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Saturday, 9 January 2016

From Today's Papers - 09 Jan 2016

Sharif’s second meet on leads
Simran Sodhi

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 8
The uncertainty over the Foreign Secretary-level talks scheduled for January 15 in Islamabad continued today with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reportedly ordering a probe into the evidence provided by India over the Pathankot attacks.

Sharif held a second high-level meeting today with his senior officials, including Army Chief Raheel Sharif. This is his second such meeting in as many days. Sources said the meeting was called to discuss the Pathankot attacks.

The leads provided by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval have reportedly been handed over to Pakistan Intelligence Bureau chief Aftab Sultan for further action.

India has stated publicly that talks cannot happen till Pakistan acts on this “actionable intelligence”. A section of the Pakistan media reported that Pakistan officials felt the evidence provided by India was not enough as it contained mainly telephone numbers and they might seek additional information.

Sources in the government told The Tribune that India had not received any such request from Pakistan so far.

Sources said both PMs were keen on taking forward the dialogue process that had just resumed between the two countries. Sharif had yesterday held a high-level meeting with top officials.
Tibri search over, ‘ultras’ may have fled
Ravi Dhaliwal

Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, January 8
The massive search operation launched by the Army, BSF and Punjab Police to locate suspected terrorists in the area was called off today with senior officers claiming that the three-hour delay in informing the police had proved costly.

The incident, which came in the aftermath of the Pathankot air base attack, kept the city and its suburbs on tenterhooks for nearly 72 hours. By 4 pm, the last of the Armymen left the spot, indicating how the colossal exercise involving the usage of high-tech equipment, including drone cameras, had proved futile.

Officers had no answer as to how the drone picked up movements in the 15-acre sugarcane fields on the basis of which the operation lingered on for three days.

Unlike the July 27 (2015) Dinanagar attack, a clear chain of command was followed this time. The final orders were executed by the Army, though senior police officers and the BSF too were kept in the loop.

At the break of dawn, decks had been cleared for a SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) team to launch an assault. But the attack never materialised and the SWAT team entered the fields in two armoured vehicles and mowed down nearly 20 acres of standing crop.

After two hours, a five-minute meeting of Army and BSF commanders and the police officers was held wherein the decision to exit the operation was taken.

Officials are now claiming that the delay made by Satnam Singh, a resident of Pandher village near Tibri military area, to inform the police on January 6 evening about some suspicious movement proved costly.

“The terrorists might have exited the cane fields in those three hours and could have moved to another location,” said a police officer.

Questions are also being raised about the statement made by Lovepreet Singh (18), another resident who claimed that two men  had beaten him up with a rifle butt last night when he was returning home from Tibri Cantonment.

With injury marks visible on his neck, he had maintained that he was riding a motorcycle when the men stepped out of the fields and attacked him. He was taken to the Army cantonment yesterday as well as today for questioning.

As nothing emerged, all check posts on the 22-km Gurdaspur-Mukerian stretch were removed by the evening.
French troops for R-Day parade
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 8
In a first, a military contingent of a foreign country will take part in the Republic Day Parade on January 26. A contingent of the French army, which is already in India for a joint military exercise, will take part in the parade along with Indian armed forces.

In 2009, the Indian armed forces had achieved a similar landmark when a contingent led the massive Bastille Day military parade down Paris’s majestic Champs Elysee. Then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh was the Chief Guest of Honour in that event. This year, French President Francois Hollande will be the chief guest at the Republic Day celebrations. This will be the fifth time that a French leader will be a chief guest at R-Day celebrations.
Pressure grows on China to rein in nuclear North Korea
Seoul/Beijing, January 8
South Korea unleashed a high-decibel propaganda barrage across its border with North Korea on Friday in retaliation for its nuclear test, while the United States called on China to end "business as usual" with its ally.

The broadcasts, in rolling bursts from walls of loudspeakers at 11 locations along the heavily militarised border, blared rhetoric critical of the Pyongyang regime as well as "K-pop" music, ratcheting up tension between the rival Koreas.

North Korea later responded with its own broadcasts.

Wednesday's nuclear test angered both the US and China, which was not given prior notice, although the US government and weapons experts doubt Pyongyang's claim that the device it set off was a hydrogen bomb.

China is North Korea's main economic and diplomatic backer, although relations between the Cold War allies have cooled in recent years.

China's Foreign Ministry urged North Korea to stick to its denuclearisation pledges and avoid action that would make the situation worse, but also said China did not hold the key to resolving the North Korean nuclear issue.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said he had made clear in a phone call with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi that China's approach to North Korea had not succeeded. "China had a particular approach that it wanted to make, that we agreed and respected to give them space to implement that," Kerry said. — Reuters
Pakistan pledges to cooperate with Indian attack investigation
Pakistan's prime minister and army chief pledged on Friday to cooperate fully with India on investigations into an attack on an Indian air base last week, as the fate of scheduled talks between the nuclear-armed neighbors remains uncertain.

The comments come a day after India called on Pakistani authorities for "prompt and decisive" action against militants it blames for the weekend attack that killed seven Indian military personnel and wounded 22.

Participants at a high-level meeting in Islamabad "reiterated Pakistan's commitment to cooperate with India to completely eradicate the menace of terrorism," Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's office said in a statement.

The meeting was also attended by Army Chief Raheel Sharif, the head of the military's powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Rizwan Akhtar, and several top civilian and military officials.

India says it gave Pakistan "specific and actionable information" regarding the Pathankot air base attack on Tuesday.

In its statement, Sharif's office said the meeting had reviewed the progress on the information received from India and would stay in touch with the Indian government.

A meeting between the two countries' foreign secretaries was scheduled for January 15, but it is unclear if it will go ahead.

The fate of the talks rested on Pakistan's response to the information, Indian government spokesman Vikas Swarup said on Thursday.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sharif have been struggling to keep their renewed dialogue, announced last month, on track in the wake of the attack.

Attempts to restart talks between India and Pakistan, who have fought three wars since becoming separate countries in 1947, have often been derailed by similar past attacks.

Pakistan's leadership on Friday said it hoped "the two countries would remain committed to a sustained, meaningful and comprehensive dialogue process" in the wake of the attack.

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