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Tuesday, 28 July 2009

From Today's Papers - 28 Jul 09

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US-China relationship to shape 21st century: Obama

Press Trust of India, Tuesday July 28, 2009, Washington

US President Barack Obama on Monday said the relationship between America and China will shape the 21st century as their ability to partner is a "prerequisite for progress" on many of the most pressing global challenges.

"We cannot predict with certainty what the future will bring, but we can be certain about the issues that will define our times. And we also know this: the relationship between the US and China will shape the 21st century, which makes it as important as any bilateral relationship in the world," he said.

"That reality must underpin our partnership. That is the responsibility we bear," he said in his remarks to the two-day US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue that began on Monday.

The US side is represented by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in the crucial meeting. The Chinese delegation -- comprising of more than 150 officials -- is led by State Councilor Dai Bingguo and Vice Premier Wang Qishan.

"I believe that we are poised to make steady progress on some of the most important issues of our times," Obama said in his address. His confidence is rooted in the fact that the United States and China share mutual interests, Obama said.

"If we advance those interests through cooperation, our people will benefit, and the world will be better off -- because our ability to partner with each other is a prerequisite for progress on many of the most pressing global challenges," he said.

Army short of 11,387 officers: Antony

Press Trust of India / New Delhi July 27, 2009, 14:30 IST

The Indian Army is short of over 11,387 officers, Defence Minister A K Antony told the Lok Sabha today.

While the Navy was short of 1,512 officers, the shortage in the Air Force was 1,400, he said in a written reply.

However, there is no significant shortage of Personnel Below Officer Ranks (PBORs) in the Armed Forces and nearly a lakh joined the army in that category in the last three years.

As many as 5,033 officers and 96,453 PBORs joined the Army in the last three years while 1,209 officers and 6,792 PBORs were enrolled by the Navy during the same period. As many as 1,451 officers and 21,311 PBORs joined the Air Force in the last three years, Antony said.

During the last three years and in the current year, 3,764 officers and 27,477 PBORs of Army, 842 officers and 126 PBORs of Navy and 893 officers and 3,961 PBORs of Air Force have sought discharge/voluntary retirement, he said.

Listing the steps taken to motivate the service personnel to continue in service and attract youth to join Armed Forces, Antony said all officers including those in Short Service Commission (SSC) were now eligible to hold substantive rank of Captain, Major and Lieutenant Colonel after two, six and 13 years of reckonable service respectively.

The tenure of SSC officers has been increased from 10 years to 14 years, he said.

Antony said 750 posts of Lt Colonel have been upgraded to Colonel after implementation of A V Singh Committee Report.

He said 1,896 additional posts in the ranks of Colonel, Brigadier, Major General and Lieutenant General and their equivalent in the two other services have also been upgraded.

"The implementation of recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission with substantial improvements in the pay structure of officers of Armed Forces, will go a long way in making the services more attractive," Antony said.

The A V Singh Committee was set up in 2001 by the government with an aim to achieve "combat effectiveness" by bringing down the age profile of battalion/brigade level commanders.

NKorea suggests different disarmament talks

AP/ PTI / Seoul July 27, 2009, 9:55 IST

North Korea today suggested a different "form of dialogue" on dismantling its nuclear weapons programmes, reiterating it would not return to the existing six-party talks, state media said.

The statement from the North's foreign ministry came after Pyongyang's UN envoy, Sin Son-Ho, said last week that it was not opposed to negotiations with the United States, but would no longer participate in the multilateral forum.

"Any attempt to side with those who claim the resumption of the six-party talks without grasping the essence of the matter will not help ease tension," a foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement.

"There is a specific and reserved form of dialogue that can address the current situation." The spokesman did not elaborate on what form such a dialogue could take. "What Pyongyang calls for is a direct US-North Korean dialogue," Kim Yong-Hyun, a North Korea expert and professor at Seoul's Dongguk University, said.

The North quit the six-party talks after the UN Security Council censured it for a long-range rocket launch in April. In May, it also staged its second nuclear test.

The Council has since imposed tougher sanctions, including an expanded arms embargo and beefed up inspections of air, sea and land shipments going to and from North Korea.

In the race for the Rs 49,000 cr IAF deal

India's desire to upgrade its Air Force will take a step forward in the next couple of months when trials for 126 medium-range, multi-role combat aircraft begin.

The six companies in contention for the $10 billion deal are European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), which has offered the Eurofighter Typhoon; American firms Lockheed Martin (F-16 Falcon/Block 52) and Boeing Integrated Defence System (F/A-18F Super Hornet); Russian Aircraft Corp's MiG-35; Swedish Saab's Gripen (JAS-39) and French major, Dassault's Rafale.

The evaluation trials would be conducted by various teams composed of test pilots, engineers and maintenance crew, which will be drawn primarily from the Aircraft Systems and Testing Establishment (ASTE).

State-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) would also be involved to look at issues concerning technology transfer and industrial partnership, besides the Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification.

Let's take a look at what global giants are offering the Indian Air Force...

How to deal with post-Sharm el-Sheikh crisis

It has now clearly emerged that the directive to delink Pakistan's response -- to bringing the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks [ Images ] to justice and to take tangible measures to end terrorism against India by Pakistan-based Jihadi organisations -- from the composite dialogue process came from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [ Images ] himself at Sharm el-Sheikh.

Also, the mention of Balochistan in the Joint Statement of July 16 has further raised the political temperature in the country and given the Opposition one more excuse to stall the proceedings in Parliament. Opposition leaders used phrases like 'sellout' and 'capitulation' to describe the twin gaffes.

The government's spin doctors have gone into overdrive to explain the diplomatic faux pas. External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said India wanted to give the Pakistan government a 'chance to prove or disprove' that they are in control of the machinery. Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor [ Images ] rather disingenuously tried to reduce the fallout of the gaffe by claiming that the Joint Statement is merely a diplomatic paper that has no legal sanctity.

Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon [ Images ] candidly admitted that the Joint Statement was 'badly drafted'. Other functionaries have said the only subject that will be discussed, when the two foreign secretaries meet, will be terrorism and that the government has not agreed to resume the composite dialogue process.

After some initial dithering, the Congress leadership has come out strongly in support of Dr Singh's stand that India cannot afford to take a position where it refuses to talk to Pakistan. The prime minister's expected statement in Parliament on July 29 should clear the air on the various contradictory postures.

However, whatever the prime minister might say in defence of his grand vision to seek peace with Pakistan, he cannot justify the oblique insinuation in the Joint Statement that India has a hand in what Pakistan calls 'threats in Balochistan'. This reference draws a parallel with Pakistan's prolonged proxy war in Jammu and Kashmir [ Images ], under the shadow of its nuclear umbrella, and cannot be justified even though "India has nothing to hide".

Pakistan has for long accused India of supporting the insurgency in Balochistan. More recently, it has begun to accuse India of sponsoring Taliban [ Images ] terrorism in the North West Frontier Province from its consulates in Kandahar and Jalalabad in Afghanistan. Given the high political and military stakes that the United States has in its global war on terror in the Af-Pak region, it would have come down hard on India if it had even an iota of suspicion that India is engaged in nefarious activities in the NWFP and Balochistan. On the contrary, Admiral Mike Mullen [ Images ], Chairman, US Joint Chiefs of Staff, has publicly called on Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence to change its 'strategic thrust which has been to foment chaotic activity in the countries bordering Pakistan'.

In fact, Indian workers and even the Indian embassy in Kabul have been targeted, the latter with Pakistan's army [ Images ] chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani's [ Images ] personal approval, and India has looked on with helpless rage. It is also a moot point whether the virulent fundamentalists who comprise Baitullah Mehsud's Tehrik Taleban Pakistan and Maulana Fazlullah's Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi would deign to accept Indian help even if it was offered.

It must not be forgotten that soon after the Mumbai terror attacks, when talk of war was in the air, Mehsud's TTP had offered to send thousands of Taliban fighters to fight alongside the Pakistan army.

Pakistan's mounting energy insecurity, which is marked by rapid growth in demand combined with increasing scarcity in a region with intensified energy rivalry, has magnified the economic and strategic importance of Balochistan. The separatist resurgence is thwarting Pakistan's plans to optimally utilise Balochistan's energy reserves. It is also hampering efforts to build trans-national gas pipelines from Iran and Turkmenistan and efforts aimed at fully exploiting the rich potential of the Chinese built port at Gwadar, including providing a land route for the transportation of goods to China's Xingjian province.

For over six decades, Pakistan has extensively mined the rich mineral resources of Balochistan. This is deeply resented by the people of Balochsitan as the government of Pakistan does not give them what they consider their due share of the revenues generated from the mines. Balochistan continues to remain the least developed province of Pakistan and poverty is rampant.

While India has had traditional linkages with the Baloch people and most Indians sympathise with their plight, India does not materially support the Baloch uprising, which has been brutally crushed by the Pakistan army. Hence, on both counts -- Indian support for the Taliban terrorists and for the Balochistan Liberation Army -- India must treat the dossier provided by Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani merely as a negotiating stratagem and nothing more.

President Asif Ali Zardari's [ Images ] government is in no position to deliver on the promises that it makes. There are dissensions within the civilian government as well as major policy differences with the army and the ISI.

Lieutenant General Shuja Pasha, the ISI chief, told the Indian army [ Images ], navy and air force's defence advisors in Islamabad [ Images ] on July 3 that the ISI and the Pakistan army should find a place in the talks with India as they play a 'key role in helping the foreign ministry (to) formulate its policies'. Also, among the key players in Pakistan are the heads of various Jihadi outfits such as the Lashkar-e-Tayiba [ Images ], Jamaat ud-Dawaa, Jaish-e-Mohammed and Harkat-ul-Jihad-al Islami, which have formed a loose confederation with the Taliban, Al Qaeda [ Images ] and other radical extremist organisations that comprise the International Islamic front.

The best option to deal with the post-Sharm el-Sheikh politico-diplomatic crisis would be for Parliament to send a clear message that terrorism directed against India and emanating from Pakistani soil must be brought to a demonstrable end and that the government of Pakistan must show the resolve necessary to bring to justice the perpetrators of the Mumbai terror attacks. This can be done through a Sense of the House resolution in the Lok Sabha. Such a resolution will demonstrate that when it comes to vital national interests, the people's representatives can sink their differences and stand together. It is time India spoke in one voice on a matter of national importance.

Soldiers won’t be put on menial jobs: Antony
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 27
Defence Minister AK Antony today told Parliament that he has issued instructions that soldiers who are “sahayaks” - known as batmen - to Army officers will not be put for “demeaning and humiliating” tasks.

He further said the sahayaks would not be employed in menial house-hold work and issued elaborate instructions to ensure “strict checks” to prevent their misuse. Sahayaks would be attached to regular Army units and provided proper living accommodation and messing facilities.

“The officer to whom Sahayaks are provided will ensure such facilities are arranged,” Antony said.

“It is the duty of all officers and junior commissioned officers (JCOs) and commanders in the chain to ensure that strict checks are instituted to prevent misuse of Sahayaks and that any violation of existing instructions and guidelines should be dealt with immediately,” Defence Minister AK Antony told the House in a statement.

He was replying on the status of implementing the recommendations made by the parliamentary standing committee. Antony said the Army was told that under no circumstances should the dignity and self-respect of a soldier be lowered.

Any practice that lowers the self-esteem of a soldier is to be abhorred. Formation and Unit Commanders uphold the honour and dignity of job of the individual soldiers. In this context, it is always ensured and shall continue to be ensured that soldiers are not employed on a demeaning and humiliating tasks, Antony said in his reply.

Army short of 11,387 officers

New Delhi, July 27
The Indian Army is short of over 11,387 officers, Defence Minister AK Antony told the Lok Sabha today.

While the Navy was short of 1,512 officers, the shortage in the Air Force was 1,400, he said in a written reply. However, there is no significant shortage of personnel below officer ranks (PBORs) in the Armed Forces and nearly a lakh joined the army in that category in the last three years.

As many as 5,033 officers and 96,453 PBORs joined the Army in the last three years, while 1,209 officers and 6,792 PBORs were enrolled by the Navy during the same period. As many as 1,451 officers and 21,311 PBORs joined the Air Force in the last three years, Antony said.

During the last three years and in the current year, 3,764 officers and 27,477 PBORs of Army, 842 officers and 126 PBORs of Navy and 893 officers and 3961 PBORs of Air Force have sought discharge/voluntary retirement.

Listing the steps taken to motivate the service personnel to continue in service and attract youth to join armed forces, Antony said all officers, including those in Short Service Commission (SSC) were now eligible to hold substantive rank of Captain, Major and Lieutenant Colonel after two, six and 13 years of reckonable service respectively. — PTI

Govt rejects panel's advice to do away with Army orderlies

Rajat Pandit, TNN 28 July 2009, 02:49am IST

NEW DELHI: Army officers can sit pretty. Nobody is going to yank away their orderlies, or ‘‘sahayaks’’ as they are now called, anytime soon.

The government has firmly rejected a parliamentary committee’s strong recommendation that officers should make do without orderlies.

The parliamentary standing committee on defence had held sahayak system prevalent in Army was ‘‘a shameful practice’’, which ‘‘should have no place in Independent India’’, as earlier reported by TOI. ‘‘The committee hardly needs to stress that jawans are recruited for serving the nation and not to serve family members of officers in household work, which is humiliating,’’ it said.

The 1.13-million strong Army, which currently has 35,227 officers out of an ‘authorised strength’ of 46,614, was of course not at all happy with the recommendation. Its contention is that an officer gets a sahayak basically for upkeep of his uniform, weapons and other equipment, as also act as his radio operator and ‘‘buddy’’ during combat.

While this is certainly indisputable, it’s equally true that sahayaks are grossly misused by many officers, from being made to walk the dogs, taking kids to school to even washing clothes. While rejecting recommendation to scrap sahayak system, defence minister A K Antony told Parliament that ‘‘exhaustive instructions’’ about ‘‘appropriate employment’’ of sahayaks were being repeatedly issued by Army HQ to all its formations.

‘‘Any practice that lowers a soldier’s self-esteem is to be’s always ensured and shall continue to be ensured that soldiers are not employed for any demeaning or humiliating tasks,’’ said Antony, in an action-taken report. Quoting a letter issued by Army HQ’s Adjutant General’s Branch, the minister said a sahayak is ‘‘a comrade-in-arms to the officer/JCO, symbolising trust, respect, warmth, confidence and interdependence, which are the fundamentals of relations between the leaders and the led’’.

All Army formations have been told to ensure sahayaks are not employed for ‘‘menial household work’’ since as combatant soldiers they should not be used for anything which adversely impacts their dignity and self-respect.

Pakistan violated ceasefire 77 times last year: Antony

Pakistan violated the 2003 ceasefire agreement on the Line of Control (LoC) 77 times in 2008—an exponential rise over previous years—Defence Minister A K Antony said on Monday.

The ceasefire was violated 21 times in 2007 and only thrice in 2006. Nine incidents of ceasefire violation have been recorded so far this year, none of these in Kargil region where the two countries fought a bloody war ten years ago.

The sharp jump in the number of ceasefire violations last year, analysts say, was a result of Pakistan’s deliberate decision to work out the threshold of Indian Army’s tolerance as well as force it to rework its counter-infiltration grid so that more infiltrators could be pushed into India. This, experts say, was put to practical use earlier this year when several large groups of infiltrators tried to cross the border while the LoC fence was still under snow.

Antony said nine defence personnel were killed and 25 injured in cross-border firing and shelling since 2006. In the same period, Army lost 690 personnel, including 54 officers, to counter-infiltration and anti-terror operations in J&K and North-east. Earlier figures had shown that Army is losing more soldiers in North-east than in J&K, which has been a little more peaceful since the 2003 ceasefire.

Comment: Crumbling Edifice

28 July 2009, 12:00am IST

It has been a strange few days for the Indian defence establishment. The Comptroller and Auditor General's (CAG) scathing denunciation of the

military's procurement system exemplified by the long-running fiasco of the Gorshkov carrier deal has been followed by the launch of the INS Arihant, India's first indigenous nuclear submarine. As a technological achievement, it is significant. Only five other nations have the capability to build nuclear submarines. As the potential third leg of India's nuclear triad crucial if New Delhi's no-first use policy is to be credible it becomes even more important. It is a peculiar schizophrenia on display, this simultaneous proof of the defence establishment's inadequacies and capabilities. But the fact is that of the two, the CAG report paints a far more accurate picture of the entire procurement and development system.

Corruption, of course, is a prime factor here. Kickbacks, backchannel deals and tenders tailored to suit certain bids have all played a role in compromising the armed forces' readiness and capabilities. It plays into another problem the CAG report highlights; a lack of foresight and long-term planning that has crippled the armed forces. There is no clear vision of where the armed forces must be by 2025 or 2030, or quantifiable waypoints to measure progress towards achieving that goal. This lack of forward planning has plagued India for decades. In the years since independence, various administrative and policy structures have been implemented, from five-year defence plans to an Integrated Defence Headquarters. None of them have been truly successful.

It leaves India's military hobbled by a culture of ad-hocism. This is best exemplified by the aborted initiative to appoint a chief of defence staff in the wake of the Kargil war. Such a position is crucial. A single-point interface between the government and the armed forces would enable coordinated defence planning for all three arms of the military, especially when the trend is increasingly towards joint arms operations, something that India has itself adopted with its new Cold Start doctrine. But as it stands now, there is little coordination between the army, the navy and the air force.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said that India is not an aggressive nation, that it seeks only to defend itself. It cannot achieve this if it continues as it is today. The government must realise that planning from year to year is of little use when the gestation period for deals and development projects can stretch into decades. Reforms are needed and needed urgently.

'Soldiers are heroes during wars, forgotten later'

Aarthi R, TNN 27 July 2009, 02:35am IST

BANGALORE: At 65, veteran colonel S S Rajan is still prepared for another 33 years of service. He joined the Indian Army with a single star on

his epaulette when 18. And today, he refuses to acknowledge his `retired' status, even on his signature.

The passion and pride is in his family. His father was a World War-II veteran, his son-in-law is a doctor and surgeon in the Army, and his son is now preparing to join the forces. "There's nothing like being in the Army,'' says Rajan. But what worries him is a lack of public awareness about a soldier's life and their sacrifices that are often trivialized by political minds. "Even the Kargil war could not change much of this mindset,'' he says.

So, 10 years after the victory, on Vijay Diwas, how does he feel? Has there been any significant change in the lives of the jawans? Says Rajan: "Soldiers are heroes while the war lasts. After it's over, they are forgotten. We are an ungrateful country but nobody can be blamed for it as we still haven't understood the significance of freedom. We take it for granted.''

Are the sacrifices, that led to a surge in patriotism among the people, still remembered beyond the tokenism of an anniversary day celebrations? "The pride of being in the Army is surely intact. But today, we have a shortage of at least 12,000 officers of the rank of a lieutenant captain junior. This, despite the increase in basic pay. When I joined in 1963, my basic was Rs 400 and today the same has risen to Rs 25,000. But still, it doesn't attract youngsters. What's needed is educating people about the defence services. And this should begin with textbooks in schools.''

Indian Army Major-General Runs Terrorist Camps Inside Afghanistan

July 27, 2009

By Ahmed Quraishi | Sunday, 26 July 2009.

KABUL, Afghanistan—As the United States military occupation of Afghanistan falters, regional powers move in for the kill. Afghanistan has many neighbors. India is not one of them. It does not share any borders with Afghanistan. But after CIA, India’s two intelligence services – the Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) – are among the most active in the occupied country.

The Indians have excellent contacts within Karzai’s security setup. Most of them are former communist leaders who escaped to India in the 1970s and ‘80s and returned to power along with the Northern Alliance in 2001, backed by both US and India.

The Indians have also sold the Americans, or at least some key people within the American intelligence and strategic communities, on the dubious Indian ‘expertise’ on Afghanistan. This is how India was assigned an expanded role inside Afghanistan. The role takes the form of development work on the surface. But in reality, the Indians are neck deep in Afghanistan, and now it turns out they are neck deep inside western Pakistan as well.

The Indians have a separate, extensive intelligence and espionage setup focused on Pakistan’s tribal Pashtun belt. This is where the Indians and Karzai’s people are running a joint venture of pumping saboteurs into Pakistan disguised as the so-called ‘Pakistani Taliban’, who are also known as the Fake Taliban to differentiate them from the Afghan Taliban who are fighting the foreign armies in Afghanistan and are not fighting Pakistan.

This report focuses on India’s espionage work in southern Afghanistan targeting Pakistan’s Balochistan province.

Apart from the Indian Embassy in Kabul, there are nine consulates strategically located in the US-occupied country.

India has two consulates in the south near Pakistan’s three key areas: the provinces of Balochistan and NWFP and the tribal belt. One Indian consulate is located in Kandahar. The other one is located close to the airport in Lashkar Gah, capital of the Helmand province. This Indian ‘consulate’ has a training facility where training is imparted to would-be terrorists. Here they are equipped and sent to Pakistan. Most of these terrorists are young men recruited from both Pakistan and Afghanistan. Indian ‘diplomats’ from the two southern consulates have been sighted collecting large quantities of Pakistani rupees from the open market on several occasions.

Interestingly, Helmand is the same province where the United States and the United Kingdom have mobilized their military and intelligence resources to fight al Qaeda and the Taliban and push them toward Pakistan.

From Pakistan’s point of view, this US-NATO operation is bogus. After all, the Afghan Taliban are registering success in Afghan provinces that are nowhere near the Pakistani border, including northern Afghanistan. There is no evidence that the Afghan Taliban managed to do this because of help from Pakistani soil. And yet US-NATO forces forget Taliban everywhere else and decide to focus on Helmand which borders Pakistani Balochistan, a province that is being destabilized from the Afghan soil.

Knowing that this operation could be used by intelligence operatives [Indian, Afghan and possibly even American] to push undercover agents and saboteurs inside Pakistan, Pakistani authorities formally objected to Washington over the military action noting very clearly that pushing terrorists inside Pakistan is not a solution.

On top of the nine Indian consulates, six more ‘diplomatic’ outposts have been established by both RAW and a Karzai spy outfit called NDS.

The six new ‘consulates’ are part of a network headed by a retired major-general from the Indian army. His CV shows that he used to head RAW’s counterintelligence wing based in New Delhi.

His job description is simple.

In intelligence parlance, he is responsible for identifying strategic opportunities in Afghanistan and Pakistan and use them to India’s advantage. He is expected to cultivate, recruit, train, arm and finance espionage and sabotage inside Pakistan in a calculated manner resulting in supporting India’s wider political and strategic objectives in the region.

In simple everyday language, the Indian officer is supposed to open enough fronts for Pakistan from the west in order to distract Pakistan’s grip and attention over Kashmir, the Indian occupied region to the east.

The Indian major-general has led an operation where young men from Pakistan and Afghanistan have been recruited in the name of waging jihad against America. Once in, the young men are brainwashed. They are shown violent speeches by supposed religious clerics. They are introduced to ‘mujahedeen leaders’ who enjoy vast knowledge in Islamic and Quranic teachings. Most of these ‘mujahedeen leaders’ are either Indian or Karzai’s intelligence people.

The brainwashing sessions include virulent sermons against Pakistan and its role in betraying Islam. The indoctrination ends with the mission that Pakistan needs to be the first target in the jihad against America. Whoever sides with Pakistan in this battle is a supporter of America’s occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.

These young men with ‘messed up minds’ are then sent to Pakistan to carry out bombings, suicide attacks, targeted killings, and slaughter innocent people.

Most of them are introduced as Islamic militants or Taliban. But a large number of them are also sent in to pretend they are Pakistanis fighting for the separation of Balochistan from the motherland.

As soon as these terrorists finish blowing up pipelines or killing university professors in Balochistan’s provincial capital Quetta, Indian consulates in Afghanistan arrange for their Urdu writers to pen down neatly written statements in Urdu which are then dispatched to Pakistani news organizations. Some analysts who have had a chance to look at these statements are impressed by the high quality of the Urdu language used in these written press statements. [Non-Pakistani readers may not understand the significance of this point. A small minority in northeast India, a region that has been the seat of Muslim nobility and empire for most of the past ten centuries, continue to be well acquainted with Urdu, the language of the old Muslim nobility in the region. The terrorists spreading havoc in Pakistani Balochistan do not enjoy even a moderately acceptable command over this classical language. The only other people outside Pakistan who can show off a few experts in this language are Indians from the northwestern part of their country.]

Exploiting a barren, rough terrain, the Indians and Karzai’s security people have identified routes along three regions in southwest Pakistan – Dalbandin, Noshki and Chaman – as transportation routes for weapons and bombs smuggled into the province.

Pakistani security forces have consistently been confiscating US and Israeli manufactured weapons from terrorists in various parts of southwest Pakistan bordering Afghanistan.

Intelligence agencies from eight different countries are suspected to be active in the wave of terror inside Pakistan. These spy outfits belong to the United States, India, Afghanistan, Iran, UAE, Israel, Britain and Russia.

Pakistani authorities have been slow in discovering the role of a 9th country in this mix: Oman.

Oman is situated right across the Arabian Sea, facing the coastal line of Balochistan. Thanks to cross migrations between Oman and Pakistan over the past two centuries, a substantial portion of the Omani population is of Pakistani Baloch descent. They have traditionally worked for the security service and the army of successive Omani kings, including the incumbent, Sultan Qaboos bin Saeed.

At least two countries, the US and Britain, have intelligence ‘listening and monitoring outposts’ in Oman. There have been reports that Sultan Qaboos bin Saeed had also granted Israel the right to use his territory for discreet information gathering operations targeting neighboring countries, especially Iran and the region surrounding the Strait of Hormuz. This area includes Pakistani Balochistan.

Apart from the Indians, Washington is known to be very interested in Balochistan. The Pakistani province offers the shortest land route to Afghanistan should Islamabad decide to cease support to NATO and US supply lines through the rest of Pakistan. The Americans are also suspicious that a hard-to-defeat Afghan Taliban are based in Balochistan.

The suspicion is that at some level Oman is helping US access Pakistani Balochistan without the knowledge of the Pakistani government.

The nine foreign intelligence agencies are in Afghanistan for various purposes. The American and the Omani roles have been explained. Karzai’s intelligence is simply ready to join any effort that harms Pakistan. The Indians want to punish Pakistan for supporting the struggle of the Kashmiri people against Indian occupation. India also wants to destabilize Balochistan enough so that China abandons the huge development projects inside the Pakistani province, an objective that the Americans would welcome without hesitation.

Iran is more concerned about the CIA-backed Jundullah terrorist group that is working on setting the Sunni Balochi population inside Iran against the Shiite majority. The Dubai emirate of the UAE has been told by the Indians that Pakistan’s Gwadar port in Balochistan is being developed as competition. There is also suspicion that some lobbies within the UAE are aligned with the American agenda on Iran, especially considering that Iran occupies three UAE islands. Pakistani Balochistan figures prominently in this agenda. I am referring to ‘lobbies inside the UAE’ because while Dubai is suspicious about Gwadar it is not interested in joining any anti-Iran effort. But Abu Dhabi, the other influential emirate in the UAE, is more susceptible to go along the Americans on Iran, including the idea of using Balochistan for this purpose.

The Brits are also closely aligned with the Americans. The case of the Israelis, however, is more interesting. Israel is the only country with the longest experience in dealing with Islamic groups. Israel has gone as far as establishing Islamic religious schools inside Israel that serve intelligence purposes, such as understanding how fighters are indoctrinated and also how to develop undercover agents who can go and join Islamic groups disguised as Muslim extremists.

Washington sought Israeli assistance in this regard after 9/11. The Indians were smarter. They approached Israel in the 1990s to counter Islamic groups backed by Pakistan. These groups were at the forefront of the Kashmiri people’s fight against the Indian occupation of Kashmir. Israeli has demonstrated it can help India in Kashmir in May-June 1999 when a defeated Indian army unit there was provided Israeli military assistance on the ground to repel advancing Pakistani and Kashmiri fighters. [The timely and effective Israeli assistance helped turn a tactical Pakistani military victory into defeat, providing India enough time to mobilize a diplomatic offensive to invite international intervention in Kashmir. This is according to a rare disclosure by Mark Sofer, Israel’s ambassador to India, in a Feb. 2008 interview with an Indian news magazine.]

There is a strong probability that Israel’s help is once again at play in India’s anti-Pakistan activities on the Afghan soil. The Israelis are also focused on Iran. This leaves out the Russians who are most probably fishing in troubled waters and are there to reclaim the influence they lost in the area with the end of the Soviet Union 18 years ago.

But it is the Indians who walk away with the prize. They have played their cards well and convinced likeminded lobbies in Washington to let them use the Afghan soil against Pakistan for a good seven years now. But as the situation deteriorates for the Americans inside Afghanistan, a desperate Obama administration is listening to Pakistani complaints for the first time and possibly taking some action to reign in their wayward Indian friends.

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Kargil to Arihant
Building strength is the best deterrent

INDIA cannot neglect its defences either in the mountains, or on the seas or in the air. The launch of INS Arihant, India’s first nuclear-powered submarine, on Sunday was not only a landmark event but also a reflection of the lessons that this country has learnt from the Kargil war and the events of 26/11. That the ianvaders managed to sneak in and set up positions undetected inside the Indian territory in Kargil before they were pushed out by our armed forces must always serve as a reminder to us that we can ill afford to lower our guard on all fronts. The launch of the nuclear-powered submarine will enhance India’s second strike capability against misadventures by hostile neighbours from the seas around it.

Aptly, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been quick to stress that India had no aggressive intent, but any addition to its weaponry was meant to defend its national interests and territorial integrity. Former Pakistan President Musharraf, who as Army chief was responsible for the Kargil war, is being foolhardy when he claims that it was the Pakistani infiltration into Kargil that forced India to the negotiating table on Kashmir. The sooner such illusions are given up, the better it would be for him or his successors in dealing with India. The fact is that our troops fought valiantly to ensure that Pakistanis were pushed beyond the Line of Control. Arihant’s acquisition enhances the essence of India’s message.

While the formal launch of Arihant is an important first step in attaining naval reach and capability, there is still some ground to cover before it is ready for induction into the Navy in 2011. That two more nuclear-powered submarines are in various stages of construction is a good news specially considering that China has 10 nuclear-powered submarines in its fleet. The Kargil war was a saga of courage of the jawans and officers who deserve our gratitude, but their dedication has to be backed by filling the gaps in the strength of the Army, the Air Force and the Navy with advanced hardware. Strength is the best defence.

Admissions to PEC in defence quota
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 27
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today asked UT administration to file an affidavit on the decision of the admission committee for engineering courses to club the UT pool quota and all-India quota of seats reserved for the wards of military and Paramilitary personnel for admission to Punjab Engineering college. Some candidates have challenged this action.

In the petition placed before the Bench of Justice MM Kumar, city residents Avneet Hira and Arshdeep Sandhu sought the quashing of provision relating to admissions to PEC in defence quota. Directions have also been sought to conduct admissions in accordance with letter of Chandigarh administration issued on July 15.

During the hearing of the mater, UT counsel Anupam Gupta, present in the court, said they would file an affidavit on the matter on Wednesday and will change the admission process as per the court directions.

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