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Sunday, 25 January 2009

From Today's Papers - 25 Jan 09



















Antony, not Ansari, for R-Day
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 24
Defence Minister AK Antony will perform all customary duties of the Prime Minister during Republic Day, the government said today.

This clears the confusion over the issue as it was expected that senior ministers would carry out several tasks of the Prime Minister in his absence and Antony was one among them. Yesterday it had been announced that Vice- President Hamid Ansari would discharge the PM’s ceremonial role on Republic Day.

The Defence Minister will lead the nation in paying homage to the martyrs by laying a wreath at the India Gate before the parade begins and step in for the Prime Minister for the functions related to Republic Day.

In the absence of Prim Minister Manmohan Singh, who has undergone a coronary bypass surgery, Antony will also receive President Pratibha Patil and Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who is the chief guest for this year’s celebrations, when they arrive at the Rajpath.

Antony will also preside over the annual rally of the National Cadet Corps (NCC) on January 28. Traditionally, the Prime Minister presides over the parade. Antony will also host the tea party for the cadres and tableaux artistes at Teen Murti Bhawan in the evening.

Since Republic Day events are the Defence Ministry functions, it is normal for the Defence Minister to perform the role in the absence of the Prime Minister.

US to Deploy 20,000 Marines to Afghanistan: Commander

Washington
The US military is to deploy about 20,000 Marines to Afghanistan in six to eight months, a senior military officer has said.

"The time is right for Marines to leave Iraq," Marine Commandant James Conway told reporters here, adding that the deployment is a result of troop withdrawal from Iraq.

The Pentagon had earlier said that it was planning to send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, where Taliban and other extremist militants revived and obtained strength in the past 18 months.

Currently, there are approximately 33,000 US troops, including 2,200 Marines. A total of 142,000 US troops are stationed in Iraq, including more than 20,000 Marines.

According to Conway, Marines "have been steadily removing equipment from theater in Iraq" and will get the rest of equipment out of Iraq in next six to eight months.

However, he cautioned that deployment of too many Marines to Afghanistan could jeopardize Marines' ability to resume training in vital areas, and he hoped that the number would be "20,000 or less".

President Barack Obama has asked the Pentagon to draw options to end the Iraq war, including a plan to withdraw all combat troops from Iraq in the first 16 months of his presidency, and shift resources to Afghanistan.

SOTN: 24 pc Indians want war with Pak over 26/11

CNN-IBN

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MOOD OF INDIA: CNN-IBN survey by CSDS reveals the State of the Nation.

New Delhi: It has been almost two months since the terrorist attacks in Mumbai that shook the entire nation and led to huge public anger against the system.

So what is the mood of the nation on the issue of terror? What do they want the government to do now? How should Pakistan be dealt with?

Now a CNN-IBN-Hindustan Times State of the Nation survey conducted by Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) reveals that only one in every four Indians see war with Pakistan as a solution. The survey was conducted across 882 locations in 18 states.

The public outrage after the Mumbai terror attacks may have died down but is the anger still there and who is it directed against?

When asked to cite the main reason behind repeated terror attacks, 44 per cent of the over 3,000 respondents blamed weak internal security.

While 36 per cent felt that the Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance Government took the right steps during the Mumbai attacks, 31 per cent were of the opinion that the government did not do enough.

Apart from the government, the media's role during the Mumbai attacks has also come in for sharp criticism from some quarters.

But interestingly the survey shows that almost half the respondents feel that the media behaved responsibly and did a good job. Only 19 per cent blamed TV news channels for sensationalising the coverage.

While the Indian government insists that Pakistan's official agencies were behind the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, the opinion of the average Indian on the issue seems to be split down the middle with 33 per cent blaming the Pakistani government for the attacks but an equally high 34 per cent feel that the Pakistani state may have had no control over the attackers.

On the question of how should India should deal with Pakistan, 24 per cent want a military solution, 22 per cent favour a dialogue and 23 per cent want India to put international pressure on it.

About 42 per cent of the respondents oppose the idea of India and Pakistan fighting terror together.

The survey also shows that the Mumbai terrorist attacks seem to have brought Indians closer together. When asked whether religion and terrorism were linked, almost the half the respondents said no.

NSG can get aircraft from any operator during crisis

IANS

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GETTING WINGS: NSG can now ask airlines, including private ones, to place one or more aircraft at its disposal.

New Delhi: Learning from the November 26 Mumbai terror attacks, the Government has authorised the National Security Guard (NSG), India's main anti-terrorism crackforce, to requisition aircraft from any operator during a crisis.

The announcement came a day after the Home Ministry notification making it mandatory for any airline operator including private operators in India to hand over aircraft to the Government to meet emergency situations.

"In the context of recent incidents in Mumbai, the power to commandeer an aircraft for quick movement of the troops/contingents came to the focus. Presently, while NSG can commandeer an aircraft for a counter hijack operation, there is no provision for requisitioning an aircraft from a commercial operator for an anti-terrorist operation for troops movement," the ministry explained in a release on Saturday.

After the terrorist strikes in Mumbai on the night November 26, the NSG commandos from Delhi could reach the key targets only seven hours later. The delay could have been avoided, if senior officials were empowered to requisition aircraft from any operator.

"Till now there was no such provision for anti-terrorist operations," the ministry said.

With the new rules in place, NSG will be able to get an aircraft at short notice to move its commandos for critical operations anywhere in the country.

The NSG can now ask airlines, including private ones, to place one or more aircraft at its disposal to meet emergency situations.

The Civil Aviation Ministry on Friday issued a notification in this regard to the airlines.

"The aircraft operator will be required to provide the aircraft with crew, maintenance personnel and all materials that would be necessary for operating an aircraft for public service," it said.

"As per the notification, the Government would pay the expenses incurred in the aircraft operation to the operator in accordance with the Aircraft Act 1934," it added.

Pakistan indirectly supported 26/11 attackers, says Navy chief

PTI | January 22, 2009 | 14:46 IST

The Mumbai carnage could not have been carried out without indirect support from 'professional organisations' in Pakistan, Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta said in Mumbai on Thursday.

"Of course there is indirect support.....some professional organisations could be involved," he said when asked if the terrorists had received assistance from Pakistani state agencies.

"How do you learn to do what you are doing? How do you get the infrastructure you need for this kind of thing," the admiral asked.

"Those are all issues where some professional organisations could be involved," he said after commissioning the navy's first helicopter base, INS Shikra, in the city.

Even if the terrorists who participated in the attacks were non-state actors, as claimed by Pakistan, they were still the responsibility of that state, he said.

"Pakistanis have been saying...that there is no state agency that is involved. These are non-state actors who have got the job done. Whatever that be, the fact of the matter remains that non-state actors emanating from a state become the responsibility of the state," he said.

Mehta also said that there had been no additional deployment of forces by the Navy in the western sector following the terror strikes.

"The level of alertness is always high and our forces are always ready," he said, adding there were ships on duty on the western seafront of the country but no orders increasing the state of alert had been given.

Following the terror attacks, there were multiple organisational issues being discussed in order to improve co-ordination among the country's various security agencies, Mehta said.

A Tribune Special
Civil services: The blunted edge
Asst Editor V. Eshwar Anand examines the Moily Commission’s prescription for reforms

As the nation is decked with festoons and tricolour to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Republic Day tomorrow, all is not well with the Indian bureaucracy. The steel frame has become brittle and is riddled with sloth, indifference and inefficiency. There is virtually no accountability in the system.

The Second Administrative Reforms Commission, in its tenth report under the title, Refurbishing of Personnel Administration: Scaling New Heights, has recommended wide-ranging reforms to make the administrative system responsive. Some of the reform proposals are not new. These were raised in 2004 soon after Dr Manmohan Singh took over as the Prime Minister. At several seminars, he has been emphasising the need to pull the civil services out of inertia and goad the officers to perform.

A significant recommendation of the Commission, headed by Mr M. Veerappa Moily, its Chairman, is the need to weed out the deadwood after periodic review of the civil servants’ performance. Few can differ with this view. Job security and time-scale promotions have made our bureaucrats too lethargic. The present system is such that even a non-performing bureaucrat automatically gets promoted to the next higher rank and pay oblivious of its deleterious impact on the administrative system and the quality of governance.

If the government accepts the Moily report in toto, a civil servant can no longer ensconce himself in the seat until superannuation. The Commission wants an officer to be appointed initially for a period of 20 years with scope for extension after due assessment. It has proposed two intensive reviews, one after 14 years and another after 20 years. While in the first, the officer will be apprised of his strengths and shortcomings for future advancement, in the second review, his “fitness” for further continuation in service will be assessed.

The Commission rightly wants the government to act firmly against the deadwood. It has recommended their outright dismissal from service. No officer can claim continuation in service as a matter of right. If a private company cannot afford to keep the deadwood on its rolls, why can the same logic not be applied in the case of bureaucrats? Admittedly, the civil servants’ rights should be subordinate to the overall requirement of public interest and contractual rights of the state. Clearly, the need of the hour is not to protect corrupt, inefficient and non-performing officers but strive for an honest, effective and result-oriented administration at the Centre and in the states.

The aspect of domain expertise of the officers has been given due treatment in the report. The manner in which IAS officers are posted in crucial positions in the government — at the Centre and in the states — without any relevance to their background, experience or expertise tends to create an impression that they are primarily used as desk officers rather than as advisers and specialists in policy formulation and decision making.

Apparently, there is a change in the authorities’ attitude that an IAS officer has the “core competence” to handle any job in any field under the sun. This attitude has wreaked havoc on the system over the years. In 2007, a revised system of mid-career training was introduced for IAS officers to develop competencies for assignments at different levels. Officers will not get confirmed or promoted without training.

However, the training modules are too generic and do not inculcate greater domain knowledge in civil servants. The Commission wants suitable measures to be put in place for mandatory training of officers periodically at all levels — senior, middle and lower in addition to the induction stage— in view of the rapidly changing environment and the increasing demand for improved governance. The quality of training, too, should improve. It should seek to impart officers the functional knowledge, skills and aptitude necessary for performing their assigned jobs diligently. At the cutting edge level, the focus should be citizen-centric and service-oriented.

Unfortunately, the expertise that most officers acquire during their training invariably goes waste as the Centre and the states do not make best use of it. IAS officers go abroad for advanced studies and training in such diversified areas as agriculture, transport, energy, higher education, geology, science and technology. But they are hardly able to put this training to practice because they are not given the fields in which they specialise after they return from abroad.

Significantly, the Commission has said that acquisition of domain competency has become imperative for All-India Services officers. It has suggested the setting up of an independent Central Civil Services Authority (CCSA) to undertake the responsibility of assigning domains to officers. The CCSA could invite resumes from all officers in the government who have completed 13 years of service.

The Commission feels that domain assignment at this stage of the career (when the officer is eligible to become Director in a Union Ministry) would be appropriate because when the officer is due for the rank of Joint Secretary, he/she would have had 3-4 years of exposure to a domain.

The Moily report wants an improvement upon the classification of domain competencies as suggested by the Surendranath Committee report. Accordingly, it has suggested, in today’s context, 12 functional domains of civil services. These are, namely, general administration, urban development, security, rural development, financial management, infrastructure, HRD, social empowerment, economic administration, tax administration, agricultural development, natural resources administration and health management.

Interestingly, it has dwelt at length the pros and cons of the “career-based” and “position-based” Senior Executive Service (SES) model. It feels that job security is the “biggest lacuna” in the career-based system because of its excessive dependence upon seniority, inadequate annual reporting system and frequent transfers. Surely, what is the use of seniority if the officer turns out to be a complete dud? Of course, the counter argument is that the All India Services — the IAS in particular — provide a “unique link” between the cutting edge at the field level and top policy-making positions.

The Commission has rightly proposed competition for senior positions in the government (Senior Administrative Grade or the present Joint Secretary level and above) by opening these positions in the government to the All India Services. If implemented, this will reduce the increasing bitterness among officers of other services against the monopoly of the IAS.

Equally significant is its proposal that for positions at the Higher Administrative Grade (HAG) or the present Additional Secretary and Secretary level, the CCSA should, in consultation with the government, earmark positions for which outside talent would be desirable. Applications would be invited to fill up these posts from eligible persons from both the open market and the serving eligible officers.

Peremptory transfers are a big menace today though these demotivate the officers and sap their morale. This is particularly endemic in the districts. The District Collectors and the Superintendents of Police are shuffled by the political masters at their whims and fancies. In the past four years, Dr Manmohan Singh has sincerely tried to convince the Chief Ministers about the merits of a statutory fixed tenure for district officers. However, he could not succeed because of the reluctance of the non-Congress Chief Ministers.

According to the Government of India’s figures made available for the Second Administrative Reforms Commission, the number of IAS officers spending less than a year in their respective postings has ranged from 48 to 60 per cent of the total strength of the IAS over the years. Surprisingly, the number of IAS officers who spend more than three years in their respective postings is less than 10 per cent of the total strength of the IAS.

Admittedly, if officers are not allowed to continue in their positions for, say, 2-3 years, they would hardly be able to acquire adequate knowledge and experience of their job, build the required mutual confidence and understanding necessary for administrative leadership.

The proposal for catching bureaucrats young is sound. In fact, this was the guiding principle till early eighties when it was compromised for reasons best known to the powers that be. The age limit and the number of attempts for candidates were indiscriminately raised.

The suggestion for post-school recruitment for grooming the country’s future administrators may look pragmatic, but care should be taken to ensure that the rural students don’t suffer. They are late bloomers compared with their urban friends and this fact should not be lost sight of by the policymakers while drawing up the new recruitment plan.

Similarly, ideas on setting up of national institutes to run BA courses on public administration, governance and management, encourage Central and other universities to offer such courses with scholarships to help those admitted to these centres may appear rosy, but what matters ultimately is whether this grooming will help them pass the rigorous test and become responsible administrators.

Georgian military build-up worries Russia

Press Trust of India

Saturday, January 24, 2009 (Moscow)

Russia is seriously concerned by an amassed build-up of Georgia's military and police presence in the areas adjoining the borders of two new countries -- Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

A spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry said this after a meeting between Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin and the UN Secretary General's Special Representative for Georgia, Johan Verbeke.

"This requires special attention on the part of the UN and other international organisations acting in the region," the Russian side said.

Karasin and Verbeke exchanged opinions on the prospects for the UN presence in Georgia and Abkhazia in the context of forthcoming work on a UN draft resolution on the issue.

The document is called upon to stipulate the parameters and mandate of UN's new mission in the region.

Country must be rid of ‘slave’ leadership: Qazi http://www.thenews.com.pk/images/shim.gifhttp://www.thenews.com.pk/images/shim.gifhttp://www.thenews.com.pk/images/shim.gifSunday, January 25, 2009
By By Asim Hussain
LAHORE

AMEER of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, Qazi Hussain Ahmad has said that Pakistan urgently needs to replace the ‘US-slave’ leadership with honest and patriotic people in order to survive the internal strife and external conspiracies threatening its very existence.

“The present secular leadership is unconcerned with the western conspiracies against country’s defence and nuclear assets. Having their interests in the west, these leaders are simply incapable of bringing about any changes in the system or restore the usurped rights of the masses. They are just making cosmetic changes to justify their enjoying of power at public expense,” he said in an interview with The News.

Qazi has led the most democratic and organised party in Pakistan for the last 22 years and has now decided not to be a candidate in the next month’s elections of party ameer due to health reasons. “Fresh election under impartial national government and independent election commission is the only solution to the present crises facing country,” he said sitting in the modest guest house in the party headquarter Mansoorah close to the two-bedroom flat he has lived in during all these years.

“This is the only way to reclaim the historic public mandate of February 18 elections which was hijacked by the PPP which violated its electoral manifesto promising to reverse all dictatorial policies of military dictator Gen Musharraf and restore independent judiciary headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry by reversing the unconstitutional actions of November 3, 2007,” he said

“Democracy and democratic government is seen nowhere in the country as Musharraf’s US-dictated policies are still being implemented with even more zeal and impunity in ruthless disregard of public miseries and protests. The face at the top has changed but the one-man show is still there and a bunch of cronies running the affairs of state on the whims and wishes of an individual carrying out the US agenda. The Parliament is a mere rubber stamp which was proved by violation of the unanimous resolution it passed on national security.”

Qazi went on to say that things have gone to such an extent that differences between president and prime minister were talk of the town, and prime minister was forced to put his foot down to assert and reclaim his powers being encroached by the president.

Qazi boycotted the February 18 elections fearing traditional rigging witnessed during every elections held under Gen Musharraf, and because his demand to hold polls under an autonomous elections commission was not accepted. Asked if he repented the boycott decision after the polls turned out to be fair, Qazi said “Our decision was correct since the corrupt system is still there and we made it clear that elections were being held under a deal and the PPP was being re-installed under the NRO. Results vindicated our stance.” Qazi termed NRO a ‘Criminal Order’ which was used to replace ‘Washington’s spent cartridges’ with new faces to carry forward its global agenda in this region. “The NRO not only withdrew corruption cases involving billions of rupees of public exchequer, but also exonerated those accused of murder and extortion,” he said.

Qazi also harshly criticized the PML-N for “playing as a PPP subsidiary and towing the US agenda just for the sake of the Punjab government”. He wondered why Nawaz Sharif was still backing Zardari and promised not to let the federal government fall despite that president Zardari broke all promises, violated the Charter of Democracy and literally ditched him on the issues of 17th amendment and Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry’s restoration.

Qazi said results of the by-elections in NA-28 Bunar exposed the propaganda of the ANP enjoying massive backing of NWFP people, since JI backed candidates defeated government candidates by a landslide.

“By blindly pursuing the military operation in tribal areas Pakistan army is directly involved in the conspiracy to disintegrate the country,” he alleged. He said masses had genuine grievances against the army “for silently supporting every dictatorial, illegal and anti-Pakistan move of Gen Musharraf in the name of discipline. The very toppling of an elected government and acquiring the top slot of the country on gun point was a violation of the oath of the Armed Forces and the constitution of Pakistan but none of the army officers ever rose against him for proving loyalty to the oath of the army and the constitution of Pakistan. “Does Army prefer senior officers over the nation, country and their oath of the Army service? What kind of discipline is this, when you fully backed a dictator liable to be hanged under article 6 of the constitution, despite that he committed blatant breach of constitution twice and threw the nation into civil war for the sake of US agenda,” said Qazi. “If I commit a violation of party constitution my colleagues and party members will remove me the next day. This is what true loyalty to the constitution is like.”

“There should be a complete ban on foreign training and visits of military and civil bureaucrats since this way they become western agents and slave to their secular and immoral culture. On return these officials conspire against the country and work for western agenda for petty personal interests.”

He expressed sorrow that under a conspiracy hatched by US-India and Israel troika, Pakistan army was made to fight with over six million tribal people who had always remained a reserve force of the army. They killed countless innocent tribal men, women and children in pursuit of so-called Al-Qaeda quite similar to what Washington did in Afghanistan after 9/11. He said Pakistan army massacred innocent minor girls in Jamia Hafsa and then made victory symbols to the press. “Will Pakistan Army be able to remove this stigma ever in future,” he asked.

“There is total chaos and massive loot and plunder in the country at every level because those enjoying power at the top are not only corrupt to the core but agents of the west serving US agenda against Islam in the name of war on terror. They are undermining the very foundations of the country by making the army fight against its own people to implement changing American colonial agenda in the region following the demise of Soviet Union,” he said.

“The country requires radical changes in the system like doing away with the west-suited policies and west-backed lobbies, ruthless and across the board accountability, strengthening the Pakistan Ideology and Islamic values, establishing an independent judiciary which should not hold rulers above the law to ensure social justice at all levels,” he observed.

The erstwhile fiery and enthusiastic Qazi appeared sober as he spoke on various national and international issues. Qazi known as a strong advocate of unity among all Islamic parties by shunning sectarian differences also appeared somewhat tired of this stance.

To a query he dispelled the impression that he was actively involved in setting up a new alliance of religious parties after the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) became non-functional following February 18 elections. Qazi, who became the president of the MMA after the death of Maulana Shah Ahmad Noorani, said: “Although the MMA has become dysfunctional, we are not trying to establish a new political alliance of religious parties to replace it. If a new religious alliance emerges it will be strictly a religious, non political alliance, which is the need of the hour.” Qazi said the root cause of MMA’s failure was the over-adherence of its component parties to their respective schools of thought instead of commonalities and basics of Islam which was the basic reason for its creation. He lamented that his party tried its level best to keep the component parties stick to the founding principles of the MMA “but they preferred their sects and sect-related objectives”. He added that the JI will continue its work of Dawah and reform of the society from its own platform until some viable religious alliance came into being.

Asked if the land scandal against the MMA secretary general and JUI-F ameer Maulana Fazlur Rehman caused a serious damage to the credibility of the religious parties in the country, Qazi replied in affirmative, saying “Maulana Fazlur Rehman is a prominent and popular religious leader and his disrepute caused a considerable damage to the respect of ulema and religious scholars.”

He, however, avoided discussing the issue anymore, saying damaging ulema and Islamic leaders had been the objective of non-religious political quarters and it was one of the reasons behind that scandal and others like that which were used to erode the popularity of the religious leadership and discredit them among the people.

He said character assassination of ulema by symbolising somebody was highly condemnable and it was a great disservice to the nation since it only suited the western agents and their agenda. He, however, stressed that the JI was not affected by the land scandal against Maulana Fazlur Rehman since “the JI leadership has always remained clean regarding political graft and misuse of state power to make money or grab plots. No one has so far accused any of the JI leaders in the history of the country. It is the kind of leadership country badly needs and JI can provide trustworthy, honest and patriotic leadership”.

To a question if religious leaders would come out to support Maulana Fazlur Rehman to counter the smear campaign unleashed after unearthing of this scam, Qazi said “No. Why should we make clarifications on behalf of others? If anybody has made a mistake, he should face the consequences himself. We have always advised people to keep their hands clean.” Qazi said a certain section of press was trying to drag other religious leaders into this campaign to use them against Maulana Fazlur Rehman and “even my silence on this issue is being questioned.”

Qazi said it was a matter of shame that Maulana Fazlur Rehman was being cornered on a land scam despite that those lands were taken back but on the other hand nobody was mentioning those who got written off billions of dollars of corruption money under NRO from a military dictator or those who had been plundering public resources or acquiring state lands.

“Ulema and religious scholars have never been in the exploitative class of this country which comprises those whom British colonists had handed over the power and who remained in government ever since the colonists departed. It is these British-installed, ‘west-followers’, secular elements in the civil and military bureaucracy, feudals and capitalists who have plundered the country’s wealth and transferred it abroad, who dismembered the country in the past, who suppressed Islamic identity of the country to replace it with western immoral culture, but nobody has dared raise voice against them,” he said.

Qazi reiterated his stance that to remove all security threats country must shun shouldering US war on terror which, in fact, was a war against its own tribal people who are being punished for opposing US agenda of crushing Muslims in the region. For this, he said, military operation must be stopped and dialogue should be started with the tribal elders and elected representatives to resolve the problems, if there were any.

Qazi termed Mumbai attacks akin to the staged drama of 9-11. He said the absurdly staged Mumbai drama was a conspiracy by the same troika since it considered Islam as the only remaining threat to western capitalism and Zionist domination of the world.

Qazi emphasized that India never accepted Pakistan from the bottom of the heart because it considered Pakistan’s Islamic ideology a serious threat to its own unity and existence, since it tends to attract entire Muslim population of the region especially in view of the ingrained anti-Muslim biases among Hindus. He recalled that the BJP and other Hindu extremists had always used Pakistan-hatred factor to win elections. The BJP was a marginal party in the parliament before the razing of Babri Masjid, but after that it won majority seats. Similarly, he said, Muslim massacre in Gujarat was staged to win elections in the state assembly. “And now the Mumbai attacks have been staged just ahead of the elections,” he said. Mumbai conspiracy was hatched at a time when Pakistan Army was at the lowest ebb of its public backing because of fighting a fierce battle against its own citizens in tribal areas and NWFP, he said, adding that “it could prove disastrous for national defence in case India attacked Pakistan against all predictions and US assurances.”

Qazi criticised the silence of Pakistani government against the barrage of Indian accusations on Islamabad. He questioned the existence of 26 Indian consulates in Afghanistan along Pakistani western borders despite the fact that hardly any Indian lived in the war-torn country. He said all those establishments were conspiring against Pakistan and involved in subversive activities “but Islamabad is quiet despite having solid proofs of Indian terrorism in Pakistan”. Qazi alleged that the Delhi-Washington-Tel Aviv troika was spending billions of dollars for terrorism against Pakistan and suicide jackets were being sold for just one million rupees in Jalalabad. He regretted the silence of Pakistani rulers.

Qazi harshly condemned the Israeli attacks and genocide in Gaza, and the criminal silence of the world on the whole issue. He said not only the western media covered up the Israeli genocide of Palestinians but the western governments particularly America fully backed Israel saying Tel Aviv had the right to attack Gaza in self defence. He expressed sorrow that for the first time in history, Pakistan did not speak a single world condemning Israeli massacre and supporting the helpless Palestinian Muslims, despite that Quaid-e-Azam termed Israel “an illegitimate state”. He lamented that to add insult to the injuries, President Zardari awarded Pakistan’s highest civil award - Hilal-e-Quaid-e-Azam - to American officials Richard Boucher and Biden for what Qazi called “attacking Pakistan through drones and at the same time stimulating India to take war posture against Pakistan in the East”. He said Muslim rulers remained quiet against Israel but Muslim people across the world were enraged to see deaths and destruction in Gaza with chemical weapons such as phosphorus bombs. He urged the Muslim world to sever all ties with Israel and America, adding that it required a certain amount of courage to do that.

Qazi said the fast dwindling national unity and solidarity was the biggest and foremost threat to the country which required immediate reversal of all foreign and domestic policies suited to the western world. “Instead, we should make independent policies purely in our national interests as per requirements of our nation which earnestly wants to shun US war on terror. This is what democracy should have been,” he said.

Qazi welcomed new US president Barack Obama, saying rise of a black American representing the slave race to the highest US office was indeed a change since blacks were fiercely discriminated and treated as slaves even two three decades ago. He, however, said, “Obama’s arrival will not prove any good to the oppressed Muslim people which is evident from the appointment of Zionism’s supporters at key posts. Obama is just the change of faces in Washington and he will be used by the American establishment to further its global agenda even more forcefully.”

Qazi said he would request the party shoora (the central decision making body) to spare him from nominating for the next elections of party ameer for health reasons. He said the Shoora nominated him and arkaan voted for him even though he did not want to contest the previous election as well.

Unready for battle

Sandeep Unnithan

January 23, 2009

Last week, army chief General Deepak Kapoor said the Indian Army was pushing for fast-track procurement of select equipment post the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, because normal acquisition procedures took “between two and five years”.

This was the first candid admission by a chief in recent times of procurement delays which are not only impairing the army’s modernisation but also impeding India’s strategic options in case of an all-out war. In a recent meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, General Kapoor repeated his refrain.

The army was unprepared for war. Asked about the option of a limited war with Pakistan, a senior general had a counter-question, “Are we ready?” His incredulity is not without reason. For the past decade the shopping list has been lengthening and the modernisation of the Indian military has slipped by a decade.

From basic equipment like night-vision sights for assault rifles to sophisticated surface-to-surface missiles which protect the advancing strike corps, nothing has been bought. Despite a doubling of the defence budget post-Kargil, the army is still embarrassingly unprepared.The chief’s admission was also a tacit acknowledgement of the failure of the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP), which lays down a 36-month cycle time to acquire weaponry—a deadline that is rarely met.

Nearly a decade after its Bofors howitzers performed spectacularly during the Kargil war, the army has not bought even one of the 1,860 howitzers it had projected. This year, it will once again restart a five-year evaluation and acquisition process. In the years following Operation Parakram the army propounded its Cold Start battle doctrine which called for using massive firepower— rockets, missiles and longrange guns to offset a near parity of foot-soldiers with Pakistan.

The chinks

Artillery

Wanted: 1,860 howitzers

Worth: Rs 10,000 crore

Status: Proposals for wheeled, towed, tracked and ultra-light howitzers.Have been re-tendered after earlier trials were declared invalid.Will take five more years to buy.

Infantry

Wanted: Assault rifles, under-barrel grenade launchers, reflex sights, tactical communication radios.

Worth: Rs 3,700 crore

Status: Tenders floated. Acquisition likely to take between three to four years. Being fast-tracked.

Missiles

Wanted: 4 regiments of quick-reaction, shortrange missiles and medium-range surface-to-air missiles to replace ageing Kvadrat and Osa-AKsystem.

Worth: Rs 10,500 crore

Status: Tender withdrawn because only one company submitted bid. Delayed by five years.

Light helicopters

Wanted: 250 helicopters to replace ageing Cheetahs and Chetaks.

Worth: Rs 7,500 crore

Status: Entire process restarted after Bell helicopters complained against finalist Eurocopter in 2007. It will take another five years for new choppers to start coming.

Today, the strategy is in place, but the tools are missing. “It is most inappropriate to delay the acquisition of modern 155mm howitzers as only a massive firepower asymmetry can overcome the lack of deep manoeuvre when land operations are planned under a nuclear umbrella,” says Brigadier Gurmeet Kanwal (retired), director of the Centre for Land Warfare Studies.

What has rung alarm bells is Pakistan’s rapid acquisition of US technology over the past eight years—antitank missile-firing gunships, anti-ship missiles and night-vision devices under the War on Terror—and a steady build-up of Chinese military capabilities.

The army’s tanks and combat vehicles are night-blind, a critical lapse in an age of short duration, round-the-clock wars.

Analysts say the state of modernisation of any military is judged by its equipment profile.

Normally, a military should have 30 per cent state-of-the-art equipment, 40 per cent based on matured technologies and 30 per cent getting closer to obsolescence. “In India the current proportion is close to 15, 35 and 50 per cent, respectively,” says defence analyst Major General Mrinal Suman (retired).

It is this 50 per cent of the arsenal which sorely needs replacement and that leads to the arm-flailing called fast-track procurement. Consider this: the mainstay of the air defence artillery continues to be the World War II era L-70 ack-ack gun.

A tender to replace them was cancelled last year because only one global vendor showed up.

In 2002, the Ministry of Defence codified the DPP into a manual which would guide the government on buying military equipment and eliminate single-vendor situations.

Seven years hence, the only items the army has managed to purchase are two artillery regiments each with 12 Smerch longrange rockets and over 300 T-90 battle tanks. Both from Russia as single-vendor imports. “Our system is only tuned for single-vendor situations. With multiple vendors, the system goes into unending trials,” says an army official.

With the politicisation of defence acquisition after Bofors and the Kargilera purchases, the entire system has become risk-averse. “I am still answering to the CBI on decisions taken nearly a decade ago, why would I want to stick my neck out on anything?” a senior bureaucrat asks.

The multivendor system has its own pitfalls. “Often vendors go out of their way to cast aspersions on others further delaying the process,” says former army chief General Ved Prakash Malik. “The DPP has failed to deliver. In the past six years, India has not been able to sign a single contract for major equipment in a multi-vendor competitive environment,” says Suman.

The reason, say analysts, is red tape. Adequate powers have not been delegated to the services and even minor deviations in the procedure have to be personally vetted by the defence minister, causing further delays. “The defence acquisition system is delay rather than delivery-inclined,” says a senior army official.

Often, the army itself is to blame because it is unable to decide what it wants. The qualitative requirements are either culled from brochures, or made so stringent and futuristic that few vendors can meet them.

In sharp contrast, it took the Indian Navy just three years to sign a $2-billion contract with Boeing for eight maritime patrol aircraft after a global competition and within the DPP parameters.

Case Study: Night vision

In 2006, the Indian Army floated a requirement for 30,634 third-generation night-vision devices (NVDs),worth Rs 500 crore, for assault rifles, rocket launchers, goggles and binoculars. Of these, 8,000 were to be bought off-the-shelf and the rest made by Bharat Electronics.Three years later, the army is still blind.

July 2006: Letters of Intent issued by ministry.Requests for Info go to vendors.

December 2006: Request for Proposals issued after army takes five months to decide specifications and the number of NVDs. Only 13 vendors could meet stringent requirements of weight and detection ranges.

March 2007: Tender closed.Technical evaluation begins.

October 2007: Field trials begin.Completed in six months.

April 2008: Deficiencies noted by the army.Three shortlisted vendors offer improved products.

January 2009: Evaluation of the finalist completed. Six months to start deliveries and another year to complete them.

The army, however, is underequipped to handle acquisitions. Procurement departments are staffed with personnel on short-term deputations with little or no knowledge of acquisition.

The US has a defence acquisition university to train experts. India, despite a committed defence acquisition plan of over $50 billion over the next decade, has not even begun thinking along those lines.

Yet, the malaise runs far deeper. “The whole process is flawed in execution,” says Kanwal.

There is no adherence to five-year defence plans. Deadlines are not met, goalposts are frequently shifted and proposals languish for months waiting for approval by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).

Experts say financial support for defence plans must be committed at the time of approval and should not be hostage to annual budgets; red tape must be eliminated via empowered committees, work of the Defence Acquisition Council should be streamlined and CCS should give time-bound clearances to proposals.

General Malik says the ministry can easily reduce 30 per cent of the delays if it implements simple measures like ensuring that the contract team starts work even as the trials are on and joint meetings are held to reduce file movements.

Without such reforms, successive army chiefs could be left wringing their hands in a crisis.

Suspended CPI-M MP to join Territorial Army

Friday, 23 January , 2009, 17:31

Kozhikode: Suspended Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Lok Sabha member AP Abdulla Kutty is all set to join the Territorial Army (TA). Kutty told reporters on Friday that he passed the written exam and the interview for commissioning into the TA.

"Some more formalities are to be completed and I am waiting for that. I got interested in this after my friend and Congress lawmaker KP Singh Deo impressed upon me. We used to play cricket together in parliament," Kutty said.

News home

The Territorial Army in India is an organisation of volunteers who receive military training for a few days in a year so that in case of an emergency they can be mobilised for the defence of the country. It is a second line of defence after the regular Indian Army.

The CPI-M suspended Kutty from the party last week for a year after he hailed Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's development initiatives. The decision to suspend Kutty, who represents the Kannur Lok Sabha constituency in Kerala, was taken by the CPI-M's Mayyil Area Committee.

Kutty's controversial remarks came during an interview with a leading Malayalam TV channel in Dubai where he was to attend a festival. Kutty said after completing the formal armed forces training, he would join the TA Battalion in his home town Kannur.

Missile Defense: Swordfish Long Range Tracking RADAR (LRTR) to be Tested in February 2009

Dated 23/1/2009

The Indian missile defense programme has been steadily progressing over the last 24 months with two Interceptor missiles Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) and Advanced Air Defence (AAD) already tested successfully.

Press Trust of India now reports that the Long Range Tracking Radar 'Swordfish' will also be tested in the coming weeks by DRDO. Below mentioned are the main points from that report and other references:

-- Interceptor missiles Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) and Advanced Air Defence (AAD) have been tested successfully

-- Main aim of the February 2009 test is to validate the capabilities of the indigenously developed 'Swordfish' Long Range Tracking Radar (LRTR). "The missile to be hit will be fired from a longer distance than it was in the earlier test. DRDO will test whether the radar can track the incoming missile from that distance or not" sources told the news agency.

-- Swordfish is a target acquisition and fire control radar for the BMD system

-- Exo-atmospheric interceptor missile PAD will hit its target in space at an altitude over 80 km from earth

-- More tests by year end to enhance the capabilities of AAD endo-atmospheric missile to intercept missiles at altitudes up to 15 km

-- If all tests are successful and no issues crop up, then the tentative date for deployment is 2015

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