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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

From Today's Papers - 22 Oct 2014

India, Pak talk of talking again
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, October 21
India and Pakistan have, in the past 24 hours, separately spoken about resolving issues through dialogue but without specifying its contours.

“We would like to resolve our conflicts with everyone through talks”, said Ajit Doval, India’s National Security Adviser, without naming Pakistan, while delivering a keynote address today at the core group meeting of the Munich Security Conference in Delhi.

“I don’t think there is any problem or issue that cannot be resolved through peaceful methods and negotiations,” Doval said as he described the immediate neighbourhood of India dropping ample hint that he was referring to Pakistan. The Munich Security Conference is a cold-war era NATO-backed grouping that looked at European security from Soviet Union in its hey days.

Just 45 km away from Delhi, Pakistan High Commissioner to India, Abdul Basit, delivered a lecture at OP Jindal Global University in Sonepat last evening. He argued that an uninterrupted channel for dialogue between the two nations was important. He said there were too many preconceived notions that the people of these two countries hold about each other. Some of these were outdated. “We need to rid ourselves of these preconceptions and get to know each other better", Basit told the students at the university.

It was clear that Doval was referring to Pakistan when he said: “We have had problems in the immediate neighbourhood. We have terrorism and certain tendencies which are not conducive for the region”.

Even as he stressed the importance of talks, Doval was categorical, saying, “At the same time India will have effective deterrence capabilities which are credible and known by the people that Indian cannot be taken for granted”.

In Sonepat, Basit emphasized, “Youth of both our countries have the capacity to think differently as they have a global outlook and they are the ones who can make a difference to build a cooperative South Asia.” He outlined a three-point agenda for improved bilateral relations between India and Pakistan. “Tone down the rhetoric; Honour whatever treaties have already been signed and continue talking to each other”, he said.

At the conference, Doval asked the assembled gathering to seek a UN convention on terrorism and lay down the definition of terrorism. “Earlier, one reason that we could not define terror was due to Pakistan which wanted that causative factors and freedom fighters should not be treated as terrorists. The majority opinion was that terror was tactics and not an objective. Because of that it was held back”, he said.

“Why can’t we have automated response bring system of convergence in tackling terrorism?” Doval questioned as he added that the world is used to various conflicts but the conflicts now emerging are different, the wars as instruments of achieving political or strategic objectives were become increasingly infective and uncertain. There was no guarantee that the countries with superior firepower, technology, superior economic or diplomatic power will be able to suppress their adversaries.
Incursions across LoC should stop: Cameron

London, October 21
British Prime Minister David Cameron has said the incursions across the Line of Control should stop and India and Pakistan engage in talks to ease tensions.

“We don’t want to see any incursions across the Line of Control,” he said when asked as a friend of India what stern message he would like to send to Pakistan over recent cross border firing incidents.

“We want to see good relations between India and Pakistan. We think it is very important that India and Pakistan have those conversations and we will do anything that we can do to try and help that. I think that’s important,” he added. Cameron said the British-India relationship was strong and he was looking forward to meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the G-20 Summit in Brisbane, Australia next month.

Lauding the contributions of Indians, Cameron said, “There are almost a million people of Indian-origin in the UK and they are making enormous contribution to our country. We celebrate Eid and Diwali and other religious festivals and we are a multi-racial country,” he said. — PTI
Kabul to renew its request for arms

New Delhi, October 21
Afghanistan will renew its request for arms and military aid from India, even as it is using China’s leverage with Pakistan to reconcile with the Taliban. Top Indian security officials are expected to visit Kabul soon.

Afghanistan’s interior minister Mohammed Umer Daudzai, who is on a visit to India, today said, “India is our all-weather friend. Changes in the government will not have any impact. We have requested India for assistance in the security sector, training and equipment.”

In November last year, Afghan President Hamid Karzai had requested the outgoing Manmohan Singh government of military equipment, including helicopters. Daudzai said he expected the request would be heeded. The Afghan minister will have talks with the Indian establishment this week. — TNS
 LoC fire: Defence Minister warns Pakistan

New Delhi, October 21
Pakistan will “feel the pain” of “adventurism” if it persists with ceasefire violations, India warned today as it said the country now has “sword” along with “shield” which existed earlier.

Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, at the same time, said India was ready to have talks with Pakistan if it created the environment for that. He noted that for the last some days, there had been just sporadic incidents unlike the “huge number” of violations by Pakistan earlier.

“...When Pakistan fires, either on International Border, the BSF responds, they fire in LoC, the Army responds. Our conventional strength is far more than theirs and, therefore, if they persist with this, the cost to them would be unaffordable. They will also feel the pain of this kind of adventurism,” Jaitley told a TV channel. On recent shelling by Pakistan on the border, he said the violations were high and the response had to be proportionate. — PTI
Sword, Not Just Shield, in India's Hand, Defence Minister Warns Pakistan
India warned Pakistan on Tuesday of "pain" if it continues to violate the ceasefire along the  Kashmir border. Defence Minister Arun Jaitley told NDTV it's up to Islamabad to create the conditions for a resumption of talks.

"Our conventional strength is far more than theirs. So if they persist with this, they'll feel the pain of this adventurism," the Defence Minister said to NDTV. "When Pakistan used to fire, we always had a shield in our hand. This time we also had a sword," he added, emphasizing that India has asked its armed forces to retaliate forcefully to ceasefire violations.

In the worst violence in over a decade, at least 20 civilians have been killed this month on both sides of the border; dozens more were injured. While the firing has abated, tension remains high along the border.

India's top Army officials and the government said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given the defence forces a free hand on handling the tension and violence at the Kashmir border.

Mr Modi invited his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, to his swearing-in ceremony in May. After that, talks between Foreign Secretaries of the two countries were scheduled for August but India opted out after Pakistan's ambassador to Delhi met  with Kashmiri separatists ahead of the meeting.
India Gives In to Russia's Terms For High-Priced Tank Ammunition
The Indian Defence Ministry — faced with a shortage of ammunition for its Russian-made T-90 tanks, coupled with an inability to produce ammunition at home — has no choice but to give in to Russian terms and purchase marked-up ammo from Moscow, an MoD source said.

The MoD reluctantly agreed to the deal last month, despite the fact that Russia hiked the price by 20 percent and refused to accept offset obligations.

Russia will receive a $197 million contract for the fin-stabilized armor-piercing discarding sabot. In 2011, the asking price for the same order was $163 million.

Besides jacking up the price, the Russians also refused to transfer technology for making the rounds to the state-owned Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), a demand India has been making for the past five years, the MoD source added. A diplomat from the Russian Embassy merely said the sale of T-90 ammunition was on agreed-upon terms, and refused to give details.

India was forced to agree to the terms because OFB’s efforts at making the ammunition failed, an Indian Army official said.

“India bought T-90 tanks from Russia without transfer of technology for ammunition, which has resulted in perpetual shortages for the ammunition,” the official said.

“There were reportedly multiple problems in procurement of T-90 tank ammunition,” said Rahul Bhonsle, retired Indian Army brigadier general and defense analyst. “The ammunition produced in India was not compatible with the fire-control system of the tanks, thus these have to be modified. The Defence Research and Development Organisation [DRDO] has not been able to resolve the problem, hence there is a challenge. Meanwhile, there was apparently no fallback plan, thus orders had to be made to the single supplier, which hiked the prices thus compounding the problems.”

A DRDO official said technology for the ammunition actually has been developed and transferred to OFB.

The Indian Army official, however, said the ammunition developed by DRDO is only for the T-72 tanks. The ammunition failed when it was used in the T-90 tanks.

“The OFB has failed to produce ammunition for T-90 tanks because it is far more sophisticated than ammunition for Russian made T-72 tanks,” Bhonsle said. “Because in the case of T-90 ammunition, there are intricate linkages with the fire-control computer.”

“The way out of the ammunition crisis is the need to tie up with overseas original equipment manufactures [OEMs],” said defense analyst Nitin Mehta. The rise in demand for T-90 ammunition as the fleet strength increases will be an attraction for OEMs to come forward to partner with Indian companies in producing the required ammunition, Mehta said.

The Indian Army operates more than 500 T-90 tanks, and plans to increase the strength to more than 1,300 by 2020 through license-production at Indian facilities.

An executive at a domestic private company said OFB has a monopoly on ammunition.

“The private companies [focus on] propellant and explosives, and not in the filling of the shell or rocket motor,” the executive said.
Ex-defence contractor close to V K Singh under CBI lens
The CBI is set to register an FIR against a tainted former defence contractor, Shambhu Prasad Singh, who is said to be close to former Army chief and Union minister V K Singh.

CBI sources said Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), the country's external intelligence agency, found S P Singh's company involved in alleged irregularities in the purchase of high-altitude tents for Special Frontier Forces (SFF).

The probe was then forwarded to CBI by Prime Minister's Office (PMO) earlier this month on RAW's recommendation. CBI sources said the initial verification threw up evidence on the basis which an FIR would be filed later this week.

S P Singh has other forgery investigations pending against him in the CBI and other agencies apart from a decade-old disproportionate assets case.

CBI sources said the single tendering was done to favour S P Singh's company over a period of time in the purchase of high-altitude tents. RAW reportedly conducted an internal probe and found that there were irregularities in the tendering process. CBI sources said they took details from RAW on the tender. "We are focusing on why single tender system was allowed by RAW officials and if there was quid pro quo," said an officer.

SFF was formed under RAW after the 1962 India-China war.

CBI officers refused to divulge details of the investigation but sources said S P Singh ran two companies in his Rely Group — Dynamic Shells and Sai Baba Builders and Consultants.

The two companies were allegedly found involved in financial irregularities as he had provided fake bank guarantees to Assam Rifles. The companies were blacklisted after investigation. The two companies were reportedly regular suppliers to Army and Assam Rifles in the northeast. Dynamic Shells provided pre-fabricated shelters and barracks for military and paramilitary forces. An investigation was conducted against him in 2011 after it was found that his two companies had provided fake bank guarantees. Syndicate Bank had written to Assam Rifles in June 2011 that bank guarantees worth nearly Rs 39 lakh submitted by the two firms for allotment of civil work contracts were fake.

He was also arrested by Delhi Police in May last year in a property case. Businessman Anil Dhanraj Jethani had alleged that S P Singh sold him a property in New Delhi and when Jethani paid the money, he found out that the property was already leased to a third party.

Said to be close to former Army chief V K Singh and late Trinamool MP Ambica Banerjee, S P Singh was investigated by defence ministry as well in a few matters.

Recently, after V K Singh got charge of three different departments under the Narendra Modi government — development of northeastern region (independent charge), external affairs and overseas Indian affairs — S P Singh was reportedly made his political attache and he visited the minister's constituency and heard the grievances of local workers and residents.

S P Singh didn't respond to the email TOI sent him.

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