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Sunday, 27 October 2013

From Today's Papers - 27 Oct 2013

Three Pak smugglers shot dead near Attari border
PK Jaiswar
Tribune News Service
Mullankot (Amritsar), Oct 26
Border Security Force jawans shot dead three Pakistan smugglers and seized 24 kg heroin, worth Rs 120 crore in the international market, along the International Border with Pakistan at Mullankot village, near the Attari border, last night.

An AK-47 rifle with two magazines (44 rounds), two .32 pistols with 13 cartridges, three mobile phones with Pakistan SIM cards and Rs 610 in Pakistan currency were recovered from the scene. The mobiles phones would be sent of a forensic examination. BSF Inspector General (Punjab frontier) Ajay Kumar Tomar said the troops retaliated after the smugglers opened fire after being challenged.

On October 4, smugglers had tried to push in 17 kg heroin from the same Thatakot outpost area of Pakistan.

Tomar said the troops noticed suspicious movement near the border fencing around 9 pm.

Three smugglers, in their mid-20s, were found using a plastic pipe to smuggle 22 packets of heroin across the barbed fencing.

Upon being challenged, the three armed men fired at the BSF troops, who retaliated and killed the three on the spot. A search was conducted in the presence of senior officers of the BSF this morning during which two bodies were found across the fence, while the third body was located a little further away.

The BSF confiscated 22 packets inserted in the pipe and two packets near the third body.
 IAF launches own 3G cellular network
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 26
The Indian Air Force has launched its own 3G cellular network, becoming the first among the services to have commissioned its own captive communication system.

Called AFCEL (Air Force Cellular), it will form a crucial component of the IAF’s network centric operations and facilitate real time exchange of information across the country in a dynamic operational environment.

The AFCEL nodes will cover a number of fixed locations and Mobile Base Transmitting Stations (MBTs) will extend connectivity to remote areas as well. These MBTs will provide critical secure communications support for voice, SMS and data exchange and have a force multiplication effect in the conduct of operations.

The IAF, through AFCEL, aims at bringing all its units and stations under the overarching umbrella of 3G connectivity. The project’s first phase that has just been launched will ensure mobile connectivity to all air warriors in the national capital region. The phase—II will cover the rest of the bases.
Pak army bid to keep hold on Kashmir policy
Though the Pak army denies its involvement, without its support and that of the ISI no serious attempt can be made by terrorists to infiltrate. It was perhaps worried the Kashmir movement was dying out.
Gurmeet Kanwal
The Pakistan army has suddenly resorted to ceasefire violations along the LoC and shelling across the International Boundary (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir at a time when it is itself struggling to cope with the tough internal security challenge posed by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the TNSM and their affiliates in Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa and FATA. For several years it suited the Pakistan army and the ISI to keep the Indian border quiet so that they could concentrate their energies on fighting terrorism, which Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has himself called the number-one national security threat.
The genesis of the current tension with Pakistan lies in the Indian Army’s relentless counter-infiltration campaign along the LoC and extremely successful intelligence-backed counter-insurgency operations with a human touch in the hinterland of J&K, which saw two summers of relative peace (2011-12). A sense of normalcy had returned; schools, colleges and hospitals were open; commerce was flourishing; political meetings were being regularly held; and, tourists were thronging the scenic spots. Over 3 lakh pilgrims completed the Amarnath Yatra, and Janmashtami and Dasehra were again being celebrated in Kashmir. Sporadic attacks against the security forces and their convoys continued, but these were few and far between. In fact, the civilian political leadership had begun to call for the re-deployment of the army and the revocation of provisions of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from certain districts. Now that tension has been ratcheted up, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has called for the use of ‘other options’ as diplomacy has not worked.

There were over 200 violations of the mutually observed ceasefire by the Pakistan army up to mid-October 2013. Of these, 125 have occurred since August 1. In comparison, there were 117 ceasefire violations in 2012 and only 61 in 2011. Similarly, the number of infiltration attempts has gone up considerably. Several hardcore LeT terrorists have been eliminated by the Army this year. Eight terrorists were killed and a large number of arms were recovered in counter-infiltration operations at several places in the Keran sector in September-October. The Pakistan army then decided to enlarge the area of its infiltration-cum-strike operations to the IB segment south of Jammu by sending in highly trained terrorists to attack the Hiranagar police station and the Officers Mess of a cavalry regiment near Samba on September 26. Subsequently, the Pakistan Rangers have been shelling BSF posts and several personnel as well as civilians have been injured in villages along the IB.

Though the Pakistan army denies its involvement, without its active support and that of the ISI no serious attempt can be made by terrorists to infiltrate. The Pakistan army is deployed on mountains and ridgelines and rivulets and nullahs are heavily mined. Infiltrating groups need to be guided through Pakistani posts, with adjacent posts providing cover fire for support. These posts also act as a firm base on which the terrorists can fall back if their infiltration bid is foiled. General Bikram Singh, Chief of the Army Staff, recently stated, “There is no way terrorists can operate in that area without the knowledge of the Pakistani army.”

There could be several reasons for the Pakistan army and the ISI to have stepped up ceasefire violations and infiltration attempts in the summer of 2013. With all the talk of return of peace, the Pakistan army was worried that the so-called Jihad in Kashmir was dying out and that the terrorist groups were getting demoralised. It was no longer satisfied with merely keeping the pot simmering and the machinery well-oiled and took steps to raise the temperature to boiling point again. Also, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had begun to talk of improving relations with India and the army wanted to send a clear message to him that it is the army that guides Pakistan’s Kashmir policy. The army was also dissatisfied with the PM’s peace overtures to the TTP and other terrorist organisations inimical to national security interests.

On another plane, the Pakistan army would like to limit India’s influence in Afghanistan and is perhaps sending a message to India to reduce its involvement, particularly its military aid and training support to the Afghan National Army. Some analysts have speculated that the heightened tensions with India in Kashmir could be due to the internal power struggle within the Pakistan army as General Kayani is due to retire. He may also be seeking the post of National Security Adviser.

The present phase of militancy and terrorism in Kashmir is now in its third decade. The Indian Army has stood firm in guarding the LoC and fighting well-trained and well-equipped state-sponsored terrorists within Kashmir. It has operated with immense professional success in rough terrain and difficult weather conditions.The Army deserves the support of the political leadership and the people of India to continue to maintain an effective vigil so that all efforts made by the Pakistan army and ISI to seize Kashmir through a proxy war are successfully foiled. Also, it is now time for India to consider other options.
Army says pushing back M23 rebels in eastern Congo
Reuters) - The Congolese army said it made significant advances against eastern rebel forces in a second day of fierce fighting on Saturday and called on neighbouring Rwanda to help disarm the insurgents.

The army clashed with M23 rebels for the first time in two months on Friday after peace talks in Uganda broke down this week. Rwanda accused the army of firing a shell into its territory, sparking fears that its military might intervene.
M23 said in a statement on Saturday that the army had launched a "generalized attack" on several fronts, but said the fighting was turning in its favour.

Army spokesman Colonel Olivier Hamuli said, however, that M23 had been forced out of Kibumba, a town some 20 km (13 miles) north of Goma, the largest city in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

"We have pushed M23 into the hills on the Rwandan border," he told a Reuters reporter near the frontline. "We now call on Rwanda to help us disarm their fighters."

United Nations investigators have accused Rwanda of supporting M23, charges that Kigali denies.

Hamuli said the army was also advancing from Rwindi, north of M23-controlled territory in Congo's North Kivu province, attacking the rebel group in a pincher movement.

M23 formed in early 2012 when army soldiers mutinied, saying the government had broken a 2009 peace deal signed with a previous Rwanda-backed rebel movement.

On Friday, Rwanda said shells fired by the Congolese army landed in its territory. Rwanda's U.N. ambassador told a closed-door meeting of the Security Council it would not tolerate such shelling and could respond militarily, diplomats said.

The fighting is the most serious since late August, when the Congolese army and a new U.N. Intervention Brigade forced M23 from positions just north of Goma. The brigade, made up mostly of South African and Tanzanian soldiers, has a mandate to take on and destroy armed groups in eastern Congo.

On-off peace talks between the government and M23, taking place in the Ugandan capital Kampala since December, stalled on Monday, with the government saying it would not offer rebel leaders a blanket amnesty.

The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo (MONUSCO) said on Friday it was on high alert and monitoring the clashes. MONUSCO aircraft flew over the region but South African and Tanzanian troops present near the frontline did not join the combat.

A U.N. spokesman in New York said some 5,000 civilians had fled across the border into Rwanda.

In a joint statement, U.N. special envoy to the Great Lakes region Mary Robinson and head of MONUSCO Martin Kobler urged restraint and called on both sides to return to the negotiating table in Kampala.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond confident of hitting new Army Reserve recruitment target
Philip Hammond said he is "very confident" the Ministry of Defence (MoD) can increase the number of reserve soldiers from 19,000 to 30,000 by 2018.

The Defence Secretary said the newly named Army Reserve, formerly known as the Territorial Army, will be crucial to the future make-up of the military.

Speaking at the Horse Guards Parade in London, he said: "[Reservists] will be critical to mounting military operations in the future - an integral part of the armed forces.
"We're very confident that we will achieve this target.

"It's a challenging one, but the army is used to challenges, and as this campaign ramps up - and today's event is an important step in that process - we're seeing more and more contacts.

"Over time they will convert into trainees in the pipeline to delivery as trained reservists in a couple of years time."
The 57-year-old Conservative MP drank tea with troops as he looked at various stalls set up on the Horse Guards Parade.

Hundreds of visitors posed with soldiers and looked at military while they attended the event in the capital.

A leaked MoD memo published last month warned people wanting to joining the Army Reserve were being put of due to defence cuts and a  "hostile recruiting environment".

The document also raised fears that targets would not be reached and a "disappointing" number of reservists had been recruited.
In Jammu and Kashmir, war fears as Army ups readiness
Srinagar: War clouds may not exactly be hovering over Jammu and Kashmir, but the Army seems to be upping its state of readiness for combat, triggering panic among the people living in areas close to the Line of Control (LoC).

Particularly in Uri (Bara­mulla), Keran and Tanghdhar (Kupwara) areas, the people are worried as they see troops engaged in “military readiness for combat” drills over the last few days.

Omar Abdullah hits out at Nawaz Sharif; BSF asked to retaliate strongly
Residents interviewed by reporters over the phone said they see “unusual” movement by troops in the border belt, including in Mahura, Rajarwani and Kalgi areas.

However, Army officials here said that since Pakistani troops have indulged in frequent violations of the ceasefire along the LoC and also International Border (IB) and the incidence of the infiltration by militants has only increased in recent weeks, the troops have been put on high alert.

“In such situations, the Army should not be expected to be inert,” said an officer on the condition of anonymity.

A senior police official, however, said on phone from Kupwara, “Since tensions are on the rise and as disturbing reports are emanating from a few border areas, especially in Jammu region, we can’t but keep our fingers crossed.”

A resident of Uri said he saw the troops moving Bofors guns and other pieces of artillery out of the artillery parks and other storage areas.
BSF, Army on alert after Pak firing

As Indian and Pakistani border guards once again exchanged small arms and mortar fire at several places along the International Border (IB) in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday, six civilians — three each on either side — were injured and private properties damaged.

BSF officials said 17 Indian border outposts had been targeted.

India has rushed Border Security Force reinforcements to the IB to strengthen defences there and respond “effectively” to the cross-border firing.

Some media reports had earlier suggested that Pakistan has replaced the paramilitary Pakistan Rangers with regular Army at some places along the IB.

Sources said the Army and BSF authorities have been asked to keep troops on high alert and intensify round-the-clock patrolling along the entire border (IB as well as Line of Control) with Pakistan with the hope that improved border management will help towards “defeating any mischief ”.

The BSF has reportedly decided to make fresh efforts to have a flag meeting with the Pakistan Rangers to discuss issues and defuse the situation.

Official sources said the BSF authorities had made two attempts to hold flag meetings with their Pakistani counterparts, on October 18 and 20, but on both occasions the Pakistan Rangers’ local commanders did not turn up.

The Army, too, seems to be in a state of being prepared for combat, triggering panic among people living in areas close to the LoC.

People, particularly in Uri (Baramulla), Keran and Tanghdhar (Kupwara) areas, are worried as they see the troops engaged in “military readiness for combat” over the past few days.

Residents interviewed by reporters over the phone said they see “unusual” movements by troops in the border belt, including in Mahura, Rajarwani and Kalgi areas.

However, Army officials here said since Pakistani troops have indulged in frequent violations of the ceasefire agreement along the LoC and International Border and the incidence of the infiltration by militants has only increased in recent weeks, the troops have been put on high alert.

BSF officials, accusing the Pakistan Rangers of provoking the skirmishes in Arnia, Ramgarh, Ranbir Singh Pura and Akhnoor sectors of Jammu and Samba districts, said mortars and rockets were used to target 17 of its border outposts (BoPs) and some civilian areas.
Delhi sees a larger strategy behind Pakistan Army's ceasefire violations
NEW DELHI: Delhi sees a larger strategy behind Pakistan Army's repeated ceasefire violations in Jammu and Kashmir - internationalise the Kashmir issue, particularly in Europe, and paint itself as a victim of firing by the Indian soldiers.

Notwithstanding Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif's commitment in New York to do more to maintain sanctity at the Line of Control, violations by Pak troopers have continued unabated. This strategy assumes significance ahead of 'Kashmir Black Day', which will be observed across Europe on October 27 by Kashmiri NGOs allegedly sponsored by the Pakistan Army and ISI. The Manmohan Singh government finds the Pakistani approach extremely disturbing amid mounting domestic pressure on ceasefire violations ahead of the assembly and general polls. The PM did not hide his disappointment on his way back from Beijing on Thursday. Pakistan has allegedly violated the ceasefire that is in vogue since 2003 several times in the last two months. "The Pakistan Army wants to internationalise the Kashmir issue once again, particularly in Europe. Their strategy is to also provoke Indian Army to respond to Pakistan Army's firing and in the process their troopers will be killed. This will enable Army and ISI to draw international attention," a government official alleged. It is also not coincidence that ceasefire violations increased as the Pak PM visited the US.

There are massive protests planned across Europe on the coming Sunday to highlight "human rights violation" and call for "self-determination" in Kashmir. In the past some Pakistani ambassadors in Europe also supported the 'Black Day' cause. Official sources alleged ISI was trying to revive their Europe agenda by pumping more funds to the pro-Kashmiri NGOs in that continent.

This agenda — of 'plight of Kashmiris and lack of political rights' — though alive was not very active in past few years. The Pakistan-sponsored NGOs were very active in Europe at the height of insurgency in J&K during the 1990s.

The European Union, over the past few years, has been supportive of India's position on Kashmir by making it clear that the issue is bilateral. An EU delegation — led by the Commission's head in India and few Ambassadors of European countries — visited J&K last month. While they met the mainstream political leaders in the valley, they did not meet the separatist leaders.

Official sources also claimed that the Pakistan Army, through cross-border firing, was trying to undermine the peace initiatives of the Nawaz Sharif-led civilian government to maintain its supremacy in Pakistan's foreign policy. It is an open secret that the military establishment guides Islamabad's policy with regard to India, Afghanistan, China and the US. "Successive democratic governments in Pakistan are detrimental to the interests of the Pakistan Army and their objectives.

They are trying to undercut the civilian-political leadership. While Army supports the Sharif government over talks with Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, it is also keeping the option of launching attacks against them," a senior security source said.

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