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Friday, 26 June 2009

From Today's Papers - 26 Jun 09

The Pioneer

Asian Age

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The Pioneer

Asian Age

Asian Age

Asian Age

The Pioneer

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Times of India

Asian Age

Times of India

DNA India

Antony: Peace with Pak can’t be one way
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 25
Defence minister AK Antony today came out strongly to convey India’s stance on Pakistan, China and the US. He also advised the top brass of the armed forces to be “vigilant” on the Indo-Pak border, while separately ensuring that Indian ocean and the seas around India are kept safe.

He went on to assure that funds will never be constraint for modernisation of the forces. Taking on Pakistan, Antony made it clear that peace with that country cannot be a “one-way traffic”.

It hinged upon Pakistan taking action against groups operating from its territory and this was a “pre-condition”. Antony was speaking to the media minutes after he addressed the top brass of the Indian armed forces at the Unified Commanders conference.

Besides Chiefs of Army, Navy and Air Force, about two dozen Commanders participated in the conference that Antony has termed “as the turning point from where things will move very fast”.

This is first meet of the unified commanders after the Mumbai attacks in November last year.

Antony said Pakistan was a nation facing turmoil from within. He doubted Pakistan’s act of acquiring sophisticated weapons saying “these were really not meant to develop its capacity to fight terror”.

India has been telling US that aid to fight terror was being misused by Pakistan to develop India-centric warfare capabilities. Pakistan has been unable to check terrorists originating from its soil and infiltrating into J&K, said Antony, as he admitted that infiltration had declined.

When asked about the forthcoming visit of National Security Adviser of the USA to India James Jones, Antony said “We are going to discuss the security scenario around India in detail”. The Taliban is a threat to world peace, a threat to our region and it is a real threat to India also and it will be discussed”.

Antony while replying to a question on the induction of mountain divisions in the north-east to counter China sent out a strong message saying, “It is our duty to increase our capabilities and equip our armed forces with most modern facilities and infrastructure to protect our national security”. The Chinese have been making noises about India ramping up infrastructure in the north-east, especially Arunachal Pradesh.

US remarks on Kashmir disappoint India
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 25
US National Security Adviser James Jones is here for talks with Indian leaders but the visit has certainly not begun on a positive note. His reported statement in Islamabad earlier today that the Obama administration would help in ‘every possible way’ to settle the Kashmir issue has not gone down well with Indian officials.

Soon after his arrival here, Jones, a trusted aide of President Obama, held informal talks with his host and National Security Adviser M K Narayanan. Tomorrow, he will call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Defence Minister AK Antony besides holding substantive talks with Narayanan, sources said.

The sources said Jones statement in Islamabad was disappointing since only a few days back President Obama himself had stated that he had no intention of mediating between India and Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Jones’ visit is expected to set the stage for the Obama-Singh talks in Italy as also for the much-awaited visit of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to New Delhi in the third week of July. Clinton is currently recovering from her right elbow injury and, therefore, the precise date of her visit to India is still being worked out. Obama’s meeting with the Prime Minister will be the second interaction between the two leaders.

'Pak needs to move troops from its border with India'

Lalit K Jha/ PTI / Washington June 26, 2009, 10:00 IST

Pakistan needs to move troops from its border with India to the western parts of the country to fight terrorism, a top Obama Administration official has said.

"Some (Pakistani) troops already have been deployed away from the Pakistan-India border, but I think more needs to be done in that respect. But we are encouraged by the progress that has been made so far," Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake said at a Congressional hearing replying to a question.

Blake agreed with Congressman Gary Ackerman that the Pak military offensive against the Taliban in the Swat Valley and adjoining areas has been a turning point in its war against terrorism.

"We are very encouraged by the progress that has been made in Swat Valley," Blake said, adding that much more needs to be done by Pakistan in this regard.

"I think they do have the capabilities to undertake that. An important part of that will be, as (the Special US Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan) Ambassador Holbrooke said, to reorient the Pakistani military from its focus on India towards a focus on dealing with the extremist threats that it faces," Blake added.

Blake said Pakistan has demonstrated a renewed commitment to countering the militant threat. Since May this year, the Pakistani government has made progress in pushing back the extremist encroachment in Swat, Lower Dir and Buner areas.

Encouraged by the Pakistan's military action against the Taliban, he said: "It's encouraging on two levels — first, because they are taking the fight to the Taliban, but also because it's helped to improve their own standing with their people. There is much greater support now for the Zardari government, which again is a very positive sign."

Blake said the US could continue to support Pakistan as long as it continues to take action against terrorists. "As long as they continue to do that, as long as they continue to take concerted action, you know, the US will continue to support them," he said.

"The United States and the international community have worked together to respond quickly to the internal refugee crisis that you mentioned resulting from these operations. We have committed over $300 million in immediate relief efforts and mobilised an international response," he said.

'India may announce two nuclear sites during Clinton trip'

Lalit K Jha/ PTI / Washington June 26, 2009, 9:11 IST

India is likely to announce locations for two nuclear power plants, which would be made available to the American companies, during US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to New Delhi next month, a top Obama Administration has said.

Clinton, who is recovering from surgery of her right elbow, is scheduled to visit India next month, which officials of the Obama Administration say would be the launching pad to take the Indo-US relationship to a new level in the next few years. Dates of her visit have not been announced yet.

"We hope, at that time, Indians will be in a position to announce whereabouts of the nuclear parks — we hope to have two sites that would be announced, where American companies can go in and provide new reactors, which would be a major source of new business opportunities for American companies," Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake said yesterday.

Blake was responding to a question from Congressman Joe Wilson about the latest status of the Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement, which was inked between the two counties last year.

"We are making a great deal of progress. We are most of the way there now. India, as you know, just signed their additional protocol, and now they have got to file with the IAEA (international Atomic Energy Agency) the list of their safeguarded facilities," Blake said.

The US is also hoping to see action on nuclear liability legislation that would reduce liability for American companies and allow them to invest in India, he said.

Congressman Wilson said nuclear deal is good for both India and the United States.

241 commandos each to man four new NSG hubs

June 26, 2009 14:30 IST

The four National Security Guard hubs, getting operational next week, will have 241 commandos each for counter-terrorist and anti-hijack operations. While the Mumbai [Images] hub of the National Security Guard will become functional on June 30, after being formally inaugurated by Union Home Minister P Chidambaram [Images], those in Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata [Images] will be operational on July 1.

The hubs at Kolkata and Hyderabad would also be upgraded to the status of "regional centres" soon and the commando strength at these centres would be more than the Mumbai and Chennai bases, NSG sources said today. "A cohesive unit, comprising army and paramilitary commandos, has been stationed at all these hubs. The commando strength will be 241 personnel at each of these hubs," they said.

The elite "Black Cat" force, headed by Director General N P S Aulakh, has already transported its men and material to all these hubs."The logistical support and the weaponry has reached the hubs, which have been furnished with necessary infrastructure related to communications and troop bunkers," they said.

Till training facilities are developed at the new hubs, fully trained commandos from NSG's Manesar garrison would be deputed to man these centres. The decision to set up regional NSG hubs was taken in the aftermath of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.

And now, Pakistan’s militants strike in its Kashmir region

Posted by: Sanjeev Miglani

A suicide bomber has struck in Pakistani Kashmir killing two soldiers in what is said to be the first such attack in the Himalayan region. The attacker targeted military barracks, which raises the question whether Pakistan’s Islamist militants are opening a new front just as they come under pressure in the northwest.

A suicide attack in Muzaffarabad, eerily identical to the scores that have taken place on the Indian side of the scenic region in the past, will trigger interest in New Delhi for likely clues to which way the war in Pakistan is headed.

Nobody yet has claimed responsibility, but if it is the Pakistan Taliban what signal is it sending? Is it going to fight the Pakistani army everywhere including Kashmir, which really has been at the core of Pakistan’s policy towards India.

Or is it the Lashkar-e-Taiba, which has long operated on the Indian side of Kashmir as also other parts of India ? Are they sending a warning against any crackdown on the group, which New Delhi has been demanding even more stridently since the Mumbai attacks.

For the Lashkar, seen to have long-running ties to Pakistan’s security establishment, to be turning against its benefactors in such manner and such an emotive location would indeed be a watershed.

Or is this intended to raise tensions between India and Pakistan in Kashmir again? India holds Pakistan-based groups responsible for the rebellion in Kashmir. Are the Pakistanis going to point the finger at India, now that violence has reached their part of Himalayan region?

No coincidence, but the attack comes just as India’s defence minister said infiltration by guerrillas from Pakistan into Indian Kashmir was down this summer.

Post-Kargil military plan forgotten

Josy Joseph / DNA

Friday, June 26, 2009 0:24 IST

New Delhi: The top brass of the Indian military gathered here on Thursday to discuss ways to improve synergy between forces, even as a road map for integrating them, drawn up after the Kargil conflict, lies in tatters.

Eight years after the government accepted the proposal to integrate the commands of the Army, Navy and Air Force into a theatre command and appoint a single-point military advisor to the government called chief of defence staff (CDS), there is no clear sign of a political will to push through the reform.

Defence minister AK Antony asked the military top brass on Thursday "to adopt and further strengthen the tri-services approach", telling them "victory in modern warfare can be achieved only through jointness."

Inaugurating the Unified Commanders' Conference here, he said no one service could secure the nation, as fighting a war today was a complex and highly-skilled business. The theme of the two-day conference is 'Victory through Jointness'.

However, most sources in individual services were sceptical. Navy sources said it was a mistake to hand over the Andaman and Nicobar command to the nation's first, and only, integrated headquarters.

The Integrated Defence Staff, a secretariat in Delhi that was to be the first step towards the appointment of CDS, is partially lost in turf battles between services.The government claims it wants to have political consensus before appointing CDS, but is not pushing for the appointment.

Cyberspace: The New Battlefield

by John Prandato | June 24th, 2009 | |Subscribe

As we continue to hurtle through the Information Age at breakneck speeds, a glance back at the early 1990s makes it ever clearer that everything we thought we knew about the way our world works has changed. Every day, millions of people ascend into a dimension of human interaction that did not exist – at least not at all the way it does today – just 15 years ago. Cyberspace, as this dimension has come to be known, is a transformative realm, transcending the traditional domains of air, land, and sea because it simply knows no boundaries. It breaks down physical barriers, blurs the borders of nations, and ignores the intrinsic concept of spatial separation. The social networking phenomenon has given rise to a global conversation unprecedented in human history. “For the first time,” Peter Daou writes, “we are thinking aloud unfettered and unfiltered by mass media gatekeepers . . . pouring the content of hundreds of millions of minds onto a global cyber-canvass, the commixture becoming something new and unpredictable.” Most significantly, information no longer flows linearly – it leaps randomly from one mind to the next and from one side of the globe to the other. One could say that the global exchange of ideas occurs in a purer way than ever before.

But there is a flipside to this coin. Our collective security is now in more danger than ever for the very same reason the cyber revolution is such an amazing achievement – we are all interconnected. Virtually every aspect of our lives has an uninterruptable link to the cyber world. Our electricity, water, oil, telecommunications, banking, public transportation, air traffic control, and defense systems all rely on computer networks. “For all these reasons,” President Obama has said, “it’s now clear this cyber threat is one of the most serious economic and national security challenges we face as a nation.”

The international threat posed by cyber warfare is not hypothetical – it is very real and, more importantly, it is already upon us. South Korea has reported that its military computer networks now receive an average of 95,000 attempted cyber attacks daily. Israel recently admitted that it suffered a “massive” cyber attack during the Gaza military offensive in January. In April 2007, Estonia endured a prolonged siege of the websites for its parliament, banks, ministries, and police. This “Estonian Cyberwar” was carried out by Russian nationalist hackers during a heated confrontation over the relocation of The Bronze Soldier of Tallinn, a prominent Soviet-era monument. Similarly, in the days leading up to the Russia-Georgia conflict last July, many Georgian government web sites were paralyzed by cyber attacks. China and Russia have long been suspected of backing a large ring of state-sponsored cyber warfare, and Israel, India, Pakistan, and the United States have all allegedly launched offensive attacks as well. And now, in the midst of Iran’s post-election upheaval, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hasan Qashqavi has accused Western media outlets, particularly CNN and BBC, of facilitating the barrage of cyber attacks on various Iranian government web sites.

The US has not been impervious to its share of cyber attacks either. In April, The Wall Street Journal reported a breach (believed to be carried out by Chinese hackers) of the Pentagon’s largest weapons program – the $300 billion Joint Strike Fighter stealth aircraft. In fact, the Department of Defense detected 360 million attempted cyber attacks on its networks last year and the Pentagon has reportedly spent $100 million just to repair the damage incurred in the past six months. Army Lt. Gen. Keith Alexander, director of the NSA, has said “I’d like to say that our networks are secure, but that would not be correct.”

Clearly, President Obama’s recent announcement of a comprehensive national cybersecurity strategy was long overdue. The plan calls for the appointment of a White House Cyber Security Coordinator to oversee the government’s protection of all private sector networks. The strategy also includes the creation of a military Cyber Command to defend the Pentagon’s computer networks and to unify the cyber security effort across the armed services.

But with Obama expected to announce the identity of his “cyber czar” any day now, and with the DOD just having put the finishing touches on its Cyber Command, there remains many areas of contention. The struggle for control of the White House office has prompted a bitter turf war across many departments, although for now a tentative compromise has been reached between the NSA and the National Economic Council. Yesterday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates finally signed off on the Cyber Command after weeks of indecision among concerns that it will represent “the militarization of cyberspace”. Critics have expressed fear that the DOD and NSA will dominate other federal agencies’ cyber security responsibilities. Rod Beckstrom, former chief of the Homeland Security Department’s National Cyber Security Center, resigned in March, citing his fear that the growing reliance on the NSA poses “threats to our democratic processes.” Indeed, the most daunting task of all may be striking a balance between ensuring security and protecting privacy.

And so the questions abound. How should cyber security control be distributed across federal agencies? Will cyber attacks become the new weapon of choice for terrorists? Is this destined to become the next great revolution in modern warfare? Has cyber war attained that status already? What would it mean for America’s military dominance if a handful of computer geeks are soon able to rival an army? What steps, if any, can be taken to ensure our security without infringing on civil liberties?

For now, the questions vastly outnumber the answers. There seem to be just two certainties – that the cyber war environment is rapidly evolving, and that we are unprepared to face its potential challenges. As Obama has said, “America’s economic prosperity in the 21st century will depend on cyber security.” Yet for far too long, the cyber security effort has lagged well behind this unique and unprecedented threat. The administration has taken a positive stride toward safeguarding the nation’s networks, but the controversy and debate rages on. Hopefully, these measures represent the first step toward a responsible, coordinated, and robust security strategy for an unpredictable future. Only time will tell.

Enquiry in to Russian induced corruption in the Indian army

24 Jun 2009 8ak note: Last months news articles stated that part of the reason for DRDO's failures was corruption in the army. After unveiling corruption from Israeli companies and keeping in mind the historcally large scale Russian penetration of Indian political and defence systems going back to the 1970's, the question is not if but how large is Russian induced corruption in the army today? The Comptroller and Auditor General will let us know after they scrutinise the Gorshkov and the T-90 deals. For the $3 billion price for the Gorshknov, India could have built our own and given the delays it would have been ready now!

Times of India: With India ready to shell out around $1.5 billion more in what was a "fixed price contract" for Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, the nation's auditing watchdog is sharpening scalpels to dissect the entire deal. CAG's scrutiny of defence deals -- likely to be ready towards the end of Parliament's budget session in August -- will also include the largescale purchase of Russian T-90S main-battle tanks (MBT), especially since India had developed its own indigenous Arjun MBTs. Full news

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