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Friday, 17 August 2012

From Today's Papers - 17 Aug 2012
Fresh doubts over safety of Pak nukes
Ashok Tuteja & Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, August 16
The attack on the Pakistan Air Force’s (PAF) base at Kamra, just 40 km from its capital, Islamabad, has triggered fresh fears about the safety of Pakistani nuclear weapons. The Kamra base is widely believed to be one of the sites where Pakistan stores its 100-odd nuclear warheads.

Against the backdrop of the attack, military bases on the Indian side close to the border activated prescribed defence mechanisms just in case terrorists got hold of a PAF plane and tried some mid-adventure. Indian Army Chief General Bikram Singh said Indian military installations were "well protected and defended".

"We have our procedures in place. All our bases are protected and there are standard operating procedures for this," the Army chief told reporters on the sidelines of a function.

In 2000 and 2001, there were two attacks on Indian bases in Jammu and Kashmir after which several steps were taken to strengthen security. Sources said, in the past 10 days, India’s civil and military Intelligence agencies had reported to the government that PAF surveillance planes were carrying out sorties at odd hours (such as 2 am), indicating that the Pakistanis were on a terror alert.

Pakistan’s military leaders and government officials have sought to allay American concerns, including those voiced by President Barack Obama, that its nuclear facilities are under threat from the Taliban and Al-Qaida. US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta had spoken of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons falling into the terrorists’ hands just last week.

New Delhi has also often raised fears about Pakistani nuclear assets falling into the wrong hands. It is no longer a secret that the Taliban and Qaida have been toying with the idea of manufacturing a “dirty bomb” or capturing Pakistani nuclear assets. Jihadists based in pakistan have often in the past sought to access fissile material that could be used for producing a nuclear weapon.

Pakistani authorities have, however, dismissed as “alarmist” fears of its nuclear assets falling into the wrong hands. Islamabad has claimed from to time that its nuclear warheads have been kept “decoupled” from their delivery systems under the country’s strategic weapons security policy. They also contended that the nuclear warheads were not stored at the Kamra Base or any other air force base.

The Pakistani authorities argued that the country’s nuclear bases were protected by heavily armed security personnel, wide cordons, sensors, and staff vetted by the country’s ISI intelligence agency.

But one can’t ignore the fact that Pakistan is the only country in the world where sites that are believed to store nuclear weapons have been attacked in recent years. Three suicide attacks in 2007-2008 targeted military installation at Wah, Sargodha and Kamra. The heavily-fortified Mehran Naval Base was attacked in May 2011.

Under attack

Pakistan is the only country in the world where sites that are believed to store nuclear weapons have been attacked in recent years

Three suicide attacks in 2007-2008 targeted military installation at Wah, Sargodha and Kamra

The heavily-fortified Mehran Naval Base was attacked in May 2011

Pakistan says its nuclear warheads not stored at Kamra or any air force base
Taliban attack Pak Air Force base
9 militants, soldier killed in gunbattle
Base believed to house N-weapons
Pak Taliban claims responsibility
Afzal Khan in Islamabad

In a brazen pre-dawn assault, heavily-armed Taliban terrorists donning suicide vests on Thursday stormed a key Pakistan Air Force base believed to house nuclear weapons, triggering a fierce gunbattle that left nine attackers and a soldier dead and parts of the complex ablaze.

The heavily guarded Minhas base is located about 70 km northwest of capital Islamabad in the vicinity of Pakistan’s key jet manufacturing plant, the Kamra Aeronautical Complex, where state-of-the art JF-17 Thunder fighters are assembled in collaboration with China besides French Mirages. At least 11 Chinese engineers were working at the complex who were immediately shifted to a secure place.

Base commander, Air Commodore Muhammad Azam, who led the counter attack participated by PAF and army commandos, was wounded along with three other security personnel. They were reported to be in stable condition.

The audacious attack came just a day after US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta expressed fears about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists.

The base in the Attock district of Punjab, according to a New York Times report, is believed to be one of the locations where Pakistan’s nuclear stockpiles, estimated to include at least 100 warheads, are stored.

The attackers, armed with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons, tried to target Saab-2000 surveillance aircraft, news channels reported. Eight terrorists were killed inside the base while one “exploded himself outside the perimeter,” where he was hiding, a Pakistan Air Force (PAF) spokesman said.

An aircraft was damaged when it was hit by a rocket- propelled grenade fired by the attackers, he said. He did not give details about the aircraft or the extent of the damage.

“The combing and scanning operation by security officials at PAF base Minhas has been concluded,” the spokesman said.

A few improvised explosive devices were found within the airbase and they were being detonated in a controlled environment by explosives experts, he said.

Tehrik-e-Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, with militant spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan saying the group’s suicide bombers carried it out to avenge the death of Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud and Al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden.

He claimed the attackers had achieved their targets and dealt a “lethal blow” to the security forces.

The explosives were strapped to the body of one of the attackers, who were engaged by two teams of commandos during the three-hour gun battle.

Earlier reports had said two security personnel were killed in the attack, which came just two days after Pakistan Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani renewed the country’s commitment to the war on terrorism.

Amidst speculation about a new campaign against the Taliban in the tribal belt, Kayani said the war on terrorism was Pakistan’s “own war and a just war too.” The attack was described by experts as a serious security lapse as The Express Tribune newspaper had reported on August 10 that the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan could target PAF facilities in Punjab before Eid-ul-Fitr.

Citing intelligence reports, the daily reported that militants could carry out attacks on the 27th or 28th day of the Islamic month of Ramzan or August 16 and 17. The attack was the latest in a string of audacious assaults by the Taliban on Pakistani military installations. In the past, Taliban had attacked the army’s General Headquarters in Rawalpindi and a key naval airbase in Karachi.

Several Western media reports in the past had said nuclear weapons are based at Kamra complex, home to an airbase and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex that assembles JF-17 combat jets and drones.

A revenge act

    The attackers, armed with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons, tried to target Saab-2000 surveillance aircraft.
    An aircraft was damaged when it was hit by a rocket- propelled grenade fired by the attackers
    Tehrik-e-Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack
     Spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan says the attack has been carried out to avenge the death of Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud and Al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden

25 killed in Pak sectarian attack

    Suspected militants on Thursday pulled out 25 Shia Muslims from three buses and shot them dead in northern Pakistan, the third such sectarian attack in the restive region in six months. P15
Message from militants
Can strike in Pakistan anywhere, anytime

Despite intelligence reports that militants can strike in a big way before the coming Eid festival, the Pakistan government could not prevent the terrorist attack at its biggest airbase at Kamra, around 70 km from Islamabad, early on Thursday morning.

All the attackers were killed in the gun battle that ensued, but they succeeded in taking the life of one security official besides causing considerable damage to the airbase where 30 fighter jets were parked. This largest airbase of Pakistan in Attock in Punjab was targeted by militants in October 2009 also when a suicide bomber tried to enter the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex in Kamra. Nine people had lost their lives then, including the militant. In 2009, terrorists stormed into Pakistan Army’s General Headquarters in Rawalpindi. In 2011, they had struck at the key naval base in Karachi.

This time the terrorist attack came soon after the Army Chief, General Ashfaque Kayani, declared that Pakistan had been involved in the war on terrorism because “it is its own war” and it is “a just war”. A few weeks ago Pakistan had reopened the NATO supply route to Afghanistan following intense US pressure. Pakistan could no longer afford to say “no” to the US as its economy urgently needed US economic aid, which had remained blocked for some time. No militant outfit has claimed responsibility for the Kamra suicide bomb attack. It may, however, be the handiwork of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) because Pakistan’s so-called “war on terrorism” is basically aimed at eliminating the TTP bases in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

The extremist elements in Pakistan are unhappy with the government in Islamabad because of its support to the US in the war on terror and the PPP-led government’s undeclared approval for US drone attacks on the Taliban’s bases in tribal areas. But the Kamra Aeronautical Complex has a Chinese connection —- 11 Chinese engineers are associated with it. The base has assembling and overhauling facilities run in collaboration with China for JF-Thunder fighter jets. Pakistan has not only a strong anti-US sentiment but also an anti-Chinese sentiment, particularly among the extremist elements. Whatever the factors feeding terrorism, these elements, it seems, remain a strong destabilising force in Pakistan.
Army jawan commits suicide, second in two weeks
New Delhi: Bhoop Singh, a jawan belonging to the 72 Armoured Regiment, today committed suicide at Hisar, in Haryana. The jawan hung himself from a fan; he was staying with his family.

This is the second reported suicide of a jawan in two weeks. It incidentally is also the second from the same unit.

On May 8, 2012, another jawan named Vijay Kumar - also of the 72 Armoured Regiment - had hung himself during an exercise. The regiment is one of the Army's main Strike Corps.
This month, officers and jawans in 16 Cavalry Unit deployed at Samba (J&K) were engaged in a stand-off after the suicide of a jawan named Arun V, hailing from Thiruvananthapuram, allegedly after being denied leave.

In the last one year, there have also been three separate incidents of stand-off between officers and jawans at different places.

Several officers, including the Commanding Officer, and jawans were injured during violent clashes in May at an artillery unit in Nyoma in eastern Ladakh.

Another incident took place at 45 Cavalry Unit in Gurdaspur where officers and jawans clashed with each other after a training session.
Top Chinese ministers to visit New Delhi
The ministers of commerce and defence from China are headed to India in the next three weeks amid worries about a slump in bilateral trade and indifferent military ties.

On August 27, Chinese commerce minister Chen Deming is expected to arrive in New Delhi on a two-day visit on
August 26 to hold the ninth round of talks with his Indian counterpart Anand Sharma under the framework of Joint Economic Group (JEG).

Seven days later, on September 2, outgoing defence minister general Liang Guanglie will lead a 20-member delegation of the People's Liberation Army, the world's largest army, for a three-to-four day trip to India.

The fact that the commerce and defence ministers from China are slated to visit New Delhi in the next three weeks could be interpreted as a signal that both countries are willing to look beyond festering disputes.

It will be the first time that a Chinese defence minister visits India since 2004; President Pranab Mukherjee was the last Indian defence minister to visit China in 2006 during UPA's first regime.

Expected to be part of the Chinese PLA delegation are officers from the Chengdu and Lanzhou military regions – both regions have borders with India – and the strategic and secretive Second Artillery Corps (SAC) which is responsible for China's nuclear and ballistic missiles.

The SAC is considered to be the fourth wing of the PLA after the army, navy and air force – which will also have officers in the delegation -- and is directly answerable to the Central Military Commission, the top body looking after the armed forces.

A representative from China's South Sea Fleet, which is geared up for security in the South China sea region, is also expected to be part of the delegation.

It was learnt that general Liang's visit wasn't discussed during the annual military dialogue between the two countries in January.

But last month a director general-level officer of the PLA stopped by in New Delhi while on his way back to China from Sri Lanka; during a meeting with Indian bureaucrats he expressed that the general was keen to visit India.

He had last visited India in 2005 when he was the PLA's chief of general staff.

Meanwhile, commerce ministers Chen and Sharma are expected to address structural problems that are pushing the burgeoning bilateral trade into a negative territory.

The JEG meeting is taking place against the backdrop of officials pointing to the seventh straight month of decline in bilateral trade volumes.

According to half-yearly data for this year released by China's General Administration of Customs, India's exports reached $12.91 billion, registering a decline of 8% compared to the same period last year.

This was mainly due to 50% fall in Indian iron ore exports to China.

Trade deficit for India stands at $13.6 billion compared to $13.4 billion around the same time last year.

Also China's exports to India were on decline and touched $26.57 billion in July this year, a decline of 3.3%.
Indian defence bases well protected: Army Chief
New Delhi, Aug 16 (PTI) Against the backdrop of attack by militants on a Pakistani air force base, Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh today said Indian military installations are "well protected and defended".

"We have our procedures in place. All our bases are protected and there are Standard Operating Procedures and our bases are well defended," the Army Chief told reporters on the sidelines of an event to felicitate Army sports persons.
India boring border tunnels to take on Pakistan, China
NEW DELHI: India is finally kick-starting the plan to build as many as 18 tunnels along the borders with Pakistan and China for faster troop mobility as well as storage of critical war-fighting assets like missiles, without the threat of detection by enemy satellites and spy drones, Indian media reported on Thursday.

While preliminary work on seven tunnels is underway after requisite approvals, the construction of 11 more tunnels in Jammu & Kashmir, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh is now on the drawing board after "a strong endorsement'' by Indian Army, TNN news agency reported.

With China resorting to "tunnelling in a big way'' to store important military equipment, the Army wants the tunnel construction plans in the mountains in J&K and north-east to be fast-tracked. "The tunnels will provide shelter to troops and ammunition from both enemy shelling and extreme weather. They can also be used for NBC (nuclear, chemical, biological) protection and establishing command and control centres,'' said a top official.

Actual construction work is underway only in one of the 18 proposed tunnels. But, this long-delayed 8.82-km long horse-shoe shaped tunnel under the 13,400-feet Rohtang Pass, on the Manali-Sarchu-Leh axis, is unlikely to meet its completion deadline of February, 2015. Feasibility studies and preparation of detailed project reports (DPRs) for three more tunnels at Zozila, Z-Morh and Razdhan Pass in J&K are in progress, while similar work is planned for Khardungla and Sadhana Pass in J&K and Theng in Sikkim. The other proposed tunnels include Rangpo in Sikkim and on the Balipara-Charduar-Tawang axis in Arunachal Pradesh.

The Army is anxious the existing large gaps in border infrastructure — in terms of all-weather roads, tunnels, strategic railway lines, "permanent defences'' and the like — are plugged as fast as possible. China, for instance, can move around 30 divisions (each with over 15,000 soldiers) to the borders within 30 days to outnumber Indian forces by at least 3:1 after undertaking massive infrastructure development all along the 4,057-km Line of Actual Control, as earlier reported by ‘Times of India’.

An empowered committee under defence secretary Shashikant Sharma is scrutinizing DPRs for the proposed overall "capability development plan on the northern borders'' worth Rs 26,155 crore. While this is slated is slated for completion by 2020-2021, there is an ongoing Rs 9,243 crore project for "infrastructure development in the eastern theatre'' by 2016-2017.

Indian Army hopes the projects are not hit by huge time overruns like the 73 all-weather roads earmarked for construction along the three sectors of LAC close to a decade ago. Defence minister A K Antony admitted in LS this week that just 16 of those roads have been finished till now, with another 26 slated for completion by 2013, and 19 more by 2016.
Finally, army promotes Olympic silver medallist Vijay Kumar; promises commissioned officer's post next

The Indian Army promoted its ace shooter Subedar Vijay Kumar , who won silver medal at the London Olympics , to the rank of Subedar Major on Thursday.

Kumar was granted the much-awaited double promotion as it was due for his past performances well before he clinched the Olympic medal earlier this month. Kumar had cried foul on not being given his due by his employer. He had expressed resentment for being ignored for promotion despite bringing laurels to the nation on several occasions.

The army announced the promotion for Kumar during a felicitation event honouring its Olympic heroes in the national capital earlier on Thursday morning.

The Himachal Pradesh shooter had sparked a row when he publicly hit out at his employers for failing to recognise his achievements. His cause was supported by Sports Minister Ajay Maken and Defence Minister A.K. Antony.

Recognising the shooter's immense contributions, the army honoured him by handing him his much due promotion to douse the raging controversy and also promised to make him a commissioned officer in the near future.

Army chief General Bikram Singh, who announced the double promotion for the ace shooter, said, "This commission has to be granted by the President and certain rules have to be followed. We will provide all help to him as he is very capable... He is very educated and has the capabilities to become an officer. We will further strengthen his capabilities to make him a commissioned officer."

Content with the recognition of his achievements, Kumar said the army has promised him a bigger rank in the next six months and he would wait for that.
5 Most Popular Indian Army Chiefs Since Independence
Bangalore: Indian army has contributed to the Independence of the country in a very big way and it is still making the same contribution till today and no doubt it serves with the same dedication in the future as well. In any of the army in the world, the chief of every army plays a vital role and in India too, the chief of the Indian army has a vital role to play.  But the fact is that many of the Indian citizens might not be aware of the top Indian Army Chiefs who led the Indian army with full dedication. So, to make them aware of the army chiefs, here is a short list of most popular army chiefs’ right from the Indian independence, selected from the list given on the Indian Defence Review Website.

1. Field Marshal Kodandera Madappa Cariappa:

Term: 16th Jan 1949 to 14th Jan 1953

Though there were two foreign chiefs who led the Indian Army even after the Indian independence, if we consider only the Indian Chiefs, Field Marshal Kodandera Madappa Cariappa can top the list of popular Indian Army Chiefs as he became the first ever army chief since the Indian independence. He was most popularly recognized as ‘Kipper’ and he hails from the State of Karnataka. After he served as the Lieutenant General he took over the position as the army commander in the year 1948. Finally it was in the year 1949; he got the chance of serving as the first Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army. In-between his term from 1949 to 1953 he also served as the Colonel of the Rajput Regiment from the year 1949 to 1959. It was in the year 1986, when General Kodandera Madappa Cariappa was honored by the President of India with the rank of Field Marshal.
2. Field Marshal Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw:

Term: 8th June 1969 to 15th June 1973

He is better known as ‘SAM’ to his friends. He was born in the year April3rd, 1914 and he early schooling in Amritsar and Nanital. He was one among the 40 cadets of the first batch to get selected for thr Indian Military Academy. During his first Burma campaign, he took part in various actions against the Japanese. He is better known as the person who led his entire company with courage and firmness. For his courageous and leadership nature, he was awarded the Military Cross. Before he became the Indian army chief, he was awarded the prestigious Padma Bhushan in the year 1968 for his renowned services to the nation. As the chief of the Indian Army, he delivered yeoman service to the country by building the Indian Army as a competent instrument of War. He passed away in the year 27th Jan, 2008 at the age of 94, after suffering from a long illness.

3. General Arunkumar Shridhar Vaidya:

Term: 1st Aug 1983 31st Jan 1985

General AS Vaidya, was commissioned to the Armored Corps in the year 1945 and he witnessed the battle during the 2nd World War. For the braveness that he showed during the Indo-Pakistan war of 1965 as a Commandant, he was awarded by the prestigious Maha Vir Chakra. For his various service of exceptional order, he was awarded the prestigious Param Vishisht Seva Medal in the year 1983. In the same year, he took over the position as the Indian Army Chief and he served in that position till 1985. He was one among the most decorated soldiers of the defence service. He was also regarded as an outstanding military leader. He passed away on the 10th of August in the year 1986.
4. General Ved Prakash Malik:

Term: 1st Oct 1997 to 30th Sep 2000

Born on 1st November, 1939, he was selected as the General Officer Commanding, Mountain Division in the year 1989. Before he moved to Army Headquarters as the Vice Chief of Army Staff, he got appointed as the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief in the year 1995. He was honored with the prestigious Param Vishisht Seva Medal in the year 1996. In the year 1997 he was positioned as the 19th Indian Army Chief and at the same time he even took over the as the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee of india that came to effect from the year 1999. Atur Foundation honored him with the ‘Excellence in Leadership’ award. He was given the ‘Pride of the Nation Award’ by the Coon Citizens’ Council in the year 2000. He retired from his position as the Chief of the Indian Army in 2000.

5. General VK Singh:

Term: 31 May 2010 to 31 May 2012

General VK Singh is a very well known officer throughout the country as his term got over just few months back in May, 2012. He is a third generation officer of the Rajput Regiment. In all the courses he attended he had a memorable career with an outstanding performance. In the year 2009, he was awarded the Param Vishisht Seva Medal by the Indian President. For his outstanding and great services in the Indian Army on the eve of that year’s Republic Day. The General has also some key interest in playing Tennis, Badminton and Golf. He also loves trekking and photography.

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