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Sunday, 6 September 2009

From Today's Papers - 06 Sep 09

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Navy to finetune security system
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 5
For the first time ever since Pakistan-based terrorists sailed unhindered to launch an attack on Mumbai last November, the Navy is to lead one of the biggest coordination exercises to fine-tune its coastal security apparatus at the ground level on the country’s western seafront facing Pakistan and the Middle East.

The Navy will take on board all agencies like the coast guard, customs and marine police for the exercise, well-placed sources in the government said while confirming the development. The latest revision of the Naval doctrine announced on August 28 expanded scope of the doctrine to include the threat from maritime terrorism to coastal security. The exercise will start after the monsoon ends.

The forthcoming exercise is a part of the new strategy by which the Navy will lay down standard operating procedure (SOP) for various areas and also detail out the response of each agency to deal with situations at short notice.

The working of the agencies for handling security would be integrated into the Navy’s pattern of working and operations, a source said.

The Navy was given full charge of coastal security on March 1 this year. It has already conducted an exercise on the eastern front for the states on the east coast during summer. “Some lessons were learnt and those will be we implemented when the exercise is done on the western seafront,” a senior official said.

The Western coast is seen as a very vulnerable zone. The entire coastline has been divided into small sectors by the Navy for its own direction-finding. A conceptualisation exercise was conducted some weeks ago on the western seafront. This time, coordination would be the focal point.

It will test the prowess of each “sector” along the coast for the availability of powered boats, man power deployment, fast attack crafts, reaction time, radar coverage, response of AIS transponders and also the efficacy of the identification system for fishing boats.

Chinese website reveals plan to balkanise India

The content on a Chinese website speaks of a design to fragment India with the help of rebel forces. China strategy makers, whose writings reflect the official thinking of the government is a serious matter for India.

CJ: Rupam Banerjee

CHINA MAY wash off its hands from the content of a website, which speaks of a design of fragmenting India with the help of rebel forces in the sub-continent, but India cannot afford to ignore such threats.

Reports collected by different intelligence agencies say there are enough indications of such a design from the activities of a number of divisive and terrorist groups operating in the sub-continent. The reports say that China can neither deny the fact that it has been arming some of the Indian insurgents groups like the NSCN and the ULFA nor shrug off its responsibility to prevent trafficking of Chinese arms and ammunition from Pakistan and Myanmar to Indian terrorist groups. China is one of the official suppliers of arms and ammunition to Pakistan and Myanmar.

The NSCN and the ULFA have close links with the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI, a number of terrorist groups like Al Qaeda, Laskar-e-Toiba, HuJI and the LTTE and other insurgent groups operating in the North East. The ULFA has also set up links with the Maoists of both Nepal and India.

The reports said ULFA Military wing supremo Paresh Barua had been camping in China for quite some time after the S k Hasina Government vouched to take stern action against the anti-Indian militants operating from Bangladesh.

A senior intelligence official said the content of fragmentation design in a Chinese website had lots of similarities with the plans of Indian Maoists, the greatest threat to the country’s internal security. In recent interview with media, the leaders of the Indian Maoist groups said they had plan to create independent countries with states like Assam, Bengal and Bihar.

On the other hand, the official said, the Maoists of Nepal, under the leadership of former Prime Minister Prachanda, had accused India of interfering in the internal matters of Nepal and announced their plans to seek help from China in realizing their goal.

He said the entire design worked out by the ISI and supported by a section of Chinese officials aimed at weakening India by encouraging divisive and terrorist groups and ruining the Indian economy by pumping in fake currency notes (FCN).

Security experts said India must explore all possibilities, including the help of Interpol and other international agencies, to break the fake currency note rackets based in Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, a couple of middle east countries, Singapore and Thailand.

They said India could not afford to take lightly the recent revelation by the two FCN operators of Nepal that erstwhile pro-Chinese, Prince of Nepal, Paras and the notoriously famed ‘D company’ were behind the FCN rackets.

Several Indian insurgent groups like the ULFA, the NLFT, the UNLFT of Manipur and the KLO have been fighting for creation of independent states. All these outfits had established links with the Maoists through the ULFA, the intelligence official said.

The official apprehended that the Maoists had already started procuring arms, ammunition and powerful battery operated indigenous explosive devices from these insurgent groups.

“The recent explosion near Baharampur in Murshidabad district, where a battery operated powerful IED was used, and recovery of powerful explosive devices from Malda indicate close links between the Maoists and terrorist and insurgent groups operating in the country,” he added.

'Pakistan has to accept India as big brother'

September 06, 2009 00:49 IST

A candid dialogue between India and Pakistan's security establishments and intelligence services is the only way to move forward for both countries in securing peace, said Mahmud Ali Durrani, Pakistan's former national security advisor and ex-ambassador to United States.

While giving the first memorial lecture in memory of R.K Mishra, founder of Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi [ Images ], Durrani sketched the plan for bridging the gap between two countries.

General Durrani commands tremendous respect in New Delhi. That was evident from the audience that gathered at the India International centre in New Delhi. Former National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra, former foreign secretaries S S Menon, Salman Haider, M K Rasgotra and other top retired diplomats, analysts, including M S.Bajpayee, were present.

Strategic expert K Subrahamanyam chaired the discussion while former ambassador Abid Hussain gave tribute to R K Mishra. Also present was Minister for Environment Jairam Ramesh [ Images ].

Durrani has a long record of attempting peace between two countries and has written a book India and Pakistan, The Cost of Conflict, The Benefits of Peace.

His credentials to advocate peace was not in question in minds of audience in New Delhi, but his speech fall short of expectations because on the issue of Kashmir [ Images ], he didn't spell out his own idea or a possible solution. And his speech at every point tried to "balance" the both sides.

He said he had his primary education at a boarding school (Burn Hall) in Srinagar [ Images ] in 1947. His mother and wife are Kashmiris. He said, "Kashmir is in my blood as both my mother and wife are Kashmiris. I am not going to push the Pakistani official line because our foreign office reminds you of that frequently, nor will I advance a new formula for the solution of this lingering dispute. My only submission is that the people of Kashmir have suffered immensely; they need peace and space to re-build their lives. I will support any solution which is acceptable to the majority of the Kashmiris. The bottom line -Kashmir for the Kashmiris."

He diplomatically kept balancing both warring sides as most diplomats do after retirement. Like he said, "Today there is a firm belief amongst the intelligence and security community in Pakistan that India is actively supporting insurgency in Baluchistan and some even believe that India has a hand in the turbulence in FATA. I was also assured by some friends in India that Pakistan's security agencies are equally involved in destabilizing India. I feel we need to move beyond this state of affairs. This can only be done through a frank and candid dialogue between our security and intelligence services."

He did give some concrete suggestions to both the governments. He did impressively convince the audience that students, academia and business community's mutual involvement, efforts and exchanges can bridge the gap between two countries.

His speech was proof of his practical approach and through understanding of issues between India and Pakistan.

Durrani said, 'I am convinced there is phenomenal scope for enhanced trade and business between our two countries. However, a large number of industrialists and businessmen in Pakistan are worried that India could swamp Pakistan with its cheap goods and destroy Pakistan's industry. I would therefore recommend an incremental approach and not kicking the door open."

He defended Pakistan businessmens' sentiments. He added, "Likewise I would also recommend a level-playing field. Traders and businessmen could become the biggest stakeholders in the peace process. Transit of Indian goods for the Afghan market and beyond is a thorny issue being dealt with at the official level."

However, "the official level" is the stumbling block in ensuring peace between two countries was the message between the lines in otherwise his well-thought out speech.

He summarized his recommendations to bring the people of India and Pakistan closer and reduce the acrimony between.

# Strengthen SAARC so that it truly becomes a forum for the good of the people.

# Terrorism [ Images ], religious bigotry and intolerance are common threat to both India and Pakistan. We need to work together before this threat destroys our way of life. Let our governments give teeth to the Joint Terrorism Mechanism ( JTM ) and move beyond meaningless statements.

# Chiefs of our primary intelligence agencies need to have periodic meetings to bridge their differences and cooperate on counterterrorism.

# We must not interrupt dialogue between our two countries, whatever the provocation. Communicate your anger, frustration and views through dialogue. Lack of dialogue helps neither country. I am not in favour of a dialogue just for form but primarily to move forward.

# Track II efforts need to be supported and increased.

# The backchannel needs to be revived to help the primary dialogue process and address thorny issues.

# The media, the academic community and the businessmen in both countries needs to play a forceful role in bringing the two people together and reducing the mistrust.

#Simplify the visa process drastically. Abolish police reporting and city specific visas. We should treat each other at least like we treat other foreigners, if we are unable to treat each other in a better fashion.

# Both countries should open up the airwaves and allow airing of each others TV programs.

# The Sir Creek and Siachen issues are ripe for resolution, let us put them behind up. We should set up a "Joint Glacial Research Centre" in Siachen.

# The Indus Waters Treaty of 1960 must be respected by both parties and all water disputes should be settled in the letter and spirit of this treaty. No smart reinterpretations please.

# Give space to the suffering Kashmiris. Guiding principal for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute should be based on the spirit of "Kashmir for the Kashmiris".

# Include cooperation in the field of agriculture as a component of the composite dialogue. Set up an "lndo-Pak Arid Agriculture Research Centre".

# Include cooperation in energy as a component of the composite dialogue.

# Lastly, but most important is the role of the political leadership in bridging the gap between our nations, they need to show the resolve to guide the dialogue process to a logical conclusion

He ended his speech by saying that, "Born out of the same soil, unfortunately India and Pakistan have had a turbulent relationship since the very beginning."

He concluded, "I believe a strong, stable and prosperous Pakistan is in the best interest of India, just as a vibrant, dynamic and robust India is good for Pakistan and the region. Destabilizing Pakistan would be a very short-sighted and counter-productive policy for India. Similarly, Pakistan has to accept and respect India as the big brother. I have outlined a number of steps which if followed with commitment will launch us in the direction of peace and cooperation."

Job crunch, recession makes army jobs attractive

TNN 6 September 2009, 04:52am IST

JAIPUR: The job crunch in the market due to economic slowdown and the revised pay-scales have again encouraged youngsters to join the armed

forces. In the past one week about 1,000 students have turned up seeking jobs in the Indian Army for technical posts during a recruitment drive in five city-based engineering colleges under the scheme University Entry Level.

Aporve Joshi, a third semester student, who appeared in an interview said, "In the midst of recession no other sector offers a job with good salary, job security and honor." He feels that, "once you have joined the defence services you become immune to any financial crises at macro or micro level."

The army officials say they have received an overwhelming response as the number of students appearing in the orientation programme increased manifold compared to other years.

"The Sixth Pay Commission, which raised the armed forces salaries have made this profession a most-sought-after among the students this year," said Col VS Gill, member of a team to shortlist candidates for SSB final interview.

When asked, do you think that ill effects of recession on corporate and Sixth Pay Commission will encourage the students to join army, he replied "Certainly yes, the armed forces offer better future prospects then any other profession."

Officials conducted personal interviews of engineering students (in third or fourth semester) in colleges such as Poornina Engineering College, Compucom College, Apex Engineering College and Yagnawalkya College.

Meenu Saxena, placement co-coordinator, PIT said, "As the economy is badly hit by recession and corporate were laying-off jobs. The students' interest for the defence forces, which offers good remuneration and emoluments is obvious."

The selected candidates will appear in the Short Service Commission Board interviews before they will finally placed in armed forces.

The army officials have also decided to visit city engineering colleges in the second week of September. The recession has come as silver lining for the armed forces that is facing a shortage of middle-rung officers.

A forward defensive stroke

Devangshu Datta / New Delhi September 06, 2009, 0:28 IST

Consistent procurement of defence equipment should throw up some multi-baggers in the next few years.

The Second World War started exactly 70 years ago, on September 3, 1939. The toll was between 55 million and 80 million deaths – even the lower estimate is over 3 per cent of the global population of the time. The UK, Germany, Japan and the USSR all allocated over 50 per cent of respective national GDPs to defence, while the US was committed one-third of its GDP.

Much of the military equipment was privately designed and produced. All the major powers, except the Soviet Union, followed a process of setting specifications and letting private manufacturers compete for orders on tender. Key WWII discoveries that found their way to “Civvy Street” include nuclear power, jet engines, rockets, antibiotics, chemotherapy, radar, autopilots, etc.

The US, which accounts for over 40 per cent of 21st century defence spending (around 5 per cent of its GDP), still tenders out military research to university labs. It still sets specs for its equipment and lets the private sector do the supplying. In many other nations as well, the private sector holds significant marketshare in defence.

Unfortunately, India firmly excluded the private sector. What could not be designed, or manufactured under license in PSUs, is imported. There have been huge cost-time overruns in defence projects. There have been many scandals related to procurement and occasionally, there have been crippling issues with sanctions leading to spares shortages and licensing problems.

India spends Rs 55,000 crore per annum on defence equipment procurement. About 70 per cent is imports while 22 per cent is sourced from the public sector. The private sector's share amounts to 8 per cent – mostly low-end component supplies from over 4,000 companies.

In the new Homeland Security sector, which was created after 26/11, the Government intends to spend $10 billion per annum in equipment procurement between 2010-2015. This includes stuff like communication gear, body armour for policemen, coastal patrol boats, radars, etc. Around 70 per cent of this procurement is to be sourced from the domestic private sector.

By 2012, Assocham reckons defence procurement will be over $30 billion - that's 170 per cent growth. Add in the new Homeland Security procurement and it's close to Rs 200,000 crore. A large chunk of that booty should come to Indian industry. The concept of (public-private partnership) PPP, which has worked in infrastructure projects and the space programme, will be applied.

Another key concept is “offsets”. Overseas armament exporters must offset 30 per cent of their order values by placing orders with Indian manufacturers. This means joint ventures and transfer of technology. Over Rs 7,500 crore of offset contracts have already been signed this fiscal.

The lion's share of offsets could come to the private sector. Foreign entities can hold 26 per cent in an Indian defence JV. There could be substantial FDI inflows. If offsets create a globally competitive Indian defence industry, there could be exports as well. Quite a few of the usual suspects will be beneficiaries if this unfolds.. Several listed PSUs such as Bel and Bhel could become bigger players in defence. In the private sector, companies that have already entered, or are seeking to enter defence, include Larsen & Toubro, Tata Group, Mahindra & Mahindra, Bharat Forge, Infotech Enterprises, etc. L&T played a role in building INS Arihant, the first Indian nuclear submarine. Infotech Enterprises is in a JV to develop avionics with Dasssault Aerospace, which manufactures Mirage aircraft.

A second tier of potential winners consists of smaller specialised component suppliers like Astra Microwave Products, which makes components for microwave radars, and Encore Software, which developed the handheld Sathi computer for the army. Then, there's the privately-held MKU, which manufactures equipment ranging from body armour to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

Apart from being a huge new market, defence-security spending is less cyclical than other high-tech industries. Obviously defence contracts will make more of a difference to relatively smaller concerns.

One problem in financial analysis will be the complex structuring of most defence JVs. Exactly how the market will discount such entities or rather, how it will discount listed part-owners of such entities is unclear, as of now. But a new market opportunity this large should nevertheless throw up some multi-baggers.

In Afghanistan, Let's Keep It Simple

For much of the 20th century before the Soviet invasion in 1979, Afghanistan was a peaceful country living in harmony with its neighbors.

There was a king and a real government, which I witnessed in the 1970s when I frequently traveled there. Afghanistan had what I'll call a minimalist state, compared with the vast governmental apparatuses that colonialists left behind in British India and Soviet Central Asia.

This bare-bones structure worked well for a poor country with a small population, few natural resources and a mix of ethnic groups and tribes that were poorly connected with one another because of the rugged terrain. The center was strong enough to maintain law and order, but it was never strong enough to undermine the autonomy of the tribes.

Afghanistan was not aiming to be a modern country or a regional superpower. The economy was subsistence-level, but nobody starved. Everyone had a job, though farm labor was intermittent. There was a tiny urban middle class, but the gap between rich and poor was not that big. There was no such thing as Islamic extremism or a narco-state.

In 2002, I spent a great deal of time in Washington trying to urge the Bush administration to focus on rebuilding Afghanistan's minimalist state, which had been utterly destroyed by 30 years of war.

At that time a bunch of experts in Washington, some now closely associated with Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, estimated that it would cost the international community about $5 billion a year for 10 years to re-create a basic Afghan state that could counter any threat that al-Qaeda or the Taliban might pose.

The keys were investment in agriculture, because that is where jobs lie; rebuilding the roads that used to link the major cities and border towns, so the economy could take off; and investing in an Afghan army and police force. In addition, the country needed a workable government model, modern and inclusive education and health programs, and a functioning justice system.

We all know what happened. The Bush administration left Afghanistan underresourced, underfunded and in the hands of the CIA and the warlords, and went off to fight in Iraq.

When al-Qaeda and the Taliban saw that George W. Bush was not serious about Afghanistan, they found it easy to return. The insurgency began in the summer of 2003, as the Taliban reoccupied large chunks of the country, used drug money to arm its men, and improved their firepower and tactics so much that the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen, recently said the situation is "serious" and "deteriorating."

Now any operation to patch together a minimalist Afghan state would cost between $10 billion and $15 billion a year and require tens of thousands more Western troops, which nobody is willing to provide. The U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, is widely expected to request additional forces, but he's not going to get that many.

Today Washington is bickering over what constitutes success in Afghanistan, whether the Obama plan will work, how long American public opinion will hold up, how many more troops and dollars are needed and how to stop its alleged NATO allies from slipping out through the back door. Asked what success would look like, Holbrooke even quipped: "We'll know it when we see it."

Many dissenters in Washington, such as columnist George Will, insist that the Afghans are incapable of learning and unwilling to build a modern state. Others, including former British diplomat Rory Stewart, argue that Afghan society should be left alone. But the dissenters do not sufficiently acknowledge the past failures of the Bush administration that led us to this impasse. What's worse, they offer no solutions.

So what needs to be done? First, the American and European people need to be told the truth: Their governments have failed them in Afghanistan over the past eight years, and not a single aspect of rebuilding the minimalist state was undertaken until it was too late. The capital, Kabul, for example, got regular electricity only this year, despite billions of dollars in international aid. Millions of dollars for agriculture has been wasted in cockamamie schemes to grow strawberries and raise cashmere goats.

Governments also need to explain that the terrorist threat has grown and that al-Qaeda has spread its tentacles throughout Africa and Europe. And the West must admit that the Taliban has become a brand name that resonates deep into Pakistan and Central Asia and could extend into India and China.

Second, the minimalist state must be rebuilt at breakneck speed. President Obama understands this. His plan for the first time emphasizes agriculture, job creation and justice; on paper, at least, it's an incisive and productive blueprint. But will he be given the time to carry it out?

The Democrats want to give him just until next year's congressional elections and then start bringing the troops home. For the first time, more than 51 percent of Americans want their men and women back from Afghanistan. The Republicans are looking for slipups, such as the apparent fraud in the presidential election last month, so they can pounce.

However, the Obama administration needs two or three years before it has any chance of success. So the president's first task is to create public and congressional support to give the plan sufficient time.

Third, the insurgency can never be defeated as long as the rebels enjoy a haven. The retreating Afghan Taliban was welcomed in Pakistan in 2001 and is still tolerated there because of a certain logic put forward by the Pakistan army that mainly involves containing India's growing power in the region and in Afghanistan in particular.

Bush never really pushed this issue, choosing to treat then-Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf with kid gloves. Today the Islamabad government is divided between civilians and the military, and as the civilians show themselves more inept, the army's power is once again ascendant.

In recent months the army has seemed more determined to take on the Pakistani Taliban -- since April it has lost 312 soldiers and killed some 2,000 Taliban members. Yet there is no strategic shift to take on the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda in the tribal areas that border Afghanistan.

Despite Holbrooke's attempts to pursue a regional strategy, there is still no breakthrough with Pakistan. And India continues to act tough with Islamabad, offering the Americans little room to maneuver. There is no easy way out of this quandary except time and more international aid to Pakistan.

Last, there have to be Afghan partners on the ground to help build a minimalist state. Unfortunately, Bush ignored that too. The corruption, the growth of the drug trade and the failure to build representative institutions after partially successful elections in 2004 and 2005 were all glossed over, as Bush feted President Hamid Karzai and did not ask hard questions.

The apparent rigging of the Aug. 20 elections has plunged Afghanistan into a political and constitutional crisis for which neither America nor the United Nations has any answer. (In another sign of turmoil, the deputy intelligence chief was blown up by a suicide bomber last week, and the Taliban claimed responsibility.) But the electoral fraud was assured months ago when Karzai began to ally himself with regional warlords, drug traffickers and top officials in the provinces who were terrified of losing their jobs and their lucrative sinecures if Karzai lost. It seemed obvious to everyone except those who mattered in the West.

To emerge from this mess with even moderately credible Afghan partners will be difficult, but it has to be done. (The Americans could start by forcing Karzai to create a government that includes all leading opposition figures.) Without a partner, the United States becomes nothing but an occupying force that Afghans will resist and NATO will not want to support. Holbrooke's skills as a power broker will be sorely tested, with his past successes in the Balkans a cakewalk compared with this perilous path.

The Obama administration can come out of this quagmire if it aims low, targets the bad guys, builds a regional consensus, keeps the American public on its side and gives the Afghans what they really want -- just the chance to have a better life.

There is no alternative but for the United States to remain committed to rebuilding a minimalist state in Afghanistan. Nothing less will stop the Taliban and al-Qaeda from again using Afghanistan and now Pakistan to wreak havoc in the region and around the world.

Ahmed Rashid, a Pakistani journalist who has covered Afghanistan for 30 years, is the author of "Taliban" and "Descent into Chaos: The U.S. and the Disaster in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia."

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