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Tuesday, 31 March 2009

From Today's Papers - 31 Mar 09

Asian Age

Indian Express

Indian Express

Indian Express

Indian Express

Times of India

Times of India

Times of India

Lt-Cols’ pay hike stuck with finance ministry
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
Even though political activity has largely relegated issues related to the armed forces personnel on the backburner, some matters pertaining to anomalies in the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations continue to be on the government’s agenda.

While the resolution of the defence ministry to increase the pay of lieutenant colonels and equivalent appears to be stuck in the ministry of finance for final approval, the matter concerning hike in lieutenant generals’ pay is yet to be resolved. The lieutenant colonels’ matter was sent to the finance ministry 5-6 weeks ago.

“The issue of grant of higher administrative grade - plus (HAG) pay band to some lieutenant generals is under our consideration,” defence minister A.K Antony has stated in a letter addressed to Rajeev Chandrasekhar, member of the Rajya Sabha, last week.

Consequent to the downgradation of lieutenant generals vis-à-vis their civilian counterparts in terms of pay and allowances, the armed forces had sought parity of lieutenant generals and equivalents with directors-generals of police.

It is being considered that at least some lieutenant generals holding specific appointments be moved into the HAG-Plus category.

Pay raise of 50% for Chinese soldiers

The large increase is believed to be a reward for the army's hard work in 2008 in ensuring security for the Olympics, helping earthquake victims in Sichuan, and handling the protests in Tibet. For the government, it is important to support the morale of the troops, who are increasingly being sent to repress social protests.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The salaries of 2.3 million servicemen and women of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) will be raised by 50%, in recognition of their hard work in 2008 and in order to keep their morale high in the face of social protests and the problematic anniversaries of 2009.

The newspaper South China Morning Post cites a retired high official in Shanghai, who says that "all ordinary soldiers and officers will receive 50 percent increases, while colonel-level officials will get 30 percent and generals 20 percent. It means a recruit will receive around 1,000 yuan (about 100 euros) a month of basic salary ... while senior colonels get more than 10,000 yuan and major generals up to 18,000 yuan." He adds that "the money was supposed to be allocated by the beginning of this year. But the appropriation was suspended because the central government was busy collecting funds for Sichuan earthquake relief work."

The armed police, who are part of the army, will also benefit from the increase. It is intended to be a reward for the efficient work of the PLA in 2008, in all of the most serious or important situations: relief efforts in the Sichuan earthquake, security at the Beijing Olympics, and the violent repression of the protests in Tibet.

Salaries for soldiers were doubled in 2006 after remaining stagnant for about 20 years. With this increase, they will be about 20% higher than salaries for civil servants on a similar level.

Analysts observe that the armed police and the soldiers who perform police functions often receive bonuses from the local governments. They believe that in rich areas, like Shanghai and Guangdong, soldiers receive much more than those deployed in Tibet or Qinghai, where today they must confront the protests of Tibetans.

In March, Li Zhaoxing, a spokesman for the National People's Congress, announced that military spending will rise by 14.9% in 2009, with 480.7 billion yuan set aside for weapons, salaries, and defensive infrastructure.

Lt.Gen.Avinash Chander Soneja is DG, OL&SM (UPDATED)

Lt Gen Avinash Chander Soneja, an alumnus of Sainik School Kapurthala has been posted as Director General of Operational Logistics & Strategic Movement at Integrated HQ of Ministry of Defence (Army), New Delhi. The General Officer had joined Sainik School, Kapurthala (Punjab) in Jan 1963. A graduate from Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, he had attended the prestigious higher command course at Indian Army's War College, Mhow. He holds Post Graduate degrees in MSc and M Phil (Defence Studies) and MBA (HRD). He has held numerous command and staff appointments including the General Officer Commanding, Counter Insurgency Force (Romeo) in J&K. The General Officer has been decorated with Ati Vishisht Seva Medal and twice with Vishist Seva Medal for his outstanding performance. The General Officer is married. His wife Mrs Neelam Soneja is a school teacher and the couple have two children.

The Obama strategy
Pakistan Army put on notice
by K. Subrahmanyam

In India President Barark Obama’s speech has been received with mixed reaction. Most people look at it as an incremental tightening up of the Bush policy and, therefore, unlikely to yield significant results.That is a misreading.

Ever since 9/11 there has been a lot of confusion about the war on “terrorism”. It has been pointed out by many that terrorism is a strategy and not an entity or ideology against whom war could be waged. A section of extremist Islamic cultists misinterpreted it to project the campaign of the US and its allies as war against Islam.

Now President Obama in his speech of March 27, introducing his new strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, has brought clarity to the issue and declared that the war is against Al-Qaeda and its allies.They are, according to him, an international security challenge of the highest order. If there is a major attack on an Asian, European or African city it is likely to have ties to the Al-Qaeda leadership in Pakistan.

The safety of the people around the world is at stake.Al-Qaeda and its allies have killed thousands of people in many countries. Most of the blood on their hands is the blood of Muslims whom Al-Qaeda has killed and maimed in a far greater number than any other people.That is the future that Al-Qaeda is offering to the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan — a future without opportunity or hope, a future without justice or peace.

Having identified the enemy in concrete terms, President Obama wants the American people to understand that they have a clear and focused goal to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan and prevent their return to either country in the future.This declaration has to be understood in all its implications. He is not referring to Pakistan as a front-line state and an ally in the war against terrorism.Those were myths generated by General Musharraf and swallowed lock, stock and barrel by Mr Colin Powell, Mr Richard Armitage,Mr Don Rumsfeld and others of the Bush Administration.

President Obama refers to Pakistan as under partial occupation of Al-Qaeda and in danger of being overrun by it and its allies. He totally rejects General Musharraf’s myths of the last seven years and says, “The situation is increasingly perilous. It has been more than seven years since the Taliban was removed from power,yet war rages on and insurgents control parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Attacks against our troops,our NATO allies and the Afghan government have risen steadily. Most painfully 2008 was the deadliest year of the war for American forces.”

Totally dismissing General Musharraf’s bluff that Osama bin Laden was not in Pakistan, Presdent Obama says, “Let me be clear: Al-Qaeda and its allies who planned and supported the 9/11 attacks are in Pakistan and Afghanistan. For the American people this border region has become the most dangerous place in the world.” Again indicating that he does not approve of General Musharraf, he says, “(The Pakistani people) have struggled against long odds to sustain their democracy”. He adds that security for Pakistan can only come with the rule of law.

Perhaps as a warning for the future, he has pointed out that “To avoid the mistakes of the past, we must make it clear that our relationship with Pakistan is grounded in support for Pakistan’s democratic institutions and the Pakistani people.” No more unconditional support to the Pakistani Army and its chief.

Again drawing lessons from the past mistakes he has asserted, “That is why we must focus our military assistance on the tools, training and support Pakistan needs to root out the terrorists. And after years of mixed results we will not provide a blank cheque. Pakistan must demonstrate its commitment to rooting out Al-Qaeda and the violent extremists within its borders. And we will insist that action be taken — one way or another — when we have intelligence about high-level terrorist targets.” This issue has been more categorically asserted in the White Paper of’ the Inter-Agency Policy Group’s report on the US policy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan, issued along with the President’s speech.

It asserts, “Increased assistance to Pakistan will be limited without greater willingness to cooperate with us to eliminate the sanctuary enjoyed by Al-Qaeda and other extremist groups, as well as a greater commitment to economic reforms that will raise the living standards of ordinary Pakistanis, including in the border regions of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, the North-West Frontier Province and Baluchistan.”

There is an implied warning to Pakistan on the kind of military aid it will get as well as its quantum. President Obama had made no secret of the fact that past military aid received by Pakistan had been misused by it to equip itself largely to fight war against India.

If the Pakistani Army would collaborate with the US and NATO plan to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al-Qaeda and its allies on Pakistani soil sincerely, then the US will help Pakistan to whether the economic crisis, will work with the IMF, the world Bank and other international partners like the Friends of Pakistan.

Besides these, the Kerry - Lugar legislation will provide the Pakistani people $ 1.5 billion every year for the next five years, resources that will build schools, roads and hospitals, and strengthen Pakistani democracy. In addition, there will be aid to create opportunity zones in the border region to develop the economy and bring hope to the places plagued by violence. President Obama has given a clear warning to Pakistan. If Pakistan does not collaborate then, he says, “Make no mistake: Al-Qaeda and its extremist allies are a cancer that risks killing Pakistan from within.”

President Obama has totally repudiated the Bush- Musharraf strategy and has focused attention on Pakistan as a likely victim of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and has put the Pakistan Army on notice that it should now sincerely fight against extremists or face economic ruin.

Given its last seven years of success in taking the US for a ride, one should expect the Pakistan Army to try various tricks to evade fighting the extremists. But this time, as the US and NATO initiate their campaign in the spring in Afghanistan, the Pakistan Army will find it difficult to indulge in its evasion.Even attempting to raise tension with India to avoid fighting against the extremists has been tried out in November during the Mumbai terrorist attack, and the Americans are now wiser.

By creating a contact group involving the US, NATO, Russia, China, India, Iran, Central Asian republics and the Gulf states to focus on Pakistan and Afghanistan, the US and the NATO are attempting to quarantine Pakistan and Afghanistan as terrorism-infected countries needing urgent international treatment. President Obama has unvield a new strategy of isolating Pakistan and it is not a continuation of the Bush strategy.

Border Guards Attempted Uprising in 37 Places, Besides Dhaka

The February mutiny by Bangladesh border guards in which over 80 people were killed was not confined to the Pilkhana headquarters near Dhaka. Investigators have identified 37 more places across the country where troopers attempted rebellion, a media report said.

These were abortive attempts where personnel of the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) withdrew arms from the armory without authority and attempted rebellion, The Daily Star said quoting unnamed investigating officials.

Developments at different BDR battalions across the country show that what began at the headquarters at Pilkhana in the heart of the national capital could have spread, triggering a "civil war".

More than 80 people, including BDR chief Major General Shakil Ahmed and 54 Bangladesh Army officers, were gunned down or bayoneted to death on Feb 25-26 by troopers who said they had grievances about wages and working conditions.

The government has said it was ""a conspiracy" involving "outside elements" that led to organized killing aimed at pitting the army against the BDR.

"In many BDR battalion offices a band of soldiers took up arms and ammunition from the arsenals and attempted to commit the same offences that occurred in Pilkhana," an investigator told The Daily Star wishing anonymity.

At the BDR's first coordination meeting in the Dhaka Cantonment on March 9, new Director General Brig General Md Mainul Islam listened to details about the incidents at different BDR battalions across the country.

Following the meeting, a move to investigate the mutiny in BDR battalions outside Dhaka was initiated and investigators have so far detected 37 spots of attempted uprisings. In some cases, soldiers not only attempted to hold officers hostage but also came out in civil areas with arms.

The investigators say they have made a good progress in identifying the mutineers but did not give details, the newspaper said.

Terror Siege of Pakistan Police Academy Ends,
27 Dead

A group of heavily armed terrorists Monday stormed a police training academy near here, killing at least 27 trainees and taking over 800 hostage before the security forces ended the brazen eight-hour stand-off. Eight terrorists were killed and three were captured alive.

The casualties among the trainees could rise as bodies were still being brought out of the Manawan police academy on the outskirts of this Pakistani city, and just 12 km from the Wagah border.

Eyewitness accounts put the number of attackers at between 10 and 12, and said some of them donned police uniforms.

According to Punjab Home Secretary Rao Iftikhar, eight terrorists, including two who blew themselves up, were killed.

"The operation has been concluded. We worked to a set plan," Interior Minister Rehman Malik told Indian TV news channels soon after the all-clear from the security forces Monday afternoon. He explained how the main building of the complex was secured.

The security forces, comprising commandos of the Pakistan Rangers and the Punjab police, "first pushed the attackers to the first floor of the building, then to the second and then to the roof, where they were neutralized", Malik said.

"We worked according to a SOP (standard operating procedure) and everyone in the security chain from the Lahore corps commander downwards was involved."

According to Malik, 52 police personnel were injured during the operation.

As the operation finally came to an end, the security forces on the roof of the academy fired in the air in jubilation and cried "Allah-o Akbar".

President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani commended the security forces on successfully retaking control of the police training centre.

Geo TV reported that an armed man who was walking towards helicopters that had landed in a village close to the police complex was overpowered and arrested. Two hand grenades were recovered from him.

Some officials identified him as an Afghan national.

The terrorists stormed the police academy at 7.20 a.m. when hundreds of police recruits were taking part in their usual morning parade.

The attackers first threw a grenade and then hurled many more, taking by surprise the mostly unarmed policemen and the few armed security personnel.

In no time, the terrorists scaled the walls of the sprawling academy and made their way inside, firing away. Several police trainees were killed instantly.

What happened next is not very clear. But Pakistani media reported that the attackers, who appeared to know the building's layout, took control of the complex, taking a large number of police personnel hostage.

But many other policemen managed to crawl to the main gate and escaped, alerting the authorities about the extent of the attack, which followed the March 3 strike on Sri Lankan cricketers.

Pakistan rushed reinforcements, sparking fierce gun battles. But it still took nearly eight hours to capture three terrorists, including an Afghan.

Helicopters hovered overhead as crack assault teams and snipers took up positions at the training centre.

An injured police trainee told Geo TV what happened in the morning: "A grenade was lobbed at the parade ground from outside. Then seven to eight more grenades were thrown. They (the attackers) then entered the area and started firing indiscriminately at us. This continued for 20 minutes."

"We lay low on the ground and crawled towards the main gate. We were rescued from there."

Television footage showed bodies of policemen on the parade ground. But the security forces had difficulty in identifying the attackers as they were wearing blue and khaki police uniforms, DPA said.

Malik termed the assault an attack on Pakistan and appealed for unity across the spectrum.

"This was an attack on Pakistan. In the face of this, we have to show unity, like we did in 1965. I appeal to everyone: Come, let's join hands."

The reference was to the 1965 sub-continental war when Indian forces had managed to penetrate till the Ichhogil Canal that flows along the eastern side of Lahore.

Malik said he had constituted a three-member team to probe the assault and had asked for a report in three days.

Asked whether he saw a foreign hand in the Lahore assault, Malik said there was a "probability".

"We have proved that we are capable of handling such situations. At the same time, we have to enhance our capabilities by equipping our security forces with modern gadgetry."

Earlier Monday, Malik told Geo TV that the assault on the police academy was similar to the November 2008 Mumbai carnage that left more than 170 people dead.

"This is an attack on the country by forces which do not want to see Pakistan stable," he said. "There should be unity at the political level and all levels."

Pakistan had been hit by a "wave of terrorism", he said, adding the attackers were trained and had "used terror as a weapon".

Malik also admitted that the police training centre was not secure and that its buildings were not designed to cope with terror strikes. "New buildings will have enhanced security."

Ready to tackle terror ‘spillover’ from Pak: Army

New Delhi, March 30
Expressing serious concern over the latest terror attacks in neighbouring Pakistan, the Army today said the armed forces were well prepared to tackle “any spillover” of Pakistan’s problems on to India.

“The armed forces are prepared at all times should there be a spillover of any kind of problems on to our side,” Vice-Chief of Army Staff Noble Thamburaj said, responding to queries in the wake of the attack on the Lahore police training centre this morning, leaving several dead.

Maintaining that India wanted stability in the entire South Asia neighbourhood, he said the region would attain the much-needed prosperity only if peace prevailed.

Noting that certain developments in the region in the last few years had caused instability, Thamburaj said: “Definitely, any kind of instability in the region...impinges on our security concerns...because we are neighbours and it is a cause for concern.” India was “watching and monitoring the situation very carefully,” Thamburaj said. The training is constantly there.”

Meanwhile, Army’s Signal Officer-in-Chief Lt Gen P Mohapatra told reporters at another defence event here the armed forces were “alive” to the security threats to the country whenever there was a terror attack in the neighbourhood. — PTI

Army: Process of inducting new version BrahMos to begin soon

Press Trust of India / New Delhi March 30, 2009, 19:09 IST

Declaring that the process of inducting a new version of BrahMos would begin soon, Army today said the trials of the cruise missile were aimed at testing the effectiveness of a special sensor for accurately hitting targets in an urban "Accuracy was the watchword. We had wanted them to include another sensor (in the missile). That is what these last three trials (were about). Because more than the naval version, in the Army, we wanted the missile to distinguish between similar kind of targets in urban areas. So this third test has been extremely successful," Army vice chief Lt Gen Noble Thamburaj told reporters here.

The process of inducting the new Block-II land attack version of the 290-km range missile would begin soon, he said.

"The process (of induction) will now start. Because now after carrying out the three field trials, the army is absolutely satisfied," he said on the sidelines of a seminar on Fire Power organised by Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS).

Congratulating the DRDO scientists and the BrahMos Corporation for the success, Thamburaj said the Army had enhanced its aspirations on the capability of the BrahMos weapons system as it wanted greater lethality and accuracy.

Noting that the Army was currently compiling the test reports, he said the missile system provided "tremendous scope and opportunity" for the force.

Army wanted BrahMos to achieve high degree of accuracy

Press Trust of India / New Delhi March 30, 2009, 13:04 IST

The three trials of BrahMos cruise missile were aimed at testing the effectiveness of the new special sensor integrated in the missile to hit the desired target in an urban environment accurately, a top army officer said today.

Vice Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Noble Thamburaj, said Army had enhanced its aspirations and wanted the BrahMos to achieve high standards of accuracy.

"Accuracy was the mantra. We had wanted a special sensor to be integrated in the missile so that it can hit the desired target accurately from among similar kind of targets in an urban environment," he told reporters on the sidelines of a defence seminar here. He said the last three trials have been to test the effectiveness of the new sensor.

"On behalf of the Army, I would like to congratulate the scientists for conducting an extremely successful third test of BrahMos," he said.

The DRDO yesterday successfully test-fired the block-II version of the land attack supersonic cruise missile at the Pokhran ranges in Rajasthan when the weapon system hit the target on the bull's eye.

The first test of the 290-km range missile held on February 20 this year had failed to hit the target following which the Army had sought further testing on the missile before it would accept it for induction.

Earlier this month, the DRDO had conducted the second test during which the missile hit the target area. However, the Army had then refused to comment on the success or failure of the missile test.

India rubbishes third party mediation in talks with Pak

Press Trust of India

Monday, March 30, 2009, (New Delhi)

Sending out a clear message to the US, India on Monday opposed any third party mediation in its ties with Pakistan and ruled out resumption of composite dialogue between the two south Asian neighbours till Islamabad takes "credible" action to dismantle terror infrastructure.

At the same time, New Delhi welcomed the new strategy for Pakistan and Afghanistan unveiled by US President Barack Obama last week and expressed readiness to play a "constructive role as a responsible power in defeating extremism of all kinds".

"Our view is quite clear. India-Pakistan process has been most successful when it is bilateral," Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon told reporters here when asked to comment on Obama's intention to engage in "constructive diplomacy to lessen tensions" between India and Pakistan.

"It is hard for any external influence to substitute or replace absence of political will that is intrinsic to the process itself," he said, apparently making it known to the US that any attempt to mediate would not be welcome.

He maintained India and Pakistan had made progress in their relationship before the Mumbai terror attacks as they dealt with issues bilaterally.

"It takes two hands to clap. Getting third hand from elsewhere does not help," he emphasised.

China Rejects Cyber Spying Allegations; ‘Dalai Lama Propaganda’

Monday, March 30, 2009

By Patrick Goodenough, International Editor

The Dalai Lama speaks to the media on the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule that sent him into exile, in Dharmsala, India on March 10, 2009. (AP Photo)

( – Chinese officials are dismissing startling allegations of an international electronic spying operation mounted from China, saying it’s just anti-Beijing propaganda.

Cyber-espionage activities are not new, but the operation revealed at the weekend is unprecedented in the number of countries penetrated and, according to investigators, continues to infect at least a dozen new computers every week.

Canada-based researchers said they had discovered almost 1,300 computer systems in 103 countries had been attacked and mined for data between May 2007 and March 2009, including those belonging to numerous foreign ministries and embassies, as well as multilateral agencies and non-governmental organizations.

Tibetan groups, including the Dalai Lama’s government-in-exile, were a particular target, as were government-related computer systems based in Asia, with Taiwan, Vietnam and India especially hard hit.

The claims sent some governments scrambling to check their computer systems.

In the Philippines, a spokesman for the department of foreign affairs – a suspected GhostNet target – said it was looking into the allegations and was doing all it would to protect its IT systems.

The Indonesian foreign ministry said it believed its system was safe from hacking and that any intrusion would be quickly identified.

China consistently denies charges of cyber spying, saying that it is itself a victim of hackers and online criminals. The Chinese Embassy in London dismissed the latest allegations, calling them a part of the Dalai Lama’s propaganda campaign against Beijing.

The state-run China Daily quoted a Beijing strategic analyst, Song Xiaojun, as saying of the reports that “some in the West are trying every opportunity to manufacture fears over China’s threat.”

The Information Warfare Monitor (IWM) report released at the weekend did not directly accuse Beijing of being responsible for what it dubbed GhostNet, but said investigators had traced the hacking to servers based mostly in China.

In the U.S., no government computers were found to have been accessed, although the Indian Embassy in Washington was attacked (along with Indian missions in eight other countries). The researchers said an unclassified NATO computer in the Netherlands was also compromised for half a day.

“The computers of diplomats, military attaches, private assistants, secretaries to prime ministers, journalists and others are under the concealed control of unknown assailant(s),” said report in the IWM, a publication of the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto’s Munk Center for International Studies.

“Almost certainly, documents are being removed without the targets’ knowledge, keystrokes logged, web cameras are being silently triggered and audio inputs surreptitiously activated.”

The authors said the report was a “wake-up call.”

“At the very least a large percentage of high-value targets compromised by this network demonstrate the relative ease with which a technically unsophisticated approach can quickly be harnessed to create a very effective spynet.”

Information warfare

A separate report, from two Cambridge University-based researchers involved in the same investigation, focused on the Tibetan targets and pointed a finger directly at “agents of the Chinese government.”

The investigation was triggered when the office of the exiled Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, northern India sought help after suspecting that its online communications were being monitored, the report said.

The office found that after it sent emails setting up meetings between the Tibetan leader and a foreign diplomat, the diplomat in question was then frequently contacted by Chinese officials and warned against going ahead. (Beijing works hard to deny the Dalai Lama legitimacy and disrupt his international travel and advocacy.)

An investigation that began in Dharamsala broadened and discovered the much wider operation.

The Cambridge researchers said the case was worth serious study because “it was a targeted surveillance attack designed to collect actionable intelligence for use by the police and security services of a repressive state, with potentially fatal consequences for those exposed.”

Hackers based in China have frequently been accused of targeting Western government and business computer networks.

The U.S. Department of Defense has for several years been reporting on People’s Liberation Army (PLA) “information warfare units” which it says are developing the means to attack enemy computer systems.

The Pentagon’s latest annual report on China’s military power, released last week named cyber warfare capabilities as one of the few aspects of the Chinese armed forces with “the potential to be truly global.”

It said numerous systems around the world, including some owned by the U.S. government, were “the target of intrusions that appear to have originated” in China during the past year.

Tata Power bags contarct worth Rs 182.46 cr
30 Mar 2009, 1808 hrs IST, ET Bureau

MUMBAI: Tata Power Company on Monday said its Strategic Electronics Division has got a contract worth Rs 182.46 crore to manufacture 16 Akash

missile launchers scheduled to be delivered in 33 months.

"For last four decades Tata Power SED has been closely working with MoD (ministry of defence) and DRDO (Defence Research Development Organisation) for defence requirements," said Rahul Chaudhry, CEO of Tata Power Strategic Electronics Division. The increased private sector participation in defence will give Tata Power SED more credibility as a long term reliable partner for the Indian Defence forces.

Earlier in 2006, Tata Power SED secured orders for Pinaka Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher System from the Indian Army and Integrated Automatic Data Handling System for Air Defence from the Indian Air Force.

Pakistan army and ISI in CIA’s firing line

Monday March 30, 2009 (1124 PST)

It is now getting clear as to why FATA has been declared most dangerous place on earth. After making series of allegations that FATA is the main breeding ground where militants and suicide bombers are trained for launching into Afghanistan; where the entire senior leadership of Al-Qaeda and Taliban is housed; and from where possible attack on US homeland would take off, so far not a single training camp has been located in FATA, nor any high-profile militant leader nabbed or killed. This is in spite of continuous hovering of spy planes and next door US-NATO troops equipped with latest state-of-the-art surveillance and detection gadgets breathing over Pakistan’s neck, and RAW-CIA-Mossad agents having infiltrated into FATA in big numbers. If CIA controlled drones can hit suspected houses, madrassas and Hujras based on intelligence, why have they been unable to detect so-called training sites and the top wanted leaders? Why have the drones not taken a pot shot at Baitullah Mehsud or Maulana Fazlullah if the US considers Pakistani Taliban a threat?

The fact is that whatever has been said about FATA is pack of white lies uttered with sinister designs. All sorts of harrowing stories were cooked up to justify drone attacks as well as ground raids in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal belt. Blatant lies are similar to the WMD falsehood to justify invasion of Iraq. Why not Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan or for that matter India which has become the hub-centre of extremism and terrorism been added to the list of most dangerous places?

Other than the militants, which the US is keen to eliminate, Pakistan army and the ISI also continue to remain in CIA’s firing line. CIA is deliberately leaking out stories in US leading newspapers while CNN, Fox News drum beats scandalous news on electronic media to malign the two institutions. The allegations made against the two institutions range from collaboration with the Taliban and playing a double game. The themes played are: One, the army is either incapable of dealing with militants or is soft towards them; Two, the army has surrendered FATA and Swat to the Taliban; Three, the army uses the Taliban as a weapon to regain strategic depth in Afghanistan; Four, the army is not under civil government control; Five, the ISI trains, equips and launches militants into Pakistan to hit Afghan-Nato targets.

In order to nullify the negative impact of deadly drone attacks which have killed mostly innocent men, women and children, USA has launched a bizarre campaign in its bid to convince Pakistanis and the world that drones are flown from air bases in Baluchistan and not from Afghanistan. Earlier on it was stated that there was a tacit understanding between Gen Musharraf and USA and that Zardari on his visit to Washington had given his blessing to continue drone attacks. It was also said that missile attacks were conducted without informing Pakistan because of strong suspicion that the army and the ISI forewarned the Taliban about the intended attack.

David E Sanger and Ron Suskind, both from USA have belatedly come up with news that Gen Musharraf had played a double game. In his book ‘Inheritance’, Sanger claims that he learnt about the ISI and Pakistani Generals protecting the Taliban by listening to the highly classified tapes in which telephonic conversations of top Pakistani Generals with the then ISI chief were recorded. Who will buy this crap for everyone knows that Generals use highly secured communication system which cannot be breached. More so, why the hell they should be discussing Taliban over phones? Diane Feinstein, chairperson of US Senate Committee on Intelligence came out with a startling disclosure that US drones were operating form certain ISI bases within Pakistan and that USAF and US army had nothing to do with it. The ISI was deliberately added to generate feelings of hatred against it. Who doesn’t know that the ISI do not control any bases and that drones are flown from Bagram air base in Afghanistan? It is also a known fact that Shamsi and Dalbaldin air bases are utilized by CIA and FBI for covert operations in Baluchistan and Iran.

The CIA and ISI have always enjoyed cordial relations. The Afghan war against the Soviets brought the two very close to each other. This closeness got reinvigorated when Pakistan volunteered to become the frontline state against war on terror. The two sailed along smoothly till as late as 2007 after which there was a sudden shift in CIA’s attitude. This change in attitude occurred after ISI learnt about CIA playing a double game in FATA and Baluchistan by providing all out assistance to RAW to destabilize the marked regions. When ISI became cautious and started to take protective measures, it irked CIA and started to distance itself. CIA’s relations with Pak army and the ISI became strained when the army-ISI outspread details of drug trade in Afghanistan in which CIA, RAW and Mossad were deeply involved. This disclosure with proofs was made when the USA had begun to tantalize Pak army and blamed it for its woes in Afghanistan. Pakistan argued that one of the principle reasons for USA not being able to control militancy in Afghanistan was the unchecked drug trade which was also a source of income for the militants to fund their militancy. It transpired that CIA assisted by India was sponsoring multi-billon dollar Afghan drug trade. The duo banks on $3 trillion worth of drug money each year, generated through heroin production and its subsequent sale across the world. Drug money is used by CIA for carrying out covert operations in the world. RAW utilizes drug money for running tens of training camps, for recruiting and equipping agents and suicide bombers and funding dissident elements within Pakistan.

Exposure of this racket angered CIA and relations of the two soured. Matters worsened when the Indian defence attach√© serving in Indian Embassy in Kabul got killed on 7 July 2008 suicide bombing. He was a lynchpin arranging drug deals and hence very dear to the CIA. RAW convinced CIA that the attack had been perpetrated by ISI. It infuriated CIA so intensely that it vowed to teach ISI a lesson. We remember how Deputy Director CIA and Adm. Mullen came fuming to Pakistan and expressed their deepest concern. Ever since, CIA is not missing any opportunity to fire salvos to defame and axe this premier organization which provides first line of defence to Pakistan. Otherwise too, both CIA and RAW consider the army and ISI as the only bottlenecks which are blocking their route to denuclearize Pakistan. Among the many conditions attached to Benazir return to Pakistan was to turn the army into a counter terrorism force and to bring the ISI and the nuclear program under civilian control. A serious attempt was made in August last year when the ISI had nearly been placed under Ministry of Interior. CIA was part of the gory drama of Mumbai in which the army and ISI in particular were blamed. The CIA not only exercises control over US media and think tanks which it uses for propaganda purposes and for forming perceptions, it has also cultivated intellectuals, writers, journalists, English newspapers and TV channels in Pakistan and uses Pakistani brigade to supplement its propaganda warfare. Among the latter category some are based in foreign countries but subscribe their articles in Pakistan’s leading English newspapers. Of late this brigade has become very active and is parroting dictated themes with greatest vigor.

There is no denying the fact that the CIA used drug money to finance war against the Soviets in the 1980s. Earlier on it had also used drug money in Nicaragua in 1979-80 to finance Contras. By the close of Afghan war in 1989, Afghanistan was the second biggest opium producing country in the world. It was almost cleansed of the curse of drugs by the Taliban during their rule from 1996 to 2001. It has now been converted into the largest heroin producing state in the world. Hamid Karzai brother Izzatullah Wasifi is the biggest heroin producer and there are dozens of heroin factories established across the country and run by Wasifi and other Afghan warlords. Ahmad Wali Karzai in Kandahar handles all exports of heroin to Europe through Turkmenistan.

The 7 July attack on Indian Embassy had been masterminded by Wasifi once he learnt that the Indian officer was betraying him to US Drug Enforcement Agency. It is surprising that neither CIA has ever recommended to US government to launch a crackdown on heroin factories that finance militants and warlords nor the US military command or NATO command in Kabul have raised this issue. It seems as if all are party to the drug game. Without Pentagon and CIA blessing it is not possible to export thousands of tons of heroin. Reportedly, even US military cargo planes are in use to shift heroin and on occasions coffin boxes were used. Possibility of NATO countries and Afghan army and police indulging in this lucrative business cannot be ruled out. It is to be seen whether the hard taskmaster Holbrook would be able sort this critical matter without which any amount of troop surge will not produce any tangible results.

Our computer system is secure, says Army

New Delhi, March 30
With China-based hacker groups increasing their attacks on computer networks across the globe, the Army today said its information systems were “secure” and could not be “tampered” with.

“We have put in place a very secure network and I can confidently say that it cannot be tampered with,” Army’s Signal Officer-in-Chief Lieutenant General P Mohapatra told reporters here.

Talking about the security features of the armed forces’ network, he said, “It’s exclusive, there are various cryptographic controls that we have put in place and there are training activities to ensure that no loss of information takes place.”

Mohapatra’s statement came in the wake of New York-based media reports that a vast cyber spy network controlled from China has hacked into nearly 1,300 government and private computers across 103 countries, including those of Indian embassy in Washington and the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

Commenting on the hacking of the Dalai Lama’s computers, Mohapatra said systems of the spiritual leader and others could be hacked as they were connected to the Internet.

“It is not a new phenomenon. This has been happening since the inception of internet and vulnerabilities are there in that system,” he added.

On the progress made by Army in networking its weapons and sensors, Mohapatra said: “Network centricity is an ongoing process and therefore as technology evolves, we have to get newer technologies into the fold and evolve according to what facilities or powers that network-centric technologies can offer us.” — PTI

Suryakiran team enthrals Jaipur

Jaipur, March 30
Shockwave, Phoenix, Yankee, Wedge, Tango were some of the mid-air formations by the IAF’s Suryakiran Formation Aerobatic Team which left the people of the pink city spellbound here today.

The team lead by its Commanding Officer Wing Commander Joy Thomas Kurien performed the formations by six Kiran MK II aircrafts in a duration of about 20 minutes.

The show was organised by the state tourism to mark the Rajasthan Day.

The fleet took off this morning from Sanganer airport and formed the Indian Tricolour over the sports ground of the Rajasthan University.

Thousands of spectators were present at the sports ground to enjoy the dynamic maneuvering with breath-taking loops by the team while many others had glimpse of the enthralling performance from rooftops. Three IAF commentators, including two lady officers, guided spectators about every loop and formation from the ground. Wing Commander VK Dubey, Vinay Pratap Singh, Arunaksha Nandy, Sumeet Malhotra and Anant Pujari were the team pilots. — PTI

Publish history of wars
RTI ruling on Brooks report flawed

If India has to learn from the wars it has fought, it has to publish the history of these wars so that policy makers, military commanders and diplomats alike can guard against committing previous mistakes again. Till date, India has only declassified the 1947-48 Kashmir war history and the Kargil Review Committee Report. The history of the 1962 war with China and the 1965 and 1971 wars with Pakistan is being kept in the closet along with the Henderson-Brooks report on the conduct of the India-China war. Only recently, the Central Chief Information Commissioner sided with the government to prevent the release of the Henderson-Brooks report under the Right to Information Act.

Much of the published literature on India’s wars is sketchy and evokes controversies and claims, some of which are difficult to evaluate. In the process, the government has unwittingly given a free hand to the Chinese and the Pakistanis (and also Western authors) to propagate their versions. The world’s largest democracy with the third largest military force which seeks to become a global player continues to keep its war history, including the almost half-century old Henderson-Brooks inquiry report on the 1962 Sino-Indian war, under wraps, denying itself the benefit of learning from history. This is notwithstanding a categorical recommendation for declassifying the history of all wars by a specially constituted committee headed by Mr N.N. Vohra. The committee was specially tasked by the government to examine the diaries of all wars India has had to fight after Independence.

Objections can always be raised to making war history public, but there are tremendous advantages of letting the people know where things went wrong and where India did well in the battlefield to make them feel proud of their armed forces. It is imperative that India learns from past omissions and commissions. Else, India would be making another mistake.

Monday, 30 March 2009

From Today's Papers - 30 Mar 09

Hindustan Times

Times of India

Asian Age

Asian Age

Telegraph India

Asian Age

Asian Age

Times of India

Times of India

Asian Age

Asian Age

Times of India

The Pioneer

The Pioneer

The Pioneer

Ex-IAF officer played key role

Retired officer had a hand in scuttling the induction of Akash missile

Josy Joseph. New Delhi

Who were the main actors pushing for the controversial Rs10,000 crore medium-range surface-to-air (MRSAM) contract with the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI)?
The deal, signed on February 27, just days before the general election was announced, had an unheard of clause for paying Rs600 crore (6% of the contract value) as "business charges".
While Israel's Elul Group is already under scrutiny, serious questions are also being raised about a retired Indian Air Force (IAF) officer who played a crucial role in formally proposing purchase of MRSAMs from Israel. This officer was also responsible for scuttling the large-scale induction of the indigenous surface-to-air missile Akash.
Over the past few days, DNA's investigation has raised questions about the controversial deal with IAI, which is already being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation in connection with the Barak missile deal of 2000. The MRSAM deal was signed despite initial vigilance objections, neutral legal opinions, and the success of the indigenous Advanced Air Defence missile of similar capability.
DNA's investigation found that the IAF officer, who retired about two years ago, is now working for the Israeli arms industry in New Delhi.
Without naming the officer, Defence Research & Development Organisation chief M Natarajan told a press conference in Bangalore during the Aero India show last month that the officer had slashed his predecessor's commitment to induct eight squadrons of Akash missiles. The officer had brought the figure down to just two squadrons. Akash has a range of 27km, while MRSAM has a range of about 70km.
A source in the defence ministry confirmed that even for the induction of these two Akash squadrons, the IAF put a condition that the DRDO must first agree to the MRSAM project. "We were blackmailed into the MRSAM project," said the source. "He [the former IAF officer] killed Akash, blackmailed us to agree to MRSAM, and is now working for them [Israeli arms companies] openly."

"Yes, we are aware (that the officer is working for Israelis)," said a senior defence ministry official, who had defended the government for going ahead with the MRSAM deal.
The official said the ministry has not yet sought clarification from the officer because he retired "two years ago". But "he has very limited access in the defence ministry and air headquarters," the official claimed.
The retired officer had held such a crucial position in the IAF that it is surprising why the government has closed its eyes to his alliance with foreign arms firms after retirement.
The role of another IAF officer is also coming under scrutiny in this matter. He is associated with Nova Integrated Systems, the Tata-IAI joint venture which will be integrating the MRSAM.
Several officials in the defence ministry are baffled how a private-sector firm has been nominated as the integrator for the sensitive missile system. In India, all missile systems are integrated in public-sector units, usually Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL).
In fact, DRDO suggested BDL as the integrator for the MRSAM, with Israelis supplying the seeker and some radar components and DRDO making the airframe, servos, and propulsion. But Nova will be doing the integration now.
This is yet another decision that has raised eyebrows. Sources in the defence establishment believe it is a perfect example of how the Israelis were able to get through whatever they wanted.

A soldier and gentleman politician
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 29
Always smiling and relaxed, Capt Kanwaljit Singh was a politician with difference. Firm and polite, he made a mark not only in the Shiromani Akali Dal but also in Punjab politics.

Born in Nabha, princely town in Malwa, on September 1, 1942, he had education in Patiala and Chandigarh before joining Indian Army. The soldier in him made him follow self-drawn strict discipline after joining politics in early 80s.

Sitting in front seat of his car, he was returning after attending a function in support of party candidate Daljeet Singh Cheema, when a truck coming from the opposite side rammed into his vehicle that in turn hit another truck injuring him seriously. Timing and type of the accident prompted Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) chief Simranjit Singh Mann demand probe by a sitting high court Judge into the mishap. His death sent shock waves in the state and the country.

He leaves a widow, a son and a daughter besides large number of friends and admirers.

His first entry into electoral politics was in 1985 when he defeated Venod Sharma of the Congress by 1193 votes from Banur constituency. He represented the same constituency till now. In 1997, he defeated former Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief Mohinder Singh Gill and in 2002, his opponent was Ms Sheelam Sohi. whom he defeated by 714 votes. In 2007 Assembly elections, he defeated Pappu Sharma, son of former Punjab Finance Minister Hans Raj Sharma.

If Zirakpur and Banur look like extensions of Chandigarh, it is all due to his efforts. Widening of roads, the Zirakpur flyover and Banur becoming hub of technical education is all because of his efforts and vision making this otherwise neglected area fountain of technically qualified youngsters.

Captain Kanwaljit Singh proved his credentials in every portfolio he held in the Punjab Council of Ministers during his three terms as ruling party legislator. When Surjit Singh Barnala became the Chief Minister, he did commendable job as Home Minister as the state was still reeling from militancy.

In the 2002 SAD-BJP government, he was Finance Minister. This was the only time when a non-Congress government completed five-year term. His handling of finance was lauded by even opposition benches.

In the present government, he was given portfolio of Cooperation, Defence Services Welfare, Removal of Grievances, pensions and welfare of pensioners. He tried to revive cooperative movement in the state. All sugar mills in the cooperative sector were revived and upgraded.

On important issues, he would invite senior journalists either for views or to interact on what the state should do on complex issues.

He was upset when the Akali Dal split and the Shiromani Akali Dal (Longowal) came into being. As believer in Panthic agenda, he stood by Sant Harchand Singh Longowal and Surjit Singh Barnala as general secretary of the Dal. When the Longowal Dal merged back with the mainstream Shiromani Akali Dal, Capt Kanwaljit Singh continued to hold the position of general secretary till his death. He went to jail several times in support of Panthic morchas.

Being a former soldier welfare of ex-servicemen was very dear to him.

BrahMos Block II version test-fired

New Delhi, March 29

For the second time in a month, the Block II version of the supersonic BrahMos cruise missile with a striking range of 290 km, successfully hit its target during a test at the Pokhran firing range today, DRDO officials said.

“The missile was successfully launched at 11.15 am in the morning and in the next two-and-a-half minutes, it hit the bull’s eye in the Pokhran firing range in Rajasthan,” an official told.

This was the third test-firing of the latest Block II version of the missile.

During the test, Army’s Director General of Military Operations Lieutenant General AS Sekhon, Artillery School Commandant Lt Gen Rao and Additional Director General (Artillery) Major General VK Tiwari were present.

The launch of the latest land attack version of the missile being developed for the Army was also witnessed by DRDO’s Chief Controller and BrahMos Aerospace Chairman A Sivathanu Pillai and DRDL Director P Venugopalan.

After today’s test, officials said the development phase of the Block II version of the missile was over and it was ready for induction in the Army. They said the mission objectives of the test were completely fulfilled.

The third trial of the missile has come at a time when the Army has not yet come out with its findings about the analysis of the flight and the mission of the March 4 test, when the missile hit its target from a distance of around 90 kms at the Pokharan test-firing range.

In the first test on January 20, the missile failed to hit its target due to glitches in the homing device of the missile. The missile had taken off successfully but deviated from its path in mid-course and landed far away from its target. Sources said the defects were rectified at the time of the last test when it went on to hit the target.

They said the “unique” technology in the Block II missiles made them “unparallelled” and would help the armed forces hit even “insignificant targets” hidden in cluster of buildings.

“The new seeker is unique and would help us to hit our targets, which are insignificant in terms of size, in a cluster of large buildings. India is now the only nation in the world with this advanced technology,” an official claimed.

DRDO officials claimed that BrahMos would be able to start deliveries of the 240 missiles ordered by the Army in two years from now as per the original schedule. The Army has already inducted one regiment of the Block I version of the missile. — PTI

Nehruvian bravado haunts IAF’s vistas - Part I

The announcement came shortly after the second prototype (PT-2) of the light transport aircraft (LTA) Saras crashed on the outskirts of Bangalore in early March. The 14-seater multi-role plane is being developed by ’expert’ science research VIPs at National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), a CSIR outfit.

More than the monstrous sums squandered in the development, which has been going on since the early 1990s, the real tragedy was the loss of three young IAF officers. Test pilots Wg. Cdr. Praveen, Wg. Cdr. Deepesh Shah, and Test Engineer Squadron Leader Ilayaraja, who were on board the pre-doomed aircraft, died in the crash.

NAL chief AR Upadhyaya had taken the considered view that the accident must not hamper the program in India’s quest for beating the big names in the business. If Brahmachari, who met NAL ’scientists’ and relatives of the deceased pilots, is to be believed, the father of one of the pilots told him that completion of the Rs 200 crore project would be a fitting tribute to his son.

Whether it was true or not, it is this suicidal mindset - not just being prepared to become a martyr if needed but actually dying due to the ineptitude and criminal negligence of top bosses and utter mismanagement - that is being promoted by fake experts living in a Nehru era time warp.

A high-profile science babu who has dedicated his entire career (pushing files) to the country in one of the 37 research institutes governed by CSIR paid a typical homage saying, “These young officers have supported the test flying of the LTA, knowing fully well the risks involved with the experimental production. No great success can be achieved without paying the price.”

What he did not mention explicitly was that the price involved in fitting emergency equipment like ejection seats, mandatory when test flying unproven stuff, was too high compared to the cheap lives of passionate IAF officers in India!

This attitude came to the fore just one month previously in case of LTA’s compatriot LCA (Light Combat Aircraft) named Tejas. Air Commodore Rohit Varma, who heads the LCA flight testing at the National Flight Test Centre (NFTC), said, “Unlike other countries where test pilots are retired airmen, our test pilots are all serving pilots, bringing in contemporary experience of our operating environment!”

Countries which really want to develop such machines are idiots by implication because they believe that only highly experienced pilots will be able to take split-second decisions, often needed while facing situations that could not have been predicted! Apparently, the dare devilry or agility of pilots who have hundreds of flying hours left in them are not the attributes needed for this job.

NFTC bosses incidentally boast, “This centre has been set up entirely indigenously.” This is a sick Nehruvian mindset obsolete in an age when the concept ’global hubs’ is in vogue. Even far richer countries prefer to source such items in other countries in order to keep pace with advancements and to ensure quality and cost-effectiveness, rather than sink money in indigenization.

Rapid fire experts of India have come out with a brilliant idea to cut down the likely setback due to the fate of the PT-2, which was completely destroyed in the accident. The PT-1 aircraft will be modified and touted as the PT-3 by fitting the higher thrust Pratt and Whitney engines! Bring a donkey, present it as a horse and get a willing jockey to ride it! After all, any number of suckers are available to test-fly such make believe machines and become martyrs.

Of note, the PT-1 that had its first flight in May 2004, exceeded its empty weight target by almost a tonne. That is 25 per cent. Therefore, the PT-2, which first flew three years later than the PT-1 did (and crashed now), was fitted with the 1200 shp version of the original 850 shp engines, imported from Pratt & Whitney, Canada.

The PT-3 was supposed to be a ’production-standard prototype’, targeting a 500-kg weight reduction, using advanced materials. It was expected to fly by 2009-end, pushing certification into 2010.;jsessionid=C5B7352116F8CF1F7B4001C57F06FA28?articleID=15762344

Supersonic BrahMos Cruise Missile Hits 'Bull's Eye'

New Delhi

The Indian Army Sunday successfully test fired the land attack version of the supersonic BrahMos cruise missile at the Pokhran test range in Rajasthan. The missile took off successfully and hit the "bull's eye", an official statement said.

The missile, a joint venture of India and Russia, was fired at 11.15 a.m. Sunday.

"Today (Sunday) land attack version of BrahMos block-II was tested from a mobile autonomous launcher at Pokhran test range by the Indian Army. The missile took off successfully and hit the desired target at bull's eye meeting all mission parameters," a statement issued by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) said.

This is the second launch this month and third this year for the block-II version for the army.

In the first test, the missile failed to hit the target. The army kept the results of the second test under wraps even though DRDO termed it successful.

"With this launch, the requirement of army for the land attack version with block-II advanced seeker software with target discriminating capabilities has been fully met and this version is ready for induction," the statement said.

According to the DRDO officials, the missile will provide an enhanced capability to the army for selection of a particular land target among a group of targets.

The launch was witnessed by Director General Military Operations Lt. Gen. A.S. Sekhon, Commandant School of Artillery Lt. Gen. K.R. Rao and Additional Director General Artillery Maj. Gen. V.K. Tiwari along with other senior army officers.

The CEO of BrahMos A. Sivathanu Pillai and other senior scientists were also present during the launch, the release added.

Cruise missiles fly at low altitudes and have the ability to evade enemy radars and air-defence systems. They are also easier and cheaper to operate.

The Indian Army has already begun inducting the land-fired version of the BrahMos, with the first battery entering service in June 2007. Each battery is equipped with four mobile launchers mounted on heavy 12x12 Tatra transporters.

The army plans to induct three more such batteries.

The anti-ship naval version has also been inducted into service with its integration on the destroyer INS Rajput, with two other ships of the same class to be similarly equipped.

The missiles will also be mounted on the three 7,000 tonne Kolkata class destroyers currently being constructed at Mumbai's Mazagon docks.

The missile, which takes its name from the Brahmaputra and Moskva rivers, has a 300-km range and carries a 300 kg conventional warhead. It can achieve speeds of up to 2.8 Mach or nearly three times the speed of sound.

Chinese hackers target Dalai, Indian embassy PCs

Press Trust of India

Sunday, March 29, 2009, (New York)

A vast cyber spy network controlled from China has infiltrated government and private computers in 103 countries, including those of Indian embassy in Washington and the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama, a media report said on Sunday.

Canadian researchers, The New York Times reported, have concluded that the computers based almost exclusively in China are controlling the network and stealing documents, but stopped short of saying that the Chinese government was involved.

It quoted researchers as saying that they had found no evidence that the US government offices had been infiltrated, although a NATO computer was monitored by the spies for half a day and computers of the Indian embassy in Washington were infiltrated.

The researchers, who are based at the Munk Center for International Studies at the University of Toronto, had been asked by the office of the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan leader whom China regularly denounces, to examine its computers for signs of malicious software or malware, the paper said, quoting a report being issued shortly.

Their sleuthing, it said, opened a window into a broader operation that, in less than 2 years, has infiltrated at least 1,295 computers in 103 countries, including many belonging to embassies, foreign ministries and other government offices, as well as the Dalai Lama's Tibetan exile centers in India, Brussels, London and New York.

The researchers, who have a record of detecting computer espionage, said they believed that in addition to the spying on the Dalai Lama, the system, which they called GhostNet, was focussed on the governments of South Asian and Southeast Asian countries, the paper reported.

It quoted intelligence analysts as saying that many governments, including those of China, Russia and the United States, and other parties use sophisticated computer programmes to covertly gather information.

The newly reported spying operation is by far the largest to come to light in terms of countries affected, the paper said. This is also believed to be the first time researchers have been able to expose the workings of a computer system used in an intrusion of this magnitude.

Still going strong, the operation continues to invade and monitor more than a dozen new computers a week, the paper said quoting the report -- "Tracking 'GhostNet': Investigating a Cyber Espionage Network."

Working with the Tibetans, the researchers found that specific correspondence had been stolen and that the intruders had gained control of the electronic mail server computers of the Dalai Lama's organisation, the Times said.

The electronic spy game has had at least some real-world impact, the researchers were quoted as saying. For example, they said, after an e-mail invitation was sent by the Dalai's office to a foreign diplomat, Chinese government made a call to the diplomat discouraging a visit.

Also, a woman working for a group making Internet contacts between Tibetan exiles and Chinese citizens was stopped by Chinese intelligence officers on her way back to Tibet, shown transcripts of her online conversations and warned to stop her political activities, the paper reported.

The Toronto researchers said they had notified international law enforcement agencies of the spying operation, which in their view exposed basic shortcomings in the legal structure of cyberspace. The FBI, the Times said, declined to comment on the operation.

Although the Canadian researchers said that most of the computers behind the spying were in China, the paper said, they cautioned against concluding that China's government was involved. The spying could be a non-state, for-profit operation, for example, or one run by private citizens in China known as "patriotic hackers."

"We're a bit more careful about it, knowing the nuance of what happens in the subterranean realms," Ronald J Deibert, a member of the research group and an associate professor of political science at Munk, was quoted as saying. "This could well be the CIA or the Russians. It's a murky realm that we're lifting the lid on."

A spokesman for the Chinese Consulate in New York, the paper said, dismissed the idea that China was involved. "These are old stories and they are nonsense," the spokesman, Wenqi Gao, said. "The Chinese government is opposed to and strictly forbids any cyber crime."

Drone attacks inside Pak having effect: US

Press Trust of India

Sunday, March 29, 2009, (Islamabad)

The US drone attacks inside Pakistan were "having an effect" but Washington and Islamabad will decide whether to continue the strikes, which have been unpopular in the country, a top American official has said.

"They (drone attacks) are having an effect (but) whether they continue or not will be up to the Pakistani government and our government working side by side in a collaborative way," said US National Security Adviser James Jones.

"The attacks have done a couple of things: One, they have been targeted very specifically against Al-Qaida. Two, they produce very low collateral damage," Jones told the Pakistani daily 'Dawn'.

This was the first time a senior US official has spoken on record about drone attacks. Jones said that Washington's relation with Islamabad are "in a restart mode we are having very intensive dialogues. We were building trust and confidence between the armed forces."

Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher said the US had no plans to send American troops inside Pakistani territory. He said Pakistanis were operating on their side of the border.
"We operate differently on the other side of the border," he added.

N. Korea plans missile launch
by Blaine Harden

WHILE North Korea has been making missiles to intimidate its neighbors for nearly half a century, what makes this launch particularly worrying is the increasing possibility – as assessed by U.S. intelligence and some independent experts – that it has built or is attempting to build nuclear warheads small enough to fit atop its growing number of missiles.

North Korea "may be able to successfully mate a nuclear warhead to a ballistic missile," Lt. Gen. Michael Maples, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said this month in testimony prepared for the Senate Armed Services Committee.

David Albright, a physicist and nuclear weapons expert who runs the Washington-
based Institute for Science and International Security, has written that North
Korea is "likely able to build a crude nuclear warhead" for its mid-range missiles
that target Japan.

Experts agree that North Korea is probably years away from putting nuclear warheads on long-range missiles that could hit the United States.

"North Korea's nuclear strategy is to keep everyone confused, keep everyone wondering," Albright said.

The country's founding dictator, the late Kim Il Sung, created a military academy 44 years ago to "nurture" missile builders, ordering them to make weapons that could strike Japan and "prevent" the United States from meddling on the Korean Peninsula.

Kim's son and successor, Kim Jong Il, has continued to nurture the missile makers, who have built more than 200 Nodong missiles capable of hitting most of Japan.

The Kim dynasty's commitment to missiles continues to rattle nerves, with Japan and South Korea repeatedly protesting as North Korea moves closer to the planned launch of its new long-range missile.

North Korea says it plans to put a communications satellite into orbit, but that claim is widely viewed as a pretext for testing an intercontinental ballistic missile, the Taepodong-2. The U.S. national intelligence director, Dennis Blair, told a Senate committee that a three-stage missile of this type, if it works, could strike the continental United States.

"Most of the world understands the game they're playing," Blair said, adding that North Korea "risks international opprobrium and hopefully worse" if the launch proceeds. If the international community sanctions North Korea for the launch, Pyongyang threatened this week to abrogate an agreement with the United States and five other countries to abandon nuclear weapons in return for aid and other concessions. It has also threatened to go to war, if what it calls its peaceful research launch is shot down.

North Korea exploded a small nuclear device in 2006 and has since declared it has "weaponized" its entire plutonium stockpile, which it says totals 57 pounds – enough, experts say, to build four or five bombs.

But it is another major technical step to miniaturize these bombs for missile
delivery. Scientists and governments disagree about how far North Korea has
gone toward this goal.

The governments of South Korea and Japan both say that North Korea has not succeeded in miniaturizing nuclear warheads.

But Japan's Defense Ministry has concluded that North Korea may be getting close. "We cannot deny that North Korea will probably be able to do that in a short period of time," said Atsuo Suzuki, director of the ministry's defense intelligence division.

And South Korea's foreign minister, Yu Myung-hwan, told reporters that North Korea's push to develop "long-range missile capability after a nuclear test is literally (making) weapons of mass destruction."

North Korea's test of a nuclear device in 2006 produced such a small explosion
that it was probably only a partial success, according to Theodore Postol, a
professor of science, technology and national security policy at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology.

Based on this one test of a nuclear device, Postol said, it is "not credible" that North Korea could have succeeded in less than three years in miniaturizing "an advance design" nuclear warhead.

But he said there is a remote possibility that North Korea has made a warhead of an untested crude design that could produce a relatively small nuclear explosion, akin to its 2006 test.

It would be the equivalent of exploding several hundred tons of TNT, as
compared with the exponentially more destructive 25-kiloton blast of an
advanced nuclear warhead.

Postol estimates that it is possible for North Korea to make a warhead that is small and light enough to be mounted on a Nodong missile, which has a diameter of about 4 feet and can carry a payload of about 2,200 pounds.

"It would be a very inefficient way to use a weapon," he said. "But if you are desperate enough, I think such a weapon would certainly have deterrent capability. Tokyo is a large enough target to be relatively sure that a non-full-yield weapon would still cause tremendous death and destruction."

North Korea's missiles are inaccurate and decades out-of-date by the rocket-science standards of the United States, Russia and China. Most of its more than 800 missiles are believed to be modified versions of Scuds, a Soviet-era weapon with rocket motors and guidance systems that date from the 1950s.

The Scud was never intended to be a precision weapon. Iraq's Saddam Hussein sprayed dozens of them around Israel in the first Gulf War to terrorize civilians and provoke the government. Similarly, pin-point accuracy is hardly the point of North Korea's missile program, analysts say.

"Even with very low accuracy, that is sufficient to create fear in civilian society," said Cha Du-Hyeogn, a research fellow at the government-funded Korea Institute for Defense Analyses in Seoul.

"The leaders of North Korea are not madmen. They have their own reasoning. They want attention, and they want rewards for not using these weapons."

Missile-making in North Korea has been sufficiently menacing – and marketable – to qualify as one of the few successful industries in the history of the secretive communist country, where a comand-style economy has largely collapsed and chronic food shortages cause widespread malnutrition.

In 1999, the North halted missile tests to negotiate improved ties with the Clinton administration, but talks were suspended after the election of George W. Bush.

Despite its poverty, North Korea has made itself into the "greatest supplier
of missiles, missile components and related technologies" in the developing
world, according to a 2008 report for the U.S. Army War College's Strategic
Studies Institute by Daniel Pinkston, a Seoul-based analyst with the
International Crisis Group.

— By arrangement with LA Times-Washington Post

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