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Wednesday, 21 April 2010

From Today's Papers - 21 Apr 2010

The Pioneer
Kashmir Times
Asian Age
Asian Age
Kashmir Times
Indian Express
Asian Age
Asian Age
Kashmir Times
Asian Age
Kashmir Times

Army pulled up over extension in service
Vijay Mohan/TNS  Chandigarh, April 20 Terming the Army’s approach towards granting extension in service to officers as “inconsistent”, the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has held that the decision to deny extension to two Brigadiers from the military intelligence, who had an above average career profile, was “not very objective and does not appear to be well-founded”.  Ruling that the petitioners, Brig Dalip Kapur and Brig MS Jamwal, should have been allowed to continue, the bench comprising Justice AK Mathur and Lt-Gen ML Naidu was of the opinion that the selection committee had not applied the yardstick properly and denied the incumbents further extension though they had been graded as above average.  The two conditions required for extension are medical fitness and professional efficiency. The age of retirement in the Intelligence Corps is 54 years extendable to 57 years. The petitioners had contended that their annual confidential reports had graded them above average without any adverse remarks in their careers.  Though both officers had similar gradings, the bench observed that the selection committee, considering Brigadier Kapur’s case, had not granted him extension.  Stating that the petitioners were now retired, the bench ruled that they should have been allowed to continue in service till the age of 57 years. They would be entitled to the difference of arrears of salary minus their pension and the amount so worked out be paid along with 12 per cent interest.

400 Maoists attack four CRPF camps in Dantewada 
Raipur, April 20 The specter of Dantewada massacre came back to haunt the CRPF, when Maoists tonight opened fire on four separate CRPF camps in quick succession in Dantewada district, triggering gunbattles. However, there was no immediate report of casualties.  About 300 to 400 Naxalites carried out the attacks on the camps, where the paramilitary personnel and policemen were resting, at Chintangufa, where 75 CRPF men and a policeman were killed in the worst-ever Maoist strike two weeks ago, Kanker Lanka, Potampalli and Bheji around 7.30 pm, sources said.  The CRPF and the policemen retaliated, sparking intermittent gunbattles with the Maoists, which lasted till 9.30 pm, said SP, Dantewada, Amaresh Mishra adding there was no report of casualty in the standoff.  “The firing by the Maoists could have been to facilitate the escape of the ultras to adjacent Orissa,” Mishra said. Chhattisgarh Additional Director General of Police Ram Niwas told PTI that the ultras fired from a distance, which was responded to by the CRPF and the police. However, there was no casualty, he said.  Sources said all CRPF and police camps in the area had been put on high alert after the incident. The incidents tonight came two weeks after the Maoists carried out the worst-ever attack at Chitangufa on April 6, killing 75 CRPF men and a policeman. — PTI

Army offers coaching to youth in Baramulla for NDA  
Irfan Quraishi:A Rising Journalist   Tue, Apr 20, 2010 12:55:42 IST   TO GAUGE the aptitude of students and provide them with a first hand experience of facing competitive examinations through out the country, army in Baramulla district will offer coaching to 61 students for NDA examination.  Army’s Dagger Artillery Brigade Baramulla has shortlisted 61 students out of total 150 and these students will be offered extensive coaching for NDA examination to be held on August 22 this year.  Today, the coaching classes were flagged off under the aegis of Dagger Artillery Brigade by conducting a series of motivational lectures in all popular schools and colleges of the district.  The army’s initiative evoked a good response as 64 forms were filled in the first two days. The locals maintained that army was playing a good role and exposing the students to the realities of competitive examinations conducted by UPSC in the country.  They upheld that this will broaden the educational and mental horizons of the students and enable them to do well in all types of competitive examinations.  “The exquisite beauty of the Kashmir Valley can make anyone dumbfounded and wonderstruck. The educated youth are talented but lack exposure. Army is making efforts to expose them to studies and perform to the best of their ability in examinations. I hope that this initiative will earn rich dividends for students,” observed Major Abhimanav of Dagger Artillery Brigade Baramulla.    It is widely believed in the area that this socio-educational interaction between the Army and students will also give each other an opportunity to understand common problems and find out amicable solutions.  To keep the tempo high GOC Dagger division interacted with the students on April 19, 2010. He urged them to raise their standards higher to reach a level where a shining future awaited them.  “Army has extended a friendly hand by making an endeavour to recruit qualified and capable students of Baramulla to join army as an officer and anticipate for them a bright future ahead,” viewed a student.  Following successful CDS coaching classes for college students, the Army has now embarked on a mission to train local youth to join the premier tri-services defence organisation National Defense Services.  To keep the spirits high General Officer Commanding (GOC) Dagger division interacted with the students on April 19, 2010. He urged them to raise their standards higher to reach a level where a shining future awaited them.

US, Russia make joint appeal for nuclear arms reduction
Betwa Sharma\PTI / United Nations April 20, 2010, 11:48 IST  Days after signing a pact to reduce their atomic arsenal, the US and Russia today launched a joint appeal to all nuclear-armed countries to build on the momentum created by their deal and join the disarmament process.  At the UN General Assembly's thematic debate on Disarmament and World Security, top diplomats from the United States and Russia called on other member-states to work towards the goal of disarmamnent and non-proliferation.  "We call on all states without exception, and first and foremost those that have nuclear arsenals, to join efforts with Russia and the United States in this field and to contribute actively to the disarmament process," Vitaly Churkin, the Russian envoy told the gathered delegation.       Susan Rice, US envoy to the UN, said: "We encourage all delegations to put aside dated arguments and build on today's momentum to make real progress on disarmament, nonproliferation, and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy".      The UN ambassadors of the former Cold War rivals made this appeal together, two weeks after their leaders, Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev, signed the "New START" treaty that would reduce their arsenals by one-third that will take the countries warheads down from 2,200 to 1,550 each, over seven years.      "The signing of this treaty is a major milestone for nuclear security and nonproliferation, delivering on President Obama's pledge a year ago to take concrete steps towards a world without nuclear weapons," Rice said.      "Our joint appearance here today is a sign of the much strengthened relationship between our two nations – a relationship built on candour, cooperation and mutual respect," she added.      The Russian ambassador also described the signing of the treaty between Obama and Medvedev as a "milestone".      "The signing of the Treaty heralds the transition to a higher level of cooperation between Russia and the United States in disarmament and non-proliferation," Chrukin said.      He said this effort would lead to new military relations for promoting "mutual and global security".      Additionally the US in April, under the new Obama Nuclear Posture Review, has pledged not to use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear weapons state that is party to the NPT and in compliance with its nuclear nonproliferation obligations.      "All nations must recognise that the non-proliferation regime is undermined if violators are allowed to act with impunity," Rice said, as an obvious swipe at Iran and North Korea.

Fake army recruitment racket busted in Andhra Pradesh
April 21, 2010 03:00 IST A clash between the locals and non locals and the arrest of 83 'fake' candidates in Warangal, has blown the lid off an organized racket involving some former army personnel to get the non locals recruited in to army on the basis of fake certificates.  Warangal district police, which is investigating the matter has arrested a former army man Kondal Reddy and his accomplice Rajeshwar Reddy and was searching for another ex-serviceman Yashpal Singh. These persons, acting as the recruitment consulting agents had provided fake residential certificates to the candidates from other states to participate in the recruitment rally at Warangal meant exclusively for the youth of the Telangana [ Images ] region.  Warangal district superintendent of police Shahnawaz Qasim told the reporters that the police have also arrested 83 outsiders, hailing from Rajasthan [ Images ], Haryana and Bihar for attacking four policemen and also possessing fake residential certificates. All the arrested persons have been sent to judicial custody for 15 days.  Qasim said that interrogation of the arrested persons revealed that Yashpal Singh, who was running a army recruitment consultancy in Secunderabad had arranged fake certificates for the youth of other states showing them to be the residents of Secunderabad and Ranga Reddy districts in Telangana region. "These candidates paid Rs 10,000 each for the certificates. Yashpal Singh also extracted a promise from them that they will pay another Rs two lakh to him on getting selected".  While Yashpal sent 120 candidates to the recruitment rally in Warangal, another agent Kondal Reddy of Kadapa in Rayala Seema brought 30 candidates. The fishy goings on came to light when the local candidates from Telangana region objected to their presence saying the recruitment rally was meant exclusively for them. Despite the crack down and arrests of the non locals and agents, army authorities completed the process of recruitment as per the original schedule.

'India must see itself as a N-weapon, rising power'
April 17, 2010 10:26 IST  Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh [ Images ] told the media at the Nuclear Security Summit hosted that his statement at the summit outlined India's [ Images ] "approach to the issues of nuclear security, nuclear terrorism, clandestine proliferation and global disarmament".  He said, "After listening to world leaders at the summit, I feel a sense of vindication of India's position. The intersection of international terrorism and clandestine proliferation affects our security directly. The concerns that we have been expressing for decades on the dangers of proliferation and risk of nuclear materials finding their way into the wrong hands are today finding widespread acceptance."  At the summit, Dr Singh also announced India would establish a Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership, which "would be owned and managed by the government, but will be open to international participation in terms of academic exchanges and research and development efforts".  "This initiative is the next logical step in India's engagement with the world after the opening of international civil cooperation with India," he said.  C Raja Mohan, one of India's leading strategic experts, who recently completed his stint as Kissinger Chair in Foreign Policies and International Relations at the John W Kluge Center, US Library of Congress, predicted that India's participation at this summit was "just the beginning," in terms of being on the "frontlines managing the global nuclear order".  But in an interview to Aziz Haniffa, Mohan, who was a member of India's National Security Advisory Board from 1998 to 2000 and again from 2004 to 2006, said, "India should now take more initiatives -- it should signal more confidence," and stop being "defensive and keep talking constantly about its nonproliferation record and credentials."  Excerpts from the interview:  What's your take on the prime minister's intervention and recommendations at the National Security Summit?  There were two parts. One, which was essentially drawing attention to what is  happening in Pakistan. That while all this talk about physician materials security was going on, there are issues in Pakistan. There are two sets of issues in Pakistan, to which he drew attention. One was the question of non-state actors getting hold of nuclear weapons. It's an issue, which is all over the American press these days -- what are the dangers of the Pakistani arsenal coming into the hands of terrorists. The second issue, which is less discussed in public in the US, is what is the role of the A Q Khan network. But that you don't see much in the public debate. I believe he was drawing attention to that in that when you talk about material security, that you've allowed this network, although the information was released, the US dealt with this in a bilateral basis with Pakistan. Here is A Q Khan virtually scot-free in Pakistan and the US has not shared any information or anything. They've simply said the case is closed.  And, the Pakistanis have made clear that they are not going to give the US access to interrogate A Q Khan and will only provide them with any information they believe is pertinent, even as in the US Congress, lawmakers continue to keep screaming for access to him and keeping arguing that there's not telling if this network has been completely shut down. But not only the Pakistanis who've completely ignored the US Congress, the administration has also not pursued this and have pushed it under the rug?  Absolutely. This network is probably still around and the way the prime minister drew attention to that I thought, that was a significant part in his statement. And, the second part of his statement is really about what does India do? There, I think, again, the centre of course, is one of the initiatives. He was also very clear on India's policy of non-transfer of enrichment and reprocessing technology and he's made a clear pledge that there will be absolutely no proliferation from India.  Obviously, I guess this was meant to silence the so-called nonproliferation ayatollahs in the US, the likes of Bob Einhorn( currently senior adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton [ Images ] on non-proliferation and arms control) and others who not only were vehemently against the US-India nuke deal but also used to cast doubts on India's export control regulations?  Yes, and in fact, there is a reference to export control laws now being in full harmony with the London [ Images ] Suppliers Group and the Missile Control Technology Regime. So, what you have is really the direction that India was prepared to signal that it is a responsible power, that it is doing things that are expected from a responsible power. I believe that message has come out loud and clear. The last point, is that India not being a member of the NPT (Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty), not being an accepted nuclear weapons power, there's been a problem in terms of how does India work for nonproliferation. So, I believe this forum has actually helped India in that sense that as a nuclear weapons state, which is not a part of the NPT, this forum has helped India to signal its responsibilities that it can work with the others. So, it's been a very valuable exercise for the Indians.  Dr Singh was also given sort of pride of place being one of a handful of world leaders to make an intervention in the morning plenary?  Clearly, it is an acknowledgement and is a recognition of the leadership role being accorded to India by Obama [ Images ].  But didn't you find parts of the prime minister's statement overly defensive --going on and on about India's nonproliferation credentials, going back to history to talk about Nehru and Rajiv Gandhi's [ Images ] disarmament proposals, about India's peaceful nuclear programme, harping on India's impeccable nonproliferation track record. If India wants to take on a leadership role isn't this not becoming of a major player to keep on reiterating its credentials in such a defensive and obsequious manner?  I think it's just part of this old style. It's really a problem of style, reiterating what you've done before -- the old bureaucratic style that India can't seem to get away from. But, there were new proposals. They were clearly kind of using this forum as a way of signaling India's willingness to work with others.  With regard to India's initiative regarding the creation of this Global Centre for Nuclear Energy Partnership, will the fact that India is not a signatory to the NPT pose obstacles in terms of this endeavor, which the prime minister said had been well received by President Obama and other leaders?  I don't think this will be a problem at all because what was important about this forum was that it was not about those in the NPT or not in the NPT. In that sense Obama has given India this framework in which India can work because this meeting had no reference to NPT.  How about the fact that India was not invited for the luncheon Vice President (Joseph) Biden hosted for several non-aligned nations though India was a co-founder of the Non-aligned Movement, because apparently India is not a signatory to the NPT? Was this a slight?  I am quite happy about that because you got to get off that (non-aligned) bandwagon. But, in any case, that was meant for the non-nuclear weapon Non-aligned countries. India does not belong to that group. And, in any case, why would India want to be lumped with that group. India, now, must see itself as a nuclear weapon power, as a rising power. India was met by the President -- that's what matters.  Where does India go from here now?  This is just the beginning. India should now take more initiatives. It should signal more confidence. As you said, you don't have to be defensive and keep talking constantly about your non-proliferation record and credentials. India has to demonstrate that it is going to be on the front-lines managing the global nuclear order. So, this is really the beginning.  In terms of the CTBT (Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the ratification of which is a major foreign policy goal of the Obama administration), at some point -- even though ratification seems to be a way off where even the US is concerned and looks like a non-starter because the Democrats would be hard pressed to get the 67 votes it needs in the US Senate -- do you see India signing the CTBT?  I have no problem with India signing the CTBT at all. But thinking of signing the CTBT should only come up when the US and the Chinese ratify the treaty. Until that point, there is no need to think about it. And, if the US and Chinese ratify it, in such a scenario why should India be afraid of signing the CTBT, because in any case we are not testing. We've got a moratorium on testing. So, I don't see it as an issue just because it's been made into an issue. Once, the US and China do it, then I would say, India should do the same thing.

Malaysia shows interest in BRAHMOS at DSA '10
Last Updated:Apr 20, 2010  Malaysian Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi being briefed by Dr. A S Pillai, CEO & MD BrahMos Aerospace, about the land version of BRAHMOS supersonic cruise missile at the DSA 2010. A BNS Photo KUALA LUMPUR (BNS): Malaysia's Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi applauded the BRAHMOS supersonic cruise missile during his visit to the BrahMos Aerospace pavilion at the Defence Services Asia 2010 here on Tuesday.  The Minister took a view of all four variants of the weapon system – land, sea, air and underwater, and was briefed about its unique capabilities.  He also congratulated the BrahMos team present at the exhibition for the recent successful launch of BRAHMOS in vertical configuration from a moving warship.  BRAHMOS has already proved its mettle in the land and sea versions and has been inducted in the Indian Army and Navy.  Work is under progress to develop the missile's air and submarine-launched variants.  Malaysia, which is hosting the 12th edition of the Defence Services Asia, has evinced interest in the world's only supersonic cruise missile. The country is planning to procure a range of weapon systems, aircraft and ships to strengthen its armed forces as stated by its Defence Minister earlier.  DSA 2010, showcasing cutting-edge technology for the army, navy, air force as well as for the security and homeland enforcement agencies, is Asia's largest defence and security exhibition and among the five of the most prestigious defence exhibitions in the world.
ve News Blacklisted STK prepares Indian Field Howitzer- 2000 trials  Posted by Live News on April 20, 2010 at 2:02 am · Under Artillery, Indian Armed Forces, Modernisation, News   New Delhi: With artillery having killed more soldiers during the last century than any other battlefield weapon, the decade-plus delay in equipping the Indian Army with modern artillery guns is widely considered a major procurement lapse. The stop-start-stop process of buying 1,580 towed guns for the Indian Army will effectively restart on Monday when a C-130 Hercules aircraft lands in New Delhi, carrying a 155-millimetre artillery gun for trials this summer.  This gun, the Indian Field Howitzer-2000 (IFH-2000), developed by Singapore Technologies Kinetics, or STK, is competing for the Indian tender with British company BAE Systems’ FH-77B-05, a derivative of the controversial and respected Bofors gun. The lower-profile IFH2000 is the world’s first 155mm 52-calibre howitzer, which the Singapore Armed Forces have used for over a decade.  A 52-calibre howitzer fires heavier shells than older, 39-calibre and 45-calibre guns, inflicting greater punishment on the target. The Indian tender for towed guns specifies that only 52-calibre guns will be evaluated.  Trials for procuring 155 mm, 52-calibre towed guns began in summer 2002, when the Ministry of Defence (MoD) began evaluating three guns from BAE Systems; Israeli firm, Soltam; and South African company, Denel. Five rounds of trials, conducted in 2002; 2003; 2004; and 2006; reached no conclusion. Denel was blacklisted for corruption in September 2005; the other two guns did not meet the army’s standards.  The trials remain dogged by controversy even after a fresh tender was issued in 2008. Last year, one of the two contenders, STK, was unofficially blacklisted for corruption after the arrest of former Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) chief Sudipta Ghosh. But CBI investigations have made no apparent headway in the past year; not even acharge-sheet has been filed against Sudipta Ghosh. Now, STK has been asked to field its gun for trials.  STK plans to start preparing for the impending trials by practising firing at the Pokhran ranges using Indian ammunition and a crack gun crew of seven former Indian Army artillerymen, recruited by STK’s Indian partner, Punj Lloyd Ltd.  The BAE Systems gun, too, is in India, having been brought for the Defence Expo in February and for trials scheduled immediately after that. But those trials were postponed when the IFH2000 was damaged in Singapore while being loaded into an aircraft for despatch to India.  “Punj Lloyd is STK’s Indian partner for the 155 mm gun,” explains Patrick Choy, STK’s international marketing chief. “STK will rely on them for logistics and engineering support during the trials; and if STK is awarded the contract, we will manufacture a substantial part of the gun at Punj Lloyd’s facilities near Gwalior.” STK’s rival in this tender, BAE Systems, has a similar arrangement with its Indian partner, Mahindra & Mahindra. These two companies have formed an Indian joint venture, Defence Land Systems, with Rs 100 crore equity held on a 7426 per cent basis between Mahindra & Mahindra and BAE Systems.  At stake in the forthcoming trials is an order, worth $1.8 billion (about Rs 8,000 crore), for the outright supply of 400 towed guns; and the licensed production in India of another 1,180 guns. If the MoD imposes even the minimum offset requirement of 30 per cent, that would translate into $540 million (about Rs 2,400 crore) worth of manufacture within India.  STK and BAE Systems are also vying for a $700-million (over Rs 3,100 crore) contract for 140 ultralight howitzers (ULHs) for Indian mountain divisions.  Two more artillery purchases are simultaneously in the works: A $800 million (Rs 3,500 crore) order for 100 medium guns, mounted in tracked vehicles, for self-propelled (SP) medium regiments that go into battle with India’s strike corps. Another $900 million (Rs 4,000 crore) will buy 180 vehiclemounted guns for more SP regiments.  The stakes are high for everyone involved. For BAE Systems, this is an opportunity to bury the stigma of the Bofors scandal; for STK, this is a golden opening into the lucrative Indian market; and for the Indian Army, desperately short of artillery firepower, this is a chance to fill a gaping operational void. Source: Business Standard

Despite UN warnings, Nepal army trying to recruit
TNN, Apr 20, 2010, 04.52pm IST KATHMANDU: With less than six weeks to go before the deadline for a new constitution expires in Nepal, the republic’s controversial army has kicked up a fresh row once again by trying to recruit despite repeated warnings by the UN in the past that it was against the peace agreement.  The nearly 96,000-strong army, that the government had pledged would have no more fresh blood till the peace negotiations concluded, is now seeking to recruit about 270 people for non-combatant posts like doctors, technicians and mechanics.  In the past too, the army, under its controversial chief, Gen Rookmangud Katawal, whom the Maoists tried to sack, sought to make fresh recruitment. The revived attempt shows up the rift in Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal’s own party with his party comrade Bidya Bhandari, who is also the defence minister, pushing for the new hirings.  The army move has, predictably, triggered an angry response from the Maoists, who have in the past warned that they too would then start inducting new fighters in their People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The PLA, confined in 28 barracks since the end of the 10-year People’s War, has over 196,000 combatants. Though while signing the 2006 peace pact the ruling parties agreed to merge the PLA with the national army, the pledge has run aground after stiff resistance by army generals. In this, the Nepal Army is also backed by the Indian Army.  Maoist MP and former deputy chief of the PLA, Barsha Man Pun Ananta, said it was a deliberate attempt to kill the peace pact and compel the Maoists to take up arms again. However, the army plan has been challenged by a rights organisation, Inhured International, that had in the past too filed a writ against the army’s move to begin recruitment. Nepal’s Supreme Court will hear the case Wednesday and the army plan may become grounded, like so many other ambitious government projects that have been stalled by the court.  The army move comes at a time it is showing itself to be acting increasingly independently with the government unable or unwilling to rein it in. This year, the army killed three Dalit women in a national park, including a minor, and the defence minister told parliament the victims were armed poachers. The Bardiya national park incident was followed this week by reports of soldiers being behind the murder of four members of the same family in Palpa district. A yet third disturbing incident was that of soldiers storming a police station right in the capital after some drunken soldiers were arrested for disorderly behaviour.

Army Chief reviews JK security  Visits Leh; briefed on Siachen, China border 
Rising Kashmir News Jammu, April 20: Indian Army chief Gen V K Singh arrived in Leh Tuesday on a three-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir and reviewed the situation on the Siachen glacier as also along the border with China in Leh.   Gen Singh, on his maiden visit to the State after becoming army chief on April 1, held discussions at the 14 Corps headquarters in Leh with army’s Northern Command chief Lt Gen B S Jaswal and 14 Corps commander Lt Gen S K Singh.  The 14 Corps guards the Siachen glacier, the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China and the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan-administered Kashmir in Leh and Kargil districts of the cold desert region of Ladakh.  The Siachen glacier, the highest battle ground of the world at the height of 21,000 feet above sea level, saw regular exchange of fire between Indian and Pakistani soldiers for 19 years – 1984 to 2003 – before the November 2003 ceasefire.  The main focus of the interaction was on the level of the Indian deployment along the LAC and the situation there against the backdrop of intrusions by Chinese troops in 2009. “Indian troops were in ‘high morale’ and maintaining heightened vigil along the borderline,” army chief was told.   “In Leh, the Army Chief reviewed the operational preparedness in the inhospitable terrain in the high altitude area.  He also prayed his respects at the War Memorial and visited the Hall of Fame besides interacting with troops,” a defence spokesman Lt Col J S Brar said.  He said in Srinagar, General V K Singh reviewed the security situation in the Valley in view of recent attempts at increased infiltration from across the border.  “He appreciated the efforts of the troops deployed in high altitude, counter insurgency areas and on the Line of Control,” he said.  General Singh will leave for Udhampur on Wednesday morning.  “The Army Chief will leave for a visit to the Jammu division tomorrow, where he will call on Governor N N Vohra and the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah,” added Brar.  During his long tenure in the Valley, Singh had commanded 2nd Rajput on the Line of Control and took charge as General Officer Commanding of Counter insurgency Victor Force, besides Chief of Staff of 15 Crops.

Pakistan war games show of force for India: analysts 
By Nasir Jaffry (AFP) – 23 hours ago  KHAIRPUR TAMEWALI, Pakistan — Pakistan is flexing its military might near the Indian border in massive war games analysts say are aimed at putting on a show of force for its nuclear-armed rival.  All branches of the military are taking part in the exercises named "New Resolve", which despite the Taliban militant threat in the northwest have so far focused on drills for conventional war on the eastern border with India.  Fighter jets roared overhead, shots rang out and tanks lumbered through the desert sands in the biggest war games in two decades in the Khairpur Tamewali area of Punjab province, 600 kilometres (about 400 miles) south of Islamabad.  The Pakistan Air Force's F-16s, French Mirages and Chinese-made F-7PGs engaged imaginary targets on the ground with a hail of bombs and missiles.  Up to 50,000 troops will take part in the games, which began on April 10 and will end on May 13 just 60 kilometres from the Indian border.  "The exercise seems to have nothing to do with the western borders," retired Lieutenant General Kamal Matinuddin, a defence analyst, told AFP.  "The way the military demonstrated its prowess by quickly mobilising troops and the war machinery showed the war games are actually focusing on the eastern borders," he added.  "Our armed forces must be capable of responding to emerging challenges on the eastern border by devising new tactics in response to new Indian strategy."  India and Pakistan have fought three wars since independence in 1947 -- two of them over the fate of the Himalayan territory of Kashmir -- and there have been repeated shows of military force on both sides of the border.  Recent tensions with India and reported new military strategy coming from New Delhi "have triggered a hot response from Pakistan," defence and security analyst Brigadier Mahmood Shah told AFP after witnessing the exercises.  "Our military keeps on putting to test its doctrines on the western border with Afghanistan but we really needed to test our capabilities focusing on conventional war on the eastern border," the retired brigadier said.  A campaign of suicide attacks and bombings in Pakistan blamed on the Taliban and other extremist Islamist groups has killed more than 3,200 people in less than three years across the nuclear-armed country of 167 million people.  Pakistan has diverted troops to battle against Taliban militants increasingly seen as a threat to national security in the northwest, with the US also pressuring Islamabad to go after militants who attack in Afghanistan.  The military has launched multiple campaigns in the last year to dislodge Taliban fighters from their strongholds in the northwest -- although the establishment still sees India as the primary threat.  But army chief General Ashfaq Kayani, who witnessed the exercises along with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and other top civil and military officials, said Pakistan had no aggressive intent.  "We harbour no aggressive designs against anyone but self defence is our inherent right and we will protect Pakistan at all costs," he said at a ceremony attended by reporters flown in to witness the spectacle.  He added that Pakistan's army was "committed to play a positive role in contributing towards strategic stability in the region."  Relations between Pakistan and India have been bedevilled by mistrust and tensions, exacerbated by the November 2008 attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai.  In February, the two nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours held their first official talks since the Mumbai attacks, when 10 Islamist gunmen killed 166 people in the bustling financial capital.  India blamed the attacks on Pakistan-based militants and said talks could only resume if Islamabad took concrete steps to bring those responsible to justice and cracked down on groups operating on its soil.

America prefers India over Pakistan
Asif Haroon Raja  Pakistan remained the most allied ally of USA since 1954 whereas India remained the camp follower of Soviet Union. The US tried hard to woo India particularly after its skirmish with China in 1962 but couldn’t succeed. Despite India ’s coldness, the Democrats in particular strove hard to induce India to jilt USSR and fall in their embrace. When Pakistan began to get closer to China in early 1960s due to US leanings towards India, the US had expressed its displeasure. Pak-China friendship continued to blossom despite US reproaches. It was essentially because of US special liking for India that it not only refused to assist Pakistan during 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars but also punished Pakistan by way of blocking flow of war munitions knowingly that Soviet Union was meeting defence needs of India. Had the US stood by the side of its ally, Pakistan would have won 1965 war and would not have lost East Pakistan.  After fall of USSR in 1991, the US dumped Pakistan and happily hugged India, which at that time was feeling marooned. It preferred India over its old and loyal ally because India had agreed to help US in containing fast expanding influence of China in the region. Pakistan refused to perform this role because of its extra ordinary close relations with China . It had already annoyed many neighboring countries when it became part of western pacts. It had to suffer direly for acting as a conduit to bring US-China closer in 1971.  Pakistan wanted to maintain close relations with USA but not at the cost of China . China factor was one of the principal factors in cementing Indo-US strategic relations. While the US has never objected to India signing defence and nuclear deals with Russia or cementing political, cultural and economic ties with China , or becoming the biggest buyer of Israeli arms, it frowns at Pakistan if it attempts to fulfill its military, economic or energy needs from other countries. It has all along tried to restrain Pakistan from developing closer relations with China and objected to any defence equipment acquired from Beijing . Besides China , Iran-Pakistan friendship is another irritation for USA since current Iranian leadership is on its hit list. Pakistan has inked Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project which has not been received well in Washington . The US has advised Pakistan to remain at a distance from Iran and scrap gas pipeline deal without realizing Pakistan ’s worsening state of energy crisis. Our gas needs are mounting at an alarming rate. It is estimated that by 2013-14, as against our production rate of 4 billion per cubic feet the requirement would jump to 8 billion cft per day. While pressuring Pakistan to cancel the deal, the US is not prepared to give civil nuclear facility. India opted out of Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project at the behest of USA but was rewarded in the form of civil nuclear deal.  While America is prodding Pakistan hard to befriend India and stop treating it as arch enemy, it doesn’t press India to bring a change in its belligerent attitude and hegemonic policies. The US has helped India in acquiring economic, military and nuclear strengths thereby seriously disturbing regional balance of power. It has done so in disregard of the fact that India is ambitious and has dangerous designs against Pakistan . Being an apiarian country, it has constructed 62 dams over rivers flowing into Pakistan to turn its fertile lands arid. It has resorted to this immoral and inhuman practice since it is in forcible occupation of two-third Kashmir , which also enables Indian forces to encircle Pakistan . It is essentially because of sinister designs it harbors against Pakistan that it is not prepared to find an amicable solution to this chronic problem for the last six decades. Pakistan would not have given preference to security matters over development had India believed in the policy of peaceful coexistence and promoted peace in South Asia . Pakistan would never have pursued expensive nuclear path if hegemonic India not done so in 1974. Pakistan would not have carried out nuclear tests in May 1998 had India conducted five nuclear tests and then hurled vitriolic and provocative statements. Pakistan ’s tit for tat response was not to overawe India but to mellow down its belligerence and to deter India from undertaking another 1971 like invasion.  Pakistan would have signed NPT and CTBT had India done so and USA not taken a discriminatory stance. Pakistan made umpteen proposals in 1980s and in 1990s to make South Asia nuclear free but each offer was haughtily spurned by India . Unresolved Kashmir dispute has kept India-Pakistan at warpath. Time has not diminished suspicions and antagonism since India has neither resolved Kashmir issue nor brought any change in its hostile attitude. In fact India has become economically sound and militarily more powerful and aggressive. It has become a strategic partner of US and latter has pledged to turn India into a major world power and permanent member of UNSC.  The Republican Party and now the Democrat Party are equally close to India and go all-out to keep it in good humor. This is evident from the lucrative economic, military and nuclear agreements doled out and the fawning attitude of each US official visiting New Delhi . It was essentially to earn India ’s goodwill that the US has been whipping Pakistan under various pretexts. The US is least interested in finding an amicable solution to Kashmir dispute since any facilitation in this direction will be at the cost of annoying India. The US fail to comprehend that when it talks of Indo-Pak amity, until and unless Indian occupation of Kashmir gets terminated and water aggression against Pakistan effectively checked and reversed, meaningful goodwill cannot be promoted between the two arch rivals. Soon after occupying Afghanistan, the US gave a green signal to India to not only consolidate its position in Afghanistan but to make full use of Afghan soil to undermine Pakistan, which it had designated as a frontline state to fight and defeat terrorism. Well knowing that India does not share border with Afghanistan , is a Hindu dominated country and has played no role in war on terror, yet the US is determined to make it a key player in Afghan affairs and to let India fill the vacuum once it departs.  Indian military has now been assigned to train Afghan Police and Army even after Gen Kayani expressed his strong reservations. As long as Af-Pak policy framed by Obama was to the advantage of India and harmful to Pakistan , Indian leaders were quite satisfied and kept making additional suggestions to make it more biting. It projected Pakistan as a collaborator and part of the problem. Now that the US has decided to take Pakistan off the hook, India is feeling highly perturbed. Had the US weapon sight been shifted from Pakistan to India , latter’s worry would have been understandable. India wants Pakistan to remain a target country and is trying to befool the world that Pak armed forces aided by dreadful Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and assisted by China would trounce India.  Comparing political, economic and strategic clout of India vis-à-vis Pakistan , former has a definite edge. Other aspects which keep India in good books of western world are that it is a non-Muslim state and credits itself to be secular and champion of democracy. Above all, it projects itself as a bulwark against China .  Notwithstanding falsification of these claims and Indian gimmicks, the US led west has accorded preferential treatment to India and has been treating Pakistan as an underdog. Even under changing geo-political realities in the region in which Pakistan ’s significance has shot into prominence, it will be fanciful on part of our leaders to expect that the US would prefer Pakistan over India .  —The writer is a retired Brig and a freelance defence analyst.

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