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Wednesday, 20 May 2009

From Today's Papers - 20 May 09

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Sri Lankan Army releases visuals of Prabhakaran's body


19 May 2009, Tuesday

WITHIN HOURS after Tamil rebels claimed that LTTE chief Prabhakaran was safe and secure, the Sri Lankan Army for the first time has released visuals that confirm the end of the Tamil tiger's supremo.

Army chief Sarath Fonseka said that Prabhakaran's body was recovered from the battle zone on Tuesday. Immediately after the confirmation by Army chief, the Lankan television put on air a video that shows Prabhakaran's body being inspected by the Army officials.

The slain LTTE leader's head is covered with a cloth as he is believed to have suffered gun shot wound in the forehead. The rest of his face and body apparently shows no wounds as soldiers can be seen looking intently at their implacable foe, Prabhakaran.

Confirmation of his death by the Army comes in the wake of claims made by the Tamil rebels, who said on Tuesday that Prabhakaran was alive and not dead.

That the threat from LTTE was more or less neutralised was made clear by the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who told the parliament Tuesday that Sri Lanka had been liberated from terrorism.

Sri Lankan government also announced the end of hostilities as the war with LTTE had been closed successfully.;jsessionid=CFBB8488E57E2AB3E75552DCB27AE810?articleID=15769959

US Does Not Know Location of All Pakistan Nukes
By Arun Kumar

A top US official added fuel to the row over reports that Pakistan may be using US military assistance to expand its nuclear arsenal by saying Washington does not know the location of all of Pakistan's atomic weapons.

Days after the top US military officer told Congress that there is evidence that Pakistan is adding to its nuclear weapons systems and warheads, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Leon Panetta said Monday the US does not know the location of all of Pakistan's nuclear weapons.

But both Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, whose remarks during a Congressional hearing had set off the row expressed confidence that there are "pretty secure" measures to keep them out of terrorists' hands.

"Obviously, we do try to understand where all of these are located," Panetta said. "We don't have, frankly, the intelligence to know where they all are located."

He was responding to a question if nuclear weapons in Pakistan are more safely guarded than those in the former Soviet Union at a forum organized by the Pacific Council on International Policy in Los Angeles.

He added that the US is confident that Pakistani government has a "pretty secure approach to try to protect these weapons."

"It is something that we continue to watch," the director said. "The last thing we want is to have the Taliban have access to nuclear weapons in Pakistan."

At a congressional hearing last week, Mullen was asked whether there was evidence that Pakistan was adding to its nuclear arsenal. He replied: "Yes."

Mullen's remarks as also confidential briefings about Pakistan's nuclear arsenal had raised questions on Capitol Hill about whether billions of dollars in proposed military aid might be diverted to Pakistan's nuclear programme, the New York Times reported Monday.

However, Mullen Monday sought to play down such concerns. "I am not aware of any US aid that has gone toward nuclear weapons, save that which is very focused in the last several years, last three or four years, on improving their security. Which is exactly what we'd like and they've done that," Mullen told a gathering at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think-tank.

State Department spokesman Ian Kelly too sought to play down the New York Times report Monday saying the issues of helping Pakistan to meet the extremist threat from within and the fact that Pakistan has a nuclear capability should not be linked.

"I'm not going to address the issue of whether or not the Pakistanis are increasing their nuclear capability. I think Admiral Mullen addressed that," he said.

But the reason "we shouldn't connect these dots, that we shouldn't make this connection, is because this assistance package is for very specific purposes," Kelly said. And the US is going "to make sure that the money is spent for the specific purposes that the US Congress had in mind."

Pakistan's ISI Uses Taliban as a 'Strategic Hedge': US

Pakistan's intelligence agency ISI keeps ties to the Taliban as a "strategic hedge" due to uncertainty about the future outcome of the war in neighboring Afghanistan, according to US Defence Secretary Robert M. Gates.

"Their maintaining contact with these groups, in my view, is a strategic hedge. They're not sure who's going to win in Afghanistan," he told CBS' "60 Minutes" Sunday commenting on ISI's support for insurgents in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"They're not sure what's going to happen along that border area. So to a certain extent, they play both sides," he added.

Gates and other top defence officials have expressed concern over ISI's relationship Afghanistan-based insurgent groups ever since President Barack Obama's administration released its Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy in late March.

But both Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have suggested that stronger and enduring US engagement with Pakistan can lead to a distancing between the ISI and insurgent elements.

Mullen, who has previously emphasized the need for the ISI to change its strategic approach, Monday said he was "cautiously optimistic" that with time and patience, the United States will show that it has followed through on its initial commitment to Pakistan.

"That will drive strategies in those countries that often times hedge against the possibility that we might leave," he said at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank. "So it's going to take us some time and some patience to answer those particular questions."

"The question I get when I go to Afghanistan and Pakistan routinely is, 'Are you sticking around this time?'" Mullen said.

"I think it's a valid question, and until that question is answered - and those countries know and the citizens know that our intent is to have a long-term relationship with them, not just a military relationship - I think that question will continue to be out there."

Agni-II missile test-fired

Balasore (Orissa), May 19
India today successfully test-fired its nuclear-capable ‘Agni-II’ missile with a strike range of upto 3,000 km from a launch pad off Orissa’s coast.

The test of the indigenously built Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile missile was carried out from a mobile launcher at about 10.06 am from launch pad-4 of Integrated Test Range at Wheelers Island near Dhamra, about 80 km from here, defence sources said.

It was a user trial conducted by the army and scientists from Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) were present to provide the necessary logistical support, the sources said.

The trial of the missile was successful and the scientists would conduct a detailed analysis. — PTI

Navy commissions INS Airavat

Visakhapatnam, May 19
Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sureesh Mehta today commissioned the Navy’s sixth Landing Ship Tank (Large), Airavat, into the naval fleet at the Eastern Naval Commands, IN Jetty here.

“The Navy would build 32 warships and six submarines using indigenous technology by the year 2012,” Mehta told reporters on the occasion.

Previously named as Yard 3016 in March 06, the LST was re-christened INS Airavat today. It was formally handed over to the Navy on March 30 this year at Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Limited, Kolkata.

As a platform designed for amphibious operations against the enemy, Airavat is a further upgrade on the Magar Class (the First LST (L)) in her suite of weapons, sensors and indigenous content, the Navy has said in a release.

With a significantly enhanced weapon package, latest control systems and better habitability conditions, Airavat delivers considerable punch and amphibious capabilities to the fighting prowess of the Navy, it has said.

The ship can carry 10 Main Battle Tanks, 11 Combat Trucks and 500 Troops and has a considerable range and endurance at sea. Besides undertaking amphibious operations, the ship is a potent assault platform capable of operating both Seaking 42C and the indigenous Dhruv helicopters.

Airavat is fitted with two indigenous WM 18A rocket launchers to support successful amphibious operations.

The threat from air is dealt with through two indigenous CRN 91 Anti-Aircraft Guns auto-controlled by Optronic Sights and shoulder-launched IGLA Surface-to-Air Missiles. It also has soft-kill ability through Chaff Rockets, which can be used to clutter the sensory inputs of an incoming energy aircraft or missile, the Navy has said.

The ship is also fitted with Remote Propulsion Control, Battle Damage Control System and Automated Power Management System. These are fully integrated, microprocessor based, digital control systems for providing control and for monitoring ships machinery and systems, it has said.

Airavat also has a microprocessor based anti-roll Flume Stabilisation System and smoke curtains to impede spreading of smoke and toxic gases in case of fire on board. In addition, the ship can act as a fleet tanker through stern refueling of other naval vessels and as a hospital ship. — PTI

Pakistan’s growing N-arsenal
World should not keep quiet

AT a time when the US and the rest of the world have been worried about the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, numbering between 80 and 100, because of the Taliban’s tentacles spreading throughout the country, comes the news that Islamabad is on the way to adding more nuclear weapons to its arsenal. And these will be new generation weapons of mass destruction, as Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has confirmed before the US Senate!

How the US reacts to this alarming development will be interesting to watch, as Washington has been saying that it has “full faith and confidence” in Pakistan President Asif Zardari, who has assured the world that Islamabad’s nukes remain in safe hands. It is surprising how the Americans take Mr Zardari’s words seriously as he may not be even aware of where Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are kept or what is the size of the nuclear arsenal. The control of nuclear weapons remains in the hands of the Pakistan Army and not with the civilian government in Islamabad.

The late Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto wanted the Army to give her complete details about her country’s nuclear assets, but in vain. The Pakistan Army does not trust the civilian rulers and hence its reluctance to share with them full information about the location of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. It was Gen Zia-ul-Haq’s idea to keep his country’s nuclear programme under the control of the Army, which has never loosened its grip on it.

What is more worrying is that many of the Islamist recruits of General Zia in the Army are today occupying senior positions. These “children” of the former military ruler have developed over a period of time, like the Taliban and other jihadi outfits, a hatred for the US. Former Pakistan President Gen Pervez Musharraf confirmed this during the course of his latest interview with the CNN.

“There’s anti-United States feeling in the public and also, may be, in the Army. Yes, indeed”, as he told his interviewer. Can such an army be trusted to fight the Taliban to the finish, or keep the nuclear weapons safe for the world? Whatever action is being seen in the NWFP’s Swat region is obviously to satisfy the US, which has promised a massive financial aid to Pakistan. The emerging scenario in Pakistan is, indeed, disturbing.

Can Pakistan tackle Taliban?
Army is scared of militant Islamists

by Sushant Sareen

THE Pakistani political establishment is too compromised, too corrupt, too effete and has lost all credibility to stand up against the Taliban. The ordinary man on the street has neither any stake nor any faith in the current system and is, therefore, unlikely to put his life on the line for its preservation. The civil society doesn’t count for anything. In any case, the middle class is not exactly known for picking up arms to defend itself.

It depends on the state machinery - the police and the army - for security. But the military appears either sympathetic to the militant Islamists or too scared of them irrespective of the drive it has launched in the Swat region under the US pressure. A couple of years ago I was having a conversation with a Pakistani friend about the growing attraction of radical Islam in Pakistani society. This friend, who has done pioneering work in documenting the origin and growth of jihadist militias in Pakistan, said my fears about Talibanisation in Pakistan were over-blown.

In his view, Pakistani society will never accept the Taliban brand of Islam. According to him, Pakistani Pakhtuns are very different from Afghan Pakhtuns and will find it difficult to swallow the Taliban Islam. The Baloch, he said, gave more importance to ethnic nationalism, which protected their identity, than to radical pan-Islamism that sought to subsume it. The Punjabi and Sindhi society was deeply influenced by Sufi saints who dissented against the doctrinaire Islam.

As it appeared, my friend was putting much faith in the Punjabis and the Sindhis, who, in his opinion, would straightaway reject the stone-age tribalism and barbarism that the Taliban represented. I couldn’t help pointing out to him that the cultural values, social mores and philosophical syncretism that he thought would act as a bulwark against the spread of radical Islamism were all based on and drew inspiration from the teachings of a long line of great Sufi poets and saints, the last of whom walked these lands some three hundred years ago.

Since then there has been neither any ideological and philosophical challenge nor any impelling societal rejection of those who advocate a literalist, if obscurantist and extremely intolerant, interpretation of Islam. I wondered if the Sufi influence was now wearing thin and being replaced by religious dogmatism towards which more and more people in Pakistan seemed to be gravitating.

Interestingly enough, the immense popularity of Sufi syncretism in Punjab and
Sindh grew partly because it represented dissent against the established religious
and political order of those times. In the past, doctrinaire Islam symbolised the
established order; today it represents dissent, empowerment and a revolutionary
break from the rapacious social, economic and political system that is unjust,
unfair, unequal. The liberal interpretation of Islam is now the preserve of the
Pakistani elite and establishment.

The hard line and literalist Islam represents the huge underclass of Pakistan which sees the Taliban as the deliverers. Ironically, the descendants of Sufi saints today comprise the ruling class of Pakistan, and the Islamist insurgency (Talibanisation) is, in a sense, a revolt of the underclass against the current system, and by extension, against the Islam propagated by the Sufis.

Despite this, many people think - not just in Pakistan but also in India - that Punjab at least will never accept Talibanisation and will react very violently to the Taliban. But the sooner people disabuse themselves of this notion the better because when the Taliban mounts pressure, Punjab will simply capitulate and collaborate. This is so for three reasons.

One, the Taliban will not be seeking a “no objection certificate” from Punjab before it imposes its version of Islam. The acceptance or otherwise of the Punjabis is quite immaterial. Those who resist the Taliban will simply be butchered and the others will fall in line.

Two, Punjab has no history or culture of resisting invaders and marauders from the North-West. The only Punjabi ruler who fought and defeated the Pakhtuns was Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Three, a huge section of the Punjabi population actually identifies with and subscribes to the Taliban type of Islam. Over the last few decades, Punjab has become more orthodox and fundamentalist.

The signs of this tectonic change in Punjabi society can be seen everywhere, only one needs to admit this reality. Adding to the power of the Taliban is the prevarication and ambivalence of the political class on the issue of Islamisation. Not a single politician or political party is willing to stand up and speak in favour of secular laws over Islamic laws.

Even members of the only political party to openly oppose the Nizam-e-Adl
regulations in Swat — the MQM — take the position that as Muslims they are
all in favour of Sharia and that their opposition is to the manner in which Islamic
laws are sought to be imposed by the Taliban and to an extent the Taliban
interpretation of Islamic laws.

The irony is that parties like the ANP that claim to be secular have used their secular credentials as a license to accept and even promote Talibanisation. What the Pakistani politicians can’t seem to understand is that their failure to take a clear position on the issue of Islamisation effectively lends legitimacy to the stance of the militant Islamists. After all, if everyone is willing to live under Sharia then the only question that remains to be decided is who will decide the version of Sharia to be imposed. How this question gets answered - through democracy or by the use of arms - is altogether another matter.

Even if the people and the politicians were to somehow reject the Taliban, they would have to depend on the Pakistan Army to fight and defeat these barbarians. But the Army doesn’t seem inclined to fight. Perhaps this is because the rank and file of the Army has come around to the view that only the Taliban can ensure an end to the craven subservience of the military top brass and the political establishment to the US. There are also suspicions backed by some evidence that while the Army makes a show of fighting the Taliban, it also appears to be facilitating them and using them to for achieving political and strategic objectives.

Pakistan today resembles the Mughal state in its last days. Although the Mughal state was losing territory and authority all the time, there was hardly anyone who imagined that the Mughal state would simply disappear one day. The Mughal nobility, like much of the Pakistani elite and establishment, seemed the least bothered about the withering away of the state. The nobles shamelessly indulged in power games while foreign invaders were knocking at the doors of Delhi. Then it was Delhi, today it is Islamabad.

US responsible for current mess in Pakistan, says Clinton

Lalit K Jha in Washington | PTI | May 20, 2009 | 03:05 IST

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday said that the United States is also responsible for the current mess in Pakistan as it quietly walked away from the country after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan.

"I think when we ask the question it is fair to apportion responsibility to the Pakistanis. But it's also fair for us to ask ourselves what we have done and how we have done it over all these years? And what role did we play in the situation that the Pakistanis currently confront?" Clinton said.

She was replying to question on the billions of dollars that have been given to Pakistan in the past but which have not yielded desired results for the US. "I think that it is fair to say that our policy toward Pakistan over the last 30 years has been incoherent," She said, adding that she did not know any other word to use. "We came in the '80s and helped to build up Mujahedeen to take on the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. The Pakistanis were our partners in that. Their security service and their military were encouraged and funded by the United States to create the Mujahedeen in order to go after the Soviet invasion and occupation," Clinton said.

After the Soviet Union fell in 1989, Clinton said, "We basically said--thank you very much. We had all kinds of problems in terms of sanctions being imposed on the Pakistanis." Their democracy was not secure and was constantly at risk of and often being overtaken by the military, which stepped in when it appeared that democracy could not work, she said. Clinton argued that the Obama Administration's approach towards Pakistan is qualitatively different than anything that has been tried before. "It basically says, we support the democratically elected government but we have to have a relationship where we are very clear and transparent with one another," Clinton said.

India test-fires 3000 km range Agni missile

PTI | May 19, 2009 | 13:13 IST

India on Tuesday successfully test-fired its nuclear-capable Agni-II missile with a strike range of up to 3,000 km from a launch pad off Orissa's coast.

The test of the indigenously built Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile was carried out from a mobile launcher at about 1006 hrs from launch pad-4 of Integrated Test Range at Wheelers Island near Dhamra, about 80 km from Balasore in Orissa, defence sources said.

It was a user trial conducted by the army and scientists from Defence Research and Development Organisation were present to provide the necessary logistical support, the sources said.

The trial of the sophisticated missile was successful and scientists would conduct a detailed analysis. The missile after three successful trials by DRDO is ready for production.

"We have completely developed systems for such variant of missiles," a senior defence scientist said.

A special missile group has been raised in the army to handle such weapon.

The state-owned Bharat Dynamics Limited is the nodal agency for production of Agni-I and Agni-II missiles. The indigenously built surface-to-surface Agni-I missile has a strike range of 1500 km, while Agni-II missile has capability of hitting targets between 2500 to 3000 km with a 1000 kg pay-load.

Nepal Maoists must stop India baiting

Category » Editorial Posted On Tuesday, May 19, 2009

It has been a familiar pastime of Nepalese politicians, as well as, the now extinct monarchy, to blame India for all their troubles including administrative failure, disturbed internal conditions and worsening economic situation. In the post-monarchy phase since last year the Maoists who took power have also started to blame India for failure to run their coalition government by consensus and to coerce the Army into integrating without scanning an entire Maoist People's Liberation Army which battled the state for close to 15 years. While doing so they tend to forget the immense contribution made by India to bring about an orderly transition from absolute monarchy to democracy and help draft a republican constitution best suited to the genius of the people.

Pushpa Kamal Dahal "Prachanda" became Prime Minister of a coalition government but there exists a trust deficit between the Maoists, the mainstream political parties and the Army, which owed its loyalty to the king but is now serving a civilian democratic government. The integration into the regular Army of a force of some 19,000 ill-trained and ill-disciplined guerrillas was agreed under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement by all the political parties prior to the abolition of the monarchy and electing a constituent Assembly to draft a new Constitution for the country suited to modern-day requirements. But the Army which battled the Maoists inflicting and suffering thousands of casualties, has some reservations about such wholesale integration without proper screening of the guerrillas and their retraining prior to induction. The sacking of the Army Chief Gen. Rukmangud Katuwal over this and two other minor issues by Prachanda was unacceptable even to his coalition partners who brought about the fall of his government by withdrawing support. The Army Chief dismissal was cancelled by President Ram Baran Yadav on the ground that it was not a consensus decision, but only that of the Maoists.

Prachanda argument that the Army is subordinate to the civilian government in a democracy is, no doubt, valid. But he could not act unilaterally on such a sensitive issue because the coalition partners were not party to the "cabinet" decision. The other coalition parties, Communist Party of Nepal, United Marxists Leninist, the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum and Sadbhavana Party opposed the decision, thereby isolating Prachanda. Several foreign governments had also advised him against taking such a step in the interest of peace and stability of one of the world's poorest countries. But to overcome his embarrassment and lack of running a democratic government, he unleashed a venomous diatribe against India for allegedly interfering in Nepal 's internal affairs.

While India should do no such thing, but it is genuinely concerned over political instability in its neighbour to the north, stratetigically located between it and China, with which it does not have good relations. China has been active in Nepal for years, but lately scores of Chinese "delegations" have visited Nepal for reasons unknown. Prachanda was set to travel to Beijing before he resigned to discuss, among other things, a Treaty of Peace and Friendship under which Nepal would get economic and military aid etc. Any Chinese incursions into Nepal south of the Himalayas causes concern to New Delhi, more so because, India and Nepal have free borders and their nationals cross the border without passports or visas. China has given some arms to Nepal and promised over a billion dollars in economic aid. Therefore, New Delhi keeps a watchful eye on the activities of the Chinese in Nepal and the economic aid it gets. Prachanda says he wants to take relations with China to the level of the country's relations with India, with which it is bound by certain treaty obligations and enjoys unusual privileges and benefits.

Nepal is still on the evolving path towards parliamentary democracy and carries the baggage of an authoritarian monarchy and a violent Maoist uprising. It needs to work cautiously towards ushering in a new era of multiparty and multiethnic democracy with the cooperation of all political formation. The Army Chief can be faulted on some counts. There was little justification for him to proceed with fresh recruitment of over 3,000 soldiers in the Army when the issue of PLA's integration was pending. Even the United Nations, which supervises the camps set up for the de-mobbed guerrillas had objected to it. The Maoist Defence Minister decided to retire eight brigadier-level officers of the Nepal Army, but when the matter went up to the Supreme Court, it set aside the retirement orders and allowed the officers to continue till their case was finally settled. This was another jolt for Prime Minister, who had also approved participation of the PLA in the National Games. But the Army pulled out of the games because it would not like to play against the guerrillas. Prachanda felt enough was enough and sacked Gen Katuwal on ground of insubordination.

The Maoist Defence Minister had been advocating induction of senior commanders of the PLA directly in the Army and it was felt that the retirement of the brigadiers was meant to create vacancies at higher levels to be filled up by Maoists. A conspiracy theory was also doing the rounds according to which Gen Katuwal was to be removed and replaced by a pliable Gen Kul Bahadur Khadka. Thereafter, a Maoist commander of the PLA Nand Kishore Pun "pasang" would be inducted as a Lt-Gen and Khadka's number two. The PLA would be merged in the Army wholesale and Maoist commanders would be appointed directly to top Army Posts. The apprehension was that the Nepalese Army would be taken over by pro-China Maoists, creating a very dangerous situation for the country's security and also for neighbouring India. It was for this reason that Gen Katuwal has been desisting Prachanda's moves as he did not want the Army's discipline and allegiance to be compromised and it becoming an ideology-driven force like China 's own PLA. There is little doubt that the Maoists were acting hastily and even irresponsibly in precipitating the present crisis.

At the sane time, Prachanda is under pressure from the Maoists who, in the first place, were against giving up the revolution and opting for democracy, but are now taunting him of being ineffective in implementing the all-party agreement of PLA's integration into the Army. The Maoists are a divided house. Pragmatists like Prachanda, who realised the futility of continued insurrection and heavy casualties, led the transformation of the guerrilla Army but is under fire from the hardliners who command the loyalty of the PLA.

There is little doubt that the only way to resolve the crisis is to implement the agreement of PLA's integration under a due process so that it does not remain a standby entity. That would transform the Maoists into a purely political force committed to the democratic process. But, considering the fragility of the situation, Prachanda ought to have taken all his coalition partners into confidence and on board, while dealing with the issue of the Army Chief. The manner of PLA's training prior to integration could also have been sorted out in a calm and dispassionate manner.

Prachanda argues that the principle of civilian control of the Army was paramount in a democracy and Gen katuwal's insubordination was unpardonable. But, it is also fact that democracy in Nepal is in an evolutionary stage and the Constituent Assembly is still grappling with the task of drafting the country's democratic constitution which would clearly define the respective roles of parliament, government, judiciary and the armed forces. Had Prachanda's move not alerted his coalition partners as well, they would not have distanced themselves from the Maoists, forcing the Government's resignation on being reduced to a minority in parliament.

If he can control the hardliners in his party and play for the long run, a positive fallout would be the deepening of the political understanding of democracy in the Maoist cadre and better electoral prospects in future. Till such time that the Constitution is finally drafted and adopted, the Maoists, who were in coalition, had no option but to take decisions by consensus in the spirit of the coalition. It was the support of these parties which made it possible for the Maoists to come to power democratically and they must learn to discipline themselves.

The bogey of revising the "unequal" indo-Nepal Treaty has again been raised, but India has never shied away from discussing it. The first step towards formalising relation would be, to seal the borders and introduce a passport system. But, this the Nepalese wont accept because lakhs of Nepalese employed in India without passport or work permits will have to pack up and return home. Nepal cannot demand all the privileges but not permit India to secure its strategic and economic interests in the country. Treaties should be based on equality and mutuality of interest.

MK Dhar, NPA

Indian Air Force to Induct HAL Tejas Light Combat Fighter Jets by 2010-11

Dated 18/5/2009

The induction of first squadron of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) to Indian Air Force (IAF) can take place by the end of 2010 or the beginning of 2011 with regular persuasion and monitoring of the LCA programme, the Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major said.

The Chief of Air Staff during his farewell visit to Aeronautical Development Agency recently said: “IAF is on the transformation stage in the matter of gaining overall capabilities, with the help of organisations such as DRDO, ADA, HAL and other partners.”

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has been a part of IAF’s endeavour to attain indigenous status in getting what is required for the nation’s security.

An official release said that the Chief of Air Staff was affirmative that the ongoing LCA programme would further lead to LCA mark II, MCA and many other projects of self- reliance nature by sprinkling lot of patriotism around.

Earlier, P.S. Subramanyam, Programme Director (CA) and Director of ADA welcomed the gathering. M. Natarajan, the Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister and Chief of DRDO spoke on the LCA programme and the contribution of the Indian Air Force. D. Banerjee, Chief Controller, DRDO, presented a memento to the Air Chief. Top officials from the HAL, the DRDO and other participating agencies were present.

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