Former XI Corps Commander Appointed Secretary Defence

Government of Pakistan on Friday appointed Lt.Gen (R) Asif Yasin Malik as new defence secretary in place of Nargis Sethi who had been given the additional charge of defence ministry’s top bureaucrat in January this year.

Sethi was assigned the job after the dismissal of Lt-Gen (R) Naeem Khalid Lodhi at the peak of a civil-military standoff over the infamous memogate affair.

Malik retired from active service last December as commander of the Peshawar-based 11 Corps. While commanding the corps, he oversaw counter-insurgency operations in tribal areas.The new defence secretary, who had attended training courses in the US, will hit the ground running with signing next week a bilateral MoU with the US on transit of cargo.

The MoU was approved by the federal cabinet this week.

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No breakthrough in Pakistan, India Siachen talks

ISLAMABAD – Staying glued to their respective positions, Pakistan and India have agreed to continue dialogue process for the resolution of Siachen and all other ‘outstanding’ issues and hold discussions at the relevant platforms.

The two-day secretary-level talks between the defence secretaries of both the countries saw progress on strategic cooperation for troops’ withdrawal from the world’s highest militarised region. The deliberations, to be followed by the issuance of a joint statement today (Tuesday), would be taken up at the foreign ministers meeting likely next month and the expected defence ministers-level discussions.

An eight-member Indian delegation led by the Indian Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma arrived in Islamabad on Sunday on a three-day visit to participate in the 13th round of secretary-level talks, according to defence ministry. Secretary Defence Nargis Sethi headed Pakistani side. Senior Indian defence ministry officials Shankar Aggarwal and Deepak Anurag are also part of the Indian delegation, according to sources.

“The preliminary discussions were held in a very pleasant and cordial atmosphere. Both sides explained their respective stances on Siachen issue-a joint statement after the concluding session will be issued in this regard,” a defence ministry statement said.

According to official sources, the joint statement would be a suggestive document urging both the sides; India and Pakistan, for the settlement of outstanding issues but it would not contain any recommendations. The document would not specify rest of the unresolved issues between India and Pakistan other than Siachen (Kashmir and Sir Creek)

Reportedly, the draft recommendations for the resolution of Siachen, Sir Creek and Kashmir issues would be prepared during the concluding session of Pak-India foreign ministers meeting in the coming July. During the Monday’s deliberations, Pakistani delegation is reported to have called for the resolution of Siachen dispute in the light of 1989 Pak-India agreement on Siachen and a follow up agreement signed three years later by both states, in 1992. The Indian side is said to have favoured further discussions on phase-wise troops withdrawal from Siachen and proportional troops pullout from the valley by both the countries-a reported policy that envisages early troops evacuation of base posts and eviction of forward posts at later stages.

“There is a realisation among both the sides that confrontation would lead to very negative implications that hinder economic and social development. Peace is the ultimate solution to bring prosperity in the region. Pakistan and India need to keep peace measures intact so as to eradicate misgivings and move on. Cooperation is the key to success,” Federal Minister for Defence Syed Naveed Qamar told TheNation.

He said the joint statement on the two-day deliberations would be incorporated in the foreign ministers and defence ministers-level talks. To a query, the minister said, his meeting with the Indian Defence Minister AK Anthony was expected soon but the schedule and venue were not finalised as yet. “The foreign ministers meeting will be another step towards the settlement of contentious issues. The defence ministers meeting would follow it.”

Earlier, according to a press release, Indian delegation also called on the Defence Minister Syed Naveed Qamar. “Matters of bilateral interests were discussed in the meeting, the minister expressed that it was in the interest of both India and Pakistan to seek the amicable resolution of all the outstanding issues, including Siachen as it would tremendously contribute towards the peace and prosperity of South Asian region,” it said.

In a demonstration of flexibility in its otherwise toughened stance on Siachen issue, Pakistan’s military command had called for the resolution of Siachen issue through demilitarisation. The development followed Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s visit to Gayari in April after an avalanche had wiped out a Pakistan Army battalion there. General Kayani had urged for troops withdrawal by both the sides for ‘peaceful coexistence.

Indian Army Drilling Siachen Glacier for Geothermal Energy

In a shocking development, Indian troops are found to have been drilling in the Siachen Glacier with the purpose of the geothermal exploration owing to which the glaciers, which are water tanks for Pakistan, are fast receding.

The geothermal exploration activities are meant to provide the sustained energy supply to the Indian troops which are at war with Pakistan. According to undeniable evidence available with The News, Research Laboratory was set up at an altitude of 11,500 feet from sea level with its field stations at Ranbirpura (11,900 ft) in a joint venture of Siachen Brigade of Indian Army and Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO).

Four Engineers Corps of Indian Army had drilled holes thousands of meters to explore and develop geothermal energy. However, they have been able to explore hot water springs. Thus the deep holes certainly touched the earth’s crust.

“The exploration team also reported the sharp vertical and horizontal retreat of glacier, substantiating the claim that the glacier is melting at an unprecedented rate,” reveal the documents. It may not be out of place to mention here that Nimoo-Bazgo hydropower project being built by India on Indus River also means to provide the sustained supply of electricity to Indian troops. Syed Jamaat Ali Shah, former commissioner of Pakistan Commission of Indus Water has also been charged in the inquiry report carried out by Wapda secretary Imtiaz Tajwar for not visiting the site of the Nimoo-Bazgo project and providing the ample time to Indian side for completing the project.

Meanwhile, Arshad H Abbasi, an eminent water expert in his letter written to President Asif Ali Zaradri who is also the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces drew his attention to the fact that Siachen glacier is melting at an unprecedented rate.

“It was highlighted time and again that military action, not global warming is the reason for melting of Pakistan’s water tank,” says the letter. The high-resolution images of the Siachen glacier show deep cracks every 10 feet, both in longitudinal and transverse directions. “The retreat of the glacier is also visible by horizontal expansion of glacial lakes throughout the glacier, but the most alarming sign is the vertical thinning of glaciers, which is aggravating the widening of crevasses on a massive scale,” the letter mentions.

“India and Pakistan’s claim over Siachen glacier has turned the region into the highest battleground on Earth. Since, April 1984, both the countries have maintained permanent military presence up to the height of over 22,500 ft. To facilitate the forces to defend their position, both countries, especially India, has developed cantonments, forward base-camps, training schools, aviation workshops and huge ammunition storages in the area.”

It is an established fact climate change is by far the biggest threat ever encountered by humankind. Glaciers are the most sensitive indicators of climate change. The Siachen glacier and other Himalayan glaciers act as climate regulators and are also natural heads of rivers that flow down to half of humanity.

Arshad H Abbasi mentioned in the letter that he had brought to the notice of additional secretary and the then adviser, MOWP in September 2009, that the geo-thermal exploration in Siachen by India has been started.

DCC Appeals To Nation To Observe ‘Youm-e-Dua’ for Troops in Gayari sector

ISLAMABAD (APP): The Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) on Tuesday decided to appeal to the nation to observe the coming Friday, as Youm-e-Dua for the safety and well being of Pakistan Army soldiers and civilians. Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani chaired the meeting of Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) at Prime Minister House here. The meeting offered special prayer for the well being and safety of the Pakistan Army personnel and civilians trapped under snow in Gayari Sector. In the opening statement, the Prime Minister said that the DCC’s meeting convened to consider the recommendations of the Parliament that were finalized on Thursday, April 12. The Parliamentary review process was an unprecedented development and marks a new milestone in Pakistan’s progress along the path of democracy, the Prime Minister said.