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Friday, 15 May 2015

From Today's Papers - 15 May 2015

RAW involved in militancy: Pak Foreign Secy
Islamabad, May 14
Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry today alleged Indian external intelligence agency RAW was involved in different acts of terrorism in the country.

In a chat with media here, he said Pakistan had taken up the issue of “RAW’s activities” with Indian authorities on several occasions.

The foreign secretary said that two persons recently arrested in Karachi confessed to having received training for militancy from the Indian spy agency. He also talked about the bus attack in Karachi and said if RAW was found involved in the massacre of Ismailis, Pakistan would take up the issue in all international forums.

Chaudhry said the involvement of Islamic State cannot be established on the basis of a pamphlet purportedly left by the attackers at the site of the attack. Last week, Pakistan’s army chief had also expressed concerns over activities of RAW in the country. — PTI
Border, trust building dominate Modi-Xi talks
Chinese Prez rolls out red carpet for PM in hometown
Xi'an, May 14
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today began a three-day visit to China from this north west city, the hometown of Chinese President Xi Jinping with whom he held "very substantive" discussions focusing on strengthening of mutual trust and the boundary issue.

On his first visit to China since assuming office last year, Modi was warmly greeted by Xi, who set aside protocol to receive a foreign dignitary outside Beijing in replay of the Indian leader's gesture in September last when he welcomed the Chinese President in Ahmedabad. Even as mutual warmth was apparent, Modi raised the question of some $ 46 billion investment by China in an economic corridor passing through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), about which India had protested. The investments were announced during Xi's visit to Pakistan last month.

Another ticklish issue reportedly raised by Modi concerns the issuance of stapled visas by China to residents of Arunachal Pradesh, which the Chinese claim to be a part of southern Tibet, a claim totally rejected by India.

For the record, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said the "very substantive talks" between the two leaders covered subjects ranging from political, economic and global issues like terrorism, UNSC reforms and India's membership of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

"On the political side, there was a lot of discussion on strengthening trust and increasing convergence," he said while briefing media on the 90-minute delegation-level talks without taking any questions.

He said the two leaders discussed the boundary issue, including peace and tranquility, besides trans-border rivers.

The boundary issue has been a sticking point in the relations between the two major Asian countries and both are making efforts to settle it through Special Representatives' talks. The Special Representatives have held 18 rounds of discussions so far.

Talking about the atmospherics at the meeting, the third in a year between Modi and the all-powerful Xi, who is also the General Secretary of the Communist Party, Jaishankar said, "the atmosphere was very comfortable. So, in the sense it was building on the chemistry between the two of them which started last September."

On the economic front, Modi and Xi discussed the issue of trade deficit, which is in favour of China to the tune of $ 38 billion, and ways to address it. — PTI
Hi-tech gadgetry, fishermen keep vigil on west coast
Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

Mumbai, May 14
Keeping a watchful eye on India’s sensitive west coast now entails a mix of hi-technology, latest gadgetry and coast based radars, besides lakhs of fishermen who now form the ‘human eyes’ at sea for the Indian Navy.

The technology mix includes space-based automatic identification system for ships, coast-based radars and ship identification system, long-range trackers for ships and air traffic, besides unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). _All the information is collated and analysed in real time at Information Management and Analysis Centre (IMAC) in Gurgaon for immediate action at the Joint operations centres of the Navy and the Coast Guard.

Vice Admiral SPS Cheema, Commander-in-Chief of the Mumbai-based Western Naval Command, in an exclusive talk to The Tribune explained: “We now have a multi-layered surveillance system and multi-layered response mechanism. We get info on fishing, about merchant vessels and air traffic. Each and every ‘contact’ at sea is monitored”.

The response system includes UAVs, smaller and big ships, besides aircraft and helicopters.

It is more than six years since the November 2008 Mumbai terror attacks took place when 10 gun-toting assailants rode a hijacked Indian fishing vessel to launch simultaneous attacks at five places in Mumbai.

In the wake of the attacks, Indian fishermen have been trained in hi-end technology in a unique way.

Admiral Cheema said: “The fishermen are our eyes and ears and in a way a part of the security set up. At sea they are the best people to spot any outsiders in the waters”.

Boats are being color coded which means boats from a particular region will have different colors and can be spotted from a distance, said the senior Navy officer who hails from a village near Ludhiana and studied at Sainik School, Karnal.

The Navy regularly interacts with these lakhs of ‘informers’. “At every fish landing station all across the coast, we have interaction and there are hundreds of such spots. We train and educate them on the need to inform us. It is now a well-organized system”, the Western Navy Commander said.

Work on the installation of the second phase of the coast-based radars is on. The first phase had 46 of these which left a few blind spots. “It will cover all the blind spots and also cover the island territories”, Admiral Cheema said.

After 26/11, information gathering has seen massive increase, he added. India’s initiative on the west coast to provide a multi-tiered security also means that the international merchant vessels now operate at some 40-50 km away from the Indian coast while normally then would be 150 km away.

Asked if the international shipping would move westwards since there has been no piracy till about some 400 nautical miles off the Indian west coast, Admiral Cheema replied, “I don’t think that is happening in the foreseeable future. The security, which the Indian navy provides, is active. They (merchant ship companies) are happy. This has reduced the security bill of the shipping companies. One of the busiest sea lane of communication (SLOC) passes just west of India. Ships carrying millions of dollars of oil and cargo ply on the route.

“So many huge vessels near the coast do not affect Naval operations. We have own operational procedures”, Admiral Cheema asserted.
Army rues lack of funds for critical weapons, to approach Finance Ministry in June
 NEW DELHI: We don't have the money to buy the weapons we really need - that's what the Indian military brass has told Parliament's standing committee on defence. The report on the military's concerns was submitted last week and India's generals explained that thanks to a record low budget allocation this year, defence forces won't be able to buy operationally critical equipment like artillery guns, carbines, missiles and antitank systems for the army as well as patrol vessels and surveillance helicopters for the coast guard.

This year's budget gave a hike of 7.9 per cent in military spending, and as a percentage of GDP, total defence spending is 1.7 per cent — the lowest since 1960s. India's army has said the country's defence budget should be brought up to 3 per cent of GDP. China's defence spending is 2 per cent of GDP, Pakistan's 3 per cent, America's 3.8 per cent and Russia's 4.1 per cent, according to ministry of defence estimates.

The defence ministry is planning to petition the finance ministry for additional funds in June.

Defence submissions to the committee have made the point that the budgetary hike will cover maintenance and salaries and committed liabilities for past purchases. Only 8 per cent of the capital allocation in the defence budget is for new projects.
Submissions made to the House panels say the army has identified 20 key projects it wants to sign but that the "money is not there". "Yes, alot needs to be modernised. We are aware of it. We have got our plans but finally there is a funds crunch. That is being reflected in the way funds get sanctioned on the ground," a senior army Lieutenant General told the panel. Defence brass is typically not identified in submissions made to House panels.

Countering criticism that its own system of procurement is prone to delays, the army told the panel: "The crunch is that you do not have the money. Just because the money is not there, there is a certain slowing down when it comes up to that level of sanction, the big projects because all the big projects go to the finance Ministry and tend to slow down. So, if the money is there, I am sure the things would fall into place."

Similar representations have come from the air force, which has been given only a fourth of its required funds for new projects. In fact, the money for air force's new projects - Rs3,264 crore - will barely be enough to make the first installment payment for the 36 Rafale fighters India is purchasing from France.

For the coast guard, not only is there not funds for new acquisitions, this year's budget allocation will have to be used for paying commitments for last year.

"With this (coast guard) budget they can go on for six months. We are hoping to take (it) up with the finance ministry in the month of June," Defence Secretary RK Mathur said.
Indian Army tests its prowess through 'Gurj Prahar'

Aiming to validate and enhance its operational readiness, the Gurj Division of Army is carrying out a military exercise somewhere in the Western Sector.

The exercise named 'Gurj Prahar', commenced on May 1 and it will continue till May 20, a Defence spokesman said here today.

"Its aim is to validate and enhance operational readiness, test battle procedures and the synergy between the Army and the Air Force, in a joint operations scenario," he said.

Over 8,000 troops,  ..

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