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Saturday, 27 April 2013

From Today's Papers - 27 Apr 2013
India looking to secure other sensitive stretches along LAC
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, April 26
Ten days into the military stand-off in northern Ladakh, following a Chinese intrusion across the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the top brass of the Ministry of Defence and the Indian Army today chalked out plans and a strategy on other “sensitive stretches” of the LAC which could be used by China to up the ante.

New Delhi's top strategic policy body, the China Study Group, which has been tasked to deal with the matter has opted for diplomacy to act while the military has been asked to hold ground. Since April 18, Indian and Chinese troops are face-to-face at Raki Nullah south-east of Daulat Beg Oldie, an advanced landing ground. The Chinese had intruded on April 15 and pitched a tent.

Sources said there were other points along the LAC on the Indian side, where the Army has no access due to the terrain and lack of infrastructure. Only a patrol goes there at periodic intervals. The main source of information is the local shepherds and the latest gadgetry like unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The Army has a contingency plan ready to rush in troops in any sensitive areas along the LAC. The same was shared with Defence Minister AK Antony today.

These stretches are in the east of Chumar in South-eastern Ladkah and south of the 'Spanggur Gap' in Eastern Ladakh. This location is across the Indus on its right bank. Also more stretches of the LAC in northern Ladakh, which are disputed, could be used by China to plant their men and latter stake a claim.

India and China dispute the actual alignment of the LAC as it was never demarcated on the ground or on the maps. Incidents of transgression by troops of either side occur due to differences in the perception of the LAC. These are taken up with the Chinese side through established mechanisms such as border personnel meetings, flag meetings, hotlines and diplomatic channels.

In the latest case the agreement of April 2005, which mandates soldiers on either side to return on coming face-to-face with each other, has not worked. New Delhi is waiting to see if this agreement is honoured at any other transgression.

Meanwhile Antony today said negotiations and consultations are on at various levels to find a peaceful solution to the Chinese incursion. "Negotiations and consultations are going on at various levels to find out a peaceful solution to Chinese incursion issue," Antony told reporters outside Parliament today.

Earlier in the day, Defence Ministry officials told a Parliamentary Committee that Chinese troops have pitched tents inside the Indian territory in Ladakh and efforts are underway to ensure that the pre-intrusion status quo is maintained.

Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma informed the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence that India has deployed forces to "keep a close watch on the border". Members of the committee had wanted to know the actual ground situation.
India ready for regional co-op to help Afghanistan: Khurshid
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 26
Without naming Pakistan, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid today slammed Islamabad for seeking to gain strategic depth in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of NATO troops in 2014, while underlining that the greatest challenge to the war-torn nation came from terrorism emanating from beyond its borders.

“Afghanistan will experience lasting peace only if short-sighted perceptions of competition and strategic depth are replaced by collaboration and economic development in the nation by countries of the region and the rest of the world,” Khurshid said while addressing the ‘Heart of Asia’ ministerial conference on Afghanistan in the Kazakh capital of Almaty.

Khurshid sought to reassure Pakistan and the rest of the international community that India does not see Afghanistan as a zone of competitive influence and wanted it to be an area of opportunity for regional cooperation.

The minister said the international community must realise that the solution to Afghanistan’s problems could not be based on military alone but ought to be rooted in a political approach that enjoyed a democratic sanction.

“We are also glad to note that there is widespread agreement that an acceptable solution can be the one that comes from within Afghanistan and finds its sustenance from the respect for Afghan society and its institutions.”
Army, MoD upset with MEA over China moves
Want Foreign Ministry to talk tough to Beijing, demarcate boundary
Arun Joshi/TNS

Jammu, April 26
The Indian Army and the Ministry of Defence appears to be miffed at the Ministry of External Affairs the way it has shied away from talking tough to Beijing since 1986 when first Chinese troops intruded into the Indian side in Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir.

“The MEA was told several times that it should talk tough and get the boundary demarcated so that the Chinese could be shown their place and it was also clearly stated that today’s India is not that of 1962,” a source told The Tribune.

When the frequency of intrusions, some have calculated it close to 300 in the past 27 years, registered a sharp rise in 2009, the Army and the MoD asked the MEA that it should assert and get the Line of Actual Control (LAC) demarcated so that such situations don’t recur.

The factual position on the ground is that the cold desert where mountains of sand stand tall, it is very difficult to put a barbed wire fence and demarcate the border, but a line can be drawn with rocks which separate China from the India on the LAC. “This is what we had been pleading with the MEA, because it is not the job of the Army to draw lines, they can only guard the frontiers.”

At Daulat Beg Oldie, India did reactivate its airfield on May 31, 2008, and also started work to pave the road, but forgot thereafter every thing. Few trial flights and the airfield was rendered into disuse. Similar thing happened when Fukche airfield was activated on November 4 in the same year. In September 2009, it reactivated Nyoma airfield where Indians could ferry their troops in AN-32 aircraft.

The current intrusion and setting up of the tented post by Chinese in DBO area, close to Aksai Chin that India lost to China in 1962 war, is unprecedented even by the deepest of the deep intrusion inside the Indian side of the LAC.

Another threat looms large that Chinese may attempt to vitiate the atmosphere further by surrounding the DBO airfield. These matters have come up in the strategic sessions of the Indian Army and the only answer they have found is that Indian Bair Force and Indian Army’s aviation corps should start the flights to the three airfields, but the problem that they have analysed is that the airstrips were not repaired after the initial euphoria over resuming the flights over there. The vagaries of weather have damaged the air strips at the forward landing airfields.
China's incursion in Ladakh: Standoff may continue, say Army sources; parliamentary panel summons defence officials
The possibility of a third flag meeting in Ladakh today between Army commanders from China and India seems remote for now, as a stand-off continues over a Chinese platoon setting up camp 18-19 kilometres inside Indian territory in the Depsang Valley.
Two flag meetings in the last 10 days have yielded no results. The Chinese troops set up camp on April 15 and have been there.
The Army assesses that the stand-off might continue for weeks without either side blinking and, importantly, without further escalation. Sources have ruled out any sort of military response to the incursion, but the Indian Army has ordered a re-assessment of vulnerable areas.
In New Delhi, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence has summoned officials from the Defence Ministry and the Army on Tuesday to explain the incursion. The opposition has already attacked the government for what it calls its "weak handling" of the situation. The BJP has accused the Congress-led UPA government of being unable to stand up to Beijing and has written to the parliamentary panel asking for a detailed report on the situation.

China yesterday reiterated that it has not provoked the flare-up. "China's troops have never crossed the (LAC) line. China and India are neighbours and the boundary is not demarcated yet," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying, emphasising the need to end the dispute through "friendly consultations."
India has also reiterated the need to prevent the escalation of hostilities. But an assessment by the Army, intelligence agencies, and the Foreign Affairs Ministry concludes that the incursion was what a source described as "a well-thought out decision cleared at the highest level and not a localised action."

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid has tried to play down the tension, saying, "We have expressed our view and concern to the Chinese government through their Ambassador in Delhi. The first two rounds of the flag meet have not given us any sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. There are other rounds in process and the important thing from both sides is that it is and must remain an isolated incident and should not spill over into the larger spectrum of our relationship with China."

Mr Khurshid will visit China on May 9 as scheduled. His trip to China is part of preparations for a visit by the newly installed Chinese Premier Li Keqiang who is expected in New Delhi on May 20 for his first overseas trip.
India alleges China troops far inside Indian territory

(AFP) – 9 hours ago

NEW DELHI — New Delhi on Friday alleged Chinese soldiers have advanced nearly 20 kilometres (12 miles) into Indian-claimed territory after intruding across the disputed border earlier this month, a report said.

Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma and other military officials presented a report on the incursion to a parliamentary watchdog, the Press Trust of India (PTI) reported, marking a renewal of tensions between the Asian neighbours.

Sharma also told MPs attending the meeting that India has deployed troops in the contested region to "keep a close watch on the border", it quoted unnamed sources as saying.

India and China have an unresolved boundary dispute, and relations are often prickly and marked by mutual suspicion -- a legacy of a brief border war in 1962.

A senior defence ministry official confirmed to AFP the meeting took place and that Sharma briefed MPs on the alleged Chinese advance but he did not elaborate.

"The officials told the committee that Indian army patrols reported on April 16 the presence of Chinese People's Liberation Army pitching tents 19 kilometres inside the LAC (Line of Actual Control)," PTI quoted a source as saying.

The LAC is the de facto border that runs across the Himalayas.

The meeting came a day after Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid announced he would head for China on May 8, saying both countries had a mutual interest in not allowing the dispute to "destroy" long-term progress in ties.

A foreign ministry official also confirmed reports that the new Chinese Premier Li Keqiang would travel to New Delhi India late next month, without giving an exact date.

Lower-level talks have so far failed to break the impasse in the dispute in the western part of India-administered Kashmir's Ladakh region.

According to officials in New Delhi, a platoon of Chinese troops set up a camp inside Indian territory on April 15.

India has since called on the Chinese soldiers to withdraw, but several meetings between local army commanders and diplomats from both sides have failed to resolve the stand-off.

China has denied any wrongdoing.

In 1962, China gave India a bloody nose in the war fought in the Himalayan regions of Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh.

Small incursions are not uncommon across the LAC but it is rare for either country to set up camps in disputed territory.

In recent years, the two countries have increased their military presence on each side of the border and hold frequent meetings to defuse tensions.

Despite the border tensions, trade between the Asian giants has soared in recent years.
Early warning systems is the need of the hour: Jitendra Singh
NEW DELHI: We are facing incursions from across the land borders, said raksha rajya mantri (RRM) Jitendra Singh, on Thursday.

"There is a need to have early warning systems to handle such situations more effectively," he said during the first day of the two-day seminar on night flying capabilities (NFC) held at New Delhi's Kothari auditorium (DRDO Bhavan), which was attended by top bosses of defence PSUs like DRDO, BEL, production agencies, industry, scientists, and members of the Indian army including the vice chief.

"There is a need to change the approach from 'acquiring technology' to 'development of technology' in order to achieve desired level of indigenization. The aim should be to equip the Indian armed forces with state of art equipments to bring them at par with the world leaders," he said

The minister of state (defence) also emphasized on the need for self-reliance in the field of defence instrumentation and to reduce the import content to a minimum.

"We need a need greater synergy among different stakeholders in the process of development (between. DRDO, public sector & private industry)," he said.
Explain China incursion: BJP MPs to Army, Defence Ministry
New Delhi: BJP members of a Parliamentary Committee have demanded that officials of the Defence Ministry and the Army be called before it. They are seeking explanation on the issue of Chinese incursion, to get a clear picture of the situation and on how the government is handling it.

Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Prakash Javadekar, members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence, have written to Chairman Raj Babbar, seeking summoning of the officials to the meeting slated for Friday.

In the joint letter, they have said that the situation in Ladakh is "very serious" and the Defence Ministry and the Army should be asked to explain what is happening in the Daulat Beg Oldi area where Chinese troops have entered and are camping.
he two members wanted this to be added as "urgent matter" to the agenda of the meeting. Naqvi said they wanted the officials of the Defence Ministry and the Army to be called as the nation is concerned over the developments in Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir. He said the picture was not clear about the situation there and the Committee should be told about the developments.

Chinese troops have entered about 10 km inside Indian territory and are refusing to leave even after two flag meetings were held. "The issue of incursion by China in Ladakh area is a serious issue. But the government is not taking it that seriously. People are angry (over the situation at the border)," Javadekar said.

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