Poor weather conditions have forced seven French navy fighter jets taking part in a training exercise to make emergency landings in northern Indonesia, an Indonesian air force official said Sunday. The crews of the seven Dassault Rafale combat planes landed safely at Sultan Iskandar Muda air force base in Aceh province on Saturday, 90 minutes after taking off from their aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle in the Indian Ocean, said Aceh air force base commander Col. Hendro Arief.

“We had to open our base to them to land as they were in an emergency state due to bad weather,” Arief said. He said air force radar confirmed that the planes were initially flying out of Indonesian territory when fog and bad weather forced them to land immediately as they were trying to return to their aircraft carrier, located 100 nautical miles west of Sumatra’s exclusive economic zone. Continue reading


Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s hopes to be self-sufficient in oil production were dashed as the expected oil and gas reserves in the Arabia Sea were not found. Exploration mission has been stopped off the coast of Karachi as the drillers hit the dry ‘wells’ despite drilling more than 5500 metres deep into the sea.It was officially announced on Saturday that the much-celebrated offshore drilling in Kekra-1 had been stopped because no reserves were found. The operators of the well have decided to plug it in the coming days, according to reports in Pakistani media.

Around 18 attempts have been made in the past, but all remained unsuccessful despite encouraging data from each drilling, says the official.”We have only drilled 18 holes for oil. Only the 18th attempt. India had offshore discoveries after 43rd attempt, Libya after 58th, and Norway, another country which nobody believed could have reserves, drilled 78 holes between 1954 to 1963 and then hit it big,” Syed Ali Haider Zaidi, Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs, told Gulf News. He said that hope and resilience is the way forward as the government would continue to look for alternate resources.

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The Pakistan Army will raise another division-size special force to protect Chinese nationals and projects under the CPEC, military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor has said, days after the brazen terror attack on a luxury hotel in Balochistan. Describing the USD 50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as a living example of deep-rooted friendship between Pakistan and China, Major General Ghafoor, Director General of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), said the Pakistan Army was fully determined to ensure the security of the project.

Talking to the Chinese media in Rawalpindi on Saturday, he said the Pakistan military had raised a whole division-size force to protect the project and they were planning to deploy another division for this purpose. Continue reading


China’s President Xi Jinping agreed to meet the Dalai Lama during a state visit to India in 2014, but the plan was quashed by Delhi, the Buddhist spiritual leader has said.The bombshell claim, which could signal that in the early years of his term Xi was open to the most radical shift in China’s Tibet policy in decades, was made during an interview for a book by Indian journalist Sonia Singh, an executive at the Delhi-based television channel NDTV.

The Dalai Lama appeared to let the detail slip casually in the November 2018 interview, according to an audio recording the Observer has heard.“I have a brief meeting with prime minister Narendra Modi, [and] when Xi Jinping came to Delhi, I also wanted a meeting with him,” he said. “So I already have some connection, some contact directly through my friend. So Xi Jinping agreed, but the Indian government … was a little cautious.” Continue reading


Twenty nine years after its imposition, the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act is set to be withdrawn from Assam in August, and the Centre has already asked the Army to plan its return from the state.

It was on November 27, 1990 — when Ulfa militancy was at its peak — that the entire state was declared a “disturbed area” and AFPSA, which grants special powers to the armed forces while conducting counter-insurgency operations, was imposed. Over the years, the Army has gradually withdrawn from several districts as the situation improved. Police and paramilitary forces have taken the Army’s place. Continue reading


A district court in Myanmar has sentenced 24 Assam and Manipur militants, who were arrested from their hideouts in January by the country’s army in a crackdown against Indian groups, to two years of imprisonment after charging them under the country’s Unlawful Association Act.

The militants sent to jail by the Hkamti district court in Sagaing region of Myanmar belong to the Manipur People’s Army (MPA), United Liberation Front of Assam (Ulfa), Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL), People’s Liberation Army of Manipur (PLA), People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK) and People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak. Continue reading


On April 28, the snowclearance equipment of the Border Roads Organisation breached the snow covering the Zojila Pass and opened the Srinagar-Leh highway. Leading this effort was Anayatullah, a hearing and speech impaired bulldozer driver, who is said to work with instinct over a road alignment that is not visible due to the snow.

Anayatullah is one of the heroes who operate and live in these extraordinarily treacherous and demanding conditions to keep our borders safe. To most of our citizens, the valour of the military is known through tales of those who win gallantry awards, carry out ‘surgical strikes’ or sacrifice their lives in fighting terrorism. The contribution of these braves is enormous, but we must also recognize that the common soldier, who goes about his task with fortitude and courage, is the real unsung hero of our military. Let me tell his story in the backdrop of the opening of Zojila Pass. Continue reading


On the historic day of May 18, 1974, India became a nuclear power. The day was marked by the presence of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi when the first nuclear test was conducted in Pokhran.The nuclear test was conducted in a dry well at Malka village near Pokhran and today a huge pit there speaks about those glorious moments. Though Army has put fencing around the 500-metre area, there is no board that mentions the historic event for the knowledge of future generations. Even after passing of 45 years, no government ever paid attention to mention the historic importance of this place.

Historian Nand Kishore Sharma said, “On this day, the doors of luck too opened on Jaisalmer when Indira Gandhi visited the historical Patwon ki Haveli and Dewan Nathmal’s Haveli and decided to put Jaisalmer on the world map. She directed to conserve these havelis. May 18, 1974 has been written in golden words in the history when India through nuclear test told the powerful countries that it was not far behind them.” Continue reading


Anees-ul-Islam, 30, contested the local bodies’ elections in Jammu and Kashmir last year hoping to do his bit in developing his village — Sagam in Anantnag district. He entered the fray despite threats to his life in the militancy-hit South Kashmir district. Many like Islam hoped the situation would get better to allow them to fulfil the promises they had made to their voters. But the situation has gone from bad to worse, so much so that Islam has been unable to even visit his family in Sagam.

“I am living in a rented room in the town [Anantnag] along with my wife and two children since I became a sarpanch,” he said. Islam is not alone. Hundreds of elected sarpanches have been unable to visit their families since getting elected in the Panchayat polls held in November-December last year. The elections were held under the shadow of militant threats. In August 2018, Hizb-ul-Mujhadeen (HM) commander Riyaz Naikoo issued a video message threatening acid attacks against the participants. Continue reading


They say first impression is the last impression. Kashmiri footballer Afshan Ashiq learnt that the hard way as she struggles to overcome the image that thrust her into the limelight for the wrong reasons. “I’m a goalkeeper, I just have a good throw,” she says. Back in December 2017, Afshan’s photo had gone viral on social media and everything changed for her. “My life has not been the same after that, people know me now” – both the good and the bad.

A photo of Afshan – her face covered with a dupatta – throwing a stone at the Jammu and Kashmir police was shared wildly. She was labelled as a stone-pelter and her story became that of a ‘stone-pelter-turned footballer’. “I was labelled as a stone pelter-turned into footballer, but I have always been a footballer, that was just one day,” she told at the sidelines of Indian Women’s League, where she played for FC Kolhapur City. Continue reading


A BSF officer was injured in the cross-border shelling by the Pakistan Army along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch district, officials said on Sunday.

Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) Satyapal Singh suffered splinter injuries when a mortar shell exploded near him while manning a forward post at Baloni in Krishna Ghati sector on Friday night, they said. The officials said the officer was shifted to the military hospital and his condition was “stable”. Continue reading


The immediate priority before the new government at the Centre will be to step up the pace of modernisation of defence forces given the challenges emerging on twin fronts with China and Pakistan. In the long term, the new government needs to work towards restructuring defence forces to make them lean and agile according to the needs of the modern warfare.

The recent anti-terror airstrikes by the Indian Air Force and retaliation by the Pakistan Air Force in February have indicated deficiency in country’s defences. This was somewhat highlighted by the way PAF jets were able to enter Indian territory without any major losses despite expectation of retaliation. The PAF’s F-16 jets armed with  AMRAAM missiles seemed to have an edge.

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Far from anticipating a speedy end to the trade war formally launched last year by US President Donald Trump against China, the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is preparing for a prolonged struggle. The CCP considers the hostile measures serially introduced by Trump as an effort by the United States to slow down and if possible snuff out economic growth in China in order to create chaos that would generate Arab Spring or Colour Revolution conditions. In the CCP core’s view, several of the conditions insisted upon by US trade negotiators “at the point of a gun” have little to do with commerce but relate to demands designed to significantly dilute the influence and authority of the Communist Party over the country, a control over policy that is regarded as having been a necessary pre-condition for the rapid growth of China since the mid-1980s.

Those around President Xi Jinping look to the experience of Japan, which during 1985-87 accepted (as a consequence of Washington’s pressure) several one-sided conditions related to the economy, such as excessive levels of investment in US-based assets, and artificially boosting the value of the Japanese currency. That surrender to US dictates by Tokyo created the conditions for the relative stagnation of the Japanese economy since the 1990s as compared to the previous period. Continue reading


Last week the armed forces, particularly the Army, were in the news because of two developments—one progressive and the other regressive. The progressive was the Ministry of Defence’s announcement of an Armed Forces Special Operations Division (AFSOD) headed by a major general, which is but a baby step into the 21st century considering that this formation falls well short of the creation of a Special Operations Command as recommended by the Naresh Chandra Committee in 2011.

Alongwith, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) also announced the creation of a Cyber Warfare Centre and a Space Warfare Centre to be headed by a Navy and Air Force officer, respectively. This again falls short of a Cyber Command and a Space Command as was also the original recommendation. These three new establishments will report to the Chief of the tri-service Integrated Defence Staff or CIDS, which serves as the secretariat for a yet-to-be-created Chief of Defence Force. Continue reading



The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has started to offer details about its most ambitious space mission to date, Chandrayaan 2, in bits and pieces, indicating that the agency is known for cost-effective launches among satellite-makers and may not delay the second lunar mission any further.

ISRO has announced that all the modules are being prepared for the launch of Chandrayaan-2 during the window of 9 July to July 16, 2019, with an expected Moon landing on 6 September 2019. Continue reading