New Delhi: Two Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) squadrons with origins in India 67 years ago are returning to their roots here beginning Friday to renew ties with the Indian Air Force (IAF).
The RCAF units had till recently battled the Taliban forces in Afghanistan as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
The squadrons — RCAF 435(T) and 436(T) — were both raised in India during World War II and had fought alongside the then Royal Indian Air Force units during operations against the Japanese in the China-India-Burma war theatre. “A delegation from the RCAF 435(T) and 436(T) squadrons, which were both formed in India, and participated in joint Canada-India operations during World War II, will visit India from November 18 to 20 to commemorate their historic ties with India,” a Canadian high commission release said Thursday, adding, “The RCAF delegation will meet with IAF officers for a professional exchange and attend a ceremony of remembrance at the Delhi War Cemetery, where Canadian military personnel, including 16 RCAF aircrew, are interred.”
The 436(T) squadron and its state-of-the-art CC-130J Hercules military cargo plane are on their way back to Canada after completing duty in Kandahar.
The aircraft will land at the Air Force Station, Palam here and then fly on to Canada.
“We are honoured to be here in New Delhi to recognise and commemorate our squadron’s historical links with India,” 436(T) squadron’s commander officer Lieutenant Colonel Colin Keiver said in the release, adding, “India was where the squadron was formed as a Tactical Air Transport unit and where it conducted its first operational missions as an RCAF squadron. It is fitting that it returns from its most recent and significant mission through the place where it began 67 years ago.”
The 435(T) and 436(T) squadrons were formed in India in 1944 as part of the Combat Cargo Task Force responsible for the re-supply of Allied Forces in the China-Burma-India theatre. Flying the C-47 then, the units operated in the Imphal area and southwards towards Mandalay and beyond until Aug 14, 1945.
During this period, the aircraft carried out significant air drop missions to re-supply Allied troops as well as several paratroop missions including the airdrop of the Indian Airborne Division in May 1945 to support the capture of Elephant Point outside of Rangoon.
The drop was so successful that the division’s commanding general remarked, “This is the first operation I know of in this war in which paratroopers have been dropped 100 per cent accurately.”
From January to August 1945, the 436(T) squadron flew over 32,000 hours and delivered over 29,000 tons of supplies and 15,000 troops, casualties and passengers. The squadron regularly led all Allied transport squadrons in theatre for hours flown, tonnage delivered and percentage of completed sorties.
The squadron’s official motto is ‘Onus Portamus’ (We Carry the Load) and its unofficial motto ‘Canucks Unlimited’. The squadron crest, which features an elephant, was born in India.
Pakistani Anti-graft body wants travel ban on Nawaz Sharif, kin
Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog has asked authorities to place ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law on the Exit Control List to prevent them from leaving the country.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) sent a formal request to the ministry of interior. The interior ministry officials confirmed that the NAB wrote that names of Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar should be put on the Exit Control List (ECL), which listed individuals not allowed to leave Pakistan.
The NAB argued that as the trial of the three nears its conclusion, it is feared that they would leave the country.
Earlier, a similar request to place name of finance minister Ishaq Dar on ECL was not accepted, allowing him to go to London and never return.
Sharif, 68, and his family this week filed an application with the accountability court seeking a fortnight’s exemption from personal appearance from February 19 onwards to let them go to London to see Sharif’s ailing wife. Three cases were filed against Sharif and his family last year, including Avenfield properties, Azizia & Hill Metal Establishment, and Flagship Investments.
Maryam and Safdar are accused only in Avenfield properties case. The NAB had filed two supplementary references against Sharif, his sons Hasan and Hussain regarding Al-Azizia Steel Mills & Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship Investment cases.
Pakistan “breaches obligations’ on nuclear arms reduction, UN court told
The Hague: Pakistan is violating its “obligations” to the international community by failing to reduce its nuclear arsenal, the Marshall Islands told the UN’s highest court on Tuesday.
The small Pacific Island nation is this week launching three unusual cases against India, Pakistan and Britain before the International Court of Justice.
Majuro wants to put a new spotlight on the global nuclear threat, its lawyers said yesterday, by using its own experience with massive US-led nuclear tests in the 1940s and 1950s.
“Pakistan is in breach of its obligations owed to the international community as a whole,” when it comes to reducing its nuclear stockpile, said Nicholas Grief, one of the island nation’s lawyers.
DeBrum warned that even a “limited nuclear war” involving the two countries would “threaten the existence” of his island nation people.
Pakistan and India have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.
In 1998, the rival neighbours both demonstrated nuclear weapons capability.
The ICJ’s judges are holding hearings for the next week and a half to decide whether it is competent to hear the lawsuits brought against India and Pakistan — neither of which have signed the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
A third hearing against Britain — which has signed the NPT — scheduled to start on Wednesday will be devoted to “preliminary objections” raised by London.
The Marshalls initially sought to bring a case against nine countries it said possessed nuclear arms: Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the United States.
Israel has never admitted to having nuclear weapons.
But the Hague-based ICJ, set up in 1945 to rule in disputes between states, has only admitted three cases against Britain, India and Pakistan, because they have accepted the ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction.
Pakistan’s lawyers did not attend Tuesday’s hearings.
It did however file a counter-claim against Majuro’s allegations saying “the court has no jurisdiction to deal with the application” and insisting that the case is “not admissible”, said ICJ President Ronny Abraham.
Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus
New Delhi: Bangladesh is likely to drop Islam as its official religion following a series of attacks on people from other faiths in the country. The country’s Supreme Court is hearing a plea challenging the status of the official religion of the country to Islam.
Bangladesh, which was declared a secular country after its formation in 1971, was declared an Islamic country following a constitutional amendment in 1988.
According to a report in the Daily Mail, the plea has challenged the declaration of Islam as the national religion of the country.
The move is being supported by leaders from the minority communities like Hindus, Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.
Bangladesh has 90 per cent of Muslims, 8 per cent Hindus and remaining constitutes Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.
In last month, a Hindu priest was hacked to death following an attack on a temple in Panchgarh district. Two others were seriously injured in the attack. There have been several lethal attacks on writers and bloggers.
According to a report in the Independent, Islamist groups Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh and Ansarullah Bangla Team are believed to have carried out at least seven attacks on foreign and minority people in Bangladesh in the past year.