India to buy guns worth $553m for border troops

An Indian paramilitary trooper stands guard in Srinagar on January 15. At least nine people including four Pakistani soldiers were killed in recent fighting in disputed Kashmir. (AFP)
Updated 16 January 2018
0

India to buy guns worth $553m for border troops

NEW DELHI: India will buy more than 160,000 guns worth $553 million for troops on its disputed, high-altitude borders, the defense ministry said on Tuesday.
The defense acquisition council cleared the purchase of 72,400 assault rifles and 93,895 carbines for 35 billion rupees ($553 million) in a meeting chaired by Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
The weapons will be bought to “enable the defense forces to meet their immediate requirement for the troops deployed on the borders,” the ministry said in a statement.
New Delhi has signed several big-ticket defense deals since Prime Minister Narendra Modi stormed to power in 2014.
India — the world’s largest defense importer — has been investing tens of billions in updating its Soviet-era military hardware to counter long-standing territorial disputes with its nuclear-armed neighbors China and Pakistan.
India and China fought a brief war in 1962 over their border and last year were involved in a months-long showdown over a disputed Himalayan plateau.
India is also mired in conflict in the Himalayan region of Kashmir where roughly 500,000 soldiers are deployed.
New Delhi accuses Islamabad of sending “terrorists” across the border — one of the most heavily militarised in the world — to fight security forces in Indian-administered Kashmir.
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British rule in 1947, with both claiming the territory in its entirety.
India has fought three wars against Pakistan, two of them over the control of Kashmir.


Afghanistan starts anti-polio drive in high-risk areas

Updated 23 January 2019
0

Afghanistan starts anti-polio drive in high-risk areas

  • Assurances given that vaccinators will not be targeted by militants
  • The war-torn country had 21 cases of polio last year, among the highest worldwide

KABUL: The Afghan government has launched a polio vaccination program covering 5.4 million children in high-risk areas, officials said on Tuesday.

The one-month campaign to inoculate children under 5 years old started on Monday after assurances from tribal chiefs and clerics that vaccinators will not be targeted by militants, and that families will allow their kids to get the lifetime immunization, the officials said.

The war-torn country had 21 cases of polio last year, among the highest worldwide. Among the reasons were health workers’ lack of access due to violence, and families preventing their children from being vaccinated because of the perception that it is hazardous to their health, said Waheed Mayar, chief spokesman for the Public Health Ministry.

Some vaccinators were killed by suspected militants in past years while touring villages. “This year, we’ve received assurances from villagers, tribal chiefs and clerics that they’ll make sure vaccinators are allowed (to do their work) as vaccination is essential for their children,” Mayar told Arab News.

High-risk areas include parts of western, southeast and central Afghanistan, the Public Health Ministry said.

“We will have five vaccination campaigns for the first half of 2019. We are using this time to build immunity among our people,” Public Health Minister Dr. Ferozuddin Feroz said in a statement.

“We need to work together to end polio for the world… We need to help each other, open our doors, get our children vaccinated,” he added.

“Our children are innocents and rely on us to protect them from preventable paralysis. We cannot let them down.”

Parents should plan to have their children at home and available to be vaccinated during the campaign, the ministry said.

“The polio vaccine is safe, even for sick and newborn children. It is very important these children get the vaccine because they have lower immunity, which makes them more susceptible to the virus,” the ministry added. “Polio vaccination has also been strongly endorsed by national and global Islamic scholars.”