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Thursday, 2 June 2011

From Today's Papers - 02 Jun 2011

Prime Minister reviews N-disaster response preparedness
Orders safety upgrades at all nuclear facilities Ashok Tuteja/TNS  New Delhi, June 1 The Fukushima nuclear disaster has spurred the Indian establishment to constantly review the safety of nuclear facilities in the country. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today met the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and reviewed the nuclear disaster preparedness. Official sources said he instructed the NDMA to put in place the world’s best possible safety precautions and procedures at nuclear facilities across the country.  The meeting, held at the Prime Minister’s residence, was attended by Home Minister P Chidambaram, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Minister of State in the PMO V Narayanasamy and Atomic Energy Commission Chairman SK Banerjee besides top nuclear scientists. Banerjee gave a presentation on the safety of nuclear installations in the country.  Talking to reporters after the meeting, NDMA Vice-Chairman M Shashidhar Reddy said the meeting looked beyond the design-based accident possibility.  The PM said the reaction time to tsunami in Sumatra-Andaman region was only 20-30 minutes. He asked the NDMA authorities to reach out to the people in the Andaman region and prepare for such an eventuality.  The meeting also discussed measures like the installation of hi-tech radiation-measuring gadgets in 35 cities, including metros like Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. The Prime Minister also reviewed guidelines issued by the NDMA for nuclear and radiological emergencies.  The meeting discussed fast-tracking of other steps like creation of disaster response forces and procurement of special radiation-detection vehicles. There was a proposal to raise a force of at least 10,000 personnel trained in tackling nuclear disasters.  The preparedness to meet other forms of disasters like earthquakes was also discussed with special focus on National Earthquake Risk Mitigation Project.  The high-level meeting reviewed the nuclear safety issues being looked after by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) and the Department of Atomic Energy.  According to informed sources, the meeting was of the view that there could be no compromise with the safety of the 20 nuclear plants in India although there was no fear of a Japan-like tragedy, knowing the geology of this country. It was, however, felt that adequate mechanism must be put in place to meet any challenge in the event of the release of radiation from any plant.  Ever since the disaster struck the Fukushima nuclear plants in Japan on March 11, the government has been under pressure to review its civil nuclear energy programme. The PM is, however, of the view that the country has no option but to pursue its civil-nuclear programme to meet its growing energy needs.  THE AREAS OF FOCUS      * Reducing reaction time to disasters like tsunami and earthquakes     * Raising a force of at least 10,000 personnel trained in tackling nuclear disasters     * Installation of radiation-measuring gadgets in 35 cities     * Procurement of special radiation-detection vehicles     * Fast-tracking creation of disaster response forces

India committed to strengthen Afghan security forces: Antony
Ajay Banerjee Tribune News Service  New Delhi, June 1 India today committed itself to build the capabilities of the Afghanistan security forces and continue training its security personnel.  Indian Defence Minister AK Antony said this here to General Abdul Rahim Wardak, minister of national defence of Afghanistan.  As per the stated policy, US President Barack Obama is planning to start a gradual drawdown of the US troops in Afghanistan from July, which has raised questions on the future security scenario.  The Indian commitment comes just three weeks after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pledged an additional $500 million on a recent visit to Kabul. This was in addition to the $1.5 billion investment already made on roads, health and power.  The Afghan minister is on a three-day visit to India. During the delegation level talks, Antony said as a long-standing friend of the Afghanistan, India remains fully committed to support the country in its reconstruction and development efforts, a Defence Ministry release said. “India is committed to building the capabilities of the Afghan security forces in accordance with the priorities of the Afghanistan Government,” Antony told Wardak at the meeting.  Antony said India attaches high importance to bilateral relations with Afghanistan, as is evident from the multi-faceted relationship between the two sides.  Earlier this morning Wardak told reporters that Afghanistan aims to establish closer defence ties with India and will welcome any cooperation from it in training of its security forces.  He was asked about the nature of help Afghanistan has sought from India in areas of security and defence. India is at present training about 100 Afghanistan officers and non-commissioned officers in India.  “The Afghanistan army is keen that we should be training Afghanistan security forces but Pakistan is against it. India has recently started training the Afghanistan National Police, particularly two women battalions.  Wardak, also expressed keenness to buy India military equipment.  “In the future, we will have a better picture but there is a genuine interest in securing our national defences,” he added when asked on the possibilities of buying Indian military equipment.  Sources said Afghanistan has been keen to establish a security relationship with India, however, New Delhi is cautious due to the presence of international forces in Afghanistan.  There have been periodic exchanges between the Armed Forces of the two countries since General Wardak last visited India in April 2008.  India has also posted army officers to Afghanistan to teach basic English language skills to Afghan army officers, besides military doctors to work in hospitals in Kandahar.

A nuclear nightmare Safety of Pakistani stockpile is suspect
It is a worst-case scenario too horrifying for words: terrorists take over Pakistan and its huge nuclear stockpile falls into their hands gratis. The accumulated weaponry is so daunting that the zealots can hold the whole world to ransom, and even vaporise a large section of it. Islamabad, of course, discounts such a possibility in public and so does the US, but a top American expert, Dr Jack Caravelli, a former adviser to at least two US Presidents, has now revealed that secret plans are in place to take control of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons in case the unthinkable does take place. Volatile elements in Pakistan can be depended upon to ignore the rider that the US would act only if the country falls to terrorists, and condemn this contingency plan as yet another frontal attack on its sovereignty after the Osama strike. But for the rest of the world, this revelation would be somewhat reassuring, given the heightened fears over the safety of the nuclear stocks and installations.  The threat is real and immediate. Although a Taliban spokesman has asserted that it has no plans to launch such an attack, since “Pakistan is the only Muslim nuclear power state”, nobody is taken in. Significantly, a prominent Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader, Sajjad Mohmand, has pledged to liberate the atomic weapons from the control of “traitors ruling the country and use them to defend Pakistan and Muslims worldwide”. The threat is ominous.  Paklistan’s nukes may be widely dispersed at secure places but the fear of at least some of these weapons and facilities falling into wrong hands is itself chilling. The Mehran naval airbase which was attacked on May 22 is only about 25 km from the Masroor air base, where Pakistan is believed to have a large depot of nuclear weapons that could be delivered from the air. There are enough extremist officials within the military establishment to facilitate such a raid. The threat perception has become more acute ever since Pakistan showcased its capability to build low-yield short-range plutonium-based weapons that are mobile and can be transported and used easily. If these fall into the hands of jihadised elements, the temptation to use them as terror weapons will be immense. 

The Siachen question Playing China card won’t help Pakistan
Whenever Pakistan is in a situation where its stand defies logic in its dealings with India, it chooses to play the China card. This has been noticed during the latest round of talks on the Siachen glacier demilitarisation issue. Knowing well that any reference to China will be disapproved by India, the Pakistan Defence Ministry representatives who held talks on Monday and Tuesday with their Indian counterparts in New Delhi pushed for China to be represented during the negotiations because Beijing controls the Shaksham valley in the Siachen area. Besides this, Pakistan wants India to withdraw its troops from the vantage points held after great sacrifices without the areas’ proper demarcation. How can India vacate the areas it had captured in Operation Meghdoot without any guarantee that they would not be surreptitiously occupied by Pakistan? Islamabad’s stand is that India’s occupation of those areas has altered the status quo that existed when the Simla Agreement was signed. But the truth is that there is no mention of these Siachen points in that accord.  India and Pakistan were faced with a similar situation during their talks on the Siachen issue before the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack, which killed the composite dialogue process that was on between the two sides. Then also India insisted that the areas under its control must be demarcated before the withdrawal of its troops, but this was not acceptable to Pakistan. Islamabad’s refusal to accept the demarcation idea clearly shows that its intentions are not pious. The next round of talks, scheduled to be held in Islamabad, can be fruitful only if Pakistan substantially accommodates the Indian viewpoint.  The standoff after the talks that concluded on Tuesday was already in the air because of the confidence deficit between the two sides. An atmosphere conducive to any agreement between India and Pakistan is missing today. It is difficult to say when the situation will improve. In fact, the tension between India and Pakistan is likely to go up owing to Pakistan’s unwillingness to punish all those guilty of the Mumbai terrorist killings despite India having provided enough proof to nail them. 

India, Afghanistan to step up defence ties
NEW DELHI: With Afghanistan slated to handle its own security by 2014, Kabul and New Delhi on Wednesday resolved to step up their bilateral defence cooperation.  "We will welcome any cooperation (from India) in the field of training and helping of Afghan national security forces so that they are able to secure and defend the country," said visiting Afghanistan defence minister General Abdul Rahim Wardak.  Defence minister A K Antony, in turn, assured Wardak that India was "committed" to building "the capabilities" of Afghan security forces. "As a long standing friend of the Afghan people", he said, India remains fully committed to supporting the war-ravaged country in its reconstruction and developmental efforts.  On whether the enhanced defence cooperation would lead to India supplying military equipment to Afghanistan, Wardak said, "We will be discussing it. There is a very genuine interest in strengthening our relations in all sectors including defence."  With India continuing with its policy to counter Pakistan's moves in the strategically-located Afghanistan, PM Manmohan Singh had visited Kabul last month to deepen the bilateral strategic partnership across the political, economic and security fronts.  India has been regularly training Afghan officers and other ranks at its military training institutions, ranging from the NDA and Indian Military Academy at Dehradun to the School of Artillery at Deolali, ever since the Karzai government came to office.  India has also posted some Army officers in the central Asian nation to teach basic military fieldcraft and English skills to the Afghan Army, apart from sending several military doctors to help at hospitals in Kandahar and elsewhere.  Afghanistan has, in fact, sought even more Indian help in "capacity-building" of its armed forces, which even includes training of its pilots and technicians in operating Russian-origin Mi-35 helicopter gunships, as well as sourcing supplies for its Soviet-era tanks and aircraft.

Miffed Russia upsets India
Longstanding defence and strategic relations between India and Russia are under strain with Moscow calling off a scheduled joint naval exercise at short notice in an apparent move to express its displeasure over New Delhi exploring global markets for weapons procurement.  The Russian decision has been slammed by country defence experts and the media while the Indian Navy is also unhappy with the development.  The incident took place late in April when five Indian Navy warships sailed for waters off Vladivostok for the joint naval exercise. The Indian contingent reached Vladivostok and made a ‘port call’ before returning home after Russians abruptly called off the exercise.  This action was sharply criticised by Russian defence experts who said calling off the exercise by Moscow was “simply stupid when several countries are waiting in queue to hold such an exercise with India.”  While the Russians later said the exercise was called off due to the nuclear disaster in Japan following the tsunami, sources here said on Wednesday that several Russian warships were later seen carrying out combat drills in the waters off Vladivostok.  Peeved at the snub, the Indian Navy lodged a protest along with a detailed report to the Indian Defence Ministry, sources said adding the External Affairs Ministry was also apprised of the facts. Incidentally, the schedule for the joint exercise was planned months in advance, they said.  The development has put a question mark over the joint Army exercise ‘Indra’ between the two countries later this year. Focussed on honing anti-terrorism drills in urban and rural scenario, the two sides have held some preliminary meetings to plan the exercise but the dates are yet to be finalised.  It was learnt that Russia, which is the biggest arms supplier to India, is unhappy with New Delhi now exploring the Western world for procuring weapons and critical spare parts. Regular supply of spare parts from Russia has been a problem for the last one decade since the disintegration of Soviet Union and the issue has cropped up many times in talks between top political leadership of both countries.  Moreover, Russia now prefers to pitch for its equipment and the Indian security establishment decided some years back to expand its vendor base to inject more competition and get a better deal for lesser money, sources said.  A top Russian defence expert has said Moscow is not taking defence interaction with India seriously and described the cancellation of a naval drill recently with it as “simply stupid.”  “While other nations wait in the queue to develop military interaction with India, Russia is not behaving seriously. There is no need to be surprised that India is more and more turning towards western partners —- at least more serious and stable,” said Mikhail Barabanov, editor of Moscow Defence Brief monthly, was quoted as saying by financial daily ‘Vedomosti.’  He said: “The Russian decision to cancel war games with the main military-technical partner is simply stupid.”  Barabanov also noted the Russian and Indian Air forces have never carried out joint drills, “probably because the Indian pilots on their Russian built SU-30MKI fighters will easily win over the Russian pilots, with inferior aircraft and less flying experience.”  “It is noteworthy that Indian pilots with SU-30MKI fighters have participated several times in joint drills with USAF and other major Western nations,” he said.  Another major daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta notes the Russian decision to cancel a war drill at the last moment is believed as Moscow’s “snub” to India for rejection of MiG-35 fighters in the IAF’s tender for 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA), in which French Rafale and European Eurofighter Typhoon have been shortlisted.  Tatiana Shaumyan, director of Centre for Indian Studies of the Science Academy’s Oriental Institute, said the “poor planning” of the Russian side may be detrimental to the defence cooperation.  “Russia and India have several decade-long traditions of geopolitical, trade, economic and defence co-operation. The military-technical cooperation had been the one of the main pillars of the Russian-Indian relations. And now in this crucial sphere a ‘snag’ has occurred probably due to bad planning by the Russian side,” Shaumyan said.  She cautioned that it could affect the interaction of armed forces of the two “friendly States.”

The military security myth — I
Sheikh Asad Rahman  When Pakistan was forced by the US to become a major partner in the war on terror and supported the US with military operations, the Taliban fighters found new and softer targets in attacking the Pakistani civilian population (approximately 30,000 killed) and military institutions, killing some 5,000 troops and officers  Pakistan was conceived as a people’s welfare state but exponentially has become a security state where the welfare of the people was sacrificed at the altar of the military establishment. The security of people’s constitutional, fundamental and human rights, lives and property, economy and social services, the basic responsibility of the state that it has abrogated, was precarious since the very inception of Pakistan as an independent and sovereign state and has deteriorated especially after 1958 when the first military coup took place. The subsequent military regimes of Generals Yahya Khan, Ziaul Haq and Musharraf further perpetuated the military’s dominance of politics in the country to the detriment of political democracy, people’s socio-economic development, sovereignty and security.  Foreign, defence, and domestic security policies are dictated by the military establishment, which undermines any civilian government’s efforts for peace with neighbouring countries and within the country. The military’s perception of external and existential threat is India-centric due to the unresolved Kashmir, Siachen and Sir Creek issues with a history of three wars and the Kargil misadventure. Militarily and economically being the weaker state, Pakistan’s military turned to the doctrine of the “Fifth Column” strategy, created jihadi militant groups to infiltrate Indian-Held Kashmir and conduct guerrilla warfare with the objective of inflicting substantial damage to the Indian military. Pakistan’s military strategists subscribing to outdated doctrines hoped to resolve the issue by proxy wars instead of putting moral pressure through conforming to UN resolutions for a plebiscite in both Indian and Pakistani Kashmir.  The (1979) Saur revolution and subsequent USSR intervention in Afghanistan turned Pakistan’s attention to its western borders from the eastern borders when some 30 million Afghans sought refuge in Pakistan’s border districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. The US, seeing an opportunity to avenge its defeat in Vietnam at the hands of the Viet Cong supported by the USSR and China, jumped into the fray. Using the Pakistani ISI as a conduit for training, weapons and money, it organised the Afghan refugees into a guerrilla (mujahideen) army that fought the USSR for nine years forcing it to abandon the occupation and pull out of Afghanistan. The US promptly withdrew its support, having achieved its strategic objective and leaving the mujahideen under the command of the Pakistan military. Pakistani strategists, overjoyed with the success of the ragtag guerrilla army defeating a superpower under their command planned to control Afghanistan through the mujahideen under its doctrine of strategic depth against India. But that was not to be as the infighting amongst the various warlord mujahideen groups sabotaged their plans.  The ISI was thus tasked to create an alternative, which gave birth to the radical Islamist Pashtun Taliban movement. Within a matter of a year the Taliban led by Mullah Omar, a cleric from Kandahar, and financially supported by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, soon overran the mujahideen and took control of the whole country except a small swath in the north held by the Farsiwan Northern Alliance. Mullah Omar established a government in Kabul supported by Osama, who in turn was given a free hand to plan his radical, misconstrued jihad against ‘western imperialism and its allies in the Muslim world’, while establishing training camps for the al Qaeda network. Pakistan recognised the Taliban government. Under Osama’s influence the control of the Taliban slowly slipped from the hands of the ISI and as far back as 1985, sectarian violence escalated in Pakistan with suicide bombings and attacks on Shia Imambargahs, Deobandi madrassas and even the security and law enforcement agencies, etc. Then 9/11 happened and the US came back with a vengeance.  Bombed out of Afghanistan, the Taliban and al Qaeda took sanctuary in Pakistan’s border districts, again with the support of the military establishment. When Pakistan was forced by the US to become a major partner in the war on terror and supported the US with military operations, the Taliban fighters found new and softer targets in attacking the Pakistani civilian population (approximately 30,000 killed) and military institutions, killing some 5,000 troops and officers. Since 2008, 122 attacks have been reported by media sources against military institutions and forces while only 2,000 to 3,000 terrorists are reported killed by the Pakistani military and US drone attacks.

1 comment:

  1. Sir,
    this is in response to troops entering naxal areas for training.My judgement tells me that its a disaster waitng to happen.Troops entering so close to maoist den without necessary mandate to carry out operations will be sitting ducks.Imagine the morale of the maoist if they are able to inflict casualties on army.The initiative lies with the maoists.And then can you really carry out training under a hanging sword.Just wait and watch.



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