Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites


Wednesday, 6 November 2013

From Today's Papers - 06 Nov 2013

India may ramp up military ties with Kabul post-troop pullout
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, November 5
India is set to partially step into the expected void that will be created once the US-led security forces start withdrawing from Afghanistan in June 2014.

On the request of Afghan authorities, the Indian Ministry of Defence is willing to increase the training of Afghan National Army soldiers, develop military infrastructure and capacities of the newly raised Army in the strife-torn country.

The Afghan demand for sourcing weapons, tanks, armoured troop carrying vehicles, helicopters, fixed-wing planes, artillery guns and small arms, from India will be decided on a case-to-case basis, sources have confirmed to The Tribune.

It does not mean that the entire Afghan ‘wish list’ that runs into 220 different sets of weapons, equipment and platforms has been accepted, but it is clear that India is not averse to supplying weapons and equipment, sources said.

In no manner is this to be seen as a precursor to having Indian troop deployment in Afghanistan.

New Delhi will want to wait and watch how the developments pan out post the US withdrawal. If the democratic government holds itself in Kabul, military supplies will continue, but in case the anti-India Taliban wrest control yet again, there will be a re-think. Sources say as of now, there is no conflict in supplying, weapons, artillery guns, tanks or armoured vehicles.

Pakistan and China are also vying to fill the void once international forces, which had been pumped into Afghanistan following the 9/11 bombings in the US in September 2001, leave the country.

The Afghans had wanted that India to build accommodation for its troops, set up electricity supply equipment and computer training centre for its forces. The MoD, after consultation with the Indian forces, has asserted that infrastructure will be key to sustaining the Afghan army.

New Delhi will ramp up training and allow more cadets and officers from Kabul to come here. Around 150 Afghan army officers are annually trained in the National Defence Academy, Pune, The Indian Military Academy at Dehradun and the Officers Training Academy at Chennai.

Also batches of serving Afghan officers are trained in Signals (electronic communications), counter-insurgency, jungle warfare, field engineering and management of military stores.

A 10-member Afghan delegation will visit India from November 19 to 29 for talks. It will include Deputy Defence Minister for Policy and Strategic Affairs Enayatullah Nazari and head of Afghan National Army’s Strategic Group Lt Gen Mohd Hamayun Fawzi.

Afghanistan has been discussed between India and the US twice in the past few months. In July, US Vice-President Joseph Biden had said “America and India are cooperating closely in Afghanistan”.

In September, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President Barack Obama, in a joint statement in Washington, reaffirmed their commitment to “supporting a smooth security and political transition.... remaining committed to contribute to peace, stability and development in Afghanistan during the critical transformation decade (2015-2024)”.

This summer, New Delhi put a small medical detachment at Ayni in Tajikistan, just north of Afghanistan and close to Gilgit, which is part of Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). This is a military hospital with doctors, paramedics and equipment. Besides, 100 Indian military personnel are stationed at the Ayni airbase in Tajikistan.
152 B’desh soldiers get death for 2009 mutiny

Dhaka, November 5
At least 152 Bangladesh soldiers were today sentenced to death by a special court in one of the world’s biggest-ever mass criminal trials for their role in a 2009 mutiny and massacre of 74 people, including top army officers.

A total of 820 ex-paramilitary soldiers and 26 civilians were put on trial and Dhaka Metropolitan Sessions Court Judge Md Akhtaruzzaman gave life imprisonment to 158 rebel soldiers and jail terms of three to 10 years to 251 others, while 271 were acquitted.

Touhid Ahmed, former deputy assistant director of the Bangladesh Rifles, now known as Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), was among those given capital punishment. He was the key leader of the mutineers.

“They will be hanged by neck until they are dead,” the judge announced to a packed courtroom after a trial that lasted 34 months.

“The atrocities were so heinous that even the bodies were not given their rights,” Justice Akhtaruzzaman said. Maj Gen Aziz Ahmed, Director General of the BGB, expressed satisfaction over the verdict. “Justice has been served... The families that lost their close relatives and people like us who lost their colleagues and friends will get some consolation,” he said.

“The perpetrators of the 2009 mutiny have been given an exemplary punishment after a long trial,” Ahmed told mediapersons.

Tight security was put in place around the makeshift court complex on the ground of a madrasa in Old Dhaka as the accused were brought in vans from the nearby Central Jail.

They heard the judgment from a huge caged dock.

The paramilitary border guards staged a two-day mutiny over pay and other grievances against military leaders during February 25-26, 2009. The mutiny took place two months after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina assumed office.

BDR chief Major General Shakil Ahmed was among those killed and the mutineers hacked to death, tortured and burnt alive 74 people whose bodies were dumped in sewers and shallow graves in Dhaka.

During the uprising at BDR headquarters, the mutineers stole 2,500 weapons, broke into a meeting of top officers and shot them at close range.

Among the civilians given life terms were former BNP lawmaker Nasiruddin Ahmed Pintu, an Awami League leader and ex-BDR soldier Torab Ali, who were found guilty of collaborating with the mutineers.

The convicts returned to prison under tight security while relatives of the victims and convicts crowded the court complex along with hundreds of onlookers as Rapid Action Battalion troops surrounded the area.

Prosecution lawyers said they would decide soon on challenging the acquittal of 242 soldiers in the High Court but added that it appeared unlikely.

"It is possibly one of the biggest criminal trials in the world in terms of the number of accused, witnesses and the people is unique that they got a normal trial under the ordinary law of the country," chief prosecutor Anisul Huq told PTI.

Court officials said out of over 1,300 witnesses, 655 prosecution and 27 defence witnesses testified in court. The formal trial ended on October 20.

Dhaka's then sessions Judge Johurul Haque initiated the trial on January 5, 2011 under a massive campaign to overcome the stigma of the mutiny.

The rebel soldiers staged the mutiny at BDR's headquarter in the heart of the capital but the unrest quickly spread to sector headquarters and regional units across the country.

The rebellion saw paramilitary soldiers turn their guns on their commanders, shooting them from close ranges or hacking and torturing them to death, hiding their bodies in sewers and hurriedly dug graves and humiliating their frightened family members in barracks.

The rebels went on a killing spree during the 33-hour revolt, when they also murdered then Dhaka sector chief Col Mojibul Haque and dumped the bodies of army officers in sewers and shallow graves.

The mutiny exposed Prime Minister Hasina's government to its worst challenge just a month after it was elected. — PTI

Two-day bloodbath

    Paramilitary border guards staged a two-day mutiny over pay and other grievances against military leaders on February 25 and 26, 2009
    The mutiny took place two months after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina assumed office
    The mutineers hacked to death, tortured and burnt alive 74 people whose bodies were dumped in sewers and shallow graves in Dhaka
    BDR chief Major General Shakil Ahmed was among those killed
    Out of 1,300 witnesses, 655 prosecution and 27 defence witnesses testified in court. The formal trial ended on October 20.
 Pak PM’s adviser Aziz to arrive on Sunday
Ashok Tuteja/TNS

New Delhi, November 5
Pakistan Prime Ministers’ Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz is arriving here on Sunday to attend a multilateral meeting and discuss with Indian leaders steps to reduce mounting tension between the two countries.

It is learnt that he has also sought a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh apart from holding talks with External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on the margins of the ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting) Ministers’ Conference to be held at Gurgaon on November 11-12. He is also likely to meet National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon.

Although no breakthrough is expected during the talks, the two sides are likely to discuss the possible date for a face-to-face meeting between Director General Military Operations (DGMOs) of the two countries for defusing tension along the LoC.

Although the two DGMOs traditionally speak to each other on phone every Tuesday, the decision for a rare meeting between them was taken when Manmohan Singh met his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in New York in September.
China, India begin joint "Hand-in-Hand 2013" drill
Beijing:  China and India began a joint anti-terrorism drill on Tuesday, the first such exercise by the Asian powers -- which have a sometimes-fraught relationship -- for five years.

The world's two most populous countries each sent one company of soldiers to Chengdu, in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan, for the "Hand-in-Hand 2013" drill, according to Chinese state media reports.

The joint training exercise comes even as the two remain embroiled in a border dispute that has been unresolved for decades and has occasionally led to military standoffs.

In April, India accused Chinese troops of intruding into Indian territory, a row that was only resolved three weeks later when troops from both sides eventually pulled back.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Beijing two weeks ago, signing an agreement with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to step up cooperation on border defence and counter-terrorism training.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters on Tuesday that the drill showed "enhancing political-military trust between the two countries".

"Since the beginning of this year, China and India relations have scored new progress," he said.

Indian officials told AFP the country's contingent for the 10-day-long drill was 162 strong and led by a brigadier.

"The joint training exercise is a counter-terrorist exercise with a purpose of exploring useful experience and thoughts, advance pragmatic co-operation, promote friendly environment and enhance mutual trust," an Indian defence ministry statement said.

The first such exercise was held in China in 2007, with another in India the following year.

Beijing blames "terrorist" groups for incidents in its far western region of Xinjiang, home to Muslim Uighurs, and has in the past linked clashes to groups trained in Pakistan, which as well as being India's great rival also shares a border with China.
With focus on terrorism, India-China begin joint military drills
 India and China on Tuesday began a 10-day joint military drill on counterterrorism — the first such exercise between the neighbours in five years — in southwestern China, with around 300 soldiers from both countries taking part in exercises aimed at boosting trust between the militaries.

The drills began on Tuesday morning in Miaoergang, a town southwest of Chengdu — the provincial capital of the western Sichuan province — with displays of Kungfu by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) contingent and the Gatka martial art, from Punjab, by Indian soldiers. Soldiers also conducted weapons displays with the objective of allowing the other side to become more familiar with the characteristics of weaponry used across the border.

Over the next 10 days, the two contingents — comprising around 160 soldiers each, according to Indian officials, from the 16 Sikh Light Infantry and the 1st Battalion Infantry division of the PLA — will conduct counter-terrorism drills involving tactical hand signals, arrest and escort, hostage rescue, joint attacks and “a comprehensive anti-terror combat drill”, the Chinese State-run Xinhua news agency said.

The drills — the first held in five years — take place only a week after both countries signed a Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) to expand confidence-building measures.

Chengdu is the headquarters of one of the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) seven Military Area Commands (MACs). The Chengdu MAC holds responsibility for the entire Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), as well as the middle and eastern sections of the border with India.

The drills, analysts say, are more symbolic than substantial: the counterterrorism drills are nowhere near as comprehensive as a full-fledged exercise between two armies. The larger objective is to expand confidence and trust between two militaries, which are often grappling with tensions along the border.

At the same time, the 10-day counterterrorism drill has been seen as being particularly significant in China for two reasons. For one, the exercise follows the recent signing of the BDCA during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit in late October.

Also, the issue of terrorism has come under renewed attention in China in recent days, after last week’s incident in Tiananmen Square where a jeep carrying three Uighurs from the Muslim-majority Xinjiang region drove into a crowd, killing two tourists and injuring 40 others.

This was the message highlighted at Tuesday's opening ceremony by PLA Lieutenant General Yang Jinshan and Lieutenant General Vinod Bhatia, who headed the Indian Army observer group.

Lieutenant General Yang, the deputy commander of the Chengdu MAC, highlighted terrorism “as a global challenge” and said, in unusually direct remarks from a Chinese senior official considering China’s “all-weather ties” with Pakistan, that India and China “face similar threats”.

“It is a signal to both sides that the militaries can do something to improve the bilateral relationship,” said Lan Jianxue, a South Asia scholar at the China Institute for International Studies (CIIS), a Beijing think-tank affiliated to the Foreign Ministry, in an interview with The Hindu. “As a result of the historical background, it is good for the two militaries to communicate more with each other directly. The resumption of exercises will help to increase confidence about the other side.”

Lieutenant General Yang was quoted by Xinhua as saying the training was intended “to exchange anti-terror experiences, enhance mutual understanding and trust, and boost cooperation between the Chinese and Indian Armies”.

Lieutenant General Bhatia said the exercise was “a perfect beginning” for renewed bilateral cooperation. “We intend on learning best practices of each other, which would be mutually beneficial for both the Armies,” he said.

Echoing that message, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei told reporters the drill “showed the enhanced political mutual trust between our two countries”.

The 10-day exercise is the third round of the “hand-in-hand” drills that the two countries initiated in 2007 in Kunming, in southwestern Yunnan province. The second round was held in Belgaum, Karnataka, the following year.

Defence exchanges were suspended for more than a year, in 2009, after China refused to host the then head of the Northern Command, citing its “sensitivities” on Kashmir. The move came amid a disputed over China’s issuing of stapled visas to Indian residents of Jammu and Kashmir.

India agreed to resume defence ties after China withdrew the stapled visa policy, following the former Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to India in 2010, and agreed to host senior officials from the Northern Command in several subsequent delegations.

Military ties were further strained earlier this year following a three-week-long stand-off between troops along the border in Depsang, Ladakh, triggered by Chinese soldiers pitching a tent on disputed territory.

Last month, both sides signed a Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) aimed at expanding confidence-building measures and preventing the recurrence of face-offs, by formalising rules such as no tailing of patrols and widening direct contact between military commands.
Indian Army chief wraps up Myanmar visit with promise of further materiel, training
Indian Army chief General Bikram Singh ended a four-day visit to Myanmar on 2 November that officials said was intended to augment bilateral defence ties and neutralise China's formidable strategic relationship with Naypyidaw.

Gen Singh discussed the possibility of India stepping up materiel supplies to Myanmar in meetings with senior political and military leaders, official sources told IHS Jane's on 5 November.

He is also believed to have agreed to Naypyidaw's request to station an Indian Army Training Team (IATT) in Myanmar. This would be similar to Indian Military Training Team (IMTRAT) that has been operating in the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan since 1960 and the IATTs established in Botswana and Lesotho in 1978 and 2001 respectively.
Pakistan army shows its anti-drone technology
 ISLAMABAD: Amid continued tensions with the US over drone strikes, Pakistan army has successfully shot down a "drone" during a military exercise that was watched by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

During the "Azm-e-Nau 4 Exercise" at Bahawalpur in Punjab province yesterday, the army air defence demonstrated its anti-drone technology by successfully bringing down a drone by targeting it with the 35mm Oerlikon guns, The News daily said.

The event also marked the culmination of five-year series of exercises jointly conducted by the Pakistan Army and Pakistan Air Force at firing range in Khairpur Tamewali, about 75 kilometres from international borders.

The drones are an emotional issue in the country and the public opinion has been further divided with the latest strike by a CIA- operated spy plane on Friday that killed Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud.

Pakistani politicians, except a few handful, have criticized the strike saying it was deliberately done to scuttle the peace talks with the Taliban.

However, security analysts and former military officers are happy that Pakistan's number one enemy has been killed.

The drone strike had renewed calls from some sections of the political and religious class to shoot down the US operated unmanned plane.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister, who arrived at a helipad near the firing range in Cholistan desert, was received by Kayani.

He himself drove an open army jeep to bring the prime minister to the observation post to witness the demonstration by armoured, artillery, air defence and civil aviation formations of the Pakistan Army and firepower by F-16, JF-17 Thunder, F 7P and Mirage aircraft to repel an attack of enemy forces.

Sharif said the government had made its position clear that drone strikes constituted a violation of Pakistan's sovereignty, were violative of international humanitarian laws, besides being counter-productive to its efforts for bringing peace and stability in Pakistan and the region.

He also maintained that his government would not take any foreign dictation to determine its national security policies, saying, the days when the country's policies were determined through telephone calls from abroad are gone.
Allahabad High Court dismisses petition on unauthorised activity on defence land

Six months after a contempt notice was issued to a top Army official by the Allahabad High Court, the petition has been dismissed as withdrawn following the court's observation that "by no stretch of imagination" did it appear that any construction work was undertaken in the cantonment area in violation of an injunction. The verdict came after the petitioner Ajay Kumar Mishra, a practising advocate at the High Court, sought permission to withdraw his contempt application "conceding that no case for contempt is made out". A contempt notice was issued by the court to Major General Bishambher Dayal, ex-officio President of Allahabad Cantonment Board, on April 11 following the petitioner's allegation that construction activity was taking place at the Polo ground, a stone's throw from the High Court premises.

The court had on April 12, 2005 described the Polo Ground, spread over about 23 acres of land, as "the lungs of the city" and issued a writ of mandamus against "making any construction" there and to "maintain it as an open piece of land". On the date of delivery of judgement, the court noted with dismay that despite having sought adjournments twice in the month of September itself, the petitioner had failed to submit any rejoinder subsequent to the counter affidavit filed by the Major General wherein he denied allegations of any construction activity at the site. The court said, "The repair and replacement of boundary fence of barbed wires for the protection of the ground in itself by no stretch of imagination can be said to be in violation of the order passed by the court, in as much as the same can not amount to raising any construction on the land or changing its nature in any manner. "Notices are discharged. Let the contempt application be consigned to record", Justice Krishna Murari said in the recent judgement.
India's foreign policy trapped between its borders: Jaswant Singh

New Delhi, Nov 5: India's foreign policy is "trapped" between the four lines outlining its boundary with neighbours and there is need to find an answer to this strategic confinement, says former external affairs minister Jaswant Singh. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP also feels that the "disarming of India", or Indian men being made to give up the age-old practice of carrying arms during British rule, has had a negative effect on the self-reliance of citizens. Talking about his new book, 'India At Risk: Mistakes, Misconceptions and Misadventures of Security Policy' (Rupa) Singh told IANS: "India lies at the crossroads of four collapsed empires - the Qing dynasty of China; the great Ottoman empire, the consequences of collapse of that empire were diverse, which are never taken into account; the British empire and the collapse of great Soviet empire. Each of these have left a consequence which distilled itself into India's confinement between four lines - the Line of Control, the Line of Actual Control, the McMahon Line and the Durand Line. The book is an attempt to identify the consequences." Singh, who held the portfolios of defence, external affairs and finance during the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, feels that the disarming of India and its debilitating effect needs careful study. "Post-1857 followed a great disarming of India - the carriage of arms, or personal weapons was never as a weapon of offence but as a male adornment and also in a sense a necessary identity," said Singh, sitting in his 15, Teen Murti Lane small study, full of books, paintings and artefacts.

He recounted his mother referring to his carrying 'shastra' or arms as a matter of routine enquiry. "When I pay a visit to my mother, she asks 'Shastra to hai, beta' (you have your arms, son). Why did she ask that, not because I am threatened or anything, but it was routine in my part of the world for anyone to carry a shastra. The British post 1857 disarmed the whole of British East India's occupied territory, but not the pejoratively so-called native states. There we kept our weapons, till almost the 1960s." Singh explains that Indians don't really follow Mahatma Gandhi. "His non-violence was not really a debilitating creed, it was in reality an empowerment. Still, do we really feel empowered by non-violence.. We say we are essentially non-violent, but when you look around at India today or in the past six years we are an extremely violent land," he says. The disarming "is having a negative effect on self-reliance of citizens. It is my personal view. During the Vijayanagar empire, six million men were available for instant recruitment," he says. Would not arms lead to more violence in society, with people resorting to using them at the drop of a hat, like in cases of road rage? "That is a perversion. Road rage is an urban sickness, 70-75 percent of Indians are rural," he says. "What is that we need to do to make our countrymen and women's spirit more robust? That is the question to be asked. All of us have been brainwashed into thinking, should we go down this path India will go down into violence. I lived my life, in a part of India in west Rajasthan, where people still carry swords," said Singh. Singh also terms the 1984 storming of the Golden Temple by the Indian Army as a "great sin" which should not have been done. "I am not a Sikh, but I really truly think to send the army to attack Harmandir Sahib, Darbar Sahib, was a great sin. It should never have been done. It had never been assaulted after Nadir Shah. Were these (Sikh militants) aliens we were dealing with? They were our own citizens," he said. "Who promoted Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale? You plant the seed - ped boye babool ke, aam kahan se khaye (you plant the seed of a prickly thorn bush then how can you expect to reap mangoes)?" he asked philosophically. In the 292-page book, priced at Rs.595, Singh dwells on the 1999 hijacking of Indian Airlines flight IC-814 from Kathmandu, which he terms as a "painful chapter of my life, something that I don't want to revisit."

No comments:

Post a Comment


Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal