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Monday, 28 July 2008

From Today's Papers - 28 Jul

Ensure second career : BJP

New Delhi, July 26 (PTI) On the occasion of Kargil Diwas today, the BJP demanded better pay for defence personnel and said the government should ensure a second career option for those who take early retirement."On this occasion, I demand from the government that it should assure a second career for those defence personnel who take voluntary retirement," BJP President Rajnath Singh said at a programme organised here by the party to commemorate India's victory in the Kargil war in 1999.

Singh urged the retired defence personnel to form a defence policy group to compile demands of the armed forces.
The BJP president also criticised the UPA Government for failing to meet the demands of defence personnel in the Sixth Pay Commission, leading to demonstrations by retired officers.
"Even the review commission formed after the agitations have the same members (as in the earlier commission). Couldn't they find some army personnel to represent them in the Commission?" he asked.
Singh also took a dig at the Government for failing to check the growth of Naxalites in 175 districts of the country and insurgency in the North-East states. PTI

Pentagon chief: War with Iran 'disastrous on number of levels'

By Amir Oren, Haaretz Correspondent A war with Iran would be "disastrous on a number of levels," according to U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
In an article appearing in the latest issue of Parameters, the U.S. Army War College quarterly, Gates wrote that with the army already bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, "another war in the Middle East is the last thing we need" - despite the fact that Iran "supports terrorism," is "a destabilizing force throughout the Middle East and Southwest Asia and, in my judgment, is hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons."
Nevertheless, he continued, "the military option must be kept on the table, given the destabilizing policies of the regime and the risks inherent in a future Iranian nuclear threat, either directly or through nuclear proliferation."

Gates offered these remarks on Iran as commentary on how to apply an axiom uttered by General Fox Connor in the early 20th century: "Never fight unless you have to." But this is not the first time he has warned against war with Iran; he also did so in a speech at West Point, the U.S. military academy, three months ago. The current article is based on that speech.
Any statement by Gates bears special importance because Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential hopeful who generally opposes the current administration's foreign and defense policy, has praised Gates lavishly and even hinted that he might ask him to retain his post under an Obama presidency.
Meanwhile, in another document bearing his signature that is due to be published soon, the 2008 National Defense Strategy, Gates omits Israel from the list of the United States' main allies.
The National Defense Strategy is an official document that reflects the secretary's directives to the armed forces. It replaces the version issued in 2005 by Gates' predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld. Although Gates signed off on the document about a month ago, it has yet to be published officially; however, a copy appears on the Inside Defense Web site.
In this document, too, Gates wrote that Iran's support for terror, efforts to undermine the nascent democracies in Iraq and Afghanistan and pursuit of nuclear weapons constitute a serious challenge to the security of the region ¬ one that U.S. policy must address.
However, he also used the document to discuss America's allies.
"Our closest allies - the U.K., Australia, and Canada. Other long standing alliances NATO, Japan and South Korea foremost among them. We will work to expand and strengthen other relationships, including with India," the document states.
But Israel, which has been listed in other documents as an important U.S. ally, does not appear in this document at all.
The possibility that Gates might retain his post should Obama win the presidency in November emerged from an interview that the Democratic candidate gave to Defense News earlier this month.
"Secretary Gates has brought a level of realism and professionalism and planning to the job that is worthy of praise," the publication quoted Obama as saying. "But whether that means he would continue in that position, or would even want to, I think that's something that will be determined later. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself."

Editorial: Taming of the ISI?

The two mainstream parties, PPP and PMLN, have welcomed the placing of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) under the Interior Ministry, together with the Intelligence Bureau (IB). Both were heretofore working directly under the prime minister. The official line is that the prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, signed the executive order about the new placement of the two spy agencies in the Interior Ministry “for better coordination” before he left for the United States. Needless to say, most politicians’ initial reaction is that of relief and approval because of the ubiquitous perception that the agency has, at some time or the other, fiddled with politics and undermined the development of a democratic civilian order.
There are some negative reactions too. Ex-ISI chief General (Retd) Hameed Gul, for instance, says ISI is the country’s premier strategic asset and its relocation would harm the country’s defence establishment. There were other remarks too made by officers affected by the transfer, like “the move will seriously undermine national security” and “it will lead to the ISI dabbling in the internal affairs while it is tasked with external security” and that “the armed forces personnel received the news with surprise”.
A late-night press release issued by the Press Information Department (PID), however, tried to backtrack. It said that the notification regarding the ISI had been “misunderstood” and that the ISI would remain under the prime minister. It tried to highlight that part of the notification which enjoined “cooperation between the interior ministry and the ISI for matters like war against terror and internal security”. This indicates a certain element of jitters and lack of consensus within the establishment. It seemed to justify the comment made by some insiders that “things will remain the way they are”.
De facto, the ISI is a military body more controlled by and answerable to the chief of the army staff (COAS) than the prime minister, who has traditionally said yes to the appointment of an army officer picked by the COAS as the ISI chief. When, in rare cases, the prime minister has chosen the DG-ISI on his/her own, as Benazir Bhutto did in her first stint in power and Nawaz Sharif did in his first and second stint in power, things have not gone smoothly between the civilians and the military. Also, despite the formal tutelage of the prime minister, the civilian rulers have never been exempt from the hostile scrutiny of the ISI. Some ISI officials were actually caught trying to overthrow the prime minister they were supposed to serve as happened under Ms Bhutto in 1989-90. The ISI under other DGs has also impacted the fate of elections, evidence of this under Gen Asad Durrani in 1990 is lying with the Supreme Court pending a decision. Indeed, ex-ISI boss Hameed Gul has admitted that the ISI has a “political wing” that has interfered in internal matters and played a murky role in internal governance, especially during election time. When the ISI failed to properly analyse the security threats facing the country and seemed to stand aside when Ms Bhutto was assassinated last year, and seemed helpless when its personnel were targeted and killed in large numbers in the cantonment areas, questions were raised about its working.
The army gets a bad name when the ISI malfunctions. In her book, Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West, the late Ms Benazir Bhutto has written a detailed account of how leaks from inside a divided establishment warned her of her possible assassination at the hands of one Saifullah Akhtar, the leader of a jihadi organisation “minded” by the ISI. Thereafter, one ISI officer named by her in a letter to President Musharraf had actually to be removed from a high visibility post.
RAW is India’s counterpart of the ISI. But unlike the ISI, it has never been accused of acts of political manipulation or terrorism inside India. It is also considered more reliable internationally even though its own officers have written about its shady functioning. Fired with more ideological zeal than professionalism at times, some ISI officers — who return to it after retirement — leave behind too much culpable evidence, kicking up scandals, like the one attached to Dawood Ibrahim, that don’t die over time.
Islamist ex-officers like Khalid Khwaja have tended to attract international attention to the “reverse” indoctrination that ISI officers suffer from when duty actually obliges them to protect the state against such entities as Al Qaeda and the Taliban. But the question today is: can the ISI be turned around and made to correct its image inside and outside Pakistan — in fact, the inside image is more urgently needed — by mere relocation from the prime minister’s office to the Interior Ministry? Coordination is definitely needed, as past experience indicates. But will it happen in reality? That is one question.
Equally, another thing is clear. This decision reflects a consensus between the political parties to cut President Pervez Musharraf and the military to size. So the other big question is: will they succeed? The record shows that two prime ministers in the past tried and failed, even when they had solid majorities in parliament and public support outside. But today the federal government is besieged by all manner of crises, the coalitions in the centre and provinces are weak, and the public outside is alienated and restive. Unless this move is for cosmetic purposes, Islamabad should tread with caution. Internal and external security has never been so interlinked as today and it is debateable whether any one ministry is capable of retooling the ISI to meet the challenge of the times.

Indian army chief in city

Staff Correspondent

Indian Army Chief Gen Deepak Kapoor arrived in Dhaka yesterday on a six-day visit following Bangladesh Army Chief Gen Moeen U Ahmed's visit to India last February.
Gen Kapoor will meet Gen Moeen, Navy Chief Vice Admiral Sarwar Jahan Nizam and Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal SM Ziaur Rahman today.
He will also call on President Iajuddin Ahmed.
The Indian army chief's visit is aimed at improving bilateral relations and boosting military ties between the two neighbouring countries, said an ISPR press release.
Gen Kapoor, who is leading a four-member delegation, was received at BAF tarmac, Kurmitola by Army Quarter Master General Lt Gen Mohammad Jahangir Alam Choudhury on behalf of Gen Moeen and Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Pinak Ranjan Chakrabarty.
He will place wreaths at Shikha Anirban and Bijoy Ketan at the Dhaka Cantonment and visit the National Museum, Defence Services Command and Staff College.
The Indian army chief will also visit Liberation War Memorial sites in Comilla, Liberation War Field, war cemetery and the Bangladesh Military Academy in Chittagong. He is expected to leave for India on August 1.

Crossfire War - India/Pakistan Troops Exchange Fire - Bomb Attacks Continue

By Willard Payne

Crossfire War - RAPID FIRE NEWS=TEHRAN - ISLAMABAD - DHAKA WATCH - South Asia Theatre: Death Toll Increases as Second Series of Bombs Hit Ahmedabad - India/Pakistan Troops Exchange Fire Across Line of Control - Second Time This Month - Iran Acknowledged as Leading Tranist Point for Islamic Fighters Entering Afghanistan

Night Watch: AHMEDABAD - "The toll in the blasts that hit Ahmedabad has gone up to forty-five with seven people dying over night. The numbered of injured is 145." That was the statement, reported by Xinhua, from Gujarat Health Minister Jainarayan Vyas. Additional Commissioner of Gujarat Police, Mohan Jha said, "As a precautionary measure army has been called out and its personnel are conducting flag marches in sensitive areas of the city. At present the situation is under control." The India government in Dehli has instituted High Alert in major cities all over the country not only due to more attacks by an Islamic network, activated by Tehran-Islamabad-Dhaka, but also in case of communal rioting between Muslims/Hindus. Ahmdedabad, the commercial center in Gujarat state, which borders Pakistan on the Arabian Sea, was the scene of horrific religious rioting in 2002 that killed 2,500 people, mostly Muslim, by rampaging Hindu mobs angered by a train fire blamed on Muslims. [XINHUA]

As police in New Delhi used loudspeakers in crowded market areas to warn people to be on the lookout for unclaimed baggage and suspicious packages, police in the eastern city of Kolkata on the Bay of Bengal, guarded Hindu temples a prime target for future attacks. The latest attacks, for the past two days in Bangalore-Ahmedabad, have been carried out by a unit calling itself the Indian Mujahideen which I suspect is a new name for an old group. It is probably composed of members from the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) or one of the Bangladesh militant units which Indian investigations of past bombings have accused.

Delhi - Swissinfo/Reuters reported many analysts believe the reason for the Muslim community in India for supporting the bomb attacks is due to most of them being impoverished and a long neglected minority. C. Uday Bhaskar, security analyst and former Director of New Delhi's Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis explained, "Over the last few years, the dissatisfaction among Indian Muslims has hitched on to the wagon of the global/regional jihad. If you have 150 million Muslims in India and only 0.0001 per cent of that figure would mean a militant nucleus of 15,000 people." This is a weapons nucleus that has been incorporated into Pakistan President-General Pervez Musharraf's Action Plan which he presented to Tehran in February 2007. [SWISSINFO]

A second series of explosions targeted hospitals the victims had been taken to. One bomb was even tied to a gas cylinder and killed two doctors.

Navi Mumbai - WebIndia123 reports the chief of India's Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS), Hemant Karkare, stated they traced the IP address of the person believed to have sent the e-mail warning five minutes prior to the first wave of explosions to an apartment in Navi Mumbai. The ATS seized hard disks from the computers and detained three people. No further information is being released as the investigation is ongoing but sources report the apartment was registered in the name of one Abhishek who had rented it five months ago to some foreign nationals that claimed they were working for an MNC (Multi-national Corporation). [WEBINDIA123]

Kabul - Swissinfo/Reuters report, according to the Afghanistan government daily, Anis, Iran is the main transit point for Islamic fighters entering Afghanistan. It has not only mentioned the interrogation of three fighters which confirmed this but also the discovery of Iranian weapons by NATO troops yet they are ludicrously not sure if Tehran knew of the weapons shipments. It would be completely impossible for weapons shipments to leave Iran without the approval and control of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). They funnel fighters and weapons to Afghanistan the same way to do so with Iraq to feed the West's delusion they are having major successes against Islamic extremism as Tehran controls both Kabul-Baghdad governments. If Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai attempted to prevent the weapons traffic he would be removed. [SWISSINFO]

The paper Anis stated Iran has become a "tunnel for terrorists" to Waziristan one of the tribal areas on the Pakistan border that has become a major area of concern for Washington-NATO.

Washington - The trap of Afghanistan for NATO units is about to become worse since Islamabad is about to suspend any further cooperation with Washington which believes it is Pakistan that is the main vehicle for Islamic fighters to enter Afghanistan. The West continues to cling to that myth as its excuse not to attack Iran, the same way they convinced themselves Bin Laden can arrange flight school training. IRNA reports Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani left Islamabad Saturday for a three day contentious visit to Washington where he will face such accusations. The Pentagon has been insisting they have the right to attack Pakistan Tribal Areas while officials in Islamabad have responded any attack will be treated as an invasion. [IRNA]

Tehran-Islamabad were always aware, as the war in Afghanistan became worse, Washington would revert to type and blame Pakistan instead of Iran, blame anyone instead of Iran. Islamabad knows it is time to end its cooperation with Washington and the West as a way to prepare for combined operations with its real military partner Iran mainly against India. When the Pentagon attacks Pakistan's Tribal Areas Islamabad will respond by at least increasing its military support for the communities attacked and at least reduce its relations with Washington if not to end them completely.

Godda - Tehran-Islamabad's campaign of destabilization against India seems to be continuing as IRNA is just now reporting another explosion has taken place near a bus station in Godda in Jharkand state just fifty miles from the Bangladesh border. NDTV quoted Jitendra Singh Superintendent of Police, "The blast took place around 5:15 am near the bus stand." The explosion injured five people. [IRNA]

Bangalore - WebIndia123 reports in Bangalore the Director General of Police and Inspector General of Police, R. Srikumar has said they have definite clues as to the involvement of local people in the explosions that hit Bangalore. Srikumar added it was a definite attempt to destabilize the city. As with previous explosions India will continues its investigations and will also find evidence of support for the bombings in Bangladesh and Pakistan. That could lead to more than just another demand from Delhi that Pakistan-Bangladesh should shut down training camps and bases in both countries for Islamic militants. This time there could be an ultimatum that if the bases are not shut within a certain time limit then India will attack them. [WEBINDIA123]

With Left out, India fast-tracks military pacts with US
27 Jul, 2008, 1408 hrs IST, IANS

NEW DELHI: With the Communists off their back, the Indian government is fast-tracking three key military pacts with the United States, including one under which their militaries can refuel ships and aircraft in cashless transactions that are balanced at the end of the year.
Apart from the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA), the other pacts pending are the Communication Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) that will enable the two militaries communicate on a common platform, and an end-user agreement governing the sale of US military hardware to India
These pacts have been in the limbo for long due to the objections of the Left parties over the warming India-US military ties. With the communists having withdrawn their outside support to the government, which subsequently won a trust vote in parliament, the way is now clear for inking the agreements, a defence ministry official said.
"The LSA would require both countries to provide their bases, fuel and other kind of logistics support to each others' fighter jets and naval warships," the official told IANS, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Explaining the advantages of the agreement, the official said: "India will have to spend close to Rs.100 crore (Rs.1 billion) for participating in the Red Flag exercise (with the US Air Force next month).
"Had an LSA been in place, India would not have had to physically pay the money but would have provided reciprocal facilities in this country whenever the US defence forces required them," the official added.
India's ambassador to the US Ronen Sen had met Defence Minister AK Antony here July 24 to discuss the various India-US pacts that are in cold storage.
The US has agreements similar to the LSA in place with some 65 countries.
In most cases, it is called the Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement (ACSA) that was formerly known as the NATO Mutual Support Act. It was enacted to simplify exchanges of logistic support, supplies, and services between the US and NATO forces. It was amended in 1986, 1992 and 1994 to permit ACSAs with non-NATO countries.
With the Indian and US militaries increasing their engagement in war games on land, in the air and at sea, CISMOA has become a necessity to ensure there are no communication glitches.
"With the increasing number of military exercises between the countries, the pact is set to be given the green signal soon," the official said.
As for the end-user agreement, India has so far refused to sign it in its present form and has asked for modifications.
"It's like this: we purchase, say, night vision goggles from the US and deploy these on the LoC (Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir). Obviously, we cannot allow US inspectors to physically verify this," the official said.
"Therefore, we'll work out a system where we will certify where the equipment is located and the US will take our word for it," the official added.

Two Saudi warships to visit India
Ghazanfar Ali Khan | Arab News

RIYADH: Two warships of the Royal Saudi Navy will visit Indian shores from Tuesday, Indian Ambassador M.O.H. Farook said yesterday.

"The two Saudi war vessels will berth at the Mumbai docks, marking probably the first ever visit to India by an Arab nation's warships, indicating an upswing in defense ties and warming up of relations further," said Farook. "The visit was primarily aimed at fostering deeper understanding, developing mutual trust and identifying fresh avenues of cooperation in defense relations."

The warships "Al-Dammam," a modified French La Fayette-class stealth frigate, and "Al-Yanbu," a modified American-built Endurance-class destroyer, will be on a three-day visit to India.

The two warships will take 76 cadets from Al-Fahd Naval College. "In the course of the visit, a high-level interaction between the navies of the two countries would take place," said an embassy press statement.

The Indian Navy in recent years has developed a "very close and operational" relationship with the Saudi Navy with Indian warships making regular calls to the region, including the Kingdom.

"The visit will result in increased interactions and better cooperation in the fields of naval exercises, training, technical assistance and military hardware," said Farook. "India is the world's fourth largest navy with more than 55,000 men and women, including 5,000 naval aviation personnel and 2,000 marine commandos, on its rolls. The Indian Navy currently operates more than 155 vessels, including high-tech aircraft carriers."

A number of Saudi officers are currently attending training courses in India. "The visit by the Saudi Navy ships is a result of the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium organized by India recently," said the statement. "Moreover, the Kingdom is an important country in the Indian Ocean Rim and the call is an indication how countries look at India in the emerging world scenario."

The Royal Saudi Navy has more than 12,000 officers, including 1,300 Marines. Its fleet included French-built frigates, US-built corvettes and British-built Sandown class mine hunters.

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