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Thursday, 9 July 2009

From Today's Papers - 09 Jul 09

Asian Age

Asian Age

Telegraph India

Indian Express

The Pioneer

The Pioneer

Indian Express

Asian Age

The Pioneer

The Pioneer

Asian Age

The Pioneer

Times of India

Times of India

DNA India

DNA India

Pak nurtured terror groups: Zardari
Afzal Khan writes from Islamabad

Pakistan deliberately created and nurtured militant and extremist outfits on its soil in order to achieve some short-term objectives, President Asif Ali Zardari said here in a remarkably candid statement.

“Let us be truthful and make a candid admission of the reality,” the President told a gathering of retired federal secretaries and senior bureaucrats at the President’s House.

The President was apparently referring to a widely held belief that Pakistan’s security agencies under military rulers created and nurtured extremist organisations for the fulfilment of its internal and external agenda. These outfits were dubbed as “assets” in the furtherance of strategic objectives, particularly in Afghanistan and Kashmir.

In an interview with ‘The Daily Telegraph’, published on Monday, the President was quoted as saying that the military was now set to go after the elements it had once supported.

“Terrorists of today were the heroes of the yesteryears until 9/11 occurred and they began to haunt us as well,” he added.

The meeting, first of its nature since he became President last September, was held as part of a consultative process with different sections of society on challenges facing the country and ways of resolving them, an official statement said.

“They did not emerge because the civil bureaucracy was weak or demoralised,” he said.

According to presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar, the President dwelt on a number of issues raised by retired bureaucrats, ranging from war against militancy, devolution of power, dialogue and reconciliation, provincial autonomy, energy shortage, agricultural development, relations with countries in the region and adoption of modern technology for overcoming myriad problems of underdevelopment.

The President said dialogue was the chief weapon the present government was employing for achieving national reconciliation on a range of issues. “We intend to keep all political forces together in a harmonious relationship as we cannot afford political games and confrontational politics,” he said.

Brown backs India’s bid for UNSC

L'Aquila (Italy), July 8
India's bid to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council got a boost when British Prime Minister Gordon Brown expressed his support for New Delhi's demand to restructure the UNSC.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh held a bilateral meeting with his British counterpart in this Italian mountain town. The meeting lasted 45 minutes. Singh met Brown on the sidelines of the G-8 summit.

Sources said the two leaders discussed issues of bilateral and multilateral importance, besides the areas where they could cooperate mutually, including terrorism. They confirmed that both the leaders discussed the current global economic meltdown.

British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett had said yesterday, “India has become such an important and central part of the global infrastructure that just about everything that Britain wants to achieve internationally requires us to work in partnership with India.”

India has again broached the subject of UNSC's expansion at the G-8 summit this year.

Why Indian Army loves Bofors gun?

Press Trust of India, Wednesday July 8, 2009, Kargil

The Bofors gun continues to give India "an edge" over the adversary on the Line of Control (LoC) and has helped the country to win "artillery duels" till the time the ceasefire came into effect in 2003, Indian Army officers say.

"With a range of over 35 kilo metres in the high-altitude terrain, the gun helped us to win artillery duels with Pakistani Army on the LoC till the 2003 ceasefire between the two countries. During that period, after unprovoked shelling by them, we would retaliate with our Bofors howitzers and quietened them up," a senior artillery officer from the Kargil-based 'Forever in Operations' Division said in Kargil.

The FH77 Bofors guns, he said, were better than the medium artillery guns available with the Pakistani Army.

"Superiority of our gun, which can fire three rounds in 12 seconds, has been proved during the 1999 war and they also know that their guns are of no match to our medium guns. After Kargil, the guns proved their mettle during Operation Parakram in 2001 also where they would fire 80-90 rounds every day causing immense damage to enemy posts and morale," the officers added.

During the Kargil war, the gun was extensively used by the Army to dislodge Pakistani Army regulars and militants from Indian peaks after they had intruded into Indian territory in the winters when both the sides vacated their respective posts at high altitude areas.

The guns today, the officers said, have been deployed at altitudes ranging between 10-13,000 feet and were helping the Indian troops to achieve "total dominance" over the adversary in the region.

"With the Bofors guns now being deployed at such high altitudes and its extended range here, we can strike deep with in the enemy territory. The Bofors can easily take on targets in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) towns such as Skardu and others," they said.

Asked about the deployment of the guns at such high altitudes, the officers said that the auxiliary power unit in the Bofors guns made it easy for reaching such heights.

"The guns have a Mercedes Benz engine in them and they are able to move short distances on their own. This capability helped us during the war also as guns would move from their location after firing a salvo to other positions in order to avoid enemy counter fire," they said.

Israel must tear down West Bank barrier: UN

Associated Press, Thursday July 9, 2009, Jerusalem

Israel must tear down its West Bank separation barrier, a senior UN official said on Wednesday, marking five years since the International Court of Justice declared the barrier illegal and a violation of Palestinian rights.

The barrier separates Israel from the West Bank and in places cuts into Palestinian territory. Israel started building it in 2002 to stop a wave of suicide bombing attacks by Palestinians, who infiltrated across the cease-fire line.

Palestinians charge the complex of walls, trenches, barbed wire and electronic sensors is a land grab that cuts people off from their property and basic services.

Israel did not recognize the 2004 ruling against the barrier by the International Court of Justice, an advisory opinion with no enforcement mechanism.

The UN released a statement concluding that the completed barrier would close in 35,000 Palestinians and wall off another 125,000 on three sides. About 2.4 million Palestinians live in the West Bank.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said the barrier is only part of the problem.

"The wall is but one element of the wider system of severe restrictions on the freedom of movement imposed by the Israeli authorities on Palestinian residents of the West Bank," Pillay said. Israeli must "dismantle the wall" and "make reparations for all damage suffered by all persons affected by the wall's construction," she said.

IAF to have 230 Sukhoi planes by 2015

New Delhi, July 8
Government plans to have a fleet of 230 Russian-made Sukhoi 30 MKI fighter aircraft in Indian Air Force by 2015, Defence Minister A K Antony informed the Rajya Sabha today. Replying to supplementaries during the Question Hour, Antony said since 1996 IAF has procured 98 Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter aircraft.

"By 2015, we plan to have a fleet of 230 Sukhoi fighter aircraft," he said.

IAF, he said, feels Sukhoi - one of the most advanced fighter aircraft in the world - is best suited to Indian conditions. "IAF is very happy with these aircraft," he said.

He said a Court of Inquiry has been ordered into a Sukhoi crash near Jaisalmer on April 30 during a routine training flight. Both pilots ejected but the Flying Inspector, who was also a qualified pilot and was occupying the rear seat, succumbed to injuries.

"Following the incident, the IAF has undertaken a detailed inspection of all Sukhoi 30 MKI fighter aircraft," he said.

Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju said the blackbox of the crashed Sukhoi was badly damaged and has been sent to the UK for retrieving information.

The Court of Inquiry would look into the possible reasons for the crash, including probability of malfunctioning of some equipment. — PTI

Spending more on defence
Modernisation must be given a push

IT is heartening that the Manmohan Singh government has hiked the allocation for defence by 34 per cent over the previous year in this year’s budget. With both Pakistan and China arming themselves to the teeth, India’s allocation at 2 per cent of the GDP is still way below what our two neighbours have been spending year after year as a percentage of the GDP. Besides, over the years, much of the defence spending has been going into the payment of salaries of the defence staff, leaving little for modernisation of the armed forces through the induction of sophisticated weapon systems. Even of what was left for upgrading the firepower of the armed forces, the Ministry of Defence was guilty of allowing a sizable part of it to remain unspent. Last year, of the total capital outlay of Rs 48,000 crore, as much as Rs 7,007 crore remained unspent. Despite this, mercifully, the allocation for capital expenditure this time is a substantial Rs 54,824 crore. It is now up to the Defence Ministry to take advantage of this and to spend the money in a way that gives an edge to India’s defence capability over the threat to its security.

The shopping list of the Services includes virtually all types of weapons and systems, including big guns, fighter aircraft, armoured vehicles, radars, missiles and naval vessels with longer reach and equipped with better weapons. It is vital that the $10 billion purchase of 126 fighter jets that it is planning goes through so that the Indian Air Force acquires the much-needed firepower. The other ambitious plan of building a optic-fibre cable network exclusively for the armed forces would also be a big step towards modernisation. The additional six submarines that the Indian navy has planned must also be inducted without delay, keeping in mind India’s maritime needs in view of the Chinese growing influence in the Indian Ocean and beyond.

While it is imperative that the government steps up modernisation of its forces, it is important too that the morale of the armed forces personnel be raised. In that direction, while the Sixth Pay Commission has done its bit, the budgetary acceptance of the plea for “one rank, one pension” for the soldiers who retired before January 1, 2006, is a step in the right direction. The next logical step would be to extend this principle to officers also.

Beyond N-deal
India still waits for dual-use technology
by G Parthasarathy

NO international issue in post-Independence India has evoked as much domestic and international controversy as the Indo-US nuclear deal, concluded on July 18, 2005, between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President George Bush. Paradoxically, the heat and controversy generated in Parliament worked to India’s advantage, as New Delhi was able to secure assurances from Washington on issues like guarantees of uninterrupted fuel supplies and reprocessing of spent fuel, which would have otherwise not been forthcoming.

Most analysts agree that while the opposition BJP made valid points and expressed genuine concerns on the possible impact of the agreement on India’s strategic nuclear programme and its ability to conduct nuclear weapons tests in the future, the arguments put forward by the communist parties, alleging that the agreement would undermine the pursuit of an “independent” foreign policy, then and even now, remain specious. The opposition of the communist parties, which led to their withdrawal of support for the UPA government, strengthened the perception that their actions only complemented the opposition being mounted internationally by China against the termination of international nuclear sanctions on India.

The UPA government, in turn, failed to cogently explain to the people in India that what was being undertaken was an effort supported strongly by then Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Jacques Chirac to end global nuclear sanctions on India. Even today few people realise that with the global demand for oil set to outstrip supplies, oil prices, in the long-term, are likely to rise significantly and become increasingly unaffordable.

Moreover, with concerns about global warming and environmental pollution rising, India has to look for non-traditional and non-hydrocarbon routes to meet its energy needs. With India unable to import uranium ore because of global nuclear sanctions, the existing nuclear power plants with a capacity of 4100 MW were generating barely 1500-1600 MW. Following the nuclear deal, imports of uranium from sources ranging from France and Russia to Kazakhstan and Australia are now possible.

Energy security for the country can be enhanced significantly only by stepping up indigenous power production. This process would be accelerated if we tap the virtually unlimited reserves of thorium within the country. But utilising thorium reserves in significant quantities is a complex and time- consuming process, spanning two decades. This process would involve initially running the nuclear reactors based on imported uranium ore and then using the reprocessed spent fuel for plutonium-based fast-breeder reactors, the first of which is to become operational shortly.

With Indian scientists, according to Dr Anil Kakodkar, having “mastered” the use of thorium-based fast-breeder technology, the third stage will be the serial production of thorium-based indigenous fast-breeder reactors. The crucial advantage of this route is that recycled fuel can produce 60 to 90 times the energy derived from current processes of fuelling reactors exclusively with uranium ore. It is important to remember that if we maintain the present rate of economic growth, we would have to import three times the total electricity we produce today by 2050 unless we devise alternative indigenous energy options.

Contrary to the fears expressed when the nuclear deal was signed, India is not moving in a any great hurry to conclude agreements with the United States till its concerns on guarantees of fuel supplies and reprocessing of spent fuel are credibly addressed. What has happened instead is that Russia has taken the lead, with agreements to build two more rectors of 1000 MW each in Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu, with arrangements in place to build eight such reactors in the coming years. Moreover, sites have been identified in Maharashtra, West Bengal, Orissa, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh, which can each accommodate nuclear power reactors producing around 12000 MW of power.

But India needs to act quickly on issues like handing over a separation plan of its nuclear facilities to the IAEA and enacting legislation consistent with the provisions of the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for nuclear damage if it is to cooperate on nuclear power generation with countries like France, Canada and the United States, where nuclear power companies, unlike in Russia, are privately owned.

While there were initial doubts on whether the Obama Administration would abide by the letter and spirit of the “123 Agreement” concluded on July 22, 2008, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has clarified: “The Civil Nuclear Agreement helped us get over our defining disagreement, and I believe it can and should also serve as the foundation of a productive partnership on nonproliferation.” There are indications that the Obama Administration is working to address issues like the reprocessing of spent fuel which have to be unambiguously clarified before India can sign any agreement with American companies, which are now largely Japanese owned and operate out of countries ranging from the UK to South Korea. Despite this, it has to be admitted that those who believed that the signing of the Indo-US nuclear deal would clear the way for India getting access to dual use high-tech items from the US have yet to be proved right. There is nothing to suggest that there has been any easing of such restrictions since the Obama Administration assumed office. This has to be an item of high priority for discussions when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits India.

Speaking in Washington on March 23, the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy Shyam Saran made it clear that while India remained committed to its unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing, there were serious reservations about the CTBT because the Treaty was not “explicitly linked to nuclear disarmament”, and the manner in which it was adopted was obviously meant to circumscribe Indian nuclear options.

Moreover, he added that while “we cannot be part of a discriminatory regime where only certain states are allowed to possess reprocessing or enrichment facilities”, we would be willing to work with the US to curb nuclear proliferation. Another crucial issue which Mr Saran alluded to was India’s readiness to accede to the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, provided that it was a “multilateral, universally applicable and effectively verifiable” treaty. India has to insist on the treaty being non-discriminatory and internationally verifiable, given China’s readiness to transfer fissile material and nuclear weapons knowhow to Pakistan.

Finally, India could take the moral high ground internationally by calling for the outlawing of the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons and for de-alerting nuclear arsenals worldwide. Given the opinion of the World Court, which declared the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons as inadmissible in international law, such moves by India will enjoy widespread international support.

Sacrifice at Kharo
by Maj-Gen Raj Mehta (retd)

As a young Commanding Officer of a newly raised armoured regiment in early 1992, one of my responsibilities was to build team spirit and josh. I collaborated with the CO of the neighbouring battalion for a joint 250-km trek in the Sugar Sector.

Both of us along with our officers and men went backpacking the Rohru, Basleo Pass, Rampur Bushahr, Sungri and Sarahan areas. We crossed the fierce, unforgiving Sutlej river several times in flimsy ‘baskets’ on tenuous, frayed cables slung across the raging river.

I recalled that the river rises along with the Kali from under the shadows of the snow-covered Kailash peak in the Trans Himalayas. Its source is in the Mansarovar - Rakshas Tal complex, along with the Indus and Tsang Po (Brahmaputra). Racing west, the Indus passes through Ladakh before it hugs the Great Himalayas near Nanga Parbat in Pakistan.

Running east, the Tsang Po similarly hugs the Great Himalayas in a bend above Dibrugarh to become the Bramhaputra in India. The Sutlej races like a dagger towards Shipki La where it enters India, Sugar being the name of a village of a few huts after which the sector is named. The Kali proceeds towards Nepal. These rivers write the destiny of most of the subcontinent as well as Tibet and Eastern China.

The savage Sutlej also wrote the destiny of 34 of the bravest of the brave – the deathless men of 18 Engineer Regiment who died while constructing a bridge across the swirling, unforgiving waters of the Sutlej at Kharo in July 2005 – but attained immortality in the minds of the Army, their families, the Sapper brotherhood and certainly the Colonel of the Sapper Group – Gen S Pattabhiraman, then the Western Army Commander.

Unlike some others who may have little idea of the power and wanton destruction that mountain rivers can cause, I had been to Sumdoh on the Indo-Chinese border a few days earlier. The Spiti river is mild, almost feminine, in the languorous way it curves through the Spiti Valley. That is, till Sumdoh, where the foaming Pare Chhu races down from the Tibetan mountains to join the Spiti river.

I saw the horrendous damage caused by the Pare Chhu in Tibet and its unleashing of a tidal wave at Sumdoh, when this river went rabid in July 2005 because of bursting of a “dam” on the river in upper Tibet, caused by landslides. In my mind’s eye I could imagine the final moments of the Sapper brave hearts as they hurtled towards their deaths. They never had a chance.

These dauntless men must have sensed their doom the sickening moment the bridge gave way. This is the spirit that got the Sappers their Victoria Crosses (equivalent of today’s Param Vir Chakra). The men have died but their Sapper spirit is deathless and lives on.

When the horrific news came into HQ Western Command at Chandimandir, the Army Commander was about to take off for a war game at Jalandhar. An officer who lives by an ironclad code of ethics and morality, who feels and senses the pulse of his command needs to display a role model outlook while handling bad news. No witnesses were required to gauge the Army Commander’s loss or his feeling of personal loss when he arrived at the war game on schedule.

Behind his calm demeanour, all of us present sensed his deep loss. For me and my colleagues, that perhaps was the best way of honouring the sacrifice of the Sappers who died at Kharo that day.

Iran one to three years away from nuclear bomb: Mullen

Lalit K Jha/PTI / Washington July 08, 2009, 13:43 IST

Iran is just one to three years away from acquiring a nuclear bomb and the clock is fast ticking for the international community to prevent this from happening, a top US military official has said.

"Where we are challenged here is the timeframe — which depending on who you talk to, the estimates of when they would develop a nuclear weapon and again based on both your assumptions and who you talk to it's been one to three years. It's sort of in that kind of timeframe," Mullen told a Washington-based think tank.

Concerned that time is fast running out to prevent this eventuality, Mullen said: "I believe Iran is very focused on developing this capability."

Iran acquiring nuclear weapons will be a very destabilising development, Mullen told a luncheon meeting at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"Often times I get — another question is the whole strike option piece of that. I also think that would be very destabilising because of them — actually in both cases, certainly a strike or them getting the weapon — those are hugely significant in and of themselves," Mullen said.

But, he said, with those kinds of possibilities there are unintended consequences that are very difficult to predict "in a highly volatile part of the world and I worry as much about that as well". "So that's why I talk about this very narrow space that we have to work towards an objective of not achieving that capability," Mullen said.

The top US military official said he is in touch with his counterparts in several countries who share the concerns on the issue.

"We've worked with our Gulf partners to look at the development of regional defense capability. And I see they are very committed to that and expanding that capability over time," he said.

Mullen said he was very concerned about Iran developing nuclear weapons, their funding and sponsoring terrorism, focusing that support on Hezbollah, Hamas, et cetera, being a destabilising influence in the region.

"I believe there's a need to certainly reach out and engage in dialogue with them. And that's obviously up to the political leadership," he said.

Indian troops to march down Champs Elysees

Sandeep Dikshit

NEW DELHI: A contingent of Indian troops will march down Champs Elysees to the sound of Indian martial music, watched by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is the chief guest at this year’s French National Day celebrations on July 14. Mr. Sarkozy was the chief guest at the Republic Day parade here last year.

The second batch of 270 armed forces personnel comprising marching columns and a combined military band from the Army, the Air Force and the Navy left here on Wednesday for Paris. On Tuesday, the first batch of 130 personnel left for Paris to take part in the parade by the Indian troops, which will be commanded by Air Commodore R.K. Mathur.

The French National Day marks the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille fortress-prison on July 14, 1789.

‘Proud day’

“It will be a proud day for India as our troops will march in a country where they fought during World War I,” said Defence Ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar. Indian soldiers of the British Imperial Army were in the two Allied divisions that fought the Germans around the northern French town of Neuve-Chapelle in March 1915.

Ties with France

India has close military and political ties with France, which recently began supplying six submarines at a cost of Rs. 15,000 crore and is a leading contender for the next order of submarines.

France backed India in ending its isolation from global civil nuclear commerce and is poised to construct two nuclear plants in western India, besides supplying uranium.

3rd-gen Nag anti-tank missile completes successful user trials news

08 July 2009

The indigenous, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) developed, third generation anti-tank Nag missile is set for early induction into the Indian Army's inventory following successful final user trials in the deserts of Rajasthan.

The land version of the all-weather, fire-and-forget missile has already undergone successful winter trials in December, and the summer trials began last week. Four flight tests were completed by Thursday and another three were scheduled for Friday night.

Talking to reporters on Friday, Dr VK Saraswat, chief controller, R&D (missiles and strategic systems), DRDO, described the Nag as a modern and "very potent weapon system with high reliability in performance and damage."

With the potent system proving its capability in the latest round of trials, Dr Saraswat hoped its production and induction would begin by year-end.

Scientists revealed that the hit-to-kill missile has a unique trajectory which resembles the movement of a cobra. In the course of the trials the missile smashed stationary targets (derelict tanks) in the course of the first four test firings.

While two targets were stationed at medium range, one each was placed at shorter and longer ranges. Using an Imaging Infra-red (IIR) seeker, the missile acquired targets and caused extensive damage to them.

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