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Friday, 13 January 2012

From Today's Papers - 13 Jan 2012








http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120113/main1.htm
Amid Army-govt standoff, Zardari leaves for Dubai
Fears of coup recede but Pakistan remains on the brink
Afzal Khan in Islamabad & Ashish Sen in Washington, D.C.

Islamabad/Washington, January 12
Fervent pleas for 'sanity' by the Pakistani media and international pressure may just have averted the possibility of a military coup but political uncertainty and a potentially dangerous standoff between the military and the Government kept Pakistan on the edge today.

Speculators had a field day when President Asif Ali Zardari flew out of the country and landed in Dubai on an unscheduled, private visit. He would be returning on Friday, asaid a Foreign Ministry spokesman.

Army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani held a meeting with senior commanders during the day. The marathon, ten-hour meeting, decided not to compromise on national security and to offer full security to Mansoor Ijaj, the US-based businessman, when he arrives next week to depose before the court on Memogate. Ijaz is the central figure, who had claimed that Pakistan's former Ambassador to the US had used his services to pass on a memo to Admiral Mike Mullens on behalf of the civilian government seeking US help to rein in the Army.

Significantly, Government spokesmen today claimed that no application for Visa had been received from Ijaz so far. The businessman's revealation had led to the resignation of Pakistan's Ambassador to the US. The Ambassador, fearing for his life, has taken shelter in the PM's official residence in Islamabad.

The corps commanders' meeting also reviewed the political situation in the wake of reports in the US media, notably The New York Times, that 'infuriated amy officials have warned" that the military would not cooperate with the new Defence Secretary, Ms Nargis Sethi, who yesterday was asked to take over from the incumbent, a Kayani nominee.

Possibility of a military coup was, however, ruled out by 'anonymous' sources in the Army while speaking to the media and also by political observers. While the Army has run out of patience with Zardari, it would like him to be ousted 'Constitutionally'.

Relations between the military and the civilian government have steadily soured since the dramatic assassination in Pakistan of the al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden last year. PM Gilani last month had warned of a conspiracy to topple the government and criticised the military and the ISI, saying there could be "no state within a state". His criticism of the Army and the ISI chiefs in a conversation with a Chinese media delegation, when General Kayani was in China, made the Army see red.

Curiously, Gilani's critical reference has not appeared in the Chinese media, either in print or online. It remains a mystery how the statement attributed to Gilani gained currency in Pakistan.

"We are seeing the gradual development of Pakistan's fifth military dictatorship," said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. " There will probably be no coup nor a single dictator. Rather the corps commanders are taking over control behind the scenes of all major decisions," he said, " a civilian regime will survive but only as a cosmetic cover to army rule."

No civilian government in Pakistan has lasted its full term and the present government is due to face re-election in 2013. But the government is under intense pressure to call an early election and former cricketer Imran Khan, who has emerged as a powerful political figure, lent his support to the growing chorus and asserted that there was no way out of the impasse except an election.

Imran also warned of street protests in Pakistan, if any attempt was made to 'ambush the judiciary'. Calling upon the principal opposition party to resign from the National Assembly, he renewed his call for the PPP-led government to be toppled.

He liked Imran as a cricketer but not as a politician, was the riposte from Prime Minister Gilani, who said in a lighter vein that his government was in a more precarious position than Javed Miandad, who in a crucial match against India, had to hit a six off the last ball to snatch a victory.

Gilani, who was interacting with sportspersons at the launch of a new, sports channel of the state-run broadcaster PTV, philosophically added , "politics is a game in which all players should show magnanimity… whether you are winning or losing, we should not make it personal."

'Won't cooperate with new defence secy'

New York: Army officials have warned that they won't cooperate with the new defence secretary appointed by PM Yousaf Raza Gilani after he sacked
Lt Gen (retd) Naeem Khalid Lodhi. "The Army will not react violently, but it will not cooperate with the new defence secretary," a military officer was quoted as saying in a New York Times report



http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120113/main4.htm
India hopes dialogue with Pak will remain on track
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 12
India is keeping a close watch on the developments in Pakistan and hopes that the stand-off between the civilian government and the Army will not have a bearing on the dialogue process between the two countries.

Talking to reporters here today, Home Minister P Chidambaram stated that India was following the developments in Pakistan. The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), at its meeting this afternoon, is understood to have taken note of the fast-evolving situation in Pakistan

Senior officials said what was happening in Pakistan was an internal matter of the neighbouring country but India would have to remain alert.

On whether there was any possibility of a military takeover in Islamabad, one source said the situation was so fragile that nothing could be ruled out. Though India would like democracy to flourish in Pakistan, it would deal with any dispensation that is at the helm of affairs in Islamabad.

But New Delhi believes that the dialogue process, which was resumed in February last year after a hiatus of two years following the Mumbai attack, would remain on track, notwithstanding the internal developments in Pakistan.

As of now, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma is scheduled to visit Pakistan next month to sign three agreements on removing non-tariff barriers in bilateral trade.

The Defence, Water Resources and Foreign secretaries of the two countries are also tipped to meet in the coming days as part of the second round of the dialogue process. The Indian Foreign Minister will visit Pakistan in July to review the progress in the second round of the dialogue with his Pakistani counterpart. However, all these plans could go awry if the situation in Pakistan goes out of control, the source added.

The sense in strategic circles is that the situation was not conducive for a takeover by the army in Pakistan, since the country was passing through an unprecedented economic crisis. It would be difficult for the army to manage the affairs of the state. Pakistan is facing an acute resource crunch on the petroleum front and even its key allies like Saudi Arabia and Qatar have refused to extend the credit time limit for the country.

There is a feeling here that the army would prefer to remain in the barracks at this stage as its image has already taken a beating due to recent developments, particularly the killing of Osama bin Laden by the US forces at Abbottabad.



http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120113/nation.htm#3
Age row not affecting work: Army chief
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 12
Choosing his words carefully in the controversy over his age, Army chief Gen VK Singh today amply indicated that all his options were still open but, like a battle-hardened soldier, stopped short of spelling out his plans.

He went on to defend himself saying the matter was not affecting the image of the Army.

Addressing a press conference today, he said the issue was that of "integrity and honour" for him but decried the "vicious spins" being given in the media to the matter.

Gen VK Singh said he had tackled the issue in "organisational interest" and it had had no impact on the Army.

He said the age issue was not impacting his decisions related to the functioning of the Army. He added it may be having an effect on his family "within four walls", but not on his official work. "I work for the organisation. I do not work for myself."

On being asked if he considered resigning in the wake of December 30 order of the MoD that rejected his claim, the chief said, "I may decide on some action when I find time to think".

Asked if this was his last Army Day press conference, he left it open ended saying, "I do not know". The annual Army Day conference is conducted in the second week of January.

Indian Army chief General VK Singh today signalled an important shift in the operational capability of the 1.3-million-strong Indian Army, saying that the transformation process had "gone way forward" and assured the nation that the Army now has "deeper strike capability". But he rued the fact that the Army was still awaiting new artillery guns.

The process of transformation was initiated by Army chief Gen VK Singh to make the Army more responsive, lethal and networked to tackle threats on the western and northern fronts.

He explained "deep strike capability" saying that missiles like BrahMos were being inducted into the forces. The Army in conjunction with the Air Force has conducted two exercises — Vijayee Bhava and Sudershan Shakti — in the past 12 months.

Gen VK Singh today announced at a press conference, "Transformation is not conceptual. We are looking at structural changes in the strike corps. We have a proactive strategy in place."

India has three strike corps based at Ambala, Mathura and Bhopal. The Cabinet Committee on Security has been given a paper on future force accretions.

'Army hasn't probed Kashmir shootout'

New Delhi: The Indian Army had not probed the alleged fake shootout case involving its likely future chief Lt-Gen Bikram Singh when he was posted as a Brigadier in Jammu and Kashmir, said Gen VK Singh.

Singh also said he had no idea as to the outcome of the investigation by the civilian police into the alleged staged shoot out in 2001.

He said the Army had a report on the incident and that this document was made available to the authorities concerned. — IANS


http://www.tribuneindia.com/2012/20120113/edit.htm#6
India, China can ill afford to remain adversaries
India and China are bound to remain strategic adversaries, believe some experts in both the countries. But they ignore the ability, experience and wisdom of leaders in the two countries to manage differences since 1988 at least. Nevertheless, dialogue and communication between business, media and scholars hold the key to better relations
Shiv Shankar Menon

Top Chinese diplomat Dai Bingguo and Indian Ambassador to China, S. Jaishankar (Right) at the valedictory function of India-China year of exchanges at the new Indian Embassy premises in Beijing.
Beijing: Top Chinese diplomat Dai Bingguo and Indian Ambassador to China, S. Jaishankar (Right) at the valedictory function of India-China year of exchanges at the new Indian Embassy premises in Beijing. — PTI Photo

Today India-China relations attract attention beyond our two countries. International developments and achievements in domestic construction by our peoples in the last few decades have given our relationship wider significance. 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.

Let us look briefly at the context within which we conduct our relations and then look at the content of our relations today.

The Context

FRIENDS NOT FOES

l Bilateral trade reached over US $ 67 billion in the first 11 months of 2011
l China has remained India's largest trading partner in goods since several years
l Indian investment in China in 676 projects is today worth US$433 million
l Chinese investment in India worth US$300 million
l India is China's most important market for project exports with the cumulative value of the contracted projects at US$53.5 billion
l 7,000 Indian students studying in China today

The basic facts are evident and well known. India and China are the two most populous nations on earth, are the two largest developing countries, and are among the societies and economies in the world that are transforming themselves most rapidly. They are the largest and the third biggest economies in Asia. China has the distinction of being the second largest economy in the world. The two countries are building a strong domestic economic base and rapidly training scientific and technical manpower. When much of the world is reeling under recession or grappling with political turmoil, our two countries have managed to register reasonably healthy rates of growth and maintain stability.

We share a common geopolitical space and similar socio-economic aspirations for ourselves. The future is less certain or evident. Uncertainty in the international system is at unprecedented levels. The economic and security situation facing both India and China has become far more complicated in the last few years. On the positive side, thanks to sustained growth rates, high savings rates and a prudent financial approach, Asia and the developing world have witnessed a greater accretion of relative economic power following the financial crisis of 2008. In Asia, larger economies like China, Japan, India, South Korea and Indonesia, all members of the G-20, have increased their ability to influence economic outcomes. The BRICS process has also gained ground. These are welcome developments.

At the same time, risks remain for economies which are still developing. An early return to robust growth and spending in the developed world are necessary for world economic recovery. The US, Europe and Japan still account for approximately $20 trillion of consumption expenditure as against about $2.5 trillion by China and India together.

A re-balancing of economic structures in our countries in the face of such differences could be difficult. More generally speaking, the relatively benign external environment in the last two decades is changing negatively and is threatened by protectionism in the developed world.

World politics also faces new challenges. The balance of power is in flux in Asia and the world. As uncertainty rises, powers follow hedging strategies. The mechanisms of strategic communication and consultation and a common security outlook are evolving slower than the changes in objective reality.

Besides, both India and China are increasingly linked to the rest of the world, through trade, investment and their Diasporas. The impact of changes in West Asia on our energy security, for instance, is an example of how developments further away from our shores also affect India and China more and more profoundly. It is therefore natural for us to take ever greater interest on global issues.

Equally, global issues like climate change, nuclear proliferation and cyber and space security matter more to both India and China in this globalised world as they influence our development, peace and prosperity.

India-China relations

What does this context imply for India-China relations?

Both India and China currently give the highest priority to their domestic transformation, which will take time. A peaceful periphery, a stable and benign world environment and continued prosperity among our economic partners are of utmost importance to both of us. This will remain so for quite some time. It is in our mutual interest to work together, bilaterally and with other partners, to reduce uncertainty and create an international environment that is supportive to our domestic transformation efforts. Economics and development are not zero-sum games.

It is for this reason that we believe that there is enough space for both India and China to realise their development aspirations.

Economically, we are already integrated with each other to an unprecedented extent. Our bilateral trade reached over US$67 billion in the first 11 months of last year, and China has consistently remained our largest trading partner in goods for several years.

However, investment flows between us have not kept pace with trade. Indian investment in China worth a total of US$ 433 million is spread over 676 projects, while Chinese investment in India is worth nearly US$ 300 million. There are several opportunities for cooperation in developing infrastructure. India is already one of China's most important markets for project exports, with a cumulative value of contracted projects at US$ 53.5 billion and turnover realised at US$ 24.6 billion.

What is less noticed is the range of contact between our two societies. For instance, over 7,000 Indian students are studying in China today. This scale of interaction never occurred before in history.

Naturally, the corollaries of such an intensification of economic and social engagement are issues of trade imbalance, diversifying the trade basket and commercial disputes. The two governments have taken several initiatives to make our trade more balanced and harmonious, and to facilitate and streamline our business engagement. More remains to be done and we will learn by doing.

For instance in September last year we held the first Strategic Economic Dialogue between India and China which identified several areas of promise for the future. Equally the business communities and their Chambers need to take advantage of growing opportunities while sharpening competitive edge. I am convinced that our business and economic engagement with each other and with other countries will intensify as we seek to overcome the prospect of sluggish recovery in the traditional engines of growth in the world economy.

Our Governments have common or similar positions on the global development agenda, in WTO and on climate change, which has made it possible for us to work together internationally.

Adversaries ?

A few vocal experts in our two countries and elsewhere argue that notwithstanding the numerous cooperative elements in our economic relations and approach to international issues, India and China are bound to be strategic adversaries. I find such determinism misplaced. It ignores the successful experience and demonstrated expertise of both governments in managing differences and building on commonalities for over three decades and particularly since the Rajiv Gandhi visit to China in 1988. It also ignores the wisdom of the leaders of the two countries, who have consistently worked to ensure that problems are managed in a mature manner.

The issue is whether we can continue to manage the elements of competition within an agreed strategic framework which permits both of us to pursue our core interests. I see no reason why that should not be so. Indeed I would go further and say that the rapid changes in the international situation today also create an opportunity for India and China to work with others to shape benign international outcomes.

The boundary question remains unresolved, and there is no denying that it is a difficult issue. However, a number of mechanisms have been put in place to ensure that the border stays peaceful while we seek a settlement of the boundary question. On the settlement itself, we are in the second stage of the three stage process of agreeing principles, a framework and finally a boundary line.

Similarly, on other bilateral issues of potential difference there exist mechanisms of dialogue and communication to address them. We appreciate China's assistance to us in tackling floods and natural disasters in the downstream areas of our shared rivers. There is a need to widen the scope and deepen the level of our communication in some areas. These include new challenges and new issues in the changing context of our relations. I am confident that we will do so.

Indeed, some security challenges, especially of the non-traditional variety, are common to India and China, and offer an opportunity to work together. Both India and China face the challenge of terrorism in our shared neighbourhood. It requires common effort by all members of the international community to tackle terrorism.

Energy is the key to domestic transformation in both India and China, which is why both of us have a common stake in energy security, and in the freedom and security of transportation on the global commons. We both have an interest in global public goods like a peaceful order, freedom of the seas and open sea lanes. We similarly need to address issues of piracy with common resolve. As important maritime nations, we can contribute to each other's maritime security by coordinating approaches.

Asia's security is interlinked across this great continent. India has therefore argued for an open, inclusive Asian security architecture. India and China will have key roles to play in forging a new compact for common and collective security for Asia. We should also contribute within our capacity to the global public goods that are increasingly important to our well being.

The robustness of our bilateral relation will depend on dialogue and communication so that the potential for misunderstanding and miscalculation is limited. This dialogue process must not be limited to the two Governments.

Today, there are multiple stakeholders in our relations as also multiple determinants of these relations. Each of them, be it businessmen, media or scholars of the two countries, has a responsibility to take our relations to the desired level of equilibrium. It is therefore absolutely essential that they acquire an informed understanding of their neighbour. Today, as both India and China change fast, our understanding of each other needs to keep pace. Both the quality and the scale of our interactions have also grown so rapidly that we need to learn new ways of dealing with the relationship.

To conclude, India and China have demonstrated an ability to deal with difficult issues and to build a cooperative partnership based on common interests. Its regional and global impact, and its long term significance to our own development, is what makes the India-China relationship strategic in the true sense of the term.

I do hope that I have been successful in giving you some idea of why I am confident that by working together India and China will be able to successfully face the challenges that the new geopolitics are throwing up, and would best serve their own national interests by further deepening their strategic cooperative relationship.

The address delivered by the National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon this week in Beijing on India-China Relations


http://www.deccanherald.com/content/218774/tale-two-generals.html
Tale of two generals
Kuldip Nayar

BETWEEN THE LINES

The argument that the Supreme Court surrendered to the Pak army when it constituted the probe body is churlish.

The army chief is in the news in India as well as in Pakistan, but for different reasons. In both cases, the Supreme Court of either country is an arbiter. In India, Chief of Army Staff General V K Singh claims that his year of birth is 1950 while the Ministry of Defence has recorded it as 1951. If the government sticks to its date, as it is doing, he retires this May, nearly 10 months before his own calculation of birth date. Not Gen Singh himself, but some retired top brass have made it a point of honour for the armed forces and want him to vindicate it by challenging the government's decision in the Supreme Court.

In Pakistan, Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has already gone to the Supreme Court which has set up a commission of nine judges to probe into the charge that the army was contemplating a coup.

The matter, called the Memogate, came to light a couple of months ago when the then Pakistan Ambassador to the US, Hussain Haqqani, sent a message to the US through a Pakistani businessman that President Asif Zardari required America's support because he apprehended a takeover by the army. It was October when Haqqani sought the help but he did not make it public till the US did so. The disclosure made General Kayani furious. To lessen his anger, Zardari ordered Haqqani to quit. This was not a fair charge against Kayani because why should he threaten a takeover when the army already has the country under its control?

The argument that the Supreme Court surrendered to the army when it constituted the inquiry commission is churlish. And to make a charge against the Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Choudhary is meaningless. He is the person who suffered at the hands of the army, then headed by Gen Pervez Musharraf. Choudhary and his family were confined to one room and harassed in every way. But he did not give in. Doubting his integrity is neither fair not factually correct. It is possible that Haqqani was playing politics when he was sponsoring the message. But then this is not the first time that Haqqani is doing so.

Looking at his career, it is evident that he is a man of all seasons. Jumping from one political party to another for feathering his own nest is all that he has as his achievements.

The controversy over the date of birth of the army chief would not have arisen in Pakistan because the conditions prevailing there are quite different from those in India. Yet the embarrassment caused over Gen Singh's claim could have been avoided if the matter had been handled better and earlier, both by him and the defence ministry.

Making an issue
I can appreciate Gen Kayani making a fuss because he felt that he was being blamed for an act which he had not contemplated. But I fail to understand why Gen Singh is making his birth date an issue when it was "resolved" between him and the defence ministry before he was appointed Eastern Army Commander four years ago and the army chief two years ago. He himself gave in writing to the Ministry of Defence that the matter was "closed."

Good or bad, Gen Singh should have adhered to what was decided then. It was wrong on his part to have consulted former chief justices of India to bolster his case or to brief persons who came to TV shows—resembling kangaroo courts—to participate in discussions. It can be interpreted as an act of insubordination.

I heard some retired top brass converting the matter into an issue between civil and military. Such irresponsible talk, even if allowed in a democratic system, tantamount to challenging the ethos of our polity. Gen Douglas MacArthur, hero of the eastern sector in the Second World War, was dismissed by President Henry Truman when he found the general deriding democracy.

Even if the defence ministry's decision on his birth date is not to his liking or some of his ambitious supporters, the buck stops at the table of an elected government. I am disappointed to find bonepartism taking hold of some top retired military officers. The media itself should have undertaken the matter with care instead of sensationalising it. The Pakistani media in the case of Gen Kayani acted with restraint and responsibility. It has shown guts even when threatened.

The compromise formula hawked in the case of Gen Singh is again bad in content and intention. The proposal to appoint him as the chief of joint staff suggests as if there are two parties and an agreement has to be reached so that none loses face. What is not realised is that there is only one party in democracy, the people who elect their representatives who, in turn, constitute the government.

The irony is that all military coups in Pakistan have been at the behest of America. The Pakistani military has signed more defence pacts and agreements with America than all civilian governments put together. It is the Pakistan military which joined America in Afghanistan in the eighties and recently leased out Pakistan air bases and air space corridors to America. Still Washington did not trust the army when Osama bin Laden was killed in a house at Abbotabad.

Both generals in Pakistan and India should introspect. Gen Kayani can get away with his allegation against the civil government and allow President Zardari say that he is supreme. Gen V K Singh cannot because in democracy, the elected government is supreme. He should have known it before he raised the dust.

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http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Army-much-cleaner-today-Gen-V-K-Singh/articleshow/11464340.cms
Army much cleaner today: Gen V K Singh
NEW DELHI: Claiming success in improving the internal health of the Indian Army, Gen V K Singh today said the organisation was 'much cleaner' at present than when he had taken over from General Deepak Kapoor in 2010.

"The answer is a big yes... we have been very successful in improving the internal health of the service," he said when asked if the internal health of the force had improved and the organisation was much cleaner today.

Soon after taking over, Gen Singh had said that improving internal health of the Army was his priority as the force was mired in scams such as Sukna.

The Army Chief as Eastern Army Commander had ordered an inquiry into the Sukna land scam in 2009 in which two Lt Gens have already been court martialled under Army laws.

He said by improving internal health he meant that officers and troops followed and observed the "core values" of the service.

"We have made our system transparent and secondly, we have told all our people that however big and powerful they may be, if we find them in any wrongdoing, they will be punished under the Army rules," he said.

"We have built confidence in our people so that they can speak the truth," added.

Gen Singh said internal health of the force can't be improved with the press of a button and will get better with the passage of time.

After Gen Singh took over as Army Chief, three Lt Gens have been court martialled for their alleged involvement in scams and the names of two former Army Chiefs also surfaced in the Adarsh Housing Scam.



http://ibnlive.in.com/generalnewsfeed/news/ota-writes-to-defence-ministry-for-more-infrastructure/949835.html
OTA writes to Defence Ministry for more infrastructure
PTI | 07:01 PM,Jan 12,2012

Chennai, Jan 12 (PTI) The Officers' Training Academy (OTA) here, which trains men and women cadets and commissions them as short service into the Indian Army, has written to the Defence Ministry seeking for improvement of infrastructure in the Academy to accommodate 1,000 cadets. "The OTA has written to the Ministry of Defence asking for upgrading its infrastructure to accommodate at least 1,000 cadets in the academy," Army sources told PTI here. Since this year, the academy is training over 750 cadets, against its earlier strength of 500 cadets, they said. "The Army is short of over 14,000 officers and the Centre is keen to bridge that gap. The OTA at Gaya in Bihar will also have 1,000 cadets soon," they said. The OTA here is stepping into its 50 years of existence this year. The Academy at Gaya was inaugurated in November last year. The OTA here is the only institution in the country that trains women cadets and commissions them into officers in various regiments of the Army. The academy has also trained 191 officers from friendly foreign countries so far. PTI DSJ RC


http://ibnlive.in.com/news/age-row-army-chief-hits-out-at-detractors/220245-3.html
Age row: Army chief hits out at detractors
New Delhi: Indian Army Chief General VK Singh on Thursday hit out at his detractors over the age row, alleging that a lot of spins had been attributed.

He further refuted that the issue was affecting the image of the army, claiming that it was being handled in organisational interest.

"If you look at the facts, the age controversy is not affecting the image of the army. It has not marred my vision. These issues play a part in my family life, not for the army," said General Singh.

Talking about allegations of fake encounter against Lt General Bikram Singh, who is likely to take over as the army chief if General VK Singh retires in May 2012, he said that the army had a report of what had happened then.

He added that no enquiry was carried out by the army then as it is the civil police that is supposed to look into such allegations.

General VK Singh further said that he knew who was behind the age row concerning him


http://ibnlive.in.com/news/meg-pushes-up-the-tempo-for-army-day/220035-60-119.html
MEG pushes up the tempo for Army Day
BANGALORE: Bravehearts of the Indian Army and families which lost their bread-winners have started to check into Bangalore with emotions, pride and tales of Tricolour triumphs embedded close to their heart. On January 15 (Army Day), they will be honoured at the prestigious Investiture Ceremony for their priceless sacrifices and valour, during their call of duty. And, for the personnel of Madras Engineer Group and Centre (MEG& C) - also known as Madras Sappers -� the event will be another opportunity to exhibit their matchless hospitality, discipline and determination - a trademark that has often separated them from the rest.

The solemn ceremony being hosted in Bangalore after a gap of nine years, will see Army's Southern Command roping in their best men to ensure that a pin gets into a pinhole itself. It is for the first time in MEG's 232 years of existence that an� Investiture Ceremony is being held at their centre.

All the formation units under the Southern Command (Maharashtra, Gujarat, parts of Rajasthan� and all Southern states) will be part of this solemn ceremony. The Command is headquartered in Pune with Lt Gen A K Singh as the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief. The Investiture Ceremony is completely choreographed by a team led by Major General A K Pradhan, General Officer Commanding, Karnataka and Kerala Sub-Area.

The Southern Command has a large mandate to guard areas right from Kanyakumari to parts of Rajasthan, thereby making it a formidable force within the Indian Army. There are two major static formations under the Southern Command - the MG&G (Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa) and ATNK&K (Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala).

"The Investiture Ceremony will see� equal representation from all four formations. Army Day is celebrated all over India by having military parades, shows in national capital and all across six Army Commands," Sitanshu Kar, Principal Spokesperson, Ministry of Defence, told Express over the phone from New Delhi.

Sources confirm that special security arrangements have been put in and around the ceremony venue (Basantar Auditorium) at MEG, with the sanitisation work being undertaken by counter-improvised explosive device experts. "Close to 1,000 people� are expected to attend the event and Army has SOPs for security depending on the level of each event," sources said.

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