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Friday, 28 December 2012

From Today's Papers - 28 Dec 2012
India, Pak discuss steps to make truce pact effective
Ashok Tuteja/TNS

New Delhi, December 27
India is understood to have drawn Pakistan's attention towards the increase in ceasefire violations along the LoC and the international border (IB) in recent years at the sixth round of expert-level talks between the two countries on conventional CBMs here today.

The Indian side at the meeting was led by YK Sinha, Additional Secretary (Pakistan) in the External Affairs Ministry while the Pakistani team was headed by Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Additional Secretary in the Foreign Ministry.

New Delhi believes that the ceasefire agreement signed by the two countries in November 2003 has been a major CBM between them. It proved to be quite effective until Pervez Musharraf was at the helm of affairs in Pakistan with ceasefire violations being reported occasionally.

However, there has been a spurt in ceasefire violations during the civilian rule in Pakistan in the past few years, especially by Pakistani Rangers ostensibly to push militants into the Indian side.

At today's meeting, the two sides also discussed fresh proposals, including more flag meetings, to make the ceasefire agreement more effective.

“The talks were held in a cordial and constructive atmosphere,” said a joint statement after the talks.

“The two sides reviewed the implementation of existing CBMs, including the ceasefire along the LoC, exchanged ideas to further advance the CBM process and reaffirmed their commitment to continue discussions with the aim of strengthening conventional CBMs,” said the statement.

The two officials will report the progress made during the current round of talks to their respective foreign secretaries. The talks on conventional CBMs follow the agreement reached between the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan during their meeting on September 8 in Islamabad. The two sides will hold talks on nuclear CBMs tomorrow.

On the cards: More flag meetings

    The sixth round of expert-level talks between the two nations on conventional CBMs was held in New Delhi on Thursday
    The Indian side was led by YK Sinha, Additional Secretary (Pakistan) in the External Affairs Ministry
    The Pakistani team was headed by Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Additional Secretary in the Foreign Ministry
    The two sides discussed fresh proposals, including more flag meetings, to make the ceasefire agreement more effective
DRDO test-fires Astra
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 27
Astra, an air-to-air guided missile developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), crossed another milestone in its development trials after being successfully flight test this week.

The missile, in its full configuration, met all the mission parameters, after being fired from a ground-based launcher at the Integrated Test Range in Odisha, a statement issued by the DRDO said.

The missile successfully intercepted the designated mid-air target, Lakshya, the indigenously developed Pilotless Target Aircraft.

Astra is stated to be a state of the art, beyond visual range’ (BVR) being developed for the Air Force. It is an active radar homing missile with a range of up to 110 km. Some more tests will be carried out from the ground launchers to generate data, which will be followed by launches from various aerial platforms.

The missile will be capable of being deployed on various aircrafts, including the Tejas, MiG-29, Su-30, Mirage-2000 and the under development PAK-FA fifth generation fighter.
Top defence team to visit China for annual dialogue
NEW DELHI: A top Indian defence delegation will head for China next month to chart out the roadmap to step up joint military exercises and exchanges as well as strengthen de-escalatory mechanisms along the 4,057-km Line of Actual Control (LAC) to prevent face-offs between the world's largest and second largest armies.

The tri-Service delegation, led by defence secretary Shashikant Sharma, will be in Beijing to hold the 5th India-China annual defence dialogue (ADD) on January 14-15, which will be followed by defence minister A K Antony's visit later in the year, sources said.

"Both sides are very keen to deepen engagement especially in the military domain since it has lagged behind other sectors in bilateral ties. The boundary resolution may take time but exchanges at the military policy and working levels are now being enhanced," sources said.

For starters, the joint 'Hand-in-Hand' (HiH) counter-terrorism Army exercise will be resumed in 2013, the first two editions of which were held at Kunming (China) in 2007 and Belgaum in 2008.

In July 2010, India froze all bilateral defence exchanges after China denied a proper visa to the then Northern Army commander Lt-General B S Jaswal on the ground that he was commanding forces in the "disputed and sensitive'' region of J&K.

There has been a thaw since then, with India steadfast about remaining a "neutral'' player in the ongoing power-play between the US and a jittery China in the Asia-Pacific region. While the third HiH edition will also be just a company-level exercise (100-120 soldiers each), it is seen as an important CBM.

The two navies will also hold joint maritime search and rescue exercises as well as "promote port calls'' by each other's warships, apart from strengthening collaboration in anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden.

India is "hopeful'' the enhanced "border security cooperation'' will now minimize military "miscalculations and tensions'' along the unresolved LAC, in the backdrop of Chinese troops "transgressing'' into Indian territory along the LAC as many as 600 times in the last two years.

The new bilateral boundary coordination mechanism became operational earlier this year after being inked at the 15th round of border talks between national security advisor Shivshankar Menon and his Chinese counterpart Dai Bingguo. Under it, the Indian side led by joint secretary (East Asia) in the external affairs ministry, with representatives from the military, paramilitary and intelligence agencies, will remain in direct and constant touch with its Chinese counterpart to prevent border flare-ups.

With military hotlines, flag meetings and border personnel meetings (BPM) already in place, the two armies are trying to ensure patrols along the LAC are not undertaken during nighttime, or "surprise each other'' at other times. Moreover, standard operating procedures are in place to cool down tempers if there is any face-off.

India is also looking to shift the proposed BPM mechanism at Lipulekh in the middle sector to the nearby Mana Pass, which allows easier access to both sides, to follow the ones already operational at Nathu La, Bumla, Spanggur and Kibithu-Damai.
Indian Army plans to equip 1,600 T-72 tanks with advanced night- fighting capabilities
The Army, having long suffered from deficiencies in night fighting electro-optical equipment, is set to make up critical deficiencies.

Following footsteps of paramilitary forces and the National Security Guard (NSG), who have gone in for accelerated purchase of night vision devices after the 26/11 terrorist attack in Mumbai, the armed forces are now taking steps to improve their night fighting capabilities, according to Frontier India News Network.

Army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor, had said in 2010 that “Indian Army’s tanks have a night vision capability of 20 percent while Pakistani’s have 80 percent and China has 100 percent”.
‘Were rapes by army men enquired into by VK Singh?’
New Delhi: National Minorities Commission Chairman Wajahat Habibullah today criticised former army chief V K Singh for taking to streets against the gangrape of a girl here asking whether allegations of rape against personnel of the force in Jammu and Kashmir have ever been enquired into.

Wajahat Habibullah said a productive way would have been if people like Gen Singh would have advised the government on dealing with such a situation.

“In his (Gen Singh’s) case, I am sorry to say so he was Commander-in-Chief of the army. There are, at least in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, massive allegations of rape against army. Were they ever enquired into? Was an effort made to bring justice? Here was a case of rape. Regrettable, yes. But if he wants to join in condemnation of the government against that, has he taken into account various ramifications of that,” Habibullah told PTI in an interview.

He said it could be possible when Singh was the army chief he was not able to remedy the cases although he may have wanted to.
But that was even more reason to go to the Prime Minister, the Home Minister and tell them how to handle it, he added.

Habibullah said that things have changed during the last two decades and army had tried to reach out to people of Jammu and Kashmir but there exists a basic mistrust.

“The basic mistrust is because general transparency and accountability is not there. If something goes wrong, if there is rape, then machinery should come into automatic activation. Like the Delhi Police acted, surely the army such being a disciplined force should automatically go into action about bringing to book any person responsible for that,” he said, adding if allegations are false then those facts should also be made public.

Habibullah said rejecting allegations on the grounds that it would demoralise the force does not help in winning public trust.

“Don’t say this, we don’t agree that this would demoralise the army. Do you have any proof of that, have you ever enquired into that? If you do this, then you don’t win the public trust and basically the job of the government, the army and others, in a democracy at least, is to win the public trust,” he said.

On the question whether people who have held sensitive positions in government should join street protests, Habibullah said, “For people who have been holding such positions it should be possible for them to reach the government itself and advice. I would think that is a more productive way.”

“If they see strength in the protests, based on their own experience, surely the better way is not to join the protests but to bring to the notice of the government how can it improve its functioning.”

He said in a democracy there is a healthy mistrust between the Government and the public where the public does not believe whatever is told to them and Right to Information is a tool to bridge that mistrust.

“But why have huge demonstrations taken place on the streets. A simple answer to this is deep mistrust. The government is saying I am doing this but people just don’t trust the government to do it. Although they (government) are saying of doing it. They are doing it but still people are coming on streets,” he said.

He said Right to Information was a tool to build that trust as one can always check whether whatever government was saying was correct.

“That is not the attitude yet. And that is sad because now we have seven years of the RTI and by now this attitude, at least in the urban centre, at least in the capital should have started happening,” Habibullah said.

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