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Monday, 30 May 2016

From Today's Papers - 30 May 2016

Pak nukes can target Delhi in 5 min: AQ
Defence experts claim India has ability to hit entire Pakistan, say disgraced Khan known for exaggerated claims
Islamabad/New Delhi, May 29
Nuclear-armed Pakistan has the ability to “target” the Indian capital Delhi in five minutes, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear programme Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan has said.

The claim was deplored by India's strategic community, which said India had the capability to hit entire Pakistan but nuclear weapons were not weapons of war but only meant for deterrence. "It is a very immature and outlandish statement to make.

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Addressing a gathering in Islamabad on the 18th anniversary of Pakistan’s first nuclear tests, which were carried out under his supervision in 1998, Khan said Pakistan could have become a nuclear power as early as 1984, but the then President General Zia ul Haq “opposed the move”.

The 80-year-old nuclear physicist said General Zia, who was Pakistan’s President from 1978 to 1988, opposed the nuclear testing as he believed that the world would intervene militarily.

Further, it would have also curtailed international aid Pakistan was receiving due to the ongoing Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

“We were able and we had a plan to launch nuclear test in 1984. But President General Zia ul Haq had opposed the move,” Khan said yesterday.

Khan also said that “Pakistan has the ability to target” Delhi from Kahuta near Rawalpindi in five minutes”.

Kahuta is the home to the Kahuta Research Laboratories (KRL), Pakistan’s key uranium enrichment facility, linked to the atomic bomb project. Khan was disgraced in 2004 when he was forced to accept responsibility for nuclear technology proliferation and was forced to live a life of official house arrest. In 2009, the Islamabad High Court declared Khan to be a free citizen of Pakistan, allowing him free movement inside the country.

He regretted the treatment and said Pakistan would never have achieved the feat of becoming first Muslim nuclear country without his “services”.

Brig (retd) Gurmeet Kanwal, a distinguished fellow at India’s state-run Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, said Khan is known for his "exaggerated claims".

"Nuclear weapons are meant for deterrence and Pakistan will only use it under severe provocation. Even if we assume that out of the blue the Pakistani Army chief orders for a nuclear strike tomorrow, given the peace time alertness, it will take them at least six hours before they are able to launch," he said.

Air Vice Marshal (retd) Manmohan Bahadur, a distinguished fellow at the Centre for Air Power Studies, said, "It is just a publicity-seeking statement" and "one must not be taken in by the brinkmanship displayed by nuclear proliferator."  — PTI
Govt to cancel Finmeccanica defence tenders
New Delhi, May 29
The government has decided to cancel all ongoing tenders for defence equipment won by Italy’s Finmeccanica as a precursor to blacklisting of the firm which is being investigated for bribery in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal.

This was disclosed by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who in an interview to PTI also said that the process for blacklisting Finmeccanica and its subsidiaries has already been started and a note for the same sent to the Law Ministry.

“Wherever there is capital procurement of Finmeccanica and their subsidiaries, all Requests for Proposal (RFP) will be closed. I am very clear,” he said.

However, he said, the annual maintenance and import of spare parts of already acquired defence supplies will be continued with the firm and only fresh capital acquisition is being nixed.

The government has already withdrawn the RFP for heavy wight torpedos for Socrpene submarines which was won by WASS, a Finmeccanica subsidiary, during UPA regime. The government is now working out the alternatives.

“The blacklisting process has already been moved. If there is a blacklisting for a specific number of years, which will be issued in the order, there will be no transaction by Defence Ministry with that company for capital procurement for that many years,” he said.

He stressed that the Ministry has already put on hold new transactions with the company. "In revenue acquisition, where contracts have already been executed, annual maintenance and import of spare parts will be permitted where it is absolutely essential but with proper certification from concerned authority in order to ensure that platform or equipment remains operational," he said.

Emphasising that national security "cannot be compromised" just because the company has done something wrong, he said, "I cannot put six ships out of commission because one spare part is to be imported from some company of Finmeccanica." Asked what will happen to projects in which Finmeccanica would play a crucial role in supply of equipment, he said, "Is there only one product in the whole world? There will always be products by Russian companies, American companies or some others. May be slightly costlier and difficult to get". — PTI
Army can’t operate in civilian areas without special law: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar
The Indian Army cannot operate in civilian areas without a contentious act that gives it sweeping special powers, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has said, amid demands from several quarters that the act be revoked from Jammu and Kashmir and the northeastern states where it is in operation.
New Delhi, May 29: The Indian Army cannot operate in civilian areas without a contentious act that gives it sweeping special powers, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has said, amid demands from several quarters that the act be revoked from Jammu and Kashmir and the northeastern states where it is in operation.

“My department’s role comes into the picture when the army is asked to proceed and act in a certain area. At that time, the army requires protection,” Parrikar told IANS in an interview, referring to the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) that is in place in what are termed “disturbed areas”.

Asked about the possibility of revoking the AFSPA, the defence minister said that the subject came under the home ministry, adding it was needed by the army to “proceed and act” in certain areas. He also said immunity to soldiers should be total.The minister stressed that the army will not go in the civilian areas without the act being in place.(ALSO READ:Have broken middlemen-Defence Ministry nexus: Manohar Parrikar).

“If that act is not there, the army will not take action. For carrying out counter terror operations, the army requires that power. That power comes from such laws; AFSPA is a major one,” he said.

“If that is not there, the army will not go to a civilian area for operations. The home ministry should decide on the basis of that, after assessing the situation,” Parrikar maintained.

“If the army is required, this act has to be there; otherwise the army cannot operate. Jawans cannot be made to face standard laws,” he contended.

There is a “new crop” of activists who keep filing cases against the AFSPA, the minister said, adding in a lighter vein that someone may even file a case on the Kargil conflict even though 17 long years have passed since the Indian Army went into action to evict Pakistani intruders from the icy heights of Jammu and Kashmir.

“There is suddenly a crop of activists who try to file cases and all that… Actually if you see the immunity should be total unless it (a wrongdoing) is proved in a particular fashion. How will armed forces act otherwise? Someone can even file a case on Kargil,” he said.

The AFSPA came into force in the northeastern states in 1958 after the Naga tribes rebelled against the govenrment and continues to be in force there. It is also in force in Assam, Manipur, and parts of Arunachal Pradesh.

It came into force in Jammu and Kashmir in 1990, a year after an Islamist insurgency, which continues to fester, erupted. The act was also enforced in Punjab after terrorism erupted in 1983 and was withdrawn in 1997.

In Jammu and Kashmir, where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is a junior partner in a coalition headed by the PDP, removing AFSPA from certain areas was one of the conditions the latter had set for joining hands. Earlier this week, the opposition National Conference and the Congress protested in the Kashmir assembly, demanding that the AFSPA be revoked.

Meanwhile, in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha during the recently-concluded budget session, Minister of State for Home Haribhai Parthibhai Chaudhary said there were no plans to revoke AFSPA from Jammu and Kashmir.

Among the provisions of the AFSPA, any commissioned officer, warrant officer, non-commissioned officer or any other person of equivalent rank in the armed forces may fire upon or otherwise use force if he is of the opinion that it is necessary to do so for the maintenance of public order. A soldier, however, needs to first give a warning before opening fire.

The forces can destroy arm dumps, make arrests without warrants and can enter and search a premises without a warrant to make an arrest. The act, however, requires the forces to promptly take an arrested person to the nearest police station.

The act provides that no prosecution, suit or other legal proceeding shall be instituted, except with the previous sanction of the central government.
Indian Army now confirms Hizbul Mujahideen militant Tariq Pandit held
Srinagar: In one of the biggest catches in recent months, a top Hizbul Mujahideen militant Tariq Pandit, a close aide of the terror group's poster boy Burhan Wani, was on Saturday arrested after he surrendered to police in Pulwama.

Considered as a category "A" militant, Pandit figured prominently with Burhan in various pictures and videos that were posted by the terror group last year. Pandit carried a cash reward of Rs three lakh for information leading to his arrest.

There were conflicting reports as senior police officials of Pulwama district in South Kashmir said that Pandit had surrendered but the army maintained that he had been apprehended.

A senior police official said that he was put under arrest after he surrendered to the army unit in Pulwama.

A defence spokesman issued a statement saying that a "major blow" had been dealt to the banned Hizbul Mujahideen with the arrest of Pandit in a "well coordinated swift operation" today on Newa-Pinglana road in the district.

He said based on specific intelligence input regarding the movement of a Hizb militant near Karimabad, a joint mobile vehicle check post was established by Army and police in the morning hours.

"The movement of the terrorist was kept under constant surveillance. As the terrorist closed in, he was apprehended by the team of Rashtriya Rifle battalion, along with one 9 mm pistol, two Chinese grenades and other war like stores were recovered from him," the spokesman said.

He said the militant was involved in many terror-related incidents in the district.

However, police officials said that Pandit had joined the terror group along with his cousin Naseer Pandit, a cop- turned-terrorist, early last year.

After Naseer was gunned down by army in Shopian during an encounter in April this year, Pandit started sending feelers to the authorities for surrender, the officials said.

An FIR has been registered and the apprehended terrorist has been handed over to the local Police Station, Pulwama, the defence spokesman added.

He was among the 11 Hizb militants who, defying the convention, posted their photographs on social media networks.

"Pandit was a self-styled area commander and is a very important catch. His interrogation should definitely lead us to the Hizb Mujahideen network in south Kashmir," the officials said.

The Hizbul group, led by Burhan, continues to give worries to the security agencies as the officials feel the militants' bravado of hogging the limelight on social networking sites was to attract more youths to join militant ranks. 

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