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Saturday, 5 March 2016

From Today's Papers - 05 Mar 2016

Pak was planning major attack: BSF
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria

Tribune News Service
AMK Post (RS Pura), March 4

A day after detecting Pakistan’s secret trans-border tunnel here, the BSF today said Pakistan was planning a major terrorist attack in near future after pushing terrorists through the tunnel.

While the BSF attributed the detection of the tunnel to its anti-tunnelling drive, a tractor pressed into service on Thursday to clear elephant grass (sarkanda) between the Zero Line and an embankment had run over a stretch that caved in, leading to the detection of the tunnel.

Briefing mediapersons after escorting BSF Director General KK Sharma to the spot on his maiden visit to Jammu, BSF, Jammu Frontier, Inspector General (IG), RK Sharma said that after detailed investigations, the Pakistan Rangers were showed the spot and asked to refrain from such nefarious activities.

“Evidences will be given to them and we will request them to come forward for investigations and take stern action against the culprits,” said the BSF IG.

“Timely detection (of the tunnel) has defeated a big plan of Pakistan. Had they succeeded in their plan, a big infiltration could have been carried,” he added.

The BSF has held two flag meetings with the Pakistan Rangers on the issue.

When asked how the Pakistan Rangers could be trusted to take action against the culprits, the IG said it was a matter of concern for the BSF also.

“We told them that it happened right under their nose, in front of their post (Afzal Saeed) and on their soil and that they were having knowledge of it (tunnel),” he said.

We asked them to identify the culprits, take action against them, disclose their plan on the international border and other areas, where tunneling activities might have been undertaken or are being conducted and to stop them immediately, added Sharma.

He said the BSF had been continuously undertaking anti-tunneling measures on the entire 198-km-long international border, _leading to the detection of the tunnel, he said

The IG did not rule out the possibility of more such tunnels on the border and said the BSF _was taking adequate measures to detect them.
Kim orders nuclear arsenal on ‘standby’
Pentagon urges North Korea to refrain from provocative actions
Seoul, March 4
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered his country to be ready to use its nuclear weapons at any time and the military to be in ‘pre-emptive attack’ mode in the face of growing threats from its enemies, state media said on Friday.

The comments, carried by the North's official KCNA news agency, marked a further escalation of tension on the Korean peninsula after the UN Security Council imposed harsh new sanctions on the isolated state for its nuclear programme.

North Korea, known for belligerent rhetoric, has previously threatened pre-emptive attacks on its enemies, including South Korea and the United States. Military experts doubt it has yet developed the capability to fire a long-range missile with a miniaturised warhead to deliver a nuclear weapon as far as the US.

Kim made the comments as he supervised military exercises involving newly developed rocket launchers, KCNA reported. It did not mention the date of the drills but said the new weapons had South Korea within range. South Korea's defence ministry said the North launched several projectiles off its coast into the sea, an apparent response to the UN sanctions.

Kim said North Korea should "bolster up (its) nuclear force both in quality and quantity" and stressed "the need to get the nuclear warheads deployed for national defence always on standby so as to be fired any moment," KCNA quoted him as saying. "Now is the time for us to convert our mode of military counteraction toward the enemies into a pre-emptive attack one in every aspect."

Kim criticised South Korean President Park Geun-hye in his first direct published mention of her by name for acting "in league with the US scoundrels," adding, "her hysteria will precipitate only her ruin in the long run,” KCNA said.

A spokesman for South Korea's Unification Ministry, which handles relations with the North, said Kim's comments were not helpful and may have been intended for the domestic audience, to boost morale in the face of the new UN sanctions. — Reuters

Park vows 'stern' response
If North Korea launches a provocation, we must respond with stern punishment to clearly show the price North Korea has to pay and our determi-nation to protect our nation. — Park Geun-Hye, South Korean President
No joint sea patrol with US against China, says India
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 4
Two days after a top Admiral from the US invited India to join a four-nation grouping to patrol areas like the South China Sea, New Delhi has out rightly rejected the idea saying it has so far not considered it.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, on being asked about the statement by US Pacific Command Admiral Harry Harris, said: “Our view point will come, if at all we consider it. As of now, India has never taken part in any joint patrol, the question of joint patrol does not arise”. If we took any such decision, the Ministry of Defence would brief you, Parrikar said.

His opinion is in line with New Delhi’s policy of keeping away from any such grouping that may anger China, which is locked in a territorial dispute with six other nations.

On March 2, Admiral Harris invited India to join in a four-nation grouping to jointly patrol seas and air space over contested waters. Admiral Harris, speaking at a function in New Delhi said: “India, Japan, Australia, the United States and so many other like-minded nations can aspire to patrol together anywhere, as international law allows. The idea of safeguarding freedom of access to international waters and airspace is not something new for us to ponder”.

He had cited the words of the US Ambassador to India Richard Verma to buttress his views: “I echo Ambassador Verma’s vision that, in the not too distant future, American and Indian Navy vessels steaming together will become a common and welcome sight throughout Indo-Asia-Pacific waters, as we work together to maintain freedom of the seas for all nations”. Considering the $5.3 trillion in trade that traverses each year from the Indian Ocean and through the South China Sea, we all have a vested interest in ensuring our region remain secure, stable, and prosperous.

Parrikar refused to comment on the reports that India was close to signing the “foundational agreements”: Logistics Support Agreement, Communications and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement, and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for geospatial intelligence with the US.

The discussion on these agreements, he said, was taking place in the defence ministry and any change in India’s stance would be intimated by the government. US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter will visit to India next month.
Indian Army peacekeepers save thousands of lives during South Sudan rescue mission

By Jugal R Purohit

Published: 23:44 GMT, 3 March 2016 | Updated: 23:44 GMT, 3 March 2016

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It was easy to miss amid the noisy deployment of the Indian Army in Haryana last month, but a significant effort by a force of 2,275 Indian servicemen in South Sudan has saved thousands of lives.

Malakal, Pibor and Melut may not be locations many in India are be aware of. However, with the help of the Indian Army, these provincial locations have staged the most remarkable defence operation in the history of United Nations peacekeeping operations.

Tension peaked on February 17 when ethnic clashes were reported in Malakal, among the larger towns of the country.
Indian troops protect civilians in South Sudan where 2,275 troops have been deployed as ethnic clashes intensify.

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Subsequently, refugees putting up at the ‘Protection of Civilian Camp’ came under machine-gun fire.

To add to the woes, nearly 37,000 more people then sought shelter in the camp.

The army, deployed there under the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and recognised with the acronym IndBatt, took positions and fired back at the attackers to prevent the slaughter.

Reports have emerged which state there were killings which took place during this commotion. However, no official data is available.

Matters came to the boil in Pibor, located close to the country’s eastern border with Ethiopia, on February 23.

Simmering for nearly 48 hours since a transfer of power, town residents began seeking refuge in the UN camp since the evening of February 21.

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The 800 men constituting IndBatt-2, manned by men from the Indian army’s 7 Kumaon, had the unenviable task of not just securing the base but also frisking those entering to ensure no armed personnel sneaked in.

UN estimates listed the figure at over 2000 civilians and other aid workers.

Meanwhile, that evening, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) staff sought extrication after reports that armed men were moving towards the facility.

Using a mine-proof vehicle as a shield from the raging gunfire, the IndBatt-2 extracted 25 civilians to the safety of the UNMISS compound. Included were 11 patients who were subsequently treated within the base.

South Sudan has seen ‘tens of thousands of deaths’ in the last two years, claim international press reports quoting United Nations officials.

Among the world powers who have deployed their personnel under the UN banner in South Sudan, India is the largest contributor with 2,275 troops.

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India to cut ‘flab’ of 1.2 million-strong Army
India will cut the “flab” in its 1.2-million-strong Army, a decision taken also in view of the sharply rising amount needed for defence pensions. However, the move will not affect the Army’s fighting formations.

Defence minister Manohar Parrikar on Friday said the Army has been asked to “calibrate” the move, which essentially means that the Army will identify the wings in which it has excess unproductive manpower and its extent. As part of fiscal accountability, the government is also utilising money from an account in which, till June last year, about $3 billion (about Rs 20,000 crore) was lying unused though it was supposed to fund acquisitions by India from the US under the Foreign Military Sales Agreement. The government has used money from this account to pay some of its liabilities and the account now contains about $1.7 billion, Mr Parrikar said. Sources said it was because of mismanagement earlier that such a huge amount of Indian money was lying idle and that the government had turned its attention to it after discovering, to its shock, that the account contained so much idle money.

The Army is expected to assess its manpower situation in all wings and inform the government about it. Elaborating on the move to cut the Army’s flab, Mr Parrikar gave an example of telephone operators, indicating that such jobs had become obsolete in view of current technology.

Experts say cutting the Army’s flab makes good sense in order to make it a “leaner and meaner” fighting machine provided there is adequate technological upgradation, which has not happened in India. “The Chinese PLA can afford to cut down on its manpower flab because it has engaged in technological upgradation for the past 30 years, but the same cannot be said in equal measure for the situation in India where modern weaponry in several areas has not been acquired for decades,” a source pointed out. The 1.2-million-strong Indian Army has about 36,000 officers. After implementation of the one rank, one pension (OROP) scheme, the defence pension annual bill has shot up by about Rs 22,000 crore and will stand at a total of about Rs 82,000 crore in the coming financial year 2016-17.

Mr Parrikar said the defence budget — excluding defence pensions — for 2016-17 of about Rs 2.59 lakh crore accounts for about a sixth (17.23 per cent) of the overall defence expenditure. 

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