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Saturday, 28 February 2009

From Today's Papers - 28 Feb 09

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Another Flip-Flop
Kasab didn't go by sea: Pak navy

New Delhi, February 27
Islamabad was back in denial mode today with Navy Chief Admiral Noman Bashir claiming there was no proof that Ajmal Kasab took the sea route from Pakistan to carry out the Mumbai terror attacks.

"We have seen no evidence that confirms he and other terrorists went from Pakistan to Mumbai," Bashir told reporters here. The Navy chief's contention contradicts Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik's admission two weeks back that the Mumbai attacks were "partly" plotted on Pakistan soil and launched from its shores for which it has arrested six persons.

"The evidence that I have doesn't show" that the terrorists went from this country. "This is India's claim from day one. Even before the Mumbai incidents had ended, India was saying that the terrorists have used the sea route," he said.

The Navy chief wondered how the terrorists could have escaped the tight vigil of the Pakistan Navy guarding its coastline. "If they have evaded us and the Indian Navy which is ten times bigger than our Navy, and cheated them along with the Coastguard, which is 12 times bigger than our Coastguards, what shall I say," he said.

Bashir said they were lot of questions that still needed to be answered about the Mumbai terror attacks. "I don't want to make anymore comments on this until I have seen some evidence and if Kasab and others reached Mumbai via our waters, the question is what was the Indian Naval and Maritime forces doing? If this was true, it showed the failure of the Indian Navy and the Coastguards," he said. He said Pakistan was committed to stopping terrorism emanating fro the sea route. — PTI

Bangladesh Rifles Chief Killed in Mutiny: Army Official

Major General Shakil Ahmed, director general of Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), died in a hail of bullets within 10 minutes of the mutiny by the troopers that ended after two days of killing and chaos.

The general's killing was confirmed late Thursday evening by Lt. Col. Syed Kamruzzaman, who survived the killing-spree by troopers of the country's border guards, a media report said Friday.

Over 50 people, many of them officers of the Bangladesh Army, are reported to have been killed during the mutiny.

The shooting by mutinous troopers began at the Darbar Hall, which is the conference room, at BDR headquarters at Pilkhana in the national capital Wednesday morning, The Daily Star newspaper said.

Its web site Star Online Friday said that two bodies of an elderly couple was also found at the director general's residence.

They were identified as those of a retired colonel and his wife who had come for medical treatment and were guests of General Ahmed.

Qamaruzzaman told the media at the staff college officers' mess in Mirpur Cantonment that he was saved by "a few good jawans".

As a band of troopers wearing red bandanas opened fire inside the conference room at around 9.45 a.m., Kamruzzaman and 11 other officers, including the director general, took shelter in corners of the stage in the hall.

After around five minutes, some troopers ordered them to come out and walk in a line led by General Ahmed.

"As the DG (Shakil Ahmed) climbed down the stairs of darbar hall, one jawan sprayed him with bullets. Soon the other jawans there started firing on us," said Kamruzzaman.

"I dived on the ground after a bullet hit me in the stomach. Somehow I managed to crawl inside a washroom. A few minutes later, some jawans found that I was hiding in a toilet. They fired a volley of shots at me, but miraculously none hit me," he went on.

"As one jawan pointed his gun at my chest, in desperation I hugged him tightly and asked, `Why will you kill me? What harm did I do to you?'.

"I don't know what occurred to them. They said 'OK. We won't kill you'. They took me to another place and kept me hidden from others."

Lt. Col. Kamruzzaman, general staff officer 1 (communication), said when the troopers were taking him to safety he saw bodies of Major General Shakil Ahmed, Brig Bari, Col. Moshiur, Col. Zahid, Col. Anis, Col. Emdad and Lt. Col. Ershad.

He said over 160 officers were in the darbar hall when the killing spree began.

However, he could not say what happened to others.

He said as another group spotted him a few hours before the end of the mutiny, he told them that it was their men who hid him there.

"They told me, 'OK, we'll spare you, but you have to run as we order'. As I started zigzagging down the lawn, some armed jawans attempted to shoot at me. But the ones who saved me first came to my rescue again. They took me to the quarter guardroom from where I was finally rescued," Kamruzzaman said.

At the same briefing, Major Monir described how he cheated death hiding in a drain and then inside the false ceiling of the darbar hall for almost two days.

"I watched helpless as jawans killed other officers," he said.

Col. Asif, Lt. Col. Yasmin and her husband A.K.M. Arifur Rahman, a district judge of Dhaka, spoke in the briefing.

They claimed that the BDR men looted valuables from almost all households.

The mutiny by the BDR troopers broke out Wednesday morning when they took control of their headquarter in the capital city. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina offered general amnesty to them, but the troopers were defiant and refused to lay down arms.

The government held talks with a delegation of the mutineers Thursday and an agreement was reached but by that time, the mutiny spread to other BDR camps located all over the country.

The revolt ended in the face of an imminent attack by the Bangladesh Army which moved tanks into position outside the BDR headquarters. The mutineers then laid down their arms.

Back to 1971 war: Hand of Pak friends seen in mutiny

- Carnage planned, millions pumped in: Dhaka


Calcutta, Feb. 27: The root of what is turning out to be the world's worst mutiny in recent times could go all the way back to an event Bengal and the rest of India cannot forget: the Liberation War of 1971.

The Bangladesh Rifles mutiny, in which scores of army officers and several others have been killed, could have been engineered to thwart a determined effort by the Shiekh Hasina government to punish the pro-Pakistan collaborators of 1971 who are still friends with Islamabad, sources told The Telegraph.

The Bangladesh government today said the mutiny was "pre-planned" and that "millions of takas" had been spent on its execution. No suspect was officially named — that task has been left to a six-member committee which will probe the carnage.

But government sources said they saw an "ISI hand" in the mutiny. "The issues involved — pay and perks parity — were not so grave that it could have led to a spontaneous revolt of such magnitude that it warranted the killing of so many army officers," an official said.

The sources said the real cause of the revolt could be linked to the drive to punish the "war criminals" — one of the most important promises made in the Awami League's election manifesto.

After coming to power two months ago on a landslide, Hasina's Awami League moved a resolution in parliament that all "war criminals" would be tried and punished.

The sources said many of the "war criminals" were now leaders of the hardline Jamaat-e-Islami and were known for their close ties with Pakistan. "This resolution by the Awami League and its resolve to push ahead with the election promise obviously upset the Jamaat leaders who realised that sooner rather than later the government would zero in on them," an official said.

The extent to which the Jamaat leaders were upset can be gauged from the fact that recently Pakistan sent Zia Ispahani, a special envoy, to Dhaka to discuss the issue with Bangladesh's foreign minister.

After the meeting, the special envoy had told reporters that this was not the right time to punish the war criminals. "Pakistan wants to help Bangladesh now, so they should not go ahead with their resolution," Ispahani had said.

If the suspicion of the Bangladesh officials turn out to be true, it will mark a disturbing turnaround for the BDR which, in its earlier avatar as the East Pakistan Rifles, had taken up arms against the Pakistan Army in 1971. Since then, barring some skirmishes, the border force has been largely accommodative of India's concerns.

However, over the years, the lower ranks of the force could have been infiltrated by hardline elements, the sources said.

Hasina today said the violence was a "plot by a section of conspirators" to destabilise her government and refused to grant amnesty to those who indulged in killings.

She told reporters after a visit to Dhaka's Mirpur Cantonment to console the families of the dead commanders: "It seems a certain group staged the incident. It must also be inquired if any quarter provoked this incident. We must see whether there was any plan to use this incident for a different purpose."

Jahangir Kabir Nanak, the minister for local government and the key negotiator with the rebels, said "millions of takas" were distributed to make the plot a success.

He also wondered who was behind the group of people seen egging on the mutineers by standing outside the complex and shouting slogans such as "BDR, you go ahead, we are with you".

'No slowdown in defence sector for next 25 years'

BS Reporter / New Delhi February 27, 2009, 16:21 IST

The global financial crisis might have cast dark clouds over many industries but not the defence sector in India. This is because India's armed forces have a demand for new equipment and technology for the next 20-25 years and liberalisation of India's defence procurement policy offers a unique opportunity for Indian companies to provide services for the armed forces.

With the 34 per cent increase in the annual defence budget to Rs 1,41,703 crore, or 2.4 per cent of the GDP, there is an opportunity for Indian industry, especially the capital goods sector, to provide sub-contracting services to the armed forces, said S Rajan, joint secretary (exports), Ministry of Defence, at a CII seminar on opportunities for the capital goods industries in the capital today.

Currently, most of the sub-contracting services are being provided by the IT/ITeS sector, but the capital goods industries must step up its efforts to provide such services for the defence sector, he said.

By 2013, nearly $35 billion would be spent on defence in India, said Rajan.

An amount of Rs 3,000 crore has been earmarked for defence forces modernisation in the next three years, Rs 2,000 crore to build naval shipyards and Rs 2,000 crore earmarked for defence PSUs. All this money would be spent on imports if entrepreneurship is not encouraged in India's capital goods industries, said Rajan.

The defence offset policy, which requires a foreign vendor to spend a minimum of 30 per cent of its investment in building capability of Indian R&D, has led to many joint ventures between Indian and foreign vendors and this advantage must be leveraged at such a time, he added.

Dhaka mutiny: Trial of killers to be fast-tracked

NDTV Correspondent

Saturday, February 28, 2009, (Dhaka)

A day after a mass grave of army officers was discovered in the BDR complex, a senior army officer has said that the trial of those who killed scores of army officers in the two-day BDR mutiny will be fast-tracked.

In a statement, the army officer has said that the general amnesty that was announced by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina does not mean that those who took part in killing and mutiny will be pardoned.

In fact, for a speedy trial the Bangladesh government will form a special tribunal and a proper representation from the army in the inquiry committee will be ensured.

Meanwhile, those who died in that two-day mutiny would be buried with full state honours.

Pak chaos may embolden militants: Nawaz

NDTV Correspondent

Saturday, February 28, 2009, (Islamabad)

Pakistan Opposition leader Nawaz Sharif has warned that the current political chaos in the country could embolden Islamist militants.

The political crisis in Pakistan began on Wednesday after Nawaz was barred from contesting elections and his supporters have been protesting since then.

The US wants both Sharif and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari as allies in its war against terror, but Sharif said the situation could deteriorate to the point that it undermines Pakistan's efforts against terrorism.

Meanwhile, addressing PPP leaders from Punjab who called on him at President House on Friday, President Zardari said that if Sharif brothers consulted him after Supreme Court's verdict against them, a "solution" could be explored.

Earlier, President Zardari said the government had a strong conviction to resolve various issues through political dialogue.

US erroneous longing to convert defeat into victory in Afghanistan

Friday February 27, 2009 (1056 PST)

The new millennium saw worst bloodshed of the Muslims. The horrific acts of USA resulted in massacre of more than 1.5 million Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq; rapes and hair-raising tortures to thousands in infamous Baghram Base, Abu Gharib and Guantanamo ghoulish prisons for years; destruction of property, infrastructure, houses, farms, orchards and agriculture; millions of women getting widowed, children orphaned, millions made homeless; serious injuries to millions with many maimed for life. The so-called civilised world took active part in this massive genocide and mayhem of the people of two victim countries based on fabricated charges. Bush and his team as well as Tony Blair blatantly lied to the world to justify invasion of Iraq. The eight years Iran-Iraq war stoked by USA cost over million casualties and had been described as the regions bloodiest since Mongol invasion of Iraq in 1258 AD. US invasion of Iraq in 2003 surpassed that figure of fatalities to 1.4 million.

Even now, their thirst for blood of Muslims has not quenched and they continue to find new means to suck their blood. They have come down from country, to groups and now to non-state actors to fish for all anti-US elements. They do not mind having spent a colossal amount on this senseless US war on terror, which has now been converted into Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan wars. So intense is their hatred against the Muslims that even global economic meltdown and US economy nose-dive has not bothered them. They have now decided to shift focus of war towards Afghanistan-Pakistan, beef up military strength in that theatre and induct Indian military in Afghanistan and make it a key ally in war on terror.

While the Taliban are no threat to US homeland security they do pose credible threat to US regional interests as long as Afghanistan remains in occupation of foreign troops and FATA is subjected to drone attacks. Al-Qaeda is the chief threat to US global ascendancy which USA wants to retain by using brute force; diplomatic, political and economic coercion; and rewards in return for a price. The Al-Qaeda challenges the pro-rich capitalist system, skewed democracy which is a means to neo-colonise the developing and under developed world, unjust judicial system that is expensive, time consuming and protects the rich only. It challenges the doctrine of war on terror framed by the Bush led neo-cons which is Muslim specific and meant to eliminate all anti-US elements residing in Muslim world with the help of handpicked secular leaders. Al-Qaeda is a reactionary force which has assumed international dimensions because of American excessive oppression of the Muslims under the garb of terrorism.

USA and the west are now working on a plan to let Indian military play a central role in Afghan affairs. In other words it desires Indian forces should be prepared to take over security duties once US-NATO forces decide to withdraw from the region and operate both sides of Durand Line including FATA. RAW, CIA and KGB have succeeded in cultivating anti-social and anti-state elements within Pakistan and are using them to foment chaos in troubled spots. RAW is busy accentuating fissiparous tendencies in Pakistan. Balwaristan movement in Gilgit is instigated and funded by RAW, and so are Fazlullah led Taliban in Swat and the BLA leadership in exile in Kabul seeking independence of Baluchistan. Several RAW agents have been arrested in Baluchistan, Bajaur, Swat and Lahore.

From June 2008 onwards, US drones continuously violated our airspace and killed innocent people in Waziristan. Only unmanned drones equipped with cameras had been allowed by Musharraf to intrude into our territory for purpose of intelligence sharing since Pakistan did not have requisite technological capability. Despite repeated requests by our leaders and assurances by Bush and Adm. Mullen that Pakistan`s sovereignty will be respected, it was violated unabatedly. US leaders adopted a belligerent posture and gave all sorts of ridiculous names to Pakistan indicating hostile intentions. US failures in Afghanistan were lumped on Pakistan. Anti-American elements were dubbed as terrorists or pro-terrorists. A virulent propaganda campaign was unleashed to defame the army, the ISI, political leadership and other institutions and an impression was built to project Pakistan as a non-governable, non-viable failing state and its nuclear weapons unsafe. Dissatisfaction was expressed over army`s performance and the ISI was maligned to be in cahoots with the Taliban. Threat of religious militancy was over blown asserting that they had gained sufficient strength to take over power and the nuclear weapons. Stories of balkanisation of Pakistan were deliberately floated by leading US think tanks, most being Jewish dominated and funded. Daniel Pipes, the most notorious anti-Islamist, was glorified and appointed as member of US think tank by Bush. Arnaud de Borchgrave, Seymon Herc, B. Raman, Douglas Frantz, Catherine Collins and RAND are all anti-Pakistan. Paid writers and intellectuals in Pakistan subscribed to western diatribe.

This was the time when Pakistan economy had nose-dived and all its economic indicators had fallen due to surging oil price and devaluation of rupee. Military and economic coercion was padded up with psychological operations under a timed program worked out in 2001 to destabilise, de-Islamise and de-nuclearise Pakistan and turn it into a compliant state of India, or else truncate it. Sufficient progress had been made in the domains of destabilisation and de-Islamisation, but for de-nuclearisation, it was necessary to weaken the trunk of the army and to defang the ISI. For the attainment of these objectives, the army had been pushed into the furnaces of FATA and Baluchistan and the ISI willfully defamed. The two furnaces have been continuously fuelled.

Our leaders had attached high hopes that drone attacks would terminate once Obama led Administration took over. Such fancying without any basis dashed after the January 23 attacks in the two Waziristan Agencies killing 20 people. Two more attacks have taken place in February. It has been made clear that attacks would continue without taking Islamabad into confidence and irrespective of its reservations. Foreign policies do not hinge on hopes and that too false ones. Noam Chomsky too has opined that there will be no change in US policy. US leaders are myopically convinced that drones are valuable means to enfeeble al-Qaeda operatives based in FATA. Robert Gates, retained as Defence Secretary said that the US would go after Al-Qaeda, wherever Al-Qaeda is. This statement has been made to justify drone attacks and to pave the way for military operations in FATA. Joe Biden touted as Pakistan`s friend has started to talk tough reaffirming Obama viewpoint that US troops would barge into Pakistan whenever actionable target crops up. Karzai has already subscribed to the views of NATO leadership by asserting that USA should take the war into Pakistan to tackle militancy. Reportedly, USA has made plans to send Special Forces into FATA to destroy militant sanctuaries and nab or kill high value targets. It says that unless terrorists` nests and training sites in FATA are destroyed militancy in Afghanistan would not be controlled. None realise that suchlike aggressive acts not only fuel militancy but also undo army`s efforts to control militancy and contributes towards weakening the writ of Pakistan government. It is ironic that stabilisation of Afghanistan is being achieved by destabilising Pakistan. Not only US funding on war on terror has been slashed, much-hyped $15 billion Lugar-Biden non-military assistance to Pakistan spread over ten years has been axed.

Richard Holbrooke appointed as Special Envoy for Pakistan-Afghanistan has no soft corner for Muslims or for Pakistan as can be judged from his track record. Besides being pro-Israel, he is pushy, hard-nose and a strong advocate of military action. He had encouraged ethnic cleansing of Serbs at the hands of Croatians in 1995. Our excitement about Kashmir on his agenda proved short-lived since it has been clipped from his mandate under Indian pressure. He is in very good books of newly appointed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton whose hostile utterances against Pakistan are well documented. In her bid to please the Jews she is on record saying that she is prepared to obliterate Iran and kill 70 million citizens. Having expressed his unhappiness over the dismal performance of Karzai led regime, Holbrooke will be tough with Karzai and will be pushing him to get rid of corrupt and inept practices and start delivering or get ready for a sack. It will be quite easy for him to make our weak-kneed civilian rulers submit to his wishes. We shall be hearing a lot about him coordinating Pak-Afghan joint actions along the Durand Line and he may once again encourage ethnic cleansing of hard-line Pakhtuns.

Obama wishes to convert Bush defeat into victory in Afghanistan by applying greater force. Like Bush regime, the Obama led Administration too do not wish that the Taliban under Mullah Omer should return to power. Keeping Al-Qaeda out of Afghanistan and the Taliban out of power are difficult propositions and unachievable in short-term perspective. These objectives are planned to be achieved through troop surge of over 30,000 US troops so as to outgun and outmanoeuvre the militants in their strongholds in southern and eastern Afghanistan. Pakistan will be asked by assertive Holbrooke to go all out to decimate foreign and hard-line militants in FATA. Within Afghanistan, efforts will be made to break the nexus between Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda to isolate the latter and give it a mortal blow.

USA has not met with any appreciable success to divide the Taliban by winning over the moderate elements and making them share power. Efforts will be renewed to win over Mullah Omar who has hinted at sharing power provided a firm time-table of foreign troop withdrawal is announced. Two-year timeframe will be offered as in case of Iraq, which will subsequently be dishonoured. Negotiations for power sharing will be undertaken only when the US-Nato military tilts the balance in its favour to be able to bargain from a position of strength. This implies more bloodshed, not realising that more the provocations by US troops, fiercer will be the response from the militant forces. Its oppressive acts will accelerate rather than de-accelerate violence thereby making foreign troops based in Afghanistan that much vulnerable to attacks. Military power can win a war but cannot defeat terrorism, which grows like wild weeds. Terrorism is a product of injustice; without eradicating root causes which breed terrorism, the disease cannot be cured by applying force. Obama and his team must take into account the consensus that has emerged among the western analysts that dialogue based on sincerity of purpose and genuine efforts to remove root causes is the key to settle Afghan imbroglio.

Experts Discuss US Options in Afghanistan, Pakistan

By Deborah Tate


27 February 2009

A panel of experts urged changes in U.S. policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan. Their testimony before a U.S. Senate panel on Thursday came as the Obama administration is conducting a review of U.S. policy in the region.

Much of the hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee dealt with Afghanistan, where President Barack Obama has decided to send another 17,000 troops to respond to the worsening violence there.

The experts at the hearing agreed with the president's decision, but said success in Afghanistan would require more than just an increase in troop numbers.

The experts agreed on the need to unify the NATO and American military command chain, help the Afghan government increase the ranks of its Army and intensify U.S. engagement in the region -- proposals offered by the Senate Armed Services Committee top Republican, Senator John McCain of Arizona, in a Washington speech this week.

Retired Army Lieutenant General David Barno, Director of the National Defense University's Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies, offered a sober assessment.

"In my judgment, the international effort in Afghanistan is drifting toward failure. There is still time to turn it around. But it will take strong U.S. leadership, a change of strategic direction, focused and substantial effort," he said.

Barno called for a unified counterinsurgency approach. "A unified strategy must include counter-narcotics, rule of law, governance, development, building security forces and counterterrorism," he said.

Barno suggested pursuing this approach in three phases. He said the United States and its allies should focus first on stabilizing Afghanistan and setting the conditions for a successful presidential election later this year. He said that next year, the focus should shift toward building additional Afghan security forces and state institutions. Barno described the final phase, to take place between 2015 and 2025, as movement to full Afghan control as security improves and economic capability takes root.

James Dobbins, Director of the RAND Corporation's International Security and Defense Policy Center and a former U.S. envoy to Afghanistan, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the goal of U.S. policy in Afghanistan should be security for the Afghan people.

"Our job is neither to defeat the Taliban nor to determine the future shape of Afghan society. The American and allied objectives should be to reverse the current negative security trends and ensure that fewer innocent Afghans are killed next year than this year. If as a result of our efforts the current rise in violence is reversed and the population made more secure, the Afghan people will be able to determine their own future through peaceful rather than violent competition of ideas, people and political factions," he said.

The experts agreed that Pakistan poses a top challenge to the region.

Lieutenant General Barno called on the United States to assist Pakistan in reforming the country militarily and economically. "We have to have a vision of a long term relationship there that allows them to believe in the sustained presence and the sustained involvement of the United States in the region. Their lack of that belief today undercuts all of our efforts," he said.

Marin Strmecki, Senior Vice President and Director of Programs at the Smith Richardson Foundation, suggested that the United States use development aid as leverage to spur greater efforts by Islamabad against extremists in the border area with Afghanistan. He called for increasing such aid to the level given to Egypt -- the largest recipient of U.S. development aid.

"I think if Pakistan moves into a fully cooperative posture, vis-à-vis Afghanistan, we should be prepared to put on the table Egypt-level assistance in the long-term to rebuild Pakistan's educational infrastructure, its economy, and to prove that the United States has an interest in Pakistan -- not because it is going to help us in the war on terror, but for Pakistan's own sake. I think it is important that that come only after Pakistan has become fully cooperative in our relationship," he said.

A number of U.S. lawmakers favor increasing development aid to Pakistan, although not all of them say it should be made conditional.

How India can hasten its climb as a superpower

Pramod Kumar Buravalli | February 27, 2009 | 14:23 IST

I was so wrong! About three years ago, I wrote anarticle on wherein I mentioned the inability of the Indian Space Research Organisation to think ahead of its contemporaries. But Chandrayaan and the absolute stellar effort by ISRO proved me wrong and I feel so proud and happy to be proved wrong. As an Indian living in America, you want to see India progress faster than any other country in the world.

Post the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai, there was an upsurge of rage amongst all Indians living outside India. We all thought that India cannot be perceived as a weak nation that is dependant on world powers for financial, military and diplomatic support. We all wanted India to go in and carry out surgical strikes and destroy the camps across Pakistan Occupied Kashmir and deep into northern Pakistan.

But, as time flies by, we all realised that rhetoric alone cannot be sufficient and any hastily concluded emotional decision would bring more harm than anything else to the Indian civilian population.

So, India must plan and plan for the long haul. Becoming an economic, military, political and geographical superpower needs a lot of planning. The next 25 years we have to invest to make sure that Indian military, space and other defence research organisations and of course building civilian awareness in crucial situations, are never compromised.

In my previous articles, I have mentioned what the Indian navy, air force and space research organisations need to do to set the tone and lay the foundation. In this article, I will mention specifics:

What the Indian military needs to do at the policy and planning level:

In the next 25 years, we are looking at a maritime force that is truly a large blue water navy and an air force that is in reality an aerospace force. To complete the vision, the following are bare necessities at the planning and implementation level:

  • Investing both in public and private military industrial complexes that are supplemented by uninterrupted material supplies
  • Developing and retaining a stable and well-trained maritime and aerospace engineering manpower.
  • A research arm that focuses on continuous supply and production of fuel, weapons and stealthy delivery systems.
  • Developing and camouflaging unsurpassed 2nd and 3rd strike capabilities.
  • Building a team of engineers that constantly come up with innovative stealth vessels.
  • Strategic partnerships need to be re-established with China, Japan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and Cambodia.
  • Friendly collaborative relations have to be maintained with Russia, America, Europe, Brazil and Israel.

Now, specificsWhat the Indian Navy needs in its arsenal for the next 25 years:

Aircraft Carriers Battle Groups: The Indian Navy will need at least three mid-sized strike carriers of the 40,000 ton capacity. The current Vikrant class carrier being constructed at Kochi should be the ideal test bed for future innovations in this area. This carrier should be powered by dual fuel or an indigenous nuclear fuel engine. The air complement needs to be a mix and match of several VTOL, STVOL and multi-role aircraft forming two full squadrons. The escort complement will anyway have to consist of warships, frigates, and attack submarines along with supply ships. Overall, the Indian Navy needs six carrier groups to fully justify the concept of Carrier Battle Groups.

SSBN's and Submarine Battle Groups: The ATV (Advanced Technology Vessel) project will be unveiled in the next 2-3 years. A full complement of 12 ATV's supported by 30 attack submarines like the Kilo, Scorpene, Amur and Akulas need to be built over the next 25 years.

Defensive Battle Groups: Most of the coastal engagements over the history of naval warfare have all been about protecting beaches, cities and coastal establishments. Indian marines needs to develop a very strong coastal patrol and interdiction capability with fast attack craft that are capable of operating in shallow waters. A very strong defensive mechanism needs to be developed that is networked to the nearest base that is designated to protect that area. This group should comprise of a large number of anti-ship capable missile boats, coastal aircraft/fighters and numerous coastal missile/radar batteries.

Offensive Battle Groups: This group has to be the stealthiest and most tactical group of all. Stealth bombers (TU Blackjack's or indigenous UCAV/UCB's), stealth frigates and battleships should be the mainstay of this force. LST's and marine commando troops invariably will be the backbone of this group. A minimum of five brigades of naval troops should be trained for this role.

Strategic Battle Groups: These are meant for special, covert and overt operations. The current MARCOS battalions should be fully expanded into 2-3 full brigades for naval special ops. The intelligence arm of this group needs to be fully integrated along with the capability to launch last resort weapons in case all fails.

What the Indian air and space command needs for the next 25 years:

Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles: India should put financialresources into joint initiatives with Russia, America and Israel plus jump start its indigenous public and private development initiatives. ADE is already working overtime to develop three new UAV variants. These UAV's have multi-mission, multi-strike capabilities with separate fighter and bomber versions. To keep up with the research on UCAV's around the world, the hypersonic plane concept needs to be revisited. India needs at least 20 squadrons (100 aircraft).

Fifth and Sixth Generation Fighter Bombers: The fifth generation Indo-Russian fighter aircraft will be ready for induction by 2017. A inter-governmental agreement between India and Russia has been signed for the co-development of the fifth generation fighter aircraft and the induction into the IAF is expected to start from 2017 onwards. At least 10 squadrons of these next generation fighters will be required to replace MiG 29's and Mirages which would have completed 40 years of service by that time.

Sukhoi-30MKI Fighter Bomber: Atleast 20 squadrons (400 aircraft) ofSu-30 MKI will propel IAF into the best air forces in the world. An effort needs to be made to base these aircraft on overseas bases and on Indian controlled islands.

Light Combat Aircraft (LCA)/Medium Combat Aircraft (MCA): IAF is all set to order from HAL 40+20 LCA versions. At least five squadrons (100 aircraft) have to be integrated by 2010 without delays. Conceptualisation and complete testing of MCA test bed should be finalised in the interim.

MRCA (MIG 21/27) Replacement: The IAF was set to acquire 180 fighters from 2010 onwards to replace MiG-21s and the competition is between Rafale, Grippen,F-16, F/A-18E/F and MiG-35. These aircraftare solid 4-4.5 generation aircraft that will only last another 15 years in themanufacturer's inventory. The US, by its own admittance, is going for the JSF and F-22 for all ofits forces. The Russians and the French are offering the latest from their stable but again the Indian government needs to seriously rethink this issue. History shows us that the Indians use a technology platform for over 30-40 years and unless the IAF gets the go ahead to purchase the JSF or the F-22, there is no point in getting older technology like the F-14/15/16/18.

Jaguars and Mirages: To extend the operational life of Jaguars, further improvement of avionics suite is now in progress under DARIN II. After DARIN II, the IAF will need to look out for a long range strike aircraft in foreign inventories. The upgraded Jaguars and Mirages (about 250 of them) will remain in service well past 2020. The French will halt the service lines for Mirages and though the Mirage has been the best performing aircraft in the IAF inventory, it does not make any sense in obtaining second hand ones with outdated avionics.

Helicopters: Themajor upgrade including Helicopter Multi-mission Optronic Stabilised Payload providing precise navigation and all-weather operations will take away the need for a mid-level attack helicopter for the time being. However, as the Mi-35's start getting older in 10 years, the IAF will sense the need for a replacement. The best option seems to transition the close support chopper role to the Army Aviation Corps and retain heavy lift and transport capabilities with the IAF.

Illyushin-78MKI In-flight Refueling Tanker: Six Illyushin-78MKI in-flight refueling tankers have joined the Indian Air Force fleet. These latest tankers have enabled the IAF to undertake long range missions over mixed geographical areas. An additional squadron each for the IAF and the navy will keep this area covered for a long time.

ICBM's and Cruise Missiles: Agni V, Brahmos, Akash and Trishul may be sufficient for now but a new range of undetectable stealth missiles have to be developed for the IAF by DRDO. These new generations of missiles have to be designed and enabled in order for a variety of Indian military users to be utilising them in tactical, surgical and strategic strike capacities.

I was so wrong three years ago when I thought that Indian defence and space establishment were not doing the right things. But like I said, I have been wrong before and India constantly amazes me. They have picked up the gauntlet I think 10-15 years ago during the regimes of P V Narasimha Rao and A B Vajpayee and the fruits of their R&D are now showing. I only wish, pray and want India to become and take its rightful place on the high table of world power.

'If My Son Said He Wanted To Join The Army, I Would Have Shot Him'

Brig (retired) Kishore Pandey says the army is respected no more

Cover Story


KISHORE PANDEY (name changed) joined the National Defence Academy when he was 16. Life was tough but he and the other cadets clung to camaraderie as the one thing that helped them through their career in the forces. Thirty-six years of army life later, Pandey, now a serving Brigadier, had to turn around and tell a joint secretary in the Ministry of Defence that if he had had a son who wanted to join the army, he would have shot him. A reaction this intense, Pandey says, is only human. "It hurts to see a man with only 20 years of experience order around a man with 36 years of service," he says, adding, "Why wouldn't I want a better future for my children?"

Like this 59-year-old, many armed forces personnel echo the sense that the izzat (pride) the army was once centred on, has diminished in the public eye because the civilian hierarchy in the administration thinks itself above the defence services. An Indian Police Service (IPS) and an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer will unquestionably be promoted to the rank of a DIG and a Joint Secretary (equal to the rank of a Brigadier in the Army) respectively before his retirement. But in the Army, most of the officers are superseded at the rank of Lt Colonel and Colonel," he explains.

Pandey recalls how when he reached a stage in his career when he thought he could help people junior him, he realised he was helpless. "I could only write letters to the civilian authorities requesting them, but the power to take decisions lies with them. That's when you start getting frustrated," he says.

On the family front, his wife, Pooja (name changed), whom he married in 1976, chose to travel with him wherever he was relocated. Trained as a child psychologist, Pooja says she never took her career seriously. "We had decided to be together. Seeing new places was always a high. But the children had to rough it out. Their education was forever a problem," she says.

Their two daughters chose to marry out of the army because they knew intimately the deficiencies of cantonment life. "It's not just the money. The country doesn't look at the army with the same respect. The uniform doesn't carry the same gleam. It's only money that gives you izzat today," says Pandey.

So what can be done to stem the exodus? "You've got to change with the times. People walk out of a marriage because they say they were never loved or wanted. It's the same with the army," Pandey says.

From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 6, Issue 9, Dated Mar 07, 2009

Indian Army apologizes for 'desecration' of Mosque

Friday, February 27th, 2009

SRINAGAR (SANA): The Indian Army has apologized to the Kashmiris for hurting their sentiments by its men from the 28 Rashtriya Rifles through burning some material brought out from the local mosque and entering the mosque premises with boots.

This incident has infuriated the locals who staged massive protests. PBI reported that on Tuesday evening a patrolling party belonging to the 28 RR stopped near Rather Mohalla Lolab, and managed their entry in the local mosque where construction work has been started to rebuild the mosque.

Sources said that army jawans brought out some material from the mosque and set it on fire to warm themselves. Locals said that the army men managed their entry in the mosque and as a result several copies of the Quran and Hadith which were kept in the mosque got scattered around the floor as the army men searched the mosque premises for firewood.

Locals said that immediately after the army men left the mosque, the locals staged a demonstration against the army and demanded strict against them. Reports said that people assembled at Sogam and later took out a procession demanding action against the troops involved in the act.

Reports said that sensing trouble senior army officials rushed to the spot and tried to pacify the protestors. The officials offered apologies and assured the people that such acts will not be repeated in future. Reports said that people once again assembled in Rather Mohalla and started protesting against the army. Later senior police officials arrived on the spot and pacified the protestors. Deputy Commissioner Kupwara, Mohammd Abbas Dar while talking to PBI said that troops of 22 RR had taken refuge in the mosque and later they burnt a fire to warm themselves. He said that troops saw some papers lying in one of the baskets in the mosque and they burned them to rekindle the fire. "The troops had committed a mistake and later the senior army officials apologized to the people regarding the incident," Mohammad Abbas said. However, defence spokesperson Colonel Uma Maheshwari denied to have received any information about this incident. He said that armed forces have been given strict instructions regarding respecting the religious sentiments of people. He said that no army is authorized to enter any mosque premises. Meanwhile Tehreek-e-Huriyat Kashmir has expressed severe resentment against what it claimed to be desecration of the Holy Quran by troopers at a mosque in Lolab. A party of troopers barged into a mosque at Tantray Mohalla in Sogam area of Lolab on Tuesday and made bonfire of a section of the Holy Quran, a spokesman of the party said. The spokesman termed the shameful act as desecration of the Holy Quran holding it tantamount to hurting the religious sentiments of Muslims in the extreme manner. "No Muslim can bear such shameful act and the elements who are involved in such activities should bear in mind that attempts of provoking the religious sentiments of Kashmiri Muslims shall lead to an unprecedented revolution," said the spokesman, adding that the incident had evoked angry protests in the area. The TeH Kashmir has also condemned the "ruthless" beating of a news agent Mushtaq Ahmad Dar in Kareemabad by STF personal. Mushtaq, the party said was targeted due to his father's affiliation with the TeH Kashmir. Meanwhile, the party has expressed satisfaction over the observance of complete shutdown against the Sopur Killing and held it synonymous with the presence of pro-freedom sentiment in Kashmir.

Huge increase in US military aid to Pak

28 Feb 2009, 0229 hrs IST, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: India's efforts to prevent fresh US military aid going to the Pakistani Army has failed with US President Barack Obama proposing to

massively increase non-military and military aid to Pakistan in his maiden budget.

Though the exact amount of military aid has not been specified. Mr Obama's maiden budget proposes spending of $130 billion for 2010 and $75.5 billion for 2009. There is a further request for $205.5 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan between now and 2010. The $130-billion request for the war also includes military aid to Pakistan to fight the Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

The budget comes at a time when the Obama administration has just concluded trilateral talks with Afghanistan and Pakistan on the situation in the region with Pakistan seeking both military and non military aid. The development is worrying for India as past anti-terror funds supplied by the US have been diverted by the Pakistani military to prepare a war against India and to strike deals with the Taliban.

US government reports have also detailed the misuse of military funds by Pakistan and Mr Obama himself has earlier pointed out that $10 billion of US funds being wasted during the Musharraf regime.

Since Pakistani links were uncovered in the Mumbai terror attacks, India has been asking the US and other countries to stop military aid to Pakistan. The matter was taken up by the Indian side during special envoy Richard Holbrooke's visit to India.

But the Obama administration, which initially did a lot of tough talking on the issue, needs the Pakistani military, which is now asking for drones to take action against militant hideouts, to take action against the Al Qaeda and Taliban. Though India has been talking about a congruence of interests in the region with the US, the issue of military aid for Pakistan remains a point of disagreement between India and the US.

On the budget expenditure US policy towards Pakistan, joint chief of staff Admiral Mike Mullen was quoted as saying: "I think it's very important that we help resource them and develop this comprehensive strategy with Pakistan over a number of years. I'm delighted to see that kind of support in the 2010 budget. " The budget also proposes increasing non-military aid to Afghanistan and also Pakistan.

"External challenges include undertaking a responsible drawdown of troops from Iraq and focusing the appropriate resources on achieving US objectives in Afghanistan," said the budget in the areas related to the defence department. There has been a lot of talk in the US polity of increasing non-military aid to Pakistan conditional to effective counter terrorism measures.

There are reports that the US might be looking at $5-billion aid to Pakistan apart from the $1.5-billion package which is in the US Congress.

Mr Obama in his budget has also proposed to increasing non- military aid to Afghanistan and Pakistan to fight the resurgence of the Taliban through developmental activities. The proposal is for 10.5 billion in supplemental non-military funding for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

According to the budget, the proposal looks at doubling foreign aid and includes increasing the number of civilian personnel in Afghanistan and Pakistan to do development and reconstruction work to counter the Taliban. "In addition, we must leverage allied support to help struggling states such as Pakistan, which are the keystone for regional stability," said the budget.

The defence spending for this year, according to the budget, $533.7 billion, which is a four per cent increase from last year. Incidentally, the move to double aid to Pakistan comes at a time when the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) stated that Pakistan has been fudging statements to the US for certain transport facilities it provided in counter terror effort. The fraud was revealed during an audit carried out by the US authorities.

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Friday, 27 February 2009

From Today's Papers - 27 Feb 09

Drone Attacks Inside Pakistan Will Continue, CIA Chief Says
Panetta Calls Strikes 'Successful' at Disrupting Insurgents

By Karen DeYoung and Joby Warrick
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, February 26, 2009; A10

CIA Director Leon Panetta said yesterday that U.S. aerial attacks against al-Qaeda and other extremist strongholds inside Pakistan would continue, despite concerns about a popular Pakistani backlash.

"Nothing has changed our efforts to go after terrorists, and nothing will change those efforts," Panetta said in response to questions about CIA missile attacks, launched from unmanned Predator aircraft. Although he refused to discuss details of the attacks -- and the CIA will not confirm publicly that it is behind the strikes -- Panetta said that the efforts begun under President George W. Bush to destabilize al-Qaeda and destroy its leadership "have been successful."

"I don't think we can stop just at the effort to try to disrupt them. I think it has to be a continuing effort, because they aren't going to stop," Panetta said in his first news briefing since taking the job. The CIA has launched about three dozen Predator strikes in Pakistan since late last summer, two of them during the Obama administration.

Panetta's comments came as senior Pakistani and Afghan leaders held lengthy talks here with each other and with their U.S. counterparts. Obama administration officials said that the unprecedented consultations were as important as any substantive agreements that may emerge from them.

The talks, quickly arranged during the first overseas trip of special U.S. envoy Richard C. Holbrooke this month, include the foreign and defense ministers of both countries, along with Afghanistan's interior minister and Pakistan's intelligence chief. The Pakistani army chief of staff is also here on a separate visit to his U.S. military counterparts.

In addition to bilateral sessions, the Afghan and Pakistani delegations met jointly yesterday with the National Security Council and attended a dinner hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. They will hold another trilateral session today.

"We have two goals," a senior administration official said. One is to receive their input for the Obama administration's ongoing strategy review on Afghanistan and Pakistan, he said. "But it's also to hear commitments -- the Pakistanis on taking on terrorists themselves, and the Afghans on cleaning up their government."

"There are not too many brand-new ideas," the official said. "But our expectations of what they have to do are not just based on what we want them to do, but what they say they're going to do. It gives us a different basis for going back to them in the future."

Relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have long been marked by mutual suspicion. Pakistan believes Afghanistan is too close to India, Islamabad's historical adversary to the east, while Afghanistan suspects that Pakistan has continued its traditional support for the Taliban. In addition to urging a stronger counterterrorism effort from Islamabad and less governmental corruption in Kabul, the administration seeks better cooperation between the two to stop cross-border infiltration by Pakistan-based extremists fighting U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

The difference between the Obama and Bush administrations, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said, is that "the present administration is willing to listen. They are very frank. They're saying, 'We do not have a magic formula. . . . Let Pakistan, let the U.S., let Afghanistan -- let's all stick together and find a solution," Qureshi told CNN.

The meetings have not been without conflict. Panetta, who has participated in the sessions, said he had voiced concerns about Pakistan's recently announced truce with local Taliban leaders in that country's Swat Valley region, and noted that similar agreements with militant groups in the past had allowed al-Qaeda to strengthen its base. "They assured me that this is not the same as past agreements," Panetta said. "I remain skeptical."

In a series of interviews yesterday, Qureshi said that Pakistan objected to the Predator strikes and that he has asked the United States to supply his country with drones to carry out its own missile attacks against extremists. Pakistan has also requested other sophisticated weaponry, including Cobra attack helicopters, communications and night-vision equipment. Although the drones are unlikely -- and both U.S. and Pakistani officials say they are privately in agreement on continuation of the CIA strikes -- the administration and Congress are likely to approve more military assistance along with a multibillion-dollar aid package.

Legislation introduced in the Senate last year by Vice President Biden, and soon to be sponsored by his successor as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), and Sen. Richard G. Lugar (Ind.), ranking Republican, calls for about $1.5 million a year in economic and development assistance for Pakistan over the next five years.

A report released yesterday by the Atlantic Council said that at least double that amount is needed from the United States and the international community if Pakistan is to be brought back "from the brink." Pakistan, it said, "is on a rapid trajectory toward becoming a failing or failed state."

In a report last year, under the leadership of James L. Jones, who is now the national security adviser, the Atlantic Council warned that the West was "not winning in Afghanistan." Those words were repeated yesterday by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in his first major foreign policy speech since losing the presidential election to Obama in November. "Let us not shy from the truth," McCain said in an address to the American Enterprise Institute, "but let us not be paralyzed by it either."

McCain chastised "some [who] suggest it is time to scale back our ambitions in Afghanistan -- to give up on nation-building and instead focus narrowly on our counterterrorism objectives, by simply mounting operations aimed at killing or capturing terrorist leaders and destroying their networks."

Obama, while calling for improved governance in Afghanistan, has publicly suggested that the United States adopt the "very limited goal" of ensuring that "Afghanistan cannot be used as a base for launching terrorist attacks" against the United States.

Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.

Bangladesh Mutiny
Rebels rise again, surrender
50 feared dead in BDR’s 33-hour protest
Ashfaq Wares Khan writes from Dhaka

Rebel Bangladesh Rifles’ (BDR) troops surrendered on Thursday evening after army tanks rolled into Dhaka to end the bloody 33-hour siege of the headquarters that may have left at least 50 (army) officers dead.

“The situation is under complete control of the government,” Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s press secretary told reporters. "BDR members have completed the surrender of arms."

But it was still unclear as to how many had been killed during the mutiny, with Junior Law Minister Quamrul Islam saying that BDR troops had told him that 50 people may have died during the violent rebellion. The mutinous BDR troops, largely responsible for guarding the borders, had reached a deal with the government on Wednesday night to surrender their arms after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina promised them an amnesty.

But, the process stalled as they refused to surrender arms to the military, who had been the principal target of their mutiny. The rebellion spread to other areas in the country with several BDR battalions leaving their border posts after violence erupted in Cox's Bazaar, Chittagong and Naikhongchari in the south, Sylhet in the north-east, Rajshahi and Naogaon in the north-west. The commanding officers in all of these border posts had fled.

At the height of the tensions, the Prime Minister issued a warning to the rebels asking them to surrender or face consequences.

“We don't want to use force to break the standoff,” Hasina said. “But don't play with our patience. We will not hesitate to do whatever is needed to end the violence if peaceful means fail.”

Army tanks then rolled into the capital with a convoy of armoured personnel carriers and military bulldozers, which approached the headquarters in late afternoon. A team of five government ministers remained inside the headquarters engaged in intensive negotiations.

Intimidated by the strength of the government’s response, the guards hoisted a white flag and surrendered.

6 pc DA hike for govt staff
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 26
With polls round the corner, it’s raining bonanza for the government employees. The government staffers and pensioners will now get an additional six per cent dearness allowance (DA) and this will be given with retrospective effect from January one this year, as per a decision cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) here. It would benefit 5 million employees and 3.8 million pensioners, said Home Minister P Chidambaram.

In yet another decision, the cabinet has allowed the states to raise their fiscal deficit target to 3.5 percent of the state GDP, though this relaxation is only for the year 2009-10. The relaxation to the states comes in the wake of global slowdown. Since there are strong export links with other economies, it is likely that the Indian economy may feel further heat in the coming months and hence the relaxation. The government had earlier allowed states to raise their fiscal deficit target to 3.5% in the current fiscal, as part of the second economic stimulus package announced on January 2.

States will be allowed to raise additional market borrowings of 0.5% of their Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) in 2009-10 fiscal as well.

Meanwhile, the government did not discuss fuel prices in the cabinet meeting today. Unfortunately, it was not on the agenda, said Oil Minister Murli Deora after emerging from the meeting. Though there is speculation that a decision might be taken at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs scheduled for Friday.

Probe army’s role, Pranab tells Pak
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 26
A day after the Mumbai police filed a chargesheet naming 45 Pakistanis as perpetrators of the 26/11 terror attacks, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee today said Pakistan must thoroughly investigate its army’s links to the (Mumbai) mayhem.

“The perpetrators of the attacks must be brought to book...we expect Pakistan to fulfil its bilateral and international obligations of not letting its territory to be used by terrorists,” Mukherjee said at a function here.

On Pakistan demanding timely response from India to the 30 questions it had raised on the Mumbai attack probe, he said, “We will respond whenever we are in a position to do so.”

Notably, the Mumbai police chargesheet contains the names of two Pakistan army officers with the designation of major general and colonel. The Pakistan army, however, has denied the allegation.

Omar: Forces’ special powers to go if peace persists
Tribune News Service

Jammu, February 26
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said today that if the situation in the valley continued to remain peaceful following decline in the number of incidents of violence, he would revoke the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and the Disturbed Area Act from the state.

“I commit to people that if situation improves we will revoke these Acts,” Omar said while replying to the adjournment motion on the alleged human rights violation presented by PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti in the legislative Assembly today.

He said, “In this regard, we have taken certain steps and the replacement of the CRPF with the police is a step forward.”

Commenting on the Bomai incident in Sopore in which two civilians were allegedly gunned down by the Army, the Chief Minister said after getting information he ordered an inquiry immediately and the report would be submitted within 15 days. “The government would give severe punishment to whosoever is found guilty to send a clear signal that it is not ready to tolerate human rights violation.”

He said it was for the first time that the source, who passed on the information to the Army about the presence of terrorists in the bus, had been taken into custody by the police.

Targeting the PDP for what the Chief Minister termed as their inefficiency to control the human rights violation when it shared the power in the state, Omar said, “There were numerous such incidents that took place during your regime, how many cases you registered and how many you punished.”

Giving figures, Omar said 111 civilians were killed in 2003, 75 in 2004, and 54 persons were killed in 2005, but the then government did nothing to punish the guilty.

“From 2003 to 2005, when you were in power, 24 custodial killings took place. How many people did you punish,” he questioned.

To deal with the incidents of human rights violation, the Chief Minister said he would give more powers to the State Human Rights Commission and prompt action would be taken on its recommendations.

“The chairman of the SHRC during the PDP tenure had accused that right from the day he assumed the office, the government (PDP) was not serious about the functioning of the commission.” he added.

The CM cautioned the Opposition not to draw “undue” mileage by distorting facts and blaming forces for even a “normal murder” that took place in the valley.

“The body of Fida Hussain Bhat was found in an auto rickshaw along with some narcotics. The initial reports suggests that the security forces have nothing to do with his killing, but people are trying to take political mileage by relating his murder with the security forces.” he said Earlier, PDP legislature party leader Mehbooba Mufti asked the government to revoke the AFSPA and the Disturbed Area Act and reduce the number of security forces to the pre-1989 status.

NPS Aulakh is NSG chief
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 26
Punjab DGP NPS Aulakh has become the first-ever Punjab officer to head the high profile National Security Guard. The Punjab government here received a formal communication clearing his appointment late tonight.

He will take over his new assignment on March 1 as the present incumbent, JK Dutt of West Bengal, retires on February 28.

Aulakh, who belongs to the 1972 batch was Special Director-General of Police of the Border Security Force before the present SAD-BJP government recalled him from central deputation to make him the DGP of the state in 2007.

He thus joins a select band of Punjab cadre IPS officers who rose to head a central police organisation (CPO). Last Punjab officer to head a CPO was Sarabjit Singh, who after serving the State as DGP for three years headed the Bureau of Police Research and Development.

Other state officers to head the CPO included Gurbachan Jagat, who not only headed the BSF but also led the Jammu and Kashmir police in its fight against militancy.

JS Bawa was another officer who served as Director of the CBI.

While NPS Aulakh has 18 months to go for attaining the retirement age of 60, he may get a few months extension, as the mandated term for a CPO chief is normally two years.

Though the state government is yet to take a decision to name his successor, chances of KK Attri, the senior-most IPS officers of the state belonging to the 1971 batch being named overall chief of the Punjab police cannot be ruled out. Decision about his appointment is likely to be made in a couple of days.

Dhaka Trouble
Up vigil on Bangla border: MPs’ panel
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 26
Touching upon a sensitive issue, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs today told the government that “any laxity” on the Indo-Bangladesh border would prove detrimental to India’s security and economic progress.

The panel submitted its report today in both house of Parliament and suggested even greater strengthening of surveillance. “A large presence of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants poses a grave threat to the internal security and should be viewed seriously,” said the committee headed by BJP leader Sushma Swaraj.

The ministry should leave no stone unturned in making Indo-Bangladesh border intrusion-free, said the committee, while adding the border surveillance must be strengthened by deploying hi-tech equipment, patrolling and establishing additional troops in adequate number. The greater vigil in view of the alleged involvement of some Bangladeshi terrorist groups in recent blasts in the country.

The Home Ministry informed the committee that hand-held thermal imagers, battlefield surveillance radars had been provided. The riverine segments of the Indo-Bangladesh border were being patrolled using power-boats.

On reports of counterfeit notes in large circulation along the Indo-Bangladesh border, the committee strongly recommended that movement along the border may be “strictly monitored”.

The committee also slammed the ministry, saying security to people of the national capital appeared to be “inadequate” ahead of the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

It recommended the Home Ministry must undertake a “comprehensive review” of the security capability of the Delhi police and provide the force with required personnel, weapons and training.

The ministry had informed it that action would be taken in coordination with central intelligence agencies for security of the games and protection of participants.

In its action taken report, the ministry said the government had already sanctioned 5,000 additional posts in the Delhi police, specifically in the context of the Commonwealth Games, and an additional 7,612 posts had been sanctioned in terms of a larger proposal of the Delhi police.

A Tribune Special
India-Pakistan-US intelligence assessment
Pak groups can carry out more 26/11s
Man Mohan
Our Roving Editor

New Delhi, February 26
Even after carrying out the deadly 26/11 attacks in Mumbai, Pakistan-based groups can still carry out additional attacks against India and run the risk of provoking an India-Pakistan conflict, warns US intelligence community’s annual global threat assessment.

Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dennis C. Blair submitted a 46-page statement dealing with international terrorism, economic and environment threat to American House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on Wednesday night. Available with The Tribune, the document describes India-Pakistan as “one of the world’s least integrated regions within South Asia.”

Issuing an alert about China’s re-emergence as a major power with global impact, Blair said it was especially affecting the regional balance of power.

Talking about India-US relations, Blair felt “Indian leaders often will adopt positions contrary to those favoured by Washington…on the global stage, Indian leaders will continue to follow an independent course characterised by economic and political pragmatism.”

“Strong ties to Washington will give India more confidence in dealing with China and in mitigating the dangers posed by its long-time adversary, Pakistan,” Blair said, adding that “India will be concerned about China during the coming decade because of Beijing’s political and economic power and its ability to project military force regionally, but Indian leaders will strive to avoid confrontation with China.”

“India also will look for ways to safeguard its interests in light of the concluding civil war in Sri Lanka and political uncertainty in Bangladesh and Nepal, which have experienced dramatic transformations in government during the past year,” Blair said.

Making a significant observation, the National Intelligence chief said: “New Delhi generally will be supportive of democratic forces in its smaller neighbours, while also being sensitive to the opinions of the Tamil and Bengali communities within the country.”

Dealing with the issue of India-Pakistan relations, Blair said the determined efforts by Indian and Pakistani leaders to improve relations “through the so-called composite dialogue” over the last four years could unravel unless Islamabad takes sustained, concrete, meaningful steps to allay Indian concerns about Pakistan’s support to anti-Indian militant groups, and this is the case particularly in light of the November 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai.

According to Blair, India, which has endured a series of major terrorist attacks without major military response since 2003, is under domestic pressure to make rapid and significant improvements in its counter-terrorism capabilities. India will strive to manage tensions with Pakistan, transnational terrorism, and spillover from instability in small neighbouring states.

“The Mumbai attack has convinced many Indians that Pakistani military leaders, in an effort to undercut India’s emerging international stature, now favour a strategy of allowing Pakistan-based groups to attack targets that symbolise New Delhi’s growing prominence on the global stage or that could undermine India’s prominence by provoking religious violence in the country,” he said.

In the absence of a military response against Islamabad, Blair pointed out, the Indian public will look for visible signs that Pakistan is actively working to punish those involved and eliminate its domestic terrorist organisations.

Touching every part of the globe, the American intelligence community believes that the groups with the greatest capability to threaten are extremist Muslim groups. The Al-Qaida leaders increasingly have highlighted enduring support for the Taliban and the fight in Afghanistan and Pakistan and in other regions where they portray the West being at war with Islam and Al-Qaida as the vanguard of the global terrorist movement, the national intelligence study said.

It claims that the Pakistan government is losing authority in parts of the NWFP and has less control of its semi-autonomous tribal areas: even in the more developed parts of the country, mounting economic hardships and frustration over poor governance have given rise to greater radicalisation. “In 2008 Islamabad intensified counterinsurgency efforts,” Blair observed, “but Islamabad’s record in dealing with militants has been mixed as it navigates conflicting internal and counter-terrorist priorities.”

India rejects Pak suggestion on resumption of dialogue

Press Trust of India

Friday, February 27, 2009, (Colombo)

In the first high-level contact with Pakistan since the Mumbai attacks, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon on Thursday met his counterpart Salman Bashir in Colombo and rejected his suggestion for resumption of Composite Dialogue till Islamabad took credible steps to end terrorism.

Menon, who met Bashir on the sidelines of a SAARC conference, underlined that India and Pakistan had entered entirely a "new phase of relations" as Mumbai attacks has changed the situation.

"We have paused the composite dialogue and official talks have been paused," Menon told reporters after the meeting.

Bashir stressed the need for resuming the composite dialogue but Menon made it known that it could happen only after India's sees credible action by Pakistan to dismantle terror infrastructure.

"We have brought Pakistan to somewhere. It has to be recognised. Terrorism infrastructure inside that country has to be dismantled and credible steps towards this should be taken," he said.

"As far as resumption of composite dialogue is concerned, we have to see whether there is a real movement forward on (ending) terrorism. Our goal is to bring the perpetrators of Mumbai attack to justice," he said.

Noting that India wants to see perpetrators of Mumbai attack to be brought to justice, he referred to the queries sent by Pakistan in response to India's dossier and said initial steps were "positive".

A Pakistani Foreign Ministry statement said during his meeting with Menon, Bashir reiterated the need to resume the dialogue as soon as possible to promote "substantive engagement on all issues, including Kashmir."

"We have made it clear that we have no quarrel with the people of Pakistan. Trade and travel links between the two countries have not been affected," Menon further said.

Menon said India does not doubt the sincerity of the civilian government in Pakistan. "But we need to see what they can do to eradicate the menace of terrorism."

Kerry to move bill for tripling non-military aid to Pakistan

Press Trust of India

Friday, February 27, 2009, (Washington)

Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee John Kerry has said that he would soon be introducing a legislation in the US Congress to triple the non-military aid to Pakistan to avert an economic meltdown.

Speaking after the release of a report on Pakistan by the prestigious Atlantic Council at the Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Kerry said it is time that the international community should come together to help Pakistan come out from its present economic mess.

The report, released jointly by Senators Kerry and Chuck Hagel, asks for an additional USD4-5 billion of immediate financial aid for Pakistan to avert an economic meltdown.

If the US and its Atlantic partners do not provide Pakistan with this assistance, the country may be placed on a downward trajectory whose consequences will be dire, the report said.

He said he would soon be introducing a legislation in the US Congress to triple the non-military aid to Pakistan.

However, this non-military aid has to be conditional and would be linked directly with Islamabad's efforts and success in its war against terrorism, he added.

Kerry also said Pakistan has become the "ground zero of terrorism and security threat to the United States".

The Senator said the war in Afghanistan is being lost in Pakistan and expressed his serious concerns over the Swat valley peace treaty with the Taliban terrorists.

Board for promotion of Brigadiers to meet in March

As the grapevine has it the Board for promotion of Brigadiers is going to meet in March 2009.More than 30 Brigadiers could expect their promotions.

Maj Gen (Retd) Chhatwal gets appointment

Maj Gen (retd) Ravinder Singh Chhatwal has been appointed Director-cum-Principal of MBS College of Engineering and Technology, Jammu.

India’s BrahMos Air-Launched Cruise Missile Operational by 2012

Written by admin on February 26th, 2009

The Russian-Indian BrahMos supersonic cruise missile program is on track, and the Indian air force will be equipped with the first operational models of the missile by 2012, the company’s CEO said earlier this month.

“The (cruise) missile will be put in service in 2012,” BrahMos Chief Executive Officer Sivathanu Pillai told an audience at the Aero India-2009 air show in Bangalore, India, on Feb. 12. He was displaying the air-launched cruise missile — ALCM — version of the weapon.

As we have noted in previous columns, the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile program is of enormous importance in both technological and strategic terms. India has consistently failed in many areas to be able to mass-produce operational versions of many high-tech weapons, especially missiles, despite succeeding in producing successful prototypes that initially succeeded in tests.

But with the BrahMos programs, India not only will deploy but also will receive the technology to manufacture cruise missiles that can fly at Mach 2.8 (around 1,900 mph). That is three times faster than the United States’ own cruise missile, the subsonic, 650 mph Tomahawk can achieve.

RIA Novosti, reporting Pillai’s comments, noted that BrahMos Aerospace, which was created as a joint Indian-Russian venture in 1998, is already manufacturing and selling sea-based and land-based versions of the cruise missile that have already been deployed with the Indian army and navy.

RIA Novosti said the BrahMos has a range of 290 kilometers (180 miles) and a conventional warhead of up to 300 kilograms (660 pounds). It could approach its designated targets from altitudes as low as 10 meters (30 feet), the report said.

The ALCM version of the cruise missile required considerable modifications from the army and navy versions, RIA Novosti quoted Pillai as telling the news agency in a 2008 interview.

“For the airborne version … we had to reduce the mass of the missile and to ensure aerodynamic stability after its separation from the aircraft. The air-launched platform has its own initial speed during the launch of the missile, so we have reduced the size of the booster. Now the missile is ready,” he said.

The Indian air force has also decided to employ the Russian-made Sukhoi Su-30 MKI Flanker-H multirole fighter initially to carry and fire the BrahMos ALCM. However, upgrading those aircraft was projected to take around four years, the news agency quoted Pillai as saying.

In another example of the extremely close and still developing Russian-Indian technical cooperation, India intends to manufacture a minimum of 140 Su-30MKI fighters by 2014 under a Russian license with full technology transfer rights, the report said.

The scale and ambition of the program are enormous. RIA Novosti said India may buy as many as 1,000 BrahMos cruise missiles for its army, navy and air force over the next 10 tears and sell up to 2,000 of them to other nations by 2019.

And even though the BrahMos is already three times faster than any American cruise missile, Moscow and New Delhi believe they can develop it further.

RIA Novosti reported that in 2008, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, during a trip to India, reached an understanding with the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to jointly produce a hypersonic version of the missile, to be known as BrahMos-2.


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