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Sunday, 21 June 2009

From Today's Papers - 21 Jun 09

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US has no intention to send troops to Pakistan: Obama

Lalit K Jha/ PTI / Washington June 20, 2009, 11:17 IST

US President Barack Obama today said that his administration has no intention to send American troops to Pakistan amid growing speculation that Washington could be preparing to help Islamabad as its army steps up the offensive against the Taliban militants in the restive tribal areas.

Obama said US has no intention to send troops to Pakistan and it is for Islamabad and the Pakistan military to deal with the situation in the country.

"Well, again, we don't comment on specific operations. I will tell you that we have no intention of sending US troops into Pakistan," Obama told the Dawn TV of Pakistan in an interview, when asked if the US would send its troops to Pakistan if it had specific information about the presence of Osama bin Laden inside Pakistan.

"We simply want to make sure that our common enemies, which are extremists who would kill innocent civilians, that that kind of activity is stopped, and we believe that it has to be stopped whether it's in the United States or in Pakistan or anywhere in the world," he added.

The US President said the support provided to Pakistan is focused primarily on the internally displaced persons, who have been uprooted from their homes due to military operations in the restive northern areas.

"The support that we have provided right now is focused primarily on the internally displaced persons that are resulting from some of these operations, and we have helped to mobilize international support to provide food and shelter and clothing for those who've been displaced," Obama said.

"We want to be helpful in the context of the international community to make sure that those persons are able to get back into their homes in a secure way as soon as possible," he added.

The primary goal of his administration, Obama said, is to be a partner and a friend to Pakistan, to allow the country to thrive on its own terms, respecting its own traditions, respecting its own culture.

Pak military aid needs to be focused towards extremism: Obama

Lalit K Jha/ PTI / Washington June 20, 2009, 10:47 IST

US President Barack Obama has said that any American military aid to Pakistan needs to be used against extremism, supporting lawmakers concerns that the new financial aid should not end up building up the Pakistan Army against India.

"We have in the past supported Pakistan militarily. I think it is important to make sure that military support is directed at extremists and our common enemies," Obama said in an interview to the Dawn TV of Pakistan, without directly referring to the concerns raised by several American lawmakers in recent past who wanted to have tough conditions on Pakistan in lieu of any new military aid.

Many US lawmakers in the past have expressed concern that Pakistan has used American financial aid to build up its army, rather than fight extremism in its restive tribal areas.

Obama underlined the need to help Pakistan strengthen its resources that will facilitate development in the country.

"My view is that we have to help Pakistan to provide them the resources that will allow for development," Obama said. His Administration has increased the non-military aid to Pakistan to $1.5 billion a year for the next five years.

The President talked about the importance to base the bilateral ties beyond just military-to-military cooperation into "something richer". "I also think that the relationship between the United States and Pakistan can't just be based on military-to-military cooperation. It has got to be based on something richer that involves development and exchanges of students and business people. So we want to encourage that kind of work, as well," Obama told the Pakistani news channel.

Referring to his administration's efforts to help Pakistan, Obama said: "We helped to lead an effort that raised $5 billion of development assistance for Pakistan at a donors conference in Japan, hundreds of millions of dollars that we're trying to provide to support internally displaced people."

"That's the kind of strategy that I think will bring our countries closer together. Having known the people of Pakistan, I am convinced that the future between our two countries can be very, very bright," Obama underlined.

Taking care of security
Get priorities right to face challenges
by Maj-Gen Pushpendra Singh (retd)

INDIA’s strategic environment has altered dramatically. In a perilous situation, we face three tough challenges (China has played a conspicuous role in two of them).

First, Pakistan has been adding quantitative and qualitative teeth to its nuclear arsenal with two Chinese supplied plutonium reactors in its Khushab facility, indicating success of its efforts to produce advanced compact warheads. A US Congressional research service report now credits Pakistan with developing parity with India, even as it continues expanding and accelerating its nuclear weapons programme.

The report says, Pakistan achieved this through concealed and hardened missile silos complemented by mobile missiles, all under upgraded air-defence shields. These revelations do have a ring of authenticity.

Meanwhile, North Korea called the West’s bluff to emerge from the nuclear closet as an overt Nuclear Weapon State (NWS) and exposed the West’s’ toothless threats. The efficacy of UN-imposed sanctions rests critically on Chinese enforcement – a doubtful proposition. Can Iran now be far behind, if Ahmadinejad’s resounding re-election gets confirmed?

The Asian landmass is fairly bristling with NWS actors. Our nine-year-old nuclear deterrent remains ‘work-in- progress’. Our Scud-type liquid-fuelled missiles can only reach Pakistan whose missiles of Chinese and North Korean origin are decidedly superior. China has stepped forward its India-targeted missiles to Tibet, minimising our reaction time for detection of launch and for taking defensive measures. In response, our retaliatory second strike cannot reach even close to China’s heartland.

A pre-requisite for a no-first-use policy – which we have declared – is a credible second-strike capability. This remains only a wish. Our nuclear submarine, the backbone of a second-strike against China, is still to undergo many months of sea trials. There is thus a definite urgency to rev up the induction of China-capable missiles and credible, SLBM-equipped nuclear submarines. Concomitantly, our recessed nuclear posture needs a review along with a reliable C4I2SR structure in place.

The second facet relates to the US policy in our region. Analysts consider that its Af-Pak policy has ignored India’s legitimate security concerns. The Bush Administration had reversed the traditional US tilt towards Pakistan and forged a closer relationship between the oldest and largest democracies. Now, the Obama-people seem to have reverted to type by blind-siding India’s legitimate security interests. While Obama meticulously avoided using the K-word in conjunction with its Af-Pak formulation, limiting the war on terror to Afghanistan and Pakistan while going soft on Pak-exported terror to India, is unlikely to succeed.

Then again, yielding to Pak pressure and giving it unconditional and substantial aid ignores the 40-year history of such aid being utilised against us. Therefore, UPA-II has its task cut out in placing our legitimate regional concerns on the US radar. No lasting solution to the ‘jihadi’-terror can ignore its Kashmir-centric facet.

Even as Pakistan grapples with its internal devils we need to remain alert to any attempts to divert public attention from its problems by raising the India-bogey and attempting yet another military misadventure against us. Ee must have contingency plans in place to preclude jihadis’ access to WMDs. This calls for enhanced intelligence efficacy and a plan for plugging gaps in our conventional capability.

The final facet concerns the newly revealed pugnacity in China’s gheraoing of India. In addition to the string-of-pearls naval bases designed to control Indian Ocean’s nodal sea-lanes, China has moved to undermine India’s ties with Nepal and Sri Lanka besides helping Pakistan enhance its nuclear weapons programme.

The articulation of its now-evident animosity results from success of sustained strategic efforts. The rail link to Lhasa (being extended to Kathmandu), support of Maoists in Nepal and emergence of a strong blue-ocean fleet with sophisticated SLBM-equipped nuclear submarines are all products of a decades-long strategic vision pursued with sustained and purposeful vigour. This is in such sharp contrast to MoD’s failure to produce even a single strategy paper in 62 years – or even to approve, comment on, or reject the 11th Defence Plan, three years after the clock for the Plan started ticking. Time and events do not await MoD’s convenience!

Consequently, India’s defence and strategic preparedness has been irresolute and patchy and simply unequal to the severe challenges confronting the nation.

Last week, China bared another of its fangs at the Asian Development Bank when it moved to block $2.9 billion credits to India ostensibly because they included development assistance for some Arunachal Pradesh projects. This recalled the relevance of Chanakya’s wisdomin Arthashastra: “it is the Mauryan soldier (read military strength) which alone enables the nation to prosper and grow economically”.

We can break the dragon’s gherao by now looking ahead and starting energetically to meet current challenges; assigning due priority to defence and strategic issues; and above all, reversing decades of sidelining professionals from strategy formulation.

There must be a subtle but sustained diplomatic effort with China’s other neighbours to assuage their nervousness at its Middle Kingdom syndrome. Central to this endeavour must be cementing deeper economic and strategic cooperation with Japan. Others would include Central Asian Republics and ASEAN, specially Vietnam, Indonesia and Philippines.

UPA-II should engage the Obama administration to regain some Bush-era warmth and attain some convergence between respective strategic perceptions. Given Clinton’s Indian friends, getting our message across would be simple but achieving a degree of congruity will need much hard work, considering the administration’s declared priorities. Some insurance will need to be taken out by fostering closer understanding with Russia, UK and EU countries.

While UPA-II sets its priorities in restoring double-digit growth and poverty alleviation, it would be fruitful to recall Chanakya’s ancient wisdom and also propel India to strategic security, militarily and diplomatically. But the big challenge may lie in finding the will to boldly confront strategic challenges facing the nation.

‘Only stable economy can guarantee strong and effective security’

Daily Times Monitor

LAHORE: Political analyst Dr Hassan Askari Rizvi has said that only a stable economy can “guarantee robust security for a country”.

In an appearance on a private TV channel’s programme hosted by renowned journalist and analyst Ijaz Haidar on Saturday, Askari criticised budget debates on TV channels and other forums – saying they were more of political wrangling and sheer criticism of the government rather than constructive discussions.

He said Pakistan should “balance its resources and needs” instead of competing with India over the defence budget. He said parliament was constitutionally bound to debate the country’s defence budget, but lawmakers were not exercising their powers.

Askari said a committee with representatives from parliament, the Defence Ministry and the Pakistan Army should be formed, to identify sensitive parts of the defence budget, while the rest of the budget should be debated openly in parliament.

In an appearance on the same programme, defence analyst Lt Gen (r) Nishat Ahmad said it was dangerous for Pakistan to increase its defence budget with India in mind, as both countries were different in terms of area, population and resources.\06\21\story_21-6-2009_pg7_26

Army team scales Dhaulagiri

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: A six-member Army team led by Major Amit Aukta became the first Indian team to climb the 8,147-metre Mount Dhaulagiri, the seventh highest peak in the world.

The other members were Naib Subedar Prabhu Dayal, Naik Rinzin Dorje, Sepoy Sonam Targais and Sepoy Kesang Rangdol.

The team, which achieved this distinction on May 8, was felicitated by the Defence Minister A.K. Antony at a function here on Friday. With this achievement, the Army has climbed six of the 14 peaks above 8,000 metres. These are Mt. Everest, Kanchenjunga, Lhotse, Cho Oyu, Annapurna and Dhaulagiri.

Rare distinction

Subedar C.N. Bodh, a member of the expedition, achieved the rare distinction of being the only Indian to have been on the summit of all the six peaks, a Defence Ministry release said.

Lauding their indomitable courage and spirit of adventure, Mr. Antony hoped that the Army would unfurl the tricolour atop all the 14 peaks.

This was the Army’s first expedition to Dhaulagiri.

Eurocopter to field AS550 C3Fennec for army/air force LUH tender news

20 June 2009

Le Bourget, Paris: Eurocopter will field the AS550 C3 Fennec military helicopter for trials in India's Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) joint tender for the Indian Army and air force. In a previous tender, since cancelled, it had fielded an AS350 civilian version of the helicopter, which had drawn protests from other contenders.

AS550At the Paris Air Show, Norbert Ducrot, Eurocopter's senior vice-president for sales and customer relations in Asia Pacific, revealed that flight tests for the LUH tender were likely to commence shortly.

"This time, we have a military version of the Fennec that is ready to go on trial in India. We are waiting for the instructions and we expect the process to begin shortly. We do not know when a contract will be awarded but we are sure that we have the best product for India," he adds.

Last time around, in December 2007, the Indian ministry of defence had even announced Eurocopter as the winner of the tender and plans were afoot to sign the contract in the presence of visiting French president Nicolas Sarkozy, until shrill protests from the Americans forced the MoD to withdraw the award.

Eurocopter clarified that its civilian version, the AS350, was identical to the AS550 military version "in terms of airframe, systems, main gear box, rotor head, blades, engine and performances".

The company was subsequently cleared of any wrong-doing.

Of the 197 light utility helicopters sought by the two services, 133 are for the army and 64 for the air force. The MoD expects that deliveries will begin by the end of 2010 after year-long trials.

The contract is worth a potential $750 million.

AS550State-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd has been asked to develop and manufacture another 187 light utility helicopters.

There is a separate tender out for 22 twin engine attack helicopters for the Indian Air Force, for which RFPs have been invited from AgustaWestland A129, Bell AH-1Z Cobra, Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow, Eurocopter Tiger, Kamov Ka-52 and Mil Mi-28.

The navy is also likely to firm up plans for anti-submarine warfare and naval reconnaissance helicopters.

India has also ordered 80 Mil Mi-17-V5 transport helicopters, and has commenced induction of the HAL Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter.

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