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Saturday, 28 March 2009

From Today's Papers - 28 Mar 09

India to buy Israeli air defence system at $1.4 billion

Press Trust of India

Friday, March 27, 2009, (Jerusalem)

In its biggest defence deal with India, Israel will provide its largest arms buyer an air defence system at a whopping sum of $1.4 billion.

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has officially acknowledged that the defence deal between the two countries was signed on February 27 under which Israel will develop and manufacture seaborne and shore-based systems against missile attack on India, business daily Globes reported.

The two sides have agreed that part of the payment for the systems will be made during the development period and the balance will be paid during the 66-month delivery period, which is slated to begin 90 months from the date the advance payment is received.

As per the agreement, IAI has also undertaken to procure military or aviation products and services from India.

Besides, it will invest in defence companies in India up to an amount equal to 30 per cent of the contract.

Meanwhile, the state owned Israeli firm stated that it delayed announcing the contract because the customer informed them that early disclosure was liable to cause material difficulties in its execution and may even result in cancellation, the business daily reported.

IAI also added that it felt that this risk would be substantially reduced once the advance payment was received, the report said.

The Israeli defence industry, however, decided to go open on the contract following reports in media, even though the advance payment has not yet been received, it said.

India playing crucial role in progress of Afghanistan: US

Press Trust of India

Friday, March 27, 2009, (Washington)

The US on Thursday said India has been playing a very "important role" in the development of Afghanistan post-Taliban, as the Obama Administration tries to involve New Delhi in its policy towards the war-torn country.

"India makes a very positive contribution towards Afghanistan's development," Gen Karl Eikenberry, President Barack Obama's nominee to be ambassador to Afghanistan, said on Thursday.

Elaborating India's contributions in Afghanistan, he said: "It has good agricultural programs. It's been a generous aid donor. It also has extraordinarily good capabilities of developing civil service and helping to educate Afghan bureaucrats."

Being stationed in Afghanistan on two different occasions in various capacities, he has a first hand experience of the role being played by India in Afghanistan.

"Given its proximity, given its own interests, but given really its capabilities and the generosity it's shown to date, they have a very important role to play, as do all of Afghanistan's immediate neighbors and the neighbors in the near abroad," Eikenberry, the US commander in Afghanistan from 2005 to 2007, told the members of the Committee in response to a question.

The Obama Administration has been trying to involve India in its policy towards Afghanistan. It has held consultations with Indian authorities in this regard.

Withdrawal of special powers Act
Fighting militancy will be impossible: Army
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 27
Within days of the Jammu and Kashmir government having claimed to have started the process to divest the armed forces of the special powers it enjoys in the state, the forces have conveyed to Defence Minister AK Antony that it will be “impossible” to fight militancy fanned from across the border in case such a step was initiated.

Sources in the Army headquarters confirmed the development saying that the move of the newly-elected J& K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, if okayed was fraught with danger in the present scenario. The Lakshar-e-Taiba was making a big push into J&K as it was under huge pressure in Pakistan, where already the Taliban was well-entrenched.

On February 26, Omar while replying to a debate in the state assembly had said that he was working towards revoking the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1990. This he said gave sweeping powers to the troops. The members of the People Democratic Party had initiated the debate demanding that the Act be revoked.

Officials here said it would be impossible for troops to carry out the very basic of functions that were needed in combating terrorism. Even the very first step of searching a suspected premises or vehicle will need permission from the area Magistrate and that could take away valuable time, even a couple of hours, during operations. “It will be like working with our hands tied behind our backs”, said a senior official adding that these hard facts have been debated and the top brass has been informed. The forces will take a hit in case the powers are withdrawn. The encounter that ended in Kupwara yesterday showed the intentions of the militants from across the border. As many as 17 militants were killed while 8 Armymen from the special forces lost their lives.

Under the special powers Act any Army man can fire or use force against any person, who is acting in contravention of any law or order; can destroy any arms dump or fortified position; arrest, without warrant, a person who has committed a cognizable offence or against whom a reasonable suspicion exists; enter and search, without warrant, any premises to make an arrest to search for arms, ammunition or explosive substances and even break open locks; stop, search and seize any vehicle….

The special powers mean no prosecution suit or other legal proceeding can be instituted, except with the previous sanction of the Central Government, against any person who did the act in “good faith”.

Pakistan Aware of Need to Boost Anti-Taliban Fight, Mullen Says

By Tony Capaccio

March 27 (Bloomberg) -- Pakistan’s military knows it must step up its operations against Taliban sanctuaries in the country as part of the U.S. regional strategy to stabilize Afghanistan, said Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Asked today at a news conference whether those operations include targeting Taliban leaders in Quetta, the capital of southwestern province of Balochistan, Mullen said, “My overall view on that is yes,” the Pakistanis understand the need to do so.

“We sometimes differ on timelines and priorities,” he also said.

Mullen’s comments to Pentagon reporters came after President Barack Obama announced that the U.S. will boost its forces in Afghanistan and increase aid to Pakistan in an effort to defeat al-Qaeda terrorists and other Islamic militants who pose threats to the region and the world.

As a condition for assistance, the U.S. “will insist that action be taken” by Pakistan “one way or another, when we have intelligence about high-level terrorist targets,” Obama said. “The government’s ability to destroy these safe havens is tied to its own strength and security,” he said.

Mullen said that “because of our commitment, there needs to be a commensurate commitment on the part of Pakistan.”

A key element of the strategy is to reduce tensions on the Kashmir border, Mullen said.

Kashmir Tensions

Kashmir is a divided province claimed by both India and Pakistan. The two nuclear-armed neighbors massed 1 million soldiers along the border since an attack on the Indian parliament last December.

The flashpoint area has forced Pakistan to maintain what it sees as a two-front military strategy that has diverted men and resources from fighting the Taliban and al-Qaeda in western Pakistan, Mullen said.

The regional approach is important to “de-tension” the Kashmir border so Pakistan’s military is freed up to “train, equip and fight on that western border,” Mullen said.

Mullen singled out for praise “dramatic progress” by the paramilitary Frontier Corps in northwest Pakistan for improvements in its counter-insurgency operations.

“I’d look for that to continue and accelerate,” he said, to put pressure on the border with Afghanistan so the Taliban are deprived of “the freedom to train, the freedom to take a break.”

The strength of the Frontier Corps is that “they’re locals; that’s where they grew up,” Mullen said. “In the long run, if we get the Frontier Corps right, we go a long way toward solving the problems on that border.”

Asked how confident he was the Pakistan Army will improve, he said: “That’s something we constantly have to work.”

Infiltrators sneak into valley again; one militant killed

Srinagar, Mar 27 (PTI) A militant belonging to a group of infiltrators from across the border was killed in the Gurez sector of Baramulla district in an encounter with the Army which has started a combing operation in the area, a defence spokesman said today.
The deceased intruder, part of a group of Ten to 15 militants trying to sneak into Kashmir valley through Gurez, was killed last night, the spokesman said.

The operation is still on, he added.

Gurez is one of the traditional routes that militants had been using in early spring to infiltrate into the valley.

Army scuttled a major infiltration bid when they killed 17 militants in a five day long operation in three different areas of Shamsbari range between March 20 to 25 in Kupwara.

Eight soldiers including a Major were also killed in the prolonged encounter during which a large quantity of arms and ammunition were also recovered. PTI

BD rifles mutiny, an Indian conspiracy

Sultan M Hali

As soon as Awami League (AL) came to occupy the seat of government in Dhaka, a macabre plot was hatched with Indian complicity to teach the BD Army a lesson. The gruesome event of mutiny in Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) killing their Commanding General and many others including officers’ families and children came as a rude shock. As per media reports the dreadful event took place on differences over pay and perk between Army and Bangladesh Rifles. The Jawans of BDR also complained about corruption of Army Officers who come to BDR for a short tenure and indulge in corrupt practices. The question is that causes as reported through media are not commensurate with the magnitude of the criminal activity that took place in the BDR. The saner elements of the society are skeptical about the real causes leading to mass scale mutiny in a disciplined force of BDR. Across the board investigation to unearth the facts is imperative to punish those responsible for such a gory drama and to avert such future happening in the BD Armed Forces.

Although the government of Bangladesh is investigating the whole episode yet there is a need for the government of BD to see through the designs of their real enemy India who want the newly elected AL government to accept their demands including transit route facilities and joint task force etc. The fact of the matter is that India wants to plunder Bangladesh’s wealth at any cost. While AL of Sheikh Hasina Wajid is pro-Indian political party of Bangladesh, Indian spy masters want to inflict maximum damage on the Armed Forces of Bangladesh creating fear in the minds of officers to understand Indian messages while guarding their national interests. It appears to be a deliberate Indian scheme to sponsor the mutiny and killing of BDR officers while cleverly insinuating against ISI of Pakistan as a cover story. The unfortunate saga which unfolded in Dhaka sounds out of place that a group of soldiers could reach the threshold of frustration over pecuniary matters resulting in savage butchery of officers, women and innocent children. Reports have surfaced now about mutineer’s communications with across the border further cementing the speculations that this was too well planned an operation to be handled by junior cadre alone. Bangladesh has paid a heavy price to resist the Indian hegemonic designs in the region. The secrets about the recent conspiratorial mutiny are gradually being unfolded. Many links have already been unearthed and after joining them together the conspiracy theory is now being believed by almost everyone as a reality. The most horrifying aspect is that all links leads to the Government involvement the PM in particular along with some of Sheikh Hasina’s confidants. It is now largely believed that the revolt was not a spontaneous one among the ranks and files but a small group of 20/25 individuals were carefully organized over a period of time to spearhead the sad episode taking the advantage of some petty grudges of the ranks and files.

The group had been organized under direct supervision of PM’s Defense Advisor General Tareq Siddiqui (Retd), the brother in law of Sheikh Hasina, who after retirement has been picked up as Defense Advisor to the PM with the status of a full minister. Under him the following persons worked to organize the group of the agent provocateurs. 1. Sahara Khatun the Home Minister 2. Mirza Azam presently whip of the ruling party 3. Jahangir Kabir Nanak ex- President of Jubo League now State Minister of Local Govt. He is a ruthless person who was charged for corruption, extortion, arson and cold-blooded murders by the last army-backed interim Govt. of Fakhruddin. 4. MD. Tawheed (a long time close friend of Nanak) appointed as the Deputy Assistant Director in BDR along with three other persons in different posts by the Home Ministry. 5. ADV. Quamrullslam 6. Sheikh Fazle Nur Taposh(son of Sheikh Fazlul Haq Moni, nephew of Mujib killed in encounter on 15th Aug revolution 1975) 7. Hasan Mohamed DG RAB 8. Nasim khan appointed by the present Govt. as DMP Commissioner. 9. Nur Mohammad newly appointed IGP.

The mutiny commenced at 10 am and surprisingly by 12 noon Hasina sent Nanak to BDR HQ at Pilkhana as her emissary where the Home Minister joined with Nanak to bring a delegation of the mutineers headed by MD. Tawheed for a negotiated settlement of the crisis refusing permission to the armed forces to act at the very onset of the mutiny. The delegation arrived at PM’s residence escorted by Nanak, Sahara Khatun, IGP and DMP Commissioner like VIPs and just handed over their hand scribbled demands to Hassina and returned triumphantly with a general amnesty from her. Nanak, Sahara Khatun escorted back the delegation to BDR HQ. Within a few minutes Sahara khatun’s car left the HQ with three covered faced co passengers mysteriously for unknown destination. After the departure of Sahara Khatun the Home Minister Nanak also left the place in a hurry. There after IGP was ordered to send police inside to collect the dead bodies littering all over the compound. Injured were sent to hospitals. On the 2nd of March Hasina visited the Army Headquarters to address about 2000 officers who came from all over the country to pay homage to the martyrs and take part in the burial ceremony.

There she could feel the heat of anger and quickly left the place cutting short her address. She was terribly nervous and scared to face the angry young officers. The message that she carried back was that she could no longer trust BD armed forces nether she could earn respect from them. Under such situation before it is too late she decided to hasten the hidden agenda to allow foreign forces to come in to tame and establish full control over the BD armed forces, intelligence agencies and all other law enforcing forces under the pretext of restructuring, modernization etc.

Accordingly just after her visit to the Dhaka Cantt she convened an urgent session of Parliament to discuss the present crisis facing the nation. In her speech she openly sought all out help and assistance from America, Britain, UN and other agencies to come in to restructure and reorganize the untrustworthy armed forces and all other law enforcing forces of Bangladesh including intelligence agencies fighting against terror. However, the fact remains that such a national betrayal is just to secure herself and her Govt in power being dependent on the forces of the foreign masters. A wishful thinking indeed! It is simply another classical proof of that golden saying “we read history but not learn anything from it and thus history repeats itself.”

Ex-servicemen raise the pitch

Parul Sharma

NEW DELHI: With the Lok Sabha elections round the corner, the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement, its one-rank-one-pension demand pending, has declared it would support any political party that accepts its demand.

“Pension is a payment for past services rendered. We are demanding that an old pensioner should get the same pension as a new pensioner, provided they both have rendered an equal length of service and have retired from the same rank. It’s a demand for equity and justice,” Lt. General Raj Kadyan, chairman of the IESM, told a press conference here on Thursday.

“We have deposited over 13,500 medals with the President as a gesture of protest on the issue. We will continue our movement. We will vote for only that party which accepts our demand. Some soldiers will also contest the elections,” he added.

This past week Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K. Advani expressed his support for the one-rank-one-pension principle and promised to implement it if voted to power.

Asked if the IESM was warming up specifically to the BJP, Lt. Gen. Kadyan said: “Our core group is yet to decide on that. We’ll take a formal decision and declare the name of the political party we will be supporting...”

The IESM members felt their demands have remained unheeded because ex-servicemen did not form a sizeable vote bank.

“A number of schemes were announced to enable Army personnel to cast their vote from wherever they are posted. But that could not work out. In a democracy the strength is in numbers. We can consolidate about 10 crore votes of our soldiers, ex-servicemen, their family members and friends,” said Lt. Gen. Kadyan.

Past promises

Major General Pravesh Renjen said one-rank-one-pension was an old demand that was “neither unique nor extraordinary.”

“In its election manifesto for the 2004 parliamentary elections, the Congress had said the issue would be re-examined. However, the UPA government led by the same party has now rejected the demand citing administrative, financial and legal difficulties. These so-called difficulties were very much there even in 2004,” he added.

Major Gen. Renjen said: “The ‘administrative difficulty’ is reportedly born out of a perceived apprehension that in case this demand was granted to military pensioners, it could set off similar demands from other civilian employees. This amounts to ignoring the uniqueness of the military service.”

In the quest for a “younger” army, 85 per cent of defence personnel are compulsorily retired between 35 and 42 years of age when their financial needs are the greatest. A government employee works till the age of 60, he pointed out.

LS Poll
Soldiering on
Call to weed out criminals, corrupt
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 27
With regard to the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections, three ex- Army officer brothers, who served this country during the war in 1971, have given an unusual but inspiring call to their fellow countrymen. They have asked voters, especially the youth, to use their vote to elect honest, upright, transparent, visionary and clean politicians regardless their political affiliations.

Brothers are Col Hardev Singh Mann, Col Amarjit Singh Mann alias Jiti Mann, Leiut Col Mohinderjit Singh Mann, alias Mindi Mann, who, after retirement, settled in Chandigarh, Patiala and Delhi respectively.

The three bothers have urged that the politicians having criminal, dishonest and corrupt should be comprehensively defeated and thrown out from the political process of the country forever.

“During the war we saved this country from the external enemy by shedding our blood and sweat on the borders. And the time has come now to save this country from enemies within by giving them a crushing defeat in the Lok Sabha elections”, three Mann brothers said, who as Army officers fought the 1971 War against Pakistan on different border fronts.

Speaking on behalf of all three brothers, Lieut Col Mindi Mann said the root cause of various problems being faced by the country was that many criminal elements had entered the political mainstream in the garb of politicians. Their only mission was to become rich, famous and power wielders. By winning elections they could use muscle and money power available for foul means. Such people were a blot on the very concept of the government, he said.

“Our father, late Gurcharan Singh, who had retired as an SP, died a proud man. He saw all his three sons fight the war against Pakistan in 1971”, said Mindi Mann.

“Ours is perhaps the only such example in the country. While the eldest of us- Hardev, led his regimental advance in the then East Pakistan, the second, the then Capt Jiti Mann, and myself served with Skiners Horse in the Shakargarh Sector on the Western front. We were engaged in a pitched tank battles in that sector”, he said.

Mindi Mann said his eldest brother Hardev, who was in Hudson Horse, a reputed regiment, was seriously hurt in the 1965 war in Sialkot Sector. “ “Our father at that point of time was the DSP at Moga and a police party led by him had shot dead five Pakistani paratroopers in an encounter on a canal side near Halwara. These paratroopers were part of a Pakistan taskforce and dropped to cause damage to Halwara airport,” he said. Manns are originally from Chak Number 97 village in Layalpur (now in Pakistan) but family shifted to Phumassi village, near Amargarh in Sangrur district during the partition.

Saving the country from internal enemies was equally important, Mindi Mann said.

ISI-Taliban terror nexus
Pakistan’s jihad factory in full cry

The recent New York Times report on the Pakistani ISI’s continued support to the Taliban in Afghanistan reinforces what various US government officials, including the Director National Intelligence and the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (and also US-based think-tanks), have been saying for the past few months – that Pakistan’s jihad factory is flourishing and showing no signs of abating. The notorious ISI is brazenly aiding the Taliban’s campaign in southern Afghanistan providing it, as US intelligence agencies have discovered, with weapons, finance, strategic planning and even recruits. This also partly explains why the US government’s ‘Global War on Terror’ in Afghanistan is making little headway even as Washington prepares to dispatch a further 17,000 soldiers taking their troop total to 65,000. Till last count, the US has lost 671 soldiers in this strife-torn country along with a further 449 belonging to the allied forces.

But this is not all. The ISI is also continuing to patronise terrorist groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the Jaish-e-Mohammed, which have specifically been targeting India. The 26/11 Mumbai attack and more recently the fierce encounter between the LeT and the Army in Kashmir are evidence of just how actively this terrorist group is enjoying the ISI’s patronage. A well known US Intelligence think tank, considered to be a shadow for the CIA, has predicted more 26/11-type attacks in India while Indian intelligence agencies have warned that eminent politicians and the electoral process itself may be the next major target for these terror groups.

Yet, all this evidence and more has not sufficiently convinced the US government that Pakistan runs the world’s most dangerous terror network. Pakistan’s Army and ISI remain the power centre in a country that has become dysfunctional and strident in its practice of terrorism as a continuation of politics by other means. If anything, it in fact seems to be paying off. Reports suggest that over the next decade the US is expected to lavish around $30 to $35 billion in aid to Pakistan, which it regards as its frontline state. This includes about $15 billion as part of the Af-Pak policy of the Obama Administration, which has begun pressurising India to resume the dialogue process with Pakistan that was suspended after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. All this poses a serious challenge to the Indian defence, security and intelligence establishment which will need to remain ever vigilant.

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