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Friday, 12 September 2008

From Today's Papers - 12 Sep



















In defence of the armed forces

Lieutenant General Ashok Joshi (retired)

On a cold and dark night somewhere high up in Ladakh, a group of officers and jawans were huddled together in a tent that was made livable by a stove. The mood was a mix of anxiety and humiliation. The Chinese had dealt a few decisive blows and unilaterally withdrawn, leaving India almost despondent. The prime minister downwards everyone was occupied with thoughts about why this ignominy had come to us and what could be done about it.

In this gloom, the conversation over rum was not about old times and old-timers, as is normally the case when a former commanding officer is on a visit to his unit. The senior war veteran present, a subedar -- he had seen it all, from Alexandria in Egypt [Images] to Sangro in Italy [Images], with the Eighth Army during World War II -- asked of his old commanding officer: "Sahib, when we lost at Panipat to Abdali, bad as it was, at least it was a tough fight in which everyone was there, the prime-minister's brother and son downwards. The highest in the land led in the battle from the front and all of them perished but they did not quit. Even then the battle was lost. What would happen now if the Chinese come at us again? Will any of the children or grandchildren of the ministers join the armed forces and fight?" If such a question were to be raised today, what would be the answer?

The question has already been answered unequivocally by two generations since the early 1960s. With few exceptions, youth of capability have turned away from the armed forces and opted for other vocations. Their cost-benefit-analysis gave a clear indication to them that a career in the armed forces was not for them. The armed forces, as a vocation has consistently lost its sheen since 1947. At one time, the sons of two chiefs of the Indian Army [Images] served in the armed forces; so did the scions of Baroda, Jaipur [Images], and Kapurthala royal families. They did so with pride and without asking for any special consideration. They looked upon the armed forces as a matter of pride and honour and satisfied some of their own inner needs and longing to maintain the tradition. In turn, they brought prestige to the armed forces.

Does it sound medieval? Actually, it is, but so is the idea of fighting and dying in battle. Most of the present decision makers in India, within the establishment, whether they are the elected politicians in power, or the bureaucrats who are their key aides, or the members of the judiciary, live in a world far removed from actual prosecution of war and have no real feel or experience to get into the shoes of a professional soldier. The armed forces expect much of individuals who serve in them, and their families.

On the other hand, maintaining the armed forces demands a great deal of the nation in terms of the opportunity costs. No nation in the world has such surfeit of resources that it can afford to incur opportunity costs without qualms. The armed forces fully deliver only when they 'deter' the adversary from battles because even victories are accompanied by irreversible losses, particularly of life. The cost and consequences of lost battles and wars, of course, are beyond recall. Some time in the future, the effectiveness and the efficiency of the armed forces may prove to be one of the main determinants of national survival with honour. There are national stakes in the effectiveness of the armed forces.

It is for this reason that they make claims on being a national institution. Constitutionally, don't they report to the President of the Union? Apparently there appears to be inadequate comprehension of the real issues involved in raising, equipping and governing the armed forces. This is not uncommon in democracies, even amongst mature democracies. The compulsions of electoral politics often prove overwhelming, apart from the ideological baggage and prejudices. But the advanced democracies have the monetary resources including the advanced technologies; and more importantly, they have the tradition of their decision makers fighting in battles and wars extending over several hundred years. Their knowledge of war and peace is not academic. In India, there is an unfortunate belief that good arguments will prevail. They may not. Even 'truth' does not always 'prevail'.

The armed forces, in their own way, are an 'anachronism' when it comes to their unique value-system in which loyalty, courage, effectiveness, and continued defiance, even when there is no hope, matter more than the values of 'civil society'. Bereft of this value-system, and its concomitants -- an exaggerated sense of self-esteem that makes a person think that he is irreplaceable, a belief that Lord God will back him, and so on -- the armed forces may render themselves less than useful.

The decision and opinion makers too need to help the professional soldiery so that it can protect its elan. Surely, elan is not a commodity. But it cannot be the attribute of those who are made to feel second class because they cannot maintain the lifestyle that their peers do, or their children cannot go to the right schools. Money and prestige do enter the calculus somewhere. To be told that the more intelligent have to have far more because they passed the right competitive examinations does not help much.

The military machine depends a great deal on technology and its products but its most critical cogs are human which, if substandard, can cause the system to collapse. Who mans this unique national institution cannot be determined by market forces alone.

Elementary, is it not? Then how come, we in India seem to be losing our focus over past 60 years? Look at the quality of debate over the deal given to the armed forces by the Sixth Pay Commission? The letter written by the three service chiefs to the defence minister towards the end of August, asking that the decision by the government be put on hold pending consideration of the recommendations made by them has caused some sensation. At least one national daily took notice of the letter, and handed down a rebuke to the service chiefs. How are the services concerned with equivalence? Why have they shown the temerity even to compare themselves with the IAS? What's the fuss about?

It seems that the chiefs of staffs were exercised by one particular dispensation of the government on a matter that had been referred by it to the committee of secretaries at the instance of the ministry of defence. Precise details are of no general interest except that a deliberate decision seems to have been taken by the government to disturb the equivalence between the armed services, and the rest, to the detriment and disadvantage of the former. The officers in the armed services feel either that they have been brought down a peg or two in relation to their former peers, or the others have been hoisted above them. The result is the same. The officers of the armed services have been overtaken for reasons not known to them. Let us presume that there are very good reasons for the government decision. But those reasons are not known. Is it the public perception that the armed services must gracefully accept what they are 'granted'? Come on, they have a code of conduct: 'theirs not to question why'. What's the fuss about? They proudly wear the uniform. Isn't that enough? Is that the message for the soldiery that public opinion has, or is it the view of a small coterie?

But what is the rationale of decision making? Of course, the rationale has been stated by the Pay Commission, you silly. But what are the assumptions made? What has been the experience of those who made the assumptions? Was there a single member in the Pay Commission who had actual combat experience? Did the Pay Commission appoint a panel of consultants who had the combat experience?

With the kind of non-violent struggle that secured for India its independence, there were visions of India relying on the police forces for maintaining the law and order, and making do with the very minimum of the armed forces. No nation could do without them because they were an essential trapping of an independent sovereign State. They would, of course, mainly be employed by and for the United Nations to maintain peace.

Some of the idealism started evaporating as early as October 1947 when troops had to be airlifted to Srinagar [Images] to stop in their tracks the murderous tribes sent there by Pakistan. But for this timely intervention, the Kashmir valley might have been an integral part of Pakistan. The Chinese aggression from 1960 onwards brought about some reorientation in thinking but there remained lurking doubts about them mainly on account of happenings in Pakistan. Was it not important to ensure that the armed forces did not damage the polity? They needed to be kept in their place. Therefore, the basic outlook did not undergo a serious change.

The two fundamental tenets that guided the decision makers in India seem to have been:

  1. Every rupee saved by cutting down on 'unproductive' expenditure on armed forces was for the national good.
  2. The armed forces needed to be controlled and kept in their place by subordinating them to 'civilian control'. This in effect has meant control by the civilian bureaucracy because except when war is imminent, the actual decision makers have little time for professional soldiery.

Even now the scope of the current debate is narrow: it has been reduced to scoring of debating points by the advocates of the armed forces, and their opponents. The debate is missing out on more substantive issues. In any case, what has to be decided now cannot be postponed indefinitely. Will the service chiefs be satisfied with just another consideration by the government? The immediate problem has to be addressed: the hemorrhaging of the armed forces by early exit of disenchanted or disappointed persons has to be staunched. But that would nowhere be enough.

We in India need to move ahead at this stage, and seriously question what has been taken for granted for last six decades. But would that be enough to meet the national requirements? Or, do we require a separate pay-commission for the armed forces? We may have to go further than that. There may be a need for addressing the whole gamut of raising, equipping, manning, and governing the armed forces so that their effectiveness as a national institution is assured till, say 2040. The nation must know who will bear arms for it, and why; the market forces are poor arbiters in this matter, although gods as of now seem to have taken up their residence in the market place.

Here is a rather sad quote from Rudyard Kipling's Epitaphs of the War, 1914-18:

If any question why we died,

Tell them, because our fathers lied.

Will we deserve something better?

Lieutenant General Ashok Joshi (retired) is a former Director General of Military Training, Indian Army.


Cabinet okays 48 new BSF, CRPF posts
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 11
The Centre today recast top-level posts in the BSF and the CRPF by adding more senior posts in sensitive areas along the Indo-Pak border, Naxal-prone belt and the northeast.

These posts will be among the 48 new posts of special director-general, additional director-general and inspector general in various central police organisations.

The crucial aspect was creating the posts of special director-general and two of the posts would be for the BSF at Chandigarh and Kolkata. The sensitive north-west is managed from Chandigarh and at present an additional director-general rank official heads the unit. The last time a special director-general headed BSF operations in the north-west was when the present Punjab DGP N.P.S Aulakh was posted there. When he joined the Punjab police, the BSF replaced him with an additional director-general rank official. The recast means that from now on only a special director-general will head the operations along the borders with Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Three posts of special director-general have been created for the CRPF. These officials will be based at Jammu and Kashmir, Hyderabad and Guwahati for the northeast. The posts of the additional director-general of the CRPF presently based at Chandigarh and Kolkata will be reverted to the CRPF headquarters here. Besides this, the Cabinet also cleared the creation of two more posts of additional director-general for the CRPF.

It remains to be seen if these senior officers are given financial and administrative autonomy just like the corps commanders of the Armed Forces. Without this autonomy, the new posts do not mean anything, said a senior official.

It has also been suggested that “commands” like the Army should be created so that each special director-general is responsible for his area of operations. For the IPS cadre, it would mean removal of stagnation as very few director-general-level posts exist.

Separately, the Cabinet also cleared that an additional director-general would now head the BSF training school near Gwalior. At present, an inspector general heads it. In the National Crime Records Bureau, the Cabinet has also added a post of additional director-general and an inspector general. This as per sources has been done as the government has cleared a Rs 2,500-crore project.


Next US Prez will inherit challenge of persuading Pak leaders to fight war on terror


ANI

Islamabad

Thu, 11 Sep 2008:

Islamabad, Sep 11 (ANI): Pakistan's civilian and military leaders don't want to fight the war on terror as the United States want them to fight. The new Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari will not likely be able to solve the problems in near future, so the next US President will inherit the challenge opersuading the Pakistani leadership that it needs to continue prosecuting an unpopular, but necessary, war, The International Herald Tribune reported.

The paper said the fact remains that if the US wants to wipe out al Qaeda, it will need Islamabad's help, and if it wants to consolidate a stable democratic government in Afghanistan, it will need Islamabad to go after senior Afghan Taliban leaders and their Pakistani associates like Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Jalaluddin Haqqani.

If Pakistan is to undertake these tasks, the next administration will need to make fundamental changes in its approach: It will have to strengthen the civilian government in Islamabad, while still maintaining a cooperative relationship with the Pakistani military.

These two objectives may frequently be at odds, and they embody genuine dilemmas for Washington.

The war on terror necessitates continued US engagement of the Pakistani military but, if not conducted appropriately, such a partnership could weaken civil authority in Islamabad and strengthen the national security state in Pakistan, which has historically been the chief cause of Pakistan's problems.

The alternative strategy of emphasizing Pakistani civilian supremacy, on the other hand, could - if not managed carefully - undermine the Pakistani military cooperation necessary for the success of counterterrorism operations and could in fact become a double whammy if the Zardari regime fails to govern responsibly.

Washington must continue to assist Pakistan to fight the war on terror despite the fact that the Pakistan Army is tired, overextended and ill-equipped to fight terrorism and insurgency.

The first objective here must be to get the army and its intelligence organization, the Inter-Services Intelligence, out of the terrorism business altogether. The second objective must be to assist the army with equipment and training to do something it has never done before: recognize that Pakistan's real enemies are to be found within the country and not across its eastern border in India.

Helping the army make this conceptual leap will be a great achievement. But neither Pakistan nor the United States can afford to wait for a full transformation in the army's mind-set. Both countries are confronted by a pressing threat of terrorism now, and success requires that the Pakistan Army get back into the fight as early as possible.

A shift of this sort will take many years to materialize, but the next American president could do much to encourage it by showing the Pakistanis that the United States will not neglect them if they are willing to do their part. (ANI)


Pakistan Army chief slams US over raids
Nidhi Razdan
Thursday, September 11, 2008 (New Delhi)
Pakistan's Army chief General Ashfaq Kayani has strongly attacked US-led forces in Afghanistan for carrying out direct raids inside Pakistani territory.
In a statement issued late Wednesday night, General Kayani said Pakistan's sovereignty and territorial integrity will be defended at all cost.
In his unusually strong public statement, Kayani lashed out at the US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan, saying: "Such intrusions are not covered by any agreement or understanding with coalition forces. They are not allowed to conduct operations on our side of the border. The country's sovereignty and territorial integrity will be defended at all cost. Strikes by foreign forces could further fuel militancy."
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi added that "the statement by the Chief of the Army Staff is a reiteration of Pakistan's official position. He has restated it".
General Kayani's statement comes as the New York Times reports that President Bush has secretly given the go ahead to American special forces to carry out ground attacks inside Pakistan without the prior approval of the country's government. The paper quotes senior officials as saying that "the situation in the tribal areas is not tolerable. We have to be more assertive. Orders have been issued."
Fifteen people, including some Al-Qaida members were killed in the recent US led raids in a village near the Afghan border.
The incident shows Washington's growing mistrust of Pakistan's intelligence and security agencies. But, in the process, they could make things even more difficult for the man they need as their ally in the war on terror. Asif Zardari cannot afford to be seen as America's man -- so these are testing times for the new politician.


Salary of Prez, V-P, Guvs up
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 11
The government today approved the proposal for a 300 per cent hike in the salaries of the President,Vice-President and Governors.The cabinet committee on economic affairs (CCEA) at its meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh raised the salary of the President to Rs 1.50 lakh per month from the Rs 50,000 now.The Vice-President will get Rs 1.25 lakh (from Rs 40,000) and the salary of the Governors has been hiked to Rs 1.10 lakh from Rs 36,000.

The hike is likely to be effective from January 2007.The cabinet also rationalised post-retirement benefits to former Presidents, former Vice-Presidents and their spouses, an official spokesperson said.The hike comes close on the heels of the government announcing a bonanza for its employees by implementing the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission.The cabinet decided to sign an extradition treaty with Iran, which will help bring back terrorists, economic offenders and other criminals wanted for crimes committed here.The government decided to appoint retired officials to the post of General Duty Medical Officers (GDMO) on a contract basis.The decision was taken to fill vacancies in under-staffed hospitals.They will be paid a consolidated amount of Rs 25,000 per month.


Caught between ceasefire & line of fire
LoC balancing task for army
SUJAN DUTTA

Recently in Tutmarigali on the Line of Control: Limits of tolerance for the Indian Army on this border in Kashmir are not always defined by a fence of concertina coil with pickets every 100 metres.
Intermittent firing on Indian forward posts between the Line of Control and the counter-infiltration fence means that the soldiers in the bunkers have to keep their heads down and calibrate their response.
“Our orders are clear,” says Major General Syed Ata Hasnain, the divisional commander in Baramulla. “We do not want the ceasefire to go up in smoke and we cannot allow militants to breach the Line of Control; we have to keep balancing our tasks.”
That kind of a policy puts Indian troops at great risk, meaning that the general has to ensure casualty rates are kept low even when his men are under fire. The troops are at risk — and put others at risk — not only on the border but also in the hinterland.
As the commander of the Baramulla division, Major General Hasnain oversees the best and the worst about the border, indeed about Kashmir for India, today. His Dagger (19 Infantry) Division with the motto “Hold fast, Thrust deep” includes the sectors in Nowgam — where Tutmarigali is — and Uri, through which the peace symbol, the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus, passes over a friendship bridge named Kaman Setu.
The general insists that his name — Syed Ata Hasnain — should be “exploited” to illustrate to Muslims in Kashmir what they can aspire to achieve in the Indian Army. He pulled the plug on news channels after his forces shot protesters who were on a mission to breach the LoC and march to Muzaffarabad on August 11.
“The concept of ‘soft borders’ is fine,” he says. “But you cannot go to Muzaffarabad with apples and come back to Srinagar with AK-47s.”
Major General Hasnain’s hands are full now because the ceasefire is being tested on the border under his command, and in Baramulla in the rear, where his headquarters is located in the colonial-style Alfensteen Hotel, the current unrest in the Valley has escalated.
“We have had to man the Line of Control and counter insurgency and terrorism but we have not had a law-and-order problem so far, but that is changing. Why do we have rubber bullets and water cannons in Delhi but not in Kashmir?” he wonders.
And answers himself: “We have never been prepared for it.”
Hasnain and his officers now go to Old Baramulla to meet Muslim elders in an effort to win public confidence with ‘soft power’. Last week, he bought for a Muslim elder’s daughter a full trousseau for her wedding after the violence that took a toll on the family’s finances.
But further up from Baramulla, through Nowgam and the Mawad Valley and through the Shamshabari Range to the LoC, such gestures of kind-heartedness are far from the minds of the soldiers despite the ceasefire that has held true till this year.
“There was no ceasefire violation in the 15 Corps’ area of responsibility for four-and-a-half years but now there is a threat,” admits Hasnain.
At Tutmarigali, the army’s response to the threat is illustrated by Brigadier Jagbir Singh Cheema. The army has concluded that by firing on Indian forward posts, Pakistani forces or militants are seeking to weaken the counter-infiltration grid around the fence.
An Indian soldier patrols near the Line of Control. File picture
“If our posts are under fire, we will have to strengthen them,” says Cheema. The army is under pressure to re-deploy soldiers from the counter-infiltration grid to the forward posts. But it is loath to do that.
“It is the counter-infiltration system that is driving the Pakistani army and the militants desperate,” says Cheema. “That, and the pressure on its western border with Afghanistan.”
Across Indian positions on the LoC, Indian Army officers desperately seek information on what is happening along that other line — the Durand Line — between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Since the ceasefire in November 2003 and the US pressure on Islamabad, some units of the Pakistani army in Kashmir have been redeployed to its western border to take on the Taliban in battles that are raging within the soul of Islamabad’s military.
Indian Army officers reason that so long as the Pakistan army is engaged in Swat and the North West Frontier Province, it will not want to reopen its front in Kashmir. That lowers the threat to the ceasefire. At the same time, it will not favour the Pakistan army in its contest with the civilian government if it was all quiet on the Kashmir frontier.
The Indian Army is also preparing for what its brass think will be the inevitable blowback of Pakistan’s war against the Taliban. Hasnain and Cheema note with concern that shortly after President Pervez Musharraf’s resignation, militant outfits like the Lashkar-e-Toiba and the Jaish-e-Mohammed have reopened their offices.
Not knowing where these developments are leading to, the Indian Army is unwilling to redeploy forces in any significant measure despite the ceasefire violations and the breaches in the last two months. It is moving from second to third gear but not pushing to the top slot.
Despite its perch high up in the Shamshabari Range, the lookout post in Tutmarigali is not good enough to see beyond the Lipa Valley to Peshawar, Quetta and their environs. In the afternoons, clouds settle into the valleys and the weather packs up early. When the wisps roll down the hillsides, a fog descends on a fine line of war.


Pakistan premier backs army chief's rebuke to US

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistan's prime minister on Thursday backed a harsh rebuke of the U.S. by the Muslim nation's military chief, a sign of a strain in relations seven years after the Sept. 11 attacks forged the two countries' anti-terror alliance.

Pakistan's public show of anger with the U.S. comes amid revelations that President Bush secretly approved new U.S. military raids in that country.

A former intelligence official told The Associated Press that President Bush signed the classified order over the summer. It gives new authority to U.S. special operations forces to target suspected terrorists in the dangerous area along the Afghanistan border.

U.S. counterterror operations along the border are highly unpopular in Pakistan, whose new leadership is trying hard to show independence from Washington. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the classified order.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he will press Pakistan to allow U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan to take a new approach to hunting Taliban and al-Qaida-linked militants who slip back and forth between the neighboring nations. But Brown offered no specifics on how the border could be better defended.

Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the powerful but media-shy army leader, said nearly a week after a deadly American-led ground assault in Pakistani territory that Pakistan would defend its sovereignty and that there was no deal to allow foreign forces to operate inside its borders.

He said unilateral actions risked undermining joint efforts to battle Islamic extremism and warned that "the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country will be defended at all cost."

"No external force is allowed to conduct operations inside Pakistan," he said in the Wednesday statement.

Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, in comments reported Thursday by state media and confirmed by his office, said Kayani's words reflected government opinion and policy.

U.S. officials say clearing militants from such pockets in Pakistan's semiautonomous tribal regions is critical to reducing attacks on NATO and American forces in Afghanistan.

"Until we work more closely with the Pakistani government to eliminate the safe havens from which they operate, the enemy will only keep coming," Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday.

However, NATO insisted it won't launch cross-border raids into Pakistan.

"It is not NATO that will be sending its forces across the border," said alliance spokesman James Appathurai at a news conference. He stressed that the mandate of the 47,000 strong NATO force in Afghanistan stops at the border.

"There are no ground or air incursions by NATO forces into Pakistani territory," Appathurai insisted. "The solution to the tension across the border, or on these cross-border issues is first and foremost a solution to the growing extremism."

An informal meeting of NATO defense ministers in London next Thursday and Friday will also discuss operations in Afghanistan.

The former U.S. intelligence official said the Pakistani government is not told about the targets of U.S. attacks in advance because of concerns that the Pakistani intelligence service and military are infiltrated by al-Qaida and Taliban supporters.

Also, the "rules of engagement" have been loosened, allowing troops to conduct border attacks without being fired on first if they witness attacks coming from the region, the official said.

Many Pakistanis blame their nation's alliance with the U.S. for fueling violence in their country, while U.S. officials worry that Pakistan's government is secretly aiding militant networks — keeping them as a wedge against longtime rival India.

Kayani's statement was significant because he so rarely speaks publicly and because he heads Pakistan's most powerful institution. His remarks indicated he was sensitive to anger among Pakistanis, and possibly even within the military, over the assault and suspected missile strikes, analysts said Thursday.

"It expresses a deep concern in Pakistan and was quite timely because of the feeling in Pakistan as if the army and the government of Pakistan has surrendered to whatever Americans want to do in the tribal regions," political analyst Rasul Bakhsh Rais said.

U.S. officials have acknowledged that American troops carried out the operation in South Waziristan but have not given details. The mission's goal and results remain unclear. Local residents said at least 15 people died.

Some analysts have speculated the Bush administration is turning to missiles and ground assaults in Pakistan to try to score last-minute victories ahead of the U.S. presidential elections and in the face of a growing Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.

Bush and Brown discussed strategy on Afghanistan in a video conference call Thursday, the British leader's office said.

"What's happening on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan is something where we need to develop a new strategy," Brown told a London news conference earlier in the day. "We are trying to prevent people from moving back and forward," he said, referring to those behind attacks on NATO and U.S. forces.

Brown said he will talk with Pakistan's new president, Asif Ali Zardari, within days to draw up a revised strategy on halting the flow of fighters across the border.

Zardari, the widower of slain ex-Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, is generally considered pro-American and has said terrorism is Pakistan's chief challenge. In recent days, he has faced some criticism for not being more outspoken in condemning U.S. strikes in Pakistan.

In violence Thursday, clashes between security forces and militants in the restive Bajur tribal region killed 12 insurgents, a major and a soldier, said Maj. Murad Khan, an army spokesman. Separate clashes in the Swat Valley left eight militants dead, Khan said.

Also in Bajur, the bullet-riddled bodies of three men active in anti-Taliban activities were found, witnesses and officials said. Government official Jawed Khan said the bodies were found with a letter saying, "This is the result of working against the Taliban and cooperating with the army instead of joining jihad."

Tribal leaders in the Salarzai area of Bajur have denounced the Taliban. Recently, armed tribal members torched and destroyed several suspected militant houses and hide-outs.

Associated Press writers Munir Ahmad and Zarar Khan in Islamabad, Riaz Khan in Peshawar, Habib Khan in Khar and Pamela Hess in Washington contributed to this report.


US defence companies will get level playing field: Antony
11 Sep 2008, 2152 hrs IST, Chidanand Rajghatta,TNN


WASHINGTON: American defence companies will get a ''level playing field'' in bidding for military supplies to India under an increasingly transparent system, India’s Defence Minister A K Antony said here at the conclusion of his three-day visit at a time of great activity on the US-India strategic front.

Speaking to journalists, Antony, who said this was his first ever visit to the US, rejected the suggestion that his trip was focused on defence procurement or that the US would get any favours in the matter because of its promotion of the nuclear deal with India.

''We are not having preference for anyone nor are we against anyone. American companies will also get a level playing field. Everything is transparent. There is no secrecy,'' Antony said, confirming that specific procurement issues, such as India’s quest for 126 multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA), were discussed only in general terms and there were no decisions in this regard.

The government had just issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the nearly $ 10 billion deal, which would not be concluded in the term of this government but by the next government, he added. The MRCA deal is said to be the single largest one-time military contract in history and U.S companies Boeing and Lockheed Martin are exerting themselves to win the contract that could mean a boost the local economy.

Antony said the focus of his visit was the general security situation in the region, and while he declined to elaborate at any length, he indicated that he discussed with his counterpart Gates and other interlocutors in Washington Pakistan’s rapid descent into chaos and the stepped up terrorist activity by renegade elements in the country, including provocations on the border and in Kashmir.

The exchanges, and how best US and India can contain a collapsing Pakistan, come amid growing belief in Washington that hard-line extremist elements in the Islamabad establishment, including its new Army Chief, Pervez Kayani, oversaw the attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul that killed four Indian personnel, including a highly-regarded diplomat and a senior Army officer, and dozens of Afghans.

Analysts at the CIA and other American spy and security agencies believe not only that the bombing of India’s embassy in July by militants was aided by ISI operatives, but also that the highest levels of Pakistan’s security apparatus -- including the army chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani -- had knowledge of the plot, the New York Times reported on Thursday, in a stunning development.''It’s very difficult to imagine he was not aware,'' a senior American official was quoted as saying of General Kayani, who till recently was seen as an US-approved replacement for General Musharraf, but appears to be quickly falling foul of Washington.

Such a conclusion dramatically alters the US calculus that has always seen the Pakistani military establishment as an ally. It now appears that Washington sees the Pakistani spy agency ISI, which is a subset of its military, as an enemy, in the same way as New Delhi. India’s National Security Advisor M.K.Narayanan recently called for the 'destruction' of the ISI, the agency that some Americans insist helped U.S end the Cold War.

Antony threw broad hints that India was working with the U.S in Afghanistan to stem Pakistan’s use of Taliban, although he denied any prospect of New Delhi providing logistical support to U.S/Nato forces after the recent border showdown between Washington and Islamabad.

''We feel the resurgence of Taliban is not in the larger interest of India or any peace-loving people,'' the defense minister said, adding that India would restrict its activity in Afghanistan to developmental works and capacity building, for which New Delhi had already spent $ 1.2 billion.

The Defence Minister also rejected the proposition that India was becoming militarily closer to the US, saying it was often forgotten that US-India military exercises have been going on since 1992. The armed forces are keen to have exercises with all advanced countries, he added.

Israel army chief meets Indian counterparts, to visit DRDO
admin September 11th, 2008 National

Israel’s Chief of Army Staff, Major General Avi Mizrahi, met the three service chiefs — General Deepak Malhotra, Admiral Sureesh Mehta and Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major on Tuesday, and will be visiting the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) this evening.
Major General Mizrahi is here on a three-day visit and was received by Major General K.J.S. Oberoi, General Officer Commanding-in Chief of the Delhi Area.
Mizrahi is primarily here to strengthen bilateral defence ties between the two countries.
Earlier in the day, he laid a wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyoti at the India Gate and was later given a guard of honour at the Defence Ministry headquarters in South Block here.
Major General Mizrahi is likely to meet Minister of State for Defence Production Rao Inderjit Singh. He would not be able to meet Defence Minister A K Antony and his deputy M M Pallam Raju who are in the United States and Liberia respectively.
The Israeli army chief, during his meetings with the Indian Defence Ministry and Armed Forces top brass, will discuss matters of mutual concern and interests, including joint military training and exercises between the forces of the two countries, sources said.
Of particular interest to the Indians is the Israeli offer to exercise and train in anti-insurgency and anti-terrorist operations, sources added. (ANI)


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  1. It won’t be wrong to term Hyderabad as one of the most culturally rich places in India. Be it the legacy of the very famous Nawabs, the colorful streets, the exhilarating monuments or the mouthwatering and delicious Hyderabadi food, especially Hyderabadi Biriyani, this south Indian city has always been a hot shot tourist destination. The industrial and infrastructural development in this city in the recent years has only been the icing on the cake. Today the hotels in Hyderabad not only cater to the tourists but also to the business and corporate traveler. There are many business hotels in Hyderabad that are being dished out by the leading names of the Indian hospitality industry. Apart from the budget hotels in Hyderabad, luxury hotels are also abundant in the city. In short be it for work or an existing vacation, hotels catering to each class can be found in the city. With so much happening in this future metro, Hyderabad is actually the place to be!

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