Politics

Paris Attacks Mastermind Dead

By Aglaia Staff

The suspected ringleader of the Paris attacks, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, has been identified as one of those killed in a raid in Saint Denis, the Paris prosecutor says.

His body was found riddled with bullets and shrapnel in an apartment in the northern Paris suburb on Wednesday.

670px Porte Saint Denis 01 Paris Attacks Mastermind Dead

Visit aglaia.co.in Porte Saint-Denis in Paris, from the South. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Belgian national, 27, was identified from his fingerprints.

Friday’s gun and suicide bomb attacks in the French capital left 129 people dead and hundreds injured.

Eight people were arrested and at least two killed in the raid on the property in Saint Denis.

Heavily armed police stormed the building after a tip-off that Abaaoud was in Paris.

A woman at the flat – reported in French media to be Abaaoud’s cousin – blew herself up during the raid.

Investigators are still looking for Salah Abdeslam, who is believed to have travelled to Belgium after the attacks on Friday night.

He was high on French and Belgian wanted lists and yet managed to travel from Syria to the heart of Paris without ever leaving a trace.

 

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Donald Trump Loses It; Calls Sanders Maniac And Communist

By Aglaia Staff

Just 24 hours after the first Democratic debate, Donald Trump spoke to a crowd of supporters and gave his thoughts on what the candidates said. In addition to his usual criticism of Hillary Clinton, Trump went hard after progressive favorite, Sen.  Sanders.

Ever since announcing his presidential campaign back in June, the billionaire real estate mogul has vaulted to the top of the Republican primary field. Despite making controversial comments about Hispanics, women, and other minority groups, the conservative base of the party continue to support the former host of “The Apprentice.” During an Oct. 14 campaign rally in Richmond, Virginia, Trump went on the attack.

670px Donald Trump by Gage Skidmore Donald Trump Loses It; Calls Sanders Maniac And Communist

Visit aglaia.co.in speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on February 10, 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I watched last night as Hillary and Bernie Sanders, they just couldn’t give away things fast enough,” Trump told the crowd. The Republican front runner had the crowd on their feet booing the Democratic candidates as he pointed out the “free stuff” they wanted to give to the American people. “They want heath care for illegal immigrants. They want drivers licenses for illegal immigrants,” Trump said, noting that, “They want, listen to this, social security for illegal immigrants.”

Trump then showed some sympathy for Clinton, referring to her as a “poor women,” citing the fact that she was forced to “give everything away” when standing next to Bernie Sanders. “The poor woman, she’s gotta give everything away because this maniac that was standing on her right was giving everything away, so she’s following! That’s what’s happening.”

Continuing his attack on Sanders, Trump referred to the Vermont senator as a “socialist” and a “communist.” “This socialist-slash-communist, okay? Nobody wants to say it,” Trump said as the crowd cheered. Warning his supporters, if Sanders is elected, they should expect to have their taxes raised to 90 percent.

Despite the charges of “socialism,” Sanders has spoken about using tax money to invest in rebuilding the country’s infrastructure, universal healthcare, and offer paid family leave, all programs that are prevalent in most industrialized nations around the world. Trump told the Virginia crowd that their taxes would be raised to 90 percent, a number that Sanders hasn’t ever said, but those who would see their taxes increased would be the wealthiest people and corporations in the country. A group that most likely didn’t attend Trump’s campaign rally.

 

 

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Voting Begins In Four North-East States

By Aglaia Staff

The 5-week parliamentary elections entered its second phase on Wednesday with voting in four north-eastern states of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya and Nagaland.

Simultaneous polls for two Lok Sabha and 49 of the 60 assembly seats of Arunachal Pradesh began on a peaceful note on Wednesday.

 

Congress, BJP, NCP, Peoples Party of Arunachal besides independents are in the fray in the Western and Eastern parliamentary constituencies, which are traditional Congress strongholds since 1975, except in 2004 when the BJP made its dent for the first time.

Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs Ninong Ering of Congress is pitted against BJP nominee Tarir Gao and PPA’S Wangman Lowangcha in the Eastern Parliamentary seat.

In the Western seat Congress MP nominee and sitting MP Takam Sanjoy has locked horns with BJP’s Kiren Rijiju in a multi-cornered contest which has eight candidates.

In the assembly polls the main contest will be between Congress and BJP but new entrant Naga Peoples Front (NPF), along with PPA and NCP are expected to put up formidable fight in several seats.

Altogether 155 candidates including 5 women are in the fray for 49 of the 60 Assembly seats in the state.

The rest 11 seats have been won uncontested by Congress. Among the winners are Chief Minister Nabam Tuki from Sagalee constituency.

An electorate of 7,53,170, including 3,77,272 women will cast their votes in 2,158 polling stations in the state.

An additional 20 companies of central paramilitary forces besides 24 existing companies have been deployed as well as 8000 policemen to maintain law and order during the polls.

Nagaland

Polling for the lone parliamentary seat in Nagaland which will decide the fate of Chief Minister Neiphiu Rioin began on a peaceful note on Wednesday.

Mr. Rioin is pitted against Congress’ K V Pusa and Akheu Achumi of Socialist Party (India).

This will be the first time that Nagaland would webcast poll proceedings of 84 stations out of the total 2,059 stations to maintain transparency.

Those polling stations can be viewed live through the CEO Nagaland website.

An electorate of 11,82,948, including 5,82,458 women will cast their votes during the day.

Manipur

The Outer Manipur Lok Sabha seat, one of the two parliamentary constituencies in the state went to the polls on Wednesday.

A total 10 contestants from BJP, Congress, Trinamool Congress, Naga People’s Front, NCP, JD(U) and Aam Admi Party, besides three independents are in the fray.

The candidates whose fate will be decided today are sitting Congress MP Thangso Baite, Gangmumei Kamei (BJP), C Doungel (NCP), Kim Gangte (TMC), Soso Lorho (Naga People’s Front), L Gangte (JD—U) and M K Zou (AAP).

 

An electorate of 9,11,699, of whom 4,63,068 are women, will cast their votes in 511 polling booths.

 Voting Begins In Four North East States
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Swamy Slams Jaya Over Release of Rajiv Assassins

By Aglaia Staff

Former Union minister and BJP member Subramanian Swamy slammed the decision by Tamil Nadu (TN) government to release seven people convicted for their role in the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. He said the Union government should take a strict view on the issue.

Swamy said the letter by the TN government telling the Centre that it should reply within three days or they would release the convicts was illegal. “The state government has no such right. Only the central government can do so as they have been convicted under a central act,” he said.

Swamy demanded that the PM send a missive to TN chief minister J Jayalalithaa under Article 256 of the Constitution of India and then threaten to use Article 356 to dismiss the government. Swamy said this was needed as the anti-national sentiment in TN was getting encouragement. “This is needed to curb such forces in the state,” he said.

According to Swamy, the accused had in the court expressed pride in carrying out the assassination and said that they did so as India had sent a peace-keeping force to Sri Lanka. “The fact is that the force was sent after a proposal brought in Parliament was cleared,” he said.

Swamy also slammed Congress leader Sonia Gandhi for writing to the President that the convicts should not be given capital punishment. “If she was compassionate why did she not make such a demand for Satwant Singh, who killed Indira Gandhi or for Dhananjay Chatterjee, who kept begging for mercy for 20 years,” he said.

Swamy, who was in the city, to speak at a national seminar on ‘Had Sardar Patel not been successful in building united India, what would have been the fate of the nation’. He praised Patel for uniting the princely states and said the country would not have been what it was without his efforts.

 

 Swamy Slams Jaya Over Release of Rajiv Assassins
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70 Percent Of Defence Machinery Imported

By Aglaia Staff

When drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, of the US Army fly over enemy territory, they use a technology developed by a little-known Bangalore company to send back crystal clear images to their command centre. This technology is used by armed forces around the world, except in India — the home of its developer ArvindLakshmikumar, who founded Tonbo Imaging four years ago.

Tonbo developed this technology for Europe’s biggest defence company which, in turn, sold it to various armed forces. Lakshmikumar, 36, had been keen to sell such innovations to the Indian armed forces, but gave up after he realised the futility of trying to convince the authorities here that his products were among the best in the world.

 

He shifted his headquarters to Singapore, as he felt that he could crack the global market for his technologies better from the Southeast Asian city state. Lakshmikumar’s ordeal is just another example of the difficulties and frustrations that small Indian aerospace and defence companies have to go through, facing a hostile bureaucratic set up on the one side and a colonial mindset on the other.

“There is a serious colonial hangup for foreign products,” says Lakshmikumar. “For an Indian bidder they have millions of questions.” The milieu is skewed so against the local players that while an Indian bidder is asked to pay a security deposit, a foreign bidder is not.

“The system is structured in such a way that even if we need a pin, we prefer to import it rather than make it ourselves,” says Smita Purushottam of the New Delhi-based think tank Institute for Defence Studies & Analyses.

India imports more than 70 per cent of its weapons and technology for its defence needs, making it a sitting duck for security threats during wars. In contrast, even Pakistan has a more proactive policy that encourages domestic manufacturers. China is in a different league altogether. The mindset of those in power is also hurting the economy. India will spend $100-150 billion (about Rs 5.4-8.1 lakh crore) on defence modernisation programmes by 2022, according to consulting firm Frost & Sullivan. It will also become the fourth biggest defence spender in the world by 2020, behind the US, China and Russia, according to IHS, a US-based information and analytics provider.

“The best of our minds are utilised by other countries for their progress,” says A Sivathanu Pillai, a scientist and CEO of BrahMos Aerospace, the maker of BrahMos missile. “Put them on the same level field, and they will compete.” The government said its intention was to promote local companies when it unveiled its offset policy in 2005-2006, requiring foreign firms winning defence contracts to ensure that at least 30 per cent of the contracted value is invested in India. But most of it is still on paper.

“As of today not a single offset contract has been fulfilled,” says S Ravinarayanan, chairman of Axis Aerospace & Technologies. He points out that of the 18 offset contracts worth $15 billion that have been signed since 2006, offset commitments were made for deals worth $4.62 billion. “Original equipment manufacturers have repeatedly defaulted in discharging their offset obligations,” he says, suggesting that it is the responsibility of government to ensure that the obligations are met.

The government says it will take more time to see the effects of the new policies. “Rome was not built in a day,” Defence Minister AK Antony told reporters recently at Aero India 2013 in Bangalore. Text messages and phone calls to Jitendra Singh, minister of state for defence, were not answered. Small companies also complain that the government is doing little to encourage them, unlike in the United States or in Israel, where grants are given for companies with promising technologies.

“We are made to compete directly with multinationals for projects. A small entrepreneur cannot beat multinationals,” says Siddharth Amin of Swallow Systems which makes unmanned aerial vehicles. “The government procedure is so long, cumbersome.”

An engineer, Amin, 43, shut down his profitable computer hardware business to pursue his passion for making unmanned aerial vehicles. After more than a decade of research, he launched Swallow. But despite having cutting-edge products, his company is yet to find any takers in the government. On the other hand, Amin’s counterpart, Integrated Dynamics, in Pakistan, started about the same time as he did and has thrived due to government support. “It now makes combat drones,” says Amin, who now earns his living by providing mapping services to mining companies in India and overseas. “We have not lost hope,” he insists.

He was also a part of government-funded programmes like Future Combat Systems intended to prepare the US Army for modern warfare.

Lakshmikumar soon realised that India still does not have an ecosystem like the US or Israel, where government-run organisations fund young companies to develop new technologies. Indian entrepreneurs also face delays in payments. A foreign bidder gets a “letter of credit” before shipping the products, but an Indian bidder’s payment gets delayed for months on end.

Rajiv Chib, associate director of the aerospace and defence practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers, says that Indian entrepreneurs have already overcome challenges on a global scale. “However, doing business is still not easy for them due to certain India-specific practical challenges.” Also, regulatory hurdles are time-consuming and can lead to missed opportunities.

Captronic Systems developed an indigenous in-flight data recorder at one-tenth the cost of imported ones. It offered the equipment to state-run Hindustan Aeronautics. 

“No country has become a major technological power without nurturing an innovative, fast-growing manufacturing foundation.”

 

 70 Percent Of Defence Machinery Imported
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Priyanka Joins Rahul’s Congress Meeting; Speaks Of Party Rejig

By Aglaia Staff

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday held a meeting with party leaders for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The meeting was also attended by his sister Priyanka Vadra.

The meeting was held to discuss the tour programmes of Rahul Gandhi and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, a party leader said.

“She (Priyanka) joined the meeting towards the end,” he said.

The meeting was held at Rahul Gandhi’s 12 Tughlak Lane residence.

Priyanka Vadra has been looking after the constituencies of her brother Rahul Gandhi (Amethi) and her mother Sonia Gandhi (Rae Bareli).

Meanwhile, four to five new faces from the Hindi belt as well as some other states could be inducted as AICC spokespersons while the 36-member list of television panelists from Congress could witness a thorough rejig later this month, sources said.

Sources said the changes are planned to take place after the January 17 AICC meeting, which will be held amid a growing clamour in the party for projecting Rahul Gandhi as Congress’ prime ministerial nominee.

The exercise is part of the Congress vice-president’s plan to revamp the media strategy of the party ahead of the next Lok Sabha polls.

Two national workshops were organised a couple of months back by AICC at the national level to fine-tune Congress’ media strategy and pick up talents from states for projecting the party better in television and print media and also augment the social media platform.

Similar workshops have been organised in various states, where the party has now put in place dedicated media teams as Congress plans to go to the polls highlighting the achievements of UPA in last ten years.

The party is also working on a strategy to hardsell its flagship schemes like food security, direct benefit transfer, new land bill, lokpal bill, RTI, MNREGA and other legislations aimed at social inclusiveness and fighting corruption.

Recently, Haryana minister Randeep Singh Surjewala, Mahila Congress chief Shobha Oza, television panelist Sanjay Jha and former spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi have addressed the official briefing of the party from the AICC podium leading to speculation about their induction as the new spokespersons of AICC.

The two workshops of the party organised to bring in media talents from within Congress have also thrown up some names, who could find their inclusion in the new list of media panelists. The party has given indications of a larger role in its media strategy being played by Congress chief spokesperson from Bihar Premchand Mishra and MLA from Madhya Pradesh Mukesh Nayak.

The sources said that the issue of the reshuffle in the media team is still under discussion and the names have not been finalised as yet. The focus will be to find out bilingual spokespersons, who could speak both English and Hindi fluently and disseminate the party’s viewpoint on various issues with clarity.

 

 Priyanka Joins Rahuls Congress Meeting; Speaks Of Party Rejig
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PM’s Media Address A Farce; Bitter Towards Modi

By Aglaia Staff

 

Calling Prime Minister Manmohan Singh‘s press conference a ‘farce’, BJP leader Arun Jaitley on Friday said, “Except for the announcement of the fact that he is unavailable for future leadership, the rest of the press conference was a formality.” 

Slamming Singh, Jaitley questioned the logic that 2009 election results were indicative of people’s mandate and not the recent state assembly elections. “PM kept looking for points to show that his government did good governance. He manufactured a new logic that corruption happened during the tenure of UPA-I. According to him, electoral sanction wipes out corruption,” Jaitley said. 

“If PM were to be believed, then corruption ceased to be corruption or was no longer accepted by people as being corruption,” he said. “If we go by the same logic, then the performance of Congress in the recent state elections puts a complete stamp of failure on the party,” he said. “You cannot have a different yardstick for measuring two outcomes, Jaitley went on to say that Singh appeared to be bitter towards Narendra Modi. “The benefit of his very same logic can then be extended to Modi as well. If electoral mandates are proof of sanctity, then Modi has won two elections since the riots,” Jaitley added. 

Calling the combined problems of corruption, unemployment and inflation a ‘recipe for disaster’, Jaitley said, “PM admitted that his government failed to curb corruption, check unemployment and contain inflation.” 

Arun Jaitley said, “PM admitted that his government failed to curb corruption, check unemployment and contain inflation.” 

The most frequently used sentences by the PM were, ‘Time will tell’ and ‘It is for historians to write’, said Jaitley. “In a democracy time doesn’t tell, voters tell us. Voters tell us more emphatically,” he said. “From what voters are likely to tell us, it is bad news for the Congress party. The bad news is mainly because of the failures of the Manmohan Singh government.

In a major announcement, Manmohan Singh on Friday ruled out a third term for himself, stating that he will hand over the baton to a new Prime Minister after the 2014 general elections. “In few months, after elections, I will hand the baton over to a new PM. I hope it will be a UPA PM,” Singh said. 

Meanwhile Singh also defended his government and accused Modi often; as the Congress regularly does. He also did not comment on the new contender to the political throne, the Aam Aadmi Party as according to him it was early days yet. The Prime Minister kept up the veneer of political sycophancy and managed to deflect attention away from pressing issues the country is currently dealing with; including price rise, rampant corruption et al. 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 

 

 PMs Media Address A Farce; Bitter Towards Modi
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Second Blast Hits Russia; Olympics In Jeopardy

By Aglaia Staff

A deadly suicide bombing at a crowded railroad station in southern Russia on Sunday, followed by a blast in a trolley bus on Monday in the same city, raised the specter of a new wave of terrorism just six weeks before the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

President Vladimir V. Putin’s government has worked to protect the Olympics with some of the most extensive security measures ever imposed for the Games. But the bombings, in Volgograd, underscored the threat the country faces from a radical Islamic insurgency in the North Caucasus that has periodically spilled into the Russian heartland, with deadly results, including several recent attacks.

Security has become a paramount concern at all major international sporting events, especially in the wake of the bombing at the Boston Marathon in April, but never before has an Olympic host country experienced terrorist violence on this scale soon before the Games. And would-be attackers may have more targets in mind than the Russian state.

Current and former American law enforcement and intelligence officials said Sunday that they were more concerned about security in Russia during the Sochi Games than they have been about any other Olympics since Athens in 2004.

Russian officials attributed the explosion on Sunday to a bomb packed with shrapnel, possibly carried in a bag or backpack. It was detonated in the main railroad station in Volgograd, a city 550 miles south of Moscow and 400 miles northeast of Sochi. The bomb blew out windows in the building’s facade and left a horrific scene of carnage at its main entrance. At least 17 people were killed, and nearly three dozen others were wounded, some of them critically, meaning the death toll could still rise.

On Monday morning a second blast struck a trolley bus in the city, killing at least 15 people, including an infant, according to preliminary reports. Photographs posted by Russian news organizations showed that the force of the blast tore open the bus and shattered windows nearby. Nearly two dozen others were wounded in what officials immediately described as another suicide bombing.

The Sunday blast, captured on a surveillance video camera from across the central plaza in front of the station, occurred near the station’s metal detectors, which have become a common security fixture at most of Russia’s transportation hubs. That raised the possibility that an attack deeper inside the station or aboard a train had been averted.

Vladimir I. Markin, a spokesman for the main national criminal investigation agency in Russia, called the bombing an act of terror, though the exact motivation, target and perpetrator were not immediately clear.

Within hours of the attack, the authorities blamed a suicide bomber, and cited the gruesome discovery of the severed head of a woman, which they said could aid in identifying her as the suspect. Officials later said they had found a grenade and a pistol, and suggested that the attack might have been carried out by a man and a woman working together.

“Most likely, the victims could have been much higher if the so-called protective system had not stopped the suicide bomber from getting through the metal detectors into the waiting room, where there were passengers,” Mr. Markin said in a statement on the agency’s website.

The attack was the second suicide bombing in Volgograd in recent months. In October, a woman identified as Naida Asiyalova detonated a vest of explosives aboard a bus in the city, killing herself and six others.

In that case, the authorities said she was linked by marriage to an explosives expert working with an Islamic group in Dagestan, a republic in southern Russia where the police have struggled to suppress a Muslim separatist insurgency. A month later, the authorities announced that they had killed her husband in a raid. But the attack on Sunday indicated that the threat was far from extinguished.

It was not clear why suicide bombers have chosen targets in Volgograd, a city of 1 million that was formerly called Stalingrad, the site of one of the crucial battles of World War II. It is the nearest major Russian city to the Caucasus, and its proximity may play a role.

Roman Lobachov, who was among those injured on Sunday, said he was at the station’s security checkpoint when the blast occurred. “I passed through the metal detector, and at that moment there was an explosion,” he said in remarks on the official Rossiya television network. He said he felt a shock like a blow to the head, “and I kind of dropped to the floor.”

Mr. Putin vowed Sunday to redouble security at Russia’s railway stations and airports, which are especially busy around the New Year’s holiday.

 Second Blast Hits Russia; Olympics In Jeopardy
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Modi Takes A Dig At Chidambaram For Ruining The Country

By Aglaia Staff

Sparring between Modi and Chidambaram has been on for some time. Modi had alleged at a rally in Jodhpur yesterday that Chidambaram feels buying gold causes inflation. The Finance Minister responded by saying that BJP’s prime ministerial candidate is giving his “first lesson in economy” and rejected his contention.

An undeterred Modi continued the onslaught against Chidambaram and Dr Singh at his rallies in Delhi.
Taking a dig at the top leadership of the Congress, Modi said, “Our PM is a big economist. We never questioned that. Finance Minister is also very well educated. We never challenged that.”

“A top ranking minister in the central government, who considers himself to be all-intelligent, thinks he has got all the brains in the world and that the others are brainless… The same minister said prices are rising because poor, who were earlier only eating dry breads, are now eating two vegetables. Tell me, are prices rising due to this?” he asked.

Earlier, while addressing a rally at Shahdra, Narendra Modi said the party had lost people’s trust and this was the reason why its leaders were staying away from campaigning in Delhi.

“This government has lost the trust of people and that is why its leaders are not coming here to campaign. They know they can’t fool the people of Delhi with fake promises.”

The Gujarat Chief Minister said the Congress had no issues to speak on and no development work to show and that was the reason it was attacking him to divert people’s attention.

“They think that by attacking Modi, they will win elections but the fact is that they have not done anything for the people. They just don’t  have the will to work for the benefit of people,” he said.

Launching an attack on Arvind Kejriwal for the first time, Modi accused him of back-stabbing Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement for his personal political ends.

Without naming Kejriwal or his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), he cautioned the people against voting for the “newcomers”.
“Many years, after the JP movement, Anna Hazare blew the bugle against corruption. We were hopeful that people would get rid of corruption.

“But, some people back-stabbed such a sacred movement of Anna Hazare for their own personal political aspirations and the whole agitation came to an end,” Modi said at a well-attended BJP poll rally in Seemapuri, a Congress bastion.
The Gujarat Chief Minister said Congress displays one hand (its symbol) but loots with both hands while for the newcomers it seems even two hands are not enough.

“They are all for sweeping everything with the broom (AAP’s election symbol),” Modi said.
BJP had been terming AAP and its leaders Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia, Gopal Rai and others as Congress’ agents and said they are only a “vote-cutter” party. 

 

 Modi Takes A Dig At Chidambaram For Ruining The Country
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Pak PM Chooses Lt. General Raheel Sharif

By Aglaia Staff

Lt General Raheel Sharif, the third in terms of seniority, was appointed as Pakistan’s new army chief and the man tipped for the position of army chief, Lt General Rashad Mahmood was appointed to thlargely ceremonial position of chairman of the joint chiefs of staff committee, local media said on Wednesday.

Geo Television reported that Sharif, who hails from Lahore, was chosen by prime minister Nawaz Sharif from a list of four candidates sent to him by the outgoing army chief General Pervez Ashfaq Kayani.

Earlier, the favourite for the position was General Mahmood, who was the second senior most in the rankings and seen as the favourite of General Kayani.

General Raheel Sharif comes from a military family. Hailing from the Frontier Corps, Sharif’s elder brother – Shabbir Sharif was a recipient of Pakistan’s highest military award, the Nishan-e-Haider. He is also related to another war hero, Major Aziz Bhatti.

Sharif has worked extensively on countering India’s cold start doctrine with more sophisticated responses.

In a message on Twitter, the Pak prime minister confirmed the appointment at a time when tension continues with India over Kashmir and as the United States seeks Pakistan’s help in bringing peace to neighbour Afghanistan

Sharif is seen as a moderate who views the militant threat inside Pakistan as just as important as the strategic tussle with India.

General Sharif will take over as head of the 600,000-strong army from General Ashfaq Kayani, who is retiring after six years at the helm.

The change of command comes with the country facing a daunting array of challenges — a homegrown Taliban insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives, vexed relations with India and the winding-down of the 12-year NATO mission in neighbouring Afghanistan.

“Sharif has played a big role in convincing the army that the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and assorted militants inside Pakistan are as big a threat (as India),” a retired senior army officer who Sharif has served under told Reuters.

The TTP is a group of Islamist militants in the country’s lawless tribal areas next to Afghanistan. Sharif’s appointment came as somewhat of a surprise as three other men had been seen as leading candidates.

Sharif, whose elder brother won Pakistan’s highest military award for valour in the 1971 war with India, will formally take command on Thursday.

Departing commander Kayani has served as army chief since 2007 and has been given much credit for resisting the temptation to meddle overtly in politics.

When he confirmed his retirement last month he stressed that the armed forces “fully support and want to strengthen” democracy.

The general election in May marked a major landmark for Pakistani democracy as being the first time an elected government had completed its term and handed over power through the ballot box.

Nawaz, who made the appointment, will be hoping to avoid a repeat of events the last time he named an army chief — General Pervez Musharraf overthrew him in a coup in 1999.

There has been much debate about how to deal with the campaign of violence waged against the state by the Pakistani Taliban.

The government has said it wants to pursue peace talks, but some have argued that a military offensive is needed to clear militant hideouts in the tribal northwest.

Analyst Hasan Askari said he thought the new commmander would take an uncompromising approach.

“He belongs to a family of soldiers, his father was a martyr, his brother was honoured with the highest military award, so I expect he will go for the extremist groups and clear the tribal areas,” Askari told AFP.

“He has to secure the border with Afghanistan, so I think he will consult with his senior top brass officers and clear the troubled area along the Durand Line.”  

The Durand Line is the official name for the Afghan-Pakistani border.

 

 

 Pak PM Chooses Lt. General Raheel Sharif
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