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Wednesday, 11 September 2013

From Today's Papers - 11 Sep 2013
Pak envoy meets NSA over PM-Sharif talks in New York
Ashok Tuteja/TNS

New Delhi, September 10
In a significant development, Pakistan High Commissioner Salman Bashir tonight met National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

The meeting came amid speculation about the possibility of bilateral talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in New York on the margins of the UN General Assembly.

Informed sources said Bashir and Menon discussed the broad agenda for the meeting between their leaders on September 29 as also the state of relations between the two countries. They are understood to have noted that the tension between the two countries, triggered by the killing of five Indian soldiers on LoC last month, had come down.

Pakistan has been insisting that the meeting between the two PMs must take place in the interest of peace and good neighbourly relations. India has, however, made it clear that the meeting could take place only if Islamabad promised to address New Delhi’s concern over cross-border terrorism from across the border.

While returning from St Petersburg on Saturday, Manmohan Singh stated that he would have to factor in "certain harsh realities" like India being affected by terror before arriving at a "final decision" on meeting Sharif.
Army chief heads for Australia to build strategic ties
NEW DELHI: Army chief General Bikram Singh left for Australia early on Monday morning as part of the ongoing process to step up the "strategic partnership" between the two countries, which gained fresh momentum after defence minister A K Antony made his first-ever visit to the country last June.

The Army chief's visit to Australia, from September 3 to 6, will "contribute significantly to the consolidation of the existing ties" between the two nations. Gen Singh will hold talks with "various high-level political and military dignitaries" in Australia, apart from visiting military establishments and the Australian Staff College. "The enhanced military contact will prove to be mutually beneficial to the strategic interests of both the countries," said an official.

"A structured mechanism with Australia is already in place both at the ministry of external affairs and defence ministry levels and the bilateral cooperation, based on a shared partnership and mutuality of interest, has seen a significant expansion to include all areas of mutual interest," he added.

A key endeavour is the ongoing preliminary deliberations between the two countries on a safeguards agreement to facilitate supply of Australian uranium -- the country has nearly 40% of global reserves --to Indian civil nuclear plants.

During Antony's talks with his Australian counterpart Stephen Smith in Perth and Canberra on June 4 and 5, it was decided to implement a slew of bilateral defence cooperation initiatives ranging from stepped up military exchanges and regular defence dialogues to maritime security and a joint naval combat exercise in 2015.

The two ministers agreed to continue to contribute to the peace, stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region and to promote cooperation in the Indian Ocean region (IOR). While both are concerned about China's expanding military might and its growing naval forays into the IOR, they have declared their opposition to any multi-lateral strategic construct or axis in the Asia-Pacific which might be seen as a move to "contain" Beijing.

The two nations have, however, emphasised that maritime security and freedom of navigation in accordance with principles of international law is critical for the growth and prosperity of the Asia Pacific and IOR, in the backdrop of China being assertive in its territorial disputes with its neighbours in the contentious South China Sea. As reported by TOI earlier, the two countries have agreed on six points to promote bilateral defence cooperation. One, to continue to have regular bilateral defence ministers' meetings. Two, to promote exchanges between the defence establishments and the armed forces of both sides, including through the regular conduct of the Defence Policy Dialogue, Armed Forces Staff Talks and professional military exchanges.

Three, to continue ongoing bilateral naval exchanges to build confidence and familiarity between the navies and work towards a bilateral maritime exercise in 2015. Four, to continue to cooperate in the Asia-Pacific region bilaterally and through various multilateral fora, including the East Asia Summit, ASEAN Regional Forum and ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting-Plus.

Five, to enhance IOR cooperation, including through the framework and priorities of the IONS (Indian Ocean Naval Symposium) and the IOR-ARC. And six, to promote the sharing and exchange of professional knowledge and experiences through participation in training courses in each other's military training institutions. Indian warships will also participate in the International Fleet Review to be held in Sydney in October 2013.
Report: West Point department head quits after sexual harassment investigation
The head of West Point's history department was formally reprimanded and has resigned after an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment, is reporting.

Col. Matthew Moten had been accused of trying to kiss and touch female subordinates and wives of subordinate officers, the website said.

Moten was formally reprimanded in late August, according to West Point spokesman Lt. Col. Webster Wright, who added that the two-month investigation found that no sexual assault had been committed and that Moten does not face criminal charges.

Moten voluntarily resigned and will retire without an honorary general's star, said.

The investigation was launched after allegations of Moten's "misconduct" arose during school "sensing sessions" -- when school leaders solicit input from groups of cadets on a variety of topics -- and during sexual assault and harassment training, the website reported.

The Army Times was leaked West Point's talking points for Moten's removal, it said. The plan called for the school not to issue a press release but to "shape the story" by approaching certain media organizations. Wright told the Army Times that the school normally does not issue press releases unless the accused is criminally charged.
Arrested LeT commander involved in attack on Army convoy
Army on Tuesday said the top Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) commander arrested from Baramulla district was involved in the attack on an army convoy on June 24 that left eight soldiers dead and several others injured.

Chief Coordinator of the militant outfit Manzoor Ahmad Khan alias Shams Bhai was arrested from Pattan area of Baramulla district, 30 kms from here, last night during a joint operation by Army and police.

Related: 'Lashkar-e-Taiba's chief coordinator Manzoor arrested in Kashmir

"The investigation has revealed the involvement of LeT terrorist in the attack on army convoy in Hyderpora, recent incidents of agitation, instigating protests and burning of government property," an army official said. Khan was instrumental in managing the finances of the Lashkar and had even threatened panches and sarpanches in his area of operation, he said.

A pistol and four mobile phones were recovered from him, he added. Khan is believed to have been active since 1990 and was acting as the chief coordinator of LeT. Meanwhile, General officer Commanding of 15 Corps Lt Gen Gurmit Singh has commended the Army and police for Khan's arrest.
12 injured as aspirants turn violent at Army recruitment rally
ALLAHABAD: More than a dozen youths were injured when they clashed with the police at an Army recruitment rally at Government Inter College and Police Lines Ground in Pratapgarh on Tuesday. The police later arrested a few of them on charges of rioting and rushed the injured to the district hospital.

Reports said the recruitment rally was being held for the last four days for aspirants from Pratapgarh and five neighbouring districts. A large number of aspirants had turned up for the rally.

On Tuesday, around 25,000 aspirants had gathered at the GIC ground and other places for the recruitment process for candidates hailing from Pratapgarh. To control the crowd, local police and administrative machinery was deployed.

The trouble started when some aspirants tried to push their way through the crowd, which was resisted by others. When Army personnel tried to intervene, the impatient crowd turned unruly and indulged in stone pelting and arson.

The police had to use force to control the situation. More than a dozen aspirants, who were injured in the violence, were rushed to the district hospital.

A number of police vehicle were damaged by the crowd.

SDM, Patti, Bhupendra Mishra told TOI that "the situation was brought under control and recruitment process was re-started in the evening".
New target: Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore leaves Army, joins BJP
JAIPUR/BANGALORE: Many would have been surprised to see Colonel Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore on the dais along with BJP strongman Narendra Modi here on Tuesday. The Athens Olympics silver medallist was, after all, a hardcore Armyman.

It soon became clear that the 43-year-old shooter was changing jobs. Having served the Army for long, he was switching to politics, and BJP was his chosen party. "It is an agnipariksha I am willing to take, if I can bring satisfaction to myself and many others," Rathore said.

Elaborating on his "tough decision", Rathore, who took VRS after an illustrious careers which began with the Sword of Honour at the Indian Military Academy in 1990, said he is driven by a new passion.

"You have a sense of drive. We talk about the issues in India. But when it comes to doing things why should we shy away. Especially in a position that I'm in, I could have picked the easy way out but that's not my character shaped up by my training in Army and sports. It's our country and we must stand by it," Rathore told TOI.

Admitting that he was planning this move for the last two years, Rathore said: "It was always going on in my mind. The thought of empowerment of our youth is really exciting. As this became a driving force, the individual excellence in Olympics seems to shrink in front of it. I truly believe I can make a difference."

Rathore has taken voluntary retirement from the Army after 23 years of service. "I am indebted to the Indian Army, from my birth till now; I have grown and imbibed the indomitable spirit of this fighting force," he said.

Born in Jaisalmer, it was but natural for Rathore to launch his political career in Rajasthan. "I know, politics and politicians are hated but I still believe in goodness of a heart that has selfless intentions. With the grace of god, I will make a difference," he said.

But the champion shooter admitted that it was tough call to convince his family. "We have no political connection. Joining politics and doing well is difficult for my family to think. It's a very tough decision for my family. But once they understood my driving force, which is as strong as it as when I went into a field where winning an Olympic medal was unthinkable, they have agreed to back me completely," Rathore said.

Rathore says he has faith in BJP and that's why he chose the saffron party. "India today needs decisive leadership and I see that leadership in Narendra Modi and Vasundhara Raje," he said. "Like a general that leads from the front, he (Modi) has galvanised a nation that had forgotten to believe. He deserves a chance."

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