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Monday, 17 May 2010

From Today's Papers - 17 May 2010

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





Great Game in Afghanistan India’s constructive role should continue
by Anita Inder Singh  The talks between President Hamid Karzai and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on April 26 were a reminder of the friendly ties between India and post-Taliban Afghanistan. India supported Afghanistan’s entry into SAARC at the New Delhi summit in 2007. And any differences between the Karzai government and New Delhi over the nature of reconciliation and power-sharing with the Taliban can hide the fact that India, which has given $1.3 billion aid for reconstruction since 2001, is favoured by 71 per cent of Afghans.  Pakistan, which has been lambasted by Mr Karzai for trying to destabilise his country with its extremist exports, is favoured by a mere 2 per cent.  India is the sixth largest bilateral regional donor-country and has supported a number of projects, including those related to health care, agriculture and education in Afghanistan. Afghans enjoy Bollywood movies and pop music. As a supporter of the Northern Alliance, which helped the US topple the fundamentalist Taliban regime in 2001, New Delhi is on good terms with both Mr Karzai and Dr Abdullah Abdullah, his main electoral challenger last August.  But what are the chances that the road to success for President Obama’s Afghanistan strategy will run through India? A complex mix of national interests and international politics is likely to prevent India from having much say in the future of Afghanistan.  Indian nonalignment rules out troop contributions which would mean that Indian soldiers fight under NATO’s command – and perhaps give it greater influence in Kabul and Washington. India also has limited influence in western capitals on Afghanistan. Since the US overthrew the Taliban in 2001 India has failed to persuade the US to brand Pakistan as a terrorist exporting state, although the US has since long tried to persuade Islamabad to crack down on the Afghan Taliban. With Islamabad providing logistical support to NATO, Washington cannot drop its Pakistan card to please New Delhi. Indeed, Gen Stanley McChrystal, the current NATO commander in Afghanistan, annoyed New Delhi last September when he advised Washington that “increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan is likely to exacerbate regional tensions.” And Pakistan’s influence over London was evident at the London Conference on Afghanistan last January, when it persuaded Foreign Secretary David Miliband to exclude India from a regional council to debate Afghanistan’s political future.  More importantly, unlike Mr Karzai and his western backers, India is against reconciliation with the Taliban, for it sees all extremists as bad, not the least because the Taliban have had links with fundamentalist groups waging war on India in its half of Kashmir. Wanting NATO to stay the course and quash extremists, India is dismayed and alarmed that the US and its NATO allies plan to start withdrawing troops from Afghanistan after June 2011.  NATO cannot defeat the Afghan Taliban unless Pakistan stops giving them sustenance and training in the north-western city of Quetta and takes military action against them. But while Pakistan has taken on its domestic Taliban, it has yet to move against the Afghan Taliban whom it sees as a useful counterweight to Indian influence in Afghanistan. American plans to start pulling out troops in 2011 give Pakistan no incentive to hunt down the Taliban. For Pakistan, a stable, secure and friendly Afghanistan would be resistant to Indian influence while being steered by Islamabad.  At the moment, Pakistan fears the loss of its clout in Afghanistan. Indian influence and popularity have grown since the overthrow of the Taliban government. In recent months, Islamabad has alleged that India’s consulates in the Afghan cities of Kandahar and Jalalabad are behind terrorist activity in Pakistan, particularly in the rebellious province of Balochistan. No evidence has been offered to substantiate the claims, which have been dismissed by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  Islamabad is also annoyed that London and Washington are keen on Indian training for Afghan police forces, especially as Mr Karzai rejected an offer made by Gen Ashfaq Kayani, Pakistan’s army chief, of Pakistani training for Afghanistan’s burgeoning army. This is at least partly because Mr Karzai is suspicious of Islamabad’s motives. And if relations between Afghanistan and Islamabad remain prickly, an American-trained Afghan army could threaten Pakistan if it were to grow to 2,50,000 soldiers.  Reconciliation may not be against India’s interests if the Taliban accept Mr Karzai’s terms — which include their adherence to the democratic Afghan constitution. In that event, the US will not be able to give Pakistan the decisive say in negotiations on Afghanistan if Mr Karzai is opposed to it. Time and again, he has shown the US that his dependence on American military and economic aid is not synonymous with his being a submissive client.  India is also cultivating Iran, Russia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan on Afghanistan. None of these countries would like to see the Taliban back in the saddle. All five Central Asian countries have given military facilities to the US and could reduce its dependence on Pakistan. But there is no doubt that President Obama’s announcement of America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan has started a new great game.  India, for its part, should keep up the good work in Afghanistan. It has already completed the construction of a 220-KV transmission line from Pul-e-Khumri to Kabul and a sub-station at Chimtala to bring additional power from the northern grid to Kabul, and is helping in the restoration of telecommunication infrastructure in 11 of the 34 provinces in Afghanistan. India is helping with the Salma Dam project in western Herat province and the construction of Afghan parliament building in Kabul (both to be completed by 2011). It is also developing a port at Chabahar in Iran, which could become a key point of entry for Indian goods and materiel into Afghanistan because Pakistan refuses India land transit rights to the Afghan border.  India runs an air base at Farkhor in Tajikistan on Afghanistan’s northeastern border — a facility it secured with Russian support. New Delhi, Moscow and Tehran do not wish to see the Taliban return to power. But much will depend on NATO’s ability to make headway against the Taliban — and that is India’s uppermost concern in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, amicable ties between India and Afghanistan can only benefit both countries.  The writer, an established author,is Visiting Professor, Centre for Peace and Conflict Resolution, New Delhi.






SC stays Brig’s court martial
Vijay Mohan Tribune News Service  Chandigarh, May 16 The Supreme Court has stayed the General Court Martial (GCM) proceedings against a Brigadier who was being tried for alleged tampering of annual confidential reports of a subordinate officer.The GCM, ordered by Headquarters Western Command, had ruled that the trial had become time-barred, but the GCM’s convening authority did not accept the verdict and ordered that the court reassemble for trial.  Taking the army to task over the manner in which the case was being handled, a Division Bench comprising Justice J.M. Panchal and Justice R.M. Lodha, while granting interim relief to Brig R. Sinha and issuing notices on Friday, has fixed July 12 as the next date of hearing.In 2004, a Lieutenant Colonel had alleged that the petitioner, who was his erstwhile commanding officer, had tampered his ACRs for the year 1997-1998. A court of inquiry was constituted to investigate the charge of forgery in which forensic examination by the CBI and Central Forensic Science Laboratory, New Delhi, was called for on the documents purported to have been tampered. The Brigadier, according to the petition, was then given a clean chit.  In May 2005, the Court of Inquiry absolved the petitioner of the charges levelled against him and instead recommended action against the subordinate officer as he had produced documents which were found by forensic experts to be fabricated. In June 2005, the Colonel was attached for disciplinary action.When the petitioner was empanelled for promotion to the rank of Major General in May 2008, a second court of inquiry was ordered to investigate into the infirmity and illegality in the case of the alleged tampering of ACRs of the colonel from June 1997 to April 1998. Pursuant to the directions of the GOC-in-C, Western Command on the court of inquiry, disciplinary action was initiated against the brigadier in August 2008, and he was attached to an infantry division in Pathankot. In his petition, he alleged that the orders to initiate disciplinary action were issued even before the conclusion of the inquiry.









Agni-II missile to be test-fired today 
Balasore (Orissa), May 16 The nuclear-capable Agni-II intermediate range ballistic missile, with a range of 2000 km, is likely to be test fired tomorrow from a range off the Orissa coast during a trial by the Army, defence sources said.  "The trial is to be conducted from the Wheelers Island, about 120 km from here off the Orissa coast tomorrow," the sources said. Range integration work in the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur and Dhamara for trial of Agni-II missile is near completion and if final check-up in the sub-systems of the missile is found to be flawless, the mission will be taken up tomorrow, they said.  A special strategic command force (SSC) raised by the Army would conduct the trial with necessary logistic support provided by various laboratories of the ITR and the DRDO) scientists, the sources said. — PTI







Concept papers on retail, defence FDI likely next week
Press Trust of India / New Delhi May 16, 2010, 14:10 IST  The government is likely seek public comments for liberalising FDI in the lucrative retail and defence sectors next week.  The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) has announced to float six concept or discussion papers on foreign direct investment (FDI) related norms in different sectors, including defence, multi-brand retail, agriculture and financial sector, among others.  "You can expect the papers on defence and retail next week," the sources said. The concept notes would be floated on the DIPP Website to elicit views from stakeholders.  The paper on retail FDI may include a provision that interested global retailers would have to put in a significant part of their investment in the back-end infrastructure like warehousing and clod storage, a source said.  At present, FDI is not allowed in multi-brand retail, which is dominated by the neighbourhood kirana stores and is a politically-sensitive topic. However, foreign players are permitted in wholesale trade as also in single-brand retail.  Since FDI is not permitted in retail, world's number one retailer Wal-Mart has settled for a cash-n-carry (wholesale) joint venture with the Bharti Group.  On defence, commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma stated recently that the government was open to liberalise FDI norms in defence and inter-ministerial consultations were on.  While, the DIPP is understood to be favouring an increase in FDI in defence space, the opposition seems to be coming from the defence establishment itself.  Minister of state for defence MM Pallam Raju had told the Rajya Sabha on April 28 that the government was not planning to allow 100 per cent FDI in defence production.  Major industrial houses like Larsen & Toubro, the Tatas, the Mahindras and Punj Lloyd are already engaged in different defence-related businesses.  Of the total defence allocations of Rs 1,47,344 crore for 2010-11, a large chunk of Rs 60,000 crore was earmarked for capital expenditure.








Navy to buy hydrographic survey vessels to train sailors
Press Trust of India / New Delhi May 16, 2010, 11:20 IST  To train naval cadets on coastal and oceanic hydrographic survey, the Navy is on the lookout for a shipbuilder with the capability to build vessels that can map underwater landscape.  The vessels are required to carry out surveys near ports and harbours for determination of navigational approaches, channels and routes for defence applications.  "We want these survey vessels to be modelled on our own INS Darshak built by the Goa Shipyard and commissioned into naval service in 2001," a Navy officer said here today.  Keeping in mind its future order for such survey vessels, the Navy has issued a Request for Information (RFI) to shipyards, both in public and private sector, he added.  Darshak is the Navy's eighth survey vessel with a length of approximately 85 metres and 1,800-tonne to 2,000-tonne standard displacement.  The vessels, the RFI said, would have an expected life of 25 years and adhere to International Convention for Prevention of Pollution from Ships.  The vessels' machinery, sensors and equipment would have reliability and maintainability for a mission time of eight weeks at a stretch.  The new ships would have a single hull of proven design and made of welded steel with steel or aluminium super structure.  With an endurance of 6,500 nautical miles at an economical speed, the vessels would be capable of attaining maximum speeds of 16 knots, the officer said.  It would also be capable of operating a single-engine 6-tonne helicopter and have a retractable hangar for full stowage of the rotary wing aircraft.  Each ship would have 23 officers including the commanding officer, apart from 188 sailors.  The survey vessels would carry four 9.2-metre survey motor boats, two sea boats, two inflatable Gemini with outboard motors, a Maruti Gypsy and a diesel jeep, two trailers and two water carriers of 1,000-litre capability, a telescopic crate with 2 to 2.5-tonne lifting jeep.






Supreme commander staying away from Army for security reasons 
Monday, May 17, 2010  By Muhammad Saleh Zaafir  ISLAMABAD: The armed forces could not hear single word of encouragement from their supreme commander and president of the country during their largest ever war games and field exercises concluded this week.  The six-week war games and field exercises Azm-e-Nau-3 started in the second week of April. The defence authorities were not allowed to even plan the visit of President Asif Zardari in the exercise areas even for the cosmetic purposes. Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani did visit the exercises thrice; once for the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) demonstration of airpower while on two occasions he was with the army. On first occasion he visited Cholistan in scorching heat while second time early this month he was present as chief guest at the test launching of two ballistic missiles.  Highly placed defence sources told The News that the president had fear about his personal security during his visit to any defence installations and exercises reason best known to him. He did not ask for even briefing about the military exercises. He is the first head of the state who opted not to visit to the General Headquarters (GHQ) for briefing on threat perceptions to the motherland soon after assuming the office. Interestingly it is done even in India. He never visited the areas where the troops are fighting unabatedly against the terrorists especially in the tribal area including Waziristan and Swat.  The sources pointed out that more than 20,000 troops, officers and jawans, from almost all departments of the Pakistan Army took part in the first phase of the exercises. The PAF joined Pakistan Army during the exercises. The aim of the exercises was to practise the preparedness of the forces for any conventional war threat, to work out the contemporary military planning, modern war techniques and the use of latest weapon system. It is worth mentioning here that Army Chief, General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani had declared the year 2010 as ‘The Year of Training’. At the initial stage of the exercise, various departments of Pakistan Army like tanks, artillery, anti-aircraft, engineers, infantry, signals and supporting units participated in the manoeuvres while a heavy anti-tank battalion successfully demonstrated the dispersal manoeuvres, in which the Armed Personnel Carriers (APCs) also took part. Troops valiantly exercised their professional skills and techniques. Azm-e-Nau 3 was the culmination of typical broad-based and long-term process of War Games and conceptualisation of conventional war. The exercises continued in diverse areas of Sindh and Southern Punjab till Thursday last. The exercises were the true depiction of excellent professional training system in armed forces of the country.  The defence experts are of the view that armed forces have send a strong response to the Indian Forces across the border what it evolved a so-called doctrine ‘Cold Start’ aimed to cow down neighbouring countries armies. The strategists world over termed the doctrine ‘the most stupid and impracticable’. The Indian doctrines based on the capability and explanation of the limitations of India’s military to allow the army to mobilise rapidly for war against Pakistan. The doctrine is intended to ensure Indian forces deploy faster than in 2001/2002 when India mobilised troops along the Pakistan border after an attack drama on its parliament blamed on Pakistan-based militants. It would also aim to integrate army operations with those of the Indian Air Force and to a lesser extent its navy.  The doctrine has caused much alarm in the region, which is seen as evidence of a threat to all the neighbouring countries of India. The doctrine was authored in 2004 secretly and later articulated by former Indian Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor who lacked the soundness.  Indian military experts termed the concept as a problem. And said that Cold Start does not actually work - or at least has yet to be developed in ways which would make it effective in an environment where both countries have nuclear bombs.  ‘The Indian National Interest website argues that by refusing to admit that Cold Start never really got off the drawing board, India does itself a disservice by giving Pakistan a reason to play up the threat from India,’ they opined.  “...the army’s armoured units have continued to be focused on a doctrine that is unlikely to be employed in the event of even a limited war in a nuclear environment, in which air power is likely to play a greater role in any case. The army clinging to Cold Start is in many respects impractical, and diverts resources and attention from more meaningful and creative endeavours related to its military preparedness,” they say.  “Second, the political costs of leaving the doctrine announced but unexplained are not insignificant. As is its wont, Pakistan has framed Cold Start as evidence ... of imminent Indian plans to initiate hostilities or invade. India also gets questioned unnecessarily by friendly powers for its apparent recklessness in contemplating limited warfare in a nuclear environment.”  “The responsibility lies with the Indian Ministry of Defence and the national security apparatus, if not the Indian Prime Minister himself, to affirm Cold Start as a work in progress or admit that it never left the drawing board. Either would render advantages-operational or political-those six years of ambiguity has not,” they added.  With both Pakistan and India had war games this month, there was much attention on each country’s military capabilities. What is probably equally important is how each sees the other - Cold Start is seen as much more of a threat in Pakistan than in India, where it is regarded with scepticism.  The same was true with comments made in December by the General Kapoor, who was reported to have said India should be able to fight a war on two fronts with both Pakistan and China. Presented in India as an aspiration comment reflecting the reality of two disputed borders, the remarks - made at a closed door conference - were seen as a clear threat in Pakistan. Both countries tend to think they know each other well, and yet repeatedly see each other’s military intentions differently. That is not a good thing when overconfidence could one day lead them to misjudge the other’s red lines on the use of nuclear weapon, they concluded.  The defence experts in Islamabad are of the view that Indians kept a close eye on the exercises of Pakistan and they were astonished to see the effort as great success despite their engagement on the Western border, again an atmosphere created by New Delhi’s support.






Gang of car thieves led by retd Col busted 
The Special Operations Group (SOG) busted a luxury car-theft gang operated by a retired Indian Army Colonel and his accomplices, police said.  The said gang operated since 2000 and have sold the stolen luxury cars to serving and retired army officials, police disclosed on Sunday.  In all, 11 luxury cars like Tata-Safari, Hyundai-Verna, i-10 and Honda-City were  recovered from different locations in Panchkula and Samba area of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and one person was taken into custody, police said.  Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Raghubir Lal informed reporters that retired Colonel M P Singh, belonging to the Army Supply Corps (ASC) was the mastermind of the thefts. Singh later sold these cars to serving and retired officials of the rank of Brigadier and Colonel.  “We have come to know of around 160 such cars which have been sold only to defence personnel. The mastermind was tracked on the basis of an informer, when he sold a car to a civilian for the first time,” he added.  “We called up senior army officials informing them that the cars they bought were stolen. They immediately returned the car to the police. They were not aware that the cars they purchased were stolen. So, they are not involved in the crime,” Lal added.  Singh is presently absconding with his family from Meerut. Police teams have been sent to nab his two accomplices, who prepared forged documents in states like Jharkhand and Bihar, which is where vehicle registrations are done manually, officials said.  “These cars were stolen from Rajasthan, UP, Haryana and later sold to senior army officials,” said Nakad Narayan, a member of the gang.  The purchaser did not expect foulplay as Singh was a retired army officer. He also minted money during army recruitment drives in Meerut during his posting,” Narayan added.






Agni II set for 3rd trial 
Hemant Kumar Rout Express News Service First Published : 15 May 2010 08:16:50 AM IST Last Updated : 16 May 2010 09:48:02 AM IST  BALASORE: After two failures and problems rectified, the nuclear-capable intermediate range surface-to-surface missile Agni-II  is all set for a takeoff from the Wheeler Island off the Orissa coast on May 17. The flight test would be conducted by a team of the Strategic Forces Command (SFC) while the DRDO scientists would provide the logistic support, sources said.  This year, India has already tested 3,500-km range Agni-III in February and 700-km range Agni-I in March.  ``This will be a user trial of Agni-II and it has been scheduled to be carried out on May 17. After the twin failures, the test will be conducted to reestablish the confidence among the user (Army) and confirm the missile’s readiness,” said a defence official at  the Integrated Test Range. On November 23 last year, the Army had tested Agni-II at about 7.50 pm. For the first time, a missile was tested after sunset, but it failed to deliver results.  Agni-II can neutralise a target at over 2,000 km range. It can carry a payload of around 1,000 kg and its range can be increased to 3,000 km depending on the payload. The missile will be used by 555 Missile Group of the Army. The two consecutive trials of the 2,000 km-plus range missile failed due to snags in the second stage separation, sources added. The DRDO drew flak and the defence analysts raised concern about its deployment during war. However, the DRDO denied any design problem in the missile and rather  pointed finger at the quality of the material used in the missile for its failure.  A fact-finding committee, headed by G Madhavan Nair, former chairman of ISRO, was formed to go into the reasons behind the missile’s recurring failure. “The problem has been fixed and rectified too. Hope this time the mission would be successful,” said the official.
                                                                                                                                


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