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Wednesday, 21 October 2009

From Today's Papers - 21 Oct 09

Indian Express

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Kashmir Times

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Times of India

Fortify your defences, PM tells forces
Calls for better synergy amongst services to thwart terror threats
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 20
In an obvious reference to Pakistan and Afghanistan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the overall security situation in India's immediate neighbourhood has worsened and called for improving the country's defence mechanisms against all forms of terrorism, asymmetric warfare and aggravated militancy.

Addressing the Combined Commanders' Conference here, he said the 26/11 attack had confirmed New Delhi's worst fears about the lethal dimensions of terrorism and non-traditional threats to the country's security.


n Govt committed to modernisation of armed forces
n India to oppose biased approach towards N-disarmament
n Ready to negotiate non-discriminatory treaties like the FMCT
n Attempts to impose emission cuts can hit growth

"Although there has been no major terrorist attack in India since then, there are regular intelligence reports of imminent attacks in the country. This is a matter of deep concern, and there is no room for complacency," he said in the backdrop of reports that Pakistan-based terrorist groups were planning fresh attacks in India.

Noting that there were both state and non-state actors involved in the terror business, the PM pointed out that since India was a democracy and an open society, it was sometimes highly vulnerable. The country has to be prepared to face the challenge posed by terrorism but it must also avoid knee-jerk reactions.

Singh also informed the top brass of the defence forces that the government has taken several steps to strengthen the intelligence and security machinery and coordination between the Centre and the states. But he also cautioned them of the forces the country was pitted against by referring to the suicide bomb attack outside the Indian Embassy in Kabul on October 8.

On nuclear disarmament, he recalled that India was a pioneer in the campaign for a world free of nuclear weapons but made it clear once again that it would oppose discriminatory standards. "As a responsible nuclear weapon state, we wish to see a nuclear disarmament that that is global, non-discriminatory and universal in nature. We are ready to negotiate a fissile material cut off (FMCT) treaty which is multilateral, non-discriminatory and verifiable." '

Talking about the armed forces, the PM said they must be fully equipped to deal with all threat scenarios. The troops should be trained to fight anywhere, any time and under any conditions. Their ability to deal with non-traditional threats must receive greater attention.

The government, he said, was fully committed to the modernisation of armed forces and ensuring their military superiority and technological edge. The modernisation plan should have a long-term perspective and be formulated in an integrated manner involving the three services. Despite the progress that has been made towards synergy in various operational, training and administrative aspects between the services, there were a number of areas of congruence that needed to be further strengthened.

Noting that the procedures for defence acquisitions and procurement were a matter of concern for the armed forces, he underlined that this was an area which required collective action on all sides. "We must ensure a balance between the needs of timely

modernisation and the necessity of conforming to the highest standards of transparency, probity and public accountability. Outlays on defence expenditure have progressively gone up, but they also have to be used judiciously and efficiently." Stressing that manpower was the most important resource for fighting wars, he said the government would take all measures necessary to ensure that the armed forces continue to attract the brightest and the best of the country's youth.

On climate change, he ridiculed concerted attempts by developed countries to impose new obligations on developing countries to limit emission of greenhouse gases. Such moves could affect the economic progress of the countries, he added.

US rejects Pak allegations on Indian presence in Afghan

Press Trust of India / Washington October 20, 2009, 12:24 IST

The Obama Administration has rejected Pakistan's allegations that the developmental efforts by India in Afghanistan are a security threat to it, saying a stable and more prosperous Afghanistan will only contribute to regional stability.

"I don't see how helping Afghanistan develop its economy and its infrastructure could be seen as a security threat to any other country in the region," State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters yesterday.

"On the contrary, a stable and more prosperous Afghanistan is only going to contribute to regional stability," Kelly said when asked about Pakistan's allegation that the massive developmental efforts currently being undertaken by India poses a security threat to it.

India is one of the largest donors to Afghanistan post-Taliban. It is not only involved in some of the massive developmental projects currently being undertaken in Afghanistan, but also has contributed aides to the amount of more than $1.3 billion.

"I think, you know, the main thing is that we all conduct this in full transparency, that any side that is contributing towards the reconstruction of Afghanistan, that we do so in a cooperative way, we share as much information as possible," Kelly said.

Pakistani Army attempts to divide key Waziristan tribe


PEN MIGHTIER THAN SWORD? Pak troops launched a three-pronged attack against the Taliban in South Waziristan.

Islamabad: Opening a psychological warfare front, the Pakistani Army is seeking to divide the key Mehsud tribe in the restive South Waziristan region where its forces are currently engaged in a major offensive against the Taliban.

In an open letter to the Mehsud tribe - copies of which were distributed at a press briefing jointly addressed by Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira and military spokesman Maj-Gen Athar Abbas - Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani expressed the hope that the tribe would fully back the army in the operation and collectively rise against oppressive elements.

Kayani made it clear that the operation in South Waziristan was not meant to target the "valiant and patriotic" Mehsud tribe but was aimed at ridding it of the elements who had destroyed peace in the region, Dawn reported Tuesday.

Saying that the targets of the operation were Uzbek terrorists, foreign elements and local militants, Kayani said the army wanted to provide an opportunity to the Mehsud tribe to once again live in their area in peace.

He also acknowledged that all tribes, including the Mehsud, were loyal to Pakistan and had been working for the "defence of the country as an army without salary".

The letter has a colour photograph of the army chief on the top, the national flag on one side and the insignia of the Pakistani Army on the other. Urdu and Pushto versions of the message are reported to have been dropped in South Waziristan by helicopters.

The Pakistani Taliban was led by Baitullah Mehsud till he was killed by a US drone strike in August. His deputy Hakimullah Mehsud succeeded him.

About 30,000 troops, backed by combat jets and artillery, on Saturday launched a three-pronged attack against the 10,000-odd Taliban that are believed to be in South Waziristan. The military says over 120 militants have been killed in two days of operations till Monday afternoon.

More attacks on India in the offing

October 20, 2009, 5:02 pm

PM asks Army to be prepared

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday warned that there would be more attacks on India and asked the armed forces to be prepared for any likely threats.

"Despite the progress that has been made towards jointness and synergy in various operational, training and administrative aspects among the services, there are a number of areas of congruence that need to be strengthened further," he said while addressing the two-day Unified Commanders' Conference.

Manmohan Singh assured that the Government would give full support to the armed forces in their modernisation plans. "Our Government is fully committed to the modernisation of armed forces and ensuring their military superiority and technological edge," he said, "The modernisation plan should have a long term perspective, and be formulated in an integrated manner involving all the three services."

However various matters such as creation of the office of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), setting up of the Aerospace Command under the Indian Air Force and issue of leading the joint operations were debated upon by the three forces. Tenders for acquisition of 197 helicopters, 22 combat choppers and 180 ultra-light howitzers have been cancelled. Budget of the armed forces has been rising steadily and the PM expressed the need to use it judiciously.

"I am aware that the procedures for defence acquisitions and procurement are a matter of concern to the Armed Forces. This is an area which requires collective action on all sides. We must ensure a balance between the needs of timely modernisation and the necessity of conforming to the highest standards of transparency, probity and public accountability," Singh added.

Regarding the worsening situation with Pakistan, Singh stated that India should be prepared to face "onslaughts" and "avoid kneejerk reactions". According to Singh, there have been no terrorist attacks in India since the nighmare on 26/11 in Mumbai, but that there have been continous intelligence reports of imminent attacks on the country. Singh also outlined the policy to deal with terrorism, Naxalism, economic recession, climate change and such. On the bright side, Singh expects a growth rate of 6.5 percent this fiscal year.

No troops cut in Kashmir, says army

by ANI on October 20, 2009

Srinagar, Oct 20 (ANI): There is no proposal to cut a troops in Kashmir, an army spokesperson said here on Monday.

The development comes after reports that government was considering reduction of army from the restive region following an overall drop in rebel attacks.

"See troops have not been withdrawn from anywhere. There is a constant review of the troops deployment in the militancy-hit areas. And when there is an assessment, army is redeployed in the areas where it is needed the most. So, on this account there has been some redeployment in some areas but it would be improper to say from where and to which place the redeployment has taken place," said Lieutenant Colonel G S Brar, army spokesperson.

Around half a million Indian troops are deployed in Kashmir.

Violence between militants and troops has declined considerably in Kashmir after India and Pakistan started a peace process in 2004. India called a pause to those talks after last year's Mumbai terror attacks. (ANI)

Army commanders to review operational preparedness

October 20th, 2009 - 8:08 pm ICT by IANS Tell a Friend -

New Delhi, Oct 20 (IANS) The Army commanders conference beginning Wednesday would review operational preparedness of the one million strong force as well security situation in the country and the neighbouring states, officials said here Tuesday.

Army chief, General Deepak Kapoor would chair the four-day conference which will be focusing on macro level issues pertaining to military strategy, operational logistics and matters impacting the welfare and enhancement of satisfaction level amongst all ranks.

"The operational preparedness of the army will be reviewed by the top commanders to include the operational plans and modernisation of weapons and equipment proposed and in progress," a defence ministry official said here.

"Some of the new concepts in the operational as well as administrative levels evolved in the recent past as also those in the formative stage will be discussed. The conference will also deliberate on the security situation prevalent in the country and neighbouring countries," the official added.

According to the officials, Gen. Kapoor will also be releasing a book "Milestones of the Indian Army" during the conference.

Sphere: Related Content

Military action required

Air (R) Marshal Ayaz A Khan

After ten terrorist attacks in one week on six vital institutions, and four suicide bombings with heavy loss of life the government has directed General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the Chief of Army Staff to crush the Taliban renegades operating from Wazirstan. Terrorist attacks one after another implied TTP aim to destabilize and destroy Pakistan. Five days after the attack on GHQ Rawalpindi, FIA HQ, Manawan Police Center and Elite Police HQ were attacked simultaneously. About two hundred people including 57 Army and police personnel were killed.

Tehrik-Taliban-Pakistan claimed responsibility, but there is a stamp of Punjabi Taliban on the terrorist attacks on GHQ, UN World Food Programme Office, FIA HQ's,Elite Police Headquaters and Munawan Police Training Center. TTP has claimed responsilility for all other bombings, including the suicide bombings at Soekarno Chowk Peshawar, Kohat Road Police Station and Shangla . How can TTP Talibans from Wazirstan justify massacre of fellow Pathan's?. The terrorists have become reckless because they have not faced firing squads, and have not been hanged and executed publically, as would happen to them in Islamic countries under the Sharia law. Deterrent punishment is the remedy for such horrific criminality, and military action is in order. The Taliban have gone beserk, and must be eliminated.

The terrorist attack on GHQ shocked the nation.. Ten Laskar-e-Jhangavi terrorists, led by Sepoy (retd) Mohammad Aquil alias Dr. Usman tried to enter the main GHQ gate in a white Suzuki pickup loaded with weapons and explosives. They fired and lobbed grenades. After twenty hours of firefight, eight terrorists were killed. Their method of attack and the twenty hours of firefight, that followed was reflective of determination to kill and take hostages.

In the attack on GHQ the terrorists wore Army uniform. For attacks on Police institutions in Lahore they were dressed in militia uniforms. The terrorists had prior knowledge of the vulnerabilities of GHQ security, and loopholes of security at the three police establishments, two of which were attacked for the second time. In the gun and grenade attack six Pakistani Army personnel including Brigadier Anwar and Lt Colonel Waseem were killed. In the return fire at the second GHQ gate four terrorists were killed. Another four were killed by Pak Commandoes. Mohammad Aquil alias Dr Usman was injured. 45 Army personnel including civilians taken hostage were freed after twenty hours of firefight. People are furious about terrorist attack on GHQ, the citadel of nations defence, and fully support the nations military to take necessary action.

Instead of the outdated security by sentries, GHQ's perimeter defense should have been technologically advanced , with sensors and cameras to detect weapons and explosives hidden in vehicles. Instead of barbed wire fence, explosive proof concrete wall like that of Marriot Hotel Islamabad be immediately constructed round GHQ, and round all high value vital installations. GHQ in the heart of Rawalpindi is highly vulnerable. Poor intelligence, lack of vision, absence of visualization, and smugness are some of the factors, which made it possible for terrorists from south Punjab, to execute the terrorist attacks. It is common knowledge that Bhawalpur, Multan, Dera Ghazi Divisions and Mianwali district in Southern Punjab and Dera Ismail Khan are the hotbeds of terrorists .

Reports of the presence of Lashkar-e-Jhangavi, Jaish Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba militants and their movements to and from Waziristan have been rife since some time. It was known to ISI, Army Intelligence, Intelligence Bureau and Punjab Police that militants from South Punjab are being trained by the Taliban in Wazirstan, and were being launched for suicide bombings and terrorist attacks in cities including Islamabad, Lahore and Rawalpindi.. What steps I.S.I, Military Intelligence, Military Police, I.B, Punjab government and Punjab Police have taken to stop them. It is a mater of regret that either these agencies are clueless, or their findings and advice is disregarded by the authorities. The statement by Mr Sanaullah the law minister of Punjab that no action is planned to weed out terrorists from South Punjab is awastonishing. Either way the country and the people are paying a high price for ignorance and neglect..

The intelligence agencies and the police had no knowledge that the terrorists had rented houses in Sihala, Chakri and elsewhere for dumping uniforms, munitions and explosives to attack GHQ and take Pakistan Army senior officers hostage. Weapons, detonators, army uniforms, badges, shoes and maps were recovered by Capitol Police on a random tip off. The storming of GHQ in a pre-emptive assault failed because of the bravery of the sentries and valor of Army commandoes. It was a close call. Had the terrorists planned to blow up GHQ with explosive packed van, the consequences would have been horrific. An extensive net work of conspirators, enemy agents, explosive experts, traitors and terrorists behind these demonic plans must be unearthed.. According to DG ISPR, "Pakistan Army had prior information of the terrorist attack, and had made security arrangements accordingly. Army had the intercept of TTP Commander Wali-ur-Rehman "to pray for the success of the fadayeen attack on GHQ". But the concerned agency despite prior information could not avert the deadly attack.

The military has a plan to demolish and destroy terrorist network and hide outs in Waziristan. After Rah-e-Rast, redeployment and buildup of troops, equipment and munitions hopefully has been completed. Terrorists struck at vital establishments and public places to stall and sabotage Army's plan for the expected offensive. The softening operations must be conducted with greater vigor. The military must strike with strength and caution to subdue and defeat the rebels without collateral damage. Fearing Army action Tribesmen by the thousands have already left their homes, and need to be taken care of by the provincial government and NGO's. Installments of American grants under the Kerry Lugar Bill must be spent on the welfare of the uprooted tribesmen.

Like the military the Government of Punjab, and Punjab Police must formulate operational plans to identify and smash terrorist and extremist groups. Security of vital establishments must be reviewed and updated on modern lines. Because of the shortage of police personnel, Awami Lashkars from local youth be recruited to apprehend criminals, terrorists and extremists. Governor Punjab and the Chief Minister must work together for the purpose. Media must play its role to educate the masses against the menace of anti-state militancy, extremism and violence. Pakistani's are patriotic people and will not allow terrorists to highjack Pakistan. Our prayers are with the Pakistan armed forces and the police, who are sacrificing their lives to save Pakistan.

US paratroopers thrilled, excited to work in tandem with Indian counterparts

by ANI on October 19, 2009

Agra, Oct. 19 (ANI): US paratroopers, who are currently taking part in the joint Indo-US Air Force exercise Ex-Cope India 2009, being held at the Agra Air Force base, are excited and thrilled to be a part of the combined military training which is aimed at training personnel for joint planning and execution of missions in simulated hostile scenarios.

As the US paratroopers touched the ground from a height of 15,000 feet along with their Indian counterparts, varying emotions dotted their face, but the excitement and exuberance was unmatchable.

More than the Indian paratroopers it was the American jumpers who were enthralled by what they termed as an 'all new experience.'

US jumpers said they are having a great time working with their Indian counterparts, sharing each other's experience and some intriguing details about the techniques involved in their work.

"I am really thrilled to be a part of the exercise. The Indian paratroopers are some of the world's best. They are focused on their work and always motivate you to try harder and better," said Group Captain Jady, after touching down at the Malpura drop zone, which is 12 kilometres away from the Agra Air Force base.

"The weather was perfect, the atmosphere is great. Its great to be in here," he added.

When asked about his experience in India, Jady said he would like to come her again whenever given the opportunity.

The Indian paratroopers too expressed similar thoughts.

They said the six day long exercise (From October 19 to October 24) would help them learn and share a lot.

"We are looking forward to gain and share some technicalities with each other that would benefit both the sides. The experience till now has been great. With five more days to go I hope the exercise will turn out to be huge success. It always helps to work with a side which is considered as one of the world's largest and most advanced force," Junior Warrant Officer J.S.

Bhalla told ANI shortly after he touched the ground from a height of 15,000 feet. By Shashank Shantanu (ANI)

India takes hard look at U.S. defense technology

By Saurav Jha

Column: The Estranged Analyst

Published: October 20, 2009

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Soldiers from the U.S. Army's Second Stryker Brigade Combat Team conduct room-clearing exercises in a 150-year-old deserted village in Babina, India, as part of a joint ground combat exercise with the Indian Army that runs from Oct. 12-29. The exercises aim at sharing experiences in peacekeeping and disaster-relief operations. (U.S. Army Photo/Rodney Jackson)

Kolkata, India — India and the United States are exchanging expertise in two ongoing joint military exercises in India this month. Both nations' armies launched a two-week joint ground combat exercise, codenamed Yudh Abhyas, or "war study," at Babina in India's Uttar Pradesh state on Oct. 12.

Concurrently, both sides are conducting exercises in airlift, airland and airdrop delivery techniques, as well as aeromedical and disaster management practices, at the Indian Air Force's Agra airfield near New Delhi in an exercise named Cope India, from Oct. 15-24.

While such exercises have been institutionalized as annual affairs, they have greatly expanded in scope.

Many analysts feel that beyond the rhetoric of interoperability, such exercises serve as a venue for the United States to showcase its defense technology to Indians looking to diversify their sources of military equipment. The U.S. pitch focuses on technologies that could allow India to counter China's military development.

These joint field exercises include the first-ever maneuvers between U.S. mechanized units and their Indian equivalents. The U.S. Army brought in 17 Stryker 8x8 multirole vehicles of the type that have been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. They form the standard wheeled armored personnel carriers for the U.S. military and constitute a family of vehicles that can be deployed for diverse uses from direct fire support to mobile ambulances.

Incidentally, the joint exercises are happening at a time when the Indian Army has issued requests for proposals for light tanks and tank destroyers, both tracked and wheeled. A sudden requirement for these vehicles has apparently arisen over a need to counter Chinese moves along certain stretches of the disputed India-China border, using armored vehicles nimble enough to be deployed in mountainous terrain.

U.S. defense contractors see India as a huge market for a number of niche products in which the United States is clearly a world leader. Moreover, they do not need to spend time underlining the fact that China already has access to a number of Russian developments, and buying the same may not therefore give India an edge.

On the other hand, the Western embargo on weapons sales to China since the Tiananmen Square crackdown of 1989 has ensured that China will not have anything comparable to the latest U.S. systems to which India is now being granted access, barring Chinese espionage of course.

The Indians, however, remain prudent in such matters. They will certainly not jeopardize their longstanding relationship with the Russians, now that both nations have extended their military-technical collaboration till 2021 and are currently engaged in over 200 joint development projects.

Nevertheless, India does require certain technologies from the United States to counter China's expansionism. For example, both sides have deployed transport aircraft in their joint air force exercises. Included in the U.S. line-up are the C-17 Globemaster III and the C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft. Interestingly, India has already ordered six of the latter and is seriously considering 10 of the former. Russia has aircraft in these classes, but does not have the U.S. equivalent operational capability.

Indians are also acutely aware that the United States is a world leader in sensors and electronic attack capability. In fact, one of the main reasons why India buys complete U.S. systems is because of this technology inside them, which is probably unmatched elsewhere and can give India an edge over the Chinese.

The deal for eight Boeing P-8I multi-mission maritime aircraft, crucial in antisubmarine warfare, and the earlier purchase of weapon-locating radars from the United States, underlines this fact.

The U.S. lead in defense electronics may also swing the Indian Air Force's tender for the US$11 billion-plus multirole medium-range combat aircraft in their favor. The IAF has repeatedly said that the avionics suite of the aircraft – which is seen in the Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, UAC's Mig-35, SAAB Gripen, Lockheed Martin F-16 and the Boeing F-18 aircraft – will be a key determinant in the final selection.

To be considered favorably, the fighter's nose radar should be active electronically scanned array, the IAF says. Not surprisingly, the United States is a world leader in this technology, and its F-16 and F-18 aircraft field the mature AESA technology.

While AESA technology would be a key consideration in the final selection of a fighter plane for India, the degree to which technology transfer is agreed upon will be just as important. The Indians have made it clear throughout the aircraft selection process that the best technology may not necessarily win unless it is ready to be transferred in its entirety. This is where U.S. firms have a handicap.

In the past, the U.S. government has refused to share source code for radar even with close allies like the United Kingdom. However, with the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal in place and an End User Monitoring Agreement almost sown up, it seems that the United States could be willing to give up its old habits for the sake of the Indian market and the ensuing regional geopolitics.

The main thing the Indian military establishment remains wary of in engaging with the United States is the propensity of U.S. manufacturers to offer a system to India once an indigenous equivalent has crossed some significant milestones. To be fair, this is a tendency exhibited by other countries as well.

It is here that India's leadership will be put to the test, as the country's Defense Research and Development Organization becomes a significant innovator in its own right in years to come.

Chinese chequers, dam(n) nonsense
India doesn't need to lose cool
by B.G. Verghese

WHY are the Chinese so nervous, huffing and puffing away over something as innocuous as Dr Manmohan Singh's election visit to Arunachal and the Dalai Lama's spiritual journey to the revered Buddhist monastery in Tawang? These demarches were preceded by a gratuitous statement that Arunachal is part of China and India should best back off from there. This bluster, sometimes expressed though the columns of party journals, targets India for not responding to China's boundary "concessions" and for adopting a hegemonistic attitude towards its neighbours, Pakistan and Nepal included. The Sino-Indian boundary is still "disputed" and while negotiations are in progress, the matter has not been settled and hence the status quo ante, as perceived by Beijing, must prevail.

The facts are otherwise. China has dragged its feet on boundary demarcation, refusing to exchange sector maps as settled through talks so as to avoid inadvertent incidents of innocent trespass. It has also blandly gone back on one of the agreed principles of understanding, namely, that settled border areas shall not be brought into question during the boundary talks. It has violated this seminal principal by claiming "possession" of all of Arunachal, particularly Tawang, and adopting ludicrous rhetorical positions.

India does not need to be unnerved by such conduct that betrays a sense of uncertainty and anxiety over the situation in China's borderlands in Tibet and Xinjiang which remain restive. Arunachal went to the polls once again and registered a 75 per cent vote in a democratic process that Communist China does not understand and deeply fears. China may have appeared proud and powerful as it celebrated the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic; but while the stands in Tiananmen Square were full of regimented supporters, the people were locked away. China has done remarkably well in many ways. But it is replete with inner contradictions and social disharmonies. Economic liberalism and modernisation do not go well with a tight party dictatorship, the suppression of religious freedom and rural-urban and regional disparities. All monoliths are solid until they crack.

There has, however, been too much media and right-wing hype about alleged Chinese designs on India by projecting growing capabilities into malevolence. This mix of jingoism and fear is immature. Chinese military modernisation and technological displays are impressive but India has no need to match either of these in numbers or idle showmanship. Ours is not an aggressive posture and the Chinese have a shrewd idea that 1962 is ancient history and adventures are best avoided. This does not mean that India should not improve its border infrastructure and connectivity and uplift living standards in all outlying regions.

If Dr Manmohan Singh meets the Chinese Premier, Mr Wen Jiabao, in Bangkok on October 23 on the margins of the East Asian summit, this should offer opportunity to iron out recent wrinkles in bilateral relations. Among these is a new red herring being dragged across the trail as a result of reports that the Chinese plan to dam the Tsangpo at Zangmu (29.14 lat., 29.52. long.) with an installed capacity of 450 MW (comparable to the Baglihar project India has commissioned on the Chenab). Even if this be true (and more such sites are reportedly being investigated) this is probably a modest run-of-river hydro-project with little consumptive use and no hint (or capability) of diversion northwards. Such a project would be fully within China's right to build.

Indian news reports continue to be singularly ill-informed about Tibetan geography, topography and hydrology. The Water Resources Ministry must take the rap for such national ignorance which has deeper roots in the downgrading of geography as an educational discipline. For one thing, the Tsangpo (Siang/Dihang in Arunachal) is confused with the Brahmaputra (which is formed in Assam after the confluence of the Siang, Luhit, Dibang and Noa Dihing, all substantial rivers in their own right). So the "Brahmaputra" is not being diverted anywhere and will not "run dry". In any event, more than 70 per cent of the run-off of the Brahmaputra is generated south of the Himalaya.

Reference is made to a report by Li Lung, "Tibet Water Plan to Save China" (2005) through the Great Western Route Project, by diverting over 200 billion cubic metres of water from Tibet to North China, 120 BCM of this coming from the "Brahmaputra basin". This diversion is proposed at a far higher latitude in the great U-Bend of the Tsangpo as it drops into India from Tibet is also confusingly discussed as a possible source of pumping power for moving water north. While many old time generals and ideologues have commended the Great Western Diversion Project, a number of technical experts, economists and ecologists have panned this fantasy.

So, while India keeps a wary eye on water resource development in Tibet, it does not need to become hysterical and thrown off balance and diverted from the real tasks of diplomacy and development. Earlier reports of floods from extreme river surges in Arunachal and in the Sutlej Valley were mistaken for Chinese mala fides. They were, in fact, the result of debris/glacial lake outbursts in remote Himalayan Valleys. These, with glacial and permafrost melting and aberrant weather, are going increasingly to impact the entire Himalayan-Karakoram region on account of climate change. Cooperation in meeting this common challenge is what India and China should be talking about.

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