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Monday, 28 September 2009

From Today's Papers - 28 Sep 09






Better pay sought for havildar

Patiala, September 27
The Indian Ex-Service League, Punjab and Chandigarh, has demanded better pay scale for havildar and subedar-major.

In a statement issued in this regard today, league president Prabhjot Singh Chhatwal said they had sent a memorandum to defence minister AK Antony requesting the government to change the pay band for havildars and equivalent ranks from PB-I to PB-II and subedar-majors and equivalent ranks from PB-II to PB-III.

While stressing that soldiers of the rank of havildar were the backbone of the defence forces and subedar-majors chief executors of strategy in war, Chhatwal said the two ranks had been crushed by partial recommendations of the sixth pay commission.

The league has also urged the government to issue orders for one rank, one pension for the junior commissioned officers, senior non-commissioned officers and other ranks. — TNS






Gorshkov deal inked in ‘haste’


Navy just took a ‘cursory’ look at the aircraft carrier and ‘thought’ it could repair it. The force realised its mistake only after signing the multi-million dollar contract.


New Delhi, September 27

India signed the multi-million dollar deal of decommissioned Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov merely on “visual examination in as-is condition” and Navy “thought” ship could be repaired.


After signing the contract in 2004, the opening up the equipment for detailed examination and survey of the state of the hull structure, systems and cabling, it emerged that these could not be repaired and hence would have to be replaced with new ones, says Vice Admiral SPS Cheema.


The contract for the aircraft carrier was signed in January 2004 for which the “work package was drawn up based on visual examination in ‘as-is’ condition wherein it was thought that the majority of equipment, systems and hull structures could be repaired while the electronic equipment could be renewed,” Cheema said in a reply to an RTI application filed by Subhash Chandra Agrwal.


“This has resulted in additional work and in the interest to endure operation efficacy of the ship, these additional works have been accepted for consideration. The extra works have in turn resulted in increase in the project cost,” he said.


The deal which was signed for $ 974 million has escalated by about 300 per cent to $ 2.9 billion, according to sources. The Comptroller and Auditor General of India had also slammed the Indian Navy for the deal in which it would be “acquiring, belatedly, a second hand ship with a limited life span by paying significantly more than what it would have paid for a new ship.”


The report without naming the ship said that it was not an aircraft carrier but more of a cruiser equipped with a flight deck which had to be configured for a different type of service from that of its original design. “The vendor’s shipyard that was to undertake the repair and re-equipping work, had neither repaired ships of this magnitude nor had any work experience on aircraft carriers,” the report had said.


Cheema refuted the report saying the “basis on which the report has arrived such a conclusion is not known, as per the data available from internet and other sources, a new carrier of size of Gorshkov, is likely to cost anything between three and four billion US dollars and that too understandably without the spares, training, infrastructure and documentation cost.” He said it is not feasible to buy a new aircraft carrier commercially off-the shelf. — PTI





Krishna meets Qureshi; India rejects backchannel talks offer

NDTV Correspondent, Sunday September 27, 2009, New York


A day after talks between the Foreign Secretaries of India and Pakistan, the Foreign Ministers of the two countries met in New York on Sunday. The meeting lasted nearly two hours.


After the meeting, Krishna addressed the media. He described his meeting with Qureshi as 'useful, candid and constructive'.


"We told Pakistan that India still has serious concerns about terror groups there and underlined the need for concrete and effective steps against these entities," Krishna said.


We also told Pakistan that any meaningful dialogue process needs an environment free from violence, Krishna added.


He also said that the issue of Balochistan did not come up during the meeting.


Despite mentioning that Pakistan has taken some steps against those behind 26/11 attacks, Krishna underlined that a case against Hafiz Saeed also concerns India.


India, however, rejected backchannel talks with Pakistan and said that if a front channel is open, what's the need of backchannel.


Later, addressing mediapersons, the Pakistan's Foreign Minister said that the it was a constructive, frank, honest and positive meeting.


"I minced no words, very clearly spelt out Pak objectives," said Qureshi.


He said issues such as J&K, Siachen, Sir Creeks, Wullar and water were raised during the meeting.


"We cannot confine our discussions to just one issue. We should discuss all issues that form part of composite dialogue," he said.


He further said that Pakistan would start the formal trial in the Mumbai attacks on October 3.


Referring to the rejection of backchannel talks by India, Qureshi said, "If India wants front channel talks, that's a good thing."


The Pakistan Foreign Minister said that he has given India a roadmap for the road forward, with a time frame.


On Saturday, Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and her Pakistani counterpart Bashir Malik held one-on-one talks in New York. The two diplomats discussed the role of Jamaat-ud-Dawaa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed's role in the Mumbai attacks.


The Pakistani side said it needs time to probe Saeed's role in the attack. The two secretaries also reviewed the 26/11 probe in detail.





'Many Chinese still see India as their main enemy'

Press Trust of India, Sunday September 27, 2009, London


Nearly 47 years after the two countries fought a war, many Chinese still perceive India as their main enemy, a British newspaper has claimed.


In an article ahead of the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic, The Sunday Times said: "Not everyone in Beijing speaks in the silky language of the foreign ministry. Curiously, the enemy most often spoken of is India."


Interestingly, the censors in China permit alarmingly frank discussion on the Internet of the merits of another war against India to secure the Tibetan plateau, the report said.


However, a retired Chinese officer has claimed that those serving in the People's Liberation Army have no "devotion" to their country.


"Compared with our last war against India in 1962, our equipment is much better but the devotion to country and people of our officers and men is much worse," the paper quoted an unnamed officer as saying.


Even, veterans who know the PLA from the inside say that despite all its shiny new kit, such grandiose ideas mask the reality of a force "that has no recent battle experience and is riddled with corruption".


They describe a system of bribes ranging from 10,000 yuan (909 pounds) to get a good post for a private soldier to 30,000 yuan for a place at military college, the report said.


"If corruption in the army continues, ideology will decay and open the way for religion, while the promotion system risks causing a mutiny," the newspaper quoted General Zhang Shutian, a political commissar, as having said recently.






China at 60: Showing off

Sunday September 27, 2009

Sixty years ago when Chairman Mao and his comrades-in-arms established the Peoples Republic of China, the world did not know how to react. Winston Churchill's description of Russia - A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma - seemed to fit China of 1949 more than Russia.


At that time, China was a desperately poor country which had just come out of a long, bloody and enervating civil war that brought the communists to power. For much of the first thirty years of its existence, New China, as the People's Republic calls itself, the country struggled to come to grips with its enormous problems brought about by a huge population and grinding poverty. It was as if the country and its leaders were following Mao's dictum: Once all struggle is grasped, miracles are possible.


The struggle seemed unending.


But the miracle happened two years after Chairman Mao's death as China opened its economy in 1978.


Ever since then, the world has watched in awe, its rapid economic progress and peaceful rise.


The change is astonishing but not entirely unexpected. Thirty years of sustained economic reforms and consequent prosperity has given a new confidence to the leadership. The Chinese economy is now the third largest in the world. Nothing symbolises this change than Shenzhen, a city on the edge of China's southern tip, closer to Hong Kong than to Beijing. A simple but radical idea by Mao's chosen successor, Deng Xiaoping, not only transformed Shenzhen from a sleepy fishing village to a throbbing commercial centre but also fundamentally altered the Chinese economy. This also set the stage for China's rise as an economic and military superpower


Back in 1978, no one even in China had perhaps heard of Shenzhen. Most of its residents were farmers, barely surviving on less than 5,000 yuans a year. Thirty years later, the decision to set up a special economic zone here has benefitted most residents in this boom town the now have an average annual income of over 40,000 yuans. But if Shenzhen represents the new, brash China, Shanghai, perhaps the most well-known Chinese city across the world continues to retain the importance it had even a century ago. Shanghai is China's 2nd most populous city, and also its most cosmopolitan.


Now, Shanghai is planning to go a step further to transform itself as one of the most technologically advanced cities in the world. The Maglev or magnetic levitation train is an indication of this future trend. Plush, fast, furiously fast, at 301 km an hour, the maglev is not yet the most favourite means of transport in Shanghai but it certainly is the city's pride and like the train, the new development area in Pudong is futuristic.


Perhaps because of this single-minded focus, China's next big event after the Olympics, the World Expo is coming to Shanghai in 2010. Like everything else in China, the scale is grand, indeed intimidating. 150 nations, 5,000 acres of exhibition space, the entire manufacturing world will be in Shanghai for six months trying to impress the Chinese, easily the world's largest consumer base.


But amidst all the hype and hoopla, there are tiny, very tiny cautioning voices about what remains to be done. As a senior Chinese minister says: "Please don't go by what you see in the big cities. We still have a large population that lives in absolute poverty, earning less than two dollars a day and are poorer than many SAARC countries.


Coming from a minister, this admission is all the more remarkable but at another level it also shows why the world should watch China more keenly then ever. Despite monstrous economic progress and an assured place at the top of international order, Beijing continues to remain realistic. Perhaps that's the secret behind China's transformation.


Today China is the fulcrum around which the world revolves, be it in tackling the global economic crisis or in attempts to rein in a rouge nation-state like North Korea.


Every time one visits China, one can't but notice the giant economic strides made by large parts of China. Even in Tibet, China has managed to raise the economic stakes of the new generation of Tibetans to a higher level, blunting in the process much of the pro-Dalai Lama sentiments. Today, the US is forced to accept China as an equal in most international forums. Its military is modernising rapidly, pouring in billions of dollars in building capability that is focused on making China a military super-power within the next decade.


Years ago, Chairman Mao had said: In waking a tiger, use a long stick. The world is still wary of China and keeps a distance.


On the eve of China's 60th anniversary celebrations on October 1, the world perhaps needs to keep this in mind and realize that in the case of New China, political power does not merely flow out of the barrel of the gun but is perhaps determined more by the currency reserve in a country's exchequer.





Cutting AfPak Gordian knot
How the US has become a problem
by B.G. Verghese

EVEN as the United States last week piloted a unanimous resolution through the UN Security Council calling for universal adherence to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and stricter controls over potential proliferation, London’s Sunday Times reproduced the letter A.Q Khan sent his Dutch wife for publication in 2005 as insurance against his being harmed by the Pakistani authorities whilst under interrogation in Islamabad. He disclosed that he had on instructions from above both supplied and received nuclear-related material and technology from China and North Korea and supplied nuclear technology to Iran and Libya.

Further, an ISI functionary, Mr Khalid Khwaja, told Islamabad’s ARY TV on September 9 that he had arranged at least five meetings for Osama bin Laden with Mr Nawaz Sharif, a former Prime Minister, and had himself held over a hundred meetings with the Al-Qaeda chief before 9/11. All these “revelations” have been well documented and known for years.

In a season of confessions, President Zardari told retired Pakistani officials on July 7 that “militants and extremists were … deliberately created and nurtured (by the Pakistan State) as a policy to achieve some short-term tactical objectives” (obviously against India and within Afghanistan). These “strategic assets” and “heroes of yesteryear until 9/11 … began to haunt us as well”. General Musharraf, currently a fugitive from a treason charge at home, next stated that US military aid given it for the war on terror was diverted by Pakistan to bolster its defences against India, a fact well established but persistently denied.

In recent years, Pakistan had emerged as the epicentre of both terror and nuclear proliferation. Most terror trails around the world lead back to Pakistan. But the country remains in denial and pleads that it is possibly a greater victim of terror than anybody else. But pleading innocence and blaming non-state actors will not wash as they are still protected and patronised by Pakistan. This is evident in the manner in which the Jamat-ud-Dawa chief and former head of the now-”banned” LeT has been treated as a state guest even as India has provided evidence of his leading role in the planning and execution of the 26/11 attack on Mumbai. That the mastermind was not caught on the spot with a smoking gun has been used by Islamabad to argue that there is not a scrap of evidence against Hafez Saeed. If so, Osama bin Laden is as blameless.

Despite the most damning evidence of complicity and guilt, Pakistan remains Washington’s favourite frontline protégé that can do no wrong. Now General McChrystal, the US Commander in Afghanistan, has reported that “while India activities” ($1.2 bn investment in the country’s reconstruction and development) largely benefit the Afghan people, increasing Indian (economic and political) influence is likely to exacerbate regional tensions and encourage Pakistani countermeasures in Afghanistan and India”. This is not the first time that the US has advised the world to do more but India to do less in Afghanistan lest this upset Pakistan. The bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul by suspected ISI agents was one reminder of Islamabad’s strange nervous disorder. It believes that Afghanistan is a privileged backyard that it needs for “strategic depth” against imagined Indian machinations.

This totally sick mindset has seen Pakistan symptomatically tilting at Indian windmills since its very inception to prop up a missing self-identity, a pastime regrettably encouraged by the US and Britain. Thus Pakistan’s established invasion of J&K in 1947 and violation of its related UN commitments thereafter has been converted into a “dispute” with India. This has enabled it to practice blackmail through blatant nuclear proliferation and state-sponsored jihadi terror, with the knowledge and financial assistance of the US despite spawning the Taliban and its offspring and the spread of lethal arms and drug trafficking in its wake. When the US mistakenly uses 9/11 as the reference point for global terror, it ignores the preceding decades of vicious and bloody terror unleashed by its protégé on India which has suffered enormous collateral damage that is scarcely ever acknowledged.

This charade cannot go on. Ms Hillary Clinton, in a moment of candour while testifying before the Senate at her confirmation hearings, described US policies towards Pakistan and Afghanistan over the past couple of decades as “incoherent”. The nature of the “incoherence” was not spelt out but can be listed as permitting the most flagrant and dangerous nuclear proliferation that has gone unpunished, the siphoning away of US arms and finances to build the Taliban to fight the US and India, using drugs as a currency of control and subversion, and providing an inspirational home for exporting radical Islam and related terror.

The Americans now realise they simply cannot win the botched-up war in Afghanistan. What is planned is another “surge”, which could well be followed by a declaration of “victory” and withdrawal while Afghanistan burns and is left under Pakistan-Taliban hegemony. The latter scenario flows from the unrequited $ 7.5bn dollar military assistance promised to Pakistan over the next five years over and above economic aid. This will further entrench the Pakistan military and ISI in what has become a garrison state at the cost of civil-democratic ascendancy. The critic will denounce this thesis as anti-Pakistani. On the contrary, it is the current US-NATO policy that can be so labelled whereas the “demilitarisation” of Pakistan would be a truly pro-Pakistan posture.

The basic fact to understand is that the US is not part of the solution in the AfPak theatre: it is the problem. This does not mean that it should cut and run. On the contrary, it must stay and fund and provide logistical support for a turn-around of the mess it has created, and the reconstruction of Afghanistan to follow. A US-NATO military withdrawal will by itself reduce the military heat while a UN-led regional peace-keeping and enforcement force takes over. The $ 7.5bn military assistance to Pakistan could be drastically cut and civil aid to that country made strictly contingent on a genuine withdrawal of the Pakistan Army to the barracks in its own country except for any legitimate aid-to-civil power role, verifiable disbandment of all jihadi formations and nodal institutions, and an end to state-sponsored cross-border terror.

The military and the ISI must be brought under civilian control and the powers of the National Security Council, that vests the military with civil power, redefined. Equally, a programme for disinvestment or civilianisation of the Fauji Foundation and the other military foundations that dominate economic life must be rolled out. Finally, A.Q Khan must be properly investigated and China’s nefarious role fully exposed. Aid could be leveraged to achieve these ends

A regional conference on Afghanistan under UN auspices, that includes Pakistan, Iran, India, Russia, China and Afghanistan’s Central Asian neighbors, along with the US-NATO combine, must create a new framework and timetable for peace and reconstruction in Afghanistan with all forces being placed under a UN, not US, command. Both Pakistan and India could play a military role in this peace-enforcement exercise. The entire arrangement should have the backing of Afghanistan’s Loya Jirga or supreme tribal assembly. This is the way forward. Otherwise, the latest UN resolution will remain another dead letter.







Defence officer discloses 'sensitive info' to fake caller

Rajat Pandit, TNN 28 September 2009, 03:56am IST

NEW DELHI: Believe it or not, a person apparently managed to extract some ``sensitive information'' from a senior military officer over the

telephone by posing as a joint secretary in the defence ministry.


Thrown into a tizzy by this recent audacious espionage bid, a diktat has now been issued in the defence ministry as well as the Army, Navy and IAF HQs, which forbids all officers from discussing ``top-secret, secret or confidential'' matters on phone.


"All communications are vulnerable to interception. Security of information is, therefore, of paramount importance in the Defence HQ security zone,'' says the ominous security alert, issued by South Block's chief security officer on September 16.


The alert specifies that the person who made the telephone call was ``an official from a foreign embassy'' but does not name the country. Sources, however, said Pakistan was the primary suspect.


The entire episode began with the embassy official calling up the landline of a senior IAF officer at Air HQ here. Identifying himself as the joint secretary (air) in MoD with effortless elan, he sought some specific classified information.


Taken in by the act, the unsuspecting IAF officer revealed the ``sensitive information'' to him. ``He failed to check the identity of the caller,'' says the alert. The cat was let out of the bag when the IAF officer apparently called the joint secretary -- this time the correct one -- to check something later.


IAF, however, was quick to strongly deny any classified information had leaked through any such an incident in the recent past. ``We do get such fake calls quite often but we have procedures in place to prevent leakages,'' claimed a senior officer.


But the MoD security alert, being circulated in the corridors of power now, does indeed mention the ``recent'' espionage episode. It goes on to warn that ``every care'' should be taken to prevent the ``inadvertent leakage of classified information'' while discussing matters over the telephone.


A caller's credentials must be established ``beyond any doubt'', says the alert, adding officers would do well to carefully read the relevant chapter on ``security of communication'' in the Manual of Security Instructions, 2008. ``Follow them in letter and spirit,'' it says.


This, of course, is not the first time such calls have been made to elicit information from officers, juniors and seniors alike. ``Some do get conned. In one incident, an officer's wife was fooled into giving his unit's forward location,'' said an officer.


Incidentally, around 10 armed forces personnel have been convicted and dismissed from service after they were found guilty of espionage in the last three-four years.


``Pakistan-based military intelligence organisations and ISI have been identified for involvement in spying activities against India,'' held defence minister A K Antony, during a recent Parliament session.


``Regular security review is carried out from time to time with a view to sensitise the environment for making the security apparatus foolproof. Awareness programmes are also being conducted to sensitise all members of armed forces and their families regarding the threat perception and modus operandi being adopted by the adversaries,'' he added.





American miliary contractors eye India’s $100 bn defence pie

Arun Kumar

September 26th, 2009


WASHINGTON - Eyeing India’s estimated $100 billion defence pie, major US arms suppliers are wooing Indian defence agents and officials as New Delhi embarks on a major military shopping spree to modernise its Soviet-era arsenal, a US media report said.


At the US embassy in New Delhi, defence contractors such as Northrop Grumman are sponsoring little league baseball teams, the companies’ names stitched onto the uniforms, the Washington Post said in a report from New Delhi.


Almost every weekend, there are cocktails and closed-door presentations in the suites of New Delhi’s five-star hotels, hosted by retired admirals and generals from the US armed forces who now work for defence firms, such as Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, it said.


“India will look back-generations down the road-at this period as a defining moment for its new, modern military,” the Post cited Roger Rose, chief executive of Lockheed Martin India, which is renting half a wing of New Delhi’s Taj Palace Hotel for a 12-person office.


“I think we can all see that there are a lot of threats shared between our two democracies.”


With its growing military footprint, India is steering away from traditional ally Russia, its main weapons supplier, and looking toward the United States to help upgrade its weapons systems and troop gear, the Post said


India is also pushing the Obama administration to ease the acquisition of US weapons and technology. Already this year, a high-level US government group cleared the way for Lockheed and Boeing to offer India cutting-edge radar technology for fighter jets.


India now has a shopping list that includes 126 fighter jets, 155mm howitzers, long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft, vast cargo planes used in long-distance conflicts, high-tech helicopters and deep-water submarines. Boeing is vying with Lockheed-along with French, Russian and Swedish companies and a European consortium-for a fighter jet deal worth about $10 billion.


India is holding flight tests for the fighter jets. Lockheed and Boeing have conducted demonstration flights for Indian celebrities and defence experts.


“America’s relationship to India is maturing and expanding. India is an important global player now,” the Post said citing William S. Cohen, a defence secretary during the Clinton administration who is a member of the US-India Business Council’s board of directors.


(Arun Kumar can be contacted at





‘Chinese see India as enemy, but army lacks devotion’


September 27th, 2009


LONDON - India is the country that is spoken of most often as an enemy in China, a British newspaper reported Sunday, but quoted a retired Chinese officer as saying the men serving the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have no devotion.


Compared with our last war against India in 1962, our equipment is much better but the devotion to country and people, of our officers and men is much worse, the Sunday Times quoted an unnamed retired officer as saying.


In an article on the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic, the paper said the occasion is set to be marked by the grandest martial parade in the history of modern China, with displays of a new generation of fighters, ballistic missiles, battle tanks and rifles.


Thursday’s parade is certain to provoke an outpouring of virulent nationalism. Curiously, the enemy most often spoken of is India, the paper said.


Censors, otherwise draconian in their grip over Chinese netizens, permit alarmingly frank discussion on the internet on going to war against India over Tibet.


However, the paper said veterans who know the PLA from the inside say that despite all its shiny new kit, such grandiose ideas mask the reality of a force that has no recent battle experience and is riddled with corruption.


It said insiders speak of a system of bribes ranging from 10,000 yuan ($1,400, Rs.70,000) for a good post for a private soldier to 30,000 yuan for a place at military college.


The Sunday Times quoted General Zhang Shutian, a political commissar, saying in a recent address: If corruption in the army continues, ideology will decay and open the way for religion, while the promotion system risks causing a mutiny.


China’s People’s Daily newspaper declared Friday: We must abide by (former Chinese leader) Deng Xiaoping’s instructions that China must be under the leadership of the Communist Party.


If this fundamental principle is altered, China will go backwards, split and fall into chaos, it warned.





IAF all-women team to scale Mt Everest
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 27
An all-woman IAF mountaineering team of 20 officers will attempt to scale Mount Everest in 2011. The team is currently undertaking several expeditions to prepare them to endure the physical and mental challenges that have to be conquered first before undertaking the ultimate challenge.

Mount Everest is 8,848 meters. About four years ago, an all-women Army team had conquered the peak. The National Cadet Corps is also preparing for a similar expedition.

Seven members of the proposed IAF team have scaled the 6,123-meter-high Mount Stok Kangri in Leh on August 11. Consequently, a 20-member team led by Wg Cdr Bhavana Mehra has launched an expedition to scale Mount Bhagirathi-II (6,512 mts) in Garhwal region of Uttarakhand.

Further expeditions for this core group of women IAF officers will follow with increasing difficulty of climb and height. In the pre-monsoon climbing season of 2010, an expedition to Mount Satopanth (7,075 mts) is planned, while Mount Kamet (7,757 mts) would be scaled during the post-monsoon season next year.



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