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Friday, 13 April 2012

From Today's Papers - 13 Apr 1912
India willing to talk Kashmir with Pak

Washington, April 12
India is willing to advance its peace talks with Pakistan and discuss the Kashmir issue, but the main stumbling block is Islamabad's failure to clamp down on militant groups, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai has said.

Mathai, in an interview to 'The Wall Street Journal published today, also said that Pakistan's recent moves, including an agreement to open its markets to Indian goods, was a signal that it was serious about improving ties with India.

Asserting that Pakistan needs to take serious action against militants using its soil to attack India, he said that it was deeply troubling to India that LeT founder Hafiz Saeed, mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, was able to address public gatherings and appear on television in Pakistan.

He said Pakistan's failure to clamp down on militant groups that have attacked India is the major roadblock to peace talks. Mathai said the US decision to put a $ 10 million bounty on Saeed shows that Washington has come around to India's view about the high level of threat from Pakistan-based militant groups.

"It does demonstrate that much of what concerns us is a broader international concern," he said.

At the same time, Mathai referred to Pakistan's recent moves indicating its willingness to improve bilateral ties, including those on trade.

"I wouldn't have been as optimistic six months ago," he said, speaking about prospects for the latest round of peace talks, which began a year ago.

"The fact the (Pakistan) government is able to move on the trade track shows there's a greater willingness to take things forward by all the players," Mathai said.

As the talks with Pakistan develop, India would consider reopening a serious discussion on Kashmir, he said.

India, he said, "would be happy" to start talks toward a deal to keep Kashmir's borders as they are but allow greater trade and movement of people across the Line of Control.

The paper quoted Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit as saying that while there had been progress in the "tone and tenor" of the discussions, Pakistan believed that "unless the Jammu and Kashmir issue is resolved, we cannot expect lasting peace in South Asia."

Mathai also spoke about the back-channel talks between India and Pakistan on the Kashmir issue during the Musharraf regime.

"It was a very useful channel of discussions," he said.

"They made progress." Basit, however, was quoted as saying that he had no knowledge of the 2007 back-channel diplomacy.

Mathai said India believes it is now "up to the Pakistanis to decide how to proceed" on peace talks.

The Foreign Secretary said India is looking for "something solid" to announce before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visits Pakistan.

Singh last weekend accepted the invitation of President Asif Ali Zardari to visit Pakistan when the latter visited New Delhi and Ajmer. — PTI
Defence Minister tells PSUs to pull up their socks
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 12
Defence Minister AK Antony today issued a stern warning to defence public sector undertakings (DPSUs) asking them to maintain transparency in their dealings with the armed forces.

Antony said he wanted DPSUs to speed up work and set benchmarks of standard and quality for private sector companies.

"There should be no compromise on transparency in dealings with clients and users," he said while reviewing performance and functioning of eight defence PSUs, including Bharat Earth Mover Limited (BEML) which is in the eye of the storm over the deals of Tatra trucks supplied to the Army.

BEML chief VRS Natarajan was also present at the meeting along with his counterparts from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Bharat Electronics Limited, Bharat Dynamics Limited and four defence shipyards - Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers, Mazagon Docks Limited, Goa Shipyard Limited and Hindustan Shipyard Limited.

CBI inquiries have been ordered to look into the procurement of Tatra trucks manufactured by BEML in India. Army chief Gen VK Singh had levelled allegations that he was offered a bribe of Rs14 crore by a defence lobbyist to clear a proposal for Tatra trucks.
Helicopter crash-lands on Bangalore rooftop
A security personnel stands near the helicopter that crash-landed on the rooftop of an apartment building
A security personnel stands near the helicopter that crash-landed on the rooftop of an apartment building
in Bangalore on Thursday. — AFP

The Pilots
Schweizer-300C copter of the Rotary Wing Academy of HAL was being flown by Air Commodore (retd) Roj Assey along with trainee Capt Digvijay Singh.

No Damage
There was no damage to the building and both the pilot and the trainee were safe. The helicopter was, however, damaged.

Taking away
Since it is not possible to tow the copter from the building top, HAL technicians will dismantle the copter and remove it part by part.
Pakistan set to reopen NATO supply routes to Afghanistan, demands US apology for air strike
Islamabad:  Pakistan's parliament on Thursday unanimously approved a resolution for resetting the country's troubled relations with the US, calling for an "immediate cessation" of American drone strikes and an apology for the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers in a NATO air strike.

A joint sitting of the National Assembly and Senate adopted a resolution, containing 14 recommendations made by the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PNCS) for ties with the US and overall foreign policy.

Observers said the move is expected to pave the way for reopening NATO supply routes to Afghanistan that were closed after last year's NATO air strike.

Though most of the recommendations were related to Pakistan's ties with the US, NATO and ISAF, some focussed on the relationship with India and regional issues.

The resolution noted that the US-India civil nuclear agreement had "significantly altered the strategic balance in the region" and called for Pakistan to seek from the US and other countries a similar facility.

"Today's resolution will enrich your respect and dignity. I assure you that we will get these enforced in letter and spirit," Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said.

He contended that "real and substantive oversight and democratic accountability" had been introduced to the foreign and security policy for the first time.

Pakistan had closed all NATO supply routes and forced American personnel to vacate Shamsi airbase, considered a hub for CIA-operated drones.

The government had ordered a parliamentary review of relations with the US after the NATO air strike.

Explaining the reasons behind the review, Mr Gilani said: "Our partnership cannot be at the cost of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan."

The country is committed to work with the world community to achieve common objectives, he added.

The resolution reaffirmed Pakistan's commitment to the elimination of terrorism but demanded a review of what it described as the "US footprint" in the country.

Pakistan should be given assurances that such attacks or any other acts impinging on Pakistan's sovereignty would not recur, the resolution said. It also added that the Defence Ministry and air force should formulate new flying rules for areas contiguous to the border with Afghanistan.

No private security contractors and intelligence operatives will be allowed into Pakistan and the country's territory will not be provided for establishing any foreign bases, the resolution said.

Referring to Afghanistan, the resolution said there could be no military solution to the Afghan conflict and "efforts must be undertaken to promote a genuine national reconciliation in an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process".

The joint session of the parliament was prorogued after the adoption of the resolution.
Panel yet to send official summons to service chiefs
Three days after the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence decided to summon the three service chiefs on April 20 to seek their views on defence preparedness, there is a question mark over the said deposition. Committee chairman Satpal Maharaj “clarified” on Wednesday that no official correspondence for calling the chiefs “on the said date has so far been issued”.

While he did not deny the possibility of the three service chiefs being called in future, the committee members were uncertain about the need and real import of the clarification.

As recounted by committee members, on April 9, joint secretary on the committee had announced that the three service chiefs would be summoned on April 20. Some members had raised the point that they should be called one at a time and not together. Maharaj had then settled the issue saying they would be called together, said sources.

“The committee had unanimously decided to call the three service chiefs to throw light on defence preparedness as raised by Army Chief V K Singh in his letter to the Prime Minister. As per convention, if the chairman decides to change the decision, he would have to call another meeting of the committee to discuss it,” a non-UPA member of the committee told The Indian Express on Thursday.

At the last meeting of the committee, vice-chief of the Army had said while war-fighting stocks have to be for 40 days, in some areas like Armour Piercing Fin-Stabilised Discarding Sabot (a special tank ammunition), it is down to four days.

The next day, however, Defence Minister A K Antony had rebutted all apprehension about defence preparedness and termed reports about shortage of ammunition as “rumours”. “India is in a strong position as compared to the past,” Antony had asserted.

Maintain transparency, Antony tells defence PSUs

Defence Minister A K Antony on Thursday issued a stern warning to state-owned defence companies asking them to maintain transparency in their dealings with the armed forces. "There should be no compromise on transparency in dealings with the clients and users," Antony said, reviewing the performance and functioning of eight defence PSUs, including BEML. The review meeting follows different CBI inquiries ordered into the procurement of Tatra trucks manufactured by BEML in India.
Army troop movement: Press Council to challenge HC order, says chief Katju

Terming as "not correct" the Allahabad High Court order which prohibited all media reports related to the troop movement, Press Council of India (PCI) chairman Justice Markandey Katju today said the Council would soon challenge it in the Supreme Court.

"The Press Council of India will be challenging the order of the Allahabad High Court in the Supreme Court of India very shortly," the PCI chief, who is a former Supreme Court judge, said in a statement.

Katju said "with great respect to the High Court, I am of the opinion that the order of the High Court is not correct".

He said the Indian Army was not a colonial Army, but the Army of the Indian people who pay taxes for the entire defence budget. Hence, the people of India have a right to know about Army affairs, except when they compromise national security.

Katju noted the media has done an excellent job in exposing the Adarsh and Sukna scams in which senior Army officers were involved and they were well within their fundamental right of freedom of the media under Article 19(1)(A) of the Constitution to do so.

The court had directed Secretaries in the Home Affairs and I & B ministries along with Principal Secretary (Home) of the UP government to ensure there is no reporting or release of any news item related to movement of troops.

He said reporting troop movement near the Indian border or during war time should be prohibited as that may aid the enemy and cause harm to the armed forces by compromising national security. "However, in my opinion there can be no general prohibition on reporting of all troop movements," he said.

Katju referred to the reporting of alleged troop movement by 'The Indian Express' in its report published on April 4.

"I am of the opinion that without going into the question whether the news reporting was factually correct or not, there could not have been a valid prohibition of such reporting, because the troop movement was not at the Indian border or during war time," he said.

The allegation in 'The Indian Express' report was that there was some convention written or unwritten, that troop movements towards Delhi should not take place without notifying and getting consent of the government which was not done, he said.

"The further allegation was that this caused panic among the civil authorities, and the troop movement was abruptly stopped," he added.

The PCI chief said 'The Indian Express' is not a fly-by-night newspaper, but a responsible one.

"They (Express) took 11 weeks to complete the investigation of the reported troop investigation before deciding to publish the report. Hence, I do not see how they can be faulted," he further added.
Sharad Pawar criticises army chief
Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Thursday appeared critical of army chief VK Singh over his allegation that he was offered bribe to clear a defence deal.

"When it is a matter of bribe, the onus on the person making the charge is to disclose it the same day and not wait for one-and-a half years," he told reporters here tonight.

The former defence minister was asked about Gen Singh's complaint he was offered a bribe of Rs 14 crore by a retired officer to clear a tranche of "sub-standard" vehicles. The CBI has registered a preliminary enquiry in this regard.

On the army chief's views on availability of critical ammunition for the armed forces, Pawar said, "I don't believe there ever was a situation when in the country's security was compromised."

Pawar expressed his displeasure over the timing of the General's observations. "The revelations came on a day when top leaders of China, Brazil, South Africa and Russia were in the national capital (for BRICS summit)."

Asked about the letter he wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Pawar said, "Some decisions were taken contrary to the discussions... I though I will highlight the farmers' unease before the prime minister."

In his letter, Pawar said the government's policies related to cotton, sugar and milk were hurting farmers who are being asked to subsidies the industry.

Noting that he was of the opinion that there should be no export-import restrictions on essential commodities, he said, "The switch on switch off policy has affected our image."

"India's image as a reliable supplier (in global market) has taken a beating. I am sure the prime minister will help take corrective measures," Pawar said.

The Agriculture Minister said there would be drought-like situation and shortage of water and fodder in parts of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

"I see that in the next three months some parts of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, and major parts of Maharashtra would face drought-like situation and shortage of water and fodder."

On the comment by Congress MP and Union Minister Milind Deora that there was a "decision deficit" in the Congress-NCP ruled Maharashtra, Pawar said "It must be the internal matter of the Congress...I don't know."

Pawar expressed satisfaction over his party NCP emerging as No.1 political force in Maharashtra in the recent local body elections.

"We (NCP) should establish our own constituencies like the parties led by Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav have done," the Maratha strongman maintained.
NDA gets an Army Public School
Pune, April 12 (IANS) India's premier military training establishment, the National Defence Academy (NDA) here, Thursday announced that it has upgraded its NDA English School into an Army Public School, an officer said.

'The NDA took another pioneering step in the field of education by establishing an Army Public Schools at the academy. On similar lines, the existing Tiny Tots School has been upgraded to NDA Army Pre-Primary School,' the officer said.

Both schools will function under the aegis of the Army Welfare Education Society (AWES), which currently runs 123 Army Schools and 13 Army Professional Schools in the country.

'The formal inauguration of the NDA Army Public School was done Wednesday by (academy commandant) Lt. Gen. Jatinder Singh in the presence of Major General (retd) B.S. Daulta, Managing Director, Army Welfare Education Society (AWES) and Colonel A. Dutta, Director, Schools,' the officer said.

'The schools aim to be institutions of excellence, dedicated to the children, to develop them into responsible citizens and leaders by imparting quality education in an environment which is caring, stimulating and challenging,' the officer said.

In the first year, the NDA Army Public School shall have classes I-VI. Subsequently one higher class will be added each year till it becomes a full-fledged Army Public School till class XII.
Defence ministry denies rift with services
NEW DELHI: Defence ministry on Thursday denied reports of any difference with armed forces and said the government is working in harmony with the three services.

"There is no difference at all within the establishment and the armed forces and we are working in harmony," minister of state for defence M M Pallam Raju told reporters here.

He was asked whether there is any role of an insider behind the controversial leakage of Army chief General V K Singh's letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Gen Singh's letter on the state of preparedness of the force to the PM was leaked to the media sometime back.

"I do not want to speculate on speculative reports," Raju told reporters after inaugurating a national seminar of NCC.

Replying to a question on rapid modernisation of military infrastructure by Chinese Army along its border with India, he said efforts are being made to upgrade Indian infrastructure there.

"China's budget is four times that of India so they will definitely have larger resources dedicated to that. But that does not mean that we are under-prepared in anyway. We are also gathering momentum in the way we are acquiring capabilities and the way we are building our infrastructure," Raju said.

On the purchase of Basic Trainer Aircraft (BTA) Pilatus for the Indian Air Force (IAF), he said, "There is a procedure for acquisition for anything and because of the shortage of the trainer aircraft, Pilatus will be processed as soon as possible in the urgency of need for trainer aircraft."

He hoped the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) will take up the issue soon.
India revises defence offset guidelines
India's new revised defence-offset guidelines will be applied to all defence contracts awarded after 1 January 2011. They reinforce the nation's focus on augmenting capacity for research and development, fostering the development of internationally-competitive enterprises and also give a boost to the civil aviation and homeland security sectors.

However, the roughly $16 billion medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) deal to be covered under India's restrictive 2006 policy will not reap any advantage. Disappointment expressed by a French analyst says it all: "Imagine you were condemned to death for whatever reason. Then a new legislation in your country abolishes the death penalty. Would you be happy if the new rule was not retroactive?"

There is good news for international original equipment manufacturers (OEM) eyeing India's penchant for arms that include 197 light helicopters for the army, $1.5 billion for refuelling tankers, $2.4 billion for a Dassault Mirage 2000 fighter upgrade for the Indian Air Force, and billions more on submarines, tanks and artillery. In all, the nation is expected to buy military equipment worth $80 billion over the next five years.

The offset rules revision recognises the transfer of technology (TOT) eligible for discharge of offset obligations without restriction on domestic production, sale or export.

"The offset credit for TOT, at 10% of the value of the buy-back by the OEM, will ensure only the technologies that will result in real production are eligible for offset benefit. Indian offset providers can now get some of the latest manufacturing know-how," says Rahul Gangal, director, defence advisory and investments at Aviotech.

Some local manufacturers are upbeat, with big-ticket defence purchases in the offing. "Samtel is at a stage where it can offer a repertoire of avionics displays and advanced systems to meet customised requirements of the worldwide aerospace industry," says Puneet Kaura, executive director of Delhi-based Samtel Display Systems.

"There remains a lack of clarity on the implementation body that will monitor the TOT and IPR [intellectual property rights] for which the industry recently called for a National Technology Audit Agency and an integrated legal framework to be put in place to ensure TOT is managed and audited," says Ajay Batra, an IPR evangelist.

Hi-technology transfer that can be treated as offsets with a multiplier of up to three will be an incentive to OEMs. A list of technologies will soon be released by India's Defense Research and Development Organisation. Technologies for single crystal blades, materials, seekers and nano technology figure on the list, Flightglobal has learned.

Other revisions include the discharge of offset obligation greater than the period of the main contract by two years, capping penalties to 25% and the inclusion of non-cash equity, such as tooling and training, as offsets. The validity of banking offset credits is being increased to seven years from the present two years.

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