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Saturday, 20 April 2013

From Today's Papers - 20 Apr 2013
Chinese troops sneak 10 km into Ladakh

Leh/New Delhi, April 19
In a deep incursion, Chinese troops have entered the Indian territory in Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) sector in eastern Ladakh and erected a tented post, setting the stage for a face-off with Indian troops.

A platoon-strength contingent of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) came 10 km inside the Indian territory in Burthe in DBO sector, which is at an altitude of about 17,000 feet, on the night of April 15 and established a tented post there, according to highly placed sources, which said that a Chinese Army Platoon usually consists of around 50 men.

Troops from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) have also established a camp approximately 300 metres opposite the location, the sources said. The ITBP has asked for a Flag meeting with the Chinese side but there has been no response as of now, sources said.

When contacted, the spokesman of Udhampur-based Northern Command Col Rajesh Kalia said: "Due to differences in perception of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), a few face-offs take place in the eastern Ladakh side. These are resolved amicably through existing mechanism." He refused to elaborate.

The Ladakh Scouts, an Infantry regiment of the Indian Army and specialising in mountain warfare, has also moved towards the area where the situation was described as tense. The place has not been known to have any permanent civilian population.

The DBO, located in northernmost Ladakh, is an historic camp site and located on an ancient trade route connecting Ladakh to Yarkand in Xinjiang, China.

It lies at the easternmost point of the Karakoram Range in a cold desert region in the far north of India, just 8 km south of the Chinese border and 9 km northwest of the Aksai Chin LAC between China and India. Temperature plummets as low as minus 30 degree Celsius in the winters.

Other than Siachen Glacier military base, it is India's northernmost built-up area. The nearest inhabited town is Murgo to the south, which has a small population of Baltis who primarily depend on apricot farming and yak rearing. — PTI
Musharraf arrested, shifted to police HQ
Afzal Khan in Islamabad

General grilled

    A police team on Friday visited former President Pervez Musharraf's farmhouse, declared a "sub-jail" by the authorities, and questioned him about the detention of more than 60 judges in 2007.
    The five-member police team led by SP Sardar Sadaqat Ali Khan visited Musharraf's farmhouse at Chak Shahzad on the outskirts of Islamabad around 11 am.
    The team recorded Musharraf's statement and his response to charges levelled against him in the case that led to his arrest on Friday morning.

General (retd) Pervez Musharraf was shifted to the police headquarters in Islamabad from his farmhouse residence at Chak Shahzad on Friday, hours after the former military ruler surrendered to the authorities in the judges' detention case.

Musharraf has been booked under the anti-terrorism law on an order from the Islamabad High Court, which had on Thursday ordered his arrest. Judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui took strong exception to Musharraf's escape from the court after cancellation of his bail and held the police and security rangers responsible for whisking him away amid tight security.

The judge noted that Musharraf sacked over 60 judges and confined them in their houses after the imposition of emergency in November 2007. His action amounted to spreading terror and subverting the entire judicial system in the country, the judge observed while ordering that a case under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act be registered against him.

The authorities were contemplating placing Musharraf under house arrest by declaring his spacious farmhouse in Chak Shehzad by declaring it as 'sub-jail'. But under the law, he must first surrender himself to the police, and be produced before a magistrate before being shifted to his house.

Musharraf was arrested by the police on Friday morning and driven to the police headquarters amid tight security.

Since the magistrate is preoccupied in a judicial conference, Musharraf will have to spend two more days in the headquarters before appearing in magistrate Abbas Khan's court for declaration of the farmhouse as a sub-jail. The judge issued an order for a two-day-long transit remand of Musharraf. The order also added clause 780-A pertaining to terrorism in the list of charges against the former army strongman.
Two CRPF jawans hurt in Naxal attack

Raipur, April 19
Two CRPF jawans were injured in a Naxal attack in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh's today, the police said. "The two jawans received injuries when a group of Naxals opened indiscriminate fire at a team of Central Reserve Police Force which was patrolling the jungles of Basaguda police station area," a senior CRPF official said.

Sannu Santya was hit by a bullet in his waist while Vinod Meena received hand injuries, he said.

The security personnel fired in retaliation but the Naxals managed to escape in the jungles, he said.

The two jawans were air-lifted and admitted to a hospital in Jagdalpur town of Bastar district, he said. — PTI
IAF gears up to counter Chinese threat in N-E
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, April 19
India will finally start converting existing mud-paved airfields in remote valleys of Arunchal Pradesh into full-fledged runways for use by the Indian Air Force and the Army.

The move aims at countering the growing Chinese threat and to ramp up military infrastructure and defences in the North-East. The project is expected to cost Rs 1,723 crore and is running four years behind schedule. It was originally conceived in 2008 as part of the prime minister special package for the North-East.

The scope of work includes expanding the length of British-era mud-paved airfields, termed as advanced landing grounds (ALGs) in IAF terminology. These will be converted into fully-paved concrete runways with regular landing surface allowing more types of planes to land. It will have the latest gadgetry to enable all-weather flying. The expansion will allow operations by planes like the newly acquired C-130-J and the C-17 Globemaster that is to be inducted in the coming weeks.

The IAF also looks forward to expanding couple of paved runways built recently. This will facilitate swift movement of forces to the northeastern frontier. The existing mud-paved ALGs are too small in length and allow only very small aircraft to land and have a non-existent ground support. These are rendered unusable during rains.

After much delay and hurdles over clearances, the IAF will start analysing bids from companies willing to undertake the project. The bids will close on April 26 and the evaluation will start thereafter.

"It is big development for the North-East, we are hopeful of starting work soon," said a senior IAF functionary. It would be ideal to do some work before rains slow down the pace, he said.

The project will cover ALGs at Tuting, Mechuka, Pasighat, Along, Walong, Ziro and Tawang (helipad).

A memorandum of understanding was signed between the Arunchal Pradesh Government and the Ministry of Defence in June 2009 for upgrading these ALGs into full-fledged runways. The progress had been slow with work being completed only at Vijaynagar. In November 2012, Defence Minister AK Antony asked the IAF to start work that was originally targeted to begin in mid-2011.


* The move aims at countering the growing Chinese threat

* Military infrastructure in the North-East will be ramped up at a cost of around Rs 1,723 crore

* The plan was originally conceived in 2008, and is already running four years behind schedule
India, Britain hold joint exercises to hone army counter-terrorism skills
'Ajeya Warrior,' the joint Indo-UK military excercise aimed at enhancing the counter-terrorism skills of both nations, entered the third of its four-week programme at Belgaum on Friday.

The Indian Army said that the exercise will simulate a scenario where both nations work together on a simulated joint operation involved in counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism operations.

"This is one of the major ongoing bilateral defence co-operation endeavours between the two countries," explained a spokesman from the Indian Army. "It is fifth in the series which initially started as a biennial feature in 2007. It has since been decided to hold exercises in India and the United Kingdom alternatively."


The trainees include a hundred men from The Royal Welsh regiment of the British Army and a similar number of troops from a battalion of the Indian Army's Kumaon Regiment.

The first week of excercises comprised familiarisation with the unit structure, weapons and equipment of both armies.The second week involved tactical drills being demonstrated and practised.

"Both countries have troops deployed in active counter-insurgency/counter-terrorism operations, and thus by sharing each other's operational experiences in such a diverse environment is of immense value," said an army spokesperson.

He added that the curriculum has been planned in such a way so to allow participants to become progressively more familiar each other's organisational structure, weapons, equipment, and tactical drills.

After the training is complete, both forces will particpate in joint tactical exercises wherein the battle drills of both armies are coherently employed.
Pakistan's Judges Score One Against Army
Former Officers See Arrest of Ex-President Pervez Musharraf, a Retired General, as Blow to Military
ISLAMABAD—Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf spent Friday night in police custody after turning himself in for the first arrest of an ex-army chief in a country dominated by its military.

Some former officers called the prosecution of the ex-strongman a challenge to the prestige of the army—long Pakistan's most powerful institution—while others saw it as a sign of strength for Pakistan's fragile democracy in the run-up to elections on May 11. Mr. Musharraf, then army chief, seized power in a coup in 1999 and later appointed himself president, running the country until 2008.
Mr. Musharraf returned to Pakistan last month after four years in self-imposed exile to run in the election, though he had been strongly advised by the military not to come back, especially considering the rising clout of the country's judiciary, according to retired Brig. Gen. Shaukat Qadir and other retired army officers.

"Musharraf has put himself into this bind. He always acts first and thinks later," Mr. Qadir said. "The problem for the army is that it's got no cards to play in this game. It's been hijacked by the judiciary."

Election officials and judges have already barred Mr. Musharraf from running in all four districts where he had planned to run for a seat in Parliament.

The Islamabad High Court ordered Mr. Musharraf's arrest on Thursday for what it said was the "illegal and immoral order" to fire Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and other judges and put them under house arrest in 2007.

Mr. Musharraf's lawyer denied he put the judges under house arrest, saying the police deployed to their homes were there for their own protection.
The judge in the case extended the charges against Mr. Musharraf to include "an act of terrorism," saying his move against the courts in 2007 had "spread fear in the society, insecurity among the judicial officers, alarm in the lawyers community and terror throughout Pakistan."

Mr. Musharraf faces six other cases, in six other courts, stemming from his time in office. Other allegations include murder and a treason case now before the Supreme Court. Mr. Musharraf has described the court cases as baseless.

Mr. Musharraf was present at Thursday's hearing, but fled from the court and sped to his home on the outskirts of the capital, helped by armed security guards. On Friday, he turned himself in. Later, he called his prosecution politically motivated. "I will fight them in the trial court, where the truth will eventually prevail," said a post, signed by him, on his official Facebook FB +0.16% page.

Television images on Friday showed Mr. Musharraf, dressed in traditional shalwar kameez—baggy trousers and long shirt—flanked by police and paramilitary soldiers at the district court.

The former president spent Friday night in custody at the Islamabad police headquarters—though an aide, Abid Khan, said he wasn't kept in a cell but in guest accommodations usually reserved for visiting police officers.

Mr. Musharraf's team had argued that the former president's security couldn't be guaranteed in a jail.

"He's a soldier, a commando, and he's always cheerful," said Mr. Khan. "But he was disappointed from the justice he is receiving, disappointed with the courts, disappointed with the system."

Talat Masood, a retired lieutenant general, said the trial of Mr. Musharraf would bring into focus the army's history of "usurping power" at a time when it needs public support its fight against Taliban extremists.

However, Mr. Masood added: "I think democracy is the winner in the long run. Because I don't think that anyone would dare to break the constitution in future."

Mr. Musharraf became an important U.S. ally after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. He moved in 2007 to sideline an increasingly activist and independent judiciary and its hard-charging chief justice, Mr. Chaudhry. That judiciary was reinstated in 2009, after Mr. Musharraf was forced out of the presidency by political pressure and went into exile. Mr. Musharraf's aides accuse the judges of trying to take revenge for humiliation suffered in 2007.

On Friday, Pakistan's Senate passed a unanimous resolution demanding that Mr. Musharraf be tried for treason for imposing martial law in the country—a case that is already in court.
Senators said they were concerned that behind-the-scenes pressure had been exerted to prevent Mr. Musharraf being arrested on Thursday.

Zahid Khan, a senator from the Awami National Party, which was part of the outgoing coalition government, said "double standards" were being applied to favor the former military ruler. "We will keep our watch on this, so that some helicopter doesn't suddenly land and take him away," Mr. Khan said.

The Senate is the only chamber of the Pakistani parliament that is still sitting. The lower house of parliament has been dissolved ahead of the May 11 election.

For the army, there is one theoretical option that could save Mr. Musharraf from the courts, said Mr. Qadir, the retired brigadier general.

The army could re-induct Mr. Musharraf into service and put him on trial under a court-martial instead, an approach that was used last year for three retired generals accused of embezzlement after they left service. However, rescuing Mr. Musharraf is this way would be "extremely embarrassing" for the military, Mr. Qadir said.

Humayun Gauhar, a friend of Mr. Musharraf who helped him write his 2006 autobiography, said the ex-president had returned to Pakistan because he wanted to clear his name "of these stigmas" and had been confident that he would receive due process from the courts.

"If justice stops flowing through the courts, it will start flowing through the barrel of a gun," said Mr. Gauhar. "Whether that gun is in the hands of the military, or in the hands of terrorists."

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