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Saturday, 28 February 2009

From Today's Papers - 28 Feb 09

Indian Express

Indian Express

The Telegraph

The Telegraph

Daily Pioneer

Asian Age

Asian Age

Telegraph India

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Asian Age

Telegraph India

Daily Pioneer

DNA India

Times of India

Daily Pioneer

Asian Age

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

Dhaka
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

OUR BUREAU

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)

ah.raja@yahoo.com

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

Washington

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 rediff.com 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

Photo: SHAILENDRA PANDEY

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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