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CM honours kin of 152 Punjab soldiers who fought in WW­I

Says as many as 74,000 Indian soldiers died in the four­year war

LUDHIANA :Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday honoured the family members of 152 soldiers from Punjab, who fought in World War-I, in a ceremony to commemorate 100 years of the war at Amaltas village near Ludhiana city.

HT PHOTO■ Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh fetes the descendant of a World War­I soldier at a commemoration ceremony in Ludhiana on Wednesday.

Of the 152 martyrs’ kin, most of whom attended the event at the Maharaja Ranjit Singh War Museum, 15 were called on stage and handed over shawls and mementos by the CM.

Manjit Kaur Bains (66), a Mohali resident and granddaughter of Harnam Singh, a ‘dafadar’ (non-commissioned officer) in the 12th Cavalry Brigade of the British Army, said she was invited to attend the event after she shared the veteran’s picture on the Facebook page titled ‘Sikh military history’ a few months ago.

Born in 1900, Harnam was posted in Mesopotamia (now Iraq) from 1914 to 1929. He passed away in 1983 at his native village Bihala in Hoshiarpur district.

“Few days ago, I received a call from the district sainik board, Mohali. My name was shortlisted among the descendants of 152 WW-I soldiers. It was an encouraging gesture on part of the government,” said Manjit Kaur, whose husband is a retired colonel.

Rajinder Singh (70), a retired roadways employee from Rampur village near Doraha, said his grandfather Labh Singh had died fighting the enemy in the war.

The British government recognised his death and even issued a medal and a letter from the Queen. “My father was merely two- year-old when my grandfather left for war. The family was given an annual pension of ₹5 by the British,” said Rajinder.

“Recently I had learnt that some people at Baddowal onganised a programme to honour the WW-I martyrs. They were surprised to see the gallantry medals and asked me to visit the district sainik welfare board, Ludhiana. I am happy that my grandfather’s sacrifice was acknowledged,” said Rajinder.

Darshan Singh (68), a farmer from Sangrur and grandson of WW-I martyr Krishan Singh, said, “I could never imagine that I would be honoured for my grandfather’s sacrifice and get a chance to have lunch with the CM.” He was presented a shawl and a memento.

‘HISTORY DISTORTED’ “The present generation is not aware that their ancestors participated in a World War. The history has been distorted as the students are not taught about their forefathers. Around 74,000 Indian soldiers died in the fouryear-long war. The names of only 60,000 could be traced with no record of the rest.”


Ahead of Army recast, veterans say don’t lose focus of two-front war

Suggest budget constraints should not be only guiding principle

Ahead of Army recast, veterans say don’t lose focus of two-front war

Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, November 21

Retired Generals of the Army have advised that forthcoming restructuring of the forces should not lose focus of the two-front simultaneous war scenario and also budget constraints should not be the only guiding principle to re-cast the Army.

These opinions emerged after Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat met former chiefs and senior officers to discuss the nuances of restructuring the force over a two-hour session in Delhi on Sunday.

Details emerging now indicate that the veterans — former chiefs and Lieut Generals — were informed about the forthcoming changes. Among the invitees were those retired officers who are regular on TV shows and write columns in newspapers.

Despite being retired the Generals keep in touch with their regiments for life, hence are important in conveying the “right message”.

The veterans were informed about four major in-house studies being carried out. The most important is “Reorganisation and Rightsizing of the Indian Army”, which reviews operational structures to make them efficient and future-ready by taking into account the operational situation on Western and Northern Borders. This will include creation of integrated battle groups (IBGs) fully equipped with elements of warfare.

In an interview to the Tribune on November 5, General Rawat had said how these IBGs were planned to be pre-positioned facing the western (Pakistan) and northern (China) borders.

The second study is on “Reorganisation of the Army Headquarters”, aimed at integrating various wings. The third study is on “Cadre Review of Officers”, which focuses on incorporating the proposed reorganisation and restructuring and plans to have a balanced cadre to meet the aspirations of officers. This will include longer tenures as Brigadier, Maj General and Lt General and faster promotion from Colonel to Brigadier.

The fourth study is on “Review of Terms of Engagement of Rank and File”, aimed at having a younger profile of officers. The retired Generals have been told that the IBGs are being “Test-beded” — a term in military parlance for trying out a new concept in the field under real conditions.

Army plans two types of integrated battle groups (IBGs) — smaller for mountains (China border) and bigger for plains (Pakistan border). Each border may have around 8-10 IBGs.

Each IBG may have 8,000-10,000 troops and comprise 4-6 infantry and armoured battalions, 2-3 artillery regiments, an engineers’ unit, integrated signals unit and dedicated integral logistics.

Brigadiers may command smaller IBGs and Major Generals the bigger ones. Both will be under the Corps Commander of the area.


Resizing the Army: One Size that Doesn’t Fit All by Lt Gen (Dr) JS Bajwa

“It is too true, however disgraceful it may be to human nature, that nations in general will make war whenever they have a prospect of getting anything by it.”

— John Jay, The Federalist Papers September 17, 1787.

“You must first enable the government to control the g ..

Read more at:The paramount measure of national power is military capability. Today, countries endure in an environment where internal and external threats to security are both common and ever-present; the effectiveness of the coercive arm becomes the ultimate criteria of power. Capable military’s enable countries to defend themselves against all adversaries, foreign and domestic, while at the same time enabling the government to pursue and protect whatever interests they value, if necessary, over and against .. National power has many components, some tangible, like economic wealth and technical pre-eminence. Other components are intangible – such as moral force, or strong national will. Military forces, when they are strong and ready and modern, are a credible – and tangible – addition to other elements of a nation’s power. When both the intangible national will and those forces are forged into one instrument, national power becomes effective. 
Of all the many policies the citizens of a country need to understand, is the use of military power. Deterrence will work only if the adversaries’ understand the nation’s firm commitment to keeping the peace and a well-informed public that can be expected to stand solidly behind its government decision. The first American President, George Washington, enunciated a policy of peace through strength in his fifth annual message to Congress, the 1793 State of the Union Address. He said: “There is a rank due to the United States among nations which will be withheld, if not absolutely lost, by the reputation of weakness. If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity; it must be known that we are at all times ready for war.” The old truism holds good – a strong military is the best guarantee for peace. Peace through strength or if that failed, peace through threat. 
Alexander Hamilton, writing in the Federalist Papers (September 1787), said that – “it is impossible to foresee or define the extent and variety of national exigencies, or the correspondent extent and variety of the means which may be necessary to satisfy them”. If it was true then one can fathom the complexity of the geopolitical and strategic environment now. Most leaders today often mention of the complex and dynamic geostrategic environment prevailing. Countries are faced with serious indirect challenges to the peace in a spectrum from border wars to proxy wars onto individual terrorist action. While the use of military force to defend territory has never been questioned when a democracy has been attacked and its very survival threatened, most democracies have rejected the unilateral aggressive use of force to invade, conquer or subjugate other nations. The extent to which the use of force is acceptable remains unresolved for the host of other ..



Union Cabinet okays construction of Kartarpur Sahib corridor

Union Cabinet okays construction of Kartarpur Sahib corridor

Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Pakistan. File photo

Tribune News Service
New Delhi, November 22

India will build and develop a corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district to the International Border to facilitate Sikh pilgrims visiting Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur on the banks of the Ravi river in Pakistan, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said on Thursday.

Kartarpur Sahib, located just across the International Border, is the final resting place of Guru Nanak Dev and one of the holiest shrines of Sikhs.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.

New Delhi will also request Islamabad to recognise the sentiments of the Sikh community and develop a corridor with suitable facilities in their territory as well.

“In a landmark decision, the Cabinet approves building and development of Kartarpur corridor from Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district to International Border. Kartarpur corridor project with all modern amenities and facilities to be implemented with Central Government funding,” he said in a series of tweets.

The Kartarpur corridor will provide smooth and easy passage to pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib throughout the year. The Pakistan government would be urged to reciprocate and develop a corridor with suitable facilities in their territory, he said.

A high-powered telescope will be installed along the Indo-Pak border for devotees to view Kartarpur Sahib in Punjab.

The issue of Kartarpur Sahib came into focus after Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu visited Pakistan in August to attend the oath-taking ceremony of his cricketer-turned-politician friend Imran Khan as prime minister of that country.

After his return, Sidhu claimed that Pakistan Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa had told him that Pakistan might open a corridor to Kartarpur Sahib.

The Home Minister said the Union cabinet also decided to develop the historic town of Sultanpur Lodhi as heritage town on smart city principles.

As major attraction for pilgrims and tourists, a heritage complex at Sultanpur Lodhi, ‘Pind Babe Nanak da’ is to be developed to depict times of Guru Nanak. Sultanpur Lodhi railway station will be upgraded and developed.

A centre for inter-faith studies is to be set up at Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar. Chairs on Guru Nanak Dev will be set up in one university each in the United Kingdom and Canada. International seminar on the life and teachings of Guru Nanak will be organised in New Delhi.

Singh said commemorative coin and postage stamps would be released by the government and religious activities organised throughout the country. Doordarshan will telecast programmes on Guru Nanak and Gurbani.

The Ministry of Railways will run a train passing through holy places associated with Guru Nanak.

The Home Minister said states and union territories are being requested to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak in a befitting manner.

The Indian missions overseas will organise special events on the occasion. UNESCO will be be requested to publish Guru Nanak’s writings in world languages. The National Book Trust will publish Gurbani in different Indian languages.

A high-level committee chaired by the Home Minister will regularly review, monitor and oversee the implementation of activities to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. With PTI

 


*KAR CHALE HUM FIDA*…..

Image result for Maj Shaitan Singh Bhati
Today 18 Nov is commemorated by (some in) India as Rezangla Day, in memory of one of the *most stirring battles ever fought*. Last man last bullet is spoken of often but happens ever so rarely. Indian history has Saragarhi and Rezangla among its most well-known. While the former fought in 1897 for the British Indian Army is, perhaps, more remembered because the Brits recognized and spread word about it, the *latter was fought more recently in 1962 against the Chinese, for Independent India, but, alas, remains largely unknown* outside military circles.
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Almost the entire lot of people at the post viz. *114 soldiers (of the 120), of the Charlie company of 13th battalion of the Kumaon regiment, died defending Rezangla hill* about 20 km SE of Chushul, Ladakh at a height of 16500 feet and *repulsed the Chinese attack in this sector*. In the dark and depressing overall scenario of the 1962 war (notwithstanding supreme acts of bravery by individuals and units displayed at many places like that by its sister battalion the 6 Kumaon at Walong in the North East or by Jaswant Singh of 4th Garhwal Rifles at Nauranang, in Tawang, whose anniversary was yesterday. 17 Nov) Rezangla was the bright spot that showed the Chinese (and the World) that India was not the pushover they had imagined.
Details of the battle can be easily googled. Or if you please, read a brilliant piece by reputed military analyst and scholar Mohan Guruswamy on his Facebook post today. Suffice to just give some details. *120 (some reports say 123 or 124) Indian soldiers without artillery support, with most antiquated weapons against almost 5000 Chinese with artillery support and modern weapons. Icy cold weather, snow all around, oxygen in short supply, howling winds. And a battle on*.
Chinese soldiers kept advancing wave after wave even before the Indian soldiers could replenish their stocks and reload the machine guns, The Company Commander Major Shaitan Singh and his Ahir boys kept firing even though they were under a constant barrage of artillery. There was no hope and no way of replenishing their ammunition.
Major Shaitan Singh had two options: Fight to the last man and last bullet, or Abandon Post. The soldiers were tired and bleeding. But their morale was high. They chose to fight on. *Not a single man abandoned his post. Not a single man fled the battle*.
Almost all the Indian soldiers were killed in action (114 of them died, 6 were captured as POWs, of whom one died in captivity and one escaped back to Leh and recounted the tale) versus about 1300 Chinese who died. When their bodies were found later, in Jan of 1963, *many were clutching the triggers of their guns. They had died fighting until the last bullet*. Many had even resorted to fighting with bare hands after they could not use weapons or ran out of ammunition.
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 A Rajput company commander Maj Shaitan Singh Bhatti from Jodhpur leading 120 Ahirs (Yadavs) from the plains of Haryana, of the 13 Kumaon regiment, laid down their lives in the cold and barren mountains of the Karakoram Range. *This is an inspiring India story for you*. Legend has it that Major Shaitan Singh did not want the Chinese army to take control of his body or mutilate it. He was mortally wounded in combat. *He ordered his jawans to hide his body behind boulders*. One of his buddies unslung his rifle, used the sling to tie Major Shaitan Singh’s body to his and rolled down the hill. As the brave Major Shaitan Singh breathed his last, his body was hidden behind boulders. Pse read the accompanying tweet of Major Gaurav Arya, a retired Kumaon regiment officer and now a well known military analyst seen frequently on TV.
Defence analyst and media person Gaurav Sawant, who recently anchored a TV episode on this war (India Today TV Channel) and who has written on this war himself recounted in his Facebook post last year, of the stories his father, a retired Army Brigadier told them.  “My father told us stories of how one soldier, a wrestler, crushed the heads of two Chinese soldiers with his bare hands, when he ran out of ammunition. Another soldier flung himself on two Chinese soldiers and took them down with him as they climbed towards the peak. All this is a part of the military folklore’.
What caused this *exemplary display of bravery and fortitude in most treacherous weather where breathing itself was difficult*. As Mohan Guruswamy puts it aptly “At this altitude it took hours to bring a kettle to boil for tea and whatever fruit and vegetables that came were frozen hard”. And let us not forget that 13 Kumaon was not even acclimatized having been *deployed in Chushul on 24 Oct* in the lull of the Indo China war. *Less than a month later* they were in the middle of a no holds barred battle. To quote Gaurav “The epic battle of Rezang La is the story of unparalleled valour, raw courage and victory buried in the crushing defeat in 1962’. Let us leave it to the management schools and other analysts to make sense of this. Let us simply today celebrate the strategic message they sent out.
On 18 Nov in this battle *seven waves of Chinese attacks were repulsed*. On Nov 21, barely 3 days later the war came to a halt. Surely the Chinese would have imbibed the lessons of Rezangla. If they came in again they would do so at their own peril. As the folklore goes, the Chinese stopped at Rezang La to count their dead and tend to the injured. They lost their will to move forward and retreated. The battlefield was covered in snow.
Why do we say legend or folklore in some descriptions? Simply because initially there was disbelief about what the one person who had escaped (or few survivors) had recounted. There was skepticism too.  It was only in 1963 when the snow had melted and a new battalion returned to Rezang La, (some accounts say a wandering shepherd but that should not matter) that they found the brave soldiers *of 13 Kumaon still in their trenches……Frozen. Finger still on the trigger*. To quote Guruswamy “It was as if the very last moment of battle had turned into a tableau”. This was bravery beyond the call of duty, in the line of fire. *And then, 114 bodies were cremated with full military honours in 1963 at those icy heights*. Brig TN Raina (later COAS), the Brigade Commander of 114 Brigade tasked to defend Ladakh and himself a Kumaon officer led the party that recorded the scenes for posterity and gave us a chance to tell our countrymen what happened that Sunday morning (coincidentally today is Sunday too).
The USMC war memorial inscribed after the battle of Iwo Jima in 1945 ‘uncommon courage was their common virtue’ to describe their marines. Perhaps the same can be said of the Rezangla braves. We have however been more deferential to the idea of service and duty and inscribed in their memorial these lines of *Thomas Macaulay “How can man die better than facing fearful odds, for the ashes of his fathers and the temples of his Gods.”* And this is the bravery that continues to inspire succeeding generations of Indian soldiers.
Maj Shaitan Singh was awarded the Param Vir Chakra, the highest award for bravery. The battalion also got 8 Vir Chakras and 4 Sena Medals for gallantry. 13 Kumaon got the battle honour ‘Rezangla’. Every man who fought that battle deserved a gallantry award though. *However, save some pockets of Haryana the story of Rezangla remains untold and the heroes unsung*. Of course, there has been some focus on this in the recent past. I can recollect excellent accounts by Shekar Gupta and Gaurav Arya (himself a retired officer of the Kumaon Regiment). And last year on this day, there was fair bit of remembrance. This year too over the last few days and from this morning social networks have been active remembering and recounting this battle. *Even so, this is one story that must resonate all over India. It must be told and retold, ballads sung and stories written*.
To get some sense of the poignancy and tragedy, the desolation and desperation and yet through it all human heroism and dignity, do go to you tube and watch one of the most *moving songs ever written and picturised on this war ‘Kar Chale Hum Fida..’ in, arguably, India’s best war movie ‘Haqeeqat’.* With lyrics by Kaifi Azmi, set to tune by Madan Mohan and sung by Mohammed Rafi, it is guaranteed to move you to tears. If there is just one thing you have to do today, please do this. *Read about the battle or atleast watch this song*.
Either way, before the night fades away and brings us the dawn of another day, before we go back to our worldly woes of money and mice, let us today spare a thought for the Rezangla warriors whose unsurpassed *courage will go down as one of the best and greatest examples of ‘last man, last bullet. Let us never forget Rezangla*.
We must also mourn the passing away, yesterday 17 Nov 18, of *Brig Kuldip Singh Chandpuri*, Maha Vir Chakra, VSM, the hero of the *Battle of Longewala, in 1971*. The movie ‘Border’ was made on this battle with Sunny Deol essaying then Major Kuldip Singh Chandpuri. That battle is another must read, must know, must study in Indian annals. Again, 120 infantry men of 23 Punjab against nearly 5000 Paki forces with an armoured regiment of 45 tanks. Happily in this case (though not for those who passed away) our losses were much less and it was part of a winning campaign. Let us hope our countrymen and children, today and in future become aware of such epic battles.

BRO bows to pressure, to reopen Rohtang

When the tunnel is completed, it will cut distance between Manali and Keylong by 46 km and travel time by 2 hrs.

Dipender Manta

Tribune News Service

Mandi, November 21

In the wake of the forcible entry by Lahaul residents into the Rohtang tunnel late on Monday, the BRO has decided to reopen the Rohtang Pass to traffic in a day or two. The authorities have started the snow-clearing operation.

Security has been tightened around the Rohtang tunnel following a major security lapse on the part of the BRO, which failed to prevent the local residents from entering into it.

Nearly 80 persons, including women and children, had entered the tunnel. However, they had covered nearly three-km stretch of the 8.8-km-long tunnel when due to the lack of adequate oxygen, many of them felt suffocated and fell unconscious, prompting the Lahaul administration to begin a rescue operation.

Two of the rescued were taken to Manali. One of them has been referred to the PGIMER, Chandigarh, while the other is recuperating at Manali Mission Hospital. Others were taken back to Lahaul.

Residents of Lahaul had been waiting to reach Manali via the Rohtang tunnel since Monday morning. However, the authorities concerned did not allow them to move till late evening. Irked over this, they forcibly entered the tunnel.

To prevent the recurrence of such incident, the district administration has set up a police post at the north portal of the tunnel to keep a tab on the movement of the locals.

Deputy Commissioner, Lahaul Spiti, Ashwani Kumar Chaudhari said the tunnel was not a safe passage for the common man because of the ongoing construction work. Besides, it lacked adequate oxygen. The people had been informed about it. The Deputy Commissioner said the tunnel was used only in emergency cases.

The Deputy Commissioner said people had been advised to stay calm as the BRO had started clearing snow on the Rohtang. The residents were earlier planning to open the tunnel on their own by hiring machinery. They had even started collecting funds. Since the closure of the Rohtang Pass on November 12, the residents have been facing difficulty while moving between Kullu and Lahaul.

Additional Chief Secretary, PWD, Revenue and Disaster Management, Manisha Nanda said the BRO had started work on the reopening of the Pass on Wednesday.

She said the state government had taken up the matter with the BRO to restore the Rohtang Pass for vehicular traffic to facilitate the people of Lahaul valley. The Pass was officially closed for winter due to the recent heavy snowfall.

Tunnel not a safe passage for commuters, for now

  • The tunnel is not a safe passage for commuters owing to the ongoing construction work. It lacks adequate oxygen.
  • Lahaul residents were planning to open the tunnel by hiring machinery and collecting funds.
  • Bowing to public pressure, the BRO has started clearing snow to open the Rohtang Pass.
  • It is expected to be opened within a day or two.

Border resolution main focus of meet between India, China

NSA Doval to discuss security along LAC, OROP with China’s foreign minister

NEW DELHI/BEIJING: National security advisor Ajit Doval leaves for the city of Chengdu in South-west China on Thursday for the 21st round of Special Representative Dialogues between India and China on boundary resolution.

He will discuss strategic issues with state councillor and foreign minister Wang Yi with the focus on maintaining status quo along the 3,488 kilometre Line of Actual Control (LAC) between the two countries even as India enters an election season that effectively ends only in mid-2019. The crucial SR dialogue is on November 23-24 and, significantly, has been scheduled outside Beijing.

This is Wang’s first talks as China’s designated SR; he took over from former SR Yang Jiechi earlier this year.

The mechanism was put in place in 2003 with the mandate of achieving a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution for the India-China border question at an early date.

The 20th round was held in India last year, the first one after the 73-day standoff between border troops at Doklam (Donglang in Chinese) near the Sikkim border in 2017 was resolved.

While the objective of the dialogue is peace and tranquillity along the LAC, both sides are veering towards the reality that despite claims on territory under occupation by the other side, the best option is “as it is; where it is”.

India claims 38,000 square kilometers land in the Aksai Chin region of Eastern Ladakh with another 5,180 kilometre illegally ceded by Pakistan to Beijing in 1963. China covers 90,000 squarekilometre territory, a large chunk of Arunachal Pradesh or what Beijing calls South Tibet.

The fact is that, the solution to the boundary issue does not lie in historical claims as ancient Indian religious scriptures repeatedly mention unhindered pilgrimage to Mansarover lake in Tibet and the Chinese talk about historical claims to Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh.

According to diplomats based in New Delhi and Beijing, the basic purpose of the dialogue apart from resolution of the vexed boundary issue is to maintain peace along the largely undefined or loosely defined LAC in the Western and Eastern sector.

The two special representatives will stress on continuous military exchanges on the border so that either of side does not take any unilateral steps on the border.

This bilateral assurance is significant to the Modi government as India goes into the general election mode immediately after the ongoing assembly election results come out next month.

“As for the issue of the border talks under the strategic guidance of the two leaders, ChinaIndia relations have maintained sound momentum of growth. The two sides have maintained close communication and coordination in all border-related affairs,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Geng Shuang, said.

“We have properly managed the differences through dialogue and consultation. The border areas on the whole maintained stability,” he said.

Apart from boundary issues, the two special representatives will discuss the security environment in the region and beyond, with councillor Wang expected to stress that China’s belt road initiative through Pakistan is not aimed at India but purely an economic initiative.

India has opposed the BRI in Pakistan from day one as the road passes through occupied Kashmir.

India is aware that China has increased its economic leverage with Pakistan by committing $3 billion as loan to tide over the IMF payment crisis faced by the Imran Khan government with an option of more loans to plug any gap. In this context, Saudi Arabia has committed another $ 6 billion to Pakistan with the hope that Islamabad will use its good offices with Turkey to soft pedal the Jamal Kashoggi killing. The UAE has committed another $ 3 billion.

More trouble for US­Pak ties

This will affect the shaky peace process in Afghanistan

If proof was still needed of the dysfunctional nature of the US-Pakistan relationship, it has come in spades in the past two days, both in the form of spat on Twitter between President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Imran Khan, and Washington’s reiteration of the suspension of $1.6 billion in security aid for Islamabad. Over the weekend, Mr Trump again excoriated

Pakistan for failing to act against al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and for not doing a “damn thing” for the US after receiving billions of dollars in aid. His remarks were part of his criticism of Admiral William McRaven, the Navy SEAL commander who oversaw the raid that resulted in bin Laden’s killing in Pakistan. But it soon led to a very public row with Mr Khan saying that the US should make a realistic assessment of why the Taliban are stronger than before and not make Pakistan the scapegoat for its failures in Afghanistan.

Mr Trump hit back by ruling out further aid, which was followed by Mr Khan’s rejoinder that Pakistan will do what is best for its interests in the face of Mr Trump’s “false assertions”. This was followed by a US spokesman highlighting the denial of security aid since the beginning of the year. Over past decades, Pakistan’s leaders have turned a blind eye to activities of “friendly” jihadis while accepting aid from the US, including funds meant to be used to target some of those same terrorists. The US is not without fault either. For years, it ignored warnings from countries such as India about terror groups operating from Pakistan. But it is also clear Mr Trump’s tough stance, including the suspension of security aid and repeated calls for Pakistan to crack down on terrorists, hasn’t had the desired effect on Mr Khan’s government, which enjoys the complete backing of the military.

Such public spats as the one between Mr Trump and Mr Khan can only point to more trouble for the bilateral relationship, something that will have significant ramifications for the so-called peace process in Afghanistan that the US is trying to put together by reaching out to the already emboldened Taliban.


Air India plans early morning flights between Chandigarh, Delhi

Air India plans early morning flights between Chandigarh, Delhi

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 21

Claiming that Air India intended to restructure flights operating to and from the Chandigarh international airport, the airlines today told the Punjab and Haryana High Court that it planned early morning flights between the city and Delhi for providing connectivity to European flights.

It also told the High Court that it planned “additional capacity” only after the airport was 24-hour functional. The Bench was also told that “Chandigarh-Bangkok” was making losses on a monopoly sector from the start. As such, a decision was taken to withdraw the flight. It added that Air India was in a financial crisis and could not afford to operate loss-making routes.

The High Court was also told that Air India had written to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Civil Aviation seeking permission to operate “hub and spoke” flights from the Chandigarh airport. If granted, it would greatly help Air India provide better connectivity and ease of travel to the people of Chandigarh and adjoining areas.

The spoke-hub pattern is a form of transport topology optimisation in which traffic planners organise routes as a series of “spokes” that connect outlying points to a central “hub”. In an affidavit submitted before the High Court, Meenakshi Malik, executive director, sales and marketing, Air India, said it could introduce a new early morning flight on Delhi-Chandigarh-Delhi sector from January next year.

The flight would depart from Delhi around 7 am and arrive at Chandigarh around 8 am. The departure time from Chandigarh to Delhi would be 8.45 am and the arrival in Delhi would be at 9.45 am. This was subject to regulatory approvals and availability of slots from Delhi and Chandigarh. She said the route would enable passengers from five states adjoining Chandigarh to connect to European flights such as London, Paris, Frankfurt, Birmingham, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Rome, Milan, Vienna and Madrid.

The morning flight would also provide connectivity to Bangkok from Delhi in the afternoon. After the restructuring, the number of flights between Delhi and Chandigarh would be 14 per week from the current seven.

The Bench was also told that the Chandigarh-Bangkok flight was incurring losses from the beginning. Air India continued to operate on this sector, thereby giving enough time for the flight to stabilise and generate revenue. However, it did not happen.


Civilian injured as militants attack Army camp in J&K’s Kulgam

Civilian injured as militants attack Army camp in J&K’s Kulgam

A girl was caught in the crossfire in the Khudwani area when soldiers retaliated forcing the militants to withdraw.

Srinagar, November 22

Militants on Thursday attacked an Army camp in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kulgam district during which a civilian was injured, police said.

A girl was caught in the crossfire in the Khudwani area when soldiers retaliated forcing the militants to withdraw.

The militants managed to escape and the injured was shifted to hospital, a police officer said. IANS


400 paramilitary men die in 3 yrs

New Delhi, November 21

With border guarding force BSF facing the maximum brunt, in the last three nearly 400 paramilitary personnel lost their lives in operations in the country, including firing from across the Indo-Pak border and terrorist and insurgency-related incidences.

A senior Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) official said as per the latest data available, of the total nearly 400 casualties in the line of duty, the maximum (167 personnel) from the BSF were killed between 2015 and 2017. A majority of them lost their lives while guarding the highly sensitive borders in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has lost 103 personnel, mostly while fighting Naxals and militancy in J&K, the MHA official said.

While the BSF lost 62 men in action in 2015, 58 in 2016 and 47 in 2017, the CRPF lost nine personnel in action in 2015, 42 in 2016 and 52 in 2017. As many as 48 personnel of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) were killed in action, the official added.

The SSB guards the Indo-Bhutan and Indo-Nepal border. The troops of the force are also deployed in internal security duties. Sixteen were killed in 2015, 15 in 2016 and 17 in 2017. — TNS