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Wednesday, 14 October 2009

From Today's Papers - 14 Oct 09

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Arunachal integral part of India, China told
Ministry of External Affairs spokesman asserted that Arunachal Pradesh was an ‘integral and inalienable’ part of India. The people of the state are citizens of India and are proud participants in the mainstream of India’s vibrant democracy.
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 13
India and China were today engaged in a bitter war of words over Arunachal Pradesh with New Delhi reacting sharply to Beijing raising objection over Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s recent visit to the north eastern state for campaigning in the assembly polls.

Beijing’s opposition to the Prime Minister’s October 3 visit to the state would not help the process of ongoing negotiations between the two countries on the boundary question, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesman Vishnu Prakash said in a strongly worded statement in the face of grave provocation by Beijing.

India’s view was unambiguously conveyed to Chinese Ambassador to India Zhang Yan also when he called on Vijay Gokhale, Joint Secretary (East Asia) in the Foreign Ministry this afternoon.

The Indian spokesman asserted that Arunachal Pradesh was an ‘integral and inalienable’ part of India. The people of Arunachal Pradesh were citizens of India and they were proud participants in the mainstream of India’s vibrant democracy.

“The Chinese side is well aware of this position of the Government of India. It is a well established practice in our democratic system that out leaders visit states where elections to Parliament and to the state assemblies are taking place. The Government of India is deeply committed to ensuring the welfare of its own citizens across the length and breadth of our country,’’ he said soon after Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu expressed ‘strong dissatisfaction’ over an Indian leader’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, in an indirect reference to the Indian Prime Minister.

New Delhi said the two countries had jointly agreed that the outstanding boundary question would be discussed by the Special representatives (SRs) of the two governments. “We, therefore, express our disappointment and concern over the statement made by the official spokesman of the Chinese ministry of Foreign Affairs.’’

The Indian spokesman said India was committed to resolving outstanding differences with China in a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable manner, while ensuring that such differences were not allow to affect the positive development of bilateral relations. ‘’We hope that the Chinese side will similarly abide by this understanding.’’

Significantly, Beijing’s unusually offensive statement came on a day when the state witnessed more than 70 per cent voting in the assembly polls in a clear demonstration of the fact that the people of the north eastern state consider themselves as part and parcel of India.

China ‘dissatisfied’ with PM’s visit

Beijing: Ten days after the event, China on Tuesday expressed "strong" dissatisfaction over Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Arunachal Pradesh during electioneering.

“We demand the Indian side address China's serious concerns and not trigger disturbance in the disputed region so as to facilitate the healthy development of China-India relations,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said.

“China is strongly dissatisfied with the visit to the disputed region by the Indian leader disregarding China's serious concerns,” Mas said in a statement posted on the ministry's website.

He noted that China and India had “never officially settled” demarcation of their border, and China's stance on the eastern section of the China-India border was “consistent and clear-cut”.

Singh had toured and addressed an election rally in Arunachal on October 3.

Recently, China had blocked part of a loan to India from the ADB for developmental projects in Arunachal Pradesh. China also protested a visit to the state last month by exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama.

China earlier this year had also taken objection to Manmohan Singh's visit to Arunachal Pradesh, and had informally protested. — PTI

With Agni and Prithvi
Pak nuclear challenge has to be met

THE successful launch of two advanced versions of the Prithvi-II nuclear-capable missiles on Monday with a strike range of 350 kms marks another achievement for scientists. The two missiles hit their respective targets with clockwork precision. This, though heartening, is only a small step in gaining parity with the recalcitrant Pakistan which, taking advantage of clandestine import of nuclear missile technology from China and North Korea is being seen as having stolen a march over India in recent years in this field. Evidently, the Nuclear Command Authority set up in 2003 with the Prime Minister and the tri-service Strategic Forces Command to ensure proper command and control structures, has fulfilled a long-felt need for a unified strategic initiatives structure. With the 700-km Agni-I and 2,000-km-plus Agni-II ballistic missiles still to be inducted into the armed forces, the advanced version of Prithvi is currently the mainstay of SFC and consequently, its progress is vital to India’s missile programme.

Pakistan reportedly possesses between 30 and 70 nuclear warheads, as well as short- and medium-range ballistic missiles. In addition, it is currently developing nuclear-capable Ghauri-3 intermediate-range missiles, which are designed for long-range strikes against civilian and military targets deep inside India. Recently, the US had accused Pakistan of illegally modifying American-made missiles to expand its capability to strike land targets in India. It has also emerged time and again that Pakistan has been a ‘rogue state’ trading nuclear technology with states like North Korea, Libya, Iran and China. In the circumstances, it is imperative that the world takes notice of nuclear proliferation by Pakistan and the US stops looking the other way with Pakistan pursuing its designs.

However, India can ill afford to leave its flanks uncovered while placing undue reliance on other nations. Work on the Agni programme needs to be speeded up alongside the development of Prithvi missiles so that we are duly prepared for any adventurism by Pakistan with China’s overt or covert encouragement.


Posted on October 13th, 2009

ALI SUKHANVER-The writer is a Pakistan based bilingual analyst on national and international strategic and defense affairs.

Actions are never without reasons. Hidden motives, concealed intentions and veiled objectives give birth to conspiracies. The coward terrorist attacks on the GHQ , Rawalpindi , are also a masterly fabricated conspiracy; salute to the armed forces of Pakistan who very successfully demonstrated all their skill and competence and exposed the brutal intentions of so many ‘Allied Forces’ by awarding them an exemplary defeat.

In the past two weeks the terrorist activities in Pakistan have become more vibrant and more hostile. Consecutive suicide bombing in Peshawar, Matta, Shangla and a very well planned attempt on the Army General Head Quarters on the 10th of October, 2009, all these events are very much alarming. When we look back at the past one and a half year, we find a very strange series of events and incidents which can be very logically linked together. It seems that so many unseen forces with a common agenda have joined hands to give Pakistan a tough time. The story beginning from the Mumbai attacks moved to the K.Santhanam episode. This honorable nuclear scientist had been a director for Indian Nuclear Test Site Preparation program 1998 ; after a long period of almost eleven years , he started trumpeting the need of new nuclear tests claiming the old ones not up to the mark.. Taking advantage of the Mumbai blasts, the Indian government started proclaiming that India is constantly under a threat because of the extremists and militants fighting in the tribal areas of Pakistan. It stressed the need of more nuclear tests to enhance its abilities and strength to counter the militants if they proceed to Indian Territory. The US authorities, feeling a stubborn change in the Indian behavior, tried to increase their pressure on Pakistan to pacify India because more nuclear tests on Indian lands can never be very much soothing for the USA. In the course of time the armed forces of Pakistan remained busy in tackling with the terrorists with an iron hand in Swat and the adjacent areas. During the operation against the militants Pakistan had to face a very large scale migration of the people of Swat to the other cities of Pakistan. This internal and temporary displacement of the people was greater than any other trial not only for these people but also for the government of Pakistan. It was again the Pakistan Army which had to help out the government in the rehabilitation of these IDPs. Feeling the increasing pressure on the Pakistan Army as well as on the government of Pakistan, India decided to take full advantage of the situation and started increasing the deployment of its troops along the India-Pakistan borders. At the same time Indian forces in the Indian Occupied Kashmir began to crush the Independence movement more violently. During the operation clean up in Swat, the security forces of Pakistan came by many solid proofs of Indian involvement in the area. The Taliban Diaries and the Indian Branded ammunition discovered from the possession of the arrested miscreants provided the security agencies with a proof that India was supporting the terrorists in all possible manners. It also came to light that the disturbing situation in Balochistan was also a handy work of Indian agents. In short, all this was a conspiracy of destabilizing Pakistan. India wanted to enhance its nuclear capability against the will of the USA and for this purpose it staged the drama of Mumbai Blasts, blamed Pakistan for it; supported the militants in FATA; financed the separatists in Balochistan and on the other hand kept on wailing that it is continuously facing a threat from the increasing militancy in Pakistan. By playing this game India was expecting to kill so many birds with one stone, but the armed forces of Pakistan did not let India succeed in its ulterior motives. The recent attacks on the GHQ are also being taken as another futile attempt of demoralizing Pakistan Army and depriving it of a strong national support. By the grace of God Almighty, the said attacks added not only to the morale of the army but also to the national support and affection towards the army.

Ignoring the increasing poverty rate and growing discontentment of its poor people, India is wasting all of its resources in the name of nuclear research and testing whereas the common man of India is always worried about his one time’s meal and medicine. According to the media reports, the undue desire of nuclear advancement does not belong to the Indian nation. Most of the Indian people are peace loving and friendly. They are never in favour of conflicting relationship with the neighboring countries. The actual miscreants are those handful politicians and government officials who have their own personal interests hidden behind the plans of nuclear advancement. It has been reported by western media that there is a significant increase in corruption scandals involving Indian and Israeli defense industries and government officials from both sides. In 2008, there was a credible evidence of malpractice in the Indo-Israel medium range surface –to-air missiles deal worth two billion dollars. Indian opposition parties had been demanding a probe into the matter, alleging that state-owned Israeli Aerospace Industries bribed the Indian officials to secure the deal. The opposition parties claim that the Israeli firm paid out 120 million dollars to win the deal. A section of the Indian military was also opposed to this contract, arguing that it could prove a death knell to the Indian efforts to build its own surface-to-air missiles for which hundreds of millions of dollars have already been spent.

Indian must review its policies regarding its nuclear program and its relations with the neighboring countries. This world needs peace not war. The blazing fire in our neighborhood is not going to spare our home. Instead of enjoying the sky-kissing flames, we must try our best to extinguish the fire. And above all, a handful of selfish people must not be allowed to distort and deform the face of the whole nation.

The writer is a Pakistan based bilingual analyst on national and international strategic and defense affairs.

Sound and fury, signifying nothing

Tue, 10/13/2009 - 4:45pm

By Timothy D. Hoyt

The Pakistani Army, according to reports last week, has written a strong "non-paper" to Pakistan's civilian leadership regarding unacceptable elements in the new Kerry-Lugar Bill (KLB), which will provide $1.5 billion in economic assistance annually to Pakistan with some conditions regarding accountability. The military was joined, perhaps unsurprisingly, by the political opposition -- Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League -- in condemning terms that were described as "insulting and unacceptable." Anonymous U.S. sources responded by saying that we have to "understand Pakistan's sensitivities," and U.S. ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson has been quoted as saying that some of the conditions in the bill are "a big mistake."

The Pakistan Amy's corps commanders and leadership expressed concern, according to Pakistani reports, over the bill's "clauses about the country's nuclear program, suggestions of Pakistan's support for cross-border militancy and civilian government's role in military promotions and appointments." These are certainly important issues. They encompass the three key elements of Pakistani national security policy -- which is and has been utterly dominated by the Army since Pakistan's independence in 1947. They also represent genuine concerns for both the U.S. and the international community. Pakistan's appalling record on proliferation is well known: Pakistani nuclear secrets have been transferred to Iran, North Korea, and Libya, and possibly other states as well.

And the use of paramilitaries, proxy forces, and terrorists to carry out foreign policy dates to independence and the First Kashmir War of 1947. Pakistan's long history of support for militant groups includes providing sanctuary for the Quetta shura (the Afghan Taliban leadership), the Haqqani network, and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, all of whom are actively engaged in killing American and coalition forces in Afghanistan and elsewhere, in addition to India-focused groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Finally, the Pakistani officer corps is deeply politicized, has ruled the country for over half of its existence, has never allowed an elected head of state to serve out a full term, and has contributed extensively to the country's economic dysfunction, endemic corruption, eroding civil society, and weak political traditions. Reducing the role of the Army in politics appears to be a mutual goal -- Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kiyani shows no interest in re-inserting himself formally in the political system. Nevertheless, for an Army that traditionally sees itself as not only the protector of the nation, but as the actual embodiment of the nation (and therefore above all other institutions), accepting a bill that might constrain its political interference in the future may seem intolerable.

In addition, Section 205 of the Kerry-Lugar bill requires all direct cash payments for security assistance or non-assistance to be made directly to civilian political leadership, which can then be held accountable for how those funds are spent. This includes the much-criticized Coalition Support Funds, which have been provided in the past with minimal monitoring on either the U.S. or Pakistani side. According to recent Pakistani reports, the Army was stunned to find that billions of dollars provided through CSF had not gone to counterinsurgency or counterterrorist efforts. The Army claims it was denied access to those funds -- a claim which is quite disingenuous, since it has been revealed by retired Army generals that many of those resources went to acquiring equipment to defend against India. In reality, the Pakistani Army simply chose to apply those funds to the theater of higher perceived priority and greater bureaucratic and institutional preference. The fact that no one on the U.S. side has publicly challenged these contradictory claims indicates the level of complacency, or perhaps just exhaustion, in the relationship.

Kerry-Lugar makes Pakistan the recipient of $1.5 billion a year in economic aid -- putting Pakistan just slightly behind Egypt, and a bit behind Israel, in terms of government-to-government assistance. Add in the existing aid packages, which include programs for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, and the Coalition Support Funds, and Pakistan certainly passes Egypt, and may even surpass Israel to become the #1 recipient of U.S. aid. This is hardly negligible -- and a Pakistan which has verged on nightmarish uncertainty at least twice in the past two years (the political crisis of 2007, and the economic and political crisis of 2008) really cannot afford to turn this offer down.

Moreover, the Army leadership knows quite well that money is fungible, and that U.S. economic assistance frees up money in the domestic economy that can then be used for military purposes if necessary. And yet Army leadership still launches a series of attacks, complaining about U.S. interference and misunderstanding, and implicitly accuses the civilian government of endangering national security (and, possibly, suggesting a military willingness to intervene if it doesn't get its way).

(Read on)

This is politics as usual in Pakistan, on both the domestic and international fronts, unfortunately. Domestically, this is an opportunity for the opposition to berate the government, which plays to the broad suspicion of U.S. intentions and motives among the Pakistani population. In addition, the Army is trying to make the boundaries of its relationship with civilian politicians clear. National security is not an area where the Army will tolerate much interference, either by Pakistani politicians or by external actors.

The Army's hostile response reflects tensions in Pakistan's national security policy, which continues to focus on India. Rightly or wrongly, Pakistan's Army does not see the current internal threat as its critical priority -- the perpetrators of terrorist acts inside Pakistan are referred to as "miscreants," rather than insurgents or terrorists, for example, even after they stormed Pakistani Army headquarters in Rawalpindi last weekend.

Longstanding links between militant groups and Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence Directorate (ISI) further complicate assessments of the internal threat. Criminal charges against Hafez Saeed, leader of Lashkar-e-Taiba, which carried out last year's Mumbai attack, were dropped on Saturday. The perpetrators of Saturday's attack on Pakistani Army headquarters in Rawalpindi are apparently linked to Jaish-e-Mohammed. Both groups were established by ISI, and have links to al Qaeda -- and both have been useful tools for Pakistan, providing hundreds of fighters to operate in Jammu and Kashmir over the past two decades. Both groups were, in fact, banned by former Pakistani president Gen. Pervez Musharraf in January 2002 after an attack on Indian Parliament the previous month that nearly led to regional war.

The problem for Pakistan is that it knows the Kerry-Lugar restrictions represent legitimate U.S. concerns, but those concerns and the restrictions contained in the bill are not in the interests of the Pakistani Army and other elites. Support for terrorism by elements of the Pakistani security forces (active duty or retired) remains a problem in Pakistan. So does nuclear proliferation -- although Pakistan has taken great steps to provide greater security for its nuclear arsenal, it has also released nuclear black market mastermind A.Q. Khan from house arrest. Monitoring of aid is also not unreasonable, given the Army's unsupportable claims that much of the previous U.S. assistance was "lost."

The key fear, and the reason for the Army's hostile reaction, is that on one occasion in the past, the United States actually abided by the details of Congressional legislation. In 1990, the U.S. terminated assistance to Pakistan after it violated the provisions of the Pressler Amendment, which required the U.S. president to certify that Pakistan did not possess a nuclear device. Pakistani elites portray the halting of aid in 1990 as a total surprise and a great act of betrayal.

In fact, the Pressler Amendment had already been in effect for a number of years, and Pakistani leadership (both military and civilian after 1988) knew the conditions under which aid would be terminated. Those conditions had been the subject of regular conversations between the U.S. and Pakistani leadership in the late 1980s. The fact that Pakistan pressed its nuclear development to the point that an American president could not ignore it indicates a pressing national interest strong enough to override the potential consequences, a critical failure in judgment and management of the U.S. relationship, or (more probably) both. It also reflected a changing geopolitical environment in which Pakistani and U.S. interests diverged, and common interests became less compelling.

So it is not surprising that Pakistan's Army protests bitterly against what it sees as unwanted interference in its sphere of responsibility. The question is whether the Army will scuttle the bill or insist on changes, rather than become the leading recipient of American military and economic assistance. Congress will pass the bill, and almost certainly in its current format -- rolling back the objectionable provisions seems highly unlikely in the current U.S. political climate. Pakistani military delegations will complain about a "trust deficit" and a "transactional relationship," and show very real and compelling PowerPoint presentations demonstrating their losses in the war on terror. After a time, the U.S. has a tendency to simply stop arguing if the issue is not perceived as immediate and critical. This diplomatic attrition, at which Pakistan's Army excels and relies, is a trademark of Pakistan's foreign policy. When we respond by saying "it was a mistake," we simply reinforce decades of Pakistani experience, and ensure that we will see similar behavior in the future.

At the end of the day, then, rather than reject the remarkably generous provision of aid, Pakistan's military will seek a work-around in practice -- making loud pronouncements about their commitment to the terms of the bill, but maintaining their questionable activities at a sufficiently ambiguous level to allow U.S. authorities to continue providing the assistance despite ongoing evidence of a lack of full compliance. The mutual interests of the U.S. and Pakistan still coincide much more than they diverge, and as a result Pakistan will accept the bill with loud and bitter complaints. It's business as usual, and the United States would be foolish to give these protests any serious attention. They are, in the words of Macbeth, "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Timothy D. Hoyt is a professor of strategy and policy and co-chair of the Indian Ocean Regional Studies Group at the U.S. Naval War College. The views expressed here are his own and do not reflect the views of the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Naval War College, the Department of Defense, or any other U.S. government agency.

Pak authorities had forewarnings of Rawalpindi attacks: Media

Pakistani police and authorities had forewarnings of a strike by Taliban militants on the Army headquarters and yet no action was taken on the tip off, media reports said on Tuesday.

A Pakistani newspaper had published on October 5 extracts of a letter sent to Punjab police by the Interior Ministry, warning that militants in Army uniform were planning to target the Army General Headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.

The paper said, such a strike was planned by Pakistani Taliban, working with the banned Sunni Muslim extremist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.

Coming down hard on the government, local media questioned why the attack was not thwarted. The papers were unsparing on the role of the Pakistan's ISI, whose offices were the main target of the attack by the militants and other intelligence agencies.

The Interior Minister Rehman Malik had to come to the defence of the security agencies, defending the intelligence network.

"Don't blame intelligence agencies. They have foiled several planned attacks. They gave us tip offs of at least 100 attacks before they were carried out," Malik said.

Malik vowed to wipe out Taliban and other militant groups and said the government had given a go ahead for the major military operation in South Waziristan.

"The government has given a go ahead and it is for the Army to choose the timing," he said.

India fuming at Pakistani Newspaper for leaking story on Army prostitutes

Ahmed Quraishi

PAKISTAN—India is fuming because a Pakistani newspaper broke the news that the Indian military has finalized plans to deploy a unit of women sex providers in occupied Kashmir, where figures of suicides and mental problems among Indian soldiers deployed in a hostile territory have shot through the rooftop. This time, Pakistani diplomats in the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi may receive an unusual Indian protest. So far the Indians have been ISI-phobic, seeing the hands of Pakistan’s feared premier counterespionage service in everything that went wrong in India. Now the diplomats will be receiving a letter of protest against an independent Pakistani newspaper.

For the first time in the 62-year tumultuous relationship between Pakistan and India, New Delhi wants to lodge a complaint with Islamabad against a Pakistani newspaper, The Daily Mail.

On Sept. 8th, 2009, The Daily Mail ran a story filed by the paper’s New Delhi correspondent Christina Palmer, titled ‘Indian Army To Deploy Prostitutes As A Women Battalion In Held Kashmir’.

The PakNationalists, PakAlert, PKKH, PakistanFirst and dozens of other Pakistani and international online news portals, picked it up.

Ms. Palmer’s story was based on a statement issued by the Inspector General of Border Security Force Himmat Singh. The story basically said that the Indian military was concerned about the rising incidents of suicides among Indian soldiers deployed in Indian-occupied Kashmir, a territory where Kashmiris are fighting India for the right to determine whether they want to be independent or join Pakistan.

A high level Indian military delegation went to Moscow to study the Russian experience in dealing with such problems. Like India, the former Soviet Union military was spread thin across a large territory, including distant and difficult regions.

Mr. Singh confirmed that a batch of 178 female soldiers was being sent to Northern Command where they would be deployed along with Indo-Pak border to check the border violations by women, working in the field. Mr. Singh further stated that these women were not fully trained for operational military duties however in the next phase, after further training, they would be given the duties of operational Border security. Mr. Singh refused to admit that these female soldiers were actually prostitutes and were being dispatched to the valley as undercover sex workers. When contacted, Rohit Sharma, a senior defence analyst here in New Delhi, said that the move was a creative step by Indian army leadership as it would boost the medical and mental health of the soldiers. Some departments of the Indian government were permitted to contact licensed brothels in several Indian cities to explore the possibility of recruiting candidates.

But the Indian reaction to this story was unexpected.

According to an Indian newspaper, the Mid-Day, an official of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs retorted by saying what he or she thought is a hit below the belt for Pakistan: “We do not have a Talibanised society like Pakistan’s. In India, women have very successful military careers.”

Never mind that Pakistan has a large women’s police force deployed in all the major cities of the country, in addition to active duty women officers in the Army and the Pakistan Air Force.

The Indian news portal confirmed that “India has decided to lodge an official complaint against the ‘wrongful news reports” and that “the order to lodge a complaint has come directly from the office of Union Home Minister P Chidambaram.”

The Indian portal quoted an unnamed Indian diplomat as saying, “Such news can tarnish the image of our forces. So far, it was a conscious decision by the government not to deploy women troops on the border. But we want total success of this experiment and we need to tell the Pakistanis to behave.”

Several foreign reporters based in the Indian capital reported receiving calls from Indian government and intelligence officers asking where to find Christina Palmer.

Ms. Palmer, who will be appearing on Geo Network’s weekly show TSS with Ahmed Quraishi soon, is a foreign journalist who lives with her Indian husband. According to Indian laws, you have to be a Pakistani citizen legally residing in India or an Indian journalist to work as a correspondent for a Pakistani newspaper. Non-Indian journalists cannot represent Pakistani media in India. For this reason, Ms. Palmer writes under an assumed name. But to prove that she is real, Ms. Palmer is appearing through telephone from New Delhi on a Pakistani television talk show.

In her report, Ms. Palmer wrote on Oct. 6: “In a unique and unprecedented move, India’s Minister for Home Affairs Mr. P. Chidambaram has threatened the Islamabad-based Pakistani newspaper The Daily Mail over one of the investigative reports by the Daily regarding first female troops of Indian Army that have been deployed in the Held Kashmir. According to the reports appearing here in local Indian media as well as international media, the Home Affairs Minister has ordered his officials to lodge an official complaint with Pakistan’s High Commission in New Delhi to sort out The Daily Mail.”

The paper’s Editor-in-Chief Makhdoom Babar defended his newspaper’s credibility in a special editorial: “Mr. Chidambaram’s action has shocked the entire global media community as it is the first move of its kind in which a top minister of a country has threatened an independent newspaper of another country of lodging a complaint against it and seeking strong action, there this move of India’s MHA has exposed the true face of so-called secular India and the belief of Indian leadership in freedom of press and freedom of expression. In the 62 years of the history of Pak-India relations, The Daily Mail is the first ever victim of this kind of aggression from the Indian government”.

Soldiers Learn to Connect Mind, Body, Soul Through Breathing

2nd Stryker Brigade 25th Infantry Division RSS

Story by Sgt. 1st Class Christina Bhatti

Date: 10.11.2009

Posted: 10.12.2009 07:49

Soldiers learn to connect mind, body, soul through breathing

CAMP BUNDELA, India – The image of the American Soldier is one of battle-hardened men and women walking the streets of Iraq or the mountains of Afghanistan. Their eyes weary from lack of sleep, but still on alert waiting for the unexpected.

What is not pictures is these same men and women practicing pranayam, the ancient breathing techniques of yoga trying to harness their inner calm.

"It's kind of goofy," said Spc. Spencer Knight while receiving one-on-one attention from a master of yoga, called a yogi. The yogi pushing on his belly to ensure his breath came from deep within.

Knight, motorman assigned to Troop B, 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, "Strykehorse," 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, from Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, joined his comrades of Troop B in an early morning yoga session on Camp Bundela, in Babina India, Oct. 11.

Their nervous and apprehensive giggles were clearly audible as the sun was barely breaking over the horizon. The yogis began the session by describing the practice of yoga through a translator from the Indian army.

Yoga is an ancient science, explained Indian Army Lt. Col. RK Saini, a maintenance officer assigned to the 94th Armored Brigade. It tells a person how to live and the values they should have.

The Soldiers listened intently in their awkwardly formed lotus positions, legs crossed, hands draped on their knees and their backs erect; hardly mimicking the ease at which the yogis twisted their limber bodies into the same position.

"This is harder than I thought," said Spc. Charles Rice, a motorman assigned to Troop B. "I am not flexible and not a good runner, but I think these breathing exercises will definitely help with my run."

The 40 minutes of breathing exercises began with a chant and ended in self reflection and calm.

While Knight said he would not incorporate the breathing techniques into his daily life, Rice had a very different take on the issue.

"I would like to teach some of this to my pregnant wife," he said. "Doctors say breathing is good for pregnancy and I think this will help her and she will really like it."

This was the first cultural exchange between the Indian army and the U.S. Soldiers as part of Exercise Yudh Abhyas 09. YA09, which is scheduled for Oct. 12-27, is a bilateral exercise involving the armies of India and the United States. The primary goal of the exercise is to develop and expand upon the relationship between the Indian and U.S. army.

Air Marshal Bhangu is SWAC chief

Chandigarh, October 13
Air Marshal Paramjit Singh Bhangu has taken over as the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, South Western Air Command. Prior to this appointment, he was serving as the Senior Air Staff Officer of Western Air Command.

Commissioned as a fighter pilot in January 1972, he has over 4, 000 hours of combat flying experience to his credit. He has commanded the IAF’s Tactics and Air Combat Development Establishment and a front-line operational airbase.

He has had a flying instructional tenure of two years in a friendly country and also a diplomatic tenure as Air Attache to Russia for over three years. He was been decorated with the Vayu Sena Medal in 1992 and Ati Vishist Seva Medal in 1996 for distinguished services, a statement issued here today said. — TNS

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