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Monday, 29 February 2016

From Today's Papers - 29 Feb 2016

3 suspects in Pak police custody
Lahore, February 28
An anti-terrorism court has remanded three suspects arrested in Pakistan in connection with the Pathankot terror attack in six-day police remand, days after an FIR was registered in the high-profile case.

The three accused — Khalid Mahmood, Irshadul Haque and Muhammad Shoaib — were presented before ATC-2 judge Bushra Zaman in Gujranwala, 70 km from here, in the Punjab province on Saturday.

The judge granted six-day “physical remand” of the suspects and handed them over to the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) police, the Dawn reported.

They are said to be involved in the January 2 attack on the key Indian Air Force base in Pathankot.

The three were arrested by the CTD from a rented house near Chand Da Qila bypass over suspicion that they were facilitators of the attack. The three suspects denied the charges and were shifted to an undisclosed location for investigation.

The CTD earlier this month registered an FIR against the unknown attackers in Gujranwala. The FIR was lodged under Sections 302, 324 and 109 of the Pakistan Penal Code, and Sections 7 and 21-I of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

It is not known when the three were arrested but it is believed that that might have been arrested well before the registration of the FIR and probed which provided enough evidence to proceed against them in the court of law, officials said. Seven security personnel were killed when suspected terrorists of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) stormed the Pathankot airbase on January 2. — PTI
Modi’s Pak policy is a puzzle
“Mutually respectful relationship”?
THE January 2 Pathankot airbase terrorist attack overshadowed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Christmas day Lahore stopover. It has threatened Modi’s initiative which desired nothing less than the positive transformation of the India-Pakistan relationship. The government has till now handled the issue delicately in an attempt to preserve the essence of the Modi endeavour while trying to assuage the national outrage at the attack.

The government has refrained from directly or indirectly accusing Pakistani official agencies from any role in the Pathankot attack. In a departure from the past, it has engaged Pakistan through regular contacts between the National Security Adviser and the Foreign Secretary with their Pakistani counterparts to urge that action be taken against the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) which carried it out. Information and leads, including telephone numbers called in Pakistan, have been given. Obviously, the government hopes that its current approach would elicit Pakistani cooperation. As the President said in his address to the joint sitting of Parliament on February 23 that India was committed to the creation of “an environment of cooperation in combating cross-border terrorism”. 

Pakistan registered an FIR against unknown persons for the attack last week. This enables it to formally begin investigations in accordance with the law. The FIR was confined to the information conveyed by the Indian NSA — and mentioned its source — even though it is obvious that in the six weeks since the attack,  the Pakistani authorities have carried out their own inquiries. Government sources have indicated satisfaction at the Pakistani step though the Raksha Mantri has said it is not enough. The question, however, is: why did Pakistan take six weeks to take this step? The FIR could have been registered in the immediate aftermath of the attack, especially as it merely recorded what India had conveyed. There is little reason to be happy at Pakistan finally doing what it should have immediately on being told of the attack. Bending backwards to seek the generals’ cooperation is not sound policy.

Post-FIR registration there are reports of raids and arrests being made in Pakistan’s Punjab province. In an interview on India-Pakistan relations on January 21, Pakistan foreign policy adviser Sartaj Aziz revealed to an Indian TV channel that JeM chief Masood Azhar had been in “protective custody” since mid-January. Pakistan will send an SIT to India. It is now trying to show that it is seriously investigating the attack. This is partly to prove that it is serious about terrorism, and wants the two foreign secretaries to work out the modalities of the India-Pakistan Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue.

The Pakistani court hearing the Mumbai trial recently insisted that Indian witnesses be produced before it. If this approach is adopted by the Pakistani judiciary then no successful prosecution can result in cross-border terrorism cases. Has this matter been addressed in the NSA discussions?

In his interview, Sartaj Aziz stressed the need for an India-Pakistan engagement to take SAARC forward, at a time of global turbulence. However, his basic approach to bilateral ties remained rooted in the sterile Pakistani concerns of the past. More worrying was his casual and dismissive attitude on India’s concerns on cross-border terrorism.

Aziz said India was obsessed with terrorism and that it was only one item of the bilateral dialogue agenda. He dismissed the Headley revelations about the nexus between Pakistani terrorist groups and the country’s intelligence agencies as valueless. Worse, he gave Hafiz Saeed a clean chit from the charge of fomenting terrorism against India. Instead, he praised the terrorist’s Jamaat-ud-Dawa’s “humanitarian” activities. This was nothing but a reiteration of old and standard Pakistani positions.

He reiterated Pakistan’s position on the need to resolve outstanding issues, including J&K. Thus Pakistan’s basic message is clear: unless India addresses its interests, terrorism would not be controlled. A linkage is always and especially established between terrorism and the resolution of the Kashmir issue. In 1998, after the Composite Dialogue Process began, I had said to a senior Pakistan public figure that now that the dialogue process was on, Pakistani terrorism should end. He replied: “If it stopped would India talk to Pakistan?”

The Pakistani approach on terror has remained consistent. It is an essential part of the country’s security doctrine, but it is also seen by some Pakistanis as a diplomatic lever. However, not only successive Indian governments, but the entire Indian political and security apparatus has sought to ignore it in the hope that better sense will prevail in Pakistan. Besides, these classes have essentially considered Pakistani terrorism against India as an issue of political management. A major terrorist attack causes national outrage and the only recourse that the government has is to postpone the dialogue process. As and when it considers that the public sentiment has abated, it seeks to resume the engagement till another attack again disrupts the process. It is because it has been relegated to only a political issue that all the resources of the state are not gathered to combat it. Initially, the Pakistani generals were concerned if Modi would depart from this cyclical approach, but now feel that he is no different from his predecessors. If anything, he is, after the Pathankot attack, displaying a greater desire to preserve the engagement than them. 

That Modi will allow a meeting of the foreign secretaries is certain. What is not, is its timing. The US is keen that India and Pakistan maintain the momentum of the engagement. Modi and Sharif will be in Washington in end-March to participate in the Nuclear Security Summit. Will Modi attempt to earn US goodwill by permitting the foreign secretaries meeting for which Pakistan is keen prior to his US visit? Or will he not wish to do so during the Parliament session? It is probable that the two prime ministers will meet if only for a few minutes. Modi may press for a face-to-face interaction of the NSAs before the foreign secretaries meet, but Pakistan is likely to resist that.

The President also said in his February 23 address that India was committed to the establishment of a “mutually respectful relationship” with Pakistan. Such a formulation has not been used in the past in the context of bilateral ties. Is it lifted from the first principle of Panchsheel which was enunciated by Nehru in the context of Sino-Indian ties — “mutual respect for each others territorial integrity and sovereignty”? Or is it meant to respond to Pakistani demands that it be treated with dignity and honour? What is the government really signalling? It needs to clarify.
Brain dead Army man’s liver gives woman new lease of life
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 28
A brain dead Army man’s liver gave a new lease of life to a Patiala woman, who had a damaged liver due to autoimmune hepatitis, at the PGI here today.

“Continuing with the practice of organ sharing between various hospitals in the region, an organ donated by a brain dead patient at the Command Hospital in Chandimandir was transplanted to a patient at the PGI,” an official spokesperson said.

She disclosed that an Army man, aged 39, unfortunately suffered from intracranial haemorrhage and was admitted to the Command Hospital. He was declared brain dead by doctors there.

“The wife of the patient took a noble decision of donating the organs of her husband. As no recipient was available at the Command Hospital for liver with the same blood group, they decided to share the liver with the PGI, Chandigarh,” the spokesperson said.

She revealed that the liver was successfully harvested by a team of experts from the Command Hospital and the PGI and transported to the PGI around 10 am on Saturday. “This was successfully transplanted to a female patient from Patiala,” the PGI spokesperson said.
Amid F-16 row, Pak, US hold talks today
Islamabad, February 28
Pakistan and the US will tomorrow hold a ministerial-level strategic dialogue on key areas including economy, security and counterterrorism, amid strong opposition by India as well as US lawmakers on the proposed F-16 deal to Islamabad.

Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz will lead the Pakistani delegation while Secretary of State John Kerry will lead the US side for the 6th round of the strategic dialogue to be held in Washington, Radio Pakistan reported today.

The six segments of the strategic dialogue include cooperation in economy and finance; energy; education, science and technology; law enforcement and counterterrorism; security, strategic stability and non-proliferation and defence.

It will be the third annual meeting since the present government has come to power. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to the United States in October last year had given the necessary impetus to the dialogue mechanism, the report said.

The dialogue process began in 2010 but interrupted in 2011 when the US forces killed al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad in a midnight raid. The process resumed in 2014 when Aziz and Kerry met in Washington in January.

The key meeting will take place soon after the US announced to sell eight F-16 fighter jets worth $700 million to Pakistan, despite objection from India and mounting opposition from influential American lawmakers. Kerry has argued that these fighter jets are a “critical” part of Pakistan’s fight against terrorists. — PTI
Indian Army grapples with arms, gear shortage
NEW DELHI: Long-winded procedures and bureaucratic bottlenecks continue to stymie the already long-delayed modernisation of the Army, which is grappling with shortages in several areas ranging from modern assault rifles, bullet-proof jackets and night-fighting capabilities to howitzers, missiles and helicopters.

The Navy and IAF, however, have done much better. Defence minister Manohar Parrikar on Friday told Lok Sabha that 162 arms contracts worth Rs 1.33 lakh crore with Indian and foreign manufacturers were signed from 2012-13 to 2014-15. In the ongoing fiscal, 44 such contracts worth Rs 39,955 crore have been inked so far.

But the "persisting operational hollowness" in the 1.18-million strong Army is the big worry. Over 140 modernisation projects, worth over Rs 2.30 lakh crore, are currently meandering their way through the labyrinth of South Block corridors. "The Army contracts inked this fiscal amount to just Rs 5,800 crore," said a source.
While a few of the 140 projects are new, most of them are years old. Induction of third-generation shoulder-fired ATGMs (anti-tank guided missiles), for instance, has been hanging fire for over a decade now. Sources say acquisition of "Spike" ATGMs from Israel is among the 22 projects, together worth over Rs 22,000 crore, stuck in final commercial negotiations.

A stage ahead of these 22 projects are 10 contracts — worth around Rs 24,000 crore — awaiting financial approval and nod from the cabinet committee on security. These include the 4th regiment of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles, two Pinaka rocket regiments and the medium-range surface-toair missile systems.
Top Comment
Time to strengthen.... with patriotic govt in place...A Nair

Taking note of the continuing delays, Parrikar at the defence acquisitions council meeting on Tuesday directed officials to ensure that 86 modernisation schemes for the three Services that are close to finalization — worth around Rs 1.5 lakh crore — should be wrapped up in the next four to five months.

Some delays also take place because of the Army's formulation of unrealistic technical parameters (general staff qualitative requirements) as well as corruption scandals. "This often leads to the scrapping of tenders or RFPs (request for proposal) despite years being spent on initial processing and trials," said the defence ministry source.
Punjab Police train with Indian Army in counter-terrorism ops 25-member Punjab Police team has undergone advanced training in ‘counter insurgency’ ...

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Jammu: A select team from the Punjab Police completed a joint training session with the Indian Army today. An Indian Army Spokesperson based out of...

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Senior officials from the Indian Army and Punjab Police witnessed the training sessions. “The initiative provided an opportunity for both the Indian A...

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