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Tuesday, 8 October 2013

From Today's Papers - 08 Oct 2013
India rejects Pak denial on incursion
Says firm on maintaining LoC sanctity; PM meets Chiefs of three Services
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 7
Determined to dislodge a band of armed intruders in J&K’s Keran sector — prolonged operations against which entered the 14th day — India on Monday rejected Pakistan’s denial issued by its High Commissioner Salman Bashir yesterday that any such intrusion had taken place from across the border.

New Delhi has made it clear that its armed forces are determined to maintain the sanctity of the Line of Control in the face of one of the biggest intrusions in recent years.

Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said New Delhi had repeatedly emphasised that maintaining the LoC sanctity was of primary importance. “Our armed forces are currently undertaking appropriate and necessary measures...we have full confidence in their abilities to address challenges posed to them. We will await the outcome of their efforts,” he said. New Delhi is upset with Bashir’s statement made in Hyderabad, describing as “baseless” incursions into India from the Pakistani territory.

New Delhi’s sharp response came on a day when security forces busted a militant hideout on the outskirts of Baramulla district in J&K and recovered a huge cache of arms and ammunition. Also on Monday, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met the Chiefs of the three Services at his residence and is believed to have discussed, among others issues, the operation to flush out militants in the Keran sector. Sources though described the meeting as a routine.

Asked when the Director Generals Military Operations (DGMOs) from the two sides would meet to resolve the issue, the MEA spokesman pointed out that the two officials usually talk to each other on the phone on Tuesdays. “The issue of when they will meet depends on their talks,” he said.

The spokesman referred to talks between the Prime Ministers of the countries recently on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly over ways to reduce tension along the LoC.

New Delhi has repeatedly emphasised that maintaining the LoC sanctity was of primary importance. This was re-emphasised when the two PMs had met.

Bashir’s remark upsets india

    The government rejected Pakistan High Commissioner Salman Bashir’s statement on Sunday denying any intrusion from the Pakistani soil into Indian territory
    New Delhi is quite upset with his statement made in Hyderabad
    However, New Delhi is not considering any diplomatic move on the issue at this stage
    The govt would like the armed forces to evict the terrorists first
A hundred militants fighting the Army?
Majid Jahangir/TNS

Srinagar, October 7
Nearly 100 militants are believed to be fighting the Indian Army in north Kashmir’s Keran sector where they have made fresh advances after two weeks of fierce gunfights. Top sources say this has added a dangerous dynamics to the fighting, which is one of the longest battle in the region since the 1999 Kargil war. “The only option now is to use Air and ground force together to gain the lost ground,” said a top source.

Earlier it was believed that there were 30-40 militants. The sources now maintain that nearly 100 militants backed by Pakistani special forces are believed to fighting the Army inside Indian territory at multiple points in the five-km stretch along the Line of Control in the sector. Sources said the fierce gunfight is taking place at four to five points where the militants are giving stiff resistance to the Army.

“The gunfight which was confined between the fence and the LoC is now taking place well within our territory. The way they are fighting shows that the supply line of militants is intact and they are backed by the Pakistani special forces,” he added.

The sources, however, said that militants had, in early September, occupied the huts in Shalabhato, a village near the LoC which was abandoned by the residents in early 1990s. The 20 Kumao regiment had informed the Army headquarters about this large-scale incursion. In fact, it was after the unit informed the Army headquarters about the large infiltration that they were shifted from the sector.

“And when a unit of 3/3 Gorkha Rifles on September 24, launched a search to flush out the militants in Shalabhato, the large number of hiding militants opened fire on the troops. In the initial gunfight, Army said, they noticed bodies of 12 militants lying at the encounter site,” the sources said. “Since then Army has not been able to recover any body from the site,” he added

The sources said that it was possible that militants might have pulled these bodies back to the PoK. However, Army’s top Kashmir Commander Lt Gen Gurmit Singh had said recently that it was unlikely to have happened.

Militants make fresh advances

    Militants have made fresh advances after two weeks of fierce gunfights
    Are fighting the Army at multiple points inside Indian territory over a
    5-km stretch along the LoC
    Sources say they are backed by Pakistani special forces
    The supply line of militants is in tact
    In early September, the militants occupied huts in Shalabhato village, which was abandoned by the inhabitants in early 1990s

The only option now is to use air and ground force together to gain the lost ground — An Army source
J&K House adopts resolution on VK Singh’s remarks
Ehsan Fazili/TNS

Srinagar, October 7
After over three hours of discussion, the State Legislative Assembly adopted a one-line resolution demanding a time-bound enquiry into the allegations levelled by former Army Chief, General (Retd) V K Singh against the political leaders of Jammu and Kashmir.

This resolution was adopted by a voice vote in the Legislative Assembly after the concluding speech by the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on the discussion over VK Singh’s remarks that appeared in the print and electronic media beginning on September 20. As the members cutting across party lines resolved that there should be an enquiry, the CM observed “I want the Centre to recognise our sentiments”. However, CPM MLA MY Tarigami urged the CM to adopt the resolution for it would have a greater impact. “I am open to one-line resolution on the conduct of a time bound enquiry”, Omar Abdullah said at the end of his speech.

Speaker Mubarak Gul sought a voice vote from the House that was unanimously passed by all the members.

The CM, in his address, said that it was necessary to restore the image of the political leaders and members of the State Legislature ahead of the next year’s general and Assembly elections.

CM writes to PM

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah told the Assembly that he had written to the Prime Minister on the VK Singh’s remarks. In the letter, he sought the charges to be “probed in order to arrive at truth which can be shared with the general public”
Badals to have special commando unit for security
Kulwinder Sandhu/TNS

Moga, October 7
Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who holds the portfolio of the Home Department, seems to have no faith in the commandos already serving in the state police.

Currently protected jointly by the commandos of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and the state police under Z-plus security cover, he has now decided to constitute a Special Protection Unit (SPU) in the Punjab Police.

The SPU will be on the lines of the Special Protection Group (SPG) that protects the President, Prime Minister, members of the Gandhi family and former Prime Ministers. Documents procured by The Tribune reveal that commandos of the SPU would be recruited from the officers and jawans of the central police forces and the state police on various ranks through deputation, transfer and direct recruitment.

But according to the conditions laid down in the rules framed by the state Home Ministry, only officers and jawans below the age of 40 years (two-year relaxation for technical and training staff), who have served for at least five years in the SPG, would be considered for this new assignment.

Since the inception of the SPG in 1985 after the assassination of late PM Indira Gandhi, no officer or policemen (except IPS officers) from the Punjab Police got a chance to serve in the SPG. Therefore going by the present conditions, the chances of those serving in the state police for this elite job assignment seem to be bleak.

A senior functionary in the office of the Deputy CM on the condition of anonymity said that a three-member committee of senior IPS officers of the state has been constituted for the recruitment process.

The committee has started the exercise of alluring SPG officials by asking them to resign from their present assignments and to join the SPU by offering them lucrative salary and perks.

It was learnt that about 200 to 250 officers on various ranks and jawans would be recruited in the SPU, which would be broadly divided into four categories -- operations, training, intelligence and administration.

The operations component will have a communications wing, a technical wing and a transport wing while the training component will deal with the continuous process of training of commandos. The intelligence component will make threat assessments, internal intelligence and verification of character and antecedents of the visitors and the administration wing will look after the HR work, procurement and other official matters.

No faith in state police

    Recruits should have five-year experience in the Special Protection Group (SPG)
    Since the inception of the SPG in 1985 after Indira Gandhi’s assassination, no officer or jawan (except IPS officers) from the Punjab Police has served in the SPG
    So, the chances of those serving in the state police for this elite job assignment seem to be bleak
Militants may have left war-like stores
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, October 7
It has been four days since militants holed up along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Keran sector have fired a shot. An internal assessment of the Army is that three sq km area may be dumped with war-like stores of ammunition, guns and bombs.

Troops on the ground aided by a small unit of the para-commandos and armed with equipment to detect ammunition have been tasked to comb the area thoroughly. The fact that militants had survived at an altitude of 10,000 feet for so long means they were well-equipped and well-stocked with dry rations.

Troops have been instructed to move with caution. The area has dense forest. There could be mines and also other wire-traps that could trigger blasts leading to needless casualties. Even a dead body of a militant could be a booby-trap to cause deaths. Four Indian Army jawans have been injured so far. The dense jungle provide ideal hiding ground. The mountains are jagged which hold the possibility of natural crevices which could have been used to dump stores.

The fact that terrorist have not fired a shot in four days does not mean that they have gone back to Pakistan. “This could very well be a ploy to entice troops deeper within the forests,” said sources.

Indian Army is in a dominating position from all sides. The terrorists are holed up, but the terrain is undulating and is very treacherous with four nallahs criss-crossing the areas.

The location is peculiar. It is west of the Shamshabari ridge that will soon be under snow closing all ingress routes. The 268th infantry Brigade is headquartered at Pharkian Gali while a battalion of the Army is stationed between the ridgeline and the LoC - a distance of some 12-15 km.
Service chiefs, PM discuss N-command authority
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 7
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met the chiefs of the three services at his residence this evening. The discussion was primarily on the Nuclear Command Authority. However, sources said references were also made to the prevailing security situation.

Army Chief General Bikram Singh, Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne and Navy Chief Admiral DK Joshi briefed the PM on the security scenario. National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon was also present on the occasion.

The Prime Minister took stock of the preparedness of the country’s nuclear arsenal. This was a biannual meeting.

The command and control structures of the forces handling the arsenal are understood to have come up for discussion at the meeting of the Nuclear Command Authority headed by the Prime Minister. The Tri-Service Strategic Forces Command (SFC) was created in 2003 to manage and administer the country’s nuclear arsenal. The powers to activate the nuclear ‘button’ rest with the PM.

The upcoming Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) with China is also within the scope of discussion. The PM is expected to visit China in the third week of this month and the BDCA is expected to be inked during that meeting.
IAF blues
Depleting squadrons a matter of concern

THE Indian Air Force (IAF), which came into being 81 years ago, has come a long way from the time it was raised by the British as an auxiliary air force in 1932 with initially just four Westland Wapiti IIA single-engine biplanes.

Post-Independence, the IAF has been among with the world’s busiest: It has participated in wars with Pakistan, been involved in military engagements overseas (Sri Lanka) and in UN peace support operations, continues to be engaged in air maintenance operations in some of the world’s most treacherous terrains setting new records as a matter of routine and exercises with some of the world’s most advanced air forces, including the US Air Force.

The IAF, which is currently in the midst of unprecedented modernisation and capability enhancement, has in the last decade-and-a-half inducted long-range Su 30 MKI multi-role fighters, flight refuelling aircraft, Airborne Warning and Control Systems and the US-made C-17 and C-130J Hercules transport aircraft. The transport aircraft, however, are essentially replacements for the ageing Soviet-origin IL 76 and An-32 fleet. But despite these new inductions and capabilities, the IAF seems to be fighting a losing battle — both quantitative and qualitative — when it comes to its fighter squadrons. Numerically, the IAF is depleted to 33 fighter squadrons (a 34th squadron is currently under raising) against its sanctioned strength of 42.

The much delayed indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft is still some time away from induction, which means the IAF will need to continue to fly its museum piece MiG 21s that have a dubious flight safety record. Equally serious is the recent statement of the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Norman Anil Kumar Browne, that the IAF has no backup plan in case India does not make a timely purchase of the shortlisted French-made Rafale medium multi-role combat aircraft which are meant to replace the ageing Jaguars and the other MiG series aircraft — the MiG 23s, MiG 27s and MiG 29s. There could then be a rapid decline in the number of fighter aircraft fleet between 2017-2022, making the IAF worse off than now. The government, which would be aware of all this, needs to take timely measures so that the country’s air power capabilities do not deteriorate further.
Another terrorist caught
US continues its war against Al-Qaida

US Army Delta Force commandos have apprehended a terrorist who had a bounty on his head. The ineffectual protest by the Libyan government notwithstanding, the arrest of Abu Anas al-Liby, who had a $5 million reward on his head, by the US special forces hardly caused any ripples.

It is another notch in the aggressive US policy of hunting down terrorists, especially of the Al-Qaida variety, no matter where they are to be found. Nazih Abdul-Hamed al-Ruqai, or al-Liby, is said to have been involved in the simultaneous bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. He had a longstanding involvement with Al-Qaida operations and was seen as a high-value target by the Americans.

The US special forces did not get similar success in a simultaneous attack in Somalia, where they had to withdraw following stiff resistance from the local Al-Shabab terrorists. They also found that their target was present where they expected him. The mixed success of the two operations serves to highlight the triumphs as well as limitations that such options have. On the one hand, the US has shown its willingness and ability to strike at will against high-value terrorists. On the other, there is only so much that special operations can achieve. It has to engage with terrorists through various other means too, even as it has to tread gingerly into locations where it has no sovereign rights.

The US will have to address the issue of violating international laws during such raids. It has seen its policy thwarted in Syria, after a strong Russian intervention. Now the UN is doing the job that it should have been doing in the first place. Indeed, even as terrorists spread their tentacles far and wide, international cooperation, not unilateralism, is the key to defeating them. However, till various nations facing terrorism work together to build a common mechanism to deal with it, such raids will take place and will be widely welcomed
Much talk, some substance
Sharif tries to downplay existence of extremist elements in Pak
by T.V. Rajeshwar

PRIME Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh met Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif a day after addressing the United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 28 and the two discussed all important issues, including Kashmir, sharing of river waters, Siachen, Sir Creek and Baluchistan. Earlier, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also had a meeting with US President Obama.

During his meeting with President Obama, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh explained to him how Pakistan had become the epicenter of international terrorism. The recent attack by Pakistan-trained militants on a police station and an Army post in Kathua district of J&K was also mentioned. President Obama is also fully aware of the deadly extent of the activities of jihadi outfits like Lashkar-e-Taiba in India. USA had even announced a reward of $10 million on the head Hafiz Saeed, the chief of LeT and its parallel outfit Jamat-ud-Dawa and had described him as an international terrorist. In his address at the UN General Assembly also the Prime Minister referred to the terrorist organisations backed by Al-Qaida from Pakistan.

On his part Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif spoke of issues such as Kashmir, the need to ascertain the opinion of the people of Kashmir in deciding on its future and status. He also referred to issues like Siachen and Baluchistan, where, Pakistan had alleged that Indian agencies were instigating a revolt.

During their interaction in New York, Sharif asserted that there was no evidence against LeT regarding its role in the November, 2008 attacks in Mumbai. He also insisted that Jamat-ud-Dawa, the parallel organisation founded by Hafiz Saeed was only interested in extending various forms of help to the rural people of Pakistan and was not known to have indulged in any terrorist activities. It was obvious that Sharif was only trying to play to the gallery, particularly the militant and religious fundamentalists in Pakistan.

The internal situation in Pakistan is in chaos and the state of affairs is known to India as well as USA and other western countries.

An analyst has commented in the News Week of Pakistan that Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta are known to be the bases of terrorist groups and even Lahore has joined the ranks as a terrorist base. This analyst also pointed out that the well-known universities in Pakistan had also become bases of terrorist elements.

However, Pakistan’s newly elected Prime Minister seems to be overlooking the fact that he is, in fact, playing with fire by trying to downplay the existence of extremist elements in his country. The bombing of an ancient Church in Quetta on September 22, in which 85 persons were killed and over 100 injured was a gruesome reminder to the Nawaz Sharif government thatreligious fundamentalist elements like Taliban should not be ignored.

On October 2, 2013 afternoon Lt. Gen. Gurmeet Singh of Srinagar- based 15 Corps briefed the media about the ongoing encounter in the Keran sector of Kupwara district of the LoC. The Corps Commander disclosed that the encounter was on for the past 10 days and as many as 35-40 militants had infiltrated into the forest of Keran sector of Kupwara district. In the flushing out operation carried out by the Army, 15 intruders had been killed and the operation continued for apprehending the remaining militants. Apart from the fact that it was a brazen attempt on the part of the Pakistani Army to initiate the encounter apparently for the purpose of infiltrating militants into Kashmir it exposed the charade which Pakistan Prime Minister tried to maintain during his meeting with Dr. Manmohan Singh.

However, the fact that this encounter has been going on for the past nine days involving 35-40 militants who are suspected to be from Pakistan special troops exposed the design and undependability of Pakistan Army.

It also proves once again that Sharif has not been able to exercise complete control over General Kayani and ISI so far. It is, therefore, futile to hope for peace along the LoC and good conduct on the part of Pakistan Army and the ISI.

With Sharif sticking to inanities like his assertion that Pakistan itself was a victim of terrorism and that it was not helping any jihadi groups, the meeting produced no worthwhile results. In making such assertions, Sharif was only deluding himself even more than he tried to explain Pakistan’s position.

When asked by a media person that since this was his first interaction with Nawaz Sharif and whether he got the impression of him being master of his own destiny or he was being held back by the ISI and the Pakistan Army, Manmohan Singh could only reply that he sincerely hoped that Nawaz Sharif would succeed in carrying out his mission. There can’t be any further comment on the possible outcome of the meeting between the two Prime Ministers.

At the meeting between Manmohan Singh and Nawaz Sharif, it was agreed that the incidents across the LoC would, henceforth, be taken up by the DGMOs of both the countries who would try to resolve these. This seems to be the only worthwhile outcome of the meeting of the two prime ministers, though it remains to be seen how effective his arrangement would be. Sharif also assured the Indian Prime Minister that the most favoured nation protocol would be extended to India in order to facilitate trade between the two countries.

As for the crucial question of progress to bring to justice those involved in Mumbai attacks in 2008, Pakistan Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani said a Judicial Commission had recently visited India, with the authorisation to cross-examine and its report was awaited.

Keeping in view, the state of affairs, nothing more could have been expected from the meeting of the two prime ministers.

On the other hand, the interaction between Dr. Manmohan Singh and President Obama was quite productive. India has been a strategic partner of USA in defence matters. India has now agreed to participate in joint exercises with the US fleet in the Asia Pacific Region.

It is also reported that the purchase of a nuclear reactor for generating power from one of the private companies in the US has been agreed upon, though the details are still not available.

In the defence sector USA has handed over a list of 10 defence technologies for transfer to India, thereby bringing it into the small group of close allies with whom America shares such sensitive details. This marks a definite step forward in the Indo-US defence ties and strategic partnership.

The writer is a former Intelligence Bureau chief and Governor of Sikkim, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 2012
Army chief General Bikram Singh's visit to US deferred due to shutdown
The US government lockdown, a result of the ongoing tussle between Democrats and Republicans over Barack Obama's healthcare programme, has claimed an unlikely victim.

The impasse has torpedoed Army chief General Bikram Singh's proposed visit to the US that was scheduled from October 8 to 14. 'Gen Singh will now go to the US towards end-November due to the government shutdown there,'' said a senior officer on Monday, dismissing that the ongoing major anti-infiltration operation in the Keran sector of J&K was the actual reason behind the visit being deferred.

The Army chief's visit, if it had gone ahead as scheduled, would have come close after India and US inked a joint declaration on defence cooperation after a meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Barack Obama in Washington on September 27.

The two sides look forward to the identification of specific opportunities for cooperative and collaborative projects in advanced defence technologies and systems within the next year,'' said the agreement. As earlier reported by TOI, the US is offering India joint manufacturing facilities for the next-generation of Javelin anti-tank guided missiles to C-130J Super Hercules'' aircraft. It has already bagged Indian defence deals worth about $9 billion over the last few years.

Four more deals, worth almost $5 billion, already lined up are ones for six more C-130J aircraft, 22 Apache attack helicopters, 15 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters and 145 M-777 ultra-light howitzers.
Prithvi-II missile test-fired
The indigenously developed Prithvi-II missile, the baby of Research Centre, Imarat, the Hyderabad-based lab of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) was successfully test-fired by the Strategic Forces Command of Indian Defence from Launch Complex-III, ITR, Chandipur in Balasore district of Odisha on Monday. It was the 19th launch and sources revealed that the launch was not pre-planned unlike the rest of such test-fires.

Highly placed sources shared that the test firing of the missile on Monday was directed at Pakistan. In view of the ongoing firing by infiltrators from Pakistan in the Keran sector along the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir, the Indian Army has actually sent a strong message of defence preparedness of India to Pakistan with the Agni launch. "In fact, most of the DRDO officials were also not aware of it since it was a swift decision and definitely aimed at generating confidence that the Army can do it on its own", said an official.

Nuclear-capable Prithvi-II had already been inducted into the Indian Armed Forces about 10 years ago and this time, the successful test-fire was done from a mobile launcher in salvo mode at about 9.15am on Monday. Officials said that the missile was randomly picked up from production stock of BDL lying with SFC and fired by SFC while DRDO officials monitored the performance and accuracy.

Last time, a similar test-fire was conducted on August 12, 2013 while the circumstances that triggered the need to test-fire included killings of Indian Army soldiers in ambush and subsequent straining of ceasefire by Pakistan Army in Jammu and Kashmir and then by Pak rangers.

Bharat Dynamics Limited is the production agency for this missile developed under Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP) of India. However, it faced sudden production closure since DRDO was asked to provide its next variant Prithvi-III which is under development at Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL), here. The submarine launched version of Prithvi-III would have greater range though but not many tests have been conducted for the same till now.
Pak defence analysts welcome Kayani's decision to retire
Pakistan's powerful Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani's decision to retire and not seek extension has been welcomed by defense analysts and former military officers but they were of the view that the announcement should have been made by the government.

Lt Gen (Retd) Talat Masood said 61-year-old Kayani's statement was a positive move as it scotched rumours, which were affecting the government's image.

"This is a very positive announcement. It was necessary to scotch the rumours. It would have been even more appropriate if the government had made the announcement," Lt Gen Masood told PTI.

He said Kayani was one of the few Army Generals who understood the importance of democracy.

"Even though he did interfere at times, he supported democracy as he knew its importance".

Air Vice Marshal (Retd) Shahzad Chaudhry said the statement was necessary.

"Further extension was just not possible. He personally too was not interested. The statement is a positive one as it lays to rest unnecessary speculation," he said.

Ayesha Siddiqa, a defence analyst said the announcement should have been made by the government and not the Army chief.

"The government should have made the announcement as it would have sent a positive image. Currently, one gets the feeling that the Army chief decides whether he wants to continue or not," she said.

Ali Dayan Hassan, Pakistan Director at Human Rights Watch welcomed Kayani's statement and said a constitutional change in the leadership of Pakistan Army also strengthens the democratic transition.

"However, it was the constitutional responsibility of the government to announce the retirement of the incumbent and announce the appointment of the new chief. In failing to do so, the government appears to have left the onus of his retirement on Gen Kayani and the military," he said.

In a statement issued last evening, Kayani who is serving twice the normal three-year term for the position, said "My tenure ends on 29th November 2013. On that day I will retire. May the Almighty Allah help and guide us all," Kayani said.

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.

Analysts say that the first ever democratic government transition in the country could not have been possible had it not been for Kayani who supported democracy.
India and China preparing to ink Border Defence Cooperation Agreement during Manmohan Singh's Beijing visit

On the 22nd of October, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will be travelling to Beijing. Sources have told Headlines Today, that in all likelihood, the two sides will sign the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement or the BDCA during this visit.

Here are some of the exclusive details of what the Indian side is pushing for in the final draft. Firstly, all individual border agreements will be brought under one umbrella of the BDCA. This will prevent any confusion on either side.

Secondly, India will ask for an additional level of meeting of the two armies at the border. This will be over and above a border level flag meeting. It will help address major issues, like the face-off in the Daulat Beg Oldie sector. It will be conducted by a fairly senior level army official, above the rank of a Colonel. Such a meeting will help resolve the matter at the army level itself rather than the matter being escalated to New Delhi and Beijing and diplomatic bells ringing.

Finally, greater transparency in movement on the border will be sought by India. Sharing of patrol information in advance will be the key to this point in the agreement.

It is also believed that officials from India and China discussed the BDCA at the fourth meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on China-India Border Affairs that took place last week in Beijing.

Both sides are making an attempt to bring down tensions that were sparked off this year after audacious incursion attempts by China. In April this year, a face-off situation developed in the Depsang valley that lasted for 21- days with Chinese forces having pitched a tent 18kms inside Indian territory. A contingent of Chinese troops entered Arunachal Pradesh in August this year and camped there for four days. However, it was dismissed by the Ministry of External Affairs as 'non-event'.

China has been pushing India to sign the border defence cooperation agreement for almost a year now. It was believed that China was insisting on lowering military presence on the border which was not acceptable to India. New Delhi was in fact looking at and is strengthening military presence along the LAC especially after the recent incidents. Both sides hope till a final solution on the boundary dispute can be found, the least that can be done is to maintain peace and tranquility on the border.

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