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Friday, 11 December 2015

From Today's Papers - 11 Dec 2015

Reviving Indo-Pak talks
All issues on the table outflank spoilers
The lessons learnt from the Indo-Pak joint statement at Ufa finally produced a breakthrough in Islamabad. The clincher was the hush-hush meeting in Bangkok. It produced a joint statement clearly spelling out all issues both sides plan to discuss. As in Bangkok, the Ufa statement had all the ingredients to move the dialogue process forward. But it failed to clearly spell out that “all outstanding issues” also meant Kashmir. The Indian media, present in strength in Ufa, immediately hailed — with a gentle nudge from South Block — the statement as a victory for India. This foray into a kind of triumphalism triggered an opposite reaction in Pakistan. And that terminated the Ufa breakthrough. Two other opportunities went abegging because India drew red lines that Pakistan could not have honoured.

This time the dialogue platter has more subjects than the comprehensive dialogue process that began in 1997. It endured despite being buffeted by the Kargil conflict in 1999, the Parliament House attack in 2001 and a change in government in 2004. But the Mumbai attacks finally killed the spirit behind it just when a breakthrough was imminent. This time, statements by leaders from both countries seem to indicate they intend staying the course. Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj promised to move at a pace Pakistan is comfortable with and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif maintained that working for the achievement of a peaceful neighborhood is a “cardinal principle” of Pakistan’s foreign policy.

On a wider geo-political plane, the gesture has travelled far and wide. At hand in Islamabad were high-ranking delegations from 18 countries, assembled to bring closure to the Afghan conflict. Thus the filling of the Indo-Pak breach raises India’s stock for responding to Pakistan’s overtures despite no movement to accelerate the trial of its citizens accused of masterminding the Mumbai attacks. If carried forward with perseverance, it will not just outflank the spoilers in India and Pakistan, but Afghanistan as well. The NSAs of both countries now need to put the rowdier elements under strict vigilance to maintain a conducive environment.
Gen Hooda’s China visit to fine-tune LAC channels
Hotline between Northern Command and PLA to be discussed
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria

Tribune News Service

Jammu, December 10
Northern Command chief Lt Gen DS Hooda’s visit to China from December 14 to 19 will fine-tune communication channels between the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) for quickly resolving stand-offs in Ladakh.

A hotline between the Northern Command Headquarters and the PLA may also be established.

“Besides fine-tuning military ties, a hotline between the Northern Command and the PLA in the western sector and more mechanisms to quickly resolve incidents of stand-off at the local level will be discussed between General Hooda and his counterpart from the western sector,” said a defence source.

The Line of Actual Control (LAC) has not been delineated in Ladakh. Therefore, both sides will evolve more efficient ways and methods at the local level to avoid stand-offs, the source added.

A defence official pointed out that military ties between the two countries had been constantly improving.

“This year both armies have opened two more border meeting points — Chushul and Daulat _Beg Oldie (DBO) — in Ladakh and now this visit will further propel the ties,” he said.

“Since there is no well-defined LAC, incidents of transgression do occur but there is an understanding between us _to maintain peace and this visit will further fine-_tune coordination at the local level,” the defence official said.

Till May 4 this year, both sides had witnessed 59 face-offs and 68 incidents of transgression on the LAC in Ladakh.

On August, India and China opened their fifth border meeting point at the Daulat Beg Oldie sector in northern Ladakh for local Army commanders to meet and sort out issues amicably.

“Lt Gen Hooda will lead a delegation of military officers to China from December 14 to 19 on the invitation of the Chinese government,” said defence spokesperson Col SD Goswami said.

Lt Gen Hooda and other officers will visit various military and civil establishments in China, including the PLA Headquarters at Beijing and the Lanzhou military region, he said.

The delegation will also exchange views on measures to usher in greater peace and tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh and Xingjiang province of China, he said.

China had denied visa in 2010 to then Northern Command chief Lt Gen BS Jaswal on the grounds that he was responsible for a “disputed” state.
More men, surveillance gadgets deployed on border, says BSF_
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria

Tribune News Service

Jammu, December 10
With the onset of winter plus the presence of around 60 terrorists on the other side of the 198-km-long Indo-Pak international border, the BSF has deployed more men and more electronic surveillance gadgets to foil intrusion bids.

“While we remain alert 24x7 throughout the year, manpower has been increased and more electronic gadgets for surveillance are being used to

foil any mischief from across the international border,” said RK Sharma, Inspector General, BSF (Jammu Frontier).

On the gaps in the form of rivers and rivulets that flow into Pakistan and marshy lands, he said they had been adequately covered.

“That is why no infiltration bids are taking place. Till now, we have also not seen any suspicious movement on their (Pakistan’s) side but they (ultras) are very much present in launching pads. Perhaps our security grid is so strong that they are finding it difficult to attempt infiltration,” said Sharma.

It may be stated here that during winter Pakistani terrorists shift their focus from the Line of Control to the international border, largely a plain area, to attempt intrusions and sneak into the

state for carrying out terror attacks.

On the international border, Pakistani militants usually adopt traditional routes that exist in the form of over 13 rivers and rivulets that flow into Pakistan.

Chhap nullah, Bhag nullah, Tarnah nullah, Bain nullah, Aik nullah, Devak nullah, Basanter river, Tawi river, Chenab river and two or three rivulets that flow into Pakistan are being guarded by BSF men, said official sources. These gaps and marshy land are getting the attention of the BSF.

“The BSF has put up more lights and obstacles, including early warning systems and laser fence, in some areas,” a source added. A second line of defence has also been put in place and all 15 commandants of the BSF have been asked to remain alert, said sources, adding that foot patrols have also been upped.

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