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Thursday, 28 August 2014

From Today's Papers - 28 Aug 2014

 Scrapping of INS Vikrant begins
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, August 27
India’s first aircraft carrier INS Vikrant is being scrapped at a ship-breaking yard in Mumbai after the Supreme Court dismissed petitions challenging the move last week. Mumbai port trust officials confirmed that work on scrapping the former aircraft carrier has begun.

IB Commercial Pvt Ltd, a ship-breaking firm which bought INS later Indian Museum Ship Vikrant for Rs 63 cr earlier this year, has begun dismantling various fittings on board the ship. In the final stage, the ship will be cut and sold as scrap. The ship-breaker is carrying out the job at the Darukhana shipbreaking yard of the Mumbai port trust here.

The ship which served as a floating museum before the state government gave up the idea of turning it into a permanent facility was moved to the Darukhana ship-breaking yard in May.

Several politicians, including newly elected MPs from the BJP and the Shiv Sena, had opposed the move to sell Vikrant for scrap. However, the state government said it was unable to earmark funds for the maritime museum and the central government, too, did not make any move to save the vessel.

First aircraft carrier

    India purchased INS Vikrant from the UK in 1957
    Upon its completion in 1961, it was commissioned as the first aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy
    After a distinguished service, it was decommissioned in January 1997
    The vessel was preserved as a museum ship in Cuffe Parade, Mumbai, until it was closed in 2012 due to safety concerns.
 First sub to be launched next year

New Delhi, August 27
The first of the six submarines being built in India will be launched at sea next year. These are conventional diesel-electric submarines being made in collaboration with French company DCNS at the Ministry of Defence (MoD)-owned shipyard Mazagon Docks Limited (MDL), Mumbai.

Defence Minister Arun Jaitley today reviewed the submarine project and also inaugurated ~823-crore Mazdock Modernisation Project (MMP), which would enhance the warship and submarine construction capability of the MDL.

The MoD said the first three submarines of the project were in outfitting phase and the systems of the first submarine were being ‘Set to Work’ — meaning the final stages before the vessel is tested in water. The first vessel will be launched at sea in September 2015. — TNS
 BSF, Rangers hold 2 flag meets
Truce violation DG briefs Rajnath; force assesses damage to infra
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria & Shaurya Karanbir Gurung
Tribune News Service

Nikowal (Jammu)/New Delhi, August 27
After 45 days of unprovoked and intense shelling, Pakistan this evening held two commandant-level flag meetings in Nikowal with India to pave the way for de-escalating tension between the two countries and to restore normalcy on the 198 km-long international border.

The move has come against the backdrop of DGMO-level talks between Islamabad and New Delhi yesterday.

Pakistan Rangers have requested the BSF to hold sector-level meetings, that is Deputy Inspector General (DIG)-level meetings. The BSF will respond to the request in the coming days.

Since July 16, Pakistan Rangers, on at least 16 occasions, had spurned requests of the BSF to hold a flag meet, but have now offered an olive branch to their Indian counterparts.

There are no reports of fresh firing by Pakistan since 7.30 am on August 25.

BSF’s Jammu Frontier IG RK Sharma described today’s meet as a prelude to a high-level flag meet in the days to come.

“Today’s meet was a prelude to the flag meet and I would say that process has set in. The proposal had come from the Pakistani side and we agreed to it. We have not reached the discussion point, we haven’t reached that stage,” he said.

The BSF had been strongly retaliating to the unprovoked shelling by Pakistan Rangers. The skirmishes between the two countries had resulted into displacement of a large number of villagers from either side of the border, especially in RS Pura sector, opposite the Sialkot sector of Pakistan.

The BSF is now making an assessment of the damage caused to its infrastructure and to civilian property caused by the firing by Pakistan Rangers.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh was briefed today by the BSF Director General Devendra Kumar Pathak on the cross-border firing along the international border. BSF sources in Delhi said the two sides met twice at Nikowal.

Pathak had informed the Home Minister about the damage caused to the infrastructure of the BSF and to the civilian property on the Indian side of the international border.

Pathak told The Tribune that several border outposts, barracks and other structures of the BSF along the international border in the RS Pura area of Jammu have been damaged mainly due to the shelling from Pakistan. On being asked the number of such structures which have been damaged, he replied, “We are making a total assessment and review of this”. The Director General had visited the international border and the RS Pura area on Tuesday.
 Water talks between India, Pakistan inconclusive

Lahore, August 27
The three-day talks between India and Pakistan here over the designs of the Kishan Ganga Dam and four other hydroelectric power projects on the Jhelum and the Chenab rivers respectively have ended inconclusively, but the two sides hoped to find a solution in the next meeting in Delhi.

The talks concluded yesterday and the 10-member Indian delegation led by Commissioner of Indus Water Commission K Vohra left for India today. The Pakistani team was headed by Indus Water Commissioner Mirza Asif Baig.

“The talks ended on a positive note and we will move forward to discuss and find out a solution to Pakistan’s objections in the next round of talks in New Delhi in October,” Baig said.

“We are optimistic that India will redress our concerns and the matter will be resolved without going to the International Court of Justice. In case our concerns are not met, we will have no other option but to move to the ICJ.”

When asked about reports that India did not show flexibility on objections on designs of Kishan Ganga Dam and four other proposed dams on the Jhelum and the Chenab rivers, respectively, Baig said: “I would not say either the talks failed or India refused to accommodate our view point.”

“Although there is not a major breakthrough, but we have brought forth our objections and the Indian team has agreed to examine them,” he said.

He said India had agreed to respond to Pakistan’s objections in detail in the next round of talks. — PTI
Promotion results for Generals out

The long-awaited results for promotion of Army officers to the rank of Lieutenant General and Major General have finally been declassified by the Ministry of Defence. As many as 17 officers of 1979 seniority (fresh cases) have made it to the rank of Lieutenant General, with 14 being approved for the Command and Staff (C&S) stream and three for staff-only stream. These include 12 from the infantry, four from the armoured corps and one from the mechanised infantry.

In addition, an artillery officer from the 1978 batch (first review) has also been approved for the C&S stream. The selection board for promotion was held in April this year and about 65 Major Generals were considered for promotion.

As far as elevation of Brigadiers to Major General is concerned, a total of 59 officers have made the grade. They include eight officers of 1981 batch and 37 officers of the 1982 batch for the C&S stream. One officer from the 1981 batch and 13 from the 1982 batch have been promoted in the staff-only stream. Only officers approved in the C&S stream are eligible to be appointed as corps or division commanders.

Capture of Hajipir, Bedori passes

August 27 is marked as the Hajipir Day by the First Battalion of the Parachute Regiment (1 Para), commemorating the capture of the strategically vital pass, located at about 8,000 feet on the Poonch-Uri axis in the Pir Panjal range, during the 1965 Indo-Pak war.

A pincer move to capture the pass was planned by 68 Brigade, using 1 Para and 19 Punjab. After intense fighting, Hajipir was captured by 1 Para, with Maj Ranjit Singh Dayal, who rose to be the Southern Army Commander and later Lt Governor of Puducherry, being decorated with the Maha Vir Chakra.

The 19 Punjab, which was on the left flank, captured the adjoining Bedori Pass on August 28, and the battalion observes this victory as Bedori Day. Despite the success and strategic value, Hajipir and several other important features that were captured were later returned to Pakistan following the Tashkent Agreement. Hajipir remains a major route of infiltration of terrorists into Jammu and Kashmir.

IAF’s all-women cycle expedition

Nine women officers from the Indian Air Force had a tryst with the dizzying heights of the Himalayas when they undertook a cycle expedition from Pathankot to Leh during July-August. Christened ‘Kshitij-Se-Pare’, the all-women team led by Wg Cdr Bhavna Mehra covered a total distance of 1,500 km through one of the most treacherous terrain, touching altitudes above 12,000 feet and facing unpredictable and inclement weather conditions with temperatures falling below freezing point.

The 32-day-long expedition was divided into three segments, with the first two segments being for acclimatisation and the third segment involving a high altitude cycling climb. The team was flagged-in this week by Air Marshal HB Rajaram, Air Officer-in-Charge Administration. The expedition was an opportunity for the women officers to nurture a spirit of adventure and camaraderie.

Veterans caution against fraudsters

Some veterans’ associations have cautioned against certain firms and individuals cheating serving and retired armed forces personnel by claiming to be agents of the Army Group Insurance Fund (AGIF).

The alleged fraudsters have been asking officers to issue checks of amounts varying between Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000 in the name of a Noida-based firm, which promises to facilitate claim settlements or grant of loans. Veterans have pointed out that the AGIF does not appoint any agents and nor does it have any tie up with any firm or individual for conducting its business.

All transactions are processed directly to the beneficiary’s bank account on receipt and scrutiny of complete documents. The particulars of ant firm or individual claiming to be an AGIF agent can be forwarded to AGIF headquarters.
Court to consider CBI’s closure report on Oct 7

New Delhi, August 27
A Delhi court today fixed October 7 for considering the closure report filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation in the case relating to alleged irregularities in supply of all-terrain Tatra vehicles to the Indian Army.

Special CBI Judge Madhu Jain posted the matter for October 7 after the agency sought some time to file documents relating to the case before the court.

The CBI had filed the closure report in the case in which it had registered an FIR on March 30, 2012 against Ravinder Kumar Rishi, promoter of Tatra Sipox UK Ltd, and others, including unnamed officials of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML), a defence PSU.

In its 30-page closure report, the agency has claimed that allegations levelled against the accused in its FIR could not be substantiated during the subsequent investigation.

Rishi, a British national, officials of Defence Ministry and others were facing a CBI probe for alleged irregularities in supply of Tatra vehicles to BEML by Tatra-Sipox UK Ltd.

The CBI had earlier alleged Tatra vehicles were procured from Tatra-Sipox UK Ltd despite the fact that a licence agreement regarding this was with M/s Omnipol, a Czech firm. — PTI
Dialogue not an end in itself
Hazards of a poorly planned engagement with Pakistan
G Parthasarathy

A diplomatic engagement with a neighbour having territorial ambitions has to be carefully calibrated and executed. Apart from realistically assessing the balance of military and economic power, one has also to carefully assess the neighbour’s internal political imperatives and the readiness of its leadership to live at peace, without resort to terrorism. Sadly, there are vociferous sections in India which believe that dialogue with Pakistan is an end in itself, without carefully considering what the available options are. Moreover, has continuing dialogue produced better results than no dialogue at all?
Pakistan lost its eastern half, 13,000 sq km of its territory in the west, one half of its navy, one-fourth of its air force and army, with India holding 90,368 prisoners of war, in the 1971 Bangladesh conflict. In negotiations in Simla with Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, India's most hard-headed Prime Minister was persuaded by some of her key officials that Bhutto would be devastated politically if he went back empty handed from Simla. While returning the 90,368 PoWs was inevitable, what was surprising was the decision to withdraw from 13,000 sq km of Pakistan territory captured by us on the basis of a mere verbal assurance from Bhutto that he would, in due course, settle the Kashmir issue on the basis of the territorial status quo.

Bhutto had no intention of abiding by his verbal commitment. Just over a decade later, Pakistan commenced promoting a communal divide in Punjab. This was followed by the arming and training of disaffected Kashmiri youth to promote an armed insurgency in J&K. Pakistan also sought to exploit "fault lines" in India's body politic. The Mumbai bomb blasts in 1993, where 250 Indians perished, were planned and executed by the ISI. The perpetrator of these blasts, Dawood Ibrahim, resides comfortably in Karachi. He even ventures abroad on a Pakistani passport. ISI-sponsored terrorism grew rapidly alongside continuing "dialogue" with Pakistan.

The bilateral dialogue was called off by Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in 1994 when she found that efforts to coerce India on J&K had not worked. Unlike in the past, Kashmiri youths were becoming increasingly wary of crossing the LoC. What followed was the induction of Pakistani nationals from the ISI-backed terrorist outfits like Jaish e Mohammed, Harkat ul Mujahideen and Lashkar e Taiba. This shift in Pakistani strategies from support for a “freedom struggle” of Kashmiris to a jihad by terrorists occurred, not because of any “composite dialogue,” but because of ground realities. Moreover, it was during this period that, thanks to imaginative political initiatives and effective policing, Pakistan-backed militancy in Punjab ended. Terrorists from Babbar Khalsa and the ISYF, however, still live across our borders.

Prime Minister Inder Gujral initiated discussions with Nawaz Sharif on a “Composite Dialogue Process,” in which the centrality of terrorism was not emphasised. Terrorism was merely put on the same pedestal as drug smuggling! The first round of this dialogue was held in 1998, after the nuclear tests. Determined to ensure that India was seen as sincere in its quest for peace, Mr. Vajpayee visited Lahore, only to find that rather than promoting peace, the resumption of the dialogue was accompanied by Pakistani intrusions, leading to the Kargil conflict, amidst dire Pakistani threats of nuclear escalation. President Musharraf's subsequent visit to Agra was followed by the attack on India's Parliament in December 2001. Structured dialogue alone was clearly no recipe for peace and good neighbourly relations.

The military standoff after the Parliament attack and the post 9/11 American invasion of Afghanistan, forced General Musharraf to think afresh. He proposed a ceasefire across the LoC and promised that “territory under Pakistan's control” would not be used for terrorism against India. While Musharraf abided by his commitments, where the UPA government went horribly wrong was in presuming that a weak democratic government led by Mr. Asif Ali Zardari, a well-meaning Sindhi Shia, would be able to rein in the jihadi propensities of Gen Ashfaq Kayani, a hard line Islamist. New Delhi underestimated the significance of the deadly ISI-sponsored attack on our Embassy in Kabul in August 2008. What inevitably followed was the terror strike of 26/11 in Mumbai. The public outcry that followed the disastrous summit diplomacy in Sharm-el Sheikh forced the UPA government to tread warily thereafter.

Given what followed the 2008 terrorist attack on our Embassy in Kabul, New Delhi should not underestimate the significance of the attack on our consulate in Herat, just on the eve of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Delhi. The recent demonstrations led by Imran Khan and Tahir-ul-Qadri clearly enjoy the behind-the-scenes backing of the Pakistani military establishment. The army has indicated that it will assist Nawaz Sharif. But in return for this support it has demanded that Sharif “must share more space with the army”. To expect that in these circumstances, Nawaz Sharif can deliver India’s concerns on terrorism, or promote trade and energy cooperation significantly will be wishful thinking. The tough stance that India has taken on the links of the Pakistan establishment with Hurriyat at least conveys that it is not going to be “business as usual” with Pakistan, especially if it continues with ceasefire violations, while abetting terrorism in India and threatening our diplomatic missions and nationals in Afghanistan.

In her meticulously researched book “The Pakistan Army's Ways of War” American academic Christine Faire notes that in order to deal with Pakistani army policies which undermine US interests and seek to destabilise India, the US should consider means to “contain the threats that emanate from Pakistan, if not Pakistan itself”. This is the first time a reputed American academic has spoken of the need to “contain” Pakistan. Clearly, this cannot be done by merely chanting the mantra of “uninterrupted and uninterruptable dialogue” with Pakistan. While a measured engagement with whoever rules Pakistan is necessary, it has to be complemented with measures to tighten internal security, enhance our military capabilities and raise the costs for Pakistan, if it pursues its present efforts to “weaken India from within”.
Indian army delegation meets Dhofar Governor
SALALAH — Sayyid Mohammed bin Sultan al Busaidy, Minister of State and Governor of Dhofar received in his office yesterday a delegation of the Indian National Defence College led by Maj Gen B Singh, senior faculty at the college.
A presentation was shown in the presence of Abdullah bin Aqeel al Ibrahim, Acting Deputy Governor of Dhofar. The presentation included a briefing on the role of the office of the Minister of State and Governor of Dhofar, in addition to the functions and roles of the office in the overall development, along with the strategic importance of the governorate.
Al Ibrahim responded to queries and clarifications to the audience.
The Indian delegation expressed satisfaction over the progress that they have seen in various areas of development in the governorate.
This visit gave them the opportunity to learn about the care and attention accorded to the governorate from His Majesty Sultan Qaboos. The delegation pointed to the rich historical heritage of the Omani people in literary, commercial, agricultural, architectural fields.
The meeting was attended by the Indian ambassador to the Sultanate, the Indian Military Attach√© and a representative of the Indian National Defence College. — ONA
DRDO outlines new missile development programmes
The Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is planning to develop new surface-to-air missiles and man portable anti-tank guided missile in the next few years.

DRDO chief and Indian defence minister scientific adviser Avinash Chander was quoted by the Press Trust of India as saying: "We are going to have surface-to-air missile[s], which will be on the move, tracking. We are also working [on] missiles ... [that] stop and launch within a few seconds.
"We are also working on man-portable anti-tank missile[s], which can be fired from shoulders. We are planning to bring out these systems within the next four years."

India has reduced the timeframe for a missile development to four to five years from the previous eight to ten years, according to Chander. He added: "The aim is [in the] next five years you will see at least five different types of missiles covering different spectrums altogether."

The missiles are expected to be designed for different roles, including surface-to-surface, anti-tank, cruise, longer range and strategic.

Specifically, the short-range surface-to-air missile is likely to have two vehicle configurations, and will be supplied to the Indian Army.

Discussing other DRDO projects, Chander said: "We are working on other variations also, so that we have [a] total envelope of surface-to-air capabilities.

"In future, we will aim to work on [a] longer range missile of 200-plus kms. We are working on cruise missiles, which will cover ship launch, air launch, submarine launch and ground launch versions.

"We are expecting the second test-launch of [the] Nirbhay (missile) to happen within a month."

When questioned about when India would stop missile imports, Chander said: "Our target is thereafter (2022) we should not have to import any class of missiles."

The DRDO has recently been ordered by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to complete weapons development programmes on time, in a bid to make the country a global leader in defence.
Defence Ministry to decide fate of Rs 6,000 crore light helicopter deal
The Defence Ministry will decide the fate of the controversial Rs 6,000 crore deal to procure 197 light choppers which has been on hold due to an ongoing CBI probe into charges that a Brigadier had sought bribe from AgustaWestland to help it bag the contract.

During a meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) scheduled this week, the Defence Ministry will also discuss deals worth around Rs 15,000 crore for procuring Apache attack helicopters and Chinook heavylift choppers for the IAF from the US, Defence Ministry officials said.

The DAC, headed by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, is scheduled to take up the deal for discussion in its meeting where it is expected to decide its fate, they said. The 197 light utility choppers are to be procured for the Army and the IAF who use them for ferrying troops and supplies in high altitude areas such as Siachen Glacier and would be used to replace the vintage Cheetah/Chetak choppers which were inducted 40 years ago.

CBI has been probing allegations against the Brigadier which surfaced during investigations into the VVIP chopper deal about the alleged involvement of AgustaWestland in paying kickbacks to secure the Indian contract for 12 VVIP choppers.

CBI probe was ordered by the Defence Ministry after the Army requested it to investigate the charges against the Brigadier before taking any decision on the future developments in the deal. Allegations have been levelled against the Brigadier in a letter allegedly sent by an AgustaWestland official in India to his superiors in Italy saying the officer was seeking $5 million for facilitating the deal in their favour.

Only two firms European Eurocopter and Russian Kamov are left in the race for the deal to supply 197 light choppers to the Army and the IAF as AgustaWestland was knocked out of the deal in the preliminary stages itself.

The deal for procuring 197 light choppers has already been cancelled once in 2007 in the last stages. The Brigadier has denied the charges made against him.

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