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Friday, 3 April 2009

From Today's Papers - 03 Apr 09

Hindustan Times

Hindustan Times

Asian Age

Asian Age

Indian Express

Indian Express

Asian Age

Asian Age

The Pioneer

Asian Age

Asian Age

Times of India

Returning medals and honours

The article “Agitations by military veterans”(April 1) by Vice-Admiral Premvir Das (retd) admonishing the ex-servicemen for returning their medals to the President of India on February 8, 2009, in protest against the government’s apathy to the matter of “one-rank-one-pension” was interesting even though somewhat jingoistic. Admittedly, the way the medals were returned is “not the military way of doing things”.

Nonetheless, in view of no action on their long-outstanding demand and the disenchantment caused by many unjust anomalies in the Sixth Central Pay Commission, about 300 veterans decided to protest by trying their hand at “Gandhigiri”. Had the government been sensitive and responsive, this drama could have been avoided. Interestingly, it was only after the 26/11 terror attack that the government announced a separate pay commission for the defence services. Imagine the joy and relief it would have provided them had it been constituted well before the Sixth CPC.



It is unfortunate that one of our colleagues has spewed poison against the ongoing peaceful agitation of the veterans. However, we should not give much importance to his views because you will always find such people who may try to damage the holistic cause taken up by the IESM.



Vice-Admiral Das’s views could mislead gullible readers. For example, there are no travel concessions for veterans. Besides, the veterans’ identity cards cannot be called a concession. It merely allows entry into cantonment areas. In the civilian world, it is not even accepted as a proof of identity.

He may be right in castigating veterans for not wearing medals on ceremonial occasions, but to mix it up with the return of medals by the veterans to the Supreme Commander to underscore their demand for “one rank one pension” is totally misplaced. If this is the Admiral’s attempt to ingratiate with the government, he lacks subtlety.

S PANDIT, Rohtak


Vice- Admiral Das’s views on retuning of medals is rational. At least, I wouldn’t return mine nor will my 90-year-old mother, an Admiral’s widow, return her husband’s 16 medals.

Sadly, his inaccurate and airy commentary, “getting off some indiscreet driving on the road, get concessions on air, rail tickets.” is not the military way of doing things.


Missile range was scaled down to benefit Israel firm

Revelations in 2005 war room leak case confirm DNA reports in MRSAM deal

Josy Joseph. New Delhi

On July 31, 2005, DNA had exposed the leak of national secrets from the naval war room in South Block. Statements by officers allegedly involved in leaking the secrets had revealed that efforts to award the medium-range surface-to-air missile (MRSAM) contract to the Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) were already on. An officer revealed that the missile's required range was scaled down to benefit the Israelis.
DNA's investigation raised questions regarding the conduct of the UPA government in concluding the Rs10,000 crore deal with IAI on the eve of general elections. Though legal opinion didn't conclusively favour the contract, the government went ahead, and agreed to pay "6% business charges" (about Rs600 crore). In the war room leak case, four officers were booked and dismissed. Among revelations by these officers, most startling are statements by former wing commander SL Surve, who was arrested and dismissed from the Indian Air Force. Surve was joint director (air defence) in the operations branch at IAF headquarters. In statements to the media on his behalf by an NGO, Nausainik Jan Chetan Samiti, he detailed how efforts to award the MRSAM contract to IAI were on since 2005.
"The IAF had felt the requirement of latest MR [medium range] surface [-to-air] missiles to be in position before the end of this decade. In financial projections, the IAF asked for about Rs14,500 crore," said the document released in the latter half of 2005. The field units had "recommended the requirement" for the MRSAM "to be able to hit a target at a distance of 150km", the statement said.
"There were missile systems available in [the] world market with ranges from 120-150km. However, to help a vendor, [then] vice-chief of air staff (VCAS) was keen to procure off-the-shelf missile which has a range of 60-70km," the statement said. Surve claimed to have resisted the move. The MRSAM deal is for a missile with a range of 70km.
Surve alleged that the then VCAS and other officers were not interested in inducting the indigenously developed Akash missile system, rendered almost defunct by IAF ordering two squadrons.
Sources in the Defence Research and Development Organisation, IAF and defence ministry agree with Surve's statement and blame the group of officers for scuttling Akash's induction in big numbers.
The statement said the then deputy chief of air staff favoured "procuring items related to air defence from some foreign vendors".
Surve said there was a plan to delay procurements until an officer joined a critical office in the IAF headquarters. The officer named in Surve's complaint had come into focus during DNA's investigation.
A defence ministry source admitted that senior officials were aware that the officer, who retired about two years ago, was working for the Israelis.

Beyond boundaries: Terror boomerangs on Pakistan

Taking a look at the economic, social, political and most of all emotional upheavals Pakistan people are going through, we should rather save the blame game as they may soon melt away in the heat which we as neighbours are supposed to sense..

FOR YEARS now, we have been slipping under our quilt, sucking coke out of the can, surfing news channels on a television, getting amazed at the mounting terrorist activities and pointing our fingers towards our neighbour, Pakistan, for all the wrong happenings in either our nation or elsewhere in the world.

Quite evident, this can be considered to be as one of the most well thought and safe excuse to come out of any sort of problem. Lift your burden of guilt and throw it upon any easy to approach and gullible target and thus, you become as cheerful as ever. For India, this target has ever been Pakistan.

Taking a look at the economic, social, political and most of all emotional upheavals Pakistan people are going through, we should rather save the blame game as they may soon melt away in the heat which we as neighbours are supposed to sense.

It can be concluded now that heat of fear, aggression, pity, revolt and grief has definitely swept across the borders and terrorism has emerged out as fully grown poison-fumes oozing tree with its roots deeply rooted in Pakistan. But the fact of the matter is that even the state itself is not safe from adverse effects of breeding terrorism. With the recent attacks on the police academy outside Lahore, all clouds of doubt should surely dissolve.

Where on one hand, the fact that people are finally waking up to the alarm clock buzzing hard to ask them to stand up and fight, the nation’s thirst of the mass awakening is not yet quenched. Examining the discussions taking place on a well known discussion forum, this can be easily made out. According to an anonymous, terrorism has indeed swept across the boundaries and is now a global threat whereas one of the users named Shreya is still hoping for a change. While most of the users are still relying on the blame game to do away with all the troubles, there are some whose aggression can be seen in their thoughts.

The chill that terrorism is sending down everyone’s spine has moved beyond borders for sure and before the time actually runs out and we are left with no other option other than being slave to this global hitch, we better wake up and to start with, stop blaming!

Pakistani Leaders Still See India as Greater Threat

than Terrorists

By Arun Kumar


Even as Pakistan faces "an existential threat" from terrorists, many Pakistani leaders consider India as its principal threat and regard extremist groups as potential strategic asset against India, according to a top US commander.

"Destabilization of the nuclear-armed Pakistani state would present an enormous challenge to the United States, its allies, and our interests," General David Petraeus, commander of US Central Command told the Senate Armed Services Committee Wednesday.

Describing Pakistan and Afghanistan as "the most urgent problem set" in the region, he said: "Pakistani state failure would provide trans-national terrorist groups and other extremist organizations an opportunity to acquire nuclear weapons and a safe haven from which to plan and launch attacks."

"The Pakistani state faces a rising - indeed, an existential - threat from Islamist extremists such as Al Qaeda and other transnational terrorists organizations, which have developed in safe havens and support bases in ungoverned spaces in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border regions," the general said.

"Nevertheless, many Pakistani leaders remain focused on India as Pakistan's principal threat, and some may even continue to regard Islamist extremist groups as a potential strategic asset against India," Petraeus said.

The Obama administration's entire strategy for Pakistan depended on Pakistan "embracing the idea that the biggest threat to their country is the internal extremist threat rather than the threat to the east," he said referring to India.

Pakistan is facing its own insurgency from militants and extremists operating from the country's tribal areas. As in Afghanistan, violent incidents in Pakistan, particularly bombings and suicide attacks, have increased over the past three years, Petraeus said.

Most of these have targeted security personnel and government officials, but some have intended a more public impact, he said citing "the tragic assassination of (former) Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and the more recent attacks in Mumbai."

Meanwhile, Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other insurgent groups operating from the border region are engaged in an increasingly violent campaign against Afghan and Coalition Forces and the developing Afghan state, he said.

The US he said would help the Pakistani military in its operations against militants in parts of the tribal areas, in two ways - by providing increased US military assistance to make them a more effective counter-insurgency force by promoting cooperation across the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

The general proposed approaching the challenges in the region through "a disaggregation of the problem sets into six sub-regions," with "Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India" at the top though India is not within the boundaries of the Central Command.

Pak using terrorists as strategic tool against India: experts

Lalit K Jha/ PTI / Washington April 02, 2009, 11:12 IST

Pakistan has, over past several decades, been using terrorists as a strategic tool against India to achieve its goals in Kashmir, several American experts have told a powerful Congressional panel, warning the US against mediating between the two nations on the issue.

Testifying before a subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on "Afghanistan and Pakistan: Understanding and Engaging Regional Stakeholders," experts told lawmakers that this dangerous policy needs to be ended.

They also observed that such a policy now seems to have backfired as the same terrorists and extremists groups have gone against the Pakistani establishment, which is reflected in series of terrorist attacks in Lahore recently.

"Over the last many years Pakistan has been covertly supporting Kashmir terrorist groups -- now they're called Punjabi terrorist groups -- to harass India in Kashmir," said Wendy Chamberlin, president of the prestigious Middle East Institute and former US Ambassador to Pakistan.

"Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad are some of these groups. Indians regard them as just as much a terrorist group as al Qaeda, and certainly the horrific attack at Mumbai is evidence of that," said Chamberlin.

Lisa Curtis, Senior Research Fellow for South Asia in the Heritage Foundation's Asia Studies Center, cautioned the US to avoid falling into the trap of directly mediating in the decades-old Kashmir issue.

OFB eyes more foreign collaboration

BS Reporter / Kolkata April 03, 2009, 0:24 IST

The Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) of India, the largest defence equipment manufacturer under the aegis of the Ministry of Defence, is eyeing more foreign collaboration with global engineering giants for technology upgradation, equipment sharing and marketing activity.

Speaking on the sidelines of a press conference organised by the Bengal National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sudipta Ghosh, DGOF & chairman, OFB said “ We are looking at more collaborations. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been recently signed with Israeli Military Industries for another five years beginning April 1, which entails sharing of technology and equipments on a 50:50 percent basis. There are a host of other collaborations and offset agreements with some global companies in the pipeline, which will fetch us big orders.”

OFB is looking at more MoUs with global engineering giants like L&T, Ashok Leyland, Telco etc in a bid to expand its reach and global footprint.

It was likely to sign an MoU with L&T for export of its products to other countries through L&T distribution network, soon, a kind of marketing activity for OFB, said Ghosh. Of OFB's total sale at present almost 76 per cent goes to Indian army, 18.6 per cent to the civil market, 3.1 per cent to Air Force and 2.3 per cent to Navy. In the last 3 years, OFB designed almost 50 new defence equipments, of which 15 products are in the production stage.

This year also OFB plans to bring in some couple of new products in the market, some of it are under development or trial stage with the defence bodies. The company has already handed over 50 mine protected vehicles (MPVs) to the Ministry of Home Affairs and 15 MPVs to the army.

J&K infiltration sends tremors; high-level meeting today

Amid reports of large-scale infiltration by militants mainly belonging to Lashker-e-Taiba, a high-level meeting to be chaired by Union Home and Defence Secretaries will be held in Kashmir on Thursday to review the security situation.

Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta and Defence Secretary Vijay Singh will discuss with the state government officials about the recent long encounters taking place along the Line of Control in North Kashmir and the preparedness in meeting the challenge ahead of general elections.

Among those attending the meeting will be Director General of Police Kuldeep Khoda, Corps Commander of Srinagar-based 15 Corps Lt General Bikram Singh and other senior officials of Army, Police and Intelligence agencies.

Earlier, the Centre had asked the state to divert some of the Central Paramilitary Forces from the state for election duties in other parts of the country but the same was opposed saying it would affect the counter-insurgency operations going on there.

Security forces are on high alert in the state after movement of suspected militants was noticed on the other side of LoC in Gurez and Machil sectors. The Army had even engaged a group of terrorists trying to infiltrate in Gurez last week.

Despite conflicting claims by the Army, security agencies believed that nearly 80 militants mainly of Lashker-e-Taiba had entered into the Valley.

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