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Friday, 9 October 2009

From Today's Papers - 09 Oct 09

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US doing a rethink on Afghanistan policy?

NDTV Correspondent, Thursday October 8, 2009, New York

Eight years after the start of US-led operations in Afghanistan, the Obama administration is having a serious rethink on its Afghanistan policy.

Obama has met top national security advisers after rising speculation over likely changes to US strategy in Afghanistan.

Top policy makers also discussed the volatile situation in neighbouring Pakistan. The effort is to find the "right strategy" for the Afghanistan-Pakistan region to achieve his goal of defeating the Al-Qaeda and Taliban.

On Thursday, President Obama has convened a "situation room meeting" on Pakistan with his top aides. Washington now believes that it is important to have the right strategy for Pakistan as most of the top Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders are in the tribal areas of the country bordering Afghanistan.

Besides Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, the meeting would be attended by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defence Secretary Robert Gates, Special US Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke; Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen; and Central Command Commander, General David Petraeus.

http://www.ndtv.com/news/world/obamas_afghan-pak_strategy.php

Pak gears up for a bloody Autumn

Munizae Jehangir, Thursday October 8, 2009, North West Frontier Province

Armed militias in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province are gearing to fight against US forces in Afghanistan.

"Right from the beginning we want to make this clear, that America has illegally captured Afghanistan, and this is our top priority, to finish this, and remove America from the soil of Afghanistan, and get rid of these people from the Afghan nation. We were against the Americans and NATO forces right from the beginning," said Hakimullah Mehsud, head of Pakistan Taliban.

The voice of the new leader of the Tehrik Taliban Pakistan - a militia whose aim is to rid Afghanistan of NATO troops and to remain in control of his territory inside Pakistan.

Hakimullah Mehsud is gearing up for a confrontation with the Pakistani state. And the state is poised to launch a deadly military operation in the territory he controls - South Waziristan. Hakimullah is said to have the support of around 5000 militants. And his call for holy war against NATO troops has sympathizers inside Pakistan.

This madrassah is supported by the British Council in Pakistan but the caretaker who spends two months in a year in England has a different world view from his benefactors.

"Till NATO troops do not leave Afghanistan, the situation will not improve," said Syed ullah Irfan, caretaker of the madrassah.

For the Pakistan military, this will be a bloody Autumn as it fights to regain territory lost to militant factions who claim they will retaliate by sending in suicide bombers into Pakistan's major cities.

"The suicide bombers are in such a rage, they have cornered you see now they do not listen to us," said Mufti Kifayatullah, Minister of Provincial Assembly, Jamaat Ulema Islam F.

But the state too has its supporters.

"Everybody's future is at stake in this Talibanisation, so everyone has joined together to come out and protest. It's our country we cannot let them hijack it and take it," said Seema Iftikhar, furniture designer.

Pak has become the new frontier in the war on terror. But it is really the ordinary people who have become 'collateral damage' in this bloody war.

http://www.ndtv.com/news/world/pak_gears_up_for_a_bloody_autumn.php

IAF flexes military muscle
77th Anniversary: We're not a small force, says Air Chief
Tribune News Service

Hindon, Uttar Pradesh, October 8
Almost baring his fangs, the IAF chief Air Chief Marshall PV Naik today made it known what were the capabilities and strength of the country's air force.

"Yeh chhota mota, chunnu munnu air force nahi hai …. strength kafi hai. Lekhin isse zyada badhni chaiye (this is not a teeny-weeny air force. The strength we have now is enough. But it should grow in the future)," said Naik on the sidelines of the 77th anniversary celebration function of the IAF here.

The Air Chief said the IAF's strength was going through the last downward curve and that it will only grow from here. "The fighter squadron strength was down to 32-33 at present. This would increase beginning 2014 and by 2022 we are likely to have around 42 squadrons," he said.

The IAF infrastructure is all set to get a boost with new radars, aerostats and 126 medium multirole combat aircraft for which test trials are in progress. A few aerostats have been procured and deployed along the borders with Pakistan in the western sector, said Naik, adding that last year the IAF operational preparedness was at an all time high.

Earlier, in the morning, a spectacular air show saw the IAF flexing its military muscle with display of early warning and control system (AWACS). AWACS gives the IAF the capability to keep a close watch on enemy aircraft and missiles taking off from their bases. As many as 54 frontline fighter jets, including the Sukhois, Mirage-2000s, Jaguars, MiGs and Mi-17 and MI-35 helicopters were also part of the show.

The parade was witnessed by foreign diplomats, MPs and the IAF Marshal Arjan Singh among others. On the occasion, two IAF officers and two other airmen were honoured with gallantry medals for fighting terrorists during their three-day 26/11 Mumbai siege, apart from a fighter pilot who lost his life in the only ever Sukhoi fighter jet crash in India in April this year.

The IAF chief presented Bar to Vayu Sena Medal (VM) for gallantry to Wing Commander Amitabh Sharma, apart from VM for Gallantry to Wing Commander Deepak Kumar Vats, Warrant Officer Prem Singh Rajput and Junior Warrant Officer Jawed Hussain Siddiqi for their contribution in the Mumbai operations against terror.

He also presented the VM for meritorious service to Wing Commander Pushpendra Singh Nara, a MiG-21 and Su-30MKI pilot, who was killed in the crash during an inspection flight over Jaisalmer in Rajasthan on April 30. The other pilot, Wing Commander M V Munje, had survived the crash.

Apart from the four, the IAF chief also presented two other VM for Gallantry to Wing Commanders Prashant Mohan and Harvinder Sandhu at the 77th Air Force Day parade here. Among the total 55 medals presented were 15 other VMs for meritorious service and 32 Vishist Seva Medals for distinguished service.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20091009/nation.htm#1

Al-Qaeda calls for 'jihad' against China

Press Trust of India / Dubai October 08, 2009, 17:03 IST

Fugitive Al-Qaeda commander Abu Yahia al-Libi has called for a jihad against China for suppressing the country's Muslim majority region of Xinjiang.

Al-Libi called upon Uighurs to launch an armed struggle against the Chinese rule and urged Muslims worldwide to support them, the Al Qaeda website quoted him as saying.

This is the first time ever that the Al Qaeda has trained its guns on China warning its leaders that they would meet the same fate as Russians did in Afghanistan.

"It is the duty of Muslims today to stand by their wronged brothers in East Turkistan and their is no salvation unless they seriously prepare for jihad," Libi said in a video recording posted on the website.

Referring to recent crackdown by Chinese authorities in Xinjiang, Libi said the Turkish Muslim community was facing suppression and discrimination in East Turkistan and they should rise up with arms to throw out the Chinese occupation.

East Turkistan is the word Muslims use for inhabitants of China's Xinjiang province.

Al-Qaeda calls for 'jihad' against China

Press Trust of India / Dubai October 08, 2009, 17:03 IST

Fugitive Al-Qaeda commander Abu Yahia al-Libi has called for a jihad against China for suppressing the country's Muslim majority region of Xinjiang.

Al-Libi called upon Uighurs to launch an armed struggle against the Chinese rule and urged Muslims worldwide to support them, the Al Qaeda website quoted him as saying.

This is the first time ever that the Al Qaeda has trained its guns on China warning its leaders that they would meet the same fate as Russians did in Afghanistan.

"It is the duty of Muslims today to stand by their wronged brothers in East Turkistan and their is no salvation unless they seriously prepare for jihad," Libi said in a video recording posted on the website.

Referring to recent crackdown by Chinese authorities in Xinjiang, Libi said the Turkish Muslim community was facing suppression and discrimination in East Turkistan and they should rise up with arms to throw out the Chinese occupation.

East Turkistan is the word Muslims use for inhabitants of China's Xinjiang province.

IAF helicopters not part of any anti-Naxal offensive: Govt

October 09, 2009 00:23 IST

The Indian government said on Thursday that the use of Indian Air Force helicopters in any offensive against Naxals is not part of a strategy in its new plan to deal with rising Maoist violence.

Shortly after the Cabinet Committee of Security approved the government's new action plan to combat Naxals, Union Home Secretary G K Pillai said it was not contemplating the use of Air Force helicopters for any offensive purposeseven in self-defence. "We are not contemplating the use of Air Force helicopters for any offensive purposes even in self-defence, because we will be able to...We have worked out strategies that will ensure that...we would ensure that the Naxalites [ Images ] are not able to fire at the helicopters as they come in for landing," Pillai told CNN-IBN.

He said the strategy for using Air Force helicopters is primarily for three purposes -- one for casualty evacuation, two for surveillance, and three for mobility. Pillai's comments came even as Defence Minister A K Antony said it was studying an IAF proposal to open fire at naxals in self-defence. "However, the Ministry doesn't want to enhance the role of the armed forces in the anti-naxal operations more than what it is doing at present," Antony said.

Pillai also said the basic strategy now will be for the security forces to go into areas where civil administration is not functioning to dominate the area. "They would not fire at anybody unless fired upon. And then allow the civil administration almost simultaneously to move in and construct school buildings, roads, primary health centres, sub centres and so on. That's the basic strategy.he said.

© Copyright 2009 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.

http://news.rediff.com/report/2009/oct/09/iaf-not-part-of-anti-naxal-offensive-govt.htm

Iran and N-weapons
Dialogue is the best way to tackle the issue

The Iranian nuclear issue has taken an interesting turn with Teheran allowing inspection of its Qom nuclear facility by UN experts on October 25. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohamed AlBaradei has described the development as a shift in the relations between Iran and the West, "from conspiracy to transparency and cooperation". Any development that can lead to the easing of tensions between the two sides must be welcomed in the interest of peace and stability. The Qom nuclear plant is under construction and it will be inspected to ensure that the facility is meant "for peaceful purposes" as claimed by Iran. The existence of the plant was made public a few weeks ago by Teheran.

The change in the Iranian stance has been appreciated by the world community, including the US. This is bound to strengthen the belief that a solution to the Iranian nuclear issue can be found through dialogue and diplomatic means. Iran has another nuclear facility at Natanz, which has been at the centre of a controversy because the world suspects that it is meant for making nuclear weapons, though Teheran denies the charge. Iran's refusal to dismantle its Natanz nuclear plant, as demanded by the West, has led to the imposition of UN sanctions on Iran. Efforts for more sanctions against Iran may now be given up. Iran has agreed that the low-enriched uranium it has stockpiled will now be shipped to Russia and then to France. The uranium will then be brought back to Iran after its conversion into fuel rods.

This, however, does not mean that Iran has given up its programme to acquire the capability of making nuclear weapons. It might be more confident to do so; hence the decision to allow the inspection of its Qom nuclear facility by IAEA. Whatever is the truth, the latest development has brightened the hope that the Iranian nuclear issue can be resolved through talks. The dialogue route should not be abandoned under any circumstances. If talks can succeed in the case of North Korea, it can lead to similar results in Iran also.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20091009/edit.htm#3

Zardari not happy with officers' views

By Mohsin Ali, Correspondent

Published: October 08, 2009, 23:25

Islamabad: Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari is not happy with the public expression of concern by the military over the Kerry-Lugar bill containing a five-year $7.5 billion (Dh27 billion) aid for Pakistan.

Zardari's spokesman indicated this in remarks before a private television channel as the National Assembly continued to debate on the controversial aid package.

The spokesman, Farhatullah Babar, said there were channels like the defence ministry and defence committee of the cabinet for raising such issues.

He questioned whether public expression of reservations on the bill by the army corps commanders conference held on Wednesday was appropriate.

"I have raised this point and it is for them to answer it," the spokesman told the Dawn News channel.

The channel quoted unidentified sources as saying the military had sent a letter to the president about its reservations on the Kerry-Lugar bill.

Media reports said Zardari chaired a meeting on Wednesday to discuss the controversy.

The corps commanders conference chaired by army chief General Ashaq Parvez Kayani on Wednesday issued a statement expressing "serious concern" on some clauses of the bill "impacting on national security".

The statement said a formal input was being provided to the government and emphasised that a "national response" should be formulated through the parliament representing the will of the people of Pakistan.

The opposition blamed the government for a sellout, saying the acceptance of the conditions laid down in the aid bill would undermine national sovereignty,

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told the assembly overnight his government would seek a consensus for its response to the Kerry-Lugar bill.

"If the military has some reservations and if the House has reservations, then we will move ahead with consensus," Gilani told the lower house of the parliament.

He said Foreign Minister Shah Mahmoud Qureshi was on his way home from the US on his instructions to brief the parliament. The government stresses that there were conditions only for military assistance and not for the annual $1.5 billion for five years for social-economic development.

The conditions under fire relate to Pakistan's nuclear programme, suggestions of its support for cross-border militancy and civilian control of the military, promotions of senior military leaders and military budgets.

Foreign Office spokesman Adul Basit said at a weekly media briefing that the bill was not a "bilateral contract" and binding for Pakistan.

Basir declined to comment on the army's concern over some clause of the aid bill. Interior Minister Rehman Malek, talking to the media, underlined the importance of the expected US economic assistance for Pakistan.

The outcry over the bill comes as the United States, Pakistan's biggest aid donor, presses the army to expand its operations against Pakistani Taliban fighters to include Afghan Taliban and Al Qaida fighters in lawless border enclaves.

Clauses in the bill require the US Secretary of State to certify that Pakistan is dismantling militant bases in its northwest, in the southwestern city of Quetta where US officials believe Afghan Taliban leaders are hiding as well as in Punjab province, where anti-India groups lurk.

The bill also seeks Pakistani cooperation in dismantling nuclear supplier networks by offering "relevant information from or direct access to" Pakistani associated with such networks.

That is a reference to disgraced nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan who ran a black market in atomic technology. Pakistan has declined to let foreign investigators question Khan.

The bill, co-authored by Senators John Kerry and Richard Lugar, also provides for an assessment of how effective the civilian government's control is over the military, including in the promotion of top military officials.

The "serious concern" raised by the army has raised tension in a country where the latest stint of military rule ended just over a year ago with the resignation of President Pervez Musharraf, a former army chief who seized power in 1999.

http://www.gulfnews.com/world/Pakistan/10355842.html

Cabinet nod for anti-Naxal plan

India's biggest armed offensive against Naxalites got a push on Thursday. The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) cleared the home ministry-driven coordinated offensive against Maoists that will see deployment of nearly 75,000 central security personnel.

The personnel are being trained alongside the army to fight the naxals and regain control of the so-called liberated zones across the dense jungles of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and Maharashtra.

Indian Air Force (IAF) choppers will assist in movement of forces — for operations or rescue and evacuation — and have Garud commandos onboard in case of a Naxalite attack.

"It is not that we will be undertaking free-for-all Rambo-like operations," said Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik, who had asked for the defence ministry's permission to shoot down Naxalites in self-defence.

"We have received a proposal from the IAF. We are examining it," Defence Minister AK Antony said.

The CCS, the top security panel chaired by the Prime Minister, however, is learnt to have given its in-principle nod to the home ministry strategy plan on Thursday evening, on a day Naxalites killed 17 policemen in Maharashtra's Gadchirol district.

"The CCS discussed the Naxalite situation for two hours," National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan said after the meeting of the highest policy body — Antony and Home Minister P. Chidambaram are among the other members — for decisions related to national security.

The offensive, which will see the largest mobilisation ever of central forces outside the north-east and Jammu and Kashmir, is expected to gather momentum after the Maharashtra elections when the government moves the full complement of the available forces, nearly 40,000 personnel, into the states.

The central forces would focus on the heavily forested areas along inter-state borders of Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand and Bihar.

Home Ministry officials, however, made it clear that only the first part of the offensive would be fought with guns. The next, was to deliver a big dose of development.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/StoryPage/Print/462894.aspx

Schofield soldiers and Strykers in India for training exercise

By Gregg K. Kakesako

POSTED: 08:54 a.m. HST, Oct 07, 2009

(Single Page View) | Return to Paginated View

More than 400 Schofield Barracks soldiers -- mostly from the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team -- and 17 Stryker combat vehicles are in India preparing for the country's first large-scale training exercise with an ally nation.

Col. Malcolm Frost, commander of the 2nd Stryker Brigade, said the last element of 130 soldiers will leave for India tonight and will link up with other soldiers of the 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment led by Lt. Col. James Isenhower.

Army officials say this is also the largest deployment of the Strykers outside of those sent to Iraq and Afghanistan.

The exercise starts Monday in Babina, about 275 miles southeast of New Delhi, and will last two weeks. The two armies will share tactics for using the Strykers in combat, as well as its integrated computer network system. A live-fire exercise involving the 400 2nd Stryker Brigade soldiers and a brigade of 600 to 800 India Army soldiers will be held on Oct. 26.

Frost said that 25th Division soldiers have trained with soldiers from India annually, but this is the first large-scale ground maneuver exercise. "We've had exercises with India in the past, however, they have been computerized exercises," he said.

The 2nd Stryker Brigade, which returned from Iraq in February, is awaiting orders to either return to Iraq or be sent to Afghanistan next summer.

More than 400 Schofield Barracks soldiers -- mostly from the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team -- and 17 Stryker combat vehicles are in India preparing for the country's first large-scale training exercise with an ally nation.

Col. Malcolm Frost, commander of the 2nd Stryker Brigade, said the last element of 130 soldiers will leave for India tonight and will link up with other soldiers of the 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment led by Lt. Col. James Isenhower.

Army officials say this is also the largest deployment of the Strykers outside of those sent to Iraq and Afghanistan.

The exercise starts Monday in Babina, about 275 miles southeast of New Delhi, and will last two weeks. The two armies will share tactics for using the Strykers in combat, as well as its integrated computer network system. A live-fire exercise involving the 400 2nd Stryker Brigade soldiers and a brigade of 600 to 800 India Army soldiers will be held on Oct. 26.

Frost said that 25th Division soldiers have trained with soldiers from India annually, but this is the first large-scale ground maneuver exercise. "We've had exercises with India in the past, however, they have been computerized exercises," he said.

The 2nd Stryker Brigade, which returned from Iraq in February, is awaiting orders to either return to Iraq or be sent to Afghanistan next summer.

http://www.starbulletin.com/news/breaking/63689122.html

Nepal govt seeks to recruit soldiers against peace pact

TNN 8 October 2009, 04:53pm IST

KATHMANDU: Nepal’s new communist-led government is seeking to recruit soldiers for the state army and buy arms in violation of the peace pact signed between the Maoists and the main parties in 2006.

While the proposed merger of over 19,500 soldiers of the Maoists’ People’s Liberation Army (PLA) with the Nepal Army, that was a key condition of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), is yet to get off the ground, the Madhav Kumar Nepal government’s bid to fill the vacancies in the army through fresh recruitment will undoubtedly lessen the chances of the guerrilla fighters finding a berth on the state army.

On Wednesday, Nepal’s Defence Minister Bidya Bhandari â€" who has been on two recent visits to India â€" told a parliamentary committee that the CPA was creating difficulties for the government. The army, she said, was losing its edge as well as strength due to the pact’s ban on fresh recruitment as well as buying arms. The army is also deployed for rescue operations during natural calamities, like the current floods, and the in UN Peace Keeping Forces, where Nepal is the fifth largest contributor.

India remains Nepal’s main arm supplier, providing lethal assistance at a 70 percent subsidy. Though the Indian government stopped the aid in 2005 to show its displeasure at King Gyanendra’s military coup, there has been talk of the supply being resumed during Bhandari’s India visits.

The current government is not the only one to try recruit despite the pact. The controversial former army chief Gen Rookmangud Katawal during his tenure prevented the induction of Maoist soldiers and kept up recruitment despite the UN agency monitoring Nepal’s compliance with the CPA cautioning that it went against the agreement. The recruitment issue also caused the duel between the Maoist government and Katawal earlier this year, eventually leading to the resignation of Maoist prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda.

However, the Indian stand is that the Maoists are to blame. Despite signing the peace pact in 2006, they continued recruitment to the PLA and provided wrong figures about the number of soldiers and arms they had. They have also yet not discharged the illegal combatants in their army, who were either recruited when they were minors or after the peace agreement.

Regardless of that, the government’s move however will create more bad blood between the two sides. As it is, since the fall of their government in May, the former guerrillas have not allowed parliament to sit except for one session when the budget was tabled. They however have not allowed the budget to be approved by the house and if it is not done by next week, the Nepal government will be plunged into an unprecedented financial crisis.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/Nepal-govt-seeks-to-recruit-soldiers-against-peace-pact/articleshow/5102213.cms

IAF anniversary celebrated
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 8
The 77th Air Force Day today also marked the silver jubilee of the induction of the IL-76 strategic freighter and the AN-32 tactical transporter.

In a ceremony at the IAF war memorial here, Air Officer Commanding 12 Wing, Air Commander SRK Nair, laid a wreath to pay tributes to warriors who had laid down their lives in the line of duty. This was followed by an oath-taking ceremony in which IAF personnel re-dedicated themselves to the service of the nation.

Among events spread over the week to mark the occasion, is an "at home" for senior non-commissioned officers, tea party for civilians, barakhana for airmen and a social get-together for serving and retired officer as well as civilian dignitaries. At No 3 Base Repair Depot here, an oath taking ceremony, blood donation camp, healthy baby show and barakhana were organised.

The IAF is also commemorating 25 years of operations by the IL-76, a symbol of the Armed Forces strategic reach, and the AN-32, which is the IAF's workhorse. In 1984, Air Headquarters had decided to equip one squadron the IL-76.

The versatile AN-32 was inducted from 1984-1992, with a fleet strength of 114 aircraft. Designed for high altitude operations, it set a world record when an aircraft from 48 Squadron landed at the unpaved Daulat Beg Oldie, the world's highest airstrip. Several unused landing strips in high altitude areas close to the border were reactivated this year by the AN-32.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20091009/cth1.htm#5

Air Chief's citation for 25 Squadron
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 8
Chandigarh-based 25 Squadron, popularly known as Himalayan Eagles, has been awarded the Chief of Air Staff's Unit Citation on the occasion of Air Force Day.

The award was received by the squadron's present commanding officer, Group Capt SP Singh during Air Force Day Parade at Hindan airbase today.

"The squadron has excelled in operations consistently and this award is a recognition of their exceptional performance," said SRK Nair, Air Officer Commanding, Air Force Station Chandigarh who had earlier served the squadron.

Raised in March 1963 under the Command of Sqn Ldr GJ Shaw following the need to bolster defences with China in the aftermath of 1962, it was equipped with four AN-12. Subsequently, it was re-equipped with the IL-76 and AN-32. The squadron has played a significant role in projecting India's prowess and strategic capability.

The unit was raised primarily to provide vital support to the Army and Air Force units located in the inhospitable terrain in the Himalayas which are cut off for most of the year due to snow. In addition the squadron has been involved in virtually every war, operation, relief mission and mobilisation that India has seen through the years including military exercises at home and abroad. It has undertaken relief missions in Afghanistan, China, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the US.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2009/20091009/cth1.htm#6

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