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Wednesday, 11 June 2008

From Today's Papers - 11 Jun

IAF officer missing, his luggage found at Dadar

Junior warrant officer posted at Pune was on his way to Dehradun

Dayanand Kamath

A junior warrant officer (JWO) of the Indian Air Force (IAF)has been missing since June 7.
VK Belwal, 46, who was posted at the IAF’s base in Pune, had left the base on duty for Dehradun by train, the railway police said.
A missing person complaint was registered at the railway police station in Dadar by a colleague of Belwal on Tuesday.
According to the railway police, around 1.40pm on June 7, a passenger noticed unattended luggage on platform number 5 at Dadar station and he informed the station manager about it. When the luggage was checked, the station manager found the name, address and telephone number of Belwal.
He contacted the IAF station in Pune and informed the senior officials there about the luggage.
The IAF station then sent JWO Dinesh Kumar, 36, to Mumbai. Kumar verified the contents of the luggage and the address found by the station manager, and then lodged the complaint.
"We are still baffled by the case of the missing IAF officer,” inspector Prakash Mansukh of the Dadar railway police station said. “We cannot fathom why he came to Mumbai when there are daily trains to Dehradun from Pune," said Mansukh.
Meanwhile, all the police stations across the state and the railway stations en route Dehradun have been informed by the railway police about the missing officer.
The railway police will also get the photograph of Belwal from the IAF station, Pune, said Mansukh. He has also said that they have appealed to all the police stations to relay any information regarding the IAF officer to the Dadar railway police station.
Sub-inspector AK Chavan of Dadar railway police station is investigating the case.

Services at war during meet

Lack of cohesiveness among military leadership comes to fore

Josy Joseph. New Delhi

The two-day meeting of the top defence chiefs —the first step toward integration of the armed forces— began on a discordant note on Tuesday with clear signs of huge stumbling blocks in the country’s hopes of transforming the Army, Navy and Air Force into theatre commands on the lines of modern militaries.
Deviating from his prepared speech, defence minister AK Antony reminded the Unified Commanders Conference that the armed forces have been returning unspent money from their allotted budget, and they need to appreciate the existing system of procurement. Antony’s remark came in response to an aggressive pitch by Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta, who is also the chairman of the chiefs of staff committee (comprising three service chiefs), that India should raise its defence budget from the existing 1.9% of GDP. Mehta also complained about the delay in procurement caused by, among others, actions in the name of transparency.
Mehta’s strong push for the appointment of Chief of Defence Staff —the senior most military officer above the three chiefs —didn’t find favour with the other two chiefs.

Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major called for appreciation of the core competencies of each service before integration is taken up.

Overall, the lack of cohesiveness at the highest levels of military leadership is evident as India’s efforts at integrating the three services into “theatre commands” begin to falter.

Based on the recommendations of the Arun Singh committee after the Kargil conflict of 1999, the government had created the Chief of Integrated Staff, a tri-service command at Port Blair, and a joint intelligence agency (Defence Intelligence Agency) among others. It had also brought the National Defence Academy in Pune and other training institutes under the Chief of Integrated Staff. The Chief of Integrated Staff was to be the secretariat for the CDS whenever the post was created.
However, deep concerns and disagreements mark the efforts at integration. Dependable sources indicate that several decisions, including recent the navy proposal to pull out its cadets from the NDA after two years, while the army and air force cadets continue for three years, has caused cracks in the higher defence leadership.

A cell to protect space assets
Defence minister AK Antony on Tuesday announced the formation of an Integrated Space Cell for the military to counter “the growing threat to our space assets.” Addressing the Unified Commanders’ Conference, Antony said though India wants to utilise space for peaceful purposes and remain committed to its policy of non-weaponisation of space “offensive counter space systems like anti-satellite weaponry, new classes of heavy-lift and small boosters and an improved array of Military Space Systems have emerged in our neighbourhood.” He said the new cell would act as a single window for integration among the armed forces, the Department of Space and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
The defence minister also announced the approval for a Defence Informatics Centre on the lines of the National Informatics Centre. It will cater to the e-governance needs of the armed forces, the defence ministry and other allied organisations.

Inside Pakistan
No easy exit route for Mush
by Syed Nooruzzaman

The anti-Musharraf sentiment is so strong in Pakistan today that almost everybody, except for a few associated with the PML (Q), wants him to go before the situation takes a turn for the worse. Some like PML (N) leader Nawaz Sharif are endeavouring to ensure that the retired General is tried for trampling the constitution.

According to Daily Times, “If one looks at the vengeful views expressed in the media, the political calculus goes against President Musharraf. That is why we recommend that he decide to quit now rather than risk impeachment later on when the parliamentary numbers are against him.”

Such advice has been given by most of the papers after President Musharraf’s latest interaction with the media. The News says, “His insistence that even if he was to be impeached and removed, it should be done through a peaceful and sober parliamentary process, only betrays his fears that the street agitation to remove him could get nasty.… It is but an accepted universal fact now that Mr Musharraf and the current parliament cannot co-exist and one of them will sooner or later have to yield.

“… He says he is ready to go if impeached through a peaceful process, so what stops him from leaving now?”

Most people believe that President Musharraf has, in fact, no easy option left for him now. If he resigns he may be arrested and tried for “treason”. This can lead to dire consequences for him.

As Daily Times commented, “The group that relies on the concept of ‘the mandate’ as a ‘legal’ device to oust him is also inclined to the view that he should be held accountable for his deeds, or tried for treason which means he could be hanged.”

Kargil misadventure

President Musharraf is truly in difficult straits today. At a time when he is being considered responsible for all that has gone wrong in Pakistan since 1999, Gen Jamshed Kiyani, a little known retired military officer, has come out with an interesting account of the Kargil misadventure. As a Major-General in1999, he “happened to be a witness to the goings-on … when the Kargil operation was launched…”, as Business Recorder (June 8) says.

General (retd) Jamshed Kiyani’s two significant observations are: “…that the operation was ill-conceived from a logistical perspective; and … that the then prime minister was not given a thorough briefing on the pros and cons of the operation despite his repeated queries …”

According to the financial daily, “The plan, as revealed from time to time, was to cut off the strategic Siachin Glacier from the rest of Kashmir, and the expected outcome was that the spectre of outbreak of a war between the two nuclear-armed rivals would send the rest of the international community into a frenzy to intervene and help resolve the Kashmir dispute. In short, the objective was to internationalise the Kashmir issue in the hope of its resolution…”

If a commission of enquiry is instituted, as it is being demanded, President Musharraf may not be able to defend his ill-thought-out action.

Shahbaz at the helm

Mr Shahbaz Sharif is back to the job he left in 1999 after the then Chief of Army Staff, Gen Pervez Musharraf, overthrew the Nawaz Sharif-led elected government in Islamabad through a military coup. The younger Sharif, known as an excellent administrator, has taken over as Chief Minister of Punjab, Pakistan’s key province, under trying circumstances. His party, the PML (N), is leading the coalition government, but he has to do a lot of balancing to come up to the people’s expectations.

The PML (N) and its coalition partner, the PPP, have differing views on the judges issue. The Punjab Governor, Mr Salman Taseer, a former PPP leader, may create problems for Mr Sharif if the latter does not bother about the PPP stand on the restoration of the pre-November 2007 judiciary and supports the lawyers’ agitation in this regard openly.

In any case, the Shabaz Sharif government cannot survive without the PPP support. President Musharraf may also play the spoiler’s role provided he gets an opportunity to do so.

As Dawn (June 7) commented, “The challenges he (Shahbaz) faces today are many, not the least the scourge of terrorism that Punjab had luckily escaped in recent years but which has now come knocking with a vengeance.”

According to The Nation (June 7), “In order to sustain democracy and fulfil people’s expectations, there is a need on the part of the ruling coalition to stay together. Unless it does so, there is little chance for it (the Punjab government) to complete its tenure.”

Antony ticks off Army commanders over spending
Says no confrontation with China on territory issue
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 10
In what is seen as “polite reminder” to the Armed Forces on doing things at the right pace, defence minister A. K. Antony today made it clear to the senior commanders that the defence forces should first spend the budgeted money instead of demanding more allocation.

Sources in the ministry said Antony deviated from his written speech at the unified commanders conference here today and said the systems and procedures in the government were transparent, however, demands of more budgetary allocation have to be matched by spending the existing budget within the given time-frame.

Antony made it known that procurement was not slow and nor was any system preventing spending. His remarks came after Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sureesh Mehta, while addressing the meeting had pointed out that procurement was slowing down and hinted that more money was needed. It may be mentioned here that the defence forces have often talk about India’s defence budget being just 1.99 per cent of the GDP, which is one of the lowest in the world. The ideal situation would be 3 per cent of GDP, which is the global average.

Meanwhile, after reacting to recent reports of Chinese incursions and Beijing’s claims over chunks of Indian territory notwithstanding, Antony today said India would follow a non-confrontationist approach towards its neighbours.

“We (India) are not ignoring (these incidents). To a maximum extent, we will try to avoid confrontation,” Antony said.

Over 150 incursions into Indian territory by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops have been reported in the last one year.

“We are in the process of finding solutions to the long standing disputes with China, and the process is continuing,” Antony said replying to a query.

Responding to the recent Pakistani announcement of a freeze in their defence budget and the cuts in the Chinese defence budget, Antony said India’s defence spending was not matching the economic boom that the country had witnessed in the recent past.

Meanwhile. even eight years after recommendation for the creation of a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), a consensus on the issue was still elusive.

“Most of the political parties are still to respond with their suggestions on the issue,” A. K. Antony, told reporters today. Antony said he had recently written a fresh letter to political parties seeking their views for arriving at a consensus on the CDS.

The K Subrahmanyam Committee, set up by the NDA government in July 1999 to review the Kargil battle, had made a forceful plea in its report submitted in 2000 for having a CDS as the single point interface between the government and the Armed Forces.

India wakes up to plan for busting Chinese satellites

Real ising the need to protect its satellites and space assets in the wake of China acquiring the capability to shoot down satellites through missiles, the Government on Tuesday announced the formation of an Integrated Space Cell.

Unveiling India's steps to meet the new challenge and project the country as a power to reckon with in the arena of space-based defensive and offensive capabilities, Defence Minister AK Antony said the cell would work under the aegis of the Integrated Defence Services Headquarters to counter "the growing threat to our space assets".

Refraining from naming China or any other country to blast out satellites in space, Antony told the two-day unified commanders' conference of the Integrated Defence Staff (IDS), "Though we want to utilise space for peaceful purposes and remain committed to our policy of nonweaponisation of space, offensive counter space systems like anti-satellite weaponry, new classes of heavy-lift and small boosters and an improved array of military space systems have emerged in our neighbourhood."

He said the cell would act as a single window for integration among armed forces, the Department of Space and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Incidentally, the ISRO recently launched an array of satel lites, including military-specific units, and was scheduled to launch some more sophisticated satellites in the near future.

The Integrated Space Cell, sources said, would act as a precursor to the proposed Aerospace Command comprising the three services. On the anvil for the last four or five years, the Government recently asked the three armed forces to jointly come up with a detailed plan.

The Aerospace Command would protect the assets in space through network-centric weapon systems, advanced sensors capable of tracking down missiles and take evasive action and in some cases adopt offensive posture, they said. The Integrated Space Cell would do the groundwork by conceptualising the defensive systems for space assets, resources needed for extensive array of weapons and other devices and platforms to deliver the systems, they said.

Meanwhile, Antony gave the go-ahead for setting up of a defence informatics centre on the lines of the National Informatics Centre. It will cater to the e-governance needs of the Armed Forces, the Defence Ministry and other associated organisations.

He also announced the establishment of a Defence Information Technology Consultative Committee (DITCC), comprising eminent personalities from the Defence Ministry, the three Services, the Ministry of Communications and IT, academia and the industry.

"DITCC has evolved a roadmap and a common approach for the integration of information technology in our Armed Forces," he added.

The two-day conference is focusing on various issues pertaining to ongoing process of jointness among the three Services, higher defence management and a conceptual way forward.

Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee and Chief of Naval Staff A dmiral Sureesh Mehta, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal FH Major, Chief of Army Staff General Deepak Kapoor, Defence Secretary Vi j a y S i n g h , C h i e f o f Integrated Service Command Lt Gen HS L i d d e r, a m o n g o t h e r s , attended the meeting.

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