Pak soldier crosses LoC, held
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria & Darshan Bharti
Tribune News Service
Jammu/Poonch, July 12
The Army on Thursday apprehended a Pakistani soldier after he crossed the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir. Identified as Aarif Ali (19), the soldier was nabbed from forward Kerni post in the Poonch sector close to the LoC around 6.30 am.
Ali claimed that he belongs to the Charlie Company of 25 Frontier Force of the Pakistani Army and was posted at Saifullah-2 post along the LoC. The Frontier Force Regiment of the Pakistan Army guards the LoC opposite the Poonch sector.
“He said poor amenities on other side of the LoC forced him to cross over to this side. We are interrogating him,” said officials.
A civilian identity card, two SIM cards of Pakistani cellular companies and cash of Rs 13,300 have been recovered from the soldier, they said. Ali is son of one Bashir Ahmed and is a resident of Quetta in Pakistan. “No weapons have been found in his possession. But he carried a leave certificate issued by the Frontier Force,” officials added.
Sources said Ali sought asylum soon after crossing over to this side. The Defence Ministry has confirmed that Ali is a regular Pakistani Army soldier. He was recruited in Pakistani Army in 2010.
Trooper seeks asylum
Identified as Aarif Ali (19), the soldier was nabbed from forward Kerni post in the Poonch sector close to the LoC around 6.30 am on Thursday
Ali claimed that he belongs to the Charlie Company of 25 Frontier Force of the Pakistani Army. He has sought asylum in India, saying that amenities in the PoK were very poor
A civilian identity card, two SIM cards of Pakistani cellular companies and cash of Rs 13,300 have been recovered from him. The Army is questioning the soldier
Omar’s bold poser to separatists on what Pak has done to PoK
Tribune News Service
Jammu, July 12
On Wednesday, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah posed a question to separatists which none of his predecessors have ever dared to ask. “Have you (separatist leaders, particularly hardline Hurriyat chief Syed Ali Shah Geelani) ever asked Pakistan what it has done to Kashmir under its occupation?” Omar thundered at a rally organised to commemorate the 12th death anniversary of his grandmother Begum Akbar Jehan in Srinagar yesterday.
This question has the potential to change the entire nature of the Indo-Pak dialogue and also invoke local sentiment on the issue. “Pakistan has gifted a big chunk of land to China and settled Pakistanis in the part of Kashmir under its control,” Omar said. Omar’s statement was directed at Geelani, who at a recent press conference had alleged that non-state subjects (non-permanent residents of Jammu of Kashmir) were to be settled in the garb of Kashmiri Pandits in the special colonies being set up in the Valley.
It’s because of the special status of the state under Article 370, which Omar insisted would stay for ever, only state subjects can vote in the Assembly elections, get jobs and admission into professional institutions and own immovable property. Non-state subjects are not granted citizenship rights in Jammu and Kashmir. “We may be having hundreds of issues with India, but the country deserves our unqualified appreciation that it has not tampered with even a single inch of land of our state,” Omar said.
While it seemed that Omar was responding to Geelani, but there is something more than what meets the eye. Omar, who champions the cause of restoration of greater autonomy, also declared that Indo-Pak dialogue was must for the solution of the Kashmir crisis. “India cannot solve it on its own”. Separatists, moderate or hardliners, had never been challenged on this issue ever before. Omar’s father and Union Minister Farooq Abdullah who was thrice Chief Minister of the state and a perennial critic of separatists, never asked this question, nor did Mufti Mohammad Sayeed or Ghulam Nabi Azad. They also never spoke of the Chinese army’s presence in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
The separatists make an issue of the military presence in the state and call for strikes on one issue after another, especially on the alleged human rights violations. But they have never raised any such question. Now it is to be seen that how would separatists respond to this poser.
hard talk by CM
Have you (separatist leaders, particularly hardline Hurriyat chief Syed Ali Shah Geelani) ever asked Pakistan what it has done to Kashmir under its occupation?
Pakistan has gifted a big chunk of land to China and settled Pakistanis in the part of Kashmir under its control
We may be having hundreds of issues with India, but the country deserves our unqualified appreciation that it has not tampered with even a single inch of land of our state
When Indian, Pak forces jointly took on Congolese warlords
Bangalore, July 12
Fourteen-year imprisonment handed out to Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga yesterday by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Hague for using children as soldiers has made an IAF pilot in faraway Bangalore happy.
“Indian and Pakistani forces fought side by side against warlords in Congo. I guess some of the guys in Pakistan will also be happy that a Congolese warlord has been punished by a court,” said Sri Hari, commanding officer of the IAF’s 109 helicopter unit stationed in Bangalore.
“Having children soldiers among their troops is a common practice of Congolese warlords. This is their modus operandi,” quipped the IAF officer.
Lubanga, 51, was convicted of war crimes, specifically for using child soldiers in his rebel army in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in the ICC’s first verdict since it started work a decade ago. He had been found guilty of abducting children as young as 11 from homes, schools or football fields and forcing them to fight and commit atrocities.
Sri Hari was in Congo for one year (2006-07) as a member of the UN peacekeeping force. He did not have any engagement with Lubanga’s forces, but had fought against two other warlords who also used children as soldiers.
“Lubanga was arrested shortly before I went to Congo. While I was there, UN forces were raising a fight against the forces of Laurent Nkunda and Joseph Kony,” Sri Hari said.
Agni-I set to be test-fired off Odisha coast
BALASORE: India is all set to carry out a user specific trial of Agni-I missile from a defence base off the Odisha coast. The missile has been scheduled to be test-fired any time on Friday or Saturday.
It is the first trial of the Agni series of missiles after the much-celebrated success of the maiden test of 5000-km range Agni-V missile in April. Defence sources said the indigenously built missile would be fired from the Wheeler Island test facility in Bhadrak district.
"As the missile has already been inducted in the Indian Army, the test will be conducted by the Army personnel. This will be a limited stock production (LSP) test of Agni-I, which has been randomly selected from a bunch of missiles after production," a source at the defence base in Chandipur said on Thursday.
Massive preparations have been underway for the test since over a fortnight by defence scientists and Army personnel, with heavy security arrangement along the sea coast.
Though Agni-I was initially planned to be tested in May, the test was deferred till July reportedly due to some problems during the integration of the missile with the tracking systems and other sub-systems.
"There were considerable improvements in its re-entry technology and maneuverability since Agni's first trial. This test will reconfirm the technical parameters set for the user (Army)," said a defence scientist associated with the programme.
The Agni-I is an antiquated short-range and surface-based ballistic missile in the Agni series. It has a strike range of 700-900 km. Compared it its longer range cousins, its height is just 15 metres and it is powered by both solid and liquid propellants, which imparts it a speed of 2.5 km per second.
This missile was first test-fired on January 25, 2002 and since then several trails have been conducted. It is designed to bridge the gap between indigenously built short-range Prithvi, already deployed in the Army, and medium range Agni-II that has a range of more than 2,000 km, sources said.
India, US to enhance exchanges between law officers of armed forces
India and US are planning to share ideas and enhance exchanges between law officers of their armed forces for which American Army's seniormost legal officer Lt Gen Dana K Chipman is on a four-day visit in Nagpur.
A four-member delegation of the US Army led by its Judge Advocate General (JAG) Lt Gen Chipman visited the Institute of Military Law (IML) at Kamptee, a Defence Ministry spokesperson said here.
The team was accompanied by Maj Gen Prabhu Singh Rathore, the JAG of Indian Army.
"The purpose of the visit is to interact with JAG branch legal officers of the Indian armed forces to share ideas, lessons learned and discuss training related exchanges between the two countries," he said.
The IML imparts training to officers of legal departments of Indian Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, BSF and to officers of various friendly countries in the field of military and allied laws.
Addressing the officers, Lt Gen Chipman said, "Training at IML is very impressive because of the range of different themes and legal aspects taught here. The teaching output and the outreach are excellent."
Speaking on the occasion, Maj Gen Rathore said, "Both the countries stand to benefit from such interactions and exchange programmes. The US Army has a rich experience of operating in different parts of the world. We too have experiences of the peace keeping missions etc. Learning from their experiences and sharing ours would be mutually beneficial."
Blog: India needs more synergy among its armed forces
New Delhi: The Naresh Chandra Task Force, constituted to undertake a reappraisal of India's current and future security threats, submitted its report to the Prime Minister more than a month ago. Bits and pieces of the as yet secret report have appeared in the media but the government is yet to release it officially.
We do not know if the recommendations of the task force will ever be made public.
Nevertheless, from whatever little source-based information is available three recommendations stand out and are certainly worth implementing forthwith.
Appointment of a Permanent Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee (CoSC)
Integrate Service HQ and Ministry of Defence by allowing more cross-postings
Shift focus of India's national security strategy from Pakistan to China
While the shift in focus from Pakistan to China has been talked about and is being implemented in fits and starts for the past four or five years, the first two recommendations are worth deliberating in little more detail.
It is worth noting that the Task Force has NOT recommended a five star Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) since discussion on the creation of the post has created a lot of acrimony among the three forces ever since it was made exactly a decade ago.
While the Army has favoured the appointment of a CDS, envisaged as a single-point military adviser, the Navy has been ambivalent on the issue but it is the Air Force which has vehemently opposed the post. Former Air Chief, ACM PV Naik, in his last interview before demitting office last August had told me that the IAF opposes CDS in its 'present form.'
Aware of these inter-services dynamics, the Naresh Chandra Task Force has found a way around it by recommending creation of the post of Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee, a four star officer, who will be in charge of the two existing tri-services commands-the Strategic Command Force (SFC) and the Andaman Nicobar Command (ANC).
The three service Chiefs will continue command and lead their respective services, the Task Force said.
The Permanent Chairman CoSC, according to the recommendation of the Naresh Chandra Task Force, will have a fixed tenure of two years and will be rotated among the three services. This officer will be assisted by the existing Integrated Defence Staff (IDS), headed by a three star officer from any of the three services.
Over the past decade, the IDS has evolved in a barely workable tri-services structure with over 300 officers drawn from the three services trying to function as a cohesive unit tasked with evolving "jointness." On ground however, jointness or inter-operability has remained at best patchy. The Air Force in particular has resisted creation of a CDS fiercely, fearing that would be reduced to a supporting role.
The new recommendation seeks to overcome these differences. The Naresh Chandra Task Force has also recommended the creation of a separate Special Operations Command on the lines of the US structure since asymmetric threats are seen as the main challenge to India's national security in coming decades.
The Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee, as recommended by the Task Force is thus supposed to command the two existing tri-services commands and also lead the Special Operations Command whenever it comes into existence.
The new post, the Task Force is hoping, will also bring in synergy in major acquisitions for all the three forces. Often, the three services have worked independently in procuring same set of equipment, duplicating work and creating separate infrastructure when synergy would have saved hundreds of crores of rupees.
Linked to this is the recommendation that more cross-postings of bureaucrats in service headquarters and service officials in the Ministry of Defence should take place starting from director level upwards and should go right up to the additional secretary level gradually. This, the Task Force felt, would help greater integration and faster decision making since technical and domain knowledge from both the civil and military side will be instantly available whenever necessary instead of putting every query on file thereby adding to delays.
Having mulled over some of these proposals, a thought comes to mind. Why not create two more tri-services commands and give some more work to the proposed Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee?
Given the frequency of cyber-attacks on India's IT infrastructure, creation of a cyber-command is only a matter of time. Then again, an aerospace command has been discussed at the highest levels for some years now but inter-services rivalry has prevented it from taking off. Along with the creation of the proposed Special Operations Command, why not create these two additional tri-service commands? And let the Army, Air Force and Navy be the lead service for a particular command?
The proposed Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee can remain the head of these three commands with each of them being led by an Army Commander level officer. Given the experience and expertise available with the Army, it can take charge of the Special Operations Command, the IAF, with its domain knowledge, can take over the aerospace command and the Navy can lead the cyber command. The heads of these commands can have their second rung manned by two-star officers from each of the services so that they continue to have the benefit of expert advice from across the services but the overall responsibility must remain with the designated service.
Given that the existing tri-services commands go through painful changes each time their Commanders-in-Chief get rotated, making each of the service responsible for the proposed new commands will make their the working smoother and more efficient.
The new arrangement proposed by the Naresh Chandra Task Force, incomplete in itself can perhaps be better utilised in this manner.
Food for thought or a fanciful idea of an ill-informed hack?
DRDO to take telemedicine from army camps to villages
To make available quality healthcare facilities in rural and remote areas, the Defence Research and Development Organisation has decided to commercialise its telemedicine technology.
"Soldiers are already using this in army camps. Now this can be replicated for villages and in public health centres wherever needed. A few days ago, I was in Bangalore where we have taken a decision that we will package it and commercialise it," DRDO's Director-General Dr V K Saraswat told PTI.
They are already in talks with the Union Ministry of Rural Development on how to implement the new technology for the use of civilians.
Built primarily for use by the armed forces, the Rugged and Portable Telemedicine System was developed by scientists at the Defence Bioengineering & Electromedical Laboratory in Bangalore.
"For the defence forces, we have been doing trial and demonstration work in the last six months. We are completely successful. Both the Army and the Navy are very happy with the technology," DRDO's research head Dr W Selvamurthy said.
In the next two years, they will link command hospitals with field areas and base hospitals with the super-speciality Army Hospital Research and Referral (R&R) in New Delhi using the technology, the scientist said.
A demonstration was done in the extreme cold climate of Siachen two months ago.
"It works even in minus temperatures. It even connects ships sailing deep into the sea with the shore, so we are also working on a project for the Navy," Selvamurthy said.
Meeting international standards, such portable system can be set up at any remote place where establishing a permanent facility is neither feasible nor cost effective.