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Thursday, 25 March 2010

From Today's Papers - 25 Mar 2010

The games people play Confront Pakistan with Headley’s revelations
by B.G. Verghese 
Pakistan has become such a fig-leaf artist that nothing appears to shame it. So, perhaps the confessions of David Coleman Headley, the self-indicted American of Pakistani origin who helped the Lasher-e-Toiba plan and execute the deadly Mumbai attack on 26/11, may only add “literature” to the shelves of all the many literary giants that rule Pakistan today. However, India and the world will not be satisfied by such denial.  Pakistan’s lies have been nailed over and over again but it is able literally to get away with murder because it remains a crucial frontline state for the Americans in Afghanistan. Headley, who reconnoitered the targeted sites in Mumbai, has confessed to the existence of LeT training camps, which he visited in 2008, and to consorting with LeT members training to assault Mumbai and their handlers in Pakistan.  A quote from his plea bargain confession before a Chicago court on March 19 says it all: “Beginning no later than in or about late 2005 (the Musharraf era), and continuing through on or about October 3, 2009 (the Kayani-Gilani era), at Chicago and elsewhere within and without the jurisdiction of the United States, the defendant conspired with Lashkar members A, B, C and D, and others, to commit acts outside the United States …namely, murder and maiming in connection with attacks carried out by the Lashkar in India”. The dates are revealing.  Handley was a double agent, working for the US Drug Enforcement Agency, who had been arrested earlier and then let off the hook on condition that he went back to Pakistan and fed Washington with information about the terror network and drug mafia in that country. Yet India was not kept informed until much later and even after 26/11 when Headley was back in India reconnoitering more sites for the Lashkar. This was duplicitous, despite whatever information has been vouchsafed. It is in line with the long rope earlier given to the notorious A.Q. Khan whom the US allowed to proliferate to and receive nuclear technology and material variously from China and Korea, and to negotiate with Iran, Libya and even Osama agents after he had been caught red-handed by Dutch intelligence only to be let off by the CIA. In both cases the primary victim has been India.  India has been promised Headley’s testimony through interviews or video-conferencing in the US as part of Indian judicial processes, but he will not be extradited to this country. Whether giving “testimony’ allows for “interrogation” remains to be seen, though the FBI had full access to Kasab. Possibly the US is worried that Headley may reveal too much. Whatever be the case, there will be reservations about the US stance and sincerity until the outcome is known.  Pakistan must. however, be confronted with the new Headley revelations and its diversionary forays, asserting Indian mala fides on water and Balochistan-Afghanistan, nailed. India’s public communications policy has been abysmal over the years and little spurt of information disclosure is no great triumph. Public information policy — not jingoistic propaganda — is today a prime instrument of diplomacy, security, national morale and preparedness. It is time the government woke up to this reality.  General David Patraeus of the US Central Command recently told the Senate Armed Forces Committee in Washington that elements like the LeT are not yet on Pakistan’s radar although he had praise for its fight against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. But distinctions have begun to be made as between the good, “moderate” (read Pakistan) Taliban, with whom it might be possible to do business, and “radical” Taliban which must be fought to the end.  These are dangerous waters and India has real concerns based on bitter experience that US military aid to Pakistan ultimately goes in substantial measure to support jihad and confront India. The new US-Pakistan strategic dialogue in Washington, in which General Kayani was the key Pakistan spokesman, should not be allowed to exacerbate these tendencies, American assurances having been consistently belied in the past.  Meanwhile, the BJP and Left criticism of the fuel price increase announced in the budget must factor in international trends that are beyond domestic control. The Opposition cannot demand more expenditures on social and welfare programmes and cavil at efforts to raise resources at the same time. Equally, the strident opposition to the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill is misplaced as being solely dictated by American interests. It is part of an international regime being built through various protocols to encourage investment and technological support for nuclear power development. This should not be stalled by fears of unlimited liability in case of a nuclear mishap. Victims will be more swiftly compensated though a limited vendor liability, an international compensation fund and insurance. Let not the country shoot itself in the foot.  The BJP and the Left are threatening cut-motions on these issues during discussions on the Finance Bill. The blackmailing tactics of the SP, the RJD and the Trinamool Congress must be resisted. If the UPA falls, no other coalition will be able to form a government. So, let the bluff be called and fresh elections held. The electorate will know whom to punish.

15 is old enough to be a Naga rebel
Bijay Sankar Bora Tribune News Service  Guwahati, March 24
Even as it has been negotiating with the Government of India for last 13 years to find “honourable and acceptable” solution to decades old Naga political problem, the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isak-Muivah) is keeping its “army” armed to the teeth besides injecting fresh blood into it.  A large number of teenaged boys and girls dressed in olive green battle fatigues and armed with sophisticated weapons were seen keeping guard at various vantage points in and around the NSCN-IM’s truce-time central headquarters at Camp Hebron about 40 km away from Dimapur in Nagaland on Sunday, when the Naga rebel group’s general-secretary Thuingaleng Muivah was there to address the NSCN-IM “soldiers, officers” and members of civil society on occasion of “30th Republic Day” of the so-called “Government of People’s Republic of Nagalim (GPRN)”.  When drawn to the very young looking newly-recruited soldiers in NSCN-IM ranks, the self-styled “minister of information and publicity (MIP)” of the GPRN and a senior NSCN-IM leader Jacob Saizah admitted, “Yes, some of the soldiers recruited recently were as young as 15 years. But these young soldiers are assigned to soft and lighters jobs to commensurate with their young age.”  Most of these young rebels are school dropouts, who have been employed by the rebel groups in its ranks. Believe it or not, the NSCN-IM has a structured system of paying their soldiers and officers monthly salary according to their status and ranks, besides providing other facilities. During the current truce period with the Government of India since August 1, 2010, the rebel groups have recruited a large number of soldiers by holding recruitment rallies in various parts of Nagaland. The rebel group makes announcements about the recruitment rallies through advertisement published in local newspapers in Nagaland.  “We have recruited 11 new batches of soldiers, since the truce was declared. All these batches have been provided proper military training,” Jacob said, declining to divulge the exact number of new recruits.

Arjun tank outruns, outguns Russian T-90
Ajai Shukla / New Delhi March 25, 2010, 0:18 IST
India’s home-built Arjun tank has emerged a conclusive winner from its showdown with the Russian T-90. A week of comparative trials, conducted by the army at the Mahajan Ranges, near Bikaner in Rajasthan, has ended; the results are still officially secret. But, Business Standard has learned from multiple sources who were involved in the trials that the Arjun tank has outperformed the T-90 on every crucial parameter.  The trial pitted one squadron (14 tanks) of Arjuns against an equal number of T-90s. Each squadron was given three tactical tasks; each involved driving across 50 kilometres of desert terrain and then shooting at a set of targets. Each tank had to fire at least 10 rounds, stationary and on the move, with each hit being carefully logged. In total, each tank drove 150 kilometres and fired between 30-50 rounds. The trials also checked the tanks’ ability to drive through a water channel 5-6 feet deep.  The Arjun tanks, the observers all agreed, performed superbly. Whether driving cross-country over rugged sand-dunes; detecting, observing and quickly engaging targets; or accurately hitting targets, both stationery and moving, with pinpoint gunnery; the Arjun demonstrated a clear superiority over the vaunted T-90.  “The Arjun could have performed even better, had it been operated by experienced crewmen”, says an officer who has worked on the Arjun. “As the army’s tank regiments gather experience on the Arjun, they will learn to exploit its capabilities.” With the trial report still being compiled — it is expected to reach Army Headquarters after a fortnight — neither the army, nor the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO), which developed the Arjun tank in Chennai at the Central Vehicles R&D Establishment (CVRDE), are willing to comment officially about the trials.  The importance of this comparative trial can be gauged from a list of those who attended. Witnessing the Arjun in action were most of the army’s senior tank generals, including the Director General of Mechanised Forces, Lt Gen D Bhardwaj; strike corps commander, Lt Gen Anil Chait; Army Commander South, Lt Gen Pradeep Khanna; and Deputy Chief of the Army Staff, Lt Gen JP Singh. The Director General of Military Operations, Lt Gen AS Sekhon also attended the trials.  Over the last four months, the army had systematically signalled that it did not want to buy more Arjuns. The message from senior officers was — 124 Arjun tanks have been bought already; no more would be ordered for the army’s fleet of 4000 tanks. The comparative trial, or so went the message, was merely to evaluate what operational role could be given to the army’s handful of Arjuns.  “The senior officers who attended the trials were taken aback by the Arjun’s strong performance,” an officer who was present through the trials frankly stated. “But they were also pleased that the Arjun had finally come of age.”  The army’s Directorate General of Mechanised Forces (DGMF), which has bitterly opposed buying more Arjuns, will now find it difficult to sustain that opposition. In keeping out the Arjun, the DGMF has opted to retain the already obsolescent T-72 tank in service for another two decades, spending thousands of crores in upgrading its vintage systems.  Now, confronted with the Arjun’s demonstrated capability, the army will face growing pressure to order more Arjuns.  The current order of 124 Arjuns is equipping the army’s 140 Armoured Brigade in Jaisalmer. With that order almost completed, the Arjun production line at the Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF) in Avadi, near Chennai, needs more orders urgently. The Rs 50 crore facility can churn out 50 Arjuns annually. That would allow for the addition of close to one Arjun regiment each year (a regiment is authorised 62 tanks).  Tank experts point out that conducting trials only in Mahajan does not square with the army’s assertion that they are evaluating a role for the Arjun. Says Major General HM Singh, who oversaw the Arjun’s development for decades, “If they were evaluating where the Arjun should be deployed, they should have conducted the trials in different types of terrain: desert, semi-desert, plains and riverine. It seems as if the army has already decided to employ the Arjun in the desert.”  The Arjun’s sterling performance in the desert raises another far-reaching question: should the Arjun — with its proven mobility, firepower and armour protection — be restricted to a defensive role or should it equip the army’s strike corps for performing a tank’s most devastating (and glamorous) role: attacking deep into enemy territory during war? Each strike corps has 8-9 tank regiments. If the army recommends the Arjun for a strike role, that would mean an additional order of about 500 Arjuns.  But Business Standard has learned that senior officers are hesitant to induct the Arjun into strike corps. Sources say the Arjun will be kept out of strike formations on the grounds that it is incompatible with other strike corps equipment, e.g. assault bridges that cannot bear the 60-tonne weight of the Arjun.

 Pak sings Kashmir tune in talks with US
IANS US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shakes hands with Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.  Washington: The US and Pakistan on Wednesday began their first strategic dialogue with Washington focusing on the war on terrorism, and Islamabad harping on the Kashmir issue and seeking an India-type nuclear deal.  Asking the US to "constructively engage" in the process of peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue with India, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said: "Pakistan seeks peaceful resolution to all issues in South Asia, including Kashmir."  "We hope the US will maintain its constructive engagement to encourage this process," he said at the launch of the talks at the US State Department with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  Qureshi also sought "non-discriminatory" access to energy, an apparent reference to nuclear cooperation that Pakistan is seeking with the US on the lines of the Indo-US civil nuclear deal.  Underlining the importance of Pakistan in the fight against terrorism and extremism, Qureshi pitched for enhanced partnership with the US on a whole range of issues, including energy.  Earlier, Hillary Clinton pledged full support to Pakistan in its growing action against extremism, saying: "Its struggles are our struggles."  A "new day" has begun in their relationship, she said, noting: "For the past year, the Obama administration has shown in our words and deeds a different approach and attitude toward Pakistan."  The two nations "have had our misunderstandings and disagreements in the past," Clinton acknowledged. "But this is a new day".  One way to improve ties, she said, would be to expand the security focus to include energy development, education and agriculture.  Neither Clinton nor Quershi outlined specific programmes, but media reports have suggested that Pakistan is bringing to the table a long wish list, including an India-type civil nuclear deal and a direct Washington role in reviving the peace process with New Delhi.  Though the State Department declined to acknowledge that Pakistan had made the demands in a 56-page document sent to the US ahead of Wednesday's talks, the Wall Street Journal citing unnamed American officials suggested it was an implicit offer to crack down in return on the Afghan Taliban. 

Grand welcome to Pak army chief Neighbour’s attempt to alter Indo-US ties
K.P. NAYAR IN WASHINGTON Barack Obama  Today’s Washington quiz: What is bigger than any state visit to the US or a White House state dinner?  Answer: The visit of the chief of army staff of Pakistan.  General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who arrived here on Monday morning to a red carpet welcome after nuts-and-bolts talks in Florida with the nucleus of the US Central Command over the weekend, has eclipsed every other strategic priority in Washington, including the visit of America’s closest ally, the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu.  For almost this entire working week, anyone in Washington who has any interest in foreign policy — and that includes diplomats, think-tankers, journalists, overseas risk analysts and, of course, the entire US strategic officialdom — has his or her eyes and ears glued to one man: Kayani.  He is today the pivot determining America’s medium-term role in South Asia, the one foreigner who can, in the short term, considerably influence, via Afghanistan, Obama’s re-election as President in 2012.  A Pakistani delegation that includes its foreign and defence ministers, water, finance, agriculture and social issues advisers, secretaries for information technology, power, defence and foreign affairs — in short the nucleus of the government in Islamabad and the Army General Headquarters in Rawalpindi — is here, determined to alter the dynamics of Indo-Pak relations and US-India relations.  Two days before their talks began here today, the Obama administration nearly fell into a trap on this dynamic which has been evolving in Islamabad for nearly five years since Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s landmark visit to the US in 2005.  On Monday, when the US under secretary of state for democracy and global affairs, Maria Otero, arrived for a routine briefing to mark World Water Day, she had no idea what was going to hit her. Almost the entire briefing was hijacked by the issue of US mediation on Indo-Pak water disputes.  Otero, whose experience in political diplomacy prior to her job as an Obama nominee for her very senior state department post is zero, was asked about US mediation in Indo-Pak water disputes.“I think we’re beginning to do that,” she replied. “And indeed, (it is) part of the discussion that is going on, we are quite aware (of what) is between the two countries.” Pakistan’s army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani with Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. (AP)  She added that in the Obama administration, there “is the recognition of water as a potential source of conflict in our elevated effort to address it with greater priority than we have in the past”.  Luckily, secretary of state Hillary Clinton stepped in almost immediately and prevented New Delhi from going into a tailspin over US mediation by telling the media: “We are well aware that there is a 50-year-old agreement between Pakistan and India concerning water... usually, where there is an agreement, as there is between India and Pakistan on water, with mediation techniques, arbitration built in, it would seem sensible to look to what already exists to try to resolve any of the bilateral problems between India and Pakistan.”  The two days of the first ministerial-level US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, which began today, has been elevated by the Americans to the level of a state visit, short of the protocol trappings that exclude such honours for a “mere” chief of army staff.  The Obama administration arranged to have the opening ceremonies broadcast live to Pakistan. On the eve of the talks, on Pakistan Day, Clinton declared in video messages in Urdu, Pashto and English that “Pakistan is close to my heart”.  Obama went as far as to say that “Muhammad Ali Jinnah and those of the independence generation declared their dreams of self-determination and democracy”, a reference that Pakistan may well misrepresent in the coming days as a US endorsement by extension of the idea of self-determination for Kashmiris.  Sitting down with the Pakistanis from Thursday morning will be Clinton, the defence secretary, Robert Gates, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, the secretary of agriculture, Tom Vilsack, and key officials of the treasury, the national security council and the office of the US trade representative. The lone Indian-American face on the US side will be the administrator of the US aid agency, Rajiv Shah.  Clearly, the idea of a US-Pakistan nuclear deal is way, way down the road, if at all. In any case, since 2006, the idea of a deal, similar to the one for India, has been discussed here on and off without much headway.  A US-UAE nuclear deal that was approved by George W. Bush and subsequently implemented by Obama has strengthened the four-year-old argument here that Pakistan’s security will be enhanced by such an agreement.  In any case, as a seasoned soldier, Kayani’s true objective in advocating the idea of a nuclear deal will be to deflect the arguments here in support of taking control of and eliminating Islambad’s nuclear programme and, instead, getting some iron-clad assurances that Pakistan can keep its bomb.  The real threat to Indian interests from the talks may come from any US decision to fund any major hydel projects in Pakistan. That will create an American stake in Islamabad’s water disputes with New Delhi, which have ramifications for Kashmir because of the geography of the rivers. Having failed to get the US involved directly in the Kashmir dispute, this may be Kayani’s diabolical effort to do that by proxy. Top

 True soldier: disabled Brigadier promoted
Shreya Dhoundial
CNN-IBN REAL HERO: Brigadier S K Razdan says his handicap has never been an issue.  New Delhi: Brigadier S K Razdan, becomes the first wheel chair bound officer in the Indian Army to be promoted to the rank of Major General.  S K Razdan says his handicap has never been an issue. Friends, family and relatives gather to congratulate him at his house.  “I knew if I have done my work sincerely and delicately also knowing the system, I would certainly get the fair treatment, said Brigadier Razdan.  Brigadier Razdan - an officer of the elite Special Forces was paralysed below his waist- fighting terrorists in Kasmir in 1994. It was his birthday and the first day of his command. Razdan managed to rescue 14 women abducted by militants that day, but in the process he was shot repeatedly in the spinal cord .  “It was my responsibility as a soldier of the country to protect my fellow citizens, said Razdan.  “I just did my job and this is what I was trained for,” added Razdan.  Brigadier Razdan is currently posted in the Integrated Defence Staff Headquarters and will pick his rank as and when a vacancy arises.

Ritu salutes the Indian Army 
Author : Prithwish Ganguly | WC :293  From bold themes to saluting patriotism — that’s what the Delhi Fashion Week, which starts today, is all about; here’s a peek into what two of the country’s well-known designers — Ritu Beri will dish out on Day 1 Through her Autumn/Winter collection, designer Ritu Beri pays a tribute to the Indian Army for their constant and dedicated work towards making the nation a safe place to live in. She is dedicating her show at the Delhi Fashion Week to her father Balbir Singh Bedi who was in the Indian Army. "I will be presenting aline that has been inspiredby the colours of the Indian Army. It's my way of paying tribute to them and also to my father through my collection. My line is sharp and consists of structured silhouettes with a bright colour palette. I have jackets, coats and drapey dresses. The collection is not outlandish and has lots of reds, blacks, animal prints, etc. My dad's regiment had red, gold and black colours and I have tried to play around those. It has been a nostalgic journey for me," Ritu says. So, why is she rooting for the military in the fashion extravaganza that is bigger and better this time with around 130 designers taking part? She says, "I feel not much is done in our country to respect the army men who lay down their lives so that we can live safely. We should pay more gratitude. I have been disturbed with constant reports about army men being killed by militants, taken hostage or murdered and other such ghastly news." She adds, "The Indian Army is very special for me because I was raised in an army background. That's another reason I decided that I should do something special for the army. Being in the army is also fun as a lot of fanfare happens with the band and the style of dressing. I have tried to integrate all these elements into my collection while saluting their heroics."

 U.S. Army Awards Northrop Grumman Lightweight Laser Designator Rangefinders Delivery Order Valued at $142.7 Million
By admin | March 24th, 2010 | Category: Defense Companies, Latest, USA | No Comments »  Northrop Grumman Corporation has received a delivery order award from the U.S. Army valued at $142.7 million to provide over 500 Lightweight Laser Designator Rangefinders (LLDR) under a five-year indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract.  Northrop Grumman’s LLDR accurately targets enemy positions during the day, at night and in nearly all battlefield conditions including haze, smoke, fog and rain. It provides a unique capability to forward observers and air controllers, and enables commanders to see the enemy and decide how to act with confidence. Using an eye-safe laser wavelength, the system recognizes targets, finds the range to a target, and fixes target locations for laser-guided, GPS-guided, and conventional munitions. This lightweight, interoperable system uniquely provides range finding and targeting information to other digital battlefield systems.  Northrop Grumman’s Laser Systems business unit has delivered and fielded more than 1,300 LLDR systems to U.S. military forces supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.  This marks the second delivery order award to Northrop Grumman under an ID/IQ contract from the Army that has a not-to-exceed value of $599 million. The first delivery order award was issued in Oct. 2009 and was valued at $72.7 million.

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