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Thursday, 8 August 2013

From Today's Papers - 08 Aug 2013
Furore in Parliament over Antony’s ‘clean chit’ to Pak on LoC killings
BJP wants Defence Minister to apologise for ‘letting Pak away’
Govt defends him
Aditi Tandon & Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 7
The government today stood behind Defence Minister AK Antony after the BJP disrupted proceedings in both Houses of Parliament, demanding his apology for “giving a clean chit to Pakistan” in yesterday’s killing of five Indian soldiers along the LoC.
The storm raged over Antony’s statement made in Parliament yesterday where he blamed “terrorists in Pakistani Army uniforms” for the attack, whereas the Indian Army took a diversely opposite stand implicating Pakistani Army directly for the incident.

While the BJP upped the ante on the issue, the government and the Congress ruled out any apology on Antony’s part, saying his statement was “made on the basis of facts provided by the Indian Army”.

An unrelenting BJP, however, kept insisting on a clarification over how such a serious contradiction could happen. “The Defence Minister’s statement is directly contradictory to that of the Indian Army. He has given a clean chit to Pakistan. He has misled the nation. Let him apologise to the country,” Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj said during Zero Hour. PM Manmohan Singh was present in the House at that time, but he remained silent even as the House saw two adjournments over Telangana formation and crimes against women in Bengal.

BJP’s Yashwant Sinha moved a motion for breach of privilege of the House against Antony for his “misleading statement”. The motion is under Speaker Meira Kumar’s consideration.

Uproarious scenes were also witnessed in the Rajya Sabha (which saw three adjournments) where Antony came to clarify his position after meeting the PM in Parliament House. Antony defended his statement saying he would offer further clarification once the Army Chief returned from Poonch.

“My statement was based on whatever information was available till then…Today, the Army Chief has gone to the area. Let him come back. If there are some other details, I will convey to you,” Antony told the Rajya Sabha.

With the BJP keeping the heat on the government, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid defended Antony saying, “He made a carefully drafted and a well thought out statement based on facts provided by the Army. I don’t think there was a contradiction in the two statements.”

The Congress also stood firmly behind Antony with spokesperson PC Chacko slamming the BJP for “politicising the matter”.

“Never has such an issue been politicised. We know who gave a clean chit to Pakistan and when; who escorted dreaded terrorists and surrendered them to Pakistan,” Chacko said. There was no contradiction in the statements of Antony and the Army, he insisted.

The Defence Minister got his information from the Army and a simple reading of his statement would reveal that he was not giving a clean chit to Pakistan, said the Congress. “Even when you name terrorists in Pakistani uniforms, you are naming Pakistan,” Chacko said, going on to add that India had a policy of friendly relations with neighbours, but it will not be found wanting when it came to national security and sovereignty.
Antony not alone in drafting statement
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, August 7
Even as Defence Minister AK Antony faces a vociferous opposition for the “toned down” statement on Pakistan, it now comes out that Antony was not the author of the rather “diplomatically drafted” statement made after the killing of five Indian soldiers.

When Antony got up to speak in the Lok Sabha around 3 pm yesterday, he said: “The ambush was carried out by approximately 20 heavily armed terrorists along with persons dressed in Pakistan Army uniform.”

Around 55 minutes later (at 3.55 pm), the Army PRO at Jammu released a statement through email. It said: “The ambush was carried out by approximately 20 heavily armed terrorists along with soldiers of the Pakistan Army.”

The Opposition led by the BJP’s Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitely blasted Antony for giving a clean chit to the Pakistan Army by saying there were “persons dressed in Pakistan Army uniform”. Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha Chief Anurag Thakur lead a group to protest against Antony yesterday night. He said: “It was the Pakistan Army. Why did Antony not say it so?”

Sources said the original draft was released by the Army PRO in Jammu.

Antony’s statement in the Lok Sabha was a collective effort after proper consultations involving the Ministry of External Affairs, the National Security Adviser and the Prime Minister’s Office.

“The language was added and was the outcome of a collective decision and was not made by Antony on his own,” sources said. The original draft for the Antony’s statement was prepared by the Director General of Military Operations and sent to Antony for his approval. Given the sensitivity of the matter, Antony consulted other wings of the government.

Within the Ministry of Defence (MoD), a fact-finding mission is underway to pinpoint how the contradictions emerged in the communiqué. After the contradictions emerged, the embarrassed Defence PRO at Jammu sent another email to the media at 6.56 pm withdrawing its previous press release and regretting for it. The Defence PRO had issued the press release based on information from the injured soldier and radio intercepts.

Collective effort

    The original draft for the Antony's statement was prepared by the Director General of Military Operations and sent to him for approval
    Antony's statement in the Lok Sabha was a collective effort after consultations involving the Ministry of External Affairs, the National Security Adviser and the Prime Minister's Office
India opens retaliatory fire in Uri, Nowgam; 2 Pak soldiers ‘killed’
Ajay Banerjee, Afzal Khan & Ravi Krishan Khajuria/ TNS

New Delhi/Islamabad/Jammu, August 7
Away from the disruptions in Parliament, India yesterday took a military stance to retaliate to Pakistani Army firing and not just stop at lodging the usual complaint over the hotline between the Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) of both the countries.

Yesterday afternoon, Indian Army troops opened fire at Pakistani posts along the Line of Control (LoC) at Nowgam and Uri, sources confirmed. This was barely hours after news of five Indian soldiers having been killed had filtered through. The firing continued even as Defence Minister AK Antony was speaking in Parliament.

Reporting from Islamabad, Reuters said that two Pakistani soldiers possibly died. Indian agencies have picked over conversation, which indicate a similar number of deaths. The Indian firing prompted Pakistani DGMO Maj Gen Ashfaq Nadeem in Rawalpindi to speak to his counterpart Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia in New Delhi over hotline.

The Indian DGMO had not lodged a formal protest with his counterpart over the killings. “It was possibly to let the boys in the field respond to the firing as the way they are taught and trained to,” a top source confirmed.

Army sources today said its troops only retaliated to a ceasefire violation by Pakistan and ‘small arms’ were used. There was intermittent firing from across the LoC.

In Pakistan, the Inter Services Public Relation said: “A special hotline contact was established this morning between DGMOs of Pakistan and Indian army to discuss situation arising due to the Indian allegations. Pak Army lodged a strong protest for the LoC violation by Indian troops in Pandu sector (facing Uri) in which two Pakistani soldiers were seriously wounded”. Later reports said the soldiers had died. Pakistan DGMO, however, dismissed the reports of the death of five Indian soldiers, claiming no exchange of fire had occurred.

At Akhnoor, Army Chief General Bikram Singh met all formation commanders along the LoC and reviewed the situation. He suggested new measures to be enforced.

The Army Chief landed at Technical Airport in the morning and paid tributes to the martyrs. Draped in Tricolours, the caskets carrying bodies of the fallen heroes were flown to New Delhi in an Air India plane at 3.45 pm. The troopers killed in the attack have been identified as Naik Prem Nath Singh (35), a resident of Chapra (Bihar), Lance Naik Shambu Saran Ray (29) of Bhojpur (Bihar), Sepoy Vijay Kumar Ray (27) of Patna (Bihar), Sepoy Raghunandan Prasad (23) of Chapra (Bihar), and Naik Pundalik Mane Kerba (36) of Kolhapur (Maharashtra) of 14 Maratha Light Infantry.

The injured soldier has been identified as Sambhaji Kutti, a resident of Kolhapur, belonging to 14 Maratha Light Infantry. After paying tributes to the soldiers the Army Chief along with Lt Gen Sanjiv Chachra and Lt Gen DS Hooda took off for the Nagrota-based 16 Corps (White Knight Corps) headquarters from where they took off around 12.15 pm for the ambush site in Poonch. The chopper had to be grounded due to bad weather at Akhnoor-based Crossed Swords Division headquarters.

The Indian response

    Indian Army troops on Tuesday opened fire at Pakistani posts along the LoC at Nowgam and Uri hours after five Indian soldiers were killed
    Reuters reported from Islamabad that two Pak soldiers possibly died
    The firing continued even as Defence Minister AK Antony was speaking in Parliament
    The Indian firing prompted Pakistani DGMO in Rawalpindi to speak to his counterpart Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia in New Delhi over the hotline
Resumption of dialogue with Pak hangs in balance
Ashok Tuteja/TNS

New Delhi, August 7
The fate of dialogue with Pakistan hangs in balance in the wake of the killing of five Indian soldiers along the Line of Control (LOC) yesterday.

With the BJP upping the ante against the government over its policy towards Pakistan, New Delhi is highly unlikely to respond to Islamabad’s proposal to hold the Secretary-level meeting on the Tulbul Navigation Project in Islamabad on August 27-28. This particular meeting would have marked the resumption of the third round of the dialogue process, which has been stalled since January following the beheading of an Indian soldier in January.

Senior officials were even tight-lipped on whether Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would meet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in New York on the margins of the UN General Assembly in September.

“A call on whether he should meet Nawaz Sharif will be taken by the PM himself based on the inputs he receives from the External Affairs Ministry and the Defence Ministry,” a source said.

The opinion within the echelons of power on resuming dialogue with Pakistan is sharply divided. There are hardliners who think any move to resume the dialogue would boomerang at this stage, given the overwhelming sentiment in the country in the wake of the Indian soldiers’ killing. At the same time, there are others who feel that cancelling the dialogue will only embolden terrorist outfits and the Pakistan Army and weaken Nawaz Sharif, who has shown his keenness to improve ties with India.

On its part, Pakistan, which has denied its involvement in the killing of Indian soldiers, renewed its offer for a ‘sustained and meaningful’ engagement with India that would produce mutually beneficial results.

In a congratulatory letter to Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh, Pakistan Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani said the exchange of goodwill message between the leadership of the two countries needed to be carried forward and that he looked forward to working closely with his Indian counterpart in addressing all issues of mutual interest.

The MEA is maintaining a studied silence on the entire issue. A weekly press briefing of the ministry, which was to be held yesterday, was postponed to today. Now it has been deferred indefinitely.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid appears to be of the view that calling off talks with Pakistan would only escalate tension between the two countries. In interviews to television channels, the minister said India did not want to create a situation “detrimental and destructive for India’s security and peace”. He apparently had in mind the situation likely to unfold in the region after the drawdown by NATO troops from Afghanistan in 2014.

Pak summons Indian diplomat

Islamabad: Pakistan on Wednesday called in the Indian Deputy High Commissioner over protests outside its High Commission in India and asked New Delhi to ensure the security of its mission and personnel. "We have summoned the Indian Deputy High Commissioner to the Foreign Office to stress that protection of the Pakistan High Commission and Pakistan House is the responsibility of the Indian Government," Foreign Office spokesman Aizaz Chaudhry said. Another Pakistani official said Indian Deputy High Commissioner Gopal Baglay was given a note verbale on the incident. Scores of Youth Congress workers held a demonstration outside the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi to protest the killing of five Indian soldiers. PTI

Divided opinion

    Hardliners think that any move to resume the dialogue with Pakistan will boomerang at this stage, given the overwhelming sentiment in the country in the wake of the Indian soldiers' killing
    People belonging to other school of thought feel that cancelling the dialogue will only embolden terrorist outfits and the Pakistan Army and weaken Nawaz Sharif, who has shown his keenness to improve ties with India
A dastardly attack
The incident needs firm handling

In a well-planned and coordinated attack, five soldiers were killed and a sixth was injured in a cross-border strike from Pakistan in the Poonch sector along the Line of Control. The attack has occurred seven months after a Pakistani Army Border Action Team (BAT) beheaded one soldier and mutilated the body of another in a similar attack on an Indian Army patrol that occurred only a short distance from the site of Monday night's incident in the same Poonch sector. So far this year alone, there have been 57 violations of the November 2003 ceasefire agreement, marking an 80 per cent increase in such violations compared to last year.

As if the tragic attack was not bad enough, a difference of opinion has erupted between the political executive (namely Defence Minister AK Antony) and the Army on who was responsible for the attacks. While Antony played down the Pakistani Army's involvement and would like the country to believe that these were terrorists dressed in Pakistani Army uniform, the Army believes that the attack was carried out by terrorists in conjunction with a Pakistani BAT comprising Army soldiers belonging to a Baluch regiment. In the end, the Indian Army retracted its statement in favour of Antony, leading to an uproar by the Opposition. Pakistan has predictably denied its involvement. But the history of Indo-Pak relations is replete with examples of the Pakistani establishment's involvement in terror attacks against India. The 26/11 terror attacks of 2008 and the surreptitious intrusions by the Pakistani Army (initially blamed on mujahideens) that led to the Kargil War in 1999 are two major recent examples.

The attack has occurred within a few days of terrorists from Pakistan targeting the Indian Consulate in Jalalabad in Afghanistan and coincided with reports that both countries are expected to resume bilateral talks. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif are expected to meet in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly next month. While diplomacy needs to be encouraged, New Delhi needs to handle such attacks with firmness and resolve. As Theodore Roosevelt said, 'Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far'. Soft speech and no stick is certainly not in the country's interest.
LoC killings: Defence Ministry blames Pak Army and then backtracks
New Delhi: In a major flip-flop by the Centre and the Defence Ministry, the attackers who ambushed Indian soldiers at the Line of Control in Poonch became "20 heavily armed terrorists along with persons dressed in Pakistan Army uniforms" from an earlier statement that the Army patrol was targeted by "20 heavily armed terrorists along with soldiers of Pak Army".

The Defence Ministry withdrew the first press release on the attack which blamed the Pakistani Army for the attack just hours after Defence Minister AK Antony made a statement in Parliament that the attackers were dressed in Pakistani Army uniform. This was not the only change in the revised press release issued by the Army as the first line was also changed.

While the first press release blamed the attack on "Pak Border Action Team", the second one just said "A patrol of Indian Army comprising of one Non Commissioned Officer and five Other Ranks was ambushed on our side of Line of Control" without any mention to Pakistan.
The Opposition on Tuesday staged strong protest against Antony's statement and accused him of providing Pakistan with an escape route.

Full test of the first press release:





Jammu : 06 Aug 2013

A patrol of Indian Army comprising of one Non Commissioned Officer and five Other Ranks was ambushed by a Pak Border Action Team close to the Line of Control in Punch Sector of J&K early morning on 06 August 2013. In the ensuing firefight, five Indian soldiers were martyred. The ambush was carried out by approximately 20 heavily armed terrorists along with soldiers of Pak Army.

This action is a likely consequence of frustrations of the terrorists' tanzeeems and Pak Army due to successful elimination of 19 hardcore terrorists in the recent months of July and August along the Line of Control and in the hinterland of J&K. The effective counter infiltration grid on the Line of Control has ensured 17 infiltration bids foiled this year resulting in killing of a total of 13 hardcore Pak trained terrorists. The numbers of such attempts have doubled this year in comparison to the corresponding period of 2012. Pak Army's desperation is also evident in the substantial increase in the number of Cease Fire Violations this year. There have been 57 Cease Fire Violations this year which is almost 80% more than the violations last year.
More than 20 Pakistani men involved in Kashmir attack, defence minister promises stern action
In an audacious and provocative attack, Pakistani troops entered Indian territory along the Line of Control in the Poonch sector in Jammu and Kashmir late last night and ambushed a patrol killing five Indian soldiers.

Pakistani security officials denied any involvement in the deaths of Indian soldiers on the disputed and heavily militarised border in Kashmir.

"There was no indiscriminate firing from our side," one security official told Reuters.

Another official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to reporters, denied there had been an exchange of fire on the border between the nuclear powers. "There was no such incident whatsoever," he said. "There was no firing on the border."

Pak envoy summoned
India summons Pakistan Deputy High Commissioner; lodges strong protest over killing of its soldiers at the LoC in Poonch sector.

AK Anotny promises action
Defence minister AK Antony speaks on LOC firing in Parliament, " We strongly condemn the incident. The army is fully ready to tackle such occurrences. We're ready to take all steps to protect the LOC."

He said that the attack on Indian soldiers carried out by about 20 heavily armed men dressed in Pakistani military uniforms.
Defence sources said the Pakistani soldiers, numbering about 20, intruded into the Indian territory past midnight and ambushed the patrol party at the Sarla post on the Indian side of the LoC.

A Subedar and four jawans of the 21 Bihar Unit were killed in the attack which took place at around 2 AM, the sources said.

The attack took place 450 metres from the LoC on the Indian side, they said.

Five Indian soldiers were killed, the sources said.

What is government doing to stop border attacks: Mulayam
Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav demanded that the government inform parliament about the steps it was taking to stop repeated intrusions across the border by China and killings of Indian soldiers by Pakistan.

"We want to know what the government is doing to thwart such attacks," he demanded.

"Pakistan and China may have some secret understanding... Why is China intruding repeatedly on our border. Both China and Pakistan have come near our borders. The whole house is concerned for the country's security and unity," he said to loud thumping of desks."

Yadav also said that India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru had been "deceived" by China and that he could not withstand the "dhoka" (betrayal) of the 1962 war with China, which India lost.

"China made fools of India and deceived us, Nehru could not withstand the deception and died," he said and added that China is "practising deception" by its friendly overtures and was not to be trusted.

He reiterated what he has said earlier that China is preparing to attack India and has created a plan for it with an eye on Himachal Pradesh and Arunachal Pradesh, which they claim as their territory.

‘If Pakistan wants better ties with India then this is not the way’: RPN Singh on Indian soldiers' killing
Minister of State for Home RPN Singh on Tuesday said if Islamabad wants better ties with New Delhi, then this was not the way to go about it or achieve it. “It is an extremely unfortunate incident. If Pakistan wants to have better relations with India, I think this is not the way to have a better relation. I cannot comment on the whole issue because I myself have just come to know about it this morning. I think the defence ministry and the foreign ministry will be equipped to give statement on this,” Singh told media here.

Don't hold talks with Pakistan: BJP on soldiers' killing
The BJP said India should not hold talks with Pakistan in the wake of the killings of five Indian soldiers by Pakistani troops in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch district.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Shahnawaz Hussain said: "Talks with Pakistan should not be held if even one bullet is fired on the border... You can't have bullets being fired on the border and our soldiers being killed, and then hold talks side by side."

"The government should say there will be no talks, which will act as pressure on Pakistan," he told NDTV news channel.

He was speaking after BJP leaders met Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and demanded that the government make a statement in the house.

"We should be allowed to speak. Yashwant Sinha should be allowed to speak on the matter," said Hussain.
Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh is taking stock of the situation, Army sources said in Delhi.

The incident could cast a shadow on the resumption of the Indo-Pak dialogue process. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif are slated to meet in New York next month on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session.

The dialogue process was put on hold following the beheading of an Indian soldier and another soldier's body found mutilated following the January 8 attack by Pakistani troops in the Poonch sector.

Both Houses of Parliament were adjourned till noon after opposition protested the killing of five Indian Army soldiers

Kill 50 in Pakistan to avenge 5 Indian soldiers' deaths: Shiv Sena

A senior Army officer told PTI that one Indian jawan was also injured in the latest Pakistani attack, triggering tension along the borderline. The injured soldier has been admitted to a hospital.

"A party of six jawans was on routine patrolling between fencing and the post, when Pakistan troops attacked them by opening firing near Sarla battalion post area along LoC in Poonch district during pre-dawn time," he said, adding that the Pakistan Army had violated the ceasefire agreement.

The deceased jawans belonged to 21 Bihar Regiment post at Sarla forward area along the LoC in Chakan-Da-Bagh sector of Poonch.

Giving details, the officer said the patrol had lost contact with the Army unit around 0115 hours, close to the time of the attack.

"We sent a patrol to the area around 0530 hours today and found five jawans dead with gunshot wounds. One was injured and he is in utter shock," he said.

The bodies have been brought back to unit area, he said.

Asked whether Pakistan's Border Action Team (BAT) was involved in the attack, he said it was carried out by the troops of 2 PoK Brigade, which is deployed in that sector.

The officer said all the jawans have died of gunshot wounds and there was no beheading or mutilation of bodies.

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