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Saturday, 23 May 2009

From Today's Papers - 23 May 09

The Pioneer

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Indian Express

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Asian Age

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DNA India

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Some lessons from Sri Lanka victory

shivani tyagi 22 May 2009, Friday

SRI LANKAN president Mahinda Rajapakse has given a perfect gift to his countrymen. He has maintained his commitment of setting his country free from the terror of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). This island nation has spent at least three decades under the terror of Prabhakran, the LTTE chief who was reportedly killed by the Sri Lankan security forces a few days back.

This all was possible after its government fought for such a long period for the freedom of its citizens. With the help of its troops it has sabotaged the guerillas and finally ended the Tigers' story. Though some people have criticided president Rajapakse but he has succeeded in his mission. For example, former foreign minister of Sri Lanka has said "it would be day-dreaming to expect that success of the military campaign against LTTE would lead to devolution of powers and a political solution to the Tamil crisis would come out."

Many international organisations such as the UN Human Rights Commission and many more heads of governments had pressurised the president and asked him to withdraw his troops from the areas, which were known as the territory of Prabhakaran. But keeping all this criticism aside he had done a remarkable job. The president had thought that this is his country and it is his responsibility to rescue his people from the terror of the daredevilry of militants. Now his name is to be written with the golden letters in the pages of the Sri Lankan history.

Following such a huge victory after three decades, don't you think Sri Lanka has set an example of courage and velour? It is the lesson for the Indian government, too. Being a small country, it has shown such courage to suppress its militant groups and to resolve many other problems of the country, so why not other countries take such a kind of initiative to suppress their rebellious groups? Does India have no guts to uproot its problem? It is not like that India has no such problems but these problems are not being attended to.

Here I am not talking about Taliban, a rebellious group which is busy in spreading its rule over other countries, and also it is not a one-man show. To solve it all countries have to sit together and discuss about the issue. Has India able to solve its own national problems? The SULFA, ULFA, SIMI, Maoists and many others are spreading all over and causing troubles.

In India, a government rules for five years and after that it changes. Parties have their respective manifestos, where they had promised to provide food, shelter and 'naukri', but none of the manifestos had talked about security of the country from these respective groups, why?

Once I went to Orrisa and asked the people about their viewpoint on Naxalites. They believed that it is nothing and only the fight of government with the people only for the food. Who is going to see these problems? Somebody has to think about such problems which are affecting the common man. Now, it is high time the government takes some initiatives to resolve these issues.

IAF's AWACS Eye-in-the-Sky to be Inducted Tuesday

New Delhi

The first of three Indian Air Force (IAF) Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS), which will dramatically boost the IAF's capabilities beyond conventional ground-based and tethered electromagnetic radars, will be inducted into the force here Tuesday.

On its maiden flight to India from Israel, where the cutting-edge technology Phalcon airborne radar was integrated with an Il-76 heavy-lift aircraft, the AWACS will first land at Jamnagar in western Gujarat Monday and will arrive at the military area of the Indira Gandhi International Airport here the following day.

Enhanced aid to Pakistan
US generosity could prove costly for India

Strange are the ways of the American establishment. Barely a month ago, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had warned that the Pakistan government was in danger of falling into terrorist hands because of failed government policies and that the deterioration of security in nuclear-armed Pakistan posed "a mortal threat to the security and safety of our country (the US) and the rest of the world." Earlier, the Americans had acknowledged that a large part of the money that was given by the erstwhile George Bush administration to Pakistan for fighting the Taliban had been used by the Army and the ISI to build up Pakistan's arsenal against India. A limited Pakistan army offensive against the Taliban, evidently aimed at hoodwinking the Americans into thinking that there had been a change of heart, has changed all that. This is borne out by the fact that a Congressional panel has approved on Thursday a three-fold increase in American non-military aid to Pakistan.

Interestingly, while the original bill had insisted that Pakistan must undertake not to let its territory be used for launching terrorist attacks against India, the direct reference to India was replaced by 'neighbouring countries' keeping in mind Pakistani sensitivities. Indeed, it was the Obama administration which told the lawmakers that mentioning India by name could be counter-productive to their overall objective given that the Pakistan establishment was allergic to it. So much for accommodating the Pakistanis who until the other day were seen by no less a person than the secretary of state as posing a mortal threat to the security of the world at large!

It is the height of naivety for the US to overlook Pakistan's track record that such assistance to it has always been used against India. It is time that India protests strongly now rather than waiting to take it up when Mrs Clinton visits India in July. Only last Tuesday Mrs Clinton had trashed American policy towards Pakistan over the last 30 years, calling it 'incoherent.' So soon into her term, she is now adding to the enigma of the US policy by giving a whopping $1.5 billion annually to Pakistan which it could well use against India and not the Taliban.

India to recieve Israeli Phalcon radar

May 23, 2009 | 02:44 IST

India will recieve the first of three Israeli airborne early warning command and control (AWAC) systems on Sunday. With the induction of the Israel Aircraft Industries's Phalcon radar system, the Indian air force will become the first in South Asia to posses advanced AWAC aircraft, the website reported.

The Phalcon will provide India with tactical surveillance of airborne and surface targets, helping the gathering of signal intelligence. It is capable of tracking planes, missiles up to 400 kilometers away, in any weather. The system can identify all types of aircraft and is programmed to differentiate between friend and foe.

The delivery of the Phalcon system is part of a $ 1.1 billion deal between India, Russia and Israel. As part of the delivery,the Phalcon systems will be mounted on IL-76 aircraft supplied by Russia.

Israel had obtained the necessary clearances from the United States for the transfer of American technology,�� this caution was borne after a previous deal with China was nixed by the US.

Over the past years, Israel has sold more than $ 1 billion worth of defense systems to India annually. India is Israel's leading customer of military supplies.

Israel's military industry firm will setup five factories in India for the production of artillery shells.

India and Israel have collaborated in military and aerospace research, in January 2008, the Israel Space Agency and India's Indian Space Research Organisation launched an Israeli-made spy satellite from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota.

Canada considering ending arms embargo against Pakistan

PTI | May 22, 2009 | 02:01 IST

Canada may end its 11-year arms embargo on Pakistan so that it can take on the resurgent Taliban challenge in the country's north-west.
Canada's Defence Minister Peter MacKay, who is on a visit to Pakistan where Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani
asked his country to end the arms embargo to help it fight the raging Taliban insurgency.
MacKay told the Toronto Star in an interview from Islamabad that Canada is considering ending its 11-year embargo on the sale of military technology to Pakistan.
"Doing military business in the future, and trade in particular, is something that is under consideration," MacKay said after meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari. However, he added, "We are not there yet".
Canada had prohibited military exports to Pakistan in May, 1998, after the country's first nuclear weapons test. MacKay said that he and Pakistani defence officials also agreed to resume a co-operation deal, the Military Training Assistance Programme.

Canada has nearly three thousand troops in Afghanistan's restive Kandahar province as part of the NATO forces. It is worried about the increasing influence of Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan.Canada considering ending arms embargo against Pakistan

Pakistan threatens wider offensive against Taliban



ISLAMABAD, Pakistan | The Pakistani army appears to be extending its anti-Taliban campaign beyond the Swat Valley to Waziristan, according to eyewitness accounts in the southwestern town of Jandola — a step that could strain forces already struggling to reclaim areas closer to the capital.

President Asif Ali Zardari told the Sunday Times of London recently the current military operation would be extended to Waziristan, the main base for Taliban and al Qaeda militants in Pakistan. "Swat is just the start and it's a larger war to fight," he said.

Eyewitnesses in Jandola told The Washington Times on Friday that they had seen heavy military convoys moving toward the tribal area for the past few days. Sultan Bhittani, a resident of Jandula, told The Times by phone: "The movement of such heavy troops and military vehicles suggest that a new operation may be launched in South Waziristan."

The reports come as a car bomb exploded close to a movie theater in the northwestern city of Peshawar, killing at least six people and wounding 80 others. At the same time, Pakistani commanders asserted that they have encircled militants in Swat and flew reporters in a helicopter over the main Swat town of Mingora.

An Associated Press reporter on board said he saw little evidence of fighting or air strikes that the Pakistani army claims have killed about 1,000 Taliban and 60 soldiers in the past month.

Nevertheless, Maj. Gen. Sajad Ghani, a senior commander, told the AP that "the noose is tightening around them. — "It's just a question of time before [Taliban leaders] are eliminated."

Nearly 2 million Pakistanis have fled the fighting in Swat and the adjacent district of Malakand, according to the United Nations. After Mr. Zardari's remarks warning of a new offensive in the southwest, about 1,500 families of Mehsud tribesman fled their homes in South Waziristan, witnesses say. The Obama administration has promised more than $100 million in emergency aid for those displaced by the fighting.

While it remains to be seen when a new operation will be launched, some defense analysts question the decision to announce such an offensive while the military is still embroiled in fighting closer to Islamabad.

"They could not open the second front simultaneously," defense analyst retired Brig. Mohammad Saad said. "The president should not have announced launching of the operation because then the element of surprise for militants is no longer there and they would get an opportunity to prepare themselves. — The success of such an operation largely depends on the strategic and tactical surprise."

Ijaz Khan, a professor of International Relations at the University of Peshawar, agreed that Swat should be stabilized first.

"A new military action in Waziristan would definitely overstretch the Pakistani security forces and their capabilities," he said. "The security forces would particularly find it extremely cumbersome to trounce Taliban militancy because of operating in two different areas of Malakand and Waziristan that are not only poles apart but also have significantly dissimilar terrain."

Government officials have not provided a time frame for completing the Swat-Malakand operation. Maj. Gen. Ijaz Awan, who is in charge of the operation there, has said that the government has a plan to stabilize the area after defeating the Taliban. One aspect of the plan, he said, is to form village defense committees to identify remaining militants.

Retired Lt. Gen. Talat Masud, a leading Pakistani security analyst, said he was hopeful that the military was learning from its experiences in Swat and gaining greater proficiency in counterinsurgency, "because it is not a conventional war for which Pakistani military is primarily trained," he said.

Individuals in Pakistan's civilian administration, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told The Times that the Zardari declaration was meant to discourage Taliban fighters from retreating to the tribal areas to regroup.

A simultaneous offensive in Waziristan could be intended to inflict damage on the overall command and control of the Taliban since the militants' leaders — such as Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) head Baitullah Mehsud and operational chief Qari Hussain — are based in South Waziristan.

However, Gen. Saad said operations already undertaken in Bajaur, Mohmand and Khyber agencies were making it difficult for the militants to move and to recruit reinforcements. He said the army should be given "a free hand along with objectives to attain within a time frame by the government."

In comparison to densely populated Swat, Waziristan has fewer residents and the risk of civilian casualties would be less acute. It is also believed that many foreign fighters allied with al Qaeda are now based in the region.

With thousands of additional U.S. forces deploying to Afghanistan along the border with Pakistan and also in the southern provinces of Helmand and Zabul, there is still a question about whether they will be able to cope with militants infiltrating from Pakistan, Gen. Saad said. "If an operation is launched in Waziristan, an anvil would be required on the Afghan side so if they are pursued from our side they may not be able to cross over to Afghanistan," he said.

To launch a military operation in Waziristan while still fighting in Swat, the Pakistani military would also have to shift troops from the Indian border — something it has been reluctant to do in the past. Recently, Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani has said that no additional troops would be withdrawn from the eastern border with India.

Any military operation in Waziristan would also have to target Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud. Interior Minister Rahman Malik has said that it is possible to defeat him, but in the past the government stopped short of attacking him out of concerns about civilian casualties among Mehsud tribesmen.

Russian Army chief to visit India

Moscow, May 22: India and Russia plan to deepen defence ties, with a top Russian military delegation visiting New Delhi next week to intensify military cooperation in mountain-warfare.

General Vladimir Boldyrev, the Commander-in-Chief of Russian Land Forces, is leaving for a week-long India visit on Sunday where he will discuss joint cooperation in mountain-warfare training and tour Indian military facilities in Siachen.

"During parleys with Indian Defence Secretary Vijay Singh and Chief of Army Staff, General Deepak Kapur, military cooperation between Russia and India and the problems and prospects of the development of land forces of the two nations will be discussed," said Col. Igor Konashenkov, the spokesman of the Russian Land Forces.

"The issues of mountain training would be an important subject of talks and the military leaders will exchange the experience accumulated by their respective armies," Konashenkov was quoted as saying by ITAR-TASS.

General Boldyrev would fly to Leh from New Delhi to inspect 14th Army Corps and visit training facilities situated at an altitude of 5,000 metres.

"The Russian military delegation is scheduled to visit Siachin glacier, where Indian servicemen are deployed on combat duty at the altitude of 7,000 metres in the harsh climate," Col. Konashenkov underlined.

Sixteen Arjun MBTs Set to Roll Into Indian Army - DRDO Sources

Dated 22/5/2009

DRDO is all set to deliver sixteen Arjun MBTs will be handed over to the Army on May 25, reports Press Trust of India quoting DRDO sources in Chennai.

K Sridhar, DRDO scientist and spokesperson for the Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE), which is building a total of 124 such tanks, said here that chief controller R&D, DRDO, A Sivathanu Pillai would flag off the consignment at CVRDE Avadi unit on Monday.

The CVRDE, a laboratory of DRDO, had already delivered 29 MBTs in two instalments till March this year. The forthcoming delivery would mark the successful completion of the distribution of First Arjun Regiment, he said.

"A Regiment consists of 45 MBT Arjun Tanks and with this we will be completing the distribution of first set of Arjun Regiment,"he said. The next Regiment would be delivered in another six to nine months, he added.

The CVRDE had bagged orders for the production of 124 Arjun Tanks worth of Rs 1,760 crore in March 2000, he said. Explaining the salient features of Arjun MBT, Sridhar said the tanks can fire at a range of 3-4 km and have great mobility and are equipped with high protection facility.

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