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Wednesday, 19 August 2009

From Today's Papers - 19 Aug 09


My apologies for the erratic updates, but I had a problem with my laptop and the hard drive crashed - still trying to recover from that.

Have lost a lot of data, including my updated mailing list.So there may be some people who had requested to be taken off from the mailing list in the last three months and find themselves receiving mails again, while people who had requested to be included may not. Please mail / leave a message for me to take corrective measures.

Pakistan wants India to share terror information

Senior Pak officials said that they needed credible information to act against terrorists planning attacks against India. They also said that the remarks by the Indian Prime Minister warranted immediate attention to ward of any such attempt

CJ: Mineguruji

PAKISTAN HAS demanded that India share with it the information, which formed the basis of the warning issued by Indian Prime Minister that there is credible evidence that terror groups based in the neighbouring country were planning fresh attacks against India.

Reacting to the Indian PM's statement, Pakistan on Monday asked India to share information on the basis of which Dr Singh had made the startling statement. A senior Pakistani official summoned India's Deputy High Commissioner, P Kumaran and told him to share real time information as per the agreement reached between two countries.

Senior Pak officials said that they needed credible information to act against terrorists planning attacks against India. They also said that the remarks by the Indian Prime Minister warranted immediate attention to ward of any such attempt.

The Indian Prime Minister had warned during the Chief Ministers' conference on internal security that Pakistan based terror groups were planning fresh attacks on India. He had called for continued vigilance, saying that terrorists were now active in all parts of the country.

Taliban fire rockets on Karzai's palace in Kabul

With elections in Afghanistan scheduled on Thursday, Taliban militants have stepped up terror attacks in the country. Militants fired a rocket on the Presidential palace on Tuesday, while another rocket hit the police headquarter in Kabul

CJ: Mineguruji

ACTING ON their threats to disrupt elections in the country, militants fired a rocket on the Presidential palace on Tuesday, while another rocket hit the police headquarter in Kabul. No casualty was reported in the rocket attacks but there was some damage reported in the Presidential compound.

Taliban claimed that they had fired four rockets at the capital.

With elections in Afghanistan scheduled on Thursday, Taliban militants have stepped up terror attacks in the country as they oppose the electoral process. The militants on Saturday had launched a major attack, when a suicide bomber struck near the NATO headquarters in Kabul, killing seven people and injuring several others.

Meanwhile, the NATO said that they will suspend operations on Thursday, to facilitate the conduct of elections.

Nato said its forces in Afghanistan was suspending "offensive operations" during Thursday's election. International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) spokesman said that only those operations that are deemed necessary would be conducted on that day.

In the Thursday's elections, President Hamid Karzai faces the strongest challenge from former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah. He, however, got a shot in the arm recently when general Abdul Rasheed Dostum agreed to support him.

Time to engage with Myanmar
The country may turn into an economic vassal of China
by Thant Myint-U

Twenty years of sanctioning and lecturing Myanmar’s military regime have failed. The West needs to engage with Myanmar’s leaders, increase humanitarian aid and reopen commercial relations with the country. If it doesn’t, not only will positive change remain as elusive as ever, but the country will also turn quickly and irreparably into an economic vassal of China.

In a sign of just how impervious the regime is to Western pressure, last week opposition leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced to her fourth spell of house arrest. Two thousand political prisoners remain locked up. And a transition to democracy appears nowhere in sight

I was born in the United States in 1966 to Burmese parents. My grandfather, U Thant, was then serving as the United Nations’ third secretary general. I witnessed repression in Myanmar firsthand when I was 8, during the violent unrest surrounding my grandfather’s funeral.

In 1989, just after college, I spent a year in Thailand and along the Thai-Burmese border, working with dissidents and trying help the first wave of Burmese refugees. Thousands had been killed during a failed anti-government uprising. Suu Kyi had just been placed under house arrest.

And the ruling junta, after losing relatively free elections, was refusing to hand over power. Later in Washington I argued with members of Congress and others that maximum sanctions were the best way to topple the dictatorship. It was an easy argument to make.

By the early 1990s nearly all Western aid to Myanmar had been terminated, and development assistance through the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund had been blocked. A decade later, embargos and boycotts had cut off nearly all economic ties with the United States and Europe. None of the senior Burmese government officials or their children (these are the only international sanctions targeting children) are allowed to travel to the West.

But as the regime not only survived but also began to seek trade, investment and tourism, I started having doubts. My feeling was that the West should use the opening and find a back door to change while the front door remained firmly shut.

In 2006 I published a book, “The River of Lost Footsteps,” in which I argued for a shift in the West’s approach. Even when, in 2007, new protests were violently crushed, I still believed greater engagement was the right way. I felt that many policy-makers and journalists were missing the bigger picture.

Few seemed aware, for example, that Myanmar was just emerging from decades of civil war. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the government and more than a dozen different ethnic insurgent armies hammered out cease-fires, a breakthrough that went virtually unnoticed in the West. (Today, though the cease-fires remain, there is no permanent peace.) And few seemed concerned by the country’s grinding poverty, the result of decades of economic bungling as well as embargos, boycotts and aid cutoffs.

In 1991, UNICEF’s country director warned of a humanitarian emergency among Myanmar’s children, arguing that more aid couldn’t wait for the right government. Eighteen years later, Myanmar still receives less than a tenth of the per-capita aid handed out to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Tens of thousands die needlessly from treatable diseases.

These challenges have been ignored in the hope that sanctions and tough talk would lead to political change. But that hasn’t happened.

Part of the reason is that the people who fashioned the sanctions didn’t consider how the rise of Asia’s giants — China and India — would transform Burma. As American businesses pulled out in the mid-1990s, Chinese and other Asian companies poured in. Hundreds of billions of dollars worth of natural gas have been discovered offshore, and massive hydroelectric and mining projects are being signed.

Within two years a 1,000-mile oil and gas pipeline will stretch across Myanmar, connecting China’s inland provinces to the sea. The U.S. trade embargo led to the near-collapse of the garment industry in the late 1990s, throwing tens of thousands of people out of work, but for the regime this has meant little.

Myanmar today is in no danger of economic disintegration. Without Western engagement, however, Myanmar’s 55 million people risk becoming a virtual colony of their 1.3 billion Chinese neighbors to the east. There is no nefarious Chinese takeover scheme, but the vacuum created by Western policy is being filled.

The old Burmese generals will soon retire, and a new generation will rise to the top. Gen. Than Shwe, Myanmar’s powerful autocrat, is 77 and ailing. Any chance for change requires support from at least some military leaders. Yet we’ve done nothing to try to influence the worldview of Than Shwe’s possible successors. The upcoming generation of officers will be the first never to have visited Europe or America.

Asia has experienced many successful democratic transitions, and none came about because of the sanctions and lectures that Western powers and advocacy groups seem to think will work in Myanmar. Generals don’t negotiate away their power in the face of threats. You have to change the ground beneath them.

Engagement is not just about talking — it’s about dealing with the powers that be enough to get a foot in the door and create new facts on the ground, especially through economic contacts with the Burmese people. Nor is it based on the notion that economic development will automatically produce democracy, but that we must tackle simultaneously Myanmar’s political and economic ills.

Thant Myint-U is the author of “The River of Lost Footsteps: A Personal History of Burma.”

— By arrangement with LA Times-Washington Post

For US Iraq war would end in 2011: Obama

Lalit K Jha/PTI / Washington August 18, 2009, 9:30 IST

For America, the war in Iraq would end in 2011 when it would pull out all its troops from the country, US President Barack Obama said today. "We will remove all our troops from Iraq by the end of 2011. For America, the Iraq war will end," Obama said in his address to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention in Phoenix, Arizona.

The United States will begin removing its combat brigades from Iraq later this year."In Iraq, after more than six years, we took an important step forward in June. We transferred control of all cities and towns to Iraq's security forces," he said.

"The transition to full Iraqi responsibility for their own security is now underway. This progress is a testament to all those who have served in Iraq, both uniformed and civilian. And our nation owes these Americans -- and all who have given their lives -- a profound debt of gratitude," he said, amidst applause.

The US President said, "Now, as Iraqis take control of their destiny, they will be tested and targeted. Those who seek to sow sectarian division will attempt more senseless bombings and more killing of innocents."

"As we move forward, the Iraqi people must know that the US will keep its commitments. The American people must know that we will move forward with our strategy," Obama said. By moving forward in Iraq, the US is able to refocus on the war against al Qaeda and its extremist allies in Afghanistan and Pakistan, he asserted.

Indian Army Received First Domestic-Built Unmanned Ground Vehicle

18:42 GMT, August 18, 2009 As India Defence Online reported today, the Indian Army has received the first ever homemade unmanned ground vehicle which will be used for surveillance, to detect nuclear, biological and chemical weapons as well as mines.

The prototype of the Unmanned Ground Vehicle, which has been developed and handed to the Indian Army for trials, is based on an infantry fighting vehicle BMP-II platform.

It has been developed by the state-owned Combat Vehicles Research & Development Establishment (CVRDE) based at Avadi operating under India’s defense research agency, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

DRDO scientists say the unmanned vehicle is a precursor to the planned futuristic unmanned artillery tank.

The prototype of the unmanned infantry vehicle consists of Drive-by-Wire (DBW) system which includes electromechanical actuators and drives for the driver interfaces such as acceleration, brake, gear shifting, steering, clutch, parking brake, etc. said a scientist of DRDO. The signals from the engine like, engine rpm, vehicle speed, etc are acquired by a data acquisition card and displayed in the graphical user interface(GUI).

The Indian Army plans to use a variety of unmanned systems besides the unmanned infantry soldier carrying vehicle. It plans to build Futuristic Main Battle Tanks which will operate without the crew.

The tanks would be linked with command information system linked to reconnaissance aircraft and satellites.

Plot against Balochistan intensifies

Sajjad Shaukat

While Pakistan’s security forces have been fully concentrating on the pocket-resistance in Swat, Waziristan, and the adjoining areas after breaking the backbone of the Taliban militants, foreign plot against Balochistan has intensified. In this regard, subversive events like targeted killings, attack on government buildings, oil pipelines etc. have increased in the province. On August 14 this year, one person was killed and more than 10 injured in Balochistan through bomb blasts. The blasts which also destroyed a power transmission line coincided with the celebrations of the Independence Day. In the last few weeks, militants of Baloch Republican Army (BRA) kidnapped and killed 12 police officials including a deputy superintendent of police and an inspector.

While people of Balochistan have already been following the path of violence since April 8 when deadbodies of three Baloch nationalist leaders Ghulam Mohammad Baloch, Lala Muneer Baloch and Sher Mohammad Baloch were found in Turbat, on August 6, Excise and Taxation Minister Sardar Rustam Jamali was fatally shot during an attempted incident of car-snatching in Karachi. As regards the deteriorating situation of the province, on August 14, Financial Times (online) reported that situation in Balochistan “is a grim reminder that Swat is by no means the only security threat the government faces…low-intensity militancy has gone on for decades. But the violence now appears to be at its most intense.” The paper further explained, “Settlers from other parts of Pakistan, especially Punjab, have been given deadlines to leave.” In fact, this is what the external plotters wanted by inciting the general masses of the province to openly speak against the federation of Pakistan and the Punjabis for all the injustices, created by the Baloh feudal lords (Sardars) who have been fighting for their own so-called status, prestige and influence—most of them have been working on the agenda of foreign countries. It is notable that last year, Pakistan’s government had launched a successful approach of reconciliation particularly with the Baloch lords. The level of violence had fallen to the minimum. It was in these circumstances that the Corps Commander, Lt-Gen Khalid Shamim Wyne claimed on November 9, 2008, “We have moved from the insurgency phase to the reconciliation phase, however, if foreign elements continue to infiltrate in Balochistan, they could stir trouble and undermine our efforts to restore peace.” His observation proved quite true as covert support to the militants by the secret agencies like Indian RAW, Israeli Mossad and Afghanistan’s Khad with the tactical aid of American CIA succeeded in sabotaging the peace process in Balochistan. It is of particular attention that after meeting the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit at Sharm el-Sheikh, Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani remarked on July 18 that during the talks, he also raised the issue of Indian interference in Balochistan.

In the recent past, Pakistan’s civil and military high officials have openly been disclosing that Indian secret agency, RAW, Israeli Mossad and other foreign agencies are involved in supporting separatism in Balochistan. Reports suggest that on June 22, the military officials and national security institutions presented their report to the government with concrete proofs of involvement of secret agencies of India, Israel and another anti-Pakistan agency (Especially CIA) in helping not only militants led by Maulana Fazlullah but also those headed by other militant commanders in Balochistan.

During the ongoing military operations, ISPR spokesman, Maj-Gen. Athar Abbas intermittently pointed out that larger quantity of arms and ammunition had been captured—revealing foreign hands in helping the insurgents of the Frontier Province and Balochistan.

In this context, on July 4, Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit without naming CIA revealed, “The evidence of foreign powers’ involvement in the destabilisation of Pakistan will be shared with relevant countries.”

On June 28, NWFP Governor Awais Ghani openly remarked that some world powers were trying to divide Pakistan, adding that if he were not a governor, he would have exposed them. The matter is not confined to the statements of Pakistan’s high officials, in the recent past, by citing her visits, Christine Fair, a leading US journalist, while unveiling India’s clandestine operations in Pakistan from Indian consulates, located in Afghanistan and Zahidan stated, “The Indian officials have told me privately that they are pumping money into Balochistan.”

These statements coupled with the perennial acts of sabotage in Balochistan clearly show that US, India and Israel have intensified their plot to disintegrate Pakistan by snatching away its largest province. Nevertheless, external plot against Balochistan is part of the conspiracy against Pakistan which is the only Islamic nuclear state—not tolerated by the US, India and Israel which have been trying to virtually besiege our country as noted through a perennial wave of suicide attacks and bomb blasts. In this respect, by covertly backing the Baloch nationalist leaders, foreign elements have been fulfilling a number of covert designs. In Balochistan, people, openly, accuse Pakistan’s intelligence agencies for the abduction and killing of their leaders. This is what these external plotters intended to achieve.

Another purpose is to gain the sympathies of Baloch general masses for Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) which has been fighting for secession of the province. In this regard, on July 23, 2008, Akber Bugti’s grandson, Brahmdagh Bugti told the BBC that they had the right to accept foreign aid and arms from anywhere including India. There is another CIA and Indian-supported separatist group, Jundollah (God’s soldiers) which is also working against the cordial relationship of Pakistan with China and Iran. In the past few years, its militants with the cooperation of foreign agents kidnapped and killed many Chinese and Iranian nationals in Pakistan. In that context, on April 18, 2008, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi vocally pointed out, “Some external forces are trying to weaken China-Pakistan strategic ties” by “creating misunderstandings”.

It is mentionable that Balochistan is replete with mineral resources. Its ideal geo-strategic location with Gwadar seaport could prove to be Pakistan’s key junction, connecting rest of the world with Central Asia. It is due to multiple strategic benefits that the US which signed a nuclear deal with India last year, intends to control Balochistan as an independent state in counterbalancing China and containing Iran. Owing to these reasons, America and India are creating instability in Pakistan by backing Baloch separatists to complete their hidden agenda.

While taking notice of the foreign conspiracy, during the first visit of Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari to Beijing, Pakistan and China on October 15, 2008 signed eleven agreements to enhance bilateral cooperation in diverse sectors. China also agreed to supply nuclear reactors to Islamabad. Since then, this cooperation has been enhancing rapidly. Moreover, plot by foreign elements against Balochistan could also be judged from the “Indian Defence Review,” of Jan-Mar 2009.

At this critical juncture, Pakistan’s elected governments at centre and province must resolve this sensitive issue and redress the grievances of the Balochi people through political means; otherwise external powers which have intensified the implementation of their plot will keep on exploiting various issues of Balochistan, causing irreparable damage to the integrity of the country. In this context, media must also play its positive role in guiding the people of Balochistan in right direction.

Army acquires anti-aircraft missiles

18 Aug 2009, 1210 hrs IST

The Indian Army will soon have sharper teeth to defend its troops and tanks from aerial threats. The defence acquisition council, headed by Defence Minister AK Antony and comprising the 3 service chiefs, agreed to a multi-billion dollar contract for Israeli anti-aircraft missiles.

The council cleared the Low-level Quick Reaction surface to air Missile for the army from Israeli Aircraft Industries and Rafael. This missile will help to protect India's tanks and armoured vehicles against enemy air attack.

The Spyder is a low-level quick-reaction surface-to-air missile system capable of engaging aircraft, helicopters, unmanned air vehicles, drones and precision-guided munitions. The Spyder system has 360 degree engagement capability and the missiles can be launched from full-readiness state in less than five seconds after a target is acquired.

The Spyder's kill range is from less than 1km to more than 35 km and at altitudes from a minimum of 20 metres to a maximum of 9 kilometres. The system is capable of firing at multiple targets and can be operated in all weather conditions.

Remembering Super Men

Dipanita Nath

Posted: Aug 18, 2009 at 0604 hrs IST

I don’t want to die an ordinary death. When I go, the whole nation will remember me.” So spoke Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan to his father when he had just joined the NSG. Unnikrishnan was to die a hero’s death, fighting terrorists who struck the Taj Hotel in Mumbai last November. Now, a 29-year-old merchant navy officer has delved deep into the young commando’s past right up till that fateful day, bringing his brief but eventful life alive, in an unusual format, the comic book.

Aditya Bakshi, an army officer’s son has seen too many times how war heroes are feted madly after a successful operation and just as quickly forgotten. A while ago he hit upon the idea of using the fun and accessible comic book format, to tell the stories of the tumultuous lives of Indian soldiers. “Comics are great reads and we still go back to our old Amar Chitra Kathas for their mythology, so I wondered if I could do the same with Indian soldiers,” says Bakshi. In 2008, he tested the waters by self-publishing an 88-page black-and-white comic book on Captain Vikram Batra, who died fighting Pakistanis in Kargil. “Called Yeh Dil Mange More, it was to be a one-off comic book but the response surprised me and encouraged me to bring out more comics,” he recalls. As the sales figures came in, Bakshi realized children would read stories of Indian soldiers if they were well told. “I decided to make the comics thinner because children are afraid of thick tomes. Also, the new books are coloured to make them more appealing,” he says.

On August 15, Bakshi released a comic book on Colonel NJ Nair, one of the most decorated officers of the Indian Army, who died fighting insurgents in the Northeast. “The book on Major Unnikrishnan will follow soon after,” he says. This isn’t the first effort at creating comic books on the Indian soldier: Sabre comics talks about Partition and post-Partition army operations. “We’ve kept it on hold due to recession,” says publisher Kalpana Shukla. Bakshi funds his project from his own savings, as efforts to rope in sponsors have failed.

The books, he stresses, go beyond the soldier’s supreme sacrifice. “We look at the soldier right from his youth. I started my research by talking to his parents. Major Unnikrishnan’s parents were initially hesitant but soon fell in with the project. I also spent six hours talking to the men who were with Major Unnikrishnan during that last operation. Tracing the lives of each soldier takes more than two months,” he says. Bakshi adds how some traits are common to all three war heroes he’s researched till now — Batra, Unnikrishnan and Col Nair have all held records on the sports field since childhood, they were all voracious readers, and cultivated deep bonds with the troops in their charge.

The books, retailed through Om Book Stores and other prominent outlets, are still a family affair. Bakshi’s father, Major General GD Bakshi, who has won the Seva Medal and Vishisth Seva Medal, helps out with the initial storyline. Bakshi’s wife Namrata puts the final touches on the computer. The illustrators range from students of the Delhi College of Arts, Mukesh Sehgal and Shwetang, to an Ahmedabad-based portrait artist called Deepak Prajapati.

The storyline is high on adventure, heroics and adrenaline as the target readers are 10-year-olds and above. Though the purpose of the books is to entertain and inform, Bakshi hopes it will also restore the former glory of the Indian army in young minds. “Young people don’t want to join the army, but being an Indian soldier is about self-transcending values and a very different way of life,” he says. In 2008, of the 300 recruits selected by the National Defence Academy only 190 joined, and of the 200 selected for the Indian Military Academy, only 80 turned up. “That’s a sad comment on how youngsters view the army today,” says Bakshi as his father adds yudhasya katha ramya (The tales of war are enchanting). With stories that strike at the imagination, Bakshi hopes to make a difference. Major Unnikrishnan may yet get his wish to be remembered forever.

Navy likely to get new diesel submarines

Detained North Korean ship may be booked under Maritime ActGovt in final preparation stages of offensive against NaxalsLargest Indo-US Army exercise this OctoberBaalu blocked it but Vizag shipyard will now go to MoDState govts alerted to keep strict vigil ahead of I-Day

Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart snapped kissingNine Pakistanis held in Sir Creek in KutchVanessa Hudgens hints at engagement with Zac EfronJaswant, Jinnah and the South Asian Monroe DoctrineShah Rukh says America needs to offer more 'warmth'Launching Bhuvan: ISRO’s answer to Google Earth, zoom into states, districtsOn different scales

The Defence Ministry is believed to have cleared the decks for the Navy to purchase diesel-powered submarines to replace its ageing fleet of Russian submarines. The purchase is reported to be worth over Rs 25,000 crore.

The proposed acquisition of submarines was discussed Monday during the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) meeting—which clears the acquisitions by the armed forces—chaired by Defence Minister A K Antony. The meeting also discussed Army’s proposal to upgrade Air Defence equipment—guns and missiles systems.

Though the Indian Navy has already ordered six French Scorpene Hunter submarines, the first of which is expected to be inducted by 2012, at a cost of over Rs 18,000 crore, it is looking for a second line of modern submarines to replace the old Kilo and Foxtrot series submarines, which are currently the mainstay of its submarine fleet.

The Navy is keen on the new set of advanced submarines, equipped with Air Independent Propulsion (AIP), as it will considerably boost its ability to stay submerged.

The Navy had issued RFIs (Request for Information) to major companies including German HDW, French Armaris and Russian Rosoboronexport for the submarines in 2007 but it is yet to issue a tender for the acquisition. Sources, however, said the tender will be issued shortly.

The Navy is keen to expedite the acquisition of the submarines partly because Pakistan inducted its first AIP equipped French origin submarine last year.

Unlike other warships, AIP equipped subs do not need to surface frequently to take in oxygen and can stay submerged for days. As a result these submarines are quieter than nuclear submarines and more enduring.

Besides acquiring new submarines, India is also in the process of inducting its own fleet of nuclear submarines. The first of the three indigenously built Arihant nuclear submarines was launched last month. Besides the Navy will also get a Russian Nerpa class nuclear attack submarine that on a ten year lease.

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