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Thursday, 20 May 2010

From Today's Papers - 20 May 2010

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




US not to leave Afghanistan But hints at soft approach towards Pak Army
by K. Subrahmanyam  President Barack Obama has made it clear, contradicting the widely held view in India, Pakistan and the West, that the US has no intention to cut and run from Afghanistan in July 2011. In the joint Press briefing with President Karzai at the White House on May 12, he made it clear that the US commitment to Afghanistan was a long-term one and it was meant to ensure a stable independent Afghanistan.  He said, “First of all, let’s be clear about what July 2011 represents. What I have said is that having put in more troops over the last several months in order to break the momentum of the Taliban, that beginning in 2011, July, we will start bringing those troops down and turning over more and more responsibility to Afghan security forces that we are building up. But we are not suddenly, as of July 2011, finished with Afghanistan. In fact, to the contrary, part of what I’ve tried to emphasise to President Karzai and the Afghan people, and also to the American people, is this is a long-term partnership that is not simply defined by our military presence. I am confident that we’re going to be able to reduce our troop strength in Afghanistan starting in July 2011, and I am in constant discussions with General McChrystal, as well as Ambassador Eikenberry, about the execution of that time frame.  “But after July 2011, we are still going to have an interest in making sure that Afghanistan is secure, that economic development is taking place, that good governance is being promoted. And so we’re going to still be putting in resources and we’re still going to be a friend to the Afghan people in their efforts to stabilise. So that’s something I want to make absolutely clear.”  This is not a new assertion .On March 28, Obama at the end of his meeting with President Karzai in Kabul was even more explicit. He said at that time, “But we also want to continue to make progress on the civilian process of ensuring that agricultural production, energy production, good governance, rule of law, anti-corruption efforts — all these things end up resulting in a Afghanistan that is more prosperous, more secure, independent; is not subject to meddling by its neighbors; a transition will be able to occur so that more and more security efforts are made by the Afghans.” These extensive quotations are emphasised because the Pakistani Army and the anti-Obama people in US have been propagating that the US will quit Afghanistan in July 2011, leaving that country to the mercy of Pakistan and its favoured factions of the Afghan Taliban. Obama has made it crystal clear that is not going to happen.  In spite of this clear assertion, there are sceptics who argue that Obama has not indicated how he will deal with a recalcitrant Pakistan and, according to their reading, the US is still dependent on the Pakistan Army to complete its mission in Afghanistan. Perhaps, anticipating such sceptics, Obama clarified, “In the past a view on the part of Pakistan that their primary rival, India, was their only concern. I think what you’ve seen over the last several months is a growing recognition that they have a cancer in their midst; that the extremist organisations that have been allowed to congregate and use as a base the frontier areas to then go into Afghanistan, that now threatens Pakistan’s sovereignty.  “Our goal is to break down some of the old suspicions and the old bad habits and continue to work with the Pakistani government to see their interest in a stable Afghanistan, which is free from foreign meddling — and that Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States, the international community, should all be working to reduce the influence of extremists in those regions. And I am actually encouraged by what I’ve seen from the Pakistani government over the last several months. But just as it’s going to take some time for Afghanistan’s economy, for example, to fully recover from 30 years of war, it’s going to take some time for Pakistan, even where there is a will, to find a way in order to effectively deal with these extremists in areas that are fairly loosely governed from Islamabad.  “Part of what I’ve been encouraged by is Pakistan’s willingness to start asserting more control over some of these areas. But it’s not going to happen overnight. And they have been taking enormous casualties; the Pakistani military has been going in fairly aggressively. But this will be an ongoing project.” He has made it clear that converting Pakistan from India-focus to terrorist-focus is bound to be a time-consuming exercise.  Reports from Pakistan clearly indicate that the Pakistan Army, in spite of its use of air power and artillery, has not succeeded in suppressing the Pakistani Taliban. There is a fluid situation in the tribal areas where different terrorist groups, including those hitherto patronised by the Pakistan Army, tend to form opportunistic alliances and to dominate different areas and strike at different civilian and Army targets.  It is likely that the Army action in Swat and Southern Waziristan has increased the threat to the Pakistani state from the terrorist groups who are all concentrated in Northern Waziristan. The Pakistan Army is under tremendous pressure to act against the terrorist groups in North Waziristan, especially after the disclosure that the Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, was trained in that area by the Pakistani Taliban and there are linkages with the Jaish-e-Mohammed.  Contary to the popular view that the US will increasingly depend on the Pakistani Army, it appears to be more probable that the latter may have to depend increasingly on the US stepping up its drone-strikes and perhaps even covert operations.  No doubt, there is a tendency among the second-rank US officials like Mullen, Holebrooke and even McChrystal to project an image of being soft on the Pakistani Army. One must try to probe how far this is a necessary tactical posture and how far it is a deeply ingained pro-Pakistan Army attitude developed because of their sustained proximity to the Pakistan Army. But the ultimate decision maker is Obama. He talks of Pakistani cancer and its prolonged treatment, not Holebrooke, Mullen and others. We should be careful in assessing the US strategy and not go by the projections done for public relations purposes.







CRPF patrol van blown up; 4 dead
Subhrangshu Gupta Tribune News Service  Kolkata, May 19 Within 48 hours of Dantewada massacre, Maoists targeted a CRPF patrolling van with an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), killing four jawans at Ramgarh, near Lalgarh police station in West Midnapore district on Wednesday.  Three CRPF personnel, including two deputy commandants, were also injured in the attack that came on on the second day of the two-day five-state bandh called by the Maoists. They injured have been admitted to Midnapore hospital where the condition of two is said to be very critical.  “Four CRPF jawans were killed and three injured in an IED blast set off by the Naxals at around 11.30 am today,” M Nageswar Rao, CRPF Inspector General of Police, said.  The deceased were identified as V Babul (29), Savant Vishal (24), BL Singh (32) and Rakesh Kumar (31). The injured deputy commandants are: Nav Kumar (39) and VP Singh (31). The vehicle in which they were traveling was badly damaged in the blast that left a five-feet-deep crater on the road.  The explosion comes a day after Union Home Minister P Chidambaram asked the Naxals to abjure violence and come for talks.  DGP Bhupender Singh said a large contingent of paramilitary forces has been rushed to the place and an intensive combing operation was on in the entire jungle area.  The state Home Department spokesman said additional 12 battalions of the paramilitary forces would be soon deployed in the Maoists-infested areas bordering Orissa and Jharkhand.  The Maoists had on Monday blown up a bus in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh, killing 36 persons, including 12 special police officers.  Earlier, rebels triggered a landmine blast on a railway track near Jhargram in West Midnapore district today, injuring two drivers of a goods train and leaving its engine badly damaged.The attack disrupted train services on the Kharagpur-Tata Nagar section of South Eastern Railway. The incident took place at Khatkhura halt station when the landmine was detonated as soon as the engine of the goods train passed over it.  The engine and windshield of the train were damaged by the blast. The driver and the assistant driver of the train were injured by shards of glass. The police and railway officials said several rail sleepers were blown up and the overhead power cable cut on both tracks due to the impact.  Rail services were halted in both tracks with several long-distance trains either diverted or stranded at various stations since 2 am. Railway officials along with the police and the paramilitary forces have reached the spot and repair work has begun.








‘Talks with Pak to reduce distrust’
Tribune News Service  Chandigarh, May 19 Tasked with the most important but unenviable task of resuming the dialogue with Pakistan, India’s External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna believes the challenge lies in reducing the trust deficit between the two countries. Krishna will be paying his maiden visit to Islamabad on July 15 to talk to his counterpart Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. In an exclusive interview to The Tribune Editor-in-Chief Raj Chengappa, India’s External Affairs Minister said: “There is total distrust between the two countries. So we will have to attack the trust deficit first. The central theme of my visit is to make an effort to reduce the trust deficit and even eliminate it. I think if we succeed, something would be achieved.”  Asked what prompted India to shift its position from no talks till the terror issue was addressed by Pakistan, Krishna said: “When Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh met Prime Minister Gilani at Thimphu recently, the tone and tenor of Pakistan’s response created enough confidence in us that they were serious but had their difficulties. The two leaders felt the only way forward for settling all outstanding concerns was to get back to the negotiating table.”  Arguing for the rationale to resume the dialogue, Krishna said: “What are the alternatives open to India? Shall we wage a limited war, localized war or go after those suspected of the Mumbai attacks and make it a full scale war. Then what is going to happen to our sub-continent? Let us remember that we are two nuclear powers. So it was felt that it is necessary to begin talks all over again and we thought political level talks are more effective, productive and convincing.”







Pak Army denies sacked Major linked to New York bomb plot
Press Trust of India, Thursday May 20, 2010, Islamabad The Pakistan Army has sacked and arrested an officer for insubordination but officials have dismissed suggestions that the matter was linked to the Times Square bombing plot by Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad. (Read: US car bomb suspect Faisal appears in court)  The Inter-Services Public Relations said the officer, identified only as Major Adnan in some media reports, was sacked for insubordination.  Media reports said the officer from the Signal Corps had also been arrested for violating discipline.  A spokesman of the Inter-Services Public Relations denied that the matter was linked to the attempted car bombing in New York's Times Square.  Reports said the major did not abide by rules and regulations of the Pakistan Army and was sacked after his seniors complained about him to higher authorities.  Earlier in the day, the Los Angeles Times quoted Pakistani law enforcement sources as saying that the major was arrested for his alleged links to Faisal Shahzad.  The report said the major's involvement with Shahzad "remains unclear".  The daily also quoted the law enforcement sources as saying that the major had met Shahzad, a naturalised US citizen of Pakistani descent, in Islamabad and was in cell phone contact with him.  The report said another suspect being held by Pakistani authorities is a local Taliban member who appeared to play the role of liaison between Shahzad and the militant group.  The Taliban member told Pakistani intelligence agents that he met Shahzad three times last summer.  At one of those meetings, the Taliban member gave Shahzad an undisclosed amount of money because Shahzad said he was running out of cash.  The daily quoted US officials familiar with the case as saying that the Taliban gave Shahzad about $15,000 to pay for the attempted bombing.








Dedicated satellite for Navy by year-end
Rajat Pandit, TNN, May 20, 2010, 01.46am IST NEW DELHI: India's first dedicated military satellite should be up in space well within a year. Indian Space Research Organisation has fixed the "launch window'' of the naval communication and surveillance satellite between December 2010 and March 2011.  The defence establishment was slightly worried ISRO might not be able to stick to the planned launch window after the failure of the geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle (GSLV-D3) in mid-April, which was launched with the new indigenously-developed cryogenic engine.  "But ISRO has assured us the naval satellite, with an around 1,000 nautical mile footprint over Indian Ocean, will be launched as slated... The project cost is Rs 950 crore. IAF and Army satellites will follow in a couple of years,'' said a senior MoD official on Wednesday.  This comes even as the top Navy brass, led by Admiral Nirmal Verma, is currently discussing the intricacies of "navy-wide network-centric operations'' and "maritime domain awareness'', both of which hinge on dedicated satellite capabilities, during the ongoing naval commanders' conference here.  Coupled with induction of eight P-8i long-range maritime patrol aircraft between 2013 and 2017 under a $2.1-billion deal inked with US, the geo-stationary satellite will ensure a quantum jump in Navy's C4ISR (command, control, communication, computer, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) capabilities.  Though India sees its primary area of strategic interest stretching from Persian Gulf to Malacca Strait, Navy as of now does not have "dedicated sensors'' which can provide it with a "clear picture of all actors'' in the constantly changing maritime environment.  The dedicated satellite will help Navy network all its warships, submarines and aircraft among themselves as well as with operational centres ashore through high-speed data-links. "Maritime threats can then be detected and shared in real-time to ensure swift reaction,'' said an officer.  Indian armed forces have long used "dual use'' satellites like Cartosat-I, Cartosat-II and Cartosat-IIA, among others, but it will only be now that they will get dedicated satellites of their own.  This is in keeping with the Defence Space Vision-2020, which identifies intelligence, reconnaissance, surveillance, communication and navigation as the thrust areas in Phase-I till 2012. The need to keep "real-time'' tabs on enemy troop movements, warships, airbases, missile silos and the like cannot be over-emphasised.  There are, for instance, around 300 dedicated or dual-use military satellites orbiting around the earth at present. The US, of course, leads the pack, owning 50% of them, followed by Russia and China.  India, however, has been slow to react to even China's huge strides in the military use of space, which was rudely brought home by Beijing's test of an ASAT (anti-satellite) weapon in January 2007. The government, for instance, is still reluctant to establish a full-fledged Aerospace Command despite the armed forces demanding it for years.






Indian Army probes firing that killed two soldiers
May 19th, 2010 - 6:31 pm ICT by IANS -  The Indian Army Wednesday probed the origin of gunfire from Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch district that hit a military truck and killed two soldiers. The soldiers were killed instantly in the attack on a mountainous road close to the Line of Control (LoC) at Nangi Tikri in Mendhar, 200 km north of Jammu Tuesday evening.  Three other soldiers were injured in the firing. The LoC divides Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan.  Military officials, who are convinced the firing came from Pakistan, said the border was calm Wednesday.  “The way the vehicle was ambushed, it appeared to be the work of professionals and trained men. In this case the Pakistani Army’s role is being ascertained,” an army source told IANS.  The Pakistan Army had opened fire May 1 and 6 in the same sector. A Border Security Force (BSF) trooper was injured in the first incident.  A defence ministry official in Jammu said the Indian Army had not retaliated Tuesday. And there was no further firing from across the LoC as well.  But the Indians are planning to take up the attack with Pakistan.  The sources said one reason India was downplaying the incident was because it did not want the spirit of dialogue between India and Pakistan to be adversely affected.  Indian Home Minister P. Chidambaram is likely to visit Islamabad in June. External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna will go to Pakistan to meet his counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi July 15.  But the Indian Army has stepped up its vigil along the 646-km LoC. It fears that there could be further attempts from across the border to push militants into Jammu and Kashmir.






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