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Saturday, 9 May 2009

From Today's Papers - 09 May 09

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China vocal over US influence, troops
'Superpower's strategy needs corrective steps to contain terrorism in region'
Afzal Khan writes from Islamabad

In a surprisingly candid public comment, China has voiced concern over the "too high" US military presence in the region.

"China is concerned over the increasing US influence in the region," Chinese Ambassador Lou Zhaohui said here, adding that the number of foreign forces was "too high" in the region. It is for the first time that China has publicly stated a position on American military presence in the area ever since it attacked Afghanistan after the 9/11 in 2001.

Talking to reporters during a visit to the Islamabad Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the Chinese envoy said the "outside influence" was growing in the region. China has suspicions over US intentions in Gwadar port built by Chinese assistance. The port can act as a gateway for China to reach out to West Asia.

"These are issues of serious concern for China," he said.

He said that US strategies needed some "corrective measures" to contain terrorism. However, he added, terrorism was a serious issue and required cooperation between countries in the region to counter it. "We are cooperating with the US and Pakistan in the fight against terror," Zhaohui said, adding that separatists belonging to Muslim majority areas of western China had got training in Fata and Afghanistan during the 1980s.

President Asif Zardari was given a special briefing during an unofficial visit to Shanghai on involvement of extremists originating or trained in Pakistan's tribal areas for terrorist acts in Muslim-dominated areas of southern China.

He said the Chinese authorities were in touch with Pakistani officials to chalk out a joint anti-terrorism strategy. He also expressed concern over safety of about 10,000 Chinese engineers and skilled workers deploying in various projects in Pakistan. Several Chinese engineers have been kidnapped and some killed by extremists.

Pak army goes full throttle against Taliban in Swat


08 May 2009, Friday

A DAY after Pakistan Prime Minister asked the country's army to go full throttle in the war against extremists, Pak army jets and gunships pounded the Taliban position in Swat on Friday (May 8).

Pak airforce fighter jets flew sorties over Swat assisted by attack helicopters and ground troops. At least 12 militants were killed in the Friday attacks, Pakistan army had claimed that it managed to kill at least 55 ultras yesterday.

The army action comes after Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani on Thursday gave a call to the armed forces to eliminate the Taliban menace, which he said was holding the country to ransom.

Taliban militants are ensconced in the northwestern Swat Valley and are holding out strongly in the town of Mingora, from where thousands of people have migrated due to the ongoing battle.

Pakistan army said that air strikes and action by ground troops is going side by side. Helicopters gunships today managed to destroy two militant hideouts in Kabal, killing almost 10 to 12 militants in the operation, the army said.

Even as the battle between the army and the Taliban rages on, the hapless civilians are rushing out to safer zones. With Pakistani army launching a no hold barred battle against the terrorists, tens of thousands civilians have left Mingora and other places in Swat valley.

Despite the migration, a large number of people still remain in the city and fears are being expressed that they are being used as human shields by the Taliban. Many locals, sources said want to leave the war zone but they feel helpless due to the ongoing fighting.

Local residents, also cast aspersions on the government's intentions said that they did not know what politicians really want.

"If the army want to eliminate the Taliban then this should be a fight to the finish otherwise its better to leave the people and the place on their fate", a local resident said on condition on anonymity.

The anger palpable amongst the locals makes sense, when one considers the fact that Pakistan army has launched and abandoned a number of operations in past few years, without any success.

This time also Pakistan has been arm twisted to take action against the Taliban by the United States and its western allies, who fear the terrorists might take over the Pak nuclear weapons.

'The US is making a mistake in Pakistan'

May 08, 2009 | 18:08 IST

A conference on 'Pakistan's Troubled Frontier: The Future of FATA and the NWFP' in Washington, DC witnessed several speakers expressing concern about the situation in Pakistan.

In the third of the five-part series (read the first and second), Stephen P Cohen, the distinguished expert on South Asian affairs, discusses the crisis.

An acute equipment shortage and an army that has only been trained to fight against India has left the Pakistani army highly ineffectual in its counter-insurgency efforts against the Taliban, he said.

"There's truth to what the Pakistanis will tell you, that they lack equipment," Cohen, who has written books on both the Indian and Pakistan armies, said. "They are short on helicopters, short on night-vision devices, two main things, and they may be short on intelligence assets."

However, he said, this does not obscure the central fact, that the army is "trained and prepared and geared to fight India than to fight their own people, which is what they have to do. There is no dedicated counter-insurgency force."

A strategic error, Cohen said, was that the Pakistan's army had gone into counter-insurgency operations to fight the enemy and not to protect the people. "But that's not the way counter-insurgency operations, especially in your own country, works. You don't treat your own country as an alien land."

Setting out the case of the Pakistan army's shortcomings, Cohen said, "There is an ethnic mismatch in the army. For example, there's a great fear in the army -- and I've heard this from a number of sources -- that the Punjabi soldier, perhaps not the Punjabi officer -- may be infected or could be infected by the local sectarian conflicts that are raging in Punjabi itself. So the ethnic balance in the army presents some problems."

Compounding the problem, he said, is the fact that there is zero expertise among civilians in the government about national security, unlike their Indian counterparts, since India has all along had a civilian government and has constantly been engaged in counter-insurgency operations within the country.

As a result, Cohen said, Pakistan's Chief of Staff General Ashfaq Kayani has no civilians to turn to "when he has to provide a balanced strategy -- nobody."

The United States, argued the expert, was making the mistake of asking Pakistan to do much more than it was capable of.

"There are limits to what that the government can do -- they can barely stay in power, let alone clean up madrassas, fight a counter-insurgency, guard the nuclear programme, practice democracy, treat women properly, revive reform in economic policy."

It is therefore necessary for the administration of US President Barack Obama to find out what it is that Pakistan is capable of doing, and what it will actually do, Cohen said. "In a sense, our relationship with Pakistan should be based both on what we think is important and what they can and what they will do."

"If we think that they can do everything, they will wind up doing nothing right they will do everything very badly. So, while it's nice to have a wish list about what Pakistan can and should do, it's nice to reward them for doing things they can do under any circumstances."

The BBC's Pakistan correspondent Haroon Rashid said since Pakistan and the US had jointly created the Taliban, it was necessary for the two countries to join hands to "put the genie back into the bottle."

The majority opinion in Pakistan is that the US is forcing its agenda on that country, said Rashid, pointing out in passing that the administration's Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, is known as 'the bulldozer.'

Arguing that this perception needed to change, Rashid said it was vital for the Pakistan government to be seen as working with the US on an equal footing, "without being labelled as agents of the US."

In common with the other panellists, Rashid said Pakistan's failure to deal with extremist groups was in part because "the political and military strategy to deal with the militants has never been uniform."

Further, he said, the Pakistan military's obsession with the idea that its main threat is India, and the perpetual tensions that notion creates, has been "another drain on resources" that should have been employed to contain the spread of terrorism.

China, India 'may stir up regional war': army report

Cameron Stewart | May 09, 2009

Article from: The Australian

AN internal army report has given a more threatening assessment of China's military expansion than was publicly stated in the defence white paper, warning bluntly that it could "destabilise" the region.

The report, obtained by The Weekend Australian, also makes more hawkish comments about India's military ambitions than Defence has admitted.

A draft copy of an army report, Army's Future Land Operating Concept, due to be finalised in September, warns about China and India's military ambitions.

"China and India's growing military ambitions, matched by growing military spending, have the potential to destabilise the region with their military expansion," the report states.

The defence white paper released last Saturday warned only that China's military modernisation might "give its neighbours cause for concern if not carefully explained".

The different wording in the documents suggests the white paper was toned down for public release to avoid causing offence in Beijing and New Delhi.

The army document is more pessimistic than the white paper about future regional stability, warning of a "real potential" for war between major powers.

"China, and potentially India ... have the potential to challenge US (strategic) dominance within their regions," the report states. "Of particular concern is an increased likelihood for dispute escalation as a result of changes to the perceived balance of power with the real potential for a return to major combat operations involving states.",25197,25451195-31477,00.html

India is no longer enemy No. 1 for Pakistan

Sultan M Hali

Senator Joseph Lieberman, Chairman of the US Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, in his interaction at the Council on Foreign Relations, an American think-tank has declared that Islamic extremism, not India is Pakistan's enemy No.1 and this needs to be understood very clearly by the establishment in Islamabad. In the same vein, US President Barack Hussain Obama, while responding to questions following his first 100 days in office address, stated that "We've got strong military-to-military consultation and cooperation," and added, "on the military side, 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.

This particular comment that Pakistan Army no longer considers India as its number 1 enemy has sparked off a heated debate. Some analysts accused the Pak Army as taking the extreme step and informing their US counterparts but not taking the nation especially its people and government in confidence. Under the directive of the government, Pakistan Army is currently engaged in a major operation to flush out the militants from Lower Dir and Buner and fighting insurgency in Swat. Sowing such seeds of dissension at this critical juncture is malicious. On 24th April 2009, B. Raman the former RAW operative, writing for South Asia Analysis Group, in his Op-Ed 'Pak Taliban: From A Bunch Of Suicide Bombers To A Conventional Army—International Terrorism Monitor—Paper No.520', comments insidiously: "The Pakistan Army headed by Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, its Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), has shown neither the will nor the inclination to counter the advance of the TTP and then roll it back. It is not Kayani's worries about what could happen on the Indian border, which have come in the way of a vigorous response to the TTP's military advance. It is his worries over the continuing loyalty of the Pashtun soldiers, who constitute about 20 per cent of the Army, and of the Frontier Corps and the Frontier Constabulary, which are responsible for his anxiety and keenness to make peace with the TTP.

The Frontier Corps and the Frontier Constabulary consist predominantly of Pashtun soldiers recruited in the FATA and the NWFP, officered by deputationists from the Army. These units have been showing less and less inclination to fight the TTP. They have been either avoiding a confrontation with the TNSM and the TTP or in some cases just deserting and surrendering to the TTP units."

True to his colours, B. Raman insinuates: "Confronted with the worsening ground situation in the NWFP and with the danger of a possible collapse of the strategy of President Barack Obama even before it was taken up for implementation, the US is acting like a cat on a hot tin roof. There have been understandable cries of alarm not only from Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State, and Robert Gates, the Defence Secretary, but also from White House spokesmen. What is urgently required is a national intelligence estimate on US policy-making towards Pakistan, which has been leading it from one critical situation to another." Now examine extracts from Dr. Subhash Kapila's Op-Ed on the same page, on 27 April 2009, "Pakistan's impending take-over by the Taliban as evidenced by their recent advances to the doorstops of the capital city of Islamabad by armed occupation of Swat and Buner, has raised strategic concerns and fears in the United States and NATO countries.

The developing situation in Pakistan portending a collapse of state sovereignty in Pakistan under the Taliban onslaught and the reluctance of the Pakistan Army to commit its regular army formations to stem the Taliban tide has forced the United States to issue a blunt warning to Pakistan that it would have to militarily intervene in Swat to evict the Taliban. The United States has legitimate fears on the enveloping Taliban menace in that even in their present configuration of wresting control of Swat, Buner and contesting in Haripur, the Taliban are sitting over- looking two strategic Pakistani military installations of the Heavy Mechanical Complex at Wah and the Pakistan Air Force Base at Minhas, Wah is the chief and central strategic site for materials ad components of Pakistan's nuclear weapons and the Pakistan Air Base at Minhas is the launch pad for Pakistan Air Force nuclear weapons armed combat aircraft. Taliban's impending drive to take over Islamabad has not only become a United States and regional concern, but has assumed global strategic concerns."

Bhaskar Roy follows up with his 'Pakistan's 'TRICK O' TREAT' piece on 29 April 2009, in which he seditiously suggests: "Pakistan appears to have won round one with the USA, with the USA's Afghanistan-Pakistan policy apparently losing direction again. Having warned Pakistan that the terrorists were the greater threat to the country and not traditional enemy India, US Central Commander General David Petraeus argued with a congressional committee on April 25 that Special Representative Richard Holbrooke's Pakistan and Afghanistan initiative should be expanded to include India. In fact, Pakistan was black-mailing the US by saying it will not tackle terrorists who were a threat to them unless Washington intervened in the Kashmir issue and forced India to reduce troops in Kashmir and along the international border."

The crux of the problem is that India is playing mind-games with Pakistan. Animosity spanning over 800 years, out of which Muslims ruled the Indian Subcontinent for a major portion of the time, have resulted in a blood feud between Hindus and Muslims. The Muslims of the sub-continent sought a separate homeland for themselves when the British were ready to exit in 1947, because it would have meant a change of masters and the Hindus were hell-bent on seeking revenge for the centuries of Muslim domination. Post-Independence, Pakistan and India have been to war three times. India dismembered Pakistan's eastern wing and the festering sore of Kashmir remains as a flashpoint for conflict between the two hostile neighbours. Indian war preparedness, its war doctrines and strategies are Pakistan specific. Threat perception is based on the adversary's military capabilities and not intentions.

However, well meaning peace talks and other overtures may be, unless the casus belli of Kashmir, the water issues, Siachen and Sir Creek are resolved, India will remain Pakistan's enemy number one. Temporary attention may be given to pressing issues like the extremist onslaught in Swat, Buner or Dir but vigilance towards threat from India cannot be lowered.

India's Larsen, EADS unit form defence JV

Tue May 5, 2009 7:15am BST

MUMBAI, May 5 (Reuters) - India's Larsen & Toubro (LART.BO: Quote, Profile, Research) and the defence and security division of Europe's EADS (EAD.PA: Quote, Profile, Research) will form a joint venture to make defence electronics in India, eyeing orders from a modernising Indian army.

The joint venture will focus on design and development of electronic warfare, radar, military avionics and mobile systems for military applications for India and rest of the world, India's largest engineering and construction firm and EADS said in a statement.

By 0600 GMT, Larsen shares were up 2.9 percent in a Mumbai market .BSESN down 0.2 percent.

The joint venture is subject to approval by the Indian government, the statement said.

"The Indian defence and security market is growing fast and we want to grow with it," Stefan Zoller, chief executive of EADS Defence & Security said in the statement. India is among the largest buyers of defence equipment as it plans to spend more than $30 billion over the next five years to modernise its largely Soviet-era weapons systems and is also launching its first military spy satellite next year. [ID:nDEL477811]. (Reporting by Prashant Mehra; Editing by Anshuman Daga)

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