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Sunday, 13 September 2009

From Today's Papers - 13 Sep 09

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Firing of Rockets
India lodges protest with Pak
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Kache Dhanoae (Indo-Pak Border), September 12
Even as India has lodged a strong protest with Pakistan over last night’s firing of around six rockets from the Pakistani side into Indian territory, residents of border villages apprehend even worse in the near future.

Acting on the directions of the BSF IG (Punjab Frontier) Himmat Singh, Battalion Commandant HS Dhillon held a flag meeting with his Pakistani counterpart, Wing Commander Butt, on Zreo Line at Attari today. The meeting, which took off at around 1 am, lasted for a couple of minutes. The BSF warned that any such activity would not be tolerated in the future. After the rockets fired from the Pakistani side landed in fields of Kache Dhanoae, Rattan Kalan and Modhe villages, the BSF troops deployed in the Pul Kanjri area retaliated immediately by firing “warning shots” from their machine guns.

“We have lodged our protest with them,” said BSF DIG Jagir Singh.

Meanwhile, the number of rockets found from border villages has gone up from three to six, sources said, adding that the BSF was examining the shells to determine the place of their origin.

Meanwhile, the villagers living in border areas apprehend a Kargil-like situation when fields on the entire border strip were carpeted with mines as a precautionary measure. A number of farmers and labourers had been injured in mine accidents.

Though, there was no loss of life in last night’s shelling, farmers, whose fields are on the other side of the fencing, are even more scared. They are not ready to go to their farms unless they are provided with adequate security. Almost every village on the Punjab frontier, it was learnt, was having roughly around 300 acres beyond the barbed wire fencing. Earlier, at least six rockets had been fired from the Pakistani side into the Indian fields situated close to border in two months.

Sukhwinder Singh, a farmer of Dhanoae village, said: “The government should ensure our safety and security”. Similarly, Paramjit Singh, having a piece of land beyond the barbed wire, asked how they would reap their paddy crop in the midst of tension on border. “It was a risky business so far. Now, farming across the wire has turned dangerous,” he said.

BSF DIG Jagir Singh and other officials have assured farmers that everything possible would be done to ensure safety and security of people on border.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20090913/main2.htm

BSF fires into Pakistan after rocket attack at Attari

Updated on Saturday, September 12, 2009, 09:13 IST Tags:India-Pakistan, Attari border, BSF

Zeenews Bureau

Amritsar: Pakistani forces on Friday night fired two rockets towards the Indian territory, which fell in agriculture fields in two adjacent villages, drawing retaliation from BSF using machine guns.

There was, however, no casualty on the Indian side in the Pakistani action, BSF Inspector General for Punjab frontier Himmat Singh said.

Singh said Pakistan fired rockets which landed in an open area at villages Modhey and Dhoneya Khurd near the Attari-Wagah checkpost in Amritsar district at around 10.00 pm after which the BSF troops hit back by opening fire from machine guns.

BSF officials this morning launched an operation to find if any more rockets were fired into the Indian side near the Attari joint check post from across the barbed-wire fencing border between both countries.

According to the BSF IG, residents of border villages informed BSF officials about rockets landing in fields.

"We are ascertaining if any more rockets were fired. We retaliated with machine gun fire," he added.

Later, commandants of the BSF and Pakistan Rangers held a meeting at the border in the wee hours of Saturday to investigate the incident. The Indian side lodged a strong protest over repeated incidents of shelling from across the border.

This is the second incident of rockets being fired into Indian territory from Pakistani soil. Earlier, three rockets were fired into Indian territory in early July.

http://www.zeenews.com/news562784.html

US proposes nuclear resolution at UN

Press Trust of India / United Nations September 12, 2009, 14:52 IST

The United States today circulated a draft resolution in the UN calling for stepped up efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and freeze nuclear testing and wants it to be adopted by world leaders at a meeting later this month chaired by President Barack Obama.

The draft, obtained by The Associated Press, does not mention any country by name but it reaffirms previous Security Council resolutions that imposed sanctions on Iran and North Korea for their nuclear activities. It does not call for any new sanctions.

Another provision apparently aimed at Iran and North Korea, "deplores" the current major challenges to nuclear nonproliferation that the council has determined to be threats to international peace and security. It "demands that the parties concerned comply fully with their obligations under the relevant Security Council resolutions."

The United States, which holds the Security Council presidency this month, chose nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear disarmament as the topic for a high-level council meeting to be held September 24 on the sidelines of the annual ministerial meeting of the UN General Assembly.

The draft resolution was circulated today to the 14 other council members, and council experts immediately began discussions.

A diplomat familiar with the negotiations said the five veto-wielding council nations -- the US, Russia, China, Britain and France -- agreed on most provisions before the draft was circulated, but China objected to including the resolutions related to North Korea.

Obama had earlier called for the slashing of US and Russian nuclear arsenals, adoption of the treaty banning all nuclear tests, and talks on a new treaty that "verifiably" ends the production of fissile materials used to make atomic weapons.

The resolution welcomes the US-Russia negotiations, calls on all countries to refrain from conducting nuclear tests and join the test ban treaty, and urges the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva to negotiate a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other explosive devices "as soon as possible."

In its opening paragraph, the draft states that the Security Council is committed "to seek a safer world for all and to create the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons" in accordance with the goals of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

The draft calls on all countries that are not parties to join the treaty "to achieve its universality at an early date, and in any case to adhere to its terms."

The major countries that are not members are India and Pakistan, which have conducted nuclear tests, and Israel which is believed to have a nuclear arsenal.

http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/us-proposes-nuclear-resolution-at-un/73298/on

Top 7 RAW officers go on leave over promotion

D P Satish

CNN-IBN

RAW REVOLT: A public row over promotions will certainly hits RAW's credibility and effectiveness.

New Delhi: India's external intelligence agency RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) is facing a similar crisis. Seven high ranking RAW officials have gone on a mass protest leave, after an IPS officer superseded them.

With reports of Chinese incursions in the Ladakh area of Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan stifling Mumbai terror attack investigation, Maoists stoking anti-India sentiments in Nepal, India seems to be facing trouble from all neighboring countries.

However, India's External Intelligence Agency, the RAW is busy fighting its own internal battles. At a time when the country needs intelligence to keep itself secure, seven additional secretary rank officials have gone on mass protest leave.

The mass leave is to protest the promotion of IPS officer Avdesh Mathur as special secretary. The seven officers are from the Research and Analysis Service (RAS). There is constant tension between RAS and IPS officers in RAW. The present RAW chief is also from IPS. RAS cadres fear that the next chief will also be from IPS.

"I would only say that sometimes it's in th news for all the wrong reasons. And sometimes there is an attempt to belittle the RAW. I think I was an outsider there and I served two years there. I think it's a very fine organisations and there is nothing wrong with it," said former raw chief, A S Dulat.

Sources say the government is shocked by this revolt. A rattled Cabinet Secretariat has issued an urgent order to hold a Departmental Promotional Committee (DPC) process by next week itself to review the case of the seven officials.

However, for the extremely secretive and highly disciplined agency, a public row over promotions will certainly hits its credibility and effectiveness, both inside and outside the country.

http://ibnlive.in.com/printpage.php?id=101212&section_id=3

Shifts in opinion & threat perception

By Irfan Husain

Saturday, 12 Sep, 2009 | 03:03 AM PST

US Army soldiers from 2-506 Infantry 101st Airborne Division and Afghan National Policemen and Army patrol through the mountains into the Derezda Valley in the rugged Spira mountains in Khost province, along the Afghan-Pakistan Border. -Photo by AFP

JUST as public support for the fight against Taliban terrorists has firmed up in Pakistan, it is crumbling in the West. A recent survey among 13 nations contributing troops to the international forces in Afghanistan shows significant majorities wanting either a total pullout, or a reduction in the number of their soldiers.

The US was the only exception, with 30 per cent supporting an increase, and a further 32 per cent wanting no change in troop numbers. But even here, 11 per cent said they would support a reduction, and 19 per cent wanted a total withdrawal. While I am not aware of a similar poll to gauge Pakistani opinion, there appears to be considerable support for army action in Fata, at least judging from the media. Gone are the days when news of a fresh drone attack would be greeted by small demonstrations in the streets, and a verbal barrage on TV talk shows.

It is eight years since 9/11 and the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan by US-led forces, and patience with the conflict, especially in Europe, is wearing thin. As casualties mount and the cost of sustaining the occupation escalates, more and more people in the West want to know why they are squandering money and blood in a far-off country where there is no hope of winning a clear-cut victory.

Taliban resistance to western occupation has increased sharply at the same time that President Karzai’s legitimacy is being called into question. His administration’s many failures might soon make a return of the Taliban a less poor alternative. Nevertheless, many polls show that the majority of Afghans do not want the dreaded Taliban to rule them again.

Of course the situation in Pakistan is very different from Afghanistan: here, our army is fighting to impose the writ of the state in tribal areas where extremists have seized control. On our neighbour’s soil, foreign troops are attempting to end an insurgency against their presence. In the process, they hope to train Afghan soldiers and army to take over from them while building a social and physical infrastructure at the same time. The idea is to improve life for ordinary Afghans to the point where the Taliban lose support and the country no longer plays host to Al Qaeda.

Despite these differences, the strands of extremism, geography and ethnicity make this a common struggle. The success or failure of either the Pakistani or Afghan Taliban will certainly impact on the war across the border. Over time, this struggle has become a magnet for Islamic radicals from Manchester to Multan. Arabs and Central Asians have flocked to the Taliban banner.

As the recent conviction of three British men of Pakistani origin for planning to blow up several jetliners across the Atlantic shows, tremors from the epicentre of jihad continue being felt around the world. This is the reason the British government has given for its presence in Afghanistan: it is keeping British cities safe from extremist terrorists by fighting them in Helmand and Kunduz. But as critics have pointed out, this particular plot was smashed by intelligence and police work in Britain and not by the soldiers fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.

And while our troops have achieved significant success against jihadis in Fata, the same cannot be said about the western forces in Afghanistan. The fact is that drone attacks have kept Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders off-balance and fearful in the tribal areas, despite the casualties they have caused among the civilians who have been forced to harbour them. But in this, jihadis must be held responsible for using innocent people as human shields.

When western troops first went into Afghanistan, there was a deep reluctance to get involved among neo-cons in Washington. “We don’t do nation-building,” said Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in another context. The idea was to topple the Taliban and walk away. But interventionists like Tony Blair were of the view that unless Afghanistan was helped back to its feet, it would once again become a breeding ground for terrorists. The British prime minister assured the Afghan people that this time, the West would not abandon them as it had after the Soviet pullout two decades ago.

Eight years and $32bn since the invasion, the war has intensified and, understandably, ordinary people in the West are asking how much longer before their soldiers can come back. Not before the job is done, replies Gordon Brown. And what precisely is the job? Ambitions have been scaled back since those heady days when the Taliban were sent scurrying off after a minimum of fighting. Writing off the Taliban as a spent force, the allies thought the task only involved engineers and planners, not thousands of troops to secure the countryside. But as the situation has unfolded, security has emerged as the biggest issue facing the occupation forces.

It is clear that the presence of western forces provokes and fuels the resistance. And now, after the rigged election, Afghanistan appears to be entering a period of political instability.

Critics of the war are asking why their governments should be complicit in supporting a corrupt and inefficient government that has just stolen an election. Increasingly, the war will be harder to sell to a public that is seeing social services being cut due to a recession that continues to put people out of work. But despite an understandable dislike for foreign troops fighting on our doorstep, we in Pakistan need to understand the full consequences of a pullout of international forces from Afghanistan.

A victorious Taliban would attain new legitimacy as they return to Kabul. Al Qaeda would be able to operate more freely and the civil war against the Northern Alliance would resume. Pakistan would be sucked into supporting the Taliban as India and Iran would help the Tajik and Uzbek fighters as they did in the past. Sooner rather than later, the Taliban would prevail and would then turn their sights towards Pakistan.

In Pakistan, there are clear signs the army recognises these dangers, and as a result, has increased forces facing the Afghan forces, thinning out troops from the border with India. This represents a significant shift in strategy and threat perception. After years of procrastination under Musharraf, the army has finally come on board the fight against the Taliban and their various allies.

Given these momentous changes in the army’s mindset, there is a very good chance that it will prevail in this struggle. But it will need our support in this grim battle against the forces of darkness.

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/columnists/irfan-husain-shifts-in-opinion-threat-perception-299

Army wants patrol curbs along China border lifted

Pranab Dhal Samanta Posted online: Sunday , Sep 13, 2009 at 0349 hrs

New Delhi : With Chinese incursions becoming more aggressive, the Army is pushing for a rethink on patrolling restrictions in certain “sensitive areas” of the Line of Actual Control. The restrictions, imposed by the China Study Group many years ago, prevents Indian military troops from going up as close as possible to India’s claim line in certain areas where Chinese incursions have increased of late.

It’s learnt that the CSG, comprising secretaries from Defence, Foreign and Home ministries besides the two intelligence heads, had in the past placed restrictions on the Army in certain areas of the LAC so as to avoid any confrontation or clashes with Chinese troops. These, sources said, roughly relate to 10-odd areas in the Western Sector of the LAC in Ladakh, almost the entire Central Sector which includes Sikkim and about four areas in the Eastern Sector where perceptions vary and are hence, “sensitive”.

In these areas, the Army is not allowed to go right up to the front while China has imposed no such restrictions on its Army. About three months back, the CSG is said to have relaxed a few restrictions, given the heightened Chinese activity in Sikkim but the military is clearly not satisfied and wants complete lifting of restrictions.

In many of these sensitive areas, the Indo-Tibetan Border police is allowed to carry out an occasional patrol but with strict instructions not to provoke. In fact, sources said, in some areas of Sikkim, the ITBP personnel are asked to go without weapons to prevent provocation.

There is, however, a counterview which has triggered a debate at higher government levels. With the Chinese having amassed more troops and improved infrastructure to move their forces quicker, there is a fear that an Indian military patrol could find itself easily outnumbered in case of a tricky situation and any unexpected clash could be “humiliating”. So, according to this view in the CSG, India should first build the infrastructure to facilitate quicker movement of forces and then think about lifting these restrictions.

On the other hand, the military’s contention is that China seems to be specifically concentrating more on these areas and stepping up incursions. With improved infrastructure, Chinese incursions have become more frequent. And in line with the extreme nationalistic character that the PLA has acquired, the nature of these incursions are more aggressive now.

In this light, the Army is keen to follow a more hands-on approach and start handling patrols on its own and exercise complete operational command over the ITBP. While it is a stated policy that the Army will have such control on paramilitary forces like the BSF and ITB on disputed borders namely the LoC and LAC, sources said, the Army-ITBP coordination is leaves a lot to be desired when compared to the Army-BSF coordination on the Pakistan side.

At a broader level, the government policy for the moment is not to be provocative and complete lifting off patrolling restrictions may give this signal and increase chances of military-to-military contact. Yet, this is not a bilateral arrangement and China’s Border Guard Regiment, which is involved in these incursions, is very much part of the Chinese Army and so the case is being made for greater role of the Army on this side too.

http://www.indianexpress.com/story-print/516468/

Is India Gearing Up for a Nuclear Test?

Posted on September 12th, 2009

Momin Iftikhar

Given the backdrop of the recently concluded Indo-US Nuclear Deal, the chorus of concerned voices emerging from India – and US, lamenting the purported “qualitative and quantitative” improvements in Pak nuclear arsenal is loaded with implications; worrisome not only for Pakistan but for the entire Region. Two reports originating in the US have laid down the ground work for the Indian scientific-military community to build upon and prepare a case for India to not only expand its already formidable nuclear arsenal but also pave way for further improvements in the existing state of nuclear technology including options for resorting to further nuclear testing.

The report by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) coming earlier had claimed that Pakistani arsenal could be as large as 70-90 warheads. The second report, authored by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), titled Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons: Proliferation and Security Issues, had substantiated the claims made by FAS noting that Pakistan was making ‘qualitative and quantitative improvements’ to its nuclear arsenal adding that the circumstances under which Pakistan could be willing to use the nuclear capability in its defense had undergone an increase. Without adequately explaining the context in which these were made, the CRS Report also quoted Pakistani officials’ statement alluding to them in a manner which projected an impression that perhaps Pakistan was rearing to start a nuclear arms race in the subcontinent. This included the statement made by the Foreign Ministry spokesperson while reacting to the India’s 26 Jul launch of her indigenously built nuclear powered submarine stating that “continued induction of new lethal weapon systems by India is detrimental to the regional peace and stability”.

General Deepak Kapoor, the Indian Army Chief picked up the cue and without placing the contents of these Reports within the ambit of the nuclear / conventional threat scenario heavily loaded in India’s favor, began pleading a case for review of India’s nuclear doctrine for further expansion and upgrading. Responding to the FAS report the General asserted, “There is a difference between having a degree deterrence, which is required for protection and going beyond that. If the news of (Pakistan) having 70 to 90 atomic bombs are correct then I think they are going well beyond the requirement of deterrence,” he said. Turning Pakistan into a scapegoat, his remarks have triggered an orchestrated debate in Indian media, actively joined by the strident scientific community and duly backed by the posse of intellectual hawks, calling for a review of the India’s nuclear posture including a rethink on the need to conduct further nuclear tests to retain the cutting edge of India’s nuclear program. Few aspects in this context merit consideration.

First, the signing of the Indo-US Nuclear Deal has placed India in a position of great advantage with unfettered access to nuclear material and technology. The expansion of its nuclear arsenal is now left to its own sweet discretion through taking care of the shortages of domestic uranium resources that had hamstrung Indian efforts to speed up the build up of nuclear weapons. The Agreement allows for imported nuclear fuel for its safeguarded reactors thus freeing the indigenous 300 tons of uranium to produce fissile material from 8 of Candu Type nuclear plants with 220MW capacity each, which the Agreement has placed outside of the IAEA safeguards. Indian fissile material stocks are now assured of a plentiful inventory and would certainly be used to increase the current level of India’s nuclear arsenal. The brouhaha by the Indian Chief concerning the tally of Pakistan’s nuclear holding is uncalled for and certainly meant to justify expansion of nuclear arsenal before an obliging gallery comprising US and NSG.

Second, all obstructions laid down by CTBT to prevent renewed nuclear testing by India have been effectively dismantled by the 123 Agreement. The Agreement doesn’t contain a single provision that stipulates that in the eventuality of a renewed nuclear testing the nuclear cooperation with India would cease forthwith. Thanks to US Administration bending of cardinal rules related to IAEA and NSG to avert proliferation and banning any new testing of nuclear weapons, India has been exempted from any penalties in case she chooses to resort to nuclear testing. There is no mention of the word ‘perpetuity’ related to safeguards imposed on those reactors that India has conceded to lay open to IAEA inspection. This effectively means that as and when India resumes nuclear testing the supply of nuclear material and technology would continue from the NSG countries to the safeguarded reactors even as underlying principles of the CTBT have been blown to the smithereens.

Third, the Indian tests for the Hydrogen Bomb still remain inconclusive leaving it as an unfinished agenda of the Indian nuclear quest. It is widely believed that the Indian efforts in 1998 to detonate a thermo nuclear (TN) device wasn’t entirely successful and India still is left with nagging doubts regarding the efficacy of its design for the Hydrogen bomb. Indian scientists believe that further tests would be needed to certify the TN capability besides the need to hone the existing technology for more compact, more powerful nuclear weapons. The fact that the 123 Agreement didn’t impose any restrictions on further nuclear testing by India is a clear reflection of a tacit understanding in the US establishment for the Indian ambitions to upgrade its nuclear program qualitatively as well as quantitatively.

The current tirade spearheaded by the Indian Army Chief underlining the expansion of nuclear arsenal by Pakistan is deceptively devious and is primarily aimed at providing a justification to India to start exploiting the tilted playing field offered by the Indo-US Nuclear Deal. US has bent over backwards in changing the goal posts for India to facilitate her nuclear weapons program and leave the door open for renewed nuclear testing ; even turning IAEA and the NSG into accomplices in the process. All stops limiting India’s capabilities for producing more nuclear weapons with greater sophistication stand removed and her resorting to such attempts is but a fate accompli. A serious situation confronts Pakistan which has to ensure that its nuclear as well conventional deterrence remains in balance vis-à-vis India. As India ratchets up the ante, maintenance of a minimum credible nuclear deterrence starkly emerges as the only viable option; musings by General Kapoor and highly loaded assertions by the US research institutions notwithstanding.

The writer is expert on defence and political analysis. He is free lance journalist based in Islamabad.

http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items/2009/09/12/is-india-gearing-up-for-a-nuclear-test/

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