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Thursday, 4 June 2009

From Today's Papers - 04 Jun 09

Telegraph India

Asian Age

The Pioneer

Asian Age

Asian Age

The Pioneer

Asian Age

The Pioneer

Asian Age

The Pioneer

Asian Age

The Pioneer

Times of India

Times of India

Hindustan Times

Times of India

Times of India

Lt. Gen KR Rao is new DG Artillery

ANIWed, Jun 3 09:35 PM

New Delhi, June 3(ANI): Lieutenant General KR Rao is the new Director General Artillery.

Earlier he was the DG Manpower Planning and Personnel.

In an eventful career spanning around 38 years, he has held many coveted commands in the Army.

Prior to taking over his new assignment, he has commanded an Artillery Regiment in the J-K, an Armoured Artillery Brigade and an Artillery Division.

He carries with him vast experience of all terrains of the Indian Army from Siachen to the Deserts.

He also has the rare distinction of having served in all the Strike Corps of the Indian Army as Deputy Commander of an Infantry Brigade, Commander Artillery Brigade and General Officer Commanding, Artillery Division.(ANI)

Lt. Gen Lamba is new chief of staff in Army Training Command

ANIWed, Jun 3 09:35 PM

New Delhi, June 3(ANI): Lieutenant General Arvinder Singh Lamba has taken over as the new Chief of Staff, HQ Army training Command in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Lamba is an officer with vast experience of conventional as well as Counter Insurgency operations.

He has also participated in the 1971 Indo-Pak war, during which he was commissioned into the Regiment of Artillery.

The General is a graduate of Defence Services Staff Course, Higher Command and RCDS at the Royal College of Defence Studies in United Kingdom. He has held numerous important appointments at all levels including in the Army Headquarters.

He has held several coveted commands in the Indian Military Academy and the Defence Services Staff College. (ANI)

Indigenous N-sub ready for trial
It took the country 25 years to build the advanced technology vehicle
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 3
Over 25 years after India started building an indigenous nuclear-powered submarine, subtly named ‘advanced technology vehicle’, the warship is now ready and could be finally “tested” at sea anytime in the coming few weeks.

Testing of such projects, as per sources, is not done on dates fixed in advance but the results, if successful, would be announced formally by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. In his last term as Prime Minister, Singh had laid the foundation of the prototype of the fast breeder reactor for the ATV.

Notably, the project is running at least a decade behind schedule. Having a fleet of nuclear subs is a critical aspect of controlling the Indian Ocean region where China is also flexing its muscles. A nuclear submarine can remain submerged for up to two weeks and is noiseless. On the other hand, diesel powered submarines — that India already has in its fleet — have to re-surface every 48 hours.

Sources said final stages of the dry checks on the nuclear sub are on at a secret location. If the sea trials are successful, its commissioning still would take another year or so. The ATV project was re-activated some eight-nine years ago when the construction of the hull (the outer body) was started with the help of a leading private company.

If India is successful, it would join a league of select nations like the US, UK, France, Russia and China that have their own nuclear-powered submarine. Many components of the reactor like the steam generator and the control rod mechanism have been fabricated in the country even though some Russian help had been taken, say sources.

The biggest challenge, as per sources, was miniaturising a nuclear reactor to fit it into the submarine, which is said to be of 5,000 tonne displacement. The submarine is also to have a ballistic missile firing capability. Tests of having such a missile have already been successfully carried using a submerged canister to mimic an undersea environment. The eventual aim is to create a deterrent based on nuclear-tipped missiles that can be delivered by aircraft, mobile land-based platforms, sea-based platforms and under sea.

The department of atomic energy and the Defence Research and Development Organisation have been jointly working on the project. The reactor for the ATV was developed indigenously by Indian scientists. The other challenge was procuring highly enriched uranium, the fuel for operating the reactor.

The only nuclear submarine India ever operated was the former Soviet Union’s Charlie-I class sub that the Indian navy leased to gain operational experience with nuclear powered submarines. Separately, the Indian Navy is hopeful that Russia's Akula class nuclear-powered submarine “Nerpa” will be handed over to India before the end of this year. The Russian Navy is said to be completing pre-delivery trials this summer before leasing it out to India.

Pak flexes muscles, again
Allows key plotter of 26/11 to walk free

Pakistan claims to be fighting terrorism and extremism, but the reality is contrary to it. Where it suits it, the Pakistan establishment considers such elements as “strategic assets”. The release of Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed from house arrest after a Lahore High Court judgement on Tuesday should be seen against this backdrop. The court verdict, which went in favour of Saeed, was along predictable lines. It has clearly been managed by Islamabad regardless of what it says about judicial independence. India had given sufficient proof of the JuD founder being the key plotter of the terrorist attack on Mumbai, but Islamabad did not present the required facts before the court because this did not fit in with its deceptive scheme of things. The results of the cases instituted separately against the other main terrorist figures behind the Mumbai carnage like the JuD’s Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and Zarar Shah cannot be different.

As External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishan has said, “Pakistan’s seriousness to fight against terror is still under a cloud.” It cannot succeed in fooling the world by its half-hearted offensive against the Taliban. The JuD, the brainchild of Saeed, declared a terrorist organisation by the UN Security Council, has been allowed to function under a different name in complete disregard of world opinion. In fact, there is no restriction on all the Pakistan-based terrorist outfits involved in terrorist killings in India. These have been strengthening their support base, financial position and terrorist training infrastructure, with the Pakistan establishment playing a supportive role. Surprisingly, Islamabad refuses to learn from its experience with the Taliban, which has emerged as the most serious threat to stability in Pakistan.

The truth is that there is no change in the Pakistani mindset. The flexing of muscles can again be seen in Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s latest statement that “Pakistan remains committed to finding a just and peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions and aspirations of the Kashmiri people.” What is the point in raising the UN resolutions, which remain dead as dodo? Is this the way to have a “constructive and purposeful” dialogue with India? At least now Pakistani rulers should become wiser.

Joint action can smash sea pirates’ safe havens
by Dinesh Kumar

For the fourth time in seven months, the Indian Navy foiled yet another major piracy attempt by suspected Somalis on a merchant vessel with an Indian crew in the Horn of Africa. The latest incident, which occurred on May 28, brings into focus the festering problem of high sea piracy in a region containing a majority of the world’s oil reserves and also the world’s busiest shipping route.

The Indian Navy forms part of a specially assembled multi-national force comprising naval vessels from about two dozen countries entrusted with the challenging task of deterring attacks on merchant shipping in a dauntingly vast 2.8 million square km area extending from the Gulf of Aden to the Indian Ocean.

The Navy was authorised by the government in November 2008 to undertake hot pursuit of pirates in the territorial waters of Somalia, a war-ravaged country where there has been a complete breakdown of civil society and governance for close to two decades now.

Only a month earlier, on October 23, the Navy had begun carrying out anti-piracy patrols in international waters in the Gulf of Aden to protect Indian sea-borne trade, to instill confidence in the seafaring community and act as a deterrent to pirates. A sixth of the world’s merchant vessel maritime crew comprises Indians and at least 25 Indian-owned ships sail through this region every month.

The Indian Navy first engaged in anti-piracy action on November 11 last year when an armed helicopter with marine commandos dispatched from a guided missile frigate, INS Tabar, prevented pirates from boarding and hijacking a 38,000 tonne bulk carrier owned by a Mumbai-based shipping company.

A week later, on November 18, the same Navy frigate destroyed what the Navy described a ‘mother ship’, the nature of which has been disputed by the ship’s owner.

Now more recently, marine commandos on board an armed helicopter, which flew from another guided missile frigate, INS Talwar, fired at a group of eight well-armed pirates trying to board a Liberia-registered cargo ship with an Indian crew.

But accolades to the Navy apart, of considerable concern to both India and the international community alike is that this piracy-infested region comprises three of the world’s strategic choke points: the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal and the Bab-el-Mandeb. The bulk of the world’s trade is by sea (about 95 per cent in the case of India), a large portion of which passes through these choke points.

Of equal concern is that the region contains the vast majority of the world’s oil reserves with as much as 40 per cent of the world’s oil passing through the Strait of Hormuz and 11 per cent through the Suez Canal.

In addition, this region contains about 20 per cent of the world’s natural gas resources. On any given day more than 10,000 vessels of varying types are active in this region carrying millions of tonnes of raw and finished goods.

In response to the increasingly brazen attacks of piracy, the world community undertook several steps to protect the shipping lanes. In June 2008, the United Nations adopted Resolution 1816 permitting states to use “all necessary means to repress acts of piracy and armed robbery” in Somali waters.

In October, the UN passed Resolution 1838 calling all nations to intensify their efforts to combat piracy. Then in December 2008, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1851 approving anti-piracy efforts to include anti-piracy operations even in land.

Notwithstanding the UN resolutions and the creation of a Combined Maritime Force with three separate Combined Task Forces headquartered in Bahrain along with the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, the menace of piracy continues unabated on high seas by mostly Somali pirates.

Consider the statistics: In 2008, pirates attacked 122 ships in the Gulf of Aden region. This accounted for a 200 per cent increase compared to the previous year. Of these, 42 ships were hijacked and 815 persons on board taken hostage that resulted in a payment of between $ 20 to 40 million as ransom money.

At least 19 ships, including a Saudi Arabian oil tanker with $ 100 million worth crude oil and a Ukrainian cargo vessel with 33 T-72 tanks and other military equipment continue to be in the custody of armed pirates that have been steadily extending their area of operations to distances of up to 500 nautical miles from the shore.

Pirate clans now operate along more than 1,800 miles of the Somali coastline and have, in recent months, significantly extended the radius of offshore operations by using ‘mother ships’ masquerading as innocent fishing trawlers or dhows. For example, vessels transiting the east coast of Somalia have reported being attacked and fired upon at distances of more than 450 nautical miles.

In recent weeks, one ship even reported being attacked as far as 900 nautical miles from the coast. Most attacks have occurred at night and, on occasions, even on ships that have been deliberately kept unlit by the ship Master to avoid drawing attention. Indeed protecting ships in literally millions of square kilometers is akin to trying to find a needle in a haystack.

One visual evidence of the human catastrophe in this region is the Dadaab complex of refugee camps built by the United Nations about 80 km across the Somali-Kenyan border that holds 2,67,000 displaced people who fled Somalia after the last functioning central government collapsed.

A long-term solution eventually lies in the international community’s willingness to help establish stability and rule of law in Somalia so that the pirates’ safe havens can be eradicated. Until then, navies of the international community, backed by the UN, will have to continue strengthening their cooperation, coordination and information sharing system to keep piracy under check.

US goofs up, publishes 'highly confidential' nuke report on website

Press Trust of India / New York June 3, 2009, 13:23 IST

In a major goof-up the US government has mistakenly made public a "highly confidential," report, that gives detailed information about hundreds of the nation's civilian nuclear sites and programmes, media reports said today.

The publication of the 266-page document, said The New York Times, was revealed Monday in an official online newsletter. It has triggered off a debate among nuclear experts about danger posed by the disclosures. It also prompted a flurry of investigations in Washington into why the document had been made public, the Times said.

After enquiry from the paper the document was withdrawn from the website, yesterday.

"These screw-ups happen," said John M Deutch, a former director of central intelligence and deputy secretary of defense. "It's going further than I would have gone but doesn't look like a serious breach, he said.

But David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, a private group tracking nuclear proliferation, said that the information "can provide thieves or terrorists inside information that can help them seize the material, which is why that kind of data is not given out."

The information, considered confidential but not classified, was assembled for transmission later this year to the IAEA as part of a process by which the United States is opening itself up to stricter inspections in hopes that foreign countries, especially Iran and others believed to be clandestinely developing nuclear arms, will do likewise, the Times said.

President Obama sent the document to Congress on May 5 for review and possible revision, and the Government Printing Office subsequently posted the draft declaration on its website.

On its cover, the document attributes its publication to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. But Lynne Weil, the committee spokeswoman told the Times the committee had "neither published it nor had control over its publication."

Gary Somerset, a spokesman for the printing office, said it had "produced" the document "under normal operating procedures" but had now removed it from its website pending further review, the paper reported.

Political party bribed Army officers during polls: EC


EXPLOSIVE CLAIMS: Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi says Army officers were bribed to rig polls.

London: Members of a political party bribed Army officers in a blatant bid to rig postal ballots during last month’s General Elections in India, according to Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi. He did not identify the party.

The visiting Indian official, who was giving a presentation on the just-concluded elections at the House of Commons Tuesday, said the malpractice came to light during the polls in Punjab.

He said Punjab Police personnel found that Army soldiers were being corralled into voting for particular candidates by their commanding officers.

“We realised that the commanding officers of these forces were being approached by a political party and they were being bribed. And these soldiers had been told to just say ‘yes sir.’

“There is no other word in their dictionary. So if a commanding officer says ‘just vote for this man’, all the soldiers will vote for that man,” Quraishi said, answering a question about whether India - like Britain - faced problems with postal ballot fraud.

Six Pakistani-origin men were jailed for a total of more than 13 years last month after a major police investigation into an attempt to rig local council elections by fixing ballot papers in the London suburb of Slough.

The malpractice was described by the British judge as a “serious criminal offence… that attacks, affects and corrodes the roots of our democracy”.

Quraishi said he was not aware of the British scandal but added that India was trying to address the problem of postal ballot fraud by strengthening the secret ballot. He said every ballot in India has to be posted separately and by registered post, the cost of which is borne by the Election Commission.

Tata-Sikorsky Deal Ends HAL Aerospace Monopoly

By vivek raghuvanshi

Published: 3 Jun 2009 12:08

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NEW DELHI - The monopoly held by India's state–owned aeronautic manufacturer, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL), has been broken by the private firm Tata Advanced Systems Ltd. [TASL], which struck a joint venture with U.S.-based Sikorsky Aircraft to manufacture helicopters here.

An executive of TASL said the helicopters will be built for both defense and civil purposes, and include utility and strike versions for the armed forces.

Sikorsky is already in the race for India's program to procure 197 utility helos, along with AgustaWestland of the United Kingdom, Eurocopter of France , Kamov of Russia and Bell Helicopter of the United States.

The joint venture between TASL and Sikorsky is being set up near the central Indian city of Hyderabad in an Aerospace Special Economic Zone. The joint venture will be built at a cost of $200 million and the plant will be commissioned in one year, added the TASL executive.

Tata Group, which is the parent of TASL, already has an agreement with U.S. aerospace major Boeing to handle an initial $500 million of defense-related aerospace component work in India for export to Boeing.

Last year, TASL announced that it is joining hands with EADS to bid for the Indian Army's $1 billion advanced tactical communications system project. TASL also signed a memorandum of understanding last year with Israel Aerospace Industries to set up a defense technology company in India to jointly produce a wide range of defense and aerospace products.

Pakistan Army fires at Indian posts in Kashmir

3 Jun 2009, 1751 hrs IST, IANS

JAMMU: The Pakistan Army on Wednesday fired bursts of gunfire at Indian posts near the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir once again violating the over five-year ceasefire agreement between the two nuclear armed neighbours, an official said here.

The "unprovoked" firing, which was not retaliated, caused no damage, an Indian Army official said on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media on record.

"Pakistani troops fired three to four bursts in Saujian sector of Rajouri at 10.45 a.m. today," the official said.

The Indian Army has taken a "serious note of this (ceasefire violation)", the official said. "We shall be sending a message across and ask the reason for this violation."

This is the second ceasefire violation in less than a month this year on the LoC - a defacto border between India and Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir.

On May 9, the Pakistani Army violated the ceasefire along the LoC by firing two mortar shells at Indian posts.

Last year Defence Minister A.K. Antony said Pakistan had violated the ceasefire over thirty times since it was agreed between India and Pakistan in November 2003.

Is Pakistan defeating the Taliban?

Paul Woodward, Online Correspondent

  • Last Updated: June 03. 2009 10:13AM UAE / June 3. 2009 6:13AM GMT

As the Taliban appears to be losing control of the Swat Valley it is stepping up its attacks elsewhere in Pakistan. Meanwhile, the CIA is equipping Waziristan tribesmen with secret electronic transmitters to help target and kill al Qa'eda leaders.

A Pakistani court's decision to release the founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group that India blames for masterminding last November's Mumbai attacks will further strain the already frayed relations between India and Pakistan.

"Over the weekend, the Pakistani army announced that it had taken control of Mingora, the main town in the country's Swat Valley, which has been the location of a major operation to counter and kill Taliban fighters," The Independent reported. "Capture of the town was both a considerable strategic gain and a major morale-booster. Such was the sense of excitement that a defence official, Syed Athar Ali, predicted that the entire valley could be cleared of militants in just two or three days.

"Most experts believe he may have been a little too optimistic, but having secured Mingora the army is now pushing further into the valley. Some of the Taliban are apparently trying to escape through the mountains to the neighbouring Kalam valley. Officials admit it will take some time to restore essential services in Mingora, but they are hopeful that some of the town's 300,000 residents forced from their homes will start to return if they have confidence in the security situation."

Time magazine noted: "Even before the army took Mingora, Taliban fighters in Swat and Buner had told journalists that they planned to retreat and preserve their forces. Meanwhile, they stepped up fighting elsewhere, with bomb attacks in Lahore, Peshawar and smaller towns far from Swat, and guerrilla assaults on army targets in South Waziristan. The disappearance of some 400 students in a bus convoy in North Waziristan on Monday prompted suspicions that they had been taken hostage by the Taliban. The military claims to have killed some 1,200 militants (out of an estimated force of up to 5,000), including some midlevel commanders - although it failed to net the top Taliban leaders in the area. No independent verification of those figures has been possible, although civilians leaving the area have reported high levels of civilian casualties.

"The lasting impact of the military's Swat campaign, however, may well be the 3 million civilians it has displaced, left to largely fend for themselves in neighbouring towns and emergency camps. Aid agencies warn of an impending humanitarian disaster in Swat, where civilians who failed to flee have been cut off for days from food and water supplies; others languish in camps and sympathetic communities desperately short of resources. Many of those who have returned to areas cleared by the military have found their homes, stores and mosques reduced to rubble."

BBC News later reported: "Dozens of students abducted by militants in the north-west of Pakistan have been released, the military and college staff say.

"Several buses carrying students and staff were reported missing in an area near the Afghan border on Monday.

"The vice principal of Razmak Cadet College told the BBC everybody seized in North Waziristan had been released."

Meanwhile, Christian Science Monitor said: "A Pakistani court's decision to release the founder of a militant group that India blames for masterminding last November's Mumbai attacks will strike a blow to already strained Indian-Pakistani relations, according to analysts.

"The order to release Hafiz Saeed - head of banned outfit Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD) and founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) - from six months of house detention came Tuesday. It was met with cheers and cries of 'God is great!' by dozens of his followers at the Lahore High Court.

" 'Praise be to God, we were granted justice,' Yahya Mujahid, a spokesman for the group told the Monitor."

Reuters added: "Saeed was put under house arrest in early December after a UN Security Council committee added him and the Islamist charity he heads to a list of people and organisations linked to al Qa'eda or the Taliban.

"Saeed founded the LeT militant group in 1990, and for years it battled Indian forces in the disputed Kashmir region.

"Saeed stepped down as LeT leader shortly after India accused the group of being behind an attack on its parliament in December 2001. The group was banned in Pakistan in January 2002.

"Until recently, the JuD had an extensive welfare network across Pakistan, funded by donations. It played a major role in helping survivors of a 2005 earthquake in northern mountains that killed 73,000 people.

" 'His release raises serious doubts over Pakistan's sincerity in acting with determination against terrorist groups and individuals operating from its territory,' Vishnu Prakash, India's foreign ministry spokesman, said on Tuesday.

"But Pakistan rejected comments as 'misplaced'.

" 'The government of Pakistan is well aware of its obligations under national and international laws,' Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Basit said in a statement. 'Polemics and unfounded insinuations cannot advance the cause of justice in civilised societies. Legal processes cannot and must not be interfered with.' "

Reporting from Peshawar in the North-West Frontier Province, Declan Walsh said: "The CIA is equipping Pakistani tribesmen with secret electronic transmitters to help target and kill al Qa'eda leaders in the north-western tribal belt, in a tactic that could aid Pakistan's army as it takes the battle against extremism to the Taliban heartland.

"As the army mops up Taliban resistance in the Swat valley, where a defence official predicted fighting would be over within days, the focus is shifting to Waziristan and the Taliban warlord Baitullah Mehsud.

"But a deadly war of wits is already under way in the region, where tribesmen say the US is using advanced technology and old-fashioned cash to target the enemy.

"Over the last 18 months the US has launched more than 50 drone attacks, mostly in south and north Waziristan. US officials claim nine of the top 20 al Qa'eda figures have been killed.

"That success is reportedly in part thanks to the mysterious electronic devices, dubbed 'chips' or 'pathrai' (the Pashto word for a metal device), which have become a source of fear, intrigue and fascination.

" 'Everyone is talking about it,' said Taj Muhammad Wazir, a student from south Waziristan. 'People are scared that if a pathrai comes into your house, a drone will attack it.'

In April, NBC News reported on a video the Taliban had then released as a warning to anyone contemplating cooperating with US forces.

" 'I was given $122 to drop chips wrapped in cigarette paper at al Qa'eda and Taliban houses,' confessed 19-year-old Habibur Rehman, just before the Taliban shot him dead for spying for the United States. 'If I was successful, I was told, I would be given thousands of dollars,' he said.

"In a video released last week by the Taliban as a warning to other would-be spies, Rehman recounted how he was recruited to spy on the Taliban in North Waziristan and drop small transmitter chips on specific targets to call in CIA pilotless drone aircraft.

" 'I thought this was a very easy job,' Rehman said in the video before he was killed. 'The money was good so I started throwing the chips all over. I knew people were dying because of what I was doing, but I needed the money.' "

The Washington Post said: "Since last fall, the Predator drone attacks have eliminated about half of 20 US-designated 'high-value' al Qa'eda and other extremist targets along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, US and Pakistani officials said. But the attacks have also killed civilians, stoking anti-American attitudes in Pakistan that inhibit cooperation between Islamabad and Washington.

" 'The need to establish a trusting, mutually beneficial US-Pakistan partnership is pressing, yet the ability to do so is severely challenged by current events,' army Gen David H Petraeus, head of US Central Command, wrote in a secret assessment on May 27. Petraeus's statement was declassified late last week so it could become part of the Obama administration's federal court appeal to block the release of detainee photographs showing abuse. The administration argues that the images would promote attacks against the United States worldwide.

" 'Anti-US sentiment has already been increasing in Pakistan ... especially in regard to cross-border and reported drone strikes, which Pakistanis perceive to cause unacceptable civilian casualties,' Petraeus wrote. Nearly two-thirds of Pakistanis oppose counterterrorism cooperation with the United States, he said, and '35 per cent say they do not support US strikes into Pakistan, even if they are coordinated with the GOP [government of Pakistan] and the Pakistan Military ahead of time.' "

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