Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites


Friday, 27 May 2011

From Today's Papers - 27 May 2011

AFT quashes charges against brigadier in ration scam
Vijay Mohan/TNS  Chandigarh, May 26 Over five years after a brigadier, along with several senior officers, was held blameworthy by a court of inquiry for alleged irregularities in the procurement of rations, the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has quashed the ongoing court martial proceedings against him.  Brig PS Gill, who retired last year, was attached to Headquarters 15 Infantry Division, Amritsar, for trial by a general court martial (GCM). He faced seven charges under Sections 52 and 63 of the Army Act for intent to defraud and acts prejudicial to good order, of which he has now been exonerated.  He had been held blameworthy along with former Director-General Supplies and Transport Lieut-Gen SK Sahni, who was recently cashiered and awarded three-year rigorous imprisonment by a separate GCM for alleged irregularities. He has challenged the GCM’s verdict and the case is pending before the tribunal.  “Brig Gill can now have a legitimate expectation of promotion to the rank of major-general as he was already approved for promotion and had been placed first in the order of merit. It was only because of the disciplinary proceedings that he was not promoted earlier and he still has the requisite age profile,” his counsel, Maj K Ramesh (retd) said.  The most important facet of the case, Ramesh said, was that the accused’s Commanding Officer, GOC 15 Infantry Division and the next higher authority, GOC 11 Corps had both exonerated him of all seven charges. The GOC-in-C, Western Command, however, had held him blameworthy of all seven charges and ordered his trial by the GCM. “Even after one-and-a-half years, the Headquarters, Western Command, could not provide a single document to justify this change of stand,” Ramesh claimed.
Adarsh land was not for Kargil veterans: Shinde
Shiv Kumar/TNS  Mumbai, May 26 Former Chief Minister of Maharashtra Sushil Kumar Shinde has stated that the land on which the controversial Adarsh Co-operative Housing Society stands belonged to the state government. The plot, Shinde said in an affidavit filed before an inquiry commission probing the scandal, was also not earmarked for housing Kargil war veterans or war widows.  Shinde, in his affidavit, stated that the plot of the land was earmarked for the Adarsh Housing Society as per a government resolution passed on July 1999. The letter of intent allotting the land for the society was passed on January 18, 2003.  Shinde, who is now a union minister, also rebutted several allegations made against him and said the allotment was made as per proper procedures.  The inquiry committee has summoned several senior politicians and bureaucrats as witnesses.  Former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan who allegedly got flats allotted in the name of his relative in the society is yet to file his affidavit. He has sought time till June 13.
Pakistan's nuclear arms under serious threat from Taliban
Taliban is inching closer towards Pakistan's nuclear arms. Their nuclear arms areno longer safe in Pakistan. Taliban declared that they will destroy the US through a series of nuclear blast as an act of revenge against the killing of Osama Bin Laden.
PAKISTAN'S NUCLEAR arsenal is no longer in safe hands. Peace loving persons are “gravely concerned” about the overall situation in Pakistan, which is not expected to have ended in a nuclear-armed militant state. The world is still unclear over the possible ways of dealing with nuclear explosion.   Fukushima Daiichi plant blast in Japan signified the gravest nuclear power crisis since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. The leakage of the nuclear radioactive material is a threat facing the world, especially when Pakistan military recognised that their country’s nuclear weapons are falling in the hands of Taliban who have declared their intention of destroying America through a series of nuclear blasts in its plan to retaliate against the killing of Osama Bin Laden.   Pakistan is currently locked in a struggle with Taliban militants who destroyed several military aircrafts recently. Three military troops along with six militants were killed in a terrorist attack on the Pakistani air force base at the southern port city of Karachi. An estimated 10 to 15 Taliban gunmen were involved. The Pakistani Taliban have reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack. Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani has condemned it.   Pakistan is secretive about its nuclear program, developed outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in an arms race with India. Pakistan’s failures to challenge the militant lines have been criticised. Earlier, Taliban advanced to within 100km of the capital, Islamabad. The Pakistani army claimed that it halted the latest Taliban incursion in the Buner district, 100km north-west of Islamabad, after two days of fighting.   Pakistan has maintained secrecy about the exact location of the nuclear weapons. They may have been placed far away from the Indian border. But the enemy lies within Pakistan itself. Taliban advancement on Islamabad threatened to bring militants perilously close to some of Pakistan’s main nuclear installations. Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, allayed fears of toppling the Pakistani government and capturing nuclear weapons as “unthinkable”, but something which, is not impossible.   The proliferation network of Abdul Qadeer Khan, founder of the nuclear program has been known to public since 2004. Great concern is expressed over the security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. The threat of “loose nukes” is not small. Pakistan has not complied with the high level of security recommended to it. The Pakistani military has introduced new inventory systems to track individual components of the bombs. Some analysts believe that the greatest threat to nuclear security comes from the army itself which may be divided between pro-Talibani forces and anti-Talibani ones. It is crucial that the Pakistan army does not lose control over parts of the country. It is essential for the safety of the nuclear weapons.   Beijing had been contracted to construct two more reactors in a bid to ease its crippling energy shortage. Pakistan's civil nuclear energy program at Chashma in central Punjab province is another illustrious example of the Pakistan-China cooperation in the field of nuclear science and technology. Pakistan plans to produce 8,000 megawatts of electricity by 2025 to address an energy shortfall against which there has been a huge protest from the people. A Chinese-aided power plant of similar capacity is already operational.   Pakistan is already under severe pressure over the US killing of Osama bin Laden in a covert raid in the Garrison city of Abbottabad on May 2. Pakistan regards China as its closest ally and regards the deals important to its declining economy. But China has a particular motive in providing aid to Pakistan. It wants to keep India under pressure especially when America stands along side India in the question of terrorism after 26/11.   With shocking revelations coming from David Headley's testimony about the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, New Delhi feels its worst fears have come true about Pakistan's ISI "working very closely" with terror outfits in Pakistan and it being behind a sustained "hate campaign" against India. Headley's depositions in Mumbai terror attack trial in a court at Chicago have confirmed suspicions that ISI is not only behind the 26/11 Mumbai attacks but is also actively involved in a sustained hate campaign against India.   Pakistan's atomic activities have sparked concern in the United States and India. The concerns about possible Taliban capture of the Nuclear weapons are not baseless. Nuclear installations in Pakistan are not safe from Talibani threat that operates near the Pakistani border with Afghanistan. The proposal for International Community to take the initiative to denuclearise Pakistan may be considered immediately for world peace.    Pakistan has the fourth largest nuclear arsenal and the Taliban are targeting military installations and its facilities. The jehadisation of Pakistani defence and security establishment has been proved from the killing of a Governor by his own security personnel. The Pakistani government has been a silent spectator. The Talibans whose focuses on jehadi terror are now penetrating high security zones, with an eye on the nuclear arsenal. It is an open secret now.
China extending the sphere of political influence
The dowager empress used to be more powerful than the princeling on the throne. She used to rule the roost through her eunuchs. Are the Chinese likely to revert to that system? No, certainly not.
ONE WHO pays the piper dictates the tune – that is as true today as it was many millennia ago. The world press is going gaga over the Help Africa programme of China. Wen Jiabao, the Prime Minister of China, currently visiting the dark continent of Africa, has announced that his country would spend 10 billion US dollars in the next two years on the backward nations of Africa. Besides that, China has also waived the various amounts of loan that some African countries owed to her.   Two points are apparent from this gesture of the emerging economic and military giant of Asia. She wants to increase her area of political influence in countries and continents from where the United States and other European nations have practically withdrawn their personnel signifying their lack of interest there.   The political vacuum thus created is being filled in by China. Secondly, now China has cash to spare and give credit to the needy developing countries. This in turn will increase her international presence and help her project herself as a potential world power. Naturally, the world press and electronic media are too willing to broadcast what China wishes them to put on the air. In return the global media will get access to a vast multitude of Chinese people and thus increase their revenue through advertisements.   RULING WITH AN IRON HAND Avid readers of newspapers may recall that mid-year this year, there was ethnic unrest leading to large-scale violence in the western province of Xinjiang of the People’s Republic of China. The original residents of the area, Uighurs who are Muslims went on a rampage in the capital of the province, Urumqi and killed or wounded many new settlers, the Han Chinese who are predominantly Buddhists and some are atheists.  Their property was damaged or destroyed as the local police was caught unawares. The Han Chinese took out a counter-procession next day to punish the Uighurs but were prevented by the police and the militia. The relationship between the two ethnic groups soured further when the Han Chinese were stabbed by Uighurs with needles. Some say that the needles were infected with the AIDS virus. In any case, the State of China could not have remained a silent spectator when its authority was being challenged by some separatist elements under inspiration of neighbouring Muslim groups.   The Central and the provincial governments swung into action and arrested the mischief mongers and brought them before courts of law to stand trial. Now the news has come that nine ethnic Uighur Muslims were found guilty of murder and other serious charges and were sentenced to death. Their sentence was confirmed by the People’s Supreme Court and now they have been executed. One who favours the rule of law will indeed admire the firm handling of the ethnic trouble by the authorities and quick dispensation of justice by the judiciary.   MALE HAREM OF CHINESE GODMOTHER Conventionally it is the king who keeps a Harem of pretty damsels to live a life of physical satisfaction. However, history tells us that there have been instances where the dowager empress of the Chinese empire maintained a full-fledged male harem to live a life of lust. She would command the attendance of the most muscular and virile man when and where she needed him.  Strange were the ways of royalty. Now an incident has come to light in Chongqing, China where a woman of influence and opulence maintained a male harem of 16 lovers to live a lustful life. The 46-year old Xie Caiping was the uncrowned queen of the underworld competing with the dowager empress of yore. Dubbed the godmother, she could have work done her way by hook or crook. Her dubious empire came to an end when she was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment for running illegal casinos and bribing government officials.  Xie Caiping is the only woman gangster to be tried and put in prison where she cannot ride her Mercedes Benz that she was so proud of. Her driver and lover, Luo Xuan, 29, was also sentenced to imprisonment for four and a half years for his role in this sordid drama. The moral of the story is: crime does not pay in the long run.
India, France agree to enhance defence cooperation
NEW DELHI: India and France have decided to further enhance their "strategic partnership" and deepen bilateral defence cooperation. This came after visiting French defence minister Gerard Longuet met his Indian counterpart A K Antony at South Block on Thursday.  Longuet's visit comes at a time when after the ongoing Rs 23,562-crore Scorpene submarine project underway at Mazagon Docks, France is eyeing two other major defence projects.  As reported by TOI earlier, the long-awaited deal with France for the upgrade of the 52 Mirage-2000 multi-role fighters in IAF's combat fleet, at a cost of around Rs 11,000 crore, is now headed for the final nod by the Cabinet Committee on Security.  Moreover, the French Rafale is now one of the two fighters left in the race to bag the Rs 42,000-crore project to supply 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) to IAF.  With the American F/A-18 'Super Hornet' and F-16 'Super Viper', Swedish Gripen (Saab), and Russian MiG-35 ( United Aircraft Corporation) ejected out of the hotly-contested race, the other contender left in the fray is the Eurofighter Typhoon.
India, Pakistan to discuss Siachen issue
New Delhi: After a gap of three years, Defence Secretaries of India and Pakistan would meet on Monday for fresh rounds of talks on the Siachen issue.  "The two day-long talks will start from 30 May. Indian delegation would be led by Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar and members of the team include Special Secretary R K Mathur, Director General of Military Operations Lt General AM Verma and the Surveyor General S Subha Rao," defence ministry officials said here.  The Pakistan delegation will be led by Defence Secretary Lt General (retd) Syed Ather Ali. The Pakistani team includes Maj Gen Ashfaq Nadeem Ahmed, Maj Gen Munwar Ahmed Solehri and Maj Gen (Retd) Mir Haider Ali Khan. India, Pakistan to discuss Siachen issue  The Defence Secretary level talks between the two countries to resolve the Siachen issue dates back to 1985. The decision to hold talks was taken by then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Pakistan President Gen Zia-ul-Haq at Oman and New Delhi.  The talks became a part of the composite dialogue with Pakistan, on all issues including Kashmir, from the eighth round of talks in August 2004 in New Delhi. Eleven rounds of talks have been held so far.  It was decided by the two countries to resume the bilateral dialogue on all outstanding issues following the meetings of the Prime Ministers in Thimpu in April 201.
How is India Reacting to the PNS Mehran Crisis?
Perhaps the civilian government in Pakistan exhibited a lackadaisical approach by waiting two days before calling a defence committee meeting after the ignominious event at PNS Mehran. The military establishment too was less vocal, probably taken aback by the magnitude of the operation. In fact, the temporal proximity of the Abbottabad raid on Osama bin Laden and the attack on the naval base in Karachi have shaken the very fundamentals of the civilian-military complex entrenched in Islamabad.  It may so happen that the Pakistani government has adopted the stance of downplaying these incidents in order to rub off the humiliation with reasonable élan. Nonetheless, what are noteworthy in this regard are the reactions in strategic and diplomatic circles in India, Pakistan’s “childhood enemy.” There is no gainsaying the fact that both the neighbours are always wary of a conventional war with each other and hence any reaction and counter-reaction shape up according to that underlying “fear factor.”  This time around, though, the reactions did not suggest either wholehearted jubilation or animosity. Perhaps, there was a bit of elation, but the public dialogue certainly reverberated sentiments of concern.  On May 24, Rajat Pandit, in India’s leading daily, Times of India, exulted:      “Pakistan has lost almost half of its sophisticated long-range maritime snooping and strike capabilities in just one well-targeted jihadi attack on naval base PNS Mehran in Karachi that ended on Monday after a 15-hour gun-battle which left 10 security persons and four attackers dead. At least two of the five P-3C Orion long-range patrol aircraft, supplied to the Pakistan Navy by the US, were destroyed in the attack.”  He even quoted an Indian navy officer who echoed the above, and then Pandit further asserted: “The irony is stark. Pakistan got the P-3C Orions, packed with radars and weapons like the E-2C Hawkeye 2000 airborne early-warning suites and anti-ship Harpoon missiles, from the US as part of the around $15 billion military aid in the name of the global war on terrorism over the last decade.”  In fact, and quite reasonably so, the Indian Naval establishment feels that out of this fiasco, there are lessons to be learnt by India too. Taking note of the fluid security situation in South Asia, Nirmal Verma, Chief of Indian Navy, on May 24, exhibited the desire to develop the capability to deploy India’s warships, submarines and aircraft at “immediate notice.”  Actually this was the second consecutive breach of sovereignty of Pakistani territory. The earlier one in Abbottabad caused India’s former foreign secretary MK Rasgotra to curtly state the following: “There was of course a violation of sovereignty, but there is not much they can do about it.” Whereas the ever-outspoken former Indian representative at the UN Disarmament Conference in Geneva Arundhati Ghose passed a rather interesting comment: “The sovereignty of a country is accepted by the UN Charter. But the sovereignty is not absolute. There is a limitation.”  On the other hand, Rajiv Pratap Rudy, the spokesperson of India’s second largest political group, the Bharatiya Janata Party, was critical. He said that the terrorist attack on Pakistan’s supposedly high-security naval base PNS Mehran had once again shown that no sensitive installation in Pakistan could be considered to be safe. Furthermore, he expressed concern that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal could fall into the wrong and dangerous hands. In the backdrop of this rationale, Rudy called for a de-nuclearised Pakistan.  Another leading Indian daily, The Telegraph, based in the eastern part of the nation-state, reported that “in the security establishment in New Delhi, there is suspicion that the attack in Karachi and, earlier, the killing of Osama bin Laden next to the Pakistan Military Academy in Abbottabad has a possible dangerous spin-off for India.” The natural fear perception prevalent in Indian defence circles, according to the daily, is that the military under General Ashfaq Kayani may be tempted to get adventurous because morale in Pakistan’s armed forces has nosedived after the two raids. It may not be irrational to contemplate a “Kargil redux.”
In New Delhi, with a touch of sympathy, senior naval officials acknowledged that such an attack had the potential to undermine the military of any country. According to them, the attack on the naval air station PNS Mehran is on a par with the LTTE raid on Colombo airport in Sri Lanka before the outfit was obliterated. Thus, a logical supposition in this direction is that the Pakistani military establishment unleashes a serious counter-insurgency drive against the Taliban-Al Qaeda combo, which in essence would be a welcome step for India.  Nevertheless, it must be stated that both India and Pakistan have interchanged caustic rhetoric in the recent past pertaining to Operation Geronimo. The feasibility of conducting Indian raids inside Pakistan in line with Geronimo has been hugely debated amongst Indian think tanks, media, diplomatic circles and social networking sites. The targets? The elusive Hafeez Saeed and Dawood Ibrahim, of course. Indubitably, such discussions have had strong reactions from Pakistan.  Now with PNS Mehran following on the heels of Geronimo, the security climate in South Asia has heated up. Though Pakistan may be uncomfortably feeling the temperature of the Frankenstein-effect, India’s concerns cannot be neglected altogether.  The necessity at the present juncture, however, is a security partnership between the two countries. They need to re-activate and overhaul the existing Anti-Terrorism Cell. Though, to what extent such camaraderie would be fruitful is a matter of speculation. Can both Islamabad and New Delhi come out of the yoke of hubris and rhetoric and deal with the common monster? It was rather interesting to note that a day before the siege of PNS Mehran, India and Pakistan resumed dialogue in Rawalpindi to resolve the outstanding bilateral issue of Sir Creek. Now’s the time to take discussions further.
UAV Investments: Indian Armed Forces to Address Future Plans and Programmes for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
Indian Defence Philosophy: A 'no-win' Concept
Ancient Philosophy. In times past, an Indian ruler met an invading army not at the frontiers of his kingdom but close to the seat of power. He remained well entrenched with his army within a fort or a fortified location. The enemy had a free run of the rest of the territory, winning half the battle without firing a single shot. He then reached the seat of governance. Here, either he was met by the king’s army on the outskirts. In the alternative, he laid siege of the fort. Expecting a long siege, the fortifications of the defending king were well stocked. Meanwhile, the enemy looted and plundered the surroundings for sustenance, labour, riches and pleasures. The few exceptions in this sanctified war philosophy were the Gupta dynasty, the heydays of Mughal rule and the British period.   Also, the Indian king confronted the enemy mounted on elephants (mobile forts) around which the rest of his forces were structured. The structure was ceremonial no doubt, but was fatally ponderous. It was such war philosophy that enabled Babur’s highly mobile cavalry to win against the cumbersome local ruler’s army.   Underlying the entire edifice of such war philosophy was the craving of Indians for peace at any cost. The Indians simply abhorred use of force, and viewed it in utterly disparaging terms. Diplomacy continued to search, even in a critical situation, for alternatives that enabled bypassing the need for use of force. The end result was that Indian rulers invariably blinked first!   Independent India. On independence, instead of taking a realistic and rigorous look at the reasons for the country’s history of subjugation, the leadership again naively delinked the military component from its foreign policy. There was no way that the political leadership, fed and brought up on defensive defence characteristics, and the modern Indian military, trained on the universal concept of offensive defence capabilities, could see eye to eye. A persistent belief that since an Indian desires peace and the rest of the world will act according to our role model, has invariably let us down.   In the 1947-48 conflict, despite India’s superior ratio of 2:1, Pakistan’s invasion to grab Kashmir was localised and absorbed within Kashmir. No doubt, in the difficult mountainous terrain a herculean effort was required to counter-attack. But if the political leadership had pushed an offensive into Pakistan through Punjab or Rajasthan, simultaneously, the results could have been dramatic.   Despite sound military advice in 1962, the Indian army was ordered to throw the Chinese “out of every square inch of the Indian territory”. This was neither here nor there! A general from the Army Supply Corps was thrust as Corps Commander. He almost literally followed the instruction to hold every square inch of land by thinning out troops in a forward policy. (The police in Delhi may be observed even today resorting to this forward policy in crises by deploying two constables on each road to no effect). And the Air Force was not brought in which could have tilted the scales.   The political leadership surprised the military top brass in the 1965 conflict by agreeing to the strategy of opening new fronts as counter-pressure points instead of allowing the enemy to retain the initiative in his place of choosing, i.e., Rann of Kutch. But here too, the failure was in not building up a tri-service effort to break the will of the enemy. This was rectified to some extent in 1971 when the political and military leadership moved in a rare synergy to launch a quick offensive to create a new nation in a single stroke.   The Fallout. The irrational defensive defence policy, which simply is the sum total of Indian civilizational belief that peace at all costs is vital, allows the enemy to keep nibbling the territory at the frontiers. Low-intensity conflict in the last ten years in Kashmir is the current example. This policy has multiple negative ramifications. Some of them are listed below:   By refusing to meet the enemy on the frontiers, the initiative is lost. In modern terms, protecting the borders implies assessment of the other side and appropriate initiative to neutralize the developing threat across the border through diplomacy, economic activity, military action and international alignments.   By allowing the enemy access to the seat of power, the ruler exhibits a lack of vision and daring. This gets translated to every aspect of life, producing people with defensive orientation, whether in sports, education, business and trade or in the art of governance itself.   Power and prosperity are two sides of the same coin – both require a will to power. Where the ruler is Content to fight from his fort or fortification – as does the Indian-demonstrating absence of the will to power, he stands very little chance of attaining either power or prosperity.   The Indian ruler’s fort or seat of power is logistically well catered for and his entire outlook, even in the present times, is to survive a long siege. Ancient India was characterised by the abject neglect and poverty in surrounding areas, which his majesty deigned to visit once in a while. Even today poverty outside the main townships remains extreme. Especially, the states touching the international borders and under insurgency need to be economically developed on a war footing.   A fallout of this defensive defence philosophy, not entirely negative, is the harking on self-reliance. The king ensured that he had adequate supplies to sit out the siege. He was, in a way, self-reliant. But on the negative side, he was unable to form alliances and collaborations with the enemy’s enemy in activity of mutual benefit. In the present context, India’s isolation diplomatically is the key result. A modification to achieve balance in this respect is a necessity.   The Danger. Clausewitz held that war is a rational instrument which a ruler resorts to in pursuit of “political discourse by other means”. The world, too, subscribes to that axiom. Naturally, therefore, if the enemy slaps you once, it is his fault; if he slaps you again, it is your fault. In reversal of all strategic norms our defence philosophy continues to offer the other cheek. Result: Heads, we lose. And tails, you win!   While American policies are aggressively designed world-wide to ensure peace and prosperity at home, the Indian outlook ensures that the frontiers are left at the mercy of the enemy. The riches of India attracted Babur and the British, and they had a field day. A far greater danger for India than any asymmetry in weapon systems lies in its asymmetry in mental thinking vis-a-vis the rest of the world. The king, his men and the people, if they cannot bring themselves to shift to offensive defence postures, are likely to have a great fall.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal