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Tuesday, 10 March 2015

From Today's Papers - 10 Mar 2015

Pak envoy Basit calls on Geelani
 Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 9
Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit today called on Kashmiri hardline separatist Syed Ali Shah Geelani at his New Delhi residence. The two apparently discussed last week’s talks between the foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan.

After the meeting, Geelani said: “The Pakistan High Commissioner came to me. We had a discussion on Indian Foreign Secretary’s visit to Pakistan.”

“The Jammu and Kashmir issue must be resolved through dialogue between India and Pakistan,” said Geelani while blaming “endless” rounds of talks for lack of breakthrough.

Angered at a similar meeting between Basit and separatists in the run-up to the foreign secretary-level meeting in August, India had called off talks saying Pakistan could either talk to India or separatists.

The talks were resumed when Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar met with his Pakistan counterpart Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhury in Islamabad on March 3.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said: “The government is keeping a watch on developments in J&K... We will not take any step that isn’t in the interest of the state.”
Alam’s release: Modi govt not satisfied with J-K response
Seeks more answers | Stern advisory may be issued to state
Girja Shankar Kaura

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 9
Admitting to having “ideological differences” with the PDP, the BJP’s ally in the coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir, the Narendra Modi government today gave an assurance that the country’s unity and integrity was of utmost priority and it was ready to make any “sacrifice” for it.

Under attack over the release of separatist Masarat Alam in Jammu and Kashmir, apparently without being consulted on the issue, the government said that it was not satisfied with the response given by the PDP for the release and has sought further answers from the state government.

The response was not satisfactory and more clarifications have been sought, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said while replying to clarifications sought by the members in the Rajya Sabha over his earlier statement.

He added, “If need be, a stern advisory will be issued to the state government. The Centre will not shy away from doing so.”

“There is no doubt that there are ideological differences between the BJP and PDP. We have never had any relationship with the PDP in the past. They have been with us only for 10 days. Whatever influence is there, it must be yours on them. You had been with them in power in the past,” he told members of the Congress.

The Home Minister asserted that no one, howsoever powerful, would be allowed to play with the unity and integrity of the country.

In an effort to allay concerns of members over Alam’s release, the Home Minister, speaking in the presence of Prime Minister Modi, assured that Jammu and Kashmir was, is and will remain an integral part of the country.

“We will not let anybody play with the nation’s integrity. We will make any sacrifice, if needed, for it,” the Home Minister said.

Pointing out to the members that he was speaking on behalf of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Home Minister insisted that there was “no hidden agenda” or “behind-the-scenes talks” over government formation in Jammu and Kashmir.
Army’s 100 golf courses under Centre scanner

The Centre has proceeded to rein in unauthorised use of land by the country’s largest land owner that also operates nearly 100 luxury golf courses and sports clubs on around 8,000 acres of the government property — the Army.

It has accepted the recommendation of a Parliamentary panel to revisit the policy that allowed the Army, which holds around 80 per cent of the government land, to use defence land for golf courses, offering membership to civilians for a heavy fee which was not even being credited to the government account.

“The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has accepted the recommendations of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), and work on formulation of a new policy is underway in consultation with the Services and Director General Defence Estate,” stated an affidavit filed in Supreme Court on Monday.

The affidavit, filed in response to a PIL by NGO Common Cause, said that the ministry has also issued instructions in December to the Services to prepare a comprehensive status report about golf courses and environmental parks on the lines advised by the PAC. “In the interim, the Services have been directed to open golf courses on defence land only with the prior approval of the government,” said the ministry.

In its reports on defence land, the PAC had in 2013 exposed serious irregularities in the functioning of the authorities, and questioned the Army top brass over “grossly” misusing the government land to build golf courses for its senior officers and others. The PAC had found that over 14,000 acres of defence land was encroached upon by civilians.

The reports of the PAC, which had examined the findings of the CAG, had told the MoD in categorical terms that golf was “not an authorised activity as per the rules under accommodation for defence services”.

Asserting that golf could not be considered as a “military activity”, the PAC had observed that recreation grounds could not be used for golf courses, and recommended revisiting of the entire policy of golf courses for strict action.

As per the MoD, fresh instructions have also been issued for periodic inspection and physical verification of the defence land holding, and a regular land audit once in every three years.
Airbus and KDS join forces to offer unmanned targets in India
Airbus Defence and Space has signed a strategic cooperation agreement with India-based Kadet Defence Systems (KDS) for the sale and marketing of services and products in the field of aerial target systems.

The German defence contractor has already partnered with KDS to offer its manoeuvrable expendable aerial target (MEAT) to the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Indian Army.

The new agreement is anticipated to extend the initial teaming arrangement to offer additional products within India and for sale to foreign countries.

Airbus Defence and Space India head Peter Gutsmiedl said: "This teaming agreement further demonstrates our clear commitment to India as a strategic market and partner, and underlines our willingness to find mutually productive ventures in line with the 'Make in India' concept.
"Airbus Defence and Space is developing a vast range of tangible initiatives in India in cooperation with Indian companies and partners.

"This includes investment in a radar development and production facility, extensive aerospace engineering activities, and of course the manufacturing together with Tata of the bulk of an expected fleet of 56 military transport aircraft proposed to replace India's ageing Avro fleet."

KDS founder and CEO Avdhesh Khaitan said: "Although both companies are already offering products to the Indian Armed Forces, this teaming arrangement will greatly enhance the size and scope of what we can bid on future programmes."

In particular, the agreement lays a roadmap for technology transfer, joint product development, local manufacturing, as well as provision of joint services in the Asia Pacific region.

KDS' line of lower speed aircraft is expected to complement Airbus' higher speed aerial target family, enabling development and manufacture of a wide range of products in Europe and India.

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