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Saturday, 20 September 2014

From Today's Papers - 20 Sep 2014

India, China for early end to border row
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, September 19
Amid reports of withdrawal of troops in Ladakh, India and China today reiterated to “pro-actively” resolve all outstanding differences based on ‘Panchsheel’ and consolidate the Strategic and Cooperative Partnership for Peace and Prosperity between the two countries.

Both New Delhi and Beijing re-emphasised commitment to an early settlement of the boundary question. They decided to pursue it as a “strategic objective” with the conviction that this will advance the basic interests of both the countries.

The emphasis on early resolution and characterising the objective as strategic assumes significance in the backdrop of talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping.

As President Xi concluded his three-day maiden visit of India, where the boundary issue assumed greater significance in the wake of incursions by the Chinese army and civilians in Chumar and Demchok, the issue found mention in the joint statement released today.

“During the visit, the two sides exchanged views on the India-China boundary question and reiterated their commitment to seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution, proceeding from the overall interests of bilateral relations. Recalling the Agreement on the Political Parameters and Guiding Principles for the Settlement of the Boundary Question signed in April 2005, both sides reiterated their commitment to an early settlement of the boundary question and expressed their conviction that this will advance basic interests of the two countries and shall, therefore, be pursued as a strategic objective”, the statement said.

India and China reaffirmed the utility and significance of the mechanism of Special Representatives (SRs) for seeking a political settlement of the boundary question and of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on the India-China Border Affairs for handling border related matters. The mechanism was evolved during Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s tenure. As many as 17 rounds of meeting have been convened between the two designated SRs so far.

Pending a final resolution of the boundary question, the two sides would continue to make joint efforts to maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas.

On the military ties, both sides appear moving towards expanding cooperation noting that improved bilateral military relations are conducive to building mutual trust and confidence. While agreeing to hold the fourth joint army training `Handi-in-Hand’’ exercises, both sides said similar engagement with navy and air force would be held at a proper time.
 MoD cannot promote Army officers on its whims: AFT
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
Taking the Ministry of Defence to task for altering and modifying the recommendations of a duly selection board for promotion to the rank of Major General that were approved by the Chief of Army Staff, the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has held that the appointing authority cannot ignore the selection panel or decline to make appointments on its whims.

Ordering that an aggrieved Brigadier be promoted to the rank of Major General and an additional vacancy is required be created for him along with granting him consequential service and financial benefits, the tribunal, in its order yesterday, pointed out that the authorities appear to have been so obsessed to find ways to promote a particular person that any representation that appeared to be a hurdle was pushed aside without due application of mind.

Through the AFT declined to judicially interfere in the promotion of the person, it observed that there had been certain adverse inputs by the military intelligence against the person and he had also been awarded a non-recordable censure for un-officer like behaviour just days before the selection board meeting.

The AFT remarked that though there was no discipline and vigilance ban on the person, a non-recordable censure does not absolve him of un-officer like behaviour and such opinion cannot be totally ignored or by-passed. It further observed that though the person had higher “quantitative” score (max 95 out of 100) that the petitioner, members of the selection board, who were senior generals and specialists at their job, took a cdecision that such a person could not be promoted and hence he was not given any marks for value judgment (5 out of 100).

Brig DN Singh had contended that there were 14 vacancies from his branch. While the results for 13 were declassified, one was kept in abeyance after MoD sought clarifications from Army. Neither his name nor that of the respondent person was included in the list of 13.
Army apprises PMO, Defence Ministry of situation in Ladakh
New Delhi: The Army has apprised the PMO of the latest situation in Ladakh where Chinese troops have entered Indian territory in Chumar and have been engaged in a face-off situation with own troops for the last one week.

The Army has apprised the Prime Minister's Office and the Defence Ministry of the situation in Ladakh, sources said here.

Around 35 PLA personnel are perched atop a hillock in Chumar claiming the area to be part of China, while another 300 soldiers were maintaining presence close to Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Earlier this week, around 300 PLA personnel had entered Indian territory in Chumar for construction of a road but were stopped by the Indian Army personnel from moving ahead.

India and China have so far held more than two flag meetings to resolve the issue, which has been taken up at the highest levels between the two countries, but the Chinese troops have not returned.

Army sources said the chances of having more flag meetings to address the issue are bleak as they were not yielding many results.

Chumar, the last village in Ladakh area bordering Himachal Pradesh, has been a bone of contention with China claiming it to be its own territory and has been frequenting the area with helicopter incursions almost every year.

Chumar had become a flash point during the fortnight long stand-off last year in Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) as the Chinese side had objected to overhead bunkers erected by the Indian side.
US keen on strong military ties with India: Army Chief
Washington: America is keen to sustain and strengthen its military relationship with India, US Army Chief said on Friday ahead of the Modi-Obama Summit at the White House later this month.
"India and the United States have a lot in common....They are the two large democracies. I think it is important for us to build trust between the two militaries and we energise our relationship," General Raymond T Odierno said.

On India US Joint military exercise 'Yudh Abhyas 2014' coinciding with Chinese President Xi Jinping's India visit, he said it was planned much in advance and had nothing to do with the timing of Xi's trip.

"This exercise (Yudh Abhyas) was planned quite some time ago. So this was not a reaction (to the visit of the Chinese President). We had coordinated these exercises some time ago," General Odierno told Defence Writers Groups in a breakfast meeting.

The General said that China was also invited to participate in this joint India-US military exercise in Uttarakhand which began on September 17.

"In fact one time we actually invited the Chinese to participate in it. So it was not something that we were hiding from the Chinese or we had planned it long time ago," he said in response to a question.

Gen Odierno, who visited India some 18 months ago, said he had a really good visit and had an opportunity to "understand, what they are doing and how they are developing."

"We want to sustain that over the time. As we look in the future, in this complex world...the key is having solid partners that trust each other. Building these partnership is part of it and India plays an important role in that," he said.

The annual Yudh Abhyas military exercise started this week under the aegis of Garud Division/Surya Command and is 10th in the series of combined military training exercises between India and the US. It will continue till September 30.

Prime Minister Narendera Modi will meet US President Barack Obama at the White House on September 29 and 30.
Indo-US military exercises begin
BAREILLY: In a departure from tradition, perhaps for the first time, national flags of both America and India were unfurled together amidst playing of the Indian national anthem marking the beginning of the joint military exercises at Chaubatiya forest range under Ranikhet military station.

Both the armies would be showcasing their best military equipment and technology during this two-week joint endeavour.

Christened Yudh Abhyas 2014, the combined Indo-US military training exercise commenced on Wednesday morning at Chaubattia in Uttarakhand.

Indian and US soldiers stood side by side and gave a ceremonial salute to the two seniormost officers of both countries as they reviewed the lineup. The US contingent was represented by Company and Brigade Headquarters from an Infantry Division of US Army while the Indian side was represented by an equivalent strength from a Mountain Brigade of Garud division, said a senior officer.

In his address, Major General Ashwani Kumar welcomed the US soldiers and urged both contingents to achieve optimum cohesion and interoperability to achieve military objectives of the exercise. He stressed upon the importance of free exchange of ideas and concepts between the troops and the necessity to learn from each others' experiences.

The focus of the ongoing exercise is to carry out Counter Insurgency and Counter Terrorist Operations in mountainous terrain under United Nations (UN) Charter. The event will also see the contingents hone their tactical and technical skills in countering insurgency and terrorism in UN peace keeping scenario involving a Brigade Headquarter, an Infantry Company and a detachment of Special Forces.

State-of-the-art equipment for surveillance and tracking, specialist weapons for close quarter battle with terrorists, explosives and IED detectors, as well as the latest communication equipment are being fielded by both sides.

Both sides will train, plan and execute a series of combined tactical drills for neutralization of likely threats that may be encountered in UN peace keeping operations. The strength of troops taking part in the exercise from both the sides is also sizeable and chances are that culmination of the exercise would be in the form of display of techniques acquired by both the sides before a chosen gathering of military officials from both the sides and members of the media, said a senior army official of the Garud division.
Army chief meets PM Modi as LAC stand-off continues - See more at:
Amidst conflicting reports of withdrawal by Chinese troops from Chumar area along the Line of Actual Control, the Ministry of Defence insisted there was “no change” in the position on the ground. Army chief Gen Dalbir Singh, meanwhile, met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and is learnt to have briefed him about the situation.

Sources in the Defence Ministry told The Indian Express that the Chinese troops,  of the size of a battalion, continued to occupy Chumar “well within the Indian territory… as of Friday evening”. They, however, elaborated that the two sides have “adjusted to logistically convenient” positions within the same area. There is no change in the posture on either side, they maintained.

Modi had on Thursday called for solving the boundary dispute between the two countries during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The PM’s meeting with Gen Singh was described by Defence Ministry sources as a routine briefing. “This is a routine briefing. Matters of relevance are discussed during such meetings,” an official said.

The sources said the situation in Demchok, where the Chinese had pitched tents well within the Indian territory, too remained unchanged. “The same number of Chinese troops continue to be on our side of the LAC. They have moved back a little, but that appears to be a lateral movement, more with the view of occupying a convenient position.. There is absolutely no change in their posturing,” said a senior MoD official.

About 1,000 Chinese troops have been occupying the position which India says lies well within its territory. Given that the build-up is of almost two battalions, the Indian response is said to be unprecedented. “Their numbers are large but the Indian response has been unprecedented as we have built up more number of troops,” an official said.

The Indian side is also reported to be in an advantageous position given the availability of resources and additional troops, whereas the logistic lines on the Chinese side are “stretched”. Ladakh MP T Chhewang said: “I have taken up the matter with the Home Ministry as it is affecting the livelihood of people in Ladakh.”

Indian and Chinese troops have been on a week-long standoff in Chumar sector, about 300km southeast of Leh. It began when the Indian side objected to the Chinese constructing a road on their side of the LAC. In Demchok, Chinese nomads have pitched tents as a sign of protest against a canal being constructed by India. While the canal was being constructed under National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the Chinese have alleged that it is being done for military purposes.

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