Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites


Friday, 21 August 2009

From Today's Papers - 21 Aug 09

Hindustan Times

Indian Express

Telegraph India

Telegraph India

The Pioneer

Asian Age

Asian Age

The Pioneer

The Pioneer

Times of India

DNA India

DNA India

DNA India

'US working with India on Lankan issue'

August 21, 2009 03:48 IST

The United States has said it is working with India to find a political solution in Sri Lanka [ Images ] now that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam "is now flat on its back having lost most of its leaders," but has no intention of putting pressure on New Delhi [ Images ] to change its policy toward Sri Lanka, which has been perceived by some Tamils to be favoring the government of President Mahinda Rajapakse [ Images ].

The administration's pointman for South Asia, Robert O Blake also warned that continued US aid to Sri Lanka would depend on how expeditiously the Rajapakse government alleviate the lot of the hundreds of thousands of internally displaced Tamil refugees and "on the progress that is made towards political reconciliation and devolution power."

Meanwhile, the Center for Strategic and International Studies -- a leading Washington think tank -- in a paper titled Triumphalism and Uncertainty in post-Prabakaran Sri Lanka said both India and the United States have vital stakes in Sri Lanka and need to reengage after being largely sidelined during the Rajapakse government's massive military offensive against the LTTE [ Images ] and the humanitarian crisis that is spawned, where Colombo, flush with massive aid and support from China, Iran and Pakistan, largely ignored the entreaties of both New Delhi and Washington.

Blake, in an interview to BBC's World Service, when asked to respond to the contention that "India, as many Tamils say, seem to be supporting the Sri Lankan government at this point, and its not putting any pressure on the government to come out with a political solution or even for resettlement," and if Washington intends to "put pressure on India to change its current Sri Lankan policy," replied, "India is one of our closes allies, and it's not really for us to put pressure on India to do anything."

"We maintain a very good and active dialogue with India on Sri Lanka and on all of the countries on India's periphery -- Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan and so forth," he said, and added, "the positions that the United States and India have with respect to the situation in Sri Lanka are very similar".

Blake, who is the Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, reiterated that Washington and New Delhi "have, largely the same appraisal of the situation and also what needs to be done".

Pointing out that the US "has been one of the largest donors already in terms of humanitarian assistance," to Sri Lanka as well as the largest food donor, the senior US official however, said, "Going forward, we have said that our ability to provide money for reconstruction and for settlement and livelihood and other activities will depend a lot on the progress that Sri Lanka makes in terms of abiding by its commitment to resettle the IDPs (internally displaced persons) as quickly as possible, and secondly, on the progress that is made towards political reconciliation and devolution of power."

Blake, also, as he had said in an interview with Rediff India Abroad earlier in August--which was his first interview with a South Asian publication since assuming his new position after his stint as US Ambassador to Sri Lanka -- acknowledged that the US was indeed disappointed over Rajapakse's recent comments that he would consider a political solution and a devolution of power in the majority Tamil provinces in Sri Lanka only after the presidential election, which would be only sometime next year.

"We were surprised," he said.

"We hope that the president can announce sooner than that what his plans are for devolution, because we think that the recent elections that were held, both in the north and the south, underline the divisions that still exist within Sri Lanka."

"And, so it's important now that the conflict with the LTTE is behind them for the government to reach out to not only the Tamils but to all of the other communities -- the Muslims and others -- and to really bring the country together and consolidate the opportunities for peace."

Blake warned that if the Sri Lanka government keeps on delaying announcing a political solution, "there's a possibility that they will alienate the Tamil community further and again exacerbate the divisions that I talked about earlier, and perhaps even give new opportunities for the LTTE to organise."

"Certainly, the LTTE is now flat on its back having lost most of its leaders," he said.

"But don't forget the Tamil diaspora is still very energized. We just had a meeting…I just hosted a meeting with a broad cross-section of representatives of the Tamil diaspora in America, and I think they are all still very upset about the conditions in the camps and about a lot of the discrimination that they feel the Tamils in Sri Lanka are subjected to."

Thus, Blake asserted that it is imperative "for Sri Lanka to engage in their own dialogue with the Tamils, not only inside Sri Lanka but outside, and again, to hasten this process of reconciliation as quickly as possible."

The CSIS, in its report co-authored by Teresita Schaffer, the director of the think tank's South Asia programme -- and a longtime South Asia hand who was also a former US Ambassador to Sri Lanka -- and Elizabeth Laferriere, argued, "India had been largely sidelined from active involvement in Sri Lankan issues after the departure of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in 1990."

But it said, now with the demise of the LTTE, and its lack of involvement in Sri Lankan issues for nearly two decades, "India is ready to reengage, and it appears the Sri Lankan government agrees."

The report said "India's support for Sri Lanka at the UNHRC was welcomed, and Rajapakse reciprocated later when he said that "nothing is more important for me than what India thinks."

It acknowledged that "India's Congress Party government has no love for the LTTE, which assassinated former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi [ Images ] and greeted their defeat with satisfaction."

"However, the 60 million Tamils in southern India will be very sensitive to the welfare of Sri Lanka's Tamils, and the more pro-LTTE of the two Indian Tamil parties is a member of the national government coalition," the report added.

With regard to the implications for the US, the CSIS said that Washington "is one of four major chairs of the Tokyo Donors—along with Norway, Japan [ Images ] and the European Union—which linked financial aid to progress in establishing peace."

It recalled how the Tokyo Donors "withheld aid in the late stages of the war to protest human rights abuses. The United States and Japan, who respectively missed and abstained from voting at the UNHRC, will likely find it easier than the more outspoken European countries, like Norway, to reengage with Sri Lanka."

The report said the US "has traditionally played a supporting role in Sri Lanka," and predicted that "as the emphasis shifts from war fighting to economic development, its profile will probably go up, but the United States is unlikely to seek or obtain a major role in whatever political negotiations that take place."

"The Obama [ Images ] Administration will support peace and encourage Sri Lanka's stability, along with generous outreach to the island's minority communities," it said.

Pakistan Air Force begins production of drones

August 20, 2009 22:34 IST

The Pakistani Air Force has started the production of pilot-less drones, days after Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani [ Images ] pressed the United States to transfer the sensitive technology for a more potent type, which is used by the American military to target the Taliban [ Images ].

According to details issued by the PAF, the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex Kamra has commenced the production of pilot-less planes Falco Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), in collaboration with Selex Galileo of Italy [ Images ], the Geo TV reported.

During his meeting with US envoy to the region Richard Holbrook on August 17, Gilani had asked the US to provide drone technology to Pakistan, to enable its armed forces to take action against terrorists. Aeronautical Complex chief Air Marshal Farhat Hussain said pilot-less Falco UAVs were highly important for the country's defence, adding that the production of the planes will greatly add to the professional capabilities of the PAF.

Farhat said Pakistan is now a member of the club of countries manufacturing drone planes. The system will be used mainly for aerial reconnaissance and information gathering, although the PAF will later also induct UAVs equipped with weapon systems to carry out offensive operations.

The US military generally uses MQ-1 Predator which is also an UAV. It can serve in a reconnaissance role and fire two AGM-114 Hellfire missiles. The aircraft is in use in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Drone attacks have killed scores of Taliban and al Qaeda militants. In the latest such strike, Pakistan's Tehrik-e-Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud was reportedly killed in a drone attack.

Sukhoi to begin supply of SuperJet-100 by end of this year

Itar-Tass/ PTI / Zhukhovsky (moscow) August 20, 2009, 10:20 IST

Sukhoi plans to complete the certification of SuperJet-100 and begin first deliveries by the end of this year, the corporation's Head Mikhail Pogosyan has said.

"We should complete all procedures and begin making the first supplies to customers before the end of 2009. This is our priority," he said.

Russian and French manufacturers of the SaM-146 engines for the plane are also confident that their certification would also be completed by the end of the year.

The engines are made and certified by the joint venture PowerJet created by French SNECMA and Russian Saturn.

PowerJet Director-General Jean-Paul Ebanga said that the engine is an alloy of new and tested technologies based on the experience of using the most successful CFM-56 engine in the history of civil aviation.

The SaM-146 engine worked 4,200 hours during certification testing, including 1,600 hours aboard the flying laboratory and SuperJet-100 planes.

Oboronprom Director-General Andrei Reus said that "increased attention" is given to the certification of the new engine.

SuperJet-100 will in the future provide the basis for a whole family of planes, including transport and special purpose planes. However, the main goal now is certification of the plane and serial production of 60-70 planes annually.

The Sukhoi SuperJet-100 family consists of two types of aircraft of basic and increased flying ranges with the carrying capacity of 75 and 95 passengers respectively.

A leap forward

Reshma Patil, Hindustan Times

It is normal to spot soldiers on the streets of Beijing and the border towns, but rare to read about China’s secretive military on an official English website.

Thirty years after China began economic reforms to open-up, and less than two months before the Republic’s sixtieth anniversary and biggest-ever military parade on October 1, you can finally Enter the defense ministry.

China has the world’s biggest 2.3 million strong military, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), funded with a budget that grew 15 per cent this year.

On Thursday, the Ministry of National Defense launched trial operations of its first official bilingual website with a Great Wall logo. Chinese analysts call it a ‘leap forward’ for the world’s number three economy.

The website is part of the defense ministry’s efforts to seemingly give in a bit to calls from the US and even India, for more transparency in its double-digit funding. The Central Military Commission said that the website will release ‘authoritative information of China’s national defense and army building’ and ‘let the outside world have a better perception of China’s national defense policy’.

There is more basic data than in-depth policy online. But India’s defense officials will eye the briefings and videos of the PLA on its biggest cross-country tactical mobilisation exercise launched this month, soon after the thirteenth round of border talks ended in New Delhi. Given the current aggressive stance against India in sections of the official Chinese media, the website’s opinion pieces will be a space to read between the lines of the border talks.

It was only last year that the defense ministry appointed its first spokesperson. Last month, the media was invited for a rare tour of military barracks.

The first ‘press officers’ of the force underwent a unique camp this year. The topic was public relations.

N. Korea appears to change gears
by Blaine Harden

In a shift from pugnacious confrontation to measured conciliation, North Korea appears to be recalibrating its relations with the United States, South Korea and the outside world.

The isolated communist state that began the year by launching missiles and testing a nuclear bomb has released two U.S. journalists and freed a South Korean worker this month. And on Monday it agreed to resume reunions of families divided by the North-South border, as well as restart a cross-border tourism business.

Kim Jong Il, the 67-year-old leader who suffered a stroke 12 months ago and whose fitness to run the country had been widely questioned, has chosen to grant highly publicized audiences to two important outsiders.

He met for more than three hours earlier this month with former president Bill Clinton, who flew into Pyongyang to retrieve the American journalists.

On Sunday, in a meeting that the South Korean government described as “positive,” Kim held talks with the chairman of Hyundai Group, the South Korean conglomerate that is the largest investor in the North.

The official Korean Central News Agency said the conversation with Hyun Jung-eun was “cordial” and that Kim “complied with all her requests.”

“My luncheon meeting with Chairman Kim proceeded in a friendly atmosphere,” Hyun said Monday after returning to Seoul from a week in North Korea. “We exchanged views on the resumption of the joint tourism project . ... and other pending issues.”

North Korea on Thursday released a Hyundai employee it had detained in the spring on vague charges of political misbehavior.

The reasons behind North Korea’s apparent softening in strategy are known only to Kim and his inner circle. But analysts in South Korea have speculated that much of North Korea’s sabre-rattling this year was for internal consumption, as Kim began to prepare the country for a succession process that might hand power to his third son, Kim Jong Un, who is just 26.

“North Korea has put all its cards on the table, and now it wants some kind of negotiations with the United States,” said Koh Yu-whan, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul.

The Obama administration has said that it is willing to have bilateral talks with North Korea, but that it also wants Pyongyang to return to six-party talks focused on ridding the North of nuclear weapons.

Kim’s government has said it will never return to those talks, which include the United States, South Korea, Japan, China and Russia.

But in another potentially conciliatory development, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported Monday that Wu Dawei, China’s senior nuclear envoy, was planning to go to North Korea to try to restart the six-party talks.

The North, meanwhile, is being squeezed by U.N. economic sanctions and by intense U.S. efforts to seal the country off from the world’s banking system. The sanctions were toughened in the spring in reaction to the North’s nuclear test.

Pyongyang announced Monday that it would relax rules on North-South border traffic and “energize” its joint industrial complex at Kaesong, where more than a hundred South Korean companies employ about 40,000 North Korean workers.

The future of the complex, which injects desperately needed hard currency into the moribund North Korean economy, has been in jeopardy since early this year, when the North demanded a huge increase in rent and salaries.

A possible reason for North Korea’s new flexibility in relations with South Korea is lack of food.

North Korea suffers from chronic food shortages, and U.N. food agencies have said that about 37 percent of the country’s 23.5 million people will need food aid this year.

Food supply problems might have increased in recent weeks, as North Korean state television has reported that flooding damaged crops.

Earlier this year, the North severely restricted the ability of U.N. agencies to distribute food inside the country, and in March it abruptly canceled a deal to accept hundreds of thousands of tons of food aid from the U.S. government.

In the past two years, South Korea has stopped deliveries of free food and fertilizer, pending an agreement with the North that would monitor distribution of the aid.

— By arrangement with LA Times-Washington Post

Editorial: Training camps along LoC?

The Indian Defence Minister, AK Antony, has accused Pakistan of running training camps for militants infiltrating into Indian-occupied Kashmir. He wants them dismantled as soon as possible “because their presence is a threat to India”. He has added to the Indian prime minister’s earlier plaint that militants in Pakistan were plotting new attacks on India.

This has followed on the heels of accusations made by an American official about continued militant activity from the Pakistani side. But in the case of the latest accusation by Mr Antony, there is a “discrepancy” that is striking. Whereas Mr Singh had pointed to a militant threat from directions more than the one of Kashmir, the defence minister is focusing exclusively on Kashmir and the Line of Control (LoC).

In fact Mr Singh had noted a reduction in the intensity of infiltration into Kashmir compared to past years. This has also been corroborated by Indian army officials. Has some additional dossier of facts come to light since Mr Singh spoke that the defence minister has been forced to comment on it? Pakistan has already officially disavowed any planning in Pakistan about “attacks into India” and has asked New Delhi to consult before going public on issues within the Indo-Pak equation.

On the other hand, Pakistan can hardly issue guarantees that that there is no planning going on inside Pakistan by non-state actors for more attacks inside India. It has already admitted to it in the past: it had no clue that a “charity organisation” was plotting the 2008 Mumbai attacks and wants more evidence from India to punish those who did it. But the question of “camps along the LoC” is different.

Let us first set the record state. Such camps were functional along the LoC in the past. The entire world knew about them. Pakistani journalists knew about them and accounts were written about the heroism of their inmates in in-house journals that jihadi organisations published and circulated all over Pakistan. The truth is that Pakistan gave itself a bad name and endangered its own security at the hands of these “trainees” later on.

But if one talks about the camps today it will give rise to argument. If Pakistan is organising more non-state actors for assaults inside India who can they be? The one jihadi organisation it thought loyal to Pakistan stands banned and its leader is under trial for terrorism. Other non-state actors have gone and joined the Taliban and Al Qaeda and are at war with Pakistan, using the training taken at these camps against the Pakistan army.

Yet if the Foreign Office in Pakistan was asking the Indian side to be more specific, Mr Antony has done just that. He says attacks across the LoC are the biggest danger India faces from Pakistan. However, it contradicts what Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was referring to a day earlier. Mr Singh had said that there was “substantial improvement in Jammu and Kashmir” but there were other “disturbing trends on the horizon” too. He was clearly referring to a new “sea route”.

The Foreign Office in Pakistan thinks that India should talk to Pakistan officially before going public with accusations of the above sort. Charges against Pakistan made public in India tend to stoke the fires of prejudice there and close the door on negotiation and reconciliation which is the only way to bring closure to the problem of infiltration. And if there are ambivalences in Indian perceptions they can best be resolved through mutually exchanged official messages.

Training camps are not something that can be concealed from the world in these days of satellite photography. Pakistan would be foolhardy in restarting something which has not succeeded in the past and which endangers its own internal security now. And it can’t send its regular troops into Kashmir. In the absence of consultations with India, Pakistan can, however, do what India is doing: go public with rebuttals that further spoil the bilateral relationship.

Given these circumstances, our suggestion to Prime Minister Singh is that he should decide quickly about restarting the stalled dialogue with Pakistan, preceded if he likes by some back-channel communication on what the resumed dialogue will discuss. New trouble is now emanating from such “unilateral” statements like the one he and his defence minister have now made. *\08\20\story_20-8-2009_pg3_1

No comments:

Post a Comment


Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal