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Sunday, 5 July 2009

From Today's Papers - 05 Jul 09

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India urged to stop arms sale to Burma
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, July 4
A regional body has been formed here today to extend support to the pro-democracy movement in the neighbouring Myanmar under the name of "North-east India Forum for Democracy in Burma."

The forum will provide space for the people of Burma and North-east India to join hands to continue the campaign against Burma's military rulers. The forum was formed at a citizens' meeting organised by Burma Centre Delhi and Journalists' Forum, Assam, at Guwahati Press Club here. Dr Alana Golmei, Htun Htun and M. Kim from Burma Centre Delhi attended the meeting.

The meeting urged the Government of India to stop forthwith sales of all arms to the military rulers of Burma, who use these weapons to suppress the ever-growing movement for democracy in the country. It also demanded immediate release of Aung San Suu Kyi and all other political prisoners in Burma.

Meanwhile, in a message sent to the organizers, the All Assam Students' Union (AASU) and the North East Students' Organisation (NESO) expressed their support to the democracy movement in Burma and demanded release of Suu Kyi with other political prisoners. The message was conveyed by Dr Samujjal Kumar Bhattacharya, AASU advisor and NESO convenor.

In a resolution, the meeting urged New Delhi to review its policy on Burma to facilitate restoration of democracy in the South East Asian country.

Japan condemns N Korea's latest missile test

AFP/ PTI / Tokyo July 4, 2009, 10:11 IST

Japan condemned North Korea's latest missile launches today as a "serious act of provocation" against security in the region.

"It is a serious act of provocation against the security of neighbouring countries, including our country," Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura was quoted by Jiji Press as saying.

The government's top spokesman also said the act was against a UN Security Council resolution, according to Jiji.

North Korea today test-fired two more missiles, the South Korean defence ministry said, further stoking tensions sparked by its nuclear standoff with the international community.

Pyongyang has warned Japan to stay clear of some areas off its east and west coasts during military exercises lasting until July 11.

North Korea test-fires two more missiles

AFP/ PTI / Seoul July 4, 2009, 10:10 IST

North Korea today test-fired two more missiles, the defence ministry said, further stoking tensions sparked by its nuclear standoff with the international community.

"North Korea launched two missiles this morning," the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. It follows a series of missile launches earlier this week.

The missiles were launched between 0800 hrs and 0830 hrs (0430-0500 IST ) from Kitdaeryong Base near the eastern port of Wonsan into the East Sea (Sea of Japan), it said.

"The military, on the basis of a strong joint defence alliance with the United States, is fully prepared to fend off any threats or provocations by the North," it said.

An unidentified government official quoted by Yonhap news agency said both of the missiles were believed to be Scuds with a range of 500 kilometres, which would allow the North to strike most of South Korea.

North Korea fired four short-range missiles on Thursday into the Sea of Japan but the range of those missiles was estimated to be only around 120 km.

"The Scuds fired today impose (a) greater security threat to us because of their longer ranges," the official was quoted as saying by Yonhap.

"Thursday's missile tests were apparently made as part of a military drill but today's launches, which came on the eve of the US Independence Day, are believed to be aimed at political purposes," the official said.

PM to decide over AFSPA: Ansari

PTI | July 04, 2009 | 16:37 IST

Vice-President Hamid Ansari, who had served as the chairman of a committee which favoured withdrawal of Armed Forces Special Powers Act, on Saturday said the prime minister would take a decision on the matter.

Ansari, during his stint as chairman of a working group on Confidence Building Measures, had recommended in 2007 that the act giving special powers to the armed forces should be revoked.

"The Prime Minister and the Central government will decide this issue. You leave it to them," Ansari said, when asked about the action taken by the government on the recommendations for repelling the AFSPA and the Disturbed Area Act (DAA).

However, he refused to further comment on the issue. "I am here to honour a national hero. This event is dedicated to him so our focus should be the event," he said, while unveiling the bust of Mahavir Chakra awardee Brigadier Mohammad Usman at Jhangar, barely a kilometre from the Line Of Control in Rajouri district.

The Vice President also dedicated to the nation Brigadier Usman Memorial Hospital. Late Brigadier Usman had valiantly fought against Pakistani troops in the 1948 war and died while trying to recapture Jhangar and Nowshers areas from the enemy.

Star trek of the hare and the tortoise

M P Anil Kumar | July 02, 2009 | 12:58 IST

One way to understand a facet of Albert Einstein's theory of relativity is through the contention that all objects in our universe travel at the speed of light.

To shed light on this, he yoked space and time into a single entity -- the space-time continuum. Any object not utilising the space dimension to travel at the speed of light has to travel in the time dimension. The slower an object travels in space, the faster it travels in time (travelling in time axis means ageing). In other words, the faster an object moves, the slower the passage of time for it.

When it comes to the military space programme, as we shall see soon, the Indian establishment seems to be travelling mostly in time, not much in space!

The hare and the tortoise
China initiated its space programme in 1956 under the auspices of its ministry of aerospace industry. In 1993, the China National Space Administration was carved out of this ministry as the nodal agency. Here is a dossier of the important milestones China pegged out during its space odyssey:

  • April 24, 1970: Its first satellite -- Dongfanghong-1 -- soars into space.
  • January 25, 2000: China places in orbit its first military communications satellite Zhong Xing-22, primarily to establish People's Liberation Army's command and control network to link all combat forces.
  • October 15, 2003: China becomes the third country to undertake manned spaceflight. Lieutenant Colonel Yang Liwei, aboard the Shenzhou-5 spacecraft, notches up this distinction and becomes the first taikonaut.
  • September 28, 2008: Lieutenant Colonel Zhai Zhigang becomes the first Chinese spacefarer to spacewalk.
  • Hitherto China has undertaken three manned space missions.

And China intends to build an orbital space station by circa 2015.

Though its origin can be traced to 1962, the Indian Space Research Organisation, ISRO, was formally founded four decades ago on August 15, 1969. India's achievements in this field are impressive, but not as stellar as China's. Below is a diary of the important milestones India pegged out during its space odyssey:

  • April 19, 1975: A Soviet rocket launches Aryabhata, the first Indian satellite, from the Kapustin Yar cosmodrome.
  • July 18, 1980: Rohini becomes the first Indian satellite to be placed in orbit by an Indian rocket.
  • April 2, 1984: Squadron Leader Rakesh Sharma, hitchhiking aboard Soviet Soyuz T-11 spacecraft, becomes the first Indian spaceman.
  • October 22, 2008: ISRO successfully launches Chandrayaan-1, India's maiden moonshot.
  • April 20, 2009: PSLV places RISAT-2 (an acronym for A radar imagery satellite) in orbit. Unlike ISRO's earlier optical remote sensing technology, RISAT carries microwave payload and it uses 'synthetic aperture radar,' whose active sensor is designed to identify targets like cross-border infiltrators, through even fog and clouds. In short, RISAT could be said to belong to the class of spy satellites, thus giving fillip to military surveillance.

China: duplicitous or aggrieved?
Fanhui Shi Weixing-3 series, China's new generation of recoverable photoreconnaissance satellites, are reported to have attained one-metre resolution. Unlike the US, China is yet to master the submetre resolution technology.

China has taken significant strides to achieve space-based ELINT (electronic intelligence), COMINT (communication intelligence) and IMINT (imagery intelligence) capabilities. Not just intelligence gathering, the Chinese leadership is well aware of the critical nature of space-based C4ISR -- Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance -- systems.

Space-based espionage, telecommunications, intelligence, military network -- you name it -- China is surging ahead to aggressively implement its C4ISR strategies and policies, both short-term and long-term.

Yet Beijing proclaimed in 2006 that it supported the use of outer space for peaceful purposes only. Now sample the following:

  • China has reportedly succeeded in attaining the know-how to produce jammers that are capable of disrupting navigation satellite system like the GPS.
  • China secretly fired a laser weapon in mid-2006 to 'blind' the optical sensors of the Key Hole series of American spy satellites, to obscure furtive photography when they overflew China. Since the Bush administration needed Chinese diplomatic elbow to rein in Iran and North Korea, it kept mum but the American military wasted no time in executing tests to examine the extent of the Chinese threat.
  • Reports allude to Beijing, in the past few years, investing heavily in weapons like parasitic satellites, which are essentially nano-satellites designed to disable enemy satellites. These tiny satellites can attach themselves to enemy satellites, and then destroy the host on receiving the go-ahead from its master.
  • January 11, 2007: China destroyed its own ageing satellite orbiting at approximately 860 kilometres above earth. The anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon (a non-explosive 'kinetic kill vehicle') that smashed the 750-kg Feng Yun-1C polar orbiting meteorological satellite into smithereens was assumedly launched from a DF-21 medium-range ballistic missile. After three unsuccessful tests earlier, China this time used a projectile as ASAT weapon. Never mind if this exospheric machismo had scattered and suspended hundreds of debris, thus endangering several low-earth-orbit satellites.

Well, such doublespeak and rampageous conduct conform to characteristic Chinese jiggery-pokery. However, to be fair to China, the People's Republic was rudely awoken on May 7, 1999, by the 'accidental' demolition of its embassy at Belgrade by three 'smart' JDAMs (Joint Direct Attack Munitions) released by an American B-2 bomber. (JDAM uses satellite guidance and onboard triaxial inertial navigation system for precision delivery.)

Further, Japan launched four IGS-series spy satellites ostensibly to shadow North Korea but no one missed its dual-use against China. Furthermore, as it foresees a showdown with the US over Taiwan sometime, China is desperate to diminish the enormous asymmetry in military space capabilities vis-a-vis the US, and to deter the US with its relatively small but destructive space-based arsenal.

The same Chinese arsenal and capabilities can be swivelled against India.

Higher pay scale for honorary subedars notified
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 4
Non-commissioned officers (NCOs) elevated to the honorary rank of naib subedar in the Army now have reason to cheer. They will be placed in the pay grade of naib subedar for the purpose of fixation of their pension.

Till now, honorary naib subedars were being paid the pension of havildar with just Rs 100 as an additional benefit for the honorary rank. Orders to this effect were issued by the Department of Ex-servicemen in the Ministry of Defence a few days ago.

Honorary rank of naib subedar is granted to select NCOs retiring in the rank of havildar as a mark of recognition of the services rendered by them.

Accepting the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission in this regard, the government has notified that havildars granted the honorary rank of naib subedars would now be paid the pension of a regularly promoted naib subedar. The said benefit would, however, only be extended for fixation of pension and not for other service privileges like leave encashment and gratuity.

"The honorary rank of naib subedar granted to havildar will be notionally considered as a promotion to the higher grade of naib subedar and benefit of fitment in the pay band and higher grade pay will be allowed notionally for the purpose of fixation of pension only," the orders applicable from January 1, 2006, state.

As far as pre-2006 pensioners are concerned, the minimum guaranteed full pension for honorary naib subedars was Rs 5,000. The minimum pension for this rank would now be Rs 7,750.

Ex-servicemen protest against stamp duty
Tribune News Service

Mohali, July 4
Members of the Ex-servicemen Movement, Mohali, and Defence Widows of Army Flats (AWHO) today staged a protest against an order of the Punjab government to levy stamp duty on current market rates and not on the original allotment price.

Each ex-serviceman is being forced to pay about Rs 3 lakh extra. The protesters also showed placards. No other state, like Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Haryana were taxing the ex-servicemen
like Punjab.

Other states charge a stamp duty at a rate of five per cent, but Punjab charges a stamp duty at a rate of nine per cent, said Col SS Sohi.

Cost of hospital complex up
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 4
There has been a massive increase in the estimated cost of Northern Command's new multi-storey, modern Command Hospital Complex and associated accommodation.

The Union Cabinet yesterday approved the revised cost Rs 232.27 crore for the project. Earlier, the Cabinet Committee on security, had in August 2005, sanctioned the project at an estimated cost of Rs Rs 126.35 crore.

The hospital at Udhampur is a 650-bed tertiary care and referral hospital and is responsible for providing specialised medical care to the Armed Forces personnel of the whole Northern Command.

According to an official, since the hospital is presently housed mostly in old and dilapidated buildings of 1949 and 1960 vintage, there was an inescapable and urgent requirement of new accommodation.

Capital suggestion

Sunday, July 05, 2009

By Dr Farrukh Saleem

Pumping Sufi to tame Fazlullah and stirring Zainuddin to take on Baituallah -- the more we stir the worse we sink. Putting out a fire in Swat and then rushing to Waziristan -- a strategy or strategic confusion? Is the enemy inside or outside, within or without? Who is our enemy number one? Is our enemy east of the Line of Control (LoC) or within Pakistan's 778,720 square-kilometres of landmass?

The Indian military has 1.4 million soldiers in active service, a reserve force of 1.1 million and one million paramilitary (sorted by the total number of active troops the Indian military is the third largest after China and the US). The Indian army fields 34 divisions including four RAPID Action divisions, 18 Infantry divisions, 10 Mountain divisions, three Armoured divisions and two Artillery divisions. The Indian army has 4,500 Main Battle Tanks (MBTs), 12,000 artillery pieces and 90,000 surface-to-air missiles. The Indian army is composed of 93 tank regiments, seven airborne battalions, 200 artillery regiments, 360 infantry battalions, 40 mechanised infantry battalions, 20 combat helicopter units and 52 air defence regiments.

The Taliban have neither tanks nor helicopters. All they have is AK-47s, pickup trucks, suicide bombers and their own distinct worldview (that rejects the current world order and proposes to replace it with an 'anti-modern' ideology through an armed, violent struggle). To be certain, all of India's tanks and infantry battalions are east of the LoC. The Taliban, however, control Khyber, Kurram, Bajaur, Mohmand, Orakzai, North Waziristan, South Waziristan, Hangu, Lakki Marwat, Bannu and Tank. Additionally, some 6,000 sq-km of Dera Ismail Khan are being contested. Also under 'contested control' are Karak (3,372 sq-km), Kohat (2,545 sq-km), Charsadda (996 sq-km) and Mardan (1,632 sq-km). Kohistan is under 'Taliban influence'. Mansehra (4,579 sq-km), Battagram (1,301 sq-km), Swabi (1,543 sq-km) and Nowshera (1,748 sq-km) are all under 'Taliban influence'. All put together that's a tenth of our landmass either under complete Taliban control, contested control or under Taliban influence.

Who should we be fighting? Around 90 percent of our military assets are along the India-Pakistan border. Tanks are known to have invaded countries. Suicide bombers, on the other hand, mostly kill non-combatants and have never ever in human history captured a country. America has a National Defence Strategy (NDS). The Department of Defence regularly updates it and puts it on the net. America's latest NDS is a concise 29-page document and can be read by clicking:; for Americans to read, debate and analyse.

What really is our national defence strategy? Do we even have one? If we do then why is it under lock and key? Why can't we read, debate and analyse it? Were the forces we are now fighting once allied with us in our NDS? Have we restructured our NDS to reflect the new ground realities? Yes, the Pakistan army has a definite 'offensive-defence" military doctrine against India (the main purpose of which is to "seize enemy territory of strategic importance which can then be used as a bargaining chip" in any future ceasefire negotiations).

Do we now have a counterinsurgency strategy or are we all about tactics? Look at the record: January 2002: the TNSM was banned by the government. July 2007: the TNSM takes over much of Swat (and declares music and dancing as 'major sources of sin'). January 2009: the TNSM establishes parallel judiciary in the name of 'Sharia courts'. February 2009: the government negotiates with the TNSM and allows Sharia law in Malakand. April 13: the government signs Nizam-e-Adl Regulation. April 14: the TNSM announces that Sharia will be implemented in other parts of the country. April 19: Sufi Mohammed terms "judges, lawyers and pro-democracy clerics as rebels." May 7: Prime Minister Gilani says that the Pakistan army will eliminate the Taliban in Swat. May 23: President Zardari says that he military has no plans to launch an operation in Waziristan. June 1: Ramzak Cadet College cadets kidnapped. June 2: Hafiz Saeed released. June 9: military operation launched in Bannu; PC hotel bombed. June 15: Governor Owais

Ghani says that the military will launch a comprehensive and decisive operation in South Waziristan.

What we are up against is rugged terrain and asymmetric warfare spread over more than 90,000 sq-km. The Taliban are all united and have a coherent strategy. Do we have a proactive strategy or are we all about tactical reactions? Strategies win wars. Tactical reactions translate into further loss of blood.

PS: The inspiration for this article came from a TV programme that is hosted by Air Marshal (r) Masood Akhter.

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