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Monday, 7 October 2013

From Today's Papers - 07 Oct 2013
US forces capture top Qaida leader in Tripoli raid

Washington, October 6
In daring raids, US commandos have captured a fugitive Al-Qaida leader from the streets of Libya and raided the seaside villa of an Al-Shabab militant in Somalia, signalling America's determination to pursue dreaded terrorists abroad.
In a US special forces operation in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, known by his alias Anas al-Libi, was nabbed yesterday. The FBI had offered $5 million for his capture and he is under indictment in New York for his role in the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Africa.

Describing Libi, as a bigger prize catch, the officials confirmed he was alive and in US custody. "As the result of a US counter-terrorism operation, Abu Anas al-Libi is currently lawfully detained by the US military in a secure location outside of Libya," Little said.

In a separate raid in Somalia, US Navy SEALs carried out a pre-dawn strike against Al-Shabaab and Al-Qaida terrorists in Somalia. Confirming the covert operation, a senior US official said it was aimed towards capturing a high value Al-Shabab terrorist leader allegedly involved in the Westgate Mall attack in Kenya that killed nearly 70 people, including Indians.

Although the Shabab leader was believed to have been killed during the assault, the SEALs had to withdraw before they could confirm the kill, a senior US official was quoted as saying by the New York Times. After a fierce firefight, the Navy SEAL team aborted the mission to capture the terror suspect.

"I can confirm that yesterday, October 4, US military personnel were involved in a counter terrorism operation against a known al-Shabaab terrorist. We are not prepared to provide additional detail at this time," Pentagon Press Secretary George Little, said. A US official said no US personnel were injured or killed in the attack.

"It was not immediately known if the two operations were coordinated or even related. While Al-Shabab is affiliated to the Al-Qaida, it is not known that Al-Libi had any connection with that group or was linked to last month's deadly attack on Nairobi's Westgate Mall," CNN reported.

The twin raids, two years after a US Navy SEAL team killed Qaida founder Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, demonstrated American reach at a time when Islamist militants have been expanding their presence in Africa following the Western-backed overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi. — PTI
Army exposes Pak link; to cut supply chain
Majid Jahangir/TNS

Srinagar, October 6
While the Army claims that they are geared for all eventualities, the massive operation against the heavily armed 30-40 holed up militants along the Line of Control (LoC) in Shalabhato Keran in frontier Kupwara district entered the 13th on Sunday as the intermittent firing continued between the two sides.
The Army today displayed the identity card of a militant killed in an encounter in Keran sector while trying to infiltrate. Seven militants were killed in two separate infiltration bids on Friday and Saturday in the same sector.

The identity card of the slain militant showed his identity as Fareed Malik, son of Zufilqar Malik, a resident of Pakistani Occupied Kashmir. The Army also displayed the pictures of the arms and ammunitions recovered from the slain militants.

A heavy exchange of fire has been taking place after a group of 30-40 militants was intercepted near the fence in the Keran sector. The operations are on at a high-altitude area ranging from 10,000 to 12,000 ft with thickly forested steep slopes, deep ravines and crevasses. “An effective cordon is in place with complete control and domination in the area. Extensive searches to neutralise the terrorists are on. With additional inputs coming in, we are geared up for all eventualities,” officiating Brigadier General Staff (BGS) 15 Corps, Col Sanjay Mitra told reporters in Srinagar.

While the Army maintains that the situation was under control, the sources, however, said the biggest worry for the Army was the supply chain to the holed up militants.

“We have to cut the militants supply chain to flush them out of the huts and natural caves where they have been hiding for the past 13 days,” the Army sources said. “Once the supply line is cut, we will go for a final assault.”
Incursion reports baseless: Pak envoy

Hyderabad, October 6
Pakistan is ready for a “broad-ranging, sincere and clear-sighted” dialogue with India to resolve all issues, its High Commissioner to India Salman Bashir said today even as he dubbed as “baseless” the reports of terrorist incursions from its soil into Indian territory.
“If there are issues (for India), we have concerns equally. Let us address each other’s concerns and the logical and rational way forward... the civilised way for this is to have a dialogue. Pakistan is ready for this,” Bashir, who is on a three-day visit to Hyderabad, told a press conference.

He also stressed on the need to reinforce the ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) between the two countries and denied as “baseless” reports of terrorist “incursions” into Indian territory from Pakistan.

“There is a will and determination on both sides to build friendship and improve relations. This was evident in the recent meeting of the Prime Ministers of the two countries in New York. The one logical way to resolve all issues is through dialogue. That is essential for development of the two nations,” he added.

Bashir said the strategic priority for Pakistan was its economic and social development. “Without that everything remains just words,” he added.

“We have no second thoughts. In Pakistan’s national interest, we need to have good relations with India. Aspirations in the two nations are the same. Ground realities should be looked at in an objective way,” the Pakistan envoy said.

Reacting to a query on infiltration from Pakistan into India, Bashir said, “The narrative you are hearing about incursions and infiltrations is baseless. But, rather than commenting on this very negative narrative about incursions, what we have been saying, and repeat, is let the competent authorities, the military authorities, deal with this issue.” — PTI
IAF’s microlite aircraft makes emergency landing at Delhi park
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 6
A two-seater microlight aircraft of the Indian Air Force's National Cadet Corps wing made an emergency landing at a Delhi Development Authority park in East Delhi's Shastri Park locality this morning, after the pilots found some technical glitches. According to the police, no casualties took place.

The aircraft (number CH 701) landed at a park where about 60 children were playing at about 10.30 am.

The aircraft had taken off from the Hindon air base at Ghaziabad at about 8:40 am for checking bird activity around the base. The Indian Air Force (IAF) was carrying out a full dress rehearsal of its 81st Indian Air Force Day parade.

"The aircraft was to return to the base after completing its flight. But it developed a minor technical fault and had to make an emergency landing," said a police officer.

Wing Commander Bidyut Ghose and co-pilot Sumit safely came out of cockpit of the aircraft. Ghose informed the base camp at Hindon and then the local police officers.

Ghose told reporters: "At about 10.25 am, I felt some technical fault in the engine of the aircraft. During that time I was hovering above the park and saw children playing. I spotted a space at the corner of the field and managed to safely land the aircraft by about 10.28 am."

Locals of the area had gathered at the ground to catch a glimpse of the lightweight aircraft. Fisal Manan, who lives nearby, said: "I saw the aircraft coming down and I fled. We (he and his friends) were playing cricket. We heard a loud noise and when we looked up at the sky we saw that the plane was coming towards us. We returned after we saw two people coming out of the aircraft."

The police reached the site of the incident and had a tough time managing the crowd. They cordoned the area and with the help of ropes and a mini truck pulled the aircraft away from the ground. A few Air Force personnel arrived at the spot at around 1.30 pm and the aircraft was placed on a truck and brought back to the Hindon base.
Won’t seek extension: Kayani
Islamabad, October 6
Pakistan's powerful Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani today declared that he was not seeking any more extension and would retire as scheduled on November 29, laying to rest intense speculation about his future. "My tenure ends on 29th November 2013. On that day I will retire. May the Almighty Allah help and guide us all," Kayani said in a statement.

Kayani was appointed the army chief by Pervez Musharraf in 2007. He was given an unprecedented three-year extension by then premier Yousuf Raza Gilani in 2010. — PTI
INS Vikramaditya to be inducted into Navy next month

New Delhi, October 6
The long-delayed aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya will be inducted into the Navy by Defence Minister AK Antony during his Russia visit between November 15-17. After a delay of around five years, the aircraft carrier is expected to be handed over to the Navy on November 15 in Russia, where it is presently undergoing refit.

"The Defence Minister is expected to induct the warship into the Navy during his visit for the Indo-Russian Inter-Governmental Commission for Military and Technical Cooperation meeting, now expected to be held in November," sources said.

The visit was earlier scheduled to take place in the third week of October, but was put off by the ministry. Vikramaditya, formerly known as Admiral Gorskhov, has completed all its trials in the last two months in the Barents Sea and the White Sea. Once inducted, it will be the second aircraft carrier in the Navy after INS Viraat, giving a strategic advantage in the Indian Ocean. — PTI
Private hospitals ‘overcharging’ for ECHS services
Vijay Mohan/TNS

Chandigarh, October 6
Revealing that some private empanelled hospitals were overcharging patients for services rendered under the Ex-serviceman’s Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS), the Defence Accounts Department has identified several procedural lapses in the implementation of the medicare scheme for defence pensioners.

“Audit of bills submitted by hospitals and the scrutiny of procedures has revealed excess billing and irregularity of payments,” Upendra Sah, Principal Controller of Defence Accounts, Western Command, said.

Consequent to the findings of Defence Accounts Department’s (DAD) Western Command Branch, the functioning of the ECHS all across the country will be scrutinised and financial transactions audited. This would help in revamping policies where required, fine-tuning procedures and streamlining the system.

Sah, however, declined to state the quantum of irregular payments that has been detected or the hospitals involved on the grounds that the audit exercise was still on and some clarifications on policies and procedural process has been sought from the Ministry of Defence that could sort out some of the cases.

With an annual budget outlay of about Rs 1,500 crore, the ECHS has, in addition to its own 333 polyclinics, 693 civilian hospitals across the country empanelled with it that provide cashless treatment to its subscribers. The bills for the treatment and medicines are reimbursed to the hospitals by the defence ministry. Last year, about nine lakh patients had been hospitalised under the ECHS. The scheme has a clientèle of about 44 lakh ex-servicemen and their dependants.
Pakistan army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani to retire on November 29
Pakistan's powerful Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani today declared that he was not seeking any more extension and would retire as scheduled on November 29, laying to rest intense speculation about his future.

"My tenure ends on 29th November 2013. On that day I will retire. May the Almighty Allah help and guide us all," General Kayani said in a statement.

Kayani was appointed the army chief by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in late 2007. He was given an unprecedented three-year extension by then premier Yousuf Raza Gilani in 2010.

In a surprise announcement, he said institutions and traditions are stronger than individuals and must take precedence. He also reposed military's support to democracy. "For quite some time, my current responsibilities and likely future plans have been debated in the media with all sorts of rumours and speculations doing the rounds. The subject of being entrusted with new duties has also come up in several reports," he said.

61-year-old Kayani said he was grateful to the political leadership and the nation for reposing their trust in him and Pakistan Army at this important juncture of country's national history.
"However, I share the general opinion that institutions and traditions are stronger than individuals and must take precedence," he said.

Kayani underlined that as he completes his tenure, the will of the people has taken root and a constitutional order is in place.

"The armed forces of Pakistan fully support and want to strengthen this democratic order. Pakistan Army has made its contribution towards this desired END with complete clarity of mind and a comprehensive understanding of the trajectory Pakistan needs to take.

"They have also proven, on countless occasions, through their priceless sacrifices that the defence and prosperity of Pakistan is their highest priority," he said.

Describing Pakistan a great nation, Kayani said he had the privilege of commanding the finest Army of the world for six years to the best of his abilities and with the sincerest intentions.

"It is time for others to carry forward the mission of making Pakistan a truly democratic, prosperous and peaceful country that embodies the finest dreams our founding fathers had envisaged for us," he said.

Earlier, media reports here said Kayani was seeking an extension and could be made the new chief of the revamped Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee after its current Chairman Gen Khalid Shameem Wynne retires.

Reports said leading the race for the army chief's post on the basis of seniority is Lt Gen Haroon Aslam, currently Chief of Logistics Staff.

Aslam will be the senior-most general when Kayani retires. He has served as Director General of Military Operations, commanded the Elite Force Division of the Special Services Group and headed the Bahawalpur-based XXXI Corps.

He also led the successful anti-Taliban operation in Swat Valley in 2009 and is due to retire on April 9 next year.

Two other generals in contention for the post of army chief are Lt Gen Rashid Mehmood, Chief of General Staff, and Lt Gen Raheel Sharif.

Following them is Lt Gen Tariq Khan, Commander of 1 Strike Corps at Mangla, and ISI chief Lt Gen Zaheer-ul-Islam.

The post of the army chief will fall vacant at a time when Pakistan is facing major national security issues as well as the NATO troop withdrawal from war-ravaged Afghanistan.
Gen. Kayani may be posted as Pak ambassador to US
ISLAMABAD: The government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is seriously mulling over giving a key defence assignment to the Army Chief General Ashfaque Pervez Kayani due to retire next month, said a report published in a US newspaper Wall Street Journal.

For Mr. Sharif, it is the most delicate of decisions. His previous periods as prime minister were ended prematurely by army chiefs. In 1999, he was ousted in a coup and imprisoned by the army leader he had selected, Gen. Pervez Musharraf. The current army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, during his two terms as army chief, has overseen the first democratic transfer of power in Pakistan's history and cooperated with the U.S. military, despite hostile anti-American public opinion at home.

Gen. Kayani had pressed for a further one or two years on the job, according to serving and retired military officials. That would be difficult for the government to grant after Gen. Kayani has already served twice the normal three-year term for the position.

Officials said Gen. Kayani is prepared to accept a revamped Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee job, currently a largely ceremonial post that would be given more authority, or to become defense adviser to the government.

He could also be placated with the job of ambassador to the U.S., the officials said, a post that has been vacant since Mr. Sharif took office in June.

The spokesman for Pakistan's military, Maj. Gen. Asim Bajwa, didn't return calls seeking comment on Gen. Kayani's future role.

The leadership changes come, as the army appears likely to launch an offensive in the next few months in North Waziristan, in Pakistan's tribal areas, a stronghold for Pakistani Taliban, al Qaeda militants and Afghan insurgents. Recent overtures to peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban have been marred by deadly attacks by the domestic insurgency.

In recent weeks, there has also been renewed tension with archenemy India, with frequent exchanges of fire across their disputed border in the Kashmir region.

Gen. Kayani has already turned down the offer of taking the Joint Chiefs job as it currently stands, and wants authority over military appointments and troop movement added to the position, a military official said.

"Kayani is using his office to say that he's the guy who can control North Waziristan, he's the one who can handle what is happening with India," said a retired army officer who knows the army chief. "With all this going on, he's saying now is not the time for a change of leadership."

All three potential appointments are made by the government. Sartaj Aziz, adviser to the prime minister on national security and foreign affairs, said discussions about Gen. Kayani's future were speculation, and declined to comment further.

Prime Minister Sharif, asked in an interview with The Wall Street Journal published on Sept. 26 whether he would reappoint Gen. Kayani, said: "I'm not saying yes or no." Mr. Sharif also holds the defense minister's portfolio.

An announcement on Gen. Kayani's future looks imminent, with the current Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, Gen. Khalid Shameem Wynne, due to retire on Sunday.

If Gen. Kayani is given that job, it would overturn previous expectations that he would simply have to retire in November at the end of his second tenure.

It had been expected that Gen. Wynne would be succeeded by either the Navy chief, Admiral Asif Sandila, or by Gen. Haroon Aslam, the army general who's most senior after Gen. Kayani.

"Ashfaq Kayani has had more than his rightful tenure," said Shaukat Qadir, a retired brigadier general who once taught Gen. Kayani at military academy. "Perhaps he should call it a day. It is not a good thing for the institution that it gives the impression that it cannot do without one person."

Political aides to Mr. Sharif said Gen. Kayani has proved that he isn't a coup-maker, and resisted pressure for military intervention during the previous government—the first civilian government in Pakistan's history that completed its term and handed over power to another elected administration.

Some Pakistanis said the U.S. was instrumental in getting Gen. Kayani's tenure extended in 2010—a move that angered some senior generals who saw their career advancement blocked as a result.

The U.S. hasn't been involved in the current discussions about Gen. Kayani's future, a U.S. official said. "We've really stayed out of it this time," the official said.

CBSE’s defense module receives cold response

Defense Service Ethos is aimed at sensitising high school students to career prospects in defense services; board wants immediate implementation but schools are in no hurry

In a circular issued a fortnight ago to principals of CBSE-affiliated schools, the board has asked to immediately introduce a module called Defense Service Ethos in classes 11 and 12 to help students make a career choice However, no CBSE school in the city has incorporated it.
Schools have been asked to visit the official websites of the Indian Army, Indian Air Force and Indian Navy for the recommended course material, in addition to a supplementary book titled The Indian Army - A Glorious Heritage, published by National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT).

Sadhana Parashar, director of academics, research, training and innovation, CBSE said the course aims at improving students’ mastery over current affairs, general knowledge and career prospects in defense services — encouraging students to look beyond the run-of-the-mill career choices.
“Two periods in a week have been earmarked for students to hold deliberations in the matter,” she informed. Binita Poonekar, principal, Army Public School, Vishwamitra Marg, told Mirror that they do not have plans of introducing a module on defense services because most of the school’s students have an armed forces background anyway.

“There is no special need to educate them on defense ethos. Intermittently, we have visiting faculty from the defense who conduct sessions with students.” While Ganeshkhind’s Kendriya Vidyalaya has no urgent plans to implement the module, the school might consider introducing the module in the next academic year,informed the school’s principal Kirti Sharma.
“Staff, remuneration, allotment of classes per week and gathering of course material need to be managed beforehand. We cannot act until we receive instructions from the Kendriya Sangathan,” Sharma said. Echoing Sharma’s views, Neelima Chakrabarty, principal, Delhi Public School (DPS), Mohammadwadi, Nyati County said, “We won’t be implementing it immediately.

The DPS management has scheduled a meeting in December to achieve finality.” However, she lauded the directive saying, “It is the need of the hour.” Major General (retd) V K Madhok, 81, an Indian Army veteran of 40 years, said that it was long due and much needed.

“The said curriculum is comprehensive and I’m sure CBSE will remain abreast with the defense services’ developments,” Madhok said. Dr (Brig) Amarjit Singh, who has served in the Army for 36 years and is presently Dean at Pimpri’s Dr D Y Patil Medical College sees this as a welcome change. “It is quintessential other students who are in oblivion of the nation’s defense services and its fundamental aspects.”
Indian army officials pay aerial visit to Keran sector

Srinagar: Lt Gen Sanjiv Chachra, GOC-in-C, Northern Command of Indian Army Saturday visited forward areas of Keran sector in North Kashmir’s Kupwara district. The official, according to reports held a meeting with senior army officers in the frontier district with regards to recent intrusion in Shalabatoo area by militants.

General Chachra, accompanied by GOC 15-Corps, General Gurmit Singh visited the whole Keran Sector via helicopters and took stock of the situation.

Soon after taking aerial visit of Keran Sector, the officers held a meeting with other senior Army officers of Kupwara district at Army’s 28 Infantry Division and discussed various issues including recent intrusion by militants in Shalabatoo area near Keran Sector of Line of Control (LoC), rise in infiltration across LoC and other security related issues, official sources while talking to Global News Service (GNS) said.

The possibility of militants using telephone landline and making contact with other side also featured among the topics discussed during the meeting, sources said, adding intelligence agencies are worried about being unable to intercept the phone calls of these intruders. The meeting also held apprehensions that intruders might have dumped large amount of arms and ammunition besides some food essentials to survive for long, sources said.

The Defence spokesperson in a statement issued to GNS said that in the next two days, Army Commander is scheduled to visit the forward formations and units to review the anti-infiltration grid. “He’ll also review the ongoing operations being conducted by the Army,” the spokesperson said.

“General Chachra will also call on Governor N.N .Vohra and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah,” spokesperson added.

Meanwhile, Para troopers along 3/3 GR, 15 RR, 16 GR and 5 ASSAM have intensified the combing operation and are about to combat with militants in Shalabatoo area of Keran Sector. (GNS)

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