Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites


Thursday, 21 May 2009

From Today's Papers - 21 May 09

Indian Express

Telegraph India

Telegraph India

Indian Express

The Pioneer

The Pioneer

The Pioneer

Asian Age

Asian Age

Asian Age


Hindustan Times

Times of India

Hindustan Times

Times of India

DNA India

DNA India

Pakistan Expanding Nuclear Sites: Report
By Arun Kumar

Pakistan has expanded two sites crucial to its nuclear programme in an effort to boost the destructiveness of its nuclear arsenal as feared by US officials, a US arms control institute said on the basis of satellite photos.

The commercial images reveal a major expansion of a chemical plant complex near Dera Ghazi Khan that produces uranium hexafluoride and uranium metal, materials used to produce nuclear weapons, the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) said Wednesday.

Photos also suggest the Pakistanis "have added a second plutonium separation plant adjacent to the old one" at a site near Rawalpindi, the ISIS report said.

Pakistan in recent years also has been building two new plutonium production reactors.

"All together, these recent expansion activities indicate that Pakistan is indeed progressing in a strategic plan to improve the destructiveness and deliverability of its nuclear arsenal," the report said.

Pakistan has roughly 60 to 100 nuclear weapons that can be delivered by attack aircraft and ballistic missiles, the report added.

The expansion would enable Pakistan to build smaller, lighter plutonium-fission weapons and thermonuclear weapons that employ "plutonium as the nuclear trigger and enriched and natural enriched uranium in the secondary", it said.

The commercial photos of the chemical plant in Dera Ghazi Khan, taken Aug 25 last year, show new industrial buildings, new anti-aircraft installations and several new settling ponds as part of the expansion, ISIS said.

The satellite images follow confirmation from Chairman of US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, Friday that Pakistan was expanding its nuclear arsenal. Mullen Monday claimed US military assistance to Pakistan was not being used by Islamabad to bolster its nuclear weapons programme.

Given turmoil in Pakistan with the army waging war against Taliban militants in the northwest, ISIS said the security of the country's "nuclear assets remains in question".

"An expansion in nuclear weapons production capabilities needlessly complicates efforts to improve the security of Pakistan's nuclear assets," it said.

The Dera Ghazi Khan nuclear site in the past several years has been the target of at least one attack by more than a dozen gunmen, the institute said, citing media reports. Nearby railway tracks have also been bombed.

The attacks have been blamed on separatists from the nearby Pakistani province of Balochistan and not the Taliban, the report said.

"The brazen ground assault and nearby bombings are nevertheless troubling considering the role that the Dera Ghazi Khan plant plays in Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme," it said.

The ISIS report urged the US government to persuade Pakistan to halt production of fissile material and join talks for a treaty that would ban the production of plutonium and highly enriched uranium.

Pak nuke arsenal worry for India, US: Obama

Press Trust of India, Wednesday May 20, 2009, Washington

President Barack Obama says that Pakistan's 'large' nuclear arsenal is a worry for India and the US especially at a time when terror outfits like Al-Qaida and Taliban are trying to get such weapons.

The President's comments coincided with the release of the latest satellite photos which revealed that Pakistan is multiplying its nuclear arsenal much beyond its present stable of 60 to 100 weapons and increasing their destructive power and deliverability system.

Obama also said it is "absolutely imperative" for the US to take the "leadership" in meeting the security challenges spawned by nuclear proliferation in the world "particularly at a time when countries like North Korea and Iran are in the process of developing nuclear weapons capacity.

At a time when we see a country like Pakistan with large nuclear arsenal on the other side of a long running conflict in the sub-continent with India. At a time when terrorist organisations like Al-Qaida are trying to seek fissile material."

Obama made the reference on potential threats to India and the US by Pakistan's nuke arsenal after an Oval Office meeting with former secretaries of state George P Shultz and Henry Kissinger, former Defence Secretary William Perry and former Senator Sam Nunn of Georgia on Tuesday.

"We do not want a world of continued nuclear proliferation and that in order for us to meet the security challenges in the future America has to take the leadership in this area," he added.

US pledges to end 'incoherent' policy towards Pak

Lalit K Jha/ PTI / Washington May 20, 2009, 13:06 IST

Promising to end "incoherent" US policy towards Pakistan, the Obama Administration has sought a "very clear and transparent" ties between the two countries.

Acknowledging that the US is responsible for the current mess in Pakistan as it quietly walked away from the country after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the Obama administration's policies towards Islamabad would be qualitatively different.

"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?" she told reporters.

She was replying to a 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.

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," she said.

"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.

Senators promise to take up Sikh cause with Pentagon

Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC

May 21, 2009 02:06 IST

Several US lawmakers, who attended the annual Sikh American Heritage Dinner on Capitol Hill, organized by the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, pledged to support the Sikh community's efforts to serve in the US armed forces without compromising their religious principles, and promised to bring this issue on the House floor to press the Pentagon [Images] be more flexible in its rules and admit Sikhs in the US military.

Speaking to nearly 250 Sikhs from across the country who attended the dinner, Congressman Ed Royce, the senior Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, said, "I will work to make sure that Sikhs are admitted to serve in the US armed forces without any restrictions."

Congressman Jim McDermott, the Democratic co-chair of the India Caucus, also said he would work toward bringing this issue on the House floor to press the Pentagon to change this rule and said, "Medical professionals in the military were told they had to shave their head and take off their turban, and I thought to myself, who in the world is in charge over in the Pentagon that made that decision? I know there have been discussions going on about the carrying of the symbolic dagger (kirpan) and all of the things that are part of Sikhism, but to say these people can't operate in the US military is just plain silly," he argued.

McDermott acknowledged that "I know there have been some difficult times and I am aware of the history of the Sikh community, but the fact is that it's important that we be allowed to be who we are, worship the way we want to, but not to have to choose, or be picked on or excluded on any basis. This country needs to be the place where everyone has the right to participate to the fullest extent possible in their life."

Last month,two Sikh American military recruits, both medical professionals already in the US Army, who had been denied the right to report for active duty in July unless they remove their turbans and cut their unshorn hair and beards, called on the Pentagon to allow them to serve their country without having to compromise their religious principles and remove their turbans and shave their beards.

Captain Kamaljit Singh Kalsi, a physician, and Second Lieutenant Tejdeep Singh Rattan, a dentist, said that they had been assured by military recruiters that their turbans and unshorn hair "would not be a problem" when they were recruited to join the Army's Health Professionals Scholarship Program, which paid for their medical training in return for their military service.

Both had maintained their turbans, unshorn hair and beards throughout graduate school and during specialized Army training, and at Army ceremonies and while working in military medical facilities. But, now the Army was telling them that the recruiters' assurances were false and that they would have to forsake their religious practices if they want to go into active duty.

Kalsi said, "I was shocked to learn that the Army would go back on its promise, and tell me I would have to give up my faith in order to serve. There is nothing about my religion that stops me from doing my job. I know I can serve well without compromising my faith.I have trained in my profession as a medical doctor thanks to the assistance I received from the US Army," he said. "Now, I want to make sure that I give back to the country and the people who have invested so much in me.At a time when our troops need as much help as they can get, I cannot understand why the Army would want to keep me from serving.

"Today, I have children of my own," he said, and added, "As a father, I hope they achieve all their hopes and dreams. And, as an American, I hope they never have to choose between their religion and their country."

Rattan from New York City, while acknowledging that he was not born in the US, said, "this is now my home and I am an American, and our country was built by people like me, from different parts of the globe, from different races and religions.All of us came here trusting in the core principle of equality and that is the same right I am asking for today."

Rattan said, "As an immigrant, I hope that my desire to serve in the Army shows my commitment to my country. I am willing to lay down my life for America. In return, I ask only that my country respect my faith, an integral part of who I am. My turban and beard are not an optionthey are an intrinsic part of me." He said that he had "been looking forward to my service since I first signed up," and lamented that "it is deeply unfair that the Army is now asking me to choose between my religion or my country. I know I can serve well without compromising my faith, just as thousands of Sikhs before me have done."

In 1981, the Army banned "conspicuous' religious articles of faith for its service members, and everything from a Cross for Christians or Star of David for Jews or a Crescent for Muslims or any other such article worn by US soldiers around their necks or anywhere else, had to be covered up so that they would not be seen. However, Sikhs and other soldiers belonging to other faiths who were part of the army before the 1981 rule change had their religious observances grandfathered. As a result, Colonel Arjinderpal Singh Sekhon, a physician, and Colonel G B Singh, a dentist--who were both at the press conference to support the campaign of Kalsi and Rattan--served in the Army with their turbans and unshorn hair and beards for over 25 years. Both men only retired within the last two years.

At the Heritage Dinner, McDermott reflected on his role in creating a hate-free zone in Seattle, the constituency he represents in the state of Washington, following an attack on a Sikh in the aftermath of 9/11. He said, "It is my belief that we are all one, although we may look different, or we may dress a little differently, or worship a little differently."

"Everywhere to go there are Sikh physicians in hospitals and operating all over the place, and suddenly the military gets into this thing that we are going to change that," McDermott said, and exhorted the audience to "come back to Washington,DC, be full participants in America, and never take a step back for anybody."

Royce, who last month was part of a Congressional delegation led by House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Howard Berman which also visited the Golden Temple [Images] in Amritsar [Images] during a trip to India, acknowledging the presence of Sikh in America in all professions and harking back to their advent over a 100 years ago to help his state California build its railroads, said, "If you look at who the Prime Minister of India is and who the first Asian Congressman (Dalip Singh Saund) is, your presence outnumbers your overall population both here and in India."

"It is astounding that 15 percent of the Indian Army [Images] is Sikh," he said, and added, "Leadership that your community has produced has left a mark and it continues to do so."

Royce, who was honored with the Bhagat Singh Thind Award by SCORE, said, "I want to acknowledge what you contribute to his country. Your stress on honesty, hard work and generosity is something of tremendous value and you have been mentors to many Americans." He spoke of his visit to the Golden Temple and recalled how "very fulfilling it was and where I observed the incredible vitality there and you see that also in the fields in Punjab [Images]." Royce said, "We have to do more to explain to people in America and the world, about who the Sikhs are. Many Americans might think India is a Hindu nation, but it is also important to explain how much diversity there is and how Sikhs have contributed even though you are only two percent of the population."

"Wherever you reside, I and a lot of Americans will work to make sure that Sikhs are admitted to serve in the US armed forces without any restrictions," he pledged.

India, US, Israel monitor Pak via satellites: Report

Rediff News Bureau

May 20, 2009 19:31 IST

Even as the Pakistani Army continues its offensive against the Taliban [Images], a top Pakistani daily has reported on its web site that Indian, American, Israeli and French satellites have been secretly monitoring the region, taking images of suspected nuclear sites of Pakistan (particularly the Khushab reactor site) and exchanging collected intelligence with each other.

The Pakistan Observer reported Tuesday that officials in Islamabad [Images] are upset over this high level of international scrutiny, and allege that India and Israel have expanding nuclear and thermo-nuclear projects that are being allowed to grow unchecked.

The report states that a recently launched Indian satellite -- Cartosat 2-A -- has been sending telemetry data of the region to the Indian Space Research Organisation's Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. It adds that another Indian satellite -- IMS-1, which is equipped with a multi-spectral camera -- is in the region and able to send down high quality imagery to ISRC.

Another Indian angle to the story is that the Israeli satellite TecSAR, which was specially designed as a reconnaissance satellite, and which was launched by India in January 2008, has reportedly been taking pictures of Pakistani and Iranian nuclear sites and sharing them. In addition to the India-launched TecSAR, Israel has another satellite monitoring the area.

According to The Pakistan Observer, the United States, Britain, France [Images] and Russia [Images] are together maintaining more than a dozen military satellites, all designed to monitor and capture images of suspected nuclear and military sites.

Finally, it's not only nation-sates getting involved. Companies with private satellites in orbit have made available for commercial sale images of sensitive buildings and areas, the Observer reports. Some of these private pictures are of premium quality -- and 'cost buyers up to $200 (Rs 9,500) per square kilometer of imagery, plus an extra $3,000 (Rs 1.43 lakh) for quick turnaround work'. Western news media agencies often pay as much as $500 per picture or image, the Observer reports.

Also being shared among the international military community are photos of sensitive areas and establishments, taken by European photo-reconnaissance planes, including France's Mirage IV-P and Britain's Canberra PR-9. Plus, Pakistani officials fear that Israeli unmanned aerial vehicles have been used to capture particularly remote and well-defended sites, the report states. It goes on to assert that a few years back, the Pakistani Air Force had shot down an Israeli UAV that was being operated by the Indian Air Force over Pakistani territory.

Much of this international scrutiny has come about following rumours that Pakistan's nuclear programme has been expanded in recent years. Though the Western media has featured many stories to this effect, including a detailed report recently shown by MSNBC, experts in Pakistan have denied the veracity of such reports.

Who says Pune is not in NDA... five selected


Though the percentage of Marathi students, selected for National Defence Academy (NDA), has been increasing slightly for last 4-5 years, it is North Indian states that dominate the merit lists. The trend continues this year too. But there is a relief for Pune this year, as five students from the city have been selected for the NDA stamping out the notion that "NDA is in Pune, but Pune is not in NDA."

Allan Nagesh (49- Air Force), Akshay Morab (129-Air Force), Utkarsha Tarte (174-Air Force), Kaushal Pednekar (203-Air Force) and Vidyadhar Shelar (459-Army) from Pune made it to the merit list of the NDA. In the last five years, the number of students from Pune making it to NDA has been constant with four to five students clearing the tough entrance test every year. The total tally of students from Maharashtra making it to NDA is around 30 or ten per cent of the total intake.

Grab your US Army-issue iPod touch, soldier!

by Dave Caolo on May 19th 2009

Contemporary soldiers are fighting what Newsweek calls "Networked Warfare." Portable electronic devices and other equipment keep them connected to each other, weapons systems and real-time intelligence where ever they may be. In Iraq, the iPod touch is finding a role with the US military.

In one scenario, touches with language software have replaced much pricier translation units. In fact, soldiers are finding that iPods can replace several devices, lessening the burden of gear that must be carried around. Indian development firm Next Wave Systems is reportedly developing a system that would allow a soldier to receive intelligence almost instantly from a picture snapped with the iPod. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Defense is developing software that will let soldiers monitor video from aerial drones.

As for the iPod's durability, Newsweek reports that it's held up to military life with the proper outer casing. What's more, most of today's soldiers have used or already own an iPod touch, so training time can be kept to a minimum.

At one point, the article notes that, "Apple devices make it easy to shoot, store and play video." Of course, neither the iPhone nor iPod touch we all know can shoot video, though it's possible the Newsweek author is thinking of another Apple product (or just maybe there's a milspec iPhone that does video in advance of the 3.0 release). It's interesting to see a consumer product being used in such an important role. Good luck and be safe to everyone who lifts one in service.

Indo-Bangla Relation: A Strategic Analysis

Shah Mohammed Saifuddin - 5/20/2009

The independence movement under the leadership of Congress was for establishing independent undivided India through the eviction of British rulers from the soil of India, but the degeneration of Hindu-Muslim relation into hostility and the demand of Muslim league for a separate state for the Muslims of the region thwarted the dream of an independent undivided India and made the partition of subcontinent inevitable. While the initial proposal for the partition met with steep resistance as most of the senior leaders of Congress namely, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawharlal Nehru, and Moulana Abul Kalam Azad vehemently protested such proposal and termed it as British conspiracy to divide India, the Congress finally gave its nod of approval in the fear that outright rejection of the partition proposal might be used by the British colonial rulers against the independence movement to perpetuate their political domination over the country, and in the hope that with a small resource base, peculiar geographic reality that separates both the wings of the country by one thousand miles and paucity of leaders with political experience, Pakistan would not survive too long and would return to India in the end.

There is no surprise that partition of India came as a shock to Congress leaders and that they could never reconcile themselves to the idea of an independent Pakistan because their freedom struggle was for undivided India, and therefore, they wanted to roll back the geographical changes made to Indian subcontinent through partition and their intention was clearly demonstrated to Pakistan from the very beginning, which gave rise to a plethora of problem and a paucity of trust between the two nations.

What Pakistan needed in those formative years was national unity and balanced development in the two wings to ensure security and progress to consolidate its position as a powerful nation in the subcontinent to thwart Indian attempt to undo the partition. But the then Pakistani leaders' myopic failure to recognize Bengalis as equal partners and give them due share of political power and economic resource caused widespread resentment among the East Pakistanis, which was cunningly used by India against Pakistan in the subsequent years. The Indian political leaders in later years used their diplomatic channels and intelligence agencies to cultivate close relations with East Pakistani political establishment in order to involve themselves in almost all political movements in East Pakistan to use the prevailing sense of deprivation among East Pakistanis to their own political advantage and instigate East Pakistanis against West Pakistanis to accelerate the process of disintegration of Pakistan firstly, to weaken it and then to bring it back to India's lap through various political machinations to realize the dream of undivided India.

No amount of political negotiations between the two wings could improve the situation in Pakistan due, mainly, to the stubbornness of West Pakistanis, which gave rise to increasing sense of alienation and deprivation among the people of East Pakistan and finally when Sheikh Mujib was denied the premiership in 1970, Bengalis decided to get out of the relationship once and for all. So, for the first time and certainly for the last time in history, the disintegration of Pakistan became a common goal for both India and the Bengalis as the former wanted to break Pakistan to realize its vision of undivided India and the latter wanted to establish a separate independent nation to rid themselves of an insensitive and repressive political regime.

As soon as the Pakistani army cracked down on the unarmed East Pakistanis, India, under the leadership of Indira Gandhi, took bold steps to help the Bengalis in their just struggle for independence against the fascist regime of Yahya Khan. The Indira government set their objectives to do the following things to ensure a desired outcome in the war for both Indians and East Pakistanis:

1. To give safe passage to top Awami League leaders to India and help form Mujibnagar government

2. To help form Mukti Bahini and provide necessary training and weapons

3. To form Mujib Bahini as an alternative force and use them in special operations

4. To provide asylum to ten million refugees from East Pakistan

5. To launch a vigorous diplomatic campaign worldwide through its foreign services to garner support for East Pakistan's just struggle for freedom

6. To use its military and intelligence resources to the extent possible to help freedom fighters sustain a prolonged war against the powerful Pakistan army

India never lost sight of its strategic goal

Some people may argue that India's decision to help in 1971 was based purely on humanitarian grounds, but the reality is that India's decision to extend its wholehearted support to Bangladesh's liberation war was a premeditated one and was primarily based on its own strategic goal of disintegrating Pakistan to undo the changes made through partition. Former Indian foreign secretary Mr. Dixit said, "We helped in the liberation of Bangladesh in mutual interest, it was not a favor," and a senior RAW intelligence officer said, "Bangladesh was the result of a 10 year long promotion of dissatisfaction against the rulers of Pakistan" (RAW: Top-Secret Failures, p: 5 ). These statements from two top former Indian government officials are testament to the fact that Indian help for Bangladesh was not an altruistic one, rather it was for implementing India's own strategic goal of disintegrating Pakistan and that the intelligence agencies of India were also engaged in fomenting unrest in East Pakistan. With their strategic goals in mind, India concluded a seven point agreement with the Mujibnagar government to seal the fate of a negotiated settlement between East and West Pakistan, and to cripple Bangladesh by depriving it of its sovereign right to raise a standing army and to independently formulate foreign policy. Now, for the benefit of the readers let me briefly describe the points of 'seven point agreement':

1. Bangladesh government will select only those people for administrative posts who have actively participated in the liberation war and any shortfall therein will be filled by the Indian government officials.

2. A joint force will be formed comprising of the Indian army and the Mukti Bahini and this force will be placed under the command of the chief of staff of the Indian army who will lead the liberation war.

3. Bangladesh will have no standing army

4. India will help raise a paramilitary force to protect the internal law and order of the country.

5. Open market will be the basis for trade relation between the two nations and this arrangement will be subject to periodical review.

6. The Indian army will be stationed in Bangladesh for an indefinite period of time but the time frame for their gradual withdrawal will be determined through annual meetings between the two governments.

7. Bangladesh will formulate its foreign policy only in consultation with India.

The conclusion of the seven point agreement only ensured that the Mujibnagar government would continue the war until Bangladesh gained full independence from Pakistan, but it did not give the guarantee that China and America would not intervene in the event the Indian army directly involved itself in the war. So, the Indira government approached to former Soviet Union to extract security guarantee against impending Chinese and American threats and it was made available to them in the shape of '25 year friendship treaty' by the erstwhile Soviet Union, which was also seeking to play greater role in the subcontinent to expand its own sphere of influence.

The signing of the seven point treaty with Mujib Government and the 25 year friendship treaty with the Soviets removed all obstacles for the Indian forces to directly intervene in East Pakistan and it took them less than two weeks to overrun the defensive positions of the Pakistan army, which was already exhausted by a nine month long guerrilla war against Mukti Bahini and was at the final stages of disintegration and collapse. At the end of the war, Bangladesh got its much cherished independence and India could break Pakistan into two pieces for which it had been scheming since 1947.

Bangladesh steps into a strategic trap

While the public of Bangladesh, in general, and the Mujib government, in particular, was extremely grateful to India for her help and support in the war of liberation and wanted to maintain the best possible relationship with the Indian people, the political and military establishment of India had already done their strategic planning in line with the seven point agreement to reduce Bangladesh's relevance as an independent nation through limiting her power to formulate national policies. The strategic trap was set for Bangladesh in the form of '25 year friendship treaty' which took away most, if not all, options for Bangladesh to independently establish foreign, defense, and economic relations with other nations in the world. I would like to briefly mention a few clauses of the '25 year friendship treaty' that had a deleterious effect on our foreign, defense, and economic interests:

• Article 4: Both the nations will hold regular meetings with each other at all levels to discuss major international issues for mutual benefit.

• Article 5: Both the nations will cooperate with each other in the fields of trade, transport and communications on the basis of equality, mutual benefit and the most favored nation principle.

• Article 8: None of the nations will ever enter into a military alliance against each other and will refrain from allowing a third party from using their soil for military purposes that could constitute a threat to national security of either nations.

• Article 9: Both the nations will refrain from providing any assistance to a third party taking part in an armed conflict against either of the nations to ensure regional peace and security.

• Article 10: Neither of the party will undertake any commitment, secret or open, toward one or more states, which may violate the spirit of the treaty.

Article 4 practically eliminated Bangladesh's power to devise an independent foreign policy and made it compulsory for Bangladesh to consult India about any major foreign policy matter.

Article 5 forced Bangladesh to confer most favored nation status on India to clear the way for India to capture Bangladesh's economic market without any restrictions, but Bangladesh being a smaller economy was unable to avail itself of the opportunities of most favored nation status.

Article 8 ensured that if there was a military conflict between Bangladesh and India, Bangladesh, as a weaker power, could not seek help from outside world to protect its territorial integrity.

Article 9 was included to protect India's strategic interest in its insurgency infested North Eastern states by imposing restrictions on Bangladesh to provide help and support to the insurgents, but India itself broke the sanctity of this clause by providing military and political assistance to Shanti Bahini in Chittagong Hill Tracts.

Article 10 restricted Bangladesh's power to sign a defense deal with a third party to improve its armed forces.

By dint of this treaty India was able to diminish Bangladesh's power to protect herself and the right to establish political and economic relations with other nations independently and consequently became the de-facto power over Bangladesh to whom the new born country had to depend for her security and economic development only to lose her relevance as a sovereign nation. Thus the entrapment of Bangladesh was complete.

Political change in 1975 and new equation in Indo-Bangla relationship

After the independence, the war ravaged country needed solid leadership with political maturity to overcome the seemingly insurmountable problems created by nine month long war of liberation and steer the nation to build a society free from corruption, deprivation and exploitation through creating national unity, establishing rule of law, strengthening democratic institutions, and creating economic opportunities for the people. Unfortunately, within three years of its rule, the new government banned all but four state owned national newspapers, dissolved the parliament to create one party rule, put incompetent party men in different state owned industrial establishments, neglected and humiliated the military, raised an alternative security agency to suppress oppositions that destroyed all hopes for the new born country to establish democracy and attain economic self sufficiency. This created widespread discontent throughout the country which resulted in a military coup in 1975 to end the rule of this unpopular regime.

The new government was installed and gradually undertook plethora of measures to restore law and order of the country, to bring back discipline in economic sector, to lift ban on national newspapers and political parties, to increase budgetary allocation for the defense forces, and to change foreign policy direction to establish close and productive relationships with China, the U.S.A., Europe, and the Middle Eastern countries so as to diminish Indian influence over the nation created through signing of the controversial 25 year friendship treaty. The inevitable result of such a drastic measure by the new government of Bangladesh was confrontation with India which saw it as an attempt to challenge its supremacy in the region and considered it a security, political, and strategic threat from a country which it helped gain independence from Pakistan. Strategically Bangladesh was too important for India to let it slip off her radar so they adopted a new set of strategies to keep Bangladesh within her sphere of influence in light of new political reality. The next section of this article will discuss the strategic importance of Bangladesh and elaborate the strategies India had undertaken to get a firm hold on Bangladesh.

Shah Mohammed Saifuddin is the founder of Bangladesh Strategic & Development Forum.

Let's call Pakistan's bluff

India should move its forces back from the border to do away with Pakistan's so-called 'India threat'

Nitin Pai and Sushant K. Singh

The Pakistani military establishment is under severe pressure from the US to stop sponsoring jihadi militant groups, on the one hand, and to actually join the fight against them, on the other. Now, even in the unlikely event that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency decides to dismantle its jihadi connections, the army will still find it impossible to purposefully prosecute a counter-insurgency war against the Taliban. Why? Because the dominant belief among Pakistani military personnel—across the ranks—is that it is the US that is the real enemy and the Taliban are righteous fighters for the Islamic cause. One has only to imagine what a brigade commander would say to his troops to motivate them to fight their compatriots to realize that the Pakistan army is incapable of fighting the Taliban.

In a way, those who argue that the Pakistan army lacks the capacity to fight this war are right; but this is a lack of capacity that no amount of night-vision goggles and helicopter gunships can ameliorate. And this unpalatable reality is obfuscated behind the India bogey—the pretence that the Pakistan army could do much better against the Taliban if only it didn't have to defend itself from its much stronger adversary to its east.

If the "India threat" were to recede, Pakistan—and for that matter the US—will have no more excuses left to avoid having to do what is necessary. New Delhi should, therefore, call Pakistan's bluff by mounting what we propose to call Operation Markarap.

First, the new Union government, at the highest levels, must categorically declare that Pakistan need not fear an Indian military attack so long as the Pakistan army is engaged in a battle against the Taliban. Now, such a verbal commitment might not convince the military brass in Rawalpindi, but it is likely to play well in Washington. It will take the wind out of the sails of Pakistan's American apologists by depriving them of their strongest and seemingly plausible argument.

Second, India should move back some of the army strike formations currently deployed in Rajasthan and Punjab. Such a bold, strategic move will not only make India's verbal assurances credible, but will also immediately result in irresistible pressure on the Pakistan army to commit more of its troops to the western border. According to our rough estimate, the Pakistan army can shift around 150,000 troops to its western front without lowering its presence along the Line of Control.

Since the risk of Pakistani armoured columns rolling into India is not serious at this time, India can easily afford to move several divisions of its strike corps away from the border to more inland positions. Such military movements can be accomplished without affecting border security. Indeed, this is where India can exploit the existence of nuclear weapons to its advantage—for nuclear deterrence makes such strategic moves possible by lowering the risk of a conventional war. And even if the Pakistan army irrationally tries to exploit the Indian move by launching a conventional attack along the border, it will be hopelessly isolated internationally, not to mention at serious risk of yet another military defeat at the hands of the Indian Armed Forces. In the nearly seven years since Operation Parakram—the military build-up after the December 2001 attack on Parliament—the Indian Army has improved its mobility sufficiently to be able to quickly rebuff a foolhardy invasion.

Pakistan will have no more excuses left to avoid what is necessary for fighting the Taliban

Third, India should proceed with the normalization process in Jammu and Kashmir that includes reducing the visible presence of security forces in population centres. At the same time, this should be accompanied by greater vigilance along the Line of Control to prevent the infiltration of jihadi militants. It is conceivable that the Pakistani military jihadi complex will attempt to heighten tensions with India by increasing the tempo of terrorist attacks in Kashmir—as well as other parts of India—in a bid to maintain its alibi. An analysis of the reports of infiltration attempts this year suggests that the jihadis are exploring non-traditional, harder routes in northern Kashmir. This calls for the Indian Army to change its post-Kargil posture from merely holding the heights to proactively curbing jihadi movements in the valley.

Finally, Indian diplomacy must extract maximum advantage— mainly in Washington, but also in other capitals—by signalling India's invaluable role in helping the international community solve its "migraine". It is important to remember that there will be four, if not eight, more years of the Obama administration. Cooperating on the Afghanistan-Pakistan (Af-Pak) problem will provide a positive basis for engaging it and will provide India with greater leverage in negotiations over other contentious issues.

Given that what passes for Pakistan policy is an astonishingly trivial game of dossiers-and-lawsuits, India won't be worse off by mounting Operation Markarap, a Parakram in reverse. By calling Pakistan's bluff, India can shorten the time it will take for the Obama administration to realize that Af-Pak can only be solved by dismantling Pakistan's military-jihadi complex.

Nitin Pai and Sushant K. Singh are editors of Pragati—The Indian National Interest Review, a publication on strategic affairs, public policy and governance. Comment at

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

No comments:

Post a Comment


Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal