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Tuesday, 16 July 2013

From Today's Papers - 16 Jul 2013
Army Chief in Srinagar, reviews security situation
Tribune News Service

Jammu, July 15
Army Chief General Bikram Singh on Monday reviewed the overall security situation in the state amid the spurt in insurgency, Chinese misadventures at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh and intrusion attempts along the Line of Control (LoC).

The General was given detailed feedback by his top commanders at Srinagar on Day 1 of his two-day visit.

He took stock of the security arrangements at Badami Bagh Cantonment where Northern Command GOC-in-C Lt Gen Sanjiv Chachra briefed him in detail. 15 Corps GOC Lt Gen Gurmit Singh briefed him on the security scenario in the Valley at the Badami Bagh Corps Headquarters, sources said.The General’s visit assumed significance in the backdrop of a recent infiltration bid in Kupwara, spurt in terror attacks in the Kashmir Valley, including an ambush on an Army convoy in Srinagar on June 24 that left eight troopers dead.

Taking stock

General Bikram Singh’s two-day visit assumes significance in the wake of a number of militant attacks in the Valley

Northern Command GOC-in-C Lt Gen Sanjiv Chachra briefed the Army Chief about the situation in the state

He is scheduled to visit forward areas along the LoC on Tuesday
MiG-21 crashes, pilot killed
Jodhpur, July 15
A MiG-21 Bison fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force crashed today while landing at Uttarlai airbase in Rajasthan’s Barmer district, killing the pilot. “One MiG-21 Bison crashed at the Uttarlai airbase at about 9.30 am. The pilot sustained fatal injuries,” the IAF said in a statement.

The aircraft had taken off with its Flight Lieutenant-rank pilot from the airbase for a routine training sortie and crashed while landing at the runway, officials said.

Defence Ministry spokesperson in Jodhpur Colonel SD Goswami said a Court of Inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the reason behind the crash. There was no reported loss to civilian life or property, he said.

Last month also, a MiG-21 plane from the same airbase had crashed but the pilots had managed to eject safely. The vintage MiG-21s have been in service for over 40 years now and they are expected to continue flying till 2018-19. — PTI
Pakistan, China renew ties
Growing dilemma in an 'all-weather' friendship
by Harsh V. Pant

There is something not quite right about an inter-state bilateral relationship when words such as "higher than the mountains, deeper than the oceans, stronger than steel, dearer than eyesight and sweeter than honey" are used repeatedly to describe it. No other relationship depends so much on flowery language to underscore its significance as that of China and Pakistan does.

Much like his predecessors in recent times, Nawaz Sharif also made his maiden trip as Pakistan's Prime Minister to China where at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Sharif said his welcome "reminds me of the saying, our friendship is higher than the Himalayas and deeper than the deepest sea in the world, and sweeter than honey". Chinese President Xi Jinping, in response, referred to Sharif as an old friend and a good brother, said strengthening strategic cooperation with Islamabad was a priority for China's diplomacy.

A number of agreements were signed between the two sides during this visit, including a "long-term plan" related to the upgrade of the Karakoram highway as part of a proposed economic corridor between the two countries, and agreements on technology, polio prevention and solar housing. A $44-million project was also agreed to by the two countries to erect a fibre optic cable from the China-Pakistan border to Rawalpindi aimed at giving Pakistan more connectivity to international networks.

Sharif, in particular, lobbied with the Chinese companies to invest in the Pakistani power sector. More interesting was an agreement for cooperation between Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) and the Communist Party of China, underlining how nimble China can be in tilting its foreign policy to the political dispensation of the day.

The Pakistani government has suggested that Sharif's visit will be helpful in transforming traditional foreign policy into economic diplomacy to give new boost to trade and economic relations with neighbours as well as laying a foundation of new strategic economic cooperation between both the countries, benefitting not only the two countries, but also leading to the integration of all economic engines of the region. Whether India is part of this grand thinking, however, remains to be seen.

To show China how seriously it is taken in Islamabad, Sharif has introduced a 'China cell' in his office to speed up development projects in the country. This cell will supervise all development projects to be executed with the cooperation of Chinese companies in Pakistan. This is an attempt to address Chinese concerns about the shoddy state of their investment in Pakistan because of the lackadaisical attitude of the Pakistani government. Meanwhile, Beijing too needs political and military support of the Pakistani government to counter the cross-border movement of the Taliban forces in the border Xinjiang province.

Expected to cost around $18 billion, the "Pak-China economic corridor" will link Pakistan's Gwadar port on the Arabian Sea and Kashghar in Xinjiang in northwest China. India has been left protesting even as China has continued to expand its presence in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and now with plans to develop a special economic zone in Gwadar, there is a danger that India's marginalisation is only likely to grow.

At a time when Pakistan is under intense scrutiny for its role in fighting extremism and terrorism, the world has been watching with interest to see how China decides to deal with Pakistan. China was the only major power that openly voiced support for Pakistan after bin Laden's assassination. During the visit of the Pakistani Prime Minister, the then Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao affirmed that "Pakistan has made huge sacrifices and an important contribution to the international fight against terrorism, that its independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity must be respected, and that the international community should understand and support Pakistan's efforts to maintain domestic stability and to realise economic and social development." Wen went on to state that China would like to be an "all-weather strategic partner" and would do its best to help the Pakistani government and people get through their difficulties.

To underscore its commitment, China agreed to immediately provide Pakistan with 50 new JF-17 Thunder multi-role jets under a co-production agreement, even as negotiations continued for more fighter aircraft, including those with stealth technology. Despite this, Pakistan wanted more from China - underscored by its expressed desire to have China take over the operation of Gwadar port. Pakistan had suggested that the port could be upgraded to a naval base for Chinese use.

China, however, immediately rejected this offer, not wanting to antagonise the US and India with the formal establishment of a base in Pakistan though earlier this year, the Chinese government-owned China Overseas Port Holdings Ltd had decided to purchase control of Gwadar port from Singapore's PSA International, which had won the contract in 2007 to operate the port for 40 years.

The Sino-Pakistan relationship remains fundamentally asymmetrical: Pakistan wants more out of its ties with China than China is willing to offer. Today, when Pakistan's domestic problems are gargantuan, China would be very cautious in involving itself even more. Moreover, the closer China gets to Pakistan, the faster India would move in to the American orbit.

Amid worries about the potential destabilising influence of Pakistani militants on its Muslim minority in Xinjiang, China has taken a harder line against Pakistan. The flow of arms and terrorists from across the border in Pakistan remains a major headache for the Chinese authorities and Pakistan's ability to control the flow of extremists to China at a time of growing domestic turmoil in Pakistan would remain a major variable.

As the Western forces move out of Afghanistan by 2014, Beijing is worried about regional stability and is recognising that close ties with Pakistan will not make it safer as recent troubles in Xinjiang have once again underscored. But officially, the two states will continue to view each other as important partners, especially as India's rise continues to aggravate Islamabad and cause anxiety in Beijing.n

The writer is a Reader in International Relations, Department of Defence Studies, King's College, London
Army chief reviews Jammu & Kashmir security as militancy rises significantly
NEW DELHI: Against a significant rise in militant activity this year in Jammu & Kashmir, Army chief General Bikram Singh landed in Srinagar on Monday for a two-day visit to review the security situation in the troubled state.

According to Army sources, Kashmir is witnessing an unusual spurt in militancy-related incidents this year, further firming up its opinion that no changes should be made immediately to the troop deployment patterns and the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA).

There have been 45 ceasefire violations until end of June, compared to 27 last year. There were 69 infiltration attempts, including 30 successful ones, in 2013. Against this, there were only 49 infiltration attempts until end of June, 2012, and only 13 were successful.

Worse, 20 security personnel have been killed till June 30, compared to just two during the same period last year.

Army sources also speak of the terror infrastructure across in Pakistan being intact, and some expansion to them despite Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's efforts to reach out to New Delhi for improving relations. Sources say they have also detected at least three new communication stations that have been activated in recent months across line of control. Besides, they also claim that at least 42 terror camps are active in Pakistan, focussed on Kashmir.

Against this unusual spurt, General Bikram Singh was on Monday briefed by the northern Army commander Lt Gen Sanjiv Chachra and GOC of the Sringar-based 15 Corps Lt General Gurmit Singh about the overall situation. The Army chief also held discussions with J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah and governor NN Vohra.

It is not clear if Army chief presented his stand on AFSPA to the state's civilian leadership. However, the sense in the Army circles here is that he wouldn't be able to agree to Abdullah's latest suggestion for modification of AFSPA. Abdullah had a few days ago suggested that if AFSPA revocation was not acceptable to the centre at least modification to the draconian act must be considered.

AFSPA, which provides immunity to security personnel operating in disturbed areas such as J&K and some parts of north-east, has been in place in Kashmir for over two decades.
300 terrorists in 'groups of ten' waiting to enter J&K: Indian Army
he Lt General, meanwhile, informed that incidents of infiltration have increased as compared to last year, but added that Army's sole aim was to dominate the LoC and not allow intruders to sneak in.

The Army today said terrorists in groups of ten are trying to sneak inside Indian territory and attack troops at border posts.

"250 to 300 terrorists in groups of ten or 20 are waiting to sneak inside Indian territory with inputs being that their concentration is maximum opposite Poonch," General Officer Commanding (GoC) 19 Corps, Lt Gen DS Hooda told reporters on the sidelines of the inauguration of 220m long Battal bridge over Munawar Tawi river, which has been constructed by the BRO at a cost of Rs12.5 crore.

"There is an increase in their attempts across the Line of Control (LoC) targeting the posts, trying and disturbing our grid, so that they can infiltrate," Lt Gen Hooda said while replying to a question about militant attacks or Border Action Team (BAT) infiltrations across the LoC.

"There are inputs that they (militants) want to come inside our territory for causing casualty to our troops at the border posts," he said.

The Coprs commander further said as per reports, there is no successful infiltration in Jammu region but it is difficult to give a surety that no infiltrator has been able to sneak inside Indian territory.

In the past two months, border incidents, attempt of infiltration and IED blasts targeting our posts have increased, Lt Gen Hooda said.

"Most infiltration bids made by terrorists have been foiled...Due to frustration, they are firing on our posts which are close to the border and also planting mines on the track (to target the troops)," he said.

Inputs suggest there are more infiltrators close to Poonch border, he said.

Hooda, who had earlier commented that the "border was tense", said he had said so because of regular incidents happening along the LoC, affecting the local populace.

"I had said tense because ceasefire violations, firing and incidents like placing a mine or an IED...if such things continue to happen, obviously there will be some tension," he said.

The Lt General, meanwhile, informed that incidents of infiltration have increased as compared to last year, but added that Army's sole aim was to dominate the LoC and not allow intruders to sneak in.

Asked about Chief Minister Omar Abdullah's call for revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Hooda said, "I don't want to comment on that. All those issues are to be tackled at the government level."
Army embrace starts to worry some Egyptians
CAIRO (Reuters) – After the party, regrets. At least for some Egyptians.

Liberals danced in Tahrir Square when the army heeded their protests and pushed President Mohamed Mursi from power.

Two weeks on, however, and some have nagging worries that a military takeover carries no small risk for a country that until Mursi’s election a year ago was run by generals for six decades.

Rights activist Gamal Eid makes no apology for the way Mursi was toppled by a democratic “majority” on the street. But he added: “I’m not happy when the military is controlling Egypt.

“I’m not happy when they use violence. And I’m worried about them using it again,” he said after soldiers shot dead dozens of Mursi’s Islamist supporters during a demonstration a week ago.

Many Egyptians, suspicious of Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood and nostalgic for the stability of the old regime, are only too happy the army is back in charge. They buy pictures of General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the man who had Mursi arrested, and declare the armed forces to be guardians of the popular will.

But Mohamed Radwan worries even “diehard revolutionaries” like himself have been “carried away” by gratitude for the service Sisi did them. Radwan, 34, took part in the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak in 2011. He did so again in protests against the generals who ousted Mubarak, their former comrade in arms, and who then ruled until Mursi was elected a year ago.

“A lot of people have gotten caught up in this whole frenzy,” he said of some of his fellow demonstrators. “They are forgiving the army for all the past crimes it committed.”

The army, unchastised by U.S. and European aid donors for what the Brotherhood denounced as a “fascist coup”, insists it has no desire for power. Many are inclined to believe the generals, who already enjoy substantial wealth and freedom from civilian oversight under a constitution endorsed by Mursi.


But incidents like last Monday’s shooting outside the Cairo barracks where Islamists believed Mursi was held have reawakened concerns about military accountability. Egyptian media largely offer the army view that troops responded to an attack. Rights groups say killing more than 50 people was clearly unjustified.

Omar Robert Hamilton, who filmed troops firing in the streets in the 16 months between Mubarak and Mursi, speaks of public “amnesia”: “When the army was in power, they very quickly ensured that a cross-section of society was either jailed, injured or buried,” said the 28-year-old film-maker.

He is from the Mosireen collective, which documented army violence, including the shooting of Christian protesters in 2011 in central Cairo: “It’s extremely depressing,” said Hamilton, “To see how the army’s popularity seems to have bounced back so thoroughly, considering how brutal they were when in power.”

Unsurprisingly, the Muslim Brotherhood agrees.

“The army managed to whitewash its public image,” said its spokesman Gehad El-Haddad. “People forgot to pause and think how bad the army was at politics. And now it’s too late.”

At a Cairo photographers studio where a portrait of Sisi in dress uniform now has pride of place on the wall, the owner, Ragab, has no such qualms. He’s doing a brisk trade in General Sisi T-shirts and General Sisi coffee mugs. “I took down Mursi’s photo,” he said. “I don’t think I’ll be putting it back.”

On his wall now, Egypt’s previous presidents are lined up, all four of them military officers since the coup that toppled King Farouk in 1952: Naguib, Nasser, Sadat – and Mubarak.

It is a heritage that troubles people like Lina Attalah, editor of Cairo news website Mada. She has no doubt ousting Mursi was what most Egyptians wanted: “What I do doubt,” she added, “Is whether what comes after will remain the will of the people. People are good at ousting, but not replacing.”
Army razes wall in Pune Cantt, builds another on same road
PUNE: The Defence authorities on Sunday heeded the request of Wanowrie Bazaar residents by demolishing a wall on the Right Flank (RF) road that connects the Bazaar to the Prince of Wales Drive. However, they constructed another wall on the same road at a distance, which has invited fresh protests from the residents and motorists who use the road to travel between Wanowrie and Pune Camp.

In the first week of June, the Army had constructed a wall on the Right Flank Road (see illustration), which made the motorists coming from Pune Camp take bylanes of Wanowrie Bazaar to reach the Prince of Wales Drive. The closure of RF road had led to an uproar as the traffic in the Bazaar increased resulting in congestion. Some residents complained that they found it difficult to reach home.

Needless to say, the demolition of the existing wall has given some relief to the residents because it has reduced congestion in Wanowrie Bazaar. But, the construction of another wall some 200 meters away outside the military intelligence training school's official quarters (see illustration) has irked the residents and those coming from Camp and adjoining areas, as they will now have to use the Cross Road and then the Kondhwa main road to reach Wanowrie.

A Defence spokesperson, in a statement issued on Monday, said: "The wall on the RF Road was constructed recently to ensure safety of patients of the Command hospital, as was informed to the media houses earlier. The heavy traffic was proving dangerous for patients as a few wards were shifted across the RF road owing to construction of the new hospital."

Justifying the construction of the new wall, the spokesperson said, "Since the wall was constructed recently after due notice was served to local population as well as the police, the current re-location is being under-taken only consequent to feed-backs received. So the need to issue a fresh notice was not felt."

Anju Mathurawala, an elected member of the Pune Cantonment Board (PCB) from Wanowrie Bazaar area said, "The main problem of traffic congestion in the Bazaar area has been solved with the razing of the existing wall. There are alternative routes to reach the Command hospital in case of an emergency."

Mathurawala further said that the wall was demolished after numerous representations were made by her to the Defence authorities. "The development has made the residents happy," she said.

On the newly-built wall, Mathurawala said, "I have appealed to the Defence authorities to convert the road into a one-way, without providing a turn to the Bazaar area, in the larger interest of the people. The wall has been constructed on a temporary basis and a sign board has been displayed for the information of people."

Deepak Mathurawala, president of the Wanowrie Bazaar Shop Owners' Association, said, "The Defence authorities have constructed the wall on Cantonment land and not on A-1 (defence) land. People will now have to use the Wanowrie Road and Prince of Wales Drive for reaching the Bazaar from Camp and other places."

Ravindra Kamble, a resident, praised the Army for solving the traffic problem of the area, but said the residents and people using the road as a link road will henceforth have to use a longer route to travel between Camp and Bazaar, which will be time consuming.

Ujjwala Chidawar, president of a women's self-help group at Wanowrie, said that she will call a meeting of the local residents. "The shifting of the wall will cause inconvenience to school children, office-goers and patients. After seeking the views of the residents, we will seek the intervention of the PCB's chief executive officer K V Nagireddy in removing the wall," she added.

The Army version

"Adequate advance notice of one month was given to the general public and traffic police prior to undertaking the construction work. During the initial work on the wall, one road was left open for the convenience of residents of Wanowrie Bazaar. However, the locals gave a feedback that this had in fact led to heavy congestion in the Bazaar. Considering people's feedback and to mitigate the problems faced by the local population, it was decided that the new wall be built at the present location." -- A Defence spokesman

Shopkeepers' say

"The construction of a wall on the other side of the road has given rise to more problems. Our customers, which includes Army officials residing on the road side, cannot visit Bazaar for making purchases. We will soon hold a meeting of shop owners to seek their views on the new development and plan further course of action." -- Deepak Mathurawala, president of the Wanowrie Bazaar Shop Owners Association
Top China Army body says Ladakh intrusion was accidental
Terming the border stand-off with India in Ladakh's Depsang valley in April as accidental and not deliberately staged, the top military policy-making body of the People's Liberation Army has emphasised that China's defence policy remains defensive and that it does not see India's military modernisation as a threat.

In its first comments on the face-to-face situation in Depsang that had threatened to push bilateral relations to a new low, the PLA's Academy of Military Science (AMS) has said that "accidental incidents" that take place between "friendly neighbouring nations" such as India and China should not be mistaken as something that can possibly expand into large-scale aggression.

"When it comes to China's national defence strategy, there is one point that will never change and that is that we pursue a policy that is defensive in nature," Maj Gen Chen Zhou of the AMS, the key author of China's white paper on defence, told a group of visiting Indian journalists.

The April incident sparked tension between the neighbours after Chinese troops set up a temporary camp in the disputed Depsang valley, prompting a similar response by Indian troops.

Senior analysts and researchers at AMS sought to drive home the point that the incident was accidental in nature and that it should not be described as a "stand off". Beijing had said in the past that its troops had not crossed the border and were camping on the Chinese side of the disputed boundary line.

"Because we do not have a finalized order of the boundary lines between China and India, these kinds of incidents are unavoidable and take place but I disagree with the use of the word stand off...The confrontation on the border can be described as not deliberately staged," Col Ma Jun, a senior AMS researcher, said.

The resolution of the matter in less than a month proved that mechanisms to resolve such matters between the two nations work, he added. "Both sides are committed to solving the (boundary) issue through peaceful negotiations and maintaining the general picture of the state between China and India," he said.
Chinese military choppers test Indian Air Defence on LAC

Two Chinese military helicopters are suspected to have carried out an aerial surveillance close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Chumar sector of Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir last Thursday, testing India’s air defence mechanism.

Sources in the Indian Military establishment on Sunday confirmed that two Chinese military helicopters flew “too close for comfort” near the LAC in Chumar, the same sector where on June 17 Chinese military personnel transgressed into the Indian side to damage a surveillance equipment and went back carrying the camera.

The Chinese helicopters’ adventurism came within a week after Defence Minister A K Antony returned from a Beijing visit on July 7. “The helicopters did come too close to the LAC for our comfort. But they did not violate the Indian airspace,” a source in the Indian military establishment said. The choppers were spotted flying close to the LAC by the Indian observers from the Air Defence posts around 8 a.m.

The choppers flew back after a few minutes, sources said. The Indian Air Force and Indian Army air defence teams kept a close watch on the Chinese choppers flying over the LAC and maintained an alert, but they did not activate any air defence response mechanism, sources said.

China has been uncomfortable with the terrain advantage India has in the Chumar sector, which is about 300 km away from Leh, the region’s capital.

Chumar, which has witnessed several tensions between the two sides, is around 500 km away from Daulat Beg Oldi, where they had pitched tents 19 km inside Indian territory and stayed put for three weeks on the Debsang bulge, to return to their base only after some hard diplomatic and military haggling by both sides. As a return favour for the Chinese troopers, numbering over 30, going back home, India had agreed to dismantle a tin shed built  close to the LAC as a resting spot for the Indian patrol teams.

Based on these experiences of the recent past, China and India are negotiating a Border agreement, which was proposed by Beijing in March and for which a few amendments have been suggested by India.

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