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Tuesday, 12 April 2011

From Today's Papers - 12 Apr 2011

China’s footprints in PoK
The implications for India by Rup Narayan Das  THE reported statement of Lt-Gen K.T. Parnaik that Chinese troops are stationed near the Line of Control (LoC) between India and Pakistan one week ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to China commencing on the 13th of this month to participate in the BRICS Summit in the Chinese city of Sanya, where South Africa is to be formally admitted to the BRIC forum, is a clear message to Beijing that India simply cannot take a benign view of the China’s footprints in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).  While the Sino-Pak nexus has always been a matter of concern for India, what has exacerbated the matter further is the degree of seamlessness between China and Pakistan that PoK is fast acquiring. This has prompted celebrated journalist Selig S. Harrison to comment in an article in the New York Times on 26th of August last year, “Islamabad is handing over the de facto control of the strategic Gilgit-Baltistan region in the northwest corner of the disputed Kashmir to China.” The article further mentioned that there has been an “influx of an estimated 7,000 to 11,000 soldiers of the People’ Liberation Army”.  One need not have to depend on the veracity of the article to discern the growing footprints of China in PoK over the years. It is against this backdrop that the statement of Lt- Gen K. T. Parnaik assumes importance. As far as physical occupation of Jammu and Kashmir is concerned, it may be mentioned that while India is in possession of 45 per cent and Pakistan controls 35 per cent of the region, China occupies about 20 per cent of the territory (including Aksai Chin and the Sakshgam valley ceded by Pakistan to China in 1963). The Karakoram Highway, which connects China’s Xinjiang region with Gilgit-Baltistan, was constructed by Chinese and Pakistani engineers over a period of time and was completed in 1986.  China is currently involved in several infrastructures in the disputed region. China and Pakistan signed a deal in 2006 to upgrade the Karakoram highway. Once the projects are completed, the transport capacity of the strategically significant region will increase significantly. The Karakoram highway will facilitate China’s free access to the oil-rich Gulf region through the Pakistani port of Gwadar in Balochistan. It is significant to note that during the visit of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to China in August 2010, Beijing declared Kashgar , in north-west Chin’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, as a Special Economic Zone like the Shenzhe which borders Hong Kong. The announcement makes Kashgar the sixth Special Economic Zone of China.  The strategic significance of Kashgar for China is that it is the hotbed of Uighur separatists indulging in sporadic violence to press for their demands for an independent East Turkmenistan nation. China has been seeking both intelligence and military support from Pakistan to keep the Uighur separatists in check, and cut off their links with pro-Taliban forces. China and Pakistan have worked out anti-terrorism programmes under which Pakistani security forces push back Uighur fighters trying to cross the border to seek sanctuary in terrorist camps in Pakistan. China and Pakistan have held anti-terrorism exercise in 2004 and 2006.  The third round of such joint military exercise between these countries was conducted in July 2010 to crack down on Islamic militant groups like the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM). The ETIM, regarded as a pro-Al-Qaeda group, is active in Xinjiang, the Chinese Muslim-majority province bordering Pakistan, and the Chinese officials have complained that their cadres are being trained in terrorist camps in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border area.  The Sino-Pak collaboration in the hydropower project in the Pok region is also a matter of concern for India. During the visit of Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari to China in August 2009, the two sides signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the construction of a hydropower station at Bunji in the Northern Areas. New Delhi is of the view that Islamabad cannot undertake any project in the territory under its illegal occupation.  Besides this MoU on the hydropower project, there were MoUs for cooperation in education, fisheries, agriculture, dams and investment. However, the most important of them was the construction of the hydropower project on a build, operate and transfer (BOT) basis, which means that all the investment will be made by Chinese entrepreneurs. The dam is estimated to cost between $ 6-7 billion and will have a capacity to generate 7000 MW of electricity. During the visit, the Pakistani President also invited Chinese companies to bid for the construction of over a dozen small and medium-sized dams in all the four provinces of Pakistan.  It is against this backdrop that China should show sensitivity towards Indian’s concern over an issue which is central to India’s security and territorial integrity. Mere denial is not enough. There should be credible evidence to support the denial. If Beijing is sincere in its approach to build bridges of friendship with India, then it must refrain from aiding and abetting Pakistan. This is more so when China’s international profile is rising and it is trying to project itself as a responsible global power. BothIndia and China can work together in Afghanistan, Myanmar and Nepal.  Instead of making South Asia a region of conflict and competition, the two Asian giants should cooperate to take the countries of the area in a trajectory of growth and development and realise the true spirit of Asian renaissance. India has no problem in Beijing’s role in facilitating growth and development in Pakistan or any other country of South Asia. But this should not happen in PoK as that would be detrimental to India’s security interests. It is expected that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of BRICS conference in China will reiterate India’s concern and will receive some assurance from the Chinese premier with whom he has established a perfect rapport.  The writer is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses,

Army mulls bar codes to track ammo stocks
Vijay Mohan Tribune News Service  Chandigarh, April 11 The popular system of applying bar codes on items for inventory management could soon find its way into the Army to keep track of ammunition.  Based on the outcome of a pilot project carried out at the Ammunition Depot at Dappar near here, the Army is now studying the feasibility of extending the concept in its supply chain management. A team of software experts from the Army Headquarters reviewed the pilot project during its execution as well as afterwards.  Sources claimed the pilot project had validated that the bar coding technology was potent to handle ammunition asset visibility of 47 million rounds and over 47,200 boxes segregated into 315 stacks. It was also established that proliferation of the concept across the Army’s logistic support echelon was feasible and needed to be undertaken.  A bar code is an optical machine-readable representation of data through a series of vertical parallel lines with varying thickness and space, which gives out information about the object bearing it. These are widely found on items of day-to-day commodities, books and electronic items.  In India the use of bar codes by retrial outlets like supermarkets and garment stores had increased significantly over the past few years as it cuts down billing time while keeping a real-time track of stock levels.  Under the project implemented by the Army, ammunition data from bar codes was captured on a portable data terminal (PDT) by the person in charge of the depot’s magazine and subsequently, all technical activities like issue, receipt and internal movement of ammunition was done through PDTs.

Global military spending growth slowest since 2001: report
growth in global military spending slowed to its lowest level since 2001 last year as the world economic crisis hit defence budgets, Swedish think-tank SIPRI said today.  World military spending rose only 1.3% in 2010 to $1.63 trillion (1.14 trillion euros), after average annual growth of 5.1% between 2001 and 2009, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) said as it released its latest report on international military expenditures.
"In many cases, the falls or slower increase represent a delayed reaction to the global financial and economic crisis that broke in 2008," the group said in a statement.  The US significantly slowed its military investments last year but remained by far the biggest defence spender in the world and still accounted for almost all of global growth.  US defence spending grew by only 2.8% in 2010 to $698 billion, after averaging growth of 7.4% between 2001, when SIPRI began publishing its reports, and 2009.  Despite the slowdown, the United States' spending increase of $19.6 billion still accounted for nearly all of the $20.6 billion global increase last year.  "The USA has increased its military spending by 81% since 2001, and now accounts for 43% of the global total, six times its nearest rival China," Sam Perlo-Freeman, the head of SIPRI's Military Expenditure Project, said in a statement.  "At 4.8% of GDP, US military spending in 2010 represents the largest economic burden outside the Middle East (West Asia)," he said.  The region with the largest increase in military spending last year was South America with 5.8% growth, reaching a total of $63.3 billion  "This continuing increase in South America is surprising given the lack of real military threats to most states and the existence of more pressing social needs," said Carina Solmirano, the project's Latin America expert.  In Europe, military spending fell by 2.8% as governments cut costs to address soaring budget deficits, SIPRI said, noting that cuts were particularly heavy in the more vulnerable economies of Central and Eastern Europe and in Greece.  In Asia, the region's weaker economic performance in 2009 saw defence expenditures grow by only 1.4%, with China leading the way with an estimated $119 billion in defence spending last year.

Pak can't be friends with India: Hafiz Saeed
Jamat ud Dawa chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed on Monday made a rare public appearance to lead the funeral prayers for Kashmiri leader Maulvi Showkat Ahmed Shah, killed in Srinagar last week, and used the occasion to rubbish the India-Pakistan cricket diplomacy while vowing for a "jihad" in Jammu and Kashmir.  In a provocative speech, Saeed, the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, claimed the movement in Kashmir would serve as an example for "Muslims in Hyderabad and Junagarh who want independence from the oppression of Hindus". New Delhi has been pressing for action against Saeed who continues to roam freely in Pakistan making anti-India tirades.  In Islamabad, this has been the second time since the 26/11 attacks that Saeed has made a public appearance. "The stand taken by the Pakistan government for friendship with India is not acceptable to the Pakistani people under any circumstances," said Saeed, who led the 'ghayebana namaz-e-janaza' for moderate Kashmiri leader Maulvi Showkat Shah, who was killed in an explosion in Srinagar on April 8.
Saeed, also the founder of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba, said "friendship, trade and cricket diplomacy" with India has no meaning. "We make it clear that (the government) should back the Hurriyat till the last breath for the independence of Kashmir," he told a gathering of about 300 people outside the National Press Club in the heart of the Pakistani capital.  Members of Parliament and the government should adopt a "strong position" on the Kashmir issue so that it becomes clear to the people of Pakistan and Kashmir that they are "doing the right thing", he said.  "We want to make it clear that we are with Kashmiris and will remain with them... All the people in Pakistan and Kashmir are unwilling to accept anything less than independence (for Jammu and Kashmir)," he said in a brief speech as the crowd repeatedly cheered.
He said rather than put efforts to foster friendship and trade with India, the Pakistan government should work to support the movement to achieve the "independence" of Jammu and Kashmir. Paying tribute to Shah, the president of the Jamiat-e- Ahle Hadith who was killed in the bombing on April 8, Saeed claimed the movement in Jammu and Kashmir was " a jihad for independence where even death is part of life".  Dismissing the impression in certain quarters that the movement in Kashmir had become weak in the post-9/11 era, Saeed said he believed "it has come very close to its final stage".  Saeed claimed that the Kashmiri leaders had kept alive their movement even "when Pakistan was under great pressure" and the government in Islamabad "always gave in to pressure".  Besides Saeed, the gathering was addressed by Abdul Aziz Alvi, the head of the JuD in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, United Jihad Council vice-chairman Muhammad Usman and leaders of the Hurriyat Conference. Both Saeed and Alvi were briefly detained in the wake of the Mumbai attacks, which were blamed on the Lashkar-e-Tayiba.

India, China work on resuming defence exchanges
Keen on the resumption of high-level military exchanges, India and China are discussing a proposal to have an Indian military delegation — at the Divisional Commander level — visit China.  New Delhi has, however, made it clear that the leader of the delegation will be an officer from the Northern Command. Last July, India had decided to suspend high-level military exchanges after Beijing told New Delhi that the Northern Army Commander, who was leading a delegation of senior military officials to China, would require a stapled visa. The reasoning given was that he was in-charge of an area, Jammu & Kashmir, for whose residents Beijing does not issue regular visas but staples them on the passport.  While some breakthrough could come during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to China starting Tuesday, officials are downplaying expectations, aware that Beijing will be more focused on the multilateral event at the resort town of Sanya — the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) Summit.
It’s learnt that Singh is slated to meet Chinese President Hu Jintao on Wednesday. They will discuss the entire range of bilateral issues, particularly the proposed bilateral strategic economic dialogue that will be led, on New Delhi’s side, by Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia.  On high-level defence exchanges, sources said, both sides have tried to be creative in finding a solution. If the Chinese were to agree to the proposal, they would have to issue a stamped visa to the Major General-level officer from Northern Command. At the same time, India is not insisting that only the Northern Army commander head the delegation. It’s hoped, officials said, that China may “see reason” in the fact that a Divisional Commander is not in charge of the entire J&K.

Army jawans to finally bid goodbye to PT shoes
NEW DELHI: From thin canvas shoes to Reebok, Adidas and Nike? Well, that would perhaps be too ambitious but the fact is that the around 10 lakh jawans of the Army will now finally get proper "sports shoes" instead of the vintage-pattern PT shoes they have been saddled with for decades.  That's not all, on the footwear front. The Army is also going to soon introduce new combat boots, which will allow soldiers to function with greater efficiency in different types of weather and terrain. "In tune with the endeavour to provide the best available equipment to soldiers, the Army is going in for sports shoes, based on current design and technology available in the market, as well as specially-designed combat boots," said an officer on Monday.  The defence ministry, in recent years, has been focusing on providing better rations and gear to soldiers, especially to those posted in forward and counter-insurgency areas. "The new combat boots, for instance, will be more durable, flexible and light-weight than the existing heavy boots," he said.  Incidentally, this comes in the backdrop of defence minister A K Antony being stumped by an unusual request by jawans during his visit to North-East in February. At the 3 Corps HQs in Ranga Pahar in Nagaland, jawans asked Antony to ensure that they were "given new pair of shoes more frequently", that is every year instead of the existing practice of every 26 months.

Nepal Army needs Indian arms badly
The Himalayan Times Last Updated At: 2011-04-07 12:10 AM RAM KUMAR KAMAT- NEPAL-INDIA SECURITY TALKS NEW DELHI: High level talks between Nepal and India on security challenges and cooperation concluded in Pune, Maharashtra today. Officials of both countries will formally sign a minute tomorrow. A 15-member Nepali team was led by Hari Kumar Shrestha, South Asia Division Chief of Foreign Ministry, while the Indian team was led by Satish Mehta, Northern Division Chief of Indian Ministry of External Affairs. Six high level army officials of Nepal also participated. Senior Indian army and police officials are among the Indian delegates. The Nepali team informed about Nepali Army’s need of arms and ammunition, military hardware, vehicles, uniforms, equipment and advanced training for army officers, said Nepali team member colonel Ashok Narsingh Rana, military attaché at the Embassy of Nepal. “As far as resumption of Indian arms assistance to Nepal is concerned, government of Nepal needs to make a formal request to the Indian government,” Rana said. He said though the Indian government was ready to resume arms supply to Nepal, it wanted to do so only when the government of Nepal makes a formal request. Rana said the Indian government understood well the sensitivity of resuming arms supply at this stage when the peace process was still on. Nepali Army is in dire need of arms and ammunition for its training and other duties including for peace missions, but the government of Nepal has so far shied away from making a formal request to the Indian government for the same due to UCPN-M objection. Rana said details of Indian assistance on security would be discussed in future at higher levels. Both the teams dealt with aspects of close cooperation including intelligence sharing so that both armies could sufficiently counter security challenges in their territories, said Rana. Asked if the Indian side raised the issue of Nepal being used by forces inimical to India including the issue of fake Indian currency, Rana said the Indian side did not raise those issues. Seizure of huge amounts of fake Indian currency in Nepal in recent years and reports of anti-India elements exploiting the open Nepal-India border to pump fake Indian currency into the Indian market to destabilise the Indian economy have worried the Indian government. NEPAL-INDIA SECURITY TALKS

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