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Saturday, 27 July 2013

From Today's Papers - 27 Jul 2013



A soldier’s spirit comes alive as Army salutes Kargil war heroes

Majid Jahangir/TNS



Drass, July 26

As troops on the icy heights of Drass prepared to salute the Kargil war heroes on the 14th anniversary today, a retired paraplegic officer wheeled himself to the memorial, his chest swollen with pride. Though not a part of Operation Vijay, Major General SK Razdan had all the reasons to celebrate his life and live the memories of the brave.


“It is the spirit of being a soldier that has brought me here. I’ve come to pay homage to martyrs who laid down their lives for the motherland,” said 59-year-old Razdan, the country’s first wheelchair-bound officer to serve as General Officer Commanding in the Army.


Razdan lost his lower limbs in an encounter in Kulgam in south Kashmir in 1994. He was a young Lt Colonel then. The officer, who originally hails from Habbakadal locality of the Srinagar, continued to serve the Army and retired as assistant chief, counter terrorism, last year. He was posted at the Army Headquarters in New Delhi and is currently staying in Gurgaon.


“I retired last year and thought my handicap shouldn’t come in the way of my ardent desire to be at Drass to be a part of Kargil victory celebrations,” said Razdan. A serving senior Army officer, who was present at the function, said Razdan was among many retired Army officers who were invited to inspire the serving soldiers. “Despite his physical limitation, Razdan managed to come here. His presence has motivated soldiers tremendously,” he said.


General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Northern Command Lt Gen Sanjiv Chachra in his address said: “The remarkable victory in Kargil continues to inspire the young generation across the country. The people will never forget the sacrifices of soldiers, who displayed exemplary valour to push back the infiltrators from our territory.”


“The function has been organised to remember the contribution of the units and the formations which were the part of the Kargil operation,” he said.


Chachra said the Army was well prepared. “Our soldiers remain guardians of the northern frontier to ensure that the safety and security of the nation remains well protected. We will retaliate strongly to those who challenge us,” he said. The troops of Northern Command are responsible for the guarding the Line of Control and the Line of Actual Control.

PM assures B’desh FM on border pact

K V Prasad/TNS


New Delhi, July 26

India today conveyed to Bangladesh that the Land Border Agreement (LBA) between the two countries would be taken to Parliament for ratification while the government is seeking national consensus on the sharing of Teesta waters and assuring her that on water resources New Delhi will do nothing inimical to the interests of Dhaka.


New Delhi’s stand was articulated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a meeting with the visiting Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni who arrived here to give a push to the LBA or exchange of enclaves between the two countries, an issue being opposed by the BJP, and the pending Teesta waters agreement, on which the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has reservations. In order to reach across the aisle, the visiting Bangladesh Foreign Minister met Arun Jaitley, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, and later expressed the hope that both these stalled issues would witness a movement. Her Delhi trip was also significant as it was expected to pave the way for the visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during the later part of the year, before Bangladesh heads for the General Elections.


Official sources said the Prime Minister told Dipu Moni that the government intends to take up the LBA to Parliament. The pact signed during the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Dhaka in September 2011 envisages transfer of 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh and 51 Bangladesh enclaves in India where approximately 51,000 people reside.


The agreement fulfils the 1974 Indira-Mujib vision but ratification by Parliament is held up on account of domestic opposition.


On Teesta, Manmohan Singh said while the government is seeking national consensus on the matter, he noted that water continues to flow to Bangladesh and data sharing in this regard is also taking place regularly. CPM general secretary Prakash Karat extended support on both these issues.


Prime Minister also reiterated to Bangladesh Foreign Minister India’s vision on water resources and assured that nothing inimical to Bangladesh’s interests would be done. He suggested that Bangladesh join as a stakeholder in the Tipaimukh project. The dam across Barak river in Manipur is envisaged for both flood control measure and hydro-electric power generation but is resisted by people in Bangladesh where experts feel it will affect the flow of water affect agriculture and marine life downstream.


The Prime Minister noted that bilateral trade has grown impressively with exports by both countries rising. Exports from Bangladesh to India last year stood at $ 565 million, the highest ever to India.


By September this year, he said, 500 MW of power would be flowing to Bangladesh with inter-grid connectivity while the NTPC-assisted Khulna coal-based power project would be initiated around the same time.


What PM said


    Govt intends to take up the Land Border Agreement to Parliament.

    The pact signed during Manmohan Singh’s visit to Dhaka in September 2011 envisages transfer of 111 Indian enclaves in Bangladesh and 51 Bangladesh enclaves in India.

    The agreement fulfils the 1974 Indira-Mujib vision but ratification by Parliament is held up

    On Teesta, the govt is seeking national consensus and that water continues to flow to Bangladesh.

LAC talks progressing well, says Antony

Tribune News Service


New Delhi, July 26

India and China are trying to work out a long-term solution to the border dispute, besides developing a mechanism to ensure that the situation does not flare up in the area. A frank discussion with China is in the final stage, according to Defence Minister AK Antony.


Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a function to pay respects to martyrs on Kargil Vijay Divas, Antony said: "Both sides are trying to find a long-term solution to the long-pending border dispute. Till that time, our aim is to maintain peace and tranquillity along the border. Still, there are disputed points. Both sides are going by their own perceptions. Sometimes, this gives rise to embarrassing situations."


Talks with China, he said, were at the "final settlement" stage and would be continued through another round of talks in Beijing over the next few months.


The Line of Actual Control (LAC) between India and China has been in dispute for long. Due to this reason, both sides have increased patrolling in the area. "As more soldiers are patrolling the disputed areas, it sometimes leads to a face-off," he said.


The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) has recently approved the formation of a 50,000-strong Mountain Strike Corps to boost Indian defence capabilities in the area.

India must take the lead for peace

I visited our Army’s Selection and Recruitment Centre (ASRC) in Rawalpindi the other day, where my son was to appear for Army Medical College entry tests. Before going there I rang up one of my friends who told me about the ASRC’s exact location near Saddr, but at the same time expressed his disappointment as to why I was going to give my son to ‘them’, “gone are the days when army happened to be a charm; the war on terror deaths have badly affected the morale of the nation.” Why don’t you, he advised, try to send your son abroad for higher studies”.

He also expressed his fear that the Recruitment Centre might be closed on Saturdays and Sundays but to my surprise, when my son and I reached there, we saw the Transit Camp road jam packed with cars parked and youngsters gathered to wait for test call from inside. “Can they be fools?” “Or is my friend wrong in his assessment?” It seemed the over 52,000 deaths in the war against terror have served nothing but a renewed vigor to the youth to join army and serve the nation. “I am convinced”, said Hassan Abdullah – a candidate’s father sitting next to me in my car as we were discussing newspaper headlines and editorial articles while waiting for our sons to come out, – “that the enemy within our territories should be dealt with iron hands; they have challenged our constitution, the state and its sovereignty.”

What we saw at the recruitment centre was a clear answer to, and a total negation of the notion projected by a foreign based columnist, Dr Mansoor, who in his article “Pakistan and its foreign policy”, was of the point that the army is not willing to fight, etc. He was against having a bigger army. “If we did not have an ongoing confrontation with India, why would we need such a big army? For all practical purposes, Pakistan became an army with a country.” There is not a single family in Pakistan that has not one or two people in the armed forces. Either serving or retired, many in our villages now claim to be of marshal race. Like Syed Mansoor, Gen. Zia and Gen. Musharraf were also from India who used to call the uniform as their second skin. It seemed at the recruitment centre as if everybody in Pakistan had rushed to join and serve the army. But the problem is the moment they become part of the army, they are subjected to hatred and disdain, dubbed to be part of the establishment and what not. The article looked doing injustice in its analysis. Situation on the ground is different. Despite losses, injuries and deaths, there is no fear or demoralization on part of the soldiers and officers as well as the people who continue sending their sons to fill the vacuum.

If intellectuals view that now we are at peace with India, they are wrong. Who says India’s threat has subsided or we have no more confrontation with it? May I remind Dr sahib that recently two Indian warplanes have violated Pakistan airspace and not bothered to tender an apology? This has happened at a time when PM Nawaz Sharif, even before taking oath, raised the level of optimism on both sides by inviting Manmohan Singh to Pakistan. Has the author given a glance at the size of India’s defence budget this year? There has been a sudden rise not only in its budget but also the size of Indian army. With 21% increase, Indian army’s budget for year 2013-14 is $42.7bn. During last many years India, on the name of modernization, has piled up arms worth one trillion dollar. India continues to have confrontation with Pakistan? Or it has confrontation with China? If the logic is understandable that after going nuclear, both the neighbors should have concentrated on respective economies, then why not advise India that it needs weapons no more as Pakistan or China are no more its enemy?

May I recall a conversation between India’s then foreign minister Yashwant Sinha and then US secretary of state Collin Powell? “If you want us to start composite dialogue with Islamabad, New Delhi wants an assurance from Washington that the US would not let Pakistan build Kalabagh Dam.” Isn’t it proof enough that a water war had long before been imposed on Pakistan – the details of which are flabbergasting? B. Raman, RAW’s ex-official, one of his articles (visit daringly claims that India had installed ground gadgets in Swat that used to record Pakistan army commanders conversation – an admission to India’s direct involvement in the insurgency within Pakistan’s territory. India has of late been officially claiming its hand in Balochistan justifying its act equating with Kashmir? India’s defence analyst Dr Subhash Kapila, in his article on “India’s Cold Start Strategy” said “it is Pakistan-specific”. There are hundreds of examples; I must mention only one; i.e. Dr Maleeha Lodhi’s latest “Nuclear bluster or dialogue” in which she replies to former Indian foreign secretary’s assertions. Currently he is chairman of India’s National Security Advisory Board. In a speech two months back in Delhi, “Shyam Saran made several pronouncements about the evolution of India’s nuclear policy and the current status of its nuclear deterrent…the most consequential part of his speech for Pakistan’s security policymakers is where he presents a scenario that culminates with India engaging in “massive nuclear retaliation” against Pakistan.”

Amidst India’s war mongering and “teach-Pakistan a lesson” sloganeering, Pakistan has eschewed path of confrontation, always extended hand of friendship which India has never reciprocated. India’s former minister Partab Singh talking to reporters during his Karachi visit said, “Why should India hold dialogue with Pakistan when it is militarily in position to take it to its knees?” I must admit that Pakistan has already taken the risk by reducing its troops’ presence on eastern border. India has raised three corps, one Afghanistan-specific, another China-specific while Pakistan has moved its strike corps from Indian border to Afghanistan border areas. It is pity we put no blame on political hierarchy, for taking no interest in foreign policy matters at all. The PPP government had no time from ‘other things’ to like owning the war on terror, etc. It virtually left the army in lurch to survive on its own. Maintaining his resolve to keep army away from meddling in, and playing subservient role at all costs, Gen Kayani pleaded Pakistan’s case at international forums. Thankfully the new government has hinted at owning this war and frankly speaking there is a need to now leave off “the letdown policy” rather than “strengthening” the war-weary armed forces, because so far they have fought well in the defence of their nation – such a huge number of sacrifices is unmatchable example in the contemporary world.

Such criticism can only add to insult to the blood of our shuhada and to the toil of our jawans and officers in the line of duty at a time when the nation, media and intelligentsia are busy in the routine hustle bustle of life. Visit the AFIRM and watch hundreds of jawans and officers surviving without limbs. Dr Arun Dhati Roy’s analysis, Vikram Suud’s suggestion to Indian government and K P S Gill’s recommendation to Indian army were that “Pakistan army cannot be defeated in 2001-02 like stand-off; it has to be dismantled from within”? Stratfor in its 2009 forecast predicted dismemberment of Pakistan. The ‘Greater Corridor’ opening date (July 31, 2010) had already been set. This did not happen. The international observers give its credit to the unflinching resolve of the jawans and officers of the Pakistan armed forces, who, to them, thwarted the designs of the enemy and wronged their strategies and planning. Stephen Cohen, the US expert on South Asia, has therefore suggested in his new book that the US and world should recognize Pakistan as a nuclear state, if they want to see a stable and peaceful region in this part of world. Only then, Dr Mansoor’s notion of reducing number of troops can be accepted, provided India takes the lead.

Army celebrates 'Operation Vijay Diwas' at Drass

SRINAGAR: The Army on Friday celebrated the 14th anniversary of its success in the operations against the 1999 incursions from Pakistan in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir.


A defence statement said that the celebrations of "Operation Vijay Diwas" culminated in Drass (Kargil district) on Friday afternoon.


"Earlier in the day, the proceedings opened with a solemn wreath laying ceremony at the Drass War Memorial led by the chief guest, Lieutenant General Sanjeev Chachra, GOC-in-C Northern Command, and other serving and retired officers, gallantry award winners of the Kargil conflict and next of kin of martyrs, amongst them the parents of late Captain Vijayant Thapar," the statement said.


"The martyrs were then paid all-religion homage by priests of all major religions. The sombre mood at the ceremony brought home to many the losses borne so proudly by the families that lost their sons, husbands or brothers in that bloody summer of 1999."


"A first day cover was also released commemorating the event. The event was celebrated with full military decorum and solemnity," it said.


"Addressing the gathering, general Chachra thanked the contribution of the nation and the gallant martyrs who made the victory possible. It was the army's modest homage to the martyrs and a way of remembering the contribution of the units and the formations which had participated in the conflict and gave India its finest victory in recent times," the statement said.

French defence minister seen pushing $15-billion Rafale deal in India news - See more at:

French defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian who is on a two-day official visit to India, is expected to push the $15-billion deal to supply 126 Rafale medium-range multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) for the Indian Air Force.


The deal, which France struck with India beating other European competitors and Russian manufacturers, however, has been stuck on pricing issues.


Both parties have so far failed to reach a consensus on the pricing of the deal, putting a question mark on the agreement.


The deal, which was earlier expected to be signed during French President Francois Hollande's visit to this country in February this year, was not signed as negotiations were still on.

France also plans to sell 197 helicopters to the Indian Army. This will be France's second such attempt after a similar deal worth $600 million got cancelled in 2007.


Le Drian, who is in India at the invitation of the minister of defence A K Antony today held detailed discussions on regional and international security challenges of mutual interest.


They also reviewed the status of bilateral defence cooperation and the progress in various areas since their discussions in February 2013, during the state visit of the French President to India.


The French minister of defence is on an official visit to India from 25 to 27 July 2013.


The ministers noted that the ongoing strategic dialogue and defence cooperation are important and mutually beneficial to both nations.


The ministers also noted that the range and depth of defence exchanges and interactions between the two sides are being steadily enhanced in areas of mutual interest and in a spirit of mutual understanding, respect, trust and support, taking account of respective security interests.


The ministers also agreed on increased exchanges between respective defence institutions and armed forces of the two countries, including in the areas of military education and training and through the conduct of military exercises.


India and France will be conducting bilateral defence exercise among the three wings – Army, Navy and the Air Force. These exercises, codenamed 'Shakti', `Varuna' and 'Garuda', will be held between the second half of 2013 and the first half of 2014.


Officers of the Indian and French armed forces have also been attending courses in each other's institutions, including at the French War College in Paris and the National Defence College and Defence Services Staff College in India.


The ministers also discussed co-operation in the areas of defence equipment and technology collaboration, including in high technology areas involving joint research and development and transfer of technology.


The Indo-French High Committee on Defence Cooperation (HCDC), which is scheduled to meet in France in October, is expected to finalise practical measures to expand and deepen bilateral partnership in defence.


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