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Monday, 25 May 2015

From Today's Papers - 25 May 2015

India to ask Pak to seize assets of Dawood, Hafiz
New Delhi, May 24
India is planning to ask Pakistan to seize assets of fugitive underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and most wanted terrorists Hafiz Saeed and Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi as all three are in the UNSC’s al-Qaeda sanctions list, which makes it incumbent upon Islamabad to freeze their holdings.

The UN Security Council’s al-Qaeda and Taliban Sanctions Committee has listed Dawood, Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Saeed and Mumbai terror attack key conspirator Lakhvi and put sanctions on them.

“As a UN member state, it is the responsibility of Pakistan to freeze their assets. We are planning to send a formal communication to Pakistan to let us know whether assets of the three terrorists were seized and if not will ask it to freeze them immediately,” a government official said.

India has been maintaining that 1993 Mumbai serial blasts key accused Dawood is in Pakistan, though Islamabad denies it. Hafiz Saeed roams freely in Pakistan while Lakhvi is currently living in the country. — PTI
Army’s non-operational flab will be cut: Parrikar
NEW DELHI: The NDA government plans to slash the non-operational "flab" of the 1.18-million strong Army after a detailed review, both in terms of manpower as well as infrastructure, to ensure a cost-effective and leaner force with a better teeth-to-tail ratio.

Talking exclusively to TOI before he left for J&K and Siachen on Friday, defence minister Manohar Parrikar said there was "an urgent need for some downsizing in areas which are not of operational importance" due to budgetary constraints.

"The flab will be reviewed and removed... there is a requirement to re-think all aspects for a drawdown. The money saved can go towards the new mountain strike corps (MSC)," said Parrikar.
Though the minister did not go into specifics, the axe could for instance fall on the "sahayak" (orderly) system for officers or the practice of deploying soldiers for escort duties or to man unit-run canteens, all of which are often blatantly misused in violation of rules.

But the Army can take solace from the fact that Parrikar said he had imposed just a "temporary, not permanent, freeze" on the ongoing raising of the MSC, the 17 Corps, which the force feels is critical for acquiring the "requisite deterrence" against China along the 4,057-km Line of Actual Control.

The previous UPA regime had approved the raising of the 17 Corps, with 90,274 soldiers, at a cost of Rs 64,678 crore over seven years. "I agree the MSC is a necessity. I have not cancelled it. But I have put a temporary stop to it. The previous UPA government arbitrarily approved it without any fund allocation or proper planning," said Parrikar.

"It's downsizing of the plan, not the MSC itself. The 37,000 troops already inducted need infrastructure, arms and equipment, which are currently being drawn from our reserves since the previous government made no arrangements," he said.

After the review to make the Army a leaner and meaner force, the government will reconsider the entire MSC plan. "The freeze will remain until I can make arrangements to address its needs. I will first make financial provisions and then come back for completion of the task," he added.

It was in January 2014 that the Army had kicked off the raising of the 17 Corps -- which is supposed to have its permanent headquarters in Panagarh (West Bengal) -- to build "quick-reaction ground offensive capabilities" against China.

With two new infantry divisions geared for high-altitude warfare as well as armoured, artillery, air defence, engineer brigades spread from Ladakh to Sikkim, the 17 Corps was slated to be fully in place by 2018-2019. As of now, one division and its associated units have been raised, with a couple of T-72 tank regiments also being placed in Ladakh as well as Sikkim.
Army paying militants to kill militants hints Defence Minister
New Delhi :  India is going in for intelligence-backed "targeted kills" against militants in J&K while militarily dominating the Line of Control with Pakistan, forcing a 30% drop in both cross-border ceasefire violations as well as infiltration bids.
"The situation is pretty much under control. Our proactive attitude is to identify militants and then effectively neutralise them. Every case is handled firmly with clear-cut intelligence for targeted kills, ensuring minimal if any collateral damage," defence minister Manohar Parrikar said in interview with a leading national daily.
This is the first forthright acknowledgement that the Army has been asked to undertake surgical strikes against militants, rather than conduct random operations. Incidentally, the Army neutralised 110 militants in 2014, the highest such tally in the last four years.
Ahead of his visit to J&K and the frozen frontier of Siachen on Friday, Parrikar clarified that when he said " militants should be neutralised by militants " or "kante se kanta nikalna (remove a thorn with a thorn)" earlier in the day, he did not mean covert operations being undertaken by "our own people".
Instead, the aim is to exploit the differences between militant outfits for both intelligence-gathering as well as surgical strikes. "Many are drawn because of financial allurements... they are paid money for it. If such people are there, why not use them? What is the harm is using militants against militants? Why should our soldiers be in the front?" asked the Parrikar.
On Pakistan's behaviour, the defence minister said "the situation actually depends on how we react to it", stressing India's "very firm" response to cross-border firing and abetment to terrorism was paying dividends. As per defence ministry figures, there has been a decline of 32% in Pakistan-initiated ceasefire violations and a decrease of 28% in "successful infiltrations" since the Modi government came to office in May last year.
On the China front, Parrikar made it clear he had imposed just a "temporary freeze" on the ongoing raising of the Army's new mountain strike corps (MSC), which is geared towards acquiring quick-reaction ground offensive capabilities across the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
"It's downsizing of the plan (the 90,000 soldiers strong formation was to be raised at a cost of Rs 64,678 crore over seven years), not the MSC itself. The previous UPA government arbitrarily approved it without any allocation of funds or proper planning," he said.
"I have put a temporary stop (to the MSC)... it does not mean permanent. The 37,000 troops already inducted need proper infrastructure, arms and equipment, which are currently being drawn from our reserves since the previous government made no arrangements," he said.
The minister said he would undertake a review of the non-operational flab in the 1.18-million strong Army, which would then be slashed to save on costs. "I will first make financial provisions and then come back to the MSC," he added.
The raising of the new corps, the 17 Corps, which began in January 2014, is part of the overall military plan to belatedly counter China's menacing build-up of trans-border military capabilities and infrastructure all along the 4,057-km LAC. The Army believes that it will not only act as a deterrent against China, but also keep Pakistan off-balance.
The logic was to have "requisite deterrence" since China can move over 30 divisions (each with over 15,000 soldiers) to the LAC, outnumbering Indian forces by at least 3:1 there. With two new infantry divisions geared for high-altitude warfare as well as armoured, artillery, air defence, engineer brigades spread from Ladakh to Sikkim, the 17 Corps is slated to have its headquarters at Panagarh in West Bengal and be fully in place by 2018-19.
Army to start special selection centre at Kapurthala
CHANDIGARH: In a huge respite to thousands of youngsters in the region who aspire to become defence officers, the Army authorities would start a special selection centre (North) from October 1 at Kapurthala in Punjab. The centre would provisionally function for around three years from Kapurthala military station and thereafter it would be shifted to state of art 200-acre campus at Ropar (near Chandigarh), which is at present under construction.

As of now, the young aspirants from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, and Jammu and Kashmir had to visit special selection centres at Bhopal, Allahabad and Bangalore to appear before the Special Selection Board (SSB) that selects officers for the armed forces. SSB has five-day-long specialized selection process, which includes psychological tests, interview and various other personality tests to find officers like qualities in a youth.

It was a long pending demand of Punjab to open a selection centre in the state. The development is also significant because Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab are largest contributors to various officers' academies of the country every year.

Out of 1,237 cadets that passed out from the prestigious Indian Military Academy (IMA) Dehradun in 2014 and commissioned as an Army officer, 278 were from Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Chandigarh. It constitutes around 23% of the total cadets who became officers last year.

Formal intimation about the functioning of provisional selection centre (north) in Punjab was made by Lt Gen K J Singh, Army commander Western Command, on Sunday in a special meeting with Punjab chief minister Prakash Singh Badal.

"The establishment of the selection centre at Kapurthala until completion of main campus at Ropar will fulfill the long pending aspirations of the youth of north India, who will now be able to undergo selection process in their own region and it will also alleviate their hardship," said Gen Singh.

Selection Centres

As of now there is one centre each in Allahabad, Bhopal, Bangalore to screen and select the officers for the Army and the Navy. One such selection centre is also located at Dehradun to select officers for the Air Force. Interviews conducted by these centres are called Special Selection Board (SSB) interviews. Candidates appearing before these centres are tested through a rigorous process, including various psychological and personality tests to find future officers to lead the Indian armed forces.

Facilitate the intake of officers:

The upcoming centre at Kapurthala would be country's fifth selection centre and would facilitate the intake of more officers into the armed forces, which is facing shortage of around 13,000 officers. According to official figures, the Army has shortage of around 10,500 officers, Navy has a shortage 1,400 and the Air Force has shortage of around 1,100 officers.

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