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Saturday, 24 July 2010

From Today's Papers - 24 Jul 2010





India, Pak may next talk at UN meet in Sept

Ashok Tuteja & Ajay Banerjee Tribune News Service  New Delhi, July 23 Notwithstanding the failure of last week’s Islamabad talks because of Pakistan army’s machinations, India has decided to pursue the path of peace with its neighbour.  External Affairs Minister SM Krishna’s public admonition of Home Secretary GK Pillai over the timing of his statement blaming the ISI for the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks was apparently aimed at assuring Islamabad of New Delhi’s sincerity in putting the bilateral dialogue back on the track.  Sources said Krishna had rapped Pillai after discussions with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, whose stand on having a peaceful relationship with Pakistan is well articulated.The two nations are expected to establish contact in the coming days, conveying to each other their commitment to the dialogue process. The possibility of the two foreign ministers meeting on the margins of an international meet could also not be ruled out, particularly in September when the UN General Assembly meets in New York.  The Home Ministry and the External Affairs Ministry are also trying to put their spat behind and move on. “As of today, the misunderstanding between the Home and Foreign Ministries has been cleared…” said a senior official a day after Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao called on Pillai in his North Block office. Several important matters were discussed by the two.  The public posturing apart, it has been pointed out to the Foreign Ministry that Pakistan’s stance remains unchanged on the key issue of “exporting terror” to India and about continuation of terror camps on its territory. New Delhi, meanwhile, is quite clear that it can’t be “business as usual” until Pakistan brings to justice the masterminds of the Mumbai assault and stops its “terror factories”.







US echoes India’s concern over ISI

Tribune News Service  New Delhi, July 23 The role of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) yet again came under the scanner. US Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen today expressed concern about the agency and its activities.  “There is a lot about the ISI we don't know and the ISI will have to change its overall strategic approach,” Mullen told mediapersons here this evening. However, in a way he echoed India’s stance, which has been pointing finger towards the ISI for fomenting trouble in India, notable being the latest repartee by Union Home Secretary GK Pillai and National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon. India has found that several of the ISI middle level officials are free wheelers, who act on their own.  Mullen importantly made a point on China, saying there is “opaqueness” about China's military intentions in the Indian Ocean as well as the Pacific Ocean. The US, he said, wanted its warships to operate in the international waters of the Yellow Sea, but was denied the permission by China.  On having a continuing US Military role in Afghanistan, Mullen was categorical “…Afghan mission will not end in July 2011. We are not in a hurry to leave or looking for a door”. A handover to Afghanistan forces would depend on the ground conditions, he said, while probably dropping a hint at India “….No country can alone police the world, it has to be a group of countries with shared goals that have to do it”. India has so far shied away from joining the US-led joint forces in Afghanistan in any ground operations against the Al-Qaida and Taliban.  Mullen scotched a demand of the Defence Minister AK Antony, who sought a “monitoring mechanism” for weapons sales by the US to Pakistan.  He said, “The systems that we are selling to them (Pak) are being used against the terrorists threat within their own country. Certainly, we have expressed very strong desire on where these weapon systems should be used and the resources as well."  Antony at a meeting with Mullen in his office this morning told him about India's worries that Pakistan was diverting the American military assistance to building capacities against India.









  It’s Kayani’s Pakistan The General will continue to run the show

 Very few observers of the Pakistan scene were surprised when Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani announced during his brief televised speech on Thursday a full-term (for three years) extension in service for Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Ashfaque Parvez Kayani. The significant decision, made public now, had been taken over a week ago with the consent of all top Generals. More than General Kayani, it was Gilani who wanted him to continue to head the most powerful institution in Pakistan beyond the date of his superannuation in November this year. The reason is that Gilani’s position will remain as secure as it has been in General Kayani’s Pakistan. Therefore, he employed a former Army Chief close to General Kayani to persuade him to agree to his proposal. President Asif Ali Zardari — who is surrounded by many controversies and has lost much of his powers, including that of appointing a new Army Chief and granting an extension to the incumbent COAS — had no choice but to accept what Gilani had proposed.  There are clear indications that Gilani was not alone in supporting Kayani. Despite the denial by Washington DC, General Kayani’s continuance also suits the US interests in the Af-Pak region. The Americans were not sure if the General who would have replaced General Kayani would continue the operations against Al-Qaida and the Taliban as vigorously as is the case today. The man who cannot be happy with the development is Lt-Gen Khalid Shamim Wyne, next in line. How Lt-General Wyne plays his cards in the days to come will be interesting to watch.  Significantly, the extension order for General Kayani comes after a similar decision was taken in favour of the ISI chief, Lt-Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, and a few other top army officers. India has to get ready to deal with the man who played the key role in derailing the Foreign Minister-level talks between New Delhi and Islamabad on July 15. He is a shrewd operator as he believes in running the show with remote control.










India, US sign pact to counter terror Deal to allow data sharing on criminals

Tribune News Service  New Delhi, July 23 India and the United States today signed a Counter Terrorism Initiative that would facilitate access to the data of criminals, terrorists, sharing of real-time intelligence and building up of security network alongside forensic laboratories.  The text of the initiative was finalised during the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the US in November 2009. But, the pact was signed today by Union Home Secretary G.K. Pillai and US Ambassador to India Timothy J. Roemer on behalf of the two nations. The move seeks to further enhance cooperation between the two countries, especially in countering terrorism.  India and the US would take various steps, including strengthening capabilities to effectively combat terrorism, promotion of exchanges regarding modernisation of techniques, sharing of best practices on the issues of mutual interest, development of investigative skills and promotion of cooperation between forensic science laboratories.  Besides, stress would be laid on the establishment of procedures to provide mutual investigative assistance; enhancing capabilities to act against money laundering, counterfeit currency and financing of terrorism; exchanging best practices on mass transit and rail security; increasing exchanges between Coast Guards and Navy on maritime security; exchanging experience and expertise on port and border security; enhancing liaison and training between specialist counterterrorism units, including National Security Guard and their US counterparts.   Pillai described the MoU as an evidence of successful cooperation between India and US in counterterrorism and as being based upon the solid foundation of mutual benefit.  Terming the pact as symbolic of the “indispensable partnership” against terrorism, Roemer said both the countries will work closely in matters like intelligence sharing and probe into bomb blasts. “In the coming days and months, there will be even closer information sharing and collaborative efforts on issues ranging from bomb blast probe and major events’ security to mega-city policing, cyber and border security,” he added.









Kayani to stay, will ensure continuity: Gilani

Afzal Khan in Islamabad  The three-year extension given to Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani will ensure that the current leadership of the government, military and judiciary remains in office till 2013, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said here today.  Gilani announced the government’s decision to extend the term of Kayani, who was set to retire in November, during an address to the nation late last night.  “At this time, the Prime Minister will be there till 2013, the President will be there till 2013 and the (Supreme Court) Chief Justice will be there till 2013,” Gilani said in a brief chat with reporters after visiting the Pakistan Sweet Home project at Sihala in the outskirts of Islamabad.  “We have extended the Army chief’s term till 2013 too. All major stakeholders are now in a secure position and they should work under the ambit of the constitution,” he said, adding that the tenure of Kayani has been extended to ensure continuity of policies.  “Pakistan has a unique situation. We are in the middle of the war against extremism and terrorism. Stability has to be maintained and it was important for consistency and continuity.” Gilani denied that there was pressure on the government led by his Pakistan People’s Party to extend the tenure of the Army Chief.  Kayani (58), a former chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, was made Army head by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in November 2007.He has emerged as a key player in shaping Pakistan’s foreign policy.  Though political commentators often speak of Pakistan's “power troika” comprising the President, Prime Minister and army chief, insiders in the government acknowledge that it is the publicity-shy Kayani, who has emerged as the most important player in shaping Pakistan's foreign policy.









Pakistan to buy bigger warships from China 

Press Trust of India, Updated: July 23, 2010 23:01 IST  Beijing:  Pakistan plans to deepen military cooperation with China as it seeks to buy bigger naval ships with more firepower in addition to several frigates it has already ordered from its "all weather" ally.  Pakistan hopes to buy bigger ships with more firepower from China, such as 4,000 ton class frigates, Pakistan Naval Chief Admiral Noman Bashir said on Friday.  He said Pakistan Navy is very satisfied with the performance of the F-22P frigate it bought from China. Two of the four F-22P frigates it ordered are already in service in Pakistan Navy, with the third one scheduled to be commissioned on September 15 this year. It is also expected that all the four ships will be in service by 2013.  "We are very happy with the performance, and some technology is as good as in Western countries," Bashir was quoted as saying by the state run China Daily today  Pakistan has proposed to develop strategic maritime cooperation with China in both military and commercial sects, such as in fishery, economic development zones, and cargo, he said."The friendship between China and Pakistan is greater than the Himalayas and deeper than the Ocean. We already made progress in air force and other areas, now we should further and expand the cooperation in Navy, a broadly-based relation," he said.  He also said Pakistans strategic geographical location in the Arabian Sea and its long coastline could contribute to the missions of Chinese navy, particularly in the context of energy need from the Persian Gulf.  Pakistan also has rich experiences in countering illegal activities at sea in order to maintain maritime security, four ships participated in anti-piracy operations, and there has been no act of maritime terrorism in its region in the recent past. "We can provide facilities, ports, logistics, maintenance among other things (to Chinese navy), said a Pakistan Navy official.  Pakistan hopes to buy more ships from China, UK and France according to its development plan, he said   Read more at:








India for 'mechanism' to stop misuse of US aid to Pak Agencies

Posted online: Fri Jul 23 2010, 18:22 hrs New Delhi : India conveyed its serious concerns over the US military aid to Pakistan being misused against it and asked America to establish a 'monitoring mechanism' to ensure that this does not happen.  Defence Minister A K Antony during his meeting with US Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen here also expressed his apprehensions that American arms aid was disproportionate to the war on terror for which it was meant, Defence Ministry sources said here.  Antony told the American Admiral that they should ensure that aid was used only for the purpose it was meant.  The Indian side conveyed its serious concerns over the aid to Pakistan being misused against it and asked the US to establish a "monitoring mechanism" to prevent it.  In a 45-minute meeting at South Block here, Mullen is said to have appraised the Indian Defence Minister about the American assessment of the security situation prevailing in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  "The US Admiral called on the Defence Minister here for a 45-minute meeting and discussed the security situation in South Asia and the Af-Pak scenario, and also its changing dynamics in great detail," the sources said.  Mullen also renewed US Defence Secretary Robert Gates' invitation to Antony to visit Washington, which was accepted.  Accordingly, Antony will be visiting the US in the last week of September this year, they said.  Earlier in the day, Mullen called on his Indian counterpart and IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal P V Naik. The meeting with the Air Chief was described as a courtesy call by IAF officials.










'Pak using US funds for war on terror to bolster military might'

TNN, Jul 24, 2010, 03.14am IST NEW DELHI: Pakistan army has been diverting a large part of US funds meant for the global war on terrorism for conventional weapon procurements from China and other countries. This illegal diversion of US provided funds, far more than what is known in public, is resulting in massive modernisation of Pakistan military beyond its official means, believes the Indian security establishment.  A source said the findings and concerns of India were shared with the US during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's US visit in April. This issue formed a substantial part of the conversation between the two sides. Officials later said US President Barack Obama had committed to Singh that security assistance to Pakistan would be monitored and kept under closer observation.  Since the coordinated terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in the US, Pakistan has received at least $18 billion (approximately Rs 90,000 crore) under various US assistance and allowance programmes. At least one assessment by the Indian security establishment says the Pakistan army may have diverted as much as $14 billion for weapons purchases meant for a military conflict with India.  "Most of the payments allotted to it for global war on terrorism under major heads are not being utilized for what it is originally meant. We assess that most of it is being diverted to buying conventional weapons. And it could also be diverted to strategic weapon acquisitions," a senior member of the security establishment told TOI.  Pakistan receives funds under numerous heads, but the big payments come under three major programmes. Under the Coalition Support Funds, Pakistan has received $8.1 billion since 2002. This is officially Pentagon's "reimbursement" of Pakistan for its support to US military operations in the region.  Indian security establishment assess that just 15% of it is being directly utilized in the war on terrorism. A senior source told TOI that at least 80% of it is going into modernisation of the Pakistan military, especially in purchase of conventional weapons from China and European countries such as Germany and France.  Pakistan has received another $2.1 billion under the Foreign Military Financing programme, between 2002 and now. This entire amount is utilized by Pakistan officially for military weapons purchases from US companies. Pakistan can decide the kind of hardware it needs from US companies and Pentagon then processes the purchases. Pakistan has utilized this entire amount in buying up new F-16 fighters, helicopters, artillery guns etc.  Pakistan Counter Insurgency Capability Fund was started in 2009. In just the last two years, Pakistan has received $1.1 billion from the US under this head. Indian security establishment believes Pakistan will receive at least $1 billion in the coming year too.  Besides these three, there are six other heads under which Pakistan receives security related funds. Those six heads together add up to $1.17 billion. Thus, under security-related heads, Pakistan has received a total of $12.57 billion in these nine years.  Under various heads meant for economic assistance, Pakistan has received $6.04 billion from the US.  There have always been doubts about how Pakistan was spending the whopping assistance that was flowing in from the US. In September 2009, former president Pervez Musharraf admitted that a part of the money given by US for the war on terror was used to strengthen Pakistan's capabilities to fight India. There have also been reports from Pakistan contradicting Musharraf's statement. There have also been doubts expressed in the US about the way the unaccounted cash was being utilized. Once credited to Pakistan, there is no way US can keep a check on most of these payments.  In the past few months, the US Congress has tried to step up its oversight on payments to the Pakistan military. The difficulty is the opacity of the military establishment itself and their refusal to open themselves up for scrutiny. In fact, when the Kerry-Lugar Bill suggested similar oversight, the Pakistan army led a campaign to oppose the bill itself. The US backed down. Diplomatic sources said Pakistan has been diverting aid for some time now for conventional weaponry, and apart from China, has been shopping in Australia, Europe etc, though they remain out of the big defence suppliers like Russia and Israel.  According to estimates from Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Pakistan has bought $2.1 billion worth of arms from China and $746 million worth from France among others. Including from the US, Pakistan has imported $5.2 billion worth of arms between 2001 and 09. A senior Indian official said that seemed to be far below what had really happened, especially on the Chinese front.  Pakistan's official defence outlay is under two heads: the defence budget of $5.18 billion and Armed Forces Development Plan of $1.29 billion for this financial year.








Impact of Kayani's extension on China-Pak border

 Saibal Dasgupta, TNN, Jul 23, 2010, 08.17pm IST BEIJING: Within a day of getting an extension as Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, accepted China's advise on blasting the swollen Attabad lake in Gilgit-Baltistan, which had inundated a portion of the Karokoram highway connecting the two countries.  The move is seen by observers as a sign that Kayani's extension would help implement some of China's strategic policies in the terrorist hit region, which is close to the Indian border as well.  "Gen Kayani has a lot of experience in the war against terror. Experience is very essential in anti-terrorism operations. So, his extension will be very useful in the fight against terrorists and separatists," Ma Jaili, senior researcher at the State-run Institute of Contemporary International Relations, told TNN. But Ma said China has no role in Gen Kayani's extension, which is an internal matter of the Pakistani government.  Both Gen.Kayani and Zardari paid visits to Beijing while the armies of China and Pakistan were involved in a two-week long anti-terrorism joint exercises in the border province of Ningxia. It is not clear if the issue of the army chief's extension was discussed during these two visits.  "Chinese support to Gen Kayani's extension can be assumed straightaway. China is interested in stability and continuity in the border regions because of the Uighur movement factor. It also has a lot of interest in Afghanistan mines," Ali Ahmed, Research Fellow at the Delhi based Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, said.  The Pakistan government announced on Friday that a high-level meeting attended by its President Asif Ali Zardari and Gen Kayani has accepted China's advise to blast portions of the swollen lake although the proposal was earlier opposed by the local officials in the area. The move shows Pakistan's eagerness to discuss its internal problems with China, and accept the advise from its friend and allay.  Chinese leaders are particularly worried about the possibility of Taliban related forces spilling over to its Xingjian region, which is going through a separatist movement for the creation of the so-called East Turkmenistan nation. It needs Pakistani military to keep the Taliban and other Islamic fundamentalists in check across the border, as well as cut off their links with the Uighur separatist in Xingjian.









Khakis over civvies 

As provocative, bumptious and aggressive as Shah Mehmood Qureshi can be — Pakistan's foreign minister was not quite the loose thread that pulled at the fabric of the Islamabad talks and left both countries embarrassingly exposed and without any fig leaves to hide modestly behind. A dead-end was always the destination for these talks if you look carefully at how the journey has been mapped and at the fact that like victims of an obsessive compulsive disorder, India and Pakistan seem destined to repeat the same fatal mistakes over and over again.  The truth is that as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh steers his brave vision for peace through a minefield of obstacles — terror threats, inflammable public opinion, a sceptical party cadre and the shadow of 26/11 — his government seems to be crafting its Pakistan policy on the go. Yes, a certain level of inventiveness and imaginative flexibility may be an essential skill for a dynamic as complicated as the one between India and Pakistan. But the present template for talks is weighed down by far too many contradictions. It is destined to collapse under the weight of its own paradox. Add to that certain fatal flaws, stir up the pot and you have a recipe for a very stale dish.  Take the joint press conference between the two foreign ministers. Of course, it was preposterous and offensive for Qureshi to draw any sort of equivalence between the hate-mongering Hafiz Saeed and one of India's top-ranking bureaucrats. But, while the entire debate got framed in terms of national pride and whether SM Krishna should have stepped in more forcefully, what about the more fundamental question: why was there a joint press conference at all?  One would think history had provided enough lessons to both countries for them to be more educated about the perils of such an event; especially when there is nothing significant to say. Think Agra; think Sharm-el-Sheikh — and yet, the two countries still get bizarrely fixated with that subcontinental peculiarity — the 'joint statement'. Then they spend hours arguing about how to present a united front, either in appearance or text, which, of course, swiftly collapses under the scrutiny of their individual domestic constituencies. Diplomats on both sides never tire of lecturing to the media on how the India-Pakistan dialogue is a "process, not an event". Why, then, do they feel the need to create a sordid drama every time by pushing the joint presser or joint statement as a barometer of progress? It's almost a self-fulfilling prophecy of doom.  But there is also a deeper contradiction in our approach to the dialogue with Islamabad. There are two dimensions to the home secretary's comments on the David Headley interrogation report: when he chose to speak and what he said. That the timing was problematic has now been acknowledged at the highest levels of government. But it's also stripped away the semblance of a united, cohesive response to Pakistan. Delhi's power corridors are echoing with conspiratorial whispers and theories.  Was the foreign ministry even shown the details of Headley's confessions by the home ministry? Why did Krishna first defend the home secretary and then go on record to criticise him five days later for speaking out of turn? Where does the PM's office stand in the imbroglio? It may be great gossip in power circles, but in real terms it's a high-risk turf war that underlines the confusion over who is driving our Pakistan policy.  But let's look for a moment at what the home secretary said, instead of why he said it. His comments on the ISI's involvement in the Mumbai attacks were underscored by the National Security Adviser later in the week, albeit in more nuanced and general terms. But once India raises questions about the role of Pakistan's "official establishment" in terrorism, what does that do to the present template of the dialogue? India's stated position is that while all issues,  including Kashmir and Balochistan are on the table, justice for 26/11 is a priority. Unofficial briefings after one round of talks in Delhi even quantified that 80 per cent of the talks were about terrorism.  If that's the case, is there any point talking to Shah Mehmood Qureshi? Do we really believe he is empowered to take action against sections of his country's military or intelligence apparatus? If Pakistan's army chief — who has just driven home his influential indispensability with a three-year extension — can be part of the strategic dialogue with Washington, what stops us from talking directly to the people who matter? In the past, Pakistan's ISI chief Lt. General Shuja Pasha met with the three Indian defence attaches at the high commission in Islamabad and is believed to have suggested as much.  Speaking from a position of utilitarianism, is it really India's job to strengthen the civilian government in Pakistan, as is often argued? Or is it in our interest to talk to those in Pakistan who really frame and control India policy? After all, if we could be so dazzled by General Pervez Musharraf even in the aftermath of Kargil, why can't we build new channels of contact with the military in Pakistan. To me it seems a useless sort of political correctness to keep engaging with everyone in Islamabad but those who count.  Islamabad too needs to review its fixation with resuming the composite dialogue. There is an extraordinary expenditure of energy over the nomenclature of talks. The fact is that talks between India and Pakistan no longer stumble and fall over eight different issues. Even Kashmir was close to an acceptable, plausible resolution formula had the Mumbai attacks not taken place. The composite dialogue may well be beside the point, if not nearing redundancy. India and Pakistan need someone to break the pattern, not repeat it ad infinitum. To start with, eliminate the joint press conference. That may mean, round one — to peace.




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