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Monday, 9 May 2011

From Today's Papers - 09 May 2011

Extradition of India’s most wanted Pakistan unlikely to cooperate 
Ashok Tuteja/TNS  New Delhi, May 8 Despite Osama bin Laden’s killing by the US forces on the Pakistani territory, New Delhi is not hopeful of getting cooperation from Islamabad in getting extradited any of the 20 ‘‘most-wanted terrorists’’, who have committed heinous crimes on the Indian soil.  Indian officials candidly admit that it was next to impossible for New Delhi to bring to justice in an Indian court people like underworld don Dawood Ibrahim or Jamat-ud-Dawaa (JuD) chief Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, who continue to enjoy the hospitality and patronage of the Pakistani establishment.  “I don’t believe we can achieve much progress as far as the return of these criminals to India is concerned,” sources in the government said. India has given to Pakistan from time to time a list of 20 of its ‘most-wanted’ terrorists, who have been provided safe havens in the neighbouring country.  New Delhi has demanded that these terrorists be handed over to India so that they can be tried in an Indian court of law. Islamabad has, however, turned a blind eye to India’s demand, claiming that many of those named in the Indian list have never even entered Pakistan.  Asked if India would continue to press Pakistan to extradite these terrorists, the sources said: “We can understand the sense of frustration among the people of India over the fact that we have drawn a blank in our efforts to bring these fugitives from Indian law to justice…however, we hope good sense will prevail on Pakistan sooner rather than later.”  The sources dismissed suggestions that India could carry out surgical strikes on terrorist hideouts in Pakistan in the same fashion as the US forces did to kill the Al-Qaida chief in Abbottabad deep inside Pakistan on Monday morning. “Let’s not be under any illusion…India is not America. Our relationship with Pakistan is complicated, contentious and conflicted.”  They said, adding that New Delhi also could not ignore the fact that Pakistan was its back-to-back neighbour and any provocative step from either side could trigger a full-blown war. In this connection, the sources drew attention to how the Pakistani establishment reacted to a mere statement from Chief of the Army staff Gen VK Singh that India has the capability to carry out Abbottabad-type strikes in Pakistan.  The sources said that after Laden’s killing in Abbottabad it was quite logical to deduce that there must be many fugitives taking shelter in Pakistan.  “It is all the more important now for the US to realise that groups like the Al-Qaida, Taliban, Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and Hizbul Mujahideen have the same agenda and ideology and use its influence with Pakistan to act against these groups,” the sources said.  ‘Can’t reach Dawood’  Indian officials candidly admit that it was next to impossible for New Delhi to bring to justice criminals like underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and Jamat-ud-Dawaa chief Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, who continue to enjoy the hospitality and patronage of the Pakistani establishment

Key roads along China border to be ready by 2013
Tribune News Service  New Delhi, May 8 Some key border roads abutting China will be ready by 2013 as it was the top priority of the government to improve infrastructure, including roads, in Ladakh and the North-East.  The Border Roads Organisation (BRO), which is entrusted with the task of laying roads in the rugged mountain areas, is working on 27 road projects in Arunachal Pradesh and 12 in Ladakh, and is hopeful of meeting the deadlines.  “All these projects are at various stages of construction - some are more than 60 per cent complete and will be open for strategic movement by 2013,” BRO chief Lieut-Gen S Ravi Shankar told mediapersons here today.  These strategically important roads are part of the India-China border roads project, Gen Shankar said adding that 25 per cent of the Rs 6,000 crore budget this year was earmarked for these roads.  He, however, refused to be drawn into comparisons with China in the matter of speedy road building in similar terrains in its territory.  China, he said had conceived of building roads in Tibet in 1960 and got working in 1970. During the same period of time, we were still connecting our villages with single lane roads. The thinking of India has changed now and we have more money to undertake such projects, the BRO chief said. The BRO’s 51st raising day is tomorrow.  As regards the terrain, China is at an advantageous position. The topography on its side of the Himalayas is gentler and is like a plateau. However, road building on the Indian side takes double the time and money as terrain is steep and mountainous. China has built all-weather roads right up to its farthest military outpost on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with India, thereby making it easier to maintain logistical supply lines.  However, due to lack of road network, supplies have to be dropped through choppers on the Indian side. In winters, the IAF’s IL 76 transport plane flies in majority of the supplies from the base at Chandigarh to Leh for onward journey to posts that are in remote mountains.  General Shankar admitted that the pace of work in Arunachal Pradesh was “a matter of concern”. The BRO was deploying more resources in terms of manpower and equipment to speed up road construction. This will include airlifting required machinery to inaccessible areas of Arunachal Pradesh and other northeastern states, besides Ladakh and in some parts of Himachal Pradesh

Ex-Armymen to power CRPF’s anti-Naxal ops  
Vijay Mohan/TNS  Chandigarh, May 8 While the much-debated proposal for lateral induction of armed forces personnel into the central paramilitary forces continues to hang fire, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) would be employing a limited number of retired Army personnel for deployment in the anti-Naxal operations.  The CRPF would be forming counter-IED (improvised explosive devices) teams that would consist retired Armymen already trained and experienced to search for and neutralise such devices.  According to a Home Ministry statement, the CRPF has initiated the process of employing close to 2,200 retired Army personnel on a contractual basis to form such teams in 62 battalions that are deployed in the anti-Naxal operations. These include 434 junior commissioned officers and 1,736 non-commissioned officers.  A CRPF spokesperson said, “Though the recruitment process for selecting ex-sappers and those who has served in Army bomb disposal units has started, it will be sometime till they are inducted. On an average 35 ex-Army personnel will be posted to each battalion. They will be forming seven teams comprising one JCO and four NCOs.”  The decision to form specialised counter-IED teams was taken after it was observed that maximum casualties during the anti-Naxal operations had taken place due to IEDs. These are locally assembled bombs laid on the roadside that can be triggered off remotely or with pressure exerted by a passing vehicle or person. The IEDs have also been used extensively by terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir and northeastern states.

Militant hideout busted in Kupwara
Srinagar, May 8 A militant hideout was busted and a huge cache of arms and ammunition recovered by the Army in the forest area of Kupwara district in Jammu and Kashmir, officials said here today.  “A militant hideout was busted in the Rajwar forest area of Handwara in Kupwara district by troops of the Six Rashtriya Rifles assisted by the police,” a senior army official said.  He said the arms and ammunition included 12 rifles of AK series (eight AK 56 rifles, four AK 47 rifles), one Under Barrel Grenade Launcher, 40 UBGL grenades and 31 hand grenades. The security forces also recovered 10 IED boxes, 48 detonators, 25 switches, 30 metres cordex wire, 42 magazines of AK rifles, 694 AK ammunition and 63 PIKA rounds, the official said. Sophisticated navigation and communication equipment was also recovered from the hideout, he said. — TNS

WikiLeaks: ISI allowed terrorists to attack India, says Gitmo detainee   Read more at:
New Delhi:  In revelations that could further embarrass Pakistan, WikiLeaks has released a fresh set of US diplomatic cables that show how the country's spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), allowed militants to go to India to carry out strikes on targets chosen by the Pakistan army.  The revelations are part of nearly 800 interrogation reports of suspects held in Guantanamo Bay prison.   WikiLeaks, in one of the several cables that exposes ISI's links to terror groups, quotes a US cable as saying that an Algerian Al Qaeda militant arrested in 2002 said that his mission was to "kill Indians in India".  It further quotes the militant saying that the ISI "allowed" fighters to travel to India where they conducted bombings, kidnapping or killing Kashmiri people.  
More significantly, the targets in Indian according to the militant, were chosen by the Pakistani Army.  The revelations are damning in that it further reinforces India's oft-repeated claims that the Pakistani military, especially the ISI, has been actively supporting terror groups in anti-India activities.  The WikiLeaks expose is also significant coming as it does at a time when Pakistan is under intense international scrutiny after US forces tracked down and killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, a garrison town just a half-hour drive from the Capital, Islamabad.  

India looks elsewhere to beat Russian defence spares crunch
NEW DELHI: Russia may remain India's biggest defence supplier for the next two decades but its tardy supply of spares and after-sales service is forcing New Delhi to increasingly tap other countries to maintain Russian-origin aircraft, helicopters and other weapon systems.  Over the last couple of months, IAF has floated a slew of global tenders for spares and special tools for MiG-23 and MiG-29 fighters, IL-76 and AN-32 transport aircraft, Mi-17 helicopters and OSA-AK surface-to-air missile systems.  Now, the Army too has jumped on to the bandwagon for different equipment, which includes a global RFI (request for information) for acquiring "active protection and counter-measure systems" for its T-90S main-battle tanks, which have faced several technical problems since their induction began over the last decade.  "Yes, the international market is being explored to get spares for our Russian-origin equipment. We will still go to the Russian OEMs (original equipment manufacturer) for specialized spares. But we can get generalized spares at much cheaper rates from elsewhere," said a senior officer.  This comes after years of India trying to get Russia to ensure uninterrupted supply of spares and regular maintenance, with even defence minister A K Antony regularly raising it with his Russian counterpart.  "In some cases, Russia has resolved the issue. But in many others, problems with breakdown and service maintenance spares continue... some acute, some manageable," said another officer.  India has had an expansive defence partnership with Russia, with the latter notching up military sales well over $35 billion since the 1960s, leading to over 60% of equipment held by Indian armed forces being of Russian-origin.  Ongoing bilateral defence projects are worth another $15 billion. IAF is progressively inducting 272 Sukhoi-30MKIs at a cost of around $12 billion from Russia. The figures will further zoom north with India slated to spend $35 billion over the next two decades to induct 250 to 300 of the stealth fifth-generation fighter aircraft ( FGFA) from 2020 onwards.

Forces want golf made 'valid' sporting activity
NEW DELHI: The armed forces want to have their golf and play it too. Senior officers want to tee off in the lush greens of their sprawling golf courses, without having to constantly look over their shoulders for audit watchdogs.  Stung by scathing reports of Comptroller and Auditor General of India, which year after year punches more holes into their golf courses than the 18 required, the armed forces have petitioned the defence ministry to include golf as "a valid sporting activity" on military land.  That golf is big in the military, almost becoming synonymous with having OLQs (officer-like qualities), can be gauged from the fact that over half of the around 180 golf courses in India are either owned or run by the armed forces.  The Army Zone Golf, for instance, runs 97 golf courses. And the military is loath to part with this "physical activity", which as senior officers put it, teaches "discipline, dedication and unwavering commitment in reaching one's goals".  "The armed forces want golf to be included as a legitimate sport on A-1 defence land (basically land in active occupation of military). The proposal is being examined, though it has got in-principle approval," said an MoD source.  This comes after a series of CAG reports pulled up the armed forces for unauthorized use of defence land for golfing purposes, with even some instances of "misuse of special financial powers" meant for operational requirements to purchase golf carts or construct buildings on courses being recorded.  CAG officials, on their part, say they are not against golf per se. "But 'Scales of Accommodation' for defence services do not include golf as an authorized activity on military recreation grounds," said an official.  "MoD has not framed any policy or set of rules to govern the running of these golf courses on prime defence land, as also the treatment of the revenue generated from these activities. So, as things stand now, these golf courses are unauthorized. The government can regularize them by changing the laws," he added.  The armed forces, however, feel CAG "needlessly picks on" their golf courses. In 2004, the then Army chief Gen N C Vij had declared golf as "a sports activity" and not just "a recreational activity", with golf courses even being named as "Army environmental park and training areas".  But CAG remains unimpressed. In the backdrop of scams like Sukna, Adarsh and Kandivali-Malad dogging defence land, MoD (the country's largest landowner, with 17.3 lakh acres under its control) needs to lay down clear-cut rules whether golf is legitimate or not. Otherwise, the audit watchdog and armed forces will remain at daggers drawn.

BAE Systems rethinks decision on artillery contracts
Ajai Shukla / New Delhi May 09, 2011, 0:34 IST  The feeling is taking root within BAE Systems that the British defence multinational has blundered in opting out of the Indian tender for 155 millimetre towed artillery guns. This was evident on Friday, in the company’s Annual Business Review meeting in New Delhi, when senior executives argued that last month’s decision not to bid in the MoD’s Rs 8,000-crore tender for 1,580 towed guns would seriously disadvantage BAE Systems in competing for other tenders in the Indian Army’s Rs 20,000-crore artillery modernisation programme.  This growing fear was summed up by a source that was present in that meeting: “If we don’t take part in this tender, we’ll remain out of the Indian market for the next three decades.”
Shortly before the tender deadline of April 28, BAE Systems had written to the MoD that it would not bid in the contract for towed guns. Now, opinion within the company is veering around to the viewpoint that BAE Systems must bid for this tender.  The deadline of April 28 has since been extended by two months and the MoD will now be accepting bids up to June 28. BAE Systems, therefore, has the time to change its decision.  Last month, BAE Systems had explained why the company was not bidding, despite participating creditably in earlier tenders, including field trials. To conform to the stringent Indian Army specifications laid down in an earlier RFP (Request for Proposals, as the MoD terms tender requests), BAE Systems had made expensive modifications to the gun it was offering, a modernised version of the battle-proven, albeit controversial, Bofors FH-77B gun. But the current tender, issued on January 28, diluted the gun’s specifications in order to bring in more vendors. That made the BAE Systems gun over-designed, over-qualified, and probably too expensive.  The company’s spokesperson, Guy Douglas, told wire service, IANS, that the BAE Systems FH-77B 05 gun “was specifically designed for and demonstrated to meet the Indian Army’s requirements as stated in previous RFPs… We found that the new RFP includes technical and performance relaxations that allow less capable weapon systems to enter the competition. This significantly reduces the competitive advantage FH-77B 05 derives from its greater capability.”  It is not yet clear which artillery manufacturers will compete in this new tender for the long-delayed purchase of  155mm towed guns, a procurement that has dragged on for almost a decade. Many of the world’s premier manufacturers have been eliminated through blacklisting, including Singapore Technology Kinetics (STK); South African company, Denel; Israeli company, Soltam; and German manufacturer, Rheinmetall.  Fuelling the growing belief that BAE Systems must bid in this tender are behind-the-scenes requests from the army’s artillery directorate, which has become convinced, over several rounds of earlier trials, of the quality of the FH-77B 05 Bofors gun. Given the army’s backing, BAE Systems’ “pro-participation” advocates argue that a few tens of millions of dollars spent on modifications would be an acceptable price for winning this Rs 8,000-crore contract and taking pole position in the other lucrative gun contracts that total up to Rs 20,000 crore.  Contacted for comments, BAE Systems spokesperson, Guy Douglas, denied that there was a rethink under way and ruled out the possibility of a new decision ahead.  The expansively named Artillery Vision 2027 and the MoD-sanctioned Artillery Modernisation Plan visualise four major gun purchases ahead: besides the contract for 1,580 towed guns, the army is also buying 140 ultralight 155mm, 39 calibre howitzers from BAE Systems for about Rs 3,000 crore. Another Rs 3,500 crore is up for grabs for the purchase of 100 track-mounted, 155 mm, 52 calibre howitzers; and Rs 4,000 crore for 180 similar vehicle-mounted guns for self-propelled artillery regiments.  BAE Systems has tied up with a Mahindra group company, Defence Land Systems, as a manufacturing partner for artillery contracts that it wins in India. Mahindra is likely to play an important role in any BAE Systems decision to participate in the tender. The final decision will be taken by BAE Systems’ Land & Armaments Divisions.

Defending Indian forces’ upgradation
Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL), a mini-ratna public sector enterprise and the prime production agency for all types of missiles, has signed the largest ever defence contract with the Indian Army (worth nearly Rs14,000 crore) for Akash surface-to-air missiles (SAMs). BDL’s chairman and managing directo r Major General Ravi Khetarpal, VSM(Retd), spoke to Hindustan Times on a range of issues. Excerpts.  What are the BDL’s expansion initiatives to meet the planned modernisation and weapon systems upgradation requirements of Indian armed forces?  BDL has already set up its third manufacturing unit at Visakhapatnam to meet the the navy’s requirements. We are also exploring the possibility of acquiring land in two or three more locations in Andhra Pradesh and other states.  Apart from collaboration with foreign original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), does BDL manufacture its own products?  So far, the emphasis of the company was on undertaking licence production as per agreements and contracts entered between the Indian government and foreign OEMs. BDL has had no significant R&D of its own. However, it has developed a few test equipment for anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) and has also modified vintage ATGM launchers. It has also developed a counter-measure dispensing  system (CMDS) for a variety of aircraft.  Apart from Akash SAMs, what are the other products of BDL?  BDL is the prime production agency for manufacturing ATGMs. The company is also manufacturing SAMs for the armed forces and decoys for the Indian Air Force. The Indian Navy has also placed orders for torpedoes and counter-measure systems.  Can you elaborate on the future growth plans of the company?  BDL has achieved a record turnover of Rs627 crore—a growth of over 35%—during 2010-11, which was the highest since the company’s inception in 1970. This year too, we have grown by nearly 50%. Many more projects are in the offing. We are in discussions with the Indian Armed Forces and OEMs for production of third generation ATGMs and air defence missiles of different ranges. With these projects, BDL would be well placed to become a Navaratna company.  With increasing competition from the private sector, and demanding customers, how is BDL gearing itself to meet the challenges?  The armed forces’ needs are becoming more complex and sophisticated. We are also aware that consequent to changes to defence procurement procedure 2008, BDL needs to compete with the private sector and world-class companies. To meet these challenges, the company is looking at forming joint ventures and signing agreements with reputed OEMs and PSUs, as well as modernising production facilities. We would also need to acquire state-of-the-art technologies. Action has already been initiated to widen our vendor base.

An army wrapped in wool
The death of two birds with one stone is generally greeted with generous applause, notwithstanding the fact that the second casualty was an accident. What is useful in sport might be less fortuitous in other circumstances.  The four American helicopters which went for the final kill in the long hunt for Osama bin Laden achieved their primary purpose. The world is now busy sifting through the ruins of their second hit. For in the process they also crippled the credibility of Pakistan's most powerful institution, its army, often described by its apologists as critical to national stability and even cohesion.  All pretence and pretension is over; a fudge that the killing of Osama was some sort of "joint operation" was a thin camouflage that has been torn apart by minimal public scrutiny. On May 4 Pakistan's Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan admitted in Parliament that American choppers had evaded detection by use of "map of the earth" flying techniques. If the Pak military did learn what was happening during the 40-odd minutes that ground operations took, there was too much uncertainty and confusion in its chain of command to fashion an adequate, or any, response.  Stark fact: the Pakistan army is impotent before America.  Only the impotent resort to bluster. The Pakistan military rather pompously "threatened" America with "dire consequences" if it dared to violate Pak sovereignty again. America sniffed, not in sorrow but disdain, and sent drones on Friday to hit targets in the Datta Khel area, killing 12 people, described naturally as "militants." Washington did not seek Islamabad's permission for renewed military action.  Less evident fact, but fact nevertheless: Pakistan's generals, who have controlled defence policy from the moment Ayub Khan became defence minister, whether through their own dictators or civilian politicians who took their dictation (except for the six Zulfiqar Bhutto years), have turned a national army into a mercenary force. Those who pay the piper determine the tune.  Since Pakistan's generals have Urdu as their first language, they will not need an interpreter to understand Sahir Ludhianvi's evocative couplet: "Kaise bazaar ka dustoor tumhein samjhaaon, Bik gaya jo woh kharidaar nahin ho sakta (How shall I explain the logic of the bazaar? He is who has been sold cannot become a buyer)."  This is a variation, not particularly subtle, of the neo-colonial syndrome. Neo-colonisation was honed and shaped by the British Raj on the Indian subcontinent through the princely states, so we have sufficient evidence from history. In essence, neo-colonisation is the grant of independence on condition you do not exercise it. It is an exchange of security systems, where the superior power ensures the survival of an ally, while the ally protects the interests of the superpower in its region.  When, therefore, the Pakistan army feels the need for an alternative policy line which might be unacceptable to Washington, it is forced into double-talk and deception. The ISI must maintain distance and deniability when it nurtures assets it needs to use when its requirements are askance of American interests. This explains its relationship with outfits it has either spawned or fattened.  That old codger Pervez Musharraf, whose most effective arsenal has always been stored within his vocal chords, has been trotted out to explain how Osama was living in luxury within smelling distance of the military. This is logical, since Osama made his home in Abbotabad when Musharraf was president.  As attorney for the army, however, Musharraf is hopeless; he thinks raising his voice, combined with a convenient memory, improves an argument. One story is too priceless to be ignored. Former Afghanistan intelligence chief A. Saleh recalls that when, four years ago, he told Musharraf that Osama was hiding in or around Abbotabad, Musharraf exploded: "Am I President of the Republic of Banana?"  The question is rhetorical. Dictators like Musharraf have turned Muhammad Ali Jinnah's Pakistan into a banana republic.  I wonder sometimes if Pak generals get more irritated by an Indian general's barb or an Afghan's taunt. Last Wednesday, General Zahir Azimi, spokesman for Kabul's defence ministry, publicly wondered: "If the Pakistani intelligence agency does not know about a home located 10 metres or 100 metres away from its national academy, where for the last six years the biggest terrorist is living, how can this country take care of its strategic weapons?" The whole of Pakistan, not just Kabul, is waiting for an adequate response.  The deterioration of the Pakistan army is not a consequence of financial corruption. That is a small part of the story. It is self-destructive because there is complete absence of accountability. No one, either a wing of government or Parliament, can question its will to do what it wants. In the name of patriotism, it has declared virtual independence from the rest of Pakistan. The consequences are there for all to see. Instead of being an impenetrable wall on the frontier, the Pak army has become a porous bale of cotton.  You can only sleep comfortably wrapped in cotton; a nation's guardians need to keep their eyes open.

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