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Wednesday, 28 January 2009

From Today's Papers - 28 Jan 09

Pakistan's present and future war

India has carried out a revaluation of its strategic options with Pakistan, and the coming years could witness an all-out strategy of coercion by it, a strategy so effectively applied by Israel in the Middle East. India's biggest advantage in conceptual and technical military cooperation with Israel lies in the fact that its technology is largely indigenous and facilitates material transfer with no end-user problems. Pakistan is already engaged in a war of attrition and the future will be a serious test of its strategy of defiance and ability to ride out the crises as a cohesive nation state.

India's quest for security and response to perceived external threats is shaped and complicated by its past. India desires to exist as a great power with a capability of bullying its neighbours and turning them into vassal states. Pakistan has been the major impediment towards this India's quest for great-power status. Wary of the freedom struggle in Kashmir, an exaggerated threat of Islamic militants and fear of another Two Nation Theory from within, Indian strategists have been toying with the idea of using a small but lethal rapid-reaction force for a limited duration inside Pakistan. However, India cannot accomplish what it has failed to do in the past six decades, unless the breeze blows in its favour.

In the post-9/11 scenario, India sees an opportunity and is acting as a neo-realist to minimise the importance of Pakistan through high-profile coercion in line with international perceptions. In this India is even ready to forego its traditional mantra of keeping the great powers out of the region and to align with them for short-term gains. In the final analysis, India wishes to frame a politically discredited, ethnically fragmented, economically fragile and morally weak Pakistan. This can only happen if the role of the armed forces in Pakistan's policymaking is reduced, Punjab divided and the rallying call of Kashmir taken care of for good.

The Indian military structure is geared towards such a capability with active assistance from Russia and Israel, and now the USA and UK. Having allied itself closely with Israel, India will now seek a continuous harassment through heightened military coercion, control of river waters, diplomatic isolation and covert interference. Mumbai and any such incidents in future will continue to provide reason for such intimidation, all in concert with the US and western strategic objectives in the region.

Interestingly, much of the blame for having landed in the box and then pushed into a vulnerable position must also be shared by the Pakistani establishments of the past decade. Pakistan's declared nuclear capability was meant to deter all types of conflicts and pave the way for sustained economic growth, international stature, and a political solution of the Kashmir dispute, Through Kargil, Pakistan led India and the world to believe that notwithstanding a nuclear shadow, a limited military conflict in an existing conflict zone was still possible. Kargil, and later 9/11, changed international perceptions on an armed freedom struggle in Kashmir as well as Pakistan's relevance to the new form of threat: non-state actors. Seen in the backdrop of 9/11, it was the second effect that finally resulted in disownership of the freedom fighters in Kashmir by Pakistan while also resigning the Kashmir question to the impossibility of backdoor diplomacy.

The nuclear capability of Pakistan provides a very small window of opportunity to India to carry out a physical offensive action across the LoC or the international border. This action could be a raid in the form of hot pursuit through ground or helicopter-borne troops, precision air strikes with or without stand-off; remote-controlled targeting through a guided-missile attack, and in the worst case, an attempt to seize objectives close to the international border with little military but considerable political significance. India had a fully developed chemical weapons programme even before it signed the chemical weapons convention as a country not possessing chemical weapons. But it declared its arsenal soon after signing the convention and is not averse to using quickly diffusing chemical weapons. After 9/11, India has held war games and fine-tuned these concepts and implemented some in a very limited manner during the escalation on the LoC.

Hot pursuit, as the name suggests, is only possible in an already hot theatre like the LoC. These are launched through ground troops or heliborne forces. Such an option has little probability because of the bilateral ceasefire. But such an option, however remote, cannot be ruled out.

With the active assistance of Israel, some Indian aircrafts have acquired a beyond-visual- range, precision stand-off capability, something witnessed during the Kargil conflict. India may use its air force remaining inside its own territory and launch laser-guided munitions diagonally inside Pakistan. However, the selected targets should be within 20 kilometres of the LoC or the international border.

Precision strikes imply that Indian aircrafts will physically violate Pakistan's airspace and launch precision surgical strikes against selected targets from a very high altitude, or conventional bombing runs, or use heliborne troops. In such a situation, these aircrafts will be vulnerable to Pakistani air defence and the PAF.

In the cold start strategy, India positions forces with offensive capabilities in military garrisons close to the international border, equipped, trained and tasked to capture some nodal points along the international border, before the Pakistani forces can react. India may not succeed in such an operation without a massive air cover. In Indian strategic calculus, the timing and lightening speed of such operations will solicit immense international pressure on Pakistan so as to curtail Pakistan's conventional and nuclear response.

Notwithstanding such options hinging on military and diplomatic brinkmanship, India will benefit from the use of Israeli armed and surveillance drones operated by Israeli crews from inside India. Historical precedents for such cooperation already exist.

The whole body of war fighting reasoning in such limited conflicts warrants a level of rationality and comprehension of a common strategic language between the belligerents. This is technically impossible. Different actors would draw varying conclusions from an animated Graduated Escalation Ladder (GEL) always vulnerable to a Fire Break Point that could result in uncontrolled conventional and nuclear escalation. It is, therefore, most important that the decision to graduate a conflict rest solely with the political leaders of the country, wherein a common strategic parlance could be evolved with more ease.

Taking a leaf from the Israeli opaqueness in its nuclear doctrine, India over time has applied a conceptual innovation in her nuclear strategy. The Indian revision in the nuclear doctrine implies the ambiguity in the "no first use clause" through a declared no first use and pre-emptive retaliation to create a perception that it is making a coercive transaction from doctrine of limited conventional war to an opaque level of conflict in which the nuclear weapons remain in a very high state of alert. The implication is that India may flirt with the concept of a limited strategic coercion in the shadow of a very high non-degradable nuclear alert beyond Pakistan's capability to neutralise. It is also my opinion that, as of now, after having signed the Nuclear Deal with USA, India benefits from an extended US nuclear umbrella, and strategic and diplomatic support.

There are reliable reports from Afghanistan that Indian contractors are busy building billets and accommodation in Kabul and Bagram to station two Indian divisions in the area. At the same time, bids have been invited by the US Corps of Engineers to construct a divisional size cantonment in Kandahar. Hypothetically, troops in the garb of protection for Indian investments will actually seal off Afghanistan's Pakhtun regions from the North. Then the US, NATO and Indian troops will go for an all-out counter insurgency operation in the cordoned off Pakhtun areas. The effects of spill-over into Pakistan would be pronounced and the Durand Line would become a figment of imagination. Premised on the romantic notion of Pakhtun nationalism, the doors to Pakhtunkhwa would be opened. The USA would then select the shortest route to Afghanistan through the Arabian Sea and Balochistan.

Whatever the concept, scope and objective of such limited escalations, India, with its newfound allies, has decided to maintain a constant vigil and coercion of Pakistan over a prolonged period of time but well below a Fire Break Point. The obvious targets, in tandem, with its allies, will be addressed through diverse instruments like control of rivers, economics, diplomacy, international pressure, internal law and order, military intimidation and even insurgency.. A trillion-dollar question is: will the USA be ready to occupy Balochistan for a secure supply corridor?

The war has already begun.. The question is. When did it begin?

The writer is a retired brigadier of the Pakistani army. Email:
nicco1988@hotmail. com

US cuts terror aid to Pak

Islamabad, January 27
The US deducted $55 million under its reimbursement programme for expenses incurred by Pakistan on the war on terror after American auditors raised objections to a claim submitted by the country.

US authorities deducted the amount while releasing only $ 101 million out of Pakistan's claim of $156 million for expenses incurred on the campaign against terrorism till April 2008, said Shaukat Tarin, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance.

The move was the outcome of objections from American auditors as well as a change in the US format for releasing such funds, he said. "The Pakistan government will re-submit a case for the release of the amount, which has already been spent from its resources (on) the war on terror," Tarin told reporters here yesterday.

Tarin said increased defence spending due to tensions with India in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks had put pressure on the national exchequer.

Pakistan's balance of payment position will improve after a loan of $ 700 million from donors is received by the end of March. The country will get $ 500 million from the World Bank in February and another $ 200 million from the Asian Development Bank.

The country recently received a loan of $ 500 million from China and $ 100 million from the ADB.

Tarin said under an agreement with the International Monetary Fund, Pakistan was bound to eliminate subsidy on electricity by the end of June. The government will submit to the Friends of Pakistan group technical reports on areas needing financing in February. A ministerial-level meeting of the Friends of Pakistan is scheduled for mid-March. — PTI

JuD activists protest takeover of headquarters by Pak govt

Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad | PTI | January 27, 2009 | 14:10 IST

Hundreds of activists and supporters of the Jamaat-ud-Dawah terror group, linked to the Mumbai attacks, on Tuesday staged a demonstration outside the organisation's headquarters in Muridke to protest its takeover by Pakistani authorities.

Waving the Jamaat's black and white flag and carrying banners, the protestors disrupted traffic for some time on the Grant TrunkRoad outside the Markaz-e-Tayiba complex in Murdike, located about 30 km from Lahore.

Tuesday is the second consecutive day that pro-JuD protestors demonstrated against the government crackdown that came after the United Nations Security Counil declared the outfit, a front of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, as a terror group.

The protestors carried banners that read "Restrictions on Jamaat-ud-Dawah because of Indian pressure are not acceptable" and "Free Hafiz Mohammed Saeed", referring to chief of the JuD. Some of the protestors brandished long sticks.

No police personnel were present at the time of the protest or inside the Muridke complex, TV channels reported.

Despite the takeover of the Jamaat headquarters on Sunday by the government of Punjab province, no security personnel had been posted there as yet, reports said.

Students of educational institutions run by the Jamaat at the sprawling Markaz-e-Tayiba complex were also part of the protests. The protestors later went back into the Muridke compound and continued their demonstration inside.

They told reporters that the takeover of the Jamaat complex by the authorities was unethical.

The protestors also said they would not accept an administrator being imposed on them by the government. They dismissed allegations that the Jamaat was linked to the Mumbai terror attacks and said they had the legal right to protest injustices perpetrated against the group.

On Sunday, the Punjab government took over the Muridke complex and appointed an administrator to monitor the activities of charitable and educational institutions run by the Jamaat at its headquarters.

Jamaat and Lashker-e-Tayiba founder Hafiz Mohammed Saeed and several other top leaders of the Jamaat are currently under house arrest. They have been detained under the Maintenance of Public Order law, though no charges have been brought against them.

Cabinet ignores holiday suggestion by pay panel
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 27
While the Union Cabinet has cleared the pay hike recommended by the Sixth Pay Commission, it has refrained from curbing the number of holidays to government servants to three which was also suggested by the commission.

The Cabinet has already taken a decision that the holidays that allow extended weekends to government servants at the cost of tax payers' money have to continue.

The Union Cabinet had okayed a pay hike much higher than what was recommended by the Sixth Pay Commission. The increase was in annual increment and the payment of arrears and was incorporated after intervention from the top.

When the hike was announced, the Sixth Pay Commission had suggested that the holidays be curtailed. It said that offices should be closed only on three national holidays. All gazetted holidays should be abolished and compensated by increasing the number of restricted holidays from the existing two to eight. This was to meet the needs of the employees who may prefer to avail a holiday on a particular religious festival. This would have stopped the practice of government declaring gazetted holidays for all major religious festivals.

The decision of the Cabinet has come to light now. The matter was raised in the Lok Sabha by Avinash Rai Khanna, MP from Hoshiarpur under rule 377. Prithviraj Chavan, Minister for Personnel, has told Khanna in a letter dated January 23 that the Cabinet has decided not to accept the recommendations of the pay commission with regard to curtailment of holidays.

The Obama team wants to reappraise the entire Afghanistan war effort and develop a comprehensive new strategy.


"Don't try to put out a fire by throwing on more fire! Don't wash a wound with blood!"

– Jalaluddin Rumi, 13th century

ON January 13, 2009, Senator John Kerry, Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, leaned into his microphone and said of the United States' war in Afghanistan, "I think we're on the wrong track." A former presidential candidate who not only served in Vietnam but also became one of that war's most powerful critics, Kerry now cautioned, "Unless we rethink [the Afghan policy] very, very carefully, we could raise the stakes, investing America's reputation in a greater way as well as our treasure, and wind up pursuing a policy that is frankly unachievable."

Sitting before Kerry's committee, Senator Hillary Clinton, who was later confirmed as President Barack Obama's Secretary of State, said, "I think that your cautions are extremely well taken." The Afghan policy was not to be taken lightly. It was going to be thoroughly reconsidered. The U.S. does not have "a set of discrete goals". This is what has to be clarified. "My awareness of the history going back to Alexander the Great, certainly the imperial British military, and Rudyard Kipling's memorable poems about Afghanistan, the Soviet Union which put in more troops than we're thinking about putting in – I mean, it calls for a large dose of humility about what it is we are trying to accomplish," she said.

No longer the brave statements about "getting Bin Laden", of installing a liberal democracy, of freeing women, of ridding the region of the Taliban. Realism is the order of the day. Currently, there are 30,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, with an additional detachment of 8,000 North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) troops (from 47 countries). During his election campaign, Obama promised to double the U.S. number, and to make Afghanistan the "central front on terror". By all indications, the troops will arrive in Kabul by mid-March. What they will do is another question.

Admiral Mike Mullen, Chair of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said of this deployment: "It isn't going to make a difference after those troops get here if we haven't made progress on the development side and on the government side." A report in The Washington Post (January 13) noted that the expansion of the U.S. forces "will buy enough time for the new administration to reappraise the entire Afghanistan war effort and develop a comprehensive new strategy". The incoming administration has made it clear that it will not passively continue the drift over the past seven years. It has not yet revealed its own strategy.

Neglected peace

In March 2008, the Atlantic Council, a major policy think tank based in Washington, D.C., released a report entitled "Saving Afghanistan: An Appeal and Plan for Urgent Action". The co-author of the report was Major General (retired) James L. Jones, who commanded NATO's European forces from 2003 to 2006. The first line of the report is blunt: "Make no mistake, the international community is not winning in Afghanistan."

The Taliban and the NATO-U.S. forces are at a military stalemate, the report admits. An increase in the NATO-U.S. troops will allow them to take the fight against the Taliban to the less populated, largely rural areas. But this is simply not going to end the conflict. The future of Afghanistan is not going to be fought in its countryside but it will be "determined by progress or failure in the civil sector".

The NATO-U.S. effort fails in this aspect. The funds for civil development are limited, and even here, "to add insult to injury, of every dollar of aid spent on Afghanistan, less than 10 per cent goes directly to Afghans". The NGO (non-governmental organisation) economy is top-heavy, catering to international aid brokers who have inflamed Kabul's housing market. In addition, the Atlantic Council, in a remarkable departure from the George Bush policy, called for "a regional approach and regional solutions".

The NATO-U.S. alliance and the Hamid Karzai government need to bring "in interested parties and neighbours", including the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (which includes the Central Asian states, China and Russia), India, Iran and, of course, Pakistan. None of this can be done without a comprehensive reconsideration of U.S.-NATO strategy in Afghanistan.

Shortly after the Atlantic Council made its report, the Bush White House created its own review of Afghan policy. Lt. General Douglas Lute, the White House's "war czar", headed the review, which reported back to Bush in December 2008. Lute laid out three proposals: (1) that aid to Pakistan should be conditional on its commitment to the battle in the border regions of Afghanistan; (2) that the U.S. government must take a regional view, including India, Pakistan and other states into the discussion on insurgency; (3) that the U.S. government must broaden its strategy to emphasise development and governance rather than military power. This was an in-house rebuke of the Bush policy. It went largely unnoticed.

When Barack Obama picked the Atlantic Council's author James Jones to be his National Security Adviser, it became clear that rethinking Afghan policy had to be on the agenda. Drawing from that study and the Lute report, the Obama transition began to review intensively how the Afghan war has been conducted. Obama went on NBC's Meet the Press (December 7, 2008) to underscore his commitment to bringing India, Pakistan and Iran into the discussion with Afghanistan and the U.S.-NATO for the future of the country. In addition, he pointed out that the U.S. had to increase its development work.

Part of the problem, he said, was that "the average Afghan farmer hasn't seen any improvement in his life. You know, we haven't seen the kinds of infrastructure improvements, we haven't seen the security improvements, we haven't seen the reduction in narco-trafficking, we haven't seen a reliance on rule of law in Afghanistan that would make people feel confident that the central government can, in fact, deliver on its promises". These statements offer a window into what the new strategy would look like.

Food, not bombs


U.S. Marines return from patrolling nearby villages during Operation Backstop in Helmand province south of Kabul on December 10, 2008. The U.S. is preparing to pour at least 20,000 extra troops into southern Afghanistan, but the country's future will be determined by the progress or failure in the civil sector.

For several months, Admiral Mullen has complained that the U.S. military cannot do the job alone. It has been reduced to the cities and bases, with occasional forays into the countryside (mainly from the air). The isolation of the U.S.-NATO soldiers, despite the attempt to reach out to ordinary Afghans through the Provincial Reconstruction Teams, has come to resemble the Red Army's isolation in the last years before it exited the country. Russia's Ambassador to Kabul, Zamir Kabulov, was once the KGB's man there, and now points out that the U.S. has not only copied all the Soviet errors but made some of its own. At least, he said, the Soviets had a modernisation strategy, spending billions in the 1980s on education, women's empowerment and infrastructure. "Where, I ask, are the big American projects to match these," he told The New York Times' John Burns in October 2008. "I'll tell you. There aren't any."

Amy Frumin of the Council on Foreign Relations spent a year in Afghanistan as the USAID representative to one of the Provincial Reconstruction Teams. She acknowledges that the U.S. needs development assistance as well, but "the institutions in the U.S. to carry out development assistance are inadequate for this environment and are, therefore, not as useful as they could be. We will need to create a more effective tool to assist the Afghan government in extending its reach throughout the country."

The search for these more effective tools will certainly detain the Obama report, whose interest in making development a priority has enthused not only the policy section but also the military leadership. Frumin points out that good procedures are only part of the solution. "We will find that we need to partner with the Afghans in order to create a counter-corruption strategy that works – imposing one from outside has not worked and will not work." The Atlantic Council's report is more general about this, saying that "the key to success rests on the Afghans". Without Afghan participation in all aspects of development work, the new strategy will also be doomed to failure.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Army continues to build military infrastructure across Afghanistan. Military training centres, new airfields, and bases: all these amount to hardware that belies the idea that the military aspect will be whittled down.

The Washington Post (January 13) reports that the U.S. might end up spending an additional $4 billion to build these military outposts, which of course "signals a long-term U.S. military commitment at a time when the incoming Obama administration's policy for the Afghan war is unclear". If the new Obama policy is not crystal clear, the new military hardware will begin to drive the strategy on the ground.

It is odd that Hillary Clinton mentioned the name of Rudyard Kipling as she spoke of her awareness of Afghan history. As the Pakistani writer Tariq Ali says, Kipling is frequently evoked to explain Afghanistan, all in the service of a fantasy of the infantile, savage tribes. Kipling's descriptions, he says, are "mistakenly read as history".

To speak of Kipling and Alexander and not of Mahmud Tarzi and Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, of Anahita Ratebzad and Malalai Joya is to indicate a preference for Afghanistan's imperial history to its history of reform and freedom. This failure to see the country from Afghan eyes is going to make any review Americo-centric.

The Obama administration will certainly send in more troops, and in April it will possibly reveal its new strategy at the NATO summit in France.

Between now and then, perhaps Hillary Clinton and Obama will digest the lesson of the Atlantic Council, of people such as Amy Frumin, and of a wounded President Hamid Karzai.

National Military Academy of Afghanistan host first graduation ceremony

Written on January 27, 2009 – 7:42 pm | by Frontier India Strategic and Defence |

National Military Academy of Afghanistan cadets participated in a graduation ceremony, January 25, 2009 , in Kabul. The 84 cadets who participated in the ceremony are members of the academy's first class of graduates. More than 1,500 people attended the graduation, to include Afghan government officials and Coalition officials.

Five years ago, the Ministry of Defense and the United States Military Academy (USMA), West Point, N.Y., developed a concept plan for the National Military Academy (NMAA) of Afghanistan in effort to produce more efficient, educated leaders within the Afghan National Army (ANA).

The keynote speaker was President Hamid Karzai, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Others that participated in the ceremony included, Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak, Afghan Minister of Defense, General Bismullah Khan, ANA Chief of the General Staff; and General David D. McKiernan, U.S. Forces Afghanistan Commanding General.

Prepared under the authority of the Office of Military Cooperation-Afghanistan and the Afghan Ministry of Defense, a NMAA Concept Plan was signed in November 2003 by representatives from Afghanistan, the United States and Turkey. Since the beginning of the Academy, West Point has sent staff and faculty to NMAA and recently, the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. has also contributed to this effort.

The National Military Academy of Afghanistan which is an extensive four-year university level institution. The NMAA often referred to as the crown jewel of the ANA, is designed to educate, train and inspire the cadet brigade so each graduate is a competent, courageous and honorable officer.

The concept plan also included a dynamic layout of ethnic distribution throughout the corps of cadets and the staff and faculty to represent ethnicities from 33 of 34 provinces. And although the first graduating class consisted of all males, NMAA officials ensure female integration is soon to come.

Upon graduation each cadet, or officer in training, will have completed one of four majors to include: civil engineering, computer science, general engineering, sciences and legal studies and will be commissioned as a second lieutenant beginning their career according to a ten-year service agreement. During that time, each officer will serve in either infantry, artillery, armor, aviation, logistics or communication branches of the ANA. Leadership and Management, Military History and English majors will be available for future cadets.

Along with intense academic activities, the physical education infrastructure is also a vital component of cadet training. The NMAA provides each cadet with physical education instruction that they use throughout the four-year program in their new weight-lifting room and athletic fields.

The Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan, responsible for training, equipping, advising and mentoring the Afghan National Security Forces, currently share student expenses with the Afghan Ministry of Defense who has assured to provide all funding in the future.

One graduate said this was the most defining moment in his life and he will continue to pursue an even better education and more difficult training to ensure his soldiers are well taken care of.

In addition to all future changes, NMAA officials say leveraging technology for outreach to the population and encouraging under-represented ethnicities to apply, the number of applicants is expected to increase from 360 applicants in 2009 to nearly 2,000 applicants in 2012.

Confusion In Islamabad: Can Politicians & Military Handle The Mess?

There are conflicting signals about what is happening inside the Zardari government, and mixed signals on U.S. and India. Pakistani experts are now convinced that India's 'evidence' regarding Mumbai is not watertight. But a pro-U.S. core within the Pakistani government is preventing Islamabad from talking openly about it. The Pakistani media and political class remain confused about priorities, discussing nonissues such as the marks of a daughter of a senior judge and political backstabbing when the country faces a gathering storm on its international borders. The debate within military circles is substantive. But the military won't interfere.


Sunday, 25 January 2009.

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—There are some indications that the Zardari government is taking a tougher line toward India and toward the proxy U.S. pressure regarding the Mumbai attacks and the U.S. attacks inside Pakistan.

This change, if real, contrasts sharply with the initial passive attitude of the members of the government who appeared too eager to take in the sermons from U.S. officials and to appease India.

Meanwhile, Pakistani defense analysts are reviewing some of the longtime military beliefs regarding how to fight a war with India in case of Indian aggression. Of special concern is the reported power concentration around central and northern Pakistan, leaving the southern parts of the country exposed. Some defense analysts, as shown later in this report, are arguing.

The problem lies in the fact that this government is issuing contradictory statements. President Zardari, for example, has condemned, without naming President Obama, the Jan. 23 U.S. missile attacks inside Pakistan. But he is not ready to go beyond this or take a stronger public line. There are reports that his government has an understanding with Washington on increasing U.S. operations inside Pakistan. But Mr. Husain Haqqani, Mr. Zardari's pointman and ambassador in Washington, was reported last week as having said that Pakistan might consider 'other options' if the U.S. did not change its policy. The statement raised eyebrows in Islamabad, coming from a known U.S. apologist in the elected Pakistani government.

This hardline is tempered by other statements that verge on appeasement. On India, Prime Minister Gilani said on Jan. 14 that India's 'evidence' on Mumbai attacks is more of 'information' and not evidence that can admitted in a court of law. But o Jan 23, Mr. Gilani told a London newspaper that Pakistan 'needs to act fast' on the Indian dossier and emphasized, rather sheepishly, that Pakistan is taking the dossier 'seriously'.

There are elements within the PPP government who are strongly pro-U.S. This includes President Zardari, Mr. Haqqani, and Interior Adviser Rehman Malik. The former national security adviser M. A. Durrani is no longer in this group. All four were either longtime residents in the United States and United Kingdom or retained strong business and personal interests in both countries. On the other hand, there are other PPP officials who do not approve of the policies of this pro-U.S. camp but are incapable of opposing them openly. This group supposedly includes – to varying degrees – Prime Minister Yousaf Reza Gilani and some other lower-level party officials. This division is fluid and is not immediately clear. One sign of it surfaced on Jan. 7, when national security adviser Mr. Durrani was caught making leaks to the Indian media to embarrass Pakistan. Mr. Tasnim Qureshi, the State Minister for Interior, appeared on television to confront the revelations that Mr. Durrani was making. A couple of news channels showed Mr. Qureshi quite disturbed by his own government's national security adviser insisting that Ajmal Kassab, the name India uses to describe the man in its custody involved in the Mumbai attacks, was indeed a Pakistani citizen. Mr. Qureshi went as far as saying that Mr. Kassab was an Indian intelligence asset even if it was proven beyond doubt that he was a Pakistani citizen.

President Zardari appears to be in a bind. He apparently has some commitments under the 'deal' brokered by the U.S. with former president Pervez Musharraf. But on the other hand, has to keep the Pakistani public opinion and the Pakistani military on his side.

Prime Minister Gilani's soft message to India is balanced by Interior Advisor Rehman Malik's veiled statement on Jan. 22 that foreign hands were behind insurgencies in Swat and the tribal belt:

Pakistan Interior Advisor Rehman Malik has said that the rise in extremist activities in the tribal regions of the country was due to the help being offered to the extremists groups from some foreign countries. He said that foreign hands were patronizing terrorists in the Swat valley, and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

Mr. Malik's statement came during a closed door briefing at the Pakistan Foreign Office given to eighty diplomats based in the Pakistani capital, including U.S. ambassador Anne Patterson. Ms. Patterson was apparently keen to counter the impression that Washington is endorsing India's position. This is an impression that U.S. ambassador in New Delhi and the outgoing Bush administration made quite clear. Additionally, the CIA, which is facilitating information exchange between ISI and the Indian security establishment, had also given clear indication that U.S. endorses the Indian 'evidence' without giving Pakistan the chance to verify it.

Pakistani officials are now telling the Americans and the British that they need DNA samples from Mr. Kassab to ascertain that he is the same person whose name appears in Pakistani records. Pakistani officials are also talking now about asking India for access to three senior Indian army officers arrested for blowing up 60 Pakistani citizens visiting Indian aboard a train service known as 'Samjhauta Express' [friendship train] in 2006.

Interestingly, the Zardari government has not made any formal request to India regarding access to the arrested Indian army officers. It could be possible that the government is releasing these trial balloons in order to show Pakistanis that the government is willing to take a hardline in defense of Pakistani interests. In this line of analysis, it would be fair to say that the Zardari government is reluctant to confront the 'deal guarantors' in Washington by taking a policy line that is confrontational in any way to the U.S. or its new regional ally, India.

The chairman of the Pakistani Senate Standing Committee on Interior, Senator Talha Mahmood, said as much on Jan. 14, insisting that Foreign powers are dictating the government:

Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Interior, Talha Mahmood, said that the government was taking dictates from the foreign powers for promoting their agenda in Pakistan and had sidelined the parliament's resolution that asked for a halt to the operations in the tribal and settled areas besides his committee's recommendations. Talking to journalists here, Talha alleged that the government was being run by two or four persons who were taking dictates from the foreign powers instead of protecting the interests of the country and its people. "It is being trumpeted that there is a complete democracy in the country but it exists on papers only. Two or four persons are running the affairs of the government who don't consider themselves responsible to the people or parliament," he alleged.

Military Rethink

The former Deputy Chief of Staff of the Pakistan Air Force, retired Air Vice Marshal Shehzad Chaudhry, in an op-ed piece published on Jan. 21, called on the government to adopt an 'institutional approach' in analyzing the threats facing Pakistan. He called on the Pakistani military to temporarily shed its resolve not to interfere in politics and offer its institutional capabilities for crisis management to the government considering the exceptionally difficult regional situation.

His analysis was quite clear on the threats facing Pakistan and it's not just 'terrorism' as defined by the United States. In his piece, titled, 'The gathering storm, AVM Chaudhry wrote:

What gathers additionally on the horizon is even more disconcerting. What with the RAND study for the US Army engaging in a "long war"; and another sponsored by the US Joint Staff endeavoring to determine the most likely points of application of the US military in the future, pointing towards a nexus of Islamist threat in combination with a failed state of nuclear Pakistan that so scares the Americans.
The importance of what RAND says or what the US Joint Staff is sweating on can never be underplayed. The RAND guys are no neo-cons working on extravagant notions of re-carving the world; instead they are at the delivery end working out the combatant level logistic, operational and strategic details. Pakistan has never been in a more critical security dilemma. Even the 1971 the loss of East Pakistan was not as dangerous in consequences as is the current and progressively deteriorating regional and global environment from Pakistan's perspective.

Most importantly, he sent an indirect message to General Tariq Majeed, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff, and to General Ashfaq Kayani, Chief of the Army Staff. The message is that this is not the time to keep the military in the background:

Amongst the few functioning institutions, the military chastened by their experience of the last nine years consider it wise to keep at a distance, while the foreign ministry is woefully short of effort to go beyond fire-fighting and superficial treatment of immediate sores. It neither has the time nor the inclination to dig deeper than the surface and address the inherent dangers to the state and the nation. In a paradox of comical proportions, neither is the state and government leadership getting an honest and well deliberated guidance from the bureaucracy. The state is in need of all hands; even though the military might wish to prove its non-intervening credentials, now perhaps is not the time. It should be able to bring the support of its organizational strength and institutional approach to deliberating issues of critical national importance in helping formulate the blue-print of recovery from a complex situation. The other national institutions too

On India, he wrote:

India is likely to continue to up the ante in terms of diplomatic pressure, enlivened by suitably spaced jingoistic support. It shall essentially be an effort to keep Pakistan embroiled in a meaningless banter and dissuade Pakistan from a steadied attention to the most important, hoping that Pakistan might implode from within under the weight of these compounding adversities.

Another retired Pakistani military officer and a defense analyst, Ikram Sehgal, published an important article on Jan. 22, titled Cold-starting Pakistan, describing in detail an Indian military doctrine that is stunning in its aggressiveness leaves no doubts about India's aggressive military intentions toward Pakistan. The article is important because it indirectly raises questions about how and why the U.S. government and the think tanks deliberately suppress such glaring evidence that shows India as a cause of regional instability and not the victim that New Delhi likes to portray itself as.

Cold Start is the name that India has given to a policy of ordering rapid deployment forces to attack Pakistan in case of a terrorist attack inside or against India, without taking into consideration the other possibilities, like some third player trying to start a war, or the possibility of Hindu terrorist groups staging attacks and blaming them on Pakistan like they did in the 'Samjhauta Express' tragedy, according to India's own investigations.

Mr. Sehgal made two important revelations in his article. One on how a quick Pakistani military response dampened the chances of a possible Indian military aggression after the Mumbai attacks, and second, an important revelation about the distribution of Pakistani military forces in Pakistan's northern and southern regions.

He wrote:

Rumors are afloat about a game plan where India will conduct surgical strikes against "known" terrorist camps, and Pakistan will helpfully turn the other cheek. Our rather helpless response to daily "Predator" attacks, bluster rather than any substance, has given weight to this belief. Bob Woodward's book "Bush at War" describes how, agonising over how to convince Pakistan, the US hierarchy was nonplussed by Pervez Musharraf's "ready and willing" acceptance of all seven US demands without even a murmur. Was diplomatic pressure recently brought on Pakistan to fall in line in the "supreme" interest of the "war against terrorism," the logic being that since only "terrorist" targets were to be engaged this was in "Pakistan's interest"? Wonder of wonders, for once we did not roll over and play dead! Our rulers probably calculated that the people of Pakistan would give them short shift.

Initiating preliminary actions of their "Cold Start" Doctrine, the IAF was geared into a "first strike" mode. Picked up by our intelligence, the PAF responded by a "show of force" on "high alert." A dense fog then engulfed most areas of the likely military options. During this time-lag some strategic reserves were extricated from FATA and rushed eastwards, that "window of opportunity" for India passed. Mere coincidence that three Strike Corps are in "winter collective exercise" mode in the Rajasthan Desert? That too carrying their first- and second-line ammunition? Movement of their Amphibious Brigade and dumping of fuel for forward deployment of troop-lifting helicopters has also been detected.

Pakistan's history is replete with strategic blunders of monumental stupidity, we have only been saved by tactical successes achieved by the great sacrifices and outstanding bravery of our soldiers, sailors and airmen, those who have actually taken part in action, and not just talked about it.

On the second point, the distribution of Pakistani military forces between the north and the south of the country, Mr. Sehgal made this observation:

Some morons thought up the "Defence of the East lies in the West," and we left East Pakistan defenceless […] Those who think that "the defence of the South lies in the North," i.e., putting the bulk of our Armed Forces protecting our main population centres and communication in the Punjab and AK, may be theoretically correct in a long-drawn-out war, in the short Indo-Pak version it is stupid, monumentally stupid, particularly in the face of the known Indian deployment.

As night turns into day, the Indians will put their main effort in the deep South. 18 Div was almost overwhelmed in 1971. Two brigades of 33 Div were force-marched from the Rahimyarkhan area to stem the rot. Only the outstanding courage of individual unit commanders like Lt Col (later Brig) Mohammad Taj, S J & Bar (44 Punjab now 4 Sindh), saved Pakistan when "the barbarians were at the gate" in Chhor and Umerkot on Dec 12, 1971. Taj was symbolic of many brave officers who went up and down the line in the Thar Desert exhorting the rank and file, the line held. It was touch and go for a couple of days! Later, no one did more than Lt Gen Lehrasab Khan as Commander 5 Corps for improving our defences in the area but even his soldierly persistence did not succeed penetrating military obduracy to get the resources in men and material required for the Chhor-Badin-Sujawal area. Kayani must ensure that this time around we have enough in the Thar Desert and the adjacent coast. Our existence is a zero-sum situation; can we afford to take chances?

These are issues that the political elite of the country is not aware of. In fact, with the lack of any organized research and analysis activities within the Pakistani political parties, it is no wonder that we see many Pakistani politicians and parties conducting their own private 'foreign policies' with outside powers.

The Pakistani military, while rightfully keeping a distance from domestic politics, has to make a temporary break and involve the political elite in an issue that concerns external threats facing Pakistan. The military will need this channel in the future, in case of a foreign imposed war, to urge the politicians to be able to explain the Pakistanis why Pakistan has to take unusual steps to protect the nation.

Eurocopter to build state of the art flagship Helicopter Service and Simulator Facility in Aberdeen

Written on January 27, 2009 – 7:36 pm | by Frontier India Strategic and Defence |

Eurocopter UK is to build a major new helicopter service centre at Kirkhill Commercial Park in Dyce, Aberdeen. The centre will bring the most up to date helicopter support technology to one of the busiest off shore oil and gas helicopter maintenance hubs in the world.

The facility, which will be designed and built for Eurocopter UK by Knight Property Group, will be ideally placed to offer state of the art logistical and technical support and flight simulator training for the UK's main heliport for the offshore oil industry. Home to major offshore helicopter operators Bristow Helicopters, Bond Offshore and CHC, Aberdeen is already a maintenance centre for 59 Super Puma/ EC255 family helicopters which fly an average of 85,000 hours per year in offshore missions, representing some of the most intensive helicopter traffic in the world.

The Eurocopter centre will comprise a 10,000 sq ft logistics warehouse and 5,000 sq ft of offices as well as 5,360 sq ft of flight simulator accommodation, which will house Eurocopter's first UK-based EC225 Flight Training Simulator. Work at the site will begin with ground breaking in April, and it is expected that the facility will be completed by December 2009. The centre will occupy the 1.2 acre site four at Knight Property Group's Kirkhill Commercial Park

Markus Steinke, Managing Director of Eurocopter UK commented: "The new state of the art Eurocopter facility in Aberdeen reinforces Eurocopter's commitment to investing in the UK, and to bringing the best technical and logistical support to where our customers need it most. The Eurocopter Puma/ Super Puma/ EC255 helicopter family has proved very popular in the UK, both supporting the UK offshore oil and gas industry and in military missions, as a key part of the Royal Air Force helicopter fleet. The new Aberdeen facility we are building is the latest of a growing range of high quality support services which we provide to our UK customers, both civil and military.

We aim to have a network of local operations close to our customers throughout the UK. With our already strong presence in England, Wales and Ireland, we are pleased to be now making a further commitment to Scotland."

Indian and Chinese security forces hold flag meeting in Ladakh

Chushul(J-K) Jan 27 (ANI): Keen to develop a long lasting friendship between border forces, Indian and Chinese security forces held a flag meeting at Chushul in Ladakh on Monday.

Sino-Indian border personnel meetings and flag meetings are guided by a mechanism that has been in vogue as a viable means to promote of Confidence Building Measures (CBM)).

The Indian Army received the Chinese delegation.

The flags of the two countries hoisted on the occasion and a cultural programme was also organised by the Chushul Garrison.

Brigadier Somnath Jha, Commandant of Indian Army's 114 Brigade based at Chushul who led the Indian delegation talked of the growing relation between the two countries.

"The relationship has grown rapidly from revolving around a volatile border dispute to one that is now encompasses, complex, political and economic connections," said Brigadier. Jha.

Describing meeting of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh with Chinese President Hu Jintao and visit of Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee last year as successful, Chinese senior Colonel Deng Guo Hua appreciated the success of the recent Sino-India joint anti-terrorism exercise in Belgaum, Karnataka.

Such friendly interactions have played a significant role in promoting and strengthening mutual confidence between both forces.

Reportedly both sides agreed to further intensify efforts to ensure peace and tranquility in the region in line with the border peace and tranquility accord signed in 1993.

China and India held the anti-terrorism exercise in a show of cooperation between the two long time rivals a week after armed militants attackedumbai.

India and China held their first such joint military exercise in 2007. (ANI)

Why does China continue to undergo such rapid military expansion?

China has issued a white paper entitled "China's National Defense in 2008," tracing shifts in its defense budget since the nation first implemented its open door policy in 1978. The dramatic increase in defense spending over the past 30 years is striking.

The first decade saw an average 3.5 percent rise in the defense budget. In the second decade the figure rose to an average increase of 14.5 percent, and the last decade, 15.9 percent. In recent years, the figure has exceeded Japan's overall spending on national defense -- in 2008, China's military budget was 417.7 billion yuan (approximately 5.849 trillion yen).

According to Western military experts, however, China's military spending is actually said to be two to three times the figure, once other military-related expenses designated for categories such as space exploration and foreign aid are taken into account.

Why does China continue to undergo such rapid military expansion? The white paper says that, "China will never seek hegemony or engage in military expansion now or in the future, no matter how developed it becomes." But this does not amount to a rational explanation and does nothing to reassure neighboring countries.

At one time, China offered an increase in military personnel costs as a result of improved labor conditions as its justification for soaring military expenses. It is more realistic to assume, however, that China's defense budget increase of recent years is due to qualitative changes made under the country's shifting military strategy.

The white paper touches upon the military's pelagic and space capabilities, and as if to confirm the country's focus, the government has acknowledged its consideration of constructing aircraft carriers. China, furthermore, has succeeded in several manned spacecraft missions, has developed the missile technology necessary to shoot down satellites in orbit, and has continued launching its own positioning satellites crucial to guiding these missiles. China's aspirations are transparent.

The country's goal is no longer the preservation of its land, territorial waters, and airspace, but the safeguarding of national interests, now spread across the globe. A debate has emerged within the military about replacing the protection of "territorial boundaries" with that of "boundaries of national interests." If military expansion is the purpose of this shift, how does it differ from the pursuit of hegemony? The white paper, alas, does not shed light on this question.

Currently the world's third biggest economy, China obtains the oil and natural gas necessary to support its economic growth via massive pipelines running from Central Asia, Myanmar, and Russia. It has participated in oil field development in Africa and the Middle East, its tank vessels loaded with oil forming a queue in the Indian Ocean, and is hoping to explore undersea resources in the South China Sea and the East China Sea.

The economic interests of the country have expanded on a worldwide scale. The Chinese Navy's deployment of cutting-edge missile destroyers to the waters off the coast of Somalia was not a mere short-term measure for dealing with pirates, but a way to establish the foundations to develop sea lane defense capabilities to Africa's coast.

How will China's military buildup be affected by economic growth that has slowed drastically this year? Had this been the China of yesterday, it would have focused its budget on building the economy. Putting the brakes on military expansion once it has gained momentum is no easy task, however, and, whether there will be a shift in the relationship between the government and the military remains to be seen.

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