The controversy stemmed from different sets of records in the adjutant general and military secretary branches of the Indian Army headquarters.

While the adjutant general's branch, which deals with pay, perks and pensions, maintains 1951 as his year of birth, the military secretary branch, which deals with appointments and promotions, has 1950 in its records.

The government has gone with the records of the military secretary which means that Singh should retire this year. The correction in military secretary records would have given him one more year in service.

The army chief last maintained that there is no rift with the government indicating that he may have settled with the 1950 year of birth.
Army Chief Shuns Comment on Likely Successor's Shootout Case

New Delhi, Jan 10 (IANS): Indian Army chief General V.K. Singh Tuesday refused to comment on a controversy surrounding his likely successor Lt.Gen. Bikram Singh, accused of staging a 2001 shootout in Kashmir in which an alleged foreign militant was killed. The allegation can mar his chances for the top post.

"The report (about Bikram Singh) is not with us. When it comes to us, we will let you know," the army chief told reporters here on the sidelines of a defence function.

Lt.Gen. Bikram Singh, currently the senior most lieutenant general of the Indian Army, is tipped to be next chief of the 1.3 million force.

The army chief was asked about a writ petition filed by a Kashmiri mother, Zaituna, alleging that the militant killed in the March 1, 2001, south Kashmir shootout may be her son Abdullah Bhat, a resident of Machil border area in north Kashmir.

The lieutenant general was then brigading the 5 Sector Rashtriya Rifles unit headquartered in south Kashmir Anantnag district. The shootout took place in Janglat Mandi under Bikram Singh's control.

The army had then claimed to have killed Mateen Chacha in a gunfight with militants that also led to the death of two civilians and two army personnel.

Bikram Singh, now commanding the Eastern Command, was also injured in the cross fire. The police in their report on the shootout had confirmed the army claims.

But a decade later, Zaituna filed a petition in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court last year claiming the militant was her son. Zaituna's daughter Jana is a co-petitioner.

The petition seeks reinvestigation of the case and remains of the alleged militant exhumed for DNA test.

"The photographs of the victim (killed militant) taken by police must also be shown to the family for identifying," the petitioners said.

The court in its order on Oct 13, 2011, asked the state government and the defence ministry to file their responses to the petition and sought all records pertaining to the case for perusal. The case has come up for hearing several times in the court but has been consistently deferred to next dates.

It is now expected to be taken up for hearing in February when the high court re-convenes in Srinagar after a month-long winter vacation.

Asked if the allegations could affect the chances of Bikram Singh for the top job, the army chief said: "I have got no clue on this."
Gorkha soldiers and Nepal’s changed context

Nepal has not been involved in a war with any country since the one with East India Company and British forces in 1814-16. But for close to two centuries, brave Gorkha soldiers (or Gurkhas as they are known in the British Army) from Nepal have fought numerous wars for others.

But the era of these brave men laying down lives for causes not associated with their motherland could soon come to an end.

As a new Nepal tries to emerge from the rubble of a civil war and demise of the 240-year-old monarchy, Gorkhas serving the British and Indian armies could become a thing of the past.

The Committee for International Relations and Human Rights of Nepal’s parliament recently endorsed a policy paper (‘Nepal’s Foreign Policy in Changed Context’) which besides offering suggestions on foreign policy also seeks an end to soldiers fighting wars under foreign flags.

“Gurkha recruitment gave the youth a small opportunity for employment, but serving foreign military powers has not always allowed the country to hold its head high…Since, ultimately, Gurkha recruitment will have to end, it is necessary to create alternatives,” the paper recommended.

If such a ban on recruitment is indeed put in place, it will end a unique chapter in military history where citizens of one country served in armies of others and fought against enemies with whom they had no enmity.

Recruitment of Gorkhas, first into East India Company and later into British Army, began during the 1814-16 war when impressed with their bravery the East India Company started enlisting them. The first Gorkha regiment, Nausiri Battalion, was formed in 1815.

Gorkhas proved their tenacity in many wars and later became part of British Indian Army when it was formed after the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny. They served the British during the First and Second World Wars with distinction in many countries and the legend of the Gorkha as the ‘bravest soldier’ and his ‘khukri’ took firm shape.

After India’s independence, both Britain and India decided on retaining services of Gorkha regiments in their armies as per the Tripartite Agreement signed with Nepal. In the past 200 years, Gorkhas have earned battle laurels in over 20 countries for Britain and India during wars and peace-keeping efforts.

At present there are 39 battalions in seven Gorkha regiments of Indian Army. Nearly 30,000 Gorkhas including 120 officers are serving in these regiments. Every year thousands more join these brave men through recruitment drives conducted in Nepal.

Besides those serving, Nepal has 79,000 Indian Army pensioners, 11,000 widows of ex-servicemen and 17,000 retired Assam Rifles personnel. Indian Army pays them over Rs 1,200 crores annually in pension and provides other benefits to their families as well.

Britain’s Brigade of Gurkhas comprise of 3640 men recruited from Nepal. Such is the level of trust enjoyed by them that they were recently entrusted the task of protecting Prince Harry, third in line to the British throne, when he was secretly posted in war-ravaged Afghanistan.

All that tradition could soon fade away as Nepal mulls changes in foreign policy with the intention of holding its head high among as an independent, sovereign republic.

“The elimination of Gurkha recruitment, indeed, is a test of whether the new republic can settle the debate over her semi-colonial status and become a proud member of fully sovereign community of nations,” writes columnist Gyanu Adhikari in The Kathmandu Post.
Terrorists on run in J&K: Indian Army
JAMMU: The Army today said security forces had foiled numerous infiltration attempts and terrorists were on the run with their leadership eliminated to a great extent in Jammu and Kashmir.

"The relentless hard work by security forces has kept terrorists on the run in Jammu and Kashmir", General Officer Commanding in Chief (GOC-in-C), Northern Command, Lt. Gen. K T Parnaik said.

"As their numbers have dwindled and the leadership has been eliminated to a great extent, the operations are now entering a more difficult phase," he told troops in Akhnoor sector along the LoC. "This demands excellent synergy among all security forces, intelligence agencies and the civil administration," the army officer said.

He expressed hope the terrorists would be dealt a final blow in the state soon.

Lt Gen Parnaik visited the forward posts along the LoC in Akhnoor Sector and Counter-Insurgency Forces Uniform Headquarters and Romeo Force unit at Reasi and Maniyarwala respectively. He also reviewed defence preparedness and on-going counter infiltration operations in both the sectors.
How Pakistan came to feel snug in a Chinese pocket
China’s expanded influence in Pakistan came into prominence recently amidst the fog of verbiage surrounding the Memogate fiasco. The shorthand used for years to describe Pakistan’s political power triad namely, ‘Allah, Army and America’, now has to include China.

Over the past few years and, especially since the US raid in May 2011 to eliminate Osama bin Laden, China’s proximity to Pakistan has increasingly been on display. Examples include Sino-Pak collaboration to stall the Indo-US Civil Nuclear Agreement, prevent the Nuclear Suppliers Group granting a waiver to India and opposition to India becoming a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council.

As US-Pak relations came under strain in the wake of the raid, China shed its preference for exercising influence from behind-the-scenes and in mid-May, it publicly expressed support for Pakistan. It declared in unequivocal terms that any attack on Pakistan would be construed as an attack on China. Pakistan’s media added that this warning had been conveyed by the Chinese Foreign Minister during that week’s ‘China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue’ in Washington. Pakistan Premier Yousuf Gilani flew to Beijing to garner support and was promptly received by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.
Support was reaffirmed late in November when US-Pak relations were subjected to further protracted strain following the death of Pak military personnel in drone attacks. US was asked to vacate Shamsi air base near Abbotabad at the insistence of Pakistan’s Army Chief. Beijing, which had been trying to incrementally surpass US influence in Pakistan, had clearly sighted an opportunity to consolidate its position in Pakistan and secure a permanent niche in the subcontinent. Pakistan’s drift away from the US actually began when General Zia-ul-Haq, during his 11-year regime after seizing power in a military coup in July 1977, initiated a fundamental pro-Islam shift in the Army.

China already has substantial influence within Pakistan’s political and bureaucratic apparatus. This was evident when at least two former Pakistani Ambassadors, one of whom was a Foreign Secretary, wrote in national Pakistani dailies urging the government to terminate the contract awarded to the Singapore Port Authority for management of Gwadar port and hand it over to the Chinese. Senior Pakistani politicians also frequently visit China especially during tense times, though they balance relationships with equally high level visits to the US.

Beijing, however, focused on cultivating Pakistan’s military establishment and used military diplomacy to expand influence.

The likelihood of Islamic fundamentalism spilling over into Xinjiang is also a concern. An official Xinhua commentary last September warned : ‘If violent forces in Xinjiang gain ground, China may be forced to directly intervene militarily in Pakistan and Afghanistan, but this is clearly not the situation China would like to see’.

In addition to ongoing nuclear cooperation, since 2004, Pakistan Army officers attend 18-20 courses each year at thirteen Chinese military institutes. At least 170 Pak Army officers have been trained and, in contrast, today there are only 116 officers who have been trained in the US. China is also the largest supplier of military equipment to Pakistan and its military assistance, which has increased each year, was last year estimated at approximately US$ 84 million. This is less than the US$ 500 million promised by the US to Islamabad for the five year period 2009-13, but is compensated by China’s diplomatic support and clandestine supplies of military technology to Pakistan.

Additional evidence of Beijing’s proximity is provided by Chinese Special Envoy Dai Bingguo visiting Islamabad on December 24, soon after the US warned Kayani against ousting the civilian government, and asserting China’s support for Pakistan’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. Shortly thereafter on January 4, General Kayani traveled to China. His visit comes at a critical time in US-Pak relations and during a stand-off between the Army and Pakistan’s civilian government.

China’s steadily expanding influence in Pakistan, especially in the Army, has consequences for India and US. Popular resentment against the US is increasing. It is accompanied by enhanced Chinese military presence in Pakistan’s northern areas and plans for construction of strategic rail and road links between China’s Xinjiang and Gwadar in Baluchistan. Beijing has also stepped up diplomatic and other support to Islamabad, especially in Pakistan’s posture towards India. Chinese pressure on India, including depiction of J&K as disputed, should be viewed in this context.
Defence diary: AAD Raising Day today
Pune The Corps of Army Air Defence (AAD), the youngest arm of Indian Army, will celebrate its 19th raising day on Tuesday. The Army Air Defence has dedicated itself to the service of the nation with its motto, Akashe Shatrun Jahi, (Destroy the enemy in sky).

A vibrant and effective air defence environment backed by low and medium level surveillance and automated control and reporting system, is essential to protect the key strategic installations as well as combat potential and to provide freedom of manoeuvre to our fighting force. It is imperative that the Corps remains abreast with ever changing face of technology and maintain high degree of operation preparedness. The Corps is always- First In and Last Out in the gamut of operations and provides credible air defence cover to vital assets of strategic importance and field forces, said a press release.

INS Shivaji celebrates birth anniv of 1st CO

INS Shivaji celebrated the birth centenary of Vice Admiral (Hon) Daya Shankar. The Admiral was the first Indian Naval Officer to be in command of INS Shivaji when the establishment was rechristened from Her Majesty’s Indian Ship to Indian Naval Ship Shivaji on January 26, 1950. The officer retired from the Indian Navy in 1963 as a Rear Admiral. In honour of the Admiral, the administrative building of cadets’ training at INS Shivaji was named Daya Shankar Block.. .

Lecture on security organised at AFMC

A talk on ‘Security Overview and Transformation of the Indian Army’ was organised by the city-based Centre for Advanced Strategic Studies (CASS). The N B Grant Memorial Lecture was delivered by Lt Gen A K Singh, GOC-in-C, Southern Command. Lt Gen (Retd) Noble Thamburaj, former GOC-in-C, Southern Command and former Army Vice Chief presided ove the event at AFMC, Bharadwaj Auditorium.

Ganesh mandals send greetings to jawans

“The country should be always thankful to the jawans and their families. The translation of this affection into an action motivates the soldiers to fight for the nation,” said Prof Suresh Mehta. Greetings and tilgul for the jawans were sent by city- based Shanivar Peth Mehunpura Ganeshotsav Mandal for thethird consecutive year. Around 15 mandals participated in the unique initiative.
Indian military delegation arrives in China
Visit aimed at reinvigorating defence ties and building trust

A 15-member Indian military delegation, truncated following a dispute over visas, arrived here on Monday on a four-day visit under an exchange programme that officials said was aimed at reinvigorating defence ties and reducing mistrust.

The tri-services delegation, led by Air Vice-Marshal PS Mann, will visit military units, naval facilities and airbases in Beijing, Nanjing and Shanghai, as well as interact with top officials of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA).

The visit is the first by an Indian military delegation to China following last month's annual defence dialogue, held in New Delhi, which saw both countries agreeing to strengthen exchanges to enhance mutual trust.

The annual dialogue was resumed in December following an almost two-year hiatus, during which defence ties between the neighbours had been strained. Exchanges were suspended in July 2010 after China objected to hosting the then head of the Northern Command, Lieutenant-General B.S. Jaswal, because he was serving in Jammu and Kashmir, which China views as disputed.

This week's visit was also put in doubt, over visa issues. China did not issue a visa to Air Force (IAF) Group Captain Mohonto Panging from Arunachal Pradesh. He was included in a 30-member delegation scheduled to travel this week. China has a policy of not issuing regular visas to Indians from the State, which China has claims on.

India decided to send a truncated 15-member delegation, without Group Captain Panging, to ensure the visit went ahead and prevent a second suspension in exchanges in under two years.

The delegation will meet the PLA's Deputy Chief of Staff Ma Xiaotian, who is China's representative in the annual defence dialogue, at the PLA headquarters in Beijing on Tuesday.

During the four-day visit to Beijing, Shanghai and Nanjing, the tri-services delegation will also visit military units, airbases and naval facilities, as well as the PLA Science and Technology University.

The two countries agreed to boost exchanges following the defence dialogue, viewing regular visits as a way to reduce mistrust and as an important confidence building measure.

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