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Monday, 6 May 2013

From Today's Papers - 06 May 2013
Standoff ends as China pulls out troops from Ladakh
Ajay Banerjee & Ashok Tuteja/ TNS

New Delhi, May 5
Ending tension of three weeks, India and China this evening asked their troops to end the standoff in northern Ladakh along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which marks the border between the two nations.

Intensive diplomatic efforts led by Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai in coordination with military authorities and Indian Ambassador to China S Jaishankar in Beijing led to flag meetings in which the face-to-face situation was resolved, official sources said tonight.

Troops on either side have been asked to withdraw simultaneously to their respective pre-April 15 positions. A strict time line has been given to withdraw totally from the standoff location which is at an altitude of 16, 300 feet.

The breakthrough came during the fourth and fifth flag meetings between local commanders over the weekend. The working mechanism on border management between the two sides was also in operation during that period.

The agreement between the two sides paves the way for External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid’s visit to Beijing on May 9 to do groundwork for Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s trip to India on May 20.

The first three flag meetings on April 18, 23 and 30 had failed, leading to speculation that Khurshid might cancel his visit to Beijing to convey strong sentiment in India against the Chinese incursion.

National Security Adviser Shivshanker Menon is learnt to have briefed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the agreement reached between the two sides. There was no immediate word on the conditions decided for the mutual withdrawal of troops.

A small contingent of Chinese People’s Liberation Army pitched tents in a disputed section along the LAC on April 15. India responded with pitching its own tents and deploying UAVs for surveillance.

This led to a face-off. Armed troops faced each other from a distance of 80 m across the Raki nullah-around 30 km south-east of the Indian Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) at Daulat Beg Oldie.

The LAC is not demarcated on the ground while perceived LAC alignments of New Delhi and Beijing do not match.

Three Brigadier-level flag meetings had failed to break the logjam. China had refused to budge and India maintained that troops of either side had to withdraw to the pre-April 15 position. The fourth flag meeting was held at Spanngur Gap in eastern Ladakh last evening. Though it could not end the deadlock, it opened the door for negotiations.

Revealing how the negotiations ended the standoff, sources said New Delhi had agreed to stop building bunkers in the disputed sections along the LAC and Beijing agreed that its troops would also not hold on to ground in that area. The two sides also agreed to adhere to the April 2005 protocol that laid down ground rules for troops on either side when patrolling in disputed sections of the LAC.

Agreement reached

* An agreement was reached on Sunday for both sides to pull back their troops simultaneously from the face off point, which was completed at 7.30 pm.

* Indian and Chinese commanders at the local level shook hands before withdrawing.

* Under the agreement, the Indian troops decided to move back to Burste, the point they were stationed at prior to April 15.
Israel warplanes pound Syria, target Iranian missiles cargo

Beirut, May 5
Israel carried out its second air strike in days on Syria early on Sunday, a Western intelligence source said, in an attack that shook Damascus with a series of powerful blasts and drove columns of fire into the night sky.

Israel declined comment but Syria accused the Jewish state of striking a military facility just north of the capital - one which its jets had first targeted three months ago.

Iran, a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and an arch-enemy of Israel, urged states in the region to resist the Israeli attack. People living near the Jamraya base spoke of explosions over several hours in various places near Damascus, including a town housing senior officials. "Night turned into day," one man said.

The Western intelligence source told Reuters the operation hit Iranian-supplied missiles headed for Lebanon's Hezbollah, a similar target to the two previous strikes this year, which have been defended as justifiable by Israel's ally - the United States.

"In last night's attack, as in the previous one, what was attacked were stores of Fateh-110 missiles that were in transit from Iran to Hezbollah," the intelligence source said. An Israeli official had confirmed a similar raid on Friday.

In Lebanon, Hezbollah declined immediate comment. Video footage uploaded onto the Internet by activists showed a series of explosions.

One lit up the skyline of Damascus while another sent up a tower of flames and secondary blasts. Syrian state media accused Israel of attacking in response to Assad's forces' recent successes against rebels who, with Western approval, have been trying to topple him for two years.

In 40 years since a war with a Syria then ruled by Assad's father, Israel has been locked in a cold standoff with Damascus, fought Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006 and is threatening to attack Iran, accusing Tehran of trying to develop nuclear weapons.

But it is wary of instability in Syria, has long viewed Hezbollah as the more immediate threat and has shown little enthusiasm for US and European calls for Assad's overthrow.

The raid follows intense debate in the United States over whether the use of chemical weapons by Syrian troops might push President Barack Obama to intervene more forcefully on the rebel side, but Western powers remain concerned at the presence of anti-Western Islamist fighters among Assad's opponents.

It was unclear whether Israel sought US approval for the action. In the past, officials have indicated that Israel sees a need only to inform Washington once a mission is under way.

At a routine public appearance, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made no direct reference to the strikes but spoke pointedly of his responsibility to ensure Israel's future. — Reuters

Big Strike

* Attack targeted missiles bound for Hezbollah, says Western source

* Syria says raid struck research facility hit in January

* Israel declines to comment, Netanyahu speaks of "security"

* Assad, Hezbollah ally Iran condemns attack
If elected, Nawaz to probe Kargil war
Afzal Khan in Islamabad

Vowing to review Pakistan’s relations with the United States, Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif has said he would order a comprehensive probe into the Kargil episode after coming to power.

In various TV interviews, Sharif, who is widely regarded as the front-runner in election race, has said that, if elected, he would not only investigate the Kargil war but also make its report public.

Apparently learning from his own experience of giving out-of-turn promotion to Musharraf, Sharif said the selection on the post should be based on merit and seniority.

But former ISI chief Hamid Gul questioned the wisdom of this policy saying that merit should be given pre-eminence, though not arbitrarily.

Addressing a big gathering near Minawali, home constituency of Imran Khan, on Sunday, Sharif had a swipe on both Khan and Asif Zardari and urged people not to elect “novices” and “jugglers”.

He said he has a mature team which has the experience and capacity to resolve the myriad of problems that the country is facing.

He recalled his rule in the 1990s saying the country had been put on path of unprecedented progress and was regarded on top in the region. However, military intervention interrupted this march which would now be resumed to make Pakistan a progressive, forward-looking and prosperous nation.

He slammed both Musharraf and Zardari for promoting only power outages, inflation, corruption, economic mess and mis-governance.

He said Pakistan should reconsider its support for the US war on terror and suggested that he was in favour of negotiations with the Taliban.

“I think guns and bullets are always not the answer to such problems,” he said.

In sharp contrast to his Sharif-bashing in Punjab, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan attacked religious groups who are exploiting the name of religion and propagating that he was an agent of Jewish and Qadiani lobbies.

Khan said his party would devolve power to the lowest union council level so that people could resolve their problems and manage development funds themselves at the village level.

The education system would be reformed to eliminate distinction between the English and Urdu medium and raise the level of government educational institutions to a level that these could produce top leaders of the country.

He said small farmers would be provided power and fertilisers at subsidised rates so that they could double their produce as farmers in Indian Punjab have done.

Imran Khan criticised both Zardari and Shahbaz Sharif for failing to address the energy crisis and on how to improve governance.
Retirement age of time scale Group Captains raised
AFT brings them on a par with selection grade officers
Vijay Mohan/TNS

Chandigarh, May 5
In a significant judgment affecting a large number of IAF officers, the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has ruled that time scale Group Captains would retire at the same age as selection grade Group Captains. In an anomaly peculiar only to the IAF, time scale Group Captains are being retired at the age of 54 years where as the retirement age for selection grade officers of this rank is 57 years.

The position of time scale officers was created in 2004 consequent to the implementation of the AV Singh Committee recommendations on cadre restructuring of the three forces. Prior to this, officers who could not make it to the rank of Group Captain due to competitive merit or lack of vacancies were retired at the level of time scale Wing Commander.

Allowing a bunch of petitions, the AFT has quashed the Central Government notification of June 2009 that lays down the age of retirement for time scale Group Captains as 54 years and directed that all the persons who are in the rank of time scale Group Captain will be entitled to continue in service up to the age of 57 years.

The tribunal has ruled that time scale Group Captains who have retired at the age of 54 are entitled to benefits up to the age of 57 years. They would be entitled to arrears of salary till the age of 57 years and their pension and other emoluments would be worked out accordingly.

Observing that there was no rational for creating two retirement ages for the same rank when they wear same uniform, wear the same rank, get the same salary and grade pay and discharge identical duties, the tribunal held that the distinction which is sought to be made between the two categories has no legs to stand.

The IAF orders implementing the AV Singh Committee recommendation stated that time scale Group Captains would be retired at the same age as time scale wing commanders. The tribunal observed that once the officers concerned have been promoted to Group Captain and get the pay of that rank, they ceased to be Wing Commanders.
Border scenario with China similar to 1962: Author
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 5
Neville Maxwell, author of the much debated book “India’s China War’ has compared the recent India-China fracas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with the developments of 1961-62 and questioned if this could lead to war.

In an article in the latest edition of the ‘Economic and Political Weekly’, Maxwell lays out the comparison and asks: “What, in that historical context, is going on in the Daulet Beg Oldie region? And could something like that escalation to war occur there?”

Arguing his case, Maxwell says: “This ( the DBO sector) was the main arena of the (Indian) forward policy, and from mid-1961 to late October 1962 Indian troops were struggling to advance into it as far as dire logistical difficulties and the resolute Chinese impediment would allow.”

In his book on the 1962 Sino-India conflict, authored in 1971, Maxwell had laid the blame for conflict on Jawaharlal Nehru’s ‘forward policy’ and attempts to occupy Aksai Chin. Many years later, India’s leading strategist K Subramanyam, a former director of the Defence Ministry-backed think-tank Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), had punched holes in Maxwell’s claims on the 1962 conflict.

In his latest article, Maxwell says: “In the Indian perception the entire area including and beyond the Karakorams encompassing the desolate Aksai Chin plateau, is Indian territory under illicit Chinese occupation. So far as the Chinese are concerned that area is not in dispute.”

The DBO, once a caravanserai is recognised as being in Indian territory, was not attacked or occupied in 1962, says Maxwell while adding “But Since last year there has been a significant Indian build-up at DBO. Indian newspapers have reported reinforcement of the garrison, the induction of heavy artillery, even armour, and a landing strip laid in 1962 has been re-activated to facilitate supply.”

Maxwell questions the Indian build up and has given a clean chit to China as he asks: “What is the Indian purpose? A Chinese invasion at that point is inconceivable, so it (India’s move) cannot be defensive”. To Maxwell’s mind, the Chinese incursion is to demonstrate that its purpose is observational and inoffensive, but also not transitory, it is unfortified, merely a tented encampment.

‘India’s China War’

    In his book on the 1962 Sino-India conflict, authored in 1971, Neville Maxwell had laid the blame for conflict on Jawaharlal Nehru’s ‘forward policy’ and attempts to occupy Aksai Chin
    Many years later, India's leading strategist K Subramanyam, a former director of the Defence Ministry-backed think-tank, Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses, had punched holes in Maxwell's claims on the 1962 conflict
    In his latest article, Maxwell says that in the Indian perception, the entire area, including and beyond the Karakorams encompassing the desolate Aksai Chin plateau, is Indian territory under illicit Chinese occupation. For Chinese, that area is not in dispute
Order dismissing Col for having illicit affair quashed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 5
The Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has quashed the proceedings against a Colonel whose services were terminated for alleged misappropriation of petroleum products and for having an illicit relationship with the wife of a junior officer, but left it open to the Army take fresh action in accordance with law.

The AFT, in its order this week, held that the authorities had combined both the elements into a single order. While the conviction by court martial for misappropriation of several thousand litres of petrol and diesel was upheld, the tribunal found irregularities in the proceedings concerning the allegations of illicit relationship.

The incidents pertain to the period when the said officer, Col KD Singh was posted in Hisar a few years ago. There were also reports of the officer being assaulted by a junior officer over his alleged relationship, which resulted in him sustaining serious injuries.

The tribunal observed that Army Rule 180 was not complied with during the court of inquiry investigating the cause of his injuries, which is statutory and gives full opportunity to an incumbent when his character and military reputation is at stake. In this case, most of the witnesses were examined by the court of inquiry without the accused being present, making the proceedings vitiated.

A separate court of inquiry and the subsequent court martial were held for fuel misappropriation, where he was awarded a severe reprimand and five years forfeiture of service for the purpose of pension. Last year, he was served a show cause notice for termination of services without pension and gratuity.

The termination order was a composite order of two elements and it was not open for the tribunal to segregate the same and to uphold the conviction of the accused, the tribunal ruled.

Quashing the termination order, the tribunal has remanded the matter back to the authorities to take an appropriate action by giving him fresh show cause notice and by segregating two items or leaving it open for them to proceed against the officer in accordance of law.
India-China stand-off in Ladakh
The emerging lessons that need to be learnt
by Gurmeet Kanwal

The Chinese patrol that crossed the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Daulat Beg Oldi sector of Ladakh in mid-April and pitched tents 19 km inside Indian territory is still there. It is most likely a tactical-level incursion in response to a proactive Indian stance along the LoC. Eventually, the unprecedented stand-off will be resolved through diplomacy as neither country stands to gain from a border skirmish.

However, given the nuances of the known rift between the PLA and China’s Foreign Ministry in the execution of border management policies, it is possible that the stand-off may have to be resolved at the political level. While the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (agreed during the 15th round of border talks held in New Delhi in January 2012 between the two counties’ Special Representatives) is at work, it is time to reflect upon the lessons that are beginning to emerge from this avoidable episode.

It is not so well known that the LAC between India and Tibet, implying de facto control since the 1962 war, is yet to be physically demarcated on the ground and delineated on military maps. The un-delineated LAC is a major destabilising factor. Incidents such as the Nathu La clash of 1967 and the Wang Dung stand-off of 1986 have occurred in the past and the present impasse was waiting to happen. In fact, the two sides have failed to even exchange maps showing each other’s “perception” of where the LAC runs. According to the grapevine, at one of the meetings of the Joint Working Group the two sides “showed” their respective maps of the LAC in the western sector to each other. The Chinese took one look at the Indian map and said please take it back.

Both sides habitually send patrols up to the point at which, in their perception, the LAC runs. Patrol face-offs in the so-called “no man’s land”, which lies between the two LACs as perceived by both sides, are commonplace. A drill has been evolved to tell the other patrol to withdraw peacefully. Both sides carry large banners in each other’s language and English. These are unfurled to tell the other patrol that it has transgressed the LAC and must go back. So far both sides have been going back peacefully after leaving some tell-tale signs like biscuit and cigarette wrappers and creating a “burji” or a pile of stones to mark their presence. However, such meetings have an element of tension built into them and despite the best of military training, the possibility of an armed clash can never be ruled out. Such a clash with heavy casualties can lead to a larger border incident that may not remain localised.

While the government invariably advises caution, it is extremely difficult for commanders of troops to advocate a soft line to their subordinates. There is an inherent contradiction in sending soldiers to patrol what they believe are Indian areas and simultaneously telling them that they must not under any circumstances fire on the intruding Chinese soldiers. This is the reason why it is important to immediately demarcate the LAC without prejudice to each other’s territorial claims. Once that is done, GPS technology can be exploited to accurately navigate up to the agreed and well-defined LAC on the ground and even unintentional transgressions can be avoided. The present stand-off clearly shows how intractable the challenge is and how loaded the situation can become. Hence, the topmost priority of Indian diplomatic engagement with the Chinese should be to clearly demarcate the LAC.

The LAC in Ladakh is manned during peace time by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police that is a Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) police force. The Army often sends troops to maintain its forward defences and conducts periodic “operational alerts” to practice fighting a defensive battle should the need arise. The Army has little knowledge of the ITBP’s patrolling plans and other movements as this border management force reports directly to the MHA through its own channels. This arrangement is not conducive to fostering a professional relationship between the two forces and for reacting quickly and cohesively to border violations of the kind that has occurred in the DBO sector.

The responsibility for the management of disputed borders that are active (like the LoC with Pakistan) and semi-active (like the LAC with China) should be solely that of the Army even during peace time so that the duality of command is avoided. The principle of “single point control” must be followed if the borders are to be effectively managed. Divided responsibilities invariably lead to ineffective control. Maintaining the unity of command is a fundamental principle of war. Hence, it is imperative that the ITBP battalions deployed on the Ladakh border be placed under the Army’s operational control for greater synergy in border management.

A key prerequisite for effective border management is the employment of available national technical means for continuous all-weather surveillance and reconnaissance. These include satellite, aerial and electronic surveillance to detect and warn about suspicious movements and construction activities through photographic reconnaissance by day and night, the employment of UAVs for real-time intelligence and the use of electronic eavesdropping. India has not invested adequately in these modern methods and continues to rely primarily on human “eyes and ears”. This manpower-intensive approach must change immediately. Also, networks need to be developed to constantly share available information with all those who need to act on it.

Finally, as long as the territorial dispute is not resolved, China remains India’s foremost military threat. The Ministry of External Affairs must make all-out efforts to seek an early resolution of the dispute and not be lulled by Deng Xiao Ping’s gratuitous advice to former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi that it is a dispute left over from history and should be left to future generations to resolve. This strategy of postponing dispute resolution may suit China, but it certainly does not suit India.n,0,7475632.story
India and China withdraw troops from Himalayan face off

SRINAGAR/NEW DELHI, Indian (Reuters) - India and China simultaneously withdrew troops from camps a few meters apart in a Himalayan desert on Sunday, apparently ending a three-week standoff on a freezing plateau where the border is disputed and the Asian giants fought a war 50 years ago.

The two sides stood down after reaching an agreement during a meeting between border commanders, an Indian army official told Reuters, after the tension threatened to overshadow a planned visit by India's foreign minister to Beijing on Thursday.

But it was not immediately clear how far China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers had withdrawn - Delhi had claimed they were 19 km (12 miles) beyond the point it understands to be the border with China, a vaguely defined de facto line called the Line of Actual Control, which neither side agrees on.

Defence and foreign ministry spokesmen did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

"Our troops have moved one kilometer backwards from the position they were on since April 16," said the officer, from the Indian army's Northern Command, which oversees the disputed region on the fringes of India's Jammu and Kashmir state.

"Chinese troops have also moved away from their position they were holding on since April 15 when they intruded in Indian territory. It is not clear yet how (far) the PLA moved back."

India considered it the worst border incursion for years.

New Delhi often appears insecure about relations with its powerful neighbor, despite slowly warming relations between Asia's largest countries. China is India's top trade partner, but the unresolved border sours the friendship.

India's opposition and much of the media has been critical of the government's handling of the standoff, drawing parallels with a 1962 war which ended in its humiliating defeat. On Friday, parliament was adjourned after members shouted "Get China out, save the country".


India says Chinese troops intruded into its territory on the western rim of the Himalayas on April 15. Some officials and experts believe the incursion signaled Chinese concern about increased Indian military activity in the area.

A group of about 30 Chinese soldiers, backed by helicopters, had pitched several tents near a 16th century Silk Road campsite called Daulat Beg Oldi, close to an air strip New Delhi uses to support troops on the Siachen glacier.

Each day since, Indian and Chinese soldiers and border guards left their camps and stood about 100 meters (330 feet) apart on the Depsang Plain, a 5,000 meter (16,400 feet) high desert ringed by jagged peaks of the Karakoram range.

Winter temperatures can drop to minus 30 degrees centigrade, and the area is lashed by icy strong winds all year round.

A photograph released by a source in the Indian army showed a group of six Chinese soldiers on a rock-strewn landscape holding a bright orange banner that read, in English and Mandarin, "This is the Line of Actual Control, You are in Chinese territory".

Delhi reopened the Daulat Beg Oldi airstrip in 2008. Two other runways, out of use since the war, have been opened and Daulat Beg Oldi has been upgraded since.

Siachen, at the north of the disputed region of Kashmir, is claimed by both India and Pakistan and has the dubious distinction of being the world's highest battlefield.

Tensions are likely to persist given India and China's increased presence in an area that for centuries was largely unclaimed and criss-crossed with caravan routes. Now the land abuts the Karakoram Highway joining Pakistan to China, which Beijing hopes to develop further as trade route linking it to the Arabian Sea port of Gwadar.

Speaking before Sunday's resolution, Srikanth Kondapalli, an Indian analyst who specialises in China studies, said the dispute lay close to large hydroelectric projects and an ambitious plan to expand the Karakoram highway.

He said the lack of agreement about where the border lies, combined with increased military and infrastructure activity meant more flashpoints were likely.

"It is a no-man's land," said Kondapalli, who considers the current standoff to be more serious than the usual cross-border incidents. "Even if the (present) issue is resolved, this will only flare up."
Ladakhi people for restoration of Aksai chin area, stands with Indian Army
District Congress Committee, Leh (Ladakh) in a convention expressed concern over the Chinese incursion in Ladakh Depsang area which is an attempt by Chinese authorities having twin purpose to divert the international attention from the worsening internal situation in Tibet and to disturb India’s infrastructural developments such as roads, buildings and airport restoration in our border area. The border talks with China through diplomatic channels should be speeded up for restoration of our whole area of Aksaichin measuring more than 37,000 sq km which China has been occupying since 1962, and the current occurrence is a continued mischief by the Chinese.

District Congress Committee, Leh  organised a one day convention of the Congress workers, Councillors of LAHDC Leh, Srapanchs, Panchs and Nambarders of Leh District at Hotel Indus Choglamsar, Leh.

Minister for Urban Development, Nawang Rigzin Jora was the Chief Guest and former Union Minister, P. Namgyal and Chief Executive Councillor, Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council, Rigzin Spalbar were the Guests of Honour. President District Congress Committee, Tsering Samphel presided over the convention.

Among those who addressed the convention include Executive Councillors LAHDC, Leh, Dr. Sonam Wangchuk, Sonam Dorjay, Gyurmet Dorjey and Abass Abidi; MLC Norbu Gialchan; President District Mahilla Congress, Rinchen Dolkar; Councillors Rinchen Tundup and Tsewang Rigzin and Chairman District Panchayat Coordination Committee Leh, Hon. Capt Tsepel.

The Convention concluded on Friday evening with the unanimous adoption of six resolutions.

The resolutions read that the people of Ladakh extended assurance to the Government of India that they are ready to shoulder all responsibilities with the mighty Indian Army in defending every inch of our sacred soil in the border areas and covey a loud message even from our women folks that a Battalion strength of Ladakhi women in ITBP be raised who are ready to stand sentries on our volatile border with China. SSB forces may also be deployed on the Indo-China borders.

The steps being taken by LAHDC Leh in the empowerment of Panchayati Institutions in Leh district within their capacity is fully appreciated but their real empowerment rests with the introduction of 73rd constitutional amendment in the J&K State. The convention pressed upon the State Government to fulfil the longstanding demand of the State Panchayats.

The Convention appreciated the recent decision of the LAHDC Leh, who has agreed and approved the proposal of the Ladakh Ex-Servicemen League Leh for raising a War Memorial at Skyatsaks, Leh in memory of those 103 Ladakhi Jawans who sacrificed their precious lives in the service of the nation in the war of 1948, 1962, 1965, 1971 and 1999.

The Convention placed on record their appreciation & gratitude for the liberal funding to the development of Leh district by the Government of India and the J&K Government.

The Convention endorsed the proposal of the DCC Leh to launch an educative, rational and forceful campaign from 9th May 2013 with a Public Rally at Leh to counter the clandestine maligning propaganda against Congress leaders by the opposition.

The Convention expressed joy and happiness over the consent of HH The Dalai Lama for conferring the historical Kalachakara initiation in July next year in Leh. The Convention called upon the Government of J&K and the people of Ladakh to extend full support to Ladakh Buddhist Association and Ladakh Gonpa Association for preparation of this historical event.

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