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Saturday, 16 November 2013

From Today's Papers - 16 Nov 2013

Two IAF squadrons to get President’s Standards
Vijay Mohan/TNS

Chandigarh, November 15
Two IAF frontline fighter squadrons, No. 32 and No. 220, will be presented the Standards by the President at a special function scheduled for November 20 at Air Force Station, Halwara, in Punjab.

The Standards are awarded to IAF flying or operational squadrons as a mark of recognition of their service to the nation. Non-flying establishments are awarded the Colours. A squadron becomes eligible for the award of the President’s Standards after completion of 18 years.

Besides President Pranab Mukherjee, Punjab Governor Shivraj Patil, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne and a host of civilian and military dignitaries and retired officers from the two squadrons will be present at the airbase, home to No. 220 Squadron and Su-30 fighters.

The squadron was formed before the 1965 Indo-Pak war at Pune by Sqn Ldr NF Watts and during the war was engaged in air defence, ground attack and close air support missions, playing a major role in thwarting enemy advances in the Chamb-Jaurian sector.

During the 1971 Indo-Pak war, the squadron operated from Uttarlai, conducting 33 missions involving shooting down enemy Sabre aircraft, destroying four supply trains and other support sorties.

In June 1981, the squadron was converted on to the MiG-23 aircraft and later disbanded after the aircraft were phased out in 2009. Now known as the Desert Tigers, the squadron was resurrected in 2011 with the Su-30 and is the first squadron in the Western Air Command to receive this aircraft.

The other unit to receive the Standards, No. 32 Squadron, the Thunderbirds, is based at Jodhpur and flies the MiG-21 Bison. Raised on the Mystere aircraft by Wg Cdr ER Fernandes at Adampur in Punjab in October 1963, the squadron carried out deep strikes inside Pakistan during the 1965 war.

In 1971 it operated from Amritsar with Su-7 aircraft and was the first unit to attack Shorkot airfield. The squadron won a Maha Vir Chakra. After a stint in Hindon, tasked with the defence of New Delhi, the squadron converted to the MiG-21 in 1984 and moved to Rajasthan.

Top honours

    IAF’s frontline fighter squadrons — No. 32 and No. 220 — will get President’s Standards on Nov 20 at Air Force Station, Halwara
    The Standards are awarded to IAF flying or operational squadrons as a mark of recognition of their service to the nation
    No. 220 Squadron was formed before the 1965 Indo-Pak war at Pune; took part in various missions during the war
    No. 32 Squadron was raised at Adampur in October 1963; carried out deep strikes inside Pakistan during the 1965 war
Al-Qaida-linked group has India in crosshairs
Azhar Qadri & Ajay Banerjee/TNS

Srinagar/ New Delhi, Nov 15
A new militant group calling itself ‘Ansaar-ut-Tawheed Fee Bilaad Al-Hind’ or ‘The Supporters of Faith in the Land of India’ has announced its formation in a video released on Al-Qaida linked web forums.

The leader of the group, who uses pseudonym Abdur Rehman al Hindi, announced the formation in the video statement released this week.

In New Delhi, officials confirmed the existence of the video. These are actually fringe groups within the main frame of the Al-Qaida looking to assert their authority. It goes without saying that India could be the possible target as the Al-Qaida has been weakened to an extent that it would not be in a capacity to attack the US. Thus, the easiest and closest target is India.

In August this year, Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri issued specific guidelines that had endorsed the right of militants to fight Indian forces in Kashmir. Also captured Indian Mujahideen (IM) elements like Abu Jundal have revealed of their close ties with Al-Qaida.

In the latest issue, the ‘Al Hind’ video statement is titled ‘From Kandahar to Delhi’ and shows seven armed individuals, including al Hindi at an unknown location. While five militants have their faces covered with scarves, the faces of three, including al Hindi’s, has been blurred. Indian agencies are studying the video. The use of the name ‘Al Hind’ was common with Indian Mujahideen during 2007-08.

The statement assumes significance as it was released on a web forum, which has been exclusively releasing statements of Al-Qaida’s central command and its affiliate branches in Yemen, Syria, Somalia and other places.

The forum also releases communiqu├ęs from Al-Qaida chief Ayman al Zawahiri, including his several latest releases some of which included references to fighting in Kashmir.

This year, Al-Qaida and its affiliate groups which include Tehreek-e-Taliban, Pakistan, and Tehreek-e-Taliban, Punjab, have increasingly mentioned Kashmir as the next theatre of war once US draws out of Afghanistan.

Senior Indian Army commanders and analysts have also warned of a “ripple effect” of the US’ withdrawal from Afghanistan impacting the region.

In the statement, which echoed the rhetoric of several Al-Qaida statements issued this year, al Hindi incites Indian youth to fight and warns of “avenging” the events of Gujarat, Assam and Hyderabad.

The statement also mentions recent rioting in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar and warns that “we never forget our enemies”.

“Sons of this ummah (nation) are marching to you from the land of faith Afghanistan,” al Hindi warns.

The video includes trademark Al-Qaida visual theatrics, including graphics showing a path emerging from Afghanistan’s Kandahar, going through Pakistan and leading to Indian capital New Delhi through Punjab state.

In a trailer version of the video statement, released last month, the militants identified as Abu Mohammad and Abu Baseer of Uttar Pradesh, Abu Mus'ab and Abu Saeed of Karnataka are shown firing machine guns in an unidentified mountainous region.

Terror threat

    New militant group ‘Ansaar-ut-Tawheed Fee Bilaad Al-Hind’ led by ‘Abdur Rehman al Hindi’ announces formation on Al-Qaida linked websites
    The ‘Al Hind’ video statement is titled ‘From Kandahar to Delhi’ and shows seven armed individuals, including al Hindi, at an unknown location
    Al Hindi incites Indian youth to fight and warns of “avenging” the events of Gujarat, Assam and Hyderabad and mentions recent UP riots
 The endgame in Afghanistan
India and Pakistan must cooperate
by Lt Gen Kamal Davar (retd)

The land of the historical Great Games and the "graveyard of many empires", now according to many analysts, is inexorably heading for another Great Game, not between any imperial powers but two of Afghanistan's important neighbours, India and Pakistan. After the ill-timed, premature 2014 slated drawdown of all US and NATO forces from this continuing fratricidal violence-afflicted country, both India and Pakistan naturally have their own, largely disparate, strategic interests. However, what is glaring is that Pakistan's myopic, self-defeating agendas in Afghanistan are hardly conducive to peace in Afghanistan or the region for it is merely reducing Indo-Pakistan relations in Afghanistan unnecessarily to a zero-sum game, which can be a win-win situation for both nations as also a confidence-building measure between them.

An analysis of Pakistan's strategy and multiple interests in Afghanistan, as followed by the former for a couple of decades, largely stems from its stubborn adherence to its antiquated "strategic depth" obsession, a desire to have a pliant regime in Kabul and keeping, unwisely though, Indian influence totally out of the land of the Hindu Kush. Further, Pakistan seeks safe havens for its trained extremists, keeping the contentious Durand Line (never ever recognised by any Afghan regime) tranquil and endeavours to discourage the ever-present latent Pashtun unity along the border regions with Afghanistan, besides looking for Afghanistan to be its gateway to the energy-rich Central Asian Republics (CARs). Importantly, Pakistan had made itself indispensable, at least logistically, to the US and NATO forces for the two critical supply routes to Afghanistan pass through Pakistan and thus it has been getting its financial succour from the US, thanks to the US presence in Afghanistan since 2001. Pakistan, economically in alarmingly dire straits, has, by conservative estimates, obtained a largesse of $20 billion from the US during this period.

On the other hand, India apart from cementing its old civilisational and friendly links with Afghanistan, primarily seeks to ensuring Afghanistan not becoming a major safe haven and training ground for anti-India terrorists - a natural fallout with a radical regime in Kabul. Afghanistan also provides much needed access for both Indian imports and exports to the CARs. India, also seeking political and economic influence in Afghanistan, has thus invested over $2 billion in various humanitarian developmental projects, is providing military training to the Afghanistan Security Forces and overall desires Afghanistan, under a secular regime, becoming an important and independent partner in the security architecture of South Asia. There is a strong possibility that with the withdrawal of the US forces next year, Pakistan's ISI may already be working on contingency plans to divert then many out-of-work terrorists to up the ante in the Indian state of J&K and current indicators in the region all point to the ISI's machinations in this regard.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan, under outgoing President Hamid Karzai, though largely suspicious of Pakistan, has been navigating carefully with both "friendly India" and "brotherly Pakistan" -- though not very successfully. With India, Afghanistan had concluded in October 2011 a strategic agreement and managed to obtain additional financial aid and an increased Indian commitment to train its army and police. However, what is currently worrisome for Afghan security and stability is the yet-to-be-agreed upon bilateral security deal between President Karzai and the US government, which, if not signed, will, in the ultimate analysis, only assist radical forces like the Taliban and the Haqqani network in Afghanistan once the Americans depart next year. Pakistan, as current indications point out, would like its pliant 'strategic assets' comprising the conglomerate of fundamentalist elements to get into power in Kabul after the US departs next year.

Pakistan must understand that a democratic, stable Afghanistan is equally important for both India and Pakistan and thus both nations must make a concerted effort to have a constructive and cooperative policy for it. Afghanistan is not considered by India as a region of competing national interests and its economic assistance to Afghanistan is contributing to the latter's economic development, which, in turn, supports its political stability and security. Thus Pakistan must rid itself of a mere anti- India centric approach in Afghanistan. Pakistan's allegations that the existence of Indian consulates in Afghanistan is directed against Pakistan's interests are all ill-founded and unsubstantiated misapprehensions.

Pakistan must fully comprehend, in its own interest, that the real threat to the security and stability of Afghanistan and ultimately to itself comes from violent and extremist groups like the Afghan Taliban, elements of the al-Qaida, the Haqqani network and the anti-Pakistan Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) for the latter's linkages with the Afghan Taliban are only increasing by the day. That after TTP supremo Hakimuulah Mehsud's elimination by a US drone last fortnight in North Waziristan, the TTP has vowed to take serious revenge should send warning signals to the Pakistani government.

To both India and Pakistan, an objective analysis of the current dynamics and also in the foreseeable future of Afghanistan will clearly bring out the benefits which can accrue if relationships are based on a trilateral cooperative approach. A stable, peaceful Afghanistan, acting as a hub of trade and transit and as a corridor for both India and Pakistan to the energy-rich CARs will be of immense economic benefit to the three nations. This shared interest thus calls for a serious Indo-Pak dialogue on Afghanistan to address any mutual apprehensions and develop a cooperative framework, which contributes to the security and stability of a currently hapless Afghanistan and thus benefits both India and Pakistan. Indeed, this was a unanimous recommendation of the German think tank, the globally acclaimed FES-sponsored Track 2 Dialogue between renowned Indian and Pakistani participants discussing the vexed Indo-Pak issues. It was strongly felt that there was no requirement for differences on Afghanistan to be added to the already overflowing plate of growing Indo-Pak tensions. On the other hand, a sincere, mutually accommodating trilateral dialogue could be in the interest of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and South Asia as a whole.
India to crank up military diplomacy by posting more officers abroad
NEW DELHI: India is expanding its military presence around the globe. No, it's not covertly establishing military bases or outposts overseas. Instead, New Delhi is slowly but steadily cranking up the number of its defence attaches or advisors (DAs) deployed abroad as part of its larger military diplomacy strategy.

The endeavour is to post more DAs in Indian missions in hitherto-neglected but strategically crucial areas like the energy-rich Central Asia and Indian Ocean Region (IOR) as well as strengthen presence in countries like China.

Defence ministry sources say the plan is to gradually create as many as 26 new DA posts over the next few years, even as several new "billets" abroad have already been "filled or approved" over the last several months.

"By combining diplomatic and military tools, DAs can promote India's military and security interests. As our military-to-military engagement with countries around the world expands, it's important to post more uniformed officers with domain knowledge in Indian missions," said a source.

With the world's second-largest standing Army, and a Navy and Air Force in the top five or six, India is also helping friendly countries in "capacity-building" of their armed forces. Much like Bhutan and Botswana, for instance, an Indian Army Training Team will soon also be based in Myanmar, where China has made deep strategic inroads.

India now has 100 DAs posted in different countries, with 67 of them being from the Army. "Four new posts for Army officers have been approved in Nigeria, Norway, Azerbaijan and Papua New Guinea," said the source.

Only the US, the UK and Russia have Indian DAs from all three Services till now. India is also going to post a naval attache (NA) to Beijing, even as it steps up its maritime engagement with countries in the IOR.

India feels that its central location in the IOR, astride major commercial routes and energy lifelines like the Malacca Strait makes it a major stakeholder in the region's security and stability. "With defence minister A K Antony holding India has to be the 'net security provider' in the IOR, NAs have also recently been posted to countries like the Maldives and Myanmar," said the source.

Similarly, with DAs already present in Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, India is also focussing on other Central Asian countries like Turmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. "The Persian Gulf is another area where the military cooperation is going up," he said.

"A DA can provide a fillip to the overall strategic relations with a country by being the main interface with the host country's military authorities. Apart from assisting the mission in security and protocol tasks, he also keeps an eye of the military technology available," he added.
Indian Army hopes for better ties with China after Chengdu joint military exercise
 Guwahati, Nov.15 (ANI): The Indian Army is hopeful about having an improved relationship with their Chinese counterparts, as both sides concluded their ten-day long joint military exercise in Chengdu on Thursday.

A mixed group of at least 160 personnel each from Indian and Chinese armies participated in the drill.

The Indian soldiers returned back to Guwahati, Assam, on Thursday night.

Interacting with media, Brigadier D.S. Shisodiya said: “Firstly, we had a very nice professional interaction with our counterparts there (Chengdu in China), and it was a very good training on counter terrorism. It is…with mutual trust and co-operation between the two nations. I am sure that it will lead to further improvement of relations with them.”

Brigadier Shisodiya further said this training would also reduce tensions over border disputes between the two Asian giants.

The joint training exercise between the two countries was one of the major bilateral defence cooperation and is third in the series which started in 2007. The first was held at Kuming, China in December 2007 while the second was held at Belgaum, India in November 2008.

Earlier, in May, armies from the two countries ended a three-week standoff in the western Himalayas after Chinese troops set up a camp at least 10 kilometres (six miles) inside the territory claimed by India, triggering a public outcry and calls that India should stand up to its powerful neighbour.

China has repeatedly denied that it troops crossed into Indian territory.

In October, a Chinese airline blocked two Indian archers from disputed Arunachal Pradesh from travelling to China, souring the mood in India ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Beijing.

Later both sides signed a deal aimed at soothing tension on their contested border, as the two nuclear-armed giants tried to break a decades-old stalemate on overlapping claims to long remote stretches of the Himalayas.

China, a close ally of India’s long-time foe, Pakistan, lays claim to more than 90,000 square kilometres (35,000 sq miles) disputed by New Delhi in the eastern sector of the Himalayas. India says China occupies 38,000 square kilometres (14,600 square miles) of its territory on the Aksai Chin plateau in the west.
GRSE to sign MoU with Navy for warship project
Kolkata, Nov 15 (IBNS): Ship building and heavy engineering company Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers Limited (GRSE) is all set to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Indian Navy for a “warships project”.
Rear Admiral A K Verma (Retd), Chairman, Defence Task Force, CII Eastern Region, and also the CMD of GRSE, disclosed this during a Conference on Vendor Meet on Defence at CII Biz Bridge 2013.

“These off-shore petrol vessels made by GRSE for the Navy will tremendously increase business opportunities in the Eastern region, especially in West Bengal. GRSE will require more vendors and industry partners to meet the requirements with the Navy,” said Rear Admiral Verma.

He said negotiations with the Philippines government for a big project are on.

“I hope it will fructify very soon,” said the chief of GRSE whose turnover has trebled from Rs 500 crore in 2008 to Rs 3,000 crore in the current fiscal.

“We hope to see the turnover jump to Rs 3,000 in the next five years,” said Rear Admiral Verma,

GRSE, he said, is also negotiating with a few other countries.

“But this is not going to be a smooth sailing because we are competing with some formidable European countries. We must work hard to keep our bidding low,” he said.

According to him, Biz Bridge is a timely effort to bring in all stakeholders to a platform where they discuss how they can make the most of the defence industry sector which is regarded as a 1 billion-dollar opportunity.

“Private players are fast emerging as an inalienable part of the defence sector. All those who are associated with this sector will be delighted to join a forum like Biz Bridge. Its long-term value is enormous and the mutual benefits are immeasurable,” said Lt Gen A K Choudhary, AVSM, SM, VSM, GoC Bengal Area, Eastern Command, Indian Army.

The Indian defence sector is still dominated by the public sector, including 41 Ordnance factories, 9 Defence PSUs & DRDO. The current value added by domestic players is 30 percent, which in monetary terms, translates roughly into USD 4 billion. The rest is imported, directly or indirectly.

“Things are changing. The government has taken a slew of policy initiatives including 100% private equity with 26% FDI and the defence offset policy which mandates that foreign vendors must invest 30 per cent of the contract value in building India’s defence industry for contracts worth Rs 300 crore or more,” Lt Gen Choudhary said.

Rear Admiral Sekhar Mittal, NM, Additional DGQA, Directorate of Quality Assurance (Naval), Indian Navy, said, India’s attractiveness as a potential defence production hub is rising steadily, for both domestic and global players.

“This is a huge opportunity for big players as well as MSMEs. Big investors from across the world are increasingly turning their focus on India. I am sure a whole new era is waiting to unfold,” said Rear Admiral Mittal.

In his view, the outlook is quite bright.

“A unity of purpose and a culture of cooperation and collaboration among all stakeholders, efficient management and fine-tuning of policies and regulations will further energise the Defence Industry Sector in India,” he said.

Sandipan Chakravarty, Chairman, Task Force on Trade Fairs, CII Eastern Region, said quality and dependability are the two most prerequisites for the defence sector to grow.
Top Indian Army officer visits international border in Jammu
 Lt. Gen. Philip Campose, who heads the Indian Army's swordarm Western Command, Friday visited forward areas on the international border in Jammu region of Jammu and Kashmir to review security on the borders.

"During his forward area visit, the army commander interacted with officers and troops of Tiger Division deployed near the international border in Jammu region. Major General Ashwani Kumar, GOC, Tiger Division, who accompanied the army commander, briefed him about the security scenario in Jammu region. The army commander applauded the state of operational preparedness and expressed confidence that Tiger Division was prepared for all challenges and would execute the assigned tasks in a befitting manner, meeting the aspirations of the nation.

"He also lauded development projects undertaken in the border areas by the formation in conjunction with civil authorities. In the afternoon, the general reached Pathankot, where he was received by Lt. Gen. Praveen Bakshi, GOC Rising Star Corps, for further visits in that region", a defence statement issued here said.
Defence Ministry rejects Gen VK Singh's plea on secret unit
New Delhi: The Defence Ministry has rejected former Army Chief Gen VK Singh's plea to get a copy of an Army report on the activities of the controversial Technical Support Division (TSD), set up during his tenure.

"In so far as your request for supply of a copy of the report of Board of Officers headed by Director General Military Operation Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia is concerned, it is regretted that it cannot be supplied," a Defence ministry communication in response to his RTI query said.

The Defence Ministry has rejected the plea by the former Army Chief citing Section 8 (1) (a) of the Right to Information Act.
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.

Gen Singh had asked for a copy of the report filed by Lt Gen Bhatia under the RTI Act and also sought to be allowed to inspect the relevant files at the Defence Ministry related to the case.

He had filed the RTI after reports quoted the report filed by Lt Gen Bhatia saying that the TSD was carrying out unauthorised operations trying to destabilise the Jammu and Kashmir government.

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

had then denied the charges.

TSD was formed after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks on the basis of an operational directive given to the Army by the Government to perform specific tasks.

The secret unit was disbanded soon after Gen Bikram Singh took over as Army Chief in May last year.
Keran ops: Govt in a fix as Army, intel agencies differ
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 13
A month after the operations ended in the Keran sector along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir, the government has made it clear that it was not ready to accept the gaps in two different narratives on the incident.

In what appears to be a fight between two powerful wings of government, the narratives of the Indian Army and that of the Indian intelligence agencies on the Keran incident do not match. At a high level review meeting on November 1, discussions revolved around management of borders, arrangement to guard the borders and matters of surveillance and intelligence gathering. The Keran operations was called off on October 8. Sources said, at the meeting, there was no dispute whether or not there was an infiltration by the militants from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK). But the intensity, intent and nature of the infiltration was discussed and there was a gap in the narratives provided by the two sides.

The Ministry of Defence has backed the Indian Army operations before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence and other forums. But within the government, the difference of opinion has cropped up after the civilian agencies, which function under the Ministry of Home Affairs, had different reports to narrate. The figure of 30-40 intruders given by the Army has been contested by the intelligence agencies, who have said that the number was lower.

But the claim has been contested by the MoD and the Army on the grounds that agencies are not based at the LoC. Hence, they would not have first-hand knowledge of the incident.The place where the operations took place is not even inhabited. Therefore, there would be little chance of a local informer being present.

The Army had evaluated it as a normal infiltration bid. However, the intelligence agencies assess that the infiltrators had no intention of trying to cross the fence but were looking to attack and ambush the Army men that would patrol the area - that is beyond the fence.

The other sore point is the number of days required to flush out the militants. At the meeting, it was suggested that the Army should fortify the “reception area” to trap militants who sneak in despite the layered deployment of forces.

Varying views

What army says

30-40 intruders were present

It was a normal infiltration bid

Intel claims

The number was far less

Infiltrators had no intention to cross the fence. They were looking to attack Army men patrolling the area

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