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Monday, 3 May 2010

From Today's Papers - 03 May 2010

Indian Express
The Pioneer
Asian Age
The Pioneer
Asian Age
The Pioneer
Asian Age
The Pioneer
Times of India
DNA India
DNA India




  Nepal on the boil again Maoists are to blame for fuelling unrest 
The Maoists know only one way to get their viewpoint across: resort to strikes leading to violence. Therefore, it is not surprising that they have gone ahead with their threat of May Day demonstrations and an indefinite nation-wide strike despite considerable efforts by the Madhav Kumar Nepal government to resolve all the contentious issues through dialogue. By taking to a confrontationist course the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) has done no service to Nepal as the country is passing through a very crucial phase in its post-monarchy era. The process of drafting a democratic constitution for Nepal within the stipulated timeframe (till May 28) may get derailed. In an emotionally charged atmosphere, devising a formula to induct the armed Maoist cadres into the Nepal Army may also not be possible.  On Wednesday, the three major political parties of Nepal --- the ruling Nepali Congress and the CPN (UML), and the opposition UCPN (Maoist) – appeared to have reached an understanding to forge a consensus on how to resolve the issues coming in the way of establishing peace in Nepal. This had brightened up the hope for the indefinite strike to be called off by the Maoists. But the situation took a turn for the worse on Friday with the Maoists insisting on the Madhav Kumar Nepal government resigning to allow a “national unity government” to be formed. The government was reportedly ready to accept the demand, but this could not happen as, perhaps, the Maoists wanted too many concessions without withdrawing their strike call first. The result was the toughening of his stand by Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal.  The Nepal government is rightly determined not to give in to the Maoists’ blackmailing tactics and handle the situation by using the Nepal Police and the Armed Police Force, and deploying the Nepal Army in highly sensitive areas. Maoist ideologue Baburam Bhattarai has, however, described the deployment of the army as being in violation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement reached between the two sides. The Maoists must not forget that any step that is taken to save the democratic process in Nepal will have the support of the world community. They are on the losing side.






CRPF arms racket: Two more held
Shahira Naim Tribune News Service  Lucknow, May 2 With two more arrests made in Mau district today, the total number of arrests made in the theft of arms and ammunition from the CRPF to the Naxals has gone up to nine today.  After interrogation of the policeman arrested in Basti two days ago, the Special Task Force (STF) arrested two more people, suspected of having supplied ammunition to the Naxalites involved in the Dantewada massacre.  Residents of Jagdishpur village under Haldarpur police station, the two accused Dinesh and Shanker, have been charged for their alleged involvement in supplying police cartridges to the criminals and Naxalites. According to police sources, 16 live cartridges of 0.9 mm pistol were recovered from them.  On Friday, the STF had unearthed an outrageous racket involving serving and retired policemen, who stole arms and ammunitions from the CRPF to be supplied to anti-social elements, including Naxals.  Seven people, including 2 CRPF men and 4 UP police jawans, had been arrested during raids conducted at Rampur, Moradabad, Jhansi, Basti and other places.







US Army captain becomes king in Afghanistan
Associated Press, Sunday May 2, 2010, Hutal, Afghanistan usafghanistanking.jpgIn the US Army, Casey Thoreen is just a 30-year-old captain. Around here, he's known as the "King of Maiwand" district -- testimony to the fact that without the young captain and a fat international wallet, local government in Hutal, Kandahar, as in much of the insurgency-ravaged south could not function at all.  Setting up effective governments at the district level is key to US strategy. US officials hope that providing basic services will draw support away from the Taliban, especially here in the Islamist group's heartland of Kandahar province.  But in this dusty farming community 40 miles (60 kilometers) west of Kandahar, Thoreen has discovered that bolstering the authority of a district governor, who relies on him almost completely for financial resources and credibility, is a delicate balancing act. He also knows the effort is unsustainable without greater support from the central Afghan government in Kabul.  "We are putting a big gamble on this," Thoreen said. "Any of this stuff we're doing here, not just at our level but the $800 billion we have spent so far in the country, is contingent on the government being effective."  For now, Thoreen and Maiwand's district governor, Obaidullah Bawari, are working with what they have -- which isn't much.  The 49-year-old Bawari, who has occupied the post for a year, has no staff except his personal assistant and no government budget except for the roughly $400 monthly salary that he receives from Kabul. He is responsible for civilian government operations in the district, including water, power and schools, and he mediates disputes.  There are about 150 Afghan police deployed in Maiwand, but they report to both the chief of police in Kandahar City as well as the provincial governor.  "Everything you see here is from the coalition forces," said Bawari, sweeping his hand toward the center of the district capital, Hutal, where the Army has paid for a new government headquarters, an agricultural center and various other projects.  It's a picture repeated across the country, including in the ethnic Pashtun heartland of southern Afghanistan, where opposition to the government and support for the Taliban run deep.  The Afghan government recently launched a new program backed by the U.S. to increase support to 80 key districts in the country, many of them in the south and east.  But Kandahar's provincial governor, Tooryalai Wesa, visited Maiwand for the first time recently and said he didn't have any additional resources to offer the district.  "That kind of blew my mind," said Thoreen, a West Point graduate from Seattle, Washington. "After nine years in Afghanistan we're still at this point."  When the troops from 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment first arrived in Hutal in September, Bawari basically had no authority within the district because he doesn't come from a powerful family and isn't well-educated.  "He was very intimidated, very helpless and had no sense of his responsibilities," Thoreen said.  The troops, who live in a small base in the middle of Hutal, have tried to boost Bawari's standing by encouraging him to take credit for development projects the U.S. military funded. They have also set up a series of traditional meetings, known as shuras, with tribal elders in an attempt to enlist their support.  "Through the district leader and us, the elders are involved in laying out the ideas for these projects and actually implementing them," Thoreen said. "All that has enhanced and empowered the district leader as well."  But the dynamic gets more complicated when Thoreen and the district governor disagree on an issue. That presents the captain with the difficult choice: either overrule Bawari and damage his authority or give in and accept a decision he believes is bad for the mission.  Such a situation arose at a recent shura when 25 farmers showed up to demand the return of more than 300 pounds (135 kilograms) of opium that Special Forces had seized from a car.  Thoreen refused to return the opium or compensate them for it, saying US forces have been clear that while they will not seize drugs from individual farmers, they will target smugglers. He sidelined Bawari during the debate because he knew the district governor disagreed with him and wanted to return the opium.  "I knew he would go that way in the shura if I opened it up to him, so I intentionally did not ask his opinion on it," said Thoreen.  Afterward, Bawari complained that the captain's decision damaged his credibility.  "The coalition forces didn't give the farmers a good answer and they walked away angry with us," he said.  But Thoreen said there have been other times when he has caved to the district governor's wishes, including agreeing to release three insurgents who had been caught with weapons just before they were about to attack a NATO supply convoy. He freed them after significant pressure from Bawari and a large number of tribal elders, who promised to prevent the men from engaging in future insurgent activity.  "It may not have been the greatest thing to do since we arrested one of the guys again doing something similar, but we created value in the district leader for the people through that decision," Thoreen said.  The district governor certainly appreciates Thoreen's efforts and says he is worried about what will happen when the captain leaves this summer with the rest of the 5th Stryker Brigade.  "We need the next person who comes to be exactly like Capt. Thoreen, patient and very smart," said Bawari. "If we get that kind of person, we won't have any problems."  Thoreen is flattered by the compliment, but adds a word of caution.  "I think that's all right as long as other people don't see that and think he's dependent on me," Thoreen said.






‘Empowered’ Gilani helped India push dialogue
Express news service Posted online: Sunday , May 02, 2010 at 0303 hrs New Delhi : As India and Pakistan sought to give a fresh impetus to the stalled dialogue process in Thimphu, it now emerges that New Delhi’s decision to go ahead with talks at the political level was prompted to quite an extent by the recent amendments to the Pakistan Constitution which sufficiently empower the Prime Minister.  In fact, official sources said, Pakistan PM Yousuf Raza Gilani told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that he comes to the meeting far more empowered than before after the 18th Amendment. He also reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to not allow its territory to be used for terrorist activities besides giving an assurance to move expeditiously on the 26/11 trials.  As feelers went back and forth for a PM-level meeting in Thimphu, the Indian side came to the conclusion that if it stepped back from engaging Gilani, then it would only push him further into the camp of those who are not in favour of normalising ties between both countries. In other words, sources said, it was important to incentivise Gilani so that he could nurture the constituency for the peace process within his country.  At the same time, India is keeping the expectations low because much would depend on how the Pakistan responds from now on. Emphasising that this was no start of a “big grand dialogue”, official sources explained that it was more an exercise aimed at “restoring trust”.  Interestingly, the Pakistan PM did not directly bring up the Baluchistan issue in his one-hour conversation barring a mention of concerns in Islamabad that India is involved in destabilising Pakistan. Singh is said to have made it clear that India has no interest in destabilising Pakistan and was open to clarifying specific doubts on this.  Gilani did, however, bring up the water controversy saying it has become quite an emotive issue in Pakistan. To this, Singh said that facts did not support any of the claims being made by certain sections in Pakistan and that India was willing to discuss the matter if Islamabad wanted further clarification.  From the Indian side, the emphasis remained on “credible action” on the terror front. In this context, Singh brought up Jamaat-ud-Dawa leaders Hafiz Mohammed Saeed’s unchecked and brazen anti-India activities. He also asked Gilani to ensure speedy progress in 26/11 trials. While assuring that he would push for early conclusion of the 26/11 trial, Gilani apparently sought to explain the problems Pakistan is facing due to terrorism and the fact that its bureaucracy was overburdened.







IAF to start airfield modernisation soon
K. V. Prasad
  The Indian Air Force (IAF) hopes to kick-start its $260-million Modernisation of Airfield Infrastructure project, which envisages upgrading 30 airfields, in the first phase, over the next few weeks.  Contract negotiations are under way with a leading Indian corporate, and the pilot project will begin at the IAF base at Hindan, Ghaziabad, on the outskirts of Delhi. Sources in the IAF said the negotiations were on the verge of conclusion.  The American transport aircraft, C130 J Hercules, will be based in Ghaziabad. The IAF has placed an order with Lockheed Martin for six of these planes, which are expected to arrive next year. Besides the purchase of C130 J Hercules, the IAF will acquire 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft. As these planes have been fitted with sophisticated avionics, the modernisation project has been envisaged.  The project includes supply, testing, integration and sustenance of the Instrument Landing System (ILS), the Distance Measurement Equipment, the Tactical Air Navigation System, the Air Traffic Management System, and the CAT-2 Airfield Lighting System.  In the first phase, the IAF will modernise 30 airfields, and the exercise is expected to be completed in 42 months. The Centre has made a provisional allocation of Rs.180 crore for the project in the 2009-10 budget, and the sum will be released after the contract is signed.  In the past two years, the Parliamentary Committee on Defence has made a special mention of the project; in its latest report, it has noted that as the IAF needs airfields from the strategic point of view, both the phases of the project should be completed expeditiously.  In Phase-II, 20-odd airfields, including those of the IAF, the Army, the Navy and the Coast Guard, will be taken up for modernisation. The Defence Ministry feels that based on the experience gained during the implementation of the first phase, the requirements of the second phase will be consolidated. The second phase is expected to be completed in 42 months.







India, China army officers meet; vows to work for peace     
Srinagar, May 2 (PTI) Top officials of the Indian and Chinese armies have held a meeting in the frontier region of Ladakh during which both sides agreed to "contribute to peace, stability and development of the region".  At the invitation of People Liberation Army, the Indian delegation headed by Brigadier Y K Joshi met their counterparts at Chinese Border Personnel Meeting Hut, opposite Chushul in Ladakh yesterday.  The meeting was held "in an atmosphere of cooperation and comaraderie, with both sides agreeing to join hands in contributing to peace, stability and development of the region in consonance with border peace and tranquility agreements", a defence spokesman said here today.  He said the meeting to celebrate International Labour Day comes close on the heels of the recent visit of Foreign Minister S M Krishna to Beijing.








Indian Army to procure short-range missile system  
PTI Sunday, May 2, 2010 10:35    The Indian Army is planning to procure a short-range surface to air missile (SRSAM) system to counter threats to cities and important installations in the country from enemy aircraft and missiles.  "We are planning to induct the 20km-range SRSAM systems to strengthen our air defence capabilities to provide cover from aerial threats to our important bases and installations," army officials told PTI in New Delhi.  The procurement process was recently initiated with the release of a Request for Information (RFI) in this regard.  According to the RFI, the army wants a missile system that can be transported on both rail and road mobile launchers in all possible terrains in the country.  The missile should also be able to target objects moving at speeds between zero to 500m per second including hovering targets such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), fighter and surveillance aircraft and helicopters.  The army wants the new missile system to be capable of operating in both day and night conditions and take on targets in the dark also.  In the recent past, the army has taken up several projects to do away with the night-blindness of its existing fleet of tanks and Infantry Combat Vehicles.  As per the RFI, radar of the SRSAM system should be capable of tracking a number of targets simultaneously and should have Electronic Counter Counter-Measures (ECCM) to be able to support the electronic warfare environment.  The RFI states that the system should be capable of operating in Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) warfare environment.



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