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Thursday, 29 April 2010

From Today's Papers - 29 Apr 2010

Top bureaucrats linked to big bribes
Anchal Vohra, Wednesday April 28, 2010, New Delhi CBIRaidstorypage.jpgThe house of two senior government officials were searched by the Central Bureau of  Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday.    They both stand accused of accepting large bribes.   O Ravi, a Joint Secretary at the Home Ministry, allegedly accepted 25 lakhs from a private distiller to transfer an administrator who was persistent and meticulous about the taxes owed by the distiller.  When his house was being raided, Ravi  reportedly rushed to his car and drove past the CBI wagon that was there to investigate him.   Another ministry official, RS Sharma, a director, has been booked for accepting bribes to favour a bulletproof jacket firm.   In July 2009, the Ministry of Home Affairs had floated a tender for the procurement of 59,000 bullet proof jackets. Sharma allegedly sold confidential information to a Noida-based company bidding for the contract. The tender ran into considerable controversy for multiple reasons. The company, Anjani Techno Plast, was not awarded the contract.

Why US military dislikes Microsoft's Power Point
Elisabeth Bumiller, NYT News Service, Wednesday April 28, 2010, Washington Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the leader of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, was shown a PowerPoint slide in Kabul last summer that was meant to portray the complexity of American military strategy, but looked more like a bowl of spaghetti.  NYTpowerpoint216x158_Grid-image.jpg"When we understand that slide, we'll have won the war," General McChrystal dryly remarked, one of his advisers recalled, as the room erupted in laughter.  The slide has since bounced around the Internet as an example of a military tool that has spun out of control. Like an insurgency, PowerPoint has crept into the daily lives of military commanders and reached the level of near obsession. The amount of time expended on PowerPoint, the Microsoft presentation program of computer-generated charts, graphs and bullet points, has made it a running joke in the Pentagon and in Iraq and Afghanistan.  "PowerPoint makes us stupid," Gen. James N. Mattis of the Marine Corps, the Joint Forces commander, said this month at a military conference in North Carolina. (He spoke without PowerPoint.) Brig. Gen. H. R. McMaster, who banned PowerPoint presentations when he led the successful effort to secure the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar in 2005, followed up at the same conference by likening PowerPoint to an internal threat.  "It's dangerous because it can create the illusion of understanding and the illusion of control," General McMaster said in a telephone interview afterward. "Some problems in the world are not bullet-izable."  In General McMaster's view, PowerPoint's worst offense is not a chart like the spaghetti graphic, which was first uncovered by NBC's Richard Engel, but rigid lists of bullet points (in, say, a presentation on a conflict's causes) that take no account of interconnected political, economic and ethnic forces. "If you divorce war from all of that, it becomes a targeting exercise," General McMaster said.  Commanders say that behind all the PowerPoint jokes are serious concerns that the program stifles discussion, critical thinking and thoughtful decision-making. Not least, it ties up junior officers -- referred to as PowerPoint Rangers -- in the daily preparation of slides, be it for a Joint Staff meeting in Washington or for a platoon leader's pre-mission combat briefing in a remote pocket of Afghanistan.  Last year when a military Web site, Company Command, asked an Army platoon leader in Iraq, Lt. Sam Nuxoll, how he spent most of his time, he responded, "Making PowerPoint slides." When pressed, he said he was serious.  "I have to make a storyboard complete with digital pictures, diagrams and text summaries on just about anything that happens," Lieutenant Nuxoll told the Web site. "Conduct a key leader engagement? Make a storyboard. Award a microgrant? Make a storyboard."  Despite such tales, "death by PowerPoint," the phrase used to described the numbing sensation that accompanies a 30-slide briefing, seems here to stay. The program, which first went on sale in 1987 and was acquired by Microsoft soon afterward, is deeply embedded in a military culture that has come to rely on PowerPoint's hierarchical ordering of a confused world.  "There's a lot of PowerPoint backlash, but I don't see it going away anytime soon," said Capt. Crispin Burke, an Army operations officer at Fort Drum, N.Y., who under the name Starbuck wrote an essay about PowerPoint on the Web site Small Wars Journal that cited Lieutenant Nuxoll's comment.  In a daytime telephone conversation, he estimated that he spent an hour each day making PowerPoint slides. In an initial e-mail message responding to the request for an interview, he wrote, "I would be free tonight, but unfortunately, I work kind of late (sadly enough, making PPT slides)."  Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates reviews printed-out PowerPoint slides at his morning staff meeting, although he insists on getting them the night before so he can read ahead and cut back the briefing time.  Gen. David H. Petraeus, who oversees the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and says that sitting through some PowerPoint briefings is "just agony," nonetheless likes the program for the display of maps and statistics showing trends. He has also conducted more than a few PowerPoint presentations himself.  General McChrystal gets two PowerPoint briefings in Kabul per day, plus three more during the week. General Mattis, despite his dim view of the program, said a third of his briefings are by PowerPoint.  Richard C. Holbrooke, the Obama administration's special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, was given PowerPoint briefings during a trip to Afghanistan last summer at each of three stops -- Kandahar, Mazar-i-Sharif and Bagram Air Base. At a fourth stop, Herat, the Italian forces there not only provided Mr. Holbrooke with a PowerPoint briefing, but accompanied it with swelling orchestral music.  President Obama was shown PowerPoint slides, mostly maps and charts, in the White House Situation Room during the Afghan strategy review last fall.  Commanders say that the slides impart less information than a five-page paper can hold, and that they relieve the briefer of the need to polish writing to convey an analytic, persuasive point. Imagine lawyers presenting arguments before the Supreme Court in slides instead of legal briefs.  Captain Burke's essay in the Small Wars Journal also cited a widely read attack on PowerPoint in Armed Forces Journal last summer by Thomas X. Hammes, a retired Marine colonel, whose title, "Dumb-Dumb Bullets," underscored criticism of fuzzy bullet points; "accelerate the introduction of new weapons," for instance, does not actually say who should do so.  No one is suggesting that PowerPoint is to blame for mistakes in the current wars, but the program did become notorious during the prelude to the invasion of Iraq. As recounted in the book "Fiasco" by Thomas E. Ricks (Penguin Press, 2006), Lt. Gen. David D. McKiernan, who led the allied ground forces in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, grew frustrated when he could not get Gen. Tommy R. Franks, the commander at the time of American forces in the Persian Gulf region, to issue orders that stated explicitly how he wanted the invasion conducted, and why. Instead, General Franks just passed on to General McKiernan the vague PowerPoint slides that he had already shown to Donald H. Rumsfeld, the defense secretary at the time.  Senior officers say the program does come in handy when the goal is not imparting information, as in briefings for reporters.  The news media sessions often last 25 minutes, with 5 minutes left at the end for questions from anyone still awake. Those types of PowerPoint presentations, Dr. Hammes said, are known as "hypnotizing chickens."

Limitations of Operation Green Hunt
Last updated on: April 28, 2010 19:36 IST Tags
It is necessary to make incremental progress, state by state, rather than aiming for an illusory knock-out punch against the Maoists, write Dr Shanthie Mariet D'Souza and Dr Bibhu Prasad Routray.  On April 6 the biggest ever Maoist strike on the security forces claimed the lives of 76 CRPF personnel in Dantewada, Chhattisgarh, and reinforced the claim that left-wing extremism has indeed emerged as India's [ Images ] most pressing internal security challenge. The CPI-Maoist, shrugging off initiation of the government's coordinated offensive, 'Operation Green Hunt,' is in no mood to compromise and continues to demonstrate that 'it will not lie low for the storm to pass over.' To the contrary, it will take on the state to assert its military superiority.  Though analysts bemoan the lack of a 'strategy' to deal with the Maoists, this shortcoming would seem the least of the worries for the Indian state as it engages the extremists in vast un-administered stretches of the country. Without addressing the tactical basics which must implement any counter-insurgency effort -- such as trained police personnel, an intelligence network, development initiatives, and unified command -- both among the states as well as within the government, no strategy can hope to move forward.  Operation Green Hunt, to be clear, is about tactics. The Centre has amassed over 75 battalions, drawn from a number of central paramilitary force units. Impressive though these numbers appear, they are simply not enough for containing a conflict that spans, according to the estimate of the ministry of home affairs, over 20 states of the country.  Bereft of the support they derive from the incapacitated and unwilling state police forces, the para-military forces are not in a position to systematically reclaim human terrain and deal with an opposition drawing its strength from local dynamics -- issues, population, and resources.  Most immediately, the biggest casualty of the April 6 attack has been the morale of the security forces. They have been committed piecemeal to fighting a faceless enemy. It is often accepted by the central forces that they have no clear mandate and thus are essentially reacting to evolving situations. The casualties that result from such a strategically (and often tactically) defensive posture are generally blamed on the non-adherence to standard operational procedures, without realising that in a guerrilla campaign, governed by individual initiative, SOPs can become real hindrances at times.  It is a responsibility of the Centre and the E N Rammohan inquiry committee that investigated the April 6 attack that the report, largely a fact finding endeavour, does not further drain the forces' sagging morale.  A first step in restoration of spirit would be agreement upon a narrative that defines the struggle. The image of the enemy as well the purpose of the fight must be well defined in the minds of the men in uniform.  Not long ago, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram [ Images ] had spoken of two to three years' sustained operations before the forces could start to turn the tide. Setbacks such as Dantewada could indefinitely prolong the wait. It appears that the sweep of Green Hunt, launched simultaneously in Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal [ Images ], Chhattisgarh, and Maharashtra [ Images ], has been drawn far too wide to make any decisive impact. In its bid to win the grand war, the Centre has overextended its means and fallen into a CPI-Maoist trap. Maoist strategy is quite clear that it seeks to stretch the forces far and wide, thereby preventing their concentration.  Predictably, the April 6 attack has taken the focus off West Bengal and Jharkhand, where the Maoists recently had come under attack. Ironically, before Dantewada, there was cautious optimism in Chhattisgarh at what seemed incremental improvements in the security situation, a fact that was recognised by Chidambaram. Now, it is quite clear that progress was but an illusion.  Still, MHA opposition to the use of the army in Maoist-affected areas remains firm. The commitment of CPMFs was intended to thwart any move in such direction. Yet the CPMFs lack of specific expertise in the tactics of tackling the Maoists calls the MHA position into question. Certainly the army's light infantry counterinsurgency units, the Rashtriya Rifles, have demonstrated considerable proficiency in precisely the areas where CPMFs have been shown wanting.  Considering the army's demonstrated counterinsurgency proficiency, whether against the Naxalites [ Images ] in the past or in the northeastern states and even Jammu & Kashmir [ Images ] today, the concerns against its direct commitment should not be allowed to stymie necessary and appropriate military commitments.  In any event, the scenario in which the state police will be in the forefront of anti-Maoist operations with assistance from the CPMFs, in states such as Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, is obviously far from being a realistic course of action. The MHA now speaks of developing anti-Maoist units within the paramilitary forces. To put such men on ground will take not only time but a larger role for the army in training the CPMF units.  Andhra Pradesh has demonstrated that it is possible to make one state Maoist-free without simultaneously attempting to achieve similar success in neighbouring states. Having achieved a favorable position, the state has sustained it despite negative trends in its neighbours. In the Andhra approach of calibrated use of special forces (Grey Hounds) and development, there is a lesson for the Centre in its own anti-Maoist campaign considerations. It is necessary to make incremental progress, state by state, rather than aiming for an illusory knock-out punch against the Maoists.  Dr Shanthie Mariet D'Souza is visiting research fellow, Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore & Dr Bibhu Prasad Routray has been a deputy director at the National Security Council Secretariat, New Delhi [ Images ].

Madhuri reenacts Pukar, almost
29 Apr 2010, 0257 hrs IST,Bharti Jain,ET Bureau 
NEW DELHI: Madhuri Gupta, Pakistan’s mole in the Indian high commission in Islamabad, was particularly interested in gathering information on military-related matters and often posed probing questions, mainly to the defence attache, regarding Army exercises being undertaken near the India-Pakistan border.  Though intelligence agencies here are ruling out any possibility of Gupta gaining access to any top-secret documents, sources conceded that she may have gathered enough information simply by observing her seniors and hearing them informally discuss security assessments after formal meetings or at social gatherings. She also seems to have showed an undue interest in joining casual discussions with the defence attache, asking probing questions on sensitive Army matters such as deployment details and border exercises.  Even though it is now more than apparent that the lady officer may have passed on secret information to the Pakistani agencies — through a man calling himself Rana — for monetary considerations, a scrutiny of her bank statements sourced from Pakistan has not really revealed much. “There is nothing unusual about the deposits or transfers made into the bank accounts she held in Pakistan... Chances are that the money transfers may have been made into her account in a bank located in a third country,” said a senior intelligence official.  The agencies are now tracking her computer’s hard disk and e-mails for information regarding such bank accounts held by her. According to the officer, the information about the extent of her espionage deals has been coming in slow as the agencies cannot employ traditional methods of interrogation while questioning the lady. “We are dealing tactfully given that she is a woman, which is why information is coming in a trickle on the extent of sensitive information she may have passed on.”  The investigators are also tracking her friends in Delhi and elsewhere to gather more details of her conversations with them over the last two years, when she was feeding information to the Pakistani agencies. The aim is to get her friends and colleagues to voluntarily share information on any mention by her of links to any Pakistani officers during her conversations of in her e-mails.  “This will widen our search and may help us dig out more information on the extent to which she may have been compromised during her stint in Pakistan,” said an officer involved in the probe. RAW sources ruled out the possibility of her having gained access to technical intelligence gathered by its Pakistan-based staff. "Even if the documents relating to the technical intelligence may have been in Urdu, there was no question of the intelligence agencies having approached her for interpreting them as we strictly follow security instructions that prohibit us from sharing these documents even with MEA officials, let alone with a low-ranking official like Gupta."

U.S. Consolidates Military Network In Asia-Pacific Region
Thursday, 29 April 2010 08:16 Written by Rick Rozoff E-mail Print PDF  The United States has six naval fleets and eleven aircraft carrier strike groups patrolling the world's oceans and seas. The U.S. Navy is as large as the world's next thirteen biggest navies combined [1].  Washington has as many aircraft carriers as all other nations together. Russia has one; China has none. The U.S. and its NATO allies - Britain (2), Italy (2), France (1) and Spain (1) - account for 17 of 22 in service in the world. Ten of the eleven American carriers are Nimitz class nuclear-powered supercarriers, substantially larger than most all non-U.S. ones. The U.S. Navy has all ten supercarriers in the world at the moment. [2]  U.S. aircraft carriers contain 70-80 planes and are available for deployment in all the world's oceans and most of its seas. They are escorted in their carrier groups by anti-air and anti-submarine warfare guided missile destroyers, anti-submarine warfare frigates, missile cruisers with long-range Tomahawks, and nuclear-powered fast-attack submarines. The U.S. also maintains between ten and twelve naval expeditionary strike groups which include amphibious assault ships and AH-1 Super Cobra attack helicopters in addition to destroyers, cruisers, frigates, attack submarines and P-3C Orion long-range anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft.  With the reestablishing of the Navy's Fourth Fleet - its area of responsibility includes Central and South America and the Caribbean Sea - two years ago after a 58-year hiatus, the U.S. has six fleets that can be dispatched to all five oceans.  The Seventh Fleet (there is no First Fleet), based in Japan, is the largest of U.S. forward-deployed fleets and consists of as many as 40–60 ships, 200-350 aircraft and 20,000-60,000 Navy and Marine Corps personnel. Its area of responsibility takes in more than 50 million square miles of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, from Russia's Kuril Islands in the north to the Antarctic in the south, from the South China Sea to the Arabian Sea, South Africa to the Korean Peninsula, the Strait of Malacca to the Taiwan Strait.  When on the occasion of accepting the Nobel Peace Prize last December President Barack Obama referred to himself as the Commander-in-Chief of the world's sole military superpower he was not guilty of hyperbole if he was of hubris. His defense budget for next year is almost half as large as world military spending for 2008, the last year for which the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute has compiled figures.  The U.S. has mutual defense treaties with six nations in the Asia-Pacific area: Australia, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea and Thailand. The Pentagon has bases in Japan and South Korea, troops and base camps in the Philippines, satellite surveillance sites in Australia and the use of air bases in Thailand.  Australia, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are included in the American global missile interceptor network with Patriot Advanced Capability-3 and ship-based Standard Missile-3 deployments in those four nations. Last December it was announced that the U.S. will supply Taiwan with 200 Patriot anti-ballistic missiles and the following month it was revealed that Washington will also provide Taiwan with eight frigates capable of being upgraded to fire Standard Missile-3 interceptors. [3]  Last week the head of the Missile Defense Agency, Lieutenant General Patrick O'Reilly, told the U.S. Congress that, as Reuters summarized it, "Japan remains fully committed to building a linchpin multibillion-dollar missile interceptor with the United States," despite hopes to the contrary entertained after the Democratic Party of Japan's Yukio Hatoyama became prime minister last September.  Referring to the current Standard Missile-3 enhancement program, O'Reilly said that Japanese government officials "have indicated that they are in full support and their commitments are solid."  In regards to the upgraded interceptor missile, the SM-3 Block IIA, he added, "Within the next year, we will begin our discussions on production arrangements between the United States and Japan." [4]  On April 27 the U.S. renewed a military logistics agreement with Australia "allowing deployed Australian forces to exploit the vast logistics capability of the American military" and permitting "U.S. forces on operations to make use of Australian logistics."  "Since its inception, the agreement had ensured supply support and services to Australian and U.S. forces deployed to all parts of the world wherever they were operating together....That included mutual support during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan." [5]  Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Marine General James Cartwright, is visiting New Zealand this week to consult with the country's top military commanders and defense minister.  Cartwright is "the first vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to visit New Zealand since the position was established" in 1986. [6] His visit comes two weeks after NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, U.S. Admiral James Stavridis, made similar trips to New Zealand and Australia.  Last month New Zealand's Defence Minister Wayne Mapp announced that joint military exercises with the U.S. would resume after 23 years, since the nation's 1987 ban on the docking of nuclear-powered warships and submarines.  New Zealand has been brought back into the fold in part by providing NATO with over 200 troops for the war in Afghanistan. Australia, with over 1,500 soldiers assigned to the International Security Assistance Force in the nation, is the largest non-NATO troop contributor to the war. Last year it unveiled plans for the most extensive military buildup in its post-World War Two history. [7]  On April 23 the U.S. and India launched the ten-day Malabar 2010 military exercises after "Ships, submarines and aircraft from the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet arrived in Goa" to engage in maneuvers which include training for "surface and anti-submarine warfare, coordinated gunnery exercises [and] air defense...." [8] The U.S. contribution consists of two guided missile destroyers, a guided missile frigate, a guided missile cruiser, a nuclear fast-attack submarine, P-3 Orion anti-submarine and surveillance aircraft, SH-60B Seahawk helicopters and Navy SEAL (Sea, Air and Land) special forces.  The Malabar war games have been conducted jointly by the U.S. and India since 1992 (except for 1998-2001 after India carried out nuclear tests), but last year included Japan, and Malabar 2007 was a five-nation operation held in the Bay of Bengal with the U.S. and India joined by Australia, Japan and Singapore, leading to suspicions of U.S. designs for an Asia-Pacific analogue of NATO.  As Malabar 2010 was underway, "warships, combat aircraft and soldiers" from  Australia, Britain, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore (all Commonwealth nations) began Exercise Bersama Shield 2010 "on the Malaysian peninsula and in the South China Sea." [9]  Malaysia is among a minority of maritime states not to have joined the U.S.-launched Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) whose architect was then U.S. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton. Established in 2003 as "a global effort that aims to stop trafficking of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), their delivery systems, and related materials to and from states and non-state actors," [10], it has grown to incorporate over 90 of the world's 148 coastal nations. [11]  China, Indonesia and Malaysia have refused to join, though South Korea did in May of last year, and the first three countries along with Iran and North Korea - the states used as justification for the PSI - view the U.S.-led global surveillance, interdiction and boarding operation with deep concern and doubts about its legality, as it operates without a United Nations mandate, can be argued to circumvent and violate international maritime law, and in effect grants the U.S. and its allies the self-arrogated right to conduct piracy on the high seas.  "Launched on May 31, 2003, U.S. involvement in the PSI stems from the U.S. National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction issued in December 2002. That strategy recognizes the need for more robust tools to stop proliferation of WMD around the world, and specifically identifies interdiction as an area where greater focus will be placed. President Obama strongly supports the PSI. On April 5, 2009 in Prague, the President called on the international community to make PSI a 'durable international institution.'" [12]  The PSI has been effectively if not formally extended into the Indian Ocean and the Horn of Africa with the U.S.-run Combined Task Force 150 and Combined Task Force 151 warship deployments. Recently the South Korean navy assumed command of Combined Task Force 151 from Singapore. Combined Task Force 150 contributing navies include those of the U.S., Britain, Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Portugal, Singapore, Spain and Turkey.  Last week it was announced that NATO welcomed South Korea as the 46th nation supplying it with troops for the war in Afghanistan. On March 29 Mongolia became the 45th. [13] Singapore also has troops serving under NATO in the country and until this year Japan was providing naval support to the U.S. war effort there.  On April 26 the China Daily reported that Rear Admiral Yang Yi, formerly in charge of strategic studies at the Chinese army's National Defense University, said "The United States is the greatest perceived threat to the People's Liberation Army" and that "the US was the only country capable of threatening China's national security interests in an all-round way." [14]  Another Chinese news source on the same day wrote of U.S. Prompt Global Strike (PGS) plans to be able to strike any target on earth within sixty minutes and the Pentagon's recent test flights of the X-37B orbital space plane and the Falcon hypersonic spy plane, reporting that "Chinese space technology expert Pang Zhihao said the spaceship...aids the PGS program, which he said could be a potential threat to world peace." [15]  The previous day London's Sunday Times acknowledged that "Obama's interest in Prompt Global Strike (PGS)...has alarmed China and Russia...." [16]  U.S. fast strike and first strike global missile and space strategy and its expansion of military alliances and networks in the Asia-Pacific area are rightly seen as threats to China and Russia. And to international security and peace.

Women learn self-defence techniques from Ex-Army personnel in Gwalior 
Wednesday, April 28, 2010, 13:27 [IST]
 Gwalior, April 28 (ANI): Many women in Gwalior city of Madhya Pradesh are learning various self-defence techniques like, using sticks and batons, handheld catapults, archery, and rifle shooting from ex- Army personnel.  Buzz up! The training is being imparted by the Sainya Matri Shakti, an organization aligned with the Purva Sainik Seva Parishad (PSSP), which looks after the interests of retired defence services personnel.   Earlier, only aspirants to the Indian Army were given the training. But now the civilians are also showing eagerness for such training.  "Earlier, we only used to have women who were willing to go to the army ...but now, from the past one year, we have included civilian women as well so that they can also do the training and contribute to the society. In this, we give complete army training...keeping them organised...disciplined...the army drills and all...and side by side, we also make them learn rifle shooting, archery, using handheld catapults, self-defence with sticks, using knife for self-defence... and many other techniques are taught to them for self-defence," said Major (Dr.) Asha Mathur, Secretary of the Sainya Matri Shakti organization.  Mathur added that medical check-ups are also done whenever required to ensure good health of the women coming for the trainings.  One of the trainees, Meenakshi Mathur, said the self-defence techniques turn women more confident than they generally are.  "I have learned archery, self-defence with sticks, and rifle shooting here...and I learnt them because I strongly feel that by learning such an art, one develops a lot of self confidence. At young age, I have done rifle-shooting as well. I have always felt that by learning all these things, I have developed a lot of self-confidence," said Mathur.  Women of all age groups are participating in the self-defence training.

Strategic depth idea ‘should be discarded’
Wednesday, April 28, 2010 Rasheed Khalid  Islamabad  The idea of strategic depth should be discarded for good, Peshawar University Vice Chancellor Dr. Azmat Hayat said.  He was answering questions of Kabul University students in the first session of the two-day bilateral conference on ‘Prospects & Challenges in Afghanistan-Pakistan Relations’ organised by the Department of Defence & Strategic Studies (DSS), Quaid-i-Azam University, in collaboration with the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung — a German research foundation — here on Tuesday. Salma Malik conducted the proceedings.  Dr. Hayat said that the Afghan government was controlled with the consent of the tribes but for attention diversion the bogey of ‘Pashtoonistan’ was raised after the departure of the British. He added that ‘Pashtoonistan’ was an issue only for the royal family, as the Pashtoon traditions did not have it.  He said that the fence on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border was raised by Pakistan only on specific areas, otherwise, Kabul would have again jumped over the Durand Line controversy, adding that fencing the border was an American idea.  An Afghan student said the ISI and CIA both were supporting terrorists.  He believed that no foreign troops were there in Afghanistan during the Taliban rule but peace did not return to that country and the departure of Americans would not make any difference.  Imtiaz Gul, executive director of the Centre for Research & Security Studies, in reply said that the ISI trained even Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the current Afghan defence minister and former president Burhanuddin  Rabbani. He expected that the ISI, CIA, RAW and MI-6 would perform only their mandated jobs.  Earlier in his lecture, Imtiaz Gul said the political challenges for the two countries had been the Durand Line, divided tribes and collusion between gangs including drug mafia, smugglers and criminals, while the semi-autonomous region of Fata is another issue between the two neighbours. He said the Afghan part of the tribal area is not under the effective control of any force in Kabul, adding that the conservative people are staunch believers in a very strict version of Islam on both sides of the border and pose a challenge to the two governments.  Many of them became Taliban, he said, and many Arab and other ‘brothers’ in the north, including Chechnya, could also be found in Afghanistan. He said that Taliban, LiJ, etc are settled in the tribal areas.  Quoting Ahmad Rashid, Imtiaz Gul said it is a mismanaged war on terror and this is the cost we have to pay for our wrong policies in the past. He said the IDPs and reconstruction are other challenges before the two governments.  Professor M Haroon Mutasem of the University of Kabul said it is a reality that there are people who believe they have to live here and we have to ensure realising this right and see and address their problems.  He said we need controlled and secure borders, though it does not seem possible or feasible for many reasons. He proposed a joint overseeing mechanism to handle the situation, especially on the border and lamented that the two countries are wasting their resources on sectors like intelligence, which they, otherwise, could easily share with each other.  Simble Adnan Khan said the London conference on Afghanistan created hopes in Pakistan that the West’s willingness to reach out to the Taliban is an indication that an endgame is in sight and the people and government here had started to keenly wait for it to happen.  Earlier in the morning’s opening session, Dr. Rifaat Hussain, chairman of the DSS Department, welcomed the audience. Dr. Michael Koch, General (r) Asad Durrani and Dr. Babak Khalatbari also spoke on the occasion.

Army told to reveal how many sacked without notice
By IANS April 28th, 2010  NEW DELHI - The Indian Army has been asked by the Central Information Commission (CIC) to reveal the number of army personnel who were dismissed without being served a showcause notice in the last three years.  The CIC decision came on an application filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act by B.S. Guraya, who asked for the total number of army personnel dismissed from service without a showcause notice under the Army Act from Jan 1, 1980, till date.  The army had refused to give him information after which he approached the CIC.  During a CIC hearing, Brigadier Ved Parkash objected to the disclosure of the information, stating that it was not being maintained in the format in which it has been sought and that collection and collation of the information would disproportionately divert the organisation’s resources.  Information Commissioner M.L. Sharma agreed with him and said: “Information sought is for last 30 years. The Indian Army is a huge organisation. The information is not being maintained in the format in which it has been sought and if I were to ask the CPIO (Central Public Information Officer) to collect and collate this information, it would undoubtedly divert the resources of the organisation.”  “Notwithstanding this and in the true spirit of the RTI Act, in my view, it would be expedient to direct the CPIO to provide information only for last three years - 2007, 2008 and 2009,” he said.  “It is clarified that information is to be provided only for the officer cadre and not for other ranks. It is also clarified that only numbers are to be provided to the applicant and not names of the officers,” Sharma noted.  He asked the Indian Army to follow the order within four weeks.

Indian Army to deploy more troops along Arunachal border Posted in Hindustan Times by editorofsouthasia on April 28, 2010  ndia is quietly beefing up its defences along the China border in Arunachal Pradesh, even as it publicly downplays the growing diplomatic spat with Beijing over the Dalai Lama’s visit to the state.  The Indian Army will deploy its new 15,000-strong 56 Division in Arunachal, which China claims as its own, within four weeks, a senior defence official told HT, requesting anonymity.  Simultaneously, it has put out a Request for Information (RFI) for acquiring 300 lightweight tanks that can be deployed in the North East and Jammu & Kashmir.  The purpose is to leave nothing to chance, notwithstanding the show of bonhomie between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao at their October 25 meeting in Thailand.  A second division will be deployed in Arunachal Pradesh in the next 12-18 months, the official added.  The army’s RFI states the light tanks should be capable of destroying bunkers and soft-skin vehicles up to 3,000m away and should have armour-piercing anti-tank guided missiles and anti-aircraft machine guns.  The RFI, which is in HT’s possession, also stipulates these tanks should “have protection against nuclear, chemical and biological warfare”.  In recent months, India activated three airfields along the 646 km Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China, last used during the 1962 war with China. The army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police have also stepped up patrolling along the LAC.

China deploying Type 96 MBTs on Tibetan plateau   
China has for the first time in history deployed Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) in Tibet (Xizang) Military District. Photo Credit:  March 17, 2010, (Sawf News) - China has for the first time in history deployed Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) in Tibet (Xizang) Military District.  The deployment was confirmed on March 16, 2010 by China Defense News [via China Defense Blog]  This news should give readers a perspective on the threat faced by India.  The Chinese T-96 MBTs are not there to suppress the Tibetean people, they are there to roll into adjoining India when the balloon goes up.  Across some sectors of the LAC, the Tibetan plateau runs well into Indian territory.  The presence of Chinese tanks will make it difficult for the Indian Army to contemplate counterattacks to ease Chinese incursions.  The question now should not be whether Indian border roads can or cannot support armor deployment on the Indian side of the plateau, but when will they be ready to do so.  If the Indian Army is serious about its intent to develop the capability to simultaneously engage across both our hostile borders, it needs to deploy light MBTs on the Tibetan plateaus and quickly build a road infrastructure to support their deployment.  The current deployment of Indian Armor near the LAC is too random to be effective, and logistically not well supported.

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