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Thursday, 19 November 2009

From Today's Papers - 19 Nov 09





Lpc Welcomes Indian Solo Round The World Sailor

Contributor:
Voxy News Engine Voxy News Engine
Thursday, 19 November, 2009 - 15:59

Lyttelton Port of Christchurch (LPC) is set to welcome solo circumnavigator Commander Dilip Donde of the Indian Navy to the port at 10am on Saturday 21 November 2009.

Commander Donde began his historic voyage on 19 August from Mumbai. He will be the first Indian to have ever completed a solo circumnavigation of the world and he is doing it under the power of sails.

The voyage is a 22,500 nautical mile journey and it is expected to take at least seven months.

LPC Chief Executive Peter Davie says the whole team is excited about the arrival of the INSV Mhadei.

"Commander Donde is only visiting four ports on his world journey so we are privileged to have him call on us here at Lyttelton," he says. "It is an amazing feat of physical endurance and mental toughness to undertake such a challenging adventure.

"Commander Donde is the first solo circumnavigator to visit us so LPC staff will definitely be on hand to welcome him in. It is fantastic to see the local community getting right in behind the sailor and we are sure he will enjoy his stay in Christchurch."

Lyttelton based Independent Provedoring is providing accommodation and a vehicle for Commander Done for the duration of his stay in New Zealand.

The INSV Mhadei, named after the river Mhadei in the Indian state of Goa, is a 17.1m long yacht and features a set of six sails. Commander Donde's first port of call was Freemantle on 24 September 2009.

Commander Donde will depart for the Falkland Islands after his two week stopover in Lyttelton, where his girlfriend is expected to meet him. His sole travelling companion for the gruelling trip has a soft tweety bird toy.
http://www.voxy.co.nz/national/lpc-welcomes-indian-solo-round-world-sailor/5/30728


Prez to board Sukhoi
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 18
President Pratibha Patil will take a flight in the frontline Sukhoi-30 fighter aircraft for about half an hour. With this, the 74-year-old President could very well enter the records book as the first woman premier to have boarded a fighter aircraft.

The President will be flown in a Su-30MKI of the Pune-based 30 Squadron flown by its Commanding Officer Wing Commander S Sajan at a height from where she would be able to see the earth, IAF vice-chief Air Marshal PK Barbora told mediapersons as he gave out the details of the President’s scheduled flight on November 25.
The aircraft will be flying at speed of around less than super-sonic speed of .9 mach (less than 1,000 km per hour) and the President would wear the full kit - called the G-suit - that a pilot wears, Barbora added. Barbora was asked a rather uncomfortable question as to why the President was flying in a Sukhoi-30 and not in the MiG-21, which was the mainstay of the IAF. Barbora said, “We would like to show where our capability has reached because we would be able to indicate to her in the cockpit what technology has brought to fighter aviation.”
What Barbora did not say was that the twin-engined Sukhoi-30 is one of the world’s best fighters and a lot safer that the MiG-21 that is the 1960’s technology.





India tells US, China third-party monitoring not required
NDTV Correspondent, Wednesday November 18, 2009, New Delhi
A day after a US-China joint statement said the two sides "support the improvement and growth of relations between India and Pakistan", India has officially reacted saying that the statement was unnecessary and that it does not need third-party monitoring on Pakistan. (Read: Full text of US-China joint statement)

The Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement on Wednesday: "Government of India is committed to resolving all outstanding issues with Pakistan through a peaceful bilateral dialogue in accordance with the Simla Agreement. A third country role cannot be envisaged nor is it necessary. We also believe that a meaningful dialogue with Pakistan can take place only in an environment free from terror or the threat of terror."

On Wednesday, the US sent out a clarification terming India as a key ally and major partner. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters at his daily news briefing that the US is looking forward to the state visit of the Indian Prime Minister and that the US President would share his thoughts on his China visit with Manmohan Singh.

"I am sure that since the President will have just gotten back from China, and that'll be fresh on his mind that he will share some of his impressions and thoughts about his visit to China as well," Kelly said in response to a question. (Read: Obama, Manmohan to talk China next week)

Pakistan meanwhile has welcomed the US-China joint statement. Pakistan's Foreign Office Spokesman said the joint reiteration to promote peace, stability and security in South Asia was a welcome statement.

The Indian prime minister will be the first head of a government to be hosted at the White House after Obama took over in January. He leaves for the US on Saturday, and will meet the US president on November 24. (Read: Agenda for PM's upcoming visit to US)

President Obama will also discuss 26/11 with Manmohan Singh during the Prime Minister's trip, Timothy Roemer, the US Ambassador to India, has confirmed. (Read: Obama-Manmohan to discuss 26/11)

On Wednesday, Roemer also said that America "needs to see action" by Pakistan against the terrorists behind 26/11. He added that Pakistan needs "to concentrate on dismantling terrorist infrastructure".

Meanwhile, the US House of Representative has decided to discuss a resolution commemorating the Indo-US relationship on Wednesday.

The resolution (H res No 890) moved by Congressman Jim McDermott and co-sponsored by 14 other lawmakers has been placed sixth the agenda item of the day according to the floor scheduled released last night by the House Majority Leader Steny H Hoyer.

The resolution welcomes the Prime Minister to the US and commends the maturating of the relationship. It notes that the ties between the US and India have great potential to promote stability, democracy, prosperity, and peace throughout the world and enhance the ability of both countries to work together to provide global leadership in areas of mutual concern and interest.

The last time the prime minister went to America as President Bush's state guest he came back with the Indo-US nuclear deal.

This time ruffled feathers over the China statement not withstanding, the significance of being Barack Obama's first state guest since he became president 11 months ago is not lost on anyone.

But all eyes will be on what Obama puts on the table as the next big step in Indo-US relations.





Taliban declare guerrilla war against Pak army
Agence-Fance Presse, Wednesday November 18, 2009, Miranshah (Pakistan)

The Taliban have hit back at Pakistan claims of success in a major offensive, vowing that their guerrilla war would expel troops from their stronghold near the Afghan border.

"We have not been defeated. We have voluntarily withdrawn into the mountains under a strategy that will trap the Pakistan army in the area," Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq told journalists on Wednesday, who were taken by blindfold to a mountain top.

Pakistan's main umbrella Taliban faction, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) arranged a news conference for journalists from the tribal belt a day after the military flew correspondents into South Waziristan to visit the battlefield.

The army told reporters that troops waging a major ground and air offensive for five weeks had captured most towns once under rebel control in South Waziristan, part of Pakistan's militant-infested tribal belt.

A reporter, who was among those taken to the undefined mountain top, said Tariq sat on the open ground, without a rug or chairs.

Bearded Tariq, who is spokesman for TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud, was flanked by two armed bodyguards. This was his first direct interaction with journalists since the military mounted a major offensive on October 17.

Journalists from North Waziristan were driven to the border of neighbouring South Waziristan in broad daylight where they were blindfolded and transferred into waiting vehicles, said the reporter.
               





Pak has more nuclear weapons than India: report
Lalit K Jha/PTI / Washington November 18, 2009, 12:34 IST

Pakistan is estimated to have more nuclear warheads than India and the two Asian neighbours along with China are increasing their arsenals and deploying weapons at more sites, two eminent American atomic experts have claimed. 

While Pakistan is estimated to possess 70-90 nuclear weapons, India is believed to have 60-80, claims Robert S Norris and Hans M Kristensen in their latest article 'Nuclear Notebook: Worldwide deployments of nuclear weapons, 2009'. 

The article published in the latest issue of 'Bulletin of the Atomic Science' claimed that Beijing, Islamabad and New Delhi are quantitatively and qualitatively increasing their arsenals and deploying weapons at more sites, yet the locations are difficult to pinpoint.  For example, no reliable public information exists on where Pakistan or India produces its nuclear weapons, it said. 

"Whereas many of the Chinese bases are known, this is not the case in Pakistan and India, where we have found no credible information that identifies permanent nuclear weapons storage locations," they said. 

"Pakistan's nuclear weapons are not believed to be fully operational under normal circumstances, India is thought to store its nuclear warheads and bombs in central storage locations rather than on bases with operational forces. But, since all three countries are expanding their arsenals, new bases and storage sites probably are under construction," the two nuclear experts said.




IOC trounce Indian Navy
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 18
Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) thrashed Indian Navy 6-1 in the 46th Jindal Steel Nehru Senior Hockey Championship being held at the Hockey Stadium, Sector 42, here today.

Despite efforts by the Navy team, ball was under the control of the IOC, who scored the first goal in the third minute through Didar Singh, who converted the penalty corner and in the 15th minute, Arjun Anthil scored the field goal to give 2-0 lead to IOC. Didar Singh with individual tally of four goals converted the penalty corner in the 24th minute and just before half time in the 35th minute, AK Kiro of Navy converted the penalty corner to reduce the lead of the IOC to two goals.
In the second half, IOC players continued to play attacking game and scored the fourth goal in the 40th minute through Didar Singh, who converted the penalty corner. Didar again converted the penalty corner in the 52nd minute and finally IOC’s Kamlesh sounded the board through field goal in the 60th minute.
In another match, Namdhari XI drubbed Border Security Force (BSF) 4-0. Malak Singh of Namdhari scored the first goal in the 26th minute through field goal and five minutes later he again sounded the board through field goal to give 2-0 lead to his team in the first half of the match.
In the second half, Namdhari’s while playing attacking game did not allow the BSF boys to take control of the ball and scored their third goal in the 53rd minute through Dilbagh Singh (junior). Finally, Gurmail Singh scored the fourth goal in the 65th minute to seal the fate of the BSF team.
In the first match of the day, Punjab National Bank defeated Bengal XI 2-1. Bengal team played an attacking game and were able to score the first goal of the match in the sixth minute through field goal by Rizuddin. However, PNB boys later took full control of the ball and equalised the score in the 19th minute through Lakhwinder Singh, who converted the penalty corner. In the 35th minute, Jalvinder of PNB scored the field goal to give 2-1 lead to his team in the first half. Both the teams could not score any goal in second half of the match.
The fourth match was played between Air India and SAI XI and the former defeated their opponents 1-0. The only goal scored in the match was by Air India’s MK Mudappa, who converted the penalty corner in the fifth minute.





Corruption in defence deals: Blacklisting firms not the solution
November 19, 2009 02:05 IST
The global arms bazaar is no place for angels. If one is to judge by the plethora of well-documented cases of defence pay-offs around the world, corruption is an endemic part of the business. To some extent, this is understandable -- the orders for defence equipment tend to involve large sums of money, there are only a handful of suppliers for specific items, the buying process is buried deep in technical detail, the purchases are funded out of the public exchequer, and the people acting on behalf of governments are not incorruptible.

Suppliers who have invested large sums in research and product development, over many years, are usually willing to go to any lengths to acquire a crucial order which could mean the difference between running or shutting down a production line, between well-paying jobs and large-scale unemployment. Throw all this into the cauldron and it becomes a witch's brew.

The question is what is to be done. The defence ministry has been busy blacklisting one supplier after another, usually in the wake of a pay-off scandal. The rash of action has meant that, in some cases, the country has no acceptable supplier left -- or only a single supplier, who can, therefore, dictate terms. It is curious, though, that this action is not matched by any steps taken against those who have received the pay-offs. Since it takes two hands to clap, the asymmetric response is hard to explain.

Perhaps the reason is that penal action in the past has led to people charged with making defence purchases becoming ultra-cautious and not taking any decision at all. That has brought about the unintended but predictable result of budgeted sums for defence hardware going unspent, and (one presumes) the country's defence capability being impaired. Further action against those suspected of having received pay-offs could make the decision-making paralysis even worse.

The obvious solution would be to clean up the whole business. Recall that George Fernandes [ Images ] as the defence minister made a show of examining all previous defence deals and of introducing transparency in new purchases -- only for purchases that he ordered to come under the scanner, and for the Comptroller and Auditor General to eventually issue an indictment! The United States made a serious attempt at cleaning up, passing the stringent Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in the wake of a Lockheed scandal, some three decades ago. But, as recent reports have suggested, the existence of a stringent law has not stopped US companies from making payments under the table.

If backlisting of suppliers is counterproductive because too many companies get knocked off the approved list, and if past experience suggests that cleaning up is a desirable but unachievable goal, then it stands to reason that some compromises have to be made. Perhaps there can be a gradation of offences, with blacklisting resorted to in only the most egregious cases; less grave offences could attract a graded system of penalty points when assessing competing bids, so that an offending company finds itself at a disadvantage but is not knocked out of the reckoning altogether.





COAS warns not to misjudge Pakistan’s defence capability
 Updated at: 1523 PST,  Wednesday, November 18, 2009
COAS warns not to misjudge Pakistan’s defence capability RISALPUR: Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said Pakistan’s defence capabilities should not be underestimated by any one as Pakistan army is fully capable to take on challenges.

Addressing a passing out parade of 67th course of engineering and 123rd course of GDP in PAF Academy here, army chief said Pakistan is facing extra ordinary internal and external challenges and threatened by adventurous neighbor. He said army will continue action against extremists. General Kayani said army achieved success in Malakand with the support of people.

Kayani said operation in South Waiziristan is test of army’s professional skills and they are getting success with the help of Pakistan Air Force (PAF). He said nation is united to give country true identity according to ideologies of Quaid-e- Azam and Allama Iqbal.

The chief of PAF Rao Qamar Suleman was also present at this occasion. Army chief distributed the awards to position holders’ graduates.




Obama dodges Chinese missiles
By Peter J Brown

Over the past few days, the big blue 747 known as Air Force One with United States President Barack Obama on board crisscrossed the South China Sea from Tokyo to Singapore, and then Singapore to Shanghai. Flying high over the most disputed sea in East Asia today - at least as far as the US and China are concerned - Obama has been shuttled from one Asian metropolis to the next.

What Obama needed to write on the lower part of his palm before he departed the US was one word - "missiles" - because while there are many important economic and even environmental issues that Obama wants to address, nothing except North Korea is more important than China's military buildup, its military intentions, and its deployment of new missiles.

At the same time, nothing that Obama said on this trip was likely

 

to fundamentally alter China's view of the US. Some Chinese see the US as an unwanted intruder in the region in general, and in the South China Sea in specific. The ongoing dialogue aimed at resolving any differences surrounding the South China Sea - the so-called Military Maritime Consultative Agreement discussions between the two countries - is scheduled to resume next month.

Thus far on this trip, Obama has remained silent when it comes to important military issues involving China.

By stressing that China and the US are not destined to be adversaries, Obama is trying to send what he sees as the right message. During the brief town hall session in Shanghai on Monday, for example, he was asked these questions by one Chinese student, "In your opinion, what's the main reason that you were honored [with] the Nobel Prize for Peace? And will it give you more responsibility and pressure to - more pressure and the responsibility to promote world peace? And will it bring you - will it influence your ideas while dealing with the international affairs?"

Aside from another question about Afghanistan, this provided the sole opportunity for Obama to speak frankly about where things stand between the two countries.

Among other things, Obama said, "Although I don't think that we can ever completely eliminate violence between nations or between peoples, I think that we can definitely reduce the violence between peoples - through dialogue, through the exchange of ideas, through greater understanding between peoples and between cultures."

"I'm hopeful that in my meetings with President Hu [Jintao] and on an ongoing basis, both the US and China can work together to try to reduce conflicts that are taking place," Obama continued. "We have to do so, though, also keeping in mind that when we use our military, because we're such big and strong countries, that we have to be self-reflective about what we do; that we have to examine our own motives and our own interests to make sure that we are not simply using our military forces because nobody can stop us. That's a burden that great countries, great powers, have, is to act responsibly in the community of nations. And my hope is, is that the United States and China together can help to create an international norms that reduce conflict around the world."

When he said "we have to examine our own motives and our own interests to make sure that we are not simply using our military forces because nobody can stop us", you have to wonder if Obama really wanted to suddenly hold up a big poster-sized picture of China's massive missile display during the huge 60th anniversary parade last month in Beijing.

A bit of background is in order. Obama accepted Hu's invitation to visit China at their meeting on the sidelines of the Group of 20 financial summit in London. On April 1, both leaders announced the visit and that the two nations had agreed "to build a positive, cooperative and comprehensive US-China relationship for the 21st century and to maintain and strengthen exchanges at all levels".

"Both sides share a commitment to military-to-military relations and will work for their continued improvement and development," the joint announcement stated, "The two sides agreed to maintain close communication and coordination and to work together for the settlement of conflicts and reduction of tensions that contribute to global and regional instability, including the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the Iranian nuclear issue, Sudan humanitarian issues, and the situation in South Asia."

What went completely unmentioned there was that only a few days earlier, the US Department of Defense had issued its latest "Report to Congress on the Military Power of the People's Republic of China" which is required each year by the National Defense Authorization Act of 2000.

China is deeply offended by this annual report by the US, and finds its content and its menacing tone unacceptable.

"Beijing publicly asserts that China's military modernization is 'purely defensive in nature', and aimed solely at protecting China's security and interests. Over the past several years, China has begun a new phase of military development by beginning to articulate roles and missions for the PLA [People's Liberation Army] that go beyond China's immediate territorial interests, but has left unclear to the international community the purposes and objectives of the PLA's evolving doctrine and capabilities," said the report on page 5.

"Moreover, China continues to promulgate incomplete defense expenditure figures and engage in actions that appear inconsistent with its declaratory policies. The limited transparency in China's military and security affairs poses risks to stability by creating uncertainty and increasing the potential for misunderstanding and miscalculation. The US continues to work with our allies and friends in the region to monitor these developments and adjust our policies accordingly."

Missiles were constantly mentioned. On page 33 for example, the report's authors, which included Abraham Denmark, director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security in Washington, DC, outlined the kinds of missiles the US might encounter one day on the South China Sea:

    One area of investment involves combining conventionally-armed anti-ship ballistic missiles [ASBMs] based on the CSS-5 [DF-21] airframe, C4ISR for geo-location and tracking of targets, and onboard guidance systems for terminal homing to strike surface ships.

    As described in an authoritative 2004 article for the Second Artillery Corps, the ASBM could employ 'terminal-sensitive penetrating sub-munitions' to 'destroy the enemy's carrier-borne planes, the control tower and other easily damaged and vital positions'. This capability would have particular significance, as it would provide China with preemptive and coercive options in a regional crisis.

Somehow, the hard language used in the 2009 report seems incompatible with the rosy language in the joint announcement which followed shortly thereafter in London.

Flash forward to China this week, and once again, another curious disconnect can be detected. This time it is the completion just days ago of the joint "Juniper Cobra" ballistic missile defense (BMD) exercise in Israel, which was described as the largest and most sophisticated BMD drill of its kind ever held. Hundreds of US military personnel along with US warships joined together with Israeli forces in order to fend off a wide range of simulated missile attacks.

Not once has Obama mentioned "Juniper Cobra" on his trip to Asia - at least not in public.

But Juniper Cobra is casting a shadow of war over Asia. Just as Obama was boarding Air Force One for the long flight to Tokyo, India's chief of staff, General Deepak Kapoor, was departing Israel after a four-day visit which included talks with Israel's chief of the general staff, Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi, as Juniper Cobra was wrapping up. Israel, which has emerged as India's top supplier of military hardware, used the occasion of his visit to announce the sale of a US$1.1 billion upgraded tactical air defense system to India, among other things.

Obama must realize that his critics will pounce if he fails to show his national security colors, and that US allies all across Asia may be shaking their heads. Mere mention of the possible relocation of the US troop deployment on Okinawa and attempts to shore up the US-Japan relationship will not suffice. Juniper Cobra has relevance both to India and Japan as well, and yet Obama is not saying anything publicly about it.

"This is a very important visit both for the United States and China, and for President Obama personally, who has never been to China before. And this is really an opportunity for him to see China with his own eyes and to understand China's accomplishments and also understand its history," Bonnie Glaser, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC, told China's state news agency, Xinhua, last week.

According to Glaser, "now it was time to 'operationalize the agenda' [set out in April] and identify areas where both countries could cooperate."

This could well end up being a masterful performance by Obama after all. Once again, there is an enormous sense of pride on display in China that cannot go unmentioned. And like it or not, Obama is proving to be the catalyst.

"No one can abuse China or treat China differently because our country has its dignity," Song Yang, a resident of Beijing, told the BBC.

Instead of risking a disaster on the diplomatic front by mentioning military or missile-related concerns, perhaps Obama is far wiser, even scoring numerous points on an entirely different front - the social networking domain. The comment section of one prominent Chinese blog site was buzzing, for example, as everyone shared thoughts about the town hall session which was aired live for Shanghai TV viewers.

"Chinese university students are all in the 'future' class. Some are future overseas students in America; some are future house slaves; today those at the town hall meeting are future officials," said one netizen.

"The first female student, Chen Xi, who asked a question to Obama is the deputy director of the research office of the Communist Youth League of Fudan University. The second male student who asked a question to Obama: Huang Lihe, the Communist Youth League secretary of foreign language school of Tongji University," said another.

So, add it all up and it looks like Obama put missiles aside and engaged China's Communist Youth League instead. But has his visit appeared too controlled and too phony as a result? Perhaps. Regardless, this trip and this chapter in Obama's Asian primer will not be ending on Thursday in Seoul as many expected. India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will be arriving at the White House early next week.

Peter J Brown is a freelance writer from the US state of Maine.





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