Saturday, December 5, 2009

Travel by tour packages operated by IRCTC.

NO. 3101 11612002-Estt.(A)
Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions
Department of Personnel & Training
North Block,
New Delhi, the 2nd December, 2009

Subject:- LTC to Central Government Employees -Travel by tour packages operated by IRCTC.

The undersigned is directed to refer to DOP&T O.M. of even number dated 14.3.08, allowing tours by road conducted by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), a Government of India's undertaking under the Min. of Railways for the purpose of reimbursement of LTC by Government servants on the lines of ITDCISTDC and to say that as the IRCTC is also offering tour packages involving air travel in the sectors like Delhi - Leh, Delhi - Srinagar, Jaipur -Goa, ChennailCalcutta - Port Blair etc., the question of allowing LTC packages of IRCTC, including the component of air travel has been examined in consultation with the Min. of Finance.

2. It has now been decided to allow the re-imbursement of air fare along with rail and road fare in the case of LTC journey 'of Government servants in tours offered by IRCTC for reimbursement under LTC provided the IRCTC indicates and certifies the 3 components separately and booking of tickets is done by IRCTC fully complying with the instructions of Govt. of lndia issued from time to time in this regard such as journey by Air lndia under LTC 80 scheme in economy class without package benefits etc.

Source: 90paisa

Incursions by Chinese nomads on rise

Leh, December 4

After media reports of China objecting to the construction of a link road near Demchok in eastern Ladakh on the China border, the councillors of the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Leh, representing border areas have revealed that the local nomads have always feared a Chinese incursion.

Dorjey Stanzin, Executive Councillor for Education, who represents the Tangtse constituency of eastern Ladakh, says, “Incursions into Ladakh by Chinese nomads were first noticed. The nomads entered the Indian territory for grazing by their animals two or three times. Later, the Chinese army occupied these pastures by pitching tents there.”

He says, “This kind of incursions has increased with the reopening of Nyoma and Daulat Beg Oldi advance landing ground airports along the China border.” Nyoma and Daulat Beg Oldi were closed after the 1962 war, but were reopened last year.

Dorjey says, “Local nomads complained to me in October that Chinese nomads were seen with their animals grazing on their pasture lands at Dumcheli and Skagjung sectors on the Indian side. Local people were upset as these were reserved pastures for winter.”

The Chinese army has also occupied some main pastures in the recent years. Dorjey says, “Hot Spring near Changchenmo in the Durbuk block, Jagvan 2 near Daulat Beg Oldi airport, where Indian Army porters used to camp, and Dumcheli are now occupied by the Chinese army. They also have constructed a shopping complex at Dumcheli.”

Councillor Chotar Tsering, who represents the Korzok constituency of south eastern Ladakh, says, “The Chinese army in 2006 threatened the local nomads to vacate the Chumur sector. When the locals claimed ownership over the land, the Chinese army demanded the ownership proof.”

Tsering adds, “To counter their claim, revenue land record has now been distributed to each and every nomad of the Chumur sector.”

Troop welfare: Mahar Regiment seeks suggestions

The Mahar regiment of the Army, which has around 24,000 personnel, has sought suggestions of serving and retired officers of the regiment in further improving welfare measures for officers and troops of the regiment. Three battalions of the regiment are also deployed in counterinsurgency duties in the valley.

The colonel commandant of the regiment, chief of staff HQ southern command, Lt Gen RK Swami, met with serving and retired officers in the national capital. Amongst the other senior officers of the regiment present on the occasion were Maj Gen SK Sharda (retd), Maj Gen Bhupinder Yadav (retd), Lt Gen DR Sehgal (retd), Lt Gen CM Seth (retd), Maj Gen AK Choudhury (retd), Brig OP Gurung, (retd) and Brig ID Vashist, (retd).

From China :- India should seek cooperation, not challenges: Experts

India needs to intensify its cooperation with neighbors, including China, on the Indian Ocean, amid mounting regional challenges, Chinese experts said yesterday.

"India has long regarded the Indian Ocean as its backyard," said Fu Xiaoqiang, senior researcher with the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations. "Problems such as rampant piracy have to be tackled under an international mechanism that also includes China, the US and Europe," he said.

Apparently, India wants to play a dominant role in South Asia, but it alone cannot safeguard the ocean, said Su Hao, an expert at Beijing-based China Foreign Affairs University.

Their remarks followed an Indian navy official's comment on Wednesday that India plans to strengthen its naval presence in the waters off its southern shores.

"We have identified what our maritime interests are in the region and we are looking to convert them into capabilities to have control of our sea areas," Vice-Admiral Nirmal Verma told a news conference, replying to questions on China's growing presence, Reuters reported.

India's expansion plan was also a result of what the West has touted as a China threat, Su said. "Western media have claimed that China is deploying military presence around India."

However, military growth of China and India will not trigger an arms race between the world's most populous nations, both experts said.

"Common regional threats and improved economic ties will prompt the two neighbors to push for military exchanges," Fu said.

A Chinese delegation, headed by Ge Zhenfeng, deputy chief of general staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, is now in India, in the latest of military exchange between the two nations.

Earlier this year, former Indian navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta made the first visit by an Indian navy chief to China.

New Delhi's military budget accounted for nearly 2 percent of its GDP last year, but Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony has said the budget should be pegged to 3 percent in future.

China's military spending was only 1.38 percent of its GDP in 2007, the latest figure available from a white paper issued by the Chinese Ministry of Defense last year.

Border issue

Antony said on Monday that Chinese military aircraft violated Indian airspace five times in May and June, the Hindustan Times reported yesterday.

China's Foreign Ministry didn't comment on the report yesterday. In response to earlier similar reports of alleged Chinese intrusion on Indian territory, however, it has said China and India have never formally demarcated their land.

Beijing and New Delhi have vowed to settle the long-pending border disputes through peaceful negotiations.

Antony said the last round of border talks between the world's two most populous countries in August "ended on an optimistic note", India Today reported in October.

Special forces ready to guard coastal areas

From January 2010, the coastal areas of Bengal will be guarded by a 250-strong special force of the Sagar Prahari Bal (SPB).

The SPB of the Indian Navy, which will also protect the naval bases, was sanctioned in March, 2009 and comprises of 1,000 personnel. The SPB will also have 80 fast interception crafts (FIC) for seafront patrolling in the country.

For the coastline of Bengal that is expanded from Digha to Hashnabad, the Indian Navy has allocated four FICs, said Chandra Sekhar Azad, naval officer-in-charge (NOIC), West Bengal.

“For the SPB, we are people who have two-year stint in coast guard service. The entire force will work under the NOIC, Bengal. This force will protect the naval assets. It is a dedicated setup, which will be responsible for the security of the coastline and the offshore as well,” said Azad.

The state government has, meanwhile, also sanctioned a special force called Sagar Surakhsha Bal (SSB). “The state has decided to form the SSB by raising people for the coastal hamlets of Bengal for the post of coast-guards. The idea of recruiting people from the hamlet is to strengthen the local intelligence in the areas,” added Azad.

MoD bid to replace Cheetah helicopters may finally take off

After a delay of more than a year, the procurement process for a crucial new light helicopter, which will replace the ageing Cheetah choppers, will finally resume in March with the Defence Ministry finally calling five shortlisted contenders for field trials.

The procurement is several years behind schedule. A tender was cancelled in 2007 after various discrepancies emerged in the selection process and the government again put the procurement process on hold for close to a year as it failed to take a decision on carrying out trials. Sources said the ministry this week called all qualifying contenders for trials to procure 197 helicopters for the Army and the IAF at a cost of Rs 3,000 crore. However, trials will be completed only by 2011 and a contract for a new helicopter fleet is not likely to be signed before 2012.

By conservative estimates, the first of the new helicopters are not expected to arrive before 2014, more than five years behind schedule. In the meantime, IAF and Army will continue to depend on Cheetah choppers, which are of the 1970’s vintage, to carry medicines, food and evacuate troops.

US Admiral: China to have first aircraft carrier by ’15

Even as the delivery schedule of the Gorshkov aircraft carrier for the Indian Navy remains uncertain, China is likely to have its first operational aircraft carrier by 2015, a top US Admiral in charge of the US Pacific Command (PACOM) has said.

“I think they are making a strong effort to advance the idea of making an aircraft carrier operational between now and 2015,” said Admiral Robert F Willard, whose area of responsibility covers both the Chinese and Indian Navies.

However, the officer said aircraft carrier operations would require a lot of training and effort. “I may tell you that aircraft carrier operations are very expensive and complex and require a great deal of training and dedication. The Chinese are stating that intent,” said Admiral Willard, who is on a two day visit to India.

India, on its part, believes the first Chinese aircraft carrier could be launched as early as 2012 but would be a ‘basic platform’ that would only be used for training purposes. As reported by this newspaper in April, China moved the defunct ‘Varyag’ aircraft carrier that is purchased as scrap from Ukraine to a new location near the Dalian shipyard where it is likely to be refurbished.

Expansion plans of Indian Navy on Navy Day

New Delhi, Dec 4 (ANI): The three chiefs of Defence staff today, on the occasion of Navy Day paid their homage to the martyrs at the national war memorial at India Gate.

Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma, Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor and Air Chief Marshal PV Naik paid floral tributes to the soldiers at the war memorial.

The navy, the smallest of India’s defence forces operates one of the largest forces in the Indian Ocean with a fleet of more than 155 vessels, but many of its ships are old and due for replacement.

There were presently 40 ships and submarines on order, as per navy chief. Indian navy is acquiring a number of platforms - frigates, destroyers, corvettes, offshore patrol vessels, mini counter vessels, fast interceptors and tankers, while finalising the design for the landing platform dock on the lines of INS Jalashwa.

The Navy Chief had said earlier that the Navy plans to increase its fleet strength from 130 to 170 warships within the next decade in a bid to establish itself in the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea.

Naval Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma said 60 more aircraft and 60 helicopters would also be inducted in the aviation wing of the fleet during the same period.

Admiral Verma on Wednesday said that the Indian Navy would be acquiring 40 warships and new fighter jets indigenously and from abroad.

Indian cabinet committee on security had recently approved the formation of ‘Sagar Prahari Bal’ or SPB, a new naval force formed to protect coastlines and naval bases of India. The 1,000 officers and sailors of the Indian navy forming part of SPB will commence their three-week training from January 11 at Kochi.

December 4 is celebrated every year as Navy Day. (ANI)

Rare distinction for RVC : ISO/IEC 17025:2005 accreditation to Central Military Veterinary Laboratory

The Central Military Veterinary Laboratory (CMVL) of Remount Veterinary Corps (RVC) in Indian Armed Forces has been conferred accreditation by National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) Deptt of Science and Technology, Govt of India in the field of Biological testing in accordance with ISO/IEC 17025 : 2005 standards vide their authorized letter issued on 03 Dec 2009. CMVL is the first and the only veterinary laboratory in the country to have obtained this recognition.

RVC is one of the oldest Corps of Indian Army with Lt Gen JK Srivastava at the helm of affairs as the Director General. The Corps is mandated with the equine and canine breeding, their training, issue, deployment and management of Army Dogs, disease management and therapeutics in Army animals as well as public health of troops related to food of animal origin and zoonoses. CMVL is a premier ultra modernized laboratory of the Corps which is one of its kinds in the world undertaking multifarious tasks of research, disease, diagnosis, disease investigation, epidemiological studies, physiological anomalies, related investigations and nutrition of Army animals. The research activities undertaken by the laboratory are of significance for animal’s as well as the troops health.

The laboratory located at Meerut Cantt has been assessed by NABL with stringent protocols and qualitative requirements under ISO/IEC 17025: 2005. The laboratory by virtue of perseverance, diligence and dedication of its scientist officers complied to the rigid requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratory while no other veterinary laboratory in the country has been able to come up to fullfil these parameters.

The CMVL commanded by Col PS Narwal, can now use NABL symbol on the test results issued by the laboratory as per guidelines given in NABL -133.

S Om Singh/Rajendra/Daleep

A fireball on the Indo-China border

Kolkata, India — In astronomy, unraveling the mysteries of the universe – such as the enigma of a gamma ray burst – can be daunting. A gamma ray burst is a display of immense luminosity carrying unfathomable energies. One among many exotic theories is that it is born of a “fireball.”

How does this relate to political or security issues on Earth?

The Indian Army – always warned to remain subservient to the civil leadership – conducted a military exercise codenamed “Fireball” close to the Indo-China border, near Tsomgo Lake in the northeastern state of Sikkim on Nov. 27. The mock targets were hit by precision with the heavy firepower of artillery and infantry weapons.

The capabilities of modern machines of conventional warfare like the Swedish-made Bofors gun were openly brandished. Surviving kickback controversies since they were first purchased in the 1980s, the Bofors guns have given India an edge over its adversary on the Line of Control and helped it win artillery duels in the Kargil War against archrival Pakistan in 1999.

The FH-77 Bofors guns were considerably better than the medium artillery guns available to the Pakistani Army at the time. The guns are capable of firing three rounds in 12 seconds. After Kargil, they proved their mettle during Operation Parakram in 2001 against Pakistan when they fired 80-90 rounds each day, causing immense damage to enemy posts and morale.

After the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament on Dec. 13, 2001, Operation Parakram was launched and thousands of Indian troops were deployed along the Indo-Pakistan border, as India blamed Pakistan for the attack.

Today, the Bofors guns have been deployed at altitudes ranging between 10,000 to 13,000 feet and are expected to aid the Indian troops in achieving total dominance over the enemy in unfavorable terrain.

Interestingly, these guns have a Mercedes Benz engine in them and are able to move short distances on their own. This capability helps to avoid the enemy’s counter fire.

In the Fireball exercises, Cheetah helicopters were also displayed, which are indigenous versions of the French Aerospatiale Lama SA-315 helicopters. The Cheetah is a lightweight high-performance helicopter specially designed for operations over a wide range of weight and altitude conditions. It is powered by the tried and trusted Artouste-IIIB engine, manufactured in India under license from Turbomeca of France.

The Cheetah also incorporates the latest technologies, like an automatic starting system that facilitates a start and take-off in less than one minute. Being highly maneuverable, it can carry cargo up to one megaton and also excels in observation, surveillance and logistics support and rescue operations. It comfortably seats five and can also operate in unfavorable environmental conditions.

The speaker of the Sikkim Legislative Assembly, K.T. Gyaltsen, congratulated the army personnel responsible for conducting the exercise and encouraged young people present there to join the Indian Army.

The Indian government and the army may have downplayed the event by terming it an annual exercise, but two things stand out in a critical analysis of this exercise – its timing and its location.

It cannot be purely coincidental that the event was arranged at a time when Sino-Indian border relations are not exactly smooth and China has been unceasingly using blunt rhetoric against India. At one time China even reminded India of the consequences of their interactions in 1962, which led to war between the two nations in India’s northeast border region with China.

It is high time India sheds its pacifist tag in a realist world. If it has to showcase its prowess in Asia and cross the boundaries of the subcontinent, then it definitely needs to exhibit its conventional firepower, as a nuclear option is beyond feasibility.

India’s advocacy of nonalignment and disarmament after World War II was not only ethical but also a practical necessity on the ideological plane of the time. But ideological maxims do change, and India should strategically embark on a paradigm change in foreign policy, beyond mere illusions.

China’s tough talk and U.S. President Barack Obama’s recent visit to Beijing do not augur especially well for India. That Obama is envisioning a larger role for China in South Asia must have shaken India’s top diplomats from their slumber. It is no surprise then that the Indian Army chose the serene locale of the Tsomgo Lake at an altitude of 3,780 meters – just 8 kilometers from the China border – to conduct its military exercise.

Sikkim has a chequered history in Sino-Indian relations. It became an Indian state in 1975, but it took China 28 years to recognize it as part of India, in 2003. This was construed as a significant overture on China’s part and considerably alleviated border tensions.

But it seems China is flexing its muscles as Asia’s hegemon, more so in consonance with the commemoration of its 60 years of communism. On the other hand, India too has crossed 60 years of democracy. It should show its firepower and wherewithal to counteract any domineering moves in the region.

Sanity should prevail in South Asia and Asia at large and both China and India must take responsibility to assure this. But it does not mean that a country of 1 billion people should act in a servile manner. In that regard the Fireball exercise has sent an appropriate message across the border.

(Uddipan Mukherjee has a doctorate in physics from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai, India. He has qualified the Indian Civil Services Examination in 2007. He writes on international relations and security issues pertaining to India. He blogs at: ©Copyright Uddipan Mukherjee.)

Not battle-ready before 2027, admits Indian Army

The Indian Army, one of the world's largest, has admitted it is far from being battle-ready. The force is 50 per cent short of attaining full capability.

The admission is part of the army's internal assessment report submitted to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence. Headlines Today has exclusive access to the report.

The report says it will take around 20 years for the army to gain full defence preparedness. The infantry, artillery and the armoury would be fully ready for battle only by 2027. This means that in the event of a war in the next two decades, the country may prove to be a virtual sitting duck.

Going by the report, the force seems most vulnerable as far as combat helicopters are concerned. The report says the army has attained an abysmal 17 per cent capability in combat choppers. Full combat capability by helicopters would not be possible before 2027.

Another problem is the army's inability to develop a communication network. India will not have a real-time information sharing network before 2027. The current capability is just 24 per cent despite the country's stellar show in information technology.

What's really shocking is the shortage in fighting arms. The artillery has just 52 per cent of the total capability required to defend the country. The country will near 97 per cent capability in artillery only by 2027.

The infantry too is struggling at a 65 per cent capability. The infantry wants to replace its indigenous INSAS rifles, acquire night-fighting capabilities, new generation anti-tank missiles and rockets. Shields for nuclear, biological and chemical warfare too are not properly in place.

The picture isn't rosy for the mechanised and special forces units either, which are way behind their required defence preparedness.

A chronology of Ulfa since its inception

Guwahati: April 7, 1979: United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) founded under the leadership of Arabinda Rajkhowa along with five others with the aim to establish a "sovereign" Assam.

1979-1985: The group was involved in different violent activities during the six year long Assam agitation, spearheaded by All Assam Students' Union.

May 9, 1990: Ulfa kills Surendra Paul, a leading tea planter and brother of Lord Swraj Paul, causing many tea estate managers to flee the state.

Nov 28, 1990: President's rule imposed in Assam, dismissing the then Prafulla Kumar Mahanta government; Centre bans the ULFA; Indian Army launches Operation Bajrang as counter offencive against the group.

July 1, 1991: Ulfa cadre abduct 14 people including an engineer of erstwhile USSR.

Jan 14, 1992: Operation Rhino against ULFAsuspended by state government as the group agrees for talks.

Apr 11, 1992: Ulfa guns down 10 security personnel.

June 29, 1994: Vice chairman of the group Pradip Gogoi nabbed by security forces.

April 28, 1996: Lt Col Devendra Tyagi shot dead by the terrorists in the Kamakhya temple, Guwahati.

May 18, 1996: Superintendent of Police, Tinsukia, Ravi Kant Singh killed by ULFA.

Jun 8, 1997: Chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta escapes attempt on life after his convoy is ambushed by the ULFAin Guwahati.

July 4, 1997: The banned outfit kills social activist Sanjoy Ghosh.

Jan, 1998: Ulfa general secretary Anup Chetia arrested in Dhaka.

Feb 4, 1999: Ulfa and three other insurgent groups in the region launch their websites.

Sep 24, 1999: BJP Lok Sabha candidate Pannalal Oswal killed in Dhubri ahead of polls by the outfit.

Feb 27, 2000: Ulfa kills the then state PWD and forest minister, Nagen Sharma in Nalbari district.

Dec 15, 2003: Royal Bhutan Army launches military operations against the Ulfa, NDFB and KLO terrorists.

Dec 22, 2003: Ulfa seeks safe passage from China for its cadre from Bhutan.

Nov 18, 2004: Ulfa chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa expresses willingness to begin a peace dialogue with the Centre.

Oct 26, 2005: Negotiations between the Centre and the Ulfa-nominated People's Consultative Group start in New Delhi.

Jan 1, 2006: Rajkhowa demands release of senior leaders of Ulfa before holding direct talks with New Delhi.

July 1, 2006: The outfit expresses willingness to hold direct talks with the Centre.

Aug 13, 2006: The Centre stops all operations by security forces against the Ulfa for a few days.

Aug 31, 2006: Paresh Barua in a communique assures the Union Government that its jailed leaders will not abscond, after being released.

Sep 24, 2006: Government resumes counter-insurgency operations against Ulfa after the deadline for ceasefire expired on September 20.

Sep 27, 2006: PCG pulls out from the peace talks with the Union Government.

Oct 30, 2008: About 77 persons killed and more than 300 injured in 13 near-simultaneous blasts in Assam.

Dec 21, 2008: General secretary of Ulfa, Golap Barua alias Anup Chetia, moves to the UN for refugee status once released from Bangladesh jail where he was under trial.

Jul 21, 2008: The Centre confirms that Paresh Baruah has moved out of Bangladesh for some time.

Oct 14, 2008: Home minister P Chidambaram said talks with the Ulfa only after it abjures violence.

Nov 6, 2009: Ulfa's 'foreign secretary' Sashadhar Choudhury and 'finance secretary' Chitraban Hazarika surrender before BSF near Agartala.

Dec 4, 2009 : Ulfa 'chairman' Arabinda Rajkhowa and 'Deputy commander-in-chief' Raju Baruah along with family members surrender to Indian authorities along Indo-Bangla border in Meghalaya.

Armed forces are fully prepared to counter any challenges: Defence Ministry

New Delhi , Dec 4 (ANI): Central Government on Friday clarified that Indian armed Forces are fully prepared, battle-worthy and capable to counter any challenges at very short notice, in keeping with the task assigned to defend the nation.

In a clarification given by the Defence Ministry in the wake of reports in a section of the media regarding the Army not being fully combat ready, it said: “The modernisation is a deliberate process and is progressive in nature, the deficiency of the military hardware is reviewed at regular intervals and replacement of these are projected after deliberation based on the operational requirement and enhancement of operational efficiency keeping pace with modernization.”

“Projection of military hardware requirements has already been made and these are at various stages of procurement. The Defence procurement procedure is also amended periodically to ensure transparency and effectiveness in procurement,” it added.

The Defence Ministry further stated that : “The combat efficiency of the Army at no point be doubted as the military preparedness and combat efficiency is the foremost and primary task. There has been no compromise in this issue. The progress of modernization is monitored closely at various levels to minimize the shortfall.” (ANI)

France offers to sell artillery, tanks to India

NEW DELHI: France offered Friday to sell artillery and tanks to the Indian army as the two sides expand existing defense ties now that India has emerged as a major arms buyer.

Defense relations between India and France have deepened over the last few years, and the two countries share similar views on global terrorism and regional security, French Defense Minister Herve Morin told reporters.

Morin said he discussed with his Indian counterpart A.K. Antony the possibility of New Delhi buying artillery and tanks from his country. He did not provide details.

They also discussed upgrading nearly 50 French Mirage 2000 fighter aircraft currently being used by the Indian air force and six Scorpene submarines that are being built in a dockyard near Mumbai, he said.

Morin also said India and France agreed to exchange intelligence to counter the threat posed by terrorism to both countries.

A French Embassy statement said Morin's talks in New Delhi were also in preparation for the proposed visit of French President Nicolas Sarkozy to India early next year.Morin was to leave for Paris later Friday.

India to decide on its role in Afghanistan: US

NEW DELHI: The US has not sought Indian troop deployment in Afghanistan and it was for New Delhi to decide on a possible military role in that country, Admiral Robert F. Wilard, who heads the US Pacific Command, said on Friday even as he praised India's "rebuilding role" in Afghanistan.

"We have not sought any ground level cooperation (deployment) from India. We are happy with India's rebuilding role in Afghanistan," Willard told reporters here.

"It (deployment of Indian troops in Afghanistan) is for Indian military and establishment to decide," he added.

Willard reiterated that "succeeding in Afghanistan and stabilising Pakistan" are in the larger interests of the US. The US has announced addition of 30,000 troops in Afghanistan and has envisaged boosting of the Afghan National Army.

"This (sending of more troops to Afghanistan) will start but there is no end date on the withdrawal of troops," said Willard.

Willard met Indian Army chief General Deepak Kapoor, Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma and Air Force vice chief Air Marshal P.K. Barbora Thursday. He also met Defence Secretary Pradeep Thakur.

India has time and again ruled out sending troops to Afghanistan to be part of the US-led offensive but has been providing developmental and medical aid as mandated by the United Nations.

India's military interaction with Afghanistan has been through training its military officers in the National Defence Academy here. It also runs a medical facility in Afghanistan staffed by army doctors. It has also posted instructors to teach English and martial music to Afghan soldiers and officers.

India is heavily investing in Afghanistan, particularly in infrastructure projects such as roads, hospitals, schools and the new parliament building in Kabul. Indian reconstruction aid totals $1.5 billion.

India had hosted Afghan army's chief General Bismillah Khan Mohammadi earlier this year. Mohammadi has also been seeking enhanced military cooperation between the two countries.