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Sunday, 17 May 2009

From Today's Papers - 17 May 09

Hindustan Times

Times of India

Telegraph India

India and Pakistan, not enemies

India and Pakistan are constantly at logger heads. Since the time of its inception, Pakistan has always declared its enmity with India. However, this enmity is not Pakistan's prime cause of concern anymore.

CJ: Dr. Ratan Bhattacharjee, 1 day ago Views:166 Comments:1

THE SITUATION between India and Pakistan reminds us of the Aesop’s fable – the story of the monkey who saw two cats quarrelling over a loaf of bread. America is the monkey in the real life ‘fable’ of India and Pakistan.

The US is very cleverly using the quarrel between the two neighbours to make profits for itself. Now, it is the threat to its own existence, which has led America to pressurise Pakistan to regard India as its strategic partner in its fight against global terrorism, unleashed by Taliban and Al Qaeda.

The defeat of Pakistani forces in Bangladesh was just one reason for the embitterment between the two countries, while the Kashmir issue is a source of eternal disbelief and mistrust. America has encouraged terrorism by providing military aid to Pakistan for fighting against its declared enemies and India has been their number one enemy so far. But both the countries are now tired of fighting each other.

Fundamental forces compel the Pakistani leaders to express acrimony against India. The vast amount of money spent for defence, could be used for welfare activities and achieving self reliance. Excessive antagonism has made India and Pakistan dependent on America. The realisation that India is not its prime enemy, should dawn on Pakistan of its own accord and not because of the pressure of an external force.

Asif Ali Zardari, the President of Pakistan, only a few days back made the historical comment that India is not Pakistan’s enemy. Incredible but true – he did say that. Gone are the days when Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, gave the slogan of 'Thousand wars against Hindustan'. The Pakistani leaders described India as 'Hindustan', although they very well knew that crores of Muslims live in India. Hindustan is the enemy and they will, if necessary, eat grass to prepare for the Armageddon against India, they used to say.

At long last, however, the truth has dawned on these leaders. Those who used to break the glass of others’ windows, their own windows are not safe anymore.

The terrorists, who were so long instigated to attack and destabilise India, have become dangerous to the internal sovereignty of Pakistan itself. This realisation will have its long term effect on the Indo-Pak economy. Both, India and Pakistan, are now strategic allies of America in the Asian subcontinent. So the remark of the President Zardari is very significant; and we Indians welcome it. It is also significant in this context that the change is noticeable in Kashmir. The separatist leaders are contesting in the election; the democratic process has won. Zardari’s comment is only the beginning. The two neighbours have been dreaming about good relations since a long time; it started with the Simla agreement. But many other divisive forces came in the way of the development of a friendship between the two nations.

At last, Pakistan has realised that the enemy comes from within – the Taliban. Indeed, this is a great realisation. India will certainly welcome this change. Too much of dependence on America, after all, will not be necessary if the two countries develop a bond of friendship among themselves.

Sri Lankan army claims Tamil tigers end is near

Sri Lankan army has claimed that it has reached the final phase of the war against Tamil tigers. Meanwhile, more than 3,000 civilians have fled the Tiger controlled area with the help of Sri Lankan army.

CJ: Akbar Majid, 1 day ago Views:201 Comments:0

SRI LANKAN army on Friday (May 15) claimed that it has reached the final phase of its fight against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam. It also claimed that the hostage rescue mission was also on the verge on completion as it opened an escape route for the civilians being held in Vellamullivaikkal area

Around 3000 civilians held hostage by the Tamil tigers had managed to cross over last morning as troops stepped up measures to rap up the last vestiges of LTTE holding on in the area.

Army officials said that only 1.5 kilometre area on the northeastern coast remained in the hands of the LTTE. They said that soldiers of 58 and 59 divisions will soon manage to outflank the rebels fighting in the area and liberate the entire coastline.

In a strategic move, Sri Lankan troops of 53 division marched along the Nanthikadal lagoon, whereas another division fought through the open coast to pin the Tamil rebels, thus enabling the hostages to flee cross over to safer areas.

A large number of civilians had managed to cross over and seek refuge with the army due to the army action. Army officials alleged that the civilians were being fired upon by the Tamil tigers as they moved to government controlled areas.

Meanwhile, contrary to the government claims, Tamil rebels have alleged that the entire no fire zone area was up in smoke due to the heavy shelling resorted to by the armed forces. Since Friday morning, LTTE claimed that hundreds of civilians have been killed and injured as the army tried to enter the last rebel controlled areas.

Risat 2: A feather in the cap

Our Bangalore Correspondent Shubhadeep Choudhury writes about India’s state-of-the-art satellite

THe emergence of outer space as an arena for snooping by nations on the activities of their potential enemies has made spy satellites an essential tool for military and intelligence communities.

Roaring into the sky: The Radar Imaging Satellite, Risat 2, launched by the ISRO with the help of its workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) on April 20, from the launching station at Sriharikota is the first real state-of-art spy satellite launched by India. It is designed to return images, day or night, under all-weather conditions

Roaring into the sky: The Radar Imaging Satellite, Risat 2, launched by the ISRO with the help of its workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) on April 20, from the launching station at Sriharikota is the first real state-of-art spy satellite launched by India. It is designed to return images, day or night, under all-weather conditions

The origin of spy satellite is traced back to 1955 when the United States Air Force had first ordered the development of an advanced reconnaissance satellite to provide continuous surveillance of “preselected areas of the earth” “to determine the status of a potential enemy’s war-making capability”. The idea soon caught up with other nations. As of now, at least 13 countries including France, Japan, China, Egypt, Germany and Iran are having one or more functional spy satellites sending data to their respective control stations.

A spy satellite is used for high resolution photography of selected areas,

Measurement and Signature Intelligence (data collection with the help of sensors to facilitate detection and classification of a military target), eavesdropping in communication networks, covert communications, monitoring of nuclear tests and detection of missile launches.

We have our own example of what a spy satellite can do. In 1995-96, India wanted to carry out its second underground nuclear test after the first successful test was carried out in 1974. However, the project had to be abandoned as an American intelligence satellite picked up pictures of the renewed activities at the test site and the US put pressure on India to refrain from carrying out the test. Later US Ambassador to India Frank Wisner produced these pictures before the Indian authorities.

It is believed that the display of American satellite imagery by Mr Wisner had compromised the US intelligence “sources and methods” giving India a fair idea about the US monitoring activities and look for possible avenues for cover. The US officials might have inadvertently shown India the way to evade detection of its pre-test activities in 1998 when it successfully carried out its second nuclear test.

Apparently, India was able to estimate the times when the satellite passed over the site by analysing the pictures presented by Mr Wisner. It was also suggested that India could track the orbits of US satellites and moved equipment only when there was nothing overhead.

While India learnt how to deceive a spy satellite, it was yet to muster the technology of how to make one for its own use. This was achieved in 2001 when the ISRO launched the Technology Experiment Satellite (TES). It was followed by the launch of Cartosat 2A in April 2008.

Both the satellites are capable of mounting surveillance on various geographical areas and have been categorised as spy satellites by international agencies. From 600 km above the earth, the camera aboard the Cartosat 2A can take picture of objects as small as a car.

However, it is the Radar Imaging Satellite or Risat 2, launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) with the help of its workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) on April 20, from the launching station at Sriharikota is the first real state-of-art spy satellite launched by India. It is designed to return images, day or night, under all-weather conditions.

While both TES and Cartosat 2A use a panchromatic camera for taking pictures, RISAT 2 uses radar for imaging the earth. Thanks to Risat 2, India now has a “bird’s eye view” of any geographical area that it wants to keep under watch.

Though ISRO is at pains to deny that Risat 2 has a military objective — it insists that the satellite will be used for disaster management, floods, earthquakes, etc — the claim has no takers.

Built in collaboration with the Israel Aerospace Industry (IAI), a premier aerospace and aerial manufacturer of Israel producing aerial systems for military and civilian usage, Risat 2 is believed to be a replica of the IAI produced Tecsar satellite launched from India last year. Other reports state that it uses the Tecsar radar on top of an ISRO satellite bus. The command and control system and down links are also maintained by ISRO.

The Tecsar, a reconnaissance satellite (official term for a spy satellite), was launched by ISRO with the help of its PSLV rocket in January last year. ISRO officials described the launch as a “purely commercial arrangement” between the IAI and the Indian space agency.

The IAI, however, had good reason for choosing India for the launching. It wanted to put the Tecsar on a polar orbit but lacked a vehicle capable of boosting the satellite into the intended orbit.

It is no secret that the main purpose behind launching of Tecsar by Israel is to keep a watch on Iran and its nuclear facilities. A fortnight after the launch, Iranian Ambassador Seyed Mehdi Nabitzadeh disclosed in New Delhi that he had conveyed Iran’s viewpoint about the launch to India. He said, “wise and independent countries like India” should not make available their advanced space technologies for spying operations against Iran.

There are striking similarities between Risat 2 and its predecessor Tecsar. Both weigh about 300 kg and are armed with synthetic aperture radar (SAR). The SAR gives the satellite an all weather and day-night capability of imaging the earth. The SAR’s capability aboard the Tecsar with regard to picture resolution is a grey area as the IAI does not give out the details on that.

According to reports, Tecsar is capable of picturing images with a resolution of up to 10 cm, implying that it can even monitor the movement of humans, not to speak of vehicles or aircraft. Risat 1, according to an ISRO official, has a resolution of one metre. As a result, any object measuring one metre or more can be distinguished from its background by the SAR aboard Risat 2. Possibly, the SAR of Risat 2 can picture even smaller objects.

Given that both satellites are meant for a polar orbit, there are other similarities between them as well. Both Tecsar and Risat 2 have an orbit period of 90 minutes, which means specific objects or areas can be photographed by the satellites in every one and half hour. The satellites’ respective altitudes from earth are also about the same (580 km for Tecsar and 550 km for Risat 2). The inclination of both satellites is 41 degree with respect to the equator. While Israel snoops on Iran with the help of Tecsar, India will keep a watch on its western neighbours, namely, Pakistan and Afghanistan, by positioning the satellite thus.

The radar transmits beams towards earth and measures the reflected signals to create detailed images of objects on the ground. Previous Indian satellites (TES and Cartosat 2A) carried optical imaging sensors that were hampered by darkness and bad weather conditions on the ground.

It is believed that after India agreed to launch Tecsar from the Sriharikota spaceport, Israel offered a similar satellite to India. ISRO was planning to launch the indigenously manufactured Risat 1, with night vision and all-weather capabilities, in the beginning of 2009. But the project is running behind schedule.

In view of the Mumbai terror attacks, the Union Government did not want to further postpone the deployment of a surveillance satellite with all-weather and night vision capabilities. That is how Risat 2 materialised while work is still on for manufacturing the indigenous radar imaging satellite (Risat 1).

The ISRO had earlier announced that Risat 1 would weigh 1780 kg. The launching of the 300-kg Risat 2 did not figure in the ISRO agenda for 2009-10.

Pak military still focused on India: US

Lalit K Jha

Washington, May 15 (PTI) US has said that Pakistan's military is still "heavily focused" on India even as there are recent encouraging signs of Islamabad shifting focus to its western border, where it is battling Taliban militants.

Chairman of Joint Chief of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen also termed Pakistan's military action against Taliban in restive tribal areas as "encouraging", but said the "biggest question" is about sustainability of such operations.

He along with Defense Secretary Robert Gates testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday, seeking lawmaker's approval for the war funding.

Responding to a question from Senator John McCain about Pakistan's obsession with India, Mullen, who was recently in Islamabad, said the Pakistan Army still is "heavily focused on India", even as there are recent encouraging signs of shifting the focus on its western border.

"There is much more focus on counterinsurgency and on the West than there had been. He (Pak Army Chief General Pervez Ashfaq Kayani) has moved troops to the West. But I still think we've got a long way to go with respect to the entire army thinking that the only existential threat they have is from the west," Mullen said.

On the military operations in Pakistan, he said: "The biggest question about these operations (military offensive against Taliban in Pakistan) is their ability to sustain them over time." PTI

Army getting set to launch Agni-II

T.S. Subramanian

It is a two-stage surface-to-surface missile

This will be the fourth launch of Agni-II

CHENNAI: Preparations are under way for the launch of India’s ballistic missile, Agni-II, from the Wheeler Island, off Dhamra village on the Orissa coast, on May 19. The Army will conduct the launch with the missile technologists of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) present as “observers.”

This will be the fourth launch of Agni-II, which can carry nuclear warheads over a distance of 2,500 km. The Army has already deployed Agni-II in its arsenal.

DRDO officials said this launch was to “prove the effectiveness of the system and the readiness of the user [Army]” in firing the missile. Since the Army had already inducted the missile into its arsenal, it would pick an Agni-II at random from a clutch of missiles and fire it to test its effectiveness. DRDO officials called it “a repeat launch” to provide training to the Army personnel. “It is entirely the Army’s show. We will only help them in case of any technical issue,” they said. The missile would lift off from a rail-mobile launcher.

Agni-II is a two-stage surface-to-surface missile, powered by solid propellants. It weighs 17 tonnes and can carry a nuclear warhead weighing one tonne. The missile is 20 metres long. It has been designed and developed by the Advanced Systems Laboratory, a unit of the DRDO, in Hyderabad.

Result is opportunity to improve ties with Pakistan

By Farhan Bokhari in Islamabad

Published: May 16 2009 18:52 | Last updated: May 16 2009 18:52

The election victory India’s Congress party coalition should create an opportunity for Pakistan to improve its ties with its larger neighbour, strained after last November’s terrorist attacks in Mumbai, Pakistani analysts and senior officials said on Saturday.

Amid expectations of a victory by the Congress-led coalition, Pakistani leaders were preparing on Saturday to send formal congratulatory messages to India’s newly elected leaders.

However, Lieutenant General (retired) Hamid Nawaz Khan, Pakistan’s former defence secretary said; “This outcome of Indian elections must be seen as a continuation of India’s policies. We know what we will be dealing with rather than the unknown and that helps Pakistan to know what it can expect.”

In recent months, Indian leaders have taken a hawkish line against Pakistan in the wake of the Mumbai attacks and subsequent revelations over the involvement of Pakistan-based militants.

Still, Mr Khan said, many Pakistanis were likely to see the Congress as “less hawkish” than the Bharatiya Janta Party or BJP, the main political opposition “as the view in our country is that BJP takes a much harder line on Pakistan.”

Similar sentiments were expressed by Ghazala Minallah, a leading civil society campaigner, who said the election results create an opportunity for India and Pakistan to resume a political dialogue which practically collapsed after the Mumbai attacks. “For the ruling structures of both India and Pakistan, this victory by the Congress Party presents no surprises, no new beginnings, so it is a good opportunity to continue building up a relationship” she said.

On the streets, opinion among ordinary Pakistanis was mixed. “Every time there has been a big war between India and Pakistan, the Congress party has always been in power. Whether its Congress or someone else, we can’t trust the Indians,” said Saleh Usman, a retired Army sergeant, who served in the 1971 Indo-Pakistan conflict which led to the creation of Bangladesh.

But Anwar Malik, a college student, who is a fan of some of India’s best known singers who are popular in Pakistan said: “the wars are all past history. What we need now is to work towards peace. If Congress party will deliver peace, why not.”

However, western diplomats in Islamabad said it was premature to predict the state of relations after the new government takes charge in Delhi. “The last six months after the Mumbai attacks have broadly vitiated the Indo-Pak atmosphere. Taking a step back from that will take time and a lot of hard work from both sides” said one.

On Saturday, Pakistan was once again reminded of the fast-growing insecurity across the country when at least 11 people were killed in a terrorist car bomb in the northern city of Peshawar. Pakistani officials said they were investigating the possibility of Taliban militants staging the attack in retaliation for the country’s ongoing military operations in the northern Swat valley.

In the past, Pakistani officials have accused India of encouraging unrest on its soil by supplying arms to militants who are fighting its own security officers. This followed frequent Indian allegations against Pakistan for its alleged role in arming separatist Muslim militants fighting for independence in the mountainous state of Kashmir-parts of which are between Indian and Pakistani control.

The two countries have fought three wars and many skirmishes, mainly over Kashmir. “It is this kind of a bad history which can simply destroy prospects for future reconciliation” warned the diplomat.

Will US abandon Pakistan again?

Written by

Saturday, 16 May 2009 02:40

Despite rebounding suspicions, the US is adamant that its relationship with Pakistan is for the long haul. However, Pakistani infatuation with the US has to be gauged on basis of objective realities rather than rosy promises of an uncertain future. Pakistanis wonder if it is going to be the post CENTO or post Jihad scenario all over again. Over the last seven years, no rivers of milk and honey have flowed in Pakistan.

It might have been unrealistic to expect that but the US has also not added a drop’s capacity to any of the shrinking water reservoirs to quench the thirst of a parched, water-deficient Pakistan. In sharp contrast, Pakistan’s upper riparian, India has taken advantage of the prevailing situation to construct numerous water reservoirs in the disputed territory of Kashmir. Despite long-lasting Indian damage done to Pakistan’s vital interests, the US has persisted in developing a durable Indo-US strategic relationship including transfer of nuclear and NMD technology at the cost of Pakistan.

Pakistani intellectuals have argued unsuccessfully for decades that it is never in their nation’s interest to give a carte blanche to the US or other foreign powers. Pakistan’s post 9/11 position and the tacit understanding on some of the most controversial issues have never been debated in the Parliament.

As a consequence of shortsighted policies, our national cohesion has been adversely affected, our economy is in the doldrums and rag tag militias are threatening some important areas. There is growing lawlessness in the Pakistani society, nauseating level of discrimination being exercised by the pro West upstarts against practicing Muslims and an onslaught of drugs in our country. Despite repeated American policy reevaluations, our policies are as fixed as the Pole Star. Indeed, top notch lode stones point towards Washington D.C. for guidance. However, nothing concrete seems to be coming from the West. Is the history of the late Shah of Iran being repeated?

The Americans have intensively used Pakistani ports, railways and roads to maintain their logistics trail. Despite nearly a decade of rhetoric, Gwadar is still not linked with the hinterland. It is neither linked with Herat nor Quetta. It does not have potable drinking water, science teachers or respectable medical facilities. Tired of crying hoarse, some sections of the local Baloch population are talking of independence. Yet the public is repeatedly told that the major threat to our country lies from within. Has this threat not emerged because of faulty policies? The true believers may attempt to absolve themselves of blame and say, ‘Verily, the US knows best!’ The reality is that an ungrateful US has not constructed a single university, hospital, dam, factory, sea port, expressway, railroad, pipeline, electric power generation station, subway, airport, bridge or tunnel in Pakistan. Of the hundreds of billions of dollars spent by the US on development, only an insignificant sum has been spent on Pakistan. The long-term economic needs of Pakistan have been disregarded.

The manufacturing sector of Pakistan is declining and no transit infrastructure has been developed to establish it as a trade or energy hub in the region. Pakistan remains to be in a quandary as far as hydrocarbons are concerned and no self-sufficiency initiative has been taken to rid it of foreign dependence on edible oil. Despite a billion dollar plus potential, the maritime resources of Pakistan have been continuously ignored. In Pakistan, the US perceives health to be synonymous with birth control measures!

No spectacular new markets have been opened for Pakistan. New technologies have not been transfered to Pakistan even in mundane fields as simple as generation of electric power by wind and solar energy. In the absence of transfer of technology, how can it be taken for granted that the US is committed to Pakistan’s future for the long haul? The elite as well as the general public have serious doubts.

US experts have unanimously opined that Pakistan is beset by serious security challenges. Pakistani defence experts ask what all has the US done to address its concerns. No serious, high ranking military professional will ever advocate lowering of guard against the Indians. There can never be any dispute that the most serious conventional and nuclear threat to Pakistan emanates from India. Even in the case of sub conventional threats, India is the prime sponsor of its witting and unwitting agents. Therefore, even if one were to indulge in semantics that the prime threat to Pakistan lies from within, ultimately India would emerge as the hidden mastermind and pay master. Pakistani defence policy makers must accord the highest priority to safeguards against Indians in terms of force development and employment. If this axiomatic truth is ignored at any stage, our proud, patriotic Army will risk being reduced to the status of a paramilitary or police force incapable of fighting a conventional war. The lessons of former East Pakistan should never be forgotten. In this regard, we should never be swayed or distracted in our resolve to defend our interests in face of Indian threat.

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