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Thursday, 30 April 2009

From Today's Papers - 30 Apr 09

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LTTE infiltration: Army on high alert

New Delhi, April 29
The Army today has said its troops along with the Navy and Coast Guard are on alert along the southern coastline to prevent LTTE cadres from entering Indian territory.

“Coast Guard and the Indian Navy form the first tier of (guarding against) infiltration from our southern coast. We have some troops deployed in the Southern Command to make sure that certain LTTE elements don’t make inroads into our coastline and enter India,” Army Vice Chief Lieutenant General Noble Thamburaj told reporters here.

After the Sri Lankan armed forces confined LTTE to a small area, there were reports of possibility of the LTTE cadres trying to infiltrate into India. — PTI

Obama for Boosting Strategic Partnership with India
By Arun Kumar

President Barack Obama 's pick for a key Pentagon policy post has indicated that he favors bolstering the relationship the previous Bush administration fashioned with India, "a critical strategic partner of the United States."

"I believe there is potential for greater intelligence sharing on common threats, cooperation on missile defence, and working towards stability in Afghanistan," Wallace Gregson, the nominee to become assistant secretary of defence for Asian and Pacific security affairs, said in a testimony to the US Senate Monday.

He suggested US priorities for the relationship with India "should be focused on increasing maritime security cooperation, cooperating on counter-proliferation, collaborating on humanitarian assistance and disaster response, dealing with piracy, finding ways to cooperate on counter-terrorism, and deepening defence trade."

Gregson also told senators that he favors imposing detailed benchmarks on Pakistani officials for combating extremist Islamic groups operating there and tying any further military aid to Pakistan to these benchmarks.

Under questioning from 20008 Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gregson said any further military assistance Washington gives Pakistan in its fight against the Taliban and Al Qaeda should hold Islamabad accountable for reaching a series of goals.

Gregson appeared before the panel to testify about his confirmation to become assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs.

Some senior Democratic lawmakers recently endorsed the notion of tying any military aid for Pakistan to specific goals Islamabad must show progress toward.

McCain suggested such stipulations should be written into any further aid packages. Islamabad's "recent actions have been counter" to rolling back Taliban and Al Qaeda power grabs in Pakistan.

In written answers to the panel's advance policy questions, Gregson said:

"While the Pakistani government has conducted several military operations in the past against militants in border areas, the region remains a sanctuary for Al Qaeda and Taliban-affiliated groups."

In a blunt assessment of the situation there, the retired Marine Corps lieutenant general wrote "the threat appears to be increasing."

Gregson defined his understanding of the administration's primary objective for Afghanistan: "eliminating extremist threats in Afghanistan and Pakistan by disrupting, dismantling and defeating Al Qaeda and its safe havens in Pakistan and preventing their return to Afghanistan or Pakistan.

Pakistani Forces Battle Taliban, Wrest Key Town

Pakistani security forces Wednesday battled the heavily armed Taliban fighters and wrested control of a key town in restive North West Frontier Province's Buner district after troopers used helicopters to rappel down in mountainous areas, authorities said.

Troops secured Daggar, which is the main town in Buner district, a military spokesman said on the second day of the offensive against the Taliban militants who fired at helicopters with heavy machineguns.

At least 60 personnel of police and the Frontier Constabulary were taken hostage by Taliban in Buner's Pir Baba area as security forces, backed by helicopter gunships and jet fighters, launched an operation in the district and pounded suspected hideouts of militants in some of its border areas, Dawn reported.

Hundreds of people who left their homes following the offensive against the Taliban were facing problems because of lack of transport, food and shelter.

Residents who stayed back saw troops rappel down ropes from helicopters outside Daggar while firing and explosions were also heard intermittently, the report said.

"We saw a helicopter dropping troops on the hills early this morning. It came about seven or eight times," Arshad Imran told Dawn News while standing in the town's central market.

"We hear sound of explosions off and on and we can see helicopters flying over the mountains."

Some 450 militants are estimated to be in the Buner valley and it may take a week to clear them out.

Talking to journalists by phone, a militant commander, Hafeezullah, threatened to attack all leaders of the ruling Awami National Party and Pakistan Peoples Party if the government did not end the operation by Wednesday.

Pakistan's interior ministry chief Rehman Malik Tuesday told Geo TV Tuesday that there was a threat of reaction from militants in other parts of the country following launch of a major military offensive in Buner.

He said that the government would launch operation in every area where writ of the state was challenged.

"Time for Taliban militants has ended," he was quoted as saying.

At least 70 militants were killed by the security forces in Lower Dir while nearly 450 terrorists were holed up in Buner area, Malik said Tuesday, adding "we will not tolerate them anymore".

The North West Frontier Province (NWFP) government and Taliban-backed radical cleric Sufi Mohammad had Feb 16 signed a controversial peace accord to impose Sharia laws in Swat and six other districts of the province in return for the militants laying down their arms.

President Asif Ali Zardari baulked at ratifying the accord in the face of strident international pressure and tossed the deal to parliament, which approved it April 13. Zardari approved it the same night and the accord came into force two days later.

The Taliban, however, did not keep their end of the bargain and moved south from Swat to seize control of Buner district last week.

While some of them moved out after intervention from Sufi Mohammad, chief of Tehrik-e- Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM), a Taliban-aligned group, the bulk of the militants had stayed back, prompting the security forces to act against them.

India Concerned Over Increased Infiltration
from Pakistan

New Delhi
India Tuesday expressed concern over the increased levels of infiltration into Jammu and Kashmir from Pakistan and the domestic situation in that country.

"India is very concerned about the increased level of infiltration from Pakistan and the domestic situation in the country, which could possibly lead to a serious problem," a source in the external affairs ministry said.

The Indian Army Saturday accused its Pakistani counterpart of pushing guerrillas into the Kashmir Valley. To back the claim, the Indian Army produced a Pakistani national who had infiltrated into the border state a fortnight ago.

Saqib Moinullah, 25, a resident of Pakistan's North West Frontier Province (NWFP), said at a press conference in Srinagar Saturday he had crossed into India through the Gurez sector of the Line of Control (LOC) along with 120 other people, including 31 guerrillas of the Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) outfit. The rest of the group comprised 40 porters and snow beaters and guides.

"I was motivated for joining the jihad (Holy War) as the people told me there was oppression in Kashmir," Moinullah said.

Brigadier Gurmeet Singh, Brigadier General Staff (BGS) of the army's 15 Corps who addressed the media, said the Pakistani Army had been facilitating the infiltration of the guerrillas into the Valley.

"Based on intelligence reports, intercepts of conversations and mappings etc, it is clear that the Pakistan Army has been aiding and assisting infiltration of terrorists into the Valley," he said.

He said that of the 120-strong group that crossed into the Valley, there were 31 guerrillas of whom 30 had been killed in different gun battles with the security forces while Moinullah was arrested alive.

"The rest of the group comprising porters, snow beaters and guides were forced back into the Pakistani side of the LOC," the brigadier added.

Pakistani security forces Tuesday went into action against the Taliban who had occupied the Buner district in the NWFP in violation of an accord on restoring peace in the area.

Also on Monday, the Pakistani Army said it had concluded an operation against the Taliban in the neighboring Lower Dhir district.

The two districts, as also Swat Valley, form part of the NWFP's Malakand division, over much of which the Taliban's writ runs.

A controversial peace deal in Malakand had envisaged the imposition of Sharia laws in the area in return for the Taliban laying down their arms.

Pak beginning to recognise India not a "mortal threat": Obama

Lalit K Jha/PTI / Washington April 30, 2009, 14:05 IST

Confronted with the Taliban offensive, Pakistan is beginning to recognise that viewing India as a "mortal threat" is misguided and that its biggest threat came internally, US President Barack Obama said today while voicing "grave concern" over the "very fragile" government in Islamabad and the situation in the country.

Notwithstanding the developments in Pakistan, Obama was confident that its nuclear weapons will not fall into militant hands. "I am confident, we can make sure that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is secure.

"I am gravely concerned about the situation in Pakistan, not because I think that they're immediately going to be overrun and the Taliban would take over in Pakistan," Obama, who completed 100 days in the White House today said at his third press conference since assuming office on Jan 20.

"I'm more concerned that the civilian government there right now is very fragile and don't seem to have the capacity to deliver basic services... For the majority of the people," Obama said in a critical assessment of the Zardari-led government in Islamabad.

Obama said he was more concerned that the civilian government in Pakistan "did not seem to have the capacity to deliver basic services: schools, health care, rule of law, a judicial system that works for the majority of the people."

"As a consequence, it is very difficult for them (Pakistan government) to gain the support and the loyalty of their people," the US President said.

"You're starting to see some recognition just in the last few days that the obsession with India as the mortal threat to Pakistan has been misguided, and that their biggest threat right now comes internally.

"You're starting to see the Pakistani military take much more seriously the armed threat from militant extremists," Obama said.

On Pakistan's nuclear arsenals, he said: "I'm confident that we can make sure that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is secure. Primarily, initially, because the Pakistani army, I think, recognises the hazards of those weapons falling into the wrong hands."

IAF Sukhoi fighter jet crashes; navigator killed


New Delhi: One person was killed when a frontline Su-30MKI combat jet of the Indian Air Force (IAF) crashed while on a routine training mission in Rajasthan, an official said.

The crash occurred at 1030 hrs IST., some 70 km southeast of Jaisalmer, an IAF spokesperson said, adding that the aircraft had taken off from the Lohegaon air base near Pune.

The two-man crew ejected before the jet crashed. The pilot, Wing Commander S V Munje, survived but the navigator, Wing Commander P.S. Narah, succumbed to his injuries, the spokesperson added.

There were no reports of damage to property on the ground.

This is the first crash of a Su-30MKI, which was inducted into the IAF in 1997. The IAF operates three squadrons (approximately 55 aircraft) of the jet, which is being manufactured under license in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

It was not immediately clear whether the aircraft that crashed was among those purchased in fly away condition or had been manufactured in India

US training of Pakistan army to grow: report

Published: April 30, 2009

WASHINGTON - Amid Taliban's military gains, the Pakistani government has agreed to allow the U.S. a greater role in training its military, part of an accord that will also send counterinsurgency equipment to help Islamabad step up its offensive against the militants, The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.

Although the Pakistani military launched an air attack against the Taliban on Tuesday, the newspaper said senior U.S. Defence officials remain deeply worried about Islamabad's ability to beat back the militant advance.

Long shaped by the threat of war with India, the Pakistani military is armed mostly with heavy weaponry and lacks some of the equipment useful in fighting an insurgency. And after months of fighting, the forces that have been hunting militants are exhausted.

"You have a Pakistani military that is battle weary," a senior U.S. Defence official was quoted as saying. "Their equipment is aged and not effective for the fight they are in."

The United States has also been urging Pakistan that the danger to its security comes from internal threats rather than India.


But Pakistan's Ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani said that Washington has been reluctant to supply modern equipment for Pakistani forces, and to train them in antiterrorism techniques, because of concerns that these systems could be used against India.

"Such concerns are misplaced," he said in an opinion piece published The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday. "Pakistanis understand that the primary threat to our homeland today is not from our neighbour to the east but from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) on our border with Afghanistan. To meet this threat, we must be provided the means to fight the terrorists while we work on resuming our composite dialogue with India".


The LATimes said on his trip last week to Pakistan, Admiral Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, continued to press the government to take the militant force more seriously. Pakistani military chief General Ashfaq Kayani, it said, outlined for Mullen a series of steps he was planning, including the offensive in the Buner area.

Mullen emerged from his meetings with Kayani and other Pakistani officials deeply worried, telling aides that the situation had grown far worse than even two weeks before, when he had visited with special U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke. "I have never seen him come back more concerned, deeply bothered by what he saw," a military officer said.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Siachen: 25 years of glory and sacrifice
Ajay Sharma
15 April 2009, Wednesday

THE OCCASION of the completion of 25 years of Operation Meghdoot was observed solemnly by paying tribute to the martyrs involved at the War Memorial at Base Camp. The commemoration of the silver jubilee was attended by the Army Commander Lt Gen PC Bhardwaj, accompanied by his wife, Deepa Bhardwaj, and Air Marshall PS Bhangu. The above-mentioned laid wreaths at the Siachen War Memorial on the occasion.

Indian army’s Northern Command had launched Operation Meghdoot to prevent the Pakistan army from covertly occupying glaciated Siachen on April 13, 1984. The strategic passes of Bilafond La and Sia La were occupied by the Indian troops braving the inhospitable weather and terrain. The area is referred to as the highest, coldest, and perhaps most unforgiving of all battlefields which has witnessed the indomitable courage and supreme sacrifice of our soldiers. The Siachen Brigade has won numerous bravery awards to include one Ashok Chakra and four Kirti Chakras, 12 Shaurya Chakras, 10 Yudh Seva Medals, and 90 Sena Medals.

On the occasion, the Army Commander, in his address to the troops, congratulated the men for their spirit and courage and cited the martyrdom of those brave soldiers who will continue to inspire the Indian soldiers to carry out the task of guarding the icy frontiers with patriotic fervour and extraordinary passion to surmount challenges. He also flagged off a mountaineering-cum-cycling expedition which started from Indira Col, Ladakh, and would culminate at Zojila. A separate cycling expedition from Karu-Partappur terminated on April 13.

Prithvi-II successfuly test fired
Press Trust of India / Balasore (orissa) April 15, 2009, 14:09 IST

India today successfully test fired a version of nuclear-capable 'Prithvi-II' ballistic missile with a range of 350 kms from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur, about 15 km from here off the Orissa coast.

The indigenously developed surface-to-surface ballistic missile was test fired at around 1020 hours from a mobile launcher as part of a user trial by the army, defence sources said. The entire trajectory of the trial was tracked down by a battery of sophisticated radars and electro-optic telemetry stations positioned in different locations for post-launch analysis, they said.A naval ship had been anchored near the impact point in the Bay of Bengal and a long-range tracking radar (LRTR) as well as a multi-function tracking radar (MFTR) had been deployed to track the missile's trajectory.

The sources said the test firing of the short-range ballistic missile was a user trial by the army. The surface-to-surface missile has already been inducted into the army and is "handled by the army unit attached to the strategic force command special group", the sources said. However, scientists of the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) were supervising the test-firing and all logistic support was being provided by the ITR personnel here.

The 8.56 meter long and one meter wide twin engine sleek missile has features to deceive any anti-ballistic missile and is equipped with "added inertial navigation" system, the sources said.The missile, designed to operate with both liquid as well as solid fuel, can carry conventional or nuclear pay loads of 500 kg.

The user trial of "Prithvi-II" was last carried out on May 23, 2008 from the ITR, Chandipur.

Army neglected, says Gen Malik
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 15
Former Army Chief General VP Malik (retd) today dropped a bombshell in these times of paranoid security, saying “armed forces were not getting (arms and ammunition) what they needed.”

General Malik said despite an increase in defence budgets every year, modernisation of armed forces were not taking place in a way it should have been. The General said, “Despite the 24 per cent increase in the defence budget this year, if you ask any of the chiefs of the defence staff whether they are fully prepared and equipped to take on either China or Pakistan, my hunch is that they would say no. That is the situation.” General Malik said this while chairing a discussion on “challenges to defence planning in India” by former Chief of Integrated Defence Staff, Vice- Admiral Raman Puri at the Observer Research Foundation.

The General, who led the forces in the Kargil conflict, is now president of the ORF institute for security studies.

“Defence planning have been a challenge and continues to be a challenge even today,” General Malik said, blaming too many agencies for the inordinate delay in planning and procurement.

Vice-Admiral Raman Puri said despite the GoM recommendation following the Kargil committee report authored by K Subrahmaniam, till today no decision had been taken on the proposal to create CDS (Chief of Defence Staff). He blamed the bureaucracy and the services for the status quo. General Malik opined politicians were also responsible.

Vice-Admiral Puri said there needed to be a national policy, followed by strategic policy, military policy, interoperability and integration of three services. “We don’t have a long term integrated perspective plan like many countries have. What we do at the Defence Ministry level is bundling of plans of three Service Chiefs and make one plan without any long-term perspective. These plans also keep changing as the Service Chief changes,” Vice-Admiral Puri pointed out.

Vice-Admiral KK Nayyar, chairman of the National Maritime Foundation (NMF), said “If we can make nuclear bombs and sophisticated satellite systems, why can’t we make other equipments. Even for pistols we run to other countries.”

Adequate Spectrum vital for national security: Army Chief

Ensuring sufficient availability of radio frequencies or spectrum for setting up an optimal battlefield management system is essential for the Indian security forces which are today upgrading their legacy communication systems, according to Gen Deepak Kapoor, Chief of the Army Staff.

Addressing the 2nd international seminar on a 'Paradigm Shift in Communication to Support Battlefield Management System' here today, Gen Kapoor said that the government would have to suitably prioritise spectrum availability with national security needs. "More importantly, we have to ensure suitable networking between the communications systems of various security agencies that will ensure availability of real-time data in real-time situations."

According to Gen Kapoor, technology would form the backbone of all future wars, "which would of a shorter duration but probably more lethal and therefore it was important that we empower the last man at the post." This was also important because of the role that technology could play in the case of asymmetric warfare.

The two-day seminar is being jointly organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Indian Army's Directorate General of Information Systems (DGIS).

In his theme address, Lt Gen P C Katoch, Director-General, DGIS, said that given the dynamic changes taking place in communication technologies, it was important for the Indian Army to develop suitable linkages with the private sector. "Technology can be the force multiplier that can give our security forces the cutting edge," he added.

Gen Katoch said that the Army recognized need to suitably develop network centric warfare capabilities. "The existing legacy systems do not allow the soldier on the ground to take advantage of information services like video, graphics data and imagery. For this, it is important that the Indian security forces take advantage of the strengths of the domestic IT industry."

In his welcome address, Mr Ajai Chowdhry, Chairman, CII National Committee on Technology and CEO, HCL Infosystems Ltd, pointed out that action in today's battlefields depended as much on one's information systems as much as they do on weapons systems. "Developing a suitable battlefield management system for the country was a challenge that Indian IT industry was today well-placed to meet."

According to him, the time was right to foster greater private-defence sector linkages, with the policy structure already in place and "the security forces also ready to make IT an inherent part of its strategy and action plans."

In his vote of thanks, Mr Gurpal Singh, Deputy Director-General, CII, said the defence sector offered an immense opportunity for the small and medium enterprises (SMEs). "In fact, the offset policy that makes it mandatory for all foreign equipment suppliers to source at least 30 per cent of any contract value exceeding Rs 300 crore from India has seen a number of global majors entering into partnerships with domestic players", he added.

According to him, rising defence procurement, especially of communication and IT equipment, presents an exciting opportunity for the Indian industry to upgrade, since the offset policy does not differentiate between the private and public sectors.

‘Indian Army ill-prepared to combat China, Pakistan’

NEW DELHI: Even after a hefty hike in defence budget, the Indian Army is ill-prepared for a war against Pakistan or China, former Indian Army chief General (r) VP Malik said on Wednesday. “Despite the 24 percent increase in the defence budget this year, if you ask any of the chiefs of the defence staff whether they are fully prepared and equipped to take on either China or Pakistan, my hunch is that they would say no,” he said while addressing a seminar on defence planning. Vice Admiral Raman Puri blamed the bureaucracy and the services for the status quo. iftikhar gilani

Friday, 10 April 2009

From Today's Papers - 10 Apr 09

Pension: SC notice to Defence Secy, Army chief
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, April 9
The Supreme Court today issued notices to the Defence Secretary and the Army chief on a contempt petition filed by some retired defence personnel, seeking implementation of the apex court verdict on pension for those holding the rank of Major-General or its equivalent.

A Bench comprising Altamas Kabir and Cyriac Joseph issued notices after senior counsel Nidesh Gupta, appearing for the petitioners, said the September 9, 2008, order of the apex court had directed calculation of the pension on the pay scales revised on January 1, 1996. The pension was to be revised within three months of the apex court order, but it had not been done so far on the plea that the Centre had filed a review petition, he said. Mere filing of the review petition did not by itself extend the period of compliance, the counsel argued.

The Centre had unsuccessfully challenged a Punjab and Haryana HC order of May 26, 2005. The HC had directed the government to “fix minimum pay scale of the Major-General above that of the Brigadier and grant pay above that of a Brigadier as has been done in the case of post January 1, 1996, retirees and consequently fix the pension and family pension accordingly.”

China asks Pak for action against Islamist terrorists
Press Trust of India / London April 9, 2009, 14:46 IST

China has underlined the need for Islamabad to take action against Islamist militants who may be be plotting attacks inside the Communist nation from Pakistan's restive tribal areas, a news report has said. In two meetings over recent months, senior Chinese officials have warned the Pakistani government about the threat.

Chinese officials have told President Asif Ali Zardari's government that the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (Etim), a separatist group originally from Xinjiang province, was plotting attacks into the communist nation from inside Pakistan's tribal areas, which has become a haven for Islamist terrorists, the Independent newspaper reported.

Xinjiang, a vast area that borders Central Asia, has about 8.3 million Uighurs, and many of them say they have for decades suffered under Chinese political and religious persecution.

Chinese officials revealed details of the meetings to prominent Pakistani politician Mushahid Hussain.

"They told me that the Etim has its military headquarters in [the tribal areas] and is planning to attack China on the 60th anniversary celebration of the communist revolution in October," Hussain was quoted as saying by the British daily.

Hussain, a top leader of the Pakistan Muslim League (Qaid), said that Meng Jianzhu, China's Minister for Public Security, flew from Beijing to Shanghai to discuss the threat with the Pakistani President during his visit to China in late February.

"The minister met with him for 90 minutes to discuss this issue," said Hussain, a key adviser of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

The PML-Q leader revealed that Beijing also dispatched a special envoy to Pakistan in March to discuss the threat posed by the Etim. The Etim and Chinese militants have long maintained a low-profile presence in Pakistan's tribal areas. Both Washington and Beijing have listed Etim as a terrorist group and suspect it of links with al-Qaeda.

The Pakistani army killed Hasan Mahsoum, the group's leader and founder, in Pakistan in 2003. China executed two Uighurs in the restive northwestern Xinjiang region for a "terrorist" attack on border police that took place before last year's Olympic Games, the official Xinhua news agency reported today.

The August 4 attack was the worst in a wave of unrest in remote Xinjiang ahead of, and during, the Olympics that left dozens of people dead and that China blamed on separatist militants from the northwest region.

Pak military more inclined towards fundamentalist view'
Press Trust of India / Washington April 9, 2009, 14:49 IST

Pakistan's military over the years has become more inclined towards "Islamic fundamentalist view", which should be a deep cause of concern for the US, a top Republican leader has said.

Blaming the cut off of all education and training by US Congress over a long period for this, Newt Gingrich said, "the Pakistan military has gotten harder and harder and more inclined towards Islamic fundamentalist view which is very dangerous from our standpoint."

In an interview to the Fox News, former Speaker of House of Representatives Gingrich said, the problem in western parts of Pakistan is more complicated and worse than being perceived by the Obama Administration. He proposed construction of network of roads and highways in this part of Pakistan as a long term solution to the problem.

"You could have Pakistan become an enormous problem almost overnight because they already have nuclear weapons, whereas Iran is trying to get them. What we would need for them to do is control the Northwest Territories," he said. "I think there is almost no possibility that they're going to do that, and that poses a real crisis for American policy. And this is not President Obama's fault."

"The fact is northwest Pakistan and the management of the Pashtun region is a much, much bigger problem than any American politician has been willing to confront," he added.

Coming out with his own highway solution to the Af-Pak problem the former Speaker said: "The number one thing we have to do is have a highway solution for northwest Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The more paved roads you build, the more open the countries become, the greater the possibility you're going to gradually wear out the guerrillas, and you're going to help grow things that are useful."

Secondly, he argued: "I'd do is find a way, even if you had to invest a fairly good bit of money, to wean the Afghan farmers off of growing poppies and converting it into heroin and instead wean them into productive work. That's another reason you need the road network."

"It's vital to find a way to build lots and lots of roads in northwest Pakistan because it will open the region up. Until you've opened that region up, if it remains isolated and it remains able to hide, in effect, from modern civilization, it is going to remain very, very dangerous for us, he said

Fighting Taliban
US must put pressure on Pakistan

The US has sought India’s cooperation in its search for a “regional solution” to the crisis caused by the Taliban in Afghanistan. US special envoy for Afghanistan-Pakistan Richard Holbrooke and America’s top military official, Gen Mike Mullen, who were in New Delhi on Wednesday after their visit to Kabul and Islamabad, however, did not make it public what kind of help the US expected from India. The contribution India has been making to the cause of reconstruction in Afghanistan is part of the continuing Indian effort to use development as a weapon to fight the Taliban, but it is not clear what the US exactly wants from New Delhi. The Obama administration has come out with the new AfPak strategy, showing a slight change in the US policy for the region. It is increasing its military presence by its decision to add 17000 troops besides 4000 additional soldiers to train the Afghan National Army. Yet the US does not seem to be sure of achieving its objective in Afghanistan.

The US must understand that the real problem in the region is Pakistan, which is fast getting Talibanised. The solution to the crisis in Afghanistan lies in forcing the Pakistan Army to take on the Taliban and Al-Qaeda and the elements associated with them in Pakistan’s areas bordering Afghanistan. As US Vice-President Joe Biden has pointed out, “In the FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas), the western part of Pakistan in the mountains on the Afghan border… That is where Al-Qaeda lives. That is where Bin Laden is. That’s where the most radicalised part of the Taliban is.” But Pakistan is reluctant to launch a war against these elements. It has always adopted a soft approach, unmindful of the threat to the region and Pakistan itself.

Islamabad is, in fact, trying to shift the US attention to the India-Pakistan problem. Pakistan has been misleading the US to believe that Islamabad will be able to meet the challenge posed by the extremists in its tribal areas bordering Afghanistan if India eases pressure on Pakistan’s eastern border. India is doing nothing that can prevent Pakistan from launching a military drive in its Taliban-Al-Qaeda-infested tribal areas. To succeed in Afghanistan, the US must be blunt with Pakistan and assert that it should remove all the sanctuaries of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban from its territory. An early resumption of the dialogue after what happened in Mumbai on November 26 last is not easy until Pakistan guarantees that it has stopped supporting terrorist groups.

Sikh Regiment to be affiliated with IAF’s 12 Squadron
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9
The Sikh Regiment, one of the Army’s most decorated infantry regiment, will be “affiliated” with 12 Squadron, the IAF’s oldest transport squadron. Both have a chequered history and their operational association goes back to the 1947 Kashmir operations when the first Army troops - 1 Sikh - were airlifted from Gurgaon to the Valley for the defence of Srinagar from Pakistani intruders. Stating this here today, Lt Gen RS Sujlana, Colonel of the Sikh Regiment, said the Air Headquarters had already accorded its approval for the affiliation and the final go ahead from the Army Headquarters was expected to come through soon.

The affiliation is close liaison between inter-service regiments and establishments, where officers and men interact and learn about each others’ ethos, traditions and way of functioning. This involves attending important regimental events and helps develop camaraderie and boost inter-service relations.

While the history of the Sikh Regiment dates back to 1846, 12 Squadron is a relatively young unit, raised in 1945. Then flying the venerable Dakotas, the first major transport aircraft to be inducted into the IAF, the squadron is now equipped with the AN-32 tactical transporters. From a humble beginning of just two battalions, the Sikh Regiment now has 24 battalions which have earned 82 battle honours, 16 theatre honours, two Param Vir Chakra and two Ashok Chakra.

The Sikh Regiment is already affiliated with INS Kirpan, a naval warship. A large number of Army regiments are affiliated with different air force squadrons and naval warships.

Meanwhile, a large number of serving and retired officers from the regiment, along with their wives attended the annual Baisakhi Lunch at Chandimandir today.

The event gave an opportunity for the younger generation to meet the veterans, reminiscence old memories, strengthen regimental bonds and update each other on various matters.

Several welfare measures, including setting up a children’s hostel at Jalandhar were announced on the occasion. Sports activities by regimental personnel will also be encouraged.

Book on Asian security scenario released
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9
“Flashpoints in South Asia”, authored by Major-General Rajendra Nath (retired) and Lt Col KS Ludra (retired) was released by former Chief of the Army Staff Gen VP Malik here today.

The book essentially seeks to emphasise and expand upon the fact that in the 21st century three Asian countries, India, Japan and China, along with a fourth closely located nation, Russia, would be among the major players on the global stage. Issues include the need for defence reforms in India.

General Rajendra Nath said the mutual relationship among these countries and the impact on security issues would largely depend upon a host of factors, including the state of their economies, their ambition in projecting their military and economic prowess, their alliances, ability to tackle terrorism and their individual relationship with the USA and Europe.

The maximum number of conflicts since World War II have been fought in Asia and issues relating to countries located along the southern Asiatic arc from Israel to Japan have been analysed.

Published by Lancer, New Delhi, the book has a foreword by Prof Brahma Chellany, a strategic affairs expert. This is General Nath’s fourth book, while Colonel Ludra, who passed away last year, had authored 21 publications.

IMA ups cover after terror alert

DEHRADUN, April 9. Amid apprehension of a repetition of a Lahore-type incident, security has been beefed up around the Indian Military Academy (IMA), followed by fresh instructions from the home ministry under threat perception from terrorist outfits in view of the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections in the category.
The highly sensitive IMA, constantly under threat from terrorist attacks, is under the scanner of police and intelligence agencies once again. According to recent reports by intelligence agencies, the academy is an exceptionally soft target for terrorists, who might choose to stage an attack here, taking their cue from the Lahore incident. The threat is heightened, in face of the upcoming parliamentary elections.
In their report to the home ministry, intelligence agencies have suggested extra precautionary measures to deter possible attacks on soft targets across the country. The brasses in Uttarakhand have been instructed to look after the security of the IMA.
The IMA, along with other premier defence institutions around the country, has been placed under the "A" category by central agencies, in view of its vulnerability to terrorist attack.
“The Quick Reaction Team (QRT) has been deployed around the IMA and security beefed up in the vicinity as a precautionary measure,” stated the SSP, Mr Dehradun Amit Sinha. Senior officials had held a meeting to work out a foolproof plan to ensure adequate security in and around the IMA. The officials have also met and discussed security arrangements with senior IMA officials.
The PRO IMA Col. Chauhan said the academy has not received any threat, and is ensuring that its security is as tight as possible. “The academy is always prepared for any such situation and has foolproof security,” he asserted.
The IG Garhwal MA Ganapati reiterated that security has been beefed up, not only around the IMA, but around other sensitive areas as well. “The police will be extra vigilant until the parliament elections and QRT has been deployed,” he said, adding that mock drills will be carried out at intervals to maintain vigilance. The IMA has been treated as “under threat” for the past few years, partly due to a group of terrorists revealing plans to attack the academy on their arrest. One such terrorist, an engineering student, was also arrested from here. n Swati R Sharma

SC notice to Army chief, defence secy

Statesman News Service
NEW DELHI, April 9: The Supreme Court today issued notices to the Chief of the Army Staff, Gen. Deepak Kapoor, and the defence secretary, Mr Vijay Singh, on a petition seeking contempt of court proceedings against them for ignoring an apex court order for ensuring parity between the pensions of Army personnel who retired after or before 1996.
A bench of Justices Mr Altmas Kabir and Mr Syriac Joseph issued the notice on the lawsuit filed by 18 retired army generals who approached the apex court with their grievance. In their lawsuit, the retired officers pointed out that the pension disparity had occurred due to implementation of the Fifth Pay Commission report in a faulty way by the defence ministry. The case first came up at the Punjab and Haryana High Court that had decided in favour of abolishing any disparity. But the Union of India appealed against the HC verdict in the Supreme Court.
The apex court in its judgment, too, had favoured parity in pensions given to retired Army personnel. The court had asked the government to abolish the disparity with immediate effect but there had been no move by the defence ministry so far regarding the same.
The defence ministry said it was examining the notices given by the Supreme Court. “The order will be examined before formulating the next step. But, ironically, the case refers to the fifth pay commission and the sixth pay commission has been implemented,” an official said.

Defence offsets to bring in $10b in 11th plan: Assocham

New Delhi (PTI): India's new defence procurement policy, which eased licensing conditions for private sector and allows foreign players to bank offsets on contracts, is likely to bring in $10 billion to the country during the 11th five-year plan period, a study has said.

The study carried out jointly by Assocham and Ernst & Young said the investor-friendly policy is also expected to hugely benefit the small and medium enterprises in the country.

The new Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP-2008) was unveiled by Defence Minister A.K. Antony in August last year, but India has been pursuing the offsets policy since 2006. The DPP-2008 overrides the policies set forth by the Defence Ministry for procurement in 2006.

"As India has a large industrial base, offsets will further develop its technical and manufacturing potential and they will also help to increase investments in domestic research and development," the study said.

It said the offset policy was expected to generate market-entry opportunities for private companies to invest in research and development and manufacturing of defence goods.

Currently about 70 per cent of the procurement in value terms, is from foreign sources because the Indian public sector cannot deliver in terms of quality or speed on either research or production.

Under the offset policy, all foreign firms have to invest 30-50 per cent of the contract value in India on all deals of more than Rs 300 crore.

However as per the new policy foreign multinational companies are allowed to park money with banks in anticipation of future contracts so that they need not have to manage money for the offset policy when the deal is clinched.

The study said the Navy has increased its share of imports over the years whereas the Air Force has started focussing on indigenisation as well.

As far as the spending pattern of the Army is concerned, the focus has shifted between imports and indigenisation over the period 2001 to 2006, it said.

"The public sector is facilitating greater private sector participation in the area of defence goods production which will also contribute to the growth of domestic industries.

There are more than 5,000 companies supplying around 20 per cent to 25 per cent of components and sub-assemblies to state-owned companies.

"The current defence market for private sector firms in India, which includes outsourcing from Defence Public Sector Units and Ordnance Factories is estimated to be $700 million," it said.

This spend will further increase since the Indian defence industry is determined to increase the participation of private players

Thursday, 9 April 2009

From Today's Papers - 09 Apr 09

Thursday, April 09, 2009
By Shahid Kardar
As there is an urgent need to reform the compensation structures for government employees we should welcome the setting up of another Pay Commission. Unfortunately, if history is any guide, the report of the commission is not likely to be made public, let alone the holding of public hearings of its deliberations. Moreover, the recommendations, as in the past, will be marked by secrecy, obfuscation and failure to tackle the fundamental questions head-on. The commission is likely to undertake a cursory, not comprehensive, review of the compensation structure. As the structure exists today, it buries a number of privileges under various budget and off-budget heads, many of which are not costed to enable taxpayers to know in a transparent manner the "price" that they have to pay for the services of a civil servant. True to tradition, it will be selective in its approach, mention but not the complete set of perks, and propose some percentage increase in salaries leaving the key issues unattended for some future commission to address.

The foremost issue that has bedevilled budgetary allocations and systems is lack of transparency. The technique adopted ensures opaqueness, concealment of information from the hapless taxpayer on what a senior bureaucrat like a Secretary actually costs the government. The most useless data in the public domain pertains to pay scales -- the portion of the salary paid in cash, which on the face of it, suggests that those in Grade 19 and above, considering the scope of responsibilities delegated to them, are grossly underpaid. But this information hides more than it reveals. The compensation system conveniently fails to value the following benefits and perquisites to which say a Secretary is entitled:

a) The furnished residence provided to him in a prime location of the city, whose maintenance and periodic renovation is shown respectively under operations of public buildings and under the much-celebrated term "development expenditure";

b) The cost of residential utilities like electricity, gas and telephone borne by the government;

c) The use of an official car for private use as well (including the cost of petrol). In fact, most Secretaries of Federal Ministries or provincial departments that have set up public-sector agencies have at least an additional car at the disposal of their families whose running costs are financed by one of these para-statals, that are also more than likely to be bearing the cost of his cell phone;

d) The costs of medical treatment of him/herself and his/her family;

e) A host of allowances, like entertainment, special pay at 15 percent of basic salary as is the case in Punjab, qualification pay, senior post, etc.

Almost all Secretaries also get a heavily subsidised, if not allotted (free of cost), a residential plot on retirement, apart from being entitled to retain (free of rent) for two years after retirement the official residence that they were occupying on the date of retirement.

They are also entitled to forms of social protection, both pension and non-pension in nature, such as life insurance, provident fund. Each of these benefits is briefly described below. An understanding of the pension system is important since average life-expectancy is rising and government functionaries as a group are likely to live longer than the rest of the population, which will push up the future pension payment bill even further.

Civil servants are entitled to a monthly pension payment after 25 years of service, which is linked to the salary drawn at the time of retirement and the number of years of service. This amount is then revised periodically to adjust for inflation. Under the pension entitlement rules they can "commute" 40 percent (reduced from 50 percent in 2001) of their gross pension in lump sum at the time of retirement. This is a generous benefit, since the amount paid as commuted pension is not discounted to arrive at the present value of this payment in advance that the retiree would have received as monthly pension over several years in the future. Family pension is also payable to the spouse or dependent children after the death of the civil servant, although at a reduced rate of 50 percent.

On retirement, civil servants are also paid a gratuity, equal to 40 times the last drawn salary. Under the current pension system, existing civil servants are not required to make any contribution to their eventual pension or gratuity benefit. This cost is borne entirely by the government.

Civil servants are also entitled to a General Provident (GP) Fund, to which only do they contribute, but on which, until 2001, they were a paid an interest rate that was 30 percent higher than the market rate (the current rate is 12 percent per annum).

Employees also contribute 2 percent of their basic salary to a benevolent fund, the benefit under which translates to 35 percent of wages for premature death or disability up to the age of 70.

There is also a life insurance cover under a Group Insurance Policy under which the benefit is roughly 2.5 times the annual salary--ranging from Rs100,000 to Rs1 million.

Civil servants are also entitled to four days a month as leave that they can accumulate equivalent to one year's vacation with pay, of which six months can be encashed.

The discussion above has hopefully made out the case for the monetistion of the vast array of perks by costing the entire set of handouts listed above. This shift will make the compensation package more transparent and understandable while giving the officer the choice to say spend more on the education of his child as opposed to living in a palatial house. It will also help release prime commercial land, presently used for providing residential accommodation to these officers, that the provincial/federal government can use/sell to mobilise additional resources and meet the additional cash expenditures arising from the monetisation of the benefits, along with the money that will be saved on a recurrent basis for not having to maintain these properties and motor vehicles funded from the public purse.

The writer is a former finance minister of Punjab. Email: kardar@systemsltd .com

US Not Pressuring India on Ties with Pakistan: Holbrooke

With India a "vital leader" in the region, the US Wednesday maintained it was not pressuring New Delhi on its ties with Islamabad and would like to see a greater role for this country in Afghanistan, even as it said India had been consulted on President Barrack Obama's new Af-Pak strategy.

"The subject (India-Pakistan ties) did not come up," Richard Holbrooke, the US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan said at a joint press conference here with Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, after talks with Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon.

Holbrooke and Mullen were here on the concluding leg of a five-day "whirlwind" swing through the region that has already taken them to Afghanistan and Pakistan as they seek to take forward Obama's Af-Pak policy on the war against terror.

"We didn't come here to get the Indian government to do something. We came to inform and consult the Indian government (about the Af-Pak strategy)," Holbrooke said.

In this context, he noted that India had been kept in the loop while the Af-Pak strategy was being formulated and would continue to be consulted in future.

"We consulted the Indian government very closely," Holbrooke said.

"India plays a critical role in the region. We have the same priorities but no coordination. So we need to move forward on that," he explained.

Added Mullen: "India is a vital leader in the region. Its role is critical in so many constructive and positive ways."

Apart from Menon, Holbrooke and Mullen also met National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan and the prime minister's special envoy S.K. Lambah for "terrific talks", as the envoy put it, on regional and security issues.

Holbrooke also noted that Menon had spoken on the telephone with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US National Security Advisor James L. Jones while the Af-Pak policy was being strategised.

"India's views will be welcomed in Washington at any and every level," the envoy maintained.

Mullen separately met Indian Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta -- who is also chairman of the Indian chiefs of staff committee -- to discuss issues relating to maritime security.

According to Holbrooke: "What happens in Afghanistan depends on what happens in Pakistan. They are deeply inter-related. For the first time since partition, India, Pakistan and the US face a common threat, a common challenge and have a common task.

"It's in the national security interest of all three to work together and Pakistan is central to that. It's going to be difficult but we'll get there," the envoy maintained.

Holbrooke also lauded India's role in Afghanistan's reconstruction, particularly its initiatives in the agricultural sector.

"(Indian) Ambassador (Jayant) Prasad outlined for us what is being done. It's an impressive and very, very comprehensive agricultural programme," he said.

He also pointed out that the US effort in Afghanistan was focused "not just on the military side but in engaging civil society too. We have to see how to work together better".

N Korea warns of 'strong steps' against UN censure
Dharam Shourie/ PTI / United Nations April 08, 2009, 11:06 IST

Insisting that its long-range rocket was launched to carry a satellite into space and not a missile test, North Korea has warned that it will retaliate with "strong steps" if the UN Security Council takes any action against Pyongyang.

Any action by the Council would be "undemocratic" and "attack" on his country's sovereignty and "necessary strong steps" will follow, North Korea Deputy UN Ambassador Pak Tok Hun told reporters yesterday.

Pak's statement came even as the Security Council was deadlocked on its response to the Sunday's rocket launch with the United States and its allies. Japan has called for strong condemnation of North Korea while China and Russia have sought for a more measured and weaker response.

Insisting that his country has launched a satellite and thus violated no Council resolutions, Pak said it is not fair for the western countries to launch hundreds of satellites each year and target his country when it puts one in the orbit.

But the US, backed by Japan and South Korea, claimed that the Pyongyang has launched a Taepo-dong-2 missile which travelled 3,100 kilometers before falling in the Pacific even though it did not attain its full orbit.

This was the farthest that any North Korean missile has travelled and Washington fears that it was aiming to develop a ballistic missile which could reach up to Alaska.

The Council resolution, adopted after North Korea conducted its nuclear test in 2006, bans Pyongyang from launching or testing a ballistic missile.

Pak said his country was exercising its "inalienable" right to use space for peaceful purposes.

The 15-member Council had met in an emergency session Sunday but could not formulate any reaction with China and Russia differing from the perceptions of US and its allies.

Diplomats of five permanent Council members – the US, Russia, Britain, France and China – and Japan met again on Monday but the discussions ended without any consensus. They were expected to meet yesterday but the meeting did not come off apparently because of sharp divisions.

Council diplomats said Beijing had proposed a non binding statement but was considered very weak by the US and its allies who wanted to bring a strong resolution.

But Chances of any resolution appear bleak unless the Western powers and Japan are able to prevail upon China and Russia, who have veto power, to at least abstain.

Advocating a cautious approach, China and Russia are advocating restarting of the stalled six-party talks to end North Korea's nuclear programme. The parties include North Korea, South Korea, the US, Russia, China and Japan

400 militants may cross over, Army pushes limits

Mufti Islah

Srinagar: Ahead of elections, infiltration bids across the Line of Control have increased. As many as 400 militants are reportedly waiting to cross over from Pakistan and the Army has launched massive combing operations.

The Army has killed 28 militants over the past two weeks in Kupwara but it has also lost 11 men, mostly from the elite Special Forces in the jungle warfare.

With Taliban on the loose in Pakistan, security forces have intensified patrolling and reviewed security along the LoC. A greater synergy of intelligence sharing between police and army has thwarted many such incursions.

But despite the counter-infiltration measures, sources say 20-40 militants - mostly from the Lashkar-e-Toiba – may have managed to sneak in.

It’s a clear and present danger, especially with intercepts by security forces suggesting that the Taliban might give direct or indirect support to the militancy in Kashmir.

Pakistan To America: Back Off

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—For the first time in a long time, the Pakistani government managed to turn heads in Washington by saying all things America doesn’t want to hear: Islamabad will not allow the United States to expand its war inside Pakistan, won’t allow U.S. boots on the ground, and CIA better stop its drone attacks ASAP. If this was not enough, the ISI chief reportedly refused to meet top U.S. officials and a former air force chief announced that the Pakistani Air Force is just a green signal away from shooting down CIA’s drones and that it only awaited orders from the President and the Prime Minister.

The week certainly did not start auspiciously for Mr. Richard Holbrooke, Washington’s arrogant special envoy who appeared visibly shaken yesterday in Islamabad. Apparently after getting used to apologetic Pakistani government officials, the sudden change of mood in the Pakistani capital was not something the seasoned diplomat anticipated. He was either too self-assured or was fed wrong reports by U.S. diplomats based in Pakistan. All of this coincided with another major news story: the former Chief of the Pakistani Air Force, Air Chief Marshal (retired) Kaleem Saadat, came out on television yesterday night to decisively settle all speculation about what Pakistan can do to stop repeated U.S. violations of Pakistani airspace through the CIA-operated drones.

‘Yes, we can shoot them down,’ Saadat told Express News, throwing to the dustbin repeated statements by the defense minister and other ministers in the pro-U.S. elected government over the past months where these officials claimed Pakistan did not have the technology required to shoot down U.S. spy planes that violate Pakistani airspace. Those statements disappointed a majority of Pakistanis who look up to their military, one of the best in the world, to stand up for Pakistan.

Saadat gave an example: Pakistani Air Force jets shot down a sophisticated, Israeli-manufactured drone that India sent deep inside Pakistan on Jan. 7, 2002. The Indo-Israeli spy plane was supposed to be undetectable and beyond the reach and the capabilities of Pakistan Air Force. The Indian military was stunned. It initially tried to feign ignorance but then had to grudgingly half-accept the truth. And even then it was surprising for Pakistanis how Britain and the United States failed to censure India for a confirmed act of war. ‘The U.S. drones are much bigger in size [in comparison to the Indo-Israeli plane],’ said Air Marshal Saadat, and hence easier to target. The former air chief left no doubt about who was failing in protecting Pakistani sovereignty.

‘The issue,’ said the former Chief of Air Staff, ‘is not military but a political one.’

This statement throws the ball in the court of the elected politicians who have long been suspected of quietly permitting Washington to mount missile attacks inside Pakistan. Saadat’s statement came a few hours after a joint press briefing in Islamabad where visiting U.S. officials appeared shaken and confused. Richard Holbrooke, America’s envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, appeared surprised at the friendly but firm and straightforward talk by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. Qureshi was blunt, something new for a member of the Zardari-Gilani government. Mr. Qureshi went as far as snubbing President Obama, who had earlier said Pakistan would get "no blank checks" and the release of more U.S. aid would depend on how it dealt with terrorism.

In response, Qureshi turned to both Holbrooke and Mullen who shared the stage with him and firmly said: “It works both ways. We'll neither accept one nor will we give one”.
Mr. Qureshi also said a “gap” existed between Islamabad and Washington on the problem of CIA-operated drones.


The mood is changing in Pakistan and the United States is increasingly seen as a dishonest friend.

One day before the arrival of Holbrooke and Mullen, the leader of the main opposition party in the country, Chaudhry Pervez Elahi of PML, told a press conference that his party favored rejecting U.S. aid if the trade off is to give up Pakistan’s national interest. This was the first call by any major Pakistani political party head to turn down the much needed U.S. financial assistance.

During the talk show where the former Chief of Air Staff Kaleem Saadat spoke, the other two panelists, a retired Army General and a retired Foreign Secretary, shared similar misgivings regarding the U.S. policy toward Pakistan. Although not stated openly, but Pakistani officials are seriously concerned about mounting circumstantial evidence indicating the U.S. is actually using Afghanistan which it occupies since late 2001 as a base for spreading terrorism and mayhem inside neighboring Pakistan.

The suspicions are especially centered on evidence that someone in Afghanistan is pumping trained operatives and saboteurs in the garb of Islamic militants inside Pakistan. These operatives and agents then go about spreading death and destruction in the name of ‘Pakistani Taliban’. There are also serious questions about why the CIA drones fail to attack shadowy militant leaders inside Pakistani tribal zone whose main mission is to attack and kill Pakistanis. In comparison, the Afghan Taliban in Afghanistan focus on fighting the occupation forces and have never advocated attacking Pakistani interests despite Islamabad having ditched them seven years ago.

Exploiting religious terrorism is one dimension of the problem. There is even more evidence that Afghan soil is also being used to spread ethnic and sectarian tensions inside Pakistan and recruit, train and sponsor separatists for this purpose. The sudden rise since 2005 of well armed and funded insurgent groups and death squads along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, where they never existed before, and their continued finances and arms supplies despite a blockade by Pakistani security, all of this has poisoned Pakistani perception toward the U.S. role in Afghanistan.

Most of the evidence regarding anti-Pakistani activities in Afghanistan is linked to the huge presence of Indian intelligence in that country disguised as diplomats and social workers. This, many Pakistanis believe, cannot happen without U.S. consent at some level. Some Pakistanis gave the U.S. the benefit of doubt on this point, arguing that the Indians were exploiting Afghan mess to drive a wedge between Washington and Islamabad. One way to do this, they argued, was to indirectly arm and finance terrorists posing as Taliban to carry out attacks inside Pakistan. But after repeatedly bringing this to the attention of the highest levels of government in Washington without any result, it is quite clear that someone in the U.S. capital is condoning or maybe even permitting what the Indians and their Karzai puppets are doing there.

It is quite obvious that Washington, or ‘non-state actors’ in the U.S. capital, are pursuing an agenda that exceeds what is stated publicly by U.S. officials with regards to Afghanistan. In fact, former Chief of Army Staff Gen. Mirza Aslam Baig wrote a paper as far back as 2007 that listed locations inside Afghanistan where U.S. or some of its allies have established intelligence outposts focused on penetrating four nations that share borders with or are close to Afghanistan. These four nations are Russia, China, Iran and Pakistan.

In mid 2007, both Ahmed Quraishi and Zaid Hamid, two Pakistani policy commentators, raised eyebrows when the state-run PTV News aired shows featuring the two criticizing what they said were early signs that someone was using Afghanistan to destabilize Pakistan and that the U.S. was either involved or was turning a blind eye as India and pro-Indian former Afghan communist officials who sit in key positions in Kabul exported terrorism to Pakistan. The television shows led to queries from within different parts of the Pakistani government on whether there has been some subtle change in the policy that was being pursued then by President Musharraf.

In November 2007, Quraishi authored a report that said that the next logical step for the severe destabilization seen in Pakistan that year would be a high-value assassination of either President Musharraf or Benazir Bhutto, the two key leaders in Pakistan at the time, which would spin Pakistan out of control. That would be the natural next move for interested to terminally cripple the country. Truly enough, Ms. Bhutto was assassinated a month later and her violent murder almost led to a revolt in one of the four federating provinces of Pakistan. It was a miracle that Pakistan was not sent into a tailspin, a testament to the strength and endurance of this nation despite heavy odds.

All of this serves to highlight that Pakistani grievances against the United States, which the British and American media deliberately hide from their people, run back in time and are not the result of recent events in the Pakistani tribal zone.


The performance of Foreign Minister Qureshi certainly was a welcome surprise for many skeptics who had all but given up on the Zardari-Gilani government taking any stand on Pakistan’s legitimate interests when it came to American policy in Afghanistan. And the reason is simple. This government owes its existence and power to direct U.S. support. U.S. is using Pakistani democracy as a Trojan horse, playing off one set of politicians against the other and then using all of them against the military. There have been reports for some time now that certain departments within the U.S. government have been conducting ‘private foreign policies’ directly with the families that control Pakistani political parties. Some of the leaders of these families were invited to secret visits to Washington as part of this confidential dialogue.

Mr. Holbrooke and Adm. Mullen are good examples of this American manipulation of key Pakistani political players. Both of them, and especially Mr. Holbrooke, would come to Pakistan and separately meet senior Pakistani politicians alone, each one separately, and often inside the fortified U.S. embassy compound to avoid the preying eyes of Pakistani media and also Pakistani intelligence. He would also make sure to meet the Pakistani President, Prime Minister, Army chief, ISI chief, and whoever else mattered, and all of them separately, and then play one party against the other, a sort of an improvement on the old British method of divide and rule. Another sign of manipulation is the Zardari-Nawaz rivalry. When President Zardari began to appear weak, the Americans leaked a story – through the usual mouthpieces NYT and WSJ quoting no names – that “U.S. officials” were considering getting closer to Nawaz Sharif. The story was obviously meant to throw fuel on the fire of the cutthroat internal Pakistani politics and increase domestic instability by playing on the insecurities of the two key players.

While Mr. Zardari’s closeness to the Americans is indisputable [last week Dubai’s Gulf News reported Mr. Zardari met secretly with Mr. Holbrooke in the emirate without the knowledge of any Pakistani official or diplomat, except the organizer of the meeting Mr. Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s envoy to Washington, who is sarcastically referred to in Islamabad’s drawing rooms as ‘Washington’s envoy to Pakistan’], Mr. Nawaz Sharif is the new surprise. While he disagrees with President Obama’s policies in public, Mr. Sharif hurried to Islamabad on Tuesday to meet Mr. Holbrooke at the U.S. embassy compound. Why would Mr. Sharif present himself to the Americans privately as an alternative partner while keeping a nationalistic posture in public is something that only Mr. Sharif can explain.

This American manipulation of Pakistani politicians, in and out of government, means there is little chance most of these politicians would really want to get tough with Washington. Foreign Minister Qureshi’s newfound assertive tone has probably more to do with restlessness within the Pakistani strategic community, which consists of civilian and military policy analysts, that is apparently beginning to prevail upon both the Pakistani Foreign Office and the Pakistani military to do something when the government appears incapable or unwilling to stand up for Pakistani interests. That’s one way of explaining the reports of how ISI chief refused to meet Mr. Holbrooke and Adm. Mullen despite the duo’s request. [The ISI chief did not meet Mr. Holbrooke alone but did meet the U.S. official along with the Army chief.]

But there is another reason for this. Some Pakistani officials were determined this time not to allow Mr. Holbrooke to meet senior Pakistani officials separately. An intra-agency meeting, bringing top officials from several federal departments was scheduled for Monday, before Mr. Holbrooke’s arrival. The brainstorming session was supposed to bring minds together from the Foreign Office, the Interior, the military and others in order to present a unified Pakistani response to American policies. But the meeting failed to materialize because Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, tired from a range of foreign trips throughout last week, was resting in his hometown in Multan and failed to show up for the meeting, which then was called off.

Yet Mr. Qureshi surprised the observers with his performance in the press conference with Mr. Holbrooke and Adm. Mullen. The Pakistani Foreign Minister was poised and assertive. It was a good show for one day. The best way to achieve something for the long run, however, is to match the rhetoric with some actions. If the ISI chief did indeed refuse meeting U.S. officials [he did attend Holbrook’s meeting with the Army chief] then this is the first of a series of steps that Pakistan needs to take to ensure that Washington understands it cannot pursue a selfish policy of achieving its own goals in the region while Pakistan’s interests get trampled in the process.

Zardari wants drones to fight militants
by Andrew Buncombe

Pakistan’s president has called on America to provide his country with an arsenal of drones and missiles to target militants blamed for a wave of violence rather than carrying out independent operations that violate the nation’s sovereignty.

In an interview with The Independent, Asif Ali Zardari said Pakistan had made it clear that it was willing to “take out high-value targets on our own, and we welcome the technology and intelligence assistance that will give us the ability to succeed”.

He added: “I cannot condone violations of our sovereignty even when they are done by allies and friends. We would much prefer that the US share its intelligence and give us the drones and missiles that will allow us to take care of this problem on our own.”

Mr Zardari’s comments, made in a wide-ranging interview in which for the first time he conceded more than one of the 10 militants who carried out the Mumbai attacks may be Pakistani, came as senior US officials visited Islamabad and called for greater trust between the two countries.

The Obama administration’s regional envoy, Richard Holbrooke, said: “The United States and Pakistan face a common strategic threat, a common enemy and a common challenge and therefore a common task.”

Pakistan is confronted by a fresh spike in militant violence. Hundreds of people have been killed and wounded in recent weeks and a senior Pakistani Taliban leader has vowed that his suicide bombers will carry out two attacks every week.

Ironically, the wave of violence, believed to have been carried out by militants loyal to the Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, has been seen as a response to an escalation by the US in the number of missile attacks launched against militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas using pilotless drones. Mr Mehsud told journalists his recent operations were a direct act of revenge.

Pakistan is under intense pressure to deal with the militants, especially those blamed for cross-border raids against Western troops in Afghanistan. Despite public denials, it is understood Pakistan co-operates with the US drone strikes. But there is little doubt that such tactics are increasingly unpopular with the Pakistani public.

Mr Zardari said: “President Obama once said that he would act if we weren’t willing and able. We certainly are willing and with international support we will become even more able.”

The President also acknowledged that more than a year after elections, many in Pakistan are growing frustrated with a seeming lack of progress. “After a decade of dictatorship the people had enormous expectations of rapid improvement in their lives. That is still very much our priority but the enormity of the economic crisis both within Pakistan and internationally, compounded by the war that we fight within and along our borders, has made progress much slower than we hoped.”

Asked about the disputes between his party and Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-N at a time when many hoped the country’s democratic parties would be working together, he said: “The ups and downs of democracy should not be interpreted as a lack of stability ... There is the usual tug of power politics and the tendency of some observers to paint Doomsday scenarios. But I think the people appreciate that our democratic government is functioning.”

He claimed Pakistan was co-operating with India’s investigation into November’s Mumbai attacks that left 164 people dead and that a “substantial” number of arrests had been made. He said those responsible were also threatening the “very existence” of his country.

— By arrangement with The Independent

Army officer booked for dowry
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 8
Panchkula police today booked an Army officer allegedly for demanding dowry and cruelty against wife. The accused, Major Vivek Pandey, is posted at Kupwara in Jammu and Kashmir while his wife, Anshula, also a Major in the Army, is posted in EME at Chandimandir here.

Raminder Prasad Pandey and Usha Pandey, parents of Major Vivek, along with his brother Vikas Pandey, were also booked under Section 498-A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) and 406 (criminal breach of trust) of the IPC.

According to the police, the couple had gone through counselling sessions organised by the Army authorities as well, but the wife said she was compelled to approach the police when things became “unbearable”. Their marriage was solemnised on November 23, 2005, in Panchkula.

Panchkula SP said the case was registered after the efforts of the police to settle the matter failed.

The complainant alleged that Vivek and his family members pressured her to transfer the house owned by her mother in Sector 12 in the name of her husband. The husband was also seeking money from her on the pretext of payment against a flat reportedly bought by him, she alleged.

Inquiry officer DSP Varinder Singh said that both were posted in Pathankot earlier and for better education to their two-year-old son, the complaint had shifted to Panchkula where her mother was staying.

Parachute factory rises to demands of market

8 Apr 2009, 2159 hrs IST, Harsh Pandey, TNN

KANPUR: Whenever a news of Indian defence forces acquiring overseas weapons and aeroplanes hits headlines, more iron is added to the steely determination of few good men who are focused on making India self-sufficient in field of defence productions here in city.

Sandwiched between Delhi-Howrah railway route and prestigious NH-2, is factory of OPF (Ordnance Parachute Factory), where a silent technological revolution unfolds every day. The factory has received fresh orders for parachutes from Mongolia and workers in factory are busy checking the tenacity of cord-strength of para-chute, so vital for the para-trooper's life.

Talking to TOI, joint general manager, VK Chaudhari said," This is testimony of our indigenous specialisation in defence production. We are producing one of the best parachutes in the world and their is increasing acceptance of our products in international markets."

The acceptance is indeed growing, particularly in Asian markets. About 600 break-parachutes used to slow down multi-utility Sukhoi air-craft worth Rs 1.5 crore were exported to Indonesia recently. Similarly, Algeria and Malaysia have also received break parachutes used in Mig-29, Mig-23 and other Mig series aircrafts developed in parachute factory of Kanpur.

Chaudhari added, "Even developed nation like Japan have also expressed interest for the parachute orders. India is one of the leading parachute markets apart from UK, USA, Germany and South Africa because of hard-work of our men."

This government-owned parachute factory is dedicated to the cause of meeting parachute requirements of Indian armed forces and is only one of its kind in entire Asian continent. Detailing about the technical aspect while making a parachute, Chaudhari said, "Strict adherence is maintained on quality-check during construction of parachutes like what should be dropping load and what should be dropping height. What is aero-foil design of canopy and how does air rams into cells of parachutes when it opens."

Chaudhari further added, "Currently we are working on reducing lift to drag ratio of our parachutes so that time spent by a para-troopers in air gets reduced and stealth is added to them."

The other prestigious production from the stable of OPF include Nuclear-Biological-Chemical (NBC) suit, an all-weather stocking which has been handed over to Army and Air Force.

Chaudhari added, "Apart from that various other stocking requirements of clothing, leather, textile and general store items of Armed Forces are also met by us.",prtpage-1.cms


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