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Wednesday, 18 May 2016

From Today's Papers - 18 May 2016

Pak sees design in India map
Says Bill that imposes fine for ‘wrong’ map violates UN resolutions on J-K
Simran Sodhi

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 17
India and Pakistan today exchanged sharp words as India dismissed efforts to “impose on the international community matters that India has always been open to address bilaterally”.

The moot point in question is India’s proposed Geospatial Information Regulation Bill. According to the draft of the Bill, the government can impose a Rs 1 billion fine on anyone distributing a ‘wrong’ map, besides sending the offender to jail.

Irked, Pakistan’s permanent representative in New York, Dr Maleeha Lodhi, has shot off a letter to the United Nations. Pakistan alleges India’s “incorrect and legally untenable” official map is in violation of Security Council resolutions as it displays the Pakistani side of Jammu and Kashmir as part of India.

“We have urged the international community and the UN to fulfil their commitment to the people of Jammu and Kashmir by holding an independent and impartial plebiscite,” she said.

The Pakistan Foreign Office said India intended to “penalise individuals and organisations who depict J&K as a disputed territory”.

India was dismissive of Pakistan’s actions. It said, “The Bill is an entirely internal legislative matter of India since the whole of the state of J&K is an integral part of India.”
Tejas ready for IAF ops: Raha
Air Chief takes maiden flight in jet I First squadron to come up by July
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 17
IAF Chief Marshal Arup Raha today took his maiden flight in India’s homegrown Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, calling it “good” for induction. It seems to be a signal that the Indian Air Force will welcome the planes and instil confidence in the local product even as it awaits a final operational clearance.

“It is my first sortie in Tejas. It is a good aircraft for induction into IAF operations,” Raha was quoted as saying by the Bangalore-based Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The HAL is developing the plane, which has flown over 3,000 test flights since the first prototype flew in 2001. The IAF Chief flew the plane for about 30 minutes at HAL airport in Bangalore around noon today. Group Captain M Rangachari accompanied him in the twin-seater trainer aircraft.

“It is a moral boosting gesture from the IAF Chief and reposes great confidence of our valuable customer in our abilities,” said T Suvarna Raju, Chairman and Managing Director of HAL.

The IAF Chief carried out simulated air-to-air and air-to-ground attacks. He also assessed the advanced modes of the radar and Helmet Mounted Display Sight (HMDs). The IAF Chief, who in his younger days commanded a MiG 29 squadron, congratulated the entire team of HAL and others involved in getting the LCA programme to this stage.

The IAF has 120 Tejas fighters on order. The series production of the jets has already commenced at HAL plant in Bangalore and the first squadron of the LCA is expected to be formed by July. The four aircraft will make up for the first squadron of the IAF, which will be used for training and familarisation.

The IAF had decided to go in with an upgraded version of the existing Tejas with 43 modifications, 106 of these Tejas will come with modifications such as Actively Electrically Scanned Array Radar, Unified Electronic Warfare Suite, mid-air refueling capacity and beyond the visual range of missiles. The Ministry of Defence has set 2018 as deadline for the first aircraft to be ready with a target to complete its production by 2022-2023.
The NSG conundrum
Is appeasing China and others worth it?
The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is not as weighty as the UN Security Council (UNSC) but Prime Minister Modi has made its membership a foreign policy goal. The fly in the ointment is that its membership is open only to the signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). India has not signed the NPT because it means giving up its nuclear weapons arsenal, a privilege allowed only to the five UNSC members, including China. Given India's record of never exporting nuclear technology on the sly, membership should have been a breeze, especially after the NSG lifted the sanctions on India and New Delhi was permitted to trade in civil nuclear technology and fuel.

However, politics has intruded just when the NSG begins considering India's application next month. Beijing’s motive for threatening to put a spanner in the wheel is two-fold. One, Pakistan is impressing upon China to back its membership into the NSG as well. However, world memory is still fresh about Pakistan running a veritable nuclear technology Walmart. The second reason is geo-political: India’s growing strategic proximity with the US is reflected in Modi planning a fourth visit to Washington.

Modi is within his right to visit another country as many times as he wants. But China looks at the India-US relationship from the prism of a US move to curb its influence in the South China Sea in tandem with Japan and Australia. Its apprehension is stoked by a US Bill to facilitate transfer of top-end military technology and hardware to India. Sino-Indian ties too are in cold freeze. There is also opposition from a six-country grouping which feels an NSG membership to India will scuttle the goal of nuclear disarmament. India will have to mollify them as well. It will require Indian diplomats to raise their game. The Foreign Office does not inspire confidence that it can deal adroitly with China, the US and Russia simultaneously. The still larger question is whether it is worthwhile to spend considerable political capital for a seat at a table that is not as high or useful as the UNSC.
Pathankot attack: Fresh Red Corner Notice against Azhar
Shaurya Karanbir Gurung

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 17
The Interpol has issued a fresh Red Corner Notice against Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar and his brother, Abdul Rauf Asgar, for allegedly conspiring and planning the Pathankot air base attack.

Sharing the development, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) said a Red Corner Notice would also be issued against two more JeM members Kashif Jaan and Shahid Latif, the handlers of the terrorists who carried out the Pathankot attack. The NIA revealed that Latif was arrested in 1994 in a drugs case in Jammu. He was released in 2010 and sent back to Pakistan.

A Red Corner Notice is meant to seek the location and arrest of wanted persons with a view to extradition or similar lawful action, as per the Interpol website. The legal basis for a Red Notice is an arrest warrant or court order issued by the judicial authorities in the country concerned. In April this year, a NIA special court had issued arrest warrants against Azhar, Asgar, Jaan and Latif.

India, meanwhile, has sent a second Letter Rogatory (LR) — a letter of request issued by a court for evidences — to Pakistan. The second LR contains fresh evidences pointing to the involvement of the JeM and Pakistan in the Pathankot attack. “As part of the second LR, we have asked Pakistan to conduct searches at the residences of the four terrorists, their handlers and in connection with the credit card holder, who made payments for the JeM websites,” said an official.

Pakistan has not responded to the first LR given to it by India. The NIA said it had approached the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to request Pakistan to respond to the LRs. India has also asked Pakistan to allow the NIA team to visit the country to conduct investigation, collect evidences and record statements in the Pathankot attack. The NIA said one of the crucial evidences part of the second LR was the interrogation of Mohammed Sadique, a resident of Sialkot, Pakistan. Sadique was arrested for an attack at an army camp at Kupwara district of Jammu and Kashmir on November 25 last year.

“Sadique is part of the JeM. He was trained in Pakistan and he has listened to the lectures of Azhar and Asgar. He has identified the voice in an audio clip, which claims the JeM carried out the Pathankot attack, as that of Azhar’s brother, Asgar,” said a NIA officer. The same clip was shown to the JIT when they visited India in March this year and they did not raise objections, according to the NIA.
In Pathankot Attack, Key Role Of Terrorist Released By Congress Government
Indian investigators waiting to travel to Pakistan have uncovered crucial information about how a group of terrorists crossed the border at the start of the New Year to attack one of the country's best-secured military areas, the air force base at Pathankot.

Shahid Latif, 47, who was released from an Indian prison in 2010 by the previous government, allegedly provided logistical and other support for the four Pakistanis who went on to attack the Pathankot base. Seven military personnel were killed in a siege that lasted a grueling 72 hours. The four terrorists were shot and recently buried in Punjab after Pakistan refused to accept their bodies.

Latif, who is from Pakistan, was arrested in 1996 from Jammu in a case related to narcotics and terrorism. He is a senior leader of the Jaish-e-Mohammed, whose chief, Maulana Masood Azhar, masterminded the Pathankot attack, according to India.

To improve relations with Pakistan, Latif was deported by the Congress-led government six years ago, along with nearly 20 other terrorists who returned home through the Wagah border in Punjab. "All those released had served their full term in Indian jails and couldn't have been kept back," said a senior source in the National Investigation Agency or NIA, the country's top counter-terror body.

In 1999, when Indian Airlines plane IC814 was hijacked by five armed men to Kandahar in Afghanistan, Latif was among the men whose release was unsuccessfully demanded by the terrorists. Masood Azhar, who would go on to found the Jaish-e-Mohammed, was freed along with two others in exchange for the 189 passengers and crew who were caught in a hostage situation that lasted nearly a week.

After India accused the Jaish of January's Pathankot attack, a team of Pakistanis visited India to scrtunizie the evidence and question witnesses. Amid much criticism from the opposition, Prime Minister Narendra Modi allowed them onto the Pathankot base. Pakistan, however, has yet to approve a visit by investigators of the National Investigation Agency or NIA, the top counter-terror agency.

NIA officers are keen to question top leaders of the Jaish, including the chief; however, Pakistani sources have told NDTV they cannot confirm whether Masood Azhar is still in the country.
UAE and India set to forge closer trade and military ties
NEW DELHI // India’s defence minister, Manohar Parrikar, will arrive in the UAE on Wednesday for a two-day visit, aiming to bolster security ties and explore the potential of trade in military equipment.

Mr Parrikar’s trip marks the first-ever bilateral visit by an Indian defence minister to the UAE. It is a sign, analysts say, of how the relationship between the two countries has strengthened since prime minister Narendra Modi took power two years ago.

The UAE extended a formal invitation to Mr Parrikar when Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, visited India in February.
Both countries are looking to expand cooperation in defence and security affairs beyond counter-terrorism operations, said Sushant K Singh, a New Delhi-based defence analyst and a retired Indian Army lieutenant colonel.

Among the top priorities on Mr Parrikar’s agenda is to ensure the militaries of India and the UAE work well together.

“This is driven by the recent Indian experience of retrieving expat Indians from the Middle East, where the Indian military had to move in," Mr Singh said. “It is better for the military systems in these countries to be familiar with the Indians, so that such humanitarian and disaster relief operations, if they’re required in the future, can run smoothly."

As an example, he cited the operation last April, called Raahat, in which India evacuated more than 4,600 of its citizens from Yemen by air as well as sea, as war raged between Houthi militants and government forces supported by UAE troops.

Mr Parrikar will tour industrial and military installations in the UAE during his visit. With his counterparts, he will discuss military logistics and cooperation in hydrographic studies, a spokesperson for India’s defence ministry said. Mr Parrikar will also hold talks on whether the UAE can be a potential customer for Indian-made defence equipment, and what equipment the UAE’s military needs.

These talks, however, will be in the earliest stages. Mr Singh called this a preliminary, exploratory step.

“It’s too early to identify any equipment that might be bought or sold, at this point," he said. India will also need to scale up its defence production capacities before it can consider selling significant volumes of equipment to the UAE.
Mr Modi’s enthusiasm for closer relations with the UAE markedly improved the quality of ties, Mr Singh noted.

The earlier government, the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA), also pursued a good working relationship with the UAE, exemplified by the UAE’s deportation of “a couple of wanted terrorists to India during that period".

But Mr Modi’s energies in this direction have been even greater.

“The attempt is to delink India from being seen from the prism of Pakistan," he said. “Notwithstanding the UAE’s relationship with Pakistan, it must engage India independently and on its own terms."

As part of Mr Parrikar’s trip, three Indian warships – INS Delhi, INS Tarkash and INS Deepak – have already anchored at Dubai. These ships will conduct joint exercises with the UAE’s navy over the next three days.

Following his visit to the UAE, Mr Parrikar will go to Oman for three days before returning to New Delhi.
Negating Pak's striking capability: Know about India's newly launched ballistic missile defence

New Delhi: India on Sunday launched successfully test-fired its indigenously developed supersonic interceptor missile, which is capable of bringing down hostile ballistic missiles.

With this latest development, India has become fourth country after US, Russia and Israel to have successfully developed a ballistic missile defence system.

Considered to be an important technological milestone,the indigeneous system will largely negate Pakistan’s strategic striking capability in the country.

The trial on sunday involved the single-stage Ashvin Advanced Air Defence (AAD) interceptor missile destroying an incoming nuclear-capable Dhanush ballistic missile in mid-air.

Dhanush- a naval variant of the locally designed Prithvi surface-to-surface (SSM) missile was launched from an Indian Navy (IN) warship in the Bay of Bengal, official sources said.

"The 'kill' effect of the interceptor was ascertained by analysing data from multiple tracking sources,

The AAD interceptor is a 7.5 metre single-stage solid fuel rocket equipped with a navigation system, a hi-tech computer and an electro-mechanical activator.

The supersonic low-altitude missile weighs around 1.2 tonnes, stands 7.5 meters tall and has a diameter of under 0.5 meters.

The interceptor missile had its own navigation and tracking systems, mobile launchers and sophisticated radars

However, This was for the eleventh time that the missile was test-fired. It has failed to hit the target thrice. The first test was conducted in 2006 from the ITR. The last test on November 21, 2015, was successful,reported Times of India.

The new supersonic missile interceptor will soon become a part of the Indian Army's arsenal of world class weaponry. India started its own BMD programme in 1995.

Last December, India signed a deal with Russia to provide it with the S-400,Triumf air defence missile system for an estimated Rs 40,000 crore.

The S-400 Triumf can tackle multiple aerial threats at long ranges and is considered to be the most advanced system available with Russia.

In 2015, India ranked eighth in the world in terms of military expenditures, while Pakistan’s defense budget was some five times smaller.

After the U.S. and China, India has the world’s third largest army, with over 1.3 million active troops. Pakistan, meanwhile, stands eighth on the list at over 600,000.

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