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Sunday, 12 July 2009

From Today's Papers - 12 Jul 09

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Move on nuclear trade surprises India
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 11
Though surprised, India is not unduly perturbed at this stage over the G-8 countries’ move to adopt a joint statement on non-proliferation, vowing to ban the transfer of enrichment and reprocessing (ENR) technology to countries which have not signed the controversial nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT).

“We got a clean waiver from the nuclear suppliers’ group (NSG) that allows us to engage in nuclear trade and the G-8 move will not have any direct implication on us. However, we are concerned about the timing of the resolution,” official sources here said.

The sources observed that the G-8 resolution went against the spirit of the NSG's decision, amending its strict rules at the initiative of US last September to permit India to join the nuclear mainstream. They said the G-8 resolution was not binding on India in any manner as New Delhi was working on nuclear deals with individual countries and not with any grouping as such. Countries like Russia and France obviously would gain a lot from the nuclear accords with India and the loser could obviously be the US.

However, what has come as a surprise to Indian officials is the fact that such a resolution was adopted by the G-8 countries at their summit at L’Aquila where Prime Minister Manmohan Singh too was present. The G-8 articulation on non-proliferation was buried in a separate document, which did not even attract the proper attention of the media.

“In order to reduce the proliferation risks associated with the spread of enrichment and reprocessing facilities, equipment and technology, we welcome the progress that continues to be made by the NSG on mechanisms to strengthen controls on transfer of such enrichment and reprocessing items and technology,” said the joint statement.

While noting that the NSG has not yet reached consensus on this issue, the G-8 nations said: “We agree that NSG discussions have yielded useful and constructive proposals contained in the NSG’s ‘clean text’ developed at the November 20, 2008, consultative group meeting.” Pending completion of work in the NSG, the statement said, “We agree to implement this text on a national basis next year.”

Professional Impropriety
Army court sacks woman officer
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 11
In the first instance of its kind in the Army, a general court martial (GCM) has dismissed a woman officer from service for alleged professional impropriety. Capt Poonam Kaur of the Army Service Corps had faced 10 charges under various Sections of the Army Act for disobedience of lawful command, acts unbecoming of an officer, levelling false accusations and intent to defraud.

The court held her guilty of seven charges, but acquitted her on three charges pertaining to disobedience and intent to defraud.

The GCM, presided over by commanding officer of an Artillery Regiment Col Sanjeev Kochhar, had commenced in February and concluded at Patiala yesterday evening. The court’s verdict is a subject to confirmation by the convening authority.

In July 2008, she had levelled allegations of physical and mental harassment against her superior officers, but the subsequent court of inquiry ordered to investigate the matter held her blameworthy of professional misconduct, including disobedience, improper contact with the media and getting married accommodation wrongfully allotted to her.

Poonam is the second woman Army officer to face trial by a court martial, but the first to be convicted. The trial of the other woman officer is in abeyance as the matter is pending before the Supreme Court. In the Air Force, two woman officers, including a doctor, have faced trial by the court martial and have been convicted.

Poonam was posted with the 5682 ASC Battalion in Kalka near when, in July 2008, she had accused three of her seniors, her commanding officer Col RK Sharma, the unit’s second-in-command Lt Col Ajay Chawla and adjutant Major Suraj Bhan of harassing her physically and mentally.

The Army had thereafter instituted a court of inquiry in the matter, which was presided over by Brig Attri, head of the EME Branch at Headquarters Western Command. Upon directions issued by the GoC-in-C, Western Command on the COI, Poonam was attached to an Armoured Regiment in Patiala for commencement of disciplinary proceedings. Initially, 22 tentative charges had been levelled against her, but subsequent proceedings reduced the number to 10.

Defence Ministry to probe Army's golf cart scam

PTI | July 11, 2009 | 21:34 IST

The Defence Ministry on Saturday said it would probe allegations of the Army spending Rs 1.17 crore on golf carts from special funds.

Referring to the Comptroller and Auditor General slamming chiefs of the Army's Northern and Western Commands for alleged misuse of special financial powers during April 2002 and August 2007, Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju said that "irregularities, if any, will be addressed."

"There is a procedure for these things. Whatever are the shortcomings or whatever have been the deviations from the procedure, they will be examined and suitable action will be taken," he said.

A CAG report, tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Friday, said the Army commanders had 'irregularly used' the funds, apparently for purchasing golf carts, in the name of buying battery-operated wheel chairs for hospital patients and track laying reconnaissance vehicles and for procuring trailers and stretchers for field hospitals.

The report said three out of five 'electric multi-utility vehicles' (motorised carts) procured for Rs 15.6 lakh in May 2006 under the Western Army commander's special financial powers, to transport aged and handicapped patients in military hospitals, were instead sent to the Sivalik Golf Course inside the military station for use by golfers.

Similarly, 22 motorised carts purchased in the name of 'track alignment reconnaissance vehicle' for Rs 1.01 crore in March 2008, meant for army engineer regiments, were sent to golf courses.

……….Of Defence and Deal

Published by editor Features, News Jul 12, 2009

By Vinod Vedi – Syndicate Features

For more than a decade, even before the Kargil invasion of 1999, the Armed Forces were returning unutilized funds to the Consolidated Fund of India because they could not complete deals for sorely needed equipment.

The Budget just presented to Parliament by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee shows a record Rs 7007 crore went unutilized in the Capital Outlay — the indicator of the unsatisfactory rate of improvement, modernization and futurism that afflicts the Indian military-industrial complex.

Much of it is the result of the “Bofors Syndrome” – a scare that afflicts ruling party/parties, Defence Ministry, and Armed Forces personnel in the procurement department – that they could face charges of corruption. And notwithstanding special clauses inserted into defence contracts that there should be no middlemen/agents to secure the deal the phenomenon persists in almost everything sought to be acquired from abroad for the military.

The Tehelka sting operation exposed corruption at every point that they visited as fictitious arms and equipment sellers showing the involvement of a wide spectrum of politicians, armed force personnel up to the rank of Lieutenant-General and a senior functionary of the party of George Fernandes, who was then the defence minister. Most recent is the case of the top man in the Ordnance Factories Board who is alleged to have made crores in defence deals.

In what is clearly a retrogressive reaction to the “Bofors Syndrome” the once-bitten Congress Party is doubly shy of becoming caught in a single vendor situation and has been cancelling deals and blacklisting arms manufacturers who have violated the terms of the contract. It appears to be totally mesmerized by the advice given by former Chief of Army Staff General Krishnaswami Sundarji (who selected the Bofors howitzer) that the deal with the Bofors company should be cancelled even as the core of Indian national policy — the transfer of technology – had not been fulfilled.

The nation is paying the price for that advice to this day because the 155mm artillery which proved its worth during the Kargil conflict could not be made indigenously under licence because of that one act of cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face. The Congress Party and the UPA must break out of that nefarious pox and buy the best weapon available in the market.

The supreme irony is that the best 155mm howitzer, with a longer barrel as is now sought by the Indian Army, is still that made by the former Bofors company now renamed Swedish Weapons Systems (SWS) which was available even when the shorter barrel one was recommended for purchase by General Sundarji in the late 70s The effect of Gen Sundarji’s advice is that of the 410 Bofors howitzers many had to be cannibalised to ensure that the rest would remain serviceable in the absence of the spare parts that would have come if the deal had not been scrapped. Also, India could not utilize the transfer of technology (TOT) that would have enabled it to manufacture the weapon and make necessary upgrades as it thought fit. Similar was the case with the ammunition. When Kargil happened India had to run about to acquire 155 mm shells from companies other than Bofors at a cost higher than what was provided in the contract.

Corruption charges have once again surfaced in the follow-on order for 155-mm calibre artillery both in the longer barrel version and a light version for mountain warfare and in the same knee-jerk reaction the Government cancelled the negotiations and blacklisted the companies involved. The result was that the Army could not utilize nearly a quarter of what had been earmarked for it for purchases under the Capital Outlay and Rs 2077 crore out of Rs 8345 crore allotted to it for purchase of equipment had to be surrendered to the Consolidated Fund of India.

Similar was the case with the Indian Air Force which, because of the delay in deciding on which helicopter to acquire had to return Rs 1139 crore. More dismally, but in this case because of reasons beyond anyone’s control, the Indian Navy could not augment its fleet and had to return Rs 3238 crore out of an allocation of Rs 7240 crore because of a dispute over the price of the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov renamed INS Vikramaditya (since, mercifully, resolved). Also because the nuclear powered Nerpa submarine had met with an accident and could not be delivered. It is expected to join the Indian Navy during this financial year.

It is heartening that all the money that was allocated for Research and Development was spent and Rs 631 crore additional allocation has been made for 2009-2010. However, it is measly compared to two per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) recommended by the Standing Committee on Defence more than a decade ago.

The whole R and D infrastructure needs to be revamped if for no other reason than that it failed to make incremental growth in artillery design and manufacture after the Gun Development Team posted in Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh) had completed making the Indian Field Gun of 105 mm caliber. Even after operating the 155-mm howitzer for more than a decade the DRDO has not thought it fit to include this weapon in the “make” category so that the nation is spared the trauma of successive scandals and the armed forces get what they need to defend the nation.

The Congress-led UPA government on its part should call an all-party meeting and explain the pros and cons of every defence deal that needs to be put on the fast track and find a modus vivende to get around the corruption that is endemic in the arms bazaar. It is in the national interest that it does so.

- Asian Tribune –

Army sends students of Poonch to educational tour

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Poonch (J&K), Jul 11 A group of 20 students from far-flung areas of the district were sent on a 10-day-long educational tour of northern India.

The tour of 20 students, accompanied by two teachers, is a part of carrying forward the spirit of "sadbhavana" to undertake projects by Indian Army to reach out to the common people of the far-flung areas in the state, a defence spokesman said here.

The tour was flagged off by Commander of Poonch Brigade Brigadier Satish Dua in presence of district Development Commissioner Mohammad Afzal Bhat and other senior officials.

During the tour, the students will visit Jammu, Dehradun, Rishikesh, Haridwar and Mussoorie, he said adding that they will also be taken to various institutions in these cities during the tour. - (Agencies)

URGENT: India Pays Baitullah Mehsud To Attack Pakistan’s Nuclear Sites, Plan Deployed

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The Indians working with their allies in the Karzai government have designed a foolproof plan to attack Pakistani nuclear sites using hired terrorists. They think they can pull it off and permanently damage Pakistan’s standing internationally and hasten calls for denuclearizing Pakistan. Any attack on Pakistani nuclear sites in the coming days will be taken as a declaration of war by India and will be dealt with equal force. There should not be confusion on this.



Tuesday, 7 July 2009.


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—India has paid terrorist leader Baitullah Mehsud and his well armed and trained terrorist army around U.S. $ 25 million to mount a spectacular attack on a major Pakistani nuclear site. A special force of around 500 recruits has been assembled and trained to mount the operation that is supposed to shock the world. The purpose is to create an event that will create a global media scare and convince the world of the need for military intervention in Pakistan. Another objective is to neutralize voices of reason within the U.S. government that believe Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is secure.

The bulk of the terrorists in the special 500-strong force put together by Mehsud have been trained inside Afghanistan by trainers suspected of having links to the Indian intelligence. Although most of the recruits are expected to be Pakistanis from Mehsud’s tribe, an unknown number of Afghan and Indian elements with special operations training have been inserted in the Mehsud group in order to ensure the success of this high profile operation.

It is not clear when this plan was conceived and whether the 500-strong force divided into crack teams to carry out the attack(s) is ready. But Pakistani officials are taking no chances. The nation’s security setup is on high alert. As for the nuclear installations, the managers of Pakistan’s strategic arsenal maintain unrestricted universal operability to fulfill the arsenal’s role as a deterrent. For them, no day is a normal day.

But this latest disclosure of a plan to attack the nuclear sites has raised alarm bells, to say the least.

A rough sketch of the plan and how the attack(s) are expected to unfold goes as follows:

1. A team or several teams of terrorists attack one or more Pakistani nuclear sites and attempt to enter the facilities.

2. Within each crack team only a small core is supposed to be equipped with modern communications equipment, special operations gear, and modern weapons; highly trained to exact maximum damage.

3. Where possible, the terrorists plan to break in and hold the fort, a la Mumbai attacks, in order to generate maximum media coverage and embarrassment for the Pakistanis.

4. The international media, and especially the main American and British news outlets, turn this into a global crisis, comparable to the Bay of Pigs in 1962.

5. The event generates enough pressure to justify an ‘international demand’ to neutralize Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and force Pakistanis to accept ‘international’ supervision.

6. Depending on the aftermath, and after a few days or weeks, a small nuclear weapon is used somewhere, maybe against the US military or NATO bases in Afghanistan since it would be difficult to do it anywhere else, in order to confirm that the Afghan Taliban or generally the ‘Islamic extremists’ managed to steal a weapon from the earlier attack(s) on Pakistani sites.

This last point is critical. According to the available information, the mysterious disappearance of a senior Indian nuclear scientist and his subsequent death in May is linked to at least some parts of this plan. The scientist, Mr. Lokanathan Mahalingam, 47, had access to Indian’s sensitive nuclear information and worked at the prestigious Kaiga Atomic Power Station in the southern Indian state Karnataka, close to Project Seabird, a major Indian military base. His disappearance received limited coverage in the Indian media and there was almost a blackout on the circumstances surrounding how his dead body was found in a lake. The media in the U.S. and Britain also ignored the story . It is believed that Mr. Mahalingam was either involved in or had some knowledge about the planning for securing a small nuclear weapon that would leave no fingerprints, to put it this way, in order to execute the idea in paragraph 6 above.

The Indians have been working on this scenario for some time now.

On 16 May, the Israeli security website Debka under a story titled, ‘Singh warns Obama: Pakistan is lost,’ reported the following:

“India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has told President Obama that nuclear sites in Pakistan’s restive frontier province are “already partly” in the hands of Islamic extremists.”

The Times of India, reporting the story , complained about “Washington’s misplaced confidence in, and [careless] approach towards, Pakistan’s nuclear assets,” and grumbled that “Pakistan is ramping up its nuclear arsenal even as the rest of the world is scaling it down.”

The Indian interest is obvious. But so is the Israeli interest. It is quite revealing that the story was broken by a news outlet known in international circles for its links to the Israeli government.

Official circles in Washington, including the White House, the State Department, Pentagon and CIA are cognizant of a history of cooperation between India and Israel in security issues. India’s security establishment is largely focused on Pakistan and on controlling Kashmir where the population is fighting the Indian military. At least in one incident, during the limited Pakistan-India war in 1999, the Israelis directly intervened to help the battered Indian army overturn a tactical victory by Pakistani and Kashmiri fighters.

As recently as two days ago, Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst and an Obama adviser known for his strong anti-Pakistan views, wrote an article published at the Brookings Institute website that demonstrates how far the anti-Pakistan lobby is willing to go to prove that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is not safe.

In Mr. Riedel’s case, he went as far as lying.

He used a recent terrorist attack on a bus carrying employees of KRL, a Pakistani nuclear facility, to say that Pakistani nuclear sites are already under attack. What he conveniently ignored is that the said bus was in fact traveling through a densely populated part of the city and not anywhere near any nuclear site. The bus most probably became a target of opportunity because it carried a plate indicating it was a government vehicle.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statement quoted by an Israeli source which was widely reported and never denied by the Indians, the Israelis or the Americans, was not the first to promote the alarmist and the unreal scenario of Pakistani nuclear weapons getting into the wrong hands. Mr. Singh came on record during an interview with CNN in 2005 to say this:

“I am worried about the security of Pakistan’s nuclear assets should President Pervez Musharraf be replaced, since there is always the danger of Islamic militants seizing power and taking control of the country’s nuclear assets.”

There is little question that influential parts of the Indian government are involved in exporting terrorism into Pakistan from bases inside Afghanistan. Attempts to incite ethnic unrest in Pakistan’s southwest were traced by investigators to Indians in Afghanistan. Pakistani investigators reached the same conclusion with some of the evidence found in northwest Pakistan where terrorists are killing Pakistanis. And now there are reports of an impending attack on Pakistan’s nuclear facilities using Baitullah Mehsud.

The Indians and those who are supporting them should be under no illusions. Any attack on Pakistani nuclear facilities in the coming days will be construed as a declaration of war by India against Pakistan. Knowing of Mehsud’s previous contacts with Indians and with Karzai’s people, any miscalculated attempt by his terrorists will not be seen as anything less than a direct Indian attack. In this case, Pakistan will consider itself in a state of war, and retaliate accordingly. There should not be any confusion on this.

Financial powers misused by Army: CAG
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 11
Pointing to misuse of the special financial powers delegated to Army Commanders, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India yesterday said funds meant for operational requirements were used to procure things like golf carts for golf courses maintained by the Indian Army at certain places.

CAG said the GOC-in-C, Western Command, Chandimandir, sanctioned in May 2006 the procurement of five “Electric Multi Utility Vehicles” (motorised carts) under the Army Commander’s special financial powers.

These vehicles were required for transporting aged/handicapped patients in the military hospitals. These carts were received by the Research and Referral Hospital, Delhi. Three motorised carts were issued to Command Hospital, Western Command, Chandimandir, and one each was issued to military hospitals at Amritsar and Jammu. The three motorised carts received by Command Hospital, Chandimandir, were allocated to Shivalik Environmental Park and Training Area (SEPTA). CAG says this is another name for the golf course at Chandimandir.

The ministry, in their reply in September 2008, denied the issue of shifting golf carts to the golf courses and stated that these were being used in the hospitals. The denial by the ministry was contrary to the documentary evidence. Audit examination showed that in November 2006, the executive secretary, SEPTA, wrote to Mahindra stiller auto trucks that the three electric golf carts supplied by the firm had been further issued to the Army Golf Courses at Ambala and Jalandhar and that the firm should liaise with the above golf courses for maintenance and repair of these golf carts.

Similarly, the CAG says the GOC-in-C, Western Command, sanctioned in March 2008 the procurement of 22 “track alignment reconnaissance vehicles” (TARVs) for Rs 1.01 crore under the Army Commander’s special financial powers.

CAG says scrutiny of the purchase order and the specifications indicated that the vehicles supplied in the name of TARVs were actually golf carts of the brand name “Club Car”.

The audit noticed that the 22 vehicles received in March 2008 were issued to nine Engineer Regiments. These regiments, apart from their normal duties were responsible for the maintenance of golf courses (Amy Environmental Park and Training Area) at Chandimandir, Ambala, Jalandhar and Amritsar, etc.

The ministry, in September 2008, replied that the commercially available golf carts facilitated noiseless reconnaissance in close proximity of the enemy and helped in quick laying of track material, which enhanced operational capability of Engineer Regiments.

CAG said it found that four of the 22 vehicles were actually handed over to SEPTA and there were no documents to show that these vehicles were ever used for laying of track in operational areas.

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