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Friday, 27 March 2015

From Today's Papers - 27 Mar 2015

Tribune News Service

Jammu, March 26
The security forces have vacated 1,474 buildings and 56 bunkers in Jammu and Kashmir in the last six years

Till date 1,474 premises comprising 179 schools, 37 hospitals, 922 private buildings, 268 government buildings, 34 hotels, 31 industrial units and three cinema halls have been vacated by the security forces, stated an official document tabled in the Upper House here today.

The document further stated that 56 bunkers have also been removed from public places in Srinagar city since 2009.

Replying to a question on by NC’s Bashir Ahmed Veeri during the question hour, Minister for Horticulture Abdul Rehman Veeri said efforts were afoot to have remaining premises vacated and utilised for their original purpose.

Veeri was speaking on behalf of the Home Department, a portfolio held by Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Syaeed.

“As on date, 1,307 private houses, 278 government buildings, 27 hotels, five cinema halls, three hospitals and 18 industrial units are still under the occupation of the Army and other security forces in the state,” Veeri added.

He also informed the House that more than 1,70,696 kanals of land continued to remain under unauthorised occupation of the Army and other security forces.
Superpowers & the battle of hypocrisy
Robert Fisk
The 125,000 civilian casualties of the two Chechen wars elicited far less passion in the West than the fatalities in Syria. In both Chechenya and Syria, of course, the “enemy” mutated.
STRANGE, isn't it, how every time we have a “crisis” in the Middle East, the Russians step in to take advantage of it? Or so it looks. No sooner have we identified Isis/the Islamic Caliphate/Daesh as the most apocalyptic, end-of-the-world antagonist since Hitler/Napoleon/ Nero/Genghis Khan,

than old Mother Russia stretches out her bear's claws and tickles a former Soviet Republic, namely Ukraine.

While the Isis boys consolidated in Raqqa and Mosul, the Russians took over Crimea. Weapons poured in to help the Kurds in Kobani while the Ukrainians pleaded for more guns. Moscow's “experts” now regularly appear on Russian television — many have an odd habit of flapping their hands in front of the screen — to tell us that “our” war is in fighting Islamist “fascism” in Syria and Iraq (and, I suppose, Afghanistan), not in supporting the “fascists” of Ukraine.

Flash back now to the forgotten war in Chechnya — forgotten by us, that is. We were indulgent when Boris Yeltsin fought the first Chechen war in the mid-1990s, firstly because we wanted “democracy” to break out in the wreckage of the Soviet Union — even at the cost of the destruction of Grozny — but also because the Russians had accepted the West's liberation of Kuwait with scarcely a whisper of concern about Iraqi-Russian relations. We owed the Russkies one for this.

And when Vladimir Putin was concluding Russia's second war in Chechnya in 2002, we were far too preoccupied with our new adventure in Afghanistan and our forthcoming “liberation” of Baghdad to worry about the poor old Chechens again. There was Western condemnation aplenty during the two conflicts, which lasted from the early 1990s to 2002 — the aftermath much longer — including threats of sanctions and international isolation. Foreshadowing Barack Obama's fatuous “red line” in the Syrian war 10 years later, George W Bush even talked of how Russia had “stepped over the bounds”.

The Russians didn't care. Indeed, the civilian casualties of the two Chechen wars, which mounted to perhaps 125,000 dead, elicited far less passion than the West demonstrated when fatalities of the Syrian civil war reached 125,000 last year, a statistic — and all such figures must be regarded with the deepest scepticism — which included several thousand armed rebels as well as civilians. In both Chechnya and Syria, of course, the “enemy” mutated. The brave freedom fighters of Grozny turned into the black-clad Islamist killers of Beslan and the Moscow children's theatre. Then the friendly Free Syrian Army lads and lassies fighting to the death against the Assad regime turned into the monsters of Isis — or were cruelly put to death by the same Isis when they didn't join in the holy struggle for a caliphate. In this sense, both national struggles transmogrified into something we could condemn — and thus cancelled each other out.

Ruffle the pages of our history books a little further, however, and we find another far more momentous self-negation in 1956. For no sooner had the British and French connived with the Israelis to go to war over Suez — and drive Nasser out of power — than the Soviets sent their tanks into the streets of Budapest to suppress the Hungarian Revolution. The disregard for international law demonstrated by both the Soviet forces and the Anglo-French armies flattened out each other's outrageous conduct. And although the Soviet tank bombardment of Budapest was long in the planning and thus unlikely to have been timed to coincide with the Suez invasion, it was difficult to condemn the Russians for taking advantage of our European aggression in Egypt. Operation Musketeer (the UK version of the Suez invasion) morally cancelled out the subsequent Soviet Operation Whirlwind in Hungary (intriguingly, the same name Saddam used for his assault on Iran in 1980). It was all very well for The Daily Telegraph to use the headline “Free World's Shock and Horror” of the Russian onslaught on Budapest or for The Guardian to trumpet the “Inspired Resistance to Soviet Brutality”, but the Europeans had been committing a few war crimes of their own in Egypt, not least the French paratroopers who massacred civilians with the same panache they were displaying in Algeria.

Only the freedom of Western reporters to roam the streets of Budapest during the uprising and the extraordinary censorship imposed by the Anglo-French authorities on their own journalists in Egypt allowed the Europeans to win the propaganda war at home.

But internationally — and especially in the Arab world — the cruelty of the Russians was matched by the brutal hypocrisy of the British and French. On November 4, 1956, the Soviets reached the centre of Budapest. A few hours later, British paratroopers were preparing to land at Port Said. Checkmate.

And who are the winners of this decades-long burlesque? Well, the Arabs for one. Field Marshal President Sisi of Egypt feted Putin in Cairo, but is happy to host UK businessmen to assist his pharaonic projects for a new Egyptian administrative capital (total cost around $45bn) and a “new” Suez Canal. And President Bashar al-Assad can count on Putin's support in his war against the rebels of Syria, while benefiting from US air strikes on his Isis enemies. And there's Israel. Its alliance with the US is as strong as ever despite Bibi Netanyahu's tomfoolery on Capitol Hill. Israel is offering to mediate between Russia and Ukraine — an interesting proposal, since Israel has plenty of experience of occupying other people's land. And remember, Putin once praised the political career of Soviet-born Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman — who believes that disloyal Arab-Israelis should have their heads axed off — as “brilliant”.

At least the dictators and racists of the Middle East understand the hypocrisy of the superpowers.
‘Material failure, human error’ causing naval mishaps
Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 26
The Indian Navy today said the debris of the Dornier aircraft that crashed into the Arabian Sea on Tuesday has been located.

In the backdrop of frequent naval mishaps, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence — on December 22 last year — raised questions on quality of equipment/machinery, inadequate training of Navy personnel and the gradually declining level of funding which can compromise operational preparedness. It had listed out the small and big accidents in the past few years.

Summing up the causes of naval accidents, the report tabled in Parliament had said: “The committee found that in most of these (accident) cases, the reasons for mishap is either material failure or human error,” the report said.

The Parliamentary Committee interviewed senior most Navy and Ministry of Defence officers before announcing its verdict. “This implies that either the equipment and machinery acquired are substandard or there are inadequacies in training,” the committee said in its report.

It pointed to inadequate funding, saying “(lack of funding) further aggravates the condition of the Indian Navy and leads to compromises in operational preparedness”, the committee which is headed by Maj Gen BC Khanduri (retd) observed. The former Army General is an elected MP from Uttarakhand.

The Navy’s share in the Budget is declining. The share of the naval budget within the total defence budget of India fell to 15.72 per cent in 2014-15. It was 16.79 per cent during 2013-14 and 18.12 per cent in 2012-13.

This is the sixth successive year of lesser allocation under the ‘other than salary’ segment.
In Dornier Crash, First Woman Officer Dies in Line of Duty
New Delhi:  The Indian Navy Dornier that crashed during a night sortie on Tuesday had claimed the life of a woman officer. The body of Lieutenant Kiran Shekhawat - the first Indian woman officer to die in the line of duty - was recovered today.

Lieutenant Shekhawat, 27, was commissioned into the Navy in 2010. She was training to be an Observer - an officer in charge of all sensors on board a surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft.

Early this morning, the wreckage of the Dornier was found about 60 m under the sea at south-west of Goa coast. The body of Lieutenant Shekhawat was found inside the fuselage of the aircraft.

"Lieutenant Shekhawat was unable to come out of aircraft," a senior officer said. The cause of the crash - a first by a Dornier -- will be determined by Board of Inquiry, he added.

Lieutenant Shekhawat's father retired from the Navy as Master Chief Petty Officer and her brother is also sailor with the Navy. Her husband is also a naval officer and an instructor in the Naval Academy in Ezhimala in Kerala. The two had married about two years ago.

"She was extremely focused and disciplined officer," a senior Navy officer told NDTV.

Lieutenant Shekhawat was also part of the Navy Woman Officer Contingent - the first ever all-woman officer contingent - that participated in this year's Republic Day Parade.
ICICI Bank inks MoU with Indian Army for Defence Salary Package
ICICI Bank has inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Indian Army on the Defence Salary Package.  The first MoU between the bank and the Indian Army was signed in 2011 and was valid for a period of three years.

The revised MoU is tailor made to suit the requirements of serving soldiers, pensioners and families. The number of additional facilities has been incorporated in the revised MoU after concerted efforts. This MoU will benefit a large number of serving and retired Army personnel who are having their accounts with the bank and also provide them an opportunity to access modern banking facilities.

The basic features of the MoU are the same as before.  Some features which have been improved from before are enhancement of Personal Accident Insurance (PAI) cover, enhancement of Air Accident Insurance cover, insurance cover on house loan and enhancement of purchase protection.
No meeting of Pak-India army chiefs at UN
ISLAMABAD: Indian Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag will be facing disappointment tomorrow (Friday) at the UN Headquarters New York when he will not get an opportunity to have a meeting with his counterpart from Pakistan General Raheel Sharif as he had been expecting to have a meeting with him in New York.
The Indian general is on his way to the UN Headquarters where he will attend an inaugural United Nations conference on peacekeeping operations tomorrow. The occasion will bring together the defence chiefs of UN member states.

 UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will open the first Chiefs of Defence Conference’ organised by the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support.

 India being one of the major contributors of troops to UN peacekeeping operations will be represented by Gen Suhag. While Pakistan’s Army Chief General Raheel Sharif was originally scheduled to participate in the conference but he wouldn’t be attending the meet due to his engagements back home. He will be represented by one of the corps commanders.
The day-long conference will focus on UN peacekeeping operations in the current political, strategic and operational environment as well as on the future of UN peacekeeping. Discussions would also focus on challenges and opportunities for mission support in peacekeeping operations and performance challenges in the current security environment. The defence chiefs will hold discussions with Under Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous and his Under Secretary General for Field Support. Several senior UN peacekeeping officials, including Military Adviser for Peacekeeping Operations to the UNSG Lieutenant General Maqsood Ahmed of Pakistan, will also take part in the discussions in the conference.

 Pakistan’s permanent representative for the UN Ambassador Dr Maleeha Lodhi will also attend the conference who has assumed the slot last month and taking part hectically in the World Body’s activities for highlighting the image of her country. She had an important meeting other day with the senior army officers belonging to Pakistan and working for the peacekeeping on behalf of the United Nations.

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