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Sunday, 9 November 2014

From Today's Papers - 09 Nov 2014

Soldier, girl killed in cross-LoC firing
First major violation in Uri since 2012
Tribune News Service
Srinagar/Anantnag, Nov 8
A teenage girl and a soldier were killed in a first major ceasefire violation along the Line of Control (LoC) in north Kashmir's Uri sector since 2012, on Saturday.

Defence sources said Pakistan troops fired with heavy machine guns and mortar shells at several Indian posts in Kamalkote sector, 130 km from Srinagar, around 6 pm. Some of the mortar shells hit the civilian areas, creating panic among the residents.

"A havaldar and a 17-year old girl, Gulshan Bano, were killed in the unprovoked firing," a defence source said. The sources said the Indian troops guarding the posts near the LoC fired back and the exchange of fire continued for almost two hours.

The Army, which has conveyed a hotline message to Pakistan, said they were trying to ascertain why the violation took place in the sector.

"The sector has been relatively peaceful and there has been no infiltration from Uri. We have cross-LoC trade on almost a daily basis from here and are surprised to see Pakistan troops firing at Indian posts," said a senior Army officer.

The LoC in Kashmir has remained by and large peaceful unlike the Jammu region, where violations have happened both along the LoC and the International Border.

In Kashmir, less than a dozen ceasefire violations have been reported from Gulmarg in Baramulla district to Gurez sector in Bandipore district this year.

The latest violation in Kashmir had taken place in Gulmarg sector last month. It is manned by Baramulla-based 19 Infantry Division.

Today's ceasefire violation took place in the area of the same division. Since India and Pakistan announced ceasefire on the Kashmir border in 2003, there have been nearly 50 major and minor violations along the LoC in the Kashmir region.

The last major ceasefire violation in Uri took place in October 2012 at Churanda Uri, which left three civilians, including a woman dead.
New ISI chief takes charge in Pakistan
Afzal khan in Islamabad
Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar has taken over as the head of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), succeeding Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam (retd). “Lt Gen Akhtar has taken over as the next director general of ISI,” a military official confirmed the change at ISI headquarters, commonly known as Aabpara. Lt Gen Akhtar, known to be a close ally of army chief General Raheel Sharif, was named as director general of the ISI by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in September. The announcement came a month in advance in an attempt to avoid the controversy over the appointment at a time when the civil-military relationship was passing through a critical phase.

With Lt Gen Akhtar assuming the office of ISI chief, all promotions of two to three-star generals made by the army chief in the latest phase have taken effect. This makes the army chief more powerful than when he took over the command of the army last December as he is now believed to have consolidated his grip over the army.

The new spy chief has assumed office at a time when the country is faced with grave external and internal challenges.
About Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar

    Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar succeeds Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam (retd) as head of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)
    Known to be a close ally of army chief General Raheel Sharif, Lt Gen Akhtar was named ISI director general by PM Nawaz Sharif in September
    He has previously served as director general of the Sindh Rangers to maintain the law and order in Karachi
    He had also served as commander infantry brigade and infantry division of FATA

Will he follow aggressive agenda?

In 2008, Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar had attended the US Army War College in Pennsylvania. An academic paper he wrote there articulated that Pakistan “must aggressively pursue rapprochement with India”. The comment has led to speculation that Akhtar might reach out to New Delhi.
 Army to automate financial dealings to ensure efficiency
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 8
To keep up with changing business practices and advancements in financial transaction procedures, the Army has drawn up a plan for revamping and automating the system of accounting and payments in the Military Engineer Services (MES).

According to a proposal circulated to various establishments, the Engineer-in-Chief’s (E-in-C) Branch at Army Headquarters has proposed “clear and fast” payments directly to contractors by garrison engineers through internet banking instead of issuing cheques through banks, which can be time-consuming.

Though e-tendering for contracts now in practice with documents being submitted online, earnest money has to be deposited physically through demand draft. The E-in-C Branch has sought deposit of earnest money online on the same lines as the railway ticket booking system, where the deposit of unsuccessful bidders can also be remitted back online.

It has also been proposed that since certain stipulated documents are stored online for 15 years and can be downloaded anytime, the need for submitting original tendering documents can be dispensed with. Similarly, there is no need to prepare physical comparative charts and the same data can be generated electronically.

One of the three major components of the Corps of Engineers, MES is responsible for the construction and maintenance of military infrastructure and other defence operational support structures that require civil works. With an annual budget of over Rs 9,000 crore, it is one of the world’s largest construction agencies and draws its manpower from the armed forces as well as a civilian cadre.
 Committed to zero tolerance on terror: India at UN meet

United Nations, November 8
India today asserted that there can be no justification for terror acts and said it was fully committed to the policy of zero tolerance against terrorism.

Participating in the 9th meeting of the Advisory Board of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Center (UNCCT), India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Asoke Mukerji urged the UN body to continue its efforts towards balanced implementation of the four pillars of the Global Counter Terrorism Strategy.

The pillars are: addressing conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, preventing and combating terrorism, building states’ capacity to prevent and combat terrorism and strengthen the UN system’s role in this regard and ensuring respect for human rights.

“India on its part is fully committed to the policy of zero tolerance against terrorism and firmly believes there can be no justification for terrorist acts,” Mukerji said here yesterday.

India voiced its support to the idea of investing in understanding the Foreign Terrorist Fighters phenomenon.

Mukerji proposed that a discussion paper be circulated to the board to enable its members to have an action oriented discussion on the issue.

Mukerji also welcomed the suggestion of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of providing the expertise of the UNCCT to the UN peacekeeping operations, particularly those that have been directly affected by terrorist acts.

He extended India’s support to the capacity building of the UNCCT in regions most affected by terrorism.

“In order to be effective and sustainable, the capacity building initiative of the Centre should be tailored in response to requests by member states of the United Nations. — PTI

To stay as UNCCT board member

    India has agreed to UN chief Ban Ki-moon's offer to remain a member of the advisory board of a UN Centre on Counter-Terrorism for three more years
    The UNCCT was established in 2011 within the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force to assist in meeting capacity-building needs of member states, and to strengthen United Nations' counter-terrorism expertise
 Naval mishap: No trace of four missing men
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 8
The hope to find alive four Navy personnel who have been missing since Thursday night’s accident in the Bay of Bengal is fading fast. The Navy has deployed nine warships and specialised search planes to locate the four personnel.

The four — one officer and three sailors — have been missing since 8 pm on Thursday when a Navy ship, a torpedo recovery vessel A-72, sunk 30 nautical miles (55 km) east off Visakhapatnam following an ingress of water. One person who died yesterday has been identified as Petty Officer James Jacob, 24.

“A full scale search and rescue (SAR) operation is in progress,” the Navy said today.

The search is going on in an area 80 nautical miles (148 km) south and south west of Visakhapatnam. This has been done to factor in the prevailing drift and sea currents. Though no missing personnel have been found till this afternoon, one Handycam (a video-camera) and two life jackets (belonging to A 72) were recovered yesterday from the search area, indicating the intensity of the search operation.

A board of inquiry headed by a Captain is in progress to investigate into the circumstances leading to the mishap. Navy Chief Admiral Robin Dhowan has cut short his official visit to Seychelles and has arrived back in India, he is expected to be in Visakhapatnam on Sunday. The Admiral was scheduled to be in Indian Ocean island country till Sunday.

Each of the nine warships looking for the men has special abilities. One has divers and diving equipment, another one has powerful underwater sonars, two of these have high-speed abilities to rush to any spot and almost all of them have onboard helicopters.

Nine warships, search planes at work

    The Navy has deployed nine warships and specialised search planes to locate the four personnel
    The four — one officer and three sailors — have been missing since 8 pm on Thursday when a Navy ship sunk 30 nautical miles east off Visakhapatnam following an ingress of water
 Tejas makes its maiden flight

New Delhi, November 8
The final version of the two-seater trainer jet Tejas (PV-6) made its maiden flight today, in a milestone for India's overall indigenous Light Combat Aircraft programme.

The aircraft took off at 13.36 pm, piloted by Group Captain Vivart Singh along with Group Captain Anoop Kabadwal. The aim was to check the twin cockpit functionality which is similar to series production two- seater aircraft, a Defence Ministry statement said. PTI
A good sign from Army after a tragic ‘mistake’
In the case of the two teenage boys who were gunned down by an Army patrol at Chattergram in the Budgam district of central Kashmir on November 3, the military has already pleaded guilty. Usually, the forces usually try to deflect. So, presumably, this is an open and shut case.

The Northern Army commander, Lt. Gen. D.S. Hooda, told journalists in Srinagar on Friday, “I admit a mistake happened. Why else would two civilian boys have been killed like this? We share the sorrow of the families.” This is a rare admission of guilt from the highest level. If an inquiry is still being held, and the top boss of the Northern Command indicated this should be over in 10 days, it must be to fix specific responsibility.

It must not be lost sight of that the circumstances of the case are not in doubt. That makes it hard to resile from the charge of murder. Were there any mitigating circumstances? An inquiry by the Army will no doubt try to work in that direction. Lt. Gen. Hooda has, of course, said the Army would also cooperate with any other inquiry, including one by the police.

This is a good sign. The Northern Army commander is being commendably open. The logic of this is that there will be exemplary punishment, and no ducking behind the compulsions of national security or hocus-pocus of any kind. If the opposite were to happen, the Army would lose face in Kashmir.

The culpability of men in uniform in several past situations to do with innocent civilians Pathribal is a notable reminder did not redound to the Army’s credit in the valley. And yet the force has not been regarded as a triggerhappy institution.

But this reputation dims from time to time and people’s anger mounts against military excesses, even if these are not part of the calculation. Hostile political elements are the first to take advantage. Acts of terrorism are then sought to be justified in the public mind as fair revenge. The only way out of such a spiral is for the Army to act fast, act with the aim of being just, and act hard against its men in the case of the smallest transgression. Zero tolerance is what’s called for in every situation.

Those passionate about the scrapping of AFSPA cite instances like these. If there was no AFSPA, the Army would not dare act with seeming impunity, they argue. It’s a beguiling argument. But no Army can operate without legal cover in a civilian environment in which terrorists are active, just as the police can’t open fire without a magistrate’s orders. In the latter case, too, there are excesses. The point is to not tolerate them

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