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Monday, 18 May 2015

From Today's Papers - 18 May 2015

Syrian army pushes IS back from Palmyra
Damascus, May 17
Syrian troops pushed Islamic State group jihadists back from the ancient city of Palmyra today, easing fears over the world heritage site, after fighting that left hundreds dead.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said nearly 300 people have been killed in four days of fighting since IS launched an assault on the desert oasis city on Wednesday.

Yesterday the jihadists pressed their offensive and seized the northern part of the modern town of Palmyra, known as Tadmur in Arabic, but were driven out by regime forces. "IS's attack was foiled,"said provincial governor Talal Barazi.

He told AFP the army was "still combing the streets for bombs" after recapturing the northern districts. "The situation in the city and its outskirts is good," he said. — AFP

300 dead in battle for ancient city: Monitor

Nearly 300 persons have been killed in several days of fighting since the Islamic State group launched an attack against Syria's ancient city of Palmyra, a monitor said on Sunday. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the toll comprised 123 soldiers and loyalist militiamen, 115 IS fighters and 57 civilians.
Pact on securing borders
Shaurya Karanbir Gurung

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 17
India and Mongolia today signed a pact which entails India agreeing to train Mongolia’s border force — the General Authority for Border Protection (GABP) — in counter-insurgency operations and itself be trained by them in high-altitude operations, besides sharing surveillance technologies for border management.

The pact was signed by BSF Director General DK Pathak and the GABP Chief. This is the first international pact signed by the BSF. It is among 13 other agreements that were signed between India and Mongolia today, according to a tweet of External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup.

Modi has stressed Mongolia is an integral part of India’s Act East policy. Mongolia shares a 4,677-km border with China. Security officials said intelligence gathered on China’s security infrastructure along India’s borders was through security agencies’ interaction with their Mongolian counterparts.

“Mongolia has always been a friendly country to India. We explored areas of commonalities and one area is border security in which we may need help,” said the sources, clarifying the pact was not aimed at countering China.

The pact is the culmination of regular meetings between the BSF and the GABP since 2007. Sources privy to the pact said India and Mongolia would set up a joint steering committee involving the Department of Border Management and the Ministry of Home Affairs. The committee will approve programmes of cooperation in border management. It will also create working groups to deal with operational, policy and cooperation matters.

While the GABP needs assistance in capacity building in special operations or counter-insurgency and commando operations, the BSF wants the GABP to train them in high-altitude operations. “Their borders are similar to ours, like in Jammu and Kashmir. For us, it is considered a difficult area, but it is routine for them. We will be trained in the practises they have set up, which includes staying in high-altitude areas, to the kind of equipment used, type of clothes worn and the construction of the appropriate barracks,” said the sources.

The two agencies have also agreed to conduct joint exercises with the focus on operations and training in border guarding and surveillance in the desert and high-altitude areas.
Kargil’s architect Mush waxes eloquent on war
Karachi, May 17
Recalling the Kargil conflict, Pakistan's former military dictator General Pervez Musharraf today said the Pakistani army “caught India by throat” and that India will never forget the war.

“There was a second line force, too, which caught India by throat and that was later given the status of army,” Musharraf said, addressing a ceremony of his All Pakistan Muslim League.

Musharraf, who masterminded the 1999 Kargil conflict and ruled over Pakistan for nine years, said India will always “remember the battle of Kargil”, Geo News reported.

“We entered Kargil from four points of which India was not aware,” the former President said. In May 1999, India and Pakistan, in their most serious military engagement since 1971, clashed in the Kargil area of Ladakh after militants backed by Pakistani troops occupied the mountain peaks of Kargil. — PTI
A year on, ex-servicemen await govt to deliver on OROP promise
Retired veterans of the armed forces say they are awaiting three key promises made to them by the Centre to be fulfilled even as the Narendra Modi-led NDA government is scheduled to complete its first year in office on May 26.

Maj General Satbir Singh (retd), vice-chairman of the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM), today said President Pranab Mukherjee, while addressing the first joint session of Parliament of this government on June 9 last year, had stressed on these three issues.

The President said: “My government ….will appoint a veterans’ commission; build a national war memorial to honour the gallantry of our soldiers ...and the one rank, one pension (OROP) scheme will be implemented.”

Sources in the government said the OROP could be formally announced on May 26. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who was in Goa today, said the much-awaited OROP for the armed forces was likely to be cleared in a few days.
India, Mongolia slam ‘double standards’ on fighting terror
Modi in Mongolia The Prime Minister says eliminating all terror havens must for peace and stability in the Asia Pacific region
India and Mongolia today came out strongly against the “double standards” and “selectivity” of the international community in dealing with terrorism and hoped that all safe havens and sanctuaries for terrorists will be wiped out without delay.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the first ever Indian Premier to visit Mongolia, held wide-ranging discussions with his Mongolia counterpart Chimed Saikhanbileg at the State Palace here, pleading to take bilateral ties to a new level.

“Both Prime Ministers noted that the nature and spread of international terrorism in recent years poses a threat to all humanity and requires a global resolve and cooperative measures of the international community without double standards or selectivity,” said a joint statement inked by the two Prime Ministers at the end of the talks.

“The Prime Ministers expressed hope that all safe havens and sanctuaries for terrorists will be wiped out without delay,” the statement added.

“Today, Mongolia is also an integral part of India’s Act East Policy,” Modi said at a joint press meet with the Mongolian premier after bilateral talks.

“The destinies of India and Mongolia are closely linked with the future of Asia Pacific region. We can work together to help advance peace, stability and prosperity in this region,” he said.

The two sides inked 13 other pacts, including one on enhancing cooperation in border guarding, policing and surveillance, air services, cyber security and new and renewable energy. — PTI
One Rank One Pension Cleared in Principle, PM Modi to Take Final Call: Sources
New Delhi:  The Centre has in principle cleared the 'One Rank One Pension' scheme for retired armed forces personnel, sources have told NDTV. The government has made a provision for an additional Rs. 8,300 crore for this purpose.

The scheme, which seeks to ensure that a uniform pension is paid to defence personnel who retire at the same rank with the same length of service, irrespective of their date of retirement, has been a long-standing demand of the over 20 lakh ex-servicemen in the country. Majority of Defence personnel hang up their boots much before 60 years. Also, over the years the disparity in the pension drawn by personnel of same rank who retired for instance a decade ago and those who retire now is substantial.

Demand for One Rank One Pension has been an emotive issue with defence pensioners for long. And, between 2008- 2010 veterans have on several occasions marched to Rashtrapati Bhavan to return their gallantry medals.

Sources say once Prime Minister Narendra Modi is back on May 19 from his three-nation tour, a final round of discussions will take place with him. The official announcement is likely to be made later this month, coinciding with the first anniversary celebrations of the NDA government.

The government has already made it clear that One Rank One Pension will be implemented with effect from April 1, 2014.

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