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Tuesday, 24 March 2015

From Today's Papers - 24 Mar 2015

Pak Taliban chief killed in air strike?

Islamabad, March 23
Tehreek-e-Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah, who masterminded the Peshawar school massacre, was believed to _be killed after being seriously hit in air strikes _in Pakistan’s restive Khyber tribal area over the weekend.

Fazlullah, 40, who took over in 2013 when his predecessor Hakimullah Mehsud was killed, was seriously injured in the air strikes, sources told PTI.

The Pakistani army said at least 80 militants were killed and over 100 injured in ground and aerial offensive in Khyber tribal district over the weekend.

Security sources said Fazlullah might have been killed in the fierce fighting in which seven soldiers were also killed.

Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Governor Mehtab Khan Abbasi today said that the death of Fazlullah would be confirmed in coming days.

However, Taliban spokesman Mohammad Khorasani rejected the news about death of the Taliban chief.

“The reports concerning death of our chief are totally baseless,” he said in a statement. — PTI
Will take Army on board to revoke AFSPA, says Mufti
Tribune News Service

Jammu, March 23
Softening his stance on revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in the wake of recent twin terror strikes in Kathua and Samba districts, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed today said the Army would be taken on board before repealing the contentious Act.

“I cannot do it (scrap AFSPA) in one go. It will be done gradually and in a phased manner. The Army has aired some apprehensions over the move and it will be taken on board before a decision is taken,” Mufti said while replying to the Motion of Thanks to the Governor’s Address in the Legislative Council.

“My government will take steps to review AFSPA and the need for de-notifying the Disturbed Areas Act from areas where militancy has considerably reduced, which will allow the Union Government to take a final view on the continuation of AFSPA in these areas. I will do it after consulting the Army. We will see how we can (government) find a way out after giving it a good thought,” the Chief Minister said.

The AFSPA came into force in Jammu and Kashmir on July 5, 1990. All Kashmir-based mainstream political parties, including the PDP, NC and separatists had been demanding its removal on the grounds that the security scenario had improved “significantly”.

Mufti also referred to the Chatergam and Macchil incidents where the Centre took stern action against security personnel for not following the standing operating procedures. “We will make the armed forces accountable vis-à-vis violation of human rights in the state. PM Narendra Modi initiated a probe and impressed upon the Army to accept that the two youths killed in Chatergan were innocent. He also announced the government would constitute a panel to look into the dispute over land in possession of the Army.
India rejects third party talks as J-K separatists meet Pak envoy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 23
The fragile nature of relations between India and Pakistan came to the fore today with sharp reactions emanating from India over the decision of Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit to meet Kashmiri separatist leaders and extending invitation to attend National Day celebrations here.

The National Day celebrations, marking the 1940 Resolution seeking separate State that led to creation of Pakistan, was held at the Pakistan High Commission this evening with the Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh representing the country.

Hours after the Hurriyat leaders claimed the interaction was to assist both countries resolve the Kashmir issue and Basit’s comment on it, the Ministry of External Affairs firmly rejected any third party mediation reiterating bilateral dialogue can move forward only within the framework of the Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration.

"The Government of India speaks for itself. Having repeated that there should be no scope for misunderstanding or misrepresenting India's position on the role of the so-called Hurriyat. Let me reiterate, there are only two parties and there is no place for a third party in resolution of India-Pakistan issues. The only way forward for proceeding on all outstanding issues is a peaceful bilateral dialogue within the framework of the Simla Agreement and Lahore Declaration," External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.

The Congress party reacted with former Union Minister Anand Sharma saying the Modi government should adopt consistent policy. "Talking about our neighbours, with Pakistan or China, relationships which are sensitive, complex and sometimes there have been areas of concern, have to be integral to the foreign policy. That is why I said it has to be consistent; there has to be a roadmap...and the Prime Minister alone knows what assurances he has given. Our concerns are about continued terror attacks."

Chairman of Hurriyat Conference Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who met Basit yesterday, was quoted by PTI saying the “complex” Kashmir issue needed a “political approach...Hurriyat's main agenda is that stakeholders involved -- India, Pakistan and Kashmiris -- will have to move together to solve the problem.... It is the only way out to avoid killing of innocent civilians and Army men and other destruction.

Modi conveys greetings to Sharif

“I have written to Pakistan PM Mr Nawaz Sharif, conveying my greetings on the National Day of Pakistan," Modi tweeted

Was asked by govt to attend Pak event: VK Singh

MoS (External Affairs) and ex-Army Chief General VK Singh, who attended Pak Day celebrations at its High Commission in Delhi, said he was asked by the government to represent it

He later issued a series of intriguing tweets defining “disgust” and “duty” indicating that he may have been unhappy at being deputed to it

Hurriyat happy with Indo-Pak talks

Srinagar: During a meeting with the Pakistani High Commissioner Abdul Basit, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chief of moderate faction of Hurriyat Conference, informed the diplomat that the Hurriyat welcomed the talks between New Delhi and Islamabad. — TNS
Security forces occupying 1,307 _pvt houses, 278 govt buildings
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria

Tribune News Service

Jammu, March 23
In the militancy-hit Jammu and Kashmir, over 1,300 private houses, more than 250 government buildings and a few industrial units remain under the occupation of the Army and paramilitary forces.

In an official document tabled in the Lower House here today, the government stated that 1,307 private houses, 278 government buildings, including educational institutions, 18 industrial units, five cinemas and 27 hotels were occupied by the Army and other security forces.

On March 1, the Chief Minister had said all lands other than that given to the security forces on the basis of lease, licences and acquisition under the provision of the Land Acquisition Act should be returned to the rightful legal owners.

Mufti, however, had said there would be exceptions for situations where retaining the land was imperative in view of some specific security requirement.

The document tabled stated that in 157 cases the rent was not being paid to the owners of such properties.

“The 157 cases are currently under process and examination at different stages for want of occupation certificates, district rent assessment committee reports and revenue documents, etc,” says the document.

The government also stated that no land had been forcibly occupied by the security forces in the state.

“In almost all cases of occupation of land by the security forces, rent is being paid by the police department after completion of requisite formalities except a few cases which are under process for want of revenue papers, occupation certificates, district rent assessment committee reports,” stated the government.

“Efforts are on to expedite the process of payment of rent to the owners,” it added.

Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had stated in a written reply in the state Assembly in February last year that 66,690 kanals and 10 marals was under the unauthorised occupation of the Army and paramilitary forces and no rent had been paid to the land owners against the use of occupied lands.

20 foreigners among 37 PSA detainees
Jammu: Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on Monday told the Legislative Council that only 37
persons had been detained under the Public Safety Act (PSA) in the state. The Legislative Council
witnessed an uproar today over a large number of
PSA detainees in various jails of the state. “Of all, 20 are foreign nationals and five are timber smugglers. Only 17 detained under the PSA are locals. Why this hue and cry,” Mufti told the Legislative Council
Pak flaunts military might on R-Day
Afzal Khan in Islamabad
Pakistani held its first military parade (Republic Day parade) in seven years on Monday with an impressive display of its military hardware, flag-waving pomp and aerial military expertise.

The day that marks the adoption of Pakistan Resolution, some 75 years ago in Lahore, witnessed rallies, declamation contests, art exhibitions and colourful parades in major cities across the country.

President Mamnoon Hussain flanked by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took salute of the march past by contingents of the three armed services. In a brief speech, the President paid tributes to the jawans of law enforcing agencies in their fight against terrorism.

“The nation is united in the endeavour to eliminate terrorism and set the country on path of democracy, progress and prosperity. Pakistan is keen to forge friendly ties with India after resolving its outstanding issues, including Kashmir, through a peaceful dialogue,” he said.

PM Nawaz Sharif received a message from his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi greeting him on the occasion and hoping that both countries would peacefully resolve their outstanding dispute through dialogue.

The Pakistan Day parade in the capital was held amid tight security. No parades had been held since 2008, following an escalation in terror activities. The parade was shifted from the traditional ground facing the Parliament House to picturesque Hshakarparian hills.

Military jets and helicopters flew over the picturesque, low-rise city in the warm, spring sunshine, with a sky-diving team due to show off its skills against the backdrop of the Margalla Hills, the low, forested foothills of the Himalayas.

The day dawned with a 31-gun salute in the federal capital and 21-gun salutes in provincial capitals.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who attended the parade, issued a statement warning of the threat from anti-state elements bent on destroying the country.

“Pakistan is resolved to redeem its pledge given to its founding fathers that it will protect the homeland,” Sharif said in a statement.

A change of guard ceremony was held at the tombs of nation’s founding father Mohammad Ali Jinnah in Karachi and national poet Allama Iqbal in Lahore. Contingents of the Pakistani air force assumed guard at both places.

In the afternoon, President Mamnoon Hussain bestowed honour awards to prominent citizens at the President’s House.
Defence Ministry gives nod to pending Brahmaputra embankment: Sarbananda Sonowal
Dibrugarh: The Defence Ministry has given permission for construction of the pending portion of the Brahmaputra embankment in the Army cantonment area here, Union Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Monday said.

The Defence Ministry gave permission on March 5 for the construction of 700 metres of the Rs 29 crore Asian Development Bank funded embankment for the protection of Dibrugarh city from the Brahmapura flowing alongside, Sonowal told PTI here.

Construction of 1,200 meters of the embankment was restricted by the Army as the land was in the cantonment area, said Sonowal.

Sonowal, who hails from Dibrugarh and is a Lok Sabha MP from Assam, said the Defence Ministry has assured him that permission would be given soon before the onset of the monsoons for the construction of the rest of the 700 meters.

The Minister today reviewed the completed extension and strengthening works of the embankment and expressed his satisfaction with the progress made so far.

He also suggested that the dyke be developed on the lines of Mumbai's Marine Drive by turning it into a revenue generating spot by beautification, lighting and planting of trees for the tourists.
India to train military personnel from 38 countries, says defence minister Manohar Parrikar
Bhubaneswar: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar late on Sunday said India was planning to export defence materials and training military personnel of at least 38 countries.

"At least 38 countries are sending their defence personnel for training in India. We are encouraging them. We are giving them more slots. We are also considering to supply some sort of defence materials through export or through line of credit to the countries so that they can depend on India for their defence," Parrikar told reporters at the sideline of an international conference here.
Parrikar, however, said he would not be able to reveal names of the countries which are sending their personnel for training due to security reasons.

Quoting a shloka from Sanskrit scripture, Parrikar said, "A goat is sacrificed in the altar and no one dares to kill a lion. We will build our position of strength."

However, Parrikar said, India does not want to dominate any other country but increase its own strength through partnership and friendship.

Replying to a question, the Defence Minister said, "We are organisisng a naval exercise in Vishakhapatanam where international fleet will participate... It will be a spectacular show of basic exercise of infrastracture."

Asked whether China is also participating in the exercise, Parrikar said, "We are yet to send invitation. It's an open matter. Once the list is prepared, you can know."

On Blue Navy, Parrikar said the concept of Bule Navy will come to practice when India posts 30/40 ships at about 300/400 nautical miles from the coast.

Parrikar said, "The defence ministry has already finalised the OROP (One Rank One Pension) scheme. However, certain financial and administrative procedures will be followed. The first positive thing is that it has been prepared properly. It involves an amount of about Rs 8,000 crore."

About the proposal from Odisha government on a Kalinga regiment, he said, "You cannot raise a regiment by caste or region... I would ensure that defence presence is felt more in Odisha so that you can get more people trained, get more people in the army and employment," he said.

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