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Thursday, 31 July 2008

From Today's Papers - 31 Jul









Pakistan expects same nuclear deal with US as with India: Gilani

http://www.newstrackindia.com/newsdetails/9171

ANI

Washington

Wed, 30 Jul 2008:

Washington, July 30 (ANI): Visiting Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has said that Pakistan expects from United States a similar kind of nuclear deal that Washington has made with India.

"There should be no discrimination. If they want to give such nuclear status to India, we expect the same foPakistan," Gilani said in a conversation with Richard N.

Haass, the President of Council on Foreign Relations at a meeting jointly organized with the Middle East Institute here.

Gilani also spoke at length on a variety of issues, including terrorism and extremism, Pak-US relations, economy and the scope of democracy in the country.

He said his government wanted to have cordial relations with all neighbours, including India and Afghanistan, as this would ensure peace in Asia.

"With India, we want to resolve all issues, including the core issue of Kashmir," he said when asked about that relationship.

According to The News and the Dawn newspapers, Gilani also said that his government was striving for the autonomy of the Constitution and the independence of judiciary and added that only political reconciliation could help meet the several challenges before the administration.

Addressing the Pakistan community here, he said the government remained firm on its promise relating to the independence of judiciary.

He described Islam as a religion of peace and stressed on improving the image of Pakistan in the eyes of the world.

He urged the Pakistani community living in US to play their role in this regard.

Gilani also declared that he was opposed to any unilateral U.S. military attacks in Pakistan.

"We can do it ourselves," Gilani said Tuesday night after a speech.

He added, however, that Pakistan wanted better cooperation with the United States to share intelligence about foreign militants.

"We are not able to control them, and you are not able to control them," he said.

"We are fighting to save the soul of our homeland," he said.

Obama said at a fundraising luncheon Tuesday that he told Gilani in their meeting that "the only way we're going to be successful in the long term in defeating extremists ... is if we are giving people opportunities. If people have a chance for a better life, then they are not as likely to turn to the ideologies of violence and despair." (ANI)

Pak Army imposes curfew in Swat valley following clashes

http://www.newstrackindia.com/newsdetails/9183


ANI

Peshawar

Wed, 30 Jul 2008:

Peshawar, July 30 (ANI): The Pakistan Army has imposed curfew across the Swat region for an indefinite period after its troops exchanged fire with militants in some areas of the valley.

So far, at least 30 Taliban have been reported killed in the Matta region of the Swat Valley. The Taliban, however, sa that only five of their comrades had died.

The clashes followed renewed violence in the area in which three Pakistani officials were killed and up to 30 security forces kidnapped by militants.

The violence has delivered a serious blow to a peace deal signed with the militants in Swat two months ago.

The Army has taken over the control of the Matta police station area. The attack on the Taliban was carried out in retaliation for the attack on the Venai check post.

The Taliban have also accepted the responsibility for bombing an armoured vehicle, the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation hotel at Malamjabba and the Army rest house, while a girls' school at Golibagh and three bridges at Gora, Roniyal and Seej Banter were destroyed by detonating explosives. (ANI)

Dad’s army versus terror

BHAVNA VIJ-AURORA

New Delhi, July 30: The National Technical Research Organisation, an ambitious initiative to use technology to watch terror groups and pre-empt strikes, has turned into a pensioners’ club.

Nearly a dozen retired officials hold key positions in the organisation set up in 2004 to monitor phone calls and emails, track the flow of funds on the Internet, and be the repository of the country’s technical intelligence assets, including spy planes and satellites.

The idea was it would keep an eye on terror groups and Left-wing extremists and prevent Kargil-like intrusions.

The NTRO, which counts national security adviser M.K. Narayanan among its enthusiastic backers, should have been just the organisation to help prevent the serial blasts and the Line of Control violation in Kashmir.

Instead, it is facing calls for closure. “The NTRO experiment has been a failure, the government should wind it up,” an official who was part of the organisation said.

At least three officials, heading crucial units, have recently opted for repatriation to their parent organisations complaining of “suffocating and unprofessional working conditions”.

“Last year, too, six officials holding key positions had withdrawn from the organisation. With so many superannuated people coming in, the NTRO is becoming more like a pensioners’ club than the professional intelligence outfit it is meant to be. A critical post of cyber applications and research is yet to be filled,” a top government source said.

Former IPS officers and former Intelligence Bureau and RAW sleuths now people the NTRO. “There are some scientists too. In fact, the biggest grouse outgoing officials have is that it is headed by a scientist, K.V.S.S. Prasad Rao,” an official said.

Rao took over in 2005 after retiring from the Defence Research and Development Organisation, where he was responsible for missiles and strategic systems.

The NTRO “should have been able to monitor phone calls and trace emails. The organisation was envisaged as an expert in cyber security and tracking global satellite mobile (GSM) systems as also high-frequency (HF) communications”, said the official who has worked there.

“We have money, resources and technology but we don’t have the vision and the will to create an effective intelligence sharing mechanism.”

The NTRO, set up on the recommendation of the Kargil Review Committee as a nodal agency for technical intelligence along the lines of the US National Security Agency, reports to the national security adviser. Part of the cabinet secretariat, like external spy agency RAW, it has an annual budget of Rs 700 crore.

Its problem, sources said, is lack of initiative. “As a member of the Kargil Review Committee’s technical task force on intelligence, M.K. Narayanan was one of the most enthusiastic proponents of the idea of a technical intelligence organisation. Today, he seems either unwilling to or unable to get the agency off the ground,” the official said.

Some of the responsibilities handed to the NTRO were earlier being performed by RAW, including air surveillance by its Aviation Research Centre. “RAW has been stonewalling attempts to let go of the ARC, which also snoops on nuclear tests and missile launches in the neighbourhood… So, the government now receives airborne intelligence from RAW and satellite imagery from the NTRO, going against the very logic of having a single agency for technical intelligence,” said the senior government officer.

Pak guns boom again, tension heightens

SUJAN DUTTA

New Delhi, July 30: Pakistani soldiers opened fire on an Indian post across the Line of Control this afternoon, a day after defence minister A.K. Antony said “India was showing maximum restraint” despite repeated violations of the ceasefire agreement, Indian Army sources said today.

Pakistan’s first response has been to deny that there was any ceasefire violation today. But reports reaching Indian Army headquarters in New Delhi said Pakistani soldiers opened fire in two bursts — at 11.40am and at 12.30pm with a light machine gun and light mortars — on the Nariya post that is manned by the Border Security Force.

The Nariya post is within kilometers of the Eagle post at Naugam in the Kupwara sector where the two armies traded fire for nearly 16 hours on Monday and Tuesday.

Today’s firing marks an escalation of the tension, from small arms to light artillery.

A senior defence ministry official, asked for his opinion on why shooting across the LoC was increasing in frequency, said: “We cannot speak for the Pakistanis but we can understand that the Pakistan Army needs to prove it is relevant despite a civil administration being elected.

“We also see that there is pressure on Pakistan from the US to show evidence that it is chasing the Taliban on its western border (with Afghanistan).”

In India, the increase in the frequency of ceasefire violations coincides with terror attacks in Bangalore and Ahmedabad and the bomb scare in Surat. Army officials say the Pakistan Army abets infiltration of militants into Kashmir by opening fire on Indian positions.

If defence minister Antony’s contention yesterday that Pakistan had violated the ceasefire 19 times since January this year is true, today’s incident is the 20th time that the Indian Army has borne the brunt of Pakistani firing without retaliating.

But pressure is mounting on the government and in army headquarters to respond to the violations. In the months before the November 2003 ceasefire agreement, the Indian Army used to respond with multiple volleys of artillery fire to shooting from the Pakistan Army in what it said was “punitive action”.

“The defence minister has already warned (Pakistan),” said Lt General Raj Kadyan, retired deputy chief of army staff. “But if such violations carry on and then we start retaliatory action, the ceasefire is over. The defence minister’s warning can be said to be in preparation for that.”

Reports reaching army headquarters in Delhi said the Pakistani soldiers of a unit identified as “21 PoK” opened fire shortly before noon.

“Our field commander talked to his counterpart over hotline and told him to stop firing lest the situation escalates. We told him that we are observing restraint and we may have no choice but to retaliate in case they again resorted to firing,” defence spokesperson Lt Colonel A.K. Mathur said in Srinagar. He added that there were no casualties.

The same Pakistani unit was involved in the firing on Monday-Tuesday after objecting to Indian soldiers reconstructing a forward observation post that Islamabad claimed was on its territory. An Indian soldier was killed.

Security agencies in Jammu and Kashmir are worried that the situation is going back to the pre-2003 ceasefire era when exchange of fire was a routine affair.

An officer feared that this might again lead to migration of people living near the LoC. “Both ceasefire violations took place in Naugam where there is no habitation close by. But if it spreads to other sectors, many people will have no option but to flee,” a police officer said.

With inputs from Muzaffar Raina in Srinagar

Judicious offset obligation policy can add arsenal to India's defence

31 Jul, 2008, 0224 hrs IST,

By Dhiraj Mathur

The government is scheduled to announce a new (and delayed) defence procurement policy (DPP 2008) in the next couple of days. From Indian industry’s perspective, the defence offset policy is a key element of the DPP. The existing version (DPP 2006) stipulates that 30% (or more) of the value of a defence purchase from a foreign vendor for a contract exceeding Rs 300 crore has to be ploughed back into the country via a defence offset obligation.

Broadly, this obligation can be fulfilled by one of several methods — purchase from or exports on behalf of Indian defence industries of good or services produced or supplied by them, foreign direct investment (FDI) into Indian defence industries, investments in defence R&D etc.

The Indian government has launched a $100 billion capital investment plan over the 2007-12 period, with the objective of modernising and upgrading ancient defence equipment of the Indian armed forces. In fact, military expenditure in India has grown steadily over the last few years with the annual budget for the year 2008-09 set at $26.4 billion. DPP thus presents a great opportunity to kick start the transfer of sophisticated technology and manufacturing in the defence sector in India.

For various historical reasons, India has been denied access to these technologies, particularly, the dual use technologies (those that have both civil and military application). As a result, we have not been able to develop domestic capability in this sector, and have been relying largely on Russian supplies to meet our defence needs.

India’s signing the 123 agreement should open doors to technology hitherto denied to India. Moreover, a $100 billion purchase programme represents an offset obligation of $30 billion that would flow through investments and purchases from the Indian defence industry (both public and private).

This could translate into the creation of a large number of high-skilled jobs in manufacturing and R&D with spill over benefits to the economy. However, in the absence of a coherent policy regime, India is likely to miss out on fully exploiting the potential of the offset programme. It is hoped that DPP 2008 would address these issues.

Manufacture of defence equipment is permitted only upon obtaining an industrial licence from the government. However, there is no clear definition of what constitutes defence equipment because of which investors are left to the whims of bureaucratic interpretation to know whether or not a product would be subject to compulsory licensing. For instance, would air conditioners supplied to the army come under the category of defence equipment and be subject to industrial licensing even though their manufacture is otherwise freely permitted with 100% FDI on the automatic route?

The existing FDI policy restricts foreign equity in the manufacture of defence equipment to 26%. If one were to assume that approximately $10 billion of the offset obligation would be discharged through investment in manufacturing, the existing policy would require a domestic equity contribution of almost about $30 billion (Rs 1,20,000 crore).

Since the offset policy requires that the obligation be discharged during the tenure of the defence equipment supply agreement, this quantum of domestic equity would need to be raised over a 2-5 year period in the defence sector alone, a target that seems quite impossible to achieve. Second and equally important, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) aggressively guard their intellectual property and would be loathe providing cutting edge technology to a joint venture in which they own only 26% equity.

There is no economic or strategic rationale for this cap on foreign equity. For those who say that defence is a strategic sector in which we cannot have 100% foreign equity, I have only this to say — for the last 50 years, we have been buying equipment from companies that have no assets or even operations in India and over which we have no control. What great security threat would a company pose that would be incorporated in India, be subject to Indian laws and regulations with physical assets in India? The cap of 26% on the FDI thus works against fully exploiting the potential benefits of the offset policy.

DPP 2006 provides only for ‘direct’ offsets i.e. through investments/ purchases exclusively in the defence sector. Given the nascent state of the Indian defence industry, it is doubtful whether domestic defence industry has the capacity to absorb such large offset obligations. It would be more prudent to permit ‘indirect’ offsets through investment in priority sectors like infrastructure and manufacturing. Another possibility is to allow foreign vendors to invest in an infrastructure/manufacturing fund that can be used to finance investments in priority sectors.

The award of defence contracts is a long drawn and complex process that can take several years. We have enough examples in the recent past of defence contracts that have been cancelled after years of negotiation (for example, the Eurocopter deal). If we want to encourage OEM’s, tier 1 and 2 suppliers to set up manufacturing operations in India, we must allow them the facility of ‘banking’ offset credits that can be utilised in case they win a contract. Such a facility is allowed in most countries the world over and would provide both incentives and insurance to defence manufacturers.

It is important that DPP 2008 provide clarity and resolution to these issues. In the absence of a coherent and synergistic policy framework, India may not be able to fully absorb the potential benefits of offset obligations and may end up with only a portion of the low hanging fruit of the defence technology value chain.

The author is executive director, PricewaterhouseCoopers

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

From Today's Papers - 30 Jul



















Respect ceasefire, Antony tells Pakistan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 29
Defence minister A.K. Antony today sent out a strong message to Pakistan saying India was fully prepared to deal with any instance of infiltration by the Pakistani army, though adequate restraint was being maintained to prevent escalation of tension.
Jawans of the Pakistan army had intruded into Indian territory in Jammu and Kashmir yesterday and opened fire at an Indian post killing Mahesh Kumar of the Rajputana Rifles. The Indian troops retaliated and reportedly shot dead four Pakistani soldiers. Mukesh hails from Rewari in Haryana. The incident occurred around 3:30 pm yesterday and intermittent firing across the line of control continued till this morning.
Antony said keeping in view the increased attempts of infiltration, the counter infiltration grid had been suitably strengthened by the Army to check such incidents.
Commenting on yesterday’s incident, Antony said: “The increase in the ceasefire violations — firing across the Line of Control (LoC) -- has been a matter of concern and is being constantly reviewed by the government from time to time”.
A total of 19 incidents had occurred since January 2008 and a large number of incidents had occurred in June and July this year. These were unusual months when maximum attempts of infiltration were made by terrorists, he added.
The defence minister said the government through the Director General Military Operations (DGMO) had told Pakistan that it must fully respect the ceasefire agreed upon between the two sides. The DGMOs of the two countries also spoke over the hotline today, officials of the ministry added.
Meanwhile, sources in the ministry said the incident occurred in Kupwara district as Pakistani soldiers crossed 300 metres inside the Indian territory and objected to the location of an observation and surveillance post. They asked for a meeting with the commanding officer, a senior defence ministry official said.
This led to an altercation and one of the Pakistani soldiers, possibly sighting an Indian patrol in the vicinity, opened fire, fatally injuring jawan Mahesh at the post and this led to opening of fire in retaliation Indian troops, officials here said.
Srinagar: While the guns fell silent after night-long firing across the LoC in Nowgam sector, India on Tuesday registered a strong protest to the Pakistan counterparts over the violation of ceasefire along the Line of Control. The firing between the two sides continued throughout the night, without causing any damage. Defence sources here did not comment on the damage caused as a result of the firing.
Defence spokesman, Lt-Col A.K. Mathur said a flag meeting was held at the level of battalion commanders in Nowgam sector on Tuesday after guns fell silent in the morning. He said “we protested the violation of ceasefire” and the crossing of LoC by the troops from the other side. He added that it was also resolved that such incidents be amicably resolved at the level of DGMO.
Meanwhile, the body of Sepoy Mahesh, who was killed in the firing, had been flown to his native place in Rewari, reports here said.

India Protests to Pakistan on LoC Firing

New Delhi/Srinagar
India Tuesday lodged a strong protest against the unprovoked firing by Pakistani troops along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir, even as Defence Minister A.K. Antony urged Islamabad to respect the ceasefire that has been in place since 2003.
The protest was lodged when Lt Gen A.S. Sekhon, the Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) at the Army Headquarters in New Delhi, spoke to his Pakistani counterpart, Maj Gen Nasir Janjua, on the hotline, a defence ministry official said.
The DGMOs normally speak to each other once a week on Tuesdays and their conversation acquired added importance due to the LoC firing that began Monday afternoon and continued till early Tuesday morning.
Indian and Pakistani Army commanders also held a flag meeting on the LoC Tuesday and agreed to restore normalcy in the area.
In a statement issued in New Delhi, Antony said: "Pakistan must fully respect the ceasefire agreed to between the two sides and adhere to the already existing mechanism" to deal with border violations.
An Indian soldier, identified as Sepoy Mahesh Kumar of the 22 Rajput Regiment, and four Pakistani troops were killed in the firing after a group of 10-12 soldiers intruded into Indian territory in the Nowgom area of north Kashmir.
It was the most serious truce violation in the past five years and comes in the wake of 18 other violations by Pakistani troops since January.
Antony, in his statement said: "We have urged that Pakistan must fully respect the ceasefire agreed to between the two sides and to adhere to the already existing mechanism to deal with violations through local flag meetings and DGMO-level talks in order to resolve an issue.
"Keeping in view the increased attempts to infiltrate, the counter-infiltration grid has been suitably strengthened by our troops to check such incidents," Antony said.
"The government is fully prepared to deal with any such instances firmly while maintaining adequate restraint to prevent escalation of tension," he added.
The minister also noted that the "increase in the ceasefire violations has been a matter of concern and is being constantly reviewed by the government from time to time.
"A total of 19 such incidents have occurred since January 2008 and a large number of incidents have occurred in the months of June and July. These are the usual months when maximum attempts are made by the terrorists," Antony said.
The flag meeting took place at Tithwal in the Tangdhar sector of the LoC in north Kashmir.
"The meeting started at 12 noon and ended after one hour," army sources in Kashmir's summer capital of Srinagar said, without divulging details of what happened at the meeting.
Giving details of the incident, the defence ministry official in New Delhi said: "At 15:30 in the afternoon (Monday), a Pakistani patrol of 10-12 soldiers in uniform approached our surveillance detachment approximately 300 metres on our side of the LoC, objecting to its location and asked for a meeting with the commanding officer.
"During the interaction, one of the Pakistani soldiers, possibly on sighting our patrol in the vicinity, opened fire, fatally injuring a sentry at the post," the official said.
"This led to opening of fire in retaliation. The Pakistani post in the vicinity thereafter opened unprovoked firing on our posts in the area. Interim firing between the posts continued till early morning today (Tuesday)," the official added.
The Indian Air Force (IAF), meanwhile, categorically denied reports of Indian air space being violated by a Pakistani aircraft Tuesday.
"There has been no violation today (Tuesday) or in the recent past," an IAF spokesman told IANS in New Delhi.

ISI calling the shots in Pakistan Maya Mirchandani
Wednesday, July 30, 2008 (New Delhi)


It was only weeks ago after the Indian embassy in Kabul was bombed that National Security Advisor M K Narayanan blamed the ISI and said it should be destroyed.The ISI's role in helping terror groups has come under deeper scrutiny internationally but the agency is clearly calling the shots in Pakistan.
What's come under close scrutiny have been the developments over the weekend when the government first announced that the ISI would be under civilian control and then backtracked within hours, a clear sign that the spy agency calls the shots.
Preventing a showdown with President Bush is what many feel was behind the Pak government's decision to issue an order putting the ISI under the interior ministry's civilian control.
As it revoked the decision under 24 hours saying there had been a misunderstanding , Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani reiterated his government's committment to fight terror from the White House lawns.
Pakistan's ruling coalition had argued in favour of the transfer of control saying it would end foreign allegations that Pakistan's intelligence services were a law unto themselves.
In an article a leading international daily had noted that the US administration was running out of patience with Pakistan's inability to end cross border terrorism on the Pak-Afghan border. The newspaper said Gilani should expect a "testy reception" in Washington.
India too has recently pointed to the ISI as being responsible for the embassy bombing in Kabul in early July, as well as for backing terrorist groups that strike cities across the country with impunity.
But curbing Pakistan's ISI that's run by army generals was seen as tantamount to taking on the Paksitan army, an unequal fight by any standards.
And the weekend twists over the fate of the agency only confirm fears that six months after the elections Pakistan's new civilian government is still unable to assert its control.

Not quite a dragon
Why China cannot be the next superpower
by John Pomfret

WASHINGTON – The People’s Republic is on the march – economically, militarily, even ideologically. Economists expect its GDP to surpass America’s by 2025; its submarine fleet is reportedly growing five times faster than Washington’s; even its capitalist authoritarianism is called a real alternative to the West’s liberal democracy. China, the drumbeat goes, is ready to dominate the 21st century the way the United States dominated the 20th.Except that it’s not. Will China really be another superpower? I doubt it.
I’m not a China-basher. I first went to China in 1980 as a student, and I’ve followed its remarkable transformation over the past 28 years. I met my wife there and call it a second home. I’m hardly expecting China to implode. But its dream of dominating the century won’t be a reality any time soon.
Too many constraints are built into the country’s social, economic and political systems. For four big reasons – dire demographics, an overrated economy, an environment under siege and an ideology that doesn’t travel well – China is more likely to remain the muscle-bound adolescent of the international system than to become the master of the world.In the West, China is known as “the factory to the world,” the land of unlimited labor where millions are eager to leave the hardscrabble countryside for a chance to tighten screws in microwaves. If the country is going to rise to superpowerdom, says conventional wisdom, it will do so on the back of its massive workforce.
But China’s demographics stink. No country is aging faster than the People’s Republic, which is on track to become the first nation in the world to get old before it gets rich. Because of the Communist Party’s notorious one-child-per-family policy, the average number of children born to a Chinese woman has dropped from 5.8 in the 1970s to 1.8 today – below the rate of 2.1 that would keep the population stable.
Meanwhile, life expectancy has shot up, from just 35 in 1949 to more than 73 today. Economists worry that as the working-age population shrinks, labor costs will rise, significantly eroding one of China’s key competitive advantages.
Worse, Chinese demographers such as Li Jianmin of Nankai University now predict a crisis with China’s elderly, a group that will balloon from 100 million people older than 60 today to 334 million by 2050, including a staggering 100 million age 80 or older.
How will China care for them? With pensions? Fewer than 30 percent of urban dwellers have them, and none of the 700 million farmers do. And China’s state-funded pension system makes Social Security look like Fort Knox. Nicholas Eberstadt, a demographer and economist at the American Enterprise Institute, calls China’s demographic time bomb “a slow-motion humanitarian tragedy in the making.”
One important nuance we keep forgetting is the sheer size of China’s population: about 1.3 billion, more than four times that of the United States. China should have a big economy. But on a per capita basis, the country isn’t a dragon; it’s a medium-size lizard, sitting in 109th place on the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook Database, between Swaziland and Morocco. China’s economy is large, but its average living standard is low and will remain so for a very long time.

The big number wheeled out to prove that China is eating our economic lunch is the U.S. trade deficit with China, which last year hit $256 billion. But nearly 60 percent of China’s total exports are churned out by companies not owned by Chinese.
When it comes to high-tech exports such as computers and electronic goods, 89 percent come from non-Chinese-owned companies. China is part of the global system, but it’s still the low-cost assembly and manufacturing part – and foreign, not Chinese, firms are reaping the lion’s share of the profits.
China’s environmental woes are no joke. This year, China will surpass the United States as the world’s No. 1 emitter of greenhouse gases. China is the largest depleter of the ozone layer and the largest polluter of the Pacific Ocean. Sixteen of the world’s 20 most polluted cities are in China; 70 percent of its lakes and rivers are polluted and half its population lacks clean drinking water.
By 2030, the nation will face a water shortage equal to the amount it consumes today; factories in the northwest have already been forced out of business because there just isn’t any water. Even Chinese government economists estimate that environmental troubles shave 10 percent off the country’s gross domestic product annually.
And then there’s “Kung Fu Panda,” which embodies the final reason why China won’t be a superpower: Beijing’s animating ideas just aren’t that animating.
The recent Hollywood smash, about the high-kicking panda who uses ancient Chinese teachings to turn himself into a kung fu warrior, broke Chinese box-office records – and caused hand-wringing among the country’s glitterati. “The film’s protagonist is China’s national treasure, and all the elements are Chinese, but why didn’t we make such a film?” Wu Jiang, president of the China National Peking Opera Company, told the official New China News Agency.
The movie’s content may be Chinese, but its irreverence and creativity are 100 percent American. China remains an authoritarian state run by a party that limits the free flow of information, stifles ingenuity and doesn’t understand how to self-correct. Blockbusters don’t grow out of the barrel of a gun. Neither do superpowers in the age of globalisation.

The writer, a former Beijing bureau chief, is editor of The Washington Post’s Outlook section.

Beyond control
ISI will continue to call the shots in Pakistan

THE Pakistan Government did cause a bit of sensation when it issued a notification on Saturday saying the Prime Minister gave the Interior Ministry control of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Intelligence Bureau. Since Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani left for the US to meet President George W. Bush the same day, it was presumed that it was a calculated move to tell the West that the civilian control was complete in Pakistan. On paper, the ISI has been, financially and administratively, under the control of the Defence Ministry but answerable to the Prime Minister. But in practice, the ISI has always been a law unto itself that answered only to military dictators like General Pervez Musharraf. Saturday’s decision, therefore, amounted to a drastic change in the character of the ISI. Most people, within and without Pakistan, thought the notification was too good to be true.

They were not wide of the mark as subsequent events proved to the hilt. The next day, the government issued another notification saying that the earlier order was misunderstood and the ISI would remain under the Prime Minister. Obviously, the ISI had struck back and was instrumental in undoing the proposal. It will continue to remain a government within the government, generally invisible and answerable to none. It was foolish on the part of Mr Gillani to have believed that he could get away with his nibbling at the ISI’s autonomy. He should have recalled that it was this outfit, which masterminded the Kargil war without the knowledge of then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was supposedly controlling the agency. Umpteen have been the instances when it acted on its own, be it fuelling terrorism in India or strengthening the Taliban, first, against the erstwhile Soviet Union and, lately, against the Americans in Afghanistan.

If today the world sees Pakistan as the source of terrorism, it is the ISI that is to blame. Small wonder that even many people in Pakistan and its neighbouring countries would like the ISI to be disbanded. Banish such hopes. The latest flip-flop by the Pakistan government shows that the ISI will continue to call the shots, irrespective of who adorns the office of Prime Minister. This is the price Pakistan has to pay for creating a Frankenstein. Even if the government wants to, it cannot get rid of the monster.

Eurasia Insight:
PAKISTAN: BUSH ADMINISTRATION STICKS WITH PAKISTANI MILITARY
Richard Weitz: 7/29/08

President George W. Bush is talking to Pakistan’s civilian leaders, but the US presidential administration continues to exhibit a stubborn preference for maintaining close ties with the Pakistani military, an institution that is widely discredited inside the South Asian state.

Bush welcomed Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to the White House on July 28 for talks that focused on the deteriorating security situation along the Pakistani-Afghan border. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. Gilani said the Pakistani government is determined to contain Islamic militants. Bush told journalists that the Pakistani leader had “made a very strong commitment” to restoring Islamabad’s control over the tribal areas. Questions remain, however, over whether the Pakistani government, even if it has the will to take action, possesses the means to break up the militants’ safe havens.

Amid the speculation, the Bush administration has clung doggedly to policies that have proven ineffective in curbing the militant threat. The US strategy to date has centered on the personality of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, the leader of the country’s military establishment, and a man who, from the popular viewpoint, is easily the most reviled figure in Pakistani politics today. Indeed, Gilani’s rise to power was the direct result of parliamentary elections that were widely interpreted as a repudiation of Musharraf’s policies, as well as the military’s control of the political process. Over 80 percent of the Pakistani people want Musharraf to go, according to a recent poll conducted by the International Republican Institute.

The parliamentary elections presented US officials with an opportunity to reevaluate Washington’s policy dependence on the Pakistani military, but, to date, the United States has not followed up on that opening. The bulk of US assistance to Islamabad continues to be funneled through the military establishment. Administration critics argue that diverting assistance toward civil society and economic development initiatives would be more effective in winning the hearts and minds of the Pakistani people, and in making the country’s tribal areas more secure.

Despite fresh strains in Pakistani-American military ties, the Pentagon remains committed to continuing close military cooperation with Pakistan, according to David Smith, senior country director for Pakistan at the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Policy). Smith, a retired US army officer whose last military assignment was a three-year tour military attaché in the US Embassy in Islamabad, spoke July 22 at a Heritage Foundation panel, titled “The Future of US-Pakistan Military Ties: Weathering the Strains of Regional Terrorism.”

Smith denied that the US approach to Pakistan was unduly militarized, claiming that the Bush administration was taking a broad view of the security challenge. “Even though Pakistan is an indispensable ally in the War on Terror, our desire for a long-term relationship is not confined to this military aspect alone,” Smith said. “We are working very hard to find ways to increase our economic and social development programs in Pakistan and to find ways to demonstrate to the people of Pakistan the value of the strategic relationship with the United States. We certainly applaud Pakistan’s return to democracy and plan to dramatically increase the non-military component of our bilateral relationship in the coming years.”

Overall, the United States has delivered about $11 billion in economic and military assistance to Pakistan since 2002. According to Smith’s calculations, “Since 9/11, we have extended to Pakistan approximately $5.2 billion in economic and military assistance,” with the latter amounting to only $2.1 billion. Smith argued that an additional $5.9 billion military aid, provided under the auspices of “coalition support funds (CSF),” should be considered separately, since these funds supposedly reimbursed the Pakistani military for its contributions to anti-terrorist operations.

Independent surveys have found that the Pakistani military has used US coalition support funds to purchase high-tech weapons, such as anti-missile systems, that have no practical application in combating low-tech Islamic militants, but do enhance Pakistan’s security vis-à-vis its long-standing hostile neighbor, India. A report issued by the US Government Accountability Office in June found that the Pentagon, in making assistance available to Pakistan, “did not consistently apply its existing CSF oversight guidance, and that certain deficiencies existed in [the Pentagon’s] oversight procedures.”

Smith characterized the US-Pakistani military relationship as “a rollercoaster with dizzying highs and equally dizzying lows.” Despite the currently close ties, Smith acknowledged that, “there are several significant challenges that must be overcome in order to sustain and maintain a relationship at its current level.” First, Smith pointed to a considerable “trust deficit” among officials on both sides, adding that “many Pakistanis doubt both our sincerity in the present relationship and our staying power in the region, fearing that we will once again abandon Pakistan, as they believe we have done so many times in the past, once our current objectives are met.”

“It’s incumbent that we demonstrate, or find a way to demonstrate, to Pakistan first of all that we are in Afghanistan to finish the job, and then, secondly, that we are a reliable security partner, now and well into the future,” Smith continued.

The trust level between the two sides was unlikely to receive a boost from a July 28 missile attack in the Pakistani region of South Waziristan, near the Afghan border. The missile killed six people, including a suspect Al Qaeda operative. The United States is widely viewed as being behind the attack, but Bush made no mention of it during his public appearance with Gilani.

Beyond the trust issue, a host of other problems has hampered the development of US-Pakistani security ties. For example, a perception gap divides Washington and Islamabad concerning Islamic militant safe havens in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). “Many in Pakistan believe that we’ve failed to appreciate their sacrifices that have been made” in combating militants in the Northwest Frontier province and the FATA, Smith said. “But, as our leaders have told Pakistan fairly recently, Pakistan can and must do more. We simply cannot allow Al Qaeda and other militant groups that are in the FATA time to plan and execute another 9/11.”

Washington also takes a dim view of the Pakistani military’s tactic of negotiating peace deals with tribal leaders and local militants in the FATA. Smith said that deals sealed in 2005-06 have ended in failure, adding that cross-boarder militant attacks have increased sharply this year over the previous year. “Now we are not opposed in principle to negotiating agreements, but if they are to be negotiated, we have made it clear to the government of Pakistan that certain conditions need to be met,” Smith said. “The agreements need to be enforceable, they need to call for the elimination of foreign elements and extremists in the FATA, they should not require the withdrawal of the Pakistan army or other security forces from the area, and they must have provisions that prevent cross-border attacks being mounted on coalition forces in Afghanistan and other targets in Pakistan.”

On a practical level, US and Pakistani officials, along with authorities in Afghanistan, are striving to improve coordination along the Pakistani-Afghan border. More open channels of communications might have prevented an incident in June, when American forces inadvertently killed several Pakistani troops amid an assault on Taliban militants who were in the process of fleeing across the border into Pakistan

Another question hovering over relations concerns India. Smith acknowledged the long history of antagonism between Islamabad and New Delhi. He added, however, that Pakistani leaders had to understand that developing relationships involving the United States, Afghanistan and India should not be seen as “a series of zero-sum games, in which one gains and one loses at the other’s expense.”

Smith strongly opposed the idea of making US military assistance to Pakistan conditional upon Islamabad’s making verifiable progress in the areas of democratization or security. He also expressed the belief that Washington had no choice but to maintain the “business-as-usual” relationship with the Pakistani military. “I have a great deal of difficulty in imagining any scenario for military success in Afghanistan that does not depend on close cooperation with Pakistan and its armed forces,” he said.

Editor’s Note: Richard Weitz is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC.

Bullet marks on ceasefire sanctity

- 16-hour overnight firing on Pak border SUJAN DUTTA

New Delhi, July 29: A nearly five-year-long ceasefire along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir was teetering today after the Pakistani and Indian armies traded fire for over 16 hours overnight and India’s defence minister alleged that Pakistan had violated the truce of November 2003 19 times in seven months since January this year.

The firing stopped early this morning. For the record, both India and Pakistan have said they remain committed to maintaining the ceasefire but Monday’s firefight across the LoC and the series of shootouts across the contested border in the last two months are evidence of how taut the truce is.

Most important, the Indian and Pakistani armies have traded charges on misuse of a symbol of peace — the white flag — that rival militaries in battlefields rely on to signal a temporary truce to recover the dead and the injured. This action and the suspicion of intentions mean that the sanctity of the ceasefire on the LoC is already in tatters.

Armed disputes along the LoC that could be settled locally now have the potential of flaring into larger conflicts between the two countries. India and Pakistan now risk turning the clock back five years in Kashmir and getting into a situation in which the trading of fire from small weapons, and even heavier guns, could become routine.

The Indian and Pakistani sector commanders of the two armies held a flag meeting in the Nowgam area this morning after which the Indian army retrieved the body of one of its soldiers. Sepoy Mahesh was killed after Pakistani soldiers came into Indian territory and shot him during an altercation, according to an account available in Indian army headquarters.

The flag meeting was decided at a talk this morning on the telephone hotline between the Indian director-general of military operations, Lt Gen A.S. Sekhon, and his Pakistani counterpart. The DGMOs usually speak every Tuesday and are also supposed to be in contact “whenever the need arises”, an Indian defence ministry official explained.

Defence minister A.K. Antony said India was “exercising maximum restraint” — a phrase that means it retains the option of unleashing its firepower — and external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee said in Tehran that the cease-fire violations were worrying. In the last three years, comments on alleged or perceived cease-fire violations have rarely been made by such senior government figures.

Information gleaned from army sources in Kashmir suggests that the Pakistanis had yesterday objected to the reconstruction of a bunker, a forward observation post, in a hotly contested valley in Kupwara, known as Kayan Bowl, where the demarcation of the LoC is ambiguous.

The fence along the LoC that India has erected runs behind the post and the bunker faces Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

However, the Pakistani army argued that the post was being rebuilt in what it considered was its territory. Among the agreed rules for the November 2003 cease-fire -- the biggest confidence-building measure between India and Pakistan since the two militaries faced off in 2001-2002 -- was a commitment by each side to refrain from construction of fortifications on the LoC. Sources in the Indian army argue that Pakistan had violated the rule by rebuilding its defences along the LoC in Jammu.

The Pakistani military spokesperson, Major General Athar Abbas, denied the Indian claim that four Pakistani soldiers were killed in Indian shooting, but the Indian army said its soldiers of the 22 Rajpur unit had killed them after losing one of their own.

Antony also linked the increase in cease-fire violations to increasing infiltration by militants across the LoC in Kashmir.

“The increase in cease-fire violations and firings across the LoC are a matter of concern to India,” he said. “Keeping in view the increased attempts to infiltrate, the counter-infiltration grid in the state has been suitably strengthened by our troops to check such incidents.”

The 19 cease-fire violations that Antony referred to included at least three violations of Indian airspace by Pakistani military aircraft in May and June.

The argument that cease-fire violations by Pakistan are designed to push and abet militants in Kashmir strengthens the belief of the security establishment that terrorists get into India with active encouragement from Pakistan, or from a section of its establishment, and they then encourage attacks on Indian soft targets such as the citizens of Bangalore and Ahmedabad.

Indian Navy to Acquire 26 Sea King, 11 Kamov-28 Helicopters

The Indian Navy is all set to strengthen its air fleet by acquiring 26 Sea King anti-submarine and troop carrying helicopters and 11 Kamov-28 choppers. The Defence Ministry will soon issue the request for proposal (RFP) to procure these 37 anti-submarine helicopters. The contract for choppers is worth Rs.14, 500 million

The ministry has finalized global tenders to acquire troop carrying and anti-submarine helicopters as well as to upgrade its fleet of Sea King and Kamov-28 helicopters, a senior naval officer said. He also said that the delivery of 12 single-seat MiG-29K and 4 two-seat MiG-29KUB would start by the year-end. They will be later deployed on the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier being refitted in Russia.

The first batch of four aircraft for the Navy is likely to fly into the naval air station at Goa. The officer also said that the Navy is also looking for its own Airborne Early Warning Aircraft. The navy operates 14 Sea King and 12 Kamov anti-submarine helicopters. In addition, the Sea Kings are also used for reconnaissance, search and rescue operations, and for ferrying personnel and supplies.

Meanwhile, in a major drive to modernize the armed forces and expand aviation wings of the Services, the Defence Ministry today issued a RFP to procure 197 helicopters. The proposed procurement is worth Rs.30, 000 million. The armed forces will modernize their helicopter fleet by 2010 by replacing the age-old Cheetah and Chetak, which have been in service for last 40 years.

The Mahabharata over Arjun

http://pragmatic.nationalinterest.in/2008/07/29/the-mahabharata-over-arjun/

Noted defence journalist and a former tankman, Ajai Shukla has been a staunch supporter and proponent of inducting the Arjun tanks developed indigenously by DRDO, over the T-90 tanks imported from Russia. After the Indian army refused to induct any more tanks other than the first batch of 124 Arjuns, sounding a virtual deathknell for the project, the pitch of the debate has been raised to a new level. It is a very interesting debate and promises to get even better.

Ajai initiated the latest round of debate with this column, where he explained why Arjun should be the preferred choice of the Indian Army over the T-90s. His next salvo was to clarify the truth behind the many falsehoods surrounding the Arjuns. The number of comments at these posts indicate the high level of interest in the subject.

Meanwhile, Shiv Aroor has posted two blogposts at his site to support Ajai’s contentions. The first is the statement prepared by the DRDO for the defence ministry and the Parliamentary defence committee, while the second one is an evolutionary analysis of India’s MBT by noted defence hardware expert, Prasun Sengupta.

The studied silence by the Indian army and their co-opted thinktanks has left most observers ignorant of the version from the other side. The “valid — indeed, the vital — question” that Ajai promises to answer next is the one this blogger is eagerly looking forward to –

“Why is the Indian Army resisting the Arjun?”

Also See:

http://pragmatic.nationalinterest.in/2008/07/28/a-mute-revolt-triggered-by-the-scpc/

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

From Today's Papers - 29 Jul










Monday, 28 July 2008

It’s War! And you can win it for the Arjun…


If so many of you are willing to argue so passionately for the Arjun (more than a hundred intensely argued posts on my article below) I’ll keep putting out the facts. And here is the first bunch of clarifications… about some of the misconceived arguments being made in some of the posts.

Falsehood No. 1: “70 Arjuns have been rolled out in 8 years!”

Wrong. These 70 tanks have taken less than two years to manufacture. The Arjun’s series production didn’t start in 2000… it only began last year. And the Arjun production line is already very close to producing its installed capacity of 50 tanks a year.

Falsehood No. 2: “Quality speaks for itself.”

Wrong. Quality speaks for itself only when the system is actually in service. But when the equipment is being evaluated, quality is entirely subjective. It is easily buried… in trial reports, which are subject to various pressures and pulls. If the Directorate General of Mechanised Forces makes it clear that the Arjun tank isn’t what they want, if the brigade, division and corps commanders of the units conducting the trials let it be known that they don't think the Arjun should look good, only the occasional stubbornly upright CO will insist that it's a quality tank. Most will make sure that the trial report buries the tank.

And the problem today is that most of those senior officers haven't seen the Arjun today; they still remember the Arjun of 10, 5, even 3 years ago. So perception and institutional memory is loaded against the Arjun.

Secondly, trials can be structured in a manner that tilts the scale dramatically against the equipment being tried out. In the case of contentious equipment like the Arjun tank, the best way to make trials somewhat objective is to hold "comparative trials"… in which two or three pieces of equipment are put through identical routines. Even that can be fiddled, but it is far more difficult to do so.

Falsehood No. 3: “T-90 production delays are due to the Ordnance Factory Board.”

Wrong. The T-90 is still not at the point of production. And that's because the Russian manufacturers haven’t transferred technology. My earlier article (see below) explains the exact position.

Falsehood No. 4: “The army is not taking over the Arjuns because they are defective.”

Wrong. The army is not taking over those tanks, period. They haven’t yet undergone a transfer inspection, so nobody on the planet knows whether they are defective or not.

That having been said… those tanks might well be of a standard below that of the "Pre-Production Series (PPS) Arjuns. That is because of the well-known difficulties in transitioning from "prototype to production”. That involves changing the mode of production from single piece production to mass production; this gives rise to quality control issues all over the world.

As an example, when the T-72 started being manufactured at HVF Avadi, the quality of those indigenous T-72s (called the Ajeya) was so bad that one of our frontline regiments --- 88 Armoured Regiment, an excellent outfit being commanded by an outstanding officer --- was officially declared “Unfit for War”. It was unprecedented! No armoured regiment had ever been declared “unfit for war” before that. And the reason was simple: productionising the T-72 threw up problems of quality control during mass production.

The Arjun could well face similar problems. But they weren’t used to cut down on the T-72 programme, and --- if they happen with the initial batch of Arjuns --- they shouldn’t be used to curtail the Arjun programme either. It’s an issue that happens, and then gets resolved with a little bit of effort.

Falsehood No. 5: Buying the Arjun is equivalent to “sending soldiers to their deaths in sub-standard equipment”.

Firstly, we haven't yet established that the Arjun is sub-standard. If the army's reluctance to hold comparative trials is any indication, it might well emerge that the T-72s and the T-90s are the substandard equipment in this ball game.

Secondly, the armoured corps is not going to war in a hurry, so we have the time to experiment and nurture an indigenous tank. The last time tankmen went to war was in 1971. If you ask any senior officer when the next time will be, they won’t have an answer. So India DOES have the time to accept the Arjun, iron out any production wrinkles (and we are only ASSUMING that there will be some) and, very importantly, to absorb the know-how for operating the Arjun.

Okay, I’m wrong in the above para. The last time tankmen were sent to their deaths was when barrels started bursting in the T-72 (and it wasn’t only “made in India” barrels), which turned out to be happening because when we started making the barrels, we weren’t tempering them to the right temperature. But that problem got resolved, it wasn’t used to scuttle the T-72 programme.

Not one Arjun barrel has given the slightest problem yet. But other tank parts might, and they must be fixed at leisure… and we have the time to do that.

Falsehood No. 6: “Offer the Arjun for exports. If it’s good, other countries will buy it.”

Wrong. Traditionally, when a new weapons system comes out, prospective buyers observe how it functions in service with its home military. If the Indian Army turns its back on the Arjun, nobody else will even look at it.

Keep the feathers flying!

Pakistan Troops Cross LOC, Five Killed in Skirmish

Srinagar
One Indian and four Pakistani soldiers have been killed in a major ceasefire violation by Pakistani troops in the north Kupwara district of Jammu and Kashmir Monday. The gunfire between the two sides continued Monday night.

Army sources here said a group of 10-12 Pakistani soldiers crossed into the Indian side of the Line of Control (LoC) in the Nowgam sector around 3.00 p.m. Monday.

“The group of intruding Pakistani soldiers started firing from their automatic weapons at the Indian post on our side of the LoC, resulting in the death of one soldier of the 22 Rajput Regiment," an Army source here said.

“In the retaliatory firing, four Pakistani soldiers have been killed. The body of one Pakistani soldier is still lying on our side of the LoC," the source added.

“Heavy automatic gunfire between the two sides is still continuing in the area,” the source said.

The defence spokesperson here confirmed the Indian casualty and incursion by the Pakistani soldiers, but remained tight-lipped about the exact number of Pakistani casualties in the skirmish.

An Indian Army officer in New Delhi said Director General of Military Operations Lt. Gen. Sekhon will talk to his Pakistani counterpart Major General Ahmed Pasha Tuesday on the hotline, following which there will be a flag meeting between the two countries to resolve the issue.

IANS | July 28, 2008

US Prevented Pakistan from Blocking India at IAEA

Islamabad
Thanks to the US, Pakistan's attempts to block India's efforts to secure a country-specific safeguards agreement from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have "come to a grinding halt", a widely respected commentator wrote Monday.

Soon after Pakistan wrote a letter to the IAEA board seeking a vote on the issue, "the US got moving and conveyed to Islamabad that Pakistan had already given a commitment, through a previous foreign secretary, that it will offer no opposition to the US pursuing India-specific exceptions at the IAEA and the NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group)," Shireen M. Mazari wrote in The News.

As a result, the Pakistani foreign ministry "was asked to stop all activities meant to counter India-US moves on safeguards and technology exports at the IAEA and the NSG respectively.

"The net result has been that all diplomatic efforts by Pakistan have come to a grinding halt and the special envoy's mission (to follow up on the letter) had to be aborted midway," Mazari wrote in the article, headlined "Pak N-diplomacy comes to a full stop".

A former director general of think tank Institute of Strategic Studies, Mazari's views are considered to be a form of Pakistani nationalism.

According to Mazari, there were two reasons behind Pakistan letter to the IAEA.

"One, to expose those member states that have been holding forth on non-proliferation but would go along with making an exception to India; and, two, to see how many of Pakistan's Arab allies, who are presently members of the IAEA Board would vote."

The US and India are seeking an agreement by consensus without putting the issue to vote.

In addition to the letter, the foreign secretary also wanted to send a letter to the NSG members asking them to adopt a criteria-based approach for sensitive technology transfers rather than country-based exceptions, Mazari wrote.

The third leg of the foreign ministry's strategy "was to send an envoy - preferably a seasoned diplomat - to our ally China to get them to lend support to the Pakistani approach vis-à-vis the IAEA and the NSG".

The US action came even as Pakistani Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir was in New Delhi last week for talks with his Indian counterpart Shivshankar Menon for launching the fifth round of their composite dialogue process.

The US action came "despite the fact that many Western IAEA and NSG members are firm adherents to the non-proliferation regime and are uncomfortable with the India-US nuclear deal - which is why the US and India do not want to put the safeguards agreement to vote in the IAEA," Mazari wrote.

"It is important to remember that Pakistan has been signing the normal non-NPT member states' safeguards agreement with the IAEA, seeking no exit clauses or other exceptions.

"Interestingly, although the US has consistently and publicly stated that it will not sign a nuclear deal with Pakistan on similar lines to the India-US nuclear deal, Pakistan's new de jure foreign minister has naively sought to declare, like his predecessors, that Pakistan will seek such a deal," Mazari added.

According to her, "some outsiders" the present government has inducted into the foreign service "have been intervening in foreign policy decisions. At international meets, they check and rewrite all speeches prepared by the ministry.

"They allegedly informed the foreign secretary that the ministry should stop focusing on China as Pakistan's major ally because now there was going to be a major reorientation towards the US and India.

"Perhaps that is why the prime minister has chosen to go to the US before visiting our ally in good times and bad, China. Could that also be the reason for negotiating with an Indian-owned (company) for the exploitation of Thar coal rather than the Chinese companies with whom Pakistan had been negotiating for the last few years?" Mazari wondered.

Terror Camps in Pakistan
Undermine War in Aghanistan: WSJ


New York
The existence of dozens of terror camps Pakistan mountains neighboring Afghanistan is a major reason why the US-led war just across the border is foundering, the Wall Street Journal has said in a report from one of the camps.

While Pakistan's military is struggling to locate the camps and eradicate them, in part because many locals are sympathetic to the jihadis, the Journal located one camp a few kilometers from Peshawar.

Timing the report with Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani's visit to Washington this week, the daily has detailed the activities at the camp in a riverbed, where about two dozen young men, most in their teens, receive rigorous training for the war against the US-led coalition troops in Afghanistan.

"Their day starts at 4 a.m. with prayers, followed by a six-mile run along the riverbed, swimming where some water remains, and weapons training," the Journal's correspondent Zahid Hussain wrote. He made the 20-minute walk to the camp under armed escort from a nearby village.

"One has to go through this rigor to prepare for the tough life as a fighter," 27-year-old Omar Abdullah, a trainer, was quoted as saying. He said he fought alongside the Taliban in Afghanistan before returning home to Pakistan a few weeks ago to organize training for new recruits.

The camp has no permanent structure of its own, so the recruits live in a nearby village. "The villagers look after us," said the Kalashnikov-wielding Abdullah.

"America is the main enemy of Islam and it is our religious duty to fight against them," he said.

The camp is under the control of Haji Namdar, a top Taliban commander based in the Khyber Agency, one of seven tribal regions known as the Federally Administered Tribal Agencies, the Journal's report said.

It cited western diplomats and Pakistani security officials to say that the hundreds of Pakistani Islamist volunteers trained in such camps are now involved in fighting in Afghanistan.

The number of such camps has increased in the past year as Pakistan's government has taken a more conciliatory approach to the militants in the hopes of securing peace, the report added.

"It not possible to seal the entire 1,500-mile-long border running along treacherous mountainous terrain," the Journal quoted a senior Pakistani military officer as saying.

Many of the trainees in the camp came from madrassas in the region. One young man said he was a student at a business school in Peshawar and recently completed his 40 days of fighter training. The volunteers go through intense scrutiny before they are enlisted and usually arrive with recommendations from clerics, the Journal reported.

Recruits also come from across Pakistan, some of whom had been fighting in Kashmir. "Jihad against American forces in Afghanistan is more important to us at this point," said Abdullah.

The Islamist militants in Pakistan's tribal belt are organized under the banner of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, an organization whose diktat runs in the area. It is led by Baitullah Mehsud, who is accused by Pakistani authorities of masterminding suicide attacks including the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in December last, the Journal said.

Another BSF jawan killed by BDR

Another Border Security Force jawan was killed when the Bangladesh Rifles personnel resorted to firing on Sunday night. This is the second killing of a BSF jawan in five days on the Indo-Bangla border. The firing was said to be unprovoked..

IN AN alarming trend yet another Border Security Force (BSF) jawan, Yadur Appa (25) was shot dead by Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) personnel in Daulatpur, a village in West Bengal's Malda district on Sunday night. The firing was said to be unprovoked.

This is the second time that the BDR has killed a BSF jawan in the last five days. On Wednesday (July 23), a BSF jawan was killed and a villager injured in firing by BDR forces in the same district on the Indo-Bangla border. The incident came days after two BDR personnel were killed in an exchange of fire with the BSF in contiguous Murshidabad district.

Sudarshan (40) the jawan of the BSF's 123 Battalion died of injuries sustained on the way to the Malda Sadar Hospital on July 23. The BDR shooting also injured a farmer in Mirsultanpur village in Malda who was tending to his farm. He took the bullets on his leg and had to be hospitalised.

Soon after the BSF jawan was shot at, there was an exchange of fire between the border personnel on both sides.

The week before, two BDR personnel were killed in an exchange of fire with the BSF in Murshidabad. The incident occurred when a BSF jawan Ram Kishan Pandey of the108 Battalion who was patrolling in a speed boat spotted rustlers herding 300 heads of cattle along the Ganga towards Bangladesh. He gave chase but was spotted by BDR personnel also on boats. The BDR was said to have resorted to indiscriminate firing injuring the jawan who swam ashore under covering fire from his colleagues from the bank of the river.

The BSF jawans fired 19 rounds in half an hour in self-defence, whereas the BDR fired about 100 rounds. Even after the BSF jawans stopped firing, having rescued Pandey, the BDR kept up the firing.

The BSF jawans managed to retrieve 250 heads of cattle valued at Rs 70 lakh while the smugglers managed to take away 50.

Later, the BSF and BDR officials held a flag meeting at the Sovapur outpost. The two sides decided not to allow such incidents to recur. The two sides also decided that if a soldier on either side strays across the border, personnel on the other side would not open fire. But today's firing indicates that the decisions taken at the flag meeting has not been taken seriously by the BDR.

Cattle smuggling to Bangladesh is a regular phenomenon given the huge demand for Indian cattle in Bangladesh. The BDR is alleged to encourage cattle being smuggled to Bangladesh from West Bengal border districts.

India's BEL Seeks Restructuring Advice

By vivek raghuvanshi, NEW DELHI, India
India's largest defense electronics company, state-owned Bharat Electronics Ltd. (BEL), has asked global management consulting firm KPMG for advice on major restructuring plans.

KPMG has been asked to draw up a restructuring plan for BEL to enable the company to concentrate on core defense sector areas and compete in the emerging competitive environment.

BEL, with yearly sales of more than $1 billion, has seven plants throughout India and is the largest producer of defense electronics equipment - including radar, C4I, electronic warfare, ballistic missile computers and military communication systems - in India.

BEL has signed agreements with aerospace majors like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, EADS and Northrop Grumman to tap the emerging defense offset market here and also compete for tenders from the Indian armed forces.

BEL also is setting up a joint venture company with Elbit Systems Electro Optics ELOP, Israel, that will develop, produce and market thermal imaging cameras and forward-looking infrared systems for the Indian and global markets. BEL has also forged ties with Thales of France for joint development of Indian Army-specific software-defined radio sets.

However, several defense overseas majors are establishing joint ventures with Indian private-sector companies, which could bring stiff competition for BEL, so the company has to reposition itself.

The BEL executive said that KPMG would advise BEL on opening new businesses, technology matches and manpower, as well as identifying potential partners for future collaborations. KPMG's recommendations are expected in the next four months, and BEL's plans would be in place in the next six months, the BEL executive said.

 

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