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Sunday, 13 December 2009

From Today's Papers - 13 Dec 09

 Indian naval commander on sailing mission

Published: 7:47PM Saturday December 12, 2009

    * WATCH the video (1:42)

An Indian naval commander has just set sail from Lyttleton on the second leg of his mission of sailing solo around the world, possibly a first by an Indian.

His global missing began in Mumbai four months ago and will finish there again next May.

From a country of over a billion people, he could be the first ever to circumnavigate the world.

"The first week is a little uncomfortable because you are getting used to your routine, missing your creature comforts on land - after that you just take one day at a time," says Dilip Dende, Indian Navy commander.

But that does not mean its all plain sailing, Dende has already wrestled storms and survived 9 metre swells.

"You promise yourself you'll never step on a boat many, many times," he says.

Dende's mission has everyone cheering him on.

"This is the most crucial leg from here onwards, and I'm sure he will come out with flying colours," says Sureesh Mehta, Indian High Commissioner.

Sikh with turban taken back in US Army
IANS, Saturday December 12, 2009, New York
A campaign by Sikhs in America has resulted in the US Army accepting another Sikh recruit for active duty with his religious identity intact. It will be for the first time in 23 years that Sikhs will serve in the US Army with their turbans and unshorn hair.

Captain Tejdeep Singh Rattan, a dentist, and Captain Kamaljit Singh Kalsi, a doctor, were asked by the army to remove their turbans and cut hair before they could be allowed to join active duty earlier this year. The two Sikhs had just completed an army programme that paid for their medical education in return for military service.

Both of them refused to remove their turbans and shave their hair, leading to protests and petitions by the community.

After a signature and lobbying campaign launched by Sikh organizations, including the Sikh Coalition, on Vaisakhi day, the US Army first announced in October to accept Captain Kalsi back with his turban.

Now it has also decided to accept Captain Rattan.

The army had banned "conspicuous'' religious articles of faith for its members in 1981. However, some Sikhs who had joined before that date were allowed to practice their religious identity.

But the authorities have made only one-time exception for the two Sikh officers, without announcing any change in its overall recruitment policy. It is, however, willing to review its general policy of excluding Sikhs from future service.

"The individual accommodations for Captain Tejdeep Singh and Captain Kamaljeet Singh have significant implications for Sikh employees,'' said Sikh Coalition in a statement Friday.

"Ending discrimination in the US Army sends a message to all other employers, both private and public, that discrimination against Sikhs who maintain their articles of faith is not acceptable,'' it said.

Thousands of Sikhs had sent petitions to the army to take the two recruits back with their religious identity.

A world without N-weapons
India and US make a new beginning
by Saurabh Kumar
TUCKED away in one of the many paragraphs of the Joint Statement issued during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s recent US visit is an idea that deserves a little more attention than it has got – their “shared vision of a world free of nuclear weapons”, for which US President Obama and Dr Manmohan Singh “pledged to work together, as leaders of responsible states with advanced nuclear technology”. Its significance can be appreciated better in the background of the international discourse on nuclear disarmament and strategic security issues.
A “nuclear weapon free world” has long been a cherished goal of the international community since the First Special Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on Disarmament in 1978. But it has remained an ideal. India has been in the forefront of its advocacy nationally and along with like-minded nations (Six-Nation Initiative, Non-aligned Movement (NAM) and other groupings and, above all, the Action Plan for a Nuclear Weapon Free World put forward by the late Rajiv Gandhi at the Third Special Session of the UNGA on Disarmament in 1988).
The main reason for this is that the US, the country with the largest nuclear arsenal, was not ready to move in that direction. Obama is the first US President to have broken the “taboo” and affirm “America’s commitment” at Prague in April last. Yet, there has been no move to have the goal of abolition of nuclear weapons adopted globally, i.e. as a legally binding obligation undertaken by all nations.
No nation has thought it fit to ask the other nuclear weapon states to follow suit so that the goal of a “global zero” (of nuclear weapons) could be (re)endorsed by the UNGA in order to seal agreement at the conceptual level. And, accordingly, to then task the Conference on Disarmament (in Geneva) to finally commence negotiations on a Nuclear Weapons Convention.
Even the NAM, which has been consistent in not losing sight of the centrality of nuclear weapons in its consideration of international security issues, does not appear to have viewed Obama’s Prague promise (at its Sharm El Sheikh Summit in July) as an opportunity for pursuing what has been one of its foremost objectives with renewed vigour.
On the other hand, skeptics questioning the practicability of a world without nuclear weapons, on one ground or another, abound. More than the voices discrediting the “vision thing”, it is the lukewarm reception accorded to Obama’s public declaration of this conceptual breakthrough in the US position by the strategic establishments of NATO countries, including the US itself that is disconcerting.
India has its own share of hawks who are likewise unable to shed the view that nuclear weapons should remain part of the nation’s war fighting arsenal for “deterrence” and accordingly tend to be dismissive about Obama’s Prague speech in a somewhat self-serving fashion.
The importance of the allusion to the “shared vision” in the India-US Joint Statement, therefore, lies in India’s grasp of the historic opportunity offered by Obama’s clearing of the cobwebs. This perceptive move deserves note by informed public opinion within the country. It should be built upon for taking things forward in a broader and multilateral setting in consort with other countries.
Like-minded nations within the NAM (and outside) could be sounded for interest in serving as a kind of “core group” for forging an international consensus on a legally binding commitment to realise a world without nuclear weapons in a reasonable time frame.
Attention must also be turned to examining what India can do. For, in the long run, nuclear weapons are not an asset but a liability. Whatever the justification in 1998 for going in for them, it does not follow that their retention in perpetuity or even voluntary integration into the nation's defence arsenal is desirable. Also a view needs to be taken, internally within the country naturally, whether nuclear weapons are essential for safeguarding the nation’s strategic security interests for all time to come and under all circumstances. Possibly not, it is submitted.
The utility of nuclear weapons for India was, and is, political, not military – as a lever, and leveler, of sorts. But such is the calculus of these “weapons” that the political advantage accrues only if they are maintained in fighting fit, full military, condition. This, in turn, means that the benefits cannot be had without incurring the risks; also that some degree of an arms race is built into the (il)logic of nuclear weapons, subjective disinclination for indulging in it notwithstanding. Hence the overall negative assessment in a “cost-benefit-risk” analysis.
If a domestic consensus can be built around the above premises, it would follow logically that the political leverage acquired by the nation as a result of its 1998 decision to invite itself into the “nuclear club” can, and should, be exercised (i.e. traded off) for the purpose of securing a world free of nuclear weapons (which, in the final analysis, is India’s supreme interest), now that it is no longer an unthinkable proposition.
The opening created by Obama’s fresh approach affords a golden opportunity of doing just that, namely, putting the national nuclear prowess to larger political use, in the service of the long, and widely, cherished goal of nuclear disarmament and therefore of lasting national and international security.
Thus, India could unilaterally declare its readiness to reconsider the non-civilian part of its nuclear programme provided a multilaterally negotiated (and legally binding) programme for time-bound elimination of all nuclear weapons of all countries could be agreed upon internationally – but, of course, not until then, i.e. not under any partial measures such as the UN Security Council Resolution 1887, CTBT, FMCT etc. (which should all be fitted into a “nuclear weapons free world” paradigm now).
The role and function of the nuclear arsenal in the nation’s possession needs to be debated in the above perspective in order that a reasoned and pro-active approach to the changing external scenario can be evolved without becoming prisoners of the past, or of habit, by default. 

US Army gets its second Sikh recruit
December 12, 2009 21:45 IST

Close on the heels of accepting its first turbaned recruit, US Army has announced drafting of another Sikh in uniform, with community advocacy groups demanding that doors be opened for Sikhs in large numbers in US Army.

Captain Tejdeep Singh Rattan has been accepted as an Army dentist and allowed to wear a turban and not shave his hair as a condition of joining the military. Confirming the drafting of Rattan, the community's advocacy group, Sikh Coalition, hailing the Army action, said these enrolments should not be treated as isolated cases and that doors should be opened for large-scale recruitment of Sikhs in the US Army.

"The Sikh Coalition remains concerned that there has not yet been a change in overall policy excluding Sikhs from the military," the group said in a statement. "The Army is America's largest and most prominent employer and discrimination against the recruitment of Sikhs, who maintain their articles of faith is not acceptable," the statement said. The Coalition said with the Army not yet opening its doors fully to the Sikhs, the community youth also face problems in getting enrolled to police and sheriff's departments.

Meanwhile, Rattan said that he was pleased that the Army has accepted him. "I thank the Sikh Coalition, the community and Sikh organisations that supported me. I look forward to the day when Sikhs can freely serve in any field, including the Army, without discrimination," Captain Rattan said.

Army probes UN supplies

New Delhi, Dec. 12: Defence minister A.K. Antony has asked the army to investigate a senior officer who has been accused by a Congress MP of having made money on the sly by inflating the prices of equipment bought for troops meant for UN missions.

The MP, Harsh Vardhan from Maharajgunj in Uttar Pradesh, alleged that the major general who was posted as an additional director-general in the army headquarters passed bills for items like footwear even though the price quoted was almost twice the market rate.

The major general was in charge of procurement of supplies for Indian troops heading to UN missions.

More than 6,000 Indian troops are currently deployed on UN peace keeping/enforcement missions in Africa and West Asia.

Following the forwarding of the letter by the defence minister, the army has instituted a court of inquiry. The court of inquiry has been asked to probe all procurements for UN troops for the last three years.

The court of inquiry will determine whether a prima facie case exists. If it does, it may ask for the summary of evidence.

No one facing a court of inquiry is held guilty unless a court martial determines or unless a summary decision is taken by headquarters.

Currently, the military secretary, one of the senior most officers in the army, Lt Gen Avadhesh Prakash is a witness to such a court of inquiry in Calcutta that is investigating army clearance of a land transfer in north Bengal. Two other lieutenant generals and a brigadier are also witnesses in that inquiry convened by the eastern army commander Lt Gen V.K. Singh.

The court of inquiry formed after the Congress MP’s letter to the defence minister is headed by the signal officer in chief, Lt Gen P. Mohapatra. Two other major generals are also members of the court.

The allegation is that the major general in charge of purchases sanctioned two types of boots that caused a loss of nearly Rs 3 crore. More than 30,000 pairs of boots were bought.

The major general called as a witness is in the running for a promotion and the office of the master general of ordnance in army headquarters.

Pakistan as a security state
By Irfan Husain
Saturday, 12 Dec, 2009
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The army’s repeated interventions have weakened the fabric of the state than any other factor. –Photo by AP

Over the years, many readers have asked me why Pakistan should fear an attack from India. They suggest that as we are under no threat from our eastern neighbour, our army could move more of its troops to the Afghan border where heavy fighting is going on, and where our embattled units could do with reinforcements.

For the answer to this question, we need to enter into the innermost recesses of the Pakistani security establishment’s psyche. The younger generations on both sides of the border obviously have no direct knowledge of the bitterness and bloodshed that attended partition.

I was three when we arrived in Karachi from New Delhi, and the story of how our train was attacked on the way is part of the family lore. I have a vague recollection of Liaquat Ali Khan’s famous speech in which he pointed his fist in India’s direction in a show of defiance. He was assassinated shortly thereafter, in 1951.

For just a brief moment, step into the shoes of a senior army officer surveying the strategic scenario from his GHQ in Rawalpindi, shortly after the birth of Pakistan. He sees a large, hostile neighbour to the east. East Pakistan is separated from West Pakistan by over 1,000 miles of Indian territory. Hordes of refugees are flooding across the border. Many of the military resources that were to be transferred to Pakistan have been blocked by India.

Soon after partition, hostilities begin in Kashmir, confirming the establishment’s worst fears about Indian intentions. Never mind that after the initial attack launched by tribesmen into Kashmir to help their Muslim brethren, it was the Pakistan Army that played a major role. In the mind of most Pakistanis at the time, this was a legitimate campaign to bring Muslim-majority Kashmir into the fold.

Even as a child, I remember hearing constant talk about how India wanted to ‘undo’ partition, and was waiting for the new state to collapse. Newspapers were often full of statements by leaders on both sides of the border hurling threats and accusations at each other.

Against this backdrop of fear and paranoia, it is easy to see why the Pakistani leadership reached to the West to bolster security. India had already established close relations with the Soviet Union, and China had not recovered from decades of chaos caused by war and civil strife.

Every state has security concerns, and needs resources to address them. The task of the leadership is to decide how total available funds will be divided between the imperative of guarding national frontiers, and the needs of the population. In a democracy, these competing demands on the exchequer are mediated through parliament. But when the military seizes control of the state, it can dictate the size of the cake it wants for itself.

In Pakistan, where we currently have all the outer trappings of democracy, the army has made sure that elected governments are too weak to challenge it either on the question of resource allocation, or over core security-related policies. The recent army-inspired furore over the Kerry-Lugar Act is an indication of the grip the generals have on real power.

Over the years, the army came to perceive that apart from external threats, it also had to guard against internal weakness. In the eyes of the military establishment, the political class and the democratic system were both sources of instability, and thus had to be kept under strict check. What it failed to see (and still does not) is that its own repeated interventions have done more to weaken the fabric of the state than any other factor.

By becoming the self-appointed guardian of ‘Pakistan’s ideological frontiers,’ the army took on a third role, and one for which it needed the cooperation of the Islamic parties.

This suited the mullahs perfectly, as it permitted them to advance their reactionary agenda in a Muslim country where they were regularly thumped at the polls. This marriage of convenience was sanctified during the Afghan war when jihadis from around the world flocked to fight the godless Soviet Union.

Generations of young officers at the military academy at Kakul have been taught that India is the eternal enemy; and that civilians are a necessary evil who have to be endured, but never trusted. A part of this indoctrination is the notion that one Muslim soldier is equal to 10 Hindus.

These are the officers now manning the highest positions of the defence forces. They are also the ones who shape Pakistan’s foreign relations, especially with nations affecting our security.

In the 1990s, when India made rapid economic strides, it became clear to even our military establishment that Pakistan could no longer compete in terms of conventional military power. While we matched India’s nuclear programme at crippling expense, we could not keep up with our traditional foe in terms of planes, tanks and men.

Above all, we had lost the technological edge that American weaponry had given us. Years of sanctions triggered by our nuclear programme lie behind the anti-Americanism that infects our officer corps, and through them, much of our media.

In order to restore the military balance, our establishment turned to the army of jihadis raised to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. When the Kashmiri uprising began spontaneously following rigged elections in the late 1980s, Pakistan reacted by first training Kashmiri freedom fighters, and then infiltrating Pakistani terrorists belonging to various jihadi outfits. India responded by sending in several army divisions. This suited our generals fine, as they had tied down close to half a million Indian soldiers by sending in just a few thousand jihadis.

In Afghanistan, Pakistan’s support of the Taliban in this period held out the promise of a compliant government in Kabul. These policies were turned on their head by 9/11, when all forms of terrorism began to be viewed as anathema by the international community. The Americans, in particular, put huge pressure on Musharraf to halt his use of Islamic holy warriors as proxies.

But old habits die hard. India is still seen as the real foe. Above all, Pakistan’s generals are convinced that sooner rather than later, the Americans will be forced to pull out because of flagging public support, much as they did from Vietnam. In this scenario, they are sure India would be asked to step in to ensure that the Taliban do not return to Kabul.

Should this happen, Pakistan would be encircled by Indian forces, and this is the security state’s worst nightmare.

Pakistan Is Fully Prepared For World War III
2009 December 12

Technology to cover range of 7,000 Kms, Pakistan, to increase its defensive capabilities, has started preparing intercontinental missile with a range of 7000 kilometres.

MissileAccording to sources, the intercontinental missile has a range of 7000 kilometres and is capable of hitting its target falling within its range. The missile can contain nuclear as well as traditional warheads. The missile has been termed a significant milestone for the defence of the country and is believed to strengthen the defence. According to sources, the missile would soon be test fired.

PAF to get airborne refullers next year: Pakistan Air Force plans to induct four Chinese airborne refullers next year, in a move to counter the Indian Air Forces’ enhanced capabilities after New Delhi acquired six similar aircraft, an Indian news agency quoted the PAF chief as saying.

Air Chief Marshal Qamar Suleman underlined that the airborne refullers were necessary to match the IAF capabilities.

“This is an absolutely new capability which we are inducting. We never had this capability in the PAF,” Suleman added, maintaining, in order to match the IAF’s acquisition of the first of three Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS), the PAF would receive four Chinese systems between 2011 and 2012.

He also termed as “alarming” the IAF’s intention of purchasing 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft, saying Pakistan needed “to have something matching.
Alert: India Preparing for Nuclear War?

By Zaheerul Hassan

Reliable sources stated that Pakistani authorities have decided to move her forces from Western to Eastern border. The move of forces would start soon. The decision has been taken after receiving the threat from Indian Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor to strike Pakistan on November 22, 2009. Indian Chief warned that a limited war under a nuclear overhang is still very much a reality at least in the Indian sub-continent. On November 23, 2009 Pakistan Foreign Office Spokes man Abdul Basit asked the world community to take notice of remarks passed by the Indian Army Chief. He also said that India has set the stage and trying to impose a limited war on Pakistan. There are reports that Indian intelligence agencies have made a plan to hit some Indian nuke installation, alleging and then striking Pakistan. It is also added here that India has started purchasing lethal weapons. According to the careful survey a poor Asian country (India) has spent trillions on purchasing of Naval, Air force and nuke equipments.

Thus, Indian preparation simply dictates that she is preparing for nuke war. The Kashmir conflicts, water issue, borer dispute between China and India, American presence in Afghanistan, Maoist movements, Indian state terrorism, cold war between India and regional countries would be contributing factors towards Next third world war.

Indian Chief’s statement by design came a day earlier to Manmohan Singh visit to USA. The purpose of threatening Pakistan could also be justifying future Indian attack on Pakistan. Therefore, Islamabad concern is serious in nature since any Indian misadventure will put the regional peace into stake and would lead both the country towards nuclear conflict. Islamabad probably conveyed her ally (USA) regarding danger of limited war against Pakistan; she has to cease her efforts on western border for repulsing Indian aggression on eastern border. In fact, Indian government and her army chief made a deliberate try to sabotage global war against terror. In this connection Pakistan Army Spokesman Major General Athar Abbas time and again said that India is involved in militancy against Pakistan and her consulates located in Afghanistan are being used as launching pad.

It is worth mentioning here that Pakistan has deployed more than 100,000 troops on the border with Afghanistan and is fighting a bloody war against terrorism. Her security forces are busy in elimination of foreign sponsored militancy. Thousand of soldiers have scarified their lives not only for the motherland but to bring safety to the world in general. Pakistan is a key ally in the war on terror and the threat of withdrawal would alarm the USA as it could seriously hamper NATO troops fighting in Afghanistan. Pakistan is a nuclear power too and is able to handle any type of Indian belligerence.

In this context, earlier Pakistan Army Chief of Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has categorically expressed at number of occasions that Indian attack would be responded in full strength while using all types of resources. On November 25, 2009 General Kayani stated that the nation would emerge as victorious in the on-going war against extremism. While addressing a ceremony at Police Lines he paid rich tributes to the Frontier police for their valuable sacrifices in the war against terrorism. At this occasion General Kayani revealed that Pakistan was founded in the name of Islam by our forefathers and each one of us should work for strengthening the country and should made commitment towards achieving the goal of turning the country into a true Islamic state. He also announced Rs.20 million for the Frontier Police Shuhada Fund.

In response to Indian Army Chief’ statement he also put across the message that the protection and solidarity of the country are our main objectives as our coming generation owes this debt to us and resolved that any threat to the sovereignty and integrity of the country would not be tolerated. The General made it clear that Pak Army has the capability and the capacity to fight the war against terrorists and adversary too. He praised the sacrifices rendered by the security forces and high morale of the troops. Lt General Masood Aslam, Commander 11 Corps, IGFC Major General Tariq and IGP NWFP Malik Neveed Khan were also present at this historic moment.

Pakistan Army Chief visits of western border reflect his commitment to root out the foreign sponsored militancy from the area. This rooting out is directly helping global war on terror, whereas on the other hand his counter part (Indian Chief) keep on yelling and dreaming of striking Pakistan. He probably has forgotten that Pakistan is a responsible nuke power and capable to defend and strike. In 2001 and 2008 at the occasions of attacks on parliament and Mumbai, both the nations close to a nuke war, this was averted by interference from the world community India and USA. At that time too security officials have also told NATO and USA that they will not leave a single troop on the western border incase of Indian threat.

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