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Sunday, 31 January 2010

From Today's Papers - 31 Jan 10







US drone attack kills 15 militants in Waziristan

Press Trust of India, Saturday January 30, 2010, Peshawar

Launching an unprecedented wave of deadly strikes to hit the Haqqani networks, US drones fired missiles at a Taliban hideout in Pakistan's lawless North Waziristan, killing 15 militants as violence surged elsewhere, taking a toll of 12 people on Saturday.


Three missiles were fired at a site in Dattakhel area of North Waziristan, where militants groups blamed for launching attacks on a CIA base across the border in Afghanistan are based, officials said.


As many as six foreign fighters perished in the strikes. The intelligence officers used the acronym for al-Qaeda and Uzbek fighters in the Taliban ranks. The hilly area is where a US drone is suspected to have crashed a week back.


Since the bombing of a CIA forward base in Khost province, which lies across the border in Afghanistan, US has launched as many as 13 missiles strikes in the region. American intelligence believes that Haqqani network, an al-Qaeda linked Afghan Taliban faction is based in the area and helped to carry out the attack against the CIA base.


US leaders and officials have failed to persuade Pakistani leaders to extend their current military offensive to North Waziristan. As the drone strikes continued to take heavy toll of the Taliban militants, the insurgents retaliated when a teenage bomber blew himself up in a crowded market in Bajaur tribal region, killing a dozen people and injuring 24 others.






Punjab seeks more forces to guard border
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 30
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today urged Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram to raise five India Reserve Battalions for Punjab.

This, the Punjab CM said, would effectively tackle cross-border terrorism and help maintain law and order in the state. He pointed out that the cost of raising an IRB unit worked out to be about Rs 20 crore and the annual recurring expenditure of the battalion would be about Rs 26 crore.

Badal also requested the Home Ministry to bear the costs.

Chief Minister's Media Adviser Harcharan Bains said Badal also asked the Union Home Minister to grant Rs 21.78 crore for the mega city policing project in Ludhiana.

The Chief Minister also raised the issue of upgrading visitors' facilities at Hussainiwala in Ferozepur district and demanded Rs 10 crore to provide civic amenities for the thousands of spectators who witness the retreat ceremony.

Parkash Singh Badal also urged the Home Minister to issue a no-objection certificate for a proposed memorandum of understanding between Punjab and Canada’s British Columbia province for skill development and education.

The Punjab Chief Minister also requested the Home Minister to enhance the Centre’s assistance for crop damage from Rs 4,000 to Rs 15,000 per hectare.







China hits out at US over arms sales to Taiwan


China has hit back at the US over weapons sales to Taiwan as it announced a series of moves against Washington, including suspension of military exchanges between the two countries.


China will suspend bilateral military programmes and security talks with the US, impose sanctions on companies selling arms, and review co-operation on major issues, the Chinese foreign ministry announced on Saturday.


The Obama [ Images ] administration notified the US Congress on Friday of its first planed arms sales to Taiwan, a potential $6.4 billion package including Black Hawk helicopters, Patriot 'Advanced Capability-3' anti-missile missiles, and command-and-control technology.


China has decided to partially halt the exchange programs between the militaries of the two countries, as well as the vice-ministerial consultation on strategic security, arms control and anti-proliferation, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported, quoting a foreign ministry release.


China will also impose sanctions on US companies involved in the arms sales to Taiwan, it said.


The latest announcement by Beijing [ Images ] means it could jeopardise important bonds of cooperation with Washington, which has looked to China for support in surmounting the financial crisis, dealing with Iran and North Korea, and seeking international agreement on fighting climate change.


According to the Xinhua report, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei on Saturday summoned the US envoy Jon Huntsman for an urgent meeting.


The US decision "constitutes a gross intervention into China's internal affairs, seriously endangers China's national security and harms China's peaceful reunification efforts," the foreign ministry statement said.


He urged the US to "fully recognise the gravity of the issue, revoke the erroneous decision on arms sales to Taiwan and stop selling weapons to Taiwan."


"The US plan will definitely further undermine China-US relations and bring about serious negative impact on exchanges and cooperation in major areas between the two countries," he was quoted as saying by Xinhua.


"Otherwise, the United States must shoulder the responsibility for the grave aftermath," the Chinese leader noted.


China took a similar step in 2008 after the former Bush administration announced a multi-billion-dollar arms sale to Taiwan - the most sensitive issue in US-China relations.


Last week US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton [ Images ] angered Beijing with a call to China to investigate cyber attacks on search giant Google, after the company said email accounts of human rights activists had been hacked.


China claims the self-governing Taiwan as its own, while the US is Taiwan's most important ally and largest arms supplier. The US government is bound by law to ensure the island is able to respond to Chinese threats.

China considers Taiwan, where nationalists fled in 1949 after losing the mainland's civil war, to be a territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary. It had warned Washington repeatedly against the arms sales to the country.






On defence tour, J&K kids want to join NDA

Express News Service Posted online: Saturday , Jan 30, 2010 at 0429 hrs

Pune : Aftab Ahmad, a Class X student, came all the way from Poonch district in Jammu and Kashmir to Pune along with his 33 fellow students. They had come to Mumbai and Pune on a 10-day tour which ended on Friday.


After finishing his Class XII, Ahmad wants to study at the National Defence Academy (NDA). Ahmad and his friends visited few defence establishments in the city as part of ‘operation sadbhavana’ tour organised by the 27 Rashtriya Rifles (Maratha Light Infantry) of the Indian Army.


Since early 1990s, the Indian Army has been organising promotional tours for students of J&K to other parts of the country with the aim of giving these children a taste of another life, away from conflict. With Ahmad and his fellow tour members, this seems to have worked. Almost all of them want to visit Pune again and are keen on joining the NDA and eventually the Indian Army in the next few years.


“We are glad to be here. Almost everyone in the group wants to join the NDA and then the defence forces,” said Ahmad. The students said the Poonch sector had seen relative peace over the last two years. “Prior to that, we could not even go to school for fear of the violence,” said Mohammand Karim, a Class XII student from Seri Khwaja village, near the border.


On Friday, the students interacted with Brig Rajbir Singh, Pune Sub Area Commander. “We are looking at these kinds of tours to open their horizons as many have never come outside J&K. They too should get the opportunity to visit other parts of the country,” he said.


Four instructors accompanied the students. “The Army is one of the sole employment opportunities for many of us, since there are very few industries in J&K. Most of the factories have been shut down recently,” said Abdul Qayum, one of the accompanying instructors. In Pune, the students visited the College of Military Engineering (CME), the NDA, the Army Sports Institute, the Air Force base at Lohegaon along with number of private sector companies.


In Mumbai, the team met Amitabh Bachchan. “He didn’t have a lot of time, but he said he was very happy to see us,” said Ahmad. The students also interacted with the Governor of Maharashtra.






USA’s new turn…!


Sajid Ansari


After lots of drumbeating of “war-on-terror” and Al-Qaeda, for 9 years, which is nowadays under heavy criticism, at home and abroad, the US administration is now shifting world’s attention towards “Mumbai attack” and involvement of LeT- Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, declaring it as a Global threat. That’s what the US Defense Secretary; Robert Gates launched and kicked off a ‘new’ campaign in India, apparently against the so-called a ‘terrorist’ organization which, in fact, was a welfare organization, thus creating a plea to blame Pakistan, indirectly and a possible justification to attack Pakistan. Robert Gates also praised India for showing restraint following the terror siege of Mumbai. He further said, “I believe this operation, under the umbrella of Al-Qaida working with all of these groups, is intended to destabilize not just Afghanistan, or not just Pakistan, but potentially the whole region. It’s important to recognize the magnitude of the threat that the entire region faces”.


Following Gates, Daniel Benjamin, the State Department’s coordinator for counter terrorism also warned saying, “Pakistan based banned group “Lashkar-e-Tayyaba” (LeT), blamed for Mumbai attack, and could become a threat to the west like Al-Qaida”. Isn’t it surprising that after more than a year, now, the US administration has suddenly realized that LeT could also become a Global threat hence equating LeT with Al-Qaida. The US administration now turning a mice into a “monster” before the world which means that there is a ‘new’ and fresh planning has been done by USA and India, of course with active back-up support from Britain and Israel.


Why suddenly the US has taken a ‘U’ turn towards Mumbai carnage about which Robert Blake, then US Ambassador in India, FBI, Interpol and MI6 had cleared Pakistan’s involvement in this episode as the world knows that the Mumbai “Drama” was played by RAW, Indian Military Intelligence–IMI and Mossad, as mentioned in an article “Mumbai Carnage”: The final Nail in Mumbai Police’s Coffin” and , “The Police Story stands shattered”, by Amaresh Misra, who wrote in one of his articles, Today, 28th December 2008, is a historic day. It marks the beginning of a process wherein my `theory’ about the Mumbai attack might just turn out to be true. But there is no joy. There is just emptiness, sadness at Karkare’s death and the killing of hundreds of innocents by the Hindutva-Mossad-CIA combine using factions in the ISI and International/Israeli mercenaries”. How is it possible that CIA and FBI do not know the real story and would Not have told it to the Defense Secretary of their country?


Isn’t it amusing that Robert Gates, Defense Secretary of US administration asking for “Guarantee” from Pakistan, against repeat of Mumbai-like attacks on behalf of India, as if Gate is also Defense Minister of India..? But can Gate, or for that matter anyone in India, give a guarantee that RAW and Mossad will NOT repeat the same in any other part of India to put blame on Pakistan…? Because it’s a proven fact that Mumbai carnage was dramatized just to kill Hemant Karkare, the police Inspector who was investigating Malegaon bomb blasts and firing of Samjhota Express.


However, both these gentlemen, Robert Gates and Benjamin, are suddenly showing much more concern about the activities of LeT but at the same time why Gates and Benjamin have ignored gruesome terrorist activities of RAW and Indian Military Intelligence-IMI, of bombing Malegaon and firing of Samjhota Express wherein 68 Pakistanis were burned alive by Indian active army man Col. Prumit.? Didn’t FBI tell them about Karkare’s planned murder under the cover of Mumbai Drama, better ask Karkare’s wife who knows all about it, I am afraid she may also be killed in a road ‘accident’. Are these two gentlemen, Gate and Benjamin, are so innocent or so ignorant about what RAW has been doing in Pakistan, killing thousands of innocent civilians by bomb blasts in different cities of Pakistan..? And if they do not know the havoc played by Indian army in Swat and other cities of NWFP under the cover of TTP, the Pakistani Taliban…?And didn’t they know that Indian 17 consulate offices in Afghanistan, mostly along the Pakistani border and carrying out terrorist activities in Balochistan from Afghanistan’s soil…?


And why Gates and Benjamin are silent on the extra judicial killings, rape, arson and what not brutalities going on by Indian terrorist army in Kashmir since 1989, where more than 90,000 Kashmiris have been killed so for, including Sikhs because IMI and RAW killed 36 Sikh villagers near Sirinagar on the day of Bill Clinton’s arrival in India, putting blame of “terrorist activity” of LeT whereas FBI investigated and the President’s secretary informed Bill Clinton about the truth while the delegation was still in India. That is why about 200 Kashmiri Sikhs took out procession in front of White House in Nov; 2009, while Barack Obama and Manmohan Singh addressed joint news conference inside the building, asking for holding Plebiscite in Kashmir, in-accordance with UN Resolution of 1948, which is also a long-time demand of Pakistan and also all the Kashmiris, both in Azad Kashmir as well as the Kashmiris of Indian-held Kashmir.


Well, we all know, rather the whole world knows what they are up to..? They attacked and invaded Afghanistan taking the plea of “war-on-terror” and to wipe-off Al-Qaida and catch Osama Bin Laden who could have been caught but ‘Rumsfeld’s decision allowed Osama to escape’, informed by a US Senator, on 30th Nov,2009, in a hard hitting Report points the finger directly at Rumsfeld for turning down request for reinforcement as Bin Laden was trapped in December, 2001, in caves and tunnels in a mountainous area of eastern Afghanistan known as Tora Bora. Because of Bin Laden would have been arrested, in 2001, there was NO justification of carrying on “war-on-terror” and stay of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan any more.


And now the same Robert Gate who was working with Rumsfeld, then as an undersecretary of Defense in US administration, now taking the plea that LeT working jointly with Al-Qaida. In fact, like they invaded Afghanistan in 2001, now they, the US forces’ Command in Afghanistan, also wants to attack on Pakistan from all sides, the eastern borders of Pakistan with India and the LoC between both the Kashmirs, the north-western borders and the western border of Balochistan, jointly, along with India, whereas NATO will take the control of a ‘Watchman” of the whole of Afghanistan to maintain statuesque and not to incite or go for war against Afghan Taliban as long as the US forces are ‘busy’ in Pakistan. Moreover, by the way, why Gates felt need to bring such a heavy and high powered delegation, of 125 members, to India and Pakistan as no such a big delegation has come to visit India & Pakistan in the past except when the Presidents used to visit the countries …? The majority of them will certainly be war experts of different departments, of ground forces, air force and the Navy, simply to discuss modes-opernedi of a joint attack on Pakistan and the requirement by India otherwise what for so many ‘people; accompanying the Defense Secretary.?


As a matter of fact we believe that in view of much more criticism, at home and abroad, on Obama’s policy of continuing Afghan war, he wanted to call off operation “war-on-terror” but upon insistence of CIA and Pentagon, which is fully infested with Zionist Jews, Obama approved the required reinforcement of additional 30,000 US troops and 7,000 troops from NATO. But Obama has also given a time-frame as well to finish the job, of Al-Qaida, that’s what he has been told, and to start withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan by the summers of 2011.







Indian Army to Procure Quick Reaction SAM

To secure its skies from enemy fighter aircraft and cruise missiles, the Indian Army is planning to procure more quick reaction surface to air missiles (QR-SAMs) from global vendors. In a Request for Information (RFI) issued yesterday, without mentioning the number of systems to be procured, the Army has asked the vendors to provide missile systems which have a range of over nine kilometres and are capable of taking on aircraft or missiles at an altitude of up to six kilometres.


The Army is seeking a QR-SAM capable of being launched within six seconds and taking on hovering helicopters also. It wants the new systems to have the ability of firing two missiles at a time and simultaneously guide them to the desired targets. The Army has reportedly placed orders for four squadrons of SPYDER QR-SAMs from Israel. The DRDO is also working on the development of a home grown QR-SAM system and planning to co-develop it with a foreign partner.


The RFI states the missile system should be capable of operating in the electronic warfare environment and should be provided with Nuclear, Biological and Chemical warfare protection system. The Army wants its new systems to be highly mobile and capable of being moved on rail-based platforms besides being mobile in desert and semi-desert terrain. It also wants the vendors to do a transfer of technology to Indian firms so that the missile system can be later on produced in India also. Global missile manufacturers including MBDA of France and Israeli Rafale are expected to offer their systems to the Army.







Indian Army to Buy Special Operations Vehicles


The Indian Defence Ministry has issued a Request for Information (RFI) to national and international manufacturers for the procurement of high utility all-terrain vehicles for the Indian Army, with a capacity to carry 10 fully-armed men. The all-terrain vehicle will be used for special operations and patrol duties and must have high mobility.


The RFI issued by the Indian Defence Ministry has asked the manufacturers to indicate their ability in supplying these kinds of high-utility vehicles to India, with transfer of technology for manufacturing in India. The RFI does not specify the exact number of these all-terrain vehicles required by India.


As per the India Army’s requirement, these high-utility vehicles must be able to ply in snow-bound areas, marshes, creeks, beaches and deserts. Besides being able to operate in high-altitude areas, the high-mobility vehicle must also have the capability to cross crevasses. The Indian Army expects to procure both the wheeled and tracked all-terrain vehicles equipped with a convertible rack and seat system. A Global Positioning System powered by its own electrical systems, wind and temperature tachymeter, fire extinguisher, external storage facility for rappelling ropes, ice aces, pick axes and shovels, along with two 20-litre warming fuel cans would be additional features of the vehicle. Other attachments to the vehicle include an all-way blade, rotary snow blower, snow cutter and tilt trailer.







Who Will Defend India’s Defense Forces?

by Madhavi


gen-deepak-kapoorIndia expects the highest standards of professional conduct from its Armed Forces. And rightly so. The discipline and dedication of the Armed Forces are critical for ensuring the safety of our nation. But are not Indians too unrealistic in their expectations from the nation’s Armed Forces? Mere phrases like “We are proud of our Jawans”; “We have a military that thoroughly follows orders of the civilian leadership;” and wreath laying ceremonies at the Amar Jawan Jyoti are not enough to show our respect for the military personnel. Even the Amar Jawan Jyoti does not have the name of a single Indian soldier who scarified his life for independent India. The 90,000 names etched at AJJ are those of soldiers belonging to the British Indian Army who died during World War I and the Afghan Wars.

Coming back to the issue that motivated this post, the court martial of Lt. Gen. Awadesh Prakash.



The Army Chief’s aide Lt. Gen. Awadesh Prakash, the current Military Secretary, has been found guilty by a court of inquiry of using his position to influence a no-objection certificate given by the chief of the 33 Corps in Sukhna, Lt. Gen P.K. Rath, to a private realtor. The East Army Commander, Lt. Gen. V.K. Singh, who convened the inquiry, has recommended court martial of the two officers. However, while the Army Chief has acceded to Gen. Rath’s court martial, he has ordered only disciplinary action against Gen. Prakash. Lt. Gen. V.K. Singh, due to take over from General Kapoor on March 31, and the media has accused General Kapoor of favoring his Secretary Lt. Gen. Prakash.

According to Army sources Gen. Kapoor would have taken the total picture into consideration in ordering only administrative action against Lt Gen Avadesh Prakash. Sources are quick to point out that the successor of Gen Kapoor, Lt Gen V K Singh had gone a step further in recommending the sacking of Prakash. Said a top retired Army officer: “He (Kapoor) has a set of advisors and experts before he takes a final call. I feel he would have taken a decision keeping the highest values in the Army. It is no doubt embarrassing when the senior most General in the Army is over-ruled. It will affect the morale among senior officers.”

No doubt, that Lt. Gen. Awadesh Prakash’s actions were disapproving and action against him was imperative. But was the political highhandedness and media pouncing necessary or even desirable? Lt. General Prakash who was due to retire on January 31, 2010, has become, thanks to Defense Minister A.K. Anthony, the highest ranking member of the Indian Army to be court martialed. The country is rejoicing that the righteousness of the Indian Army was once again upheld. But what about the impact on this development on the morale of the Army? This post is not a defense for Lt. General Prakash, but a more pointed defense of the stature and morale of the Indian Armed Forces. Lengthy inquires into scams by the political leadership of the country with virtually no action against them has been the norm in India. Even murder convicts can contest elections. But error on the part of the military personnel has to be highlighted and ‘appropriate’ action is taken instantly. Hypocrisy or Justice?

General Kapoor rightly stated “The strength of the Indian Army is 1.1 million. But when something of this nature happens, the media delves into it. But when it happens on the civilian side, it does not get reported.”

Civilian control of the Army is imperative in a democracy, but India is taking it too far; embarrassing the military just to prove the obedience of the Indian military compared to it Pakistani counterpart is not advisable. And more importantly, if we Indians are so concerned about the worth of our military, why was there no protest against Gul Panag’s recent tweet that the Army Chief General Kapoor is ‘spineless’? In response to Gul’s tweet some Sudhir K. Singh tweets “U should have called Deepak Kapoor ’spineless’ much earlier. Calling him one now would suggest you are shooting a lame duck.”

We can tolerate such comments against an in-office Army Chief without raising protest, but can’t accept a anything less than court martial for Lt. Gen, Prakash.

Bravo, I could not think of any better way to de-moralize the Indian Armed Forces.









Saturday, 30 January 2010

From Today's Papers - 30 Jan 10

Darjeeling Land Scam
Army chief orders Lt Gen’s court martial
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 29
Bringing down the curtains on the controversy surrounding the infamous Darjeeling land scam, Army chief General Deepak Kapoor today ordered court martial proceedings against Lt Gen Avadesh Prakash, a military secretary and the senior-most three-star officer ever to face such an action.

Acting on an unprecedented “advice” from Defence Minister AK Antony, the Army chief issued the instructions for action against Lt Gen Prakash for his role in the issuance of a no-objection certificate to a private firm that falsely claimed to be establishing an affiliate of Ajmer-based Mayo College on the land adjacent to Sukhna cantonment in Darjeeling district of West Bengal.

Initially, General Kapoor had recommended administrative action against Lt Gen Prakash, who was to retire in two days, and had okayed disciplinary action against Lt Gen PK Rath, the then GoC of the 33 Corps at Darjeeling.

Senior Defence Ministry officials confirmed that the “Army chief had ordered disciplinary action against Lt Gen Prakash, who will face a court martial… The chief stuck to the advice from Antony in the case.”

Separately, Lt Gen Ramesh Halgali and Maj Gen P Sen will face administrative action. Show-cause notices had been issued to them about two weeks ago. A court of inquiry ordered by the Eastern Army Commander, Lt Gen VK Singh, who is the Army chief-designate, had recommended “termination of service” for Lt Gen Prakash and administrative action against the other officers.

A court martial could even lead to imprisonment and being “cashiered” from service, which entails loss of rank, decorations and all post-retirement benefits, all depending on the severity of charges. However, Lt Gen Prakash would now get an opportunity to defend himself in the case.

Commenting on today’s move, retired Army officers opined that General Kapoor knew that the unprecedented “advice” from Antony was like an order, which had to be complied with. “It was almost clear that the General was not to defy Antony. The Minister’s clout within the Congress and his clean image was well known and a defiance would not have gone down well. Also, historically any defiance by the men in uniform has been viewed with suspicion by the elected representatives of Parliament,” they said.

One such recent case was in 2008 when the then Navy Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta had refused to implement the “insufficient” recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission. He was asked to tow the line. The opposition parties and the media joined in telling how the Admiral was wrong while being totally in favour of “better pay and perks” for the forces.

Lastly, General Kapoor knew the implications even if he had opted to differ with Antony -- the Minister could have issued instructions himself, which could have caused even more embarrassment. “It was not a policy decision on national security that the Chief should stick to his own line and stand up to the Minister,” said an officer.

Court martial for Military Secretary Avadesh Prakash
Nitin Gokhale, Friday January 29, 2010, New Delhi

One of the Army's senior-most generals will face a court martial for his alleged role in a land scam that runs into hundreds of crores.

The Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor has confirmed that Lieutenant General Avadesh Prakash will be court martialled. Prakash is the Military Secretary and among eight principal staff officers to the Army chief, General Deepak Kapoor. (Read: What is court martial?)

The Chief had earlier refused to sack Prakash, despite the recommendation of an internal army inquiry. Instead, Kapoor gave Prakash 15 days to formally explain his role in the case.  

Earlier this week, Defence Minister AK Antony advised the Army to order a court martial.  That was seen as the government's way of expressing its dissatisfaction with what was seen as the Army Chief's inaction against Prakash.  Sources say the government and former army chiefs were worried that the scam, and the lack of disciplinary action against Prakash, suggested that senior officers were being protected by the army.  

Evidence will now be recorded against Prakash, who will later be cross-questioned as part of the court martial.

Lieutenant General Avadesh Prakash was indicted by an army inquiry of using his position to help a businessman in Siliguri in West Bengal.

The internal investigation found that Prakash influenced officers to permit a real estate developer to acquire 71 acres next to the Army's 33 Corps Headquarters in Siliguri in West Bengal. The Army, which had earlier told the government that this land could not be sold to any commercial developer for security reasons, okayed the transfer of the land to Agarwal.

The Army's inquiry said Prakash should be sacked for he "became a facilitator in promoting (his friend) Dilip Agarwal's business."

India gets Naval 'gunfire' to destroy enemy targets
K Ramnath Shenoy/PTI / Bangalore January 29, 2010, 10:40 IST

India has developed a new generation multi-sensor, multi-weapon defence system against enemy targets on board naval ships.

The state-of-the-art "Gun Fire Control System" (GFCS) developed by Bharat Electronics Limited will be installed on board the P-28 class of ships.

"The GFCS is a quick reaction, multi-sensor, multi-weapon, short/medium/long range defence system against air, surface or shore targets on board naval ships", a senior official of the Bangalore-based Navratna defence PSU told PTI.

The GFCS is designed to provide air, surface or shore defence with 76 MM and 30 MM guns. Its purpose is to locate a hostile target using a radar or video tracker, acting on early warning search radars and to track its approach with high accuracy, in order to obtain reliable target data.

The data is further processed and used to control the weapons by pointing it in an exact ballistic firing position for eventual destruction of the target. The GFCS continues to track the approaching target, simultaneously pointing the weapon on it, until it is completely destroyed.

The GFCS comprises five functional sub-systems: tracker, weapon control, sight control, combat management system and support systems, each of which can be used as an independent system.

The GFCS for the P-28 class of ships would be "handed over" to Defence Minister A K Antony at a ceremony here in the presence of BEL Chairman and Managing Director Ashwani Kumar Datt on February 2.

A state-of-the-art facility, dedicated to manufacture of Digital Flight Control Computer (DFCC) for the Light Combat Aircraft (Tejas) at BEL's Bangalore Complex will also come up.

DFCC is a multiple redundant (improving its reliability, one channel will take over if another fails) digital fly-by-wire flight control system of Tejas, which controls manoeuvering of the aircraft.

DFCC is a flight critical sub-system to be manufactured as per AS 9100 standards with stringent in-process and quality control processes, including environmental tests on each unit.

To meet this requirement, BEL has set up this integrated manufacturing facility for assembly, inspection and testing of DFCC, all under one roof.

The facility includes thermal cycling chamber, vibration machine, dehumidifying chambers for storing PCBs, high resolution inspection tools to identify process errors, automated test equipment for rigorous performance testing and engineering test station for testing the DFCC unit.

Antony will inagurate the DFCC.

Women power for ITBP
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Bhanu, January 29
It was a momentous occasion for 209 women, who created history by forming the first batch of women constables to join the ranks of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), on passing out from the Basic Training Center (BTC) here today.

Home Minister P Chidambaram reviewed the parade, which was commanded by Poonam Johari. Terming the Sino-Indian border as the most difficult, where these women constables would be deployed, he said the women personnel would be able to regulate and screen women during international trade between India and China at Nathu La and Sherathung, besides escorting female pilgrims on the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra.

Felicitating parents for taking a bold decision to let their daughters join a force entrusted with guarding one of the most challenging borders in the world, Chidambaram said these constables would always cherish this day even as it was written in golden letters in the history of the ITBP.

VVIP security duties, guarding vital installations, rescue and relief operations, including disaster management and psychological operations at border villages and during festivals, public meetings and agitations are other tasks they are expected to undertake.

ITBP Director General Vikram Srivastava said they would be further trained in counter-insurgency and jungle warfare and mountaineering and skiing as well. A Quick Reaction Team (QRT) and a Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad would also be formed in order to raise an independent women’s battalion, he added.

The Home Minister also gave away awards for excellence during training.

Security, governance top Afghan agenda
by Anita Inder Singh

The Taliban mounted their latest attack on Kabul on January 18 soon after British Foreign Secretary David Miliband affirmed that the London Conference on Afghanistan, which started on January 28, must show that there is a coherent international plan for the future of Afghanistan.

But the attack underlines that an agreement between the West and President Karzai is essential not only for the coherence of any plan that might emerge from the London conference, but more importantly, perhaps, for its implementation.

The Taliban assault highlighted yet again the inextricable intertwining of security and governance.

It was intended to tell the West and Karzai that a surge of 37,000 Nato troops won’t achieve security in Afghanistan and that there will be no reconciliation with moderate or any other Taliban.

The Afghan National Army (ANA) restored order in Kabul. But paradoxes coexist. The ANA’s success served as a reminder that the West has not trained enough Afghans to stabilise their country.

General Stanley McChrystal’s advice, given to the Obama administration last summer, still needs to be followed: building up the Afghan security forces would be “the most important thing we do in the future.” Only then will Karzai’s government be able to establish a legal monopoly of force in Afghanistan.

Insecurity largely explains the weakness of political institutions and the rule of law in Afghanistan. Stable political institutions and a strong rule of law cannot be established in the middle of a war. As Transparency International pointed out in a recent report, instability and corruption reinforce each other.

But Karzai must realise that decent governance is necessary to deliver essential services to ordinary Afghans, and to enhance his legitimacy.

For their part his western allies will not enhance their legitimacy – or his – by publicly berating him for misgovernance.

The western criticism of Karzai can easily be construed as a slight to the proud Afghans: he has said that the poverty of Afghans should not become a means to insult and ridicule them.

In any case, Karzai can turn the tables on his western critics – as he did – by sharply denouncing the killing of civilians in recent Nato attacks.

And rumours that Nato soldiers had desecrated the Koran sparked a violent protest in the southern province of Helmand.

Denials by Nato could not hide the fact that such incidents only play into the hands of the Taliban.

Nato and Karzai must work together to strengthen the government in Kabul. For reconciliation with any ‘moderate’ Taliban, deemed vital by the West to win in Afghanistan, can only be achieved by a strong centre. Reconciliation will not be achieved either by a divided Nato or by Nato and Karzai blaming each other for Afghanistan’s woes.

To some extent the onus for poor governance rests with the West. Omar Zakhilwal, the Afghan Finance Minister (favoured by the West), has said that western countries must share the blame for corruption in Afghanistan and that some in the West were using the issue to make domestic political mileage.

The allegation cannot be dismissed simply because it is made by an Afghan.

So first, Nato must provide security, which will include training more Afghans to assume full responsibility for their country’s defence.

Success will only come when Karzai and his Nato backers agree that Afghans should have a government that is strong enough to protect them and provide them with essential services.

The writer is a Professor at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution in New Delhi

War against Pakistan, China? You’d need Napoleon
India's most senior army officer has declared that the country needs to prepare for a two-front war with China and Pakistan.
Friday, 29 January 2010 10:56

By Shaukat Qadir

In what appear to be deliberately provocative remarks, India’s most senior army officer has declared that the country needs to prepare for a two-front war with China and Pakistan.

Most of the Pakistani media dwelt only on that part of a lengthy statement at the end of last month by General Deepak Kapoor, the chief of the Indian army staff, and consequently it was scoffed at, even in political circles. But there is more to it than that.

To begin with, making contingency plans for all possibilities, however improbable, is bread and butter for all militaries in peacetime. But a two-front war is a nightmare scenario for any country, whatever its military strength. And the challenge of facing China’s military forces by themselves should be sufficiently daunting for the Indians without adding the possibility of taking on Pakistan at the same time (indeed, Pakistan alone would be no walkover for the current Indian military).

It would seem, therefore, that Gen Kapoor is being unrealistic. But before attempting to understand the reasoning behind his assertion, let us examine what else he said.

In preparing for the two-front strategy, Gen Kapoor listed four requirements: first, continuing to develop a “Cold Start” strategy; second, countering “both military and non-military facets of asymmetric and sub-conventional warfare”; third, enhancing “strategic reach and out-of-area capabilities” and attaining “operational synergy” between the three services; and finally, achieving a “technological edge” over India’s opponents.

While “strategic reach and out-of-area capabilities” and achieving a “technological edge” over China appear over-ambitious, it is a sorry military that is still seeking to synergise its tri-service operations. The second requirement is an obvious necessity of the times. It is the first point that needs to be understood from a military perspective.

Cold Start is a concept that the Indian military has been aspiring to for some years, to offset the advantage Pakistan enjoys of being able to assemble forces for war in a shorter period of time; an advantage offered to it by geography alone, because Pakistan lies linear to India, with little depth.

The Indian military is deployed in considerable depth, along both the Chinese border and the Pakistani one. In the event of a war with one of the two countries, some of the forces deployed against the other would have to be moved in support of those at war. Usually, this “assembly” of forces takes place before battle is joined. However, the concept of Cold Start envisages troops moving from peacetime quarters directly into battle.

In military parlance there is a concept referred to as “balance”, which relates to the time-distance between forces; a force is said to be in a state of balance if it is capable of sustaining itself to achieve the assigned mission in a time period within which reserve forces can arrive, permitting the initial force to go further – whether in defence or attack.

In attempting a Cold Start there is an inherent risk to the maintenance of balance between the forces that have joined battle and those leaving barracks to reinforce them. There are too many imponderables, and the operation has to be impeccably planned. This delicate state of balance between his forces lay behind Napoleon’s success at the battles of Ulm and Austerlitz in 1805, when he defeated far superior forces. But then, that was Napoleon and he was at the height of his military powers. His attempt to repeat the feat ended in defeat at Waterloo.

Peacetime military leaderships are usually not trained to take risks; in fact, they tilt towards being over-cautious, although there are exceptions. This applies to the Subcontinent as much as anywhere else. It would be a bold commander who was prepared to undertake military operations without being certain of timely reinforcement.

So the question arises, what provoked Gen Kapoor’s remarks? After all, Pakistan is fighting a domestic war and making continuous overtures for peace with India. Relations between India and China have been steadily improving since the turn of the century; bilateral trade has almost tripled, and occasional hiccups such as the Chinese demands on India relating to the disputed territories of Himachal Pradesh are more tests of each other’s tolerance than gestures of aggression; so why, and why now?

Almost certainly India is looking to the future, at a post-US withdrawal from Afghanistan scenario. Despite US efforts to build up Indian military capabilities as a counter-balance to growing Chinese strength, India remains conscious of its inability to meet China militarily or economically on equal terms.

With the imminent US departure from Afghanistan, China is going to be the undisputed regional power and, without considerably increased assistance from the US, India will never be able to catch up with it.

Simultaneously, the US is committed to assisting Pakistan in its war against terrorists, even after it withdraws from the region. Was Gen Kapoor trying to raise the bogey of such a possibility to receive enhanced aid from the US? Or was he merely talking to his domestic audience in an effort to reassure them?

And in any case, whatever his audience, were they listening? I suppose only time will tell.

Gul Panag calls army chief 'spineless' on Twitter

Bombay News.Net
Friday 29th January, 2010 (IANS)

Bollywood actress Gul Panag tweeted against Indian Army chief General Deepak Kapoor calling him 'spineless' and asked for a probe into why he recommended mild action against his top aide in a land scam in Sukhna cantonment in West Bengal.

'It is a first. Ministry of Defence had to step in as COAS (chief of army staff) continued his stand of trying to protect the said generals. Now WHY was he protecting them?... I would protect someone if 1. I had something to fear from disclosure 2. I am an accomplice 3. I am spineless. COAS is sadly all three,' Panag said in a series of postings on networking site Twitter Thursday.

Panag's father Lt. Gen. H.S. Panag retired as a top army commander.

In a first of its kind instance, Defence Minister A.K. Antony has 'advised' Kapoor to take disciplinary action against one of his top aides Lt. Gen. Avadesh Prakash which may even lead to the latter's court martial.

Earlier, a court of inquiry had indicted Prakash and Lt. Gen. P.K. Rath in the land scam. While the army chief recommended court martial of Rath, he merely sought an 'explanation' from Prakash.

'COAS (Chief of Army Staff) saving his buddy's neck as he is in all likelihood equally dirty,' the actress said in her tweet.

'I'd like to ask our government to enquire into 1. COAS 'reasons' for being 'soft' on said generals 2. Look into COAS assets,' she added Friday.

Panag is the daughter of Lt. Gen. H.S. Panag who retired as the chief of army's Central Command.

The top army commander was removed as the chief of the Northern Army Command in 2008 as soon as he convened inquiry into the irregularities in the purchase of tents made under the tenure of Kapoor.

In reply to her father's stand on the issue, she said: 'Why involve him? He is retired, What influence can he have? Internally all are aware but powerless to do anything.'

Thursday, 28 January 2010

From Today's Papers - 28 Jan 10

Antony orders court martial of Lt Gen
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 27
Virtually cracking the whip and differing from the opinion of the Indian Army chief, Defence Minister AK Antony today recommended that court martial proceedings be initiated against military secretary Lt Gen Avadesh Prakash.

Army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor had recommended only a milder “administrative action” against Lt Gen Prakash and two others, Lt Gen Ramesh Halgali and Major-Gen P Sen, while he okayed disciplinary proceedings against Lt Gen PK Rath in what is now known as the “Darjeeling land scam”. Administrative action is a mild reprimand when compared with disciplinary proceedings, which can lead up to a court martial.
The advice of the Defence Minister had reached the Army chief this evening, sources said while confirming the developments. Such an advice coming from the Defence Minister was unprecedented. The onus is now on the Army chief to take action. Sources said the Army chief is “unlikely to differ on the Defence Minister’s advice” and it was likely that General Prakash will not escape unscathed.
Last week, Adjutant-General Lt Gen Mukesh Sabharwal acting on the advice of the Army chief issued notices for taking administrative action against Military Secretary General Prakash and others. General Prakash, who is to retire on January 31, has replied to the notice, sources said today.
Last week, Antony had questioned the Army chief as to why different yardsticks were applied in deciding the nature of action against four senior Generals. The court of inquiry ordered by the Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen VK Singh had indicted two officers, including General Prakash, for their role in issuing a no-objection certificate to a private establishment that falsely claimed to be establishing an affiliate of the well known Ajmer-based Mayo College on land adjacent to the Sukna military station in Darjeeling district.
On Saturday, General Kapoor had explained to the defence ministry why he wanted only an administrative action against Prakash while the COI ordered by General VK Singh had wanted General Prakash be sacked. The Army chief ’s ruling given on January 11 was in contrast to the recommendation of the COI and that had prompted Antony to seek a reply.
The Defence Minister had reportedly asked General Kapoor as to what was the basis to take disciplinary action against only one of the four senior Generals who were facing a probe.
Lt Gen Rath, is his earlier capacity as commander of the 33 corps at Darjeeling, had a major role in of signing of a memorandum of understanding with a private realtor for a 70-acre plot adjacent to the military station near Darjeeling. Rath during the court of inquiry had blamed the military secretary for putting pressure on him to allow the MoU.

Govt asks for court martial of senior general
NDTV Correspondent, Wednesday January 27, 2010, New Delhi

Defence Minister AK Antony has recommended that one of the country's senior-most generals face a court martial. (Read: Army's shame: Generals involved in land scam)

Lieutenant General Avdesh Prakash was indicted by an army inquiry of using his position to help a businessman in Siliguri in West Bengal. Prakash is the Military Secretary and eight principal staff officers to the Army chief, General Deepak Kapoor. (Read: Will Generals face the heat in land scam?)

The internal investigation found that Prakash influenced officers to permit a real estate developer to acquire 71 acres next to the Army's 33 Corps Headquarters in Siliguri in West Bengal. The Army, which had earlier told the government that this land could not be sold to any commercial developer for security reasons, okayed the transfer of the land to Agarwal.

The Army's inquiry said Prakash should be sacked for he "became a facilitator in promoting (his friend) Dilip Agarwal's business."

However, General Deepak Kapoor decided to ask Prakash for a formal explanation before determining what action to take against him.

'NATO powers want high-profile role for India in Afghan'
January 26, 2010 21:41 IST
Tags: North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, India, Afghanistan, ABC News, David Miliband
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Efforts are on to persuade India [ Images ] to undertake a more high-profile role in embattled Afghanistan as India's external affairs minister arrives in London [ Images ] on Tuesday to participate in the one-day meet on Afghanistan.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown [ Images ] who has taken the initiative for the conference on Thursday said, "I believe that the neighbours of Afghanistan should come together to help sustain an infant democracy like Afghanistan. India has a big role to play."

Although details of the proposals are being kept under wraps, and Islamabad [ Images ] has already opposed involving New Delhi [ Images ], commentators and strategic experts said the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation powers were looking increasingly at India for fresh ideas to resolve the Afghan crisis.

Indian Foreign Minister S M Krishna [ Images ] will meet the British Foreign Secretary David Miliband on Wednesday morning and the Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith in the afternoon.

The continued attack on Indian students in Australia [ Images ] will figure in the talks with Smith.

"The road to success for NATO's strategy runs through India," wrote a commentator in The Spectator, a respected British magazine that supports the opposition Conservative


Taking a non-partisan view of Miliband's proposal for the regional council, the Spectator said India's help was needed to offset Pakistani support for Afghan Taliban [ Images ] groups.

"Miliband's idea deserves all the support it can get," it said.

A recent poll conducted for western broadcasters ABC News, BBC and the German ARD by the Afghan Centre for Socio-Economic and Opinion Research showed that ordinary Afghans view India more positively than any other country.

In spite of its low profile role, as many as 29 percent of Afghans had a "very favourable opinion" of India, compared to only two percent for Pakistan, seven percent for Britain, eight percent for the US, 17 percent for Germany [ Images ] and 18 percent for Iran.

"There is no doubt that India has a very strong bilateral relationship with Afghanistan, building everything from toilets to transmission lines as the Afghans love to say," said Rahul Roy-Chaudhury, a leading London-based expert on South Asia.
"The question is whether India is ready to move from a bilateral to a multilateral relationship with Afghanistan," he said.

A first: ITBP’s women battalion
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 27
The Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force is set to induct its first batch of women constables. As many as 209 women would be joining the ranks of the force that maintains border vigil over the world’s highest mountain range, when they pass out from the Basic Training Center near here this week.

Another batch of women constables would be passing out shortly, taking their initial number in the force to about 400. They would form part of ITBP’s 43rd battalion based at Patiala.
“Women personnel would be deployed for security and escort duties at Nathu La pass in Sikkim and along the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra through Uttrakhand into Tibet, due to the presence of a number of women traders and pilgrims,” VK Upretti, Inspector General Operations and Training told The Tribune.
The ITBP had been feeling the need for women constables for quite some time and the sanction for raising a women’s unit was accorded in 2007. Other major para-military organisations like the CRPF and the BSF already have women’s battalions. The CISF also has a small women’s component.
The 44-week training for women recruits who come from all over India had commenced in March last year and is the same as that for male recruits. This included drill, firing, rock climbing, battle-craft and internal security duty. Specialised training like mountaineering; river rafting, skiing and commando training would be undertaken at a later stage.Upreeti said though the women’s unit would initially be commanded by male officers, ITBP was trying to get women officers on deputation from other police organisations. A case is also being taken up with the Staff Selection Commission for recruitment of women at the level of sub-inspector and inspector for the force.
At the lower level some women non-gazetted officers at the level of head constable or havildar, who were already serving in clerical or technical cadre have been sidestepped to the women’s battalion.

Waiting for peace in Afghanistan
Regional cooperation can help
by Maj-Gen Ashok K. Mehta (retd)
The stunning attack this month in Kabul due to intelligence and security lapses — in the Red Zone near the Presidential Palace when the new Cabinet was being sworn in — shows that the Taliban movement is winning the war. The attack was on the eve of the international London conference of 63 countries on Afghanistan, mainly to work out “the transfer plan” to Afghan command and control from ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) when US troops start withdrawals in July 2011.
Despite announcing the exit time-line, the US has followed a policy of ambiguity dictated by political, not military, considerations. It is insisting there will be no cut and run; the transition and transfer of responsibility will begin after measuring progress against an elaborate mechanism of benchmarks. The military surge - clear, hold, build and transfer charge - will be accompanied by a civilian surge underscoring a US-Afghan partnership.
Organised confusion has followed from the lack of clarity in both military and political objectives. The main issues are rightsizing the Afghan National Security Forces, (ANSF) creating CIS and policing capacities, shoring up governance, reducing corruption and reconstructing infrastructure. An immediate problem is about holding of parliamentary elections or extending the term of Parliament through a constitutional amendment. For militarily marginalising the Taliban, disrupting its sanctuaries in Pakistan is essential. But with friends like Pakistan, who needs enemies?
Scenario builders have painted three contingencies based on two assumptions: that the ANSF will acquire the requisite skills and motivation to contain the Taliban and the West, including the ISAF, will not pull the plug prematurely. There is wide consensus that Taliban rule is not acceptable to the majority of Afghans and virtually all of the international community, including even Pakistan.
The scenarios are: staying the course; gradual withdrawal commensurate with progress on benchmarks; and muddling through after an impromptu deinduction of the ISAF.
There is a fourth contingency: breakup of Afghanistan-Pakistan on ethnic lines straddling the Durand Line into Pakhtunistan or Pakhtunkhwa. The first contingency is not likely, the second most desirable and the last best avoided. In 1992, everyone thought that the Najibullah regime would collapse in two weeks against the onslaught of the Mujahideen, but it survived for three years.
The third review of Af-Pak later this year has to come up with more realistic time-lines of a phased withdrawal with benchmarks for measuring progress. Training and motivating Afghan forces from scratch and equipping them with skills and artifacts for CIS will take time, patience and perseverance.
The fate of Afghanistan has been in the hands of Western powers the US, the UK and their NATO allies. The march of NATO eastwards to defeat Al-Qaeda (and the Taliban) is its first out-of-area mission, well thought out with an eye on Central Asia, Iran, China and Russia. The strategic investment in the region will preclude a precipitate withdrawal, rather a long-term commitment is on the cards. It is up to regional powers to create the conditions for Western forces to vacate by ensuring an orderly transfer of power and resources to Afghanistan.
As the US-led Af-Pak strategy continues with the empowerment of Afghans in peacebuilding, security and stabilisation, a regional initiative must be ready and equipped to occupy the space vacated by Western forces. Many Pakistanis and some Afghans believe that the presence of ISAF in Afghanistan is the key driver of insurgency though this reasoning has diluted following the socio-economic development programmes undertaken by the UN, the coalition forces and India. Many Afghans now want ISAF to stay longer to keep the Taliban off their backs.
A military solution in Afghanistan is impossible. While targeting Al-Qaeda and keeping the Taliban at bay, efforts have also to be made to mainstream the resistance much in the manner that the Maoists were brought into the reconciliation process in Nepal. The Japanese who have pulled out of their refuelling of ships mission off Afghanistan are hosting a $ 5 billion programme for the rehabilitation and reintegration of the Taliban. The UK, the US and Saudi Arabia are already engaged in direct and indirect talks with the hard-core Taliban. India is totally opposed to the idea of reconcilable Taliban but lately has softened its position.
Five types of the Taliban have been identified: ideologically motivated hard-core insurgents; those disaffected by the government; the financially underprivileged; those fed on drugs money, possess weapons and are paid more than government soldiers; and the foreign Taliban. Reconciliation is best achieved at the local level by village elders, but the good old tribal system has broken down.
The Mehsud tribes in Waziristan boast they can make a suicide bomber in six minutes. Indoctrinated youth, graduated from madarsas and served with the Taliban take an average of four years to detoxify. Nearly 15,000 Taliban insurgents have to be neutralised either by the gun or through the lure of dollars. Al-Qaeda and other foreign fighters are not eligible for reconciliation.
At some stage in 2012, the US should transfer its responsibility to a contact group under the UN auspices comprising Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Central Asian Republics, Pakistan and India. It will ensure that the prescribed benchmarks are achieved. Once the reconciliation process is activated, qualified Talibs will be rehabilitated and their leaders inducted into Parliament and democratised. Again the Maoist model in Nepal is a useful reference point. The Japanese and the Norwegians have valuable experience in mainstreaming of rebel groups, but the ownership of reconciliation and the political process must return to the Afghans in substance and perception.
How proactive must India be to shape its future role in Afghanistan? In a recent Gallup poll, India topped the list of countries doing good work in Afghanistan. Pakistan figured last and at least 33 per cent of Afghans saw Islamabad supporting the Taliban. In another poll, India also was number one among the countries with good relations with Afghanistan.
At present, Delhi has no intention of expanding its footprint beyond the use of its soft power. On several occasions, the US has noted that India is doing a great job which in no way impinges on Islamabad’s security concerns. The view from South Block is that it is cognizant of Pakistan’s legitimate concerns though doing more by way of training the Afghan Army will not constitute any overreach.
A more vocal minority is advocating offering upto two divisions of troops for North-West Afghanistan and gifting military equipment for arming two divisions of the Afghan Army. The rationale is that as the Taliban pose a direct threat to India, it must be confronted at source. The difficulties of maintaining two divisions without any logistics corridor will be enormous.
Many Pakistanis recognise that as a regional power, Delhi has legitimate interests and goals and since the Taliban factor is a common threat for all three — India, Pakistan and Afghanistan — they should unite to fight terrorism. In the transition phase, Delhi must plump for the regional mechanism to dilute Islamabad’s centrality in the Af-Pak area. At the same time, India and Pakistan must reopen the composite dialogue process at the earliest so that their mutual concerns on Afghanistan can be allayed. Focussing on trilateral cooperation within the regional compact will help promote peace and stability in Afghanistann

Army chief overruled by Antony: court martial aide
Manu Pubby Posted online: Thursday , Jan 28, 2010 at 0220 hrs
New Delhi : Intervening in proceedings on the Sukna land scandal case which was first reported by The Indian Express, Defence Minister A K Antony has directed the Army to court martial one of its seniormost Generals who was indicted by an Army court of inquiry for allegedly influencing junior officers to favour a land developer.

Overruling a decision by Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor to take only administrative action against Lt Gen Avadesh Prakash, Military Secretary at Army Headquarters, Antony called for court martial proceedings against Prakash.

This will be the first time in the Army that two Lt Generals will face a court martial — the other officer is former 33 Corps Commander Lt Gen P K Rath. Two other Generals named in the probe, Lt Gen Ramesh Halgali and Maj Gen P C Sen, are set to face administrative action.

Antony’s intervention follows the Army Chief’s decision to go for only administrative action against Prakash who is one of his closest aides. Eastern Army Commander Lt Gen V K Singh, who initiated the court of inquiry, had recommended that Prakash be sacked.

The case involves the grant of NOCs (no objection certificates) for transfer of 71 acres near the 33 Corps headquarters in Sukna, West Bengal. The court of inquiry found that Dilip Agarwal, a land developer, had close links with Prakash.

The decision to counsel the Army on the matter was taken on Wednesday after the Ministry reviewed the Army Chief’s recommendations. The Ministry considered the court of inquiry report, the opinion of the legal branch as well as the reply to a show-cause notice that was served on Prakash.

Prakash is set to retire by the end of this month but sources said that court martial proceedings would continue as the officer would remain under the purview of the Army Act. The court martial will be preceded by a formal recording of evidence that will begin shortly.

The Ministry had questioned the Army over the different degrees of punishment against officers indicted in the court of inquiry. It was of the opinion that court martial proceedings were necessary to bring out the extent of the scandal and the alleged nexus between officers and land developers.

US okays howitzers worth $647 million for India
TNN, 28 January 2010, 02:00am IST
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    * US
    * howitzers

WASHINGTON: Asserting that its sale to India will "improve interoperability with US Soldiers and Marines," the US defense agency tasked with transfer of military hardware and promoting military-to-military ties has notified the US Congress of the Obama administration's intention to sell 145 M777 Howitzers to India in a deal worth $ 647 million.

The mandatory notification follows a request from India for the light-weight towed Howitzer with Laser Inertial Artillery Pointing Systems (LINAPS), the first major artillery purchase by New Delhi after the star-crossed Bofors deal going back to the 1980s.

The $647 million deal will include warranty, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, publications and technical documentation, maintenance, personnel training and training equipment, US government and contractor representatives' technical assistance, engineering and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics support, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in its January 22 notification.

"This proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to strengthen the US-India strategic relationship and to improve the security of an important partner which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in South Asia," DSCA said.

The Agency said the howitzers will assist the Indian Army to develop and enhance standardization and surprisingly asserted it will also "improve interoperability with US Soldiers and Marines who use the M777 as their primary means of indirect fire." India will have no difficulty absorbing these weapons into its armed forces, it added.

In its standard caveat, the Agency also assured the Congress that the "proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region," and "there will be no adverse impact on US defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale."

The M777 purchase, seen in some quarters as a political decision favoring US, was not without the usual controversy that has come to dog almost every major defense acquisition in India.

The gun trailed the front-runner, the Pegasus lightweight howitzer developed jointly by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF), Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) and Singapore Technology Kinetics, for several months, But Pegasus was knocked out of the race following reports of corruption and bribery that necessitated a CBI investigation.

While that inquiry is continuing, the government decided to go in for the US artillery given the Army's urgent requirement.

The M777 howitzer was originally developed by the British Vickers group, but is now produced by BAE Systems Land Systems in the US. It has largely replaced the M198 howitzer 155mm towed howitzers in the US Marine Corps and US Army and has seen action since March 2008 in Afghanistan. US allies Canada and Australia are the only two countries the US has sold the guns to.

Pakistan can alone help safe US exit: Gen Gul
Indian army chief’s threat sheer madness

Tanvir Siddiqi

Islamabad—United States has been virtually defeated in Afghanistan and Pakistan is the only country which can help provide it a safe and honourable exit from Afghanistan, former ISI Chief Lt General (Retired) Hamid Gul said this on Wednesday.

In an exclusive interview with Pakistan Observer, he said the United States and its allies have realised that it is impossible to find a military solution to the Afghan conflict and the only way was to pull out their forces from Afghanistan through dialogue with the Taliban.

In this context, he referred to the removal by UN of some Afghan Taliban including Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil, from the “Terrorists’ list on the request of the United States and said such elements had lost influence in Afghanistan. The sole leader of Taliban is Mulla Omer and it is he with whom the United States should seek a dialogue. But, since the defeat of the US in Afghanistan is certain, Mulla Omer, whose government had been toppled following the 9/11 incident, enjoys the support of the overwhelming population of Afghanistan. He would not like to enter into any dialogue with the United States unless and until the foreign forces withdraw from Afghanistan.

He dispelled the impression that the Taliban were seeking dialogue with the US. It was rather the United States which wanted to hold dialogue with the Taliban.

He said keeping in view the importance of the Conference on Afghanistan in London being held today (28 January), it is high time for Pakistan to take major decisions to safeguard its national interests. He said there might be more pressure on Pakistan at the Conference to expand its operation against Taliban.

He lauded the Pak army decision not to open another military front after its operations in Swat and South Waziristan for at least one year.

General Hamid Gul said “It is the strategic position of Pakistan that makes its role in bringing peace in Afghanistan and the region extremely important. Pakistan can and must play a key role” in this regard, he added. .

He said the recent visit to Islamabad of US Defence Secretary Robert Gates was to allay Pakistan’s fears of an attack on Pakistan if Mumbai-like terror attacks again happened in India. Gates, who had hinted at such a possibility while he was in India, took a U-turn and assured Pakistan of no such possibility. It showed the double standards of the US policy and such a statement was meant to appease India.

He said the Indian military chief’s threat of simultaneously attacking Pakistan and China reflects was sheer madness on the part of India. “This is not doable, this is sheer madness”, he added.

General Hamid Gul questioned the US policy of promoting India as a counter-weight to China.

The former ISI Chef said India is totally disoriented. India is on the wrong side of history. The ground reality is that despite all the pampering of India by the United States, India’s strategic alliance with the United States has gone into doldrums, as China’s role in the world and regional politics is increasing. Pakistan is regarded as a key player in the region and a nuclear power. As opposed to this, India has become unbalanced and disenchanted. It is almost against the entire Muslim word and has been in collusion with the Israelis to subjugate the Palestinians and harm the Muslim cause the world over.

“The West has its hands tied to a certain extent and Pakistan knows this,” he said. “Any successful solution in Afghanistan needs Pakistan on side, General Hamid Gul emphasised. “If the US and its allies withdraw from Afghanistan after failing to defeat the Taliban, then Pakistan would be better placed to confront India should it continue to try and exert greater influence there in any potential power vacuum, he observed” The exit of US and NATO forces from Afghanistan will be a great blow to Indian ambitions in Afghanistan, General Hamid Gul said.

To a question he said Pakistan should not allow its territory to be used by India for transit trade with Central Asian states unless and until all the outstanding problems with Pakistan including the core issue of Kashmir are resolved.

Pak overture to Turkey for attack drones worries India

TNN, 27 January 2010, 02:42am IST
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NEW DELHI: Finding the US not overly helpful on arming it with drones and drone technology, Pakistan has now made overtures to the Turkish army for technology and attack capability, which India is now monitoring closely.

During his recent visit to Islamabad, US defence secretary Robert Gates promised the gift of 12 drones for surveillance. But the 12 RQ-7 Shadow drones cannot send in Reaper or Hellfire missiles which would make them truly lethal and would have provoked an immediate outcry from India. However, experts believe this is dangerous stuff anyway, and it will not take much for Pakistan to reverse engineer them or tailor them for needs other than spying on the Taliban, in other words, to target India.

Needless to add, Pakistan was less than overwhelmed by the offer. Therefore, Indian sources said, Pakistan is now approaching their its friends in the Turkish army for this technology. The Turks were given drones, both attack and surveillance ones, by the Israelis as they battle the Kurds. Whether they are persuaded to part with these for the Pakistanis is another matter, and likely to involve a lot of pre-emptive Indian diplomacy.

India is finding less and less to be positive about in the Pakistan-Afghanistan theatre.

Apart from gifting surveillance drones to Pakistan, the US may be winking at a more robust reconciliation policy with the Taliban in Afghanistan. This will include a greater Pakistani role in the mediation process, which means the ISI will be able to give them greater say in what kind of Taliban gets to be in power in Kabul. This, Indian officials argue, will happen despite US and British "oversight" on Pakistani efforts.

"Their knowledge is pretty flawed, and they remain beholden to the ISI. This is likely to influence their decisions," said sources. The Pakistani presence in the negotiations comes despite Afghan evidence that attacks like the one in Kabul last week was done by the ISI-friendly Haqqani network.

The reconciliation programme has acquired urgency in the backdrop of President Barack Obama's withdrawal strategy for 2011. This is of greater concern to India, because it could put a huge question on India's own participation and future in Afghanistan. Ahead of the London conference on Afghanistan starting on Thursday, foreign minister S M Krishna will try and get a sense from other leaders about the US-led western presence in Afghanistan.

A glimpse of how things may turn out was given by US general David Petraeus when he said, "The concept of reconciliation, of talks between senior Afghan officials and senior Taliban or other insurgent leaders, perhaps involving some Pakistani officials as well, is another possibility."

Gen Stanley McCrystal, in an interview to Financial Times, said he hoped increased troop levels would weaken the Taliban enough for its leaders to accept a peace deal.

India is increasingly coming round to accepting the reality that some sort of a peace deal could be made. In recent statements, Indian officials have admitted the possibility that people who renounce violence and the Taliban as well as disarm, could be accommodated into Afghanistan's establishment.


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