Wednesday, August 27, 2014
http://rt.com/The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe shares Moscow's concern on world nuclear safety and the potential threat that possible US atomic fuel supplies to Ukraine might cause as the country remains in crisis. The head of the OSCE and Swiss president Didier Burkhalter says he is concerned about nuclear safety in connection with the US intention to supply the country with nuclear fuel, according to a reply letter to Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Industry Vladimir Gutenev. Switzerland “shares the view concerning nuclear safety,” Burkhalter wrote, as cited by Itar-Tass, “Nuclear safety is a key concern of the Swiss nuclear policy,” he added. In this regard, the Swiss leader recalled the proposal to amend the Convention on Nuclear Safety in order to avoid long term contamination in the event of a nuclear accident. “We would be delighted to welcome the strong support of the Russian Federation in respect of the preparation process, as well as strengthening the Convention on Nuclear Safety,” said Burkhalter. However, in Burkhalter’s opinion, the question should also be “discussed between the operator and the regulator of nuclear facilities, namely national security authority of Ukraine.” “When a country has concerns about nuclear safety due to another country, one needs to result to bilateral negotiations, or, if not possible, to other appropriate authorities, such as the IAEA,” the letter said according to Tass. Rivne nuclear power plant's watercooling facilities, Ukraine (Reuters)Rivne nuclear power plant's watercooling facilities, Ukraine (Reuters) In early June, Gutenev sent a letter to Burkhalter warning of security threats that European nations will face in case of a potential industrial nuclear disaster at one of Ukraine's power plants, as Kiev is planning to sign a contract with American Westinghouse Electric Company. He highlighted the fact that Soviet made nuclear plants are not compatible with fuel assembly type TBC-W offered by the Americans, as previous trials have shown. “The nuclear reactors in Ukraine are of Russian (Soviet) design, which are only designed for fuel that has passed a special certification. Therefore, further attempts to use non-adapted fuel assemblies of American production without a corresponding adjustment increase the risk of failure of the Ukrainian reactors and dramatically increase the likelihood of man-made disasters,” Gutenev wrote in June, calling on the OSCE to consider the issue. In 2005, six experimental Westinghouse fuel assemblies, adopted for use in USSR-developed reactors, were tried at the South Ukraine plant in one reactor together with Russian fuel rods. By 2008 Ukraine signed a contract with Westinghouse on fuel rod supply. However, the experiment showed that Westinghouse assemblies deformed during exploitation and got stuck in the core. The reason is simple – Russian nuclear fuel rods are hexagonal in section, while Americans produce fuel assemblies of square section. By 2012, after the failed test, exploitation of US nuclear fuel was banned in Ukraine and the fuel rods were returned to the producer “to get fixed” while Russian scientists came to the rescue. The Energoatom Company of Ukraine lost an estimated $175 million in this trial. Now the Kiev regime has renewed the 2008 nuclear fuel deal till 2020, to replace 25 percent of the Russian-made fuel rods with an option to “provide more if needed.” Ukraine has 4 nuclear power plants with 15 nuclear reactors that generate at least 50 percent (over 13 megawatt) of all electric power in Ukraine. All nuclear fuel for Ukrainian reactors has been produced in Russia, which also recycles Ukraine’s nuclear waste. In order to reduce its dependency on Moscow, Kiev has announced the beginning of construction of a Central Spent Fuel Storage Facility in which the used fuel will be stored in double-walled stainless steel canisters in the southeast of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, within the Exclusion Zone. It is scheduled to be completed in 2017 to service nine of Ukraine's reactors.
http://www.thehindu.com/U.S. President Barack Obama will convene a meeting of the U.N. Security Council next month on the threat posed by foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq, the White House has said, amidst reports that another American jihadi has died in Syria fighting for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). It is estimated that foreign fighters from about 50 countries, including from India and about 100 from the U.S. are fighting for the ISIL, the terrorist outfit that has gained control over a large part of Syria and Iraq in the last couple of months. “U.S. President, Barack Obama, is going to convene a meeting of the U.N. Security Council to discuss the threat that’s posed by foreign fighters,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said on Wednesday. “That will be an important opportunity for the President to discuss with the leaders of the world what can be done cooperatively to try to counter the threat that those individuals with Western passports might pose to Western governments,” he said. There are thousands of foreign fighters from up to 50 countries who have travelled to Syria to take up arms alongside ISIL, he said. “We are very concerned about the risk that those individuals pose to the 50 countries from which they travelled. In many cases, these are individuals that have Western passports. They have some freedom of movement in our modern transportation system,” he noted. He said the U.S. was working with Interpol and other law enforcement agencies as well as the homeland security agencies in the West and in the region to try to monitor the movements of the ISIL militants to mitigate the threat. “These are individuals who have been radicalised. These are individuals who’ve received some military training. In some cases, they’re battle tested, and they’ve demonstrated, as McCain did, a willingness to die for their cause,” he said. Mainstream U.S. media reported that a coalition of Syrian opposition, Nahrawan of Syria, announced that its forces had killed another unnamed American. “We’re aware of media reporting and social media activity indicating that a second American citizen associated with ISIL has been killed in Syria,” said Caitlin Hayden, Spokesperson of the National Security Council at the White House. “At this point, we are not in a position to confirm those reports. Should that change, we will provide an update,” Ms. Hayden said. A day earlier, the U.S. confirmed the death in Syria of U.S. citizen Douglas McAuthur McCain. “We previously were aware of his presence in Syria and his affiliation with ISIL. Without getting into too many more specifics, we of course use every tool we have to disrupt and dissuade individuals from travelling abroad for violent jihad and to track and engage those who return,” State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said. She said this was a reminder of the growing concern that the U.S. and many countries in the world have about the thousands of foreign fighters engaged in Syria. According to Pentagon, there could be about 100 American passport holders in Syria fighting for ISIL. “I don’t know that we have a precise number. I certainly have seen a number of upward of 100. Certainly, we believe several dozens are involved in this kind of activity. And, frankly, there could be more. These kinds of people with these kinds of intentions, they’re not going to make them well-known,” Pentagon Press Secretary, Rear Admiral John Kirby, told the CNN. “It is the foreign fighter threat that is something that definitely concerns us here in the Pentagon. And when we talk about the immediacy of the threat that ISIL poses, this is one of the factors that we’re talking about,” he said.
Few savor the idea of voting for military action with the midterm elections looming.White House photographer Pete Souza tweeted a photo of President Barack Obama and Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough taking a meditative walk on the White House grounds Monday. It was a small reminder of the infamous walk the pair took nearly a year ago when Obama decided to go to Congress for permission to bomb Syria. That proposition turned out badly: Congressional support cratered and Obama was left to scramble a diplomatic solution. On a gorgeous Monday evening nearly a year later, the pair in their shirtsleeves could have been discussing almost the same dilemma: How does Obama continue to bomb Iraq and begin aerial strikes on Islamist militants in Syria without permission from Congress? There are some in Congress who are calling on Obama to push through a War Powers Resolution. Article II of the Constitution grants the President the power to defend the country. But Article I gives only Congress the power to declare war. So, what in a post-War-on-Terrorism era constitutes an actual war? In 1973, afraid of Vietnam mission creep, Congress passed the War Powers Act, which requires the President to consult Congress 60 days after engaging in hostilities. If you count bombing a foreign country as hostile—as the U.S. did against militants in northern Iraq on Aug. 7—than the 60 days expires Oct. 7. Theoretically, if Congress cares about not further weakening its oversight of the President’s ability to bomb whatever country he pleases, lawmakers will move to pass a War Powers Resolution in the next month. Presidents, including Obama, have argued that the War Powers Act is unconstitutional. But a turf fight over who gets to go to war is the last thing on Congress’ mind weeks before the midterm elections. “Congress does not have the political will to approve a War Powers Resolution when the American people have very little appetite for war,” said Ron Bonjean, a former senior Republican congressional aide. “Getting the approval of Congress before the November elections to bomb ISIS targets in Iraq would likely require an attack on American soil or a very imminent threat of danger. Members of Congress want to secure their own reelections and this type of vote could be the defining factor in several tight Senate races across the country.” Thus far, the Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees in the House and Senate, which would have jurisdiction over a War Powers resolution, have been waiting to hear what Obama wants to do. Congress has a spotty history of authorizing hostilities under this President. The House only succeeded on its third try in passing a tepid authorization for action in Libya—more than three months after U.S. involvement in Libya actually began. On Syria, both chambers balked at authorizing hostilities after Obama asked for support in the wake Syrian strongman Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons against his own people. When congressional support disappeared, Obama was forced to make a deal with Russian President Vladimir Putin to rid Syria of chemical weapons, rather than using force against Assad. Few Republicans, a Senate Republican aide told TIME, want to vote to support the President, especially in election season. If Obama were to ask for money for his actions—a back-door way of showing congressional support for military action without having to outright condone it—that vote would be easier as it would be a vote for the troops, the aide said. “The GOP must fear losing what feels like big momentum right now with the chance that the President will get a rally around the flag effect,” said Michael O’Hanlon, a foreign policy expert at the Brookings Institution. “I don’t sense that, through the midterm prism, the Democrats’ concern would be as great.” Still, voting to expand hostilities in Iraq isn’t the most popular thing with Democrats either: Obama got elected in part because of his early and strong opposition to the war in Iraq—a “clean break from the failed policies and politics of the past,” as then-candidate Obama called it in a March 2008 speech. It’s ironic that before his last midterm election fight, he finds himself struggling to persuade Congress to return to a country he prided himself on leaving. The most likely path here is that Obama will continue to do what he’s been doing, and probably expand attacks into Syria, using the Article II justification. As the White House has argued, he’s protecting Americans in Erbil, the Kurdish capitol in northern Iraq. By that measure, wherever America has an embassy, or citizens in peril, Presidents in the future will now have the precedent to engage in hostilities to protect them. Last year, as Obama paced the grounds with McDonough, the Constitutional-law-professor-in-chief damned the politics and worried about going beyond previous precedent. A year later, and he’ll have no choice but to bow to the realpolitik of midterm elections.
Former Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani lamented that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif did not utter a single word on Model Town tragedy.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Punjab President Mian Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo has rejected PML-N’s decision of holding rallies in the country and called such rallies “ill-conceived” and “self-defeating.” In a statement on Tuesday, Wattoo said that the government rallies would tantamount to fuelling political fire by throwing gasoline on it, adding it would aggravate the volatile political environment in the country. The ruling party must not vitiate the environment and instead undertake all possible steps to assuage the ongoing confrontation between the parties that had made the nation hostage of their ego. He predicted that the bloody clash between the agitating parties leading to loss of lives would pose the greatest danger to democracy and the inevitability of political redundancy of the fighting political parties. He called upon the government to register case against those who have been accused of murdering PAT workers in Model Town and injuring many others by bullet shots on June 17. Delay in this regard was raising the question of indiscriminate application of law in the province of Punjab, he observed. Wattoo said that the PPP would not compromise on the future of democracy come what may, adding that the party leadership was deeply concerned about political situation prevailing in the country. He said that former president Aief Ali Zardari’s recent visit to Lahore where he met with important leaders was reflective of his keenness to get the conflict resolved through dialogue in the interest of the federation, democracy and the constitution. About PPP’s central executive committee meeting held in Karachi on Monday, Wattoo said that the decision to from a committee mandated to get in touch with all of the stakeholders in order to defuse political deadlock reflected the sincerity of the party and its leadership to extricate the nation out of the crippling stalemate.
By Zahid Hussain
By Yasir Hussain On July 10, Arun Jaitley, who is both the Defense Minister and the Finance Minister in the new BJP government, presented the budget to the Indian parliament. The worrying issue about BJP’s maiden budget is that it has boosted defense budget to 12 percent that makes $38.35 billion (2.29 trillion Indian rupees). This huge sum makes 50 Billion rupees more than what the previous government presented in an interim budget earlier. Most importantly, Modi government has further opened the domestic weapons industry to foreign investment in order to modernize and re-build gigantic military. The foreign direct investment in defense sector has been increased from 29% to 49% that will have positive impact on indigenous defense industry. This major hike in defense sector will enable Indian military to pursue its long-ambitious procurement deals of Rafale fighter-bombers, submarines, ultra-light howitzer, Javelin anti-tank guided missile and night vision equipment. Besides that New Delhi has been tremendously increasing fissile material (Plutonium and Uranium) stockpiles that will empower India to build more nuclear devices in near future. It has also been aspiring to get sophisticated space technology from both United States and Israel to develop Ballistic Missile Defense Shield that will enable India to intercept missile before it hits the target ( though, it is highly costly with maximum uncertainty). India has been world’s top arms buyer for the last three years according to a report released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The unbridled spending in military sector has reached to the peaks during last three years. Unfortunately, this blind drive for the arms accumulation and military modernization unleashes an unending arms race in South Asia which resulted in deterioration of prevalent strategic stability between India and Pakistan. Western governmental and private arms manufacturing companies are rushing towards India with the hope of landing multi-billion dollars and New Delhi is aiming to leverage some of that buying power to get transfer of technology and end the overwhelming reliance on imports. For westerns, India has emerged as new lucrative market for arms export. This situation will certainly lead to the emergence of neo-military Industrial complex in India which will surely affect existing state of affairs between India and Pakistan. Such developments in Indian military have paved a way towards doctrinal shift from defensive-defense to the offensive-defense. Ironically, Indian policy makers have been trying to convince global powers that such military modernization is directed to check Chinese influence in South East Asia as well as in Indian Ocean. Even Washington sees India as a balancer in South Asian fragile environment. But critical analysis of the given rationale shows that India never desires to pose a military challenge to gigantic China rather, 70% of its military have been deployed on western sides and certainly during era of crisis the accumulated arms will be used against Pakistan. The repercussions of Indian military developments on Pakistan are crystal clear. Pakistan has to rely on its own military muscle to prevent India’s threat of use of force or actual use of force. Having weak economy, Pakistan cannot compete with India in arms race. Pakistan has allotted only Rs 700billionfor defense purposes which is far lesser in comparison with Indian defense budget which is 2.29 trillion Indian rupees. With such a grave asymmetry, Pakistan can never be indulged into any arms race with India. Although, Pakistan is facing number of issues at national, regional and international level that ranges from military operations in tribal areas to hostile border skirmishes on eastern and western borders. Pakistani troops have been fighting against insurgents since a decade. The price each and every Pakistani soldiers pay in the struggle against insurgents is real and high that should be recognized internationally. Under these grave circumstances, however, Pakistan being nuclear power has successfully maintains balance of power. Regional adversaries with accelerative military strength and offensive military doctrines always pose serious threats for the survivability of Pakistan. By looking at the changing international and regional security environment it is essential for Pakistan to secure its territorial integrity, sovereignty both internally and externally. Nuclear weapons in this regard, play a vital role.
Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Tahirul Qadri on Tuesday further upped the ante by demanding the hanging of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif over the Model Town deaths. The cleric said the resignations of the brothers would not resolve the problem now. “Now the issue is not just limited to the resignations of both the Sharifs, rather the hanging of both of them will deliver the real justice, as a report of the tribunal investigating Model Town carnage has declared Shahbaz Sharif and Punjab government murderers,” the firebrand clerk shouted while addressing his charged supporters and devotees who have been staging a sit-in for the last many days on the Constitution Avenue in the sensitive Red Zone of the capital. Qadri, whose ultimatum to the government was to expire in 24 hours, said that only one day is left in his ultimatum to rulers. “Your are not safe any longer,” he told the rulers. The PAT chief held both Sharif brothers responsible for the Model Town tragedy and urged they be punished. “Nawaz and Shahbaz must resign and present themselves to accountability,” he demanded. “The martyrs have won while the murderers have lost,” Qadri said. Outlining his thoughts about democracy, Qadri said that democracy means justice for everyone, enough safe drinking water, bread to eat and health facilities. To him, he said, democracy should bring prosperity to the poor and smiles on the faces of the oppressed and hopeless people. He said he and his party will bring such democracy where there will be no lootings, and lives and properties of each and every citizen will be safe. He said enough bread, safe drinking water, honourable shelter for everyone, mechanism to help and support the poor should be available.
The judicial commission investigating the June 17 Model Town incident has held the government responsible for it and said police acted on government orders which led to the bloodshed. The report has said the affidavits of Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and former law minister Rana Sanaullah contained contradictions regarding the orders they reportedly issued to police to disengage, and declared that what happened on the ground did not match such claims. Contents of the report, which the government says is secret, were first revealed by anchor of a private television channel on Tuesday and were confirmed to Dawn by independent sources. Quoting the report, the sources said decisions taken at a meeting presided over by Mr Sanaullah before the incident led to the worst kind of bloodshed. According to the report, Mr Sharif claimed in his affidavit that he had ordered police to disengage in Model Town. However, the chief minister did not mention this in the press conference he addressed after the fiasco. “It seems the word ‘disengagement’ was an afterthought to save the chief minister,” the sources quoted the report as saying. The report said the action in Model Town was taken under the orders of the government, said the sources. It also said the police were totally responsible for it. A Punjab government spokesman said the report of the judicial tribunal was received and examined. It was observed that it required further analysis, as it was inconclusive. He said that because the report was based on some documents, statements and affidavits which were not provided with it a request was immediately made to the high court for the provision of the documents so that the report might be reviewed and necessary action taken. “Meanwhile, the government has constituted a committee to carry out a detailed analysis of the report and make recommendations and a way forward accordingly. The moment the subject missing documents are received, the report shall be referred to the committee and further necessary action would be taken in the light of its recommendations,” the spokesman added. Sources in the Punjab government did not contradict the claims made by the television anchor or by those who talked to Dawn. But they insisted that the report was inconclusive. The commission did not have the mandate to give findings or fix responsibility and its presiding officer, Justice Ali Baqar Najfi, mentioned this to media while handing over the report to the provincial home department. They said that during the proceedings the commission did not object to the affidavit of the chief minister in which he had said that he had asked police to disengage. His was the only affidavit which was not read out before the commission. Also, the chief minister was not cross-examined by the commission. “Under the law, the objections are highlighted during cross-examination of the provider of an affidavit. And changes are shown to the supplier and his or her signatures are sought on it. “If this is not done, the affidavit is considered to be accepted. And this is what happened with the chief minister’s affidavit,” a source said. The sources said the Punjab government had sought affidavits and other documents from the commission exactly for this purpose. They said Mr Sanaullah ordered removal of the encroachments in front of Dr Tahirul Qadri’s residence after receiving reports that they were illegal. “He did not order action against anything legal.” Official sources said the findings of any judicial commission were not binding on the government. And in this case there were no findings. Giving findings and fixing responsibility were the job of the government. The government would fix the responsibility only after examining the supporting affidavits and other documents being sought from the commission, they added.
The Pakistan People’s Party believes that the prevailing political situation has the potential of derailing democratic process and eventually posing a threat to the federation. Resolutions adopted at a meeting of the party’s central executive committee held at Bilawal House here on Monday said that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Pakistan Awami Tehrik and the PML-N would be held responsible if something untoward happened to democratic system. The meeting called upon the three parties to rise above their egos, demonstrate patience and sense of accommodation and engage in meaningful result-oriented talks to work out a solution in accordance with the constitution. It said that dialogue was the only way out of the impasse. It warned that no adventure, like wrapping up the democratic system or an unconstitutional move in any form, would be allowed. Holding peaceful gathering and protests are fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution. Freedom of expression and diversity of thought are essential for democratic growth and should not be curbed by the state. A resolution called for investigation of allegations of election rigging by superior judiciary. It said that last year’s general elections were not transparent and, therefore, electoral reforms within a specific timeframe were necessary. The meeting urged registration of an FIR about the June 17 Model Town incident to pave the way for free, impartial and independent investigation. The meeting reposed confidence in the PPP leadership and decided that the party would play a role for defusing the political tension through dialogue to save democracy. In the event of democracy becoming a victim of an adventure, the party would be in the forefront of struggle against it. It recalled the relentless struggle and sacrifices rendered by the nation for democracy, federalism, provincial autonomy, parliamentary form of government, independent judiciary and rule of law. It said the government had failed to solve problems being faced by the country. Masses continued to suffer because of electricity loadshedding, price hike, inflation, deteriorating healthcare, lack of education facilities, unemployment, massive corruption and bad governance. It supported the Zarb-i-Azb military operation and called upon the nation to help the displaced persons, who were suffering as a result of the fight to eradicate terrorism.
India on Tuesday lodged a protest with Pakistan over escalating border ceasefire violations in the "heaviest" cross-border firing since the 1971 India-Pakistan war even as the two countries agreed to hold flag meetings to defuse the situation. The protest was lodged during the telephonic talks between the DGMOs (director general military operations) of the two countries, Army sources said in Delhi, adding it was held around 1200 hours for about 10 minutes during which "all relevant issues" were raised. During the talks, the Indian side is understood to have raised the issue of increasing ceasefire violations and lodged a protest over the issue, the sources said. There have been 95 ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the line of control (LoC) and it has also breached the ceasefire pact 25 times on the international border(IB). "The two sides have agreed to hold flag meetings at field levels by both Army and BSF to defuse the situation," the sources said. The DGMOs — Lt Gen PR Kumar from India and Maj General Amir Riaz from Pakistan — discussed the border situation during their talks on hotline which takes place every Tuesday. The DGMOs hold talks every week during which they discuss issues related to the LoC and other areas. The BSF said the firing by Pakistani forces in the last 45 days was possibly the "heaviest" since the 1971 war. "Yes it is (the heaviest firing) for last so many years ... I think may be after the 1971 war. 45 days is a very long period for this kind of thing to happen," BSF director general DK Pathak told reporters in Jammu. Giving details of the pattern of the firing, Pathak said, "As you are aware the firing took place for the last 45 days, to be more precise since the first incident of sniper took place on July 17 when a jawan died in the incident. It lasted for about 10 days or so. Then, there was a brief lull. This month, there was firing through out the nights and some times during day time also." The firing from across the border on all posts is going on, he said, adding firing is also targeting civilian areas. 'Pakistan never turned up for flag meeting' Asked about the decision to hold flag meetings at field levels by both Army and BSF to defuse the situation, Pathak said, "I hope peace prevails. We have made so many efforts ..." "We have made all possible efforts to stop it (ceasefire violations and firing). We tried four to five times to hold flag meetings. But they (the Pakistani side) did not respond to it ... They never turned up," Pathak said after a whirlwind visit to the forward areas along the IB. Defence minister Arun Jaitley also held a meeting with the three services chiefs durign which they discussed the ceasefire violations by Pakistan and the Indian response. The BSF chief visited several forward areas and met the jawans in a bid to boost their morale. He asked the jawans to give strong and befitting reply to the ceasefire violations. "We have lodged with them protest notes 16 to 17 times after firing incidents and ceasefire violations," Pathak said. Asked about the decision to hold flag meetings at field levels by both Army and BSF to defuse the situation, Pathak said, "I hope peace prevails. We have made so many efforts ..." "In fact, ever since this problem started as many as 16 attempts of contacting them over telephone through established channel of communication have been made. They only responded to the initial calls and thereafter they have not responded and there have been no initiation from their end," he added. BSF to get over 700 automatic firing systems The Border Security Force, the country's first line of defence along Pakistan, is set to modernize its war stores and acquire over 700 pieces of automated mortar firing systems which will enable its troops to launch accurate and lethal rocket strikes. The largest border guarding force of India, which has close to 20 artillery units for combat duties along the western theatre, has decided to procure the most advanced "automated mortar fire direction controller" (AMFDC) which helps troops to fire targeted mortars and explosive shells on enemy positions. The system provides for an on-board fire control system that includes a command computer platform, navigation system, and gun pointing system. The device allows military crews to fire in less than a minute's time as compared to the current five-six minutes and the accuracy of the hit gets enhanced by four to five times. The device is used in modern warfare by armies as it reduces the exposure time of the crew and troops thereby securing them in a war zone. The BSF, sources said, has got sanction from the government to procure 769 such pieces which will be subsequently deployed at BSF locations along the India-Pakistan border. The development assumes significance as the force is facing the brunt of the recent spate of ceasefire violations and unprovoked firing from across Pakistan. "This is a part of the modernization plan of the BSF which is the first responder in case of a war with Pakistan. During peace time like now, the BSF operates under the operational command of the Army and is the first line of defence for enemy onslaught," a senior official said. The force, according to a blueprint prepared in this regard, is wanting to modernise the medium-range guns and other mortar shelling weapons possessed by it and these need to be put on a digital and electronic platform on the lines of the Army so that in any exigency or emergency the force could respond effectively.