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Wednesday, 24 June 2009

From Today's Papers - 24 Jun 09

The Pioneer

Asian Age

Asian Age

The Pioneer

Asian Age

The Pioneer


Hindustan Times

Times of India

Times of India

US aircraft reveals clumsiness of Indian babudom - I

The mindless detention of the plane on active duty in the war on terror in Afghanistan, a war theatre that India can ill-afford to undermine, was one minute short of 24 hours! Just because of callous obsession with paperwork by a bloated officialdom.

THREE SPYKAR armoured vehicles, large stock of reactive armour, precision-controlled missiles, BGM-71 anti-tank guided missile launchers, helicopter ancillaries, M-242 chain gun ammunition and several aircraft spare parts were among the ‘onboard list’ of an AN-124 heavy transport aircraft, which was forced to land at Mumbai International Airport last weekend, escorted by IAF aircrafts. Believe it or not, there were no weapons!

The Ukraine-made plane was operated by Volga-Dnepr Airlines of Russia and has been flying over the Arabian Sea regularly. It had often been over the Indian flight region under the ‘call sign’ VDA 4466, usually used by civilian flights. The plane took off from Diego Garcia military base of the US to Kandahar in Afghanistan. It must be obvious to even a novice that it flew supplies for Operation Enduring Freedom, the ongoing ‘war on terror’ fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. Such supplies are supposed to receive emergency passage as “Rush Urgent” – like ambulances on roads – unless a regime wants to deliberately disrupt the operation.

According to The Hindu, one of the very few Indian newspapers with a reputation for authenticity in news, Indian Air Force (IAF) spokesperson Tarun Kumar Singha said that inspection of the cargo showed that the aircraft “was carrying three armoured recovery vehicles and medical equipment. There were no weapons on board!” The ‘revelation’ of no weapons onboard was obviously an attempt to save face after a shaming goof up caused by stifling bureaucratic attitudes plaguing India.

The wet-leased aircraft was had a total of 18 passengers including the crew and pilots. It is not known if some of them were paratroopers to be dropped in the field. It became a victim of clumsiness due to bureaucratic arrogance rampant in India’s callous officialdom. The cargo and personnel intended for the Front were held up for 24 hours. Babus of Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and IAF were messing up its schedule, finding fault with each other’s paperwork.

Airlines are required to submit flight plans to the various Air Traffic Controllers whose services the aircraft will use and to the defence authorities of the countries whose airspace it will fly. This cannot obviously be done days or even several hours before takeoff and can be finalized only a couple of hours earlier. In India, DGCA issues a ‘YA’ number to the plane. The Military Liaison Unit (MLU) issues an ‘ADC’ number for the identification of the plane when it is to use defence airspace. The MEA needs to issue this Air Operations Routing (AOR) authority to fly over Indian airspace for the MLU to process the plan.

According to archaic and clumsy paperwork prescribed for military aircraft, the request has to be routed through MEA, Intelligence Bureau (IB) and then to IAF. The aircraft would have to disclose details of the cargo being carried. According to a pen-pushing babu, “We would have to decide whether to allow the flight into our airspace!” even if it is not to land in India. Such nonsensical and dreary procedures involving paperwork shunting between several tables can take days.

This type of delay kills the very purpose of airlifting at great expense for the sake of swift movement. Why the Russian operator obtained a civilian call sign, avoiding an AOR must be clear to any highway user in India. Such bureaucratic systems in place in India’s road network forces transport operators to fatten pockets of appropriate officials to avoid their trucks getting detained for hours and days. It is due to the failure to curtail archaic paperwork and what is dubbed as ‘babugiri’ that the reforms process loses its pace in India making it one of the most corrupt nations.

Lt Col sacked over loss of ID cards
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 23
While a General Court Martial (GCM) has dismissed a Lieutenant Colonel for the alleged lapses that led to the loss of a large number of identity cards from an armoured unit during field exercises, another GCM has summoned two Generals as witnesses in the related trial of the unit’s commanding officer (CO).

Sources said the GCM held Lt Col A. Yadav guilty of the three charges faced by him. The defence had pleaded not guilty of the charges and contended that the court lacked jurisdiction on account of some procedural lacuna.

The GCM, presided over by Brig KS Virk, concluded in the Central Command this month. The GCM, trying the commanding officer at Bathinda military station, has summoned two generals to depose before the court as prosecution witnesses. It is extremely rare for officers of the rank of Lieutenant General to depose before military courts.

Lt Gen PC Katoch, now posted at the Army Headquarters, was the Corps Commander, while Lt Gen SR Gosh, now a Corps Commander, was the GOC of the Division under which the armoured unit was listed at the time of the incident.

The identity cards were reported to have gone missing when the unit was on exercises in Punjab in 2007. The loss had created a security alert as they could have been used to gain access to high-security zones or military installations in case they fell into wrong hands. The loss of personal ID cards is a serious offence in the armed forces.

A court of inquiry (COI) ordered by Headquarters 23 Infantry Division had held the officers along with some jawans blameworthy for the loss of identity cards. They were charged under Section 63 of the Army Act for the alleged lack of supervision and violation of security instructions.

Life turned upside down in a split second

When Mumbai was under siege during the terror attack last November, most of us huddled inside our homes, glued to our television sets, watching in horror as the three-day standoff took a heavy toll.

However, none of us saw the gory sights inside the Taj and Oberoi hotels -- the dead guests, the bloody rooms and damaged structures. We didn't see the shots being fired, or the crumbling walls. One man, who did see those sights, has ironically lost some of his vision today.

Captain Amitendra Kumar Singh, a National Security Guard commando, was inside the Oberoi Hotel, fighting the terrorists on November 27. He was positioned in front of the room where the terrorists were holed up, and was firing at them, hoping to injure them.

It was only when he felt a sharp punch in the eye that he knew he had been hit by a grenade. The last thing he remembers is being carried down the fire exit by fellow NSG commandos and being put in an ambulance.

When he was flown out of Delhi along with his fellow officers to battle the terrorists in Mumbai, Captain Singh had never dreamt that this would be his last operation as a serving officer. Placing his life in danger to rescue innocent civilians was part of his job profile, but never had this young man imagined his career would be cut short so soon, and that his life would be turned upside down in a split second.

Recognising his contribution and sacrifice to the nation, the government awarded Captain Singh the Shaurya Chakra (the third highest gallantry award) in March.

A few days after being injured, Captain Singh was discharged from the Bombay Hospital and sent to the Sankara Netralaya Eye Hospital in Chennai for treatment. However, the news was bad. The commando had lost his left eye, and doctors recommended he get a false eye. Declining their recommendation, he took a month's sick leave and went to Lucknow, his hometown, to recover.

After shuttling back and forth between Lucknow's Command Hospital, Chennai's Sankara Netralaya Eye Hospital and Delhi's R&R Hospital, Captain Singh was discharged a day before Holi and allowed to return to the NSG camp in Manesar, where he is posted.

"I was so sick of hospitals by then -- they all said the same thing, that my eye was damaged beyond repair, and that I would have to get a glass eye, which I didn't want to do."

Once he was back at the NSG camp, Captain Singh realised that people have short memories, and if you are injured in the army, you are little more than a liability.

"People's attitudes towards me have changed. Earlier, they had the utmost confidence in my abilities -- I was given plum tasks to take care of. Now even though I can do everything, including driving, firing and physical tasks, all the meaty jobs go to others, and I am given things to do that are not in keeping with my rank. That makes me feel bad."

"But what can I do? I have to serve here. Now I am doing a desk job -- I take care of the administration and running of the camp. I'll never be able to participate in operations again. It's not like the US army where any capable person can serve. Serving in the army always been my dream, which is now shattered."

He makes it clear that the Shaurya Chakra did not serve as salve to his wounds. "I don't want the Shaurya Chakra. Take it back and return my eye to me. P V Manish (the other Shaurya Chakra awardee) and I were together at the Oberoi. I lost my eye and he was hit in the head by a grenade. The right side of his body was paralysed for some time, but is getting better now. In such operations, you should either die or come back safe and sound. If you come back injured, you don't get any respect."

"People soon forget your sacrifice and treat you like a liability. When I came back, I got a grand welcome; everyone was glad that I was alive. But now priorities have changed. It pinches sometimes -- especially when I have to go to the doctor because of pain, and someone says, 'Arre, you just went two days ago -- now you have to go again?'"

Coming from an army background, Captain Singh feels this is all he knows to do. "I have never seen the outside world, so I don't know what I'm capable of there. If I leave this world, I think all I can do is become a teacher. But for that one needs to study -- which I can't do."

"I used to think about the IAS also sometimes, but couldn't imagine studying that much. I was never interested in studies, I hated exams and books. I was interested in sports, so I took part in extra curricular activities extensively."

"Since I hated studying, I decided to join the army. But it is not that the army is free of academics -- we have courses and tests too -- so I end up studying two days before the exam and write down everything I know! If I'd known I'd have to study so much in the army, I would never have joined." (Chuckles.)

Despite his troubles, the mention of his fiance Dr Madhu Singh brings a smile to his face. The young lady didn't allow her fiance's fate to deter her determination of joining the army as a dentist.

She is now posted in Delhi, but the couple barely get time to meet, given their demanding schedules. "We hardly get to meet because I don't go out of the NSG camp -- it's a risk for me to drive -- I can't see anything on my left side. But when I do drive, I still hit speeds of 80 kms an hour. I can't drive slowly. The other day I crashed into a vegetable cart and scattered all his vegetables on the street," he reveals with a mischievous smile.

Hearing about captured terrorist Ajmal Kasab, the 28-year-old braveheart admits, makes his blood boil.

"He has become a bigger hero than us. They should have stoned him to death at some crossroads in Mumbai that time itself."

Discussing the operation, Captain Singh says, "The claims of policemen being inside the hotel during the attack -- there was not a single cop inside. Not even the (naval commandos) Marcos were there -- they handed over the operation to us and left."

"And today I read that so many cops were there, and how brave they were. If they had been in the army, there would have been a court of inquiry by now. And their families have been given CNG gas stations, petrol pumps... Why aren't we given anything? We have also served the country and put our lives in danger. And it was while doing that that we got injured."

Despite the cruel hand fate has dealt him, Captain Singh says he has no regrets.

"I don't regret joining the NSG even though I lost my eye. At least the location and complex is nice -- it makes me feel peaceful. There are forests and a temple close by. Sometimes we see leopards in the thickets. We are also provided with facilities like a swimming pool. I like it here."

"Now I don't feel upset about what happened anymore -- I realise it was destined and that I have to live with it. But I know how hard I have worked in my life -- I just know that good things are in store for me. God can't be so unkind as to leave me like this."

Army Chief's brief visit to state boosts up soldiers' morale

Source: Hueiyen News Service

Imphal, June 23 2009: The Chief of Army Staff, General Deepak Kapoor was in Manipur today for a first-hand review of the security situation in the state.

The visit comes at a time when the Army, in conjunction with other forces, is conducting stepped up operations against a number of banned underground outfits in the North Eastern Region.

Accompanied by his wife, Mrs Kirti Kapoor, President of Central Army Wives' Welfare Association (AWWA), General Kapoor was received at Kangla helipad in the heart of Imphal city in the morning by Lieutenant General V K Singh, PVSM, AVSM, YSM, General Officer Commanding in Chief, Eastern Command, Mrs Bharti Singh, President, Family Welfare Organisation Eastern Command, Lieutenant General R K Loomba, AVSM, General Officer Commanding, HQ 3 Corps and Major General A K Choudhary, AVSM, SM, VSM, IG AR (South).

Soon after their arrival, General Kapoor and top brass of Indian army drove straight to Assam Rifles complex at Mantripukhuri where he was briefed by Major General Choudhary" on the security situation in Manipur".

"Later, the Army Chief met Manipur Governor Gurbachan Jagat", says Colonel Pradhant Wangkhede, PRO, Assam Rifles when contacted.

The Army chief also lauded the efforts of the soldiers in fighting terrorism in the state and asked them to continue the good work in a professional manner and provide all possible assistance to the populace in the true traditions of the Army and the Assam Rifles, army sources said.

General Kapoor during his sojourn, also visited Leimakhong Army headquarters, around 20 km north of Imphal along with GOC Eastern Caommand and GOC 3 Corps.

The visit of an Army Chief to an Insurgency hit state like Manipur is the first of it's kind in the last three years.

When General J J Singh (Retd) who is now Governor of Arunachal Pradesh,was the Chief of Army Staff, had visited Singhat, a remote village, about 100 km south of Imphal in Manipur's Churachandpur district near Indo-Myanmar border to inaugurate a model village on August 9, 2006 .

According to Colonel Rajesh Mishra, PRO, Defence Wing, the Army Chief was on a routine tour to some North Eastern states after he assumed office as the Chief of Indian army.

"To take stock of the prevailing situation, the Chief was here for sometime to interact with the soldiers", Col Mishra said.

Later General Kapoor left for 3 Corps headquarters in Nagaland's Dimapur in the afternoon.

It is learnt that the General is likely to review the entire security situation of violence hit Assam, Nagaland and Manipur.

He may also oversee the violence in Assam's North Cachar Hills district.

However it couldn't be confirmed officially.

Mention may be made here that three Zeliangrong Naga bodies have sought Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh's intervention in restoring peace and normalcy in the violence-torn NC Hills district.

Meanwhile, a press release issued by the PIB (Defence Wing) here stated that the Chief of the Army Staff, Gen Deepak Kapoor, PVSM, AVSM, SM, VSM, ADC visited 57 Mountain Division at Leimakhong today.

The Chief and Chairperson, Family Welfare Organisation (FWO) were received by Maj Gen Shakti Gurung, VSM, GOC of the Division and Mrs Madhu Gurung, Chairperson Red Shield FWO at the helipad.

Gen Kapoor went on to the Div Headquarters while Mrs Kirti Kapoor proceeded to DISHA.

The Chief reviewed the security arrangements in the state and was briefed by Maj Gen Shakti Gurung.

Remarking on the landmark operations conducted by the Division in the last one year, the Chief expressed his appreciation for a job well done.

He said, the effect of these successful operations was reflected directly and positively during the recent elections held in the state which were conducted without any incidence of violence.

Gen Kapoor also commented on the synergy which has been achieved between all the Security Forces operating in the state-especially the Manipur Police and the troops of 57 Mountain Division.

He said, synergy in all spheres is what all commanders dream of but was seldom seen.

The synergy reflected in all the operations being conducted in the state is the result of the direct interaction between the leaders at the top level of these organisations which has led to the tangible results achieved in the recent months, the press release quoted the Army Chief as saying.

He complimented Maj Gen Shakti Gurung, DGP of Manipur, Mr Joykumar Singh, IPS, Mr Rakesh, IAS, Chief Secretary of Manipur and Mr D S Poonia, Additional Chief Secretary for the same.

Gen Kapoor said that the GOC in conjunction with the civil administration of Assam must continue to be proactive in the NC Hills to achieve a favorable environment for normal day to day activities to be conducted.

In the end, the Chief met some of the troops who had taken part in Op Summer Storm and felicitated them.

Mrs Kirti Kapoor, Chairperson Family Welfare Organisation (FWO) was welcomed by Mrs Madhu Gurung at the DISHA Boys Hostel where she was briefed and then taken on a guided tour of the Hostel by Col Pankaj Saxena, CO, 165 Infantry Battalion (TA) (H&H).

Mrs Kapoor was impressed by the grooming and confidence displayed by the boys during their interaction with her.

She stated that she has had the privilege of visiting other institutes and hostels set up by the Army in various parts of the country - but the standards achieved by the staff of DISHA in grooming and nurturing these young minds towards self reliance and becoming young men of substance in such a short time frame, was indeed worthy of praise and emulation by others.

Mrs Kapoor spent time with the young children and interacted with them over a cup of tea - to learn what their young minds dreamt of and how the FWO could help them in achieving the same in the days ahead.

The Chairperson FWO then visited the "HEALTH ANGELS" - an initiative by Red Shield Division of the Indian Army and the brainchild of Mrs Madhu Gurung, which is an earnest endeavour to imbibe basic health awareness and maternity training amongst literate village folk to empower them and enable their knowledge and skill to percolate down to the grass root level and benefit the population of rural villages from which they come and where no medical aid is available.

The citizens of Manipur will recollect that Mrs Madhu Gurung, had inaugurated the training cadre for 15 local girls at 357 Field Hospital on 25 May 2009 .

The programme has caught the eyes of all and Mrs Kirti Kapoor, on her arrival from Delhi went to the training center to interact with these girls who have volunteered to be trained as "Health Angels" by the Army.

While interacting with these girls, Mrs Kirti Kapoor emphasized the role that these girls were expected to play in the upliftment of health in their respective villages in the days ahead.

She said that this was a unique programme, the first of its kind in the country - and reflects on the involvement of the ladies of the Army in the development of remote areas.

She said that human health especially that of women in these remote areas was a source of major concern for the Army.

These women who shoulder the burden of handling their homes, health of their families and the economy of the state, need to be educated on the aspects of taking care of themselves for the betterment of their families and this is where the "Health Angels" would play a major role in the days ahead.

Mrs Kapoor expressed her happiness with the manner in which the cadre and training of the girls was progressing and she wished the girls the very best in all their endeavours in the days ahead.

She assured them that the Army would always be there to support them in their venture and she would look forward to hearing about the progress of these girls in the days ahead.

After a short halt at Leimakhong, the Chief departed for Rangapahar Military Station.

Probe stalls upgrade, Army to get new guns

Manu Pubby Posted: Wednesday, Jun 24, 2009 at 0028 hrs IST

The Indian Army is set to order new artillery guns worth approximately Rs 1,000 crore as plans to upgrade existing guns have been stalled after a probe was initiated against the Israeli firm Soltam which had been awarded the contract.

The Army has issued a Request for Information, which will be followed by formal global tenders, to acquire new 155 mm/42 calibre towed guns to fill vital gaps in its artillery arsenal. The Army is planning to acquire close to 400 guns at the earliest.

A contract for upgrading the older generation M46 guns to modern 155 mm/45 calibre standards had been signed with Soltam earlier. Soltam is partially owned by arms agent Sudhir Choudhary, wanted by the CBI in several arms procurement cases.

While Soltam has already upgraded 180 Russian M46 guns, further orders have been stalled, forcing the Army to place orders for new guns.

The Army’s artillery modernisation programme, which is years behind schedule with scandals hitting most defence vendors like Bofors, Denel and lately Singapore Technologies, envisages a force of more than 500 of the 155mm/45 cal towed guns. While the Army has not received even a single new gun in the past two decades since the Bofors scandal, there is a line of thought that the stringent requirements laid out for new guns has come in the way of purchases.

As a result, all tenders floated by the Army in recent years to acquire new guns have come to a naught.

China-India Relations: An Unresolved Border and 60,000 Troops Deployed

Damien Tomkins | June 23, 2009

India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh shakes hands with China's President Hu Jintao

When two countries have gone to war over an unresolved border and one of these announces the deployment of 50,000-60,000 troops and nuclear-capable combat planes along this border, the reader would likely expect the second country to sit up and take notice. This is exactly what happened over the last month between India and China. In response to India’s military buildup, China has published two scathing articles, one in English and the other in Chinese, lambasting India’s move.

In early June, former Indian Army Chief and current governor of Arunachal Pradesh General J.J. Singh announced that between 50,000 and 60,000 troops will be deployed along the Line of Actual Control on top of future infrastructure and road development projects. In addition to the infantry placements, the Indian Air Force will also open a newly refurbished airbase in Tezpur near Assam. Four nuclear-capable Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter jets arrived there June 13, with plans to increase this to squadron strength of 18 aircraft.

From the Indian perspective, this bolstering of defenses along the border is in response to well-established Chinese fortifications on the other side, including transport infrastructure. In April 2008, Indian Defense Minister A K Antony visited the region and expressed surprise at the sophistication of Chinese military fornications within the area.

On June 9, the Chinese Global Times published an editorial entitled “India’s Unwise Military Moves,” which denounced India’s troop deployment. A thinly veiled warning was explicit within the article: “India’s current course can only lead to a rivalry between the two countries. India needs to consider whether or not it can afford the consequences of a potential confrontation with China.” An affiliate of the People’s Daily published a Chinese language article on June 12 which translates to “India is a paper tiger and its use of use will be trounced, say experts.” It is a provocative article, even referring to India as a paper tiger is a throwback to the language of Mao.

However, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang was much more conciliatory, saying on June 11, “China and India have never demarcated their border. To resolve the border issues at an early date is one of the ten strategies of developing China-India relations set by leaders of both countries. We are willing to pursue a fair and reasonable solution through negotiations with India.” President Hu and Prime Minister Singh met last week on the sidelines of the SCO and BRIC summits at Yekaterinburg, Russia. Indian officials then announced that “the next meeting of the Special Representatives tasked with resolving the boundary question was slated for August 7 and 8 in New Delhi.”

After fighting a brief border war in 1962, the demarcation of the 3500km border between China and India remains unsolved. China came out in a better position after the confrontation, due in part to superior forces and supply lines. Of the 14 countries that China borders, it is only with India that the issue of territorial demarcation remains unresolved.

In particular, Arunachal Pradesh province in northeastern India has continued to be a bone of significant contention with increased rhetoric from both sides over the past year. Last January, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had a very successful three day visit to China. Yet, later that month, Singh went on a two day visit to Arunachal Pradesh and publicly stated that Arunachal Pradesh is part of India. This drew strong protests from Beijing, where the Chinese Foreign Ministry lodged an official complaint with the Indian Embassy.

Still, the likelihood of a military border confrontation between India and China remains a low, but existential, possibility. Human error or a misreading of events could be the unintentional trigger for confrontation. An Indian military transport plane crashed very near the Chinese line of control, resulting in thirteen fatalities, on June 10; to date this crash has been reported as an accident.

Bilateral trade between the two countries has shown dramatic growth over the past eight years. In 2000, China exported approximately $1.5 billion worth of goods to India; in 2008 that figure was $32 billion. India’s exports to China in 2000 totaled only $760 million, but by 2008, this figure had grown to over $20 billion. Both countries classify themselves as developing, and both will become more relevant in global affairs as their economies continue to grow.

Yet, there are notable elements of distrust between the two countries, which will need to be carefully managed in the future. Both traditional and non-traditional security threats – climate change, water resources and energy needs – pose obstacles to bilateral relations.

South Asia has enough problems and does not need a military confrontation between India and China added to that list. China has successfully negotiated border boundaries with former Soviet states; earlier this year, Vietnam and China agreed upon the final demarcation of their land border. This unresolved border dispute between China and India is an unnecessary impediment to furthering ties between the two states.

China and India combined have over one third of the world’s population living within their borders; it is for the benefit of these people that the leaders of both countries must resolve the border question. The status quo has existed for over 45 years, and it is difficult to understand why two leading states like China and India cannot negotiate and agree on a political resolution to this matter. Bilateral relations will dramatically improve, as will economic ties, once these two determine the international boundary that separates them. In the current scenario there are two losers, China and India, and this need not be the case.

Indian, Russian rockets test-fired successfully

Hemant Kumar Rout

BALASORE: Barely a month before the fresh test of India’s most powerful nuclear capable ballistic missile Agni-III, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has successfully tested a series of Indian and Russian rocket systems from a defence base off Orissa coast.

The 3,500-km range Agni-III missile is all set to be tested for the forth time by the end of July. The indigenously built multi-barrel rocket launcher (MBRL) ‘Pinaka’ system and Russia-made ‘Smearch’ Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) were tested last week from the Proof and Experimental Establishment (PXE) test range, a part of DRDO, at Chandipur-on-sea, 15 km from Balasore.

“The tests were conducted between Monday and Friday. While 16 rounds of Smearch rockets were fired, 18 rounds of Pinaka rockets were tested and all the tests yielded desired results,” a scientist involved with the project said today. The tests were conducted by the PXE scientists while the technical staff of the integrated test range (ITR) provided strategic support. The tests termed as sample tests were aimed to assess the stability of the rockets in flight as well as accuracy and consistency.

Defence sources said, the Pinaka MBRL, which is also known as the Weapon Area System (WAS), can fire rockets with a range of 39-40 km and also can launch 12 rockets with 1.2 tonne of high explosives within 40 seconds. It is capable of acting as a force-multiplier and can gradually replace the current artillery system.

“The indigenous Pinaka can neutralise a target area of 350 sq km and is meant to supplement the existing artillery system at a range beyond 30 km. Its quick reaction time and high rate of fire provide the Army an edge during low-intensity war-like situations. The unguided rocket system put on trial here could be used to neutralise a higher geographical area with its salvo of rockets,” the scientist said. On the other hand, the Smearch tests were conducted both in solo and salvo mode by the DRDO scientists and the rocket target acquisition unit of Army.

The Russian Smearch MLRS is the most powerful and the perfect in the world. It is intended to defeat live power, destroy armoured vehicles, fortifications and command centres in 20-70-km range. “Smearch launch vehicle can fire 12 rockets at a time. It is able to fire single rockets, or salvo from two to all 12 rockets. Full salvo lasts 38 seconds. While the diameter of the launcher is about 300 mm, the rocket’s diameter is 214 mm,” said a defence scientist. “It also has the capability of launching surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles. The system can be integrated with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to provide a new dimension to artillery defence system,” he added.,+Russian+rockets+test-fired+successfully&artid=IlkEuXpGuUk=&SectionID=mvKkT3vj5ZA=&MainSectionID=mvKkT3vj5ZA=&SectionName=nUFeEOBkuKw=&SEO=Agni-III,%20Orissa

Pak army chief in Moscow as US readies Afghan surge news

Rajiv Singh

22 June 2009

General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani Islamabad: As part of heightened diplomatic activity in the Afghanistan and the Indian sub-continent region, Pakistan army chief of staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani arrived in Moscow on Sunday to hold talks with the entire spectrum of the Russian civilian and military leadership including its president, prime minister and the top rung of the military hierarchy.

General Kayani's visit to Moscow is taking place at the invitation of his Russian counterpart General Vladimir Boldyrev, the commander-in-chief of Russian Land Forces.

The visit comes hot on the heels of Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari's recent trip to Russia to participate in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit.

Pakistan has been resisting attempts by the Americans to involve India more significantly in its so-called 'Af-Pak' policy as a concerned regional power. A deeper involvement of India in Afghanistan's problems runs against Pakistan's concept of ''strategic depth,'' through which it considers Afghanistan as its strategic backyard, where it can determine the political fate and outlook of Kabul.

In its attempts to stymie India, Pakistan has begun actively wooing the support of major powers such as China, Russia and Iran. Pakistan actively sought Chinese and Russian support at the recent SCO summit held at Ekaterinburg.

The 21-23 June visit of General Kayani to Russia is now being perceived as significant in this regard.

Stuck between India and the Taliban

June 18th, 2009 · No Comments

The idea that Pakistan is inherently dangerous is a mantra used by those who ignore history and avoid the complicated reality

According to Kapil Komireddi in these very pages, the demise of Pakistan is “inevitable” because it has since foundation been a source of division and extremism. This is not a new argument. Virtually every western analyst, now happily joined by a chorus of Indian observers mysteriously bereft of regional contexts and history, believes that the Pakistan state, as opposed to merely extremists within its borders, is the single greatest threat to international peace and security.

On paper, there is much to support this line of thinking. Pakistan is, after all, a highly mismanaged, corrupt developing state that has fostered religious extremism for decades while continuing to build a formidable nuclear arsenal. The prospect of the Taliban getting its hands on Pakistan’s nukes is the stuff of nightmares, and Dick Cheney’s dreams. It is hard to think of a more frightening scenario.

With the exception of North Korea, no nuclear-armed nation is as scrutinised as Pakistan. Yet nuclear proliferation is on the rise worldwide. According to the Pentagon, Pakistan is expanding its nuclear arsenal more quickly than any other country. But India is not far behind and, along with China, Russia and the United States, is busy improving the size and quality of its weapon delivery systems.

On closer reflection, the idea that the Pakistan state is inherently dangerous turns out to be a lazy mantra used by those who wish to ignore history and avoid a more complicated reality.

A nation state is a rather nebulous concept at the best of time. But when a state as hurriedly created (in 1947), poorly managed and with as many centres of power as Pakistan is in question, it becomes difficult to establish diabolical intent, though not impossible.

Pakistan society is as divided as it is diverse, and its elites reflect these traits. Within the army, the most powerful institution in the country, there are careerists, Islamists and khaki businessmen more consumed with wealth accumulation via shady army welfare trusts than nuclear jihad. That is not to say the army is incapable of Machiavellian strategies. For decades, it has looked to install a pro-Pakistan regime in Afghanistan.

Following the war with the Soviets in Afghanistan, and generous encouragement of the US and Saudi Arabia, the army looked to radical Islamists to fulfil this role. It is also true that much of Pakistani society, including the army, has a pathological fear of India-engineered oblivion. Even now there are strong suggestions the army is supporting anti-India militancy in Kashmir.

Along with commentators such as Komireddi, the US has routinely and very publicly criticised Pakistan for refusing to shift the lion’s share of its troops stationed along the border with India (most of them are in Kashmir).

It is true that the army has been slow to react to the Taliban insurgency within Pakistan. Only last month did it finally decide to mount decisive action against Taliban encroachment in the country, and this after years of reaching peace agreements that saw the insurgents move into as much as 11% of the country.

But these sobering details do not an evil empire make.

Spare a thought for the Indian army. As the security analyst Farrukh Saleem wrote recently:

The Pakistan army looks at the Indian army and sees its 6,384 tanks … 672 combat aircraft … its six out of 13 Indian corps that are strike corps … [all] pointing their guns at Pakistan … deployed to cut Pakistan into two halves. The Pakistan army looks at the Taliban and sees no Arjun main battle tanks, … no 155mm Bofors howitzers, no Akash surface-to-air missiles, no BrahMos land attack cruise missiles, no Agni intermediate range ballistic missiles, no Sukhoi Su-30 MKI air superiority strike fighters, no Jaguar attack aircraft, no MiG-27 ground-attack aircraft, no Shakti thermonuclear devices, no Shakti-II 12 kiloton fission devices and no heavy artillery.

This year alone, India will spend close to $40bn (US) on its armed forces, up to eight times as much Pakistan. It has fought four major wars with Pakistan and, in each, matched its much smaller rival in bellicosity and provocation.

Such facts do not to absolve Pakistan’s army of responsibility for stifling militancy. But to consider Pakistan’s role in creating the instability currently engulfing the subcontinent without considering India is like studying the Cuban missile crisis without reference to American warheads pointed towards the then Soviet Union.

And therein lies the problem for so many Indians and Pakistanis. Lost in the west’s division between good and bad third-world citizens, many have become blind to their country’s own ills. It was in India, after all, that a pogrom arranged by fanatical Hindu groups assisted by the Gujarat government led to the murder of thousands of Muslims and Christians.

Fascism has an old pedigree in India – the anti-British nationalist Subhash Chandra Bose, who fought with the Japanese against Her Majesty’s forces during the second world war, marvelled at Hitler’s reinvigoration of the German state. At the last Indian elections, the fascist Bajrang Dal and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh parties openly lobbied on a Hindu supremacist platform. The reflections with the Taliban could not be clearer.

Many in Pakistan still refuse to accept that there is homegrown extremism in their country. They remain convinced that Indian, Israeli or American agencies (or all three in collusion) are stoking the flames of extremism to discredit Pakistan because it is the only Muslim nation with nuclear weapons. All the while, Pakistani school children continue to be fed lies about Indian designs over the country and the virtues of Pakistan’s historically inept army.

For Indians, as for Pakistanis, the tired routine of pointing the finger across the border has served little other purpose than to deflect attention away from the very pressing problems at home. The sad irony is that India and Pakistan still share much the same tribulations some six decades after they were sliced apart. © Guardian News and Media Limited 2009

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