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    Iraqi forces push into streets of Fallujah

    Outskirts of Falluja, May 30 

    Iraqi forces thrust into the city of Fallujah from three directions  under US air support on Monday and captured a police station inside the city limits, launching a direct assault to retake one of the main strongholds of Islamic State militants.

    A Reuters TV crew about 1.5 km from the city’s edge said explosions and gunfire were ripping through Naimiya, a district of Fallujah on its southern outskirts.An elite military unit, the Rapid Response Team, seized the district’s police station at midday, state television reported.The battle for Fallujah is shaping up to be one of the biggest ever fought against Islamic State, in the city where US forces waged the heaviest battles of their 2003-2011 occupation against the Sunni Muslim militant group’s precursors.Fallujah is Islamic State’s closest bastion to Baghdad, and believed to be the base from which the group has plotted an escalating campaign of suicide bombings against Shia civilians and government targets inside the capital.As government forces pressed their onslaught, suicide bombers driving a car and a motorcycle and another bomb planted in a car killed more than 20 people and injured more than 50 in three districts of Baghdad, police and medical sources said.Separately, Kurdish security forces announced advances against Islamic State in northern Iraq, capturing villages from militants outside Mosul, the biggest city under militant control.The Iraqi army launched its operation to recover Fallujah a week ago, first by tightening a six-month-old siege around the city 50 km west of Baghdad.Fallujah, in the heartland of Sunni Muslim tribes who resent the Shia-led government in Baghdad, was the first Iraqi city to fall to Islamic State in January 2014. A Shia militia coalition known as Popular Mobilization, or Hashid Shaabi, was seeking to consolidate the siege by dislodging militants from Saqlawiya, a village just to the north of Fallujah. — Reuters

    Fallujah — An Islamist militant stronghold

    • Fallujah has been a bastion of the Sunni insurgency that fought both the US occupation of Iraq and the Shia-led Baghdad govt that took over after the fall of Saddam Hussein
    • American troops suffered some of their worst losses of the war there in two battles in 2004 to wrest it back from Al-Qaida in Iraq, the insurgent group now known as Islamic State
    • Fallujah is the second-largest Iraqi city still under control of the militants, after Mosul, their de facto capital in the north that had a pre-war population of about 2 million
    • It would be the third major city in Iraq recaptured by the government after Saddam’s home town Tikrit and Ramadi, the capitalof Iraq’s vast western Anbar province

    Islamic State bombings kill 24 in Baghdad

    • A wave of bombings claimed by the Islamic State group targeted commercial areas in and around Baghdad on Monday, killing at least 24 people in attacks that came as Iraqi troops poised to recapture Fallujah
    • The bombings by IS, which has been behind several recent deadly attacks in Baghdad and beyond, are seen as an attempt by the militants to divert the security forces’ attention away from the front lines
    • In an online statement, IS claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying they targeted members of the Shiamilitias and a government office

    Ex-servicemen seek to unite veterans’ bodies::

    Tribune News Service

    Chandigarh, May 29

    A section of ex-servicemen in Punjab today sought to unite various factions of veterans in the state in an endeavour to become a “recognisable force” that could effectively help address their issues and problems and work towards becoming a political player in the long run.“Our immediate aim is to bring all ex-servicemen’s organisations under one umbrella and muster enough strength to enable us to initiate and implement effective measures for welfare of all veterans as well as other sections of the society,” said Col MS Bajwa (retd), general secretary of the Core Group of Ex-servicemen, Punjab, during its plenary session here today.Representatives from several other ex-servicemen’s organisations such as Indian Ex-servicemen’s League, Sainik Ekta Party, Sanjha Morcha and Indian Ex-servicemen Movement too attended the meet.Col Bajwa said there were a large number of such organisations, which are divided and hence not able to do what is required, due to which ex-servicemen or their dependants are running from pillar to post.“At a later stage, we can also consider affiliation with a party which we feel is doing good work in Punjab and can help the cause of ex-servicemen,” he said, adding that a roadmap has been drawn up for spreading awareness at the grass-roots level about the group’s aims and intentions

    NOTE :::BUNDLE OF LIES 

    The above News published in the Tribune is totally false and fabricated and  a white-lie. Not a single member from  Sanjha Morcha attended the meet nor Col MS Bajwa had the decency to intimate/request any of the Core Committee members of Sanjha Morcha.  No Agenda for the meeting was circulated .The meeting was without any fruit full purpose  for welfare of ESM but to garner support for Political purpose and full fill their political ambitions. Sanjha Morcha is above political ambitions and does not ever get involved in petty politics of ESM . Naming Sanjha Morcha is to garner support of ESM and Sanjha Morcha members and fool ESM community.

    Col Charanjit Singh Khera(Retd)

    Gen secy

    Sanjha Morcha

     


    WWII submarine found with 71 dead bodies

    short by Aarushi Maheshwari / 12:22 am on 28 May 2016,Saturday
    A British World War II submarine which vanished 73 years ago is believed to have been found with 71 dead bodies off the Italian coast. The submarine vanished around January 1943, days after leaving Malta to destroy Italian battleships. “We are examining our records to determine whether or not this is a Royal Navy submarine,” the British Royal Navy

    Lt Gen KJ Singh exhorts students to join armed forces

    Lt Gen KJ Singh exhorts students to join armed forces
    Lt Gen KJ Singh, GOC-in-C, Western Command

    Tribune News Service

    Solan, May 26

    In a bid to inspire students from elite public schools to join the armed forces in view of their declining interest towards this profession, Lt Gen KJ Singh, General Officer Commanding in Chief (GOC in C), Western Command, today addressed the students of The Lawrence School at Sanawar and motivated them to choose a career in the armed forces.Delivering a talk on “Leadership – A Way of Life” in the school, he reminisced his days as a trainee at the National Defence Academy where he came across officers from this school and always looked with awe at Sanawar. He inspired the students to opt for a career in the armed forces, which helped in bringing out the cutting edge leadership in an individual.He said,“It is the leadership packaged into a concept called management, which has evolved as an important tool of running corporate sectors in today’s world.”Delving into the essence of the Indian Army, he described it as a secular and apolitical entity, which was living and fighting for the name of the battalion (naam), owing allegiance (namak) to the nation while upholding its honour (flag or Nishaan).He said, “The officers laying down their lives are far more in the Indian Army than other armies, as we are trained to lead from the front.” As future leaders, administrators and business tycoons of the country, he urged the students to employ the soldiers who superannuate at a young age for their sense of loyalty and discipline.He said, “You cannot fool the world, your character should be strong and only then will you be followed by the people. He advised the students to be proactive and realise their aims. He said they should inculcate various qualities like a strong will-power, physical and moral courage, quick decision making, human-relation skills, tolerance for ambiguity, wisdom and vision, equanimity, team-building and apt management skills.He compared the Army to a mobile with dual SIMs of one’s family and regiment, where regiment takes precedence over the family owing to a sense of camaraderie. He concluded his address by saying that “if you want to thank a soldier, be the kind of Indian worth fighting for”.Headmaster Vinay Pandey gave a memento to the GOC in C as a token of appreciation and gratitude.


    Why Modi’s visit to Iran is important for India

    India’s low passion, very cautious, relationship with Iran of the last 36 years awaits transformation, says Lieutenant General Syed Ata Hasnain (retd).

    Prime Minister Modi’s visit cannot be a negotiating event; it is a symbolic one to strengthen the politico-diplomatic relationship.

    External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj greets Iran's External Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Tehran, April 16, 2016. Photograph: MEA/Flickr

    IMAGE: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj greets Iran’s External Affairs Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Tehran, April 16, 2016. Photograph: MEA/Flickr

     

    Informal observers always mention the inevitability of a strong India-Iran relationship due to historic civilisational linkages. However, it takes an effort to tango if a mutual relationship has to be progressed.

    The natural relationship has had many constraints and restraints. As Prime Minister Narendra Modi proceeds for one of his very important foreign visits to Tehran, it is worth reviewing why this relationship has never been a low hanging fruit. It also needs new focus and energy of clear intent to make it happen.

    Iran’s Ambassador in India Gholamreza Ansari, shortly after the lifting of sanctions, spoke at a seminar, words which are likely to be quoted extensively for some years. ‘In my three years as the Ambassador of Iran,’ he said, ‘I have often been advised to be patient on big India-Iran projects. Does India want to wait for centuries before capturing the right opportunities?’ What was preventing the capturing of the right opportunities is important to know.

    When the world was emerging from the Cold War era and a new order was just starting to take shape, Iran was 10 to 12 years into the post Revolution period. Its relationship with the international community and within the Islamic world was under severe strain. The India-Iran relationship was based more on the flow of India’s energy needs and the emotional linkages of the Indian Shia community.

    Iran somehow perceived India closer to Saddam Hussain’s Iraq. The development of closer economic ties with the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries and the flow of Indian labour and managerial talent into them also had its effect in creating a stronger relationship with the Arab nations.

    The flow of oil from Iran never touched the proportions of the potential there was because after the Islamic Revolution and during the Iran-Iraq War, Iran frequently failed to meet India’s volume of requirements.

    On India’s part there was definitely a degree of hesitation to take the relationship to the levels of true potential because after 1991 the end of the Cold War signaled the collapse of the former Soviet Union. The strategic necessity for building a relationship with the United States always haunted India’s desire to move closer to Iran.

    The US had a deep hurt from the events of 1979 and the hostage crisis. That hurt has continued to play a role in the way that the US handled all affairs related to Iran. Especially after Iran embarked on the nuclear path the US ensured the full implementation of its own and United Nations sanctions which effectively blocked the feasibility of normal relationships between Iran and other nations.

    The other nemesis of Iran has been Israel. Iran’s animosity arose out of its desire to be seen as the one leading the pack to wreak revenge on Israel on behalf of the Palestinians. After the 1979 Revolution it began a hate campaign against Israel which makes it today, 36 years later still the chief campaigner.

    In the interim, India and Israel developed a strong enduring relationship on the basis of shared strategic interests. India’s dependence on Israel as a key supplier of military technology and hardware therefore forced it not to push for a warmer than normal relationship with Iran; relations remained essentially transactional.

    However, the above is history and now new opportunities beckon.

    The July 14, 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, normally called the Iran Nuclear Agreement, has lifted sanctions on Iran in return for comprehensive external control on its nuclear programme. It has opened up a stream of nations to seek business in a country which has largely been isolated from the international business world.

    During the sanctions period India continued low key commerce with Iran and purchased oil at lower volumes due to major problems in the payment procedure. That low passion, very cautious relationship of the last 36 years is awaiting transformation and that is what the Iranian ambassador so appropriately mentioned in his speech.

    The last time an Indian Prime Minister visited Tehran: Then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh meets Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Hoseyni Khamenei on the sidelines of the 16th Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Tehran, August 29, 2012.

    IMAGE: The last time an Indian Prime Minister visited Tehran: Then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh meets Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Hoseyni Khamenei on the sidelines of the 16th Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Tehran, August 29, 2012.

     

    Prime Minister Modi’s visit cannot be a negotiating event; it is a symbolic one to strengthen the politico-diplomatic relationship. However, it will be the culmination of some processes which have been going on in the background.

    Everyone’s eyes are on Chah Bahar port which lies in the Sistan Baluchistan area of southern Iran; we should know the geo-strategic and geo-economic reasons for this. Yet, as a starter it is good to be aware that this area has had a running low key insurgency for many years and the Islamic Republican Guard is deployed to counter it.

    The prime minister’s visit is being seen as a big ticket event on Chah Bahar because once embedded here the Indian commercial set-up can finally start looking towards Central Asia, 24 years after the first opportunities arose. Denied access to both Afghanistan and Central Asia by Pakistan these developments are also being closely watched by Islamabad.

    A Transport and Transit Corridors (Chabahar) Agreement was finalised during the second meeting of experts in Delhi on April 11, 2016 and includes Afghanistan within its ambit. This will be a major strategic breakthrough and is to be inked during the visit.

    Once materialised it is bound to enhance the Iran-India-Afghanistan relationship and help the latter in its fledgling trade ventures.

    However, the fact that the infrastructure connecting Chah Bahar inwards and onto the intended areas is either nonexistent or in a poor state will mean that the real worth of the Agreement will take time to materialize.

    There is a need for refurbishment and fresh construction of railway infrastructure and provision of rolling stock which is already underway. This will need stamina, staying power and much convincing for Iran’s continued involvement even in the face of other viable and functional ports at Bandar Abbas and Bandar Khomeini.

    Energy will compete with connectivity as the next big issue.

    With funds in its hands after the de-freezing of its $100 billion in the US Iran should be looking towards participating in big ticket projects which will enhance the quantum of supply of natural gas to India.

    The Iran Pakistan India $7.5 billion pipeline is as good as dead due to Pakistan’s obstinacy. However, there are other projects on the drawing board such as an Iran Oman India undersea pipeline. The Farzad 2 gas fields are likely to be taken up by some Indian companies with a $5 billion to $10 billion investment.

    Here again it is a question of competing technology from the US and other developed countries to exploit Iran’s known reserves. Indian companies will have to give robust competition.

    How will Pakistan and China see these developments in the light of the $46 billion investment that China is making in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor? The idea of isolating India and having an exclusive connect in the region for China is likely to fly in the face if the projects being contemplated fully fructify.

    Perhaps more public sector support to India’s private players may be needed. China will attempt to do everything to prevent this happening and through the proxy of Pakistan which has restive borders in the Chah Bahar region.

    Lastly, an issue for the sidelines of the PM’s visit which must be something India should constantly seek for its viability is the Iran-Israel relationship. There really are no potential mediators. Animosity and antagonism do not last forever. They too are contextual.

    Perhaps, with contexts changing and the common adversary of all being ISIS (Daesh), Iran and Israel have no reason to be adversaries. The Hezbollah question will remain. However, even Israel should be happy to rid itself of the burden of constantly defending itself.

    Perhaps the time for the idea has come and India can play the most positive role in this regard.

    8

     

    Lieutenant General Syed Ata Hasnain (retd) is currently associated with the Delhi Policy Group and the Vivekananda International Foundation.


    Cracks in army over promotion ‘discrimination’

    Published: 15th May 2016 07:55:42 AM

    NEW DELHI: Discontent is simmering within a section of the Indian Army. Miffed over Army Headquarters’ (HQ) submission in the Supreme Court that the Services cadre—which comprises over 20 per cent of the Army—is ‘non-operational’, several officers are refusing to go on operational postings, including to forward and counter-insurgency areas. The Services cadre has nearly 10,000 officers in its strength of 2.6 lakh personnel.

    The Military Secretary Branch, which looks after postings and promotions, is receiving representations from officers of the Army Service Corps (ASC), Ordnance and Electronics and Mechanical Engineers Corps (EME), expressing their reluctance to join their operational field posting by citing Army HQ stand in the apex court calling themselves “non-combatants”. At least eight officers have expressed their inability to go to their field posting.

    Rumblings in the Army is posing a major challenge before strategists such as Rashtriya Rifles, the main counter-insurgency force operating in Jammu & Kashmir and in the Northeast. It has 50 per cent of officers from other arms and the Services cadres.

    “It has never happened earlier. Services’ refusal to go to operational field is a serious threat to the Army’s command and control mechanism. Growing discontent due to division is a matter of concern,” said an official at Army HQ.

    Citing mortality rate of officers during Kargil, officers claim it was 3.17 for every 1,000 men in the Services, while the Infantry’s mortality rate was 2.77. Seven ASC officers were martyred in Kargil.

    The Services also complain that only 27-30 per cent officers are promoted. For Infantry officers, the success rate is 92 per cent. “Chances of poor career growth in the other arms compared to the Infantry is creating rumblings in the Army. Discontent is affecting morale and is is leading to litigations,” an officer told The Sunday Standard.

    It all started when the Army’s 2009 promotion policy was challenged in the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT), calling it “discriminatory” and “rigged” in favour of the two biggest arms, the Infantry and Artillery, by allocating them an unfairly large number of promotion vacancies at the Commanding Officer rank of Colonel. Outraged officers complained to the Ministry of Defence that institutionalised discrimination was made feasible because the last nine Army chiefs were from the Infantry and Artillery cadres.

    Lt Colonel Praveen Choudhary of the ASC, had filed a petition in the AFT to quash the policy as it violated Article 14 of the Constitution.

    Problem: Promotion. The Services cadre complain of injustice, as only 27-30 per cent officers clear the promotion board. For Infantry officers, the success rate is 92 per cent.

     

    Reason: It all started when the Army’s 2009 promotion policy was challenged in the AFT,

    calling it “discriminatory” and “rigged” in favour of the two biggest arms, the Infantry and

    Artillery, by allocating them an unfairly large number of promotion vacancies.


    Traders-defence officilas hold roundtable

    Traders-defence officilas hold roundtable
    An Armyman shows defence equipment to visitors during a exhibition in Panchkula on Monday. Triune Photo: Nitin Mittal

    Chandigarh, May 16

    To encourage the regional industry to harness the opportunity in the manufacture and supply of equipment to the defence sector, a roundtable was organised by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry where senior members of the armed forces and representatives of the industry interacted with each other to chalk out a viable course of action today.Over 200 participants, including defence experts, industrialists and top government officials, attended the event that was held in association with the Western Command and the No.3 Base Repair Depot. Lt Gen KJ Singh, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command, said in the era of competition, the focus should be on raising the benchmark.  Stressing that micro, small and medium enterprises needed to produce quality equipment, he added that there was a dire need to take the Chinese model head-on. Karan Avtar Singh, Additional Chief Secretary, Punjab, gave an insight into the state government’s policy on investment promotion, especially fiscal incentives and one-stop clearance for projects, to encourage investors in the MSME sector.Maj RS Bedi (retd), co-chairman of PHDCCI’s, defence and HLS committee, said the aim of the roundtable series was to explain the procurement procedures and related rules and regulations to the industry, specifically the MSMEs.Rajiv Chib, director, aerospace and defence, PWC, said the “make in India” was an important focus of defence procurement procedure (DPP) issued by the Defence Ministry. Pointing out that as many as 28 offsets contract, valued at $ 6 billion dollars had been signed so far, he added that the MSMEs should be given preference over non-MSMES in the selection of development agencies in case they met the eligibility criteria at any stage. An exhibition of items indigenised by the armed forces was also put up.— TNS   


    BRIG PROMOTION CASE Rs 50 lakh fine on Centre, Army Chief

    Tribune News Service

    Lucknow, May 14

    Taking a serious view of concealment of facts in a case of promotion of a Brigadier, the Regional Bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal has imposed a fine of Rs 50 lakh on the Central government, Chief of Army Staff and the military secretary.The order was passed by a Division Bench of Justice Devi Prasad Singh (judicial member) and Air Marshal Anil Chopra (administrative member) yesterday.A fine of Rs 5 lakh has also been imposed on the original applicant, NK Mehta, for concealment of facts. It has asked the respondents and the applicant to deposit the amount to the Tribunal within two months, which shall be remitted to the Army Centre Welfare Fund.The order adds that after due inquiry, fine should be recovered from the salary or pension of the people who are held accountable for the entire episode.Brig Mehta had filed an application challenging the result of the selection process for the rank of Major General held on October 13-14, 2011, which had recommended the name of Major General RS Rathore.The result was then declassified and declared on June 20, 2012, which was challenged by the applicant.The Tribunal’s order observed that the applicant was not entitled to any relief as he had concealed facts in connivance with the respondents, owing to which the probity of system and standard of selection process could not be maintained.

    Applicant, too, fined for concealing facts

    • Regional Bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal also imposed a fine of Rs 5 lakh on the original applicant,Brig NK Mehta, for concealment of facts
    • Brig Mehta had challenged the result of the selection process for Major General held in 2011, in which the name of Major General RS Rathore was recommended
    • The Tribunal’s order observed that the applicant was not entitled to any relief as he had concealed facts in connivance with the respondent

    Unexploded WW-II shell sparks evacuation

    London: Hundreds of people have been told to leave homes and businesses in the English city of Bath after a 225-kg unexploded World War II shell was found under a school playground. Police evacuated residents for 300 metres around the device, found during construction work at the disused Royal High School. Britain was heavily bombed by Germany’s Luftwaffe during the war, and undetonated explosives are sometimes found during construction work. AP


    F-16 FIGHTER JET SALE Pakistan’s relations with US under stress: Sartaj Aziz

    Pakistan’s relations with US under stress: Sartaj Aziz
    A file photo of Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan Prime Minister””s Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs. — AFP

    Islamabad, May 13

    Pakistan Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz has conceded that relations with the US have been under stress for the past three months because of conditions Washington had attached to the funding of F-16 fighter jets’ sale.The confession was made by the adviser on Thursday while concluding a debate in the Senate on an adjournment motion on the US decision to withdraw proposed subsidy on the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, Dawn online has reported.The adviser said that Pakistan-US relations had come to a standstill in 2011 because of unfortunate incidents, including WikiLeaks and the Abbottabad operation where former Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden was killed.Since 2013, he said Pakistan’s relations with the US had witnessed an “upward trajectory”.”In the past three months, however, this upward trajectory in relations has witnessed a downward slide, as reflected in a decision of the US Congress to block partial funding for eight F-16 aircraft,” he said.Aziz said that the US action might have been caused by concerns raised by Washington on the nuclear issue which had been categorically rejected by Pakistan.The adviser, however, assured the Senate that in view of the importance of the issue, Pakistan is making all-out efforts to finalise the F-16 deal with the US Administration.However, senators have termed the US a friend which could not be trusted anymore.They also criticised the US for expanding its relations with India.