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    OROP war over, veterans want their medals to be returned

    Nearly 20,000 medals were given back during the agitation.

    The long-standing demand for one rank one pension (OROP) in the Indian armed forces was accepted by the Modi government last year. Enroute putting pressure on the government to get their demands approved, many of the decorated war veterans had given up their service medals. But now with OROP implemented, the veterans want their prized medals back.

    According to a Times of India report, nearly 20,000 medals were given back and are currently lying at President Pranab Mukherjee’s office. One of the organisations at the forefront of the agitation was the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM) who has written to the MoD, asking for their medals back. IESM chairman Lt Gen (retd) Raj Kadyan told the daily that he did not consider the unsanctioned portion of the OROP serious enough now, to merit the medals to be still kept with the are still some grievances among a section of the veterans regarding the OROP issue saying that the government hasn’t fully met their demands. But it looks like those are not major enough for army men to part with their treasured medals won after valiantly fighting in the line of duty. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar also said earlier that most of the veterans are happy with the OROP scheme implemented by the government.

    Panel to trim armed forces

    Tribune News Service

    New Delhi, May 20

    The Ministry of Defence has set up an 11-member committee headed by a retired Lieutenant General to suggest major structural changes in the Army, IAF and the Navy, like cutting down on “flab” and reducing day-to-day expenses.This will entail doing away with posts that may have become redundant due to technology and ensuring that modernisation or addition of new equipment does not mean a corresponding rise in numbers for the force.Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has ordered the committee to report in three months. It is headed by Lt Gen BD Sheketkar (retd), its nine other members are retired officers and its member-secretary is a Joint Secretary-level officer. The Tribune had first reported on May 2 that the MoD would set up a panel to reduce flab. The three forces have been consulted and asked to project what all can be done away with.

    New fighter jet may be Rafale, Boeing or Eurofighter

    • The government is yet to decide on which fighter jet will be ‘made in India’. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said it could be the French origin Rafale, the F-18 from Boeing, the Eurofighter from Airbus or the Gripen from Sweden
    • In an interview to the state broadcaster, Parrikar said the decision on the type of multi-role fighter jets would be taken during this financial year

    Warships set sail for S-China Sea for drill with US, Japan

    Ajay Banerjee

    Tribune News Service

    New Delhi, May 18

    Amid tension between China and the US over the dispute in the South China Sea, a flotilla of Indian Navy warships today set sail on a long deployment and a set of exercises with countries that are in dispute with China.The flotilla will also participate in the India-US-Japan Malabar exercise to be hosted by Japan at Sasebo —a port city on the East China Sea —waters of which are contested between Japan and China.The Navy’s eastern fleet, under the command of Rear Admiral SV Bhokare, Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Fleet, sailed out today on a two-and-a-half month long operational deployment to the South China and North West Pacific.Groups of two warships each shall bifurcate from Port Blair onwards and make port calls at Cam Rahn Bay in Vietnam and Subic Bay in The Philippines. On the return, the warships will visit Port Klang in Malaysia.All three countries, along with Brunei and Taiwan, are in a dispute with China over the demarcation of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the sea. The US Energy Administration estimates that 11 billion barrels (bbl) of oil reserves and 190 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of natural gas reserves lie buried under the South China Sea-bed. The US Geological Survey “world petroleum resources assessment” has arrived at as-yet undiscovered estimates of an additional five-to-22 billion barrels of oil and between 70-to-290 Tcf of gas to be under the South China Sea. India has interest in two oil blocks off the Vietnam coast.This is not the first time that the Indian Navy has sent off its flotilla to the South China Sea. The four-ship Indian flotilla will rendezvous somewhere in the South China Sea and set sail for Sasebo—the Japanese port city on the East China Sea. The Malabar exercise will be conducted in the East China Sea. From here, one warship shall be deputed to Hawaii, the headquarters of the all powerful US Pacific Command for a separate set of sea exercises. The remaining three ships will visit Busan in South Korea and Vladivostok in Russia.The warship in Hawaii shall return to India in mid-August while the remaining three will return in July-end after touching base at Malaysia. Indigenously built guided missile stealth frigates, INS Satpura and INS Sahyadri, are part of the fleet.

    China for India in SCO

    • China on Wednesday said it backed the entry of India and Pakistan into the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation
    • It was willing to work with other members to complete the procedures for their accession, it said PTI

    To buy or not to buy: F-16, Pak, US & India

    D. Suba Chandran
    There has been a vitriolic public debate in Pakistani media that includes accusing India for attempting to sabotage the sale of F-16s. What are the issues and where lies the problem? Will Pakistan succeed in getting the F-16s from the US?

    To buy or not to buy: F-16, Pak, US & India
    A file photo of US President Barack Obama with Pakistan”s PM Nawaz Sharif in the White House. REUTERS

    F-16 fighter aircraft have become the latest bone of contention in the volatile Pakistan-US relations. During the last month, there have been a series of statements, demands, counter demands, threats and carrots, both from the US and Pakistan. The sale of eight American F-16s to Pakistan has been plaguing the relations between the countries, primarily due to American demands on Pakistan “to do more in Afghanistan”, differences within the US between the State Department, White House and the Congress, and (more importantly) who would foot the bill for the sale. While the first two seem to be getting addressed since February 2016, the sale is stuck with the last question: Should it be paid by the Pakistanis in full ($700 million) or be subsidised by American aid. Pakistan is willing to pay up to $270 million for the eight F-16s, but wants the rest to be covered by the US Foreign Military Funds. The F-16s, now manufactured by Lockheed Martin, is state-of-art, all-weather multi-role fighter aircraft. Pakistan has placed an order for eight such aircraft, primarily to augment its air power, obviously vis-a-vis India. As a country, Pakistan has every right to structure its threat perceptions and pursue strategies to address them. In case of any military confrontation with India, Pakistan would need a quick strategic push in the initial days/hours; air superiority is essential for such an early but decisive strike vis-a-vis India. Else, the sheer size of Indian military machinery would bulldoze Pakistan in any long-drawn confrontation. If Pakistan has to lose any initial advantage, it would then have to fall back on nuclear options, which is a risky proposition. Pakistan’s need for F-16s is obvious. But the cost of eight F-16s ($700 million) is substantial. While the country’s political leaders and others may have looted Pakistan and stocked the funds offshore, as the Panama Papers would reveal. They do not want to pay for the purchase from their national kitty. (According to Panama Papers, not only political leaders such as Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan have offshore investments, even scientists such as AQ Khan possess them). Pakistan would rather want that the entire sale of eight F-16s from the US to be heavily subsidised by Washington, as part of the American aid to Islamabad, with no conditions attached. From the American side, there are serious questions. First, there is a problem between the institutions. While the State Department would want to go ahead with the deal (by subsidising the sale through the American Foreign Military Fund, so that Pakistan ends up paying only $270 million), the Congress has serious objections. With a Republican majority, the debates within the US Congress in recent years have become nuanced and shrill vis-a-vis Pakistan. They demand accountability from Pakistan in terms of its policies and actions vis-a-vis Afghanistan, and the GHQ-ISI role in the War against Terrorism. Since 2001, during the last 15 years, Pakistan has lost many of its friends in the Congress. It is today seen as undependable. Since the US has substantially invested in Pakistan through military aid, both the Congressmen and the Senators have been repeatedly asking for accountability for the American funds provided and end results in fighting all the militant groups in the Af-Pak region, including the Quetta Shura and the Haqqani network. Obama’s descent (and thereby the White House’s) in the American foreign policy and his disillusionment with Pakistan (as could be observed from some of his recent statements) has not helped Pakistan’s case in the US Congress.Despite this, the US Congress could still be persuaded to support the F-16 deal — meaning subsidise the sale through American aid. For that, the US Congress would want solid promises by Pakistan supported by actions in the ground in fighting all militant groups and helping the US achieve peace in Afghanistan. But for Pakistan, such a “precondition” is unacceptable. It wants the F-16s. And it wants them to be subsidised by US aid, with no conditions. As a response, Pakistan is pursuing a strategy that would only further rupture its relations with the US. First, there is an un-informed debate (perhaps purposefully fuelled), based on Pakistan’s national pride and sacrifices in the War on Terrorism. A section tries to project that the US is trying to “get” Pakistan and make it subservient to Washington’s regional strategy. The following is from an editorial in a leading newspaper: “Pakistan is expected to deliver peace in Afghanistan, allow Balochistan to secede and accept Indian hegemony and it is expected to do so meekly and immediately.” There have also been reports linking India to have played a role in scuttling the deal. One of the leading newspapers in its editorial cartoon, projected Modi as a bigger anaconda and Obama as a smaller viper, saying “yes boss”. Such projections and “back- stabbing” narratives will further increase the anti-American sentiments. Perhaps, it is a calculated assault to convince the “naive” Americans that they have to do something to arrest the anti-American sentiments. Else, the jihadis will cash in on these.Second, as Sartaj Aziz proclaimed that Pakistan would look elsewhere, if the US blocks the deal. According to him, “If the US arranges funds, Pakistan will get the F-16s from them, otherwise we will opt for jets from some other place.” True, there are other options for Pakistan — France and Russia — but will they help Pakistan by subsidising? Sukhoi can be a replacement for F-16, but will the Russians be willing to sell at a subsidised cost? Or, will China be able to underwrite?The best option for Pakistan will be to provide few promises silently to the US, and take fewer military actions at the ground level. And to use those friendly elements in the State Department to convince the US Congress that Pakistanis are doing enough, so the sale could be subsidised or perhaps, bargained further. This is the most likely scenario. Unless, the US Congress backed by an increasingly hostile media (vis-a-vis Pakistan), scuttles the deal completely. That means an entire different scenario, with a tougher road ahead for US and Pakistan.The writer is a Professor at National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bangalore.

    We are wise enough to resolve border dispute with India: China to US

    Beijing, May 16

    We are wise enough to resolve border dispute with India: China to US

    Asking the US to respect the efforts by China and India to resolve their boundary dispute peacefully, a top Chinese official on Monday said the two nations are wise enough to deal with it after the Pentagon accused Beijing of deploying more troops along the Sino-India borders.

    “The Chinese side is committed to safeguarding peace and tranquility of the border areas between China and India and resolving the boundary question through negotiation with India,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a written response to PTI here about a Pentagon report alleging that Beijing has increased defence capabilities and deployed more troops along the borders with India.

    The US military report also warned of increasing Chinese military presence in various parts of the world, particularly in Pakistan.

    “China and India are wise and capable enough to deal with this issue. It is hoped that other country would respect efforts made by China and India for the peaceful settlement of dispute, rather than the opposite,” the Foreign Ministry said, apparently referring to the US.

    US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for East Asia Abraham M Denmark had said that “we have noticed an increase in capability and force posture by the Chinese military in areas close to the border with India.” “It is difficult to conclude on the real intention behind this,” Denmark said on Saturday after submitting Pentagon’s annual 2016 report to the US Congress on ‘Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China’.

    “It is difficult to say how much of this is driven by internal considerations to maintain internal stability, and how much of it is an external consideration,” he said in response to a question on China upgrading its military command in Tibet.

    Yesterday, the Chinese Defence Ministry expressed “strong dissatisfaction” and “firm opposition” to the Pentagon report which also alleged that China is focusing on the militarisation of the artificial islands built by it in the disputed waters of the South China Sea in a bid to assert its control.

    Skirting any references to allegations of increasing troops presence along the Sino-India border, the Defence Ministry accused the Pentagon’s annual report as misrepresentation of China’s military development.

    The US, which has accused the Chinese military of lacking in transparency, deliberately distorted China’s defence policies and unfairly depicted China’s activities in the East China Sea and South China Sea, a statement issued by Chinese Defence Spokesman Col Yang Yujun said.

    “China follows a national defence policy that is defensive in nature. Moves such as deepening military reforms and the military buildup are aimed at maintaining sovereignty, security and territorial integrity, and guaranteeing China’s peaceful development,” Yang said, adding that the US side has always been suspicious.

    Yang stressed China’s construction on the Nansha Islands in the South China Sea serves mostly civilian purposes and helps fulfil its international responsibilities and obligations by providing more public goods.

    The South China Sea has become a major flash point for military tensions between China and the US in recent years as Beijing which claims sovereignty over all most all of the South China sea sought to assert its claim by building artificial islands with military facilities.

    The Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan contested China’s claims.

    Backing the small states, the US has so far sent three warships through the waters around the artificial islands to asset the right for freedom navigation.

    In his statement, Yang said it is the United States which has been flexing military muscles by frequently sending military aircraft and warships to the region. — PTI

    China flexing muscle around India, Pak: Pentagon report

    WASHINGTON: China has deployed more troops and enhanced military capabilities along the border with India, a top US military official said in an assessment that suggests Beijing is ramping up its geo-political ambitions in the region.

    PTI FILEIndian and Chinese soldiers at the ceremonial Border Personnel Meetings (BPMs) in Jammu and Kashmir.In an annual report to the Congress on military and security developments in China, the US department of defense noted that tensions remained along disputed portions of the Sino-Indian border and that Beijing is continuing with the trend of “conducting submarine deployments to the Indian Ocean”.

    The report also said that Chinese officials are also eyeing logistics hubs in friendly countries such as Pakistan to bolster long-range naval deployments.

    “And as the report details, we have noticed an increase in capability and force posture by the Chinese military in areas close to the border with India,” Abraham M Denmark, deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia, told a news conference held in Washington on Friday after the 2016 report was submitted to Congress.

    “China most likely will seek to establish additional naval logistics hubs in countries with which it has a longstanding friendly relationship and similar strategic interests, such as Pakistan, and a precedent for hosting foreign militaries,” it said.

    The report further noted that “India’s nuclear force is an additional driver behind China’s nuclear force modernisation”.

    Denmark acknowledged it was difficult to determine how much of China’s military decision-making is influenced by the border dispute with India and resultant tensions.

    The report noted that tensions remained between China and India along their 4,057km border over Arunachal Pradesh, which Beijing claims is part of Tibet, and the Askai Chin region despite an increase in bilateral political and economic ties.

    The report said China had continued to conduct submarine deployments to the Indian Ocean in 2015, “ostensibly in support of its counter-piracy patrols”.

    The department of defense contended the submarines were probably “conducting area familiarisation, and demonstrating an emerging capability both to protect China’s SLOCs and to increase China’s power projection into the Indian Ocean”.


    JKLF opposes Sainik Colony

    JKLF opposes Sainik Colony
    JKLF chairman Yasin Malik

    Tribune News Service

    Srinagar, May 13

    Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik said today that his party would not allow the establishment of Sainik Colony and composite townships for Pandits in Kashmir valley.“JKLF will not allow the establishment of Sainik Colony in Kashmir, be it for state subjects or non-state subjects,” Malik told reporters here.“We have one lakh police personnel in the state. The government allows them to stay in police colonies up to the age of retirement. However, after their retirement, they move to their personal homes,” said Malik.On proposed composite townships for Pandits in Kashmir, Malik alleged the government was planning the townships “on the pattern of Israeli settlements in Palestine”. He said Pandits are a part and parcel of Kashmir but settling them in separate colonies will not be allowed.

    Bigger scam than Agusta? UPA govt allowed inferior steel in Indian Naval ship

    India Today exposes a bigger scam than the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal. The government has ordered inquiry into alleged favours given by the previous UPA government to an Italian shipbuilding firm which provided two naval tankers to India.

    In what could be a scam bigger than the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal, the government has ordered a probe into alleged ‘favours’ done by the previous Congress-led UPA government in awarding defence contract to an Italian shipbuilding firm. The naval scam could have far bigger implications than the Agusta deal.

    According to exclusive details available with India Today, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has ordered a “discreet inquiry” into the alleged naval tanker scam.

    The Indian Navy has two fleet tankers INS Deepak and INS Shakti, that provide the Indian Navy’s frontline warships with fuel, water and all other essentials while out in the sea. But the deal signed in 2009 to acquire them is now under scrutiny.

    A serving ‘whistleblower’ naval officer has now raised a red flag over the way these ships were acquired from an Italian firm – Fincantieri.

    What’s the scam
    1. Italian firm – Fincantieri – reportedly favoured by the UPA government. The company won deal from the government for two naval tankers in 2009.

    2. The UPA government approved use of inferior quality of steel in the naval tankers manufactured by the firm.

    3. The government is now scrutinising details of the contract awarded to the Italian firm.

    4. The lid over the scam has been blown off by a former naval officer who has demanded an investigation into the 2009 purchase of two fleet tankers, crucial for Indian Navy’s deep water capabilities.

    5. These tankers had to be bought in 2009 and 2011 because INS Vikramaditya, Indian Navy’s biggest aircraft carrier, was coming on from Russia.

    6. At that time, the then Defence Minister AK Antony had hailed this as one of the fastest procurements of a fleet tanker manufactured with Indian specifications.

    7. There are allegations that instead of using weapons grade steel, commercial grade steel was used.

    8. When one of the tankers was coming to India from Russia escorting INS Vikramaditya, it ran into rough seas and hull of the brand new ship developed cracks.






    Colonel Amresh Bhatnagar(Retd) was commissioned in Regiment of Artillery in Dec 1975.He has varied experience in Command and Staff and has been instructor in School of Artillery.He commanded 43 Field Regiment in both peace and J&k.He has been working as GM in manufacturing company at Nashik since Feb 2009 after superannuation.

    Border farmers train guns on BSF

    Manmeet Singh Gill

    Tribune News Service

    Amritsar, May 10

    Thousands of farmers tilling around 20,000 acres of land across the barbed fence on the India-Pakistan border in the state are paying the price for heroin smuggling by a few anti-social elements as they do not get ample time to tend to their crops. Even they are seen with the eye of suspicion, their demands for relaxation in time and norms are met with disdain.The agitated farmers have now decided to initiate protests against the BSF from June 1. The farmer representatives from six districts — Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Gurdaspur, Pathankot, Ferozepur and Fazilka — after a meeting here today said though rules allowed them to work in their fields from 8 am to 5 pm, these were seldom followed by the BSF.“The BSF officials allow farmers to go to their fields from 10 am to 2:30 pm only. On Sundays and other holidays, besides foggy days, farmers are not allowed there,” said Makhan Singh of Rajatal village, near here.Another farmer Bir Singh of Kakkar village, near Ajnala, said: “Even a lot of time is wasted in checking and completing formalities. Further, all entry gates are not opened regularly. As a result, the farmers had to waste a lot of time in reaching their fields.”Talking about a few arbitrary decisions of the BSF, farmers complained that while tractors were allowed, animal-pulled carts were restricted. The farmers use carts to bring fodder for animals.“Rules say that crops higher than 4 feet are not allowed but the BSF also objects to crops such as potato, turmeric or other such crops which do not reach 4-m height. The arbitrary decisions taken at the local level result in harassment of farmers,” said Rattan Singh Randhawa of the Border Area Sangharsh Committee, which is spearheading the movement.Ramesh Wadera of Fazilka said: “At some places along the border, the fence is around 4 km on the Indian side. A final solution to the problem could be in shifting the fence further towards the Pakistan side so that we do not have to cross to the other side.”A three-member high-power committee constituted by the state government after intervention of the high court had visited border areas in February 2014. The committee in its report had also mentioned problems faced by farmers with regard to restrictions imposed by the BSF on entry timings and closure of gates.“The fact that the committee was constituted on government orders and it had submitted the report listing all problems we are discussing today, is enough to establish that the government already knows about the hardships. But still it has failed to intervene to find any solution,” said Kabal Singh Rajoke, another prominent leader of farmers.