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Friday, 3 July 2009

From Today's Papers - 03 Jul 09

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10 years after Kargil
Kargil residents now take no chances,
have bunkers ready
Ajay Banerjee writes from Kargil

The words “1999 ke baad mein (After 1999)” are now an inseparable part of the conversation of the residents here. The reference point to all changes in their lives start from the India-Pakistan conflict of June-July 1999.

Private bunkers, schools providing affordable education, Internet cafes, mobile phones, television towers and other infrastructure has come up since the Indian Army reclaimed the icy peaks overlooking the Drass-Kargil-Batalik axis. A close association exists between the Army and the locals. Unlike the Kashmir valley, the Army here is not seen as an “enemy”.

The village of Goma Kargil, overlooking the Suru, a tributary of the Indus, is within the range of fire of Pakistani posts on the Line of Control. Ten years ago when the Pakistani forces started there intrusion, this was the first place to be hit by shelling. Most of the civilians were moved by the civil authorities to Trespone, 20 km away, on the Kargil-Zanskar road.

After the war, residents have taken the initiative to build shelters or bunkers in the basement to save themselves from shelling. The Tribune team was led to one such bunker by a local resident and his two friends, who were quite pleased to have created a secure place for their families. We asked him the obvious:“When was the bunker built?” “Sir, we planned it after ’99 and it was completed in 2001,” replied the villager in whose house the bunker was built.

Built of stone that is locally available in abundance, each of the bunkers can house up to 15 persons in case of an emergency. Children and women have been taught how to use it. A lantern is kept for emergency even though power connections are provided. No part of the bunker is visible from the outside.

“Since the village grows some of the finest apricots, there was no question of leaving the place,” explains Mansoor, who has witnessed the effect of shelling on homes and shops.

After the Kargil Conflict, the Army opened schools under the Sadbhavana project for children where the fee for the girls is 50 per cent less than the regular fee. Some 960 students are enrolled and Army buses roll out each morning to fetch children.

The telephone connectivity was provided after 1999 and so was the television tower of Doordarshan. Since people here speak Balti language and were part of what is called Baltistan, which is spread across both sides of the border, Pakistan used its broadcasting assets in Skardu to run a psychological war. aThings have changed so much that the government telecom operator, BSNL, now links its network through satellites to connect this place in case of any breakdown.

Militant activity up along B’desh border: BSF
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Shillong, July 2
There is concern about increased cross-border activities of Muslim Fundamentalist Outfits called MFOs in security parlance along the India-Bangladesh border though there has been a ‘decline’ in economic migration and cross- border movement of militants based in Bangladesh across certain hostile unfenced portions of the border.

Border Security Force (BSF) Deputy Inspector General Ravi Gandhi said the activities of the MFOs were on the rise especially along the Dhubri sector of India-Bangladesh border along the unfenced river portion of the border.

The BSF has started the process of raising two new battalions for augmenting deployment along the Bangladesh border in Shillong, Tura and Dhubri sectors to mount vigil against MFOs’ movements as well as to check cross-border movement of insurgents especially from ULFA, NDFB, Black Widow and Karbi Longri North Cachar Hills Liberation Front (KLNLF).

“These militants often try to cross over the border along the thickly forested hostile unfenced portions in Tura sector in Meghalaya. They often follow the trail of migratory elephant herds to cross the border. However, the movements of militants of late had decreased after we mounted vigil and killed many in last few weeks,” the official said. He also claimed that illegal economic migration of people from Bangladesh had also declined after the BSF adopted the ‘push back’ method to thwart illegal migration.

Total 41 km of 211 km Bangladesh border in Tura sector and 47 km out of 264 km in Shillong sector have been fenced so far while fencing construction is in progress in another 129 km. The Meghalaya government is yet to give its nod for the construction of fencing along 135 km of the border. The total length of India-Bangladesh border in Meghalaya is 475 km.

The official further said that fencing had been sanctioned for 89 km out of 134 km Bangladesh border in Assam. Work has been completed in 46 km and is in progress in 31 km.

White House carves out separate India Desk at NSC

PTI | July 02, 2009 | 13:28 IST

Implementing the commitment of United States President Barack Obama to deepen Indo-US strategic ties, the White House has carved out a separate India Desk at its National Security Council.

India is only the second country after Russia to be handled separately by a senior director at the National Security Council, thus indicating the significance being attached to New Delhi by the Obama administration, which is keen to take the ties between the two nations to a new level.

"We have recently done a slight restructuring of the National Security Council whereby Donald Camp has been appointed to be the senior director exclusively for India, because we want to put focus on that relationship," NSC spokesman Mike Hammer told PTI.

"This is rather unusual," he said. "It reflects our commitment to try and develop a strategic partnership that is going to be in the interest of both countries. That simply reflects our commitment and interests in strengthening what we already feel is a good relationship that can be furthered deepened," Hammer said.

The spokesman said Russia is the only other country which has an exclusive senior director at the NSC. "That is the only other example we have," he said.

"This is coming out of the President's interest based on a very good relationship he is developing with Prime Minister (Manmohan) Singh. And of course, the President very much looks forward to welcome him at the White House in the Fall," Hammer said.

On behalf of Obama, National Security Advisor General James Jones had invited Singh to visit White House this fall; which has been accepted by the Prime Minister.

This visit is separate from that of the September visit of the Prime Minister to attend the G-20 Summit in Pittsburg.

American soldier feared captured in Afghanistan

By PAULINE JELINEK – 2 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — An American soldier is believed being held by the Taliban after he walked off his base in eastern Afghanistan without his body armor and weapon, officials said Thursday.

The military has intercepted communications in which insurgents said they had captured an American, two U.S. officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the record.

Several officials declined to say whether there has been any direct communications with the insurgents or whether any demands had been made for the return of the soldier, who is a private first class. The military was largely silent about details surrounding the kidnapping, believed to be the first such abduction of a U.S. service member in the nearly eight-year-old war.

Officials said there were conflicting reports that the military was trying to sort out, including which Taliban insurgents may be holding him.

"We are not providing further details to protect the soldier's well-being," said Capt. Elizabeth Mathias, a spokeswoman in Afghanistan. Officials would not release his name or other details.

"We understand him to have been captured by militant forces," Mathias said. "We have all available resources out there looking for him and hopefully providing for his safe return."

U.S. troops were brought in from nearby areas to help with the search, which included helicopters, Afghan Army support and increased use of intelligence gathering resources, officials said.

There was no immediate public claim of responsibility from any insurgent group. But large sweeps of eastern Afghanistan along Pakistan's border are believed controlled by the Taliban faction known as the Haqqani network, which also operates on the Pakistan side in that nation's lawless tribal region.

The network is led by warlord Sirajuddin Haqqani, whom the U.S. has accused of masterminding beheadings and suicide bombings, including the July 2008 attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul that killed some 60 people. The Haqqani group also was linked to an assassination attempt earlier last year on Afghan president Hamid Karzai.

News of the suspected capture broke as thousands of U.S. Marines launched a major anti-Taliban offensive in southern Afghanistan. The missing soldier was not part of that operation.

Afghan Police Gen. Nabi Mullakheil said the soldier went missing in eastern Paktika province, where there is an American base operating near the Pakistan border.

The soldier was noticed missing during a routine check of the unit on Tuesday and was first listed as "duty status whereabouts unknown," a U.S. defense official said on condition of anonymity.

Though he was missing, his body armor and weapon were found on the base, two officials said.

It wasn't until Thursday that officials said publicly that he was missing and described him as "believed captured." Details of such incidents are routinely held very tightly by the military as it works to retrieve a missing or captured soldier without giving away any information to captors.

Initial reports indicated that the soldier was off duty at the time he went missing, having just completed a shift, one of the officials said.

Two U.S. defense sources said the soldier "just walked off" post with three Afghans after he finished working. They said they had no explanation for why he left the base.

The missing man is serving in an Army infantry unit, and his family has been notified he is missing.

The unit was assigned to a combat outpost, one of a number of smaller bases set up by foreign forces in Afghanistan, the officials said.

Myriad insurgent groups operate in eastern Afghanistan, and the Taliban is only one of them. Zabiullah Mujaheed, a spokesman for the Taliban, could not confirm that the soldier was with any of their forces.

If the fears of the soldier's capture are borne out, insurgents could exploit the development by making demands such as a prisoner exchange or use it for propaganda.

A number of civilians have been abducted in Afghanistan, including aid workers and journalists — both foreigners and Afghans.

But the only other service member that officials could recall who had been captured was Petty Officer 1st Class Neil C. Roberts, a 32-year-old Navy SEAL who was captured during a battle.

Roberts fell from a Chinook and was captured and killed by al-Qaida just months after the start of the war, in March 2002. Later, a second helicopter returned under fire and dropped troops near where Roberts fell. Six more Americans died in the fighting.

Associated Press writers Lolita C. Baldor in Washington and Fisnik Abrashi in Kabul contributed to this report.

Army is the key By Kuldip Nayar
Islamabad should realise that it cannot win Kashmir at a conference table after it lost it at the battle field.

When New Delhi and Islamabad have not been able to agree upon the place of meeting for foreign secretaries, it does not augur well for the future. It is difficult to imagine anything tangible coming out of their talks. Both sides had to fall back on the venue of the non-aligned summit in Egypt and accept the dates of the latter’s meeting because that was the only recourse left to them.

In fact, two opposite viewpoints were voiced even in mid-June when Pakistan high commissioner Shahid Malik called on Indian foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon to fix the date and place for a meeting. The 30-minute-long arguments failed to produce anything concrete. Malik reportedly gave the impression that Pakistan would not be interested in the talks if they were to discuss terrorism alone.

India’s stand is that the meetings of foreign secretaries should be devoted only to terrorism, particularly the Mumbai carnage which the men operating from Pakistan planned and executed from beginning to end. New Delhi does not want the meeting to be taken as the resumption of composite dialogue which got snapped following the carnage.

No doubt, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Asif Ali Zardari must have discussed at Yekaterinburg in Russia the respective stands and many more things in the one-to-one talks. They are the ones who instructed the two foreign secretaries to meet before the summit in Egypt. Their talks would be of little use because one should have time to work on the points raised by the other.

‘Kashmir, the core issue’

Unfortunately, Gilani is the person who will pick up the thread from where Zardari had left it. He has said the core issue is Kashmir. One does not see how the point of terrorists’ attack on Mumbai can be stretched to a solution of Kashmir, however important the latter is.

Islamabad should also realise that it cannot win Kashmir at a conference table after it lost it at the battle field. Pakistan has to create confidence in India that it is willing to take into account the thinking in New Delhi which feels that it has been wronged again and again.

Coming to Kashmir, the main objection of India is to the division of the state on the basis of religion. This objection may not fit into the two-nation theory, the principle on which Pakistan was constituted. But then its founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah himself reinterpreted the theory after partition and made the Pakistanis and the Indians as two nations on the basis of territory, not religion.

Another difficulty New Delhi faces is that boundaries of Kashmir cannot be redrawn. Indian parliament, the ultimate authority, will not agree to a constitutional amendment that the alteration will entail. What can come in handy is Gen Parvez Musharraf’s reported formula which made the borders redundant and divided the state territorially. Retired officials from India and Pakistan, who constitute the back channel, have gone on record saying that they had covered 80 per cent of the journey on ways to Kashmir’s solution.

If this is true, there is every chance of the formula to be retrieved and pursued. At some stage, the people of Jammu and Kashmir should be associated because there can be no solution without their concurrence. Yet it is a pity that some leaders in the valley are bent upon stoking parochial fires, trying to give an Islamic edge to the Kashmiriat, a pluralistic concept, that the people follow.

In fact, India is worried over the brutalisation of its society. Happenings in Kashmir have contributed towards it the most. The common man has suffered from the untrammelled powers in the hands of police. Democracy loses its content if the laws of an authoritarian state become part of governance.

Elimination of Taliban

Yet when cross-border terrorism becomes a menace, fear takes over the society. It pawns its liberty to those who assure it security or a semblance of it. Kashmir has dulled the sensitivity of even the liberals. The support to Pakistan by India against the Taliban is natural. Defence Minister A K Anthony has said that India too faces the danger of Taliban.

This makes the elimination of Taliban the topmost priority. At present, the Pakistan army and America plan, control and pursue the operation. Were India to send its forces, as is the reported request by the US, it would be a development which the Pakistan army might not like. Still the Indian and Pakistani forces fighting side by side against the Taliban would create a climate where Kashmir, the water dispute and other problems would find consensus in no time.

The solution lies in both civilian and military wings in Pakistan agreeing to a detente with India. But the army has given no evidence that it wants to bury the hatchet. Its proximity to America and the military aid it is getting from it has made Islamabad stiffer than before.

The Manmohan Singh-Gilani meeting in Egypt or the meeting of foreign secretaries would be successful only to the extent Gen Parvez Kayani is willing to go. Can he look at Pakistan’s relations with India without bringing in the past? Normalcy between the two countries depends on that. Washington can play an important role.

Court orders demolition of four banquet halls on Army land in Baddowal

Amrita Chaudhry Posted online: Friday , Jul 03, 2009 at 0446 hrs

Ludhiana : The Punjab and Haryana High Court has ordered for the demolition of all structures that lie within 1,000 yards of 17 Field Ammunition Depot of the Indian Army in Baddowal.

The demolition order comes as a final nail in the coffin for four marriage palaces — Megha Resorts, Springfields Resorts, Casa Le Baron and White Rock Marriage Palace — that had been fighting a legal battle against the district administration for the last eight years.

The court has also decided to award compensation to those who had raised the structures before 1983.

However, unhappy with the compensation amount, owner of Megha Resorts Vijay Kumar Verma said: “We will move the apex court for a revision in compensation as the amount offered is meagre.”

It was on March 19, 2001, that the High Court had first asked the Ludhiana administration to raze all structures within the said limit (1,000 yards) of the 17, Field Ammunition Depot of the Indian Army at Baddowal.

The marriage palaces reportedly are among the various structures that had come up on either side of the national highway in violation of the Works of Defence Act, 1903. The court has, meanwhile, asked those eligible for compensation to claim their due by submitting applications to the district administration by July 27.

Baramulla DM miffs Army command as more trouble brews in Valley

Majid Jahangir
Posted online: July 02, 2009 at 1540

When Chief Minister Omar Abdullah was holding a high-level meeting of the Unified Command on Wednesday to moot a plan to assuage growing violent protests in Kashmir, a new controversy was germinating in his backyard.

This time between the civil administration and the Army in Baramulla, where four youth have died in firing by security forces in past three days.

The controversy was triggered by a letter of the District Development Commissioner Baramulla, Lateef-u-Zaman Deva, who is also District Magistrate (DM), in which he asked the Army authorities in north Kashmir to work as subservient to the police in maintaining law and order in the district.

The letter, addressed to the Baramulla-based General Officer Commanding of 19 Infantry Division and the General Officer Commanding, Kilo Force (the army’s counter-insurgency force in north Kashmir), had said the police will remain at the forefront and the Army will patrol or flag march in the area only under the supervision of executive magistrates.

“J-K Police on the basis of deployment shall remain at forefront at all respective locations brought under curfew with backup of Army in standby mode for flag marches and patrolling under the supervision of respective executive magistrates,” the letter said. The letter was issued by the Baramulla DM at the instructions of J-K Home Commissioner.

But the Army has taken a strong note of the letter. It has raised the issue with seniors in Srinagar who, it is learnt, also took up the matter with the Union Defence Ministry in New Delhi.

A senior Army officer in Delhi confirmed that the DM order was not in accordance with set rules. “Like in any other places the civil administration makes requisition for Army columns. But once the Army comes in it does not work under the magistrates and the problem area is handed over to the Army for a particular task,” a senior Army officer said in New Delhi.

The result of the new tussle is evident in Baramulla. The Army was not involved in any major law and order exercises in Baramulla on Thursday. The town is on the boil since Monday.

Meanwhile, the issue, it is learnt, also came up at the Unified Command meeting chaired by Omar Abdullah.

The Chief Minister directed for placement of magistrates in every district. “For dealing with law and order situation, police should accompany the magistrate. No law and order situation or protests should be dealt without the presence of a magistrate,” he said in the meeting.

A J-K government spokesman said the Chief Minister also asked the J-K Director General of Police, DG, CRPF and other concerned officials to prepare the first phase plan for substitution of CRPF by J-K Police within 10 days.

(With inputs from Manu Pubby in New Delhi)

DoT seeks Cabinet nod for Rs 9,970cr defence network
2 Jul 2009, 1028 hrs IST, Joji Thomas Philip, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: After signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the defence ministry for vacation of spectrum, the Department of Telecom has

now sought Cabinet sanction for Rs 9,970-crore optic fibre communications network for the forces.

The defence forces will release airwaves in a phased manner over the next three years and will migrate a bulk of their communication systems to this alternate network, being built by state-owned telcos BSNL and MTNL on behalf of the communications ministry.

As per a Cabinet note, the alternate network of the Army will cost Rs 1077.16 crore and that for the Air Force and Navy combined will cost Rs 8,893 crore. The cost of these networks has come down by a third after the armed forces dropped their demands that DoT maintain these network for a 10-year period. Prior to the MoU, the defence ministry had demanded an additional Rs 5,730 crore for maintaining this infrastructure for the next 10 years. The standoff between the two ministries over this additional amount has delayed the project by over a year.

DoT sources said a bulk of the alternate network, especially that of the Air Force, was close to being completed and Cabinet sanction for the funds was vital to compensate BSNL for the project.

With the defence ministry dropping its demand for 10-year maintenance, the DoT agreed to waive off the spectrum usage charge for the armed forces and has also agreed to the armed forces request to set up an exclusive defence band along the international borders.

At present, the defence forces occupy a bulk of 3G spectrum, vital for high-end used services like video conferencing on mobiles, high-speed Internet and fast downloads. But, after the signing of the MoU, the forces had agreed to vacate two blocks of 3G spectrum across the country. After the defence forces release two blocks, the telecom ministry’s latest assessment reveals that up to four private players can be given airwaves for offering these high-end services in Delhi, while in Mumbai, there would be enough frequency for eight players.

Besides, in key circles, such as AP, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, there is space for 11 private players each. A minimum of six private operators can be given these airwaves in all circles except in Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, North East, West Bengal and Rajasthan. Prior to this, DoT did not have sufficient radio frequencies for 3G auctions nine of the 22 telecom circles.

As per the MoU between the defence and the communication ministry, the former will release up to 45 MHz of radio frequencies over a three-year period, of which 25 MHz would for the 3G services and the rest for 2G, the airwaves on which all communications services in the country are currently offered. The MoU also states that the defence forces will release two blocks (10 MHz) of 3G airwaves and one block of 2G frequencies immediately , while the remaining would be released over a three-year time frame.

Virtual War

The Army network will cost Rs 1077.16 crore and that for the Air Force and Navy combined will cost Rs 8,893 crore.

Alternate networks cost has come down by a third after the armed forces dropped their demands that DoT maintain networks for 10 yrs.

DoT has agreed to waive off the spectrum usage charges for the armed forces and has also agreed to the forces requests to set up an exclusive defence band along the international borders.

‘No match between a defence and corporate career’

Express News Service Posted online: Thursday , Jul 02, 2009 at 0438 hrs

Indian Army is the fourth largest army of the world. It has proven its mettle in the past — in internal conflicts and external aggressions, peace-keeping missions and relief duties. But strangely, these days people are ignoring this noble profession and opting for alternate careers. Serving in defence is not an employment with extra high salaries, easy life. It has a charm for the uniform and the prestige that it carries.

Besides dignity, defence services offer unparalleled opportunity to command troops and handle hi-tech equipment at a relatively young age.

However, for many at present, an employment in the armed forces is to earn livelihood. Every profession has its own constraints, the difference lies in how you react to them.

“Risk to life” is one of the prominent reasons people give not to join the armed forces. But security to life is in a way more insecure outside the army. Everyday newspaper headlines highlight crime and uncertainty. Safety these days is more in army than civil. Army premises are enclosed and well-guarded, securing you and your family.

And then a soldier is well-trained and equipped to handle military operations. In field also, medical support reaches faster to a soldier than to a roadside accident victim.

The other reason given by today’s youngsters is that there are better career options in civil than defence — it is a myth. Army offers a career which begins after 10+2.

Another feeling is that army people have an isolated family life due to field postings. But then in case of MNC jobs, don’t couples willingly live in different cities for lucrative salary packages? And even if they are in the same house, they seldom have time for each other. Children hardly get see their father: “Sunday wale papa” is a joke in the MNC circle.

A defence personnel is entitled to casual and sick leave, besides sixty days annual leave, which he can devote completely to his family. In private sector, asking for a sixty-day leave means submitting the resignation letter.

Some people feel there is not much scope of employment of well-educated wives of defence personnel. But qualified spouse do get employment at the place of posting of the husband. And for children there are around 900 Kendriya Vidyalayas and many professional institutes like the AFMC, AIT, AIL, and AIM.

Due to exigencies of service defence personnel are posted in field locations and during this period the wife and children live in separate family accommodation in cantonment boards, where the families are attached to local units for logistics and administrative support.

During this time, the families learn to sustain themselves independently — children learn to be self-reliant and ladies involve themselves in various welfare activities.

Working in MNC’s sound pleasant, but “pink slip” remains the nightmare of every employee. After the age of 50, to sustain in the private sector is an Herculean task, and then there is the shadow of recession.

Apart from attractive pay and perks, army offers you unmatched lifestyle. Finest clubs spread thought the country, sports facilities and ample opportunities to indulge in adventure. Army is a profession where you are paid to lead a healthy life in a healthy environment.

Defence is a career where discipline is inculcated and bravery becomes a habit. It polishes your personality and gives you the edge in personnel and professional life. Be an army man, be a winner for life.

Army soldier embarks on a cycle expedition


July 2nd, 2009

BANGALORE - Undeterred by handicaps, a former Indian Army soldier, Probhojit Singh embarked on a bicycle tour across the country to spread the message of peace and harmony.

Singh,41, once a soldier of Jammu Kashmir Rifles, had to leave his battalion in 1989 when he met with a train accident and lost his left arm and toe of his right foot. But he refused to live in a state of helplessness, and decided to do something different.

He embarked on a bicycle tour across India.

Starting his journey from Ambala Cant in Haryana on January 19, 2009 he has since visited across 18 states, covering almost 9646 kilometers.

Through his tour, Singh wants to spread the message of peace and harmony belief in oneself.

“I want to spread the message of peace and harmony, but that takes a second priority, as the message of overcoming all odds forms the first priority of my tour. I want to send across a message to the people that when I being physically challenged can strive to embark on such a tour, then anybody can overcome their impediments to achieve something in life,” he said.

He rests at the local police stations and gets support from army regiments wherever he goes. The Indian army officers believe that Singh represents the spirit of the army, of never giving up.

“He truly reflects the indomitable spirit of the Indian soldier. And we are proud of him. He has already completed 9000 kilometres of the circuit and is on the road for almost 98 days or so,” said Brigadier R.N. Mittal commandant Madras Engineering Group, Bangalore.

Moving through the traffic in cities and towns across the country, Singh displays an undying spirit characteristic of the Indian Army.

He hopes that his endeavor would inspire many to maintain peace and harmony in the country. By Jaipal Sharma(ANI)

India concerned over burgeoning Russia-Pak friendship

2 Jul 2009, 0316 hrs IST, Indrani Bagchi, TNN

NEW DELHI: A "new and improved" relationship between Russia and Pakistan has raised concerns in India that a certain "cosying up" might have security implications for India.

In Trieste over the weekend, on the sidelines of the G-8 foreign ministers' meeting, a Russia-Afghanistan-Pakistan trilateral took shape to tackle terrorism, narcotics, "strategic stability" and regional cooperation. In Moscow, Russian and Pakistani officials met over the past couple of days to work on what they called "strategic cooperation". In fact, the foreign ministers' meeting took off from a trilateral summit level meeting in Moscow between Asif Zardai, Andrei Medvedev and Hamid Karzai after the SCO summit in June.

A visit to Moscow by former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf in mid-June alerted Indian officials. The visit was apparently facilitated by a private businessman but India realised quite soon that Musharraf was "informally" preparing the way for the visit of Pakistan army chief Ashfaque Kayani who undertook a standalone visit to Russia last week.

Musharraf, who remains very much a part of Pakistan's military establishment, reportedly had very "productive" meetings with Russian PM Vladimir Putin. The upshot of those meetings seems to be that Russia is willing to take another look at a defence relationship with Pakistan.

Nandan Unnikrishnan, Russia expert at the Observer Research Foundation, said the truth was not quite so simple. "The Russians feel they need to open a channel with Pakistan. Their concern is driven by the situation in Afghanistan and its impact on Central Asia and the southern Caucasus. There could be a possibility that China is pushing them in this direction. It will be driven by the situation in Afghanistan," he said.

During the SCO summit in Yekaterinburg, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev had declared that "nests of terror" in Pakistan had to be eliminated first. For that, Russia would give all help to Pakistan. Now Russia will even allow transit of NATO military cargo through its territory for use in Afghanistan, an indication of how serious they believe the situation to be.

India's concern is that Russia could be on the verge of an arms supply relationship with Pakistan. Of all of India's military suppliers, Russia had, thus far, maintained a largely monogamous relationship with India, specially vis-a-vis Pakistan, though Pakistan sourced some Russian made stuff through Ukraine.

Russia is now in the company of the Israelis, French and American weapons suppliers. In fact, Indian officials have reported that Putin feels there could be a commercial defence relationship with Pakistan. Russia's other big client is China, and right now, China is also in the business of helping out Pakistan against the Taliban and the target of US calls to "stabilise" Pakistan.

Other Indian officials following developments there said Russia could only do with Pakistan what it had already started doing with China. And India has had to live with it.

According to a joint statement by Afghanistan, Pakistan and Russia in Trieste this weekend, they "decided to explore the potential of tripartite cooperation in the areas of border control, exchange of information on terrorist activities and organisations, training of anti-terrorist and anti-drug police personnel... the terrorist threat could not be countered solely by enforcement measures and that these measures must be accompanied by national and international efforts to promote socio-economic rehabilitation and development of the region."

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