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Saturday, 19 July 2014

From Todya's Papers - 19 Jul 2014

Vohra advocates specialised pan-India service for security
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 18
Advocating Union Government's greater role in managing terrorism and security threats, Jammu and Kashmir Governor NN Vohra today suggested the formation of a specialised country-wide security administrative service.

He also stressed the need for setting up the much-debated pan-India National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC). Delivering the first Air Commodore Jasjit Singh (retd) memorial lecture here, Vohra said the security management apparatus "cannot continue to be run by functionaries of varied backgrounds".

Air Commodore Jasjit Singh, a 1971 war veteran, headed the Centre for Air Power Studies (CAPS) and was regarded as one of the finest strategic thinkers in the country.

Vohra said the Central Government should establish a national security administrative service whose members, selected from the best available in the country, were trained in specialised areas before being deployed to run security management institutions. He clarified at the onset that the views expressed by him were personal and not of the establishment.

The Central Government could also consider setting up an Empowered Committee of Home Ministers of states to discuss security- related issues, including the proposal of setting up the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), said Vohra.

The NCTC, he said, continues to be debated for the past several years. A number of states, which opposed the establishment of the NCTC in its present form, have suggested that the framework of this body should be revised. Some other states have said the NCTC should not be established through an executive order but through a law enacted by Parliament.

The body should function under the administrative control of the Union Home Ministry instead of the Intelligence Bureau.

"As terror acts and other federal offences cannot be dealt with the existing security management apparatus, it is necessary that the Central Government undertakes urgent discussions with the chief ministers to resolve the doubts and issues raised by states," Vohra, a former Home Secretary and Defence Secretary, said.

The Union Home Ministry could consider various initiatives for promoting trust and mutual understanding between New Delhi and the state capitals. Representatives of states can be inducted in the National Security Advisory Board and the National Security Council, he said.

Coming to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), formed in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror attacks, Vohra said: "The NIA needs to be empowered if it is to serve the purpose for which it was established." The police in the states are reluctant and take time in handing over to the NIA even major crime cases which may have serious inter-state or nationwide ramifications, he added.

Many offenses, including major crimes under the IPC, which may be directly linked to terror activities, have still to be brought under the NIA's jurisdiction. The NIA has no power to probe incidents which occur outside India, The director of the agency does not have the powers enjoyed by the state police chiefs to permit an investigating officer dealing with a terror crime to seize property.

Also, the NIA does not have the legal authority to take action to pre-empt or prevent a terror attack, even when it functions in coordination with the states concerned.
Pak seeks uninterrupted dialogue with India
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 18
Pitching for a ‘dialogue without interruption’ with India, Pakistan today said the two countries were in touch to fix the date and venue for the Foreign Secretary-level talks between them.

“We are working on a meeting between the Foreign Secretaries as was decided by the two Prime Ministers when they met in Delhi after the swearing-in of the new government,” Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit said at a ‘Meet The Press’ programme at the Press Club of India here.

In response to a question, he said Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be welcomed in Pakistan whenever he decides to visit his country. ‘’Such high-level visits don’t take place without adequate preparations…It’s too early to say anything on that (visit by Modi).’’

Observing that the two countries were in discussion on a whole range of issues between them, he disclosed that the Commerce Ministers of the two countries would meet in Thimphu on July 24 on the margins of the SAARC Trade Ministers’ meeting. He indicated that according the MFN status to India could also figure during the meeting. Pakistan was also planning to host a life-style exhibition in New Delhi from September 10-14 and another in Mumbai in August end.

Claiming that the genesis of all disputes between India and Pakistan lay in the Jammu and Kashmir issue, Basit said the two countries need to implement in letter and spirit all the agreements and MoUs between them. ‘’Pakistan is committed to adhere to all the commitments it has made…If we continue to cling to stereotypes, we won’t go anywhere.’’

The Pakistani envoy said the two countries must deal head on with their history and geography in the interest of stability in the region. Describing Pakistan as a victim of terrorism, Basit said there was a misconception in India that Pakistan was a ‘failed’ state. People in Pakistan also have the same impression about India. ‘’It is a matter of time before Pakistan becomes a regional economic hub. Nobody can stop that.’’

He said things had indeed started looking up between the two countries after the installation of a new government in India. The two countries were actively discussing Pakistan’s proposal to buy 500 MW power from India.

Asked if the Pakistan Army was on board with regard to improving relations with India, he said the Army was very much a part of the government. ‘’It is the civilian leadership which calls the shots in Pakistan and not otherwise.’’
DRDO loses 210 scientists in three yrs, govt says it’s normal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 18
The government today made light of 210 scientists resigning from the country’s premier military research body DRDO in the past three years, saying it was normal for any organisation to lose 1 per cent of its total strength in a given year.

“The data on the resignation of scientists from the DRDO is normal. It is not alarming at all,” Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said answering questions related to the DRDO.

The government admitted that 210 scientists resigned from the Defence Research Development Organisation in the past three years but said these resignations, as in any institution, related to movement of professionals for better job prospects.

“The data is not alarming at all. For instance, in any organisation where senior scientists are working, people may go out for better job prospects. Some people may also go out because of personal reasons. But it is only when the number becomes extremely alarming and the functioning of the organisation suffers that it calls for a stronger reaction,” Jaitley told the House. Resignations have been gradually going down, he added.

Of the total staff strength of 7,702 scientists in the DRDO, 86 resigned in 2011. The next year, 67 out of 7,606 resigned and in 2013, 57 out of 7,574 scientists quit the organisation.

On delay in DRDO projects, Jaitley said most of the projects were underway and were termed delayed because the last consignment had not been delivered.

On questions related to cuts in the DRDO budget over the years (in 2005-06, there was 33.8 per cent increment in the defence budget as compared to the previous year; in 2009-10, it was 30.7 per cent but in 2012-13, it was only 3.7 per cent), Jaitley said: “It will not be fair to say that the functioning of the DRDO has been in any way curtailed on account of paucity of funds.”

The government defended funding for the DRDO saying that last year it got Rs 11,500 crore and this year the government has increased it by Rs 3,000 crore.
China circulates controversial Arunachal maps among troops

Beijing, July 18
China is distributing millions of controversial updated maps to its military in the first upgrade in 30 years, reportedly reinforcing its claims over Arunachal Pradesh.

All major army units will receive new, more accurate maps in the near future, PLA Daily reported.

The Lanzhou Military Command, one of seven PLA ground force commands, has updated more than 15 million maps for its troops, it said.

Though the official media here has not published the maps being circulated in its military, it reportedly incorporated China's claims over the disputed borders with India as well as South and East China Seas. — PTI
Ukraine wants India to flay Russian support to rebels

'We believe that annexation of Crimea is illegal, it is an act of aggression, and Russia is supporting terrorists in Eastern Ukraine'

Calling the shooting down of the Malaysian airways flight over Ukraine “an act of terrorism”, Ukrainian Ambassador to India, Oleksandr Shevchenko said India must condemn Russia’s support to separatist rebels in Eastern Ukraine. “We expect from India a more unequivocal expression on Russia’s intervention into Ukraine. You are friends, best friends, and you should talk to Russia about this,” said Mr. Shevchenko, in an interview to The Hindu.

A day after the tragic plane crash over the rebel-held Donetsk region that left 295 people dead, the Ukrainian government claims it has intercepts of a rebel commander and his Russian ‘supervisor’, that Ukraine believes is a Russian Army intelligence officer, Col. Vasily Geranin. “Two other Ukraine military planes have been shot down in the past few weeks,” claimed Mr. Shevchenko, “In this case, in the intercepts, one of the militant leaders was boasting about the downed aircraft with his Russian supervisor Russian Army Col. Vasily Geranin of the intelligence directorate. He said, ‘We have shot down an aircraft, but it is not the plane that we had targeted.” And the Russian reply was, “That is fine, nobody should fly over Ukraine.” Mr. Shevchenko alleged that Russian-backed rebels of the self-proclaimed ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ want to enforce an “economic blockade” on Ukraine, by ensuring there were no flights over the country or flights going into Kiev.

The Ukrainian ambassador also criticised former NSA Shivshankar Menon’s statement in March 2014 of recognising Russia’s ‘legitimate interests’, saying, “We have never accepted that Russia has any legitimate interest in Ukraine. We believe that annexation of Crimea is illegal, it is an act of aggression, and Russia is supporting terrorists in Eastern Ukraine… Our message to the MEA, to India’s leaders, is that as a country that aspires to be a UN Security Council member, India should make a more clear statement on supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Referring to the story in The Hindu that PM Modi’s flight was among dozens that had to be routed around the Ukraine after the crash, Mr. Shevchenko called the scenario “nightmarish”. “It just proves that terrorism doesn’t limit itself to the borders of any country, and India should recognise that too,” he said.

Russia's response

Russia's defence ministry on Friday denied any involvement in the shooting of MH17. In a statement that was carried by the Interfax agency, the Russian statement said:

“In view of various kinds of speculations regarding operations of the Russian armed forces in the areas bordering Ukrainian, we affirm that air defence means of the Russian armed forces were not operating in that region on July 17.

Instead, the Russian Defence Ministry claimed that Buk-M1 air defence missile launchers belonging to the Ukrainian army were deployed in the plane crash area.
Indian Air Staff Chief Arup Raha calls on Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa

COLOMBO: Indian Air Force Chief Marshal Arup Raha today called on Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and discussed bilateral defence cooperation, including the continuation of training and joint exercises.

Raha, who is on his first overseas tour since assuming office, also held a series of meetings with his counterpart Air Marshal K A Gunatilleke, defence ministry secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and the Sri Lankan Navy and Army chiefs.

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