Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites


Saturday, 14 May 2011

From Today's Papers - 14 May 2011

BSF helicopter crashes, 4 killed
Jodhpur, May 13 A BSF helicopter today crashed in a hilly region of Rajasthan's Sirohi district killing all the four occupants, including the pilot, said a senior official. Sirohi district collector Shriram Meena said the chopper crashed in the hills of Fatehpura village about 200 km from here.  The aircraft had taken off from Gandhinagar (Gujarat) at 2.20 pm, he said. "Four persons, including the pilot, died in the crash. The bodies which have been found by the district administration are charred beyond recognition," Meena said.  He said fire brigade personnel, who had been rushed to the crash site, had found the chopper completely burnt and the bodies lying scattered around the debris. BSF spokesman in New Delhi Tirtho Acharya said a team of the border force has been dispatched from Jodhpur to the place where the helicopter went down. — PTI

The Soldier as a Diplomat
Unlike many countries, India continues to lag behind in making use of its military as an effective tool for international diplomacy. The military can be an important means of conducting strategic dialogue or track-II diplomacy, and can also be effectively employed for establishing spheres of influence and avoiding conflict situations. For this, the government has to carry out a major organisational reform in the civil-military relationship. Air Marshal R.S. Bedi (Retd)
Soldier diplomats have all over the world, particularly after the Second World War, contributed to a very large extent towards their national policies and diplomatic endeavours. But India has rarely made use of military diplomacy since Independence. Whether it is so by design or otherwise is perhaps a matter of perception. However, the manner in which the Indian armed forces have been used by the politico-bureaucratic combine doesn't leave much doubt about the trepidations they have of the uniformed class. The military has literally been cocooned and kept away from the civilian citadel. This inhibitive and parochial attitude only precludes any scope for comprehensive diplomacy.
Military diplomacy in the South Asian context can be a great asset for the country. Military exchange programmes, bilateral and multi lateral military exercises, joint training, assisting other countries in times of adversity, as after the 2004 Tsunami, when the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force deployed a large number of their assets to help the devastated countries, earning accolades from the international community, are some examples of this nature. Bonhomie between the participating militaries is an essential pre-requisite for peace and prosperity in South Asia. The role of the Indian Navy in tackling piracy on the high seas is another example of military diplomacy. However, a lot more can be achieved at higher platforms by collective civil and military diplomacy.  Unfortunately, India continues to lag behind in making use of its military as an effective tool for international diplomacy. The military can be an important means of conducting strategic dialogues, track-II diplomacy, international arms control and disarmament and the sale of weapons or defence technology in pursuance of national objectives to pre-empt or counter other powers arming countries inimical to India's strategic interests. Military diplomacy can also be effectively employed for establishing spheres of influence and avoiding conflict situations. With India emerging as the world's largest weapons importer, the polity would do well to leverage this buying power in terms of diplomatic gains for the country.  For this, the government has to carry out major organisational reform in the civil-military relationship. The trust deficit that exists between them has to be removed. Next, an integrated entity comprising the Ministry of Defence and the service headquarters has to be created in order to work in unison and in close liaison with the Ministry of External Affairs. The diplomatic assignments could be handled depending upon their nature and the content. Sadly however, the MEA remains a cloistered "green zone", inaccessible to those beyond its ranks.  No nation has ever realised the importance of military diplomacy as much as the United States. It is perhaps one of the few who understands that the men in uniform are in fact better equipped for augmenting diplomatic efforts through means such as subtle power projection. Without deterrent military prowess, international diplomacy can hardly be effective. Only a composite approach can lead to dividends not attainable otherwise.  A cursory glance at US president Barrack Obama's administration reveals this approach clearly. The Pentagon model of civil-military integration under a civilian head as the secretary of defence is also followed by most of the western countries. Both, the serving as well as retired military men are entrusted with important assignments in the US administration. They help their president in matters of national security, military policy and international diplomacy. This tendency to lean towards retired military personnel for top advisory post is as against the Indian politician's propensity for retired civil servants instead.  During George Bush's presidency, the ambassador to Afghanistan was a retired lieutenant general, Eikenberry. The CIA Director too was a retired US air force general, Michael Haden. Obama's National Security Council is currently headed by a retired US Marine Corps general, James L. Jones. The Director of National Intelligence is also a retired admiral, C. Blair. The senior advisor and the coordinator on Afghanistan and Pakistan is yet another retired lieutenant general, Douglas E. Lute. It may not be out of place to mention here that of the total of 44 US presidents so far, all but twelve had served in the US armed forces. Their understanding of matters military was obviously better.  In total contrast, the men in uniform in India do not even constitute a part of the government hierarchy. They are kept away from the individual fiefdoms of our North Block and South Block mandarins, and in the bargain being distanced from the decision making loop even in matters involving military strategy. Absence of military men from key decision making is most evident in the nuclear field where the military, including the Strategic Forces Command, has no major say, in spite of being the ultimate users.  This paranoia associated with the military has its roots in the Nehruvian era. Nehru's apprehensions arose perhaps from the military take-overs in numerous newly independent Afro-Asian countries across the world. That this was replicated in our neighbourhood as well, possibly added to his woes. This perceived paranoia has gone to the extent that the armed forces are tightly controlled without much freedom of action. The indifference that babus have for the military was experienced by this author first hand. In spite of his personal liaison with then Foreign Secretary, J.N. Dixit, the author could not get the MEA to fill a joint secretary vacancy in the Defence Planning Staff.  A case in point from our near neighbourhood is that of Lt Gen Yaqub Khan. A distinguished military general, he later excelled himself as a top diplomat and held multifarious diplomatic assignments within and outside the country with élan. The Indian Government on the other hand has chosen at best to present the armed forces with an odd carrot by "rewarding" some retiring chiefs by sending them as ambassadors to petty nations - the latter sometimes a downgrading in terms of protocol. Service chiefs being allowed to visit a few countries during their tenure, a mere ceremonial exercise, is the nearest example of their diplomatic contribution to the national effort. In his memoirs, Memories: Sweet and Sour, Air Chief Marshal O.P. Mehra (Retd) recalls an instance during his visit to Iran that best exemplifies the tokenism associated with such interactions. On being personally called by the Shah of Iran and being requested to lend a hand with training Iranian pilots, all that the former air chief could respond with was that he would check with his government in Delhi. This surprised the Shah who thought the subject was well within the chief's domain. It only bears testimony to the authority vested in the service chiefs in matters of this nature.  At another level, a military attaché is supposed to be the ambassador's advisor on the host country's military and strategic environment. But treated as an alien, he is hardly allowed to play such a role. The old bias continues to manifest even today as is exemplified by this aphorism: "In the world of international relations, the military attaché was something of a hybrid. He was part diplomat, part soldier, part scout and perhaps, as Lord George Curzon suggested, not entirely welcome." He is still not quite welcome.  It may be recalled here that at the height of the Rann of Kutch crisis in 1965, the Pakistan Air Chief approached his Indian counterpart with a suggestion not to involve the two air forces lest the crisis escalates. This bonhomie between the two old squadron-mates perhaps, could have been nursed to some advantage and exploited further by building bridges over time.  Further, in the Indo-Pak context, not involving the professional military leadership during the 1965 and 1971 post-war negotiations with Pakistan led to significant strategic failures for which India is still paying the price. In 1965, our political leadership agreed to return the much-fought, highly strategic Haji Pir Pass, thereby losing the critical link between Punch and Uri. Similar bankruptcy of strategic awareness was witnessed during the Shimla Agreement, when 93,000 Pakistani prisoners of war were returned without any quid pro quo from Pakistan. India lost a rare opportunity of resolving the Kashmir imbroglio to a large extent. Professional military advice would have perhaps yielded better results from the Indian perspective.  The writer is a former Director-General, Defence Planning Staff
Military Diplomacy
Military or defence diplomacy is the peaceful application of human and material resources from across the spectrum of the defence establishment to achieve the desired end result in the development and sustenance of bilateral and multilateral relationships in the pursuit of national interest.  Military diplomacy does not involve conduct of military operations, but includes other defence activities like high-level meets between senior officers of different countries, joint training exercises, personnel exchange programmes, regional defence forums, port calls by naval ships, logistic and technical support to other militaries and sharing intelligence and information.  The concept of military diplomacy, according to reports, has its origin in post-Cold War reappraisals of western defence establishments, led by the United Kingdom. It was used to help the west come to terms with the new international security environment. The concept is not confined to the west and is actively pursued by geopolitical stakeholders across the globe.  A policy paper by UK’s defence ministry identified defence diplomacy as one of the military’s eight defence missions that aimed to dispel hostility, build and maintain trust and assist in the development of democratically accountable armed forces to make a significant contribution to conflict prevention and resolution. Defence diplomacy is often developed and implemented in close coordination with government establishments associated top level decision making and foreign policy and at times economic to ensure coherence and focus.  The chief of a foreign air force that exercises regularly with Indian forces has been reported in the media commenting that defence diplomacy seeks to develop mutually beneficial relationships with friendly countries and armed forces to contribute to a stable international and regional environment.  — Vijay Mohan

Suicide bomber kills 82 cadets in Pakistan
THE RADICAL elements in Pakistan today sent a clear message that killing of Osama bin Laden would be avenged, when a suicide bomber blew himself killing 82 paramilitary cadets Charsadda town of northwest Pakistan.   The suicide bomber struck at the gate of Frontier Constabulary at Shabqadar Fort in Charsadda, where cadets were preparing to board vehicles to return to their homes for a 10-day leave after six months of training.   Soon after the suicide blast, another blast hit the area, both killing at least 63 cadets on the spot, which rose to about 82 till the last reports came in. Although it has not been confirmed, whether this attack was carried out against the American action but local officials said that it was likely connected to the army assault against local Talibans in Mohmand area in Afghanistan.   Government officials have refrained to comment on the possible attackers but said that criminals will be brought to book. Officials admitted that the attack was gruesome and could lead to more casualties as a number of cadets have been seriously injured.   The attack has lead to the killing of 82 people and around 150 have been injured.   The death toll was high as cadets were waiting for transport outside the gates of their training centre. The cadets were all very happy and in a merry mood after undergoing the gruelling six-month training but the mood changed as soon as the bomber struck, an official said.

Air Force chopper crashes in Rajasthan, 4 killed
Jaipur:  A BSF helicopter crashed in a hilly region of Rajasthan's Sirohi district on Friday killing all the four occupants, including the pilot, a senior official said.  Sirohi District Collector Shriram Meena said the chopper crashed in the hills of village Fatehpura near Abu Road, about 200 km from here, at about 3.30 pm.  The aircraft had taken off from Gandhinagar (Gujarat) at 2.20 pm and was to land here at 4.20 pm, he said.  "Four persons, including the pilot, died in the crash. The bodies which have been found by the district administration are charred beyond recognition," Meena said.  
He said fire brigade personnel, who had been rushed to the crash site, had found the chopper completely burnt and the bodies lying scattered around the debris.  BSF spokesman in New Delhi Tirtho Acharya said a team of the border force has been dispatched from Jodhpur to the place where the helicopter went down.  Four Army personnel were killed on April 22 in a Dhruv helicopter crash in north Sikkim near the Sino-India border.  The mishap occurred just three days after a Russian-origin MI-17-2 chopper owned by Pawan Hans Helicopters Ltd crashed claiming 17 lives after it took off from Guwahati for Tawang.  Another Pawan Hans helicopter had crashed in Arunachal Pradesh on April 30 killing Chief Minister Dorji Khandu along with four others. The wreckage was located on May 4.  

US condemns terrorist attacks in Pakistan
The United States on Friday condemned the terrorist attack in Pakistan and said that it will continue to stand with it in their joint struggle to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al Qaeda [ Images ] and allied terrorist.  "The United States strongly condemns today's brutal attack that targeted a frontier constabulary training camp in northwest Pakistan," the State Department spokesman Mark Toner told mediapersons at his daily news conference.  The attack killed scores of innocent people and injured many others.  "We extend our condolences to the Pakistan armed forces, as well as the families and friends of the victims," he said adding that terrorists have shown time and again that they are the true enemy of the people and the government of Pakistan.  "We respect the nation's sacrifices in the fight against terrorism and will continue to stand with Pakistan in our joint struggle to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al Qaeda and allied terrorist organizations," Toner said.

'ISI chief offers to resign after severe drubbing'
Pakistan's powerful Inter Services Inteligence chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha on Friday offered to resign after admitting failure over the United States raid that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden [ Images ] in Abbottabad.  Pasha's dramatic announcement came during an in-camera joint session of both houses of Parliament that was briefed by military officials about the US operation on May 2.  Pasha apologised to the nation and offered to resign if Parliament so desired, Geo News reported.  "The failure was not intentional but I admit it was a mistake," ISI chief was quoted at saying.  BBC reported that Pasha's offer was rejected by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani [ Images ]. Earlier, Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan said Pasha had "surrendered" himself to Parliament so that he could be held accountable for any lapses.  TV news channels quoted their sources as saying that Pasha had offered to quit after being cornered by lawmakers from the main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the ruling Pakistan People's Party.  An emotional Pasha said he was ready to resign if parliament asks him to do so, the channels reported. Leader of Opposition Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, a senior leader of the PML-N, reportedly had a heated exchange during the session that began at 3 pm and continued for over six hours.  Tehmina Daultana, another senior leader of the PML-N, reportedly accused Pasha of meddling in politics. The news channels further reported that some parliamentarians shouted "Shame! Shame!" as the ISI chief, a close aide of army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani [ Images ], was questioned by lawmakers.  Pasha reportedly said that mistakes had been made but he had not erred knowingly.  There was no official word on the development. Speaking to the media while the session was underway, Awan said: "Clearly, the Director General (of the) ISI surrendered himself to parliament and said he was ready to appear before the Pakistani Prime Minister or parliament or any commission as he considers himself accountable".  Awan quoted Pasha as saying that he was ready to face the consequences of any "negligence or intentional failure" linked to the US raid.  Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani attended the joint session of parliament that was briefed by the ISI chief, Deputy Air Vice Marshal Asim Suleman and the Director General of Military Operations.  The briefing was followed by a question-and-answer session. The military and the government are facing embarrassing questions after the US raid against bin Laden brought to light the fact that he had been living for years in a garrison city that is home to thousands of soldiers and several key military institutions.

DG ISI admits failure, offers to resign
SLAMABAD: Admitting intelligence failure, Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Lt Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha, during the in-camera briefing at the Parliament House, surrendered himself to parliament for full accountability before any forum investigating the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden. “The DG ISI presented himself for full accountability and said if there was an intelligence failure he was ready to face the consequences and even ready to resign if parliament so demanded,” Information Minister Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan told journalists after the General’s briefing in the joint parliamentary in-camera session.  The minister, however, said that the DG ISI also told parliamentarians that everyone must share the blame for the failure. “It was also the responsibility of the provincial government, the local police and other agencies to have information about the al-Qaeda chief,” the minister said quoting General Pasha.  Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman, and Naval Chief Admiral Noman Bashir also attended the in-camera session, as did Deputy Chief of the Air Chief, Air Vice Marshal Asim Suleman, and DG Military Operations, Major General Ashfaq Nadeem Ahmed. The sitting is being hailed as historic by observers as for the first time, the military establishment submitted itself to unfettered parliamentary accountability. The session lasted for over 11 hours.  Sources said the DG ISI offered to tender his resignation but none of the parliamentarians asked him to resign. “I present myself for accountability before any forum, including parliament,” General Pasha said during the briefing. “There was no intentional negligence but an aspect of failure is there.” The DG ISI said the Pakistani forces had already destroyed the al-Qaeda network, and that initial information about Osama’s whereabouts too was provided to the US by the ISI. Gen. Pasha said he had offered to resign thrice but Gen Kayani had stopped him. He said the issue should not be politicised.  The military officials faced a volley of questions, particularly from opposition leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who said that if the ISI was admitting its failure, then the responsibility too should be fixed more specifically. Sources said Chaudhry Nisar also sought a guarantee from the military leadership that no such incident would occur in the future. The PML-N parliamentarians came down hard on the Army and even exchanged hot words with other parliamentarians. According to sources, the PML-N severely criticised the Army during the in-camera session but the PPP and PML-Q defended the armed forces, which resulted in a heated exchange.  Sources said PML-N’s Ishaq Dar asked questions about the Shamsi Air Base in use by the UAE, to which the air chief replied once again that it was government land. “Whenever the government asks, it will be taken back.” Another revelation was when the deputy air chief told lawmakers that the Shamsi Air Base was under the US control. “The land was acquired by the UAE and given to the United States,” he said.  Riaz Fatyana of the PML-Q told journalists outside parliament that the security establishment said it would abide by any decision taken by parliament. Fatyana said the military officials did not have any objection to the formation of any kind of commission to probe the May 2 incident. To a question about the failure of radars to detect the US choppers, Fatyana said parliamentarians were apprised that radars that detect objects flying at low altitude have been placed on the eastern borders but not the western ones.  Fatyana said that calling the military leadership to an in-camera briefing was not meant to humiliate them. He said no slogans of ‘shame shame’ were heard during the briefing. “The atmosphere became pleasant towards the end of the session,” he said. Most of the over 50 questions put to the military officials came from the PML-N, JUI-F and independent members from Fata. The DG ISI responded to the majority of the questions.  Sources said during the session, one woman parliamentarian from the PML-N declared that the armed forces had damaged the country but she was immediately countered by another woman member of the PML-Q who rejected this and replied in a loud voice that the PML-N, and not the Army, had damaged the country. According to sources, PML-Q’s Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Wasim Sajjad, Dr Attiya Inayatullah and Sheikh Waqas Akram spoke during the closed-door joint session of parliament and expressed their complete support for the armed forces.  General Pasha also briefed parliament about the arrests of al-Qaeda leaders in the last nine years and ISI’s contributions in breaking the network’s back and paralysing it even before the murder of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad.  The parliamentarians were also told that the killing of bin Laden was the result of joint efforts, though the Americans delivered the last salvo unilaterally, thus shattering the confidence of Pakistan. The DG ISI said this was made possible by the technological superiority of the US, which is why US helicopters were able to enter Pakistan undetected by the Pakistani radars. “The US used stealth technology on its helicopters, which could not be detected by the radars,” the information minister said quoting General Pasha.  Dr Awan said parliament was informed that fully-armed US aircraft in Afghanistan were ready to react to any Pakistani reaction during the Abbottabad raid. She said the DG ISI assured parliament that despite this one incident of shortcoming, the country’s defence forces were fully ready to avert any misadventure. “A highly sensitive and modern security system is in place to guard Pakistan’s strategic assets that are spread across the country,” General Pasha said.  Dr Awan said the deputy air chief spoke about the availability and status of the radars along the Pakistan-Afghan border while the DG Military Operations briefed parliamentarians in detail about how the Pakistan Army reacted to the unilateral action by the United States Army.  He was, however, critical of the role of the media in the Osama episode and termed it irresponsible. “At a time when the focus of the entire world was on Pakistan, the media should have shown that the Pakistani nation was neither weak nor divided,” the DGMO was quoted as having said.  The information minister said the briefing, followed by the question-answer session, also covered the Pakistan-US relationship over the years and it was stressed that Pakistan now needed to redefine these ties. She said the DG ISI asked parliament to discuss the Pak-US relationship and come up with a national policy on the matter. Regarding the reaction of parliamentarians to the briefing, Dr Awan said “there was a positive reaction from all the members,” adding that it was also expected of the opposition that it will act responsibly and avoid criticism of the Army and intelligence agencies since this would benefit the enemies of Pakistan.  She reminded that it was the constitutional and legal duty of the House members not to discuss the briefing at television talk shows in the best interests of the country. The information minister said DG ISI also pointed out that some members of political parties were criticising the Pakistan Army and the country’s intelligence services and this would end up working against the national interests and strengthen the enemy.  During the closed-door session, someone asked when the drone attacks would be stopped. To this, the air chief replied, pointing at Prime Minister Gilani: “When the government asks for it.” Javed Hashmi asked DG ISI: “You have retained many important responsibilities; why not pass on some of them to us?”  When the former foreign minister Shah Mehmood questioned why the government had supported the US unilateral action, DG ISI said no one had a raised a finger at intelligence agencies in the US and India after the 9/11 and 26/11 incidents.  Sources said when JUI-F legislator Maulana Attaur Rehman asked who created the Taliban and financially supported them, the DG ISI gave a harsh response after which the JUI-F legislator staged a token walkout from the closed-door session of parliament.  Sources said General Pasha also stressed the need to review the visa policy for Americans. During the closed-door session, the deputy air chief told parliament that General Kayani was informed about the US operation at 2:05am and by the time the information was passed on to him, the US helicopters had already returned to Afghanistan.  The session was told that the guards of the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) learned about the operation after the crash of the US helicopter. Meanwhile, parliament adopted a 12-point unanimous resolution calling upon the government to appoint an independent commission on the Abbottabad operation, fix responsibility and recommend necessary measures, including blocking of Nato supplies, to ensure that such an incident does not recur in the future.  It also called upon the government to revisit and review its terms of engagement with the United States. The composition/modalities of the agreed upon independent commission will be settled after consultations between the leader of the house and the leader of the opposition.  The unanimous resolution could be hammered out only after the PML-N backed off from its original demand of a purely judicial commission and agreed on the formation of an independent commission. The judicial commission demand accompanied by a three-day deadline to comply had been given by Nawaz Sharif 48 hours earlier in a press conference.  The resolution was approved after an in-depth discussion, including presentations made on the relevant issues by the DG Inter-Services Intelligence, DG (Military Operations) and deputy air chief (Operations). The resolution condemned the US unilateral action in Abbottabad, which constitutes a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.  It strongly asserted that unilateral actions, such as those conducted by the US forces in Abbottabad, as well as the continued drone attacks on the territory of Pakistan, are not only unacceptable but also constitute the violation of principles of the Charter of the United Nations, international law and humanitarian norms and such drone attacks must be stopped forthwith, failing which the government will be constrained to consider taking necessary steps, including withdrawal of transit facility allowed to Nato/Isaf forces.  The resolution also said that unilateral actions cannot advance the global cause of elimination of terrorism and the people of Pakistan will no longer tolerate such actions and repeat of unilateral measures could have dire consequences for peace and security in the region and the world.  Parliament reaffirmed the resolve of the people and the Government of Pakistan to uphold Pakistan’s sovereignty and national security, which is a sacred duty, at all costs.  It also affirmed the resolve of the people and state institutions of Pakistan to safeguard Pakistan’s national interests and strategic assets and, in this context, underscored that any action to the contrary will warrant a strong national response.  Parliament through the resolution expressed its deep distress on the campaign to malign Pakistan, launched by certain quarters in other countries without appreciating Pakistan’s determined efforts and immense sacrifices in combating terror and the fact that more than 30,000 Pakistani innocent men, women and children and more than 5,000 security and armed forces personnel had lost their lives, that is more than any other single country, in the fight against terror.  The resolution called upon the government to ensure that the principles of an independent foreign policy must be grounded in strict adherence to the principles of policy, as stated in Article 40 of the Constitution, the UN Charter, observance of international law and respect for the free will and aspirations of sovereign states and their peoples.  It further called upon the government to revisit and review its terms of engagement with the United States, with a view to ensuring that Pakistan’s national interests are fully respected and accommodated in pursuit of policies for countering terrorism and achieving reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan.  The resolution affirmed the importance of international cooperation for eliminating international terrorism, which can only be carried forward on the basis of a true partnership approach, based on equality, mutual respect and mutual trust.  It also affirmed full confidence in the defence forces of Pakistan in safeguarding Pakistan’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity and in overcoming any challenge to security, with the full support of the people and Government of Pakistan.  Parliament reaffirmed the resolution passed by the joint sitting on national security held on October 22, 2008 and the detailed recommendations made by the Parliamentary Committee on National Security in April 2009.  SANA adds: Firdous Ashiq Awan said in her opening remarks that Prime Minister Gilani reassured the nation that national solidarity and sovereignty would never be compromised at any cost. PM Gilani pointed out that there was a dire need that the nation extends the fullest possible support to the armed forces and all security agencies engaged in the war on terror.  The prime minister asked all political parties and parliamentarians not to criticise the Army or agencies and stay away from political point scoring since it could endanger the solidarity of the country.  According to the information minister, the DG ISI said enemies of Pakistan wanted to create a gap between the political government and military authorities. He said instead of criticising the armed forces and intelligence agencies, the detractors should support those who had rendered immense sacrifices for the cause of the country.  Referring to threats hurled by India, the parliamentarians were told that the government and armed forces were fully geared up to meet any challenge to security and solidarity of the country.

IDBI Bank, Indian Army signs MoU for banking services
NEW DELHI: State-owned IDBI Bank today signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Indian Army for customised defence salary account .  Under the MoU, IDBI Bank will install ATMs and also open branches at select locations approved by the Indian Army for benefit of its personnel, the bank said in a statement.  The bank has designated dedicated officers to service the banking needs of defence personnel at such branches, it said.  Besides, it will offer salary accounts to army personnel without charging any commission or charges to them or the Indian Army.

India's mega defense deals to reach $100 Billion by next decade
Bangalore: India is going full throttle as far as defense procurements are concerned in the current fiscal year. The defense budget for the year 2011-2012 has seen a hike of 11 percent of $36.35 billion from $32.74 billion of last year. The hike in the budget is to procure modern weapon systems and defense equipment. The $185 million hike in capital expenditure is an increase of 12 percent from last year and this hike will prove to be very fruitful for India as it has planned to go on a shopping spree for its big ticket combat
aircrafts, light helicopters and the Ultra light howitzers.
A study by Industry body Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and audit firm KPMG has revealed that India has signed defense deals worth nearly $25 billion in the last four years. The research also indicates that Indian defense ministry will sign more deals in future which are worth $41.99 billion reports Asian Defence News.  The Army, Navy and Airforce are given equal concern in terms of procurement of weapons. While the army and the air force will buy over $14 billion worth of platform, weapons and systems, the navy is expected to sign deals worth $13 billion. The year of 2007 saw the boom of defense products where the defense ministry spent about $17.46 billion. About $6.16 billion was spent on Navy, $420 million on army and $616 million on Coast Guard.  The year 2010 was the year of defense pacts. Indian firms got offset works which were worth around $10 billion. "Defense offset projects worth $10 billion are being negotiated, which will benefit India in terms of business and development of defense technology," Minister of State for Defense Production M.M. Pallam Raju said. Under the renewed defense procurement policy, it is mandatory for overseas firms securing Indian defense contracts to outsource 30 percent of the deal to state-run Indian enterprises and private firms as offset works.  Since the 1999 Kargil war, India has inked deals worth $50 billion to acquire fighters, warships, tanks, missiles, other weapon systems and platforms, the overwhelming majority of them from abroad. Under an assessment on the civil and military aerospace sector, India is poised to witness a growth worth $150 billion by 2030 which will import military hardware and software, according to defense production secretary Raj Kumar Singh. India will reinforce its position as the developing world's biggest arms buyer.  Recent deals by U.S. aerospace major Boeing, bagged a $170-million order, through the U.S.' foreign military sales route, to supply 24 units of Harpoon Block-II anti-ship missiles for the IAF's maritime-strike Jaguar fighter jets.  In the year 2010, three U.S. companies have hogged at least 42 percent of recent national military contracts worth nearly $8.78 billion. Boeing, Lockheed Martin and GE Aviation totally won contracts worth around $3.75 billion among 13 overseas companies that won different orders from the Government. The recent deals clinched by the U.S. companies include the P-8I Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft from Boeing; C-130J transport planes from Lockheed Martin; GE's engines for the light combat aircraft Tejas; Harpoon anti-ship missiles and ultra light howitzers.  The defense ministry is also expected to spend about $100 billion in the next decade on acquisitions for its 1.3-million-strong armed forces that are currently going through a major modernization program.  Among the pending procurements are the 126 multi-role combat aircraft for $10.4-billion, 10 C-17 heavylift transport planes for an estimated $5.8 billion, 15 heavy-lift helicopters, 22 attack helicopters, and 197 light utility helicopters reports Aisan Defence News.

Indian Army to buy 40,000 suits to save jawans from chemical weapons
KANPUR (PTI): The Indian Army will procure 40,000 pieces of specially-designed suits to protect its jawans in the artillery wing from chemical weapons.  These suits have been developed by the Defence Material and Stores Research Development Establishment here, its director Arvind Kumar Saxena told PTI.  The order for purchasing the suits was placed after the Army was "quite satisfied" with the special clothing, he said.  "Though the organisation has developed the chemical attack resistant suit, work on the biological suit is likely to be completed by 2013, while preparation for the one against nuclear attacks is at the primary level," he said.  Saxena said the suits, purely developed on indigenous technique in four ordinance parachute factory laboratories here, have been tested successfully and the Director General of Quality Assurance in Pune has also approved it.  The suit, each costing about Rs 30,000, is cheaper than the foreign makes, Saxena said, adding, efforts were underway to further improve the accessory.

Humiliation of the military men
AMERICA’S killing of Osama bin Laden on May 2nd brought with it a rare chance to ease the Pakistani army’s unhealthy grip on the country’s domestic and foreign affairs. The generals have floundered since the raid in Abbottabad, unsettled by accusations of complicity with bin Laden or, if not, then incompetence. It has not helped that video clips show bin Laden apparently active as al-Qaeda’s leader in his last years.  Pakistanis cannot agree what is more shocking, that bin Laden had skulked in a military town so close to the capital, Islamabad, or that Americans nipped in to kill him without meeting the least resistance. Either way, they know to blame the humiliated men in uniform. Columnists and bloggers even call for army bosses to fall on their swagger sticks.  Ashfaq Kayani, the now sullen-faced head of the armed forces, and his more exposed underling, Ahmad Shuja Pasha, who runs the main military spy outfit, the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI), are unused to such cheek. Their spokesmen have fumbled to come up with a consistent line. They have claimed both that Pakistan abhorred America’s attack and helped to bring it about. Army inaction on the night was because someone forgot to turn on the radar, or because it only worked pointing east at India. And General Pasha would, and then certainly would not, fly to America to smooth things over.
That disarray gave elected leaders a chance. Neither President Asif Zardari nor Yusuf Raza Gilani, the prime minister, deludes himself that he is really in charge. Nor do outsiders. Just after they had killed bin Laden, the Americans first telephoned General Kayani, not the president. In the past year both Generals Kayani and Pasha have had their spells in office extended beyond their usual terms, without a squeak from the brow-beaten civilians.  The armed forces scoop up roughly a quarter of all public spending and large dollops of aid, with no proper oversight, says Ayesha Siddiqa, a defence analyst. They also run big firms, employ over 500,000, grab prime land for retired officers, set foreign and counterterrorism policies and scotch peace overtures to India. They are racing to expand a nuclear arsenal beyond 100 warheads—Pakistan will soon be the world’s fifth-biggest nuclear power and has been a chief proliferator.  Civilian silence thus spoke volumes. Rather than try to defend the army, both elected leaders found pressing needs to be out-of-town. Eventually, on May 9th, Mr Gilani did tell parliament of the army’s fight against terrorists. He announced an inquiry into the bin Laden affair and said that, as ever, most problems were caused by America. Yet his careful vow of “full confidence in the high command” of the army and the ISI mostly emphasised their loss of prestige, as did a promise that on May 13th General Kayani would explain to parliament what had gone wrong.  The dismayed generals have sniped back. General Kayani told fellow officers that the civilian response had been “insufficient”. Public figures with army links, notably Shah Mehmood Qureshi, a former foreign minister, and Imran Khan, a former cricketer and rising conservative politician, said the president and prime minister should quit.  Adding to the squeeze are the Americans. President Barack Obama talked again on May 8th of bin Laden’s “support network” in Pakistan, a sign he has not yet ruled out ISI complicity. His officials sought (and reportedly got) access to three of bin Laden’s widows found in the Abbottabad compound. They also want to go back to the compound, to get back bits of a helicopter abandoned in the raid. Above all, they want the names of all the ISI men who worked on al-Qaeda.  Pakistani security men say it is ridiculous to suspect any complicity: they are at war with al-Qaeda, have arrested 40 of its leaders, and suffered violent attacks, including on ISI offices and the army’s headquarters in Rawalpindi. But Americans point to a refusal to prepare a campaign against the Haqqani network, an al-Qaeda ally, in North Waziristan. They also note the ISI’s longstanding ties to the Afghan Taliban, including its leader, Mullah Omar, who is assumed to be operating out of Quetta in Baluchistan. Perhaps American special forces will now go after him.  As it is, despite strenuous efforts by America’s chief-of-staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, relations have been strained for ages. Ordinary Pakistanis have long resented American drone attacks on Afghan insurgents sheltering in their country. American and Pakistani spy agencies fell out last year as dozens of CIA men arrived without ISI oversight to hunt extremists in towns like Abbottabad. Relations only got worse in January, when police arrested a CIA contractor after he had shot two men dead in Lahore. The Americans remain bitter that normal diplomatic levers failed for weeks to free him.  The row rumbles on. This week some media, presumably fed by the ISI, outed the CIA station chief in Islamabad by giving his name. The same happened five months ago to his predecessor. On May 16th is another test, as a trial opens in Chicago of Tahawwur Rana, accused of helping a Pakistani terrorist group, Lashkar-e-Taiba, who struck Mumbai in November 2008. Among others indicted (though still at large) is a suspected ISI officer, “Major Iqbal”, who is accused of helping to plan and fund the attacks which killed 170.  Generals Kayani and Pasha are struggling to calibrate their response. Both congratulated Marc Grossman, America’s regional envoy, for bin Laden’s killing when they met a few hours after the raid. In public, by contrast, General Kayani growled that America was trampling on Pakistan and must reduce its “footprint”. Over military aid, they grumble that needed helicopters and fighter jets are held back. And to show that Pakistan has other options, Mr Gilani is to visit China, its “all-weather friend”, on May 17th (see article).  Relations with America can only get so bad, however. General Mahmud Ali Durrani, ambassador to Washington until 2008, thinks the problem is that neither side speaks frankly. Rather than pretend that it will campaign in the wilds of North Waziristan, the Pakistani army should spell out how operationally hard that would be. And the Americans should set out the evidence for why they say the ISI collaborates with extremists.  Although the bin Laden raid has rocked the relationship, few predict a full break in ties. Not only will America need to get precious supplies to Afghanistan, mainly via the Pakistani port of Karachi, for years to come, but it is wary of isolating or destabilising a country with such a fast-growing nuclear arsenal. In turn Pakistan, with a decrepit economy, needs international aid. And it frets at signs of America falling in with its old rival, India. So the two sides are stuck with each other. As a former foreign minister says, America has concluded that Pakistanis are rascals, but at least they are “still our rascals”.

Exercise 'Vijayee Bhava' to transform Army into more agile force
Suratgarh (Rajasthan), May 12: To transform itself into a more lean, agile and enabled force in order to conduct the full range of operations seeing the volatile situation in the neighbourhood, more than 50,000 troops of Indian Army are participating in an exercise named 'Vijayee Bhava'.   The focus of the exercise, is inter-alia; to evaluate the various proposals put forward by the class formation study groups of the Army.  The month-long exercise saw the participation of Kharga Corps as entered its crucial culmination phase. The exercise has provided an opportunity to evaluate and test new equipment technologies and concept of modern warfare, which has been the outcome of the Army transformation studies.  "Exercise 'Vijayee Bhava' will transform the Indian Army into a more agile, versatile and lethal force to give victory in war. It is culmination of training, which we have carried out in our peace stations," said General Officer in Commanding, Western Command, Lieutenant General S. R. Ghosh.  "The success of any war would be based on total integration of air and land battle, and through this exercise, we have tried to achieve this. The Indian Army has to be ready for any type of threat and this transformation focuses on conventional as well as asymmetric warfare. This transformation is going to make a huge difference, as we have taken major steps forward to integrate all our assets," he added.  Commenting on battle preparedness of the Indian Army, Lieutenant General Ghosh said: "My mandate is to be operationally ready to take to the battlefield at short notice and emerge victorious."  Exercise 'Vijayee Bhava' (blessed to win), which is being conducted in the deserts of Bikaner and Suratgarh near the Pakistan border in order to boost the synergy between the defence forces, is the first amongst a series of Western Command routine annual summer exercises.  Battlefield tactics for warfare are being practiced in the exercise that also aims at fine-tuning the concept of the Cold Start doctrine.  The manoeuvres are being conducted in North Rajasthan to test the operational and transformational effectiveness of the Ambala based Kharga Corps as well as validate new concepts, which have emerged during the transformation studies undertaken by the Army.  The Indian Army, which is working towards a 'capability based approach', has embarked on a series of transformational initiatives spanning concepts, organizational structures and absorption of new age technologies, particularly in the fields of precision munitions, advance surveillance systems, space and network-centricity. By Praful Kumar Singh

No comments:

Post a Comment


Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal