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Thursday, 14 May 2009

From Today's Papers - 14 May 09

Telegraph India

Telegraph India

Telegraph India

The Pioneer

The Pioneer

Indian Express

Indian Express

Asian Age

Asian Age

Asian Age

Swat Taliban Stronghold Captured,
Militant Casualties Rise to 762

Pakistani security forces achieved a major breakthrough Wednesday by capturing the stronghold of the Swat Taliban as militant casualties on the 18th day of a military operation in the country's restive northwest rose to 762 and the army chief asked his troops to minimize collateral damage during their advance.

The security forces had established a firm foothold in Peochar, the headquarters of Swat Taliban commander Maulana Fazlullah, and other areas of the district, the military said.

Fazlullah is the son-in-law of Taliban-backed radical cleric Sufi Mohammad who had brokered a controversial peace accord with the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) government and whose violation by the militants had prompted the military action April 26.

Eleven militants had been killed in the operations till Friday evening, the military said, taking to 762 the total number of extremists killed so far.

Normalcy was returning to the adjacent Bunner district, where farmers had begun harvesting crops and shops had started functioning, the military said.

Also on Wednesday, Pakistani Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani asked his troops to minimize collateral damage in their operations and to resort to precision strikes.

"COAS (chief of army staff) has instructed the army to ensure minimum collateral damage even at the expense of taking risks, by resorting to precision strikes," a statement issed by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.

"The Pakistan Army is acutely aware of the nature of ongoing operations in Swat and elsewhere, and their likely fallouts," the statement said.

"Consequent to any military operation in populated areas, collateral damage and IDP (internally displaced persons) issues are always a natural outcome. In fact, the overall success of operations in such areas is a sum total of the three efforts - conduct of military operations, minimizing collateral damage and correctly managing IDPs," the statement added.

The statement is a clear indication there would be no early end to the military action in the Swat, Lower Dir and Buner districts of the NWFP.

In fact, Britain's Daily Telegraph reported Wednesday that the Pakistani army was planning to open a second front against the Taliban in the South Waziristan tribal agency as early as next month.

"COAS said that management of IDPs is as important as military operation in Swat. It has been decided to provide all-out support to Government and International Agencies in the management and rehabilitation of IDPs.

"For this purpose, a Corps Headquarters headed by Lieutenant General Nadeem Ahmed has been tasked to form a Special Support Group for IDPs, for coordinating and directing all efforts of government, army and other agencies for optimal utilization of resources in providing relief," the statement said.

Over half a million people have been displaced by the military operation, with the numbers growing by the hour. The Pakistani government has released Rs.1 billion for their relief and rehabilitation, even as it has appealed for massive international aid to enable it tide over the crisis.

The ISPR statement said that "for the first time in its history", the Pakistan Army has decided to give part of its daily ration - flour, sugar, lentils and cooking oil - to the IDPs.

"This exemplifies the army's spirit of sacrifice. The food items so provided will be able to daily feed about 80,000 adults," the statement said.

The army has also deployed its medical resources in all the IDPs camps with supplies adequate for 90 days. Local military hospitals will also treat patients, the statement said.

"Inshallah, together the Pakistani nation and army, will provide relief to the IDPs in a manner, which will rekindle the memories of 2005 earthquake relief effort," the statement said.

Senators threaten to oppose aid to Pakistan

Lalit K Jha Washington D.C | PTI | May 13, 2009 | 12:40 IST

Influential American Senators have said they would oppose Obama administration's proposal to triple civilian aid to Pakistan and substantially increase assistance to its army without clear cut benchmarks and accountability provisions in it.

In fact these Senators, both from the Republican and Democratic parties, at times entered into a verbal duel with Richard Holbrooke, the Special United States Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan, during a hearing on Pakistan convened by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Fearing that the new financial aid to Pakistan could meet the same fate as that of $12 billion given to Islamabad by the previous regime, these Senators, at times agitated, cautioned Obama administration that it should not expect a smooth approval of its proposals in the absence of accountability and benchmarks.

At one point of time Holbrooke even remarked that he was "troubled" with these statements. "I am deeply troubled by what you've said," Holbrooke told Robert Menendez, the Democratic Senator from New Jersey.

"You're asking us to vote for a whole new set of money without knowing whether there are going to be benchmarks, without knowing whether we have a better system of accountability. I personally can't continue down that road, as much as I think this is critical," Menendez said as other members of the Committee looked stunned.

"So there's going to have to be some give and take here if you want the support of some of us. I have been supportive along the way but we are just not here for a blank cheque," he said.

Republican Senator Richard Lugar along with Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Committee, sponsored the Kerry-Lugar bill, which proposes $ 7.5 billion financial aid to Pakistan in the next five years, tripling the non-military assistance to the country besieged by the Taliban militants.

Republican Senator from Tennessee, Bob Corker asked Holbrooke, "We are asking you to tell us what you're going to do with this money after we pass the bill... For us to pass a large amount of funding and yet then ask later for you to tell us what you're going to do with it to me seems backwards."

Corker said, "I think we are potentially embarking on a monumental mistake, whether we end up doing the right things or not, by this body not discussing this in the way that it should and being fully bought into something that I think is going to be a part of our country's efforts for years to come, especially since we are, in fact, doubling down, if you will, in Afghanistan."

Alleging that Pakistan at this point of time is being ruled by a leader, who in the past was called "Mr 10 per cent", Corker said, "I do think we need to understand how these money is going to be circulated through these countries in such a way that they don't end up in a bank account in Switzerland."

Holbrooke in his response defended the policies of the Obama administration and sought an early approval of both the supplemental and the Kerry-Lugar bill pending before the Senate in this regard.

He also pleaded that the Obama administration should not be penalised for the mistakes made by previous Bush administration. "The only beneficiary of a delay in this bill is the enemies of our nation, the people who are trying to have the next 9/11, because they will use it on that radio that I was talking about earlier to mislead people as to our true commitments in the area," Holbrooke said.

Observing that he does not want to penalise the administration, Senator Menendez said, "But I do believe that the past is prologue unless we change it. So what I'm looking for is a sense, a certainty of a strategy that will take this money and put it to good use between both the Kerry-Lugar bill and the supplemental and future money, as well as a sense of accountability and benchmarks so that we don't continue the history that we've seen here."

US losing information war against Taliban, admits Holbrooke

Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC | May 13, 2009 | 10:13 IST

The Barack Obama administration's top diplomat for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, has admitted that the United States is getting battered by the Taliban in the information war in the Federally Administered Tribal Area and the Northwest Frontier Province in Pakistan. He warned that the 'success' in the US-led assault on these militant groups would ring hollow if there is no propaganda victory against these extremists.

The comments were made by Holbrooke before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which had convened a hearing to consider the legislation authored by Senators John F Kerry and Richard Lugar, the chairman and ranking Republican on the panel that has proposed providing Pakistan $1.5 billion annual aid in five years.

The US envoy told the committee that "concurrent with the insurgency is an information war."

"We are losing that war," he said. "The Taliban has unrestricted and unchallenged access to the radio, which is the main means of communication in an area where literacy is around 10 percent for men and less than five percent for women.'

Holbrooke explained to the lawmakers that "radio is broadcast from the backs of pick-up trucks and motorcycles. These are low-wattage FM radio stations."

"They broadcast the names of people they are going to behead and it's just like Rwanda, and for reasons that are hard to explain, we have no counter-programming efforts that existed when we took office," he said, putting the blame on the previous George W Bush administration. "We don't have jamming, we don't try to override, we don't do counter-programming."

Holbrooke thanked Kerry for writing into the legislation "a special section on this issue that's very helpful to us in our internal dialogue, which is going on as we speak."

"President Obama has personally expressed a desire to deal with this and we shall do so and I want to bring to your attention this particular issue," he added.

Holbrooke argued that "we cannot win the war, however you define win and we can't succeed, however you define success, if we cede the airways to people who present themselves as false messengers of the Prophet (Muhammed), which is what they do and we need to combat," this propaganda.

Last month, Mukhtar A Khan, an analyst with the Washington, DC-based Jamestown Foundation and a Pushtun journalist, spoke of how the Taliban was way ahead in the propaganda war in the FATA and NWFP, thanks to illegal FM radio stations.

Khan, who is working on a book about militancy on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and the spillover effect it has on the rest of the world, said that Taliban FM radios stations in Swat Valley, the FATA and the NWFP have "shaped the local people's thinking."

He spoke of how Maulana Fazlullah, leader of the Taliban in the SWAT was referred to as 'FM Mullah' because of the effective use of the radio "to preach to the local people."

According to him, the reason why neither the Pakistani government nor the US have jammed these illegal channels was because Islamabad "says they don't have the technology," and "jamming could interfere with their own communications systems, which is important for intelligence information," it shared with the US intelligence.

'Karachi burned for seven days'

January 18, 2007 | 13:37 IST

Admiral S M Nanda, who led the Indian Navy during the 1971 war and vanquished the Pakistan navy, passed into the ages on Tuesday.

Two years ago, the admiral granted an exclusive and extensive interview about the 1971 war. We reproduce it in his memory.

'And if war comes again, I assure you that we shall carry it right into the enemy's biggest ports, like Karachi. I know this harbour quite well for I started working there. And you have my word that given the opportunity, the Indian Navy will make the world's biggest bonfire of it.'

-- Admiral S M Nanda, then Chief of the Naval Staff, at a press conference in Jamnagar, November 1971.

The oldest of seven children, Sardarilal Matharadas Nanda was born in Punjab on October 10, 1915, but grew up at Manora, a small island off Karachi where his father was posted. Commissioned as an acting sublieutenant in the Royal Indian Naval Volunteer Reserve, he climbed up through the ranks to become the Chief of Naval Staff in March 1970. A year later, India and Pakistan went to war.

Admiral S M NandaIn a move that made naval history, Admiral Nanda towed three Russian missile boats, which did not have the necessary range to reach Karachi and return, halfway out to sea before unleashing them on Pakistan's primary port. Karachi burned for seven days. The admiral had kept his promise.

1971 War: 35 Years On

In an exclusive interview with Deputy Managing Editor Ramananda Sengupta in his plush home on New Delhi's Prithviraj Road, the admiral, whose memory at 91 is enviable, recollects how he braved government and military apathy and opposition to become The Man Who Bombed Karachi, which is also the title of his autobiography.

Let us start from the beginning. After being kept out of the earlier wars, why was the navy brought into play in 1971?

During the 1965 war and 1962 war with China, the Navy was kept in Bombay. We didn't do anything. With the result that nobody bothered about the navy, and everyone thought it was an ornamental service.

During my time as the chief, I found, to start with, that the emphasis was all the time on the requirements of the army and air force, and not of the navy.

In 1971, when the three service chiefs would meet the prime minister (Indira Gandhi), she would ask the army chief first, then the air force chief, about their views on the situation. And then she would look at her watch and say, 'Admiral, you have anything to say?'

And I'd say 'No ma'am, I have nothing to say.'

But inside I was thinking that you can write off the navy if does not take part. That was not acceptable to me. So I had made up my mind that if there was war, the navy would take part.

One day, when things hotted up in Bengal, after one such meeting, same questions, same last query, I said told her that I would like to see her in her office.

'Come over,' she said. We were both in South Block. I told her 'Madam, things are hotting up, and there is a possibility of war breaking out anytime. I have made up my mind that I am going to attack Karachi. I want political clearance from you. I don't want to be told at the last minute that I cannot do it. Militarily it is my responsibility.'

She thought a bit, and then said, 'Well Admiral, if there's a war, there's war.'

'Thank you very much madam, I have got my answer,' I replied.

So I called my directors of naval operations and naval intelligence, said I have spoken to the prime minister, and I think we have clearance to plan what to do if the war breaks out. I am planning to attack Karachi, and we've got to make preparations.

Everybody looked at me, and they said Karachi is a very heavily defended port. They've got six inch guns, while our guns are only four inch. So we will be well within their range before they come into our range. So I said we have these Russian-made Osa Class missile boats with Styx missiles, which are for harbour defence. What is their range? What are their capabilities? Do they have ship to surface missiles?

First they said the boats did not have the range to reach Karachi and return. Then they said if we hit Karachi with our missiles, then there will an uproar all over the world over the civilian casualties.

So I said look, 'What is a ship? It is steel. A missile locks on to steel.' I knew Karachi quite well. They have a one-mile long area on the coast which have oil tanks, made of steel. I said 'Why can't let our missiles lock on the oil tanks?' They were not so sure.

Now a soldier must have faith in his weapons systems. I needed to test these missiles. But where was the target going to come from? So I asked the Russians how they tested their missiles. They said we have a special type of a ship with compartments in it, so that if a missile hits it, does not sink. Can we get a ship like that, I asked. It will take us two years to build it, they replied. I said forget it.

We had a British made practice target, which was made out of a hull on which is fitted a large frame, or target, on which we fire the guns. So I had some aluminum balls prepared to be fitted on the target. Then we towed this target some 30 miles out to sea, and came back.

Then I got into a helicopter, and gave the order to fire the missile. It went right through the target, 30 miles away. Then I called all the ships to close in and see the effect for themselves. That put their faith into the system. Having done that, we had further meetings.

The commander of the Western Naval Command still didn't believe in the system, and opposed it, saying it was too much of a risk.

On December 3, the Pakistan air force attacked us in the evening. By that time, we had our own forces, including the three missile boats, ready. But they did not have the range to go into Karachi and come back.

So on the evening of December 4, we towed these boats out half the way, they dropped their tow lines and raced towards Karachi. We hit Karachi, sank two warships and damaged a third.

We did this again on December 8, and sank two more ships. One or two missiles hit the oil tanks near the harbour, which set the entire complex ablaze.

Karachi burned for seven days.

What did we do with our aircraft carrier, Vikrant?

INS Vikrant. Photograph courtesy: Indian NavyVikrant is a funny story. During the 1965 war, it was in dry dock, and could not be used. During 1971, there was a crack in a boiler, because of which they could not fire the steam catapult needed to send out the aircraft.

Three months before the war, Naval Headquarters decided it was not operable at all. The aircraft were moved ashore. Then I went out to Bombay, and the captain explained that if the aircraft could not be catapulted out, it would fall into the sea, and kill everybody.

I said 'What's the bloody point of having an aircraft carrier if it cannot be used during a war?'

So I decided to take a risk. I ordered a steel band to be put around the boiler which had a crack. Then I said we need to get to a place where we have strong winds, and check out whether the aircraft falls into the sea or not.

I took the carrier out to sea myself and asked the engineer officer, the chief of the Western Naval Command, Admiral Krishnan, and M K Roy, Director of Naval Intelligence, to come with me.

My staff said I must get permission from Naval HQ. I said I am the Chief of Naval Staff, you don't need to ask anybody else. I am giving the orders and I am taking the responsibility for them.

We waited till the wind was strong enough. The aircraft was finally ordered to take off. And it was a success. We did that three or four times.

But there was still aversion. Somebody said 'Sir, there are people in the boiler room, and if it blows up it will kill all of them.'

So I said how does the boiler work? It works on oil. How does it come into the boiler? There is a pipe which brings it in. Who controls the valve of that pipe? The tanks are down below, but the valve is on the upper deck.

I said vacate the boiler room. Have someone man the valves. So if the boiler blows up or catches fire, it will damage the boiler room, but not the men. So that was done.

You took the Vikrant to the other coast, into the Bay of Bengal?

Yes, because people were still not sure how to use an aircraft carrier. They thought it was taking too much of a risk, particularly with a crack in the boiler. I discussed the issue with my engineer officer, and he said 'Sir, whatever you order, we will do.' This was about August or September, before the war began.

So I said we have to take the risk. We discussed all possible scenarios. They wanted to keep the Vikrant in Bombay, but I said no, and sent it to Cochin. Then when things started hotting up, I sent her to Madras. The aircraft, which were kept ashore, were flown to Madras. And we were operational.

Deceit comes naturally to Pak military!

M P Anil Kumar | May 12, 2009 | 16:41 IST

Pakistan pocketed a cool $953 million cheque while the American establishment still appears to be dim-witted about perceiving the Pakistan army's skullduggery.

In a four-part series, M P Anil Kumar, a former Indian Air Force fighter pilot, looks at the lawless Afghan-Pak region.

Had it not been fraught with catastrophe, the irony of what's roiling Pakistan today would have had us laughing till our bellies ached. Had it not been for the nameless consequences, the sight of Uncle Sam stewing in his own juice in Afghanistan would seem like poetic justice and evoked a sense of schadenfreude in many.

When General Musharraf decided to join forces with George Bush Junior to hunt relentlessly for their 'common' quarry Osama bin Laden in October 2001, I had written that the administration would soon realise that they had actually embraced a Tartar, not a holy anti-terror warrior. (A Tartar is an unexpectedly formidable fellow, and when you catch a Tartar, it turns out that he was the one who has caught you!)

I misfired on one count; I overestimated the intelligence of the administration. Though Team Bush has been consigned to history's dustbin, the American establishment still appears to be dim-witted for they seem senseless to perceive the embrace-turned-bearhug and the Pakistan army's skullduggery.

Since the Pak army knows Pakistan has much to pocket by perpetually denying what the US wants, citing one pretext or the other, they will continue to run rings round the Americans to ensure a prolonged showering of manna from Washington and other rich capitals, recession or not, terrorism or not.

Gotterdammerung Now!

In Norse mythology, Gotterdammerung refers to a foretold war of the gods that brings about the end of the world. Translated, Gotterdammerung refers to a disastrous conclusion of events.

With the Obama-Karzai-Zardari 'brainstorming' scheduled for the 7th of May, anyone with perspicacity could have seen through the deliberate upping of Talibanphobia, the rumours of the impending implosion of Pakistan, the questionable safety of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal and the Dir-Buner-Swat crackdown.

To me, these were too coincidental to be plausible; all stage-managed for the benefit of the benefactor in Washington! Of course, this Gotterdammerung drama had its intended effect. Washington panicked, President Obama winked at his own prescription of post-dated cheques and loosened the purse-strings to rescue the Pakistani State 'under siege.'

To elevate his standing, Grigori Aleksandrovich Potemkin, the Russian minister leading the Crimean military campaign, ordered the erection of hollow facades and the construction of fake villages along the Dnieper riverside to impress Empress Catherine II on her visit to Ukraine and Crimea in 1787, thus earning the notorious eponym Potemkin village. President Obama, beware of General Kayani in Grigori Potemkin's clothing!

Now that the Obama-Karzai-Zardari photo-op is done with, having 'earned' another good conduct pat from the Boss, having pocketed a cool $953 million cheque, given its past habit, the Pak Army should recede into recidivism soon. Of course, till Washington rams a fresh casus belli down its throat. Deceit comes so naturally to the Pakistani military!

New broom sweeps cleaner, and harder!

Coining the portmanteau word Afpak (I've dumped the hyphen) to designate the lawless Afghanistan-Pakistan continuum, in the first flush of presidency, Barack Obama brought out his administration's policy to transmogrify the strife-riven region into New Shangri-La -- a land of peace, milk and honey.

The paper has unveiled six major thrusts to resurrect Afpak.

One, to beef up the American forces with 17,000 more troops.

Two, a contingent of 4,000 troops to train and raise Afghan security forces as future bulwark against the baddies.

Three, to winnow the 'good Taliban', wean them away from the riff-raff and to mobilise them into a mighty militia.

Four, first stating his willingness to treat the past as water under the bridge, infusing an I-mean-business air into his glare, he announced that the issuance of further tranches of largesse to Islamabad will be bountiful but with strings attached, i e, no more blank cheques.

Five, to establish a 'Contact Group' comprising regional heavyweights Russia, India and Iran as a multilateral fora to pow-wow Afpak, the other being the US-Afghanistan-Pakistan trilateral.

Six, to unleash the diplomatic bulldozer by the name Richard Charles Holbrooke as the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, hoping he would wield the strong-arm into pulling off an improbable coup.

Afghanistan, the new necropolis

Barring Maharaja Ranjit Singh who had large swaths for a brief period under his thumb in the early nineteenth century, Afghanistan has been the graveyard of modern superpowers. The first to flounder was the British. As part of what came to be known as the Great Game, they fought three Afghan wars (1839-1919) and lost. In fact, the First Anglo-Afghan War was fought so savagely, even retreating British forces were butchered by bushwhackers. Only Dr William Brydon escaped to tell the horrid tale.

The trouncing of the Soviet Union is vividly chronicled, and in 1989, they withdrew with bloodied noses and tails between their legs under President Gorbachov's watch.

President Obama, the man of the moment, knows history, and therefore wants to save America from ignominy, and thus defy and make history at once. Hence he has invested much political capital in Afpak. And an arm and a leg too.

Defence or deterrence?

By Haider Nizamani

Wednesday, 13 May, 2009 | 07:09 AM PST |

THERE was little mention of nuclear weapons during the 15th Lok Sabha election campaign in India. Pakistan is fighting what some term as an ‘existential battle’ without any discernible role of nuclear weapons.

President Asif Zardari was welcomed to the United States with a lecture by his US counterpart as to how Pakistan’s fixation with India was a misplaced security concern. Other officials of the administration expressed their fears about Pakistani nukes falling into unpredictable hands.

Nuclear weapons were supposed to perform assorted wonders for India and Pakistan. Eleven years ago on May 11 the then Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government authorised the conduct of nuclear weapons tests near the desert town of Pokharan. Pakistan followed suit within weeks of the Indian tests by conducting half a dozen tests of its own in the Chagai region of Balochistan. How have nuclear weapons performed militarily, politically and culturally 11 years down the overt nuclear path? They have followed somewhat dissimilar trajectories in the two countries.

India and Pakistan have traditionally assigned different military roles to their nuclear weapons. For Pakistan the nuclear weapons are there to deter a conventionally superior India from fighting a conventional war. Pakistan has never ruled out the possibility of using nuclear weapons. That is why Asif Zardari, rather naively, had to eat his words when he suggested a few months back that Pakistan was interested in the no-first-use policy. Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, as far as military logic is concerned, are solely India-centric.

In the minds of New Delhi’s strategic pundits their nuclear weapons are not Pakistan-centric. Furthermore, nuclear weapons in the India-Pakistan strategic equation are only to deter a nuclear war between the two and are no guarantee against the outbreak of a conventional war between them.

In the last 11 years, India and Pakistan have had a number of military stand-offs under the nuclear shadow. Within a year of the 1998 tests there was Kargil. Then in December 2001 there was an attack on the Indian parliament that led to the amassing of armies across the India-Pakistan border for much of 2002. The Kargil crisis was diffused when Pakistan chose to accept the proxy surrender in Washington, DC.

Nuclear hawks in Pakistan are convinced that these military crises between India and Pakistan did not turn into a full-fledged war as Pakistan possessed nuclear weapons. Their counterparts in New Delhi do not see the causal link between nuclear weapons and the outcomes of the 1999 and 2002 military crises. Kargil for India was a limited conventional war that it won. The 2002 crisis was diffused because India managed to achieve its goals through coercive diplomacy and mounting international pressure against Pakistan.

In short there is no conclusive proof that the two countries consider nuclear weapons as guarantors against a conventional war, a necessary precondition for effective nuclear deterrence, between the two.

But nuclear weapons in the subcontinent are not only meant to serve in national arms panoplies. These are the weapons that have been and continue to be used as political and cultural ingredients of state-sponsored nationalism. It is in these areas that nuclear weapons have shone rather less brightly since the conduct of 1998 tests.

Fewer self-congratulatory pieces in newspapers regarding the May 1998 tests are one indication of declining enthusiasm for nuclear nationalism. That said, the custodians of nuclear nationalism in India can claim few feathers in their caps. The fate of A.P.J. Kalam and A.Q. Khan show the ironies that nuclear nationalism can breed. Kalam, a self-effacing scientist from southern India, was chosen by Hindu nationalist BJP as the president of India. By supporting a Muslim for the coveted post the BJP tried to alleviate its communal credentials and beef up its nuclear nationalism.

A.Q. Khan, on the contrary, was made to confess his crimes under the glare of the television camera by a president in military uniform. Dr Khan, in terms of public demeanour, had been the exact of opposite of Kalam. He had cultivated the image of an infallible national icon. His disgrace to some degree challenged the personality cult that went hand-in-hand with Pakistan’s nuclear nationalism.

Beyond the diametrically opposite personal destinies of the two architects of the Indian and Pakistani nuclear programmes, India has been more successful in positioning itself as a responsible nuclear power. New Delhi used the nuclear tests as India’s entry ticket into the club of global powers. That may have remained a pipe-dream but Jaswant Singh, India’s minister of external affairs during the BJP-led government, was successful in convincing officials of the Clinton administration, especially Strobe Talbott, of India’s good nuclear intentions. Diplomatic hard work paved the way for the India-US nuclear agreement signed years later by the Congress-led government of Dr Manmohan Singh and the Bush administration. However, in 2008 the Manmohan Singh government came close to collapse as the Indian Left withdrew its support over the issue of the India-US nuclear deal.

Pakistan in the intervening years has been implicated as one of the shady characters in the international nuclear bazaar. While India is courted by major nuclear powers as a partner and valuable customer, aspersions are cast on Pakistan’s ability to safeguard its nuclear assets.

Nawaz Sharif, prime minister at the time of the 1998 nuclear explosions, claimed that the nuclear tests have made Pakistan’s defence impregnable. He was mixing up defence with deterrence. Pakistan’s defence is far from being impregnable in 2009. Nuclear weapons are simply not meant to counter such challenges.

Dominant discourses in India and Pakistan inflated the role nuclear weapons could play in augmenting national identities and meeting the challenges to these identities. Nuclear weapons have only limited utility in building the national identity, and subsequently ensuring national security, in these heterogeneous societies.

Indian govt approves project to build infrastructure along Chinese border

* Action plan prepared for next Indian government listing issues requiring immediate attention

* Rail link to Kashmir’s Ladakh region to be a reply to China’s ambitious plans to build rail connectivity with Pakistan via Karakoram highway

By Iftikhar Gilani

NEW DELHI: Without waiting for completion of the electoral process, the outgoing government of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has rushed to approve an ambitious Rs 50 billion project to build infrastructure along India’s 4,000-kilometre eastern border with China.

It has also prepared an action plan for the next government, listing issues requiring immediate attention. The paper prepared by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has listed the issue of Jammu and Kashmir and some defence procurements among issues that require immediate attention of the next government.

The border development plan approved at the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) also includes seeking alignment and feasibility to build a rail project to connect the mountain-locked Ladakh region of Kashmir with a the neighbouring state of Himachal Pradesh. The proposed rail link between Leh and Bilaspur in Himachal Pradesh will address the Indian Army’s long-pending demand seeking a round-the-year supply route. The region is cut off from the rest of the world for the six winter months every year.


Sources said the rail project would be a reply to China’s ambitious plans to build rail connectivity with Pakistan via the Karakoram highway. They said the proposed Leh rail project also came under discussion at the recently-held army commanders’ conference, in the context of improving supply lines along the border like China had done. The total cost of the project has been pegged at Rs 200 billion.

The CCS, which met last week after the return of External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee from electioneering, also approved projects to upgrade border posts and advanced landing grounds, expand the road network, and manage the borders better.

When Atal Bihari Vajpayee abdicated office after an unexpected electoral defeat in 2004, he had requested the next government to continue his two ambitious projects – interlinking of rivers and construction of a road network, Golden Quadrilateral.

Prime Minister Singh’s government not only froze the river-linking project, but also went slow on the road projects.

Sources said the prime minister’s idea was that the next government, whichever it would be, should be informed about the core issues that required urgent action as well as the institutional mechanisms that had been put in place, but still needed action and implementation.

It is said that Cabinet Secretary KM Chandrasekhar had directed all ministries and departments last month to prepare action plans for the new government.\05\13\story_13-5-2009_pg7_51

DRDO develops kit to track infection
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 13
Tracking infection inside the body has become easier now with a new diagnostic kit of ciprofloxacin for bacterial infection imaging called “diagnobact” developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

The PGI nuclear medicine department has tested the kit.

A recent study on “Efficacy of indigenously developed single vial kit preparation in the detection of bacterial infection” conducted by the nuclear medicine department of the PGI proved 100 per cent specificity of the kit for the detection of the bacterial infection.

Dr Baljinder Singh of nuclear medicine department said the kit gave specific detection, location and treatment response, which were useful in diagnosing various infections.

Dr Baljinder said the study was conducted on 77 patients, who visited the PGI for the treatment of diabetic foot osteomyelitis, tuberculosis of the bone and orthopedic device related infections.

The technique is superior to radiological techniques and the doctor at the PGI orthopedic department explained that the foot infection was the most severe complications of diabetes.

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