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Saturday, 16 April 2011

From Today's Papers - 16 Apr 2011

Gen Kayani is not a hawk, says cousin
Vijay Mohan Tribune News Service  Sanawar, April 15 Stating that though the younger generation in Pakistan is moving away from the psychological inhibitions that affected Indo-Pak peace initiatives in the past, Air Cmde Farooq H. Kayani (retd), Pakistan army chief’s first cousin said “mental blocks somewhere down the line,” continue to be the biggest impediments to the peace process.  Air Cmde Kayani, who retired from the Pakistani air force over 10 years ago as Assistant Chief of Air Staff, is at present the principal of Lawrence College, Ghoragali, about 40 km from Islamabad. He is leading a 20-member delegation, including 15 students, to Lawrence School here. Both the institutions were co-founded by Sir Henry Lawrence in the undivided India and, hence, share a common history, ethos, emblem and motto.  “Both sides have immense potential to cooperate in diverse fields, including security. Both countries have a common enemy, which is terrorism. There should be zero tolerance for terrorism and we should stop looking at each other with suspicion and join hands to combat this menace,” he said.  The Britain-educated air commodore, who is the only air force officer in a family of army officers, said that though things were “now looking up” in Pakistan, the country is still facing some handicaps in meeting the challenges. Terrorism, he said had affected Pakistan’s economy very badly.  Refuting the perception that Gen Ashfaq P Kayani, Pakistan’s army chief and the centre of power, is a hawk, he claimed that Gen Kayani wants democracy in Pakistan to be strengthened and is working whole-heartedly towards this end. The situation in Pakistan, he added, would improve if democracy is allowed to come up. The Pakistani army too, he further claimed, supported the Indo-Pak peace process. Admiring Indian democracy for withstanding the test of time, he said that Pakistan has a lot to learn from India.  Stating that he was in India not on account of Gen Kayani or as a part of a peace move but on his own merit as principal of an elite educational institute, he said that Gen Kayani was a major general when he had become the principal. Kayani’s elevation to the army’s top post, he said, has impacted his life to some extent as people approach him with “certain requests” on account of his proximity with the chief.  Being the eldest sibling in the family, he said that he did have direct access to the chief and they met frequently for family affairs. They were together for several hours last week. He pointed out that theirs was a “well-knit martial family”. In fact, both General Kayani and his wife are Air Cmde Kayani’s first cousins.  Interestingly, Air Cmde Kayani’s wife Sajida, who is also accompanying him and celebrated her birthday in Shimla yesterday, was born in India at Babina cantonment near Jhansi. Her father was an armoured corps. Air Cmde Kayani’s father had also served with the British Indian Army in India and was injured during World War II. His 32-year-old son is also a cavalry officer, making it the fifth generation in the forces.  The armed forces are a highly sought-after career option among the youth in Pakistan, which is unlike the present trend in India. “The reasons for which are quite obvious,” Air Cmde Kayani said. He also pointed out that by including benefits and other facilities, military personnel in Pakistan get better remuneration than their civilian counterparts.  Kayanispeak  * Though things were “now looking up” in Pakistan, the country is still facing some handicaps in meeting the challenges  * Terrorism has affected Pakistan’s economy very badly  * Gen Ashfaq P Kayani, Pakistan’s army chief and the centre of power, is not a hawk  * Gen Kayani wants democracy in Pakistan to be strengthened  * The situation in Pakistan would improve if democracy is allowed to come up.

Libyan army pounds Misurata as Nato vows to oust Gaddafi
The fighting intensified in Libya today as troops loyal to Muammar Gaddafi shelled the besieged western town of Misurata and NATO bombed the capital Tripoli while the western alliance vowed to continue the military campaign till the embattled leader remained in power.  Amid differences among world powers over the air strikes in Libya, the leaders of the US, the UK and France made it clear that there can be no peace in the country till Gaddafi stepped down.
In a jointly written article published in the International Herald Tribune, US President Barack Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron said NATO must maintain pressure on Gaddafi by continuing the military operations.  They said Libyans in cities like Misurata and Ajdabiya, continue to suffer "terrible horrors at Gaddafi's hands". Leaving Gaddafi in power would be an "unconscionable betrayal" of the Libyan people, they underlined.  "It is unthinkable that someone who has tried to massacre his own people can play a part in their future government," the leaders wrote in an opinion piece released yesterday.  "So long as Gaddafi is in power, NATO and its coalition partners must maintain their operations so that civilians remain protected and the pressure on the regime builds," they said.  Appearing before cheering crowds, the Libyan leader's daughter Aisha dismissed "talk about Gaddafi stepping down", saying it was "an insult to all Libyans because Gaddafi is not in Libya, but in the hearts of all Libyans".  Even as the 28-member NATO alliance squabbled over intensifying the military operations, it launched three new air strikes in and around the Libyan capital, striking a missile battery and two other targets, Al Jazeera said.  France and Britain want to extend air strikes to the logistics and decision centres of Gaddafi's army, rather than start arming Libyan rebels, French Defence Minister Gerard Longuet was quoted as saying by the pan-Arab channel today.  Forces loyal to Gaddafi pounded Misurata with rockets, killing at least eight people, Al Jazeera quoted a local doctor as saying.  He said seven other people, including children and old people, were wounded in the attacks. Residents said around 120 rockets hit the city early today morning.  Pro-government troops also shelled the coastal city yesterday, with dozens of Grad-type rockets, killing at least 23 people, the Al Jazeera quoted a rebel spokesman as saying.  The report quoted witnesses as saying that the Gaddafi loyalists were firing shells on Tripoli Street, a thoroughfare which cuts to the city centre from the western outskirts.  Aid organisations have warned of a humanitarian crisis in the city, the only major rebel stronghold in western Libya, where hundreds of civilians are said to have died in the over six-week siege.  The city faced sever food shortages and electricity and communications lines to the city have been cut.  "We have seen some pictures and some very graphic videos of wounds and casualties in Misurata - stuff we really can't broadcast because they're so graphic - but they do tell you about how bad the situation is in that city," Al Jazeera said.

China’s flip-flop on Kashmir
Indian officials are smiling like Cheshire cats as China quietly pulls back on a Kashmiri policy that roiled relations the past two year. However, New Delhi is still uncertain as to why Beijing suddenly took this path of diplomatic thorns. The initial view was that Beijing’s twin decisions to begin issuing stapled visas to Indian Kashmiris and then deny a visa to the head of the army’s Northern Command because his ambit included Kashmir was part of a Chinese grand strategy aimed at India.  Today, Indian officials are coming around to the view that the Kashmir shift and unshift was really evidence of incoherence within the Chinese system. “Beijing is struggling to handle the demands of an increasingly demanding world,” said one. China, superpower in the making, was more stumbling than sinister.  New Delhi, after a careful review of the information, has concluded the two Kashmiri moves arose from decisions at lower level bureaucrats designed to placate a weakening Pakistan. Little or no thought was given about the consequences. Worse, organizations like the Chinese foreign ministry who would have known better were out of the loop. Thus the Northern Command decision was taken by a low-level national ministry of defence. “May be the clerk had something against the Northern Command,” said one official.  What there is no doubt about is that China was completely taken aback at the strength of Indian response. The Chinese, say sources, may have concluded the Kashmir policy would not be a big deal given India’s track record of keeping quiet on many other issues with China.  Having made a blunder, the problem say Indian officials was that “Beijing didn’t know how to walk it back.”  Initial Indian complaints bounced off China. The real game-changer was when, at a foreign secretaries meeting in Sichuan last year, India hinted it would change its Tibet and Taiwan policies. India declined to endorse the one China policy when Premier Wen Jiabao came visiting in December last year.  Once India concluded that the stakes were smaller than expected, it began to hunt for ways to give China a face saving way to wiggle out of its diplomatic hole.  So an “administrative solution” on the stapled visa issues was allowed to slowly become a full withdrawal of the policy. Northern Command officers will be mixed in among general army officers on a trip to China.  Bejing seems to have been desperate to get out of the hole it had dug. It had been shocked by the strength of the Indian response. Especially that of the Indian media – a response that triggered an anti-tirade among China’s online community. Some Chinese believe that confrontation with India only drives the latter close to the United States and that combination gives them reason to pause.  Finally, as Chinese scholars say privately, Beijing sees its support for Pakistan as one of diminishing expectations. “What ultimately was China getting out of this visa problem?” asked an official. The answer was little or nothing.  But India will now be forever warier. At the very least the super-efficient Chinese government machinery proved dysfunctional on the most sensitive of all Indian foreign policy concerns.

Cloud on army chief successor
New Delhi, April 15: A rift in the top echelons of the army that was evident during investigations into the Sukna land transfer case has been resurrected and now threatens to disrupt the line of succession for the post of army chief.  Two army commanders, who are possible successors to General V.K. Singh will have to wait for the government’s acceptance of a law ministry advisory to determine the chief’s age.  For the moment, India does not know how old it’s army chief is — 60 or 61 years of age. He has to retire at 62.  Eastern army commander Lt General Bikram Singh or Northern army commander Lt General K.T. Parnaik could emerge as the most likely choice for the chief, depending on whether the government will accept a law ministry advisory to determine V.K. Singh’s age and extend his tenure.  The adjutant general’s (AG) branch in army headquarters and the military secretary’s (MS) office have recorded different dates of birth for Singh.  The AG’s branch lists it as May 10, 1951 and the MS branch as May 10, 1950.  The discrepancy arose when Lt General Avadhesh Prakash was the military secretary. Prakash retired last year and is now awaiting court martial after an army court of inquiry indicted him for influencing junior officers, including Lt General P.K. Rath who was the deputy chief-designate, in league with a Siliguri-based realtor who wanted to acquire land adjacent to the Sukna military station in north Bengal.  Rath was punished in January this year. The court of inquiry was ordered by General V.K. Singh when he was the army commander in Fort William, immediately before taking over as the chief on March 31 last year. The inquiry was presided over by Lt General Parnaik.  An RTI query was referred by the defence ministry to the law ministry for its advice. The law ministry has now said that General V.K. Singh’s school leaving certificate, that records his date of birth as May 10, 1951, is a bonafide document.  The decision will have to be taken by the appointments committee of cabinet (ACC) on the recommendation of the defence ministry.  According to the terms of his appointment as the chief of army staff, General V.K. Singh will serve for two years or till he is 62, whichever is earlier. If the ACC accepts his year of birth as 1951, he may get an extension or else he retires in June 2012.  In the event of his retirement in June 2012, the eastern army commander, Lt General Bikram Singh, emerges as the seniormost and next-in-line to be the chief. If the current chief’s term is extended by a year, then Lt General Parnaik could be the successor.

China Accelerates Cyber Attacks, Espionage
China is the United States' biggest creditor and our second largest (behind Canada) trade partner. Official public meetings in Beijing and Washington between leaders of the two countries tend to give the appearance that, except for some minor disagreements, U.S.-PRC relations are all sweetness and light.  China's massive human rights violations, however, are a continuing reminder that the Communist-ruled "Middle Kingdom" is far from attaining the reformed status that is often wrongly bestowed upon it by journalists, politicians, and business leaders eager to  exploit the China market. Another reminder comes in the form of China's aggressive espionage and cyber attacks.  A new report by the Reuters news agency says China has stepped up its cyber warfare against the United States and notes that in the electronic spy vs. spy conflict, "many experts believe China may have gained the upper hand."  Documents released by WikiLeaks and interviews with security experts "suggest that when it comes to cyber-espionage, China has leaped ahead of the United States," says the Reuters report. The Reuters story notes:  According to U.S. investigators, China has stolen terabytes of sensitive data — from usernames and passwords for State Department computers to designs for multi-billion dollar weapons systems. And Chinese hackers show no signs of letting up. "The attacks coming out of China are not only continuing, they are accelerating," says Alan Paller, director of research at information-security training group SANS Institute in Washington, DC.  "Byzantine Hades"  The Reuters article reports:  Secret U.S. State Department cables, obtained by WikiLeaks and made available to Reuters by a third party, trace systems breaches — colorfully code-named "Byzantine Hades" by U.S. investigators — to the Chinese military. An April 2009 cable even pinpoints the attacks to a specific unit of China's People's Liberation Army.  The unit that the attacks were traced to is the Chengdu Province First Technical Reconnaissance Bureau, an electronic espionage unit of the People's Liberation Army (PLA). "Much of the intrusion activity traced to Chengdu is similar in tactics, techniques and procedures to (Byzantine Hades) activity attributed to other" electronic spying units of the PLA, a State Department cable says.  The Technical Reconnaissance Bureaus, or TRBs, fall under the direction of the PLA's Third Department, which oversees electronic espionage. The TRBs are believed to be responsible for many of the tens of thousands of breaches of government and private computer systems that occur each year. Some of these cyber attacks — with code names such as Titan Rain, Aurora, and Night Dragon — have received relatively high-profile news coverage. However, the extensiveness and gravity of the breaches may be far greater than has been publicly admitted. Public officials and military leaders know there is a political cost and career cost to admissions of serious security failures, and corporate leaders know there is a significant threat to consumer confidence — and ultimately a bottom-line impact — if customer data has been compromised.  There has also been a disturbing tendency on the part of politicians, officials, and academics who toe the Beijing Lobby line to minimize the extent and impact of the PRC's cyber warfare. It is common in many reports for "experts" to suggest that many of the attacks emanating from China may be the work of independent actors taking advantage of the country's "vulnerable computer infrastructure." The Beijing regime is only too willing to encourage this narrative of China-as-victim, which provides convenient deniability.  This is the line taken, for instance, by James A. Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies at a 2005 CSIS program on China and cyber security. According to Lewis' presentation on "Computer Espionage, Titan Rain and China":  China is particularly susceptible to being used as a platform for third country attacks because its networks are so vulnerable. Hackers can take over poorly secured Chinese computers and use them for criminal purposes without their owners' knowledge.  Lewis says that "an attack that can be traced back to China demonstrates little about the source. China is also the threat du jour. In the 1980s, Americans looked under their beds and believed they saw the KGB; now they believe they see the PLA." According to the school of thought subscribed to by Dr. Lewis, those who see the PLA's hand in cyber attacks coming out of China are suffering from paranoia. However, his shop-worn liberal trope about supposedly irrational fears of the KGB under the beds should have been laid to rest long ago by all thinking people. Dr. Lewis apparently doesn't know about the infamous penetrations of the CIA, FBI, and the Defense Department by Aldrich Ames, Robert Hannsen, and the Walker family spy ring.  And he would seem to be unaware of the vast body of evidence that has come out of the Venona documents and the Soviet archives showing that the KGB's penetration of American institutions was more than sufficient to vindicate the "paranoia" of the American right and to thoroughly discredit the "witch hunt" charges of the American left.  The arrests in the past months of Russian and Chinese spies in the United States (see here and here) provide ample evidence that the communist propensity for espionage and deception has not abated among the supposedly "reformed" leadership of the Beijing regime.  China's Worldwide Attacks  In addition to the U.S. Defense  Department and major software, Internet, and energy companies, Chinese hackers have been implicated in cyber attacks on government institutions in Britain, India (see here and here), Australia, and dozens of other countries. Earlier this year the computers of Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and other government ministers and members of Parliament were compromised by China-based cyber spies. The Daily Telegraph reported on March 29 ("China spies suspected of hacking Julia Gillard's emails"):  The parliamentary computers of at least 10 federal ministers including the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and Defense Minister are suspected of being hacked into in a major breach of national security.  Among the ministers' parliamentary computers believed to have been compromised in Canberra were Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and Defence Minister Stephen Smith.  It is believed Prime Minister Julia Gillard's parliamentary computer was another compromised.  In February, McAfee, the computer security giant, published a report on the massive 2009 cyber attack known as "Night Dragon." The McAfee report states:      Starting in November 2009, coordinated covert and targeted cyberattacks have been conducted against global oil, energy, and petrochemical companies. These attacks have involved social engineering, spear-phishing attacks, exploitation of Microsoft Windows operating systems vulnerabilities, Microsoft Active Directory compromises, and the use of remote administration tools (RATs) in targeting and harvesting sensitive competitive proprietary operations and project-financing information with regard to oil and gas field bids and operations. We have identified the tools, techniques, and network activities used in these continuing attacks-which we have dubbed Night Dragon-as originating primarily in China.      The report goes on to note:  Attackers using several locations in China have leveraged C&C servers on purchased hosted services in the United States and compromised servers in the Netherlands to wage attacks against global oil, gas, and petrochemical companies, as well as individuals and executives in Kazakhstan, Taiwan, Greece, and the United States to acquire proprietary and highly confidential information. The primary operational technique used by the attackers comprised a variety of hacker tools, including privately developed and customized RAT tools that provided complete remote administration capabilities to the attacker. RATs provide functions similar to Citrix or Microsoft Windows Terminal Services, allowing a remote individual to completely control the affected system.  Perhaps one of the most serious (publicly) known compromises of U.S. national security by China-based hackers concerns the penetration of the Defense Department's costliest project ever — and its most technologically advanced — the Pentagon's  $300 billion Joint Strike Fighter, also known as the F-35 Lightning II.  The consequences of the loss or compromise of vital information on a primary defense system such as the F-35 are enormous. But no less significant are the compromises of our nation's energy grid by Chinese hackers.  A Wall Street Journal article in 2009 reported:  Cyberspies have penetrated the U.S. electrical grid and left behind software programs that could be used to disrupt the system, according to current and former national-security officials.  The spies came from China, Russia and other countries, these officials said, and were believed to be on a mission to navigate the U.S. electrical system and its controls. The intruders haven't sought to damage the power grid or other key infrastructure, but officials warned they could try during a crisis or war.  "The Chinese have attempted to map our infrastructure, such as the electrical grid," said a senior intelligence official. "So have the Russians."  The espionage appeared pervasive across the U.S. and doesn't target a particular company or region, said a former Department of Homeland Security official. "There are intrusions, and they are growing," the former official said, referring to electrical systems.  "There were a lot last year."  The U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, in testimony to the U.S. Senate has characterized China's ongoing cyber warfare as a "formidable concern."  He cited the incident of April, 8, 2010, when state-owned China Telecom advertised erroneous network routes that instructed "massive volumes" of Internet traffic to go through Chinese servers for 17 minutes.  "This incident affected traffic to and from US government and military sites, including sites for the Senate, the Army, the Navy, the Marine corps, the air force, and the office of the Secretary of Defense, as well as a number of Fortune 500 firms," he said.  The acceleration of China's cyber warfare should not come as a surprise; it was heralded as far back as 1999, when two of the PLA's senior colonels published a major paper entitled Unrestricted Warfare, which, reportedly, has been adopted as a primary theoretical manual guiding the PLA's program of "asymmetrical warfare" as it applies to conflict between China and the (currently, at least) militarily superior United States.

A New Twist on India’s ‘Cold Start’?
Is the Indian army’s new long-range plan, including a “mountain strike corps” along the Chinese border, simply an attempt to increase its offensive capabilities in disputed frontier areas? Or is it the revitalization of the controversial “Cold Start” doctrine?  In January 2011 Indian Army Chief V. K. Singh announced a new Long Term Integrated Perspective Plan (LTIPP) for 2012-27 that would enhance the offensive capabilities of Indian forces deployed along the border with China. A new “mountain strike corps” would allow India to more rapidly counter Chinese incursions into disputed areas, part of  an ambitious plan to transform the Indian army into a more offensively-oriented “lethal, agile and networked force.” This announcement came just months after Singh assured reporters that India had abandoned “Cold Start”—a controversial military doctrine intended to give India the option of a rapid conventional strike in response to an attack by Pakistan or its proxies. Yet despite the LTIPP’s clear focus on China, the plan includes what Pakistan sees as some of the most provocative tenets of “Cold Start,” – and its impact on the region could be similarly destabilizing.  The Indian Army’s desire for a “Cold Start” capability dates back to the December 2001 terrorist attacks on India’s Parliament. India blamed the attacks on Pakistan-backed militants, and attempted a military response. But it took weeks move offensive forces from bases in the center of the country to the Pakistani border. In the meantime, the United States intervened with a diplomatic resolution that left many within India’s military establishment profoundly dissatisfied. With a “Cold Start” doctrine in place, Indian strategists argued, their forces would be able to quickly mount a punishing but limited invasion of Pakistani territory in a future crisis.  Unveiled in 2004, “Cold Start” was designed to allow three to five light “integrated battle groups” to launch a limited penetration of Pakistani territory within 72-96 hours of an attack. The doctrine has been blocked by internal political and logistical challenges and has never been implemented. It has also been a point of concern for U.S. officials, who’ve been buffeted by complaints from the Pakistani military, which sees “Cold Start” as a sign of aggressive Indian intent and a major reason why Pakistan’s armed forces cannot shift in greater mass from the Indian border to fight insurgents along the border with Afghanistan. In September, Indian Army Chief Singh formally denied the existence of “Cold Start.”   But Singh’s subsequent January announcement of the LTIPP seems to suggest that the spirit of “Cold Start” has survived the doctrine’s official repudiation. Like “Cold Start,” the LTIPP would require a dramatic overhaul of India’s military infrastructure to allow for rapid mobilization. This implies a significant reorientation of Indian military strategy from defense to limited offense. Presumably, the new mountain strike corps could be used to punish foreign aggression but not provoke nuclear escalation—a key assumption underpinning the “Cold Start” doctrine.  In a departure from “Cold Start’s” specific focus on Pakistan, Indian military officials say their new offensive capabilities would be directed at China. However, an important component of the LTIPP would allow India to quickly transfer troops and equipment from one mountain war zone to another, making it possible for India to fight both historical adversaries simultaneously. As a result, any increase in offensive capability along the Chinese border has implications for Indo-Pakistani stability.  So, while India’s Pakistan-centered “Cold Start” doctrine may have been shelved, the LTIPP’s emphasis on taking the fight to India’s adversaries will likely exacerbate an Indo-Pakistani security dilemma, just as “Cold Start” did. China’s reaction to news that India is bolstering attack forces along its border could also lead to a greater military build-up on the Chinese side, feeding into a regional arms race, adding incentives for nuclear proliferation, and increasing the chances of armed conflict. As India rises, its more agile military stance is not unnatural or unexpected—but it seems likely to have a destabilizing effect on a region already primed for conflict.

Sri Lanka Army to acquire Indian vehicles
Colombo, Apr 13 (PTI) Sri Lanka government will use the Indian line of credit to acquire a fleet of vehicles for the army trying to cut down on expenditure.  The army in the quest to trim its operational expenditure was looking to stop the practise of hiring private vehicles, the Island newspaper today quoted the Army Commander Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya as saying.  Jayasuriya said the government is to use Indian line of credit to acquire a fleet of vehicles required by the Army.  The government of India had extended credit worth USD 400 million since 2003 covering the areas of capital goods, consumer durables, consultancy services and food items.

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