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Sunday, 27 September 2009

From Today's Papers - 27 Sep 09

Asian Age

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There are no good or bad terrorists: Pakistan


WALK THE TALK: Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi says county wants peace with India.

There are no good or bad terrorists and Pakistan does not choose among them, the country's Foreign Minister has said.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi was speaking to Christiane Amanpour, CNN's Chief International Correspondent, when he said that Pakistan wants to solve "issue" with India amicably.

Amanpour asked Qureshi if was Pakistan reluctant to take action against the leadership of the Afghan insurgency.

"No, we are not--we are not being choosy. We feel that terrorists are terrorists and there are no good or bad terrorists," he replied. "We are committed to this fight to protect our country, to protect democracy and to protect the value system that we subscribe to."

Qureshi said his country wants to resolve "outstanding issues" with India. "We as a government want good neighbourly relations with India (but) that does not mean we do not have issues with them. We do have outstanding issues and we want them resolved."

Qureshi announced that Pakistan was considering appointing a special envoy for informal talks with India. "For back channel (talks), we are considering a very senior former diplomat--former foreign secretary, a gentleman called Riaz Mohammed Khan."

Crucial talks

The Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan on Saturday discussed the progress in investigations into the Mumbai terror attacks before a meeting between their Foreign Ministers on Sunday.

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao met her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh earlier in the day alleged Islamabad used terrorism as an instrument of state policy.

"India's message is that India seeks to normalise its relationship with Pakistan. But the only obstacle is that it should shed its old attitude of using terror as a state policy," Singh told a press conference winding up his two-day trip to Pittsburgh where he attended the G-20 Summit.

Rao and Bashir met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, marking the first high-level contact between the two countries since the Prime Ministers of the two countries met at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on July 16.

Rao and Bashir will report about their discussions to their foreign ministers S M Krishna and Qureshi, who will meet on Sunday.

Lt Gen visits Dagshai Army School
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 26
General Officer Commanding 2 Corps Lt Gen Chetinder Singh visited the Army Public School, Dagshai, today. He was briefed about various school-related issues and future plans by principal Col AK Maini (retd).

The General went around the academic block and inspected science laboratories, art and craft room and computer labs. He also visited the boys and girls hostels and the dining hall, according to a statement issued here.

General Chetinder emphasised on character building and asked the students to be punctual, truthful and respectful. He further added that there should be greater interaction between teachers and students, and the school library should have additional children's books and magazine to inculcate the habit of reading among young minds.

Rifle factory celebrates 106 years of glory

TNN 27 September 2009, 05:17am IST

KOLKATA: The Rifle Factory, Ishapore (RFI) the only ordnance unit in the country to manufacture the 5.56 mm Insas rifle celebrated its 106th anniversary on Friday. The spot where the factory now stands nearly 30 km from Kolkata originally housed a gunpowder factory of the East India Company that operated between 1791 and 1902.

From 1904, RFI started manufacturing the .303 bolt action Enfield rifles for British forces. This was the rifle used by British troops during World War II and continued to serve Indian defence and police personnel till 1962. These rifles are still part of the armoury of state police forces in the country.

"After the Indo-China War of 1962, it was realised that India requires an advanced rifle. The 7.62 mm Self Loading Rifle (SLR) popularly known as the Ishapore Rifle was developed at RFI. After 1962, these rifles were produced here and continued to remain the mainstay of Indian defence and security forces till the development of the 5.56 mm Insas rifle in the late 90s," a senior official said.

Though the Insas rifle has had its share of controversies, this was the weapon used by Indian troops during the Kargil War. After undergoing modifications, it is today considered one of the best small arms systems. Apart from the defence forces, even paramilitary and state police forces are today armed with the Insas rifle. RFI has also left its mark in the civilian arms market. It produces the .315 and .22 sporting rifles and the .22 revolver. The factory has also developed a .30-06 sporting rifle for civilian use.

Kalantak a state-of-the-art assault rifle developed at RFI is presently undergoing user trials with the army. The factory is in the process of developing another weapon, known as the Jakov Rifle, for the special forces. Arms manufactured at RFI are also imported to a number of countries.

Even cigarettes mark boundaries

Gautam Datt

First Published : 27 Sep 2009 11:38:00 PM IST

Last Updated : 26 Sep 2009 09:46:07 PM IST

If you are a regular reader of reports in the Indian media, you can be excused for thinking a war is imminent between India and China. For the past few months, the Indian media has been trying to fan passions on both sides." The Indian establishment seems to agree. Just days after this comment appeared in China Daily, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, foreign secretary Nirupama Rao and army chief Deepak Kapoor expressed similar sentiments, calling for toning down of media "hype" over reports of Chinese incursions into Indian territory.

China-watchers agree that incursions are a rather routine aff­air. Beijing doesn't recognise the McMahon Line that the British drew; it occupies Aksai Chin in the west and claims the entire Aruna­chal Pradesh in the east as its own "Southern Tibet". And while endless rounds of talks for settling the boundary dispute take place, troops on both sides go through a familiar ritual, making occasional forays across the LAC and leaving packets of food and cigarettes as a symbolic marking of territory.

Even if the frequency of incursions and aggressive patrols remains the same, some defence sources say the Chinese forays have been deeper in recent months — and in sectors in Uttarakhand and Ladakh where they were relatively less active earlier.

Alka Acharya, China specialist at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, says the incursions are bound to happen when there is "no notion of a line for hundreds of kilometres". But there is no cause for panic, she says, as long as the bilateral mechanisms to deal with these transgressions are in place. Foreign secretary Rao disagrees.

Acharya says that the media reports on incursions were probably timed to create a flutter just ahead of the 13th Round of the Special Representatives-level boundary talks. "This is part of the game that goes on — the calculated leaks, the carefully timed plants in newspapers."

Former foreign secretary Shashank acknowledges the "routine" nature of the incursions, but the fact that they continue is "disturbing". India must strengthen its defences, convey its disquiet and work hard on high-level strategic dialogue, he says.

When defence minister A K Antony visited Nathu La in Sikkim two years ago, he was stumped by what he could see across the LAC — carefully-laid roads and neatly-built barracks in stark contrast to the infrastructure on the Indian side. And after a briefing by the local Indian Army commanders, even the usually reticent minister publicly admitted that India's border preparedness was no match to China's efforts. Since then, things have moved — to an extent.

Over 70 new border roads were planned to help quick deployment of Indian troops. The army is raising two new divisions for the Northeast. The Air Force has moved its top-of-the-line Sukhoi-MKI jets to the northeast and is also opening high-altitude airfields in forward areas. But the bigger challenge is the Chinese Navy. Despite the recent launch of the nuclear-powered Arihant submarine, India is at least three decades behind China with its Xia and Jin class ballistic missile-launching submarines. Then there is the Chinese nucl­ear arsenal. When dissident scientist K Santhanam calls for another hydrogen bomb test, he cites China.

There are plans to set up another Sukhoi base in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to counter the Chinese "string of pearls" — the strategy of ringing India with strategically located areas of military or diplomatic influence. Think Gwadar port in Balochistan, Coco Islands in Myanmar, arms sales to Sri Lanka and diplomatic overtures to Bangladesh.

It is unlikely that incursions will lead to war. There is too much at stake for both countries. China is India's biggest trading partner now. And an ambitious China would not like its Peaceful Rise interrupted. But Indian diplomats will have to remain on their toes. Across the globe, Beijing competes fiercely with Delhi for trade, energy and raw material.,+china,+India&SectionName=cxWvYpmNp4fBHAeKn3LcnQ==

Missing in action: General No 1

Rajat Pandit, TNN 26 September 2009, 09:23pm IST

Reforms have a way of coming in late. No wonder then that a decade after the Kargil conflict exposed deep fissures within the military top brass, some critical lessons, especially on the need for a single-point advice structure, and by extension a General Number 1, are yet to be learnt. It doesn't help that the Army, Navy and IAF do not see eye-to-eye on this. Compounding matters is the smugness of a bureaucracy happy with the status quo even as it exercises a vice-like grip on the armed forces in the name of "civilian control''. The political leadership, in turn, remains apathetic about genuine reforms in the country's higher defense management.

Gen No 1 is missing. Strategic experts, who feel it is time India had a chief of defense staff (CDS), say it's a crying shame. The CDS, they say, can pitch in not only with a much-needed single line of advice to the government but manage the country's nuclear arsenal and resolve inter-service doctrinal, policy and operational issues as it brings about "jointness'' and synergy among the three services.

Both the previous NDA regime and the present UPA government have used the pretext of "evolving a political consensus'' to keep the CDS post in cold storage. The 1999 Kargil war could have been a turning point for the country to settle the CDS debate, but that went by too. It's no secret that the then Army chief, Gen V P Malik, and IAF chief air chief marshal A Y Tipnis squabbled bitterly over the conduct of operations to evict Pakistani intruders from Kargil's peaks.

If Malik accused Tipnis of being reluctant to use airpower during the early days of the conflict, the latter claimed that an "embarrassed" Army was initially reluctant "to reveal the full gravity" of the situation to the government. Not surprisingly, the subsequent Kargil Review Committee, headed by strategic-affairs analyst K Subrahmanyam, and the high-powered Group of Ministers (GoM) led by L K Advani recommended sweeping systemic changes in the entire defense establishment.

The GoM report â€" Reforming the National Security System â€" underlined the need to have a CDS because it felt the functioning of the existing chiefs of staff committee, comprising the three service heads, "revealed serious weakness in its ability to provide single-point military advice to the government''.

The "dichotomy of command'' remains a glaring problem to this day. This when modern-day warfare demands integrated all-arms operations under a single structure to achieve swift decisive victories. Many of the GoM recommendations â€" like the creation of integrated defense staff, tri-service Andaman and Nicobar Command, Defense Intelligence Agency and Strategic Forces Command â€" have indeed taken shape. But successive governments have steadfastly ignored the all-important CDS post.

When defense minister A K Antony told Parliament in August this year that he had initiated moves to consult various national-level political parties way back in March 2006 and that "so far, six parties have responded'', he was merely stating the obvious and going down the beaten track.

A senior officer smirked, "This has been the standard answer for several years now. In the absence of a CDS, the unified structures established after the Kargil war are like headless chickens, running here and there without achieving much. Even the operational command in A&N Islands is floundering.''

Another officer added, "As national security advisors, first Brajesh Mishra and now M K Narayanan have virtually usurped the role to become a super-CDS. Don't forget, their post comes with the responsibility of heading the executive council of the two-tier Nuclear Command Authority. With the CDS lynchpin missing, defense reforms since Kargil have been half-baked at best.''

While all this is certainly true, inter-service rivalry, with each keen to guard its own turf, has been a major stumbling block. No chief wants to lose command of his own service, that too at crunch hour. The Navy, under the leadership of chiefs like admiral Arun Prakash, has however, intermittently pushed for a CDS post. Not the Army and IAF though.

IAF, for instance, has long thought of itself as the only natural custodian of nuclear weapons. Moreover, it would not like a general or admiral as CDS to wield control over what it holds to be a highly technical force. "Army and Navy lack air-mindedness,'' said a senior IAF officer rather summarily. The Army, the largest service with over one million troops, nurses its own ambition to monopolise the CDS position.

The good part, though, is that consensus seems to be building, slowly but surely, even as the services continue to squabble among themselves over things like acquisition of helicopters and air defense weapons. "There should be a CDS to crack the whip, to reconcile and prioritise equipment and budgetary demands of the three services,'' said a serving vice-admiral. "In fact, the CDS should be a five-star general with clear-cut authority over the four-star chiefs, not just a first among equals. And he should have direct access to the PM.''

Around 70 countries, including France, Germany, UK and US, have a CDS-like structure. It's time, many say, India had one.

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