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Wednesday, 18 September 2013

From Today's Papers - 18 Sep 2013
Sharif presses for serious dialogue with India
Islamabad, September 17
Asserting that people had given him the mandate to improve ties with neighbours, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said Pakistan is keen to have a comprehensive dialogue with India for resolution of all issues, including Kashmir.

Sharif said he is committed to a "serious‚ sustained and constructive engagement" with India that must include the issue of Jammu and Kashmir. Describing the recent tension on the LoC as a matter of concern, he said Pakistan will respond to the situation with "restraint and responsibility".

In an interview to a Turkish media network, Sharif said his government is pursuing a foreign policy of forging stable and cooperative relations with all countries, especially neighbouring countries. "For the effective pursuit of our socio-economic agenda, good relations with all our neighbours are essential and a priority for my government," said Sharif, who is currently in Turkey on a three-day official visit.

"I have always given high priority to good relations with India for the sake of durable peace in the region. We are keen to have a comprehensive dialogue with India for the resolution of all issues, including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir," he said. Sharif said he started this process when the then Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited Lahore in 1999 and the two sides were very close to finding a negotiated settlement to the Kashmir dispute.

On the issue of negotiations with the Pakistani Taliban, Sharif said his government is ready to hold dialogue with those who are ready to shun extremism.

Sharif said that the government has more than one option to deal with terrorists‚ but shall use force only as a last option to avoid further loss of innocent lives. He said the menace of terrorism in the region "is the outcome of wrong policies in the past". Sharif said Pakistan needs the cooperation and support of international community and neighbours for controlling funding‚ supply of arms and training to terror networks.

Sharif said the US strategy of using drone strikes in Pakistan against terrorists not only violates the country's sovereignty and international law but are also counter- productive and causes further radicalisation in the society.

He said these strikes "undermine our collective efforts to counter extremism and terrorism". He hoped that there is a rethink in the US about the utility of the drone strikes. — PTI
‘Bring Kashmir on talks table’

Sharif said he is committed to a “serious‚ sustained and constructive engagement” with India that must include the issue of Jammu and Kashmir

He described the recent tension along the LoC as matter of concern and said Pakistan will respond to the situation with "restraint and responsibility"
"I have always given high priority to good relations with India for the sake of durable peace in the region. We are keen to have a comprehensive dialogue with India for resolution of all issues, including Kashmir. — Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan PM

On US drone strikes

The US strategy of using drone strikes in Pakistan against terrorists not only violates the country's sovereignty and international law but are also counter- productive and causes further radicalisation in the society

On terror

The menace of terrorism in the region is the outcome of wrong policies in the past. Pakistan needs the cooperation and support of international community and neighbours for destroying terror networks
ISI harbouring top IM terrorists: NIA

 New Delhi, September 17
Indian Mujahideen (IM) co-founders and terrorists Riyaz Bhatkal and Iqbal Bhatkal are being “harboured” by Pakistan’s Intelligence agency ISI, the NIA today told a Delhi court.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) said as per disclosure of arrested IM co-founder Yasin Bhatkal, both Riyaz and Iqbal are now residing in Pakistan and they used to communicate with each other in coded language through the Internet.

It said that during the custodial interrogation, Yasin has disclosed that he was getting “active advice” and “guidance” from Riyaz and Iqbal to carry out terror strikes in India.

“He (Yasin Bhatkal) was getting active advice, guidance and support on the planning of these subversive activities from his co-conspirators sitting in Pakistan, namely Riyaz Bhatkal and Iqbal Bhatkal who are being harboured by Pakistan’s Intelligence agency ISI.

“The communication was being made through web chat communication on the Internet which are being analysed since these are in coded language,” the NIA said in its plea while seeking extension of police remand of Yasin by eight days.

The probe agency also told the court, which extended NIA’s custody of Yasin till September 21, that as per his disclosure several foreign nationals from Pakistan and Nepal were also “involved in recruitment, financing, training and providing tactical support to the accused persons as well as other IM members who are not arrested yet.”

It also said Yasin had told the interrogators that some of his Indian associates are now in Pakistan, Nepal and the Middle-East and they were also involved in the conspiracy.

“One such associate has been identified and examined in the last seven days and a large number remain to be identified and located,” it said. — PTI
 INS Vikramaditya completes trials in Russia

New Delhi, September 17
Moving a step closer towards its induction in the Navy, aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya has completed all its trials in Russia, where it is presently undergoing refit. Vikramaditya, formerly known as Admiral Gorskhov, was undergoing trials during the last two months in the Barents Sea and the White Sea.

The carrier is on course to be handed over to the Indian Navy in November, sources said. Once inducted, it will be the second aircraft carrier in the Navy after INS Viraat and give it an strategic advantage in the Indian Ocean.

Vikramaditya, which is already years past its original 2008 delivery date, was supposed to have been handed over on December 4, 2012, but sea trials in September that year revealed the ship's boilers were not fully functional. It then returned to the shipyard to fix the problems that were detected during the sea trials.

India and Russia had signed a $947 million deal for 45,000-tonne Gorshkov in 2004. The deal amount was revised later to $2.3 billion. — PTI
 Army Chief meets Patil, Badal, Hooda
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 17
Chief of the Army Staff, Gen Bikram Singh, who was on an official visit to Headquarters Western Command, separately called upon Shivraj V Patil, Governor of Punjab and Administrator of Chandigarh; Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister of Punjab; and Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Chief Minister of Haryana, here today.

During the interactions, the Army Chief thanked the Governor and the Chief Ministers for their positive response which had resulted in the resolution of a large number of pending civil-military issues. Various issues of mutual interest including allotment of land at concessional rates, Jai Jawan Awas Yojna housing schemes and reservation in housing schemes for ex-servicemen were discussed.

Issues related to second career in government organisations for retired officers and resettlement of jawans, who retire at a relatively young age but are armed with a wealth of experience in human resources development and management, disaster relief, project and inventory management and other security related roles, were also raised.

The Army Chief highlighted that the state governments have always been at the forefront for the welfare of servicemen and their families. He also assured the state leaders that the Army could be counted upon to render all possible assistance in the events of any unforeseen contingency.

The Governor and the Chief Ministers appreciated the role played by the Army in aid of civil authorities and assured the Army Chief of a favourable response in matters for welfare of serving and retired Army personnel.
 96-yr-old WW-II sepoy seeks financial benefits
Vijay Mohan/TNS

Chandigarh, September 17
About 74 years after he was mustered into the then British Indian Army to fight for the Empire, a 96-year-old resident of Mohali has moved the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) seeking grant of benefits for services rendered during the Second World War.

In his petition, Narindar Singh, who remained incarcerated for four years as a prisoner of war, has sought monthly financial assistance as is being paid to similarly placed World War-II (WW-II) veterans belonging to Kerala. Reviewing the lack of any monthly assistance to WW-II veterans, many fora, including the Kochi Bench of the AFT, directed the government to attempt to resolve the situation but to no avail.

Ultimately, the Kerala High Court directed the Central government to provide monthly assistance of Rs 3,000 each to such veterans. The Ministry of Defence, however, implemented the order only for persons who were party to the petition before the high court and that too only for those who are residents of that state.

Taking up his petition, the AFT’s Chandigarh Bench, comprising Justice VK Ahuja and Lt Gen NS Brar, today issued notices to the Central government.

Narindar had been recruited into the Royal Indian Army Service Corps in May 1939. The petitioner has contended that when the soldiers were recruited, there was no condition of being discharged without letting them complete their various pensionable service periods.
14,000-crore INS Vikramaditya to be handed to the Indian Navy in November
INS Vikramaditya, India's largest aircraft carrier, being built by Russia has completed all its trial and will be handed over to the Indian Navy in November, sources told NDTV today.

Originally built as the Admiral Gorshkov in the Soviet Union, the $2.3 billion (Rs. 14,000 crore) aircraft carrier was being reconditioned at a shipyard in Northern Russia. The deal had been signed in 2004, and has been marred by delays. Over the last month, MiG-29 fighter jets that will be deployed on the ship have practiced taking off and landing on its deck.

The ship is expected to arrive in India in January 2014.   "If all goes well, the Indian tri-colour will be flying atop the INS Vikramaditya this November, after which it will start its journey to India," a senior Navy officer told NDTV.

The INS Vikramaditya is a major part of India's efforts to quickly build up naval strength as an increasingly assertive China expands its maritime reach.

Problems with the ship's boilers had pushed the delivery date back several times,  and the deal had turned into an important test of defence ties between Russia, the world's second-largest arms exporter, and its biggest customer.

A 500-member Indian Navy team, which has been training on-board the INS Vikramaditya had spotted the problem with the warship's boilers in September 2012, especially when the vessel hit top speed of about 30 knots (around 55 kmph).

Once INS Vikramaditya joins the fleet, the Indian Navy will be able operate two carrier groups for a while although its lone carrier, INS Viraat, is over half a century old but is expected to serve till 2018. India's first indigenous aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant is currently being built at the Cochin shipyard and is expected to join the Navy by 2016.
Talks for defence tie-up with US

New Delhi, Sept. 17: India and the US are in talks to discuss co-production of US-origin military hardware in addition to quickening sales of US-made howitzers and Chinook heavy-lift helicopters, a source in the defence ministry said here today.

US deputy secretary for defence Ashton B. Carter is at present in New Delhi for talks with national security adviser Shivshankar Menon and defence secretary R.K. Mathur.

Last week, the defence acquisitions council (DAC) approved the purchase of six addition C-130J Hercules special forces aircraft ahead of the meeting of the India-US defence technology initiative.

The Indian Air Force has also selected the twin-rotor Chinook helicopters for its heavy-lift requirement. But the political nod for the purchase is still pending.

The Indian defence establishment has been urging the US and other major suppliers of military equipment, “to move away from a buyer-seller relationship to co-production arrangements”.

India has co-production agreements only with Russia (for the Brahmos missile and the fifth generation fighter aircraft) and with Israel (for a medium range surface-to-air missile).

Carter was last year appointed by then secretary for defence Leon Panetta to “clear the bureaucratic hurdles” for closer defence relations with India.

Soon before leaving Washington D.C. for his current visit, Carter had said: “What we’re doing is in the technology and export controls area, working so that India has the same status as our very closest allies and that our system is operating on a time scale that’s consistent with the needs for the Indian side to make decisions.”

In the current round of talks, the US and India are likely to be discussing a proposal to manufacture Javelin anti-tank guided missiles for which the Indian Army has projected a need.

The US is also looking to the sale of M777 ultra-light howitzers that the Indian Army has decided to buy in its first purchase of heavy artillery since the Bofors in the mid-1980s.

The talks between Carter and Menon are also taking place in the lead-up to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the US later this month.Carter, who reached New Delhi last night from on his tour that included visits to Afghanistan and Pakistan,, was also expected to brief Menon on the US “retrograde” — the pulling out of US military equipment from Afghanistan — and the security situation and its impact on the region.US forces are at present drawing down from Afghanistan to meet a 2014 deadline for the pullout.
Agni-V boosts India’s defence, morale
It is a matter of satisfaction that the second test-firing of India’s Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile (IRBM) Agni-V went off very smoothly last Monday. The inaugural test launch last year had also been flawless.

The point behind multiple testing is that our armed forces should have the confidence that there will be no operational glitches in the eventuality of having to use this sophisticated weapon system. So there are four more tests planned over the next two years before induction into the Army’s Strategic Command. The effective deterrence value of a missile relies exclusively on it being on target.
Agni-V has a range of 5,000 kms. This brings any city in our difficult neighbourhood within reach and makes for effective deterrence against a potential adversary. It also boosts the capability of the armed forces and the morale of the people.
After the first test-launch of this missile, there was malign speculation in Chinese circles that the Indian missile had a range of 8,000 kms and was in reality an Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). The purpose of the exercise was to raise suspicions in Western Europe and America about the reach of the Indian missile. However, any serious observer of the scene knows that India’s military posture is defensive in nature. In any case, Europe and America are not part of it.
The Agni-V can carry a nuclear or a conventional payload. In the latter case, especially, it will count for something if it is accurate enough to land within 10 metres of the target, not otherwise. This is what needs to be
established in the next two years before the induction of the weapon system by the armed forces.
Along with the Agni series, India has worked on shorter-range missiles — the Prithvi series. These will be required for targets at closer range. But attention also needs to be paid to the development of Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicles (MIRVs) that offer a payload containing several warheads, each capable of hitting one of a group of targets. MIRVs have a better chance of beating missile shields.
With nuclear-capable nations in our neighbourhood that are not democracies, Indian security planners have little choice but to keep deterrence capabilities ready. There is also the factor of non-state actors getting hold of loose nukes. The Indian doctrine is to offer a strong riposte to any country from whose territory a nuclear attack is launched against us. An efficient missile system with sufficient range, and capable of carrying the appropriate payload, is thus a requirement. The country’s Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme, conceived in the early ’80s, was rooted in this thinking.
CBSE plans to motivate students to join armed forces
Seeking to catch them young, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has directed all of its school principals to motivate senior-secondary students to join the armed forces.

The board wants the school heads to use “motivational materials” available at the websites of the Indian Army, Air Force and Navy to expose Class XI and XII students to the “challenging and satisfying” career options available for them in the defence services.

The board has suggested that students also be informed about the process of selection carried out by the armed forces for recruitment to help them “make up their mind” and prepare accordingly, said official sources.

Schools can provide guidance to students in joining defence services under General Foundation Courses, offered as a compulsory subjects to promote awareness among students about current affairs and general knowledge, as well as  future career options , the board has suggested in a circular issued on September 12.

“The schools must also expose students to challenging and satisfying careers in the armed forces under General Foundation Courses,” the CBSE directed the school principals in its circular seeking them to implement the instructions.The board has earmarked two periods per week in schools for running classes on General Foundation Courses.

The National Council of Educational Research and Training has published a supplementary book titled The Indian Army - A Glorious Heritage. The CBSE has suggested school heads to use this book too to attract young students towards career options available in the armed Forces.

“The book contains motivational and informative write-ups for students in different age groups. The supplementary book is eye-catching. It may attract young students to serve in the armed Forces as a career option. This would inculcate a defence services work ethos, which is characterised by diligence, perseverance, dedication, a regimented way of life,”it noted.

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