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Monday, 12 October 2009

From Today's Papers - 12 Oct 09

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At UN, Pak harps on Kashmir
It’s a bilateral matter, fumes India

United Nations, October 11
Pakistan has raised the Kashmir issue at a UN committee saying the “decolonisation agenda” of the world body would be incomplete without resolution of the problem, drawing a strong reaction from India, which asserted that the state is its integral part.

Speaking at a special committee of the General Assembly that addresses the issue of decolonisation, Amjad Hussain B Sial, Pakistan’s deputy permanent representative to the UN, asked the international community to support the Kashmiri people’s “right to self-determination.”

“The decolonisation agenda of the United Nations would be incomplete without resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir issue,” he said.

“Negation of the right to self-determination breeds discontent, ignites conflicts and threatens peace and security. Unfortunately, South Asia and Middle East have witnessed it directly,” Sial said.

Countering the claims made by Sial, senior Indian diplomat Anupam Ray, exercising his ‘right to reply’, said that Kashmir is an integral part of India.

“Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India and participates in the democratic process of India,” Ray said.

The Indian side maintained that Kashmir remained a bilateral issue. “It has always been a bilateral issue and should not be addressed in multilateral fora,” Ray noted.

Ray expressed regret that Pakistan had reverted to “language of the past” and was “not addressing the crying need of the hour, which is dismantling the infrastructure of terrorism and tacking the perpetrators of terrorism.”

Sial, in his speech yesterday, claimed that Kashmir was not an integral part of India.

“The Security Council and the UN, in several resolutions, have recognised it as disputed territory,” he said, adding that the final solution should be made in accordance with the “will” of the people expressed through “free and fair plebiscite” conducted by the UN.

Insisting that Jammu and Kashmir remained an “international issue”, Sial said Pakistan “reserves the right to refer this issue at the UN as necessary.”

The senior Pakistan diplomat also reaffirmed Islamabad’s pledge to work through peaceful means to resolve its differences with New Delhi on the Kashmir issue, which is imperative for durable peace, stability and progress in the region.

The Special Committee on Decolonisation was created in 1962 by the UN General Assembly to support and monitor a resolution passed in 1960 that declared that all people have a right to self-determination. — PTI

Pak army HQ siege over
20 killed, 42 hostages freed
Afzal Khan writes from Islamabad

The dramatic 22-hour siege of the Pakistan Army Headquarters in Rawalpindi ended on Sunday after commandos stormed the premises freeing 42 hostages from terrorists, whose assault on the top military facility left a total of 20 persons, 11 security personnel and nine militants, dead.

Three hostages were killed in Sunday's firing by terrorists while two commandos of the elite Special Service group died during the rescue mission at a building in the premises that ended at around 9.30 am, chief military spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas said and added that four terrorists were also killed. Five security personnel were also injured, he said.

A fifth terrorist, identified as Aqeel, alias Dr Usman, and believed to be the mastermind behind the attack that began yesterday morning, was captured in an injured condition.

Military officials said Aqeel is linked to the March 3 attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore and failed attempts on former President Pervez Musharraf's life.

Four terrorists and six soldiers, including a brigadier from Military Intelligence and a lieutenant colonel, were killed during Saturday's fierce gunbattle.

“It was a highly skilled and delicate operation because one of the hostages and the fact another militant holding them at gunpoint was also wearing a suicide jacket,” Gen Abbas said. “Getting him first was our top priority before he could do immense damage by pulling trigger of his jackets,” he added.

This was third dramatic militant strike in a week which jolted both the army and the civilian leadership for its audacity, sophistication and execution causing huge embarrassment to the army as it exposed its vulnerability. These attacks came after considerable lull that followed the death of Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud in a US drone attack about three months ago.

It showed that the Taliban and their foreign backers had regrouped under Baitullah's brother Hakimullah Mehsud who resurfaced about a week ago defying speculations about his death in an internecine feud over succession and vowed to avenge his brother's death. The government has the attacks as a desperate attempt to pre-empt the impending operation in their stronghold in South Waziristan.

Interior minister Rehman Malik again declared that the resurgent Taliban activities have left no option but to launch the operation. "This is inevitable and will come very soon," Malik said. The successful culmination of the operation was commended national leadership and the people across the country. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani rang up army chief Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani praising the bravery of the troops. President Asif Ali Zardari also sent a message to Gen Kayani lauding the professional competence and commitment with which the army carried out the operation.

Pak Army fights back, bombards Waziristan

NDTV Correspondent, Sunday October 11, 2009, Islamabad

A day after the deadly attack on Pak military Headquarters in Rawalpindi, Pakistan army launched fresh offensive against militants in South Waziristan on Sunday.

Several military jets are attacking militant positions in the area.

The offensive by Pakistan Army, in response to Saturday's attack, is targetting the group of Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud.

On Saturday, terrorists, dressed in Army fatigues and driving a white van, attacked the Pakistan Army Headquarters in Rawalpindi.

The gunbattle went on for 45 minutes in which four terrorists were killed.

A splinter group of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, once headed by Amjad Farooqi, had claimed responsibility for the attack.

The strike on the Army Headquarters follows a series of bombings in Northwestern Pakistan where 50 people had died in a blast on Friday. It also comes as the Pakistan Army prepares for a major operation against the Taliban in South Wazirstan.

Antony to seal Gorshkov deal during Russia visit
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 11
Playing its military-diplomacy cards correctly, India has yet again showed that it was “comfortable” with both, the USA and Russia. The Defence Minister AK Antony leaves for Russia on October 13 to ink the pending deal for the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov and also finalise the extension of the existing military cooperation agreement between the two countries.

On the other hand, Indian Army and the Indian Air Force will stage separate exercises with their US counterparts within this month. The exercise between Indian Army and the US Army starts on October 12 and is the biggest ever between the two countries. It will have participation of armoured elements of both sides. The IAF exercise will be to fine-tune the carrying capacities of the transport planes.

Meanwhile, sources in the defence ministry said, “Both countries will seal the deal for Admiral Gorshkov during Antony’s visit to Russia.” Apart from signing the deal, the two countries will discuss projects like development of fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA), T-90 tanks and issues relating to supersonic BrahMos missiles.

Crucially, Antony will also lay the foundation for extending the existing inter-governmental commission beyond 2010. The deal for extension will be formally signed by the Prime Minister’s of the two countries when Manmohan Singh visits Russia at the end of this year. However, Antony and his Russian counterpart AE Serdyukov will tie up the looses ends.

India and Russia had concluded an agreement in December 1988, which envisaged a programme for defence cooperation between the two countries up to the year 2010.

Modernisation of the Sukhoi-30 MK1 aircraft is also expected to come up for discussion. The aircraft, contracted in 1996, are due for overhaul shortly.

Now, Santhanam raises doubts over Pak N-tests
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 11
Having opened the Pandora’s box by claiming that the 1998 Pokhran II fusion test was a dud, former DRDO scientist K Santhanam has now questioned the efficacy of Pakistan’s tit-for-tat thermo nuclear tests.

Talking to The Tribune, Santhanam, who was the field director during the May 1998 tests, said Pakistan had “mirror-imaged” what India had done primarily to demonstrate to the world its nuclear capability in the wake of the nuclear tests by India.

He recalled that questions had been raised in the international media about the success of Pakistan’s nuclear tests at that time as well. “To me, Pakistan was assisted by China in its nuclear programme… The Chinese, however, did not share thermo-nuclear technology, design or know-how with Pakistan.”

Wondering if weapons-grade plutonium was used in Pakistan’s nuke tests, he was of the view that Beijing had not gone “the whole way” in assisting Pakistan in its nuclear programme.

Days after India conducted five nuclear tests in May 1998, Pakistan had announced that it had successfully conducted six tests. Pakistani claims concerning the number and yields of underground tests could not be independently confirmed by seismic means and several sources such as the Southern Arizona Seismic Observatory had reported lower yields than those claimed by Pakistan.

Santhanam recently stoked a major controversy when he claimed at a seminar that the thermo nuclear device tested by India at Pokhran did not perform as expected. He said the tests yielded 20-25 kilotons, and not 45 kilotons, as was claimed by the government of the day. Santhanam’s statements were promptly dismissed by National Security Adviser MK Narayanan and other top government functionaries who asserted that nobody could contest what was proven by the data about the tests.

On the NSA’s allegation that vested interests were behind his move to raise the controversy, Santhanam retorted “what vested interests… I have not taken up a job in the US. Do you think I belong to the pro-test lobby. Other prominent scientists (former Atomic Energy Commission Chairman) PK Iyengar and (former Bhabha Atomic Research Centre Director) AN Prasad have also raised doubts about the yield.”

He alleged that Narayanan was making “misleading statements” as he was not even the NSA when the Pokhran tests were conducted. “There is a large body of evidence in seismology circles around the world and in India, which raised doubts about the yield almost immediately after the tests.”

Asked how many more nuclear tests India should conduct, he said at least two-three more tests. “If two tests are successful, there is no need for a third one.”

Pak nukes safe despite Taliban threat: US, UK

October 11, 2009 19:06 IST

The United States and the United Kingdom on Sunday said they are confident about Pakistan's control over its nuclear weapons despite an 'increasing threat' to its authority from terrorists, a day after Taliban [ Images ] militants carried out an audacious attack on the Army Headquarters in Rawalpindi.

"We have confidence in the Pakistani government and military's control over its nuclear weapons," US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton [ Images ] said in a press conference with UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband.

Pakistan faced a 'mortal threat,' but there was no risk of its nuclear weapons falling into terrorist hands, Miliband said. Speaking in London [ Images ], Clinton said that despite the attack, the US remained confident about Pakistan's control over its nuclear weapons.

"Yesterday was another reminder that extremists are increasingly threatening the authority of the state, but we see no evidence they are going to take over the state," Clinton said.

The attack, which began yesterday and turned into a siege, ended hours ago after hostages were released. Forces freed more than 40 hostages at the Rawalpindi base. Overall, at least 19 people were killed during the attack -- six soldiers, two commandos, eight terrorists and three hostages.

Talking about Iran, Clinton warned that the international community would not wait 'indefinitely' for Tehran to meet its obligations on its nuclear programme, while Miliband said Iran would never have a better opportunity to establish normal ties with the rest of the world.

Clinton said that their joint resolve in the fight against the Taliban was 'strong and clear,' and that they were determined to work with the new Afghan government, the BBC reported.

Pakistani security forces freed more than 40 hostages held at the base, in the city of Rawalpindi. Three hostages and two soldiers died in the operation along with at least four militants. Four militants and six soldiers died in the initial attack. The attack came as the army was preparing for a major operation against the Taliban, which officials say have claimed responsibility. The Taliban had been threatening to carry out attacks unless operations against it were stopped.

Dealing with Pak, China
India needs to change its mindset
by Air Marshal R.S.Bedi (retd)

SOME significant events have taken place during the last few weeks that have left the nation with a sense of uneasiness. India can no more afford to be in a situation of asymmetric deterrence vis-à-vis Pakistan. Deterrence is after all a mind game. The efficacy of nuclear weapons in achieving the national objectives rests entirely on the perception of the adversary about the quality and the quantity of the weapons and the intent of the politico-military leadership.

The Facile Material Cut off Treaty (FMCT) is in the offing. India may find itself restrained from carrying out further nuclear test in order to overcome the alleged shortcomings of the Pokhran tests. The US’ renewed interest in arms control agenda including getting the CTBT ratified by the senate which rejected it 10 years ago would create further pressure on India which it may find hard to cope with. Chauvinism of self-imposed nuclear moratorium needs to be re-visited and imbalances corrected if these really exist.

Whether India has adequate scientific data and the capability to switch on to laboratory testing after the CTBT comes into force is a moot point. Some in the scientific community have serious doubts about it and seem to suggest that in their perceptions, there is a need to go ahead and improve the quality and capacity before it is too late. Consider how France and China conducted series of nuclear tests unabashedly just days prior to signing the NPT’s indefinite extension in May 1995.

It is perhaps for this reason that Pakistan is enhancing its nuclear capabilities, qualitatively and quantitatively. The US disclosure that Pakistan was building and refining its nuclear arsenal beyond what has been known all this while was astounding to say the least. The Federation of Americans Scientists revealed that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal could be as large as 70-90 warheads. Earlier Pakistan was known to possess about 60 such weapons. This claim was further buttressed by a report of the US Congressional Research Services, which said that Pakistan was not only making improvements to its nuclear arsenal but has also added to the list of situations under which it could employ these weapons against India.

Pakistan is also constructing two new plutonium production reactors and trying to miniaturise its nuclear warheads. Gen Musharraf has recently stated that during his tenure Pakistan had made substantial advances in developing plutonium weapons and uranium enrichment.

The Army Chief and Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee, Gen Deepak Kapoor reacted strongly to these reports and hinted reappraisal of India’s ‘No First Use’ policy and reconsideration of its strategic stance. There is a growing feeling amongst the strategic community that there is a need for a serious look at our nuclear policy and the capability in order to maintain its cutting edge. The political leadership must satisfy itself before it can re-assure the armed forces that India’s nuclear deterrence remains fully effective.

However, now that the nuclear debate has been initiated by Dr Santhnaman, rightly or wrongly, and that the US has put us on the alert by disclosing Pakistan’s intentions, India must rectify the imbalance in time.

The Chinese attempt to provoke India recently by intruding into Indian territory in Ladakh and painting Chinese graffiti (China) on rocks to assert their ownership has disturbed the national psyche. There was also an air space violation which happened after two long years. For over 20 years now, the Chinese have been using incursions into Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim as an assertion of their claim over Indian territory. The defence establishment views these incursions as a reflection of the Chinese policy of keeping the border issue alive. The July incursions are seen by the army as a deliberate attempt to provoke India.

Instead of lodging a strong protest, our Foreign Minister surprised every body by his August 7 statement: “...the border with China has been one of the most peaceful boundaries that we have as compared to boundary lines with other countries”. Even the Defence Ministry was taken aback. Taking the queue, the Chinese foreign ministry stated promptly, “Reports of incursion are baseless.” Timid responses and continued proclivity to placate the Chinese have only encouraged them to be more indulgent.

Here are a few examples of how the Ministry of External Affairs’ policy of appeasing the Chinese by its overcautious responses has damaged our credibility. The MEA has prevented the armed forces from detaining the Chinese soldiers when confronted on the Indian side of the border. This is when the Chinese have no such hesitation in capturing Indian soldiers if found by them on their side of the LAC.

The Indian army has also been prevented from patrolling certain areas close to the LAC claimed by us to prevent clashes with the Chinese troops. The Chinese have imposed no such restrictions on their troops. Even the ITBP is not allowed to carry weapons to prevent provocation to the Chinese. The army finds itself hand tied by an overcautious MEA in coping with Chinese aggressive and bullish policies.

China’s continued violation of LAC is in keeping with its policy of asserting its claims along the border. Except for a firm action against the Chinese in 1986, India has remained overcautious all along. It has always downplayed the seriousness of these incursions, letting the Chinese have the upper hand psychologically. Our responses are weak and minimal. For some unknown reason, in dealing with the Chinese, we tend to circumvent and dodge the issues. Is it that the Indian governments still continue to suffer from the 1962 syndrome? India should have realised by now that the Chinese only respect firmness and show of strength.

China’s aggressive behaviour needs to be analysed in proper perspective. To pursue its “four modernisations” unhindered, it wanted a peaceful and stable environment, particularly along its international borders. It managed to resolve border disputes expeditiously with all except India. With India, it followed a different approach by signing a treaty of ‘Peace and Tranquillity’ in 1993 to achieve the same effect. Having secured borders with neighbours, it was able to concentrate on improving its economy and simultaneously modernising its armed forces in a big way.

Now that China has reached a stage wherein its economy, finance, exports and the military are global phenomena, it has begun to flex muscles with renewed arrogance and assertiveness. Large-scale military exercises in the neighbourhood of its adversaries to showcase its might is the modus operandi it follows to intimidate them. As of now, the Chinese are running a massive military exercise involving about 50,000 troops along with large contingent of tanks and aircraft north of us.

However, the Chinese seem to betray some uneasiness manifested in their recent conduct of needling India on some pretext or the other. They have surprised India yet again by issuing separate visas to Indian passport holders from Jammu and Kashmir. Are they trying to convey some message as regards their stand on Kashmir?

The Chinese behaviour could perhaps be attributed to the series of actions taken by India in securing its border against them. Deployment of front line SU-30s at Tezpur, upgradation of airbases in the east, raising of two mountain divisions for deployment in Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur, deployment of T-72 tanks in the higher reaches of Sikkim and reactivation of Daulat Beg Oldi, Fuckche, Chushule and Nyama airfields in Ladakh which were literally abandoned after 1962 because of their close proximity to Chinese deployments have all added to China’s discomfort.

India has to come out of past paranoia and handle China’s intransigence with fortitude. The MEA must ensure integrated responses in close liaison with the Ministries of Defence and Home. We have to learn to deal with the Chinese and their ruthless attitude towards us.

The writer is a former Director-General, Defence Planning Staff

Engineer Regiment treks to Karakoram
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 11
As part of its 45th Raising Day celebrations, the 268 Engineer Regiment conducted a trekking expedition to the Karakoram Pass, which connects India with China. The pass is located at an altitude of 18,175 feet and the region has some of the highest peaks in the world.

Led by Capt Saikat de, the team comprising 15 members began the 20-day expedition from the 14 Corps headquarters. They walked along the freezing Shyok river and crossed it several times en route to Daulat Beg Oldie, the world’s highest airstrip located just 8 km from the Line of Actual Control.

Thereafter followed a steep climb to the Karakoram Pass, which is marked by a structure adored with skulls of horses and mules that died on the trail.

Part of the ancient silk trade route, it was so notorious for claiming lives that it has come to be known as the skeleton trail. The area is characterised by high-velocity winds and temperatures as low as -30°C.

The team also crossed the 18,680-foot-high Khardungla Pass, the highest motorable pass in the world. It also passed through the Saser La Pass to reach Murgo, which means (in local parlance) gateway of death. It was used as a camping ground by traders in the days of yore.

Based somewhere in the western sector, the regiment, part of the Bombay Sappers Group, also has the distinction of having launched a number of expeditions to Antarctica besides Mamostang Kangri, Nanda Devi, Panchuli and Satho Panth peaks.

ANALYSIS-Raid on Pakistan Army HQ highlights Punjab risk

Sun Oct 11, 2009 11:31am EDT

By Myra MacDonald

LONDON, Oct 11 (Reuters) - An attack on the Pakistan Army headquarters has highlighted the threat not just from militants in tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, but from those based in the country's heartland Punjab province.

Security officials said some of the militants involved in the attack in the city of Rawalpindi, next door to the capital, Islamabad, appeared to have links to Punjab. [ID:nSP477910].

The attack came as the army prepared an offensive in South Waziristan, the stronghold of the Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP), or Pakistani Taliban, in the tribal areas of Pakistan.

"All roads lead to South Waziristan," Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Saturday, after a week of violence which included an attack on a U.N. office in Islamabad and a suspected suicide bombing which killed 49 people in Peshawar.

"Now the government has no other option but to launch an offensive," he said.

But even if the military manages to pin down Pakistani Taliban fighters in South Waziristan, the country remains vulnerable to attacks by Punjab-based militants acting either in concert with the TTP or alone.

"South Punjab has become the hub of jihadism," Pakistani analyst Ayesha Siddiqa wrote in a magazine article last month. (here).

"Yet, somehow, there are still many people in Pakistan who refuse to acknowledge this threat," she wrote.

The province is home to an array of militant organisations including anti-Shia sectarian groups and those originally used to fight India in Kashmir. [ID:nISL469234]

Security officials said a militant arrested after the 22-hour-long attack and hostage-taking at army headquarters was believed be a member of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an al Qaeda-linked Punjab-based group.

Some hostage takers' phone calls were intercepted and they were speaking Punjabi, another security official said.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said, however, it was too early to say whether Punjab-based groups were involved.


North West Frontier Province Information Minister Iftikhar Hussain called on Saturday for the elimination of militant bases in Punjab. Even if a South Waziristan offensive was successful militants would still get help from Punjab, he told reporters.

But targetting all of Pakistan's militants at once could create an even more dangerous coalition by driving disparate groups closer together to make common cause with the Pakistani Taliban and al Qaeda in fighting the state, analysts say.

The army also draws many of its recruits from Punjab, making any efforts to root out militants there all the harder.

"Deploying the military is not an option. In the Punjab this will create a division within the powerful army because of regional loyalty," wrote Siddiqa.

But the police force in the province is woefully inadequate and unlikely to be able to take on the thousands of armed men belonging to different militant groups.

And confronting militant organisations directly could make them more dangerous by driving them underground, and creating splinter groups that would be even harder to control, diplomats and analysts say. Complicating the picture further are pressures from both the United States and India.

Washington wants Pakistan to target militants fighting in Afghanistan, including the Afghan Taliban led by Mullah Omar who it says is based in Quetta in Baluchistan province.

India is pressing for action against the Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant group blamed for last year's attack on Mumbai.

Yet unlike other Punjab-based groups including the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and Jaish-e-Mohammad, the Laskhar-e-Taiba has avoided staging attacks within Pakistan, instead targetting India, and also sending fighters to Afghanistan, analysts say.

Pakistan has focused largely on acting against groups which represent a direct domestic threat, leading some analysts to suggest it may want to retain groups like the Afghan Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba to be used as "strategic assets" against India.

But defence analyst Brian Cloughley said the attack on the army's headquarters showed how little support Islamist militants had in the military and its powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency.

"The ISI is hardly going to support militants -- even 'selected' militants -- when it is obvious that main targets are their own people," he said.


The Islamist militants initially took root in Pakistan during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan from 1979 to 1989 when they were encouraged by the ISI, with U.S. support and funding, to fight the Russians during the Cold War.

Saudi Arabia also supported the mujahideen, in part, analysts say, to encourage a Sunni movement which would offset the regional influences of Shia Iran, pouring in funds which led to the creation of thousands of madrasas, or Islamic schools.

When the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989, some militants were turned against India in Kashmir, where a separatist revolt had broken out against Indian rule.

Now Islamist militancy thrives in the poorer regions of Pakistan, including in Punjab, picking up new recruits in madrasas while its leadership turns on its erstwhile benefactors in the Pakistani state.

"It is difficult to dismount from a raging tiger. You are likely to be mauled; and that is exactly what is going on," said Cloughley. "Pakistan's fight against domestic terrorism can be expected to become even more intense, but there will undoubtedly be more attacks." (Additional reporting by Islamabad bureau; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

* Kapoor leaves for Yangon to hold cooperation talks


New Delhi, Oct 11 (PTI) To provide a boost to India's defence ties with Myanmar, Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor today left for Yangon on a three-day visit to meet his counterpart and other government officials there and discuss issues concerning South Asian security.

Kapoor's visit to Yangon, ruled at present by a military junta, comes at a time when China has unveiled plans to construct a railway line up to its border with Myanmar.

"The visit is to enhance mutual military-to-military cooperation between India and Myanmar. We have always had close ties with them, including in counter-insurgency training," an Army official said here.

In the past too, chiefs of the armed forces of both the countries have visited each other.

In November 2005, the then Indian Army chief General J J Singh and later in January 2006, Navy chief Admiral Arun Prakash in January 2006 visited Mayanmar.

DRDO likely to test Prithvi-II on Monday

11 Oct 2009, 2041 hrs IST, AGENCIES

CHANDIPUR (Orissa): The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is likely to nuclear capable, surface-to-surface short range

ballistic missile (SRBM) Prithvi-II from the integrated test range (ITR) here on Monday.

Prithvi- II, a highly sophisticated single stage liquid propelled missile, is equipped with inertial navigation system.

According to DRDO sources, the test will be part of the user's trial, which will be conducted by a special contingent raised by the Army.

Range preparations at ITR have reached final stage for the trial and if everything proceeds in the right direction, the exercise would be carried out on Monday, the sources added.

Prithvi- II missile is single stage liquid propelled and is equipped with inertial navigation system.

The missile, which is about nine metres in length and one metre in width can carry conventional as well as nuclear warheads and has a range of 350 kilometres.

Prithvi is India's first indigenously built ballistic missile. It is one of five missiles being developed under Integrated Missile Development Programme (IMDP).

Prithvi- II is capable of carrying a payload of between 500 kg and one tonne, including nuclear weapons. Two versions of the missile have been inducted into the Army and Air Force.

Failed strategy in Afghanistan

Air Marshal Ayaz A Khan (R)

After eight years US President and the US military brass have come to the conclusion that Afghan strategy has failed. President Barrack Obama will not authorize additional 40000 US troops without a new strategy that could accomplish US/NATO mission in Afghanistan. The vital requirement of a revised military strategy is due to reverses and casualties and warnings of US-NATO and British generals and admirals. “The wakeup” warning by General Sir David Richards, the Chief of the British Army , is timely. Taliban attacks in Afghanistan have intensified, forcing retreat from several locations. Recent suicide bombings in Kabul (one near the Indian embassy)., and the two major Taliban assaults (July 13-2008 and October 04 ,2009) on American Army posts at Wanat and in Nuristan with heavy American casualties ( seventeen American soldiers killed and one hundred injured) rattled the confidence of American and NATO commanders and soldiers.

The Taliban attacked in strength, and the battles lasted all day. In both cases the Taliban had watched US Army movements, and assembled large forces to capture both the posts. Poor NATO-U.S Army intelligence contributed to U.S. Army defeat. Massacre of US troops was narrowly averted by day long NATO air and gunship attacks to dislodge the Taliban. According to the American press , “These were the most lethal battles . These were precisely the kind of Taliban attacks which General Stanley McCrystal the top U.S. commander was hoping to avert.” These surprise attacks, have exposed the vulnerability of US-Army out posts and inability to stop Taliban attacks and ambushes. The U.S., NATO and the ISAF have yet to formulate a response strategy to meet the challenge of enhanced offensive capability of the Afghan Taliban.

General David Richard, who took over as the new Chief of the British Army has correctly warned of the “terrifying prospect” of a defeat in Afghanistan. Taliban victory implies that Mullah Omar will be back in Kabul, and the victorious Taliban will assume power with a vengeance, perpetrating massacres unheard off since Halaku Khans sack of Baghdad. He states that “The failure by NATO would have an “intoxicating effect on militant Islam”. NATO has not been defeated yet, but its organization, administration, planning, faulty strategy and conduct of the war has not, and cannot assure victory in Afghanistan. NATO has failed in its mission in Afghanistan. The consequences 9f NATO defeat would be “enormous” and “unimaginable” for the West, for the region and for the world states General Sir David Richards reiterating: “If al-Qaeda and the Taliban believe they have defeated us – what next? Would they stop at Afghanistan? Pakistan is clearly a tempting target not least because of the fact that it is a nuclear-weapon state and that is a terrifying prospect. Even if only a few of those (nuclear) weapons fell into their hands, believe me they would use them. There are people out there who would happily blow all of us up.” This statement has sent shivers in all Western capitals. Islamabad has made no comments.

An important factor for NATO-US failure in Afghanistan is the alienation of the Pushtun- population. In Pakistan the Taliban were defeated in Swat, Malakand and Bajaur, and are on the run in Waziristan is because Pakistan armed forces have the fullest support of the one hundred eighty million Pakistani nation, the Pushtun’s, the tribesmen and the government. In Afghanistan despite the Presidential election, writ of the Karzai government is confined to Kabul only. Taliban control the rural areas. With the new strategy of retreat to the cities from forward deployment, Taliban will consolidate their hold on 70% Afghanistan. Mullah Omar’s nibbling strategy is working.

The Afghan Taliban will gain strength, and their next plan would be to surround the cities and intensify harassment till the US Army and NATO forces pull out. So the formulation of a workable new strategy acceptable to all the 48 Coalition countries with troops in Afghanistan is no easy task. The Allied Forces (US-NATO-ISAF) have disregarded the fundamental principal of unity of command inherent in joint military operations. The present strength of the 48 nation NATO force is 95000 troops. These comprise U.S 68000, British 10000, German 4500, Canadian 2500, Australian 1550, Dutch 1500, French 700, Italian 700, Romanian 700. Small Army units from 39 other countries are also there. But except for the US troops, the rest are not under the effective control of U.S General Stanley MacCrystal. They receive orders and clearance from respective countries, even for patrolling operations. Pakistan Military succeeded because of clear unity of command. In the Pakistani military, Army-Air Force and Navy there is no ambiguity or confusion about the conduct of operations. There is absolute unity of command under a resolute government under a strong President. But not so in the NATO. Various military contingents that form part of NATO in Afghanistan, have different missions and concepts of operations.

This retort came in the background of rising British casualties. Sir David the new British Army Chief has issued his unprecedented warning because of the “enormous risks” which would result if the war is lost. US Army –NATO defeat by Taliban and al-Qaeda would imply the defeat of the most powerful alliance in the world. The geo-strategic implications would be immense.” Military victory in Afghanistan is a far cry. To avert defeat redeployment to defend cities is inevitable. NATO Intelligence has been penetrated by Taliban informers. Instead of foot patrols, Predator drones and gunship helicopters will have to under take detection, search and destroy operations. Defense of Afghanistan should be handed over to the Afghan National Army. Islamabad cannot afford to leave the Kabul government in the lurch. But Karzai must stop playing games and tricks with Pakistan by deploying RAW and Indian military intelligence moles on Pakistan’s borders. The morale of Pakistan government and Pakistani military is high, and the Pakistani Taliban would be wise to surrender. Taliban surrender in Pakistan would stabilize Afghanistan.

Taliban in Afghanistan must adopt a political strategy and a political role. President Barrack Obama has conceded this. The new U.S. -joint strategy without a plan for an honorable exit will not work. This is the only way to avert defeat in Afghanistan.

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