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Friday, 29 August 2014

From Today's Papers - 29 Aug 2014

Resume talks with Pak, J-K Council resolution to Centre
Majid Jahangir
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, August 28
The J&K Legislative Council today unanimously passed a resolution urging New Delhi to resume the process of talks with Pakistan to ensure peace and stability in the subcontinent.

The resolution was moved by Council Chairman Amrit Malhotra and was passed by the House through voice vote after a discussion on the three amendments to the resolution. “The House unanimously resolves that the state government shall urge the Union Government to resume the process of Indo-Pak dialogue and to ensure peace and stability in the subcontinent, in general and the state of Jammu and Kashmir in particular," the resolution said.

"The state government shall urge the Centre to take effective steps to resolve violations on LoC (Line of Control) and IB (International Border) which has caused huge loss of life and property in the affected state. It also asked the state government to take steps to ensure rehabilitation of victims of LoC firing," it added. The Union Government headed by Narendra Modi had recently cancelled foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan after Islamabad envoy Abdul Basit held talks with Kashmir separatist leaders on August 18.

The members of political parties discussed three amendments to the resolution moved by Ghulam Nabi Monga and Naresh Kumar Gupta, both from the Congress, and Syed Mohammad Rafiq Shah of Panther's Party. All parties supported the resolution. Monga wanted talks between the two countries to be held at an “appropriate time and congenial atmosphere”. Speaking on the amendments, National Conference member Khalid Najeeb Suharwardy said India and Pakistan were using Kashmir as a “football” to suit their interests.

“There has always been match-fixing between the India and Pakistan and firing along border is part of that deal. This time Pakistan is helping India and tomorrow India would reciprocate,” Suharwardy said.

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) legislator Nayeem Akthar said it was important for the House to express the feelings of the people of J&K to the Government of India.

“The talks are inevitable and this thing must be conveyed to the GOI as these are the people of the state who are suffering,” he said.

NC legislator Devinder Rana said war was not an option and dialogue was the only way out.

After the discussion on the amendments, Monga and Gupta withdrew their motion. Rafiq Shah staged a walkout terming the resolution as unconstitutional.

Senior High Court lawyer and an expert on J&K constitution Zaffar Ahmed Shah said the resolution passed by the Council was not binding on New Delhi.

“Foreign affair is primarily a Central government subject. But, nevertheless, the issue pertains to the people of J&K. The resolution passed by the Council expresses the desire of the people of the state to urge the Government of India to resume dialogue. The council said war was not an option between the two countries. It is for the Government of India to respect the views of the council members,” he said.

‘Willing to discuss J-K’

India on Thursday made it clear that it was willing to discuss the issue of Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan within the framework of bilateral agreements of Simla pact and Lahore Declaration. The External Affairs Ministry spokesperson was reacting to Pakistan government's remarks that the Indo- Pak dialogue without discussions on Kashmir was "unacceptable".
 Tatra deal: Court summons Tejinder

New Delhi, August 28
Taking cognisance of the CBI chargesheet, a special court today summoned Lt Gen Tejinder Singh (retd) on September 1 for allegedly offering Rs 14 crore bribe to former Army Chief Gen VK Singh for clearing file pertaining to procurement of 1,676 heavy mobility Tatra vehicles.

Special CBI judge Madhu Jain took cognisance of the chargesheet and relied upon statements of former Defence Minister AK Antony, VK Singh and other witnesses whose testimonies were recorded by the agency during the probe.

“I have gone through charge sheet and statements of Gen VK Singh (retd), Major Gen JP Singh, the then military assistant of the COAS, AK Antony, the then Defence Minister, and other witnesses, published Rajya Sabha debate on March 27, 2012 in which Antony has stated in the Upper House that General VK Singh had informed him about the bribe offered by Lt Gen Tejinder Singh (retd) and other relevant documents.

“On the basis of material on record, there is sufficient ground to take cognisance of offence under Section 12 (abetment of offence) of Prevention of Corruption Act... though offence under Section 7 (public servant taking gratification other than legal remuneration in respect of an official act) of PC Act was not committed in consequence of the said abetment and I accordingly take cognisance under Section 12 of the PC Act,” the judge said, while summoning Tejinder Singh as an accused on September 1.

During the arguments on consideration of the chargesheet, senior public prosecutor VK Sharma had told the court that there was sufficient evidence to take cognisance and summoned the accused. — PTI

‘Offered bribe’ to clear files

* Lt Gen Tejinder Singh (retd) is accused of offering a bribe to former Army Chief Gen VK Singh for clearing a file pertaining to procurement of 1,676 heavy mobility Tatra vehicles

* The CBI in its chargesheet had alleged that in August-September 2010, the file was pending before General VK Singh, who felt the total projected requirement of the vehicles had been inflated

* On September 22, 2010, Tejinder Singh met VK Singh in his office in South Block and allegedly offered him a bribe of Rs 14 crore for clearing the file, the agency said
Defence council to take call on copter deals today
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 28
The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), the apex decision making body of the Ministry of Defence, is slated to meet tomorrow and decide on crucial helicopter deals besides next generation of indigenous tanks.

This will be the second DAC meet to be chaired by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley and will take up cases that have been held up due to the change in government. The deals include 22 Boeing Apache attack helicopters and 15 Boeing Chinook heavy helicopters, both likely to be tasked with the upcoming Mountain Strike Corps.

Negotiations for both deals had ended during the UPA regime (May 2004 to May 2014). The DAC is also expected to okay the deal for 118 next generation Arjun Mark-II tanks. The tank is an upgrade of its first version inducted some five years ago.

The Army and the IAF are also awaiting government’s approval for 197 light multirole helicopters. The tenders are pending for more than four years and the helicopters are needed immediately to phase out the 1960s-designed Cheetah/ Cheetak helicopters. The fight is between the European Airbus and the Russian Kamov. The meeting is also expected to discuss the issue of buying third-generation anti-tank guided missiles for the Army.
ITBP seeks facilities on a par with Army
Shaurya K Gurung
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 28
The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) tasked along the India-China frontier has asked for facilities on a par with the Indian Army. The ITBP has asked the Ministry of Home Affairs for better powered vehicles, special high-altitude allowances and facilities to use the Indian Air Force (IAF) transport plane, the IL-76, to ferry troops between Chandigarh and Leh.

The ITBP had raised these issues during the recent visit of the Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju to ITBP locations in eastern Ladakh, according to sources in the government.

Rijiju had gone on a visit to Ladakh along the India-China frontier on August 23 and had returned to Delhi on August 25.

Sources said that during the visit, the ITBP had raised the issue of being given allowance on a par with the Army. The Army is currently been given High Altitude Field Allowance (HAFA) which is above Rs 7,000 in all high-altitude areas, including Ladakh.

The ITBP had also requested the minister for being provided with courier flights. “A courier flight, an IL-76, a military transport aircraft for the Army regularly takes off from Leh to Chandigarh for transportation of men, items and bodies. The ITBP had also requested for this facility,” said sources.

The ITBP had also asked the minister to provide it with high-powered vehicles for easily reaching their posts in high-altitude areas.
Agenda for new Army Chief
‘Critical hollowness’ in Army’s operational preparedness requires attention
Gurmeet Kanwal
On taking over as the COAS from Gen Bikram Singh, Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag said his priorities would be to “enhance operational preparedness and the effectiveness of the Indian Army.” He also said that force modernisation, infrastructure development, optimisation of human resources and the welfare of personnel are issues that are close to his heart.

In March 2012, Gen V K Singh, the then COAS, had written to the Prime Minister about 'critical hollowness' in the Army's operational preparedness. He had pointed out large-scale deficiencies in weapons systems, ammunition and equipment in service and the fact that many of the weapons and equipment were obsolete or bordering on obsolescence. In particular, he had brought out that the artillery and air defence arms needed the infusion of modern guns, missiles and radars and the aviation corps required new helicopters to replace the ageing fleet.

Two consecutive reports of the CAG of December 2011 and November 2012 brought out that the state of defence preparedness was a cause for serious anxiety. The Standing Committee on Defence (SCD) in Parliament has also noted these developments with concern several times. In an unprecedented move, the SCD insisted on meeting the three Chiefs to take stock of operational preparedness. The SCD has repeatedly urged the government to increase the defence budget to enable the armed forces to undertake meaningful modernisation.

Weapons, ammunition and equipment shortages have persisted for long and several Chiefs before Gen V K Singh had written to the PM and the Defence Minister for help to make up the shortfall. During the Kargil conflict the nation had heard Gen V P Malik, the COAS, make the chilling statement on national TV, “We will fight with what we have.” Though the conflict was confined to Kargil district, 50,000 rounds of artillery ammunition had to be imported as an emergency measure because the stock holding was extremely low. If it had become necessary to open another front, the shortage of artillery ammunition would have seriously hampered operational planning.

Military modernisation has two major facets: the replacement of obsolete and obsolescent weapons and equipment with modern ones, which results in increasing combat effectiveness; and, the qualitative upgrade of combat capabilities through the acquisition and induction of force multipliers. General Suhag, like his predecessors, faces a major dilemma: Given the small budget, how can the Army improve operational preparedness while simultaneously making concerted efforts to modernise? Logically, operational preparedness takes precedence over modernisation. The art of military leadership lies in finding an optimum balance so that all efforts that are made to enhance operational preparedness also contribute substantively to modernisation.

The most critical operational deficiency is the inadequacy of artillery firepower due to the obsolescence of guns and mortars. No modernisation has taken place since the Bofors 155mm howitzer was purchased from Sweden in the mid-1980s. The 'night blindness' of the Army's mechanised forces needs to be rectified immediately. The F-INSAS (future infantry soldier as a system) programme for the modernisation of infantry battalions must be implemented on an urgent basis.

Air defence guns and missiles and their radar systems are reported to be 97 per cent obsolescent. Aviation Corps urgently needs 197 light helicopters. The old and inefficient intelligence, reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition systems available today adversely impact command and control and 'targeting' during war. Hence, the C4I2SR system needs a complete overhaul. The logistics support system also needs to be revamped, with the concept of 'just-in-time logistics' being implemented.

The new COAS will preside over the modernisation process during the remaining three years of the 12th Defence Plan, including the raising of 17 Corps for deployment on the border with China. This Corps, being raised as a ‘strike corps’ for the mountains, is expected to cost Rs 64,000 crore to raise and equip over a period of five to seven years. Approximately 90,000 new personnel will be added to the Army’s manpower strength, including those in ancillary support and logistics units. New weapons and equipment will have to be procured for the divisions, brigades and battalions of this Corps. It will be a retrograde step to milk these from existing battalions to equip new raisings.

Recruiting additional manpower of the requisite qualifications has so far not posed any problems for the world's third largest volunteer army. However, finding officers for 17 Corps will be a major challenge as there is an ongoing deficiency of approximately 10,000 officers. Transferring officers from existing battalions will further dilute their command and control and weaken them intrinsically. The methods for remedying this shortcoming are well known; it is for the NDA government to take appropriate action in an early time frame.

General Suhag wishes to ensure that relatively softer issues like human resources development and the welfare of serving personnel and veterans are not neglected. Morale is adversely affected if these issues are not appropriately handled. As a member of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, the General will help in the formulation of the recommendations of the armed forces for consideration by the Seventh Pay Commission. This has been a rather contentious issue in the past and will require sage handling. Finally, civil-military relations have not been good in the recent past and need to be improved.

If one may take the liberty of using a few well-known American buzzwords and catch-phrases, the ‘revolution in military affairs’ had whooshed by the Indian Army in the 1990s. The 'transformation' process that followed must be gradually implemented even though it is a decade late — primarily due to budgetary constraints. The COAS will be responsible for the transformation of the Army to a ‘network centric’ force capable of executing ‘effects-based operations’ over the full spectrum of conflict. General Suhag must forge a light, lethal and wired Army that can fight and win India's wars on the battlefields of the 21st century — jointly with the Navy and the Air Force.
Pakistan's Ceasefire violations part of larger conspiracy: Army

The guns might have fallen silent momentarily as Indian security personnel held a flag march with their counterparts from across the border on Wednesday, but India's defence establishment is convinced that the recent spurt in ceasefire violations was part of a larger design.

More than 3,000 residents of villages along the border had to be moved from their homes last week as Pakistan breached the 2003 with a renewed intensity, targeting as many as 22 border outposts and 13 villages on Saturday alone. Such has been the frequency of ceasefire violations that the Director General of the Border Security Force (BSF), entrusted with surveillance along the International Border, described it as the worst spell of firing since the 1971 war.

Wednesday's flag meeting between the BSF and Pakistan Rangers, at the Pargwal forward area in Akhnoor, was held in this backdrop with the aim to defuse tension. Another round of meetings is expected to be held at the local level as Pakistan border troops had targeted even civilian locations.

But even as they attempt to restore peace along the tense border, security officials say they are sure the ceasefire violations are linked with infiltration, that the rain of fire may just be intended as a distraction tactic to allow militants passage into Indian territory as Jammu and Kashmir prepares for polls. Army sources say the spurt in firing could also be an expression of Pakistan's frustration at India calling off dialogue recently.

Officials point to the recent shift in strategy, which has seen Pakistan open fire along the International Border in a big way for the first time in many years. The Jammu region has been a particular target.

The increase has been most notable in the segments of RS Pura and Arnia. There have been reports of infiltration attempts from these areas as well. Sources added that there is a difference in the modus operandi adopted on the Line of Control (LoC) and the International Border (IB). The ceasefire violations along the LoC, they say, target a select few areas and are carried out with specific purposes because of the terrain. But in the flat plains along the IB, several posts are pounded indiscriminately.

However, thanks to the fact that India has implemented a multi-tier anti-infiltration grid, including sensors and night vision devices, infiltration across the LoC has become far more difficult. Consequently, officials said, infiltration attempts are now made on dark moon-less nights. But since most of the LoC is fenced and illuminated at night, these bids seldom fructify. Nevertheless, the mountainous terrain with dense vegetation does make escape easier for infiltrating militants.

Statistics back the claim. This year, only around two dozen attempts were made in the infiltration hotspots along the LoC, stretching from Kupwara-Machhal-Keran to Tangdhar and Poonch-Mendhar-Hamirpur-Bimber Gali sections further down.

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