Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites


Thursday, 3 September 2009

From Today's Papers - 03 Sep 09

Indian Express

Kashmir Times

Asian Age

Asian Age

The Pioneer

Asian Age

The Pioneer

The Pioneer

Telegraph India

Kashmir Times

The Pioneer

Asian Age

Times of India

Times of India

DNA India

Pakistan going beyond N-deterrence, says Army chief

Pune, September 2
Pakistan is “going beyond nuclear deterrence” if reports of it having a large stockpile of nuclear missiles with India specific delivery system are true, Army chief General Deepak Kapoor said today. “It is a matter of concern for us,” Kapoor said reacting to an article published in the latest issue of 'Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist' about enhanced nuclear arsenal of Pakistan.

“There were certain degrees of deterrence and the figure of 70-90 nuclear warheads directed against a country certainly goes beyond the concept of deterrence,” the Army chief said.

In the article, US experts Robert S Norris and Hans Kristensen estimate that Pakistan's nuclear stockpile has jumped to an estimated 70-90 warheads from a previous figure of 60. “A new nuclear-capable ballistic missile is being readied for deployment, and two nuclear capable cruise missiles are under development. Two new plutonium production reactors and a second chemical separation facility also are under construction,” they wrote.

On the Chinese incursions along the border, the Army chief said there was no cause for “alarm”. “The level of incursions was the same as it was last year,” he said, adding that troops also carried out patrolling along the border that “could be perceived differently”. — PTI

MiG-29K fighters ready, but no carriers

Vishnu Som, Wednesday September 2, 2009, Moscow

Brand, spanking new MiG-29K fighters for the Indian Navy are ready for delivery after years in development, except there's one major problem -- the aircraft carrier they were meant to be deployed on the Gorshkov, is no where near ready.

As India and Russia continue negotiations for a final price on the Gorshkov, these jets will be based at Goa with no carrier to be deployed on.

The saga to fix a final price on the Gorshkov, a second hand carrier being refurbished for the Indian Navy, is now having a clear impact on the Navy's capabilities.

These MiG-29s are not designed to be deployed on its existing carrier the Viraat -- a 50-year-old ship which simply must be retired in the next three years. At that stage neither the Gorshkov nor the indigenously built aircraft carrier, being constructed in Cochin, will be ready.

Four years after they signed a 1.6 billion dollar contract with India for the Gorshkov and its planes, the Russians went back on their word, saying, "We underestimated the work needed" and have since upped their demand to a whopping 3 billion dollars.

For India, cancelling the deal is a no-win situation since we have already pumped in hundreds of millions of dollars into the deal.

As India and Russia try and close out the Gorshkov deal there is every possibility that by 2012, for the first time in more than 50 years, the Indian Navy will be without an operational aircraft carrier.

China to unveil 5 new missiles on Oct 1

Press Trust of India / Beijing September 2, 2009, 19:51 IST

Amid global concern over China's massive defence modernisation, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) will unveil five new generation of missiles, including intercontinental ballistic nuclear missiles and other weapon systems to mark the 60th National Day parade here on October 1.

The 2.3 million-strong PLA will showcase five new types of domestically designed missiles at the National Day parade, state-run 'Global Times' reported today, quoting a leading missile expert from the Second Artillery Force, China's strategic nuclear force, as saying.

A number of advanced weapons of air and sea forces will also be on display at the military parade, to be held for the first time since the National Day in 1999, it said.

Five types of missiles, including nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles, conventional cruise missiles and medium-range and short-range conventional missiles, will be displayed for the first time at the highly anticipated military parade, it quoted the expert as saying.

"These missiles are domestically designed and manufactured and have never been officially reported before," he said, adding that they belong to a second generation of missiles that have already been distributed to the military and are ready for operation.

"The third generation is still under development and is unlikely to be displayed this time," he said.

The parades, held once in a decade, typically showcase new-generation weapons systems developed by the PLA. They are closely scrutinised by foreign military experts for clues about Chinese military development trends.

Military experts have been expecting to see the Dongfeng 41, known as the DF-41, and the CSS-X-10, which is said to be a third-generation, solid-fuel, intercontinental ballistic missile.

While China is a late starter in the missile development, compared with the US and Russia – countries equipped with fifth-generation missiles and in the process of developing sixth-generation missiles – it has made rapid progress, the expert said.

"Our second generation can match their third and fourth generations, and the third generation under development is comparable to their fifth and sixth generations," he said.

Progress made by the Second Artillery Force in the decade since 1999 will be highlighted at the October 1 event, with marching soldiers and vehicles carrying missiles, three for every type, the paper, a sister publication of the ruling Communist Party of China, said.

The Second Artillery Force is a strategic unit under the direct command and control of the Central Military Commission, China's top military organ.

A new submarine-launched ballistic missile, Julang 2, also known as JL-2 and CSS-NX-4, is also highly anticipated to make an appearance at the parade.

Li Daguang, a senior military expert at the PLA University of National Defence, emphasised that the military parade is not for saber rattling but aims to promote national pride, confidence and awareness of national defence.

"Some countries, observing China's parade with coloured glasses, show off their weapons around the world on the battlefield instead," Li said.

Chinese President Hu Jintao will address the huge celebration at Tian'anmen Square on October 1, followed by the military parade and a mass pageant involving 200,000 people, 60 floats and a fireworks display.

China's massive defence modernisation and its double digit defence spending have caused global concern.

Dialogue Offer
Pak proposes, India disposes
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 2
While claiming that Islamabad had taken concrete steps in the context of the Mumbai terror attacks, Pakistan High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik today strongly pitched for the resumption of dialogue with New Delhi to address all outstanding issues, including Jammu and Kashmir.

Addressing senior defence and civilian officers at the National Defence College here, Malik emphasised that dialogue was the only way to move forward for both India and Pakistan.

It is significant that Malik was invited to address senior officers despite the continuing stand off between India and Pakistan over Islamabad’s approach in dealing with the perpetrators of the Mumbai mayhem.

India is disappointed with Pakistan for not doing anything concrete to punish the plotters of the Mumbai attacks despite having been handed over as many as six dossiers linking elements in the neighbouring country with the 26/11 incidents.

External Affairs Minister SM Krishna reflected India’s growing frustration with Islamabad again today in a statement issued today by the External Affairs Ministry to highlight its achievements during the first 100 days of the UPA regime.

“We do believe that it is in our vital interest to engage and normalise our relations with Pakistan. At the same time we are very clear that any meaningful dialogue with Pakistan can only be based on fulfillment of its commitment, in letter and spirit, not to allow its territory to be used in any manner for terrorist activities against India,” Krishna said.

He also firmly told Islamabad that steps to address the issue of terrorism would be in the interest of bilateral relationship and also in the interest of Pakistan.

It is becoming quite clear that the resumption of bilateral dialogue anytime in the near future is quite a distance away. Malik had recently met Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and invited her to visit Islamabad for talks with her counterpart Salman Bashir ahead of the talks between the foreign ministers of the two countries on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meet.

But India has ruled out a visit by the Foreign Secretary to Islamabad though the meeting between Krishna and Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmud Qureshi is on as of now. New Delhi does not have high expectations from this meeting either.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani envoy, in his address, said his country was committed to serving as an anchor of peace and stability in the region. Pakistan was taking resolute action to eliminate terrorism and militancy. It was a regional issue and required a regional solution.

Malik also referred to the Sharm el Sheikh joint statement issued by the Prime Ministers of the two countries, in which they acknowledged that dialogue was the only way forward to discuss all outstanding issues.

Near-miss at Mumbai airport
Prez chopper landed without ‘ATC clearance’

New Delhi, September 2
An experts’ committee, which probed the near-miss incident between a Presidential helicopter and an Air-India plane at Mumbai this February, has found that an IAF chopper of the VVIP entourage landed on the runway making a short circuit and without clearance from the Air Traffic Control.

The three-member committee, headed by Director-General Civil Aviation SNA Zaidi, found that one of the three helicopters of the Presidential entourage narrowly missed collision with an Air-India Airbus A-320 that was given clearance to take off from runway 27.

The Delhi-bound plane, carrying 155 people, was asked to abort take-off when the chopper landed on the same runway.

The panel found that the Air-India aircraft was “at very high speed of approximately 120 knots” when it rejected take-off, swerved to a taxi track to avoid collision with the helicopter and, in the process, got its main wheel tyre deflated and brakes damaged.

The committee has recommended closure of airspace three minutes before and after the take-off and landing of a VVIP aircraft at an airport and strict adherence to instructions in the Bluebook, meant for VVIP security procedures.

The panel has also recommended mandatory coordination meetings with the airport and other officials prior to a VVIP flight. — PTI

Military chiefs woo China


September 3, 2009

The US and Australia will invite China to join unprecedented three-nation military exercises to try to allay concerns about Beijing's military ambitions and pave the way to strengthen diplomatic ties.

The head of the US Pacific Command, Timothy Keating, and the chief of the Australian Defence Force, Angus Houston, met in Sydney this week and agreed to separately approach China's Ministry of National Defence to hold exercises and develop military relations ''at the earliest opportunity''.

Admiral Keating, who heads the largest of America's global commands, said the US - like Australia - was concerned that China's military build-up appeared to extend beyond purely defensive purposes.

''We are anxious to engage with them,'' he told The Age yesterday. ''We want to understand much better than we do now China's intentions … China does publish a [defence] white paper but we find it to be less than fulfilling … We would say, don't stand in isolation in the Asia Pacific.''

He said the exercises would start with small-scale naval and land activities, followed by personnel exchanges, and would mark a breakthrough for improving ties with China.

Asked if strengthening military ties would upset regional powers such as India, Japan and South Korea, Admiral Keating said: ''We can control the rheostat on this and invite nations to observe and participate. It is a fairly simple thing to do.''

A Defence spokeswoman said Australia had begun pursuing military-to-military ties with China in recent years and such exercises were crucial to developing ''understanding about our respective defence capabilities and intentions''.

The Rudd Government's 20-year defence blueprint, released this year, said China ''needs to do more'' to reassure the region that its military build-up did not pose a threat.

''[We] place a high priority on engaging China on matters of shared security interest,'' the spokeswoman said. ''Our ability to speak frankly on issues such as China's military modernisation is an indication of the growing maturity of our relationship.''

The Chinese embassy in Canberra said it was not authorised to comment on the proposed exercises and referred inquiries to Beijing.

Admiral Keating said Australia could play a ''pivotal role'' in encouraging greater Chinese openness and strengthening ties between Beijing and Washington. Australia and China held naval search-and-rescue exercises in 2007, along with New Zealand. But military relations between China and the US have been strained and only resumed last week after Beijing broke off talks following the Bush administration's arms sales to Taiwan.

''Australia is very prominent on the list of folks with whom we engage - and with whom we hope China will engage,'' Admiral Keating said.

''The People's Liberation Army has not participated in the exercises which we have described. We would be concerned if China spurned any or all offers for increased quality and quantity of engagement … If Angus can obtain Chinese agreement to participate, we would be delighted to join in. I'm sure the same would be true for Angus if we could get the Chinese to participate.''

Admiral Keating said China's arrest of Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu, and Beijing's response to the visit to Australia of Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer, were ''unfortunate'' and highlighted the need to improve military and diplomatic ties.

''We can help one another to get things we need for energy, environment and overall stability and economic prosperity. By far the best way we know is by co-operating and collaborating on a military-to-military basis to serve as a foundation to further the cause of stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

''We would propose, at a pace that suits China, Australia and the US - it may be a little pedestrian in the early days, months, years - small-scale exercises that would focus on humanitarian assistance or disaster relief.''

IGNOU to tie up with Indian army

New Delhi, Sep 2 (PTI) IGNOU will soon tie up with Indian army to set up community colleges in its cantonments and other defence establishments to impart education in market-driven courses and soft skill programmes.

"The courses will be for army personnel and their family members to help the unemployed members secure employment," varsity officials said, adding the programmes will also be useful for those personnel who are looking to start a new career after retirement.

The faculty will comprise teachers from IGNOU as well as from the defence forces.

Other details of the project and the funds are being worked out, they said.

IGNOU had recently started 100 community colleges in various parts of the country with an aim to help the underprivileged avail quality education, besides targeting drop outs.

Glaring Memoirs of September 65

Kashmir Watch, Sp 2

By: Mamoona Ali Kazmi

The Pakistani nation will celebrate 44th defence day of Pakistan on 6 September with great enthusiasm. The defence day marked the September 1965 war and the valiant defence put up by the armed forces against the Indian aggression. The day reminds us of the untold sacrifices rendered by armed forces while the nation showed unprecedented spirit of unity and determination to repulse the attack and safeguard the territorial integrity of the homeland.

India launched her ignominious, undeclared and blatant aggression on Pakistan on 6 September 1965. The invaders appear to have been under the impression that they would not meet much opposition in securing their objectives, including the city of Lahore. The confident and boastful promise, which General Choudhuri made to his officers that he would meet them at Lahore Gymkhana Club, was not fulfilled. The Indian forces faced severe retaliation from Pakistani forces, which stabilized the situation and gained complete control over it within hours of start of fighting.

The attack on West Pakistan was launched on a very wide front, from Sialkot to Kasur, to disperse Pakistani forces. But India failed to achieve its aim. On 12 September Patric Seale of the ‘Observer’, London, expressed a similar view by saying, “On the ground India has been driven to a stalemate. Seeking to disperse Pakistan’s smaller force she had dispersed her own. She has not made a single thrust in overwhelming strength on any sector of the front”.

Dhakarta Daily Mail of 11 September has described the battle on West Pakistan front in these words, “Pakistan forces have not only repulsed Indian attack at Wagah sector of Lahore front but have also penetrated into the Indian territory and have captured a number of Indian posts. Foreign correspondent based in India and Pakistan were more or less unanimous in their assessment, as revealed in their despatches and reports that the Indian offensive has failed to make any appreciable dent into Pakistan’s defense”. Similar views were published by Times of India on 16 September, “It is clear from the fury with which the enemy (Pakistan) is fighting on all fronts that it has not been easy for the Indian army to advance into Pakistan territory”. Times of India quoted two senior Indian Army Officers as saying, “Pakistan Army consists not of disorganized rabble but of professional soldiers”.

There were a lot of heroes, most recognized, many unsung, we remember them always particularly in September. Major Raja Aziz Bhatti Shaheed, Nishan-i-Haider, was martyred while defending the strategic BRB canal when an enemy tank shell hit him on 10 September 1965. Squadron Leader Mohammad Mahmood Alam on 6 September shot down two enemy Hunter aircrafts and damaged three others. On 7 September he destroyed five more enemy hunter aircrafts in less than a minute. For his exceptional flying skills and valour shown by him in aerial combats with the enemy he was awarded Sitara-i-Jurat. There are many other names such as Squadron Leader Sarfaraz Ahmed Rafiqui Shaheed, Flt Lt Yunus Hussain Shaheed who gave their lives while defending the country.

The invasion had an electrifying effect on the country. Completely unruffled, Pakistani people accepted India’s challenge defiantly, stood resolutely behind their armed forces and thus were a source of strength and inspiration for them. During the war hardly any social crime was reported from any part of the country. Similarly, the prices of the essential commodities came down. Thousands of people rushed to blood bank centers to donate blood for war wounded. It became difficult for the blood bank centers to store and preserves such large quantities of blood. The National Defence Fund was opened on the demand of public, who donated large sums of money within few weeks. The people of Lahore instead of running away from the city went to Wagah border with cooked food for the soldiers and hordes of displaced people who vacated the border areas. They also helped out the jawans by providing buckets of water to help the gunners to keep canon barrel cool.

Pakistani artists, poets, composers, painters and newspapermen, made an inspiring contribution to the war effort in their own way to keep the national morale at its peak. Radio Pakistan broadcasted patriotic songs in the voice of Noor Jehan, which prompted every soldier to fight harder.

The Civil Defence Organization worked around the clock, holding demonstrations and training classes for the people. These classes attracted a large number of volunteers.

The Pakistan Red Cross played a praiseworthy role throughout the war and after the cease-fire. It provided amenities to Pakistani troops. The West Pakistan branch of Red Cross was headed by Begum Viqar-un-Nisa Noon. Under her guidance, volunteers mostly women, spent plenty of their time in collecting, knitting and sewing clothes for the fighting men. People contributed blankets, clothes and other amenities in large quantities. These were collected and distributed by the Red Cross. All these activities were undertaken without any reward because those who took part in them were imbued with patriotism and selflessness.

Similarly, Pakistan Railways played an important role in the war by transporting men, stores, patrol, oil, lubricants, rations etc. Railway employees had worked under air attacks. All concerned in the Railway administration scrupulously maintained secrecy about troop’s movements and transportation of military hardware.

India was unable to withstand the patriotism of Pakistani forces and people and signed a ceasefire agreement with Pakistan after fighting only for 22 days. When the ceasefire came, Pakistan was in occupation of more Indian territory than the enemy had captured in Pakistan. Even Time magazine reported that “despite claims from both sides the awkward fact is Khem Karan is under Pakistan administration”. The Globe and Mail, Canada of 27 September said, "The Pakistanis still hold Khem Karan and an area around its six miles wide that extends three miles deep into Indian territory. This is apparently why civil servants in New Delhi were never told the story. They did not want to admit that Pakistan had gained a foothold in the Indian Punjab”. India suffered more casualties, the ratio between the two sides was, 1:3 against India. Pakistan captured more prisoners than India. In the Untold Story, Lieutenant General B.M. Kaul stated, “All I will say here is that we failed to defeat Pakistan -a smaller power than us- which we should have done”.

Pakistani nation will never forget the Shuhada (Martyrs) of 1965 who gave their lives while defending the motherland. There is need that Pakistani nation should exhibit the spirit of 6 September 1965 and make the country a progressive, enlightened and democratic Islamic welfare state, as envisaged by its founding fathers.

Vile propaganda against Armed Forces

Sajjad Shaukat

Pakistan’s armed forces have achieved a landmark victory by dismantling the command and control system of the Taliban in Swat, Dir and Buner and other adjoining areas. This fact was witnessed in the recent weeks, when renowned militant commanders were captured, and most of them surrendered. But our misfortune is that some external and internal elements have always acted upon a deliberate propaganda campaign against the security forces under one or the other pretext. As regards external elements, the US and some western countries who had been criticizing Pakistan’s armed forces in the past, underestimating its capabilities by remarking that the Taliban insurgents would occupy Islamabad took a u-turn. In this respect, quite contrary to their previous misperceived approach, American and western high officials have been highly appreciating Pakistan’s forces, donating million of dollars for the IDPs. Besides high officials of UK and other European countries, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke and US Central Command (CENTCOM) Chief Gen David Petraeus admired the determination of Pakistan’s armed forces in achieving quick success against the insurgents.

Notably, what the US-led NATO forces, equipped with the latest sophisticated weaponry could not do in the last eight years in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s armed forces did within eight weeks as now Taliban are on escape. And operations are going to reach their logical ends. But it is our misfortune that like India, some Pakistan-based human rights organizations, civil societies and NGOs including a particular newspaper and its TV Channel along with its journalists which have been serving the interest of their external paymasters leave no stone unturned in distorting the image of Pak Army through their vile propaganda. In this regard, while blaming our armed forces for extrajudicial killings, on August 18 this year, a renowned political expert on the affairs of Frontier Province and Afghanistan wrote in that daily of Pakistan, “By now it has become routine for many returning Swati residents to see unclaimed bodies dumped in different parts of Swat, Buner and Dir districts”, which also include “hanging bodies from lampposts.”While citing the fact-finding mission of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), he also quoted its Chairperson Asma Jehangir, expressing the HRCP’s grave concern on such a worrying development…over numerous extrajudicial killings carried out by the security forces.”

In this respect, on May 27, 2009, the same expert had indicated in the same newspaper, “One doesn’t know how long the army action will continue…the massive displacement of people caused by the military action was not properly foreseen by those who planned it.” Since the end of April this year when the Malakand military operations were launched, this vile propaganda has included a number of other false dimensions such as exploiting the emotional state of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPS), showing interviews of the innocent persons in which their tales of suffering were exaggerated—projecting self-created images of scattered dead bodies, collective graves and stories of burying without Islamic rituals.

Now, all the self-concocted stories of Pakistan-based internal propagandists have proved untrue in wake of real facts. Pak Army has broken the backbone of the Taliban militants, and there is only pocket resistance in some regions, while our troops are rapidly advancing in South Wziristan. But these hostile elements are still misguiding the general masses by saying that security forces were killing innocent civilians instead of real militants. They have alleged the security forces for all the troubles of the war-zones. Nonetheless, this vile propaganda needs to be countered by showing the other side of the coin in accordance with the ground realities.

The people of every province are aware of the fact that Swat peace agreement was signed on February 15 between the government and the militants led by Sufi Muhammad. But after enforcement of Nizam-e-Adl, the insurgents continued to advance other areas beyond Swat, continuing their previous criminal activities like beheadings, destroying public property, hostage-takings etc. When the Taliban commanders felt that they could not cope with the Pakistan’s armed forces, they started executing their own militants, while most of them succeeded in running. Later on, majority of them surrendered. Even during their control in Swat and other Malakand regions, these insurgents beheaded their rivals. So “unclaimed bodies dumped in different parts” and “hanging bodies from lampposts” were tactics used by the Taliban to spread fear and terror among the populations including the militants in order to avoid desertions.

It was owing to the brutal acts of the Taliban insurgents that majority of the Pakistani people, civil societies and religious parties entailing PPP, PML-N and ANP have supported the military operations which were launched to restore the writ of the government. The general masses of the affected areas and the IDPs, themselves, wanted that our security forces must eliminate Talibanisation once for all. They know as to who is responsible for their plight. Besides other international organizations, in the recent past, even Pakistan Army had sent many trucks of rations and bedding to the IDPs at Mingora and other concerned regions. Our defence forces also donated a part of its daily ration to these suffering people, while deploying its medical resources in all the concerned camps. Pak Army also managed the evacuation of civilians from the war-zones, using all available resources. For this purpose, Special Support Group with more than 100 buses and many trucks facilitated moving out of the IDPs, trapped in the operation areas. For that aim, helicopters were used to lift civilians.

At present, no doubt, military operations have almost reached their logical end and a majority of the IDPs have returned to their native homelands. Their return continues on daily basis. In this context, some political parties and leaders of our own country namely, Jamat-i-Islami and Imran Khan who have been manipulating these operations in order to increase their vote bank have become silent as they have nothing new to say against the security forces, but still they can create some hostile justification for the sake of hostility.

It is of particular attention that some of our writers, commentators and NGOs are definitely financed by external enemies which are trying to destabilise Pakistan. Ignoring the sacrifices of Pak Army, their propaganda campaign against our armed forces is part of a conspiracy against Pakistan. As regards Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, in 2006, I had myself visited its head office, located in Lahore. I met some writers of that particular newspaper, who have been working there. I came to know that its members were being sent to the villages of Pakistan so as to note various crimes which were also published in magazines and afterwards these were sent to western countries, particularly America with the sole aim to show the progress of this Commission which is financially supported by the US. No doubt, we must condemn these crimes in our society, but if we point out these anti-social activities to please our foreign masters, and in order to tarnish the image of our own country including its forces, such a practice itself becomes a greater crime. In this connection, I ask HRCP’s Chairperson Ms. Asma Jehangir as to why multiple crimes, committed inside the United States are not being indicated by this Commission with detail.

From time to time, a number of students have been shot in various American universities, but I did not read any statement of Asma Jehangir in that regard. And why there is no detailed statement against American forces, CIA and FBI which have so far killed a number of innocent Muslims entailing Pakistanis at various detention centres under the pretext of war against terrorism. Recently, even Obama Administration has started investigation in this connection.

The fact of the matter is that any writer, author, commentator and member of a NGO can get good coverage in the western media along with financial help, provided he distorts the image of Pakistan and its army. As a matter of fact, one cannot note difference between these hypocrites and the US-Hindu-Jewish lobbies which are determined to disintegrate Pakistan which is the lonely nuclear state in the Islamic world. It is mentionable that the ongoing military action is not a conventional, but a guerilla war, so no timeframe can be set for its end as pocket resistance and suicide attacks cannot be eliminated suddenly. But it is owing to rapid progress of military operations that the networks of the Taliban militants have been shattered, and level of suicide attacks have reduced to the minimum. Now right hour has come that by setting aside the vile propaganda campaign of the anti-Pakistan elements, all the patriot Pakistanis must unite in backing our armed forces in coping with the insurgents.

The Pokhran-2 controversy

India’s leadership and armed forces are satisfied with nuclear deterrent

by K Subrahmanyam

Top Indian nuclear scientists are fighting among themselves on the effectiveness of India’s nuclear tests in 1998. Dr K Santhanam, Dr P K Iyenger and Mr H N Sethna have claimed that the tests were not a full success. Reacting sharply, Dr A P J Abdul Kalam has rubbished the claims of the sceptics.

K Subrahmanyam, who has closely watched the growth of India’s nuclear programme from the beginning, has joined issue with the doubting scientists, pointing out that even a critical world has accepted India as a nuclear weapon power and the worth of its arsenal.

— Editor-in-Chief

THE present controversy over the yield of Pokhran-2 nuclear tests is not the first such development in this country of argumentative Indians. Pokhran-1 also had its share of controversy on its explosive yield. Since it was not claimed to be a weapon test at that time and there was no talk of nuclear deterrence, that controversy was less fierce than the present one. Then, too, there were people who termed it a dud.

I have heard personally Prime Minister Morarji Desai saying that there was no nuclear test and the scientists set off an explosion of a large quantity of buried conventional explosives. Others contested the claimed yield of 12 kilotons and asserted that it was only 8 kilotons. The result of the Pokhran-1 controversy survives till today and contributes to the present one. Many foreign scientists concede that they arrive at a lower yield of the Pokhran-2 test by extrapolating the lower yield of Pokhran-1 as advanced by some Indian scientists.

Controversies and personality clashes among scientists are not unknown. In the West, one has heard of the Oppenheimer-Teller clash or the one between Oppenheimer and E.O.Lawrence. In India, too, we had Bhabha-Saha clash and the deep divide between Dr Raja Ramanna and H. N. Sethna. When Vikram Sarabhai was the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission the relations between him and the Trombay establishment were quite cold. Scientists by the very nature of their vocation are highly individualistic people and they prefer to be convinced about a fact personally on the basis of evidence.

Nuclear physics is an arcane subject and in that weapon designing is even more esoteric. There are, therefore, limits to transparency on it. Moreover, this is India’s second fission test and first thermonuclear test. With the exception of two — Dr P. K. Iyengar and the late Dr Ramanna — all other weapon designing talent was involved in the Pokhran-2 test. Of the two outside, Dr Iyengar is a sceptic while Dr Ramanna, when he was alive, accepted the claimed yield.

All nuclear scientists are not necessarily familiar with the intricacies of weapon design. There is a popular tendency in the country to accept that all people associated with the Department of Atomic Energy are knowledgeable in the intricacies of nuclear weapons. This is not the case.

It has been widely propagated that many foreign scientists have questioned the yield of Pokhran-2. Usually when seismic stations monitored a nuclear test they used to announce the magnitude of the explosion in terms of ranges of yields as, for instance, a low- yield explosion of 5-15 kilotons or a medium-yield explosion of 15-60 kilotons. Very rarely was a precise yield reported. The ease with which many foreign assessments were made about precise yields made them suspect, especially when they were not familiar with geological structures and soil conditions at the test site.

The very first report from the West termed the test an earthquake. There could also be some resonance between the domestic scepticism and foreign assessments.

Dr Chidambaram, former Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and head of the weapon designing team in 1998, writing in “Atoms for Peace” (Vol. 2 No. 1, 2008), cites an article in New Scientist (Mackenzie 1998) where it said, “Roger Clark, a seismologist of the Leeds University found that when data from 125 stations — closer to the number required by the treaty (CTBT) monitoring network — are taken into account the estimate is nearer 60(kilotons)”. He also refers to the finding of a world-renowned seismologist, Jack Evernden, being consistent with the official claim.

The issue was examined in a review by then National Security Adviser, Brajesh Mishra. If the weapon designers had doubts about the yield they could have conducted one more test within the first few days after the May 11 test since one more shaft was available, before any commitment was made on voluntary moratorium.

Apparently, the weapon design team did not have any doubts on the result. But on the very first day the sceptics had doubts. There was a popular view that the thermonuclear test should be of 100 kilotons and above and, therefore, this could not be a thermonuclear explosion. In any case, the shaft could not have withstood any explosion higher than 60 kilotons.

Do we conduct some more tests to satisfy the sceptics? This cannot be publicly debated just as conducting the nuclear tests was not debated. The nuclear tests of 1998 were not to pre-empt any Pakistani move but were a response to the provocative Pakistani Ghauri missile test and also to declare India a nuclear weapon state in the early days of the new BJP-led NDA government before the Americans started applying pressure on India. At that time it was expected that the CTBT would come into force in 1999.

The late P. V. Narasimha Rao had urged Mr Vajpayee to conduct the test early in 1996. It could not be done in the 13 days the BJP was in office and was carried out in May 1998. Pakistan’s tests were in response to the Indian tests and the interaction between Pakistan and the US on the issue is a matter of public record. But Pakistan had its nuclear weapon tested by China at the Lop Nor test site on May 26, 1990, according to the disclosure in the book “The Nuclear Express” by two US scientists, Thomas Reed and Danny Stillman. India lived in a state of unfavourable deterrent asymmetry in the nineties till the Shakti tests were carried out.

As Prime Ministers V.P. Singh and I.K. Gujral explained after the tests, the file to test was always on their table. Narasimha Rao came close to conducting the test. But only Vajpayee could do it by taking the world by surprise. During all that time there were no TV debates or newspaper editorials or strategists screaming about India’s vulnerability.

India became a nuclear weapon power and in the next eight years its strategic arsenal has been accepted by the international community. India has also the NSG waiver. All that happened in spite of opposition from sections of our people who preferred a confrontationist strategy with the international community.

The government leadership is satisfied with the state of our deterrent posture and so also the armed forces. In the US and Russia, too, there are people dissatisfied with the readiness of their arsenals and would like to resume testing. But the majority public opinion in those countries is opposed to it. Fission weapons of 60-80 kilotons have been successfully fabricated and standard thermonuclear warheads of today are neither in megatons nor in hundreds of kilotons. Our fission weapon capabilities are not under question. So long as the adversary believes that the nuclear explosions in his cities will cause him unacceptable damage he will be deterred.

Whether it is the CTBT, the FMCT or conducting nuclear tests, it is counter-productive to look at these issues in a narcissistic manner. We should try to exploit the opportunities as they arise. This country is just learning to do it and we have a long way to go. The need of the moment is to avoid chauvinism and steadily improve the capacity of the country to grow and deliver without demagoguery.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal