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Saturday, 26 September 2009

From Today's Papers - 27 Sep 09

Kashmir Times

Indian Express

Asian Age

Asian Age

The Pioneer

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Telegraph India

Asian Age

Asian Age

The Pioneer

Indian Express

DNA India

Hindustan Times

Hindustan Times

A Tribune Special
India cannot sign NPT since it is discriminatory
K. Subrahmanyam

The UN Security Council presided over by President Obama has adopted unanimously resolution 1887 on nonproliferation which among various measures calls on states not party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to join it. There are only three countries outside the NPT --India, Pakistan and Israel.

India and Pakistan have declared themselves nuclear weapon states while Israel, though a possessor of nuclear weapons even before the NPT was signed, has chosen to adopt an ambiguous stand of neither declaring nor denying its possession of nuclear weapons. Israel’s stand is that it will neither be the first to introduce nuclear weapons nor will it be the second. The world, however, accepts Israel as a nuclear weapon state.

India has reacted to the resolution by saying that there is no question of India joining the NPT as a non-nuclear weapon state as nuclear weapons are an integral part of India’s security. The NPT only recognises five nuclear weapon powers and other countries can be a party to the NPT only as a non-nuclear weapon state. Therefore the question of India joining the treaty does not arise.

President Obama talks of a world without nuclear weapons. But the NPT was not intended to lead towards a world without nuclear weapons. Initially when it was drafted, it was meant as a bargain between the nuclear weapon powers and non-nuclear weapon states for 25 years. The nuclear weapon powers were meant to not expand their arsenals and had to negotiate in good faith for nuclear disarmament while the non-nuclear weapon states were meant to not acquire nuclear weapons.

The nuclear weapon states did not keep their side of the bargain. Then, in 1995 at the end of 25-year period, they got the NPT extended indefinitely and unconditionally thereby legitimising the nuclear weapons in the hands of the five nuclear powers. If the nuclear weapons were legitimate for five powers, they would also be for all other powers who have not bound themselves not to acquire them. India, Israel and Pakistan did not break any international law when they acquired nuclear weapons.

The supporters of the NPT do not seem to appreciate that the NPT is the main hurdle in advancing towards nuclear disarmament. The term non-proliferation implies that there will be some possessors of weapons and it is meant to stop the new states from acquiring the weapons. It is essentially a discriminatory treaty. Over and above this discrimination, the weapons have been legitimised.

No weapon considered legitimate is ever going to be eliminated.

President Obama will not see the world without nuclear weapons so long as the nuclear weapons are deemed legitimate. If he is keen on advancing towards the world without nuclear weapons, he should progress towards delegitimisation of nuclear weapons. India cannot sign a discriminatory treaty which legitimises nuclear weapons.

India has proposed steps to delegitimise the nuclear weapons. It has called for the nuclear weapon powers to adopt ‘no first use’ policy as a first step towards delegitimisation as happened in the case of chemical weapons in the Geneva Protocol of 1925. That led to the treaty to eliminate chemical weapons in 1993. The nuclear weapons have been used only once against a country which was negotiating its surrender terms. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Mikhail Secretary Gorbachev had jointly declared that a nuclear war could not be won. The delegitimisation path is more likely to lead towards disarmament, as the precedence of the chemical weapons shows rather than the non-proliferation path which surrounds the nuclear weapons with a mystique and endows them legitimacy.

India has been a consistent advocate of nuclear disarmament since the inception of the United Nations. India became a reluctant nuclear weapon state faced with two nuclear neighbours with an ongoing proliferation relationship going back to 1976, with one of them declaring its nuclear arsenal as India-specific.

At the time the NPT was under discussion, Indira Gandhi sent Indian emissary L.K.Jha and Dr Vikram Sarabhai to Moscow, Paris, London and Washington to seek nuclear security assurances for India if it were to sign the NPT. Those assurances were denied and therefore India did not sign the NPT faced with a Maoist China which proclaimed that all peace-loving nations had a right to nuclear weapons.

In Chinese view at that time Pakistan was a peace-loving nation and India was not. In 1971 when the Bangladesh massacre involved a million casualties and 10 million refugees pushed into India, Delhi found itself facing a Pakistan-China-US axis. Therefore India conducted the Pokhran-I nuclear test, but did not follow that up with a weaponisation programme.

In 1976 Z A Bhutto concluded an agreement for nuclear weapon development cooperation with China. The recent revelations from Dr A Q Khan’s letter written in December 2003 when he was detained and facing interrogation give some details of the Chinese proliferation to Pakistan in the eighties which included weapon grade-enriched uranium and nuclear weapon design. In turn, Pakistan helped China to set up an ulta-centrifuge plant with European technology purloined by Dr A Q Khan from Almelo centrifuge facility in Holland where he worked earlier.

Two American authors Thomas Reed of Livermore Laboratory and Danny Stillman of Los Alamos Laboratory in their book “The Nuclear Express” write that China’s late leader Deng Xiao Peng adopted a deliberate policy of proliferation in the eighties towards Pakistan, North Korea and Iran. According to the authors, China even conducted a nuclear test for Pakistan on May 28, 1990.

The Pakistanis conveyed nuclear threats to India during Operation Brasstacks (a military exercise undertaken by the Indian Army during November 1986 and March 1987) and at the beginning of Kashmir insurgency in February 1990. These are recorded in the report of the Kargil Review Committee. Rajiv Gandhi came up with his comprehensive and phased disarmament plan before the UN Special Session on Disarmament in June 1988. He offered that India would not go nuclear if his plan was accepted. When that plan was ignored by the Non-Proliferation Community, he had no choice but to order assembly of weapons in India to catch up with Pakistan, which according to Dr Khan had attained weapon capability in mid-eighties.

While China may have adopted a ‘no first use’ policy its surrogate Pakistan, which it had equipped with nuclear weapons and missiles, asserts its nuclear policy is India-specific and it has a policy of first use of nuclear weapons under certain circumstances. In 1998 Pakistan tested its Ghauri missile. Under those circumstances, India was compelled to test and declare itself a nuclear weapon state.

India found a compromise between its commitment to nuclear disarmament and its security imperatives faced with two nuclear adversaries in the strategy of ‘no first use’. The world has recognised the Indian record of restrained and responsible behaviour and consequently granted India waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group guidelines. The call for non-nuclear states to join the NPT is a ritual meant to satisfy other non-weapon states and there is no reason for India to be unduly perturbed by it.

More radars along LAC
n IAF unveils security plans
n Two Sukhoi squadrons in Punjab, North-East
n New lot of Mi-17 choppers for Rajasthan, J&K
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 25
Unveiling its immediate plans on security of Indian air space, the IAF today said mountain-specific radars and sensors will be placed alongside line of control (LAC) with China in the Ladakh region while front-line long-range fighter aircraft Sukhoi-30 will patrol skies over Punjab and J&K besides the North-East.

Operating fighter aircraft from an airstrip near the LAC in China is a possibility in the next few years.

Air Marshall NAK Browne, chief of the all-important Western Air Command (WAC), which controls the air space over the 2360-km boundary with China and Pakistan said here today that different types of radars will be put up in mountains.

He hinted at deploying these alongside the Pakistan side of the boundary. “These are specialised radars and can be deployed anywhere in the mountains”.

The IAF is looking at low-level light weight radars and 19 of them have been ordered and more are in the pipeline.

Two indigenously produced Rohini radars have been placed alongside the LAC and one more will be inducted next year. Two have been placed in Punjab.

On preparedness, he said: “We do need to talk to everybody...Everyone of our neighbours and at the same time keep ready”.

Crucially, the IAF plans to place two squadrons (38 aircraft) of the top-of-the-line Sukhoi-30mki fighter at a base in Punjab by 2011. Detachments will be sent to bases in J&K and also other areas from this base in Punjab.

Air Force's message to China: Alert, gearing up

Nitin Gokhale, Friday September 25, 2009, New Delhi

The fact that the Prime Minister was forced to downplay reports of China's incursions suggested just how tense India was about the issue.

And even as the government says there's no reason for alarm, senior Air Force officials are taking no chances.

Earlier this week, Air Chief Marshal PV Naik announced that India's buying new planes to compete with China's much-larger fleet. On Friday, another senior commander has added that the Air Force is beefing up along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Tibet to counter the growing Chinese air power in the area.

"We will improve operational infrastructure in Ladakh and northern areas...we intend to do this as soon as possible. The government has given us support in terms of budget for modernisation. We have inducted two indigenous radars, other new radars are to arrive next year," says Air Marshal NAK Browne, Western Air Command chief.

Last week, an Indian Air Force plane landed close to the China border in Ladakh making this point: Indian soldiers and their supplies can be moved quickly wherever they're needed despite the remote and difficult terrain.

More evidence of its intent lies in this: despite its declining fleet strength, the Indian Air Force has deployed its most advanced combat planes, the Sukhois 30s, in larger numbers along the northern border to meet any potential threat.

Defence-DoT at loggerheads over 3G auctions

India's much-expected windfall gain from auctioning airwaves for faster mobile phone, the 3G, may be stuck. It now seems the defence services, which have to free up the airwaves, have come up with a new set of demands leaving the government in the lurch.

Arijit Banerjee

India's much-expected windfall gain from auctioning airwaves for faster mobile phone, the 3G, may be stuck.

It now seems the defence services, which have to free up the airwaves, have come up with a new set of demands leaving the government in the lurch.

The 3G auctions are under a cloud again with the defence ministry and the Department of Telecom (DoT) at loggerheads over vacation of spectrum. Bidders may end up bidding for 3G spectrum, which is all up in the air.

It’s a battle that most telecom companies are hoping the defence ministry stops fighting. After all, the future of 3G auctions hinges on it because till the defence ministry does not vacate spectrum, the telecom department won't be able to auction it.

Even as both the ministries have signed an agreement over vacation of spectrum, the defence ministry has new demands.

It wants creation of a defence band across all spectrums and a priority in spectrum allocation in border areas.

All these issues may take time to solve, but the telecom department is adamant that it doesn’t want to change the 3G auctions timeline, which calls for completion of the auction by December.

So, it has come out with a radical solution, which unfortunately may not have many takers.

The telecom ministry wants to start the auction without guaranteeing availability of spectrum and the soon-to-be released information memorandum will seek opinion of the likely bidders.

If this proposal goes through, Rajasthan will have no 3G slots. Delhi and Gujarat have only two each while only one 3G slot will be available in West Bengal.

A worried government has asked both the ministries to form a co-ordination committee that will be overseen by the cabinet secretary, hoping that the issue resolves before December.

US arm-twisting
India must resist signing NPT

India cannot but be concerned over the US resolve to push this country into signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. There is no mistaking the fact that the US-authored Security Council Resolution approved unanimously by the council on Thursday is an attempt to browbeat India and Pakistan into signing the controversial treaty which is brazenly discriminatory against the so-called “non-weapon states” while leaving the weapon states out of its ambit. President Obama had made this the cornerstone of his foreign policy plank in the run-up to the US elections, and by steamrollering the resolution through the council he has made known his intention to push for it relentlessly. That India has wasted no time in asserting that it would not succumb to pressure is consistent with the country’s longstanding position on the issue.

India’s refusal to sign the NPT is based on unexceptionable grounds of national security. While Pakistan has been a ‘rogue state’which has fuelled nuclear proliferation by sharing its knowhow for making nuclear weapons with China, North Korea, Libya and Iran, India has had an absolutely clean record of eschewing both proliferation and aggressive intent. It is this country’s misfortune that it is flanked by a nuclear-armed China which has had expansionist designs in the past and a hand-in-glove nuclear Pakistan which is most untrustworthy and sinister. If, in the circumstances, India seeks to retain its right to stay nuclear to deter its recalcitrant neighbours, it can hardly be faulted. India’s stand that the nuclear weapon states must work towards total disarmament to carry conviction is also perfectly legitimate.

It is a cold reality that when it comes to national security no guarantees by the US or the United Nations can substitute for self-help. The Pakistan army has repeatedly violated undertakings given to the US on non-use of weapons acquired from the US against India. The US on its part is all set to give further massive arms aid to Pakistan despite its confirmed status as a ‘rogue state.’ In the circumstances, India can ill afford to lower its guard. It must stick to its stand not to sign the NPT in the interests of safeguarding its security interests. The Americans must be told off in unambiguous terms.

America’s AfPak options
US nowhere close to winning the war
by Sushant Sareen

The Americans insist that they are not going to leave Afghanistan in a hurry and will remain committed in the AfPak region for a very long time. But all the signs on the ground belie the resolute statements emanating from the US administration, Congress, Pentagon and the think-tanks.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the Americans are nowhere close to winning the war. Their military strategy is not working, their political strategy has foundered, and psychologically a defeatist mindset pervades the Western military and political policy-makers. Under the circumstances, nothing short of a miracle can prevent an ignominious, if tragic, defeat for the sole superpower in a place that is often referred to as ‘the graveyard of empires’.

The common perception in the region is that it is only a matter of time before the Americans throw in the towel in Afghanistan, a perception that has in fact guided the Islamist resistance from the moment the Americans entered Afghanistan after 9/11. Nothing that the Americans say or do is now going to alter this perception. Unlike the Americans who measure time in terms of the schedule of Congressional and presidential elections, the Islamists view time through the prism of relativity. Such an adversary cannot be tired down. The only way to win is to ruthlessly eliminate him. But soldiers who get traumatised by the sight of blood and who have to consult a manual before they can fire on the enemy are incapable of fighting, much less winning, against such an enemy.

In Afghanistan, the Americans are the only ones among the much-vaunted NATO forces doing the actual fighting. However, with the costs in men and material mounting by the day, and the military brass running out of ideas on combating the Islamists, public support for the war in the US is dwindling. Not surprisingly, the politicians are clamouring for pulling out (albeit with some face-saving political solution). With everything that can go wrong, the planned ‘surge’ is unlikely to help very much and could end up reinforcing failure.

A last ditch attempt is now underway to retrieve the military situation just enough so that the way is paved for some sort of a political solution. Once this happens, or so the theory goes, the Americans can affect an orderly exit from Afghanistan with whatever remains of their pride and prestige.

The trouble is that the very talk of a political solution, which will be effective only if it brings on board the real (or should we say ‘irreconcilable’) Taliban leadership reaffirms the widespread impression of the imminent defeat of the Americans at the hands of the Islamists. While any negotiations with the Taliban will almost certainly be facilitated by the Pakistanis, such facilitation will deal a body blow to not only Pakistan army’s operations against the Taliban but also to the developing consensus inside Pakistan to combat the Taliban politically, ideologically and militarily.

While it is entirely possible that the Taliban might give assurances to the Americans that they will not allow Afghanistan to become a base for Jihad international by Al-Qaeda and its affiliates, these assurances will not be worth the paper they are written on. The Taliban know that once the Americans leave, they can merrily violate all their assurances because the chances of the Americans coming back will be negligible. All that might happen is a few air strikes or missile strikes. Instead of cowering at the prospect of such strikes, the Islamists will use them to feed the religious frenzy among the people in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Many Pakistanis (mostly of the vernacular variety and all with right-wing, Islamist leanings) have convinced themselves that an American withdrawal from Afghanistan is a necessary pre-condition for ending the Islamist insurgency in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. But the fact is that a US exit will probably create more instability and upheaval than its continued presence in the AfPak region. Counter-intuitive though it may appear, a major power like the US can still afford to negotiate with the Taliban and/or abandon Afghanistan; it is Pakistan that can neither afford US negotiations with the Taliban nor a US exit from the region.

While the US will depend heavily on Pakistan to keep a semblance of control in Afghanistan, such outsourcing is destined to fail. No amount of US military and economic assistance to Pakistan will be enough to stop large swathes of Pakistani territory falling to the Taliban influence. The deep links that exist between important Taliban warlords and the Pakistan army will work only up to a point. Even when the Taliban were deeply beholden to Pakistan, they often defied Pakistan when it came to issues like recognising the Durand line or handing over sectarian terrorists who had taken refuge in Afghanistan. Having forced a superpower like the US to retreat, there is little reason for the Taliban to kowtow to Pakistani influence, even less so since Pakistan had collaborated with the ‘Great Satan’.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, a Taliban regime in Afghanistan will create a strategic nightmare for Pakistan. Instead of Afghanistan lending strategic depth to Pakistan, it will be Pakistan that will lend strategic depth to the Taliban, who will spread their influence inside Pakistan. In other words, the equations between the Pakistanis and the Taliban have already changed drastically.

Pakistan no longer has the ability to stand as guarantor and enforcer in Afghanistan. Nor can Pakistan remain insulated from a Talibanised Afghanistan. Given that on its own Afghanistan is no longer a viable state, the Taliban will naturally gravitate towards exploiting the resources and riches in Pakistan to gain a degree of viability. In the process, they will ensure that both countries become unviable.

Since Pakistan will find it very difficult to survive a Taliban dispensation in Afghanistan, any US strategy must take this factor into account. This means that the US is left with broadly four options: One, the US can continue with the current muddled approach which means pretty much following the failed policies of the last eight years with minor tweaks and reviews. Two, the US can try to firewall the AfPak region to prevent the virulence of the Islamists spreading. But firewalls are easily breached, more so in the geographical and political region in which this firewall is being attempted.

Three, the US can attempt to put the AfPak region under some kind of international trusteeship which will take over this area and reconstruct it and ensure an ideological transformation of both these countries. And finally, the US can just pack its bags and leave. In this last option, the US could either break Afghanistan along ethnic lines or underwrite a loose coalition government in that country or even outsource Afghanistan to Pakistan.

The immediate consequence of a US withdrawal will be a massive global upsurge of Islamist militancy and influence. Eventually, however, the international community will put in place a global security architecture to fight Jihad international, much in the same way it fought Communist international.

As far as India is concerned, if the US is successful in ridding AfPak of radical Islamism, it will in large measure solve India’s terrorist problem. On the other hand, if the US loses in Afghanistan, then while on one hand, India will become the frontline state against the spread of radical Islam, on the other, it can enjoy the munificence of dollars pouring in to keep the Islamist threat at bay.

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