Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites


Wednesday, 30 October 2013

From Today's Papers - 30 Oct 2013

 Kashmir remains bilateral issue
Nawaz Sharif should pursue his own proposals seriously
by Kuldip Nayar

I do not know why Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif goes over the same exercise on Kashmir every two to three months. He raised the question at the UN General Assembly and again mentioned it during his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at New York. Now he has brought up the matter before having talks with President Barack Obama at Washington. Probably, he sought his services. America has reiterated its stand that it considered Kashmir a bilateral issue which the two countries should solve. This is what India has been saying. By insisting that Kashmir is a core issue for any conciliation with India, Pakistan is not bringing the opportunity for any solution nearer.

What does not go with the style of Nawaz Sharif is his remark that both countries are nuclear powers. Is that a threat? How can any country even say that it has a nuclear weapon or, for that matter, its opponent has? It means extinction of Pakistan and northern India.

Another ominous change I have noticed on the part of Islamabad is that it has stopped the mention of the Shimla agreement. The earlier statements stated that the Kashmir issue should be sorted out according to the UN resolution and the Shimla agreement.

At that time, then Pakistan Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had orally told then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi that he would see that the ceasefire line on the border became an international border. He went back on the undertaking because he could not sell the proposal to a country which had lost its eastern wing. Still Pakistan must realise that there is no solution to Kashmir except through talks. Therefore, the Shimla agreement has the greatest chance of making it to the page.

True, there is the pressure of rightists on Sharif. But this is not what an average Pakistani feels. Not long ago when I went to Pakistan and asked a cab driver what he thought of Kashmir, he replied: “I have to think of how to earn the next meal, not bother about Kashmir”. An expert in Pakistan once remarked that what they could not win in the battlefield, they could not expect to win at the negotiating table.

Sharif’s proposal, when he was in the wilderness, is worth implementing. He said that the two countries should set up a committee to talk about Kashmir without interruption. After having done that, both countries should open up for trade and business. And the visa should be made easy for people-to-people contact. In fact, the Pakistan Prime Minister should be pursuing his own proposals seriously.

In the meanwhile, the allegations by the former Chief of Army Staff General V.K. Singh that the Indian Army had been financing ministers in Kashmir to maintain “stability” in the state have taken a serious turn. The Speaker of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly has ruled that he would summon the general to explain to the house the charge of ministers being financed. The Speaker has already issued a notice to General V.K.Singh.

However, some of us who have followed the situation in Kashmir since its integration with India are not surprised. New Delhi always had a finger in the pie. Even a popular leader like Sheikh Abdullah had to be subservient to New Delhi. Once he did open his mouth to say that they would rather starve than accept India’s diktat and he had to spend 12 years in detention.

In fact, there were no elections in the years soon after the state joined the Indian Union. Sheikh Abdullah, then called the Prime Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, accepted the fait accompli which was decided at Delhi. The practice was vigorously pursued when Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad replaced the Sheikh when the latter was detained. The decision about who should head Kashmir was taken at New Delhi.

There was a separate Department on Kashmir affairs in the External Affairs Ministry. Probably, it was meant to convey that since the matter was before the UN, it had to be dealt with by the External Affairs Ministry, headed by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. The Department was transferred to the Home Ministry when the more sagacious Govind Ballabh Pant took charge after quitting as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. The Department is still part of the Home Ministry. To the credit of Nehru, that he did not accept Maharaja Hari Singh’s request to join the Indian Union until it had the approval of the then popular leader Sheikh Abdullah, who was in jail at that time. It is unfortunate that the Sheikh turned out to be a disappointment. He took New Delhi’s dictated arrangement like a duck to water.

Since then, chief ministers at Srinagar — Mufti Mohammad Sayeed of People’s Democratic Party or Farooq Abdullah—have understood that Srinagar has to tilt its sails according to the winds blowing from New Delhi. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah makes proper noises but it is no more than a storm in a tea cup. He is rightly strengthening the state police so that the use of Indian Army, stationed in the state, is as little as possible.

But he is defeated by the Pakistan army which keeps the pot boiling. It was a relief when the two countries agreed not to violate the LoC. But the line has been violated all the time in recent times. Pakistan is more to blame because it is giving covert support to Tehrik-e-Taliban, Pakistan, to infiltrate into India before the winter sets in and clogs the passes because of snow.

If insurgency in Kashmir is a part of Islamabad’s policy, what was the purpose of Prime Minister Sharif’s meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh? They agreed to honour the agreement reached in 2004 to make the LoC sacrosanct. The Director-Generals of Military Operations of the two countries were to meet. True, no time frame was fixed but they should have met by this time, although their meeting may have turned into a formality. Political masters have to realise the futility of cross-border firing. Three wars should have made it clear to Pakistan that it cannot wrest Kashmir forcibly from the hands of India.
India, Pak to keep calm along border
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria/TNS

Octroi BOP (Indo-Pak Border), October 29
Officers from the BSF and the Pakistan Rangers met for nearly three hours today and agreed to ease 10 days of intense shelling by Pakistan that has triggered bloody skirmishes along the 198-km long International Border.

The sector-level flag meeting has brought some relief for hundreds of farmers on both sides of the border as they can now harvest their standing paddy crop right up to the Zero Line without any fear of fresh skirmishes.

“We held a meeting with the Pakistan Rangers in a cordial atmosphere wherein we discussed a wide range of issues. We took unanimous decisions on some of them,” BSF Deputy Inspector General JC Singla told mediapersons after the meeting.

“The farmers can now harvest their crop up to the Zero Line. It’s a good thing. We also agreed on removing ‘sarkanda’ (wild grass). We will do it on our side and they will do so on theirs,” said Singla.

The officer said the BSF would try to keep peace on the border. On Rangers targeting BSF guards in July and August, followed by unprovoked firing and shelling of Indian posts and villages over the past 10 days, the DIG said the BSF lodged a strong protest with them but they remained in denial.

“They were in denial this time too, but somewhere inside they knew it had resulted in a flare-up,” the officer said. On the use of 82 mm mortars by the Rangers on innocent villagers, Singla said long-range weapons were not used on a big scale and mortars did not have a fixed range. “They do miss the target.”

Villages lie close to the border and since mortars don’t have a fixed range, they do miss the target and fall here and there,” he added.

“We are here on duty and would not allow anything to happen,” he said.

Pakistan’s Inayat post is located opposite the Octroi Post of the BSF, where the talks were held.

The Rangers were represented by Brigadier Mateen, Sector Commander of the Sialkot headquarters. At least 16 officers of the BSF and 15 of the Rangers participated in the meeting.

Besides Singla, two other Deputy Inspector Generals - Dharmender Pareekh and Virender Singh - were also present. The 10-day skirmishes have left one BSF jawan - ML Meena - dead and 31 others, including women and children, injured.
Fighter pilot Raha to be next IAF chief
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 29
Ace fighter pilot Air Marshal Arup Raha has been appointed the next Chief of the Indian Air Force.

He will succeed Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne, also a fighter pilot, on December 31. At present, Air Marshal Raha is the Vice-Chief of Air Staff.

Air Marshal Raha was commissioned into the IAF on December 14, 1974 in the fighter stream of the flying branch. In his career spanning nearly 39 years, he has commanded the vital Western Air Command which is tasked with the responsibility of Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and parts of Rajasthan.

During Operation ‘Parakaram’, he was the Commanding Officer of the MiG-29 squadron at Bathinda in Punjab. He then went on to be the Air Officer Commanding at the IAF base at Adampur near Jalandhar and Advance Headquarters, Western Air Command at Chandimandir.|head
India to Bolster UAV Fleet for Border Surveillance

NEW DELHI — India plans to spend more than US $2 billion in the next five years to boost its UAV fleet, including mini UAVs, and sharpen its border surveillance, intelligence and communications capabilities.

More than a dozen domestic private-sector players are eyeing the mini-UAV market, while the Defence Research and Development Organisation concentrates on developing high-altitude, long-endurance; vertical takeoff; medium-altitude, long-endurance; and combat UAVs.

The Army this month floated a tender to acquire 49 UAVs to be used for real-time intelligence and surveillance, to detect human or vehicular movement, target recognition and identification, and electronic intelligence and communication intelligence.

The tender has been sent to private Indian companies Idea Forge, Dynamatrics, Hi-tech Robotics, Ufcon, Omnipresent Technologies, Datapattern, Tata Advance Systems and state-owned Bharat Electronics.

The mini UAVs will be used for counterinsurgency operations in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir, bordering Pakistan. The UAV will have an endurance of 30 to 90 minutes carrying a camera, and be able to perform auto tracking of targets.

The mini UAVs will gather intelligence and carry out reconnaissance along the Line of Control with Pakistan and the India-China border, an Indian Army official said. Mini UAVs are effective electronic eyes in the skies against border infiltrations, which have increased recently, the official added.

The Army is employing UAVs as a communication constellation and has put them to use in rescue operations, as observation posts and for medical evacuation, said Mahindra Singh, a retired Army major general.

The Army and Air Force have an immediate requirement for more than 700 mini UAVs.

The drones need to have endurance of 90 minutes with a loiter time of one hour. The vehicle needs to be able to reach an altitude of 2,000 feet carrying its camera.

The mini UAV should have a mission range of at least 10 kilometers.

In addition, the drones would have jam-resistant uplink and secured downlink, and the system should be easily transportable in one light vehicle and carrier in dismantled configuration in backpacks.

The Army plans to have about 1,600 mini UAVs by 2017 for use by the infantry and mechanized infantry, the Army official said, adding that these vehicles would be employed to enhance the Army’s situational awareness in the border regions.

The mini UAVs will be integrated into a system that will include assets such as artillery, locating radar, bigger UAVs, aerostat radars, and airborne early warning and control aircraft, which could be used as a force-multiplier, the official said.

“The Indian Army needs to have a variety of UAVs, especially [combat UAVs] equipped with missiles which could be effectively used against insurgent hideouts. The Indian Army is spending most of its time fighting these insurgents in what is called low-intensity warfare, leaving little time for preparing for a major future battle,” Singh said.
Face of Defense: Female U.S. Army Paratrooper Trains in India

By Army Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Smith
4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division

JOINT BASE ELEMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska, Oct. 29, 2013 – Army 1st Lt. Laura Condyles, a parachute rigger-qualified officer with the 725th Brigade Support Battalion, recently returned from graduating second place at the Indian army’s Heavy Drop Course in Agra, India.
Condyles, a 25-year-old quartermaster officer from Mechanicsville, Va., was chosen from a distinct group of officers in her unit to attend the course at the Army Airborne Training School. The 52-day event began in early August in one of the hottest areas in India with average daily temperatures hovering around 105 degrees Fahrenheit.

“When I first got there, we found out that the class wasn’t in English. The whole class was in Hindi the entire time!” Condyles said. “They had an old dictionary they used to translate the tests for me.”

Fortunately, the Indian army assigned student-sponsor Capt. Ashish Jha to help Condyles as they both worked through the course. Condyles had to pass three, three-hour written examinations.

“Of course, the questions were originally in Hindi and were translated to English, so I just kind of had to take my best guess at what they were saying,” Condyles said.

The Indian army’s AATS installation is similar to Fort Benning, Ga., Condyles said. Most of their airborne training takes place there, including airborne school, the heavy drop riggers course, high altitude low opening school, and the pathfinder school.

The Indian forces have two main aircraft used for heavy drops, the Russian-made AN-32 and the IL-76, which are comparable in size to the American C-130 and C-17, respectively.

India’s air force packs all of their personnel parachutes, and their army focuses on heavy drop rigging.

The Russian-engineered rigging equipment uses three different platforms.  “With each platform, there were three different parachutes that we learned, so I learned how to pack nine different parachutes,” Condyles said.

Condyles excelled in the heavy drop course and earned the Indian army’s Medal of Excellence for achieving the coveted “i” indicator meaning she performed at such a high level that she is qualified to be an instructor.

“I’m the first foreign officer that’s ever gotten the “i” grade before, so that was pretty neat.” she said “The cool thing was I’m the first American that went to the course.”

Condyles said she was fortunate that Capt. Jha was there to translate. In addition, she was able to learn a great deal about the Indian army and India’s culture during her time there.

“They drop live animals,” she said. “They put chickens and goats on a platform and drop them in for food.”

One of the benefits of partnership training is learning about different military organizations, she said.

The Indian army’s structure “is pretty different. Officers, soldiers, and NCOs are very, very separated. It’s not like our Army where we work together a lot more closely,” Condyles said. “When you are an officer on post, they cook your meal for you, or they deliver it to your room. They clean your bathroom for you every day. They mop your floors in your room every day. They even make your bed for you every day, and they do your laundry every single day.”

Even with the conveniences, Condyles’ said her training in India was complicated by the high temperatures, and power outages.  “I had electricity about 40 to 50 percent of the time.”

Condyles purchased Indian clothes to wear for her cultural and historical experiences, including two trips to the Taj Mahal, a visit to the historic Agra Fort, a village wedding celebration experience, and sadly, a mourning ceremony for an instructor’s 22-year-old son who was struck and killed by a train.

Condyles thought the training was very worthwhile, and she hopes for more U.S.-Indian military cross-training events to further improve interoperability between the two countries.

“The Indian army is very professional and very disciplined,” she said. “I had a great time training and getting to work with them. I would love to work with them again in the future, and I think our military would benefit greatly from working with them. We could learn from each other.”
Kayani meets top Chinese leadership
ISLAMABAD  - A joint military exercise between China and Pakistan is on the cards, whose modalities are being finalised in the ongoing visit of Pakistan's military chief to the neighbouring state, it is learnt on Monday.
The reported development follows top-level meetings between Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and the Chinese political and military leadership. This is Kayani's last visit to China in his incumbent capacity as the COAS, ahead of his upcoming retirement on November 29.
Although the military sources insist General Kayani's visit was scheduled well in advance, the event takes place conspicuously at a time when Indian and Russian armies are conducting a joint military exercise in the Indian desert of Rajhastan near Pak-India border. 'Gang Neva,' the exercise, is named after Indian river Ganga and Russian river Neva.
Some sections of Indian media say India plans to lay 14 strategic railway lines close to borders with China and Pakistan, as part of its preparations to meet security challenges emanating from the two borders.
Regarding General Kayani's visit, the military insiders at General Headquarters (GHQ) confirmed that drafting a timeline for the fifth 'Pak-China Friendship' exercise or YOUYI-V was high on the agenda. The exercise is expected to be held in China in coming months, the officials said. The previous Sino-Pak joint military exercise YOUYI-IV was held in Pakistan in November 2011 while YOUYI-III was held in China in the year 2010.
"This exercise would aim at enhancing the combat operational strength of the two forces and exchange of professional notes in realtime environment," a senior army officer said.
The Pakistani COAS, he said, met with his Chinese counterpart General Fang Fenghui on Monday and is scheduled to meet Chief of General Staff of Chinese Armed Forces Kao Kuang-chi, soon.
He would also be meeting the top management of the China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC), the country's premier strategic and scientific body, led by Yin Liming, in addition to meeting top Chinese military command and political leadership.
Continuing with Pakistan's traditional China-friendly policy, General Kayani, Pakistan's longest serving army chief in civilian rule, had a role in the signing of a number of Sino-Pak strategic pacts and defence agreements. His latest visit to China, a few weeks prior to retirement, is widely deciphered against the backdrop of enhanced strategic cooperation between India and Russia, which coincides with deteriorating security situation at the Line of Control (LoC) and Eastern Pak-India borders.
Apart from China, the conduct of joint military exercises with Turkey, Sri Lanka and Saudi Arabia, the countries that are included in the military establishment-coined terminology of 'friendly states,' is also under reported consideration.
Earlier this year, Pakistan Navy and Pakistan Air Force had carried out joint naval and air exercises respectively with Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Pakistan Army had last conducted military exercises with Saudi Arabia and Turkey in 2011 and with Sri Lanka, last year. In August this year, Turkey had hosted a joint military exercise held between Pakistan and Afghanistan armies.
Meanwhile, a press release said, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani held separate meetings with General Fan Changlong, Vice Chairman Central Military Commission and Guo Shengkun, State Councilor & Minister for Ministry of Public Security.
"The COAS reiterated goodwill of the government and people of Pakistan and thanked Chinese leadership for China's eternal support to Pakistan. Security situation in the region and the possible role both countries can play towards strategic stability was also discussed during the meetings. Talks also encompassed the measures to boost mutual cooperation on a wide range of issues," it said.
Defence Minister Instructs Armed Forces to be on High Alert on Indo-Pak Border
In view of repeated ceasefire violations by the Pakistan army along the Line of Control (LoC) between India and Pakistan, Defence Minister of India A K Antony held an hour-long review meeting with the heads of the armed forces on Monday.

National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, Army Chief General Bikram Singh, Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne, Indian Air Force, Navy chief Admiral D K Joshi and Defence Secretary R K Mathur attended the review meeting.

During the meeting, Antony asked the armed forces to maintain "a high-level of alert" along the border with Pakistan. The army chief apprised the Defence Minister of the situation along the border and the measures taken to defuse the tension.

This is the first high-level review meeting headed by the Defence Minister after the anti-militancy operation by the Indian Army last month in Keran sector along the LoC.

India is said to have recorded over 200 incidents of ceasefire violations, which are minor skirmishes. This is said to be the highest number in a year in last 10 years. While over 180 skirmishes occurred across the LoC, about 50 were recorded along the 200 kilometres long International Border in Jammu and Kashmir.
Defence Ministry declines to share information on controversial Technical Support Division set up by former Army chief VK Singh
The TSD has been accused of carrying out unauthorised operations and financial wrongdoings. It has also been accused of illegally carrying out activities for destabilising the Jammu and Kashmir government.
 Information on the activities of the controversial Technical Support Division (TSD), an intelligence unit set up by former army chief V K Singh, is still out of bounds for the public.

The Defence Ministry has declined to share information related to functioning of TSD that had created a major political storm after General Singh had claimed that army had regularly paid money to ministers and politicians in Jammu and Kashmir. He had come under attack from various sections on his statements.

"In so far as your request for supply of order regarding setting up of 'TSD' and enquiry etc., are concerned, it is regretted that the same cannot be supplied in terms of Section 8 (1) (a) of the RTI Act," the Ministry said in reply to an RTI query.

The Section bars disclosure of information which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the state, relation with foreign state or lead to incitement of an offence.

The Defence Ministry was asked to give a copy of the order and file notings regarding setting up of TSD. It was also asked to provide detail of complaints of irregularities received against the snoop unit.

The TSD has been accused of carrying out unauthorised operations and financial wrongdoings. It has also been accused of illegally carrying out activities for destabilising the Jammu and Kashmir government.

General Singh, who had denied the charges levelled against him and the unit, has also filed an RTI application seeking information on TSD.

An Army report about the TSD, which was also accused of illegally tapping phones of senior Defence Ministry officials, has been submitted to the Defence Ministry and a probe has been recommended against its functioning.

The report was prepared by Director General Military Operations Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia, as part of a Board of Officers (BOO) formed by Gen Bikram Singh to review the working of TSD.

The TSD was reportedly formed after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks on the basis of an operational directive given to the Army by the Defence Minister to perform a particular task to secure the borders and internal situation in the country. It is now defunct.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal