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Thursday, 28 April 2016

From Today's Papers - 28 Apr 2016

Pak nuke base near Amritsar
Imagery of facility near Gujranwala appears on social media
Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 27
Details of a recently established Pakistani military complex, purported to house tactical nuclear missiles, close to the international border in Punjab have emerged on the social media.

Overhead imagery of the site, at Rahwali Cantonment near Gujranwala, reveals two transport-erector-launcher vehicles, assessed to be those of the Nasr  short-range missile, along with support vehicles laid out for inspection.

The site is 70 km from the international border and 100 km from both Amritsar and Jammu, lying in the trough of the strategically vital Shakargarh bulge that had witnessed key battles in 1965 and 1971. Along this bulge lies the vital link to Jammu and Kashmir, with the National Highway passing close to the border.

Images, dated January 27, along with an assessment, have been posted by an officer specialising in imagery interpretation on his personal page. The well-fortified complex, which includes hardened shelters with blast doors, garages, ammunition bunkers, administrative and support areas, is believed to have been constructed in August 2014.

Experts feel a missile base close to the border indicates deployment of tactical or “low yield” nuclear weapons that could be employed to counter an Indian onslaught even if the weapons’ impact area lies inside Pakistani territory. The very brief flight time of short range missiles gives very little reaction time, making it difficult to counter them.

In November last year, Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary  for the first time acknowledged Pakistan’s plans to use low-yield nukes in a bid to forestall Indian advances across the border. Pakistan claims to have several short range missiles that can be used to deliver tactical warheads, besides longer range ballistic missiles to target strategic assets.
Pathribal case: HC dismisses petition for further trial
Samaan Lateef

Tribune News Service

Srinagar April 27
The Jammu and Kashmir High court on Wednesday dismissed the petition seeking resumption of jurisdiction of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court into the Pathribal fake encounter case, saying it could not adjudicate in the matters of the Supreme Court.

Court of Justice Tashi Rabastan said, “The writ petition is not maintainable and liable to be dismissed.” However, the court said the petitioners were at liberty to avail themselves of appropriate remedy, if any, available under law.

The Pathribal fake encounter in which five civilians were shot dead and dubbed as the militants responsible for the massacre of Chittisinghpora Sikhs in March 2000 was taken by the Army court from the trial court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Srinagar, on June 27, 2012.

The CBI indicted the five Army personnel, including a Major General and two Colonels, in the case and filed murder charges against them in 2006 before the CJM, Srinagar.

However, the Army filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the jurisdiction of the CBI to file a chargesheet against the Army men protected under Para 7 of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

The Supreme Court in May 2012 directed the Army authorities to decide whether officers accused of a fake encounter in Pathribal in J&K should be tried by court-martial proceedings or by regular criminal courts. The Army opted for court martial, which on January 23, 2014, exonerated all accused officials for lack of evidence.

The families of five victims filed a fresh petition before the High Court, seeking resumption of jurisdiction of the CBI court and grant of sanction from the Central government within four weeks. They also said the Army had “not complied” with the SC directions by choosing to conduct the summary of evidence instead of court-martial proceedings.

After hearing the writ petition the High Court said, “The SC has given liberty to the Army to take decision as regards to convening of the court martial or adjudication of trial by the criminal court. The Army opted to try the case by court martial. Once an option or liberty was given by the SC, thereby deciding the matter as regards to trial to be conducted by court martial or criminal court, the same issue is not permissible to be opened and taken up again and again.”
UN chief urges nations to ratify CTBT
Vienna, April 27
UN chief Ban Ki-moon called today for the US, China and other nuclear-armed states to end the ‘madness’ of atomic testing by finally ratifying the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, which turns 20 this year.

“I call on remaining states, the eight remaining states, to sign and ratify the treaty without further delay,” Ban said in Vienna at an event marking the anniversary.

The CTBT, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 1996, bans all nuclear explosions. It has been signed by 183 states and ratified by 164 including Russia, France and Britain.

But to enter in force, the treaty needs 44 particular “nuclear technology holder” states to ratify it, eight of whom have yet to do so. These eight include the other six in the nuclear club — the US, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel — as well as Iran and Egypt. — AFP
US, Pak ‘struck a deal’ on Al-Qaida chief Osama
Washington, April 27
Pakistan helped the US get Osama bin Laden, a US investigative journalist has said. "More than ever," said the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh on Tuesday when asked if he believes Pakistan helped the US get Al-Qaida group founder Osama bin Laden.

When Hersh made this claim in an article published last year, the White House rejected the story as false.

Hersh repeated the claim in his new book “The Killing of Osama bin Laden” published this week, insisting he was right, Dawn online reported.

Since last year, Hersh said, his belief has cemented as the journalist found new evidences, and was deceptive of the US' official account of how bin Laden was found in his compound.

Hersh said Pakistan had detained bin Laden in 2006 and kept him in prison with the backing of Saudi Arabia.

The US and Pakistan struck a deal that the US would raid bin Laden's compound but make it look as if Islamabad was unaware.

“Pakistan is in constant alert because of India. Their radars are watching, their F16s are up all the time," said Hersh, arguing that it was not possible for US helicopters to enter Abbottabad without alerting the Pakistanis. Hersh earlier said the US and Pakistan had jointly created the myth “we (US) discovered” where Osama bin Laden was living.

“What I know is ... in August of 2010, a Pakistani colonel ... came into our embassy, went to the then CIA Station Chief Jonathan Bank, and said: ‘We’ve had bin Laden for four years’.”

“The Pakistani intelligence picked him (bin Laden) in the Hindukush area, built the compound in Abbottabad and put him there,” Hersh said.

According to Hersh, when the CIA asked Pakistan to make the May 2, 2011, operation at bin Laden's compound a surprise raid, they agreed “because they had kept bin Laden in custody without telling us”. “I wrote the name of Jonathan Bank but he did not attack me for doing this. He did not contradict my story. If there is one guy who can end my story, it is him,” Hersh said. — IANS
Army Commanders review China’s ‘Theatre Command’; to brief Govt
xcelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, Apr 26: After China formed `Theatre Command’ a couple of months back by re-structuring military commands and giving joint control to one Chief Military Commander, Indian Army has also been asked to study the Chinese plan for long term integration of three Services-Army, Indian Air Force and Navy-to have joint commands.
Official sources told the Excelsior that this was one of the major issues being discussed and debated in the ongoing conference of top Army Commanders, which began yesterday in New Delhi and will continue till April 30. The issue was taken up in the Army Commanders’ conference on the directions of the Defence Ministry.
Only a couple of months back, China had taken the world including its neighbours by surprise by re-structuring its military commands and converting them into five `Theatre Commands’ with control of one Senior Commander over one Command.
Sources said the Defence Ministry has also asked the Army Commanders, who were debating crucial strategic issues during their six days long conference, to study the Chinese re-structuring plan and whether it was feasible and beneficial in India. Accordingly, they said, the issue is being discussed threadbare and the impact of having joint commanding on Army, IAF and Navy.
“Though the proposal can’t be implemented in India in short term, it was being studied for long-term plan and whether moves can be set afoot for its implementation,” sources said.
The Indian Air Force and Navy, during their recent conferences had studied the proposal and it was now the turn of Army to discuss and debate it thoroughly. Later, the three Service chiefs would discuss the proposal with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar before the Government of India takes a decision on whether to go for re-structuring or not.
According to sources, after the conference of Army Commanders is over on April 30, the three Service chiefs and other top Commanders of Army, IAF and Navy will sit together and discuss issue threadbare among themselves.
As per the proposal, the Joint Command will place resources of Army, Navy and IAF at the command of Senior Military Commander, which will be called the `Theatre Command’. Presently, India has one Joint Command in Andaman and Nicobar islands.
Sources said the Central Government especially the Defence Ministry was keenly following each and every step taken by the Chinese Government in their military preparations as it didn’t want to lag much behind the neighbour in matching their strength though it has admitted that it did lag behind China in infrastructure along borders and other strategic assets as the previous Government never thought on this front.
Recently, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval had visited China and met their counterparts and other senior Chinese and military leadership to discuss bilateral and defence ties and boundary agreement. Though the two countries have near normal relations between them, India didn’t want to take any chances in strengthening its forces to match the Chinese strength, sources said.
Before the reshuffle, China had seven military area commands headquartered in Shenyang, Beijing, Jinan, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Lanzhou. The five theater commands, under the administration of the Chief Military Commander (CMC), were formed based on the functions and organs of the former military area commands, with the functions of command and logistics support improved.

Sources said China has not kept its Joint Military Commands as secret but made them public as soon as they were formed after integration of Army, Navy and Air Force. No other neighbouring country of India including Pakistan has such Commands.

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