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Thursday, 17 January 2013

From Today's Papers - 17 Jan 2013
DGMOs of India, Pakistan agree to de-escalate tension
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 16
A day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh toughened his stand on the recent killing of Indian soldiers by Pakistan, the Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMO) of India and Pakistan today spoke over the hotline about de-escalating tension and maintaining peace along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir.

“Pakistan DGMO Maj Gen Ashfaq Nadeem informed his counterpart Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia that instructions have been issued to Pakistani troops to observe the 2003 ceasefire and exercise restraint,” top sources in the Indian military establishment confirmed tonight. The conversation lasted eight minutes.

Sources added that “an understanding has been reached between the DGMOs that the situation should not be allowed to escalate”.

Since the Brigadier-level flag meeting at Chakan da Bagh on January 14, the ceasefire has been violated five times in 48 hours with both sides resorting to intense firing on January 14 and following it up yesterday.

The Pakistani DGMO registered his protest at the killing of Pakistani soldier Naik Ashraf in Indian firing last night. Pakistan-based Geo TV said today that “Indian troops again resorted to ceasefire violation and carried out unprovoked firing last evening at the LoC in the Hot Springs and Jandrot sectors from 10 pm to 11 pm.”

Sources in India said that it was Pakistan which violated the ceasefire in the Balnoi sector last night and Indian troops only responded to it.

Today, when the Pakistan DGMO protested over the killing of a soldier, he was reportedly told “as you aren’t holding your fire, we had to retaliate”. Within Indian military circles, it is being believed that Pakistan was faced with the reality that India would retaliate especially after the PM said that “it cannot be business as usual”.

The PM, at the Army Day function yesterday, went on condemn the killings of Indian soldiers Hemraj and Sudhkar Singh on January 8.

Defence Minister AK Antony also followed the tough line taken the Army Chief and IAF Chief. “The Chiefs are supposed to talk in a straight-forward manner and that is what they did,” Antony is learnt to have told critics of the hard line within the government.

First, IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne, on January 12, spoke of “other options”. Army Chief General Bikram Singh followed it up on January 14 and warned Pakistan and assured the nation that “we will retaliate”. He even said that he has asked all his Commanders to be “aggressive and offensive along the LoC”.

“The Chiefs have always been encouraged to express their minds. They are not expected to speak in a language spoken by diplomats,” Antony is supposed to have clarified.

Khar offers talks

Hina Rabbani KharISLAMABAD: As India and Pakistan agreed to deescalate the situation along the border, Islamabad on Wednesday night offered to hold talks with New Delhi to address concerns related to the LoC. Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar offered to have talks with her Indian counterpart Salman Khurshid. "Instead of issuing belligerent statements by the military and political leaders from across the border and ratcheting up tension, it is advisable for the two countries to discuss all concerns related to the LoC, to sort out things," Khar said.
Uncertain Afghan scenario
Gloomy message from Washington
by Inder Malhotra

IN a welter uncertainties emerging from the talks in Washington between President Barack Obama and President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, there is one clear certainty: The United States will pack up and leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014 to bring to a “responsible end” its longest war. The process of reducing the combat role of the American and other NATO troops, and thus accelerating their draw-down is also being speeded up. As Mr Obama said at the joint Press conference, by the spring of this year, which means only a couple of months hence, 90 per cent of the Afghans would live in areas where the Afghan security forces would have the “lead role for security” while the NATO troops would confine themselves to “training”, “assisting” and “advising” the Afghan National Army and police. By the end of this year the Afghan army’s “lead role” would be extended to the entire country, and by the end of next year it would be all over.

Of course, the US does not want to cut and run from the war-ravaged Hindu Kush country if that means leaving behind chaos, instability and civil war. Consequently, it would retain enough American troops, bolstered perhaps by some more from other NATO countries, for twin-purposes: to train and advise the Afghan security forces, and to provide them with “essential capabilities that the Afghans still lack”.

The Afghan army has practically no air transport for logistics, intelligence and close air support to ground forces. Nor have the Americans ever given them the artillery and other sophisticated weaponry and equipment they badly need. Whether these will be given in future is a moot question. The US troops and special forces themselves would be fully equipped with formidable air power to take care of terrorists, and armed drones to prevent Al-Qaeda leadership from regrouping in Pakistan’s tribal areas or returning to its old hideouts within Afghanistan.

Under these circumstances Mr Karzai and his government, to say nothing about other Afghans, know that they have to continue the Afghan-US Strategic Partnership well after December next year. They are also aware that they cannot have the “enduring presence” of American troops without an agreement on the status of forces that gives them immunity from the jurisdiction of any but American courts. Given the delicacy of this issue, Mr Karzai has decided to leave to the Loya Jirga of the elders to settle it.

The trouble, however, is that there is absolutely no understanding yet on the number of American troops and special forces personnel to be stationed in the post-2014 Afghanistan. Mr Karzai has been so shrill in his criticism of America’s conduct of the Afghan war that he has strengthened those elements in the Obama administration that argue that Afghanistan is no longer worth spending blood and treasure on. In fact, during the first three months of 2012 that I spent in Washington a startling number of American analysts and commentators told me that the Afghan War was already lost for all practical purposes.

At the joint Press conference Mr Karzai stated that the number of residual troops retained in Afghanistan did not matter. What mattered was the nature of the broader relationship. Mr Obama stated that he had asked the commander of the US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan, General John Allen, and other advisers in the Pentagon for “recommendations” and would make a decision after he had received these. Official positions announced for the record are vastly different from the ground realities.

As late as on January 8 — three days before the Obama-Karzai meeting — Ben Rodes, a deputy national security adviser, in reply to a question, confirmed that leaving “no troops behind after 2014 was one of the options under active consideration”. The importance of what he said becomes evident if we recall what Vice-President Joe Biden told an audience during the presidential election about withdrawal from Afghanistan. “We are leaving”, he said, “we are leaving in 2014. Period”.

It is in this context that the number of troops to be retained in post-2014 Afghanistan under discussion has dwindled from 20,000 to a mere 3,000. The consensus within America seems to be developing on 6,000. The Americans can surely manage with this number. But the key question is whether the US would transfer the huge capabilities and equipment at their disposal to their Afghan allies at some stage. The prickly nature of this relationship was obvious even in the midst of all the courtesies, smiles and bonhomie during the talks between the two delegations over several days. The Afghan side made no bones about its displeasure with America’s “constant attacks” on Afghanistan’s “sovereignty”. At the joint Press conference, Mr Karzai expressed satisfaction that the US had eventually agreed to transfer to the government in Kabul the control of prisons and prisoners in the villages of the areas where the Taliban are strong.

This tug-of-war coexists, interestingly, with the triangular negotiations that are taking place between the Americans, the Afghan government and the Taliban in Qatar, Germany and France to work out an arrangement under which the Taliban rebels of today can be a part of tomorrow’s government in Afghanistan. Despite Mr Obama’s assurance that the Taliban would have to give up violence and start respecting the Afghan constitution that gives women equal rights, imponderables over this issue of “reconciliation” are immense.

And this brings me to unquestionably the most difficult nettle that has yet to be grasped: Pakistan’s role in bringing peace, stability and freedom from foreign interference to Afghanistan. The Afghans have never made a secret of their conviction that Pakistan is the root of the problem. It gives sanctuaries to Afghanistan’s enemies, including terrorists like the Haqqani network and Quetta Shura. Moreover, Islamabad has always looked upon Afghanistan as its backyard and “strategic depth”, and is currently eyeing the fresh opportunities the US exit offers. Never before have US-Pakistan relations sunk so low as now, even though America is being very generous with its largesse. How Washington can bring Islamabad-Rawalpindi on board for a viable Afghan settlement remains to be seen. For India the acute problem is to safeguard, as best it can, its vital stakes in the friendly land of Afghans.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar offers talks with India to defuse tension
Islamabad: Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar late on Wednesday night suggested that she and her Indian counterpart Salman Khurshid hold talks to defuse the tension building between the neighbours over ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (LoC).

"Instead of issuing belligerent statements by the military and political leaders from across the border and ratcheting up tension, it is advisable for the two countries to discuss all concerns related to the LoC with a view to reinforcing respect for the ceasefire, may be at the level of the foreign ministers," Ms Khar said in a statement. (Read full statement)

"Rhetoric and ratcheting up of tensions is certainly counter-productive," she said.

The remarks came as India and Pakistan agreed to de-escalate the situation along LoC and the Director General of Military Operations of the two countries spoke to each other.

In New York yesterday, Ms Khar had accused India of "war mongering" after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said there "cannot be business as usual" with Pakistan following the brutal killing of the two Indian soldiers, Lance Naik Hemraj Singh and Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh.

A string of violations of the ceasefire along the 742-km LoC over the past 10 days have left two Indian soldiers dead. Pakistan says three of its soldiers have been killed by Indian troops.

Ms Khar said Pakistan and India were important countries of South Asia and should "demonstrate requisite responsibility for ensuring peace by addressing all concerns through dialogue".

Pakistan, she said, was "saddened and disappointed at the continued negative statements emanating from India, both from the media as well as certain Indian leaders".

She said Islamabad had observed "deliberate self-restraint" in its public statements on India. "We have invested hugely in the dialogue process and have worked energetically to keep the dialogue process moving forward in a sustained and constructive manner. Pakistan has gone out of the way to build a constructive relationship with India," she said.
Pakistan orders its troops to maintain restraint, observe ceasefire at Line of Control
New Delhi:  Pakistan has reportedly ordered its army to observe ceasefire and maintain restraint after India said there have been at least five incidents of cease-fire violation since Monday's flag meeting. Earlier, Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) from India spoke to his Pakistan counterpart and both reportedly agreed to de-escalate tension at the Line of Control. Pakistan's foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar too offered to hold talks with her Indian counterpart Salman Khurshid to sort out the concerns at the Line of Control.
Here are the 10 latest developments:

    The Indian Army on Wednesday released photographs of landmines that it says were planted by Pakistani troops in Indian territory. The Army says it shared these photographs with Pakistan at Monday's flag meeting, where Brigadiers from both countries discussed the tension along the Line of Control. Pakistan has denied all charges that it has initiated aggression or entered Indian territory.

    The mines shown in the photographs released by the Indian Army have markings that say they were made in ordnance factories in Pakistan. The mines were reportedly recovered very close to Indian posts.

    When the pictures were shown to the Pakistan side during the flag meeting on Monday, it refused to accept them and returned the file to Indian officials, sources in the Defence Ministry say.

    At the meeting, India lodged a strong protest against the repeated ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the Line of Control (LoC) and also expressed concern at the barbaric way Pakistani troops treated the bodies of the two Indian soldiers who were killed last week. But the Pakistani side, the Army said, denied all charges and was "adamant and arrogant" in its attitude. New Delhi has expressed unhappiness over the outcome of the meeting.

    Pakistan has continued to fire at Indian posts even after the meeting - there have been five ceasefire violations since Monday. The Army said Indian troops did not retaliate.

    But Pakistan's army alleged this morning that Indian troops violated the ceasefire on the LoC yesterday and "carried out unprovoked firing" in Hotspring and Jandrot sectors killing one of its soldiers at the Kundi post.

    Pakistan's DGMO lodged a protest with his Indian counterpart about the alleged incident today. India has denied Pakistan's allegation and is said to have suggested that the death could have been caused due to retaliatory firing by the Indian side. Sources say India's DGMO had conveyed that Pakistan must stop firing at Indian posts if it wants to check such incidents.

    Army chief General Bikram Singh on Wednesday visited the family of Lance Naik Hemtraj Singh, one of the two jawans who were killed by Pakistani troops last week. "If a Pakistani soldier has been killed, it may have been in retaliatory firing. We have not crossed the Line of Control," he said, reiterating that India had "never violated human rights, but when they fire, we also fire."

    Ms Khar had on Tuesday described General Bikram Singh's words in Monday's press conference as "very hostile". She also alleged in New York that there is "war mongering coming from across the border," adding that while her country is committed to peace and making relations with India normal, "statements coming in from the highest levels in India, that up the ante, are disappointing."

    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in his first direct comments since two Indian soldiers were brutally killed by Pakistani troops last week, said on Tuesday that it "cannot be business as usual" with Islamabad given the current situation. Speaking to NDTV, the Prime Minister said, "Those responsible for this crime will have to be brought to book" and hoped "Pakistan realises this". Dr Singh was referring to the mutilation of the bodies of the two Indian jawans, Lance Naik Hemraj Singh and Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh; Hemraj Singh's body was beheaded.
Indian Army chief meets martyred soldier's family in Mathura
MATHURA: The chief of Army Staff, General Bikram Singh, met the family members of Lance Naik Hemraj at Shernagar village of Mathura district on Wednesday amid demands that the severed head of the martyred soldier be brought back.

General Singh along with his wife Surjeet Kaur and top army commanders conveyed his condolences to the family of Hemraj.

The Army chief said: "I have come here to express solidarity with martyr's family. All their demands will be met according to the rulebooks of the Army. We will stand by the family."

Commenting on continuous ceasefire violation by Pakistan on Line of Control, General Singh said: "We don't violate ceasefire, but will fire back when fired upon."

Hemraj's wife and mother had gone on a six-day fast demanding that the Army Chief must visit their house and assure them that the martyred soldier's severed head will be brought back.

"I will go. They are my people. I will send my senior officer there. I will definitely go. Let this event, the Army Day, be over, I will definitely go and meet the family. If that is the demand, I shall be there," General Singh told reporters on January 14.

General Singh had also warned Pakistan that India reserves the right to retaliate at the time and place of its choosing.

The Prime Minister had on Tuesday termed as 'barbaric' the brutal killing of Indian jawans along the Line of Control (LoC), saying there cannot be business as usual with Islamabad.

Singh, who broke his silence on the prevailing tension with Pakistan on the LoC, said the attack on the Indian jawans is unacceptable.

"After this barbaric act, there cannot be business as usual with Pakistan. Pakistan must be held accountable for what happened on the LoC. Hope Pakistan will bring the perpetrators of beheading to justice. The future peace process depends on Pakistan," he said.

Tension between the two Asian neighbours has escalated ever since Indian jawan Lance Naik Hemraj was beheaded in an attack by Pakisttroops along the Line of Control on January 8.

India has lodged a strong protest against the ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the LoC and made it clear to it that the Army reserves the right to retaliate if provoked.

The Army's position was conveyed at a brigadier-level flag meeting between the two sides at Chakan-Da-Bagh crossing-point in Poonch sector of the Jammu region on Monday.

Pakistan has denied India's claim that its troops crossed the Line of Control to ambush a patrol party in the Mendhar sector in Poonch district.
Indian defence analysts welcome arrest order of Pakistan PM, predict army coup
Indian Defence analysts have welcomed the arrest of Pak Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, who has been arrested on the order of Supreme Court for involving into graft charges in rental power case.

Defence Experts have also predicted that there is a strong chances that military can coup and occupy the power of the Islamic country.

According to a defence expert Bharat Verma, "The situation inside Pakistan is grave. Their internal turmoil is increasing with the arrest of the Prime Minister that Supreme Court wants. The difficulties of the government (Pakistani Government) will go up. What is happening inside Pakistan is that it appears that different forces contradict each other."

"The judiciary does not like the government, it's almost at loggerheads with the civil government, the army does not like the present civil government, the internal turmoil is increasing. When you put all these forces into one pot, it makes a very nice mix for the army to once again take over," he added.

Former Indian Army official retired Lieutenant General P N Hoon applauded the Supreme Court's decision.

"I want to congratulate the Supreme Court of Pakistan for this decision because the current Prime Minster, Raja Pervez Ashraf, I have heard that when he was the Power Minister, he had done several scams and made a lot of money. So I congratulate the Supreme Court of Pakistan for this landmark decision," he told the media in Chandigarh.

Another defence expert commenting on Pakistan's Supreme Court orders said 'it is clear that each time the decision of the Supreme Court has been influenced by the army and the army wants civilian, civilian leadership to be weak so that it is in a stronger position'.

"So what this means is again civilian rule will be weak, until they choose another Prime Minister," said Kamal Mitra Chenoy.

Pakistan's Supreme Court ordered the arrest of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Tuesday on corruption allegations.
31 honoured on Indian Army Day
LUCKNOW: Glory of the historic Jhansi fort came to the fore on Tuesday on the occasion of Army day when 31 personnel of the Armed forces were decorated with gallantry awards by Lt Gen AK Singh, GOC-in-C, Southern Command, for their distinguished services. The White Tiger Division of Jhansi hosted the event on behalf of the Southern Command.

Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav felicitated war widows and veteran soldiers. Out of the 31 personnel, 15 were received gallantry awards (including one award given posthumously) and 16 for their distinguished services and their deeds of bravery were read out at an investiture ceremony held outside Cantonment area for the first time. Col Sanjay Sinha of 18 Grenadiers was awarded with 'Yudh Seva Medal' for exemplary bravery during hostile situations. Lt Col Sanjay Kumar Mishra, an ophthalmologist, was awarded a medal for health services and 19 soldiers received the Sena Medal for gallantry, including one medal that was awarded posthumously, two Sena Medals for distinguished services and 10 Vishisht Sena Medals along with 16 unit citations. Four veteran soldiers and nine war widows were also felicitated.

Among the veterans a 90 year old retired Lt Col Gurpal Singh was also present. Among the awardees, four belonged to the state-Maj Pradeep Singh of 6 Para, Ghaziabad, Maj Ajesh Kumar, 18 Grenadier, Bulandshahar, Maj Tushar Piplani, SSC, Bareilly and Capt Nischhal Bharadwaj, AOC, of Agra. The awards were mainly given for courage and bravery in anti-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir and North Eastern states.

Speaking on this occasion Lt Gen AK Singh Said: "Indian armed forces are disciplined and law abiding and we respect the cease fire at LOC but Pakistan should not mistake our patience as our weakness and if provoked we will retaliate. They (Pakistan) have to answer the gruesome killing of our two brave soldiers". He also said that around 50 thousand personnel get retired each year from the forces and army also takes care of their rehabilitation along with families of those soldiers who sacrifice their lives for the country.

Calling himself the only Georgian in a different uniform, Akhilesh Singh Yadav, an alumni of Sainik School said all his friends are in the army now and explained how his family including his father Mulayam Singh and wife Dimple are also associated with the forces. He commended for hosting the function in the historic fort by saying: "No other place can be more suitable for hosting such a function than place where once Rani Laxmibai displayed her courage and fought with the British". Commenting on Pakistan he said that our friends can change but our neighbour will carry the same attitude. "Not only Army but the whole country is angry with the barbaric act our neighbour has committed with two of our soldiers", he added.
Pakistan, India agree to 'de-escalate' border tensions
NEW DELHI: India’s army has reached an “understanding” with Pakistan to “de-escalate” military tensions in Kashmir after a recent deadly flare-up in the disputed border region, a military spokesperson told AFP Wednesday.

“An understanding has been arrived at between the two director-generals of military operations to de-escalate the situation along the Line of Control,” spokesperson Jagdeep Dahiya said in reference to the de facto border in Kashmir.

Dahiya said that the two sides’ senior military commanders had spoken for 10 minutes over the telephone where they reached their agreement.

“The two DGMOs spoke to each other at 10:00 am (local time) for 10 minutes and the Pakistan DGMO said strict instructions have been passed not to violate the ceasefire,” he said.

Dahiya said Indian troops stationed along the border would also not breach the ceasefire forged between the two nuclear-armed rivals in 2003.

“We have always upheld the ceasefire and have only retaliated,” the spokesperson said.

He did not give further details of the conversation between India’s DGMO Lieutenant General Vinod Bhatia and his Pakistani counterpart, Major General Ashfaq Nadeem.

An ISPR press release stated that Pakistan lodged strong protest over Tuesday night cease-fire violation by Indians.

An Indian military source in Kashmir told AFP there had been no cross-border firing since the two generals spoke.

The Indian army’s chief of staff had on Monday ordered his commanders to give an “aggressive” response to any firing by Pakistani forces along the de facto border in disputed Kashmir.

“We expect our commanders to be aggressive,” General Bikram Singh said ahead of a meeting between Indian and Pakistani commanders to discuss a recent deadly flare-up in the region.

“The orders are very clear: when provoked, I expect my unit commanders should fire back,” he added.

Pakistan army to protest against death of soldier

The Pakistani army said on Wednesday it will protest to India over the killing of another Pakistani soldier in Kashmir, the fifth fatality in hostilities between the nuclear-armed neighbours this year.

Indian troops shot dead the soldier at a position called Kundi during firing from the Indian side of the Line of Control in the disputed Himalayan territory, Pakistan’s army said in a statement.

The Indian defence ministry declined to comment.
Army releases pictures of Pakistani landmines on Indian soil as proof
To prove that an infiltration had been undertaken by the Pakistan Army into Indian soil earlier in January, the Indian Army on Wednesday released photographs of landmines allegedly planted by Pakistani troops.

In a statement, the army said that it had shared these photographs with
Pakistan at the recently held brigadier-level flag meeting at Chakan-Da Bagh in the Poonch Sector, where the two sides discussed the repeated ceasefire violations.

Pakistan has denied all charges of initiating the aggression.

According to various media reports, the photographs of the landmine devices have clear markings that show they were manufactured in ordnance factories in Pakistan.

The mines were reportedly recovered in an area dominated by Indian troops.

Defence ministry sources were quoted by a television channel as saying that Pakistan had refused to accept the file with the photographs and returned it to the Indian officials.

At the meeting, India lodged a strong protest against the repeated ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the Line of Control (LoC) and also expressed concern at the barbaric way Pakistani troops treated the bodies of the two Indian soldiers who were killed last week.

But the Pakistani side, the Army said, denied all charges and was "adamant and arrogant" in its attitude. New Delhi has expressed unhappiness over the outcome of the meeting.

India says there have been five ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops since the flag meeting.

Two rounds of firing were reported near the Line of Control (LoC) within an hour on Tuesday evening. The Army said Indian troops did not retaliate.

The Pakistan Army however alleged on Wednesday morning that Indian troops violated the ceasefire on the LoC on Tuesday and "carried out unprovoked firing" in Hotspring and Jandrot sectors killing one of its soldiers at Kundi post.

Pakistan's director general of military operations talked to his Indian counterpart on Wednesday morning and lodged a protested about the alleged incident.

India has denied Pakistan's allegation.

"If a Pakistani soldier has been killed, it may have been in retaliatory firing. We have not crossed the Line of Control," Army chief General Bikram Singh said on Wednesday morning as he visited the family of one of the two jawans who were killed by Pakistani troops.

"We have never violated human rights, but when they fire, we also fire," he added.

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