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.


Pope Francis to create 14 new cardinals in June

Updated 11 min 47 sec ago
0

Pope Francis to create 14 new cardinals in June

  • Among the new cardinals is Louis Raphael I Sako, the Baghdad-based patriarch of Babylonia of the Chaldeans
  • Francis has repeatedly highlighted the plight of Christians persecuted and even slain for their faith in areas where Islamic fundamentalists have targeted them

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis announced on Sunday he has chosen 14 men to be the newest cardinals in the church, among them his chief aide for helping Rome’s homeless and poor, as well as prelates based in Iraq and Pakistan, where Christians are a vulnerable minority.
“I am happy to announce that on June 29, I will hold a consistory (ceremony) to make 14 new cardinals,” Francis said, in remarks to pilgrims and tourists in St. Peter’s Square.
“The countries of provenance express the universality of the church, which continues to announce the merciful love of God to all men on Earth,” Francis added. Then he revealed his picks to be the latest “princes of the church,” including from Africa, elsewhere in Asia, and South America, as he continues to make the College of Cardinals less European than it had been in centuries past.
Among the new cardinals is Louis Raphael I Sako, the Baghdad-based patriarch of Babylonia of the Chaldeans. Also to be made cardinal is Joseph Coutts, archbishop of Karachi, Pakistan.
Francis has repeatedly highlighted the plight of Christians persecuted and even slain for their faith in areas where Islamic fundamentalists have targeted them.
Two top Vatican officials will also receive the honor of joining churchmen who vote for new popes in secret conclaves. They are Spanish Monsignor Luis Ladaria, who heads the Holy See’s powerful office in charge of ensuring doctrinal orthodoxy, and, like the pope, is a Jesuit; and Italian Monsignor Giovanni Angelo Becciu, the No. 2 in the influential secretariat of state office. Becciu is also special delegate to the recently troubled Sovereign Military Order of Malta.
Another Italian to be made cardinal is a Rome vicar general, Monsignor Angelo De Donatis. The pope, while leader of the entire Roman Catholic church, also serves as Rome’s top bishop.
Francis’ choice of Monsignor Konrad Krajewski, a good-natured Pole who personally has handed out sleeping bags to homeless on frigid Roman nights and driven poor people to seaside day trips paid for by the Vatican, reflects the pontiff’s determination to make the Catholic Church known for its attention to those on life’s margins.
Others tapped to be cardinals include: Monsignor Antonio dos Santos Marto, bishop of Fatima, Portugal; Monsignor Pedro Barreto, archbishop of Huancayo, Peru; Monsignor Desire Tsarahazana, archbishop of Toamasina, Madagascar; Monsignor Thomas Aquinas Manyo, archbishop of Osaka, Japan; and Monsignor Giuseppe Petrocchi, archbishop of L’Aquila, the Italian mountain town still struggling to recover from an earthquake in 2009.
Francis cited three other churchmen he said he chose because “they have distinguished themselves for their service to the church.”
They are Emeritus Archbishop of Xalapa, Mexico, Sergio Obeso Rivera; Monsignor Toribio Ticona Porco, a prelate from Corocoro, Bolivia; and a Spanish priest, Aquilino Bocos Merino. The three are all over 80, so will not be eligible to vote for the next pope.