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Monday, 29 July 2013

From Today's Papers - 29 Jul 2013
India, Pak chalk out schedule for resuming dialogue
Islamabad sends a set of dates when two sides can meet for third round of talks
Ashok Tuteja/TNS

New Delhi, July 28
India today confirmed that it was in touch with Pakistan to ‘identify mutually convenient’ dates for convening the remaining Secretary-level meetings of the third round of the bilateral dialogue process which has been stalled since January this year.

Official sources said New Delhi had received a set of dates from Pakistan for the meetings to be hosted by Islamabad.

It is learnt that Pakistan High Commissioner to India Salman Bashir had recently met Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and formally conveyed to him Islamabad’s proposal for talks on the Tulbul Navigation Project/ Wullar Barrage issue on August 27-28 and Sir Creek on September 16-17.

The two are also understood to have discussed the upcoming meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in New York on the margins of the UN General Assembly meet in September-end.

The third round of dialogue had begun in September last year with a meeting between the Commerce Secretaries of the two countries in Islamabad. The Water Resources Secretaries were scheduled to meet in January for talks on the Tulbul Navigation Project but the tension over the beheading of an Indian soldier on the border led to the postponement of the talks. Officially, New Delhi stated that the meeting had been deferred due to the retirement of then Water Secretary Dhruv Vijay Singh.

As per the roadmap for dialogue agreed upon between the two sides, Pakistan will host talks on the Tulbul Navigation Project and Sir Creek issues besides a meeting of the Foreign Secretaries on Jammu and Kashmir and peace and security. India will host the meetings of the Home and Defence Secretaries, followed by talks between the Foreign Ministers to review the overall progress in the dialogue process.

Officials on both sides are also working on dates for meetings of the eight technical groups of the India-Pakistan Joint Commission. Four meetings would be held in Islamabad and four in Delhi between September and October. The decision to resume the dialogue was taken at a meeting between External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Pakistan PM’s Special Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on the sidelines of ASEAN meetings in Brunei early this month. Pakistan PM’s Special Envoy Shaharyar Khan had also met Manmohan Singh in New Delhi early this month to convey Islamabad's desire to resume dialogue.

The eight items included in the dialogue framework are: Siachen; Tulbul Navigation Project/Wullar Barrage; Sir Creek; economic and commercial cooperation and friendly exchanges; terrorism and drug trafficking; peace and security and Jammu and Kashmir.
Making a Fresh start

Sources said Pakistan High Commissioner to India Salman Bashir had recently met Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and conveyed to him Islamabad’s proposal for talks on the Tulbul Navigation Project on August 27-28 and Sir Creek on September 16-17

The two are also understood to have discussed the upcoming meeting between PM Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in New York in September-end
The third round of dialogue had begun in September last year. The tension over the beheading of an Indian soldier on the border, however, led to its postponement
Militants gun down SPO in north Kashmir
Azhar Qadri/TNS

Srinagar, July 28
A Special Police Officer (SPO) was shot dead by militants at his home near north Kashmir’s volatile Sopore town on Sunday morning.

Mudasir Ahmad Dar, a contractual employee in the state police department, was shot dead by “pistol-borne militants” at his residence in Ontoo-Hamam locality near Chanakan in Sopore town around 9.50 am, a police officer said.

The 25-year-old is survived by a widowed mother and two minor siblings, a police spokesman said. The police have registered a case and begun an investigation.

Dar is the second person to be attacked by militants in the vicinity of Sopore town in the last three days. On Friday afternoon, militants shot at and injured the Sarpanch of Krankshvan village near Sopore. Hizbul Mujahideen militants are believed to have been behind the recent spate in attacks, including those on policemen and Panchayat members in north Kashmir.

Sopore has been a hotbed of militancy until recently. Militant activity in the area diminished to a large extent after several high-profile militant commanders were killed in recent years. The militant network in Sopore also suffered a major setback when Lashkar-e-Toiba's top commander Fawad alias Fahadullah was arrested providing police a treasure-trove of information.

The Sunday morning killing of the SPO is the latest in a string of attacks targeting policemen and other security forces personnel this year. Twelve policemen have been killed this year, including eight who were killed in four separate attacks in north Kashmir.

String of attacks

Mudasir Ahmad Dar is the second person to be attacked by militants in the vicinity of Sopore town in the last three days

On Friday afternoon, militants shot at and injured the Sarpanch of Krankshvan village near Sopore

Thirteen soldiers, 12 policemen, five CRPF men and a BSF soldier have been killed in militancy-related violence in the Valley so far this year
N-powered sub Arihant all set to sail out from Vizag
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, July 28
Indigenously built nuclear-powered submarine, INS Arihant, is finally set to sail out from its base at Vishakhapatnam. The 6,000-tonne submarine, armed with nuclear missiles, is ready after years of efforts interspersed with sanctions in 1998 and impediments due to non-availability of cutting-edge technology.
“The nuclear reactor that will power the submarine can be formally declared ‘critical’ anytime now, while the nuclear-tipped missiles to be launched from underwater are in place,” sources said.

“Everything is ready,” a functionary said. “The wait is for the monsoon to subside before Arihant (slayer of enemies) dives into sea. A certain amount of calm is needed at sea when the vessel goes out the first time. The monsoon on the East Coast starts weakening by the middle of August, meaning the submarine will slither out in a couple of weeks from now,” he added.

“Around 95 per cent of harbour trials are over,” sources said. Once the submarine is out at sea, it will run on nuclear-powered 80MW pressurised water reactor (PWR). The PWR was developed by the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) with assistance from a Russian designing team. It uses enriched uranium as fuel and light water as coolant and moderator.

Once at sea, the vessel will be gradually loaded with weapons and missiles. All parameters will be tested after each addition. “Each test will be conducted underwater for two months or more. This will include the Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM)”, sources said.

New Delhi has done 10 underwater launches of SLBMs code named ‘B05’ using a submerged pontoon to mimic a submarine. It can travel 700 km, while the bigger variant, so far know as the ‘K-4’, can hit targets 3,500 km away and will finally be installed on Arihant and also the next two follow-on submarines of the same class.

The submarine will provide second-strike capability in case of a nuclear attack. It is the easiest to launch a nuclear strike from a submarine as it remains submerged, hence the enemy cannot detect it.

In December 2010, the then Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma had announced: “When Arihant goes to sea, it will be on a deterrent patrol (armed with nuclear-tipped missiles).” Being nuclear-powered, the submarine will not have to surface for two months to breath, like the conventional vessels have to.

India will join the US, the UK, France, and China by having such technology and prowess.

Arihant has cost Rs 15,000 crore. It has been jointly developed by the Navy, BARC and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) at the Visakhapatnam naval dockyard. Russian designers assisted in building the vessel. Other companies involved in the development of the submarine are Tata Power and Larsen & Toubro (L&T). The project, earlier known as the advanced technology vessel (ATV), has been under development since 1998.
Arihant stats

    Cost: Rs 15,000 crore
    N-tipped missiles: 12
    Length: 110 m
    Breadth: 11 m
    Crew: 95
    Underwater speed:  24 knots (44 kmph)

The Chinese threat

    In January, a report by the Ministry of Defence Integrated Headquarters expressed fears that the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is building “expeditionary maritime capabilities” and could use nuclear-powered submarines and area denial weapons to threaten warships in the region.
    At the last count, China had seven nuclear-powered submarines; two of 094 Jin-class, four of 093 Shang-class and the last one of 092 Xia-class.
    Besides Arihant, India’s nuclear-powered submarine strength has INS Chakra, a nuclear-powered vessel leased from Russia. However, under international treaties, Russia could not transfer SLBMs that go with INS Chakra, hence it carries only conventional missiles.
Settling border issue
Last-mile problems with Bangladesh

Bangladesh has held a special place in Indian minds ever since its creation in 1971. The two governments have had differences as various parties came to power and issues that could have been sorted out amicably became the bone of contention. The two nations have a border that has some anomalies, and the rational thing to do would be to exchange territories so that they have a more contiguous international border. Effort has been made over the years and the agreement signed by the two nations envisages the transfer of 11 Indian enclaves to Bangladesh, with India getting 51 Bangladeshi enclaves. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has assured the visiting Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni that his government will take up the pact to Parliament.

The other main issue between the two countries is the Teesta river water-sharing treaty which, as Moni said, is a “work in progress”. Bangladesh is well aware of the internal compulsions of the UPA government as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has vociferously opposed the treaty. She had not gone with the Prime Minister on his Bangladesh trip in September, 2011, much to his embarrassment. The Prime Minister is said to have told the Bangladesh Foreign Minister during her recent visit that the government is seeking a national consensus on the issue, even as he assured her that India would do nothing inimical to the interest of her country.

The Bangladesh government has been cooperative with India on various issues of national security, terrorism and infrastructure development. A survey recently saw high support for Bangladeshis among Indian citizens. India and Bangladesh have travelled a long and arduous road to the present cordial relationship. The governments in both nations have their compulsions, but from the way they are interacting with each other it is reasonable to expect better ties between the two neighbours.
Defence ministry uses turf war within armed forces to scuttle General No. 1
NEW DELHI: The defence ministry (MoD) has pointed to a lack of consensus in the armed forces to further bolster its case against the creation of a General No.1 post, a desperately-needed higher defence management reform languishing in cold storage since the 1999 Kargil conflict.

The MoD has given a point-by-point rejection of the need to establish a permanent chairman of the chiefs of staff committee (CoSC) as well as other crucial reforms like "cross-staffing" (posting military officers to MoD to bridge the civil-military disconnect), which have been strongly recommended by the Naresh Chandra taskforce in its report submitted to PM Manmohan Singh, as was first reported by TOI last month.

It now emerges that MoD is also taking recourse to the turf wars among the armed forces to shoot down the post of the permanent chairman of the CoSC, which currently includes the Army, Navy and IAF chiefs to constitute India's highest deliberative military forum.

Sources say MoD has told the National Security Council Secretariat (NSCS) under the PMO that though the Navy supports the proposal for a permanent CoSC chairman, the IAF's "concurrence is conditional", while the Army is totally against it. There "is no consensus in the Services", said the MoD.

Insiders, however, argue this should not be used "as a pretext to scuttle far-reaching, meaningful reforms" to inject some much-needed synergy in planning, procurement, operational and doctrinal issues among the Army, Navy and IAF, which often pull in different directions.

"Moreover, the permanent CoSC chairman, a four-star general like the three Service chiefs with a fixed two-year tenure, would be the principal military advisor to the government as an invitee to the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). But there is major politico-bureaucratic resistance to such a move. In the US, such reforms were pushed through the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986 despite reservations and inter-Service rivalry," said a source.

Defence minister AK Antony's protestations that the government is still considering the Naresh Chandra report, and the final decision on it would be taken by the CCS, fly in the face of his ministry's emphatic dismissal of all its critical recommendations. "The MoD comments would have been submitted to the NSCS only after Antony approved them," he said.

The permanent CoSC chairman would also exercise "administrative control" over the nuclear arsenal, head a separate joint special forces command, prioritise modernisation of the armed forces and prepare annual defence operational status reports. But the MoD has rejected all this, holding that the existing system was "functioning well".

The permanent CoSC chairman is actually a watered-down proposal of the earlier recommendation for a chief of defence staff (CDS) made by the high-powered group of ministers' report on 'Reforming the national security system' in 2001 after the Kargil conflict. But successive governments used the ruse of trying to build a political consensus to effectively torpedo it.
Defence Minister probes Rs3,000 crore ammunition deal
he Defence Ministry is probing allegations of irregularity involving a top retired Army official in the Rs 3,000 crore deal to procure 145 ultra-light howitzers from the US under an inter-governmental agreement.

The M-777 howitzers are being procured by the Army through the Foreign Military Sales route for deployment in the mountainous boundaries with China and Pakistan and are expected to be part of a new Strike Corps to be raised along the China border.The deal is at an advanced stage and India and the US authorities are negotiating the offsets and other aspects of the contract.

While the negotiations are underway, the defence ministry received an anonymous letter alleging irregularity on part of a top Army officer who has since retired.

Taking cognizance of this complaint, the Defence Ministry is probing the allegations through in internal inquiry.The Ministry is also likely to seek comments of the Army headquarters on this issue, they said.

The proposed deal has been mired in one controversy or the other since its early days.The Rs 3,000 crore deal was approved by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) in October last year.

Prior to its approval, the Defence Ministry had sought the report of a committee on whether to go ahead with the procurement after the leakage of the trial reports of the M-777 howitzer.

The leaked report had suggested that the guns had underperformed during the trials and the Army was not happy with it.

The Ministry had then formed a Committee under then DRDO chief V K Saraswat to submit a report whether the procurement should be realised or not.The deal was given a go ahead only after Saraswat gave it clearance.The Ultra-Light Howitzers of 155 mm 39 calibre are being acquired for deployment in high altitude areas in Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh.

The M777 guns, serving in the US Army, can be airlifted easily and be used for quick deployment of assets in mountainous regions.After the Bofors controversy in 1986, no new gun has been procured by the Army for its artillery.

The Army is also hoping to induct the Bofors guns manufactured indigenously by the Ordnance Factory Board at its facilities in Jabalpur.

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