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Tuesday, 30 June 2009

From Today's Papers - 30 Jun 09

Indian Express

Asian Age

Telegraph India

Asian Age

Asian Age

Telegraph India

Asian Age

Asian Age

Asian Age

Indian Express

Indian Express

Indian Express

Asian Age

Asian Age

Indian Express

Asian Age

Indian Express


Hindustan Times

Times of India

Times of India

10 years after Kargil
A tough call for jawans
But heated barracks, best of winter wear, phone and TV facility makes it a tad easy for them
Ajay Banerjee writes from Drass (on the LOC)

It is the last week of June. Most parts of the country are reeling under an unprecedented heat wave. But, the Drass-Kargil sector is gripped by icy winds. Wearing thick jackets, we brave up to a height of 15,000 feet to get a closer look into the lives of Army men who guard the Line of Control between India and Pakistan.

This is one of the most treacherous sections of the Himalayas where winter temperature hovers around -40 degree Celsius and the nights in the middle of summer are below freezing point. It is the same area where the two bitter neighbours had fought a battle exactly 10 years ago. After the Kargil conflict, the Indian Army has set up several posts on top of snow-clad Himalayan ridges.

At these heights, small groups of jawans keep a permanent watch on the LOC. The stillness is broken only by the gurgling noise that comes from the deep valley below as a fast-flowing tributary of the Indus flows into Pakistan. The post (name withheld due to security restrictions) that we descended on is “easy” to approach. There are several posts at heights between 17,000 and 19,000 feet that take hours to reach. Jawans stay there for six months during winter.

Here, though the facilities provided are basic for survival at such a height, each paisa of the tax-payers’ money spent on these sentinels seems worth its weight in gold. Brigadier IS Ghuman, commander of the 56 Mountain Brigade, says: “The boys have to get the very best and that is absolutely necessary”.

The Indian army provides each jawan with some of the best winter clothing available in the world, snow boots and anti-glare goggles. Pucca barracks have been built and are heated using a kerosene “sikri” that has an exhaust system. The toilets are also heated using the same technique. Dehydrated food is available at all posts during winter. The power supply through generators is regulated to conserve fuel.

The best part for the jawans is that they can talk to their wives, children and parents on a daily basis. In one of biggest human resource exercise, the Army has provided each of the posts with STD phone facility that is routed through the Army exchange. At places where the BSNL network is not available, satellite phones have been provided. All calls are subsided. The jawans pay only 25 per cent of the actual cost. Huge back-ups have been built.

Each post has a TV and DTH connection. The leader of the group regulates television viewing. A young captain, whom we met at one of the peaks, smilingly discloses that the power cut is regulated in such a manner that cricket matches involving India are not missed. News channels are eagerly watched as newspapers reach a week after they have been published.

A doctor is attached with each unit, while each post has a jawan who has been trained in nursing. There is also the facility to land a chopper to evacuate anyone who is not feeling well. Chopper-borne evacuations have been carried out even in peak winter and with minimal daylight, says a senior officer posted here.

To keep the morale of the jawans high, senior commanders keep visiting them, at times trudging on foot for three or four hours.

IAF cargo seized at Helsinki airport

New Delhi, June 29
An Indian Air Force (IAF) cargo of aircraft equipment to Moscow has been confiscated at Helsinki airport by Finnish Customs after it was found without valid papers.

The consignment was on a Finnair flight from Mumbai to Moscow when it was stopped during transit at Helsinki on May 28, Defence Ministry sources said here today.

Even after a month of the incident, the consignment is still in the custody of the Finnish authorities and diplomatic efforts are currently in progress to secure the release of the consignment.

“The aircraft equipment was on its way to Moscow, where it was to be repaired by the Russians. At the Helsinki airport, the equipment was found without documents and was confiscated by the Finnish authorities,” they said.

“The cargo included 19 crates of aircraft parts weighing around 1,700 kg and unservicable spares of Russian origin aircraft fleet,” they added. The transportation of military hardware and obtaining clearances for the consignments was the responsibility of an official travel and transportation agent.

“The agents are responsible for making travel and transportation arrangements for the Ministry and by fault, they seemed to have failed in obtaining the valid documents for the consignment this time,” sources said.

After being informed about the seizure of IAF consignment, the Indian High Commission in Finland took up the case with the Finnish authorities to get the equipment released.

“Indian officials in Helsinki are in constant touch with the Finnish authorities and we are hoping that the equipment will soon be released and sent to Russia,” sources said.

Despite the setback in sending the equipment for repair to Moscow, the incident had not impacted either the IAF’s requirement for spares, or its operational preparedness, IAF officers said.

“The delay in the repair of the equipment and spares is not affecting IAF’s flying operations as we don’t need them immediately,” the officials said. A majority of the IAF aircraft is of Russian origin and the IAF keeps sending its unserviceable equipment to Russia to get them repaired. Though over the years India has developed the capability to service the aircraft within the country, yet some from its fleet still need to be sent to Russia for overhauling and maintenance. — PTI

One of four regional NSG hubs coming up in Mumbai

NDTV Correspondent, Monday June 29, 2009, Mumbai

AFP image

One of the big problems of the counter terrorist force during the Mumbai 26/11 attack was that the NSG was located in Delhi and it took hours to get to Mumbai.

Then, nationwide hubs for the counter terrorist forces were promised and they are finally being set up with Mumbai being the first of these counter terrorist hubs.

But the sight of NSG Commandos chugging along in a bus to reach the Taj and Trident hotels can very well be repeated.

They may have got new, regional bases, but major challenges remain. They still need dedicated helicopters to ferry them to city centres and other areas of action.

The Commandos also want more modern weapons and their plea to source equipments like the Prime Minister's SPG, without a laborious tendering process, hasn't been cleared yet.

Over the next 48 hours these four new NSG centres will have about 100 Commandos each to begin with.

But instead of 200 Army officers required for the four hubs, only a tenth are available. The Army, which is about 13,000 officers short, says it cannot spare anymore.

Lashkar, Jaish shifting bases to PoK, says report

Press Trust of India, Monday June 29, 2009, Islamabad

Police in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir has revealed that groups like Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad are shifting bases to PoK following clampdown on their activities in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks, a media report said on Monday.

In a confidential report submitted to the government of Pakistan, PoK police has said these groups have acquired large pieces of land in and around PoK capital of Muzaffarabad and are pursuing "jehadi" agenda under the garb of religious activities, a prominent radio network reported.

"After the ban imposed on the Jamat-ud-Dawa (the front of Lashkar-e-Toiba) by the UNSC, Pakistan forces had taken control of their offices... the activities of the outfit had gone underground for some months, but have again become active," the network quoted the report as saying.

The report said that the JuD has constructed a mosque, a school and a dispensary on the land acquired by them in Dulasi and further construction is on.

India has blamed the Lashkar-e-Toiba for carrying out the November 26 Mumbai terror attacks, in which close to 170 people lost their lives. JuD has, however, maintained that it has no links with the LeT.

The PoK police report also mentions the activities of other jehadi organisations like JeM and Harkatul Mujahideen which have also constructed madrassas near Muzaffarabad, the radio said.

JeM, which had carried out attack on Parliament on December 13, 2001, has also set up an office and Madarssa near Muzaffarabad.

Police has noted that most of the activities of the Jehadi organisations have been observed in Neelam Valley, near Line-Of-Control.

Extremists organisations have also set up offices in Kandil Shahi.

1st NSG hub operational in Mumbai today
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 29
Seven months after the 26/11 terror attacks, the first NSG regional hub will become operational in Mumbai tomorrow while hubs at Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata will start functioning from July 1.

"After the Mumbai terror attack, a need was felt to have the presence of NSG in other metros also for effective and quick response in countering such incidents. Thus, four regional hubs were sanctioned and are being raised and operationalised at Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata," according to an official statement here. It said the Centre has also sanctioned two NSG regional centres to be established at Kolkata and Hyderabad. The existing hubs at Kolkata and Hyderabad will subsequently be merged with the regional centres.

The new NSG hubs have been established at Marol (23 acres) in Mumbai, Nedunkundram (85 acres) in Chennai, Trimulghery (22 acres) in Hyderabad and Badu (20 acres) in Kolkata. "Pre-fabricated and permanent structures are being constructed to station NSG commandos at these locations.

The National Buildings Construction Corporation Ltd (NBCC) has been assigned the construction work," the statement added. After the Mumbai terror attacks, the Cabinet had approved setting up of the NSG hubs in the metropolitan cities to quickly mobilise commandos in case of a terrorist strike. "With the establishing of the hubs, the response time of the NSG for countering any terrorist action would be reduced very significantly," said the statement.

Grand old IAF warrior dead
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 29
Group Captain Gurdial Singh Paul (93), a grand old retired Air Warrior who served the Indian Air Force (IAF) from its formative years, died here on Saturday. Gurdial is survived by his wife, two daughters, a son and three grand children.

He was cremated near Brar Square today. A wreath was placed on behalf of the IAF by Air Officer Commanding, Air Force Station, Race Course, Air Commodore Ajit S. Bhonsle.

He was born on November 3, 1916, in Chittavatni in Pakistan. He joined the RAF and was commissioned to the IAF at AF Station, Tambram. In 1943, during the World War II, he visited UK for training, sailing from Mumbai to Durban to Southampton on the Elle de France, encountering German U-boat in the Atlantic.

He spent time at various stations of the RAF in London, Cranfield, and Branham. He had the privilege to serve in the same Squadron as the actor, Clark Gabel.

At times, Gurdial flew over occupied France and Germany on air reconnaissance flights and on more than one occasion, had close encounters with the German Messerschmitt. Gurdial retired from the Air Force in 1971 as Station Commander, Race Course, New Delhi.

Aid to Pak shouldn't be used against us: Indian MPs tell US

Lalit K Jha/ PTI / Washington June 29, 2009, 9:42 IST

A delegation of Indian parliamentarians has asked the Obama administration to make sure that Pakistan does not use the American aid to build up its forces against India, as was the case in the past.

Members of Parliament (MPs) "firmly and unequivocally" conveyed India's concerns of contemporary significance, Congress MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi, leader of the delegation, told reporters here.

"At several meetings we made it clear that the Af-Pak policy must necessarily have an inbuilt safeguard component to prevent the direct or indirect diversion of enormous US aid for potentially anti-India activities by Pakistan," Singhvi said before leaving for India.

The MPs told the US officials and lawmakers that their aid to Pakistan was welcome, but they need to make sure that it is not used against India.

The group of 11 MPs from five parties and nine sates were in the US last week as part of the 3rd India–Yale Parliamentary Leadership Programme.

During their week-long trip, the MPs attended classes by top Yale faculty and met senior officials of the Obama administration, including those at the State Department, senior Congressmen and think-tank.

"We also conveyed the huge Indian concern about the continued non-reduction of aggregate carbon emissions from the US," Singhvi said.

Singhvi said that the delegation conveyed India's "legitimate concerns regarding the scope for progressive reduction and elimination of agricultural subsidies by developed countries including US".

"In these and several other matters, despite our clear and unequivocal views frequently not fully in sync with US policy we were heard with full patience and appreciation," Singhvi said.

Senior BJP leader Prakash Javadekar said the MPs were able to convey India's concern very clearly.

"Definitely there are concerns on climate change, agriculture subsidies and Af-Pak approach. I think it will be noted," Javadekar said.

The Yale Parliamentary Leadership Programme was launched in 2007, in collaboration with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and India–US Forum of Parliamentarians.

The three Fauji Entrepreneurs, driving India Inc
30 Jun 2009, 0226 hrs IST, Yasmin Taj, ET Bureau

In the recent times, old soldiers don’t fade away into early retirement; they go into business. Many ex-defence personnel have chosen to walk on

the entrepreneurial path and have achieved overwhelming success in their respective fields.

Army fosters leadership
For Lt. Col H.S. Bedi VSM, CMD, Tulip Telecom, following a three generation old family tradition of joining the army came as a natural choice to him during his formative years. But today, he is a successful entrepreneur. ”The ‘seeds’ of entrepreneurship were laid in 1986 when I was posted as an instructor in the computer wing of the Military College of Telecom and Engineering (MCTE).

MCTE offered me a platform to interact with a range of businesses for the arrangement of student training programmes. That was the time, when I realised my inclination towards entrepreneurship. After 22 years, in 1989, I decided to move on to the next level in my life and in 1990, I put my ideas firmly in place to start my new venture,” expresses Bedi.

But the transition from armed forces into the Indian corporate sector was never an easy task, keeping in mind the differences in both the sectors. Bedi had to face his set of challenges too. The period between 1995 to 1999 was really tough for me as getting adequate working capital to meet the business requirements was a serious challenge,” he states.

Bedi feels that a job in the army offers new challenges everyday and you come across various new situations on a regular basis. “The army fosters leadership in every individual that focuses not only on short-term results, but also on long-term requirements to improve the organisation. I firmly believe that army men are perfectly blended with the latest hi-technology, training techniques and strategic doctrines that help them to excel in various avenues,” he concludes.

Army brings in discipline
After 36 years of service in the Indian Army, Major General S Dutta VSM (retd), Chairman, Marine Solutions, Distribution and Services, Pvt Ltd suddenly realised that though he had a wonderful life in the army, he also had an empty pocket at the end of his career. “I had made up my mind to carry on working after my retirement from the army,” shares Dutta. After a few stints in the corporate world, Dutta ventured out on his own. “Being a yachtsman and having a son who also is a very good yachtsman, we decided to start a company selling luxury yachts. We formed the Company Marine Solutions in 2003,” he informs.

Talking about the transition from army life to corporate life, Dutta expresses, “One good aspect of military training is that it prepares one for all circumstances. I had no problem transiting from army to civil life. I was the Commandant of a training establishment in Vadodara. That coupled with my training in management in the US and IIM Ahmedabad made my task of setting up the PMDI of IPCL quite easy.”

Dutta says that coming from the army to a civil life is not a challenge. All challenges are left behind. “If one keeps following the army traditions in civil life too, one will get better appreciation and respect. The corporate sector respects army people for their discipline, honesty and leadership qualities,” he adds.

But an army man does need some kind of grooming before he enters the corporate domain since he needs to keep himself abreast with the latest trends. According to Dutta, “Frankly, not much grooming is required. On the contrary, the armed forces personnel should not forget the grooming they have received in the past. Re-skilling is certainly required. In an armed forces career, the skills imparted are mostly specific to the armed forces’ needs.”

Army instills focus
For Lt. Colonel Dharampal Balyan, owner, Health & Harmony, his keen interest in health related issues led him into entrepreneurship. “While I was in the army, I was interested in my own health. When I retired, I met someone who was teaching naturopathy, and since I was already keen on learning about subjects related to health and health related studies, I decided to get some formal education.

After studying the same, I decided to start a naturopathy centre called Health & harmony in Noida, which looks at nature and its elements for treatments,” he expresses. Talking about the kind of challenges he faced in his journey, Balyan says, “Getting people to believe in natural system of healing and turning to nature for healing was the most challenging task.”

Balyan concludes by sharing a few lessons that he has learnt from his army background that has helped him better his prospects in the corporate domain and says, “Devotion, discipline and total commitment are a few qualities imbibed in me and these have helped me in my corporate life too.” With their immense courage, discipline and leadership acumen, these Fauji entrepreneurs have shown the way to many!

Army open to ‘Arunchal Scouts’ plan

Sunday, June 28, 2009

By Saurabh Joshi

Scouts raised from locals considered highly motivated

The Indian Army views with favor the idea of raising ‘Arunachal Scouts’ battalions to complement the existing Indian Army and Indo-Tibetan Border Police presence in Arunachal Pradesh.

The proposal, recently reiterated by the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh and former army chief, General JJ Singh, advocates the creation of a 5,000-strong force on the lines of the Ladakh Scouts, Dogra Scouts. “Naturally, we would welcome any increase in numbers,” said a senior officer.

“The advantage with the raising of scouts battalions from the state is that these ‘Home and Hearth’ battalions are hardy and well-suited for operating in that terrain, they know the local language and customs and have a high level of familiarity with the terrain. Naturally they are also highly motivated, since they are essentially providing security for their own homes and families,” he explained.

General JJ Singh has been pushing for the raising of the battalions. Last November, he had put forward plans for the raising of four battalions, a proposal he reiterated last week in Singapore.

Recently, the stationing of Sukhoi-30 MKI aircraft at Tezpur in Assam, close to Arunachal Pradesh and the plans for doubling the number of troops in Arunachal, with the deployment of two divisions led to strong reactions from the Chinese media. The Chinese Foreign Ministry has also slammed the approval given by the Asian Development Bank for a $ 60 million loan for development in Arunachal Pradesh, as it considers the state, disputed territory.

Monday, 29 June 2009

From Today's Papers - 29 Jun 09

The Pioneer

Asian Age

The Pioneer

Asian Age

Asian Age

Asian Age

Indian Express

The Pioneer

Asian Age

Indian Express

Asian Age

Hindustan Times

Times of India

10 years after Kargil
Army regains supremacy in Drass sector
Ajay Banerjee writes from Drass (on the LoC)

The boom of the Bofors guns does not echo anymore. There are no frenzied television crews beaming live pictures to millions of drawing rooms across the globe. It is a tense silence at the Line of Control where India and Pakistan fought pitched battles during the Kargil conflict in June-July 1999.

In these 10 years, the Indian Army has rejigged its plans. Going by the Kargil experience, it has virtually clawed back to a position of supremacy in holding on to the strategic Drass-Kargil-Batalik sector.

The snow-clad, rugged and treacherous Himalayan ridge line in this part rises beyond 16,000 feet. It forms a strategic tri-axis with Pakistan to the west and China to the east of India. It was this slice of the mountains that had prompted Gen Pervez Musharraf, the then Chief of the Pakistan Army, to carry out his “mis-adventure”, hoping to cut out Leh and Siachen.

After having evicted the enemy in 1999 through sheer grit and against all odds, today the biggest challenge for the Army has been to hold onto the icy peaks and

create an impregnable defence, opined a senior officer. Now, troops and officers man fully equipped posts on top of the snow-clad ridge line throughout the year. On the LoC, Indian and Pakistani troops sit in their respective posts that are separated by a few hundred metres through the air.

Such is the extreme that day-time temperatures in June are minus 5 degrees Celsius. Some of the posts are cut off from the world from November through June. The communication is through a telephone line as temperatures go down to minus 40 degrees Celsius in the winter.

The earlier practice of vacating these peaks during winter had led to the intrusion. Particularly crucial were Tiger Hill, Point 4875 and Tololing from where the Pakistanis pounded the Srinagar-Leh highway relentlessly as they occupied vantage points.

Now, a series of big guns like the 155 mm Bofors and the 105 mm Indian field gun have been based in this area. To know about intrusions, if any, the Army has access to satellite images besides gathering human intelligence.

The strength of the Army has been increased from a brigade — roughly 6,000 troops — in 1999 to three times its size to have a division based here.

A new corps has been raised at Leh with a Lt Gen rank official heading it while a “Kargil battle school” continuously trains fresh batches of troops about the nuances of mountain warfare on these heights. In 1999, it had taken the troops some days to be acclimatised and not all of them were trained in the mountain warfare. A couple of new landing strips have been created for faster induction of troops. The National Highway 1-D between Zojila pass and Leh has been widened. At present work is on to widen it further to accommodate two vehicles passing each other in opposite directions.

One of the handicaps of the 1999 conflict was communication between troops and the base camps. This was through hand-held radio sets which was intercepted easily by Pakistanis.

Now secure telephone lines have been laid connecting each small post and outpost with the senior commanders at the bases. Roads have been laid in new inaccessible areas in Batalik, while the Border Roads Organisation is continuously at work to create new much-needed infrastructure.

The enemy within
Corruption delays defence modernisation
by Premvir Das

IN a recent column of a Beijing journal, the author contended, amongst other things and quite derisively, that India would never be able to equal China’s national power. This statement may rouse tempers and hurt sensitivities in this country but a little introspection will show that he was not wide off the mark. National power is, of course, not just military strength alone but without it, is clearly unachievable. And, it is here that India is not just well behind China.

The gap is widening every day, even as the latter moves speedily on its modernisation schemes, while we simply keep on shooting ourselves in the foot. Look at the dismal picture. In 1986, a contract to procure 155 mm guns for the Army was finalised after years of dithering. Everyone agreed that the Bofors gun was the best available in the global arms market at that time.

This contract provided for an outright purchase of some guns and transfer of technology to manufacture the rest in the country. There were audible sighs of relief in the Army that the induction of this weapon would restore the edge that it had lost over Pakistan. The elation was short lived; within two years the whole euphoria was shattered.

Bofors was blacklisted amid cries of bribery and corruption and indigenous production was grounded. Charges were levied against just about everybody, the Prime Minister included. The balance sheet, 20 years down the line, is that not one of the alleged bribe takers has seen jail even for a day. Three of them are dead and those who are not, are free as birds, hobnobbing with the highest in the land.

On the flip side and as a direct consequence of the blacklisting, neither have any more guns been procured nor have any been built indigenously. In this period of 20 years, the Indian Army has not received a single piece of heavy artillery. This is not all. In 1984, India signed a contract with a German company called HDW to acquire four submarines for its Navy, with more to follow. Of the first four, two were to be built in Germany and two in an Indian yard. The HDW-built boats were commissioned by 1989; the local production went slightly behind schedule but all four were operational by 1992.

In 1987, the Navy had proposed continuation of the indigenous production line, facilities for which were created at great cost, with four follow on submarines when thunderstorms struck the project, again, with familiar charges of bribery and corruption. HDW was blacklisted and everything came to a grinding halt. FIRs were filed listing some people. The balance sheet, 20 years later, is that not one of the people alleged to have taken bribes or done other wrongdoings has spent even a day in jail. No charge sheet could be filed for want of evidence and the case has been closed.

Again, on the flip side, and as a direct result of the blacklisting, not a single submarine has been built or acquired for the Navy in the 20 years that have elapsed. Some six or seven years ago, a contract was signed for the acquisition of six French submarines through a technology transfer building programme. Yet again, cries of bribery and corruption filled the air, repeated yet again, in the case of Russian aircraft carrier Gorshkov and the Israeli Barak missile systems, being acquired for the Navy.

Mercifully, the government was able to continue with the projects in contradiction of its ‘blacklisting’ profile. It seemed as if we had come of age. Just when it seemed that bad times were behind us, there is ‘déjà vu’ once again. When the French Rafaele was recently deleted, possibly for good reason, from the126 Multi Role Combat Aircraft race, lobbying and adequate hue and cry got it back into contention. And now comes the dreaded B word once again; as many as six firms cleared for supplying important weapons and sensors for the armed forces have been blacklisted, the guess is right, for bribery and corruption.

A former Director General of Ordnance Factories and his accomplices, alleged to have made some money, have ensured that modernisation schemes of the military have been stymied once again. Whether their cases will follow the Bofors and HDW route remains to be seen; what is abundantly clear is that India’s quest for acquiring desired capabilities for its armed forces has been halted once more. So if the Chinese are smirking and grinning from ear to ear at our inadequacies, they are not to blame because the enemy is within, not without.

Bribery in the arms market is neither new nor peculiar to India. In almost all military procurements, not only in India, commissions are the norm, not the exception. And, the beneficiaries are, mainly, politicians and political parties. So it is not surprising that we, ourselves, are quite accomplished at the game. No one doubts that commissions were paid for the Bofors and HDW contracts and everyone knows that these went to political parties just as they did for so many procurements earlier, the Jaguar and Mirage deals in the 1970s and 1980s, being only a few.

Unlike elsewhere, the political route remains untouched in India. The convenient and side-stepping response is to blacklist the firms when the fact is that they would not have given bribes if these had not been demanded. We only end up by degrading our military capabilities even further.

There is need to differentiate between bribery and punishing the guilty, and needs of military modernisation. When the aim should be to purposefully crush the first and progress on the second, we are doing exactly the opposite. The Defence Minister is known to be a person of great honesty and integrity. This does not, by implication, mean that transparency in procurements can eliminate the political connection; it can, at best, skim the insignificant icing on the cake.

While a few crores, swindled by officials are a bad thing and unacceptable, meriting appropriate punishment, that aspect should not be allowed to cripple the modernisation of the armed forces. The money made available for that purpose is already well short of what is needed; to further castrate its utilisation is not going to help any. There is need to move more pragmatically because India can never become a power of consequence if it is weak militarily. At least this once, we should heed the Chinese.

The writer is a former Commander-in-Chief of the Eastern Naval Command

Pakistan among top 10 failed states

June 28, 2009 21:47 IST

Pakistan, plagued by insurgency and the worst-ever economic crisis, has been named among the "top 10 failed states" by the US-based reputed Foreign Policy journal. Pakistan, bracketed along with countries like Somalia, Afghanistan and Sudan, has improved its position only by a notch -- it is placed 10th in the index for 2009 published in the July-August issue of the magazine.

The fifth annual 'Failed States Index' is a collaboration between The Fund for Peace, an independent research organisation and Foreign Policy. The financial crisis is a "near-death experience for insurgency-plagued" Pakistan, which remains on IMF life support, the journal said. It is a sobering time for the world's most fragile countries--virulent economic crisis, countless natural disasters and government collapse, it noted.

Using 12 indicators of state cohesion and performance, compiled through a close examination of more than 30,000 publicly available sources, the journal ranked 177 states in order from most to least at risk of failure. India is ranked 87th, showing an improvement over the previous year. But its neighbours performed badly in the index with Sri Lanka [Images] placed 12th, Bangladesh 19th and Nepal 25th.

Tehsildar Assault Case
Ex-services league seeks independent probe
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 28
Indian Ex-Services League president Prabhjot Singh today said the league had submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal seeking an investigation by an independent agency in tehsildar Major GS Benipal (retd) assault case to bring culprits to the book of law at the earliest so that justice was delivered to the victim.

The Indian Ex-Services League, Punjab and Chandigarh, the oldest NGO of ex-servicemen and widows, strongly condemned the barbaric incidence of mercilessly beating of Major Benipal (retd) working as sub-registrar in Ludhiana.

Hooligans, by their act, had not only harmed a veteran physically but also exhibited a show of high handedness by party workers of the ruling party, which was elected to govern and maintain law and order to safeguard the interests of public at large.

The league had expressed its solidarity with Major Benipal and the ex-servicemen community had already offered to bear the whole expenditure if the victim wanted to go to the High Court to get justice.

The league had also expressed its concern over the deteriorating law and order condition in Punjab and requested the Chief Minister to maintain it at the earliest.

The stakes in Waziristan

Syed Mohammad Ali

As the gradual elimination of the Taliban in Malakand division by the Pakistan Army enters its decisive phase, Waziristan braces for a much-awaited showdown following Islamabad’s decision to finally destroy Baitullah Mahsud’s terrorist infrastructure which is after all the principal source of the nation’s current woes. Militancy in the NWFP is sustained by competing powers seeking to secure their strategic and energy interests in the complex milieu of South and Central Asia.

The question arises that if this insurgency happens to survive a few more years, will Islamabad be able to keep the Pukhtun nationalist elements on its side against the religious militants. It is crucial to assess the political capacity of the ANP government to successfully deal with the present conflict. According to a senior NWFP government official, over three million people are already internally displaced. This is in addition to the Afghan refugees who are still in large number and a great burden on the establishment.

When a full-scale military operation is launched in Waziristan, more people will become displaced and the government of the NWFP will have to grapple with an inflated humanitarian crisis. It will be of essence to watch how long the military action takes to achieve its objective and what tactics the enemy adopts to escape the firepower how much political support it gets from the population of the affected areas. There are lessons to learn from how the Indian army successfully dealt with the Khalistan movement. Though dealing with a small-scale uprising in Indian Punjab plains, compared to hilly and forest terrain of the NWFP, six factors which contributed to the success ofIndian army operation in quelling the separatist movement were quality intelligence; diplomatic and political isolation of the terrorists from international and domestic support base; timely elimination of their leadership; element of surprise; ruthless elimination of the terrorists without any remorse, and finally effective management of the humanitarian crisis.

A decisive factor in the strategic matrix of the conflict in Waziristan would be the response of the civilian population of the tribal areas. How well the government is prepared to tackle the eventuality of mass exodus from Fata and how much resources it has to properly organise IDPs’ interim shelters, will equally determine the end-result of the military operation which in itself is a much delayed action.

Then, the government will need to arrange cash money to offer to the displaced families. These factors will be of utmost importance to keep the uprooted population of tribal Areas satisfied and on the side of the government and to prevent them from succumbing to temptations or coercion of the Taliban and the Baitullah Mehsud gang with a view to demoralise the Pakistani troops.

Conservative Pushtun families may find it difficult to cooperate in the house to house search by troops given their cultural and traditional sensitivities. The government will have to draw up a comprehensive political and economic strategy to isolate TTP leadership before it launches a military operation in Waziristan. Despite hectic high-level diplomacy, US has not been very successful in gaining substantive military and economic support from its European Nato allies for expanding military operations in Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, the US and Nato are fighting the war away from their homeland whereas the stakes for the state and military of Pakistan are much higher while fighting on its own territory and to win the war it cannot rely on promises of external financial help alone. US aid pledges aside, the government will need to raise resources on its own as well. We have to get rid of our dead wood, tighten belts, possibly postpone some developmental plans and probably increase defence budget and cut corners where we can.

Political expediency and localised politics based on ‘baradari’ will have to be shelved if the state of Pakistan has to survive thisdecisive battle for its identity. It is not a war like 1965 where the military could stop Indians from advancing on Wagah and Chawinda fronts but a war in which the enemy is invisible and has already penetrated deep inside our territory; not just the resorts of Swat and Malam Jabba but the streets, homes and markets of Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar have become battlefronts.

The leadership must realise that the success and sacrifices of our troops can go waste if we do not succeed in winning hearts and minds of the large displaced population. Any lapses in timely, effective and efficient relief and rehabilitation of the continuing streams of the displaced persons could ignite the Pukhtun nationalist sentiments in those areas with long-term adverse effects to the objective of this war. On May 2, 2003 George W. Bush in a speech from the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln proudly declared victory in Iraq war but six years later Washington still remains mired in the quagmire that Iraq has become. A study of the Irish guerilla war shows that the Irish Republican Armywas never really a major strategic threat to the British military inIreland.

Nor were they ever in a position to engage them inconventional warfare. IRA leader Richard Mulcahy deplored the fact that they had not been able to drive the British “out of anything bigger than a fairly good size police barracks.” But they had made Ireland ungovernable except by military means. The political, military and financial costs of remaining in Ireland were higher than the British government was prepared to afford. This fact forced it to enter into negotiations with the Irish political leaders.

Similarly, Taliban by engaging Pakistani military forces are diverting its resources into an internal war rather than let it be prepared against any potential external threat. Today the stakes of this conflict in Fata and the NWFP are higher for Pakistan’s security than they have ever been before. This could be the decisive battle for the identity and future of our nation and like 1965 or 1971 we should not totally depend on the US alone for winning it.

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Sunday, 28 June 2009

From Today's Papers - 28 Jun 09

Asian Age

Indian Express

Asian Age

Asian Age

Asian Age

The Pioneer

Asian Age

The Pioneer

India was never a threat to Pak: Army

Press Trust of India, Saturday June 27, 2009, Hyderabad

Chief of Army Staff General Deepak Kapoor on Saturday sought to allay Pakistan's apprehensions over the positioning of troops along its border by asserting that India was never a threat to its neighbour.

"It's their own perception of threat, but India has never been a threat to Pakistan despite having superior forces," the Army Chief said, reacting to a statement made by Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on troop deployment along the border.

"We on our side like to live as peaceful neighbours," he told newsmen at the Combined Graduation Parade of the Indian Air Force cadets at the Air Force Academy at Dindigul. General Kapoor was the reviewing officer at the parade.

Replying to a question, the Army Chief said adequate troops were positioned along the border with Pakistan.

"We will be happy if Pakistan fights terror not only on its western borders but also on the eastern border (India), General Kapoor added.

To a question on China, the Army Chief said, "We have reasonably good relations with that country and there is no question of any kind of threat".

India never a threat to Pak: Army Chief
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, June 27
Allaying Pakistan’s apprehensions over positioning of troops along the border, the Chief of Army staff General Deepak Kapoor today said India never posed a threat to anyone despite having superior forces.

“It is their own perception of threat but India has never been a threat to Pakistan despite having superior forces,” the General said here, reacting to a statement made by Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on troop deployment along the border.

“From our side, we would like to live as peaceful neighbours,” he told newsmen after reviewing the Combined Graduation Parade of the Indian Air Force cadets at the Air Force Academy at Dindigul near here.

Answering a question, the Army chief said adequate troops were positioned along the border with Pakistan.

“We will be happy if Pakistan fights terror not only on its western borders but also on the eastern border (with India),” Gen Kapoor said.

Asked about possible threat from China, he said, “We have reasonably good relations with that country and there is no question of any kind of threat.”

Stating that there were some problems in terms of the unresolved border dispute, Gen Kapoor said a mechanism had been put in place with top leaders on both sides trying to settle the border dispute with China. “Hopefully, it gets resolved soon,” he said.

On the question of shortage of officers in the Indian Army, he said they were planning to increase the tenure of short service commission officers to fill the gap to an extent.

Plans were afoot to open second training academy for Army officers which would materialise soon, Gen Kapoor said but did not specify where it would be set up. The Commandant of the Air Force Academy, Dindigul, Air Vice-Marshal KJ Mathews was also present.

Earlier, the Army chief reviewed an impressive combined graduation parade and awarded the President's Commission to the flight cadets on behalf of the President. A total of 173 Flight Cadets passed out from Air Force Academy as flying officers to share the responsibilities of safe skies.

Pak: 22 militants killed as fighters strike Taliban bases

June 27, 2009 18:07 IST

At least 22 Taliban [Images] militants were killed and scores wounded as Pakistani war planes kept up their relentless strikes on the bases of Tehrik-e-Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud in restive Waziristan, while police shot dead five other radicals in Karachi on Saturday.

"Two Pakistani jets strafed bases run by commanders closely linked to Baitullah Mehsud in Makeen and Ladha, killing 12 to 15 militants and wounding another 17," an army statement said.

Pakistan Air Force fighters have been carrying out heavy air raids on major towns and on Taliban concentrations in South Waziristan as a softening of tactics before unleashing a major ground offensive targeted to get Mehsud and other high-value militants of Taliban and Al-Qaeda [Images], dead or alive.

Five more suspected Taliban militants were shot dead by police in a mid-night raid on the outskirts of Karachi.

"Police surrounded the house where the militants were hiding and asked them to surrender," a spokesman of the city police said.

"The militants opened fire which was retaliated by the police in which five militants with suspected links to Baitullah were killed. But six others managed to escape," he said.

Police recovered huge quantities of arms and ammunitions, suicide jackets and explosives from the house. Later, the spokesman said, the militants were apparently plotting large scale suicide bombings in the city.

In other incidents, militants fired six rockets at a para-military fort in Wanna, the main town of South Waziristan, an official said.

The security forces in turn shelled Taliban positions near the town killing two militants and injuring three others.

The running skirmishes between Taliban and military came as army continued to move troops, tanks and heavy artillery in preparation for a confrontation, which experts say would be one of the biggest test for Pakistani security forces in decades.

Ranged against heavily armed troops would be an estimated 12,000-15,000 Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants equally well armed but masters of hit-and-run tactics, learned from years of bloody experience in Afghanistan.

Though the army has been moving reinforcements for weeks in-and-around Wanna, there is yet no clue when the D-day would come.

"We cannot give you a timing. But we are moving at the right speed," Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmoud Qureshi told mediapersons at Trieste in Italy [Images], where he is attending a meeting on Afghanistan, Pakistan called on the sidelines of the G8 meeting.

Spending on defence sector may increase

K.V. Prasad

Emphasis on modernisation of tri services

NEW DELHI: In about a week’s time, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, in its second innings, will present its first full Budget, and there is anticipation that spending on the defence sector will be on the rise.

The emphasis of the government — as outlined in President Pratibha Patil’s address to Parliament — is that the defence forces will be fully enabled with modern technology to repel any threat, undertake steps to enhance combat efficiency, and address its requirement of modern warfare.

Criticism over allocation

Over the last two financial years, the government raised allocation to the Defence Ministry by over 10 per cent In the interim budget, the outgoing government provided Rs.1,41,703 crore, which was Rs.27,000 crore above the revised estimate of Rs.1,14,600 crore for 2008-09.

The trend is expected to be maintained, though there has been criticism that during the last five years of the UPA government, the total budgetary allocation remained between 1.97 per cent and 2.41 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product; much less when compared to India’s neighbours’, especially Pakistan.

Of the Rs.1,41,703 crore, capital expenditure amounted to Rs.54,824 crore, of which over Rs.40,000 crore was earmarked for modernisation, and the balance meant for capital acquisitions, including replacements.

Besides the ongoing modernisation of tri services, ordnance factories and the Defence Research and Development Organisation, the budget would have to take care of the increase in revenue expenditure, in the form of higher salaries and proposed changes in pension following the consistent demand for the ‘One Rank One Pay’ policy.

50 p.c. allocation to IAF

Nearly half the capital expenditure budget meant for defence goes to the Air Force, with the Navy and the Army sharing the other half. The Ministry has some ‘big-ticket’ deals in the offing, including the $10.2 billion 126 Medium Multi Range Combat Aircraft, for which the IAF will begin field trials this August.

There are also moves to acquire 197 Light Utility Helicopters for the Army and the IAF, while the Navy has already signed a deal for three Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft, besides negotiating the price of the Aircraft Carrier Admiral Gorshkov (rechristened INS Vikramaditya).

On an average, the Ministry plans to spend around $10 billion (Rs.40,000 crore) each year on capital expenditure, which, in a five-year range at conservative levels, would be at least $50 billion.

Besides acquiring new fighter aircraft, the IAF has been getting funds for upgrading its existing fleet of strike and transport aircraft, and for improving and upgrading airfields.

The Army has been receiving funds for artillery, missiles, and air defence, while the Navy has focussed on the development of an indigenous aircraft carrier, submarine, and on developing other platforms and shoring up assets for enhanced coastal security.

Terrorist threat still high in J&K says Antony

ANI Posted online: Thursday , Jun 25, 2009 at 1437 hrs

New Delhi : India on Thursday said infiltration from Pakistan has declined in the recent past, but the threat from terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir is "real" and there is no question of lowering the guard. "Of late, there has been a decline in infiltration in the borders but we cannot say it is an improvement," Defence Minister A K Antony told reporters after addressing the Unified Commanders' Conference here.

He made it clear that "there is no question of lowering our guard, especially in Jammu and Kashmir, as even now these terrorist outfits are working there. It is a real threat." Antony said the relations between India and Pakistan can "move forward" only if strong action is taken by Islamabad against anti-India outfits operating from across the border. "We are emphasising and trying to convince Pakistan that they have to take strong actions against the anti-India groups operating from there. Only then the two countries can move forward and we can help in improving relations," he said.

He termed the security situation in Pakistan as a "matter of great concern" for India. On India's plans to raise two mountain divisions in Arunachal Pradesh, he said, "India is not against any country. We want to maintain friendly and cordial relations with all our neighbours but at the same time it is our duty to increase our capabilities."

About his proposed meeting with US National Security Advisor (NSA) James Jones tomorrow, Antony said the security situation in the region, especially Afghanistan, is likely to figure among other issues in the discussions. "We are going to discuss the security scenario around us. While discussing this, we cannot avoid Afghanistan. Taliban is a threat to world peace and threat to our region and a threat to India also," he said. On the progress made on the issue of a Unified Command for the armed forces, the Defence Minister said that after initial resistance, the three services have realised the need to work together.

"There has been considerable progress in the last eight years. Initially there was resistance from three services but now they have realised the necessity of jointness because in the modern times just one service cannot protect the security of the nation and meet challenges," he said. "That realization is there. So, things are moving very fast and this conference is a turning point," he said.

When asked if the controversy on the issue of price of Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov could have any negative impact on Indo-Russian defence relations, the Minister said, "Discussions are going on for Admiral Gorshkov. As far as our defence relations with Russia are concerned, they are very cordial. There is no doubt about that."

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Saturday, 27 June 2009

From Today's Papers - 27 Jun 09

Asian Age

Asian Age

The Pioneer

Telegraph India

Asian Age

Asian Age

Times of India

Hindustan Times

Ties with Pak under stress: Krishna
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 26
Slowly but steadily, the India-Pakistan normalisation process is gaining momentum.

The Foreign Ministers of the two countries today held a formal meeting on the margins of the ‘Outreach’ meeting of the G-8 countries at Trieste in Italy.

However, India again took a strong stand on the issue of terrorism with External Affairs Minister SM Krishna telling his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi that Pakistan must fulfil its commitment of not allowing its territory to be used for terror attacks against India.

The External Affairs Ministry here said Krishna also conveyed to Qureshi that the upcoming meeting between the Foreign Secretaries of the two countries was important as it would enable New Delhi to take stock of what Islamabad had done so far to address its concerns on terrorism.

The meeting between the Foreign Ministers came 10 days after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Yekaterinburg in Russia.

Krishna also conveyed to the Pakistani leader that the relations between the two countries were still under considerable stress and the primary cause of this was the terrorist attacks on India by elements in Pakistan.

The two ministers agreed during their discussions that there was vast potential that existed in the India-Pakistan relations. “I conveyed the sentiments of our Prime Minister that we stand ready to meet Pakistan more than half way to utilise and harness that potential for our mutual benefit. At the same time, we have to address centrally why our relations come under stress recurrently.’’

The two ministers are understood to have discussed the date for the meeting between the Foreign Secretaries. Though no date has been fixed for such a meeting so far, the two Foreign Secretaries will hold talks before the Indian Prime Minister meets his Pakistani counterpart Yousaf Reza Gilani on the margins of the NAM Summit in Egypt in mid-July.

Krishna also met his Afghanistan counterpart Rangin Dadfar Spanta and discussed the situation in the war-ravaged nation.

Countering Terrorism
India-US to strengthen ties
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 26
With the security situation in Af-Pak region remaining worrisome, India and the United States today discussed ways to strengthen cooperation in countering terrorism and broaden their partnership on a variety of global and bilateral issues.

Visiting US National Security Adviser James Jones met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Defence Minister AK Antony and Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon, apart from holding wide-ranging talks with his host and National Security Adviser MK Narayanan.

Jones, who is said to be a key lieutenant of President Barack Obama, is understood to have briefed his Indian interlocutors on the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which he had visited before reaching New Delhi yesterday.

He reassured the Indian leadership that the US was committed to cooperating with India in dealing with terrorism so that another Mumbai-like attack was not repeated. The two sides also did the groundwork for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to New Delhi in the second half of July.

Jones’ visit comes amid growing regional concern over the war against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The US has already announced its decision to increase aid to Pakistan to fight the terror groups, particularly in the restive Swat valley. However, India’s contention is that Pakistan has in the past always used the aid given by Western powers to bolster its conventional military power against India.

A US Embassy statement said Jones outlined President Obama’s desire to move quickly in the months ahead to make tangible progress on a range of bilateral issues, which affected the futures of the two countries. A broad range of bilateral and regional issues figured during the talks, including the post-election situation in Iran and the Indo-US cooperation in energy, economic and defence fields.

Jones conveyed to the Prime Minister, President Obama’s invitation to visit the White House this fall, which would provide the two leaders an opportunity to continue the discussions they had during the G-20 meeting in London.

Summing up his visit, Jones said, “President Obama views the US-India relationship to be of foremost importance in advancing our common interests. In addition to broadening our partnership on a variety of global and bilateral issues, we will work together closely on regional security matters.”

Inside Pakistan
Mehsud’s challenge to army
by Syed Nooruzzaman

THE Pakistan Army suffered a major setback when Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan chief Baitullah Mehsud got a rival Taliban faction leader Qari Zainuddin killed by the latter’s own security guard on Tuesday. The slain Taliban commander was busy organising a new group of militants belonging to the Mehsud tribe with the support of the army.

According to The News (June 24), it is yet to be seen “what impact Zainuddin’s death will have on the efforts to erode the power of Baitullah. In the increasingly vicious power struggle in Waziristan, the latest development will go to strengthen Baitullah and to prove that he remains the main force in Waziristan.”

The defeat of the Taliban in Waziristan appears to be the key to winning the battle against terrorism. There can be no peace in Pakistan until the army succeeds in killing Baitullah, whose private army consists of around 20,000 men even during these difficult times for him.

Dawn (June 24) says, “The truth is though little is known about what exactly
is going on in the South Waziristan Agency (where Baitullah has his major base),
who is fighting whom and why, what is likely to happen in the days and weeks
ahead. What is clear so far is that the security forces are squeezing Baitullah
Mehsud’s strongholds...”

Zardari may lose powers

President Asif Ali Zardari is set to lose his powers to sack the elected government and dissolve the National and Provincial Assemblies if the move to restore the Pakistan Constitution to its almost original position succeeds. The constitution was adopted in 1973 to provide a parliamentary form of government to Pakistan, but it got its character diluted mainly by the late Gen Zia-ul-Haque and former President Gen Pervez Musharraf.

As Dawn (June 25) says, “Today constitution stands denuded of its parliamentary character. The villain of the piece is Article 58(2)(b), which is part of the MMA-supported 17th Amendment validating virtually all General Musharraf’s actions contained in the Legal Framework Order.”

According to Daily Times (June 26), “The PPP has already circulated its 80-point amendment proposal, based, it says, on the Charter of Democracy signed by the PML (N) and the PPP in 2006. The PML (N)’s ‘amendment committee’ member, Ishaq Dar, says his party will accept joint electorates and minority voting rights of the 17th Amendment plus some other items, but will focus on removing the imbalance of the powers between the President and the elected Prime Minister.”

The angry Baloch

The unrest in Balochistan continues to remain a major headache for Islamabad. The people in this mineral-rich largest province have a long list of grievances against their federal government, which has no time to take care of their problems seriously. Announcements are made for righting the wrongs done to the Baloch but not to be implemented. As The Frontier Post (June 26) says, “There is no perceptible attempt at understanding the problem's complexities in evidence in Islamabad…. It needs hard-boiled thinking, creative thoughts and imaginative planning to address….

“While doing all to give a stab to boiling issues like the cases of disappeared persons, political prisoners and political activists' assassinations to the general satisfaction, it (All-Party Committee) must sit down, think hard, evolve imaginative policies and pragmatic plans, and execute them robustly to address the real Balochistan problem. The focus of this new order should solely be the emancipation, empowerment and enrichment of the huge enslaved humanity being kept caged by the province's privileged elites.” However, there are thinkers in Pakistan who, instead of arguing for giving greater attention to the Baloch, are repeating the theory of foreign forces active to cause instability in Balochistan. See what Majeed Javed writes in The Nation (June 24).

Afghan Army Chief to visit India

New Delhi:

The Afghan Army Chief General Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, who visits India next month will meet the Army top brass and tour key military installations.

General Mohammadi, Afghan National Army Chief since 2002, will call upon his Indian counterpart, General Deepak Kapoor and visit military installations in Mumbai, Bangalore and Pune during his week-long visit. He is also likely to visit the National Defence Academy (NDA) in Pune. The Academy has trained Afghan cadets in the past.

General Mohammadi’s visit is expected to open a new chapter in the military relationship between the two countries, which at present is restricted to humanitarian projects. The Indian Army doctors run a children’s hospital in Kabul and provide medical aid to locals at several other places. A team from the Indian Army’s Education Corps is in Kabul since last year to teach English language to locals.

‘Pakistan will need army even if Kashmir is resolved’: I got India close to Kashmir settlement, says Musharraf

* Former president says he never asked Nawaz to visit US during Kargil crisis

* Claims Kargil withdrawal decision was Nawaz’s

Daily Times Monitor

LAHORE: Former president Pervez Musharraf has claimed that the issue of Kashmir was near resolution during his government.

In an interview with Daily Times Editor Najam Sethi on Dunya News, Musharraf said during his Agra visit, he and Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had even agreed to the draft of a joint declaration under which all issues including Kashmir could have been resolved.

“But the Indian leadership changed their mind at the last minute and did not support the joint declaration, saying that the cabinet had not approved it,” Musharraf said.

He said he held talks with all stakeholders including the All-Parties Hurriyat Conference and the leadership of Azad Kashmir for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute “but no one could guide me in the right direction”.

Musharraf said that accusations the army does not want a resolution to Kashmir are “vicious propaganda”, adding that the need for the army would remain even if the Kashmir issue was resolved.

US visit: Rejecting former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s statement that he was kept in the dark on the Kargil issue as “an absolute lie”, Musharraf said he had not asked Nawaz to visit the US and meet then president Bill Clinton to bail out the army. Musharraf said the Defence Committee of the Cabinet met two days before Nawaz left for the US, in which Musharraf gave him a detailed presentation on the Kargil situation.

Decision: Musharraf said Nawaz had repeatedly asked him whether Pakistan should withdraw its forces from Kargil.

“I said I have informed you about the military situation but the withdrawal of forces is a political decision which has to be taken by the political leadership, ” he claimed to have told Nawaz. He said he was ready to stand trial if a case for the murder of Akbar Bugti was filed against him.\06\27\story_27-6-2009_pg7_2


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