India: Army officers ‘targeted’ by Pak operatives

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Army officers ‘targeted’ by Pak operatives asked to change WhatsApp settings

The army recently issued an advisory to its men alerting them about the risk of being automatically added to WhatsApp groups created by intelligence operatives from the neighboring country Pakistan.

INDIA Updated: Nov 23, 2019 06:28 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent

Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The Indian Army has asked its personnel to alter the settings of popular messaging service WhatsApp to rule out the possibility of being added to groups run by the Pakistani intelligence.
The Indian Army has asked its personnel to alter the settings of popular messaging service WhatsApp to rule out the possibility of being added to groups run by the Pakistani intelligence. (AP Photo)

The Indian Army has asked its personnel to alter the settings of popular messaging service WhatsApp to rule out the possibility of being added to groups run by the Pakistani intelligence to gather sensitive information about the force, two Army officials familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity on Friday.

The army recently issued an advisory to its men alerting them about the risk of being automatically added to WhatsApp groups created by intelligence operatives from the neighboring country, after a soldier reported that he was added to one such group without his consent, said one of the officials cited above.

Officers holding critical appointments have been asked not to share any information on the messaging service, said the second official cited above. Also, they have been told not to share any official communication on WhatsApp.

“A case has come to notice wherein one army pers (personnel) was automatically added to a Whatsapp gp by a suspected Pak No…The indl (individual) with presence of mind took the screenshot and exited the gp,” the advisory read.

The development showed that Pakistani operatives were “actively targeting” Army personnel, the advisory said.

The advisory details how Army personnel can change their WhatsApp settings to avoid being added to “unauthorized and undesirable groups.”

The Indian Army regularly sensitizes its officers and men on the use of social media and messaging services so that sensitive information is not inadvertently leaked, according to the second official. While protocols were in place to pre-empt any breach, it was critical to drive home the message to soldiers to stay alert, he added.

Former army vice-lieutenant general AS Lamba (retd) said, “As far as the armed forces are concerned, security is paramount no matter what the platform. One needs to be specially careful on social media and messaging services as these are the easiest way to subvert an individual or group of individuals in order to collate sensitive information.”

Pakistan, with China, tries to put 4 Indians on UN terror list

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)
(INDIA IS LEARNING A HARD FACT: CHINA’S GOVERNMENT IS NO ONE’S FRIEND)(OP:ED oldpoet56)

Pakistan, with China, tries to put 4 Indians on UN terror list

After the UN Security Council designated Jaish-e-Mohammed’s Masood Azhar as a global terrorist, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government in Pakistan has been on an overdrive to frame Indians in terror cases.

INDIANS-ABROAD Updated: Nov 22, 2019 04:24 IST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
After Masood Azhar was designated global terrorist by the UN security panel, there have been several attempts by Pakistan to falsely implicate Indian nationals in terror cases.
After Masood Azhar was designated global terrorist by the UN security panel, there have been several attempts by Pakistan to falsely implicate Indian nationals in terror cases.(VIA REUTERS)

Officials in the national security agencies and South Block are now convinced that Pakistan has embarked on a tit-for-tat designation of Indian nationals as terrorists under the UN Security Council’s 1267 Al Qaida sanctions committee as a response to India’s success, with assistance from the US and France, in having got Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar designated as a global terrorist on May 1.

Last week, Pakistan, with the support of UN Security Council permanent member and its all-weather ally China moved the 1267 Al Qaida sanctions committee to designate two Indians global terrorists after accusing them of past terror attacks in Balochistan and Peshawar, and even registered FIRs against them. This takes to four the number of Indians labelled terrorists by Pakistan. All four persons were evacuated by Indian security agencies from Afghanistan, with the last one being flown out of Kabul on November 18.

Hindustan Times has reported on three of the cases. The fourth is that of Andhra Pradesh resident Appaji Angara, who was working as a software developer in a bank in Kabul, Afghanistan. While Angara was moved out of Kabul as early as January 18, Pakistan accused him of a terrorist attack on Mall Road in Lahore on February 13, 2017, along with the Jamat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), a splinter group of the Tehreek-e-Taliban, Pakistan.

ALSO WATCH | PM Modi hails ‘big victory’ after UN sanctions on Jaish chief Masood Azhar

In the dossier submitted to the 1267 committee, Angara has been accused of the attack on Army School in Peshawar on December 16, 2014, in collaboration with JuA, and a bombing in Warsak colony in Peshawar on September 2, 2016. An FIR number 77 (dated July 13, 2019) under sections 312, 324, 353, 14B, 149, ¾ F & P, 7 ATA, counter-terrorism department, police station Peshawar, has been registered against him. The residence address, passport number and personal details of Angara are being withheld by HT.

Earlier this week, HT reported Pakistan’s effort to designate Gobinda Patnaik Duggivalasa. The Odisha-born Duggivalasa, 54, was hurriedly evacuated from Kabul by Indian security agencies on November 18 after he was accused of a terror attack on Siraj Raisani, a Pakistani politician, on July 13, 2018 in Mastung, Baluchistan in which 160 persons were killed. An FIR number 12/18 (dated July 13, 2019) under sections 109-427-34-ATA counter terrorism department, police station Quetta, Balochistan, and another FIR number 08/2018 (dated July 9, 2019) under section 109-427-07 ATA CTD, police station Quetta, Balochistan, names Duggivalasa as a terrorist.

A B. Com graduate from Odisha, with a diploma in computer applications from Chennai and a MBA from Vishakapatnam, Duggivalasa, according to dossier, worked as President of Phoenix Consulting Services in Kabul, Afghanistan. The company was a wholly owned subsidiary of Fluentgrid, and involved in capacity-building projects in Afghanistan. The full details of Duggivalasa are being withheld by HT.

Several Indian companies are working on projects in Afghanistan as the country seeks to rebuild its infrastructure after years of conflict.

Indian intelligence officials point to the two other instances, involving Indian nationals Ajoy Mistry in October and Venu Madhav Dongara in September – HT was the first to report on both – where Pakistan, with the help from China, tried to embarrass India in the UN through the 1267 route.

In the backdrop of the Imran Khan government showcasing two Indians arrested this week near Bhawalpur, despite New Delhi having informed Islamabad about their inadvertent crossing over to Pakistan months ago, the proposals before the 1267 committee are ominous, officials say it is evident from the chain of events that Pakistan, with the help of China, wants to brand India as a terror factory to “achieve parity”.

Had these Indians not been extracted, it is possible that they may have been abducted by ISI from Afghanistan, in much the same way Indian naval officer-turned-businessman Kulbushan Jadhav was from Iran, the officials added. Islamabad claimed in 2017 that he was arrested from Balochistan and accused him of terrorism and spying for Indian spy agency Research & Analysis Wing. He was sentenced to death by a court in Pakistan but the International Court of Justice stayed the execution. In July, it asked Pakistan to review his trial and conviction and to also provide consular access to India.

While the first two proposals (involving Mistry and Dongara) were blocked by the US, New Delhi has again sought the help of its friends within the UNSC to stop any further attempts by Pakistan to tarnish India’s reputation.

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Pakistan: terror training camps still active in Pakistan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Imran Khan’s posturing aside, terror training camps still active in Pakistan

South Block confirms that terror training camps of LeT, JeM and Hizbul Mujahideen are still active in Pakistan despite the public posturing of Imran Khan government.

INDIA Updated: Nov 17, 2019 09:33 IST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Prime Minister Imran Khan
Prime Minister Imran Khan(Reuters file photo)

External affairs minister S Jaishankar’s statement this week that Pakistan has developed a terrorist industry comes in the backdrop of reports that trained Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) suicide attackers have infiltrated Jammu and Kashmir in October and that the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) leadership is in constant touch with their handlers in Rawalpindi GHQ.

In an interview with French newspaper Le Monde, Jaishankar said the eradication of anti-India terrorist groups is a pre-condition for dialogue with Pakistan.

South Block confirms that terror training camps of LeT, JeM and Hizbul Mujahideen are still active in Pakistan despite the public posturing of Imran Khan government. India sent a specific list of locations, including Google map co-ordinates of 24 prominent terror training camps in Pakistan to the country after the Pulwama attack but none of these camps has been shut down to date.

The names of camps include Abdulla bin Mashood (LeT); Balakot (JeM); Barali/Fagosh 1 & 2 (LeT); Barnala (HM); Bhawalpur (JeM); Batarsi camp 1 & 2 (LeT & JeM); Chelabandi (LeT/JeM/ HM) and Daura-e-Azeemat (HM). Many of these camps are located in Occupied Kashmir, Manshera, Peshawar, Bhawalpur and Lahore.

According to security agencies, JeM’s operational commander Mufti Abdul Rauf Asghar along with his brother Maulana Ammar met their handlers in Rawalpindi GHQ on November 10 seeking financial help, removal of restrictions on the terror group and instructions for future action.

Indian intelligence inputs also say that two LeT suicide attackers, Osama and Abdullah infiltrated the newly created UT in early October after undergoing a so-called purification course and with the approval of senior LeT leadership.

While the hunt is on in J&K for these two, the state police has killed no less than 150 terrorists this year including 70 Pakistani nationals.

When EAM Jaishankar talked about terrorist factory, he was also talking about Pakistan’s other options in targeting India. As recently as September 23, Pakistan based Ranjeet Singh Neeta’s Khalistan Zindabad Force tried unsuccessfully to send a cache of AK-47 rifles, pistols, satellite phones and ammunition across the international border.

Pro-Khalistan terrorists currently being given shelter by Pakistan include Harmeet Singh and Lakhbir Singh of International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF); Paramjit Singh Panjwar of Khalistan Commando Force (KCF); Gajinder Singh of Dal Khalsa and Wadhawa Singh Babbar of Babbar Khalsa International (BKI).

Members of Indian Mujahideen group, who planned and executed blasts in India between 2005 to 2013, are also now freely operating in Pakistan. These include Iqbal and Riyaz Bhatkal, Mohasin Choudhary, Afiff Hassan Siddibappa and Mohammed Rashid.

The fugitives taking shelter even today in Pakistan are all the principals accused in 1993 Mumbai bomb blast cases, engineered by global terrorist Dawood Ibrahim. His associates including Anees Ibrahim, Tiger Memon, Chhota Shakeel, Mohammed Dosa and Fahim Machmach also operate freely in Pakistan.

Pakistan: 73 People Die From Fire On Train

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BUSINESS INSIDER)

 

Seventy-three people have died after a moving train in Pakistan caught fire when two stoves being used by passengers to cook food exploded, a senior Pakistani railway official, who asked not to be named, told Business Insider.

Pakistani officials first reported the fire at 9:50 a.m. on Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

The train is known as the Tezgam train and was traveling from the city of Karachi across the country to Rawalpindi.

A further 47 people were injured as three of the train’s carriages caught fire when it was approaching the town of Liaquatpur in Punjab, the official added.

Pakistan Train Fire
A map showing the route of the train and the location where the fire broke out. 
Google Maps.

Pakistan’s minister for railways, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, said the fire started from a gas cylinder that was used by the passengers to cook breakfast, according to the BBC.

“Two cooking stoves blew up. They were cooking, they had [cooking] oil, which added fuel to fire,” Ahmed said, according to the BBC.

Survivors reported it took the train over 20 minutes to stop after the fire broke out, and some pulled emergency cords and ran to notify the conductor farther down the train, according to the Associated Press.

According to several local news reports, many of the victims jumped to their death as the train was still moving.

Video footage from AFP shows the scorched remains of the carriages that caught fire. Rescue teams can be seen on the scene:

The Pakistani Army dispatched doctors and paramedics to assist with rescue missions and sent helicopters to the scene of the incident to evacuate the critically injured, according to the local news site The Express Tribune.

President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan offered their condolences to the victims of the train fire.

Khan said an immediate inquiry had been ordered “to be completed on an urgent basis” on the incident.

Imran Khan

@ImranKhanPTI

Deeply saddened by the terrible tragedy of the Tezgam train. My condolences go to the victims’ families & prayers for the speedy recovery of the injured. I have ordered an immediate inquiry to be completed on an urgent basis.

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According to the BBC, many of the passengers were traveling to the city of Raiwind to attend a major religious festival hosted by the Tablighi Jamaat, a Sunni Muslim missionary movement.

India: 18 terrorists killed, JeM launch pads destroyed in PoK strikes by Indian army

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

18 terrorists killed, JeM launch pads destroyed in PoK strikes by Indian army: Officials

The officials added that all the terror launch pads housing Jaish-e-Mohammed and other jihadists were destroyed in the pin-point artillery firing by the Indian army – retaliatory action to indiscriminate and unprovoked Pakistani firing along the Line of Control.

INDIA Updated: Oct 23, 2019 09:25 IST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The site of Indian Army’s assault on Pakistani terror camps.
The site of Indian Army’s assault on Pakistani terror camps.(Photo: HT/ Special arrangement)

Officials in Indian security agencies that have assessed the impact of the Indian Army’s artillery assault on terror launch pads in Neelum Valley and three other places in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), said on condition of anonymity that at least 18 terrorists were killed along with 16 Pak Army personnel on October 19 and 20. The army hasn’t confirmed the number of dead. Hindustan Times couldn’t independently authenticate the numbers.

The officials added that all the terror launch pads housing Jaish-e-Mohammed and other jihadists were destroyed in the pin-point artillery firing by the Indian army – retaliatory action to indiscriminate and unprovoked Pakistani firing along the Line of Control.

On Sunday, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat briefed Defence Minister Rajnath Singh twice about the Indian Army fire assault on PoK launch pads with the latter congratulating the former on the resolute action, the officials said. Asking General Rawat to go public on the artillery firing, Rajnath Singh said that while no terror launch pads should be spared, care should be taken to ensure that the innocent civilian population is not targeted.

Also Watch l ‘Our forces can give befitting response to our enemies’: Rajnath Singh

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Defence ministry officials said on condition of anonymity that ammunition and ration depots of the Pakistani Army were also destroyed by 155 mm guns using precision long range ammunition. While four launch pads in Neelum Valley were hit, launch pads in Jura, Athamuqam and Kundalshahi were also decimated in the fire onslaught on wee hours of October 20, they added. The Indian response came after the Pakistani Army targeted Indian positions and civil localities in Karnah sector killing two Indian soldiers and one civilian on Saturday night.

Hindustantimes

On Sunday, the army mounted the artillery attack in retaliation to ceasefire violations meant to assist infiltrators, inflicting heavy terrorist casualties.

The counter-offensive measures come weeks after multiple intelligence agencies warned the government that at least 60 terrorists have infiltrated into Jammu and Kashmir recently and another 500 are waiting to infiltrate, according to the army.

Hindustantimes

Ground intelligence and communication intercepts from PoK suggests that the jihadists and their army handlers were taken by surprise by the pin-point firing and the fact that the Indian Army knew about their locations. “Intelligence about 18 terrorists and 16 army personnel killed have been corroborated on ground with hard intelligence. Many have been injured,” said a senior Indian Army official who asked not to be named.

“ By taking out the launch pads near LoC in PoK, we have sent a message that retaliation will come if any infiltration attempt is made in Jammu and Kashmir,” said a senior official in a security agency.

First Published: Oct 22, 2019 23:43 IST

India, Pakistan trade barbs over deadly Kashmir clash

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF AL-JAZEERA NEWS)

 

India, Pakistan trade barbs over deadly Kashmir clash

Several soldiers and civilians killed on both sides, as India and Pakistan blame one another for ‘unprovoked’ firing.

Relatives and friends mourn next to bodies of victims in cross border shelling in Pakistan's Neelum valley [Sajjad Qayyum/AFP]
Relatives and friends mourn next to bodies of victims in cross border shelling in Pakistan’s Neelum valley [Sajjad Qayyum/AFP]

India and Pakistan blamed one another for cross-border shelling in the disputed Kashmir region which killed and injured soldiers and civilians on both sides and made it one of the deadliest days since New Delhi revoked Kashmir’s special status in August.

India said there was heavy shelling by Pakistan across the border in northern Kashmir’s Tangdhar region late on Saturday night, killing two Indian soldiers and one civilian.

A spokesman for the Pakistani Armed Forces said one of its soldiers and three civilians had died and that India had violated the ceasefire.

There was an unprovoked ceasefire violation by Pakistan, Indian defense spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia said.

“Our troops retaliated strongly, causing heavy damage and casualties to the enemy,” Kalia said.

Pakistan’s army, meanwhile, claimed that India’s attacks in Jura, Shahkot and Nowshera sectors was “unprovoked” and deliberately targeted civilians.

Major General Asif Ghafoor, a spokesman for the Pakistani Armed Forces, said Pakistan responded “effectively”, killing nine Indian soldiers, injuring several others and destroying two bunkers.

DG ISPR

@OfficialDGISPR

Indian unprovoked CFVs in Jura, shahkot & Nousehri Sectors deliberately targeting civilians. Effectively responded. 9 Indian soldiers killed several injured. 2 Indian bunkers destroyed.
During exchange of fire 1 soldier & 3 civilians shaheed, 2 soldiers & 5 civilians injured.

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Islamabad has summoned the Indian envoy in protest over the shelling and killings, and offered to have diplomats from the United Nations Security Council’s five permanent members, including the United States and Russia, visit the border and see that no rebel camps exist there.

Both sides accused each other of violating a 2003 ceasefire accord.

Border clashes

Sunday’s clashes came days after Pakistan’s foreign ministry protested against similar incidents from across the heavily militarized Line of Control (LoC) by Indian forces that killed three civilians and wounded another eight on October 15.

Deadly border clashes have spiked over the past few weeks which have seen Indian and Pakistani forces target frontier posts as well as villages, leading to casualties among soldiers and civilians on both sides.

Tensions between the neighbors have remained high since India revoked Kashmir’s autonomy on August 5 and imposed movement and communications restrictions to quell unrest.

Islamabad has warned that changing Kashmir’s status would escalate tensions but India said the withdrawal of the special status is an internal affair and is aimed at faster economic development of the territory.

Pakistan and India both control parts of Kashmir, but each lays claim to the entire region since the countries gained independence from Britain in 1947.

India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over the region.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

India: Army increases troops at LoC to fend off infiltration

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

Army increases troops at LoC to fend off infiltration

Northern Army commander Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh said anger over scrapping Article 370 was subsiding in the Kashmir valley but Pakistan was trying its best to reinvigorate the terror machinery.

INDIA Updated: Oct 14, 2019 07:59 IST

Rahul Singh
Rahul Singh
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Command, Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh has been constantly reviewing the situation in the Kashmir valley.
General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Northern Command, Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh has been constantly reviewing the situation in the Kashmir valley. (ANI Photo)

The Indian Army has deployed more troops along the Line of Control (LoC) over the past two months to deal with an unusual spike in infiltration by Pakistan-backed terrorists looking to stir trouble in Jammu and Kashmir since the Centre’s move revoking the special status of the state on August 5, one of the army’s top-most commanders said on Sunday.

Northern Army commander Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh said anger over the government’s move to effectively scrap Article 370 of the Constitution and J&K’s bifurcation into two Union Territories was subsiding in the Kashmir valley but Pakistan was trying its best to reinvigorate the terror machinery in order to destabilise the border region.

Infiltration attempts, accompanied by ceasefire violations by the Pakistan Army, are occurring almost every day since the decisions on J&K were announced on August 5, he said.

“We have brought in additional soldiers from outside Northern Command to strengthen our counter-infiltration posture along the LoC. Troops have also been pulled out of pockets where terror has been dormant and sent to forward locations. No patch of the border is unguarded and we have repelled the majority of infiltration attempts,” General Singh told Hindustan Times.

While the Northern Army commander did not reveal details of the redeployment citing operational reasons, two officers familiar with the development said troop numbers along the LoC were up by a few thousand. General Singh is in Delhi to attend a biannual meeting of the army’s top commanders who will discuss a raft of important issues including the one on Kashmir over the next five days.

The army’s Udhampur-based Northern command is the nerve-centre for counter-insurgency operations in J&K and is also responsible for guarding the LoC.

The number of border violations by Pakistan has risen dramatically this year. According to official data, there have been 2,317 violations as on October 10 this year, compared to 1,629 last year and 860 in 2017. The neighbouring army was initiating ceasefire violations along the LoC to help infiltrators sneak into J&K and carry out terror attacks, Singh said. Such infiltrators have carried out a string of suicide attacks recently including the ones in Uri, Pathankot and Nagrota.

Intelligence reports have warned against the presence of more than 500 terrorists at launch pads and terror camps across the LoC, facing Kupwara, Baramulla, Poonch and Rajouri sectors. In addition, the number of terrorists in Kashmir stands between 250 and 300.

“Even one terror strike backed by Pakistan could ratchet up bilateral tensions. There’s no doubt we are going to act on it. Pakistan is frustrated as it is unable to push infiltrators across the LoC. It is now looking at using border routes in Punjab, Gujarat and Nepal,” said General Singh. He was heading the army’s military operations directorate in 2016 when India launched multiple surgical strikes against terror pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) in response to the Uri suicide attack that left 19 Indian soldiers dead.

With post-paid mobile phone services set to be restored across J&K from Monday, General Singh said restrictions imposed after the August 5 announcement were being lifted in a gradual way after a detailed risk assessment.

“The communications blackout was eased when landlines became functional. People can use their cell phones now. Restoration of Internet services will take some time. While control measures can’t be there forever, we have to deny Pakistani elements the chance to whip up tensions in Kashmir,” he said.

He said the security forces could face a fresh set of challenges in the coming weeks due to a series of important events such as the move of the seat of governance from Srinagar to Jammu on October 26 (the J&K government functions six months each from Jammu and Srinagar), Diwali the following day and J&K and Ladakh coming into existence as Union Territories on October 31. J&K’s winter capital Jammu will become functional from November 5.

“The aim of the Pakistani machinery will be to create trouble around this crucial time. We are at our highest alert levels,” he said.

General Singh said Pakistan had fully activated the terror infrastructure on its soil and attempts to push in infiltrators were likely to spill over into the winter months.

Experts said that the security forces were in control of the situation in J&K but they highlighted the threat from Pakistan-sponsored terror.

“It is positive that there has been very little violence in the Valley post August 5. Now that restrictions are being eased, the big challenge for the government will be to win the confidence of the people. This is not going to be an easy task but it is absolutely essential,” said former Northern Army commander Lieutenant General DS Hooda (retd), who oversaw the September 2016 surgical strikes in PoK.

“As far as Pakistan is concerned, we are seeing no change in its behaviour in supporting terrorist activities in J&K. This could have serious implications if there is a major terror strike that India will be forced to respond to,” General Hooda added.

First Published: Oct 14, 2019 01:33 IST

Imran Khan and Pakistan army chief to rake up Jammu and Kashmir issue in China

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Imran Khan and Pakistan army chief to rake up Jammu and Kashmir issue in China

In a marked departure from usual protocol, Bajwa joined Khan for a meeting with Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday evening, and will also accompany Khan when he meets Xi on Wednesday.

INDIA Updated: Oct 09, 2019 08:27 IST

Sutirtho Patranobis and Imtiaz Ahmad
Sutirtho Patranobis and Imtiaz Ahmad

Hindustan Times, Beijing/Islamabad
This is Khan’s third visit to China since August 2018. Army chiefs do not usually accompany heads of state to meetings with other heads of state.
This is Khan’s third visit to China since August 2018. Army chiefs do not usually accompany heads of state to meetings with other heads of state. (HT image)

Days ahead of President Xi Jinping’s high-profile visit to India, Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa on Tuesday sought the top Chinese military leadership’s support on the Kashmir issue, saying unresolved tensions could affect regional peace and stability.

The powerful Pakistani army chief arrived in Beijing on Monday, a day ahead of Prime Minister Imran Khan, who will hold meetings with China’s top leadership to discuss regional developments, including peace and security in South Asia following India’s decision to revoke Jammu & Kashmir’s special status on August 5 — an issue Khan and Pakistan have sought to, and, by their own admission, failed to internationalise.

In a marked departure from usual protocol, Bajwa joined Khan for a meeting with Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday evening, and will also accompany Khan when he meets Xi on Wednesday. This is Khan’s third visit to China since August 2018. Army chiefs do not usually accompany heads of state to meetings with other heads of state.

At meetings with Gen Han Weiguo, commander of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), and Gen Xu Qiliang, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), Bajwa discussed the regional security environment, including the situation in Jammu & Kashmir, said a statement from the Pakistani military’s media arm.

Bajwa apprised the Chinese military leadership about the “consequences of the ongoing situation” in Kashmir . The statement said the Chinese generals supported “Pakistan’s principled stance on (the) Kashmir issue” and “appreciated (the) sane Pakistani approach”.

“They agreed that continued unresolved Pak-India tension will have serious implications for peace and stability in the region. (Bajwa) apprised them that Pakistan looks forward to peace but that shall not be at the cost of any compromise on principles or honour and dignity of the nation,” the statement said.

China’s state-run Xinhua news agency made no mention of Kashmir in its report on the meeting between Bajwa and Xu. China will “strengthen pragmatic cooperation with Pakistan in various fields and deal with risks and challenges together with Pakistan”, Xu was quoted as saying by Xinhua.

Khan’s visit comes days ahead of Xi’s arrival in India for the second informal summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Mamallapuram during October 11-12. The summit has already been hit by recent irritants in India-China ties, including Beijing’s stance on the Kashmir issue in recent weeks.

The Pakistani premier’s agenda is packed with meetings and a speech at a business forum, and his visit will wrap up with the closing ceremony of an international horticulture exhibition on the outskirts of Beijing. Besides the president and the premier, Khan will also meet Li Zhanshu, chairperson of China’s legislature.

Khan will also discuss the status and expansion of projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the flagship project of Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative. He said last week that the removal of all bottlenecks in CPEC projects and their timely completion was the top priority of his government.

Pakistan also said several agreements are expected to be signed during the visit.

“China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic cooperation partners. We have a good tradition of close exchanges and communication. We have strategic mutual trust and advancing practical cooperation. Our cooperation in the CPEC is bringing more outcomes to our people,” foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told a regular news briefing on Tuesday.

Khan is accompanied by a high-level delegation that includes foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, planning minister Khusro Bakhtiar and Board of Investment chairman Zubair Gilani.

“It is important to note that General Bajwa will be sitting in during Khan’s meetings with Xi and Li. To my understanding, this is not the usual practice. At the domestic level, it shows the military-political government is on the same page. With reference to China, it indicates the security situation (in the region) is a really serious matter,” said Ghulam Ali of the School of Marxism at Sichuan University of Science and Technology.

On Kashmir, Ali said Khan may want to convey a message to India through Xi. “Given the close nature of (the Sino-Pakistan) relationship and trust, there might be a direct message via Xi to Modi that the Indian government’s action (in Kashmir) has affected the region. However, to what degree Xi is ready to play a role, and most importantly, whether India agrees to listen and accept any advice, is an entirely different thing,” he added.

On his first day in China, Khan caused a stir when he told potential investors he wished he could follow the example of Xi and send 500 corrupt individuals in Pakistan to jail.

Speaking at the China Council for Promotion of International Trade, Khan said the one thing he had learned from China was how its leadership tackled corruption.

First Published: Oct 09, 2019 03:57 IST

India-Pak nuke war could trigger another ice age: Study

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

An India-Pak nuke war could trigger another ice age: Study

In the scenario, simulated using state-of-the-art global climate models, India and Pakistan use 100 and 150 strategic nuclear weapons respectively, releasing 16-36 million tonnes of soot (black carbon) in smoke that would rise into the upper atmosphere, blocking solar radiation.

INDIA Updated: Oct 03, 2019 07:25 IST

Dhrubo Jyoti
Dhrubo Jyoti
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The study, published in the journal Science Advances, looks at a nuclear war scenario between the two neighbours in 2025.
The study, published in the journal Science Advances, looks at a nuclear war scenario between the two neighbors in 2025. (Reuters file photo)

At least 50 million people could die and the world will be hit by a decade-long global atmospheric catastrophe if a nuclear war broke out between India and Pakistan, said a new study published on Wednesday, though Indian experts termed the chances of such a conflict astonishingly small.

The study, published in the journal Science Advances, looks at a nuclear war scenario between the two neighbors in 2025.

In the scenario, simulated using state-of-the-art global climate models, India and Pakistan use 100 and 150 strategic nuclear weapons respectively, releasing 16-36 million tonnes of soot (black carbon) in smoke that would rise into the upper atmosphere, blocking solar radiation.

Also Watch | ‘Pakistan’s plans will fail if J&K moves towards development’: Jaishankar

‘Pakistan’s plans will fail if J&K moves towards development’: Jaishankar
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has hit out at Pakistan over the Kashmir issue. Speaking at a center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, Jaishankar said that the decision to abrogate Article 370 was not taken lightly.
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This could lead to a decline in sunlight reaching the Earth by 20 to 35%, cooling the surface by between two and five degree Celsius.

“In addition, severe short-term climate perturbations, with temperatures declining to values not seen on Earth since the middle of the last Ice Age, would be triggered by smoke from burning cities,” read the paper.

This could reduce precipitation by up to 30% and diminish the rate at which plants store energy as biomass by almost a third on land. “Crops would be affected by colder temperatures, less precipitation, less sunlight, and more ultraviolet radiation due to ozone depletion,” Alan Robock, a professor at Rutgers University and one of the authors of the paper, told HT.

The paper found a high casualty figure because both India and Pakistan are densely populated, and based its calculation on a scenario where both countries attack urban centres. Under its scenario, Pakistan’s losses would be about twice those of India in terms of a percentage of the urban population.

“Smoke from burning cities will rise into the stratosphere and spread globally within weeks. Widespread agricultural failures are likely,” Owen B Toon, lead author and professor at the University of Colorado, told HT. Impact on food production is seen to range from crop-growing regions of North America and Eurasia, Southeast Asia and fisheries in the north Atlantic and Pacific.

Robock said such instant climate change was only experienced after super volcanic eruptions, such as the Toba eruption roughly 74,000 years ago in present day Sumatra, Indonesia. It is one of the largest Earth’s largest known eruptions.

Nuclear rhetoric in the sub-continent has been charged in recent weeks, especially by Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan who warned at the United Nations General Assembly of a potential of a nuclear war over Kashmir.

But experts said the chances of such a conflict realistically breaking out are next to zero. “The possibility is almost non-existent is because of the shared culture and communities. The two countries have never fought wars of annihilation because you’re literally cutting too close to the bone. Our wars have been very limited,” said Bharat Karnad, a professor at the Centre for Policy Research in Delhi. He added that the rhetoric around nuclear war is often used for deterrent purposes.

First Published: Oct 02, 2019 23:33 IST

Pak terror groups use Chinese drones to airdrop 80 kg weapons in Punjab for J&K

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Pak terror groups use Chinese drones to airdrop 80 kg weapons in Punjab for J&K

The entire consignment, using the Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF) network, was supported by Pakistan’s spy agency Inter Services Intelligence and orchestrated through Germany and Lahore; the ultimate aim — to fuel terror attacks in Jammu & Kashmir.

INDIA Updated: Sep 25, 2019 15:49 IST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Five people have so far been arrested by Punjab Police in connection with the drone drops.
Five people have so far been arrested by Punjab Police in connection with the drone drops.(File photo)

At least eight drone sorties, carrying a total of 80 kg of weapons (arms and ammunition), were sent across the border into Punjab by Pakistan-based Khalistani terror groups between September 9 and 16, officials in security agencies and the Punjab Police have confirmed on condition of anonymity.

The entire consignment, using the Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF) network, was supported by Pakistan’s spy agency Inter Services Intelligence and orchestrated through Germany and Lahore; the ultimate aim — to fuel terror attacks in Jammu & Kashmir.

The details of these drops have emerged following investigations that led to and following the September 22 weapons seizure at Tarn Taran district; the eight payloads were dropped in Amritsar and Tarn Taran.

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Police recover a half-burnt drone that was used for smuggling weapons into Punjab from Pakistan.

Police recover a half-burnt drone that was used for smuggling weapons into Punjab from Pakistan. ( Photo: Special arrangement )

Five people have so far been arrested by Punjab Police in connection with the drone drops, with one 22-year-old Subhdeep held on Tuesday. Investigators said he was from Amritsar district and was radicalised by the prime accused in the case, Mann Singh, and another accused, Akashdeep, in Amritsar jail. The other four people, suspected to belong to a terror module, were arrested from the outskirts of village Chohla Sahib in Tarn Taran on Sunday. They were using a white Maruti Swift with a Punjab registration number.

The investigation involved multiple agencies – the Punjab Police, central security agencies, the Border Security Force, the Indian Air Force – and prima facie found that multiple Chinese commercial drones with 10 kg payloads have been used in the weapons drop operations across the border. The drones, the investigation reveals, may have been launched from locations 2 km inside Pakistan and made to travel the distance of five kilometres at a height of 2,000 feet, and then dropped off the weapons after descending to 1200 ft. The payload was slung from the platform using Chinese mountaineering ropes.

Chinese batteries recovered from  the drone that crashed in Tarn Taran, Punjab.

Chinese batteries recovered from the drone that crashed in Tarn Taran, Punjab. ( Sourced )

With drone activity also being seen in Punjab’s Ferozepur district, the IAF and BSF have been asked by the Punjab police to intercept these unmanned aerial vehicles through low-level radars and destroy them. Officials fear that they could also be used to carry and drop off bombs.

The interrogation of those arrested has revealed that KZF’s Germany-based operative Gurmeet Singh Bagga in coordination with his Pakistan-based chief Ranjeet Singh aka Neeta have made deliveries of at least four weapons, grenades, electronics, and fake currency through drones. The deliveries were made on the intervening nights of September 6/7, 9/10 and the last one on 15/16. The last drone crashed at Rajoke Village, Khalra police station, in Tarn Taran, near a border drain which is 2km from the fencing on the international border with Pakistan. The entire operation came to light after the discovery of the burnt drone, whose eight Chinese batteries were stripped off by the accused on instructions from across the border. “ It has also been revealed that such deliveries took place on four different dates, mostly between 9.30 pm and 10.30 pm with the drone making two sorties within an hour,” said a senior Punjab Police official. As many as five AK-47 rifles, which weigh about four kilograms with magazine, four Chinese pistols , nine HE grenades, Rs 10 lakh fake currency, 1000 rounds of ammunition and two electronic receivers were recovered by the police from the accused.

The main concern of Indian security agencies is the revelation that entire consignment was meant for Islamist groups in Kashmir. “ We are not very clear as to how many other consignment has made their way into Kashmir using similar modus operandi and with the help of Pakistan based Sikh terrorists,” said a senior security official.

First Published: Sep 25, 2019 05:03 IST