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Saturday, 23 March 2013

From Today's Papers - 23 Mar 2013
India, China discuss irksome issues in fledgling defence cooperation
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 22
In a move that would be keenly watched among strategic circles, India and China today moved ahead to work on their fledgling defence cooperation, discussing issues in the Asia-Pacific region, resumption of joint-military exercises, an expansion of military-to-military exchanges and consolidation of measures to maintain peace along the frontiers.

The two-sides conducted defence delegation-level talks, the third high-level meet on military matters in the past 10 months, when US Defence Secretary Leon Pannetta visited India and China to announce the rebalance of the US forces towards Asia-Pacific region.

Both, India and China, had then separately, showed displeasure at the eastward swing of the US forces. Indian Defence minister AK Antony had then advised his US counterpart, Leon Pannetta "to move at a pace (in implementing the new military strategy) which is comfortable to all countries concerned".

Today China and India discussed "issues relating to the regional security situation", an Indian official statement said tonight. Sources said the Asia-Pacific region, that includes the South China Sea, was discussed at the meeting. In the past few months, New Delhi and Beijing have exchanged sharp words over navigation rights in that sea. India has oil exploration interests and wants free navigation under the UN-signed sea-navigation conventions while China claims sovereignty over the entire South China Sea and often warns India over oil explorations. The matters of navigation did come up, however, the US and its east-ward swing into Asia was not discussed at this talks, sources said.

Deputy Chief of General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, Lt Gen Qi Jianguo, led an eight-member delegation for talks with Indian Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma at the South Block today. The two sides discussed issues for 90-minutes.

India and China, who had severed their bilateral defence relations in 2009 over non-issuance of visa to serving a Lt General of the Indian Army, slowly resumed defence ties December 2011 onwards. First in September 2012, Chinese Defence Liang Guanglie made a visit to India, the first in more than eight year, to discuss issues with AK Antony. The two sides laid down the framework. In January 2013, Lt Gen Jianguo and Shashi Kant Sharma had met in Beijing for the Annual Defence Dialogue.

An official Indian statement said: "Both sides agreed to finalise the plan of bilateral exchanges between the Armed Forces of India and China".

It has been decided that exchanges will be conducted between the Armies, Navies and Air Forces on both sides. Both sides also discussed preparations for the 3rd Joint Army exercise, which is scheduled to be conducted in China this year.

It was agreed that the strengthening of exchanges between the armed forces should be carried out to build mutual trust and confidence, said the Defence Ministry.

The too sides also discussed the implementation of measures agreed upon to ensure continued peace and tranquility along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Today's decisions come just days ahead of the scheduled BRICS summit at Durban, South Africa, on March 26-27. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is slated to meet the new Chinese Premier Xi Jingping.

On the table

    Issues concerning both countries and their ‘clash of interest’ in the Asia-Pacific region
    Resumption of joint-military exercises
    Expansion of military-to-military exchanges
    Consolidation of measures to maintain peace along the frontiers
Defence Ministry fears power duel in Asia-Pacific region
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, March 22
With India, US, Japan and China involved in an edgy power-duel for dominance in the Asia-Pacific region, the Indian Defence Ministry has expressed fears saying “new military postures and power rivalries can impact the military balance in the region.”

In its annual report for 2012-2013, the Ministry of Defence today said: “India has important political, economic and commercial interests in the region and has stake in ensuring continued peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region”.

Asia-Pacific is the region lying east of India extending in an arc till Japan to the north and Australia to the south.

The region acquired a new strategic hue following a series of developments over the past nine months. In June 2012, the US announced that it was rebalancing its naval assets, sea-borne aircraft carriers, towards the Asia Pacific. China protested saying this was a US policy of containment.

Indian Naval Chief Admiral DK Joshi in December last year asserted: “The Navy is ready to sail into the disputed waters (of South China Sea) if the country’s economic interests are affected”. New Delhi has oil blocks off the coast of Vietnam. Within days, China warned India against any unilateral attempt to pursue oil exploration in the disputed sea. Separately, China and Japan are locked in territorial dispute over a set of islands.

The Indian Defence Ministry, while commenting on these rapid developments, said: “The complex and dynamic interplay of economic, diplomatic and military factors in the Asia-Pacific region continues to impact the overall security assessment for the region”.

Underlining these developments as important and stressing upon the need for continued efforts to build trust, the report goes on to state New Delhi’s well articulated stance on China’s attempts to claim total sovereignty over the South China Sea. It talks about the need “to ensure that the critical sea lanes in the region are kept open, secure and free for navigation and trade in accordance with international laws”. India’s to-and-fro trade in the east passes through these waters.

The report goes on to talk about China and how New Delhi was conscious of its neighbour saying “India remains watchful of the implications of China’s military profile in the immediate and extended neighbourhood”. It assures that necessary steps are in place to tackle China saying “India is taking necessary measures to develop the requisite capabilities to counter any impact (from China) on its security”.

On Pakistan, the report talks about the activities of terrorist organisations functioning on its territory.

the region

z Asia-Pacific is the region lying east of India extending in an arc till Japan to the north and Australia to
the south.

z The region acquired a new strategic hue following a series of developments over the past nine months.
Intel flip-flop over Hizb militant’s arrest?
Tribune News Service

New Delhi/Srinagar, March 22
Delhi Police today claimed to have foiled a "fidayeen (suicide) attack" in the national capital during Holi with the arrest of a suspected Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist in Uttar Pradesh. Explosives, grenades and an AK-56 rifle were seized from a guest house in Delhi.

Syed Liyaqat Shah, a resident of Kupwara in J&K, was apprehended from Gorakhpur two days ago, soon after he entered India through Nepal where he flew to from Karachi, said SN Srivastava, Special Commissioner of Police (Special Cell).

The arrest, however, has raised questions over coordination among various security agencies. Sources said Liyaqat was returning to India from Pakistan via Nepal as per the ongoing surrender policy for renegade J&K militants. He was being "helped" to enter India.

The Government has given an open offer to reformed Pakistan-based Kashmiri militants that they can surrender and return. Liyaqat used the Sanuali check post between India and Nepal to enter, sources said, adding two of Liyaqat's relatives had also reached Sanouli to get him back to J&K.

A separate source said the Sashastra Seem Bal (SSB) stationed at the check post was duly informed by Liyaqat's family members before he was taken into custody.

In Delhi, Srivastava said: "Fake Pakistani passports were arranged by Liyaqat's handlers. He was instructed to destroy all the passports at Kathmandu So that when he and his family enter India, there would be no evidence of any Pakistani connection."

Delhi Police claimed that Liyaqat had started living in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) in 1997 where he had gone after he was involved in terrorism in 1993. He had earlier joined a terror group called Al-Bakh and then later became a member of the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen (HM). "He was trained there," added Srivastava. "Liyaqat was positioned high in the HM hierarchy. He was codenamed Tipu Sultan," said a police source.

In Srinagar, the family members of Liquat Ali have expressed surprise over his arrest, saying he was on his way to "surrender before the J&K police".

"We are surprised. We had already informed the local authorities about Ali's arrival to Valley. We had also completed all the formalities necessary under the rehabilitation policy of the state government," said Ali's brother Anayat.

Anayat said that Ali was on way to Kashmir along with his second wife and daughter.
BSF to use aerial surveillance in riverine areas
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 22
The Border Security Force (BSF) will have a technological advancement in its security apparatus at the 4,096-km-long Indo-Bangladesh border with the use of aerial surveillance in riverine areas.

The use of such a technology is a solution to the problem of not being able to set up fences at riverine terrain of the border. The technology will be used to keep a close watch on smuggling of fake Indian currency notes (FICN), cattle and contraband. It will also help the BSF in tracking illegal migration across the border.

Director General (DG) BSF, Subhash Joshi, at a joint press conference of the BSF and the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) held here today also said more non-lethal weapons will be used by the BSF at the Indo-Bangladesh border. "The use of such weapons has been an unqualified success. We will be using more such weapons like pump action guns and teargas shells," he said.

The press conference was conducted after the completion of the 37th Director-General (DG) level talks between the two forces that was held in the national capital from March 19. Joshi said 26 per cent of the Indo-Bangladesh border was riverine. Since fencing is not possible in such terrain, we are looking at technological solutions such as aerial surveillance.

Maj Gen Aziz Ahmed, the DG of the BGB, said his force would also be using similar technology. The two security forces will also look at the possibility of sharing the inputs of the new devices, as part of a coordinated border management plan.
House panel slams MoD over procurements
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 22
The Public Accounts Committee of the Parliament, in its report yesterday, slammed the Ministry of Defence for not having overhauled its procurement systems and procedures to protect the Country’s interest in defence procurements worth billions of rupees.

The PAC, headed by senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi, while referring to the ordnance factory project Nalanda, said the systems were beset with glaring loopholes and lacunae to the detriment of national interest.

It reiterated the recommendation asking the MoD to completely overhaul their procurement systems and procedures and incorporate a suitable clause for utilising the services of diplomatic channels before entering into defence deals.

It took to task the MoD for brushing aside the report of the Expert Committee on streamlining the systems and the whole exercise depicts lack of proper assessment of domestic ability. “The unexplained eagerness to go in for a foreign supplier renders the very motive suspicious”, it said.
China proposes border defence pact, India to go slow
NEW DELHI: China today proposed a border defence cooperation agreement to avoid any misunderstanding or flare up along the boundary but India is not rushing into it as wants to study the proposal thoroughly.

During a Secretary-level meeting here, the two sides decided to hold Army-to-Army counter-terrorism exercise in China this year. The dates would be finalised during the visit of an Indian Army delegation to China next month. The Indian delegation was led by Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma.

At the meeting, the Chinese delegation led by its Deputy Chief of General Staff Lt Gen Qi Jianguo proposed an agreement under which troops of the two countries will not tail each other if noticed during patrolling along the disputed Line of Actual Control, sources told PTI.

The proposal also has a clause which suggests that troops of either side will not fire at each other under each other under any condition, they said.

However, the Indian side gave no commitment, the sources said. India wants to study the proposal thoroughly and do due diligence before taking any decision.

This was the second meeting between Qi, who is in-charge for Foreign Cooperation and Intelligence in the People's Liberation Army, and Sharma in the last three months after they met at the Annual Defence Dialogue (ADD) in January.

The Chinese side had discussed these proposals informally during the ADD also but India had then asked it to submit these points in a formal manner at a later stage.

The Army-to-Army exercise would be held after a gap of around five years. The first one was held in 2007 in Kunming in China while the second edition was held in Belgaum in Karnataka in December 2008.

The exercises were stopped after tensions between the two sides over denial of visa to the then Northern Army Commander Lt Gen B S Jaswal in 2010 and issuing of stapled visa to residents of Jammu and Kashmir by China.

During the meeting, both sides agreed to finalise the plan of bilateral exchanges between the armed forces of India and China. It has been decided that exchanges will be conducted between the Armies, Navies and Air Forces on both sides, the Defence Ministry said in a release.

It was agreed that strengthening of exchanges between the armed forces should be carried out as a way of building mutual trust and confidence and consistent with the overall bilateral relationship between both countries, the release said.

Sharma and Qi also discussed issues relating to the regional security situation. The Chinese Lt Gen also called on Defence Minister A K Antony and conveyed that the new leadership in China attaches high priority to consolidate cooperative relations with India in all spheres.

Antony is also planning to visit China by middle of the year after which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is also expected to visit Beijing.

Meanwhile, addressing the 12th V K Krishna Menon memorial lecture, National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon said with China, India has a "complex boundary issue,". "The biggest boundary problem in the world is still unresolved but the leader of the two countries decided to maintain peace and tranquillity on the border and we have been successful in doing so for several decades," he said.

The NSA said the two countries have "without waiting for a settlement of the boundary issue developed rest of the relations to the point that China today is our largest trading partner in goods and we make common core on several issues of global significance."

He said this may not be the ideal and not the best situation that you could envisage "but it is certainly better than where we were before. Most importantly, both displayed the will and ability to manage differenc
How arms dealer Abhishek Verma exploited top-secret defence information
New Delhi / New York: Through hundreds of documents now being investigated by the CBI,  and accessed by NDTV, startling new details are emerging of how arms dealer  Abhishek Verma, his wife Anca Neacsu, and their partners brazenly worked the system. 

Emails that the CBI believes were written by Mr Verma reveal him accessing and exploiting top-secret defence information. He also claimed he was paying bribes to government officials, and had interactions with officials in the Defence Ministry and the Indian armed forces, to ensure that rifles, carbines and pistols manufactured by US defence manufacturer Sig Sauer  were pushed onto shortlists for contracts worth millions of dollars. 

NDTV cannot independently verify the authenticity of the emails.
NDTV reported earlier this week that the CBI says it has found evidence that a kickback of $50,000 was transferred by Sig Sauer through a matrix of front companies to Mr Verma. This bribe was meant for a government official referred to in emails by Mr Verma and his partners as "VIP."

At stake was a multi-crore deal for sniper rifles for the Indian Army.

"VIP" was to be paid for removing an anonymous complaint filed against Sig Sauer's 716 assault rifle.   If that complaint had been recognized, Sig Sauer  would have been blacklisted, making it ineligible for not just this deal, but for the billion dollar contract to replace the Army's INSAS rifle, for which the manufacturer is still in the running.

In an email dated July 23 2011, Mr Verma told his associates that the anonymous compliant, received by the Defence Ministry, warned of audacious irregularities in how the SIG assault rifles had been conducted in the United  States by Indian Army officers.

According to the complaint, SIG had hired a firing range for the trials but army officials did not reach it on time. Listing the contents of the compliant, Mr Verma writes, "The range wasn't available the second day therefore firing was done at 300 metres distance and the same results were extrapolated for 800 meters and SIG weapon passed."

Mr Verma tells his partners and wife that the complaint also said, "The officers who went to USA were looked after and 1 of the officer's wife was taken shopping!"

The complainant said these malpractices meant that  Sig Sauer should be dropped from the competition.  Worried about the consequences, Mr  Verma wrote if the defence official in charge "takes cognizance of the anonymous complaint... then the entire deal would be scrapped and re-tendered.

In the same email, Mr Verma shared with his partners  highly classified information on how other manufacturers had fared in the trials, which means he accessed a top-secret army report.

In an email dated July 26, 2011, Mr Verma outlined the urgent need for the bribe for "VIP."  He asked for $50,000 to be wired "tomorrow, Tuesday or Wednesday" for 'business development' in India and this cannot be delayed a day as each day counts."

The same day, an account was opened at JP Morgan Chase Bank, New York and $51,000 was deposited into the account.. A few days later, on August 2, 2011, an email from Mr Verma's colleague, C Edmonds Allen, confirmed that the transfer to Ganton, Mr Verma's company, was complete.
India and China to rebuild defence ties
 After a five-year lull, India and China are looking to resume combat drills between their armies.

The drills were suspended in 2008 following Beijing's snub over Jammu and Kashmir.

Days after Chang Wanquan was appointed as the new defence minister, People's Liberation Army's deputy chief of general staff Qi Jianguo held talks in New Delhi.

The talks aimed at not only resuming armies ties but also enhancing level of engagements between the air forces and navies.

Jianguo met defence secretary Shashikant Sharma and finalized the plan for military exchanges.

PLA and Indian Army have held two rounds of exercise, named 'hand-in-hand', before it was suspended.

Indian Army officials will visit Beijing soon to finalise modalities for the exercise to be held later this year.

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