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Monday, 19 July 2010

From Today's Papers - 19 Jul 2010

  The Headley factor Pak army sabotaged talks 
The interrogation of David Coleman Headley, a US national of Pakistani origin arrested for his role in different incidents of terrorism, including the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, has led to uncomfortable revelations about the activities of the Pakistan Army and the ISI. Officially, the ISI may not be under the control of the Army, but it has always been implementing the agenda of Pakistan’s armed forces. As reports suggest, both sabotaged the India-Pakistan Islamabad talks with a view to deflecting the world’s attention from Islamabad’s policy of using terrorism to achieve its geopolitical objectives. The Pakistan Army did not want the dialogue to focus more on quickly and adequately punishing those suspected of their involvement in the Mumbai mayhem because that would lead to its role getting exposed in view of what Headley revealed to US and Indian interrogators. Hence the pressure on Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to indulge in posturing even at the risk of the talks ending in a fiasco, as it happened.  Headley’s interrogation report has it that the terrorist outfit Lashkar-e-Toiyaba has been functioning virtually as an extension of the ISI. Under the patronage of the Pakistan Army both enacted the Mumbai massacre to add to the atmosphere of distrust between India and Pakistan. Any effort for peace between the two neighbours, the Pakistan Army feels, will ultimately erode its importance in running the affairs of that country. The unending unrest in the Kashmir valley, with the trouble-makers getting instructions from across the Line of Control, should be seen against this backdrop.  The truth brought out by Headley’s questioning must be pursued with dogged tenacity in the interest of peace and stability in South Asia and beyond. Now is the time for the world community (read the US) to nail the Pakistan Army for its role as the saboteur of any peace move between India and Pakistan. An increase in tension between the two countries leads to an atmosphere which suits the Pakistan-based terrorist outfits and their patrons. In such a situation these destructive elements acquire the status of heroes. This dangerous game plan needs to be brought to an end before it is too late.

  The fiasco in Islamabad Factors behind Qureshi’s provocative behaviour
by K. Subrahmanyam  A majority of the people in India and Pakistan look at India-Pakistan relationship as a zero-sum game and, therefore, they will be looking at the just concluded Islamabad talks as a victory for one side and a setback for the other. Viewed objectively and rationally, this is a totally wrong approach. This view originates from the basically erroneous Pakistani perception that India is an existential threat to Pakistan. The reality was asserted more than once during External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna’s Press conference that India considers that it is in its interest to have a stable, prosperous and peaceful Pakistan. On the other hand, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said, “Pakistan has always wanted friendly, cooperative and good neighborly relations with India. We’ve started a process to achieve this objective.”  Implied in Pakistani formulation is the perception that India is not a friendly, cooperative and good neighbourly country, and Islamabad is initiating steps to bring about such a development. Given these different perceptions, for Pakistan the relations with India is a zero sum game, but it is not so for India. While India considers the Pakistani strategy of using terrorism as a state policy a self-destructive one, it does not have any animosity towards that country. It is obvious from the results of the Islamabad talks that Pakistan, as of now, is not prepared to give up terrorism as a state policy. Viewed in this background, the Islamabad talks were a tactical setback for India but a disastrous image-projection for Pakistan.  This came out clearly in Qureshi’s outburst against the Indian Home Secretary, who had referred to David Coleman Headley’s disclosures about the involvement of Pakistan’s ISI in the planning and execution of the 26/11 attack on Mumbai during a Press interaction. These disclosures were made during his interrogation under the supervision of the FBI and had been included in the dossier handed over to the Pakistani Minister of Interior by the Indian Home Minister weeks ago. Qureshi chose to equate this with the outbursts of LeT chief Hafiz Saeed and asserted that both he and Krishna considered such disclosure of the Indian Home Secretary was uncalled for.  Krishna did not choose to rebut this during his Islamabad Press conference, and Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao subsequently explained that this might nave been due to the pell-mell prevailing at that time. Subsequently, Krishna made it clear that he stood by the Home Secretary.  More revealing of the Pakistani state of mind was the subsequent Press conference held by Qureshi on the morning of July 16 for the Pakistani media even as Krishna was yet to take off from Chaklala airport. He accused Krishna of not being fully prepared for the negotiations and making frequent telephone calls to Delhi for instructions, a charge totally denied by Krishna. This was a deliberate attempt at insulting Krishna. Some observers in India are of the view that Qureshi might have been directed by the Army and ISI leadership to hold such a Press conference and insult Krishna to provoke India to sever the present engagement with Pakistan so that it could be made a justification for future terrorist attacks. India has not walked into that trap, and the authorities in New Delhi continue to maintain that there is no alternative to engagement with the nuclear neighbour in spite of its provocative behaviour.  Qureshi maintains that Krishna told the Pakistanis that his negotiating mandate was limited to terrorism only and he was not prepared to discuss the Pakistani concerns. The Indian side maintains that Pakistan concerns were discussed and progress was made on many issues. Qureshi contradicted himself when he said at the joint Press conference that further negotiations on Kashmir would be on the progress achieved during the last three years, and asserting in the second Press conference that Pakistan’s concerns were not addressed. Nor all the extra time taken in the conference, making the Press wait for six hours, lends credibility to Qureshi’s assertion that India’s negotiating mandate was restricted to terrorism only.  The reason for Pakistan’s provocative behaviour is to be traced to their perception of the situation in the Af-Pak area and the validity of that perception. The Pakistan Army appears to have convinced itself that it has outsmarted the Americans and has succeeded in persuading Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai to dismiss his anti-Taliban Interior Minister and Chief of Intelligence and enter into secret negotiations with pro-Pakistan elements in the Taliban. By allowing the use of Pakistani territory as safe haven by the Haqqani faction, they have increased US and NATO casualties in Afghanistan. They have also dodged the US pressure to take action against any of the terrorist organisations other than the Pakistani Taliban .  Therefore, they seem to be in a triumphant mood. It is very much like their over-confidence in June 1999 during the Kargil operation, in August-September 1971 in the aftermath of Sino-US rapprochement with China, during the 1971 East Bengal crisis and in August 1965 in the wake of Operation Gibraltar. The clever tacticians of the ISI and Pakistani Army Headquarters always have tended to ignore strategic aspects. Such an approach ended in disasters on three previous occasions. It looks as though they are likely to repeat past blunder, risking Pakistani integrity and internal security.  The Pakistan Army’s calculations are based on a totally erroneous perception, no doubt, widely prevalent even outside Pakistan that the US will withdraw from Afghanistan, starting in the middle of 2011. President Obama has made it clear a number of times that he has no intention of abandoning Afghanistan, and there will only be a beginning of a drawdown in mid-2011. Now Ambassador Blackwill has unveiled his plan of reordering the force deployment in Afghanistan to vacate Pashtun areas and concentrate on non-Pashtun areas and use air power to decimate the terrorist elements in Pashtun Afghanistan as well as Af-Pak tribal territory.  When the US vacates Pashtun Afghanistan there are distinct possibilities of the Afghan Taliban uniting with the Pakistani Taliban and establishing the long-cherished Pashtunistan. Secondly, there are reports in Pakistan of different jihadi groups combining to form a common network. In that event there is a high probability of that network with hundreds of conditioned suicide bombers at their disposal turning their anger against the Pakistan Army and State for their collaboration with the US. Such collaboration is absolutely essential to save Pakistan from bankruptcy.  If the Pakistan Army is not blundering again they will have a lot to worry about the future moves of the US in Af-Pak area, the future behaviour of the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban and the threat emanating from the ego-maniacal terrorist leaders with deadly arsenals of hundreds of conditioned suicide bombers. Since India has no animosity against the people of Pakistan and considers it in its interest to have a stable and prosperous Pakistan, it has every reason to be concerned about the reckless adventurism of their Army.

  “As per the rules”
by Raj Kadyan  In the Army, rules are considered the proverbial elephant in the room. The enforcer institution, the Controller of Defence Accounts (CDA), is known for rule rigidity. There are numerous supporting anecdotes. Here is another.  We were raising a divisional headquarters. Funds being scarce, an effort was on to tap every source. Considering its wartime strength of officers, a divisional headquarters is authorised to run three messes, and an initial grant is meant for each. Being in a family station, with few dining-in members, it was decided to run only one mess during the raising period. However, since we could be mobilised at short notice, the mess equipment for the other two had to be purchased in advance. We accordingly sent our claim. The CDA returned the claim, contending that they could sanction the grant only for the single mess that was functional at the time.  Soon, I had to visit the CDA office to attend a training exercise. Our General Officer Commanding (GOC) asked me to visit the CDA and “sort the issue” out, a diktat invariably given when one wants the results with uncertain means.  I landed at the CDA office fully armed with uncertainty. I explained that in the few hours we may get for mobilisation, and then it would be impractical to buy the wares needed to start a mess. He acknowledged the problem but expressed his inability as the demand was not “as per the rules”. I stressed that the request was in line with authorisation and that there would be no loss to the State. “What you are seeking is a grant that would be used some time in future”, he explained in kindergarten language and I nodded.  “In that case”, he added with his in-between-the-lines perspicacity, “It amounts to a loan, and ‘as per the rules’ a loan is not authorised”. From his side, it was QED. As one who had only a peripheral knowledge of finances, I saw no harm even if it were called a loan. But his take was different.  “You miss the point”, he said. “Your station is on the border between ‘my’ Command and another Command. Supposing they were to transfer the station out to the other Command tomorrow, I will lose the amount.”  I admired his institutional loyalty, but it did not help in the context. “What would you recommend we could do?” I asked trying to make him part of the problem. It worked. “In that case…” the tussle between the rule and rationality was visibly showing on his face. He seemed wanting to help but was fettered by the rule-book. Avoiding my eye, he suggested we say that we were actually running three messes.  We had another “difficulty” in the person of the GOC who was a stickler for punctiliousness. I recalled his opening address to the officers where he had spelt out his philosophy, “We will not break any rule”, he had said firmly, “but we can bend them”. We had sat there admiringly without understanding what it meant except that some wriggle room existed.  “We will”, I told the CDA, recalling the GOC’s words.  The mess secretary was instructed to send three separate claims. However, this time there was a fresh observation. “How can there be one mess secretary for three messes?” the CDA enquired. Our falsehood had not been imaginatively crafted. The GOC had luckily not specified any limit to rule bending. We exploited the elasticity in his directions and got the grants.  Mission success was reported to the GOC. “Well done” was all he said and avoided any discussion on the means adopted; good leaders seldom do.

Spy Madhuri Gupta wanted blueprints of JK projects 
New Delhi, July 18 External Affairs Ministry official Madhuri Gupta, who is in jail on charges of spying for Pakistan, was looking for blueprints of Salal Hydel project in Poonch district and of a coal mine in Kalakote during her visit to Jammu in March-April this year.  This came to light during investigations into the case by security agencies which were trying to ascertain the purpose of the visit of the diplomat to Rajouri district.  Contrary to earlier reports that she had picked up a packet, the 53-year-old Gupta is understood to have failed to reach her contact from whom she had to take blueprints pertaining to these projects. — PTI

Has Qureshi angered his bosses?
Ashok Tuteja/TNS  New Delhi, July 18 New Delhi is surprised over the contradictory statements being made by Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmud Qureshi since Thursday when his talks with External Affairs Minister SM Krishna broke down in Islamabad.  According to sources, his latest statement that he never said that Krishna was on phone with New Delhi during the prolonged parleys is clearly an ‘afterthought’ as it seems that he has earned the wrath of his ‘masters’ in Islamabad for his language.  The Pakistani minister had alleged on Friday that Krishna was taking instructions from Delhi all the time during the meeting. The sources privy to the failed talks said it was Qureshi and his team that was constantly on the phone during the marathon parleys.  “We had a very clear mandate when we went to Pakistan…there was absolutely no need for us to talk to anyone in Delhi after that. The groundwork for the Foreign Minister’s visit had already been by Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao during her visit to Pakistan in June,” they added.  Qureshi’s other statement as part of his rhetoric against New Delhi that he would not visit India for a ‘leisure trip’ in November-December but for meaningful, result-oriented and constructive talks has also not gone down well here. “We have always said that we are prepared for a serious, sustained and meaningful dialogue on all issues…it was the negative attitude of the Pakistani side which killed the talks,’’ the sources added.  The two foreign ministers will be together in Kabul on Tuesday for a donors’ conference on Afghanistan. The sources said as of now a bilateral meeting on the margins of the Kabul conference was not on the cards. “Let the tempers cool down… there will be many more opportunities for the two ministers to meet in the coming days, they added.  Though New Delhi has defended in public Home Secretary GK Pillai’s statement linking Pakistan’s ISI with the Mumbai massacre, there are many in official circles who acknowledge that it was not the wisest thing to do on the eve of the Islamabad talks.  Pillai’s remarks clouded the talks to such an extent that India sought a definite answer from Pakistan on how it would expedite the trial of seven LET operatives in custody for their involvement in the Mumbai attacks and how it would check the activities of JuD chief Hafiz Saeed, who was being allowed to roam freely in Pakistan.

Inside the  red zone—PART-I
 Maoists build a big army in Bastar Tribune news service  ‘Kuch bhi ho sakta hai’ (Anything can happen),” exclaims M S Dhoni from a hoarding as you drive into Dantewada town in South Bastar. The irony is not lost on viewers who fail to smile. It is eloquent and underscores the tension and uneasiness prevalent in the region.  “Either you depend on God or on Maoists to survive in Bastar,” a middle-aged transporter said stoically to this correspondent.  His 80-year-old father was equally grim. “Maybe not in my life time but my grandsons might see these Naxalities occupying towns like Dantewada and Jagdalpur,” he said. “If I get a demand for money to be paid to Maoists,” he added, “I have no option but to pay up.”  Bastar once was the largest district in the country, bigger than Kerala, Manipur and Nagaland. But to tackle the Maoist menace, Bastar has now been divided into five districts. That does not seem to have helped though.  The drive down the national highway from Raipur to Jagdalpur 300 kms away, through dense green jungles, hills and ghats, is deceptively normal. Life appears normal enough till one passes through smaller towns like Sukma and Orcha, where the uneasiness begins.  You get the unmistakable feeling that you are being watched. You find roads cut, culverts blown up and huge trees thrown to block traffic. Every night, five or six police stations simultaneously come under Naxal fire from three sides.  “When Bastar is so green, why are they making it red!” wonders a local poet in Dantewada which has witnessed gruesome Naxal violence this year, killing over 100 CRPF men.  In Chhattisgarh, the Maoists have announced the formation of their first parallel “revolutionary government.” They have declared the Chintalnar area in the Dantewada forests as their capital.  Fear is the new currency in Bastar. Green Bastar is turning red . People have little faith in security forces which are not adventurous enough to move inside the forests to hit the red rebels.  In official circles in the state capital there is a sense of resignation. From guerilla fighting, the red rebels are now getting ready for mobile or positional warfare, acknowledge officials. They have mined the interiors of Bastar to prevent free movement of para-military forces.  Maoists are busy raising an independent Brigade formation of highly trained and motivated 4,000 to 5,000 commandos for taking security forces head-on in Bastar. A number of ex-servicemen have also joined their ranks.  In their document , “Strategy and Tactics of the Indian Revolution”, known as the ‘red Bible’ in official circles, Maoists have made it clear that “the central task of the revolution is seizure of political power through people’s war and the goal is to seize power in Delhi by 2050-60.”

MIT grad gives a new meaning to blowin’ hot & cold  
G Seetharaman      / DNA Monday, July 19, 2010 2:51    It’s the coming together of the hearth and the air conditioner. Well, almost.      A brainchild of 29-year-old Kranthi Kiran Vistakula, the idea for Dhama Innovations was born out of something mundane, as is the case with more than a few innovations.  In 2007, Vistakula was in the final year of his masters in mechanical engineering and technology policy at the hallowed Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and he was tiring of having to remove his woolens, which was necessitated by the windy, inclement clime there, every time he entered his classroom.  “So I wondered why I can’t create a jacket which I can wear both inside and outside the room,” he says. This led him to develop a technology called ClimaCon, short for climate control, which in turn he used to create Climagear, a battery-operated sleeveless jacket whose temperature can be altered anywhere between 20 and 40 degree celsius.  Climagear functions on the Peltier effect, a phenomenon discovered by French physicist Jean Charles Peltier in the early 19th century. The effect occurs whenever electrical current flows through two dissimilar conductors. Depending on the direction of current flow, the junction of the two conductors will either absorb or release heat.  Vistakula entered his innovation in various competitions and won much-needed greenbacks. He says, “I also got grants of about Rs 65 lakh from the Indian government and IIT-Delhi and NID (National Institute of Design), Ahmedabad, offered me incubation support.”  He chose NID, and Dhama Apparel Innovations, named after his mother Dhamayanti, saw the light of the day in January 2008. The fledgling firm has since developed helmets, shoes and anti-bleeding packs, all of which along with Climagear, Dhama plans to pitch to the defence forces.  “We are doing trials with the Indian Army and will soon meet the US Navy,” states Vistakula. Other than defence, Dhama is also targeting segments such as healthcare and sports. The company hopes to clock revenues of $100 million in 5 years.  Dhama will, in two months, launch its first product in the market, a combination of hot and ice packs, whose temperature could be lowered to as much as 4 degree celsius.  “We are hopeful of completing the trials with the Indian Army in a year or so,” notes Vistakula, who says he has no time for anything but his work, even on Sundays.  Dhama received its first round of funding from Mumbai’s Angels and Reliance Venture Asset Management (RVAM) of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani group.  Harshal Shah, chief executive, RVAM, says while Dhama’s technology has the potential to make it big in the defence and military space, given its affordability, it will also find enthusiastic takers in the sports and healthcare sectors.  “Kranthi’s product is highly scalable and aids in creating a ‘multiplier’ effect; consequently high value and high returns,” he adds.  The company, whose name was recently changed to Dhama Innovations, moved out of NID 2 months ago and set up shop in Hyderabad, the city its founder belongs to. Asked if the company needs to seek another round of funding, Vistakula says, “We have sufficient money and now we want to develop multiple technologies.”

Cyber warfare: Indian Army boosts its defences
 IANS, Jul 18, 2010, 12.35pm IST NEW DELHI: The Indian Army is fighting attacks in the cyber world with electronic warfare capability of the "highest standard", say officials pointing out that virtual strikes have shot up from hostile quarters in both sophistication and frequency.  "The army is cognisant of the threat to its cyber space from various state and non-state actors. But our network is well secured in compliance with the highest standards of cyber security," a senior official in the military headquarters said on condition of anonymity.  The official said the army has established an "impenetrable and secure wide area network exclusively for its functioning".  Officials in the 1.3 million force privately admit they are facing "next generation threats" and are rather worried over the complex world of cyber warfare amid reports of Chinese and Pakistani spies targeting the Indian military establishment via the internet.  Though attacks from hackers - professional or amateur - can come from anywhere in the world, cyber onslaughts have been more frequent from China and Pakistan, which have reportedly been peeking into India's sensitive business, diplomatic and strategic records.  As per reports from the cyber industry, China and Pakistan hackers steal nearly six million files worldwide every day.  A report in the US-based Defence Systems magazine found that there were 25 million new strains of malware created in 2009. That equals a new strain of malware every 0.79 seconds. The report underlines how the current cyber threat environment is dramatically changing and becoming more challenging as the clock ticks.  Howevever, the Indian army is confident.  Revealing that secret information had been secured with unhackable electronic passwords, the official said various "cryptographic controls" have been incorporated in the wake of a significant number of viruses, worms and other forms of malware.  To address cyber defence, which is also under threat from terrorist outfits that have their own trained recruits, officials said the army frequently upgrades its comprehensive cyber security policy to pro-actively deal with and anticipate these threats.  The force has established the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) to respond to attacks targeting the army's critical systems and infrastructure.  Another official said the army has its own cyber audit process conducted by cyber security personnel.  "The audit is conducted in accordance with established security standards such as ISO 27001. Audit of the network is a continuous and active process which helps identification and mitigation of vulnerabilities in a network to counter latest threats as also check the network for cyber security policy compliance," he said.  However, the official admitted there was no room for complacency in times of rapid technological change.  "In the area of cyber space, the battle between hackers and defenders is an ongoing process, influenced by latest technological developments. Due to the dynamic nature of threats, the army is constantly upgrading its network," he said.  Technology alone, however, cannot guarantee "fool-proof security", he said, adding the "Indian Army therefore emphasises on the people and the process to achieve compliance of best practices in this field".  "Regular training programmes are being conducted to enhance user awareness and counter threats like social engineering and phishing," he said.

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