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Friday, 30 January 2009

From Today's Papers - 30 Jan 09

UK to allow 36,000 Gurkhas to home in

Gurkhas are needed not just for their professionalism, but to boost numbers in an Army that is nearly 4,000 soldiers short

Nepal is understood to be concerned that the loss of so many citizens and their army pensions could leave a huge hole in its economy

London, January 29

In a U-turn of its earlier policy, Britain is set to allow an estimated 36,000 Gurkhas who served in the British Army before 1997 and their families to settle here, conceding a long-pending demand by the former soldiers.

The home office was forced to take action after a ruling from high court judges in October that the government needed to review its policy on whether the Gurkhas who had served the army before 1997 — the year Hong Kong was handed over to China — could live in Britain.

The policy change is expected to benefit about 36,000 Gurkha soldiers, according to a report in The Times today.

The report also said Nepal is understood to be concerned that the loss of so many citizens and their army pensions could leave a huge hole in its economy.

Quoting officials, it the forthcoming decision has such far-reaching consequences that concerns have been raised about the continuing recruitment of Gurkhas from Nepal.

It said defence officials have warned the Home Office that if the right to live in Britain were extended to every Gurkha who has served in the British Army, Nepal might scrap the 1947 agreement under which its young men have been recruited each year.

Since the tripartite agreement was signed with Nepal and India, the Nepalese economy has relied on income coming into the country from Gurkhas serving with the British Army.

The home office has come up with certain criteria for settlement that will keep the numbers down without flouting the judgment of the court.

The defence ministry denied a report last week that it planned to scrap the Gurkha Brigade because of the potential multimillion-pound cost of paying out bigger pensions to the Nepalese veterans if granted settlement rights. — PTI

US Must Deny Pakistan Army All Aid: Brajesh Mishra

New Delhi
The US should deny the Pakistani army all aid till it cooperates fully with the international community in controlling the Taliban in Afghanistan as well as in Pakistan, India's former national security adviser Brajesh Mishra said here Thursday.

“The Pakistan Army can't survive without aid and the economic support of the US,” Mishra said here at a discussion on 'Future directions of US' relations with India and the region'. The seminar was organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry and The Asia Foundation, a US think tank.

“Aid must be denied to the Pakistan Army unless it cooperates fully with the US and the international community in controlling the Taliban,” Mishra said while arguing that the denial of economic support to Pakistan military holds the key to the success of the US' policy in Afghanistan.

The Barack Obama administration has made the restoration of stability in Afghanistan the chief plank of its fight against terror and the centerpiece of its foreign policy in the region.

“If the US mission in Afghanistan is to succeed, it must deny a role to the Taliban in Afghanistan as it did in the nineties,” Mishra, a close aide of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, said.

“The idea is to put as much pressure as possible on the Pakistan military to control the Taliban both inside Pakistan as well as in Afghanistan,” he added. He also criticized Pakistan's policy on deceiving the US “by taking all the money while doing as little as possible to control Taliban".

“Pakistan wants the Taliban to succeed in Afghanistan but it does not want the Taliban to succeed in Pakistan,” Mishra said while stressing that the Pakistani military doctrine to use the Taliban to gain strategic depth in that region has not changed at all.

Alluding to the appointment of Richard Holbrooke as the US' special representative on Pakistan and Afghanistan, Mishra said any attempt to link Kashmir to terrorism in the region is an erroneous one. “No matter which government in India is in power it will not relinquish control over Jammu and Kashmir. It's written in stone and it can't be changed,” he said.

Striking an upbeat tone on the future of India-US relations, Mishra, however, cautioned that the closer India gets to the US, there will be some problems in relations due to divergences in perception over their role in world affairs.

“The US has a global agenda. India is not a global player yet; it has a regional agenda. There are possibilities of divergences of interests and perception,” he said while citing the refusal of India to send troops to Iraq as an example.

Karl Inderfurth, US Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia during the second Clinton presidency (1997-2001), called for greater cooperation between India and the US in bringing stability in Afghanistan and South Asia.

“There is no military solution to the problems in Afghanistan. We have to restore peace and stability in that country. India could be a valuable partner in this regard,” he said.

“There is a clear and present danger between what is happening in Afghanistan and the tribal areas of Pakistan. It can't be diplomatic business as usual,” he said.

That's why the US has decided to appoint a special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan, he said.

Indian Army to have Amphibious Force Soon
By Ritu Sharma

New Delhi
The Indian Army is all set to get next month its own amphibious brigade, modeled on the lines of the Indian Navy's marine commandos and specializing in land and marine warfare. Experts see it as a “necessary adjunct” to meet India's security challenges.

"The amphibious brigade of the army has been undergoing training for over a year at Thiruvananthapuram and will be formally launched by the defence minister (A.K. Antony) next month," a defence ministry official told IANS.

Named the 91 Infantry Brigade, the amphibious force has a strength of 3,000 personnel.

“The soldiers have been drawn from the Sikh, Gorkhas and Madras regiments,” the official added.

"Dedicated ships and aircrafts would be needed to make it (amphibious brigade) fully operational. But it is a good beginning for the augmentation of the maritime security of the country," said Major General (retired) Ashok Mehta.

Amphibious warfare is the utilization of naval firepower, logistics and strategy to send troops ashore. In the modern era, amphibious warfare persists in the form of commando insertion by fast patrol boats and mini submersibles.

“In modern warfare, an amphibious landing of infantry troops on a beach is the most complex of all military maneuvers," an army official said.

"The undertaking requires coordination of numerous military specialties, including air power, naval gunfire, naval transport, logistical planning, specialized equipment, land warfare, tactics and extensive training in the nuances of this maneuver for all personnel involved,” the official said.

A well-planned and executed amphibious operation - basically a tri-service operation launched from the sea by carrying soldiers and their weaponry on a ship and affecting a landing on enemy shore - could change the course of a war.

Last year, India unveiled the joint doctrine for its amphibious operations. The doctrine is meant to serve as a guideline on how the armed forces intend to plan and conduct amphibious operations and achieve full synergistic effect of joint combat power.

“In this century this (amphibious) capability is desirable. It is a necessary adjunct to the capability of India seeing the kind of security challenges it has to face,” said strategic analyst Commodore (retired) Uday Bhaskar.

The Indian Army has been augmenting its amphibious capabilities for long. One of the most advanced amphibious warships of the Indian Navy, the INS Shardul, was affiliated to the 5 Armored Regiment of the Indian Army last year.

Loaded with state-of-the-art equipment, INS Shardul is an amphibious warship capable of transporting personnel and accomplishing all objectives of beaching operations.

The 5 Armored Regiment holds some of the most potent and advanced tanks in the world. Since 2002, the regiment has been at the cutting edge of the mechanized operations.

“The Indian Army always had a certain degree of amphibious capability. The fact that we are moving to a brigade level is enhancement of one more component of joint combat. For a country like India, what is important is how we are weaving together the technological and component profile,” Bhaskar added.

Pakistan Completes Mumbai Bombings Probe

Pakistan has completed its probe into the Mumbai terror attacks that India has blamed on elements operating from this country, a media report Thursday said.

“Pakistan has completed the initial investigation report in connection with the Mumbai attacks,” The News said in a one line dispatch on its website, quoting sources.

President Asif Ali Zardari was Tuesday quoted as saying that India would be informed later this week about the outcome of the probe.

Zardari made the commitment at a dinner here for the envoys of France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Russia. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Interior Ministry Adviser Rehman Malik and Adviser on Finance Shaukat Tarin were among those who attended the dinner.

Zardari said Pakistan was “seriously conducting the probe” and urged the diplomats to play their role in defusing tensions for the sake of peace in the region.

Ten heavily armed terrorists that India says came from Pakistan sneaked into Mumbai Nov 26 via the sea route and attacked various installations in the city, holding it to ransom for over 60 hours before they were neutralised. More than 170 people, including 26 foreigners, lost their lives in the carnage, while over 300 were injured.

India had earlier this month submitted a detailed dossier on the involvement of elements from Pakistan in the Mumbai carnage. The interior ministry had asked a three-member panel to examine the document and submit a report by Tuesday. The deadline was then extended by two days.

India has also demanded the extradition of Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and Zarrar Shah, two key operatives of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terror group that New Delhi says planned the Mumbai attacks. The two were held last month during a crackdown on the Jamaat-ud-Dawa that the LeT has morphed into and are being held incommunicado at an undisclosed location.

“We will try to transform the information provided by India into solid evidences so that cases could be registered against perpetrators and they could be brought to justice inside Pakistan,” Dawn newspaper quoted Rehman as saying during the dinner.

In setting up the three-member panel, Rehman had Jan 17 also assured India and the international community that if any Pakistani was found to be involved in the Mumbai attacks, he would be tried in Pakistan in accordance with the country's law and would not be handed over to India.

Dawn quoted government sources as saying that the trial would be in camera and the media would be briefed on the proceedings through proper channels.

“They (the sources) said Pakistan wanted to try the people found involved in the Mumbai carnage because it believed that these non-state actors had embarrassed the country and tarnished its image in the world,” Dawn added.

Meanwhile, the law ministry is examining the country's anti-terror laws to see how best these can be amended to apply them to those who have been arrested here for the Mumbai carnage.

Pakistan's laws currently do not have any provisions for dealing with its nationals who commit crimes outside the country.

'US should back India for permanent UNSC seat'

PTI | January 29, 2009 | 16:54 IST

The United States should support India's bid for a permanent United Nations Security Council seat and work actively for the expansion of the top multilateral body, former American diplomat Karl Inderfurth said on Thursday.

"It is time for the US to publicly support India's bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council and to work actively with India and others to accomplish the goal of expansion of the UNSC," he said while addressing a session on 'Future Direction of US Relations with India and the Region'.

Inderfurth, who served as Assistant Secretary of State in the Bill Clinton administration, said the US should take these steps keeping in view India's thriving democracy, its billion plus population, its expanding economy and its longstanding contributions to UN peacekeeping.

He made it clear that the strengthening of the Indo-US ties should not be a part of the China containment strategy and the American focus should be on promoting a US-India-China cooperative triangle.

"China containment policy would be a great mistake. The US has to engage both the countries on their merit," Inderfurth said after releasing a book America's Role in Asia brought out by The Asia Foundation.

He suggested that one way to further a closer and cooperative relationship between the US, India and China would be to make these two South Asian powers formal members of an expanded G-8.

India and the US should cooperate in their efforts to stabilise Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal in their endeavour for a prosperous, stable and democratic South Asia, he said.

Chinese threat to Indian space assets

29 January 2009

Chinese attempts to militarize space are being taken note of by an alarmed Indian defence establishment By Radhakrishna Rao

DF15CWith all the three wings of the Chinese defence set up going through a process of massive modernization and augmentation, India has every reason to get worried over the possibility of a "Chinese threat" to the territorial integrity of the country. The "subtly expansionist" incursions by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) along the Line of Actual Control in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim and its deployment of nuclear submarines at a facility on Hainan Island in South China Sea are only some recent examples.

Not so far back in time, another incident which made everybody sit up and take notice of Chinese intentions was the shooting down of a junk weather satellite with the help of a missile. This incident only served notice of the belligerent intentions of India's northern neighbour.

Of course, the Indian Air Force (IAF) chief Air Marshal FH Major has made it clear that ground work is under way to make extensive use of space assets for a variety of passive and active combat roles and that the IAF is fully well aware of the threat faced from "space and cyberspace".

The aerospace command

Against this backdrop, the otherwise low key Indian defence minister AK Antony was frank enough to drive home the threat faced by "Indian space assets" from the growing Chinese prowess in the area of "space militarization". India, which is now a major space-faring nation, has a substantial number of satellites for communications, weather watch and earth observation in orbit. In fact, while addressing the United Commanders Conference held in New Delhi in mid-2008, Antony minced no words in deliberating upon the Chinese threat without making a direct reference to India's neighbouring communist giant. The thrust of Antony's thesis was on the Chinese advances in the area of "Star Wars."

Antony underscored India's worries over the emergence of "anti-satellite weaponry, a new class of heavy-lift boosters and an improved array of military space devices in our neighbourhood." Admitting that the ongoing developments provide a pointer to the threat facing "Indian space assets", Antony wondered as to how long India can "remain committed to the policy of non-weaponization of space even as counter space systems are emerging in our neighbourhood".

Antony backed up his concern by the announcement of the formation of a tri-services space cell that will be a single window agency within the Integrated Services Headquarters. The space cell, while helping Indian defence forces access the constellation of satellites being operated by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), will also serve as the forerunner of a full-fledged aerospace command, whose formation has been deferred for a long time now. In particular, the IAF has been pressing the Government to approve the formation of such a command, which is likely to be headquartered at the southern Indian city of Thiruvananthapuram. The aerospace command will also have active participation from Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO) and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

Meanwhile, the IAF chief, ACM FH Major, has made it clear that preparations are on to fully harness the capabilities offered by the country's satellite systems to boost preparedness and operational capabilities of the IAF. ACM Major has said that through an increased use of satellites and introduction of net centric warfare techniques, the IAF is set to emerge as a power of global standing.

Supporting the observation of the defence minister, Indian army chief General Deepak Kapoor expressed his concern over the fast growth of the well tuned Chinese space programme "especially in military terms with a thrust on offensive and defensive contents". Gen. Kapoor has highlighted the country's need to "optimize space applications for military purposes".

He has also made a forceful plea for the creation of a tri-service aerospace command, especially for surveillance and reconnaissance that would ensure rapid response to emerging threats. But then Gen. Kapoor was cautious to state that "the establishment of a tri service aerospace command for the exploitation of space will have to evolve dynamically".

Lt Gen HS Lidder, chief of the Integrated Defence Staff has expressed the view that "there is every possibility that we might get sucked into military contests either to protect our assets or to launch an offensive. And that is why a space cell is a precursor of a tri-service aerospace command".

It does appear that the Indian military establishment has come to view outer space as a new, and emerging, theatre of conflict, which so far has been fought only on land, air and water. It now argues that India should be well equipped to tackle potential adversaries in this "futuristic battlefield".

Borrowing ISRO assets

New version DF-15As things stand now, the role that ISRO could play in any proposed aerospace command remains uncertain. For, on the face of it, ISRO remains a civilian space agency with a mandate to peacefully exploit outer space for socio-economic development of the country. The activities of ISRO are in public domain and hence open to scrutiny. In public, ISRO maintains a safe distance from the defence establishment though the satellite constellations under its control are regularly accessed by Indian forces.

As of now, there are no exclusive military satellites catering to the specific needs of the Indian armed forces. Of course, all the three wings of the service have been clamouring for dedicated defence satellites to boost their preparedness.

The 690 kg Cartosat-2A advanced earth observation satellite, launched in April 2008, interests the Indian armed forces particularly. The satellite, with a resolution of one metre, is capable of providing detailed mapping of the terrain and landscape features. Similarly, navigation satellites planned for launch by ISRO in the near future could also come in handy for the defence forces as they would determine location status with a high degree of precision.

Moreover, a GPS satellite with a navigational payload would also contribute to the success of net centric warfare doctrines which the Indian defence forces are set to incorporate in their operational plans.

In parallel, efforts are on to exploit advances in areas of communications, computers, command and control and inter-operability. These would allow the services to get a holistic picture of the battle field and also allow them to destroy targets with a high level of probability, and in real time.

Similarly, sophisticated intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems, capable of monitoring the movement of adversaries would be available through the use of space platforms.

As is widely known, military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, spearheaded by US and allied forces, the entire range of reconnaissance information systems, including tactical UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) imageries, were analyzed at a central facility and transmitted back to the ground forces with minimum time-loss through a satellite communications system. There is no doubt that the net-centric warfare strategy paves the way for information sharing across multiple levels of traditional echelons of command and control.

On its part, the United States Air Force (USAF) which describes itself as an "integrated aerospace power" says that its responsibilities stretch from the surface of the earth to the orbital regions. The long-term strategy of the American space command includes the plan to destroy the well guarded space assets of the enemy camps in lightning speed. In fact, the thesis of the warfare experts is that since the success of military and strategic operations on ground depends on "alert birds" in outer space, whosoever knocks down the largest number of enemy satellites, stands to hold the strategic lead. Weather-watch spacecraft, predicting climatic and atmospheric conditions to facilitate bombing raids, navigation satellites guiding lethal arms to desired points, reconnaissance satellites locating the exact geographic position of military targets, electronic ferret satellites getting data on radar frequencies, communications satellites providing key links between the troops spread across a vast geographic swath and ocean watch satellites snooping on naval movements of the enemies have all become puppets on the chain of modern day warfare.

Indian defence forces are keen to get high resolution data from the defence satellites of Israel, including ISRO's PSLV- launched TECSAR reconnaissance satellite. The PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) is ISRO's four stage workhorse rocket.

Battlefield of the future

New Medium to Intermediate MissileGlaring intelligence failures, experienced particularly during the Kargil skirmish of 1999, continues to prod Indian defence forces to strengthen their intelligence gathering capabilities through the acquisition and analysis of high resolution satellite imageries.

As pointed out by Dr VK Aatre, former chief of DRDO, the need for India to go in for a system dynamic enough to protect its space assets has become pronounced in the context of the developments in China."We have fought wars in the air, water and land. But the way things are going, Star wars will no longer be just a fiction", observed Dr Aatre.

He also stated that 'India should adopt new technologies just as Russia and USA are doing to safeguard their interest in this new age space war. The USA has 110 military satellites, while the Russians have 40. This clearly signals that future wars will be space-based. It is necessary for us to develop satellite based electronics systems to ensure that our valuable space assets do not become vulnerable",

Against such a backdrop, the Indian defence planers have stressed on the need for a greater integration of activities and certain synergies between ISRO and DRDO to avoid duplicity of research efforts and pave the way for profitable and mutually beneficial sharing of resources. It is interesting to note that the development of nuclear-capable, surface-to-surface Agni range of missiles, spearheaded by the DRDO, did benefit from the solid-fuel technology developed by ISRO for its rockets.

Chemical fuel, navigation as well as guidance and electronics are among the hardware that are common to both satellite launch vehicles and missiles. The successful deployment of the PSLV for multiple satellite launches reveals that India has built a certain capability to develop Multiple Independent Retargetable Vehicles (MIRV). Of course, the technology going into MIRV would need to be far more precise and sophisticated than the one used in launch vehicles. On its part, DRDO has already hinted at a plan to develop MIRV technology.

Meanwhile, the tie-up that ISRO has forged with the New Delhi-based Brahmos Aerospace , the Indo-Russian outfit responsible for developing Brahmos supersonic cruise missile, augurs well for greater synergy between a civilian space organization and an outfit active in the area of defence oriented research and development. As part of this tie-up, Brahmos is planning to take up the engineering and integration of the Indian launch vehicles, such as the PSLV and the three-stage GSLV (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle).

The upcoming Brahmos facility at Thiruvananthapuram, which also happens to be the nerve-centre of Indian launch vehicles development, will also handle space tech related infrastructure work for ISRO's futuristic missions.

It may be recalled that in the aftermath of the widely publicized Chinese anti satellite test of early 2007, ISRO chairman G.Madhavan Nair had stated that though it is well within the capability of ISRO to develop and deploy a system to knock down a satellite in orbit, India's concern is to keep outer space an area of peace and tranquillity. As it is, the Communist giant had stunned the entire world by successfully deploying a ground- based, medium-range ballistic missile to destroy an aging weather satellite, located at an altitude of 537 miles.

The dragon's breath

By all means, this was the first demonstration of China's well-conceived plan to perfect a satellite killer device as a prelude to its "space weaponization programme".

All said and done, China would need to achieve a greater degree of sophistication to destroy enemy satellites meant for end-uses, such as communications, surveillance and navigation. For such satellites are placed into a higher orbit. But it is easier to kill reconnaissance satellites, a majority of which move in low earth orbits.

Taking a cue from earlier Russian and American experiments, China is also experimenting with high-powered laser weapons to knock out satellites. In incidents prior to the anti-satellite test, the Chinese "painted" an American satellite with laser beams. "They let us see their lasers. It is as if they are trying to frighten us" says Gary Payton, a senior Pentagon official dealing with space. What makes laser an ideal device for use as a space weapon is its inherent quality of moving straight without getting diffused or dissipated.

This light beam of a laser is of immense potential as it heats up the outer surface of a missile, or a satellite, until it is knocked out. Imaging surveillance satellite would be particularly vulnerable to blinding by laser beams because their functions depend on devices which are sensitive to light.

In the Chinese context, there is hardly a dividing line between space activities and defence projects .For the totalitarian communist regime in the country ensures that space and defence establishments in the country are free from public scrutiny. China, which has already accomplished two manned missions, is now busy preparing for another space spectacular in the form of a space walk and docking.

It has also hinted that it has a clear-cut plan to put in space an orbital complex which would give the communist giant an ideal platform to further its "space war ambitions". China could use its space complex to either shoot down a missile or kill a satellite.

China is also quietly building a new generation of heavy lift-off space vehicles to support its long-term space goals.

China also has in its possession a large number of ICBMs capable of reaching targets beyond 10,000-km. In sharp contrast, the most powerful ballistic missile in India's possession is the Agni-III, designed to reach a target at a distance of 3,000-kms.

The DRDO, of course, has plans to develop a 5,000-km range Agni-V. Also on DRDO's agenda is a plan to develop a submarine launched ballistic missile. It is also known that India is sufficiently well-equipped to build ICBMs with 10,000-km range as it exploits advances in space vehicle and missile technology.

For the moment, China is focussed on a programme to modernise its ballistic missile forces with the aim to improve its long-range strike capability.

Older generation, liquid fuel-driven ballistic missiles are now being replaced by a new generation of solid propellant road mobile missiles. Solid fuel driven missiles have a clear cut advantage over the liquid propellant missiles. For solid propellants, being earth storable, can be filled into missile silos in advance.

It is high time India took cognizance of the all-round defence oriented developments in its neighbourhood and prepare the ground to tackle the challenge posed by China's versatile military modernization drive.

India boosts arms modernisation after Mumbai


Thursday, January 29, 2009

By Bappa Majumdar

India is speeding a nearly $1 billion (704 million pounds) domestic weapons development programme to modernise its armed forces, the defence research department said on Thursday, following renewed tensions with Pakistan over the attacks in Mumbai.

The plans include inducting 124 main battle tanks for the Indian army by December, the first of a batch of locally-made combat aircraft for the navy also by the end of the year, and unmaned aerial vehicles to boost border surveillance.

"There is a certain push now to complete projects on time and deliver the goods for low intensity battles or to counter bigger security threats in the region," Suranjan Pal, a spokesman of the government-run Defence Research and Development Organisation, said.

Tensions between India and Pakistan mounted after the attacks in Mumbai in November, which New Delhi said were carried out by Pakistani nationals and must have had support from Pakistani state agencies.

Since the Mumbai attacks, local media has highlighted the many antiquated weapons system that India has, from artillery to tanks, and poor surveillance capabilities.

"India's military capability had been shrinking as modernisation efforts were moving very slowly, but now there is more interest being shown," C. Uday Bhaskar, a strategic affairs expert, said.

The modernisation plans include developing the Agni-5 missile, capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and hitting targets 5,000 km (3,100 miles) away, and torpedoes and planes for the navy.

India is also one of the world's biggest arms importers, but government officials and experts said the priority was to boost indigenous capacity and reduce reliance on foreign suppliers.

"Foreign countries are generally not interested in sharing critical technology with us, so we are pushing more for indigenous development," Pal said.

The DRDO has often been criticised in the past by experts for delays on key projects, including the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) and an Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS).

The naval version of the LCA will enter service in December this year while the air force will get 20 planes next year. The aircraft is a supersonic, all-weather fighter which has been under development for more than two decades.

(Editing by Alistair Scrutton and Sanjeev Miglani)

Kashmir is bilateral
US opts for new hyphenation

THE new US administration has finally realised the sensitive nature of the Kashmir question. That is why it has categorically stated that Kashmir does not figure on President Barack Obama’s agenda. Washington has also made it clear that the US special envoy for Pakistan-Afghanistan, Mr Richard Holbrooke, has nothing to do with Kashmir, a matter involving India and Pakistan. The US was required to restate its position in view of what Mr Obama said during his two interviews with Time magazine and US Ambassador-Designate Susan Rice’s description of Kashmir as one of the world’s “hot spots” and a recruiting ground for Al-Qaida. This indicated a change in the US stance. However, with the State Department clarifying its position as it existed earlier, the confusion over Kashmir vis-à-vis the US has come to a happy end.

India has always been of the view that Kashmir is a bilateral issue to be sorted out between India and Pakistan. New Delhi cannot tolerate a third-party intervention on an issue involving two neighbours. Contrary to this, Pakistan has been seeing virtue in internationalising the issue, and hence Islamabad’s efforts to bring in outside powers to mediate in its resolution. Pakistan wants the world to believe that a resolution of the issue through international mediation will help contain terrorism. President Asif Zardari wrote an article carried in Wednesday’s issue of The Washington Post, arguing that a link existed between terrorism and Kashmir. He unsuccessfully pleaded for including Kashmir in Mr Holbrooke’s agenda.

It is true that President Obama has certain ideas on Kashmir which he articulated in the course of the interviews he gave to Time in October and December 2008. But his views were, perhaps, wrongly interpreted to mean that Kashmir figures in his “strategy in Afghanistan”. The US under him has shifted the hyphen between India and Pakistan to Pakistan-Afghanistan. That is why Washington is concentrating on the tribal areas inhabited by the Pashtu-speaking people on both sides of the Durand Line to eliminate terrorism. The drone attacks on the Pakistani side are likely to intensify to smoke out the terrorists in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). This brings out the truth that terrorism and Kashmir are totally unconnected.

Withdraw from Indus treaty
by M.S. Menon

The despicable act of mass-casualty terrorism carried out by Pakistan sponsored terrorists on November 26, 2008, in Mumbai, and subsequent denials by our neighbour have revealed that India’s policy of appeasing Pakistan in the hope of peace had the opposite effect of what this country had hoped for.

Our often misplaced generosity had emboldened our neighbour to redouble its mischief with impunity, proving thereby that there is no short-cut to peace with Pakistan.

Unless Pakistan is made to realise that such acts of theirs against India would harm them more than hurting India, engaging them in the so-called peace process would ultimately turn out to be an exercise in futility.

Many retaliatory actions have been proposed and considered in the agonised deliberations subsequently held in India such as snapping tourism and trade, recalling our High Commissioner and even war.

Certainly war is not an option. But there is one option which can hurt Pakistan most — that of announcing India’s intent to withdraw from the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) of 1960, signed between the two countries allocating the Indus waters .

As per the IWT, while Pakistan got the entire waters of the western rivers (The Indus, Jhelum and Chenab) , India got the eastern rivers (The Ravi, Beas and Sutlej) ie; only 20 per cent of the total water resources of the basin against its rightful share of more than 40 per cent.

If India walks out, the collapse of this Pakistan-biased treaty would trigger serious problems of water shortages there since India would then be having the option to divert and use its equitable share of Indus waters, which was denied all along due to the existing treaty provisions.

Internationally, an impression has been created by vested interests that the treaty is a model for trans-boundary river water agreements because of its in-built resilience and since it has survived two wars between the countries.

However, the fact is that even in spite of the unfair water allocations and treaty provisions, India has been always accommodating Pakistan’s unreasonable demands in the interest of peaceful neighbourly relations.

The reduced allocation has caused water shortages in our states of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan seriously affecting irrigated agriculture.

Also, endless arguments raised by our neighbour to delay every project planned by India, have grounded the pace of infrastructure development, particularly in J&K.

The treaty does not explicitly provide for an exit option or a mechanism to withdraw from the agreements. The only possibility is to modify the provisions by a duly ratified treaty concluded for that purpose between the two countries; but, this would remain a distant dream in view of the prevailing circumstances.

The time has, therefore, come to put an end to the covert wars waged by that country against India and the option available to us is by justifying India’s right to withdraw from the treaty citing Pakistan’s non-compliance with the UN Security Council’s Resolution 1373 on denial of terrorist sanctuaries and support.

Any pronouncement to walk out of the treaty would need to be followed by requisite actions to show that India means business since pious declarations alone would not stop the flow of the river. Hence, we must be ready with our plans to control and divert the river flows.

In this connection, available data indicate that, in the past, India had planned many schemes across the western rivers to tap the hydropower potential as permitted in the treaty. However, not much has been done to study the diversion possibilities of water from the western to the eastern rivers to augment the flows in the Indian side.

For example, there is a possibility of diverting the Indus at a point upstream of the Stakna hydro power project to a tributary of the Sutlej through a tunnel.

Similarly , the Chenab waters could be diverted from the river Chandra, a tributary of the Chenab, to a tributary of the Beas and from the Chenab main at Marlu to a tributary of the Ravi through tunnels.

A possibility also exists for constructing large dams on the Jhelum to facilitate the diversion of waters to the Chenab and to the Ravi.

In view of the large irrigation water demands made by Indian states, field surveys and sub-surface investigations should be taken up urgently and detailed project reports got ready for implementation of various diversion proposals.

It is, therefore, for India to take the lead in its own defence so that Pakistan would be forced to abide by the UN Security Council Resolution for ending terrorism.

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