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Sunday, 29 September 2013

From Today's Papers - 29 Sep 2013
Shut down terror machinery, Manmohan tells Pak at UN
Tribune News Service

New York, September 28
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh delivered a strong message to Pakistan in his speech at the 68th session of the UN General Assembly today stating that the “terrorist machinery that draws its sustenance from Pakistan must be shut down.”

The Indian Prime Minister also used the forum to push for a major reform and restructuring of the UN Security Council to “reflect current political realities”. He indirectly pushed India’s case for a seat on the high table by stating, “More developing countries should be included as both permanent and non-permanent members.”

The highlight of his speech though was the tough words he used while dealing with the issue of terror and Pakistan’s role in fermenting it. A day before his much-anticipated meeting with Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif, Manmohan Singh stated that while he “reciprocated” sentiments for “ a new beginning”, he made it clear that “for progress to be made, it is imperative that the territory of Pakistan and the areas under its control are not utilised for aiding and abetting terrorism directed against India.”

With Sharif in his speech at the UN on Thursday taking the maximalist position of “self-determination” for the status of Kashmir, Manmohan Singh adopted a tit-for-tat approach stating firmly that, “There must be a clear understanding of the fact that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and there can never, ever, be a compromise with the unity and territorial integrity of India.”

Addressing the UN General Assembly for the last time in his second term as Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh devoted a good part of his concise 15-minute address on the issue of combating terrorism mincing no words against Pakistan. He said, “State-sponsored cross-border terrorism is of particular concern to India, also on account of the fact that the epicentre of terrorism in our region is located in our neighbourhood in Pakistan.”

The Prime Minister in his speech also dealt with issues such as the post-2015 development agenda that was a follow-up to the Millennium Development Goals adopted by the UN to halve extreme poverty by 2015. With most countries failing to meet the ambitious targets, Manmohan Singh wanted the UN “to set clear and concise goals”, including adequate flow of resources and transfer of technology to developing countries.

Manmohan Singh also referred to the civil war engulfing Syria in his address reiterating India’s stand that while any use of chemical weapons must be strongly condemned, “there was no military solution to this conflict.”

He added: “We must intensify efforts to end the conflict and seek a political settlement” wanting the Geneva-2 conference to stop the war to be convened at the earliest.

J-K integral part of India

* Sharif in his speech at the UN on Thursday had taken the maximalist position of “self-determination” for the status of Kashmir

* Manmohan Singh adopted a tit-for-tat approach and said: “There must be a clear understanding of the fact that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and there can never, ever, be a compromise with the unity and territorial integrity of India”.

State-sponsored cross-border terrorism is of particular concern to India, also on account of the fact that the epicentre of terrorism in our region is located in our neighbourhood in Pakistan — Manmohan Singh, PM
Manmohan-Obama meet boosts defence, security ties
Ashish Kumar Sen in Washington DC

September 28
The US and India sought more intensive engagement on a gamut of issues, including defence, security, bilateral trade, and efforts to dismantle terrorist safe havens and promote clean energy. This declaration was made in a joint statement issued after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met US President Barack Obama at the White House on Friday.

The two sides welcomed conclusion of a preliminary contract between the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) and US nuclear giant Westinghouse to develop a nuclear power plant in Gujarat. They urged NPCIL and US companies Westinghouse and General Electric-Hitachi to expedite work to establish nuclear power plants in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.

Both leaders emphasised the need for more intensive defense cooperation. Defence trade between the nations has reached nearly $9 billion. Obama encouraged the further participation of US firms in partnering India’s efforts to enhance its defence capacities.

The White House released a separate factsheet in which it noted that the NPCIL-Westinghouse contract should facilitate progress toward licencing the AP-1000 nuclear reactor technology in India. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Indian Atomic Energy Regulatory Board also intend to sign a memorandum of understanding for the exchange of technical information in nuclear safety matters.

On counterterrorism, the nations emphasised the need for a joint and concerted effort, including dismantling of terrorist safe havens, and disrupting all financial and tactical support for terrorism.

Both condemned the September 26 terror strike in Jammu and Kashmir and reaffirmed their commitment to eliminate terrorist safe havens and infrastructure and disrupt terrorist networks, including Al-Qaida and Lashkar-e-Toiba. They called on Pakistan to bring the perpetrators of the November 2008 Mumbai attacks to justice.

The US and India sought expansion of cooperation to address 21st century challenges in the areas of counterterrorism, cyber, space, and global health security.

“The leaders decided to significantly expand information sharing and intelligence cooperation to address threats to their respective nations, including strengthening the bilateral relationship to exchange information on known and suspected terrorists,” the joint statement said.

Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to concluding a Bilateral Investment Treaty. The joint statement noted that US-India trade had increased five-fold since 2001 to nearly $100 billion and that Obama and Manmohan Singh agreed that “there are no insurmountable impediments to bilateral trade increasing an additional five-fold.”

The leaders also affirmed their commitment to work towards a successful outcome at the World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference in Bali; welcomed cooperation in scientific research and joint collaboration in science, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

Obama and Manmohan Singh endorsed a proposal to launch an initiative to deploy innovative renewable energy solutions to those in need. The two leaders announced establishment of an India-US Climate Change Working Group to, among other things, develop and advance action-oriented cooperation.

New high

* Taking defence ties to a new level, India and the US will undertake joint development and production of military hardware

* This will involve transfer of high-end technology from the US, a move aimed at matching Russia's co-operation with India

* The US expressed its support to India's full membership in the four international export control regimes that would further facilitate technology sharing
Was ousted because of peace talks with India, says Sharif

New York, September 28
Ahead of crucial talks with his Indian counterpart, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today said he was ousted from power in a military coup in 1999 because he started peace talks with India.

Sharif made these remarks in his address to the Pakistani American community here.

He is here to attend the annual session of the United Nations General Assembly.

He said he was "ousted from power" by the military leadership during his last stint as premier because he had initiated a process of peace and friendship with India.

"What mistake did I make?" he said, adding he was committed to peace with India and Afghanistan.

Sharif was ousted from power in 1999 when the then army chief Pervez Musharraf led a military coup against his government after the two developed differences
in the wake of the Kargil conflict.

The Pakistani leader said he believed that if there was peace in Afghanistan and India, there would be peace in Pakistan too.

In his address, Sharif is believed to have told the Pakistani American community that his government, which was voted to power with an overwhelming majority in May, favours peace and a policy of non-interference with India and Afghanistan.

At the same time, Pakistan expects its neighbours not to interfere in its affairs, he said.

"It is only then that long-term peace and stability in the region can be achieved," he said.

Sharif also called for a reasonable curb on defence expenditure in the region, which he acknowledged was very high. — PTI
Eight Army ex-chiefs junk VK Singh’s claims
New Delhi, September 28
Eight former Army Chiefs have rejected Gen(retd) VK Singh’s statement that the Army has been paying money to certain ministers in Jammu and Kashmir since independence to bring in stability there.

“No funds were ever provided by the Army, to any politicians, political party or any NGO in their tenures and nor would they have allowed that,” the former Army Chiefs said in a joint statement issued here.

They are Generals OP Malhotra, SF Rodrigues, Shankar Roychowdhury, Ved Prakash Malik, S Padamanabhan, NC Vij, JJ Singh and Deepak Kapoor. The statement came against the backdrop of a controversy over Gen V K Singh's recent remarks that the Army was paying money to certain ministers in Jand K to bring stability in the state.

Gen VK Singh had later clarified that this money was not a bribe and suggested that it was given under Operation Sadbhavna of the force towards winning the hearts and minds of the people.

The former chiefs said the aspect of paying money to ministers should not be mixed with that of Operation Sadbhavna. "This aspect should not be mixed with ‘Sadhbhavna’ operations, which are carried out to provide infrastructure, education and health services etc to the local populace in J&K and for this pre and post- audited funds, with laid down deliverables and procedures, are allotted in the defence budget," they said.

They further stressed that the Indian Army is completely apolitical and that they do not dabble in politics and the Army takes great pride in this time honoured tradition. — PTI
‘No funds given by Army to politicians’
No funds were ever provided by the Army to any politician, political party or NGO in their tenures, nor would they have allowed it, said the former Army Chiefs in a joint statement
The eight Generals are: OP Malhotra, SF Rodrigues, Shankar Roychowdhury, Ved Prakash Malik, S Padamanabhan, NC Vij, JJ Singh and Deepak Kapoor
The statement came in the backdrop of a controversy over Gen VK Singh's recent remarks that the Army was paying money to certain ministers in J&K to bring stability in the state
Wheels within wheels in Kashmir, VK Singh's claims can't be brushed aside: Omar Abdullah
In a new twist to the controversy generated by former Army chief General VK Singh's startling claims of paying Jammu and Kashmir politicians including a current minister, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today said there are wheels within wheels in Kashmir, and even he doesn't know for a fact whether such payments are made or not.

"There are wheels within wheels in Kashmir. Not everything that happens here is known to all. I do not know if my ministers were paid, but I don't want General VK Singh's allegations to be brushed under the carpet either," Mr Abdullah said in an exclusive interview to NDTV.

Mr Abdullah, who has asked for an inquiry into Gen Singh's allegations, says that the former Army Chief's allegations have lifted the lid on Kashmir's worst kept secret.

"This is the first acceptance of what is widely known in Kashmir: payment of money, whether from this side or from across the Line of Control," Mr Adbullah said.

Reacting to VK Singh's criticism that the Indian Army stabilised street protests that erupted in Kashmir in 2010, Mr Abdullah sarcastically said Mr Singh should be given the Bharat Ratna in that case.

The Chief Minister and the Union Home Minister have demanded that VK Singh reveal the names of the ministers or politicians who have been paid so far, a demand not yet entertained by Mr Singh.

The BJP has accused the Centre of targeting the former army chief for sharing the stage with Narendra Modi at a public rally on September 15. The event led to speculation that General Singh is on the verge of joining the BJP.
No good for VK Singh or for the Army
The persistent ringing of the telephone sounded familiar. It was Pertie after months of silence. "What do you make of the Gen VK Singh controversy?"

His casual question made me think carefully about all I've heard and read. One can absorb details without necessarily asking what they add up to. Pertie made me do that.

My conclusion is you have to answer five key questions to appreciate what you've been told and understand its significance. Let's take them one by one.

First: is the report of an inquiry by a Board of Officers set up by the Army Chief and headed by the Director General of Military Operations, Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia, credible and factually accurate or manipulated and motivated?

To put it differently, is there a possibility Gen Bikram Singh designed this inquiry to deliberately target his predecessor because he believes Gen VK Singh attempted to thwart his appointment as Army Chief?

Few serving or retired officers would doubt the report's credibility. The fact that it carries the imprimatur of the DGMO guarantees that. Otherwise one would have to conclude there is a conspiracy at the very top of the army, involving the Chief and the DGMO, to malign and defame Gen VK Singh.

That has to be an unlikely conclusion.

Prima facie, Gen VK Singh's startling admissions - considered by one former Chief "preposterous and foolish" - seem to confirm the facts in the DGMO's report leaving only the interpretation to be questioned.

The second question concerns the government's silence. Six months have lapsed since the report was handed to the Defence Secretary. Does the government's inaction suggest it doesn't take the report seriously or could it be the case that this is a sensitive issue, affecting both the institution of the Army Chief's office and the Army's good name, and the government decided it might be better not to take the matter further?

Given that Gen VK Singh has retired and the Technical Support Division disbanded could you not conclude discretion was the better part of valour?

The third question concerns the leak: is it a coincidence it happened days after Gen VK Singh appeared on a platform alongside Narendra Modi or is it an attempt to undermine him because some people think he's about to join the BJP?

The timing, I have to admit, smells. But, then, leaks are always motivated. That's why they happen.

This leads to a fourth and, perhaps, more difficult question. What's more important: suspicion about the timing of the leak or concern about the content of the report authored by the DGMO and, presumably, vetted by the Army Chief?

Gen VK Singh's supporters have focused on the timing. His critics on the content. That, of course, was expected. But which of the two matters more?

I would say the content for one simple reason. The report carries the official stamp of the DGMO. It's the outcome of an inquiry done by a Board of Officers and not a single individual.

It was formally presented to the Defence Minister by the Army Chief. It, therefore, has the sanction of the Indian Army.

Finally, has this embarrassed the Army? Of course it has. Has it damaged the Army Chief's office? Unfortunately, yes. Why else have eight former Chiefs - comprising all Gen Singh's living predecessors - issued a statement refuting his claims?

It's been a bad week for Gen VK Singh. It hasn't been a good week for the Indian Army either.

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