HONOUR OUR SOLDIERS
Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi
There is predictable euphoria in the country about the brave actions of the defence forces during the highly successful operations launched by them at Mumbai to clear terrorists. There is no doubt that the land, sea and air warriors of the three services excelled in carrying out their tasks skillfully and with great élan. They do deserve to be commended. However, the rhetorical question is how long this adulation will last? I am afraid the unfortunate answer is ‘not too long’. After every such operation, there is spontaneous and across the board cheering for the soldiers, but it is soon forgotten.
Soldiers, whether serving or veterans, need to be honoured at all times and not only when they return victorious from a battle or war. Most nations do this, but in our country soldiers are soon forgotten and then ignored, till the next time they sacrifice themselves in some operation, Should we not change this? We must also compel a callous government to change its attitude towards the soldiers who protect the nation. This is not a harangue, but a statement of facts. While the citizens of India love and respect the military, the entire governing class, is either callous or indifferent to all military personnel to varying degrees. If this state of affairs continues, soon the military will lose its motivation to deliver when the chips are down.
The Indian defence forces have served the nation loyally, efficiently and effectively since Independence and even during the turbulent times of the partition of India. Thereafter, commencing with the operations launched to save Kashmir in October 1947, to the various wars and conflicts fought by the Indian military to secure the nation, it should have been the darling of the nation. It still is, in the eyes of the common Indian, the Aam Aadmi.
The story is quite different, however, where our governing class is concerned. They are so engrossed in meeting their own petty and short-term vested interests that they have no time for the soldiers. Indeed, they have left no stoned unturned to reduce the military’s status and make it a third class service. Witness how the budget of the defence forces has been steadily declining. As a percentage of the nation’s GDP, it has reached an all time low of less than two percent. Modernization of all the three services is moving at a snails’ pace and shortages of weapons, ammunition and equipment are steadily increasing. There is a grave shortage of officers in all the three services, but it is hurting the army the most, resulting in serious erosion of the capabilities of our units.
The pay, allowances, perks and most importantly status have declined to such an extent that service in the defence forces is at the bottom of the aspirational ladder for all young men and women. Although there is no shortage of soldiers, the young men come forward to get recruited, not because they are enthused but on account of the rising levels of unemployment. It is only the resilience of our soldiers; their training and ethos; and the values ingrained in them; coupled with professional leadership at all levels that has prevented the disintegration of the Indian military. However, against the sustained onslaught of the governing elite of our country, it is unlikely to last unless the people rise and compel them to honour the military and empower it instead of demanding the best while compensating them the least!
The military has always placed status and ‘izzat’ as the epitome of a soldier, while the government seems to have no time for such emotions. Our political leadership, on account of their high dependence on the bureaucracy, seems helpless, as they merely echo what their so-called advisers say. The situation reached such a breaking point in October that the three chiefs’ of the services had to protest vehemently, a departure from their traditional acquiescence on most issues, as the status of many ranks, particularly those of Lt Gen and Lt Col are being grossly lowered. This would have had a highly adverse effect on the morale and consequently fitness for war of all ranks, besides functional problems, especially in situations where a high degree of co-ordination with the police and administrators is a must for smooth conduct of operations. This type of downgrading not only affects status but also emoluments. What a reward for the military that is task-oriented and takes pride in its efficient work. People with inadequate knowledge termed it as defiance of authority, when in actuality it was the commitment of the chiefs’ to their commands, a sacred duty, which compelled them to take such a stance.
Morale of the defence forces is an important ingredient for victory. The effect of low morale of the military translates into the weakening of the security of the country. If the government is indifferent, the civil society must act. What should the citizens of the nation do to assuage the feelings of hurt and neglect, which are gnawing away at the hearts and souls of both serving personnel and the military veterans? Let me suggest a simple solution.
Most countries honour their serving soldiers and veterans by nominating a day and sometimes a week, where soldiers are felicitated by the highest leadership, as well as the citizenry. The serving personnel and veterans are made much of and literally placed on pedestals, while a grateful nation, led by the governing elite, sings paeans for their gallantry, tenacity, spirit of sacrifice, contributions to the security and sovereignty of the nation and their selfless spirit. Readers may recall that in early November many countries across the globe celebrated Remembrance Day, Veterans Day or days with other similar sentiments in a major way. Most citizens adorned the lapels of their coats or other outer garments with a bright red poppy flower to remember those soldiers who had sacrificed their lives and limbs during wars and conflicts, in the service of the nation.
What do we do in our country? Nothing at all! We seem to have no time for such niceties of life. Is this a deficiency in the character of our nation or are we so engrossed in the business of living that we studiously ignore those who are ready to sacrifice even their lives and actually do so? I do not think the citizens of our country are so callous, but I cannot say the same for our governing elite. Why can we not declare 16 December, the day when our armed forces brought glory and victory to the nation in 1971 as the day for honouring our soldiers, both serving and those who laid down their uniforms?
We must honour our soldiery. If the government or the civil society cannot do so, perhaps the military veterans, who numbered over 30 lacs at last count and whose numbers are increasing by 60, 000 every year will have to do it themselves but what a shame it will be for a nation of over one billion souls!!
The writer is a former Vice Chief of Army Staff (VCOAS). He can be contacted at email@example.com.
Armed forces in form to meet any threat to the country: Antony
The Defence Minister Mr. A K Antony on Wednesday said the armed forces were ready to take on any future threats against the country. He was replying to questions from reporters in New Delhi on the sidelines of a function to honour war widows.
On the delay in resolving pay commission issues raised by the armed forces, Mr. Antony said an amicable solution is almost ready.
Speaking about the efforts to locate the armed forces personnel who had gone missing during wars, the Defence Minister said, the government is still looking for them and has taken up the issue with Pakistan. He said the government will do everything to find out these missing soldiers.
The minister said the government will soon finalise a policy for the welfare of the ex-servicemen and their families.
Antony nod to new armed forces promotion policy
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 17
Aimed at doing away with subjectivity in the promotions of armed forces’ officers, a new policy has been framed to allow only performance-oriented parameters to decide on when an officer should be promoted to the next rank. The new policy, which will come into force from January 1 next, was approved by Defence Minister A.K. Antony today.
A total of 95 per cent weightage will be allowed for three parameters — annual confidential reports (ACRs), clearing higher courses and winning battle honours. The rest (5 per cent) will be awarded by the selection board.
Of the 95 per cent, 71 per cent will be meant for the ACRs of the current rank while 20 per cent would account for the ACRs during the previous ranks of the officer. Then, 2 per cent each would be for career courses and battle honours.
Once implemented, the policy is likely to minimise human error while adjudging an officer for promotion.
Notably, the Army had ordered a study on how to quantify the maximum qualification of all possible variables that go into consideration at the time of promotion of an officer.
While mooting the idea of such a policy in December 2006, the Defence Minister had observed: “I want the proceedings of the selection board to be more objective. Each case of relaxation and superceding should have sufficient justification, which must be clearly brought out. Objective norms for promotion and conduct of board proceedings should be laid down. This will not only check arbitrariness, but also criticism and litigation.
Army Recruitment Woes
Media told to play positive role
Tribune News Service
Bangalore, December 17
Brigadier J.C. Kushalappa, deputy director general of recruiting (DDGR), yesterday voiced concerns about poor public response to recruitment and the prevalence of misinformation regarding the procedure to get into the Army. He said the media could play a positive role in disseminating the correct information.
Kushalappa was speaking at a function here to commemorate Vijay Diwas, which is celebrated on December 16 to mark the Indian victory in the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. On the occasion, a hoarding giving details of joining the Indian Army was unveiled at Army Public School in Bangalore. Kushalappa said 73 such hoardings were being put up across the nation yesterday to motivate young people to join the Army. This initiative had been taken up by the Recruitment Office to give reliable information to aspirants and prevent the youth from falling prey to touts who promise a career in the Army.
Addressing the students of Army Public School, Kushalappa said a career in the Army would instil in them a sense of professionalism and discipline. He said the dignity of profession that the defence forces offered was unmatched.
Antony retracts, says ready for any eventuality
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 17
Retracting on his yesterday’s statement that he was not in favour of a military action against Pakistan, Defence Minister A.K. Antony today said the armed forces were ready for any eventuality.
“If need be, our armed forces are ready to counter ballistic missile threats from any rogue nation,” the Minister replied to a query while speaking to mediapersons on the sidelines of a function to honour war widows here.
Antony said the Centre was about to finalise a policy for the betterment of ex-servicemen, their families and war widows. “The policy is in the final stages...we are committed for the welfare of ex-servicemen and war widows,” he assured.
About armed forces personnel missing during wars, he said efforts were on to locate them and the issue had been raised with Pakistan as well. “We have not abandoned our efforts to find out the whereabouts of the missing soldiers. It still is an issue of concern for the country and has been taken up with Pakistan on several occasions, though Islamabad did not allow the victim families to visit its jails,” he said.
And on the much-awaited Sixth Pay Commission issue that has plagued the armed forces, Antony said “an amicable solution was almost ready”.
analysis: In our own interest —Talat Masood
Strategies and policies have to change in accordance with current realities. It may have been expedient to pursue foreign and defence policy through the use of proxies in the 1980s and 1990s, but not any more
The Mumbai attacks, if not handled properly, could shake the very foundations of the Indo-Pak peace process, and shatter once again hopes of normalisation between the two countries. In fact, with voices calling for a strong Indian response to Pakistan’s alleged involvement get louder, a serious crisis has emerged. The greatest challenge for the leaders of the two countries is to manage this growing crisis so that it does not escalate into a full-blown conflict, because then all that has been gained the last five years through the peace process would be lost. Every effort should be made to de-escalate tensions and ensure that we are not guided by a false sense of nationalism that invariably leads to confrontation.
To begin with, New Delhi and Islamabad have to fully cooperate, by sharing information and assisting each other, to track down the perpetrators of terrorism. Pakistan has a serious predicament in that it cannot appear to be ‘dictated’ by India, and yet would like to cooperate. It is for this reason that Islamabad keeps insisting on authentic evidence.
New Delhi has its own reasons for refusing to share evidence, fearing its sources would be compromised. New Delhi also claims that it provided sufficient information about the bombing of its embassy in Kabul earlier this year, but Pakistan failed to respond. Pakistan, of course, rejects these allegations.
Charges and counter-charges have become a part of the unfortunate relationship between India and Pakistan. Essentially, it is a question of trust, which regrettably is lacking between the two. But both countries have to disentangle themselves from the stereotypical thought processes and develop consensus on getting to the bottom of the Mumbai terrorist attacks as well as the larger problem of terrorism in the region, as terrorism is clearly a common enemy.
With advances in forensics and other investigation technologies, it should not be difficult to track down the assailants. In the event that there are linkages to elements in Pakistan, as alleged by India and seemingly confirmed by international sources, it is as much in our interest that they are brought to justice. And if it turns out that the crime was committed by homegrown terrorists in India, or in collaboration with them, which is likely, then both countries should cooperate to bring them to justice.
There is not a place in the world where Pakistan is not in the news, and not for good reasons. Pakistan’s credibility has sunk extremely low in the eyes of the international community, and only genuine and transparent cooperation along with multiple measures in other areas will rehabilitate our image.
In India, opinion is divided as to what line of action should be taken against Pakistan. Those favouring caution are of the view that it is in India’s long-term interest to have a democratic stable Pakistan. Only a democratically elected government can eventually defeat the forces of radicalism in Pakistan. They also realise that the current democratic dispensation is extremely fragile and a conflict will India will destabilise it, paving the way for a return to military rule. The counter-view is that for India, it is immaterial whether there is authoritarian or democratic rule in Pakistan, and Indian security interests are best served by launching a military operation and destroying the jihadi infrastructure.
Lessons from the 2001-02 escalation and the current political and economic realities, in all likelihood, will prevent the two sides from going to war. The United States, of course, is a major player, and is using its influence to defuse tensions as it fears that in the event of escalation, Pakistan will divert troops from the western front to the eastern border, which may adversely affect the fight against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in the tribal areas.
Meanwhile, there is mounting pressure from India and the international community on Pakistan to destroy or disable jihadi infrastructure — training camps, indoctrination cells, leading cadres and sources of funding. There has been a stream of high profile visitors to Islamabad to maintain this pressure. There are doubts as to whether Pakistan is unwilling or incapable of taking such action. Moreover, this is scepticism as to whether or not President Asif Zardari has the authority and power to shut down these militant outfits; this scepticism relates to our skewed civil-military relationship. As long as these training camps exist, and non-state entities operate freely in Pakistan, developing trust with India and gaining international credibility is not possible.
In any case, the civilian and military leadership has to do some serious introspection about the cost-benefit ratio of these outdated and failed policies. Has Pakistan come any closer to achieving its objectives in Jammu & Kashmir by supporting militancy and proxies? On the contrary, the recent indigenous and autonomous uprising in the Valley served Kashmiri interests far better by arousing the Indian conscience and attracting international attention. The best option for Pakistan is to strictly confine its support to the Kashmir cause to the political and diplomatic domain.
The most damaging aspect of the jihadi infrastructure has been at the domestic level, as we have been transformed into a violence-prone society, and have become the object of international disrepute. This policy needs to be reviewed irrespective of the findings and outcome of the current crisis.
Demobilisation of these groups is a huge challenge, and will require adroit handling. Merely banning these militant organisations will not make them disappear. In fact, they would simply go underground and pose an even greater threat. The Jama’at-ud Dawa ostensibly has an extensive social services network whose tasks the government and other benign NGOs will have to take up. Most importantly, the militants will have to be demotivated and rehabilitated by providing them alternate means of livelihood.
We cannot afford to ignore world pressure and remain oblivious to our national interests any more. Strategies and policies have to change in accordance with current realities. It may have been expedient to pursue foreign and defence policy through the use of proxies in the 1980s and 1990s, but not any more. In case we fail to act, international powers in collusion with regional forces will continue to pressurise and destabilise us.
The writer is a retired Lieutenant General of the Pakistan Army. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
PERISCOPE: The cold calculus of war —Mahmud Sipra
Both India and Pakistan lack even basic civil defence facilities and the infrastructure to handle a limited strike on its cities, painfully evidenced by the terrorist attacks on the Marriott in Islamabad, and the Taj, the Oberoi and the Victoria Terminus in Mumbai
When a man of Senator John McCain’s stature says that: “India could launch surgical strikes to disseminate known terrorist camps and Islamist strongholds in Pakistan...if Pakistan does not do something about them itself”, it worries me. That coming from Senator McCain is troubling simply because he is one of the few people still around who know the dangers of brinkmanship. As a US Navy aviator, he has been in the hot seat of a fighter jet, on board a US aircraft carrier during the Cuban Missile Crisis, waiting for the other guy to famously blink. That face-off or brinkmanship, as Senator John McCain knows well, came within a heartbeat of starting World War III.
To his enormous credit and the Pakistani leadership’s gratitude, Senator McCain did also say that he “would try to dissuade the Indians from taking any precipitous steps...” Something that Secretary Rice was able to do in far more diplomatic terms when she cautioned the Indian Government not to do anything “without weighing the consequences...”
Whoever said you can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs!
In the aftermath of 9/11, the cruise missile and daisy cutter attacks by US forces achieved three things. First, they internationalised an obscure hamlet in the Afghan hills called Tora Bora, though the exercise was not intended to put Tora Bora on the map but to wipe it off the map. In that the strikes probably succeeded. Second, they did not succeed in burying Osama bin laden and his crowd in the debris. The only way they could have survived a preponderance of such heavy munitions being dumped on the area was if they simply were not there at the time. And third, they did succeed, however, in launching a much larger conflict that has come to be known as “America’s War on Terror”.
This war gave birth to a monstrous hydra, which, despite the combined might of the armies of 48 countries, has now grown and proliferated to wreak havoc in Pakistan and neighbouring India as well.
Any analogy of the 9/11 attacks to the Mumbai 26/11 terrorist attack should end here. India is not the United States of America and Pakistan is not Afghanistan. Afghanistan, a vast and beautiful country ravaged by thirty years of conflict, couldn’t fight back. It had no army and no air force, and being land-locked, obviously had no use for a navy.
India and Pakistan, on the other hand, have all three.
Today, Pakistan’s ground troops are engaged in a war of attrition within its own borders with an enemy that recognises no borders, respects no religious or cultural ethos, and operates on a strategy of spreading mayhem, death and destruction — indiscriminately and without remorse. This hydra, while laying claim to one of the great religions of the world in one breath, subverts the very essence of this noble faith in the very next by conducting rampant acts of terrorism on the innocent, the unsuspecting and the defenceless. Adding to this combustible mix is distrust, deceit and demagoguery, bringing the region’s two militarily potent adversaries on the brink of an all-out war.
Advantage the ideologue and the many-headed hydra.
India, compared to Pakistan, has a standing army of 1.2 million men bristling with modern military hardware, an air force three times that of Pakistan equipped with state-of-the-art combat aircraft, and a ‘Blue Water Navy’ equipped with the most sophisticated array of nautical weaponry, an aircraft carrier and, soon, nuclear-powered submarines. The Pakistan Navy is relatively small and geared more to playing a defensive and policing role along its coastline and in its territorial waters.
Then there is this other small matter of India and Pakistan being ‘nuclear’ states. Both are primed and ready to unleash a devastating holocaust on each other with a dizzying arsenal of ballistic nuclear missiles.
The idea behind writing up such an alarming scenario is, in my simplistic way, to focus attention on certain disturbing aspects that are being ignored, in the ‘likely’ event of things spinning further out of control.
Both India and Pakistan lack even basic civil defence facilities and the infrastructure to handle a limited strike on its cities, painfully evidenced by the terrorist attacks on the Marriott in Islamabad, and the Taj, the Oberoi and the Victoria Terminus in Mumbai.
The fire fighting equipment in use is dismally inadequate to fight what in most countries would be considered a ‘one-alarm fire’. Antiquated fire engines, ladders that don’t stretch high enough, hoses that don’t reach far enough and policemen toting Royal Enfield 303 rifles. Save for the remarkable courage of some of Mumbai’s finest who heroically gave their lives, the activity on the ground, had it not been so deadly, reminded one of the Keystone Cops or a rerun of Dad’s Army.
Neither country is equipped to handle even a conventional strike, never mind a nuclear one. There are no bomb shelters, and no training has been imparted to their emergency teams or their population to deal with such a nightmare scenario. Hospitals, blood banks, trauma and burn centres, ambulances and fire fighters and lamentably ill equipped and understaffed. In an emergency or in the event of an attack, they would dismally fail to respond effectively.
To those that are in the habit of crowing “oy — we are a nuclear state!” let the plethora of television channels ratcheting up this war thing show the horrific newsreel footage of Hiroshima and Nagasaki — before and after they were bombed. Show the devastation of cities like Baghdad, Berlin, Saigon, London and even remote places like Tora Bora after they had been bombed. Anyone in their right mind will cringe at the abhorrent sight of their people being vaporised and maimed, their cities laid waste and nations as we know them obliterated.
A doomsday scenario? Read on.
Dr Asaf Durakovic, founder and director of Canada’s Uranium Medical Research Centre, sent a team to Afghanistan to interview and examine civilians in heavily bombed Nangarhar. This province, the BBC reported, had become “a strategic target zone for the deployment of a new generation of deep-penetrating ‘cave-busting’ and seismic shock warheads.”
The British broadcasters failed to mention that each of these new weapons was tipped with a deadly mix of non-depleted uranium.
Alerted to the “radioactive, toxic uranium alloys and hard-target uranium warheads used by the coalition forces”, the UMRC team started looking for radiation poisoning. What they found was, in their words, “astonishing” and “astounding”.
Identifying “several hundred people suffering from illnesses and conditions similar to those of Gulf veterans,” the team began administering tests. “Without exception, every person, donating urine specimens tested positive for uranium internal contamination,” UMRC reported. But the readings were off the scale of previous known DU exposures: The results were astounding: “the donors presented concentrations of toxic and radioactive uranium isotopes between 100 and 400 times greater than in the Gulf veterans tested in 1999.”
“A control group of three uncontaminated Afghans averaged 9.4 nanograms of uranium per litre of urine. The average for 17 randomly selected patients in Jalalabad, Kabul, Tora Bora and Mazar-i-Sharif was 315.5 nanograms. A 12-year-old boy living near Kabul displayed 2,031 nanograms.”
The maximum permissible level for members of the American public is 12 nanograms per litre.
Dr. Durakovic told the BBC he was “stunned” by the results. “I’m certainly not saying Afghanistan was a vast experiment with new uranium weapons. But use your common sense.”
It is that common sense that needs to germinate in the minds of people who speak of an armed response every time a suicide bomber or squad embarks on their deadly missions that threaten to plunge one-fifth of the human race in to a conflict that has all the ingredients of Armageddon.
Mahmud Sipra is a best selling author and an independent columnist. He can be reached at email@example.com
Boforsphobia, red tender tape bind Army
Manu Pubby Posted: Dec 18, 2008 at 0318 hrs IST
New Delhi: In 1999, when a brief but bloody battle was being fought to evict Pakistani intruders from strategic heights along the Line of Control, one of the most important lessons learnt was that the Army was woefully short when it came to artillery guns. The Government even had to make emergency purchases of ammunition from South Africa to arm the guns after Army stocks ran out.
A decade after the Kargil conflict, nothing seems to have changed. The Army has not received any new artillery gun in the last 20 years, three separate proposals to buy new guns have been stuck since 2000, the backbone of the Army’s air defence dates back to the Second World War and the Artillery regiment still depends on obsolete equipment that was designed in the 1950s.
“After the Kargil war, we decided we needed more 155 mm artillery guns. Till date, nothing has been added to the kitty. So we have made no progress on the artillery front,” says General (retd) VP Malik who commanded the Army during the Kargil conflict.
A flawed procurement procedure, government indecision and the ghosts of the Bofors scandal have hit the Army where it hurts the most.
The artillery, all experts agree, is the weakest point in India’s defence armour. The Army, warn military analysts, will be hard pressed to deploy enough guns even if a limited conflict broke out all along the LoC.
The issue is that despite lessons drawn from the Kargil conflict and the 2001 Op Parakram troop mobilisation, the Army has not acquired an edge that will back up efforts of “coercive diplomacy” in the wake of the Mumbai Terror attacks.
“In case a conventional war is fought, you need a decisive edge. Guns are the crux of the whole issue. What we haven’t got is the edge. You can’t talk about coercive diplomacy if you are at parity,” says former Army Chief General Shankar Roychowdhury.
And not without reason. The mainstay gun of the artillery is the Russian 130 mm M-46 that was due for replacement in the 1990s. The most advanced gun is the Bofors 155 mm Howitzer that was supposed to replace the M-46 but supplies stopped after it got embroiled in the scandal.
The problem lies in numbers. While 410 Bofors guns were purchased, less than 300 remain in active service after spare parts stopped coming in once the company was blacklisted by the government. The M-46 guns are being slowly upgraded by Soltham (Israel) but the results have not been very satisfactory. Pakistan, on the other hand, has bought 115 new 155 mm howitzers from the US under the War on Terror pact.
While the Army had planned replacements for these guns, all three procurement processes got stuck and delayed by a decade. The Army wanted to replace all its M-46 guns with new 155 mm howitzers. When a new tender was finally issued in 2001 after the Bofors scandal, it took six years of trials and evaluations for the Army to say that none of the contenders were good enough.
While there was buzz that the tender was cancelled because the Bofors again emerged as the best of the lot, the Ministry of Defence maintained that no contender qualified for the tenders. A new tender has been put out this year but the procurement process has been pushed back by a decade.
“This tendering, re-tendering and the phobia (of signing deals) is really crippling the Army. It is very disheartening that just because the name Bofors pops up, even if it performs well, things get dropped. We should get over the phobia,” says Gen Roychowdhury.
Other programmes, including one to procure 155 mm Self Propelled (Wheeled and Tracked) guns, have been stuck for close to a decade. While the tracked project got scrapped after eight years of joint development that started in 1999 after Denel was blacklisted, the Army was unable to find a suitable gun for the other tender.
This, after a Parliamentary panel told the Ministry of Defence in 2000 that it should speed trials and procure at least 120 self-propelled guns by 2002. But the guns are nowhere near procurement. A fresh tender has been issued this year, three years after the last procurement process was quashed.
Worse off than the Artillery is the Army’s Air Defence network. The network, set up to protect Army field formations and vital installations from air attack, still relies on guns that date back to the World War II. The Bofors L 40/70 guns that forms the backbone of the AAD are relegated to museums in most countries that used it till the 1980s and early 1990s.
While the guns have been modified, Gen Roychowdhury says it is a “laughable sight to see that the Bofors air defence guns, almost of WW II vintage, cosmetically modernised, still form the backbone of the Army Air Defence”. Despite the changed scenario in threat perception from the air and raising of new commands, the AD gun levels have remained constant over the past three decades.
Experts warn that India will have to pay a heavy price for this glaring “operational gap” in firepower in the event of any outbreak of conventional hostilities. Any conflict on the western border, the experts point out, will be a battle of attrition rather than invasion.
“With Pakistan making clear that its nuclear threshold is low, a deep manoeuvre into the country will be too great a risk. In such a case, victory will be achieved by destroying the war-making machinery of the country. For that we need firepower and we are not adequately prepared,” says Brigadier Gurmeet Kanwal, Director of the Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS) and a former artillery officer.
105 mm Indian field guns: In service for over 30 yrs, obsolete. Need replacement.
130 mm M-46: Backbone of artillery. Was due for replacement in ’90s. Being upgraded to 155 mm by Soltham as interim step, results not satisfactory
155 mm Bofors: 410 were purchased in the late 1980s, spare parts stopped after ban. Fewer than 300 in service
155 mm towed: Tenders in 2001, scrapped after 6 yrs. Fresh tendering on, will take 5 yrs
155 mm self-propelled (wheeled): Most firms rejected in 2005. Fresh tenders issued. Expect 5-yr delay
155 mm self-propelled (tracked): After 7-yr trial, Denel selected.
Pause after firm blacklisted; fresh tenders issued. Delayed by another five years
India, US trying to cripple ISI, says Pak media
18 Dec 2008, 0048 hrs IST, TNN
Most of Pakistan's English-language newspapers prominently reported that the ISI had been cleared of any involvement in the Mumbai terrorist attacks by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). According to Karachi-based Dawn, quoting diplomatic sources, FBI agents interrogated Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving terrorist for nine hours in Mumbai. They concluded that he was a Pakistan national but ISI was not involved.
Dawn quoted sources as saying investigators had also concluded that the attackers came from Pakistan. The plan was hatched in Pakistan and terrorists were provided training by Laskar-e-Taiba (LeT), according to the investigators, it said.
Coming out in strong defence of ISI and Pakistan's army establishment, The Frontier Post said in an editorial, "The Indians in cahoots with the Americans, and the British to some extent, are using this ruse to get at Pakistan's premier intelligence agency, ISI. The ruse referred to is the blaming of LeT, which is known to have had links with ISI since the days of the Afghan mujahideen. Their ultimate aim is, of course, the Pakistan army's pulverisation. But their immediate aim is to hobble ISI, the first line of Pakistan's defence apparatus.''
US senator John Kerry got flak from The News for delivering homilies on ISI to Pakistani government during his visit to Islamabad. Referring to his demand that ISI should be made accountable to the civilian government, the paper said, "Given the US role in undermining democratic rule in Pakistan and other nations since the 1950s, in favour of military dictatorships, and the use of secret agencies to destabilise civilian setups, it takes cheek to demand this.''
Meanwhile, the Dawn reported that LeT vowed on Tuesday to continue its armed struggle against India over Kashmir and it repeated the group's denial that it was behind the Mumbai carnage. "Lashkar has no links with Al Qaida and Taliban. Our group is active in Kashmir to end India's illegal occupation,'' Let spokesman Abdullah Ghaznavi was quoted as saying in a telephonic interview from Srinagar.
In an opinion piece in the Nation, former IGP Ghulam Asghar Khan, launched a broadside against former president Pervez Musharraf. He quoted Musharraf telling a US interviewer that the present government was not tough with the terrorists inside Pakistan thereby implicitly confirming that the Mumbai terrorists were from Pakistan.
An editorial in the Urdu daily, Roznama Ausaf, while lauding prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani's assertion that Pakistan will give a befitting reply if its sovereignty is threatened, writes, "This is the same country which, despite being militarily weaker, had handed a stunning defeat to a much powerful army.'' It said whether it's a fight with tanks or a cricket match, Pakistanis live under a mortal fear of getting defeated.
The daily Jinnah, reporting on president Asif Ali Zardari's meeting with different political parties on the national security, said Zardari assured the political forces in Pakistan that his country would not seek any pardon from India. Zardari also said that, as a nuclear-armed state, Pakistan would behave as a responsible country, but would not budge under any pressure, the report added.
‘ISI agent’ from Pak held in Lucknow
Lucknow, December 17
A suspected ISI agent, hailing from Pakistan, was arrested and sensitive documents related to Army seized from his possession near Charbagh railway station here, the police said today.
Additional director-general (law and order) Brijlal of the Uttar Pradesh Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) told reporters here, arrested Abdul Jabbar, alias Sikandar, a resident of Pakistani port city of Karachi, last night.
“Maps of restrict cantonment area in Lucknow and secret information regarding central command were recovered from Sikandar,” he said.
Pakastani Military Intelligence (MI) trained Sikandar for spying about establishments of Navy, Army and Air Force in India and pass on information to his bosses in Pakistan through Internet and telephone, he alleged.
Brijlal said the arrested spy was involved in drugs trade in Karachi and was contacted by MI in 2007 to work for them and he was subsequently given nine-month training in Pakistan.
“The Pakistani MI official used to bear expenses of family members of Sikandar, who was sent to India through (Kathmandu) Nepal, where he landed on November 15 last month through air route,” Brijlal said, adding that he was given fake Indian currency notes and provided help by MI officials.
Sikandar had visited India three-four times before as also several Asian countries, he said, adding the ATS had applied for remand of the agent to elicit more information from him about his other aides.
Brijlal said besides the ATS, other intelligence agencies would also interrogate Sikandar.
Asked about his links with those involved in the recent terror attack in Mumbai, Brijlal said that no such clue was found in the investigations so far.
“Sikandar was in India on a long-term plan and he wanted to stay here to collect vital information by getting fake documents prepared in his name,” Brijlal said.
A photocopy of his passport, carrying a Gujarat address, was recovered from his possession, he said, adding that on verification the address was found to be fake.
Besides this, a mobile, fake Indian currency notes in the face value of Rs 9 lakh, maps of Lucknow Cantt area and some information about central command and Rs 1,500 in cash were also recovered from him, he added.
After coming to Lucknow on December 11-12, Sikandar was trying to make a base here, he said but did not elaborate saying investigation was on. The arrested person was also involved in making fake passports in Pakistan, he said. — PTI
An ADC’s extended tenure at Raj Bhawan ends
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, December 17
Punjab Governor and UT administrator Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd) is about to lose his confidant ADC Major Nirvikar Singh. In his four-year tenure, Nirvikar became very close to Rodrigues and served him with dedication. However, it looks like that his extended tenure at Raj Bhawan is over as he is all set to go on yet another deputation. He is likely to take up his new assignment in the second week of January.
The move as such may appear innocuous but Rodrigues seems to have gone out of the way to facilitate Nirvikar’s deputation since Army rules clearly state that the tenure of an ADC will be strictly for two years following which he will “revert” to his regiment.
However, in Nirvikar’s case, he will be on an Extra Regimental Employment (ERE) for almost six consecutive years — four spent already at Raj Bhawan and now at least two more at his new deputation.
Nirvikar’s original stint at Raj Bhawan was to be for two years but thanks to Rodrigues he got an extension for two years. With his second tenure coming to an end now, it was expected that he would return to his regiment but he has again managed another deputation.
According to sources, as per the policy of posting of officers who have done a tenure as an ADC, they have to be “reverted” to their regiments after completion of 12 or more months. The rules clearly state, “the tenure of appointment as an ADC will be strictly for two years in the case of civil dignitaries unless extended by the government under exceptional circum1stances”.
The rules also state that after the completion of his authorised tenure, an ADC should generally be reverted to regimental employment in terms of Para 91 of the DSR and therefore, cannot normally be considered for a staff/ERE tenure in conjunction with his tenure as an ADC. The rules states that after reversion, an officer will return to regimental duties for period not normally less than two years.
Nirvikar has managed these ERE tenures needs no guesses since his proximity to the Governor is well known. Nirvikar confirmed that his deputation to the Centre had been cleared but maintained that no rules had been bent. He said rules provided for such ERE tenures, albeit in exceptional circumstances.
India asks Pakistan to Honor Anti-Terror Pledge
With Pakistan denying any link with the Mumbai attacks, India Wednesday intensified pressure on Pakistan to honor the anti-terror pledge given by two of its presidents and asked Islamabad to back expressions of intent with action.
“Mere intentions or expressions of intention is not adequate,” External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters here on the sidelines of a function organized by a business body.
“We expect Pakistan to act as per old commitments given by two presidents,” Mukherjee said.
He was referring to the Jan 6, 2004 joint statement in which then Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf pledged not to allow Pakistani territory to be used for launching terror attacks against India. This pledge formed the basis of the resumption of the peace process between the two countries which was stalled after the Dec 13, 2001 attack on the Indian parliament for which New Delhi blamed Pakistan-based terrorist groups.
The pledge was reiterated again by President Asif Ali Zardari in a joint statement Sept 24, 2008 when he met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
“I explained to them in my speaking note on Nov 28 and in subsequent demarche (Dec 1) what we expect them to do,” he said while alluding to India's formal representation to Pakistan asking it to act against anti-terror outfits based in Pakistani territory and to return 40 fugitives from Indian law who are wanted in various criminal and terrorist activities.
“Pakistan is obliged to implement UNSC resolutions,” he said when asked why Pakistan is not implementing UNSC resolution declaring Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba, a terrorist outfit and declaring four of its leaders terrorists subject to assets freeze and travel ban.
Addressing a press conference in Srinagar Tuesday, Mukherjee had asked Pakistan to fulfil its anti-terror pledge by dismantling the infrastructure of terrorism and renewed calls for returning 40 people wanted by New Delhi for various crimes and terrorist activities.
He also made it clear that bilateral relations would not be normal until Islamabad takes “credible action” against terrorists operating from its soil. Mukherjee asked Islamabad to show its seriousness by handing over Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar, suspected of plotting the Dec 13, 2001 attack on the Indian parliament.
Mukherjee's remarks underscored growing exasperation in India at Pakistan's perceived “tokenism” in taking action against terrorists and terrorist outfits that New Delhi believes are linked to the Mumbai terror attacks.
Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousaf Gilani, however, said that his government has taken action against JuD following the recommendations of the UN Security Council Committee that imposed sanctions against certain leaders of the outfit.
He said that schools and mosques belonging to JuD will be opened after primary investigations. However, the accounts and offices of JuD will remain under government control.
Denying any link with the Mumbai attacks, Pakistan has demanded evidence from India and offered a joint probe into the attacks. New Delhi has contended that it has overwhelming evidence linking Pakistan-based elements to the attacks and will share evidence after the investigations are complete.
Gilani Wednesday also reiterated his government's offer to cooperate with India in investigating the Mumbai attacks and to resume early the peace dialogue with India.
Chairing a cabinet meeting to discuss India-Pakistan tension following the Mumbai attacks, the prime minister briefed the cabinet on the talks the government have had with American, British and other international leaders on the situation.
"The prime minister has said that the international community... stands by Pakistan in its offer of cooperation to India for investigating the Mumbai attacks," a participant at the meeting told IANS.
The officials from the foreign and defence ministries also briefed the cabinet on Pakistani preparedness to fight any aggression, the source said.
He said the prime minister was confident that India will not go for any offensive but "if it does, Pakistan is capable of defending itself against any aggressions".
He said that the cabinet also discussed "Indian demands, measures taken by Pakistan to ease tension and visits of world leaders in Pakistan".
We Need One Common Central Body
to Recruit Police Personnel
By Sanjiv Kataria
The manner in which the new home minister (P. Chidambaram) went about his Mumbai visit on Dec 5 convinces one that things are in for a big change. His honesty of purpose, resolute desire for action and empathy for families of those who lost their lives in the tragedy is visible to me as an ordinary citizen. A week later, on Dec 11, he made a passionate plea to the country's lawmakers to respect policemen.
As an ordinary citizen, I am also convinced that different wings of the security forces involved with internal security will learn from the recent events in Mumbai (26/11 terror strike) and begin to act with greater coordination. Admissions have been made that those responsible for lapses will not have an opportunity to repeat their mistakes.
That many steps are being taken to upgrade the weapons and security infrastructure in the country is also apparent from the alacrity with which some of the pending proposals have been cleared.
The third area that needs urgent attention is the issue of human resources.
It's an admittedly gargantuan task. One that will involve training of existing forces, fresh induction in adequate numbers, and a proper reward and compensation structure for the internal security forces.
The biggest challenge facing induction of fresh talent in the security forces is India's federal structure that gives a great deal of autonomy to the states to set their own standards and benchmarks while recruiting personnel.
To add to this, the newspapers are replete with stories detailing mass scale suspension of recruitments done by previous chief ministers. Imagine a north Indian state chief minister sacking 18,000 of the 20,000 policemen hired in 2007, just because they had been recruited by the previous regime. This kind of action needs to stop forthwith.
We need one common central body to recruit police personnel based on requests by state governments.
The recruitment standards for police personnel have to move well beyond the current criteria of minimum physical fitness standards, educational qualifications, knowledge of English and one or more Indian languages and computers.
We need to entrust the task of testing and interviewing candidates to a UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) kind of body that may take the help of professional computer-based testing agencies like the ones that conduct tests for GMAT or GRE.
Psychological tests can be a great tool in weeding out any abnormal criminal tendencies, schizophrenia and customer unfriendly behavior traits.
The idea is to make the entry to the police forces totally professional and free of any pulls, pressure and caste considerations.
The earlier we embark on this task of right hiring, right skilling of the forces, the better it will be.
The stature, reward and compensation structure of security forces have to improve significantly to attract the best talent. If India wants to be protected by smart, intelligent security forces, it must respect them and pay a premium for attracting talent.
(Sanjiv Kataria is a strategic communications counsel. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org).
Security cover a status symbol for many politicians
NO THREAT: Intelligence sources say that many politicians don't need any security.
New Delhi: Indian politicians believe that a red beacon light on their cars and high security are the status symbols of power.
But with anger against politicians on the rise following the Mumbai terror attack is it time for our leaders to shed their security paraphernalia.
Many lesser known politicians like BL Joshi, RL Bhatia, Brij Bushan Sharan, Promod Tiwari are according to the government in the list of 250 politicians who enjoy Z plus security.
Z plus security means 20 men including six National Security Guard (NSG) Black Cats protecting them and three vehicles dedicated for their safety.
Joshi and Bhatia are low profile politicians who have enjoyed various stints as governors of state while Tiwari is the Congress Legislative Party leader in Uttar Pradesh Assembly.
Sharan has a slightly more interesting CV. He is an ex-Bharatiya Janata Party MP who defected to the Samajwadi Party during the July 22 trust vote in Parliament and has the dishonour of having several criminal cases against him.
Sajjan Kumar, Sachin Pilot and former Human Resource Department minister Murali Manohar Joshi, too, are some leaders who enjoy Z plus security without any apparent reason.
"Security must be provided according to the threat perception. That is the only principal behind it," says Murali Manohar Joshi.
Intelligence sources say that out of the list of VIPs at least 30 per cent of those being protected don't need security and, 50 per cent can do with lighter security.
A case in point is Samajwadi Party General Secretary Amar Singh. There was a supposed threat perception to his life when he decided to vote for the United Progressive Alliance Government and so his security was upgraded to Z plus in exchange for the vote.
"Money is wasted on VIP security. I am not telling it is bad but if that money can used for security to the citizen," says a young girl while a middle aged man adds, "When we give security cover to VIPs we tend to over do it because they use 10-20 guards."
Even though there are politicians who face a threat to their lives and need to be protected, but for most of them the red beacon light and body guards are status symbols which they don't need or deserve.
On the other hand more than 500 people have died in terror attacks this year alone.
It is perhaps time for the government to prioritise citizen safety over a politicians' ego. It is time to rationalize VIP security.
IAF reactivates airbase near Delhi, deploys MIG-29s
READY FOR ACTION: A MIG-29 readies to take off from the Hindon airbase on Wednesday.
New Delhi: The Indian Air Force (IAF) has deployed MiG-29 fighter aircraft at the Hindon airbase in Ghaziabad on the outskirts of Delhi following escalation of tensions between India and Pakistan.
The deployment of fighter aircraft at the Hindon airbase follows the heightened threat of an aerial attack on New Delhi.
MiG-29s have been deployed at Delhi's doorsteps after over a decade after the Hindon airbase on the outskirts of Delhi was reactivated for fighter flying for the first time since 1997.
With intelligence reports of an heightened threat of an aerial attack on new Delhi, the fighters have been deployed to intercept and shoot down any rogue aircraft which may slip past the conventional air defence.
"The Hindon is in close proximity of Delhi and its a military base. So the proximity factor is very much there and it helps," Air Marshal (retired) VK Bhatia says.
The deployment of the MiG-29s at Hindon is one of the symbols of escalation of military tensions with Pakistan following the terror attacks at Mumbai and will be the last line of defence against a high-impact, 9/11 kind of an air attack on Delhi.
Deployment at Hindon airbase will cut the IAF's response time in scrambling fighters for the defence of Delhi by 10 minutes, which could prove crucial in foiling an attack.
Presently, fighters have to be activated from bases as far away as Ambala. Also, every single base in the region has been put on a level of alert which makes it possible for a fighter aircraft to be airborne within two minutes.
But there is still no guarantee of foolproof defence against a terror attack from the air.
"Any terrorist who is not afraid to die can penetrate any security system,"
Air Marshal (retired) VK Bhatia cautions.
Any further attack on India will put tremendous pressure on the government to come up with a military response.
With sources indicating similar war-time alerts in Pakistan, the mandate of the MiG-29s on Delhi's doorstep is to prevent such a provocation, which could lead to a war-like situation.
Army ready for any eventuality, says Antony
PTI | December 17, 2008 | 15:13 IST
With Intelligence inputs warning of a possible aerial terror attack, Defence Minister A K Antony today said the armed forces were ready to take on any future threats against the country.
"We are ready for any eventuality," Antony told reporters while replying to a question on the sidelines of a function to honour war widows in New Delhi.
Asked if the armed forces were ready to tackle ballistic missile threat from any rogue countries, the minister replied in the affirmative.
On the delay in resolving pay commission issues raised by the armed forces, Antony said an amicable solution was almost ready.
"It is almost there," he added.
Speaking about the efforts to locate the armed forces personnel who had gone missing during wars, Antony said the government was still looking for them and has taken up the issue with Pakistan.
"We have not abandoned our efforts to find out the where abouts of the missing soldiers. It is still a problem for us. We had taken up the issue with Pakistan but they did not allow us to visit all the places. We will do everything to find out these missing soldiers," he said.
The minister announced that the government was planning to finalise a policy for the welfare of the ex-servicemen and their families.
"We are in the final stages of finalising the policy for the ex-servicemen and we want to ensure the best care of ex-servicemen and war widows," he said.
Improve ties with Bangladesh
by Lt Gen (retd) O.P. Kaushik
Conservative estimates indicate there are about two crore Bangladesh illegal immigrants in various states in India. The most adversely affected are the bordering states of West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura. Large pockets of five to ten lakh Bangla-deshis are reported to be in Mumbai and Delhi and substantial numbers in cities of Rajasthan. The daily influx of Bangladeshis is 500-1,000 into West Bengal, Tripura and Assam.
Reasons for the illegal immigration are mostly economic. A large population, under development, lack of cultivable land and job opportunities in Bangladesh pressurise the poor to migrate and make their living by settling in the large fertile land of north-eastern states of India in general and Assam in particular.
West Bengal is attractive since it allows illegal migrants to merge with the local population due to cultural, ethnic and linguistic similarities.
Frequent natural calamities in Bangladesh are also instrumental for the drift of people into Indian territories where protection and safety are comparatively better. Further, illegal immigration continues since support from the already settled illegal migrants exists in India.
Bangladesh has become a natural base for Pakistan to foment trouble in the north-eastern states and ISI agents are already active from Bangladesh territory.
Further, Bangladesh provides safe sanctuaries/camps to virtually fall insurgent groups. The unchecked influx of illegal immigrants facilitates the movement of anti-national elements.
This scenario suits Pakistan’s long-term designs of destabilising India through this low-cost option. Towards this end, Pakistan’s intention will be to create a Kashmir-like situation for which the migratory population from Bangladesh is likely to be utilised.
Illegal immigrants, in the garb of a floating population, are likely to acquire useful information about vital installations and may act as sleeper agents to be activated during conflicts with an adversary. They may also indulge in fifth columnist activities.
Due to economic, social and cultural backwardness, illegal immigrants are prone to criminal activities, thereby disrupting the social fabric. Besides depriving locals of their jobs, they are also a drain on the Indian economy and thus have become an instrument of great social tension.
There is an absolute necessity to seek active and effective cooperation of Bangladesh to prevent the influx of illegal migration from that country. Their economy needs to pick up and India should provide as much help as possible in starting joint economic ventures in that country.
We should also encourage Indian private sector for investment in Bangladesh so as to create opportunities in terms of employment and earning within Bangladesh itself. The private investor will certainly need an assurance and insurance from both the governments for the safety and security of their investment.
Adverse effects of polarisation of their society on ethnic and communal lines are now obvious to Bangladesh people under which prosperous Hindu employers were forced to flee from Bangladesh
Joint ventures with a security guarantee from both countries will be a welcome step under the present conditions. Pro-duction of gas, oil, consumer goods, cheap meat, fish, jute, tea and trans-border communications are some of the suggested fields for joint collaboration.
Pakistan needs to be isolated from Bangladesh. This is possible by developing very close bonds of friendship and understanding and signing treaties and agreements on issues of common interest with Bangladesh. Regular consultations on international matters to develop a common approach should be formalised.
We have a stake in every development/activity in Bangladesh and therefore, strong contacts at the government and private sector levels should be built in the political, economic, social and cultural fields.
In fact, stakes of mutuality of interest are so high that we must build a treaty organisation with Bangladesh in matters of defence, security and economic matters.
These agreements will enable
economic, joint operations to be conducted against ISI/insurgent camps inside Bangladesh and prevent Bangladesh from falling into the lap of countries like Pakistan.
The issue of work permits to Bangladesh citizens to work in India should be tried out to contain and control the menace of illegal migration. At least, it will provide us a check mechanism which must have a renewal clause so as to deny permission to doubtful cases. It will also check infiltration by ISI agents as permits will be subject to verification of personal particulars.
There is an inescapable need for effective border management. For this, we must fence the entire border along Bangladesh, not withstanding their objections. These measures have been partially implemented on the West Bengal-Bangladesh border, but remain a non-starter along the international borders in Meghalaya, Assam and Tripura.
Areas up to 10 km along the border on own side should be designated as a no-man’s-land. There should be selective deployment of the Army along the no-man’s-land in addition to police posts on the border. I am not suggesting depopulating these areas.
There is an immediate need to prepare fresh census rolls and keep these updated regularly. Identity cards should be issued to the population staying along the international border.
The writer is a former Chief of Staff of the Eastern Army and Vice-Chancellor of Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak.
India falters on submarine induction plan
by Ajay Banerjee
A terse set of warnings by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) on Indian naval submarines has startled the country’s thinking class and exposed the nation’s incapability in carrying around an ageing undersea fleet. When compared with China — a major threat in the adjacent waters — the Indian fleet is no match for its sheer size. All this even as China needs to patrol a much smaller coastline than India.
The CAG has said “the number of submarines with the Indian Navy was way below the required level” and, secondly, it says: “Some of the vessels have outlived their maximum life”. All this will hamper operational preparedness.
The CAG had reviewed the Navy’s functioning and reported to the Rajya Sabha a few weeks ago. It goes on to say “with serious slippages in the induction plan, the Navy is left with an aging fleet”.
The shocker was that more than half of the 16 submarines owned by India have completed their 75 per cent of the operational life.
India operates all the machines on diesel while China, that is now touted to posses the second largest submarine force behind the US, has several nuclear-powered vessels in its fleet.
These are virtually noiseless and operate without being detected. At the last count the Chinese had 65 subs of various types and the number is expected to go up to 95-100 by 2015.
Actually, the induction plan of submarines is the one area where India had faltered badly in the past two decades or so, says a serving officer. The author of the Navy’s 30 years future plan, Vice Admiral A.K. Singh (retd), says even in building the now under-construction Scorpene submarine we are late by at least seven years.
By now we should be building at least one submarine a year. Ideally, India needs anywhere between 24 and 30 conventional submarines that should have the “air independent propulsion system” which allows a sub to be under water for 10-15 days at a stretch. Pakistan already has such a vessel. Conventional subs have to resurface once after 24-28 to “breathe” and this exposes them to the enemy, he explains.
India’s shortcoming in submarine building was aptly summed up by Jean-Marie Poimboeuf, Chairman-cum-CEO of the French company, Direction des Constructions Navales Services (DCNS), that is jointly building the six Scorpene subs with India. After holding a meeting with Mazagon Docks Limited in July, he told the media: “We are training technicians from scratch. There has been no experience in the past as India has not made a boat in the past 20 years.”
Poimboeuf had a point. The last submarine built in India was in the late 1980s when under licence two German HDW submarines were built at Mazagon Docks.
The CAG in its report says either the construction plan of inducting the Scorpene submarines should be speeded up or fresh acquisitions be done immediately to tide over the shortage.
The first of the six subs is expected to be inducted in 2012. By then 63 per cent of the existing fleet of 16 would have completed its prescribed life, points out the CAG report.
Vice Admiral A.K. Singh says total indegenisation of submarine building should have been concluded by 2012-13 and here we will be inducting the first one in 2012. Acquisition of some vessels may be required. The CAG has also suggested that the ministry should take immediate steps to acquire or construct new submarines in accordance with the Navy’s submarine construction plan.
The CAG goes on to say that for the Navy that is aspiring to have vast operating capabilities, submarines are a crucial element in attacking surface and sub-surface enemy vessels and landing to teams for intelligence gathering.
The submarine arm of the navy was functioning without a deep submergence rescue vessel. The Navy, however, has a tie-up with the USA that will provide a fly away kit within 24 hours in case of any mishap.
The missile firing capabilities on three submarines are functioning at sub-optimal levels. This was blamed on the erratic performance of “inertial navigational system of navigational complex”. This was procured at a cost of Rs 108 crore.
Between January 2002 and December 2006 the average availability of submarines was only 48 per cent. Also the submarine operating standards should be achieved.
The delay, however, has a small silver lining. This means the Navy will now have a generational leap as the new submarines will have the very latest in sensors on board armaments and stealth capabilities and also nuclear-powered subs.
Every nation has an army, Pakistani army has a nation
Pakistani establishments have acquired great tenacity to strongly believe their own bluffs even in the face of unquestionable proof. President Asif Ali Zardari's first statement that the sole surviving Mumbai terrorist is not a Pakistani to another statement of Foreign Minister that there is no proof against Jamaat ud Dawa proves the point.
The unmasking came in the form of an interview to the Pakistani Dawn newspaper by Amir Kasab, the father of Ajmal Amir Iman alias Ajmal Qasab, the lone Pakistani gunman arrested for the Mumbai terror attacks. The old man, a father of three sons and two daughters, from Faridkot in Okara district of Punjab in Pakistan, has unequivocally admitted that the captured terrorist, whose pictures were beamed across the world, was indeed his son.
Earlier, Britain's Observer correspondent had located Iman's home in Faridkot, Pakistan and got hold of the voters' roll which had the names of his parents Amir Kasab and Noor as well as the numbers on the national identity cards. BBC had also reported that Iman is indeed belonged to Faridkot and had joined the Lashkar-e-Taiba sometime ago.
Iman also revealed to Indian security personnel the identity of his nine other slain gunmen and their addresses in Pakistan. Despite all the accumulated evidence, Pakistani leaders, its expert commentators on electronic media and its diplomatic staff around the globe went to the town to prove that the terrorists are not Pakistanis but Indians. They shamelessly called the heinous terrorist attack as the handiwork of Hindu extremists or Indian Muslims or could be RAW or CIA.
Now, the UN Security Council has succeeded in placing not only Jamaat ud Dawa, the front organization of the Lashkar-e-Taiba on the list of terrorist groups but also four of its top leadership, including its chief Hafiz ul Mohammed Saeed. The earlier attempts by the UNSC to do so for the past three years failed as China conveniently came to the rescue of this terrorist organization by putting a "hold" on the resolution.
Hafiz ul Saeed demanded proof for he ever heading the Lashkar-e-Taiba or he ever promoting terrorism and jehadism. Had he cared to re-read the publications of the organization he is heading he would have got all the proof he needed.
Addressing a press conference in Lahore on December 24, 2001, Hafiz Saeed announced his resignation and the appointment of Maulana Abdul Wahid Kashmiri as the new LeT chief, stated the magazine, Jamaat ud Dawa. He made this announcement soon after the US State Departent had designated the Lashkar-e-Taiba a foreign terrorist organization, and a few weeks before the then President Musharraf was forced to ban the group on January 13, 2002.
Jamaat-ud-Dawa published in its April 10 edition an address by Hafiz ul Sayeed to convocation of students, where he proudly announced that his organization has sacrificed 4500 youth for the Jihadi cause and that preparation for Jihad was a must. He urged students to pray to God so that they could have a chance to sacrifice their lives for Jihad.
According the US Treasury Department, Hafiz Saeed "in 2005, personally determined where graduates of an LeT camp in Pakistan should be sent to fight and personally organised the infiltration of LET militants into Iraq during a trip to Saudi Arabia."
Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi, who was one of the four Lashkar leaders placed on UN Security Council list of terrorists, was the supreme commander who had coordinated the Mumbai terrorist attacks and guided the gunmen on the action to be taken while they were holding the hostages. As Lashkar's chief of operations. Lakhvi has directed LeT military operations including in Chechnya, Bosnia, Iraq and southeast Asia. Lakhvi was born to Hafiz Aziz-ur-Rahman, a cleric linked to the neoconservative Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadis, on December 30, 1960. He lives in Chika 18L of the village of Rinala Khurd, in Okara—the same south Punjab district from where Mohammad Ajmal Amir Iman, the terrorist arrested in the course of last month's massacre in Mumbai, grew up.
Mahmoud Bahaziq, another Lashkar leader to be declared a terrorist, is a Saudi citizen of Indian origin. He is considered the main financier of the LeT and its activities in the 1980s and 1990s and coordinated LeT's fundraising activities with Saudi non-governmental organisations and Saudi businessmen. He is allegedly the brain behind recruiting Indian expatriate Muslims in Arab countries, particularly in Saudi Arabia, and sending them to Pakistan for training and subsequently launching them into terrorist activities in India.
Haji Mohammad Ashraf has assisted the expansion of the LeT in Saudi Arabia and Iraq and coordinating the terror activities there. Ashraf was born on March 1, 1965, and holds Pakistani passport.
Producing evidence to prove the culpability of Pakistan-based terrorist groups and their handlers in the military establishment is not an issue. There is enough now on Mumbai attacks. There was enough evidence of the involvement of Pak military establishment and Lashkar elements in the attack on Indian mission in Kabul in which two senior diplomats were killed besides several others.
The problem is that Pakistani military leadership views the Jehadi groups as their first line of offence and defence and the most effective weapon to bleed India, while maintaining its deniability. The 1999 Kargil war, designed and executed by the former Army chief and President Musharraf, clearly established this strategy. The Northern Areas Scouts, a wing of the Pakistani army, were sent as part of the jehadi groups. President Zardari himself is a victim of the jehadi outfits that the Pakistani army and ISI gave birth and nourished to an uncontrollable giant.
Enjoying "tea" at a Pakistani restaurant in Brussels, Belgium, this journalist, Tejinder Singh was told by Cheema Saheb, Head Chef citing something he heard on a TV talk-show: "Every nation has an army while Pakistani army has a nation."
The day the political leadership tames the army, that day augurs well for Pakistani people and their status in the international community. Until that happens, the world community will have to do the dirty work of corking up these "middle age" mammals.