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Monday, 22 March 2010

From Today's Papers - 22 Mar 2010

DNA India  

Now a super cruiser BrahMos test-fired successfully 
Bhubaneshwar, March 21
 India today joined the league of select nations to have a ‘manoeuvrable’ supersonic cruise missile when it successfully test-fired the vertical-launch version of 290-km range BrahMos from a warship in the Bay of Bengal off the Orissa coast.  “The vertical-launch version of missile was launched at 1130 hours today from Indian Navy ship INS Ranvir and it manoeuvred successfully hitting the target ship. It was a perfect hit and a perfect mission,” BrahMos aerospace chief A Sivathanu Pillai told PTI.  After today’s test, India has become the first and only country in the world to have a “manoeuvrable supersonic cruise missile in its inventory,” he said in New Delhi. In separate messages, President Pratibha Patil and Defence Minister AK Antony congratulated the BrahMos scientists and the Navy for the successful test-launch.  Pillai said the software of the missile was improved and today’s test proved its capability of manoeuvrability at supersonic speeds before hitting the target.  “During the test, the missile hit a free-floating ship piercing it above the waterline and destroying it completely,” BrahMos officials said. The test-firing was part of the pre-induction tests by the Navy as moves are afoot to deploy the vertical-launch version of the missile in ships. The weapon system has been designed and developed by the Indo-Russian joint venture company.  All the three Indian Navy’s Talwar class ships, under construction in Russia, have been fitted with vertical launchers and many other ships will also be equipped with them, officials said. The Navy had earlier carried out several tests of the BrahMos but most of them had been done from inclined launchers abroad INS Rajput. The missile is already in service with the Navy and its Shivalik class frigates have been equipped with it. BrahMos has also been inducted into the Army. — PTI

Will continue 'war' against India: Militants
Press Trust of India, Sunday March 21, 2010, Islamabad
Top Kashmiri militant commander Syed Salahuddin on Saturday admitted that the activities of militants in Jammu and Kashmir had increased according to a "definite plan" and they were continuing their "war" against Indian security forces.  "In the field, the activities of the mujahideen have increased and are increasing according to a definite plan. We are fighting a guerrilla war that cannot be at a constant pace. There is sit and stop, according to a plan, and we are continuing our war," said Salahuddin, who heads the Hizbul Mujahideen and United Jehad Council.  He claimed the "uprising" in Jammu and Kashmir had never declined and world governments and the media had "underestimated" it due to pressure in the wake of 9/11 terror attacks in the US. He also claimed there was no infiltration by militants across the Line of Control.  Salahuddin said during an interview with Dawn News channel that he supported the Taliban's war against US-led forces in Afghanistan. "As far as Taliban's ideology is that US and other foreign forces should leave Afghanistan, we support it 110 per cent and think it is correct. But it is illegal to conduct any activities within Pakistan," he claimed.  Salahuddin dismissed a question about the Taliban being behind attacks within Pakistan, saying: "Any mujahid can never be involved in disruptive actions in Pakistan." He claimed there was no proof that militants from groups like the Hizb-e-Islami or Pakistani and Afghan Taliban were involved in attacks within Pakistan.  The militant commander also dismissed the interviewer's contention that the Pakistani Taliban had claimed responsibility for attacks within the country and alleged such attacks were being carried out by "some 40,000 people who were trained in 12 training camps run by India in Afghanistan".  He alleged India had tried to misguide the world community and pressurise Pakistan by claiming militants based in the country were involved in the Mumbai attacks. The Mumbai attacks had no link to the Kashmir movement and would make no difference to it, he claimed.  Noting that the Hizbul Mujahideen had attacked the Wullar barrage in Jammu and Kashmir in 1992, Salahuddin said the militants could attack other dams in the Indian state "if there is a need". He added: "It is not a big issue for us."  Salahuddin claimed the regime of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf had damaged the Kashmir movement in 2002 by agreeing to talks with India.

UK army ran 'secret' torture unit in Iraq

Press Trust Of India

The unit reported directly to London and authorised harsh treatment of detainees.  London: Britain's military intelligence ran a secret torture unit in Iraq which "reported directly to London" and authorised harsh treatment of detainees, a media report said on Sunday.  In fact, prisoners were kept hooded for long periods in intense heat and deprived of sleep by military intelligence officers who were answerable only "directly to London", 'The Independent' reported, citing documents.  The revelations, about the use of illegal "coercive techniques" in Iraq by Joint Forward Interrogation Team, came during the inquiry into Baha Mousa, an Iraqi hotel worker who was beaten to death in the custody of British troops in 2003.  In a statement to the inquiry commission, Colonel Christopher Vernon said he raised concerns after seeing 30 to 40 prisoners in a kneeling position with sacks over their heads and those in charge were from the Army's intelligence  headquarters, the report said.  Col Veron was informed that "they were an independent unit and reported directly to the chain of command in London".  Hooding was "accepted practice" and would continue, he was told. "They reiterated the point they were an independent unit and did not come under the command of the GOC1 (UK) Armed Div (the Iraq command)," he said.  Asked by the inquiry last week whether there was "some sort of feeling generally in the Army, the intelligence people were slightly on their own and running their own show", Col Vernon replied: "I think you could say that."  In a second statement, Colonel David Frend, a British Army legal adviser in Iraq, said that he was told by a senior military intelligence officer in London that "there was a legitimate reason for it (hooding), they had always done it and they would like to continue to do it."  "My recollection is that he said that they -- ie those at JFIT -- had been trained to hood. My understanding from the conversation was simply the use of hessian sandbags as hoods were something that had been taught to members of the JFIT at some point prior to deployment (to Iraq) and that it was not a unilateral act by them," Col Frend was quoted as saying.  However, a Ministry of Defence spokesman has declined to comment on the issue.

Indian troops shift base closer to LoC
March 21, 2010 18:26 IST
 Reorientation of security forces was being worked out in Jammu and Kashmir [ Images ] with the Border Security Force likely to assume role of Road Opening Party (ROP) in certain terrorist-infested areas and the Indian Army [ Images ] being sent to the Line of Control [ Images ] amid reports that terrorists could make more desperate infiltration bids during coming months.  A proposal for taking out a battalion of BSF (1,000 personnel) from North Kashmir has been cleared by the Defence Ministry in consultation with the BSF and Jammu and Kashmir government and would be engaged in Road Opening Party for the movement of troops in various areas, a job which was being undertaken by Rashtriya Rifles.  The units of Rashtriya Rifles were being shifted closer to the border amid intelligence reports that Pakistan-based terror organisations would be making desperate attempts to enter into the valley from higher reaches in North Kashmir.  It may be mentioned that last year around this time, battle-hardened terrorists of Lashkar-e-Tayiba [ Images ] had managed to sneak into the Kashmir Valley from Gurez and Kupwara and later to other parts of the valley especially Sopore and Tral.  The presence of the Rashtraiya Rifles as the second line of defence would help in close coordination among the various units of the Army deployed along the LoC.  Besides this, the BSF had the expertise in RoP as the paramilitary force had bore the initial brunt of terrorism in early 1990s.  Another unit of the BSF was also being pooled in for RoP from an Air Force location and was awaiting in-principle approval of defence ministry. The depletion of the forces would be augmented by the Army and in-house security unit of the Indian Air Force.  BSF was being pushed in for the RoP as certain battalions of the CRPF was being pulled out of the terrorist-infested areas for their deployment in Naxal-infested areas. This is in addition to the reduction of 35,000 troops, which have been withdrawn from the state during the reign of the current National Conference-Congress government.  State Chief Minister Omar Abdullah [ Images ] recently acknowledged on he floor of state assembly that infiltration had increased by 98 per cent in 2009 as compared to 2008. Moreover, there were inputs indicating that many more terrorists were waiting across the LoC at different launching pads for infiltration into Jammu and Kashmir, he had said. © Copyright 2010 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.

Army Chief Driving Pakistan’s Agenda for Talks
Pakistan — In a sign of the mounting power of the army over the civilian government in Pakistan, the head of the military, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, will be the dominant Pakistani participant in important meetings in Washington this week.  At home, much has been made of how General Kayani has driven the agenda for the talks. They have been billed as cabinet-level meetings, with the foreign minister as the nominal head of the Pakistani delegation. But it has been the general who has been calling the civilian heads of major government departments, including finance and foreign affairs, to his army headquarters to discuss final details, an unusual move in a democratic system.  Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has been taking a public role in trying to set the tone, insisting that the United States needs to do more for Pakistan, as “we have already done too much.” And it was at his request that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton agreed this fall to reopen talks between the countries at the ministerial level.  The talks are expected to help define the relationship between the United States and Pakistan as the war against the Taliban reaches its endgame phase in Afghanistan. It is in that context that General Kayani’s role in organizing the agenda has raised alarm here in Pakistan, a country with a long history of military juntas.  The leading financial newspaper, The Business Recorder, suggested in an editorial that the civilian government of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani should act more forcefully and “shun creating an environment conducive to military intervention.”  The editorial added, “The government needs to consolidate civilian rule instead of handing over its responsibilities, like coordination between different departments, to the military.”  “General Kayani is in the driver’s seat,” said Rifaat Hussain, a professor of international relations at Islamabad University. “It is unprecedented that an army chief of staff preside over a meeting of federal secretaries.”  General Kayani visited the headquarters of the United States Central Command in Tampa, Fla., over the weekend, and will attend meetings at the Pentagon with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Monday. He is also to attend the opening ceremony of the talks between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Qureshi at the State Department on Wednesday, a spokesman at the American Embassy in Islamabad said.  The most pressing concerns in the talks, according to officials on both sides, will be trying to establish confidence after several years of a corrosive relationship between allies, which only in the past few months has started to gain some positive momentum.  But the complexity of the main topics at hand — the eventual American pullout from Afghanistan, and Pakistan’s concerns about India — is expected to make for a tough round of talks.  On the positive side for Pakistan, the Obama administration has been rethinking its policies toward the country, said Maleeha Lodhi, a former Pakistani ambassador to the United States.  “There is a realization that some of its assumptions over the past year were not correct: that Pakistan’s security paradigm could be changed, that its military could be pressured,” Ms. Lodhi said.  Meanwhile, concerned about efforts by the Afghan government to engage in talks with Taliban rebels, who have important bases and allies on Pakistani soil, the Pakistani government will offer itself as a mediator in any such negotiations, Professor Hussain said.  He said that the message would be, “If you want to talk to bring the Afghan Taliban into the mainstream, you should talk to us.”  Tensions with Afghanistan have been raised by some of Pakistan’s recent operations against the Taliban, most notably the recent capture in Pakistan of a senior Afghan Taliban leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. The former head of the United Nations mission in Afghanistan, Kai Eide, said Friday that the arrest had jeopardized back-channel negotiations with Mr. Baradar’s faction of the Taliban.  But the spokesman for the Pakistani Foreign Ministry, Abdul Basit, said Saturday that Mr. Baradar’s arrest had nothing to do with reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan.  India’s growing role in Afghanistan was also high on Pakistan’s agenda. The spokesman for the Pakistani military, Gen. Athar Abbas, said Pakistan would be “conveying very clearly” its displeasure with India’s offer to help train the Afghan Army at the behest of American and NATO forces. Pakistan has made a counteroffer to train the Afghans, an offer that Pakistan knows is unlikely to be accepted but that it made to pressure Washington to stop the Indian proposal, Pakistani analysts said.  General Kayani arrives in Washington after what the Pakistani military considers a stellar nine months in fighting the Pakistani Taliban, first in the region of Swat and most recently in South Waziristan.  The militants, according to the Pakistanis, have been weakened in their bases in the tribal areas, but at a high cost. According to Pakistani Army figures, 2,377 soldiers were killed in the two campaigns. About 1 in 10 of those killed were officers, a very high rate, Professor Hussain said.  With those sacrifices and the heavy toll on army equipment in mind, Pakistan is expecting quicker reimbursement from the United States of its expenses in fighting the militants, General Abbas said.  Pakistan has complained that the United States has unfairly held up payments of $1.2 billion for 2009 under an agreement to help finance the fight against insurgents. For its part, Washington says its auditors need to satisfy Congress that the Pakistani military has properly spent the money owed.

In the race: Bofors in new avatar
 SUJAN DUTTA  New Delhi, March 21:
 For 22 years, the Bofors shadow stymied the army’s efforts to buy heavy artillery. But now the defence ministry has come out with a list of big guns that it says it is “in the process of buying”.  Topping the list of competitors is — no prizes for guessing — Bofors in a new avatar.  Also, the US government and BAE Land Systems have taken the edge over a rival Singaporean firm with the government confirming that the army was going to buy ultra-light howitzers through the Pentagon’s direct foreign military sales route, skirting competition.  The total artillery modernisation programme of the Indian Army could top Rs 70,000 crore over 10 years.  Sources in the defence ministry confirmed that the SWS Defence AB of Sweden, now owned by BAE Land Systems, is competing for an order of 400 towed 155mm/52 calibre howitzers.  This is the first official confirmation that the company is in the race, though its contest with Singaporean firm, ST Kinetics, was reported earlier. The defence ministry’s clarification follows loud but with whispered comments from within the armed forces that an intricate defence procurement policy and defence minister A.K. Antony’s promises of transparency were slowing down acquisitions.  SWS Defence’s FH77B05 and ST Kinetics’s iFH 2000 towed guns were to go into winter trials near Kargil last month.  But after ST Kinetics requested for a deferment of the trials because its gun was damaged during shipment, the tests are now put off for six months. The FH77B05 is an upgraded version of the Bofors 155mm/39 calibre guns that erupted into a scam in 1986. The guns were seen in action in the 1999 Kargil war.  In the category of towed howitzers, the army will buy 400 guns off the shelf. An additional 1,180 is to be made by the winner of the competition through technology transfer to India.  Apart from the towed guns, the army is in the process of buying heavy artillery in three other categories — 180 wheeled and 100 tracked self-propelled guns and 145 ultra light howitzers (of 155mm/39calibre).  Slovakian firm Konstrukta and German firm Rheinmetall are competing for the wheeled self-propelled guns. For the tracked ones, the government is still framing the technical specifications that will be detailed in the global tender, said sources in the ministry.  In the ultralight category, BAE Land Systems’ M777 and ST Kinetics’ Pegasus were in the race till last year when ST Kinetics was blacklisted by Antony following a CBI report on investigations into its relations with former ordnance factory board chief Sudipto Ghosh.  In December, the ministry said ST Kinetics and six other companies were still eligible to compete for orders but pending the investigation no contract would be awarded to them.

Murmur in army over fast-track weapons purchases post-26/11
 Josy Joseph / DNA Monday, March 22, 2010 0:16 IST
New Delhi: Fast-track purchases for the army without competitive tendering after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks have come under government scanner following allegations that vested interests were trying to influence decision-making. Lieutenant General Jasbir Singh, who was overseeing those purchases, besides several other big-ticket procurements for infantry units, was quietly moved out last week.  The official position is Singh had to be shifted out because he completed three years in Delhi. Lieutenant General SN Handa took over from him on March 13.  Sources in the defence establishment, however, said the decision was taken by army chief General Deepak Kapoor “in consultation” with his successor-designate Lieutenant General VK Singh after they were briefed about “vigorous efforts” to push through certain deals. VK Singh takes over as army chief on March 31.  The military top brass was also briefed about certain meetings of some senior officers in their official residences with representatives of arms companies. Such contacts are prohibited.  The sources did not say whether a formal investigation had been launched into purchases and tenders initiated by the infantry directorate. The army leadership could take a re-look at some of these purchases and tenders in the coming days, the sources added.  There were several inputs with the army leadership and the ministry of defence about strong efforts by the infantry directorate to “hastily” push through a host of purchases.  Those fast-track purchases were sanctioned after the 26/11 attacks, and were mostly meant to equip the Ghatak units. Each of the infantry units of the Indian army has a Ghatak (lethal) unit which comprises about 20 soldiers trained as commandos for carrying out shock attacks on enemy positions and conducting ambushes.  Government sources said several other tenders of the directorate have come under scrutiny. Among them was the move to purchase a foreign rifle in place of the Insas (Indian small arms system) assault rifle, which is developed by the Ordnance Factory Board. The infantry directorate had also rejected the Insas carbine after several months of trial and without much explanation.

Modern warfare going digital
Huma Siddiqui
Posted online: Mar 22, 2010 at 2056 hrs 
Thanks to new and emerging IT and communications technologies, armed forces of developed countries are logging into an era where modern warfare is not going to be fought in the battlefield, but in control rooms. This is because today’s armed forces require a multitude of capabilities—they need to be highly networked, and they need to have the ability to be deployed in remote locations at a very short notice. Crucial here is the ability to conduct network-enabled operations, in which high-performance command, control, computing, communication and intelligence (C4I) systems link sensors, fires, formations and units.  It is seen that the flow of information often starts to falter as soon as armed forces start moving. Valuable information generated at battalion level may not reach receivers in time—battlefield intelligence, friendly forces status and locations. In order to overcome this, India has embarked on a comprehensive modernisation of its armed forces. Over the next few years, the introduction of a modern command information system will improve the Indian Army’s ability to conduct network-enabled operations. The country is not only seeking to enhance the interoperability of its own armed services, but also its ability to take part in multinational operations. “Modern warfare is not going to be fought in the battlefield, but in control rooms,” says Vijay Kumar Saraswat, scientific advisor to the defence minister.  Accordingly, the Indian Army is leveraging on the technology offered by private players to develop network centric warfare systems. The most ambitious project being undertaken is the battle management system (BMS), which provides tactical command and communication from the headquarters down to the foot soldiers. Integrating this system involves a lot of networking of data. The project will include the development of sensors, digitally-enabled weapons and information grids which will enable the efficient functioning of the weapons.  Defence ministry officials inform that they have floated tenders for the test project of battle management system. “The project aims to integrate the Indian Air force, Army and Navy,” a defence ministry official says. One of the recent fully digitised systems integrated by the defence sector is the artillery combat command and control system (ACCCS). The Indian Army has successfully inducted ‘Shakti’ ACCCS, which is a network of military grade computers which provides decision support for all operational aspects of artillery functions from the corps down to the batteries.  A battle management system is designed for the joint battalion combat team. As such, it accelerates mission planning, establishes a common and clear language across all combat elements and distributes and enforces areas of responsibility, separation lines and safety margins. The system automatically updates and distributes intelligence, target information and alerts throughout the battle group and enables flexible planning and operation.  Integrated with on-board networked BMS computers, every platform becomes a networked sensor and a shooter. Weapons can be directed by remote users to sensors, therefore empowering the system with more flexibility. In addition, the system integrates built-in navigation, communications functions, fully integrated with the platform, on-board sensors and weapons.  At a core level, a battle management system provides tactical commanders with a real-time common operational picture from the battlefield and offers a plans and orders facility for the lower and higher echelons. The system enables commanders to rapidly response to situations in the field in an efficient and synchronised way. An accurate, timely situational awareness supports qualified decision making and enhances commanders’ operational capabilities. Also, the system enhances the security of own forces and minimises the risk of friendly fire through the common operational picture. Sketches of plans can even be drawn directly on the screen and be displayed to other units or to the headquarters immediately.  In addition, a battle management system is ideal for mobile field use.  Designed for ruggedised equipment, the battle management system is suitable for use in the field e.g. on a TabletPC of reduced size and weight with a touch screen. All colours are designed for both strong daylight and night use. The unique user interface provides an intuitive game-like experience with operations that can be performed with only one or two touches on the large buttons.  Boeing last year demonstrated the Vigilare ground based air defence system for the first time outside Australia, the country for which the system is being developed. The Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) Vigilare project will combine inputs from a range of platforms and sensors for wide area surveillance and air battle space management. RAAF has identified surveillance and reconnaissance as priority needs.  Vigilare aims to supply these needs through integration of multiple microwave radar, over-the-horizon radar, and air defence systems to provide an accurate wide area surveillance picture, multi-sensor fusion and correlation to aid early classification of hostiles and control weapons to intercept threats.  Germany-based Rheinmetall Defence has entered into a partnership with Tulip Telecom to introduce INIOCHOS V, a vehicle command and control system. Tulip Telecom chairman and managing director HS Bedi, says, “In near real-time, the system depicts the position of friendly and enemy forces on a digital situation map, together with relevant operation plans. A multilingual man-machine interface assures ease of operation even in high-stress situations. Reports can be transmitted via the message handling system in freely phrased or preformatted mode.”  According to Rheinmetall Defence vice-president Seigfried Kroll, various wireless operation modes enable fast, secure and flexible communication. “In the high frequency and very high frequency spectrum, the optimised exchange of data requires very little bandwidth, assuring fast, immediate transmission of data even in combat situations. Being modularly expandable, the system can run on virtually any type of commercial or military hardware. It can also be integrated into a variety of vehicles,” he explains.  Rheinmetall Defence also has battle management systems for dismounted soldiers. Here too, the positions of friendly and enemy forces are depicted on a portable command computer, together with operation plans. The message handling system features preformatted reports for simplified communication, with infantry-specific content. Interoperability with other command systems is possible and instantaneous exchange of data takes place by means of ultra-high frequency.  General Dynamics of United Kingdom too has a battle management system, which provides secure voice, tactical internet, and advanced situational awareness for armed forces on operations, while delivering vital interoperability with allied forces.  General Dynamics UK is the prime contractor and systems integrator for Bowman, the tactical C4I system for the British armed forces. Bowman delivers a major change in capability over the Clansman family of radios through its security, data capability and reliability against electronic warfare (EW) attack.  General Dynamics vice-president JS Douglas, says, “Bowman is a tactical communications system integrating digital voice and data technology to provide secure radio, telephone, intercom and tactical internet services in a modular and fully integrated system.”  Arms races have taken many forms over the years. Now and for the foreseeable future, it seems the battlefield information race is on.

Over 100 men, women join Army
 Special Correspondent

After completing 11 months of rigorous training at the prestigious Officers Traning Academy in St. Thomas Mount, 118 young men and women from different States joined the Indian Army after a passing out parade on Saturday morning.  After an impeccable drill and march past at the famed Parameshwaran Drill Square, the young men and women, who till now were addressed as Gentlemen and Lady Cadets, walked past ‘The Final Step’, marking their induction into the Indian Army. After changing into their respective regiments’ uniform, the 92 men and 26 women took an oath, sang ‘Roshini’, the OTA song and the national anthem, before bursting into joy.  Their parents, relatives and friends were all present to cheer their induction into the various regiments of the Indian Army. The young officers would head to borders in various locations, some of them experiencing problems of insurgency and proxy wars.  Lieutenant General P.C.Bharadwaj, Vice Chief of Army Staff, was the reviewing officer at the passing out parade and urged the young men and women to develop a global outlook and in-depth understanding of international affairs and security calculus.  He said the present environment was one of unprecedented complexity, ambiguity, information overload and rapid organisational change. “The present battle conditions demand a soldier who is efficient and modern in thinking and functioning,” Lt. Gen. Bharadwaj remarked. So far, nearly 24,000 men and women officers had been trained at OTA.  He also handed over the Sword of Honour and Gold Medal to Gentleman Cadet Bikram Jeet for standing first in the order of merit. The Silver Medal was given to Gentleman Cadet Pankaj Kumar Yadav. The Chief of Army Staff Banner was given to Naushera Company.

 Indrani Bagchi, TOI Crest, Mar 20, 2010, 10.33am IST
Those who know him say he is a brooder. But those who know him well will tell you that's just one of the layers to the deeply complicated and thinking mind of Pakistan army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. The bluster that marked Musharraf has been dumped for quiet gravitas as the man from Rawalpindi goes about turning friends like the US and Britain into closer allies and outmanoeuvering not-so-friendly neighbours like India and Afghanistan at international fora. In a country brought to its knees by terror, corruption and an inept political system, the former ISI chief is putting up a masterly show as he calls the shots.  Sitting with foreign minister S M Krishna this February, US defence secretary Robert Gates said he was going to Pakistan the next day. So who was he going to meet? Oh, a number of people, said Gates, but his most important conversation would be with Pakistan army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. "Why not Zardari?" asked Krishna, referring to the Pakistan president. "Because Kayani is the most important man out there," Gates said matter-of-factly . And Gates should know - in Washington, he's often described as the most powerful defence secretary Pentagon has had in a long while.  Slowly, almost imperceptibly, this low-profile general has emerged from the shadows. The obvious ineptitude of the Pakistan political establishment seems to have finally helped burnish the credentials of the Pakistan Army whose reputation was in tatters in the final days of the last military dictator, General Pervez Musharraf. And with its return has emerged its boss Kayani. Compared to Zardari's gang that just can't shoot straight, many in Pakistan seem to view the Army chief as a better bargain - although it's debatable that they'll want a return to military rule.  As boss of Pakistan's infamous spy agency ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence), Kayani had a reputation for being slightly nervous. It would now appear that he was being circumspect rather than nervous. As the civil government got its knickers in a twist every so often, the general quietly plotted the return of the military to its position of pre-eminence in Pakistan society.  He has since quietly started calling the shots. Remember how Zardari promised to send the ISI chief Shuja Pasha to India after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, and how Kayani vetoed him? That was just the beginning of his new assertiveness.  But who is this man really? Is he a bumbling military brass in the mould of Yahya Khan, who lost East Pakistan because of his ham-handed ways, or is he a modern-day version of the suave Ayub Khan, Pakistan's first military dictator who introduced the army to the intoxication of political power? Or is Kayani just a product of circumstances, the man who is willy-nilly filling up the political vacuum created by the messy management of Zardari & Co?  Details about the 57-year-old Kayani are somewhat sketchy. He doesn't have the kind of privileged background that most Pakistan military brass does. His father, Lehrasab, was a naib subedar in the army - in other words, a non-commissioned officer. Born in Rawalpindi in Punjab, Kayani came up the hard way after being commissioned in 1971, the year of the Bangladesh War.  Those who have seen him up close say Kayani is the brooding type. He was given to long, solitary walks until November 2007, when Gen Musharraf named him the army chief - thereafter, it was no longer possible for him to remain unattended. Kayani is a chain smoker - he reportedly lights up every 15 minutes - and is given to long drags on his cigarette as he engages in deep listening during briefings by his trusted commanders. It's said he interrupts only to seek either a clarification or elucidation of a point.  Kayani's slightly unnerving silence contrasts strongly with Musharraf's volubility. But it would be stupid to infer from this that he has little to say. They say Kayani has a lot more going on in his head. He is also a Pakistan army "traditionalist" which means his worldview is India-centric . The eastern neighbour, India, is seen by the army as enemy No1, and policies and responses flow from that basic understanding.  UNFRIENDLY NEIGHBOUR A strategically shrewd army chief, Kayani doesn't count India among Pakistan's allies - something that is likely to make him appear in New Delhi to be more dangerous than someone like Musharraf. In any case, since it's Kayani who holds the reins, New Delhi would do well to sit up and take notice of this man.  It needs to know whether Kayani's anti-India stance is a strategic move to bind together the army at a time when political parties in Pakistan are slipping fast into an inchoate body of disparate noises, and when the people see the solidity of the army as a source of reassurance. Or is it genetically coded - that come what may, he will be hostile towards India.  Says a top Indian official, "On a scale of 1 to 10 for anti-India sentiment, if Musharraf was at 5, Kayani is at 8." "And as he is seen increasingly to be in control, it's bad news for us."  Kayani started out as an apolitical army chief. Now as he is in the driving seat in Pakistan, he is showing political sense. The way he has latched on to the water issue between India and Pakistan to drum up paranoia about India "starving" Pakistan of water shows he knows how to press the emotive buttons. When India offered foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan, Islamabad took its time to respond, allegedly because Kayani hadn't given his nod; he wanted a composite dialogue that would include Kashmir, and not just terror. And it was Kayani who gave directions to Pakistan's foreign secretary, Salman Bashir, when he came to New Delhi to meet Nirupama Rao.  Significantly, the day before, Kayani told the defence committee of the National Assembly that the army under him would remain "India-centric" . "India has the capability, intentions can change overnight," he told legislators.  G Parthasarathy, who was high commissioner to Islamabad, says, "Gen Kayani represents an institutional hostility towards India because promoting it enables the army to dominate Pakistan without responsibility. Given the fact that he is the de facto ruler of Pakistan, India should be prepared for more covert and overt hostility directed at it from Pakistani soil."  The quiet rise of Kayani hasn't gone unnoticed in capitals around the world. US secretary of state Hillary Clinton spends more time with Kayani than with the civvies. Afghan president Hamid Karzai, who has had a testy relationship with the Pakistani army, is mending fences with it. Pakistan's strategic outreach is being managed by Kayani: He made a much talked about power-point presentation at the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) headquarters in Brussels on how he could help the West get out of Afghanistan; he talked turkey with the Turks on keeping control of a key conference in Istanbul on Afghanistan's future; and he's assumed the role of the point person on 'reconciliation' with Taliban.  This week, Kayani will be the pre-eminent member of the Pakistan delegation at a strategic dialogue with Washington where demand No.1 will be a nuclear deal like the one signed with India, apart from agreements on more mundane matters like trade and agriculture. In preparation for the talks, Kayani presided over a meeting of government secretaries on Tuesday, the first time that top-level bureaucrats have been called to army headquarters in a civilian regime.  WOWING THE WEST It was not always so, even as recently as in 2009. Through most of last year, Pakistan, and its army, were on the back foot. Terrorists in Swat and other parts of FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) and NWFP (North-West Frontier Province) were on the rampage and inching towards Islamabad, setting off alarm bells the world over. To make matters worse, there was talk of the army playing fast and loose with the Americans as well as with the Taliban. The US media was awash with CIA leaks on how Kayani had described Afghan Taliban leader Sirajuddin Haqqani as a 'strategic asset'.  There was little trust between the two sides.  Cut to January 2010, and the scenario had changed dramatically. Pakistan had 'fixed' the trust problem with the Americans. In July 2008, when Kayani and ISI chief Shuja Pasha were 'summoned' by General David Petraeus, head of the US Central Command, to be scolded about Islamabad's misdemeanors, especially the attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul, it was a low point for a country which had tomtommed its "shared anxieties'' with America.  By the end of 2009, Kayani was taking the US joint chief of staff chairman Mike Mullen and US commander in Afghanistan Stanley Mc-Crystal on helicopter rides in Swat and Waziristan to show progress in his battle against the Taliban. Pakistan had effectively re-established itself in the West as a part of the solution, even as it continued to be a part of the problem.  Kayani's message to the NATO brass in January, made adroitly yet forcefully through a 62-slide presentation, was disarmingly simple: Pakistan had a strategic future in Afghanistan well beyond the US presence and should not be taken lightly. This meant the government in Kabul had to be mindful of Pakistani interests; and India had to be out of Afghanistan, or at the very least, needed to greatly reduce its presence.  Kayani scored another big victory at the January 28 London conference on the future of Afghanistan. The idea promoted by the British and backed by the US, that Pakistan would be the lead player in the Taliban 'reconciliation' process, was met with enthusiastic response. The army chief came out smelling of roses, confident in his belief that he had successfully outmanoeuvered India even as New Delhi fumbled in its opposition to the Taliban being accommodated.  This was quite a contrast to Musharraf's last days, when the army stumbled from one political miscalculation to another and ended up with the disastrous storming of Islamabad's Lal Masjid where radical imams were threatening the state. Meanwhile, the Tehreek-e-Taliban was growing in strength and firepower with a string of terror attacks throughout Pakistan, leading up to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.  Worryingly for the hawks, Musharraf had also found a common language with Manmohan Singh and back-channel talks with India hinted at some sort of non-territorial adjustment in Kashmir. His 'out-of-the-box' proposals on Kashmir as well as 'tactical restraint' on the Kashmir jihad between 2004 and 2007 undermined the traditional mindset. As both Siachen and Sir Creek remained unresolved, there rose many voices within the Pakistan military establishment questioning the wisdom of abandoning the old position of bleeding India.  BACK TO BRASS TACKS Enter Kayani, with a 18-handicap in golf and a Plan. Admiral Mullen recently gushed in Time magazine: "Gen Kayani commands an army with troops fighting in what President Barack Obama has rightly called the 'most dangerous place in the world.' He's lost more than 1,000 soldiers in that fight. He knows the stakes. He's got a plan."  Convinced of the centrality of the army as the bulwark of the Pakistan state, Kayani was bringing back to it its robbed glory and quintessential values. He has figured that the only way to regain influence for Pakistan would be to somehow make the Taliban a part of the power structure in Kabul and help the US pack its bags. That would force India to leave Afghanistan and help Pakistan regain control of the region.  Until that happens, Kayani knows the India bogey has to be kept alive and leveraged against Pakistan's efforts at taming the Taliban. Against the US's better judgment, but impelled by recession and public opinion, Washington is giving the Kayani worldview more than a nod and a wink. Washington's approach to Islamabad is old-fashioned bribery: sophisticated military toys are winging their way to Pakistan as 'incentive' to fight the Taliban.  It knows full well that these weapons will actually be directed against India. As an Indian official explained, "Kayani is pegging the modernisation of the Pak army on US money." By end-2010 , Pakistan will get an additional $3.4 billion in military aid from the US, bringing the total up to almost $12 billion since 2003.  IT'S IN HIS BLOOD Kayani cut his teeth in the army during the Bangladesh war. Thirty years later as director-general military operations (DGMO), he directed the 10-month stand-off with the Indian army. He earned his spurs with Musharraf when he conducted, with efficiency and confidentiality, the investigation into the assassination bids on Musharraf in 2003. Musharraf has himself reminisced that until Kayani took over, the investigation was a mess. It led to his appointment as DG-ISI in 2004.  POWER BROKER For all his loyalty to Musharraf, Kayani was an admirer of sorts of Benazir Bhutto, having served as military secretary to her. In 2007, when the Americans started pressuring Musharraf to work out a "reconciliation" with Benazir, he sent Kayani to do the job. On March 9, 2007 when Musharraf's aides read out the riot act to Justice Chaudhry, demanding he step down, Kayani was part of the team. But presciently, he remained silent through the meeting and refused to present an affidavit to Chaudhry along with the others.  That paid him rich dividends later when he brokered a deal between Zardari and the judiciary during the lawyers' Long March in 2008 and the most recent constitutional crisis with the judges' appointment in 2009, which eroded Zardari's credibility but enhanced Kayani's . In 2008, Kayani compelled Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani to reinstate Chaudhry as CJ. In December 2009, Kayani once again made Zardari accept a decision by Chaudhry and the Supreme Court overturning the immunity earlier granted to Zardari from prosecution for corruption.  In a previous age, the army chief would have had ample reason by now to take over power, but Kayani seems to prefer playing puppeteer. "From the beginning, Kayani took the civilian leadership into confidence, but the onus of unifying the country was the army's ," says Imtiaz Gul of the Centre for Research and Security Studies, Islamabad.  When Zardari assumed office in February 2008, and Musharraf was turfed out, the new army chief declared his intention to stay apolitical even though he reportedly loathed Zardari and others in the corrupt leadership. Although he firmly believed that the army was the mainstay of Pakistan, Kayani was sensitive to the unusually strong public outrage against the army. It needed to go back to the barracks if it had to get back a modicum of its earlier prestige. In one of his early acts, Kayani withdrew hundreds of army officers from civilian jobs in the government, leaving the job of running the country to civilians.  RETURN TO GLORY With the campaign in Swat later in the year, Kayani salvaged a lot of goodwill. Mosharraf Zaidi, political commentator in Islamabad, said, "Kayani's deft handling of the Swat crisis helped turn the tide in favour of an overarching national narrative of support for a military fighting to protect Pakistanis from the threat of Taliban thugs overrunning the country."  In the past few weeks, Kayani has closely supervised the consensus to replace the 17th amendment of the Pakistan constitution with the 18th, effectively moving the Pakistani system back to the 1973 constitution and a parliamentary democracy. This means Zardari can't gather any more powers , having surrendering many in the last year, including the nuclear command authority.  If the constitutional amendment goes through, Gilani will be more relevant than Zardari and Kayani will find it much easier to control the levers of Pakistan. But more significantly , because Kayani is proceeding without the hoopla that accompanied Musharraf's actions, and is keeping the other generals in the army in the loop, his actions, though just as autocratic, have greater acceptability within Pakistan.  The US, for all its democratic avowals, was the first to read the tea leaves. In March 2008, the Americans 'selected' Kayani for the US Army Command and General Staff College's International Hall of Fame. "The hall honors those officers of United States allies' militaries who have attained the highest command positions in their national service component or within their nation's armed forces," the citation said.  BLEED INDIA But even as Kayani wowed the West, he turned the heat on India. The word was out: India was fair game again, particularly in Afghanistan. The Haqqani network-executed terror attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul on July 7, 2008 was a direct result of this and there was little attempt to cover the trail that led back to the Pakistan army. By the time 26/11 happened, it was clear in India that Lashkar-e-Taiba had been blessed by the army. In 2009, the embassy in Kabul was attacked again, and in 2010, Indian civilians in Afghanistan are sitting ducks for Pakistan-supported terror.  In the immediate aftermath of 26/11, when Manmohan Singh made the unprecedented request to Pakistan to send its DG-ISI , Shuja Pasha, Kayani torpedoed it, saying "The Indians will be asking me to go next." In the present context of resumed talks, top Indian officials say Kayani is not particularly interested in exploring any new engagement; for him maintaining tension is more important.  The jury is still out on how far Kayani will go in allowing groups like LeT and HuJI to carry on their activities against India, with ISI support. Pakistan refuses to acknowledge Indian concerns on LeT, saying instead that the more India focuses on LeT, the more difficult things will get. The US and other countries have read out the riot act to Kayani several times on these groups. But as Kayani said, "Pakistan's long-term national interests would never be sacrificed for someone else's short-term interests".  THE TROUBLE WITH TERROR And yet, nobody possibly knows better than he the intricate connections between these groups and how they're spawning daily terror in Pakistan itself.  Terrorism is, and will remain, Pakistan's weak spot, and its encouragement will always be counter-productive . Despite the campaigns against the Pakistan Taliban, the army continues to maintain an ambivalent posture of tolerance towards these groups. If Musharraf was attacked by Jaish-e-Mohammed in 2003, Kayani himself was the target of an assassination plot by Ilyas Kashmiri in May 2009. Even today, HuJI leaders, Kashmiri and Saifullah Akhtar, are operating from South Waziristan and carrying out terror attacks in Punjab with the help of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan. But somehow, the Pak army continues to believe these groups can be controlled.  For India, it's clear that as long as terror groups from Pakistan attack India with help from its military-intelligence complex, it will remain focused on terrorism. With virtually no official engagement between India and the Pakistan army, New Delhi's in a bizarre situation where Kayani appears to have assumed the role of chief interlocutor for Pakistan with the rest of the world, but not India.  There's a view that India needs to make a greater public effort to engage the Pakistan army. But the signals are mixed. On the one hand, ISI chief Shuja Pasha's "dropping in" at the Indian high commissioner, Sharat Sabharwal's iftaar party, was a potent invite to India. But on the other, the Pakistan army has by and large been reluctant to defreeze relations with its Indian counterparts. India had proposed polo matches between the armies about a year ago, but there was no response from Pakistan.  PLAYING THE AFGHAN CARD It's with the Taliban that Kayani is playing a high stakes game. Given that he doesn't want a regime in Kabul that is 'unfriendly' to Islamabad, it follows that he will seek to orchestrate and control reconciliation efforts with the Taliban . Karzai too was doing some "reconciliation" himself, negotiating with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, Mullah Omar's No. 2 in the Quetta Shura (which runs the most powerful arm of the Afghan Taliban), when the ISI "captured" him in Karachi. In the weeks since, Pakistan has captured nine of the 18 members of the Shura. One of the theories doing the rounds is that Kayani didn't want Karzai to upstage him in negotiating with the Taliban, and the swoop on Baradar was aimed at pre-empting any deal between the Afghan president and the Taliban.  Last week Karzai and Kayani, in reciprocal visits, came to an understanding. Baradar could be handed over to Karzai with an understanding that Pakistan has first dibs at this game. Sirajuddin Haqqani of the Haqqani network is Pakistan's favourite Taliban leader, and ideally, Kayani would like him to be part of the power sharing arrangement in Kabul. But here too, by killing off Sirajuddin's brother, Kayani has made it clear as to who's the boss.  Will Kayani deliver al-Qaeda to the US? And at what price? The British are content to play the Pakistan game, but the Americans are yet to be fully convinced. India is out of this one, but has a strong interest in seeing that the Taliban is not part of Kabul with their ideology intact.  HOW LONG WILL HE BE CHIEF? Kayani has many irons in the fire. But if things go as scheduled , the army chief is set to hang up his gloves in November 2010. Will he? The Obama surge in Afghanistan will be in full bloom and without Pakistani assistance, it is unlikely to work. Kayani has become Washington's man and to make the same investment in a successor at the height of the battle might be difficult. So they may want to see him stay on.  Pakistan's politics is notoriously fragile and unlikely to sort itself out, and even if Zardari and Nawaz Sharif stop acting like vicious boys, Kayani has emerged as something of a sheet anchor in Pakistan. Pakistan's future relevance hangs on whether Kayani can 'manage' to successfully influence the Taliban reconciliation programme in Afghanistan to keep Pakistan in play there.  That will need Kayani's combined skills as soldier and spy, along with American and British cheerleaders, to pull it off. Kayani's chief task now is to bring about an agreement among his fellow generals that he should stay on - he's more inclined to go down this road than take the my-way-orthe-highway approach of Musharraf.  In what is seen as a test case, ISI boss Shuja Pasha was given a year's extension last week. Zardari has let out that he has offered Kayani a two-year extension as well. If Kayani agrees, does that also give Zardari some space? Will it be greeted with a sense of relief in Islamabad and Washington? Most important , will he be able to build some sort of 'collegiate consensus' in favour of his continuity, which would mean his colleagues agreeing to sacrifice their chances?  Many within the Indian establishment believe Kayani may be biding his time before he edges out Zardari and take over as president.  But if Kayani does go, who'll take his place? The name most frequently mentioned is Khalid Shamim Wynne, commander of the Quetta-based 12th Corps, with few ties to extremists, but more experience against India. Others in the running are Mohammed Mustafa Khan, chief of general staff; Nadeem Taj, commander 30thCorps, who preceded Pasha as ISI chief but is considered too close to the Taliban; and Tahir Mehmood, head of 10th Corps.  But for the moment, Kayani-controlled Pakistan is playing a good game with very few cards in hand. India would do well to watch the moves closely.

Brigadier on wheelchair to be major general
TNN, Mar 20, 2010, 03.02am IST NEW DELHI:
In a stirring achievement, a paraplegic Army officer confined to a wheelchair, Brigadier S K Razdan, is all set to become a two-star officer or a major-general.  While this is not the first time that physically challenged officers have reached high ranks, with at least two having even become senior three-star officers or Lt-Generals, the feat is possible only through steely determination and sheer grit.  Brig Razdan was a Lt-Col in the special forces when he participated in an intensive counter-terrorism operation in Damal Kunzipur area of Jammu and Kashmir in October 1994 to save several Muslim women taken hostage by militants. While the women were successfully rescued, the brave officer suffered grave injuries to his spinal cord, leaving him paralyzed below the waist.  A grateful nation awarded him the Kirti Chakra, the nation's second-highest peacetime gallantry award, in 1996 for his act of valour. The wheelchair-bound officer later went on to become a brigadier. And now, Brig Razdan has been approved to become a major-general and will `pick up his rank' once there is a vacancy.  "As per Army rules, any injury or disability suffered in war, counter-terrorism or any other operation, which is called a `battle casualty', does not come in the way of any soldier in his promotion boards as long as he is capable of performing his duties,'' said a senior officer.  However, if a soldier suffers a `physical casualty', that is, gets disabled in training or an accident, then there is no recourse but to put him in a lower medical category. He is allowed to serve if he can perform his duties but there is a bar on him getting promoted or attending some particular courses. Otherwise, he is boarded out.  Take, for instance, Lt-Gen Pankaj Joshi, who passed away last year. Commissioned into the Gorkha Rifles in 1962, he lost both his legs during a mine-clearing mission in Sikkim in 1967. But through sheer grit after becoming a `battle casualty', he went on to command an armoured brigade, an armoured division and a corps before becoming the general officer commanding-in-chief of the Lucknow-based Central Army Command.  That's not all. Lt-Gen Joshi also became India's first-ever chief of the tri-Service integrated defence staff in October 2001, established in the aftermath of the 1999 Kargil conflict, and retired after a fruitful tenure.  The 1.13-million strong Indian Army, in fact, has also had a disabled Lt-Gen as it vice-chief. Lt-Gen Vijay Oberoi, who lost one of his legs during an operation as a young officer, served as the vice-chief in 2000-2001 after first serving as the director-general of military operations, a strike corps commander and then chief of the Chandimandir-based Western Army Command.

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