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Thursday, 18 June 2015

From Today's Papers - 18 Jun 2015

Deal firmly with militants, Mufti tells security forces
Chief Minister chairs Unified Headquarters meeting
Majid Jahangir

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, June 17
In the wake of a series of killings in north Kashmir’s volatile Sopore that has created panic, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has asked security forces to “deal firmly” with militants.

Mufti stated this while chairing a meeting of the Unified Headquarters (UHQ), the top-most decision-making body on matters concerning security in J&K.

The meeting also reviewed the present security situation and law and order in the state.

Sources privy to the meeting said that Mufti told top security officials in categorical terms to make all-out efforts to ensure that killings were stopped and the Sopore phenomenon did not spread to other parts of the Valley.

Top security officials, including officers from the J&K Police, Army, Central Armed Police Force, and Central and state intelligence agencies, gave a brief on the overall situation and almost everyone expressed their concern over the Sopore happenings.

Security forces expressed their concern and said that various steps had been taken to ensure that the killing of civilians was put to a halt. The Chief Minister was told during the meeting that “almost every security agency had stepped up reinforcement in Sopore.”

North Kashmir’s volatile Sopore town has seen six killings in over three weeks. The series of killings has sparked migration of political activists of both mainstream as well as separatists from Sopore.

The apple town witnessed a shutdown for the third consecutive day to protest the mysterious civilian killings.

While the police has blamed the breakaway group of Hizbul Mujaideen militants for the killings, locals and residents allege that the killing were being carried out by “security agencies”.

An official spokesman said the Chief Minister expressed concern over the targeted killing of civilians in Sopore.

“Sharing concern regarding the incidents that have taken place in Sopore, the security agencies assured that all-out efforts would be made to apprehend those who were responsible for the dastardly acts,” said the spokesman.

The Chief Minister also called upon the security agencies to take all measures to see that an environment of peace and tranquillity was maintained to help the people who were trying hard to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of the devastating floods of 2014.

The UHQ also reviewed the arrangements for the smooth conduct of the upcoming Amarnath yatra.
Militants blow up primary school in Pakistan
Peshawar: Militants blew up a primary school for boys on Wednesday in Pakistan's volatile Bajaur Agency bordering Afghanistan. No casualty was reported as no one was inside the building when the explosion took place. The militants planted explosives in the government school building in Mamoond Tehsil and blew it up razing it to the ground, officials said. Bajaur Agency is considered to be the spiritual homeland of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan's top leadership. PTI

Researchers harvest power from evaporating water

New York: Scientists have found a way to harness the power of evaporating water to produce electricity that is powerful enough to light up a small LED and power a miniature car. Columbia University scientists have developed two novel devices that derive power directly from evaporation - a floating, piston-driven engine that generates electricity causing a light to flash, and a rotary engine that drives a miniature car. PTI

Indian-origin radio and TV personality dies in S’pore

Singapore: Bamah Balakrishnan, a popular Indian-origin radio and TV personality, whose iconic voice ruled the airwaves and the hearts of listeners for decades, died here on Wednes following a heart attack. In a Facebook post, the MediaCorp-owned radio station described 59-year-old Bamah as "legendary", having "ruled the airwaves and the hearts of many listeners". PTI

Runaway tiger kills man in Tbilisi

Tbilisi (Georgia): A tiger that broke loose after severe flooding at the Tbilisi Zoo mauled a man to death on Wednesday before being shot by police. The Interior Ministry in the former Soviet republic of Georgia said the tiger was hiding at an abandoned factory that had been turned into a construction market when he attacked the man. The victim later died of his wounds at a hospital. AP
OROP before Bihar poll?
New Delhi, June 17
The long-pending ‘One Rank, One Pension’ (OROP) scheme for ex-servicemen is likely to be rolled out ahead of the Assembly elections in Bihar later this year,

top government sources have indicated.

The government is working out the modalities for OROP and the announcement will be made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, they said.

“It (OROP) is being worked out. We will need to have a separate category so that it cannot be legally challenged later on and nor do others stake claim. This would be separate from other government pensions," the sources said.

Asked when it will be rolled out, they indicated that the scheme is likely to be announced ahead of Bihar election if all modalities are worked out.

Defence ministry sources said the OROP file is with the Finance Ministry for a final budgetary approval.

The Assembly elections in Bihar are likely in September or October this year. BJP has a tough fight on hand against the JD(U)-RJD combine.

The Modi government has said it is committed to OROP, a key promise made during Lok Sabha polls. It has, however, not implemented it till now.

Even though the government has said it is committed to implementing OROP, there has been no official word on why the scheme is getting delayed. — PTI
 Indian military operation along Burma border opens new rift with Pakistan
Renewed animosity between nuclear rivals who have fought two major wars over the border territory of Kashmir risks undermining attempts at co-operation

An Indian military operation along its eastern border with Burma has Pakistani leaders rattled, resulting in threats of swift retaliation should India ever try similar manoeuvres along its western border with Pakistan.

The Pakistani statements – which include provocative reminders that India is not the only subcontinent power with nuclear arms – are once again exposing the deep-rooted suspicions and lingering potential for conflict between the longstanding rivals despite groundbreaking outreach to ease tensions.

It has been worse. The two countries have fought three major wars since 1947, engaged in a nuclear arms race in the 1980s and clashed in the 1990s. But the current uneasiness underscores the challenges for leaders on both sides seeking to overcome the rifts and shift to shared issues, such as regional economic cooperation, water resources and the rise of militant factions.

Over the past month, Pakistani leaders have accused India of sponsoring terrorist attacks inside Pakistan and slandering it at international forums. Historical grievances also have been dusted off, such as claims that India helped force the loss of Pakistani territory – which would become Bangladesh – more than four decades ago.

Indian leaders, in turn, have been outraged by a Pakistani court decision in April to grant bail to Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks. Lakhvi was a commander in the Lashkar-e-Taiba, a militant group that has historical ties to Pakistan’s intelligence agency.

Now, the downturn in relations even includes open speculation in Pakistan about the possibility of a cross-border strike by India. Such worries – even though apparently remote – carry added resonance between countries that have troops facing each other in the disputed Kashmir region.
“This is coming back to 1980s levels,” said Muhammad Amir Rana, an Islamabad-based security analyst, referring to a period when both countries ramped up efforts to develop nuclear arms. “This is going to need more diplomatic and political efforts to lessen the tension.”

That tension intensified last week after Indian special forces conducted an operation to pursue rebels accused of killing 18 Indian soldiers earlier this month. Indian media has reported that those forces crossed the border into Burma, where they killed more than 50 militants.

Both the Indian army and the Burmese government have denied that Indian troops crossed the border. In a newspaper interview, however, India’s information minister, Rajyavardhan Rathore, said Indian forces had pushed deep into Burma. He called the operation a “message” to countries such as Pakistan that it will not hesitate to pursue threats outside of its borders.

“We will strike when we want to,” Rathore, a retired army officer, told the Indian Express newspaper.

The reaction from Pakistani leaders has been swift and severe – touching off a wildfire of social media comments on both sides of the border.

In a statement issued last Wednesday, Pakistani interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan warned Indian prime minister Narendra Modi to think twice before threatening Pakistan. “Those who are contemplating any kind of adventure in Pakistan must know that they will get a bloody face in the process,” Khan said. “Those who have evil designs against us - listen carefully, Pakistan is not Burma.”

Pakistan’s defence minister, Khawaja Asif, even brought up the possibility of nuclear war should India ever launch a similar incursion into Pakistan. He urged the international community to intervene, telling Geo News the latest tension could prove a “harbinger of disaster” for South Asia.
Pakistan’s army chief, Raheel Sharif, chaired a meeting of his top commanders last Wednesday to discuss Pakistan’s worsening relationship with India. Over the past month, Pakistani leaders have repeatedly accused India’s intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (Raw), of sponsoring several recent terrorist attacks in Pakistan.

Indian leaders, meanwhile, have repeatedly accused the Pakistani intelligence agency of fueling discontent in Indian-controlled Kashmir while also supporting terrorist groups. Earlier this month, Bloomberg News reported that India’s minister of state for defence, Rao Inderjit Singh, is even worried that Islamic State militants could obtain a nuclear bomb from Pakistan.

Speaking at a Delhi event last Thursday, India’s defence minister, Manohar Parrikar, declined to discuss specifics of the Burma operation, but said that “those who fear India’s new posture have already started reacting”.

“You have seen for the last two to three days, a simple action against insurgents has changed the mindset of the full security scenario in the country,” Parrikar said.

Parrikar last month raised hackles in Pakistan by saying at a closed event that India would “neutralise” terrorists with terrorists – remarks he later said were taken out of context.

In a statement last Wednesday after the commanders’ meeting, Pakistan’s military said it has taken serious notice of “Indian hostile rhetoric coupled with covert and overt actions to destabilise Pakistan”. Pakistani military leaders “reiterated its resolve to defeat their designs and defend the territorial integrity of Pakistan at any cost with a befitting response”, the statement said.

Since Pakistan was partitioned from India in 1947, the two countries have fought three major wars, two of them over the disputed border region of Kashmir. The last major war, in 1971, occurred when India’s military supported a rebellion in East Pakistan. Pakistani forces were resoundingly defeated, resulting in East Pakistan becoming the independent nation of Bangladesh.

Earlier this month, during a two-day visit to Bangladesh, Modi lashed out at Pakistan and accused it of “harbouring” terrorists and becoming a regional “nuisance”. He also implied that India covertly orchestrated the Mukti Bahini rebellion in East Pakistan that sparked the 1971 war that led to an independent Bangladesh, according to Indian media reports. Those remarks infuriated Pakistani leaders, who viewed them as an intimate swipe, considering they were made on Bangladeshi soil.

Even a year ago, there were high hopes both in Delhi and Islamabad that Modi and Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif could achieve a breakthrough in diplomatic relations. After he was elected to a third term as prime minister in 2013, Sharif pledged he would work to bolster trade ties with India.

Sharif’s efforts angered the Pakistani military, which has limited Sharif’s ability to follow through on the that pledge. Still, after his election last spring, Modi invited Sharif to attend his inauguration. Sharif accepted, becoming the first Pakistan prime minister in history to attend such a celebratory event in India.

Since then, however, relations between the two countries have soured.

Beginning last summer and lasting through January, there were several major skirmishes between the two armies along the contested border. Sporadic gunfire was also reported on the border last Thursday.

Meanwhile, social media on both sides reflected support of their leaders and militaries. Indians showed support for Modi through the Twitter hashtag of #56inchrocks, a reference to a past claim by Modi about his chest size.

In Pakistan, the most popular Twitter hashtag is #atankWadiIndia, which is a slur that refers to India as being a terrorist.

“Our travel advice to Modi is to send his soldiers to invade Pakistan with their bodybags, they’ll need them, and we don’t have any,” the group @defencepk, which tracks the Pakistani military, tweeted to its 69,000 followers.
North Korea Confirms it Executed Army Chief as 'New Defence Chief' Makes Appearance: Reports
North Korea has reportedly informed its embassies and overseas missions of the execution of its defence chief Hyon Yong Chol.

South Korea's National Intelligence Service (NIS) had reported last month that the North Korean army chief was executed with an anti-aircraft gun for falling asleep at a meeting with Kim Jong-un, though doubts had emerged after Hyon Yong Chol "appeared" in propaganda films even after the reports.

However, North Korea has now confirmed to its embassies that the army chief was indeed executed for "disobedience", South Korea's Chosun Ilbo media reported, citing a source from Beijing.

Hyon Yong Chol was reportedly executed after he failed to answer a question posed by Kim Jong-un at a meeting as he had allegedly fallen asleep.

"Kim believes dozing off or getting distracted in a meeting is worse than opposing his decisions," the source told the newspaper.

Hyon Yong Chol was last seen publicly at a security conference in Moscow in April.

The report also said that several senior military officers had "disappeared" since the army chief's execution.

Speculations have now begun over an army general who appeared with Kim Jong-un at an event, with reports suggesting that he could be the new army chief instated in place of Hyon Yong Chol.

North Korea's state media KCNA reported on Monday that Kim had attended a military art performance, and listed the name of four-star army general Pak Yong-sik before that of Army Gen. Ri Yong-gil, chief of the General Staff of the KPA, which is said to be an indication of the former being promoted to the post of the defence chief, Yonhap news agency reported.
Gen Suhag meets Bangladesh army chief to boost military ties
 From Anisur Rahman Dhaka, Jun 16 (PTI) Indian army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag held talks with his Bangladeshi counterpart to boost military cooperation, days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the country and sealed crucial deals to strengthen bilateral ties.

General Suhag, who wrapped up his two-day Bangladesh tour today, met Bangladeshi army chief General Iqbal Karim Bhuiyan here yesterday and “discussed matters of bilateral training of two friendly armies and professional issues,” the defence ministry here said in a statement.

The army chief today also reviewed as Chief Guest the passing out parade at the Bangladesh Military Academy (BMA) near the southeastern port city of Chittagong.

He distributed awards to the outstanding cadets of the 72 BMA Long Course and 43 BMA Special Course.

Earlier, he paid homage to the matyred Bangladesh soldiers of 1971 Liberation War offering wreaths at Shikha Anirban in Dhaka Cantonment.

General Suhag was the second Indian army chief to visit Bangladesh since his predecessor General Bikram Singh’s tour in 2012. Defence analysts said the Indian army chief’s tour would boost bilateral military ties and enhance cooperation to counter the threats posed by terrorism.

India has been holding direct army-to-army staff talks with Bangladesh since 2009 to chalk out future cooperation between the two armed forces.

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