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Monday, 22 September 2014

From Today's Papers - 22 Sep 2014

 India, China may have sea protocol
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 21
The ongoing face off at Chumar in South Eastern Ladakh notwithstanding, India and China could soon have a maritime arrangement to address their fast-growing, and, at times, overlapping ambitions at sea.

The two nations are in direct competition to tap global petroleum reserves or to tackle piracy. Their warships are almost always on the move increasing the danger of escalation of tension at sea.

With both Asian giants aspiring to have a “blue-water” navy – one that allows deployment for longer duration and longer sea sailing abilities — to project themselves as dominant players at sea, the two countries will work out protocols soon. The navies of both countries have wide array of warships, submarines, ship-deck based fighter jets and new age spy planes.

A joint statement issued on September 19 to mark the end of the summit meet between Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi and Chinese President Xi Jingping said: “The two sides have decided to hold first round of maritime cooperation dialogue within this year”.

The dialogue aims to “exchange views on maritime affairs and security, including anti-piracy, freedom of navigation and cooperation between maritime agencies of both countries”.

The two countries will look at common interests of providing security at sea for merchant shipping.
 Finalise joint missile project: France to India

New Delhi, September 21
France has asked India for early finalisation of the long-pending Rs 30,000-crore project for joint production of short-range surface-to-air missile (SR-SAM) systems. In a letter, the French Defence Ministry has told its Indian counterpart that “it will carry out substantial transfer of technology and know-how, especially in the field of missile guidance”.

The French side has proposed that the project “would enable India to get in a few years in areas of strategic missile, the maximum autonomy you have called for”.

The SR-SAM system is proposed to be a joint venture between India and France and they have nominated the DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) and a French multinational firm for the programme.

The deal has been under negotiations for over five years and has been awaiting final clearance after French President Francois Hollande and then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2013 announced that talks have been concluded between both the sides on the missile development project.

The IAF had raised certain objections over the programme but the defence ministry has to take a final call on the programme after holding discussions with all stakeholders.

The French Defence Ministry said it wants to actively participate in new Indian government’s plans to achieve autonomy in field of military hardware production. It has said that the missile programme would help in meeting India’s domestic market and can also be supplied to future export markets. — PTI
 Narrow escape for crew, passengers of AN-32
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 21
The crew and passengers of the AN-32 aircraft yesterday miraculously escaped serious injuries after the plane crashlanded and caught fire at the Chandigarh air force station. The aircraft has been damaged beyond repair. Terming it as a freak accident, IAF sources said a strong wind shear virtually slammed the aircraft on to the runway.

“The aircraft was still at a certain height above the runway when it got caught in the wind shear. After hitting the runway at a high speed, it veered off. In the process, its right wing hit the ground and tore off,” a source said. As the wing broke, fuel from its tanks spilled out and ignited,” he said.

IAF sources said the use of seat belts by those on board prevented possible fatalities. “Had the passengers not worn seat belts, they would have been tossed around the fuselage and the situation could have worse,” an officer said.

Though a court of inquiry (COI) has been ordered to probe the accident, sources say it seems that it was a weather-related accident as technical failure does not appear to be its cause.

Terming it to be a category-1 accident, where the aircraft is beyond economical repair, an IAF officer said an officer of the rank of Air Commodore would be the COI’s presiding officer.

The aircraft with 11 crew members and passengers was returning from Bathinda. It had approached Chandigarh on Runway 11. The aircraft caught fire just as those on board came out of it.
Ladakh face-off a test of nerves, pacts with China
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 21
With the Indian and Chinese armies locked in a face-off at Chumar and adjoining Demchok in Ladakh for the past 12 consecutive days, it is clear that the existing agreements to maintain peace along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) have failed to yield result so far.

More the LAC tension mounts between the two neighbours, more the efficacy of these agreements, especially the April 2005 signed protocol, comes under question. Referred to as the ‘2005 protocol’, it is a guiding preamble for troops stationed on either side along the 3,488-km LAC. Iron-cast provisions, agreed upon at the highest political level, have been violated at Chumar.

These were not respected during the April/May 2013 stand-off at Depsang plains, 650 km north of Chumar. Similarly, the October 2013 signed Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) has not helped de-escalate the situation.

The de-escalation at the level of military commanders flows from the 2005 protocol named as “… Modalities for the Implementation of CBMs in the Military Field Along the LAC in the India-China Border Areas”. Article IV of the protocol lays down that whenever either side perceives a transgression across the LAC, soldiers should display a banner with a slogan painted across. Called the ‘‘banner drill”, it tells the other party to back off from the present positions of patrolling. Since the LAC is not demarcated on ground, its perception in India and China varies, hence troops often come face to face in disputed areas.

On seeing the banners, the protocol says: “Both sides shall cease their activities in the area, not advance any further, and simultaneously return to their bases… If necessary, immediate consultations ( shall follow) through border meetings or diplomatic channels to prevent an escalation”.

In the ongoing face-off, the “banners drills” have failed, prolonged flag meetings between military commanders at ‘Spanggur Gap’ have yielded nothing. Despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping discussing the matter in New Delhi on September 18, the face-off continues and the arch of troops facing each other gets widened.

India assesses the face-off as a Chinese attempt to fix the LAC as per its perception. In case of Chumar, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China wants access to a 14,600-ft-high mountain pass named ‘30-R’. India holds the pass on its side and has objected to a Chinese road in the area in disputed areas south of the pass.

The BDCA signed in 2013 formalised a pact not to tail each other’s patrols in the areas where there is no common understanding of the LAC, and laid down the right to seek a clarification. The BDCA further asks both sides to exercise maximum self-restraint, which is hardly evident in the current face-off.

2005 protocol fails to defuse tension

n Despite PM Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping discussing the matter in New Delhi recently, the face-off continues and the arch of troops facing each other gets widened

n The '2005 protocol', a guiding preamble for troops, calls for a "banner drill" whenever either side perceives a transgression across the LAC

n The drill says soldiers should display a banner with a slogan painted across, telling the other party to back off from the present positions of patrolling

n In the face-off in Ladakh, the "banners drills" have failed, prolonged flag meetings between military commanders at Spanggur Gap have yielded nothing
Chinese Soldiers Pitch Seven Tents in Ladakh's Chumur; Stand-Off Continues
Leh/New Delhi:  The stand-off in Ladakh's Chumur area took a new turn today with soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) pitching seven tents well within the Indian territory and showing no signs of withdrawing from the territory.

The Chinese, who had arrived in vehicles on Saturday in Chumur, 300 km from Ladakh's capital Leh, started erecting the tents in the Indian territory despite repeated warnings by the Army to vacate the area, official sources said.
Nearly 100 personnel of the PLA are believed to be present around Point 30R, a strategically important post, as it helps India to keep a vigil deep inside the occupied territory of Chinese, they said.

The fresh transgression is in addition to the 35-odd Chinese personnel who are already camping at a hillock in the Chumur area, the sources said.

The Chinese soldiers were demanding that Indian Army should withdraw simultaneously from the area but the Army is sticking to its stand. The Chinese soldiers had retreated to their territory on Thursday night.

The post at Point 30R, which has been erected by the Indian Army as an observation post dominating the Line of Actual Control (LAC), has been frequented by the PLA. The post gives advantage to India in keeping a vigil on the Chinese activity deep across the border.

Chinese helicopters were again seen in action for dropping food packets for its soldiers but none of them violated the air space. The food packets were later collected by the PLA personnel and stored inside the tents.

The tension in this area erupted on Sunday when some of the Chinese workers, who were constructing road on their side, started entering into the Indian side and also claimed that they had orders to build road upto Tible, five km deep into the Indian territory, sources said.

Chumur, the last village in Ladakh area bordering Himachal Pradesh, has been a bone of contention between the two countries with China claiming it to be its own territory.

In 2012, the PLA dropped some of its soldiers in this region and dismantled the makeshift storage tents of the Army and ITBP.

Chumur had become a flashpoint 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.

As part of an agreement reached at the flag meeting to end the stand-off from April-May 2013 at DBO, the Indian side had to dismantle some overhead bunkers in Chumur.

The area witnessed activity again on June 17 when Chinese troops walked away with an Army surveillance camera which was meant for keeping an eye on the PLA troops patrolling there. The camera was, however, returned a few days later.

Last winter, Chinese soldiers attempted to enter this area riding on horses.
Victors who battled their own Army
CHANDIGARH: On August 15, 2009, as the nation celebrated its Independence, Sepoy Lakshman Kumar of the Dogra Regiment died after suffering head injuries in Ladakh. But his wife, Daxina Devi from Kinnaur in Himachal Pradesh, had little time to grieve as the Principal Controller of Defence Accounts (PCDA) in Allahabad denied her widow's compensation, because Kumar had died in an accident on the way to the toilet. They said he was "not on duty".

Daxina Devi challenged the denial of compensation in an Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT), saying, "It seems strange that the office of the PCDA is suggesting that a person should not even go out to attend to nature's call and if he does, he shall not be considered on duty during those particular moments". In 2013, her persistence paid off and the AFT ordered she be paid Rs 10 lakh with 10% interest. They also reiterated that a soldier taking a lavatory break during work hours is still on duty for the nation.

Battles like those fought by Daxina Devi in military and civil courts are the subject of a new book by Chandigarh-based lawyer Major Navdeep Singh. Titled Maimed by the System, the book is a collection of 19 real-life stories of defence personnel, military veterans, disabled soldiers and their families who have been wronged by the system, but fought to successfully claim their basic rights and dues post disability, battle and in some cases, even posthumously.

Of the 19 cases in the book, 15 have been handled by Singh. He says the idea behind the book was not to focus on his work alone. "I wanted to highlight the uniqueness of the cases, lack of sensitivity shown by authorities and loopholes in the system," says Singh, a volunteer-reservist with the territorial army.

Pension anomalies are the most common complaint, which can take years to resolve. In many instances, soldiers and widows are taken to Supreme Court by the Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare (DESW) for an amount involving their basic pension of Rs 350 to 700. Singh claims currently there are over 10,000 cases pending on various issues in the AFT and other courts. If those who haven't approached the courts with their grievances are added, the number could go higher.

The book focuses on those who successfully fought back. Take the case of late Captain Manjinder Singh Bhinder, who saved over 150 lives in Delhi's Uphar Cinema blaze in 1997. Bhinder, from the 61st Cavalry Regiment, himself perished in the fire along with his wife and young son. But while the army declared his death "attributable to military service", the accounts branch disagreed and changed the verdict. After seven years of litigation in Delhi high court, Captain Bhinder's father was given benefits and other dues.

Late Sepoy Santokh Singh of the Punjab Regiment was discharged from the army on medical grounds in 1951 after 10 years service. The villager from Sehjo Majra near Ludhiana received disability pension for a bullet wound till 1959, when it was abruptly stopped without any reason being communicated to him.

As the bullet remained embedded in his upper back, he sent numerous letters to the defence accounts department, which went unanswered until 1995, when he was told that his pension was stopped because his disability was assessed as less than 20%, which made him ineligible for benefits on medical grounds. In 2001, central government officials asked for a medical certificate from a civilian doctor to confirm the bullet remained embedded in his body. Following that, his disability pension was restored but he was denied arrears 42 years. His fight continued till 2006, when he passed away. Ironically, his five sons too are in the army.

Paramjit Kaur's husband Sepoy Rup Singh posted in counter insurgency operations in J&K died in a bus accident en route home in 2007. Kaur, a resident of Moga district, Punjab, filed a claim that was rejected on the grounds of her late husband being on leave, not on duty, at the time of his death. She moved the Chandigarh bench of AFT, which ordered the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to pay her Rs 10 lakh ex-gratia. AFT also held that death of a soldier in an accident while travelling in military convoy, after proceeding on leave from his unit to home, should be deemed to be on performance of duty.

"The ironically titled DESW functioning under the MoD has always received flak for imbibing a negative anti-military veteran ethos. A crude example of this is the fact that 90% of litigation initiated by the MoD in the SC is against its own disabled soldiers," says Singh, concluding, "It is hope and triumph that the book embodies, not despair. Rather than evoke disdain for the system, the book should act as a lesson and a mirror for all of us towards a foundation of positivity and compassion."
Pakistan is eyeing sea-based and short-range nuclear weapons, analysts say

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — In one of the world’s most volatile regions, Pakistan is advancing toward a sea-based missile capability and expanding its interest in tactical nuclear warheads, according to Pakistani and Western analysts.

The development of nuclear missiles that could be fired from a Navy ship or submarine would give Pakistan “second-strike” capability if a catastrophic nuclear exchange destroyed all land-based weapons. But the acceleration of Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programs is renewing international concern about the vulnerability of those weapons in a country home to more than two dozen Islamist extremist groups.  

“The assurances Pakistan has given the world about the safety of its nuclear program will be severely tested with short-range and sea-based systems, but they are coming,” said Michael Krepon, co-founder of the Stimson Center, a Washington-based global security think tank. “A cardinal principle of Pakistan’s nuclear program has been: ‘Don’t worry; we separate warheads from launchers.’ Well, that is very hard to do at sea.”

Western officials have been concerned about Pakistan’s nuclear program since it first tested an atomic device in 1998. Those fears have deepened over the past decade amid political tumult, terror attacks and tensions with the country’s nuclear-armed neighbor, India, with which it has fought three wars.

That instability was underscored this month, as anti-government protests in the capital appeared to push Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government to the brink of collapse. The political crisis was unfolding as Pakistan and India continued lobbing artillery shells across their border, in a tit-for-tat escalation that illustrated the continued risk of another war.

For more than a decade, Pakistan has sent signals that it’s attempting to bolster its nuclear arsenal with “tactical” weapons — short-range missiles that carry a smaller warhead and are easier to transport.

Over the past two years, Pakistan has conducted at least eight tests of various land-based ballistic or cruise missiles that it says are capable of delivering nuclear warheads. Last September, Sharif, citing “evolving security dynamics in South Asia,” said Pakistan is developing “a full spectrum deterrence capability to deter all forms of aggression.”

The next step of Pakistan’s strategy includes an effort to develop nuclear warheads suitable for deployment from the Indian Ocean, either from warships or from one of the country’s five diesel-powered Navy submarines, analysts say. In a sign of that ambition, Pakistan in 2012 created the Naval Strategic Force command, which is similar to the air force and army commands that oversee nuclear weapons.

“We are on our way, and my own hunch is within a year or so, we should be developing our second-strike capability,” said Shireen M. Mazari, a nuclear expert and the former director of the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad, a hawkish Pakistani government-funded think-tank.

Pakistan’s nuclear push comes amid heightened tension with U.S. intelligence and congressional officials over the security of the country’s nuclear weapons and materials. The Washington Post reported in September 2013 that U.S. intelligence officials had increased surveillance of Pakistan in part because of concerns that nuclear materials could fall into the hands of terrorists.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, asked if the United States was concerned about a sea-launched Pakistani weapon, said it was up to Pakistan to discuss its programs and plans. But, she said, “we continue to urge all nuclear-capable states to exercise restraint regarding nuclear and missile capabilities. We continue to encourage efforts to promote confidence-building and stability and discourage actions that might destabilize the region.”

During a visit to Washington for consultations with the Obama administration in July, Tariq Fatemi, Sharif’s senior foreign policy adviser, said the government had “no intention of pursuing” sea-based nuclear weapons.

It is unclear how much direct knowledge Sharif’s government has about the country’s nuclear weapons and missile-development programs, which are controlled by the powerful military’s Strategic Planning Directorate. But the prime minister is the chairman of the country’s National Command Authority, a group of civilian and military officials who would decide whether to launch a nuclear weapon.

Pakistani military officials declined to comment on the nuclear program. They note, however, that a January report by the Washington-based Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) named Pakistan the “most improved” in safeguarding nuclear materials.

Analysts say much about Pakistan’s program remains a mystery. Western experts, for example, are divided over whether Pakistan has the ability to shrink warheads enough for use with tactical or launched weapons.

“They may have done so, but I can’t imagine it’s very reliable,” said Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear and non-proliferation scholar at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Still, Lewis and other analysts say Pakistan is without doubt embarking on an ambitious multi-year strategy to enhance its nuclear arsenal and delivery systems.

In 2011, nongovernment experts interviewed by the Post estimated that Pakistan had built more than 100 deployed nuclear weapons. Now Pakistan’s fourth plutonium production reactor is also nearing completion, and while most assessments of the country’s warhead inventory have not changed much in recent years, analysts say Pakistan continues to produce weapons material and develop delivery vehicles, positioning itself for another spurt of rapid growth at any time.

“They are going to make as much fissile material as they possibly can and keep making as many warheads as they possibly can,” said Pervez Hoodbhoy, a leading Pakistani nuclear expert and physicist.

India, which experts estimate has 80 to 100 deployed nuclear weapons, has a stated policy of using them only in response to an attack. Pakistan has repeatedly declined to embrace a no-first-use policy.

But concerns within Pakistan about India’s growing nuclear ambitions are helping to fuel Pakistan’s own advancements.

India, too, has been stepping up research and development of offensive and defensive weapons systems. In 2012, India test-launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile, which it said has a range of more than 3,100 miles. In February, the Times of India reported that the missile, as well as the country’s first nuclear-powered submarine, could be deployed as early as next year. In May, India also conducted its first test of a planned missile defense system.

Much of India’s ballistic technology appears aimed at boosting its defenses against China, not Pakistan. But the Pakistani military has been shifting the focus of the country’s nuclear program over the past decade because of fears that Indian forces could use the threat of terrorism to launch a sudden cross-border strike.

India has a sizable advantage in conventional weapons, and its army is more than twice the size of Pakistan’s. And in recent years, the Pakistan Army says, more than one-third of Pakistan’s 500,000 soldiers have been focused not on the eastern frontier, but on battling Islamist militants on the region bordering Afghanistan.

So instead of working to enhance the range of its missiles, Pakistan is developing shorter-range cruise missiles that fly lower to the ground and can evade ballistic missile defenses, analysts say.

Pakistan has repeatedly tested its indigenously produced, nuclear-capable, Babur cruise missile, which has a range of 400 miles and can strike targets at land and sea, military officials said. In 2011 and last year, Pakistan also tested a new tactical, nuclear-capable, battlefield missile that has a range of just 37 miles.

“This is the miniaturization of warheads,” said Mansoor Ahmed, a strategic studies and nuclear expert at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad.

Maria Sultan, chairwoman of the Islamabad-based South Asian Strategic Stability Institute, an organization with close links to Pakistani military and intelligence officials, said the short-range missile is designed as a signal to India’s military.

“We are saying, ‘We have target acquisition for very small targets as well, so it’s really not a great idea to come attack us,’ ” Sultan said. “Before, we only had big weapons, so there was a gap in our deterrence, which is why we have gone for tactical nuclear weapons and cruise missiles.”

Still, even a limited use of nuclear weapons on the battlefield would likely trigger a major retaliatory strike from India, said Manpreet Sethi, a senior fellow at the New Delhi-based Centre for Air Power Studies.

“The use of tactical nuclear weapons is not going to change an [Indian] offensive in any substantial way,” Sethi said. “Slow down, yes, but not stop.”

Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, said the fact that Pakistani and Indian analysts even debate the outcome of a limited nuclear exchange is cause for alarm.

“India and Pakistan have so many avenues into a conflict that could spin out of control and such a history,” Kristensen said. “The development of these weapons systems lowers the point where you could potentially see nuclear weapons come into use.”

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