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Wednesday, 8 October 2008

From Today's Papers - 08 Oct

In defence of the military

Nitin Gokhale

Senior Editor, Defence and Strategic Affairs, NDTV

Tuesday, October,7 2008 (New Delhi)

Let me begin this piece by stating emphatically that it is written in defence of the Indian military.

I believe that it is an institution worth defending, warts and follies notwithstanding. And that is why this piece.

Of late, the Indian military leadership has come under a lot of motivated and ill-informed criticism for doing what any self-respecting commander-in-chief would do.

In taking up the issue of pay and parity between the armed forces and their civilian counterparts, all that the three chiefs have done is to bring to the notice of the highest political authority in the country the four core issues that affect the services. And they did it in the most dignified manner possible.

But their action has kicked up a furious debate in the media and depending on who you speak with, there are two views on the issue. Most non-military viewpoints are alarmists, to say the least. A few inspired leaks by the stung bureaucracy has led to a spate of articles and opinion pieces alluding to a breach of discipline and a show of "defiance" by the service chiefs. Some commentators have even gone to the extent of saying that the three chiefs have set a dangerous precedent that does not augur well for Indian democracy! Others have said the chiefs were left with no choice. And unlike any other time, I will be a subjective observer in this.

As someone who has been in the thick of reporting on the pay panel recommendations and the subsequent developments, I must point out without
reservation: The three chiefs have never ever defied the government. A quarter century interaction with the armed forces has convinced me that the Indian military is not capable of indulging in politics, leave alone usurping anyone's authority as perceived by some. And even in this case, the three chiefs have simply taken recourse to the best possible method that was available to them. And by appointing a three-member ministerial committee to look into what clearly are genuine grievances of the armed forces, the political executive has shown the sagacity of recognising the seriousness of the issue. Unfortunately, the top bureaucracy has not shown the same level of maturity in dealing with the situation.

Allow me to go back in time a little to understand the context in which the three service chiefs have been forced to do what they have done.

After the 6th Pay panel submitted its report, a committee of secretaries was set up to look into various anomalies that were brought to the notice of the government. The service headquarters had reasoned with the ministry that since the armed forces make up for 30 per cent of the government employees, they should have a representative on the committee. But their request was not heeded. Instead, the service chiefs were told their concerns would be addressed without prejudice and with sympathy.

This assurance was taken at face value but when no communication was received from the committee of secretaries, Adm. Sureesh Mehta, in his capacity as chairman of the chiefs of staff committee, asked for the details of the decisions taken in the committee. He wanted to see that the armed forces' concerns were adequately taken care of. But the Committee of Secretaries did not deem it fit to respond to the admiral's plea. So when the cabinet approved the amended sixth pay panel report, it was assumed all the pending issues were taken care of.

But to the great consternation of the service headquarters, not only were their major grievances not addressed, three more anomalies, indeed, glaring discrepancies, were introduced by the committee of secretaries in the final cabinet notification.

For the armed forces, this was the last straw. This was worse than the aftermath of the 5th pay commission a decade ago when 48 anomalies were pointed out by the armed forces but only eight were resolved over a 10 year period till the 6th Pay Commission was notified!

It took some time for the reality to sink in but when the anomalies were noticed, all the three chiefs decided to take up their case with defence minister AK Antony. After the meeting, Antony was convinced of the logic presented by the three chiefs. So he apparently asked his ministry officials to prepare a detailed note in support of the services' demand to resolve the core issues and send that communication to the Finance Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office for necessary action.

The core issues, the three service chiefs felt, would affect command and control functions in the field especially between the Army and para-military forces and the
navy and the coast guard, to cite just two examples. Having taken their case to the defence minister, the three chiefs felt they would at last get justice. Shockingly however, the finance ministry and the PMO were presented a completely diluted case. Left with no other alternative, the chiefs then took up their case with the Prime Minister himself who too agreed that their concerns were genuine and should be resolved favourably. The only catch was: the MoD had not sent the requisite supporting documents!!

In the meantime, neither the Prime Minister nor the Defence minister could meet because of their pre-scheduled foreign visit. That's when the three service chiefs decided that they would delay the implementation of the flawed 6th Pay panel report. And decided to communicate this decision to their men down the chain of command. The internal communication by all three chiefs in fact spoke about the need for not falling prey to rumours and speculation. For instance, the Naval chief's communication dated September 24, said:

"In recent times there have been several speculative media reports and disinformation on the final outcome of the sixth pay commission recommendations. The service headquarters have maintained continuous interaction with all authorities concerned and our concerns have been highlighted at the highest levels time and again.

Whilst some of our concerns have been addressed we have been constrained to delay payment of arrears and new pay scales to officers and men in view of some serious disparities that have been introduced which disturb the extant parities between defence officers and those from other central services as also adversely affect pensionary benefits of pbor.

We are in the process of resolving all pending issues and this may take a little longer than we had earlier expected.

Let me assure each one of you that I will spare no effort to bring our genuine concerns to the notice of our country's leadership with the final aim of giving our personnel their rightful due. In the meanwhile I am certain that one and all will display maturity and patience and not be swayed by hearsay or speculative reports from any quarter. Shano Varuna and Jai Hind."

If the above signal, as the communication is called in military parlance, is defiance then no military chief will ever be able to give assurances to and take his men in confidence. Anyone who has dealt with the armed forces will tell you that there is not an iota of truth in the canard that is being spread about the three chiefs "defying" the civil authorities. Yes, they questioned the bureaucracy's attempts to wittingly or unwittingly introduce pay and status disparities between the armed forces and their civilian counterparts. Yes, they took the matter to the Prime Minister but in no way did they defy the government.

The question here is: Does civilian control of the military mean control by civil bureaucrats? Or should it in reality mean that military be subservient to the elected government and by extension to the Parliament and in the larger sense the people of
India? This is the question that needs to be debated thoroughly for correct civil-military interaction and cohesiveness in decision-making in spheres of national security in the future.

What the three current chiefs have done is unprecedented in India's short
history as an independent nation and therefore a surprise to many. But they have done their uniform proud by standing up for their men, a trait most essential in any leader but an absolute must for a military leader.

Pay panel: Army denies circulating papers
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 7
The Indian Armed Forces were today dragged into a needless controversy. A TV channel today showed documents which it claimed were part of a letter which the Armed Forces had written slamming the bureaucracy.

The Indian Army was taken aback and this afternoon issued a statement saying, “The Army has neither prepared nor circulated any document or note containing allegations or casting aspersions on the government officials”. It is clarified that there is no truth whatsoever in the existence of any such document or its circulation in the Army Headquarters (HQ) as alleged in the news report, said a statement.

The Army HQ has investigated the claims of the TV channel and has found that no such document was ever prepared or circulated by the Army HQ.

The views of the Army HQ about the pay commission have been well articulated by the Chief of Army staff time and again.

Military-civil ties
Both must be nurtured and honoured
by Premvir Das

In no form of government, authoritarian, totalitarian, least of all in democratic dispensations, can the military even think of having a position which is not subordinate to the civilian authority. This was so in the erstwhile Soviet Union, Communist China, and dozens of countries where authoritarian regimes are in place. Only in countries under military rule; Pakistan until recently, and Myanmar, to name two, have the armed forces enjoyed status and importance ahead of the civilians and, thankfully, we are not in that category.

Thus, any discussion on military-civil relationship must be fixated on that fundamental premise. Having said that, the definition of the term ‘civilian authority’ needs discussion. There are first the political leaders e.g. ministers and the like. They come and go with elections. Then there is the civilian bureaucracy; it has permanence. There is a belief in the military that civilian authority means the political leaders alone.

There is some merit in this assumption; the difficulty is that, right or wrong, this leadership can not function without the advice and support of the bureaucracy i.e. the civil servants. They are a fact of life, a very real and effective one, and they cannot be wished away. They also have a structure and a hierarchy and it is they who manage and run the administration. Their position must be recognised.

Until 1952, the Service Chiefs were placed over the Cabinet Secretary in protocol. They, therefore, only attended meetings chaired by the Ministers. Once this position was altered, they could be called in by this seniormost civil servant to his office.

At around the same time, Brigadiers ranked with Joint Secretaries were effectively demoted as that equivalence was changed to Major Generals. Repeated changes and modifications in the Warrant of Precedence saw military positions degrade continuously as more and more civilian functionaries overtook them. This was not without good reason; the Attorney General of India, the Comptroller and Auditor General, the Chief Election Commissioner and many others of that ilk could hardly be placed in positions below those occupied by Service Chiefs. This erosion in equivalence went down the ranks with the civilian bureaucracy showing an anxiety, not uncommon in turf battles, to put the military in its place, so to speak.

Representations from the Services protesting this degradation were made from time to time but the political leadership, dependent on the advice of their officers, or possibly, for their own reasons, took little notice. This is the background in which the recent protestations should be seen. The thesis of the Sixth Pay Commission that pay equivalence would determine status and the depressed scales recommended by it for the military exacerbated an already festering sore.

It is interesting to see how things function in some other democracies, the USA and the UK, to name only two. In the former, the seniormost military man, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, is part of the National Security Council (NSC) chaired by the President alongside the Vice President, and the Secretaries (Ministers) of State, Defence, Homeland Security and Treasury. George Marshall, Alexander Haig and Colin Powell, all military men, rose to become Secretaries of State.

In the UK, the system is slightly different. There is no NSC; the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) attends meetings on national security chaired by the Prime Minister along with the Ministers; the Permanent Under Secretary (Defence Secretary) in the Ministry of Defence, as and when necessary. Yet, in either system, Service Chiefs routinely attend meetings called by the senior civil servant in the Ministry and the reverse is equally true.

In India, we do not have a Chief of Defence Staff and the Service Chiefs are not members of the National Security Council; nor are they members of the Cabinet Committee on Security, only being ‘in attendance’ for such meetings as they are invited to. Not having a CDS has another side-effect and one utterly unhealthy; the Defence Secretary assumes that role, whether willingly or not is not material. The situation is tailor made for discord.

The political leadership, with a background of governance in states, is much more comfortable with its civil service advisers than with those from Service Headquarters so, whether they like it or not, those in the military hierarchy have no option but knock at the doors of the officials. This is where lopsided equivalence and consequent heartburn come in.

Where does one go from here, is the question. India is not going to become a military dictatorship anytime soon so any thoughts of dramatically altered equations are clearly sand castles. The bureaucracy is also not going to disappear; the civil servant is as much part of civilian authority as his political master. They are different in form but they are part of the whole.

Wisdom, for the armed forces, lies in recognising this reality. The civilian masters must, on their part, understand the needs and motivations of the military. It cannot be argued, as was done viciously two decades ago, that governance is not the business of those in uniform.

The armed forces are as much a part of it as the civilian machinery. Both must operate in synergy to ensure that the objectives set by the political leadership are met. Both must be conscious of the special position of each and not do anything to degrade the other. The two are powerful weapons of the State; both must be nurtured and honoured, including by each other. If this message is sinking in, the messy brouhaha of the last few months would have been worth it.

The writer is a former Director General, Defence Planning Staff

Letters to the Editor - Tribune

No defiance

Your recent, self-proclaimed support of the armed forces on the issue of the Sixth Pay Commission Report has been particularly pleasing to all retired and serving personnel. However, the editorial, criticising the Naval Chief’s so-called “defiance” (September 30) that even goes so far as to headline Admiral Mehta’s conduct as “inexcusable” was out of line and uncalled for.

One of the basic tenets of being a good leader is his ability to understand the needs of his men and not only stand up for them but even stick one’s own neck out in their interest, safety, comfort. Men do not follow into battle a leader who does not know in his heart that the morale of his men is of paramount importance.

The Service Chiefs have, in fact, remained silent for far too long and have over the years borne successive humiliations at the hands of a manipulative bureaucracy with a stiff upper lip that has actually been to the detriment of the armed forces and the nation at large.

Admiral Sureesh Mehta has done nothing wrong in refusing to accept the crumbs thrown to the Services and there has been nothing even remotely unbecoming in his conduct. He has, in fact, done himself and the armed forces proud. For once there is a Chief with a backbone who has not succumbed to bullying or artful coercion.

Commander J.V. SINGH (retd), On e-mail


The Sixth Pay Commission has again created four major anomalies apart from others, for which the three Service Chiefs have been requesting, ever since the award was announced.

If, despite this, the Cabinet appoints a Committee of Secretaries to remove these anomalies and announces the report’s implementation without hearing out the armed forces’ point of view, what do you expect the three Chiefs to do? Surprisingly, there was no armed forces’ representative on the Pay Commission.
Consequently, they had no option but to write to the Prime Minister to air their grievances when all other channels (including the Defence Minister) have failed to redress these major anomalies.

Admiral Mehta is the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee. As the head of the armed forces, he has taken the correct and honourable course to uphold the values and ethos of the armed forces when the political leadership procrastinates in taking a decision to redress issues. One of them is that the head of the organisation has to speak out for the rights of his subordinates, even if it is at his cost.

The government should now announce that the armed forces will have a separate pay commission henceforth in view of the peculiar terms of service, as is the case the world over.

Lt-Gen KAMALJIT SINGH (retd), Gurdaspur


While the defence forces and ex-servicemen are thankful to The Tribune for championing their cause, the editorial in question was a bit too harsh, knowing the circumstances under which a step was taken.

The defence forces have been complaining against the step-motherly treatment being meted out to them by successive pay commissions, but the government never bothered to correct the anomalies. It is all right that the personnel in the armed forces have to forfeit certain fundamental rights such as freedom of speech and the right to form unions, but does it mean that they can be hanged without being heard?

Why has the government never allowed a representative of the defence forces on the pay commission? Does the demand for its inclusion amount to disobedience? Why was the rank pay not taken into consideration while fixing the pay band? Or should the defence forces accept whatever crumbs thrown at them?

Brig L.C. JAMWAL (retd), Shimla

When Sikhs bolstered French honour
by Lt Gen (retd) Baljit Singh

Whenever the controversy centred around the Sikhs and their turbans resurfaces in France, my memory invariably reaches out to a slice of history from 1915 as recorded in the chronicles of World War I. For 10 turbaned Sikh soldiers using six spare turbans, wriggled and dragged two boxes of mortar bombs and two of machine-gun bullets, under withering German shelling and automatic fire, in the mid-day sun for about 25 minutes, till at last just one box of bombs was eventually delivered to their beleaguered colleagues.

Nine Sikh soldiers perished as they crawled and dragged the cargo through the rain of shells and bullets. The tenth was struck dead as he momentarily stood up to unknot the turban from around the box of bombs to deliver it to his comrades.

There was an eleventh. He was shell-shocked and stood stock-still, his uniform riddled with bullet holes. One Sikh soldier in the nearby trench reflexably reached out and pulled Lieut John Smyth down to the ground. He emerged the sole survivor of the heroic mission.

At the core of this sacrifice of the 10 bravest of the brave, lay the ultimate objective that the strip of French soil, measuring some 300 by 250 yards, recaptured from the Germans two nights ago, must be held at all cost. And so indeed it was!

That was May 18, 1915, when soldiers of 15 Sikh battalion in the vicinity of Richebourgh L’Avoue were holding a section of a trench with the apt name “Glory Hole”, on the outskirts of Ferme du Bois.

The German Army had signalled the First World War in mid-1914 with brilliantly executed opening moves. Within days they brushed aside (literally) the defences of the Franco-German border with a kind of nonchalance born of utter disdain for their adversary.

The British were quick to comprehend the long-term impact of a military defeat in Europe on their colonial empire. So the standing Army in India was immediately constituted into the First Indian Corps with the Lahore and Meerut Divisions on its order-of-battle, as they set sail to France.

Now 15 Sikh battalion (Jalandhar Brigade, Lahore Division) was among the very first to set foot on French soil. As they were basically trained to fight on the NW provinces, they were to undergo one month’s reorientation training in France.

However, by the middle of October 1914 the allied defences at Ypres were in such grave danger of crumbling that on October 24, 15 Sikh sans reorientation training, was inducted into a gap near Rue Tilleloi.

They barely had four hours of night to dig defences and paid very heavily for this inadequacy. Over the next two days, three Sikh junior commissioned officers were wounded and 261 Sikh soldiers killed, wounded or missing. But the honour of France was upheld in the best tradition of soldiering.

Reduced to half their strength to about 240, 15 Sikh continued to hold ground manfully which the British and French battalions did with nearly 800 soldiers each!

In May, 1915, the battalion was “rested” for one month. But not fully because on May 16, they were ordered to hold this 300 by 250 yards salient into the German defence line with one company in consert with another of the Highland Infantry (HLI) on their flank. The rest of the battalion was retained as “reserve”.

Under intense German pressure, by the evening of May 17 they had exhausted all mortar bombs and machine gun bullets. One officer and 20 men of HLI attempted to replenish ammunition from the rear but all were shot down before they traversed half the distance. 15 Sikh company’s two similar attempts met the same fate.

This was the stage when Lt Col Johnny Hill, Officer Commanding, 15 Sikh, told Lieut Smyth to pick 10 volunteers and go forward to recoup ammunition. When Smyth asked 10 men to come forward to join him, every man present stepped out at once and Smyth confessed that “this is what cured me of Blue Funk.” He simply picked the 10 in front of him.

What followed next was magnificently chronicled in the book “Deeds that Thrill the Empire” (Hutchison & Co):

“There are no finer fighting men in our Indian Army than the Sikhs... And there are no finer officers in the world than the men who lead them...

Ultimately the question which begs an answer: “Why did Whitehall hold back from this little band of ten dark-skinned heroes the Victoria Cross?” Why VC for Smyth but the Indian Distinguished Service Medal for the ten?

Will France consider bestowing, posthumously, the French Legion of Honour on the ten valourous and turbaned Sikh soldiers now?

Gurkhas win right to settle in Britain
by Kim Sengupta

For generations, they have shown great courage and loyalty, fighting for Britain in countless wars. The Gurkhas celebrated on September 30 one of their most famous victories in a legal battle that has given them the right to settle in the UK.

The landmark ruling by the High Court was an official recognition of the unswerving service that the fearless Nepalese soldiers had given to Britain, often at great personal cost. This, said the judge, Mr Justice Blake, earned them an “unquestionable moral debt of honour” from the British people.

The judge’s decision was greeted with a roar of approval by Gurkhas and their supporters packed into the court. Minutes later, a cheer went up from several hundred others, including British ex-servicemen, who had gathered outside with flags flying and bagpipes playing.

A Government ruling that denied Gurkhas who retired from the Army before 1997 an automatic right to live in the UK was discriminatory, illegal and needed urgent revision, the judge said.

His decision came at the end of a judicial review of Home Office policy in a test case brought by five veterans and the widow of another. Their solicitor, Martin Howe, said:

“This is a victory that restores honour and dignity to deserving soldiers who faithfully served in Her Majesty’s armed forces. It is a victory for common sense, a victory for fairness and a victory for the British sense of what is right.”

Under current rules, former Gurkha soldiers who retired before 1997, when the Brigade of Gurkhas moved its base from Hong Kong to Hampshire when the city reverted to Chinese control, have to demonstrate “strong ties” with Britain to obtain permission to settle.

The five veterans who brought the legal action L/Cpl Gyanendra Rai, Deo Prakash Limbu, Cpl Chakra Limbu, L/Cpl Birendra Shrestha and Bhim Gurung all applied to settle in the UK but were refused entry by staff at the British embassy in Kathmandu and the high commissions in Hong Kong and Macau.

The Gurkhas in the test case represented about 2,000 more who were turned away, despite having fought for Britain in the Second World War, Malaya and the Gulf.

Veterans such as Lachhiman Gurung, 91, and Tul Bahadur Pun, 86, who both received Victoria Crosses for bravery and who attended yesterday’s hearing in their wheelchairs, should in future find it easier to convince officials that they have ties binding them to Britain.

The Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, said: “I have always been clear that where there is a compelling case, soldiers and their families should be considered for settlement. The judge has agreed that our cut-off date of 1997 is fair. However, in light of the court’s ruling we will revise and publish new guidance. We will honour our commitment to the Gurkhas by reviewing all cases by the end of the year.”

Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, added: “I have always felt that if someone is prepared to die for this country, then they should have the right to live in this country. The key thing now is to look at the ruling in detail.”

— By arrangement with The Independent

Indian Navy Sailing Ship ‘Tarangini’ on Oman Visit

Ravindra Nath

8 October 2008

MUSCAT — Indian Navy’s sailing ship ‘Tarangini’ arrived in Salalah on Tuesday morning on a voyage commemorating the diamond jubilee of the National Defence Academy (NDA), Khadakvasla, India.

NDA is a training institution where cadets for the three services namely, army, navy and air force, are trained together. The vessel began its current journey in Kochi, Kerala, for Salalah on September 22. On board are 24 cadets, representing the three services, accompanied by one officer from the academy. “This voyage provides them with an opportunity to face together the rigours and thrills of ocean crossing under sails,” a spokesman for the Indian Embassy in Muscat said.

Tarangini’s visit to Salalah, under the command of Commander A.S. Pathankar, “will further the process of bilateral engagement between Indian Navy and Royal Navy of Oman,” the spokesman added. The ship will sail for Port Victoria, Seychelles on October 10.

Editorial: Pakistan's real problem

Business Standard / New Delhi October 08, 2008, 0:45 IST

Pakistan should have rather more to worry about than the correct terminology for describing militants in the Kashmir valley — some of whom might be considered plain secessionists, while others are definitely terrorists. Pakistan’s economy is close to collapse, and the country has to decide whether its current posture of aggression towards neighbours to the east and west is sustainable, not just diplomatically and militarily but also economically. Inflation is running at 24 per cent, with food inflation at 32 per cent. The current account deficit (on trade in goods and services) is over 7 per cent of GDP, and dollar reserves have dropped to less than a month’s imports-something like India’s situation in 1991. The fiscal deficit too is over 7 per cent of GDP, and the country’s credit rating is not far from default zone. Both the currency and the stock market have tanked. Growth has faltered, dropping to below 6 per cent in the year to June 2008. When seen against population growth of about 2 per cent, the income growth per head last year was only slightly more than a half of India’s. With the same lack of restraint that has marked his comments on Kashmiri militants and Sarah Palin, President Asif Ali Zardari has said that the country needs a $100 billion bail-out. That is a pipe-dream, given that Pakistan has so far failed to get any loans from friendly countries to pay for oil imports. A donor meeting scheduled for next month might deliver some cash, but that is still far from certain.

The question that Pakistan’s rulers must ask themselves is why the country is in such a mess, and what it should do to get out of the bind. Any such examination should make it clear that the country and its economy will benefit enormously from peace with its neighbours, open borders for mutually beneficial trade, and other policies that encourage international confidence, so that investible resources flow into the country. Jihad, cover for al Qaeda’s leaders and support for the Taliban are the last things that the country needs.

The fact is that Pakistan’s economy, about a fifth of India’s size 15 years ago, is now barely one-ninth of its bigger neighbour. The country is already boxing above its weight, and sustained under-performance on the economic front will further limit Pakistan’s military and diplomatic options when dealing with other countries — and also make it a less appealing country to the separatists in Jammu & Kashmir. The military’s response to this asymmetry, of indulging in low-grade warfare and a policy of ‘death by a thousand cuts’, has not worked despite the passage of nearly two decades, and will not work in the future.

Such realisations may or may not be behind President Zardari’s repeated affirmations in recent weeks of friendly intentions towards India, which he has rightly acknowledged as a status quo power, since it presents no threat to Pakistan. Indeed, the same realisations may have been responsible for President Musharraf’s abandoning of the old Pakistani policy of wanting to annex Jammu and Kashmir, as being simply unrealistic, and his search for more creative options. The question, though, is not what President Zardari thinks about these issues, but whether the larger Pakistani establishment (including, most importantly, the army) shares his perspectives. At the moment, Mr Zardari seems to be running ahead of the pack.

US Weapons Deal 'Poisoned' Military Ties: China

China's foreign ministry Tuesday said a US arms deal for Taiwan had "poisoned" military ties between Washington and Beijing, but it did not confirm US reports that China had cancelled some bilateral meetings.

"The United States ignored the opposition of China to sell military arms to Taiwan, which poisoned the Sino-US relationship and also harmed the sound atmosphere between the two militaries," ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters.

Qin said China "attaches great importance" to military exchanges with the United States and had seen "positive momentum" until last week's approval of a $6.4-billion weapons' sale to Taiwan.

"This seriously harmed the security of China, and puts obstacles in the way of military cooperation," he said of the deal when asked if China had cancelled or postponed bilateral military meetings with the United States.

"The responsibility all lies on the US side," Qin said.

Taiwan Saturday welcomed the US arms sale, calling it the start of a new era of Taiwan-US mutual trust.

But China still regards Taiwan as its breakaway province and sees the sale of weapons as encouraging Taiwan to seek formal independence from China.

The Chinese foreign ministry summoned the US ambassador to China to lodge a formal protest over the sale.

The US government approved the sale of six major packages of weaponry to Taiwan, ending the nearly year-long freeze on arms sales to the island.

The Bush administration will go ahead with the deal if the Congress does not object within 30 days.

It covers the sale of components for upgrading E-2 Hawkeye early-warning aircraft, 30 Apache attack helicopters, the PAC-3 anti-missile system, 32 Harpoon missiles, spare parts for F16A/B, F5E/5F and C-130 aircraft as well as 182 Javelin anti-tank missiles.

The US has pledged to sell Taiwan arms for its defence since 1979.

The Bush administration had delayed the latest package since late 2007, amid reports that Washington was unhappy about Taipei's unwillingness to boost its defence budget.

PAF - new challenges

By AIR MARSHAL AYAZ AHMED KHAN submitted 7 hours 26 minutes ago

Indian Air Force attack aircraft have been deployed at Jammu, Udhampur, Avantipur in the Kashmir Valley and at Leh airfield in Laddakh, to subdue Kashmiris and crush their struggle for democracy. In the 1999 Kargil war PAF did not confront the IAF, because General Musharraf feared escalation of the conflict into full-scale war. But the lesson of Kargil was that Pakistan needs a strong Air Force.
Going by numbers the Indian Air Force (IAF) is big. It has 1200 aircraft; 750 of which are combat aircraft. But the IAF also suffers the biggest number of air and ground accidents per year. It suffers the biggest numbers of pilot casualties annually. After the death of 200 IAF fighter pilots in MiG-21 crashes, the Mig-21 became infamous as "the flying coffin". IAF top brass is to be blamed, because under training pilots were pushed directly from basic piston engine trainers straight into supersonic Mig-21s for fighter training. This was too big a jump, resulting in high U/T pilot casualties.
Another 200 fighter aircraft including Mirage 2000s, Jaguars, MiG-29s, MiG-27s, MiG-25s and MiG-23s have been lost in air crashes and ground accidents. During the last two decades; the total tally of crashed aircraft being 500, and dead pilots 350, the IAF is a big peacetime loser of combat aircraft and pilots. Such losses had a telling effect on IAF's fighting capability, the combat efficiency and morale of its combat crews. So the IAF had telling weaknesses as well. But IAF has procured 66 Su-30 MK-1 multirole fighter aircraft of advanced technology and high lethality from Moscow. The order was placed for 144 Su-30 MK-I's by Indian Defence Minister George Fernandes on September 27, 1996. He had boasted that, "India will soon rank among big air powers". This statement was made during the induction ceremony of the first batch of ten Su-30MKI multi-role jet fighters in No 20 Lightning Squadron at IAF's Lohegaon Air Base. No 24 Hunting Hawks Squadron equipped with the earlier version of the Sukhoi Mk-30 fighters is also based there. Recently the IAF has deployed ten Su-30 MK-I fighters at Avantipura airfield near Srinager.
The supply of 144 Su-30MK-I's tailor made for the IAF will greatly enhance IAF's air combat and ground attack capability. Added to these are the 60 Mirage 2000-H fighters (of Kargil fame) equipped with advanced laser-guided bombs and BVR air-to-air missiles. The IAF will have a distinct edge in advanced air weaponry over the PAF, as and when the IAF procures all the Su-30MKIs, Mirages and new Mig-29's on order. At the Sukhoi induction ceremony defence minister George Fernandes, pointing his finger at Pakistan, had said that, "The Sukhoi 30 MKI is aimed at silencing those nations who look at us with "buri nazar," (evil intention).The IAF Su-30 MKI is fitted with superior electronics and avionics. It has thrust vectoring (directional control) capabilities, and is fitted with canards. With such improvements the MKI has amazing air combat maneuverability. It can take off with much higher bomb loads, and has a range of 3000 kilometers. It can go deep into China and Pakistan with a full load of conventional and nuclear weapons.
Indian Air Chief, Air Chief Marshal S. Krishnaswamy had stated at the induction ceremony that, "With its ability to engage several targets simultaneously the Sukhoi -30 MKI will redefine the very method of air combat." In a joint exercise with the US Air Force over Occupied Kashmir, these Indian Air Force fighters proved superior to the F-15 air superiority fighters of US Air Force. Besides twin-engine power and safety the MKI is equipped with stealth technology, enabling it to evade radar detection. Indian defense analysts claim that the MKI can outclass China's Su-23 MKK and USAF F-22 and F-15 fighters. The elected government of Pakistan and the PAF must take full cognizance of the induction of 144 Su-30 MK-I aircraft in the IAF, and consequently the enhanced air threat from India. IAF has received 10 new Mirage 2000 H fighters from France and 37 rebuilt Jaguar strike fighters from HAL at Bangalore. But India's Light Combat Aircraft - the LCA under development since 1978 has yet to enter operational service. After 24 air tests, major modifications, the IAF remained highly critical of the LCA, but will be forced to buy up to 400 of these controversial fighters. The LCA will replace the MiG-21 as the IAF's workhorse. The IAF fighter pilots did not trust Indian manufactured MiG-21s which earned such nicknames as "flying coffins", "pilot killers", "widow makers"; and are already distrustful of home made LCA fighters.
Pilot training has been a big problem. IAF pilots were forced into MiG-21 cockpits directly from basic piston engine trainers. The result was high wastage of pilots during operational training. British Hawk advanced jet trainer has now been inducted. It should have been inducted three decades back. It would have saved hundreds of precious lives.. Despite US foot dragging on the supply of F-16 fighters, and numerical disparity, the PAF has proved to be a credible deterrent against Indian air power. This was possible due to the high state of preparedness, readiness and robust morale of the force at all levels. The skillful management of operational assets, exemplary leadership and expertise has enabled the PAF to deter the enemy from any misadventure. The PAF is totally committed to the defense of Pakistan. The government however must realize that the PAF must have matching technology, and numerical balance with the adversary air force, in the entire range of weaponry.
The joint production JF-17 Thunders, procurement of JF-10 air superiority fighters from China, and additional F-16 fighters- should correct the air power imbalance to some extent new combat and strike aircraft are urgently needed for ground attack and close support operations against the terrorists, who hiding in the hills and mountains of Tribal Agencies are mounting deadly suicide bombings on Pakistani cities, cantonments and military posts.
The assassination of Benazir Bhutto and the deadly bombing of Marriott hotel in Islamabad, demands enhanced used of air power to root out terrorists and terrorism from Pakistan's soil. The PAF has been engaged in anti-terrorist operations since several months. Army - air close support operations in the rugged and mountainous areas of Swat and Bajaur have been successful and the terrorists are on the run. Air operations must be sustained till terrorists feel compelled to surrender.
A new dangerous factor is Pakistan's war against terrorists is United States violation of Pakistani air space by drones, gunship helicopters and fighter aircraft. Predator and Rapaer drones have been violating Pakistan's air space, bombings tribal villages and killing Pakistani citizens since 2006. They have killed hundreds of Pakistani citizens including women and children. Washington is disregarding warnings by Pakistani President, Prime Minister, Army Chief and protests by Pakistani public. Pakistani blood cannot be allowed to be shed wantonly. Violation of Pakistani territorial sovereignty must be challenged. Pakistan Air Force must be prepared to shoot down American drones, gunship helicopters and engage USAF fighter aircraft attacking and bombings Pakistani tribal villages. We must not act as frightened crows, when outsiders continue to kill our elders, brothers, sisters and children. Pakistan Air Force must defend Pakistan's air space. PAF's tradition is that it will rise to great heights to defend Pakistan.

Privatization in manufacturing of defence equipment: 23 companies shortlisted


Tuesday, 07 October 2008

PATIALA: Dr A.S. Pillai, CEO and Managing director, BrahMos Aerospace, said, AS many as 23 private manufactures of India and forging has shortlisted for the manufacturing of defence equipment in India and will export it to our friendly countries.

In an informal chat with media after getting degree of Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) at Thapar University here on Monday.

He said that they have export orders of around $2 billion for BrahMos cruise missiles, which were the best in the world. He added that the missile, produced in an Indo-Russian joint venture, has network-centric warfare capabilities — using information from satellites, troops on the ground, submarines and ships to guide the weapon.

"BrahMos, which has already been inducted into the Indian Navy and Army , will be inducted into the Air Force by 2012. It will be integrated with Sukhoi-30 aircrafts," Dr Pillai said.

Ealrlier, Dr. A. Sivathanu Pillai, Distinguished Scientist & Chief Controller, Research & Development, DRDO, and CEO & MD, BrahMos Aerospace, was awarded a Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) for his outstanding contribution to the field of defence research and development.

Tarun Das, Chief Mentor, Confederation of Indian Industry, and Gautam Thapar, President, Thapar University and Chairman & CEO, Avantha, presided over the ceremony. Dr. Abhijit Mukherjee, Director, Thapar University conferred the degrees to the graduating students.

New facilities at the university, including the faculty chambers and MBA and undergraduate blocks were inaugurated. Gautam Thapar also laid the foundation stone for the sports complex.

Gautam Thapar, President of Thapar University and Chairman & CEO, Avantha, said, "Besides being a premier institute of higher learning, Thapar University is today known for its research and development work and its application in industry. For over fifty years Thapar University has contributed towards the nation-building process. I am sure the institute's pathbreaking work will take our country's technical expertise to the world."

Tarun Das, Chief Mentor, CII, said, "I am confident that these young graduates will become the torchbearers of the values and legacy of Thapar University. My congratulations to Dr. Pillai on being conferred Honoris Causa. Today, India needs more dedicated scientists like him, and I hope that his presence here will serve as an inspiration to many of these young people."

The Director of Thapar University, Dr. Abhijit Mukherjee, said, "We train our graduates to have sound knowledge and skills, respect for profession and resolute social and ethical values. Like their predecessors, I am sure these graduates will prove us vindicated. Our students are encouraged to think laterally beyond the written text, so that they create new knowledge for the future world. An unmistakable sign of their future-readiness was apparent when they designed, fabricated and raced a formula car. They competed against more than seventy university teams at the Silverstone Race Track and won the best endeavour prize."

Thapar University has an excellent record for student placement across sectors with Indian and international corporations.

Pakistan leader's India comments irk establishment: analysts

ISLAMABAD (AFP) — Just a month after coming to power, President Asif Ali Zardari risks losing the support of Pakistan's powerful military establishment with a string of foreign policy gaffes, analysts and sources say.

From saying that nuclear archfoe India has "never been a threat" to reportedly admitting a deal on US missile strikes against militants, analysts say the new civilian leader's comments will cause concern in the army.

As the widower of revered former premier Benazir Bhutto, Zardari also raised eyebrows in this conservative Islamic nation when he called Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin "gorgeous" in a recent meeting.

But experts said it was the reference to nuclear-armed India in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that would most alarm the generals -- who have been suspicious of Zardari since his wife's graft-tainted governments in the 1990s.

Without the full backing of the military, Zardari will find it difficult to tackle Pakistan's problems, ranging from a nose-diving economy to an increasingly bloody fight against Al-Qaeda and Taliban extremists.

"There will be many who will question, not only amongst the military but also among the security set-up, the validity of Mr Zardari's statement on India," security analyst Riffat Hussain, of Islamabad's National Defence University, told AFP.

For its part, India welcomed Zardari's comments in the Wall Street Journal, which included describing Islamic militants in the divided Himalayan territory of Kashmir as "terrorists", while aides defended them strongly.

Pakistan and India launched a drawn-out peace process in 2004.

"He was absolutely right," Farhatullah Babar, a spokesman for Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party, told AFP.

"We have all along maintained that Pakistan supports morally, diplomatically and politically the indigenous struggle of Kashmiri people for their right to self-determination, however we also say that that those who have gone from outside are militants," he said.

But after three major wars and six decades of hostility over Kashmir, analysts and security sources said Zardari underestimated the extent to which India remains the number one obsession for the Pakistani military.

Pakistan's shadowy Inter-Services Intelligence backed the 1996-2001 Taliban regime in Afghanistan and, allegedly, insurgents in Indian-controlled Kashmir mainly to achieve "strategic depth" against its bigger neighbour, they said.

Despite joining the US-led "war on terror" in 2001 under former president Pervez Musharraf, who resigned to avoid impeachment in August, the Pakistani military has always had its eyes on the east, they added.

A senior Pakistani security source said that Zardari's words "are not going to help the president improve his credentials with the armed forces in Pakistan, or indeed in a large part of the population."

"The entire structure of the army has one focus -- to protect itself from India. It is the basic tenet of the army," the source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The source said he believed Zardari's comments were "off the cuff and without any serious intent" -- but added that that in itself did not inspire confidence after his recent public missteps.

Zardari came under fire from some Pakistani newspaper commentators and religious hardliners for his admiring quip to Palin in New York last month -- after which he added that he might "hug" her if photographers asked.

Meanwhile the timing of Zardari's India remarks was unfortunate given the growing chatter in Pakistani intelligence circles about allegations of Indian involvement in the militancy-hit tribal regions bordering Afghanistan.

"The statement will evoke lot of concerns, because part of the reason why efforts to stabilise Pakistan-Afghanistan border is not succeeding is because of the perceived Indian involvement in helping anti-state groups," analyst Hussain said.

The fight against militants on the border caused further problems for Zardari, with Pakistan's information minister stepping in on Monday to deny the Wall Street Journal's report that he had said there was an "understanding" with Washington to permit US air strikes in Pakistani soil.

However political analyst Hasan Askari said he believed the general tenor of Zardari's comments since he was elected as president on September 5 indicated a shift in Islamabad's policies.

"At the lower level (his statements) may cause jitters among the army, but at the senior level their major concern is how to deal with the security threat rather than India-Pakistan problem," he said.

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