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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sino-India ties: A glimpse

*1962: Sino-Indian War; China seized Aksai Chin and overran Arunachal Pradesh.
*1967: There were two skirmishes between Indian and Chinese forces in Sikkim. The first one was dubbed the 'Nathu La incident,' and the other the 'Chola incident.'
*1986-87: Chinese and Indian forces clashed in Arunachal Pradesh
*1988: Relations began to thaw. India and the People's Republic of China agreed to broaden bilateral ties in various areas, working to achieve a "fair and reasonable settlement while seeking a mutually acceptable solution" to the border dispute.
*1993: Prime Minister Narasimha Rao and Premier Li Peng signed the border agreement.
*1998: Sino-Indian relations hit a low point following India's nuclear tests in May. George Fernandes declared that "China is India's number one threat", hinting that India developed nuclear weapons in defense against China's nuclear arsenal.
*2004: The two countries proposed opening up the Nathula and Jelepla Passes in Sikkim which would be mutually beneficial to both countries.
*2006: China and India re-opened Nathula, an ancient trade route which was part of the Silk Road.(HINDUSTAN TIMES)

Hidden dragon,crouching tiger

Ashok K Mehta

The most recent Chinese intrusion last week in Chamoli by the People’s Liberation Army has been denied by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police manning the border. On the India-China border, there is neither an international boundary nor even a mutually recognised demarcation of the border. Instead there are two Lines of Actual Control — one Chinese, the other Indian. Confusion is understandable though clearly the PLA has adopted a more aggressive posture on the border.

India-China relations are characterised in three ways. Fine, moving in the right direction; hot economics, cold politics — stuck on border disputes though China is India’s largest trading partner; rapidly deteriorating, verging on a pre-1962 scenario. Overall the view of India’s stance is one of appeasement, diffident diplomacy and criminal neglect of the border infrastructure and modernisation of the military. The PLA, not the civilian establishment, is calling the shots, delaying resolution of the border dispute till India will accept a solution on China’s terms.

The latest border intrusions across China’s version of the LAC in the western sector is in a brand new area. Despite the Army usually playing down such forays, the Chinese have described Indian allegations as ‘groundless and based on incidents which never happened’. Fruitless border negotiations have been on since 1981.

From 1981 to 1987, there were eight rounds of negotiations followed by 14 meetings of a Joint Working Group, supported by boundary experts, from 1988 to 2002. Thirteen rounds of a higher political dialogue of Special Representatives from 2003 to date have been equally barren.

The two sides attempted demarcation of LAC and exchanged maps on the central sector. But the Chinese abandoned the exercise in favour of a political solution. Here too, they reneged on ‘political parameters and guidelines’ that required not disturbing settled population centres and ensuring the dialogue on the border issues stayed in limbo. Masking its failure, the Special Representatives expanded the scope of their biannual meeting to incorporate strategic issues. In short, the border talks have hit another cul de sac.

Since Premier Chou En-lai offered a status quo — the famous swap deal of Arunachal Pradesh for Aksai Chin in 1960, the Chinese position has been hardening. The stance stiffened in 2005 due to India’s growing economy and stature, ‘Look East’ policy and Indo-American strategic partnership, among other reasons. The Tibetan uprising in 2008 and riots in Xinjiang in 2009 have fanned Chinese insecurity. The PLA, which enjoys considerable autonomy, is not prepared for any compromise on the border issue.

Chinese strategy has been one of buying time and peace on the borders through Treaties of Peace and Tranquillity (1993) and Confidence Building Measures (1996) which enabled modernisation of the economy and the PLA. As the satisfied power, China has sought and achieved status quo in the west by adding depth to Aksai Chin; India, which wants status quo in the east, is having to reassert its claim to Arunachal Pradesh which the Chinese have systematically undermined beginning 2006 and coinciding with the India visit of President Hu Jintao.

While the Chinese have developed infrastructure and military capacity to break the status quo in the east, India has allowed the asymmetries in deterrence to grow and lost the cutting edge to retake Aksai Chin. With the military and strategic balance in favour of PLA, China will further delay any border settlement till it can secure concessions in Arunachal Pradesh, at the very least Tawang, which will give it the equivalent of another Chumbi Valley.

Some Indian commentators are painting scare scenarios of PLA seizing Tawang next month or latest by 2012, all of Arunachal Pradesh. This is bizarre. The PLA will follow Chairman Mao’s dictum of winning the war without fighting it. True, the PLA has the capacity to mobilise 20 to 25 divisions in one campaigning season but despite India having serious catching up to do, it will be no cakewalk as in 1962. Last month, the PLA began its largest military manoeuvre: Exercise Stride, involving four divisions of 50,000 soldiers. This two-month long operation entails testing PLA capability of inter-theatre switching of forces.

Coping with the impressive modernisation of PLA will require significant transfer of resources from west to east and consolidation of existing capacities in Eastern Command. The capabilities being created now to meet the PLA challenge were envisaged in 1985 in the 15-year Long Term Perspective Plan. A Strike Corp for the east (including one airborne division) was mooted then but not sanctioned. Economic factors trumped security imperatives even as the Wangdung incident clearly demonstrated that the PLA appreciated strength rather than timidity.

A number of senior military officers including the former Air Force and Navy Chiefs have lamented the lack of strategic orientation to cope with PLA military superiority. Curiously both these officers went public about our operational deficiencies on the eve of their retirement. The Chiefs of Staff are also culpable in the neglect on the China front and preoccupation with Pakistan.

Meanwhile, a media war and barbed exchanges between Chinese and Indian intellectuals have vitiated border tensions. Chinese thinkers are saying that India is no match against their country’s comprehensive national power and this time there will be no military withdrawal like in 1962 and certainly no concessions on the border dispute. In a lengthy essay one of them suggested breaking up India into 30 pieces. According to them there cannot be two suns in the same sky.

Distrust and misinformation are at a new high. Air Chief Marshal Fali Major said: “We know so little about China.” We are forever downplaying Chinese threats; diffidence and appeasement characterise our responses. A China admirer, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh once said, “I wish India could be like China”. India has no long-term policy to deal with the so-called peaceful rise of China.

While keeping its powder dry, India needs to be firm and more assertive on the border dispute, seeking a time limit for its resolution. The Dalai Lama has said that Tawang belongs to India. When he goes there in November this year after being refused permission on an earlier occasion, he could say: Tawang is an integral part of India.(PIONEER)

China complying with consensus to maintain peace along LAC

Amid reports of Chinese border incursions and cross-border firing, China on Tuesday said that it was "strictly" abiding by the "consensus" reached with India to maintain peace along the disputed boundary.

"The Chinese and Indian Governments have reached consensus on border issues -- that is the two sides will jointly strive to safeguard peace in the region before final settlement," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu said at a biweekly press briefing.

"China has always strictly abided by the consensus," she said.

Responding to a query on a report that two Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel were injured by bullets fired from the Chinese side along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Sikkim two weeks ago, Jiang said "I have replied to this question earlier. For more details, you may contact the concerned department."

At the same time, she said that some Indian media outlets were releasing "inaccurate information."

"It's hard to understand some Indian media's purpose when they publish reports that are not accurate," she said and hoped that the Indian media will do more to contribute to improvement of Sino-Indian relations.

At the latest round of boundary talks in August, China and India agreed the two countries should push forward the talks process and seek a just and fair formula to solve problems acceptable to both sides.

Last week, China had brushed aside reports of its border guards having intruded into Ladakh and painted boulders and rocks red there.

At that time, Jiang had dismissed the reports of border intrusions as "groundless and incorrect."

India says China is illegally occupying 43,180 sq kms of Jammu and Kashmir, including 5,180 sq km illegally ceded to Beijing by Islamabad under the Sino-Pakistan boundary agreement in 1963. China accuses India of possessing some 90,000 sq km of Chinese territory, mostly in Arunachal Pradesh.(PIONEER)

Move to speed up strategic roads on Sino-Indian border

Environmental clearance had held up construction so far

Construction of 6,000 km of roads proposed
Sino-Indian border a very eco-sensitive zone

NEW DELHI: The Union Government has begun review of 70 strategically important roads along the Sino-Indian border. Their construction has been held up on account of delay in environmental clearance.
Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh held a meeting with the Minister of State for Defence M.M. Pallam Raju. It was decided to jointly review the progress in three categories of projects – cleared, in principle approved and where the compliance report is pending – to give them a push.
Construction of roads covering 6,000 km. at a cost of Rs. 4,600 crore is proposed in Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Over half of these roads are to be built and nearly a score in Uttarakhand. Some of them were approved in 2000-2001.
An officer from the Forest Service would be deputed to the Border Roads Organisation, to oversee building of these roads for the Army, Indo-Tibetan Border Police and others.
Mr. Ramesh had earlier taken up the matter with Defence Minister A.K. Antony and the Monday’s meeting was to work to remove the roadblocks.
Strategic importance
While aware of the strategic importance of these roads, the Environment Ministry is concerned over the protection of ecology, especially in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim.
The Ministers decided that a joint team would visit both Itanagar and Gangtok to take stock of the pending projects over the next three weeks and place a report before their meeting on October 5, where the progress would be reviewed.
Mr. Ramesh said areas along the Sino-Indian border are one of the most eco-sensitive zones of the country.
Mr. Raju said in most cases the State Forest Departments have to clear diversion of forest land that do not form part of the protected areas, and only then the Centre can proceed with road construction.(HINDU)

Tackling left-wing extremism requires nuanced strategy

New Delhi: Observing that left-wing extremism required a nuanced strategy as it could not be treated simply as a law and order problem, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the movement managed to retain the support of a section of the tribals and the poorest of the poor in many areas. Dr. Singh was speaking at the annual conference of Directors-General and Inspectors-General of Police here.
“It has influence among sizeable sections of civil society, the intelligentsia and the youth. It still retains a certain √©lan. All this adds to the complexity of the problem.”
Violence in northeast
Noting that the situation in the northeast was far from comfortable, he said the levels of violence in Assam and Manipur were cause for concern. “Extortion, intimidation have become a menace across most of the States in the region.”
Dr. Singh suggested that police chiefs from the region ensure firm but compassionate handling of law and order matters while insisting on higher levels of professionalism by the force.
‘New-age’ policeman
Unveiling his vision of a “new-age” policeman who was more professional, better-motivated, suitably empowered and well-trained, Dr. Singh said such a policeman would place greater emphasis on technology for investigation and other tasks. “Emphasis should be on capacity building from the police station level itself, so that the police is better equipped.”
The Central and State governments should take quick action to strengthen policing at the grass roots. The country needed a far higher number of policemen to improve the present low ratio of 145 policemen per lakh people. As a first move, urgent steps should be taken to fill the large number of vacancies at various levels, he said.
“Each police station should aim at being self-sufficient and needs to be given the required resources in terms of anti-riot gear, better weapons, the nucleus of a mobile forensic unit and be connected to a networked criminal database management system.”
The Prime Minister wanted every city to have a modern police control room with digitised maps and said this could be done only by modernising the force.
Emphasising the critical importance of training for policemen, he said that on average an officer was retrained only once in about 20 years. This was totally inadequate and must be rectified.(HINDU)

IAF recruitment rally from tomorrow

The Indian Air Force is organising a recruitment rally for group "X" (Technical) trades and group "Y" (for auto technician, ground training instructor and Indian Air Force (Police) trades at Armed Force Ground, Chirhula, Rewa from September 17 to September 22. Unmarried males of Sheopur, Morena, Bhind, Gwalior, Shivpuri, Guna, Gwalior, Ashoknagar, Datia, Sagar, Damoh, Panna, Chhatarpur, Tikamgarh, Rewa, Singrauli, Sidhi and Satna may take part in selection test. The recruitment test will be conducted from 7.00 am onward everyday. The recruitment test is not for selection as officers, pilots or navigators.
The candidates aspirant to participate in should have passed 10+2 with pass marks in mathematics and physics with a minimum of 50 percent marks in over all aggregate or should have passed a three-year diploma course in engineering (mechanical/ electrical/ electronics/ automobile/ computer science/ instrumentation technology/ information technology) with at least 50 per cent marks from a government recognised polytechnic institute.
Similarly, for Auto Tech, GTI and IAF (Police) trade candidate should have passed 10+2 with science, arts, commerce subjects or equivalent vocational courses with minimum 50 percent marks in aggregate. Candidate should be born between July 01, 1988 and September 30, 1992.
As per the job specification, group "X" (Technical) trades involves technical jobs like maintenance of Radar, aircrafts, missile, weapon, communication system etc. While under group "Y" trades, automobile technician will service, maintain and drive all types of vehicles, cranes and automobiles. The ground training instructor will train personnel on drill parade, deal with handling of arms and physical exercise and organize all games and sports activities. The candidate selected as Indian Air Force (Police) will do police duties and investigate cases of offences. (CENTRAL CHRONICLE)

ID cards for coastal residents

MANGALORE: The 26/11 terror attacks on Mumbai has expedited the Union government's move to create a National Population Register (NPR) for residents in coastal areas. The attack clearly exposed India's vulnerability along the coast. NPR entails issuing identity (smart) cards to citizens as one of the measures to strengthen security in coastal areas. This NPR project will be implemented in 208 coastal villages in three coastal districts of the state by January 2010.

The initial schedule for NPR was to roll it out along with house listing activity for general census of 2011 planned for April/May 2010. However, the Centre has since advanced this schedule, with a plan to complete the same by January next in wake of the terror attacks on Mumbai, according to T K Anil Kumar, Director of Census Operations, Karnataka. "NPR assumes importance for security reasons that are important for India," he said.

Chairing a meeting with officials concerned here on Tuesday, Kumar said NPR is a move to collect basic data of all residents of villages along the coast, and those abutting the backwaters. "We have identified 208 such villages in Karnataka, including 129 in Uttara Kannada, 68 in Udupi, and the rest in Mangalore taluk of Dakshina Kannada," he said. The smart card under NPR will have the photo and biometric details of individuals.

While Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, West Bengal, and Andhra Pradesh have already started the work on NPR, Kumar said, Karnataka and Maharashtra would put their operations on full stream from October. NPR will cover coastal villages, and coastal `towns' as per the definition laid down in the Census manual will be taken up later, he said. While all above 15-years will be covered under NPR, cards will be issued to only those above 18-years.

Government departments including police, fisheries, public instruction, revenue, coastal security police, and the Indian Navy by virtue of powers vested in them, and manpower available, will have a pivotal role to discharge in preparation of NPR spread over various stages. This includes fieldwork for enumeration of households in villages, data gathering (biometrics) and taking of photographs as a precursor to issuing the cards under NPR.

Deputy commissioner V Ponnuraj clarified that smart card to be issued under NPR is not a citizenship card, but a basic document to identify a person as a usual resident of a village. The data generated under NPR at some point in future could converge with efforts of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to generate a unique number for each citizen of the country and the data generated here will be shared with UIDAI for their purpose.

Kumar impressed on the officials that the task they will be embarking on from September 23 will not be easy and there will be lot of coordination issues to be sorted. An order (RD 20 ETC 2009 Bangalore dated September 9) issued by H V Parswanath, secretary to government, revenue department lists out roles and responsibilities of officers involved in the process, and mentions about payment of suitable honorarium to all field functionaries.(TOI)

The tension between Delhi and Beijing increases in the Kingdom of Cindia

New Delhi (AsiaNews) - While the world places its hopes in the kingdom of Cindia (the union of the Indian and Chinese markets), in order to overcome the global economic crisis, there seems to be an increasing differences between the two Asian giants. Certainly, the competition between India and China goes back a long way: and was related to the boundaries and military differences. But lately, with their entry in the international commercial and business field, Delhi and Beijing have begun to have many differences regarding a number of problems.
In the last few weeks there have been various reports regarding the Chinese military violating the boundaries, the last on the 13th of September in the northern state of Uttarkanth. The Indian government tries to downplay this in order to keep away from the spotlights reasons for tensions and not give the opposition a chance for criticizing. But the facts demonstrate that along the so called Line of Control (LOC), the two armies not only control each other. Today the Indian army reported  that 2 officials from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police have been injured during clashes with the Chinese military along the borders in Sikkim. This incident occurred on the 30th of August and is a indicator of the disorienting situation.
The map of India was drawn by the British officers when China was a subdued nation. The British had their own interest in putting the demarcations of the boundaries as outer as possible. When they left, India inherited  the boundaries of a “conquered” empire.
As soon as the Chinese communist army was in a position to affirm their rights, in 1962, they invaded from the north-east and India was not prepared to stop them. From that bitter experience, the India of the non-violent Gandhi, was compelled to start the arms race till the atomic bomb in 1974. Since kilometers of these boundaries  are on the high mountains of Himalaya it is very difficult to demarcate them and still more difficult to keep them under control. This explains the continuous clashes between the two armies.
In last few years the conflict has increased between the two countries. India and China differ strongly on many issues: - their respective position at the WTO (World Trade Organisation) – export of Chinese toys to India – competition in African markets and resources – China’s less transparent deals with Islamabad – support to the Dalai lama and Tibetan cause – Chinese firms’ investments in certain sectors in India – issuing visas to Indian businessmen.
The latest argument is about the planned visit of the Dalai lama to the state of Arunachala Pradesh and the deployment of fighter planes, Sukhois, in Tezpur. Arunachala has a good number of Buddhist population and that justify the visit of the Dalai lama, but China consider this land as part of Tibet and so of China. For this reason India plans to be ready to defend it. Now that Pakistan is busy fighting terrorism on the Afghan border, India con redeploy his fighter planes on the East. To keep the North-East border safe from hostile forces, a full complement of MKI variant of the Su30 warplanes will be deployed at the Tezpur airbase in Assam by October. This will be followed by a further deployment at the Chabua base in eastern Assam and also at Bagdogra in West Bengal.
This competition is bound to increase now that both of them, Chindia,  had become the driving engines of the financial recovery after the great economic crisis. A showdown is on the cards now that India knows that Chinese-made toys have captured at least 60% of India’s market. Can two countries competing for the same slot of Asian superpower and future world power ever be good neighbours and trusted business partners?
The common feeling in India is that China is encircling India from Pakistan to Myanmar, from Malacca and Colombo. Indians fear that China wants to flood the Indian market with cheap products, probably made by prison labour.
In January India imposed a six month ban on the import of Chinese toys and China threatened to drag India to WTO for “unfair trade restriction”. Indian traders, particularly the small ones, are worried about Chinese toys. “Now they are making even traditional Indian things like Ganesha. Their products are cheaper and sturdy. We have no chance of competing with them” said Prakash Bansal, a Delhi based toymaker whose business had suffer huge losses recently.
It is well-known that China’s communist bosses have always regarded India’s democracy with contempt. But Indian leaders believe that in the long run democracy will prevail and when the taste of freedom will take place among the Chinese people the stability of Chinese establishment will suffer and turmoil will slow down the economic growth.  Another big advantage is the knowledge of the English language that India has inherited from the British era.
The ideal recipe  for an ideal cooperation will be to complement each other as it is already happening: the hardware for computer are mainly produces in the Chinese world, while the software are mainly produces in India or by Indians in the silicon valley. Could it be the model for the future?(ASIANEWS)

Army deserter-turned-thief arrested in Jammu

Jammu, Sep 15 (IANS) The Jammu and Kashmir police Tuesday arrested an Indian Army deserter, who had turned to stealing building material from construction sites in the state and in Punjab to sell off cheaply in the market, from the outskirts of Jammu city.
The army and police had been looking for Gurbachan Singh alias Sonu, who had joined the Army’s Jammu and Kashmir (JAK) Rifles in 2003 but deserted his unit in 2007. He took leave in June 2007 and never returned, Jammu’s Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Manohar Singh said.
The SSP told media persons that Gurbachan Singh was arrested from the city’s Narwal area, when he was trying to dispose off stolen material like tin and steel.
A truck has also been seized from him, he added.
Gurbachan Singh, who is from Dera Babbar village in Reasi district, about 80 km north-east of Jammu, had been stealing material like steel and iron from construction sites of railway tracks, bridges and buildings and selling them off cheaply in the market.
Several cases were registered against him at Reasi, Katra and other places and police were on the lookout for him, but he would always manage to dodge them.
Gurbachan Singh later moved to Punjab, where he committed similar thefts. He had also bought a truck to carry the stolen material.
There are cases registered against him in Jalandhar, Amritsar and Pathankote areas of Punjab.
The army and Punjab police have also been informed about his arrest.(THAINDIAN NEWS)

Western Command celebrates its 62nd year

Indian Army's frontline Western Command Tuesday celebrated its 62nd raising day at its 'war memorial' (Veer Smriti) here at Chandimandir military station.

Lt Gen M.S. Buttar, chief of staff of Western Command, initiated the celebrations with a wreath laying ceremony at the war memorial. It was followed by soul-stirring 'salami shastra' and 'shoka shastra' salutes to pay homage to the brave martyrs of the command.

Raised on Sep 15, 1947, Western Command was popularly known as the Delhi and East Punjab (DEP) area command. Lt Gen Dudley Russel was the first army commander of this command.

DEP Command was formally named 'Western Command' on Jan 18, 1948. In 1954, its headquarters moved to Shimla from Delhi and in February 1985 it was moved to its present location at Chandimandir, about 10 km from here.

'Western Command played a cardinal role in all the wars since independence. It was instrumental in effectively subduing the Pakistani aggressions in 1947, 1965 and 1971,' said an official spokesperson of the Indian Army here.

'Apart from playing a significant role in war victories, Western Command was instrumental in combating terrorism in Punjab and in restoring normalcy and faith of civilians through its operation 'Rakshak',' he said.

Personnel of the command are actively engaged in counter insurgency operations in Jammu region. They have trained nine battalions of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the training of the Railway Protection Force (RPF) battalions is under progress at Chandimandir.(SIFY)

Army recruitment drive today

The Army would conduct a joint campus placement drive at Chandigarh Engineering College (CEC), Landran, tomorrow for recruiting officers under its 19th University Entry Scheme.
Unmarried male and female engineering degree students studying in the final year or pre-final year would be eligible to appear for recruitment. The selected students would be granted permanent short-service commission in the Army.
Apart from the CEC, Landran, eight other colleges of the region, including the Chandigarh College of Engineering and Technology, Chandigarh, Panjab University, Chandigarh, have already confirmed participation of their students in the drive.(TRIBUNE)

NSA calls meeting to discuss Chinese incursions

Apparently concerned over repeated incursions by Chinese troops, National Security Advisor MK Narayanan has convened a meeting of top officials, including Cabinet Secretary KM Chandrasekhar and Secretaries of Defence, Home and Foreign Ministries.
The meeting of the China Study Group has been called to take stock of the situation along the Sino-India border, official sources said here tonight.
Besides Chandrasekhar, the meeting would be attended by Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar, Home Secretary GK Pillai and Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao.
Top officials of the three armed forces and the Intelligence Bureau would also attend the meeting. — PTI(TRIBUNE)

IAF fighter drops bomb accidentally

A major tragedy has been avoided due to sheer providence. An Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter aircraft accidentally dropped a weapon that it was carrying under its wings over the deserts in Rajasthan last night.
A French made Mirage-2000 combat aircraft was on a routine night flying practice session when it dropped a 250 kilogram bomb near the barren lands of Pokhran, Rajasthan, well sources confirmed. The bomb exploded and caused crater in the ground. It landed away from habitation and was off-target, said a source while adding that it could have caused damage had it hit a habitation or any of the defence installation.
It was a “practice” bomb. The aircraft had taken off from a base in Central India and the pilots were practicing in the night when the accident occurred. A court of enquiry has been ordered.
A source added that there could either be a problem with the “pods” - which hold the weapons to the plane - or the pilot could have erred in judgement and released the bomb earlier than intended.
The IAF is tight lipped about the accident. Mirage is one of the front line fighters India. The avionics of these fighters are being upgraded.
In a separate incident, a pilot had died in an air crash near Bathinda when the MiG 21 he was flying crashed. The pilot had sacrificed his own life in trying to save a village where his plane was set to crash land.(TRIBUNE)

China ready to replace India in pipeline project

India’s ambivalence on the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project, apparently under US pressure, could prove costly for the country.

Iran today indicated that India’s attitude could compel Tehran to consider inviting China to join the project, also known as the peace pipeline.

Addressing a press conference here today, Iranian Ambassador to India Seyed Mehdi Nabizadeh admitted that China had shown keen interest in joining the 2,775-km pipeline project, aimed at delivering natural gas from Iran to Pakistan and India.

The Iranian envoy said his country had almost concluded talks with Pakistan on the project. However, India could not participate in these talks. Iran was hopeful that the talks on the project would resume once India and Pakistan return to the negotiating table. “We believe India still has an opportunity to be a part of the project. But it must be mentioned that the time is running out fast,” he added.

Asked if Iran had started negotiations with Beijing on the project, Nabizadeh said, “We hope the issue (with India) will be resolved and we won’t have to talk to anyone else on the project.”

On whether India was under pressure from the US to abandon the project, he said only New Delhi could reply to the question while hoping the India would not buckle under pressure from any quarter.

The project is expected to benefit India and Pakistan, which don’t have sufficient natural gas to meet their rapidly increasing domestic demand for energy. However, India is wary about the security of the project since the pipeline would pass through the Pakistani territory. The 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks have again highlighted that India’s concerns about the security of the pipeline are not misplaced.

Realising that India was having second thoughts about the project, China has conveyed to Pakistan that it was interested in joining the project in the event of New Delhi opting out. Iran also appears to have no objection to exporting gas to China.

Pakistan has, meanwhile, started pleading China’s case with Iran. Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmud Qureshi had recently gone to the extent of suggesting that instead of the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project, it could become Iran-Pakistan-China (IPC) project.

Meanwhile, the Iranian Ambassador avoided a direct reply when asked if his country supported India’s bid for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. He said Iran was of the firm view that the UN should be restructured. Other issues could be sorted out later.

Nabizadeh also spoke about cooperation between India and Iran in the ongoing rehabilitation and reconstruction programme under way in Afghanistan. He opposed the presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan.

On Iran’s nuclear programme, he said Tehran’s talks with permanent members of the UN Security Council on the issue were progressing satisfactorily.(TRIBUNE)

It is good time to settle border row: China

BEIJING: The situation in the India-China border is not merely peaceful and stable, it is also favorable for the purpose of resolving the border dispute once for all time, the Chinese foreign ministry told TNN on Tuesday.

China also described reports of cross-border firing and other skirmishes as “inaccurate information”.

“The China-India relationship is currently enjoying stable developments, and the mutual trust between two sides is keeping growing. Therefore, we are facing a favorable situation in solving the border issue,” the foreign ministry said in reply to questions sent by TNN.

The two sides should continue to work for creating a “good atmosphere for the solution of (the) issue through negotiations, and avoid taking actions to make the situation become complicated,” the ministry said.

But it avoided a direct reply to a one of TNN’s questions: What is China doing to reassure India that it has no military ambitions on Arunachal Pradesh and other places along the border?

Sources in the Indian foreign ministry said Beijing was anxious about the uproar in the Indian media as it will make it all the more difficult for the two sides to enter into an amicable settlement. They do not think the central government in Beijing would have sent instructions to armed forces to create trouble on the border.

The Chinese foreign ministry’s view is that the problem has to do with improper reporting by the Indian media and not on the ground situation on the border.

“Enough of that. I have replied to this question earlier,” Jiang Yu, the Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, said when a reporter asked about Indian reports about firing from the Chinese side of the border. “Some Indian media has been releasing inaccurate information. I wonder what their purpose is," she said.

In its written reply, the ministry said China has “devoted itself to maintaining peace and tranquility of the border area together with the Indian side” besides strictly adhering to the Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the Line of Actual Control in the China-India Border Areas in 1993 and the Agreement on Confidence Building Measures in the Military Field Along the Line of Actual Control in the China-India Border Areas signed in 1996.

“We do not see India as a rival and an enemy. We hope India will not see China in that light,” Sun Weidong, the deputy director general in the Asian department of the ministry asked in a rare meeting with Indian journalists and diplomats to discuss the subject. China’s growing economic strength will not make it a bully. Beijing has no designs on the territory of any country, he said.

Strategic and political analysts in Beijing say they are aghast at what they see as an aggressive anti-China campaign by the Indian media.

“There has been no usual development on the border. Why is the Indian media indulging in rumor mongering?” Chen Yongcheng, a former diplomat and Council Member of the China Foundation of International Studies, said.

A senior journalist with the People’s Daily said the Indian media should be careful not to create a situation in which there will be repercussions from the Chinese side. “What happens if we start talking about incursions from the Indian side? Such unfounded reports are not going to help anyone,” he said.

“Is this a good relationship or a bad one? I believe it is a good relationship,” and went on to explain that the relationship had a global and strategic importance because it involved 2.5 billion people,” Sun said.(TOI)

MEA turning a blind eye to China 'incursions'?

NEW DELHI: As both India and China play down incursions across the LAC into Indian territories, what is the truth behind the Chinese activity which might be less war-like than the western front but has deepened worry lines over Beijing's objectives?

Foreign minister S M Krishna recently said the border with China was "peaceful" as it had not seen any violence. Yet there has been sufficient noise, certainly in the media, to have now resulted in a parliamentary standing committee attached to the foreign ministry looking at Chinese incursions. Is this a knee-jerk response?

Even as the foreign ministry and other government agencies look to justify incursions as nothing particularly new and as rooted in different perceptions of LAC, security officials and experts feel the government ought to take things more seriously as perhaps for the first time incursions have been reported from all four sectors -- Ladakh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.

While former diplomat G Parthasarathy came down heavily on MEA for acting as an "apologist" for China, strategic affairs analyst Brahma Chellaney said an Indian approach centered on not saying or doing anything that could upset Beijing however remotely, cannot pass off as "diplomacy".

"It is well known that the LAC is not clearly defined but the foreign ministry is only acting as an apologist for China by saying so. Isn't China responsible for the delay in clarifying the exact LAC position? Incursions have been reported even from settled areas like Ladakh. India is pretending there is no problem when it does exist," said Parthasarathy. He felt India needs to be prepared by arming itself militarily and strengthening deployment.

While China accused the Indian media of exaggeration, it has not been one-sided with articles in Beijing casting aspersions on India. The latest is a report in `Global Times', a sister publication of government mouthpiece `People's Daily', in which a military expert accused India of spying on Beijing's military strength by detaining a China-bound UAE plane, carrying Chinese arms, in Kolkata.

According to Chellaney, this is the first time China has opened pressure points against India all along the Himalayan frontier in peacetime after the 1986-87 skirmishes. "The glaring fact is that Chinese incursions are happening even in Sikkim, even though the Sikkim-Tibet border is the only sector Beijing does not dispute. Similarly, Chinese incursions are occurring in Uttarakhand territory -- the middle sector -- although the line of control there was clarified in 2001 through an India-China exchange of maps," said Chellaney.

As TOI reported earlier, India is likely to allow Dalai Lama to visit Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh this year overruling China's objections but it might be a case of too little, too late. "To the great discomfiture of Beijing, theDalai Lama has been saying publicly that Arunachal, including Tawang, is part of India. Yet, New Delhi is loath to exploit this. It actually blocked the Tibetan leader from visiting Tawang in 2008," added Chellaney.

There is a perception that because China has shown signs of cooperating with India over issues like climate change as they fight attempts by developed countries to impose green commitments and have shared interests in international platforms like G-20 and BRIC, India could perhaps condone border excesses. Parthasarathy rubbished the contention. "Does it have any meaning at all when you consider that Pakistan is also cooperating with India over climate change? Irrespective of these factors, we have to be ready militarily," asserted Parthasarathy.

Infiltration rising: Manmohan

NEW DELHI: Sounding a note of caution against certain “worrisome developments” having an impact on internal security, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said infiltration from across the Line of Control and also via Nepal, Bangladesh and the sea was going up.

“Encounters with armed militants have become more frequent in recent weeks and months. Secessionist and militant groups within the State are again attempting to make common cause with outside elements and have embarked on a series of protest movements.”

Dr. Singh was addressing the annual conference of Directors-General and Inspectors-General of Police on the second day of the three-day event here.

“We also need to understand better why many more local youth are being inveigled into participating in terrorist activities and how they are being recruited, indoctrinated and trained. The factors that cause social disharmony and alienation should be clearly known so that we can work to eliminate them.”

Reiterating that left-wing extremism was perhaps the “gravest internal security threat we face,” Dr. Singh expressed concern over the fact that despite “our efforts, the level of violence in the affected States continues to rise.”(HINDU)