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Wednesday, 29 May 2013

From Today's Papers - 29 May 2013
Indian warships on way to disputed South China Sea
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, May 28
Even as a dispute rages on due to over-lapping claims in the hydrocarbon-rich South China Sea, a flotilla of four Indian Naval warships will be visiting ports in Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines. All three countries along with Brunei are in a dispute with China over the demarcation of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the sea.

The US Energy Administration estimates that 11 billion barrels (bbl) of oil reserves and 190 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of natural gas reserves lie buried under the South China Sea-bed. The US Geological Survey (USGS) in 2010 did a 'world petroleum resources assessment' and arrived at as-yet undiscovered estimates of an additional 5-to-22 billion barrels of oil and between 70-to-290 Tcf of gas to be under the South China Sea. India has interest in two oil blocks off the coast off Vietnam.

Sources today confirmed that the four-ship flotilla led by Stealth Frigate INS Satpura left the Indian shores on May 20. The other ships are: Rajput class destroyer INS Ranvijay, a Kora class Corvette INS Kirch and fleet tanker INS Shakti — last one carrying supplies. This is part of the operational overseas deployment.

At present the ships are conducting an exercise with the Singapore Navy just south-east of the Strait of Malacca, one of the busiest shipping choke points in the world. In the next few days the ships will start their journey. The first port of call will be Kelang in Malaysia, followed by De Nang in Vietnam and Manila in the Philippines. Separately, the US also has a naval base at Subic Bay, near Manila.

This is second year running that four ships have gone to the east on such deployment. In August 2011, the Chinese Navy is believed to have asked Indian warship, the INS Airavaat, on patrol in South China Sea, that these were disputed waters. The Indian warship had continued on its course.

On May 20 when Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met in New Delhi they described as the Asia-Pacific-South Chain Sea is part of it in the joint statement. It said: "(Asia-Pacific) plays an increasingly important role in global affairs. The current priority is to maintain peace and stability, to establish an open, transparent, equal and inclusive framework of security and cooperation based on the observance of the basic principles of international law".

India has also maintained that the dispute of over lapping claims be resolved as per UN mandate while the Chinese have been making claims which were frightening for other claimants. The mention of "observance of the basic principles of international law" in the joint statement indicated a small shift.

Naval patrol

    The four-ship flotilla led by Stealth Frigate INS Satpura left the Indian shores on May 20
    The other ships are Rajput class destroyer INS Ranvijay, Kora class Corvette INS Kirch and fleet tanker INS Shakti
    At present, the ships are conducting an exercise with the Singapore Navy just south-east of the Strait of Malacca, one of the busiest shipping choke points in the world
GenNext militants new face of terror in Valley
Azhar Qadri/TNS
A complete new generation of local militants, many of them well-educated and armed with professional degrees, are leading the fight against security forces in the Valley.

Saifullah Ahangar (20), who was killed in a fierce encounter on May 24 in Pulwama, had a diploma in civil engineering. His father Rafiq Ahmad Ahangar is a retired junior assistant in the state agriculture department.

In recent months, militants have carried out several strategic attacks, including ambushes, suggesting that they have augmented their capacity and manpower.

On March 24, Saifullah left his home at Ari-Parigaam village of Pulwama district without informing anyone. Two months later, the family came to know about his death in a fierce gunfight with Army’s special counter-insurgency force Rashtriya Rifles. Saifullah and his associates, who were believed to be three to four in number, killed four soldiers.

When the details of the encounter began to emerge on May 24 morning, it was initially believed that 21-year-old militant, Burhan-ud-din, has been killed. Son of school principal, Burhan is another new generation militant, who left his south Kashmir home in 2011 and picked up arms when he was still a teenager.

A senior police official in the area said they were still ascertaining whether Burhan was part of the group which ambushed the soldiers.

Another name in the list of these new-generation militants is south Kashmir’s Masiullah Khan, who had a degree in mechanical engineering. Khan was in early 20s when he was killed in a gunfight in 2011.

Sajad Yousuf, a Hizbul Mujahideen militant from Pulwama district, is in his mid-20s and has a post-graduate degree in Islamic Studies, a police official said. Omar Ahsan (22), who was killed in Sopore in December 2012, had secured admission in a postgraduate course in Physics when he became a militant.

Lashkar-e-Toiba commanders Muzumil Amin, killed in October 2012, and Hilal Ahmad Rather, killed on May 23 this year, were in their mid or late twenties.

Hilal (28) was a resident of north Kashmir’s Palhalan village. He was a Mufti --- a scholar of Islamic law --- from the famed Deoband seminary of Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh and was planning to get enrolled in postgraduate course in Islamic Studies, his uncle Mushtaq Ahmad told The Tribune.

An official, who is associated with the counter-insurgency force of the state police, said most of the new militants are primarily motivated by religion. “They are not secular militants. They have become terrorists and primarily it is due to Islamic radicalisation,” the official said.

The official, who keeps a constant tab on the emerging militant scenario in the region, said local militants are a more potent threat to state’s security apparatus.

“A local militant knows the topography, he knows the people and he can operate on his own, while as a foreign militant has to rely on local support,” the officer said.

[With inputs from Suhail A Shah in Pulwama]

    Burhan-ud-din (21) is the son of a school principal. He left his south Kashmir home in 2011 and picked up arms when he was a teenager
    Saifullah Ahangar (20) was killed in a gunfight on May 24 in Pulwama. He had a diploma in civil engineering
Naval war room leak case: UK orders Shankaran’s extradition

London/New Delhi, May 28
Britain has ordered the extradition of one of the main Naval war room leak accused Ravi Shankaran to India to face trial, a move that may expedite court proceedings pending for several months.

"On May 22, the Secretary of State, having carefully considered all relevant matters, signed an order for Ravi Shankaran's extradition to India. Mr Shankaran is accused of industrial espionage under the Indian Official Secrets Act," a Home Office spokesperson told PTI in London today.

UK Home Secretary Theresa May issued the orders for his extradition to India and facing trial, but gave Shankaran, a close relative of former Naval Chief Admiral Arun Prakash, 14 days time to file an appeal in the case, CBI said in New Delhi. Shankaran's defence team told the court that he intends to appeal against the order. Unless an appeal is filed within the time-frame, the authorities will proceed with extradition procedures immediately.

At a hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court in London on March 27, District Judge Nicholas Evans had said in his ruling that "a case to answer has been made out" against the accused, clearing the way for the Home Secretary to take the final call. The CBI, while pressing for his extradition, had assured the Westminster Magistrates Court in Britain that his bail will not be opposed once he is brought back to face trial.aShankaran had listed denial of bail in India among the reasons for opposing his extradition to this country, sources said. The CBI plans to send a team to the UK to bring him back once all legal formalities of that country are completed. — PTI

Key accused

* Ravi Shankaran is one of the key accused in the case of leaking classified information from the War Room to arms dealers

* The retired Naval Commander has been absconding since the case was registered by the CBI in March 2006

* The 49-year-old, a close relative of former Naval Chief Admiral Arun Prakash, was first located in UK in 2007 and an extradition request was sent

* However, he fled from London to other parts of Europe before he ran out of luck in 2010 when he was arrested by Scotland Yard
‘India’s role in Afghanistan is positive’
Nancy Powell, US Ambassador to India, in a discussion with the senior editorial team of The Tribune spoke on a range of critical issues stating that the US is looking at a relationship of greater depth and breadth with India whether its role in Afghanistan or on trade and security issues

Nattily attired in a semi-formal fashion, donning a black and white summer jacket, the US Ambassador to India, Nancy Powell, is every inch a diplomat who wouldn't be caught on the wrong foot. Business-like and incisive in her answers, however, she exudes a charm that is hard to resist. Even when she circumvents answers to vexing issues like Kashmir you can't help but admire her sharp wit and sense of humour. On a special visit to The Tribune office yesterday, the charming lady talks to the senior editorial team about a host of issues ranging from Afghanistan to Indo-US relations to Pakistan and of course on being the first woman US Ambassador to India.

How do you look at Indo-US relations currently?
I would divide it into three broad areas. First, there is a focus on bilateral relations across the board with particular emphasis on economic ties which we will be elaborating upon next month when Secretary of State John Kerry arrives for the third annual Indo-US strategic dialogue with External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid. It will highlight the depth and breadth of our relationship. The second area is recognising that India is a growing power in the world stage, certainly in the region, and how does the US engage or work with India at various regional and international fora. And the third area of the broad picture is on security and counter terrorism which includes sharing of intelligence and the Homeland security dialogue.

With regard to the security issue, the US plans to pull its troops out in Afghanistan in 2014. How does US view the region and India's role in Afghanistan?

2014 is an important year for the region for a variety of reasons including general elections in Nepal, Bangladesh, India and Afghanistan. Then there is a decision by the US to basically decrease the number of boots on the ground in Afghanistan. But we plan to continue to assist and train the Afghan national security forces. India has been performing a small but very important piece of training of some of the Afghan Security Forces, both its Army and Police. We hope that this will continue and we can have a coordinated approach. We began a bilateral dialogue with Afghanistan. We invited people from Washington and Kabul to come here and brief your officials apart from understanding what India was planning as well. That has also now developed into a trilateral dialogue with Afghanistan, India and United States sitting down. This is a sign of the positive role India can play in the region. I think your soft power is potentially very important for Afghanistan, particularly the examples of how your parties organise themselves, how they fight elections apart from some of the constitutional mechanism that you use for conflict resolution rather than resorting to battles. I think in a variety of ways we can work together with the Afghans and we are all hoping that our cooperation will increase after 2014.

What is the US perception on Kashmir?

The US is united with India and other countries in condemning terrorism. There is an active sharing of information between the two countries, active diplomacy with Pakistan and other countries for India and Pakistan to continue their dialogue. The Homeland Security dialogue covers an enormous range of issues. The levels of violence in the Valley have gone down if not disappeared completely. There is an appreciation that as long as there are incursions along the Line of Control, there is a potential for escalation of violence which is not in the interest of the world. But we are steadfast in saying that this is a problem that India and Pakistan should solve on their own and we will be helpful only if both parties ask for it.

Will you explain President Obama’s new approach to combating terror?

I am still digesting what the President had said last week, I think it will be an area of debate and I think what he was explaining was instead of having a broad global war on terror we are going to look much more precisely at those areas where there are significant problems, work to address those and devote our resources in a more focused manner. I don’t think any of us believe that the war on terror is over or those who declare war on us have completely abandoned this fact. I would not think terrorists can take any comfort from the change in tactics.

With Nawaz Sharif all set to take power on June 5 as the next premier of Pakistan how do you look at the hand of friendship that he has extended to India? Do you think the army there will welcome this?

There has been recognition in the United States that welcomes the comments of both the Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Nawaz Sharif. It is very significant that Pakistan has had elections and will now go from a democratically elected government to another one. It is an important milestone for Pakistan. During my stint in Pakistan the people to people interaction was seen as a very positive development. Pakistan has energy needs and there could be a mutually beneficial way of India addressing these. The lowering of tensions is positive and any Pakistani would see it as a plus. But as an American and sitting here in India, I shouldn't be saying that.

Are you disappointed with the progress in India-US business relations?

Well, I am an American and I obviously like to race ahead. On the overall relationship we are going to cross the $ 100 billion mark in trade in goods and services this year. This is an enormous increase but it is basically done by our companies or individuals working together. I foresee that will continue. We are hoping to negotiate a bilateral investment treaty. We pulled back and built a new model and about the time we finished our new model, India said its time to look at ours. Both are legitimate moves as the world had changed. There are calls among the business communities on both sides to perhaps skip this and look at a free trade agreement. Those are the ideas that we will explore in this dialogue and I think we will begin to see the trade policy forum regain its periodic meetings to discuss trade issues.

On the nuclear deal are you concerned by the slow pace and that US companies haven’t benefited so far?

US does have issues with the Nuclear Liability Law of India and we are concerned about how it will make it very difficult for the US companies from coming to India. Yet we are working very closely and hopefully there will be a way forward on outstanding issues. On the commercial question, Westing House senior officials were in Mumbai last week and we are hoping to see some progress.

When Barack Obama took over as the President he stated that the US is losing jobs in mathematics and science to India and China. Why are Americans lagging behind?

(Chuckles) Guess we got lazy a little bit. It is hard work to do those subjects and I think we were able to continue to find people particularly from this part of the world who were willing to come and use our very open economic society to prosper and many of them have become American citizens. Science and technology had become almost a totally male dominated field but that is no longer true. These subjects are very important for both countries. It is going to continue to be an area where there is an enormous demand for knowledge, innovation and a real emphasis in the United States. In open societies we need open business models that allow people to exchange ideas.

India had a strong association with the US as far as students studying abroad were concerned? But now Indian students are looking at other countries like Australia and UK?

It's possible that there is a growing demand in other countries but in United States we are still seeing an increase in numbers. American educational institutions are delighted to have Indian students and we are working hard to have them.

What do you think of the India's misgivings over the US Immigration Bill?

It is a very complex Bill which is thick document and is likely to be amended many, many times. But there are positive things in store. Students who want to do science, technology, maths and engineering it means a big welcome and a green card at the end of the day. Rest-assured, the number of HI-B visas will go up and those in the pipeline for legal immigration will have cause to cheer as the hugely debated Bill will have some staggering proposals.

As the first woman US Ambassador to India, do you think it's an advantage to be woman in India?

It's always a big advantage to be a woman not just in India but anywhere in the world. But you have to work at it. We are all doing better but could do more. In India it's heartening to walk into a room and realise that I am not the only woman in that room.


Certainly she takes pride in being an American and in staying ahead. But equally interestingly she also calls herself "Punjabi American" as she grew up close to the soil in the agricultural part of the United States and the sight a of tractor in India makes her feel at home. What she admires in Punjabis is their community spirit and how they look out for each other. Besides, she enjoys talking and listening to farmers.


Emergence of women as role models is something that she finds very encouraging. Lest we forget… the lady herself who occupied the prestigious position of the director general of the United States Foreign Service, had served as an Ambassador to Pakistan and Nepal and held many more significant posts, is undeniably an inspiring example worthy of emulation.
Army is 'handling' fresh border tensions, defence minister claims

Defence minister A K Antony said on Monday that the Army was handling the situation on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) following fresh reports of Chinese troops preventing Indians from patrolling in some border areas in Ladakh.

However, the Army denied earlier reports that a fresh road was built by the Chinese inside Indian territory in the Finger-VIII area north of Pangon Tso.

Sources said a road was built in 2008 and the issue was taken up. There has been no construction since then.

The Army also claimed that too much should not be read into the face-offs that are common in the area because of differences in the perception of the LAC.

Sources said at least four to five "face-offs" are reported every month.

Antony was in Thanjavur, which has become IAF's first base in the south to operate Sukhoi-30 MKIs.

He said the Army handles such incidents that take place in local areas. He claimed that India can protect its national interests, and is not the India of the past.

Agency reports on Sunday had claimed that the latest face-off was witnessed at Srijap on May 17, two days before Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang was in New Delhi.

    China builds road beyond LAC as rumours grow of a second stand-off with Indian troops
    HAL's trainer aircraft headed for disaster as development costs soar

Antony did not mention the incident but said the nation can be assured that our armed forces are fully prepared.

Antony said several countries had shown interest in strengthening their defence ties with India, which shows that the armed forces have increased their capabilities.

The defence minister is expected to visit China soon but before that he would go on a trip to the Asia-Pacific.
New China incursion targets Indian Army, stops jawans from entering LAC in Finger-VIII
Indian Army was “handling” the situation arising out of the latest incursion in Ladakh, Defence Minister A K Antony said today after yet another China incursion led PLA troops to prevent jawans from patrolling up to LAC in Finger-VIII area where they have built a road inside Indian territory.

“Army is updated about latest position there. Whenever these kind of incidents happen in the local areas, they are handling it,” he told reporters here and asserted that India can protect its national interests.

The Defence Minister was asked about the recent Chinese incursion in Ladakh where its troops have built a road five kms inside the Indian territory.

“Indian can protect its national interests. India is not the India of the past,” the Minister said.

A recent incident has come to light in Ladakh where Chinese troops prevented their Indian counterparts from patrolling up to the Line of Actual Control.

The alleged incident took place near Finger-VIII area, also known as Siri Jap, on May 17, two days before Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang arrived in New Delhi after it was announced that the stand-off resulting from a 19-kilometre deep Chinese intrusion had ended.

Asked about the readiness of armed forces, the Minister said, “We are fully prepared. The nation can be fully assured that our armed forces are fully prepared.”

He said countries are “showing keen interest in strengthening defence relationship with us. Every body wants more cooperation of our defence forces, that shows gradual enhancement in our capabilities.”

The Minister said he would be visiting China soon as was decided during the visit of the then Chinese Defence Minister Gen Liang Guanglie in September last year.

The Minister said that he would visit Australia, Singapore and Thailand in the first week of June.
Army jawan kills colleague in J&K
JAMMU: An army soldier was killed after a colleague fired at him following an altercation at Noushera along the Line of Control in Jammu & Kashmir's Rajouri district on Monday night.

Sources said sepoy Ritender fired a few rounds at Mukesh Kumar Tiwari. He was rushed to Rajouri's Military Hospital, where he was declared dead.

In Jammu, officiating defence spokesperson S N Acharya said Ritender fired at Tiwari at 33 Rashtriya Rifles's unit deployed in border belt of Kala in Noushera sector of Rajouri.

He said Tiwari was from Allahabad and had joined the service some eight years ago. "A court of Inquiry has been ordered into the incident.'' He added Ritender had been arrested and was being questioned.

This is the second case of fragging among security forces in J&K in eight days. A paramilitary Sashatra Suraksha Bal trooper had shot dead two colleagues and wounded as many in Kishtwar last week.

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