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Saturday, 16 August 2008

From Today's Papers - 16 Aug

Pak fires on BSF posts
Sixth in three weeks

Tribune News Service

Jammu, August 15
A day after Pakistani Rangers exchanged sweets with their Indian counterparts in the Ranbirsinghpura to celebrate their independence day, the former resorted to unprovoked heavy firing on the day when India was celebrating its Independence Day.

Pakistani troops fired heavy mortars and rockets on two Indian positions in the Jammu region, violating the ceasefire agreement twice in the past 24 hours.

The forward Abdullain post of the BSF in Ranbirsinghpura came under heavy rocket fire from Pakistani side around 2:30 a.m. last night.

J. B. Sangwan, BSF DIG of the Jammu range, said: "Five rockets were fired on our forward posts in the R.S. Pura sector from Pakistani territory. However, all these rockets missed the target and exploded in the open fields. We did not retaliate to the fire."

Sangwan said that the Indian side had conveyed its concern to their Pakistani counterparts and requested for an immediate flag meeting.

Maj-Gen D.L. Chowdhary, GOC of Jammu-based Tiger Division of the Army, said: "The Pakistani side wants to take advantage of the present turmoil in the state and violates the ceasefire so as to push in the maximum number of trained terrorists inside our territory." Today's ceasefire violation in the R.S. Pura sector is the sixth in three weeks and second in the past 24 hours.

Earlier, Pakistani troops had used heavy mortars on a forward Indian position in Sabzia in the Krishna Ghati sector in Poonch, Lt Col. S.D. Goswami, Jammu-based PRO of the Ministry of Defence, said.

India Still Willing to Give Benefit of Doubt
to Pakistan Government

By Pranay Sharma

New Delhi
The series of terrorist attacks in different parts of the country and the attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul last month notwithstanding, India is still willing to give the benefit of doubt to the ruling coalition in Pakistan.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made it clear in his Independence Day speech Friday that the attack in Kabul had cast a shadow on the ongoing peace process between India and Pakistan.

But he was clever in keeping the Pakistan People's Party-led coalition government in Islamabad out of the attack by only implicating elements in the Pakistani establishment who were backing the terrorists to shatter the peace between the two neighbors.

"The recent blasts in our embassy in Kabul have cast a shadow over our efforts to normalize relations with Pakistan and to bring a lasting and honorable peace in our region," Manmohan Singh said in his address to the nation.

The attack on July 7 had killed nearly 60 people, including an Indian brigadier, a serving officer of the Indian Foreign Service and scores of Afghan civilians.

Making it clear that he needed the cooperation and support of the Pakistani government in the effort to fight the terrorists, he added, "The terrorists and those who support them are enemies of the people of India and Pakistan, of friendship between the two countries and of peace in the region and the world."

"We must defeat them," he said.

His remarks reflect what had been the subject of debate in the establishment here for the past several months - almost from the time the PPP-led coalition won and formed the democratically elected government in Pakistan early this year.

Some sections in South Block are of the opinion that using 'terror as a tool' against India has become part of Pakistan's foreign policy. They feel, the army, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency and the government of the day, all play their part in making this policy workable.

"The time for meaningful engagement with Pakistan is perhaps over for this government. Because Pakistan is unlikely to resolve its internal political consolidation in the short run," K.C. Singh, a former secretary in the ministry of external affairs who has dealt with the Pakistani establishment, told the IANS.

But there are others in the Indian establishment who are still willing to give the benefit of doubt to the Pakistani government. They are of the opinion that despite resistance from within the establishment, the 'constituency for peace' in Pakistan has been growing in the past few years. Therefore, India should continue to make the distinction between those who want to encourage terrorism against New Delhi and those who are for peace.

"I don't think we have an option but to engage with the Pakistani government," a senior official who did not wish to be quoted by name said.

"Despite some recent violations along the Line of Control, the ceasefire between our countries is still holding. If we stop engaging with Pakistan it could lead to the derailing the peace process and I don't think that would serve our purpose better," he added.

Officially Pakistan has not yet reacted, and a senior official of the Pakistani high commission in New Delhi expressed satisfaction at the prime minister's speech.

"It was a very balanced and good speech; it was reconciliatory, not confrontationist and showed the respect he has for the government and people of Pakistan," the diplomat, who did not want to be identified as he was not authorized to speak publicly on behalf of the mission, told the IANS.

Though, on the Kabul blast he made it clear that so far there was no clinching evidence to suggest that elements within Pakistan were behind the terrorist attacks. "We have told the Indians that we are willing to seriously address the issue-which in any case we are doing, if they provide us with the evidence," the official added.

Pay hike not enough: Armed Forces

New Delhi, August 15
Armed Forces personnel today received with skepticism and disbelief the government’s approval to the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations after minor modifications, providing for an average 21 per cent hike in salaries.

They were in fact upset that the government had agreed partially to some of the Armed Forces’ proposals for amendment in Justice B.N. Sri Krishna-led Pay Commission recommendations submitted to the government in March, suggesting an average 20 per cent hike in the pay.

“Since the government has not yet made the amended report of the Pay Commission public, the Armed Forces personnel are not sure if their genuine demands have been met. The announcement of information and broadcasting minister P.R. Dasmunsi after the Cabinet meeting contained only a couple of decisions directly related to the proposals made by the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) of the Armed Forces,” said a Defence officer here today. — PTI

Suraksha University in Gujarat: Modi
16 Aug 2008, 0402 hrs IST,TNN

PALANPUR: Gujarat CM Narendra Modi on Friday announced formation of 'Suraksha University' at the function organized here to celebrate 62nd Independence Day.

Modi addressing people here after hoisting the tricolour said, "the state government has decided to form a Suraksha University. All the latest discipline regarding security will be taught to students at this university".

Modi also announced formation of University for Forensic Science, which is a major step to strengthen the use of scientific detection methods when the terrorists and criminals are using hi-tech equipments. Modi's announcements comes after recent serial blasts in Ahmedabad.

Armed forces to fund DRDO projects

Ajai Shukla / New Delhi August 16, 2008, 0:13 IST

Army not happy with the decision of it having to fund 10 per cent of the cost.

The Ministry of Defence’s (MoD’s) highest body, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), has handed a significant victory to the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) in its long-running quest to get the defence services to fund research and development (R&D) into high-technology military projects. As a result, the services could soon begin contributing 10 per cent of the cost of developing indigenous military systems.

So far, the DRDO has funded such projects — which include successes like the Dhruv helicopter, the Agni ballistic missile and the Arjun tank — entirely from its budget.

“The DAC has agreed in principle that such projects should be funded in a 70-20-10 per cent ratio: 70 per cent by the DRDO, 20 per cent by the industry partner that will manufacture the developed product; and 10 per cent by whichever of the three services the product is being developed for,” senior MoD officials told Business Standard.

That 10 per cent liability for the military will amount to no more than Rs 300 crore a year, which is a small fraction of the Rs 30,000 crore spent annually on foreign arms. But the DRDO hopes that this relatively small amount will transform what it calls an unduly critical approach of the military towards home-grown military products. A 10 per cent ownership, the DRDO believes, will transform the military from a detached and demanding buyer into a stakeholder, which regards the projects as its own.

The military is unhappy with this decision. Sources in the tri-service Integrated Defence Staff say the army argued forcefully against the proposal, when it was discussed in the MoD.

The DRDO chief, M Natarajan, admitted recently the behind-the-scenes battles that preceded this decision. But he underplayed the benefits to the DRDO, telling a gathering of the defence manufacturers that the private sector and defence PSUs would be equal beneficiaries.

Natarajan said, “The DRDO has certainly demanded this, but it is equally applicable to the private sector and the public sector undertakings.”

The defence minister said that while he appreciates the DRDO’s concerns, he would also like to take on board the views of the services. “So the proposal was considered carefully and finally the DAC has given its approval. I think this is a very significant development,” the minister said.

But the new funding pattern has not been included in the new Defence Procurement Policy (DPP-2008), which will come into effect from September 1. The DPP-2008 gives the DRDO responsibility to develop “strategic, complex and security sensitive systems”, which include ballistic missiles and electronic warfare systems that are not normally up for sale. These will continue to be funded entirely by the DRDO.

The new 70-20-10 per cent funding pattern applies to what the DPP-2008 categorises as “High Technology Complex Systems”, which include advanced systems like tanks, fighters and helicopters, which could be bought internationally, but which the MoD wants the domestic industry to develop. The DPP-2008, however, excludes the DRDO from this category, reserving it for “RuRs/Indian industry/DPSUs/OFB/Consortia”.

A similar provision existed in the DPP-2006 but over the last two years only the DRDO has developed “High Technology Complex Systems”, such as the Dhruv helicopter, Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), and Arjun tank. Not a single project has been taken up by any private company or DPSU. In addition, under the “Strategic, Complex and Security Sensitive Systems” category, the DRDO has developed several variants of the Agni missile and electronic warfare systems like the Samyukta.

Senior army sources say they intend to fight the DAC decision on joint funding. The military has already pointed out that the DPP-2008 does not mention the DRDO as eligible to develop “High Technology Complex Systems”. The DRDO admits that the new decision could face delays in implementation if the military decides to stonewall it, citing the DPP-2008.

Call of the Unknown Soldier
by Rajbir Deswal

Driving past Maj. Sandeep Shankla Park in Panchkula, I hazily saw certain Army and private vehicles lined up, in a thick downpour. It was some solemn ceremony going on. Army men were slow-marching with wreaths, to the bust of the officer, who gave his life in the line of duty, on August 8, in 1991.

Moved and impassioned, I told my driver to take the first available U-turn. Memories of the Kargil War flashed on my mind, when I had witnessed six soldiers “brought-home-dead,” in Fatehabad District alone.

Brave people of this region are known, not only to take in their stride, the loss of their men going down fighting, on borders for the motherland, but also to feel the collective pride of the sacrifice made by their valiant sons. I can recall the skies ranting with slogans of “Amar Rahe” and “Jab tak Suraj-Chand rahega, Foji tera naam rahega”.

The mother of one of the soldiers, who when she saw the District Magistrate and the Superintendent of Police, offering with their salutes to be the pallbearers themselves, had commented, “O’ son, you have repaid me the debt of my milk!” None cried, albeit all around looked grim at the loss of the one who brought them glory. On his son’s last journey, the father had said, “I have the whole lineup of my sons if the country needs them!”

Thousands, cutting across caste, race, colour, religion, sect and ideology had gathered at the last rites. They seemed to follow only a patriot’s religion then. Military honours done, a long lineup of mourners offered floral tributes to the departed son of theirs. Volleys of shots echoed as if from the hearts of people around and the Last Post was sounded. The pyre was lit by a three year old, the martyr’s son, when some folks seemed to have lost control over their emotions.

The driver brought me back from my memory lane on reaching the Memorial site. Some civilians carried umbrellas as it was still raining. I alighted from my car to be received with dignity by a couple of smartly dressed officers. Straightaway, I was accosted to the bust. Carrying the floral wreath, which I was supposed to place at the bust of Maj Sandeep Shankla, two more men in ceremonial dress joined in ahead of me. And I too began to march.

Something in me ignited my whole self. I was, as if, spiritually energised and blessed. With every step on climbing up to the bust, I felt a lifting out of myself. An alleviation of sorts! No sad thoughts in mind but those of gratitude, indebtedness and obeisance! I offered the wreath. Prayed for the man for a while. Saluted the soldier. And with matching agility, infused in me then by the ambience, I turned right to step down.

Back in the car, I recalled to myself words inscribed under the bust of Martyr young Lieutenant Arun Khetrapal, who laid his life to the call of duty, having just then passed out of the Indian Military Academy, in the 1971 War with Pakistan, “When you go home, tell them of us, that we gave our today, for their tomorrow”.

My driver asked me if I had personally known the soldier. “No!” I said and pondered if I’d said the right thing. Soldiers are known to generations of men and not a few of them. The call of the ‘Unknown Soldier’ can command you to “About Turn,” should you chose to forget him. Remember this! Remember him!

Reactivating Kashmir
Pakistani calculations behind ceasefire violations
by Sushant Sareen

The repeated violation by Pakistan of the ceasefire along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir has left many analysts in India scratching their heads over Pakistan’s strategic game plan.

At a time when Pakistan appears to be engaged in a life-and-death struggle on its western frontier, logic and rationality demands that Pakistan avoid any flare-up on the eastern front with India.

After all, being caught in a pincer from the East and the West has long been Pakistan’s ultimate strategic nightmare.

But then logic and rationality are highly subjective concepts and what is rational for an Indian need not necessarily be rational for a Pakistani. Had this not been the case, the Kargil operation would have never taken place.

At that time, India thought that in a nuclearised strategic environment military adventurism by Pakistan had become a thing of the past; Pakistan, on the other hand, felt that the possession of nuclear weapons gave it an opportunity for undertaking military adventurism without having to worry about India widening the theatre of war.

The ceasefire violations must, therefore, be seen as a considered move on the part of Pakistan, one that makes a lot of strategic, diplomatic, political and military sense from the Pakistani standpoint.

There have appeared reports in the Pakistani Press that talk about Punjabi jihadi groups joining up with the Pashtun Taliban in their fight against the Pakistani security forces and the American and NATO troops.

Although the Punjabi and Kashmiri jihadis and the Pashtun Taliban share a common ideology and worldview, for the former Kashmir is the primary battlefield, while for the latter the primary battlefields are the Pashtun lands in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

But with Pakistan pulling back on its sponsorship of jihad in Kashmir, the Punjabi and Kashmiri jihadis gravitated towards the Taliban.

By reactivating the Kashmir front and diverting the jihadis to Kashmir, the Pakistan security agencies believe that they can break the growing compact between the jihadis and the Taliban.

This will not only deplete the ranks of the Taliban but also prevent the Taliban from making use of jihadis networks in Punjab, which they could have used to devastating effect in both Punjab and Sindh.

The Pakistani agencies have also tried using the predominantly Punjabi jihadis like the Lashkar-e-Toiba, which for all the bluff and bluster of its chief, Hafiz Saeed, is a most obedient jihadi group and does not deviate from the line given to it by its handlers, to drive a wedge in Taliban ranks.

By reactivating Kashmir, the Pakistani national security establishment is also trying to send a signal to its proxies in the state that it hasn’t abandoned the Kashmir cause.

Many Pakistani proxies were disillusioned by what they saw as Pakistan’s U-turn on Kashmir and were now exploring ways of making their peace with the Indian state, more so with elections in the state around the corner. Many of these people will now pull back on their overtures towards India.

What is more, if violence erupts in the state, it would help sabotage the elections there. The political disturbances in Jammu and Kashmir over the Amarnath shrine land issue will only give further impetus to the agent provocateurs from Pakistan to stir up trouble in the state.

For the moment, however, the ceasefire violations have been very carefully calibrated to try and ensure that things don’t deteriorate beyond a point. Perhaps, the Pakistanis are only sending a signal to India that unless India shows flexibility on Kashmir, Pakistan can quite easily ratchet up violence in the state.

But even if hostilities commence along the LoC and the peace process breaksdown, the Pakistanis will not be too worried. Their calculation will be that they will be able to use the situation on the diplomatic stage against India.

The Pakistanis will argue that India did not show any flexibility to resolve the issue despite Gen. Musharraf’s very bold proposals and “Indian intransigence” will be waved before the international community.

What is more, there is little danger of Americans acting against Pakistan on India’s behalf especially since they are depend so heavily on Pakistan to carry out their war effort in Afghanistan.

Another benefit will be that if hostilities commence with India it might make many of the Pakistani Taliban go slow on Afghanistan (something which would certainly please the Americans) and shift their attention to India.

For the political establishment in Pakistan, the ceasefire violations along the LoC are a credibility test. Perhaps their domestic political compulsions will force the Pakistani political establishment to take a somewhat hard line on Kashmir.

But taking a hard line on Kashmir, which can be explained as a sovereign and political right of any government, is very different from either sponsoring religious terrorist organisations or using military force against a neighbouring country in pursuit of irredentist claims.

The inability or unwillingness of the civilian government to stop the violations of ceasefire and the rising intrusions by terrorists in Kashmir means that either it is powerless before the army or else it subscribes to the manufactured and coerced national security consensus that has been fostered on Pakistan by the country’s national security establishment.

Quite clearly, the reactivation of the Kashmir front is a clear signal to the politicians that they should not even think of making any deal with India without taking the views of the Pakistan army into account.

In other words, the army is in a position to sabotage any political initiative, secure in the knowledge that no politician can afford to take on the army on an issue like Kashmir.

By reigniting the flames of jihadi terror in Kashmir, the ISI (President Musharraf calls it Pakistan’s first line of defence) and the Pakistan army are probably doing what they are doing as a part of a national security strategy that they think best serves Pakistan’s national interest.

It is of course an entirely different matter that the Pakistani security establishment’s view of national interest might actually be jeopardising the country’s national security.

Fires lighted in the house of a neighbour have a nasty habit of blowing back and consuming the house of the arsonist. For evidence look no further than the Islamist insurgency that is wrecking havoc inside Pakistan today.

After Kalaikunda, Singapore to train at Indian Army firing ranges

Express news service

Posted online: Wednesday, August 13, 2008 at 0138 hrs IST

New Delhi, August 12
After allowing Singapore to use IAF’s Kalaikunda airbase and nearby firing ranges to train its pilots, India has signed another agreement with the country permitting it the use of Babina and Deolali firing ranges for armour and artillery exercises.

The agreement, signed by Defence Secretary Vijay Singh and Permanent Secretary (Defence) Chiang Chie Foo here on Tuesday, will allow Singapore to train its ground forces in India for the next five years.

Significantly, in a first, India has also allowed Singapore to station a small detachment of Army personnel and equipment (Artillery Guns and Tanks) at the Babina and Deolali ranges on a permanent basis for the duration of the agreement. “The agreement provides for temporary detachment of Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) personnel for a maximum period of eight weeks, up to two times a year. However, small detachments not exceeding eight personnel from SAF may be allowed to stay with their equipment stationed in India,” the Defence Ministry spokesperson said.

Under the agreement, India will provide firing range facilities and infrastructure to SAF for the purpose of joint military training and exercises. While the MoD did not specify the amount, Singapore will pay India for the use of the ranges by its Armed Forces.

The Ministry spokesperson said that besides the bilateral agreement, the two sides also signed associated protocols on training, administration and logistics and financial arrangements. The agreement comes into effect from Tuesday and shall remain in force for a period of five years.

In October last year, the Government signed a crucial defence agreement with Singapore allowing it to use the Kalaikunda airbase to train its pilots. The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), plagued with a shortage of air space and training assets, had been visiting the West Bengal airbase regularly for joint exercises.

ISI is Pak’s first line of defence: Musharraf

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has charged unnamed forces of hatching plots against the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and warned that weakening the spy agency was tantamount to weakening the country and the armed forces.

The ISI was "the first defence line of Pakistan", and the people "should defend Pakistan against such conspiracies. Weakening the ISI would also weaken the war on terror", Daily Times on Monday quoted Musharraf as saying.

He was speaking at a dinner in Karachi on Sunday night hosted by traders and industrialists.

According to Musharraf, "conspiracies against the ISI were aimed at defaming Pakistan. ISI is a patriotic institution, which is working for the stability of the country", The News quoted the president as saying.

The ISI, which has been at the centre of numerous controversies, finds itself facing one of its toughest tests yet with the CIA releasing transcripts of what it claims are messages between one of its operatives and the attackers of the Indian embassy in Kabul last month.

Fifty people, including two Indian diplomats, had died in that attack.

US President George Bush, during his meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in Washington last month, is reported to have pointedly asked who the ISI's real boss was.

Confusion also prevails over the ISI's reporting line, with the order transferring it from the prime minister's secretariat to the interior ministry not having been formally withdrawn.

On July 26, within hours of a Cabinet Division notification bringing the ISI, as also the Intelligence Bureau (IB) under the interior ministry, the government clarified that the spy agency would continue to function under the prime minister and that the earlier notification had been misinterpreted.

Most newspapers and TV channels reported the next day that the government had stepped back on the issue amid reports that Gilani had reversed the decision after receiving two emergency calls made at Musharraf's behest.

The Cabinet Division, however, has not issued a formal order reversing its earlier notification.

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