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Monday, 6 June 2011

From Today's Papers - 06 Jun 2011

Instability in N-Pakistan
Implications for India’s security by Harsh V. Pant  A government unable to control large parts of its territory, a military in disarray, loss of control over nuclear assets, radical Islamists bent on acquiring weapons of mass destruction – it is the stuff of nightmares.  And Pakistan’s current turmoil is causing jitters around the world precisely because the nightmarish scenario evoked above might just come to pass as Pakistani security establishment’s dalliance with radical Islamist groups drags the nation to the brink of collapse. Recent days have witnessed major attacks on key Pakistani military and intelligence facilities by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a group that for the past several years has fought an increasingly brutal war in the heart of Pakistan. A handful of militants who attacked the Pakistani naval base PNS Mehran in Karachi on May 22 have also underlined the enormity of the security challenge that violent Islamists pose to Pakistan and the whole region.  For long, the US and the West have viewed nuclear weapons in South Asia with dread because of the possibility that a conventional war between India and Pakistan might escalate into a nuclear one. Former US President Bill Clinton called the Kashmir conflict “the most dangerous flashpoint on earth” precisely because of this fear of a nuclear holocaust in the Indian subcontinent.  Indian and Pakistani officials, on the other hand, have continued to argue that just as the threat of mutual assured destruction resulted in a “hot peace” between the US and the former Soviet Union during the Cold War, nuclear weapons in South Asia will also have a stabilising impact. They point out the fact that despite several provocations, India and Pakistan have behaved “rationally” during various crises by keeping their conflicts limited and avoiding escalation.  But since September 11, 2001, the nature of problem for the West has changed insofar as the threat is now more of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal being used against the West by radical Islamists if they can lay their hands on it.  The present turmoil in Pakistan has once again raised concerns about the safety, security and command and control of its nuclear stockpile. Though the Pakistan government continues to dismiss media reports that its nuclear weapons are in danger of falling into the “wrong hands” as “inspired,” and stressed that Pakistan provided the highest level of institutionalised protection to its strategic assets, the credibility of such claims remains open to question.  Instituted in 2000, Pakistan’s nuclear command and control arrangements are centered on the National Command Authority, which comprises the Employment Control Committee, the Development Control Committee and the Strategic Plans Division. Only a small group of military officials apparently have access to the country’s nuclear assets.  However, these command and control arrangements continue to be beset with some fundamental vulnerabilities that underline the reluctance of the Pakistani military to cede control over the nation’s nuclear assets to civilian leaders.  It is instructive to note that of all the major nuclear states in the world, Pakistan is the only country where the nuclear button is in the hands of the military. Moreover, senior civilian and military officials responsible for these weapons have a problematic track record in maintaining close control over them. A.Q. Khan was the head of the Pakistani nuclear programme (and a veritable national hero) but was instrumental in making Pakistan the centre of the biggest nuclear proliferation network by leaking technology to states far and wide, including Iran, North Korea and Libya. Pakistani nuclear scientists have even travelled to Afghanistan at the behest of Osama bin Laden.  While its is true that the Pakistani military remains very professional and perhaps the only cohesive force in the country today, it has also become deeply demoralised, reflected in the large number of soldiers preferring to surrender to the militants rather than fight. There are growing signs of fraying loyalties in the Pakistan Army, underlining the danger to its cohesiveness.  The growing “Islamisation” of the younger generation of Pakistani military officers is well-recorded. Given the close links between the Pakistani military and intelligence services and the militant groups fighting in Kashmir and the Taliban, it is not far-fetched to assume that there is a real danger of elements within Pakistan’s military-intelligence complex colluding with radical Islamist groups.  Pakistan has accepted US help since 9/11 in designing its system of controls for its nuclear arsenal and the prevention of theft. The US has reportedly spent about $100 million in helping Pakistan secure its nuclear arsenal, and some reports have suggested that Pakistan has also received technical assistance from the US.  Throughout the Cold War years, it was viewed as politically prudent in the West and especially in the US to ignore Pakistan’s drive towards nuclear acquisition, as Pakistan was seen as an important ally of the West in countering the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and elsewhere.  Nuclear proliferation has never been a first order priority for the US when it comes to Pakistan. Now the chickens are coming home to roost, as the Pakistani military seems unable and unwilling to take on the Islamist forces gathering momentum on Pakistani territory on the one hand; while on the other, the nation’s nuclear weapons seem within the reach of the extremist forces.  The US has suggested that there are contingency plans in place to deal with the possibility of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons falling into the hands of militant groups, but it remains far from clear as to what exactly the US would be able to do if such an eventuality arises. Meanwhile, India needs to be aware of the potentially catastrophic implications of the collapse of governing authority in Pakistan. A boost to fundamentalist forces in India’s neighbourhood will have serious consequences for the utility of nuclear deterrence in the subcontinent. Irrespective of India’s other problems with Pakistan, Indian decision-makers had little doubt so far in trusting that their Pakistani counterparts would take rational decisions insofar as the use of nuclear weapons was concerned. That assumption might soon need revisiting if the present trends in Pakistan continue for much longer.  The present turmoil in Pakistan and all its attendant consequences in the nuclear realm point to the long-term costs of short-sighted policies — the politics of proliferation — followed by the West in countering proliferation.n
Siachen: Frozen disengagement
India and Pakistan have failed to agree on the modalities for the demilitarisation of Siachen Glacier, at the 12th Defence Secretary level talks in Delhi recently. Our politicians and diplomats should not lose on the negotiating table the hard won gains of the armed forces that give India near total tactical and strategic dominance over Pakistani forces in that sector
Maj Gen Raj Mehta (Retd)  The 12th round of talks with Pakistan on the Siachen issue is over and should be set aside with panache and poetic flourish. Unlike T.S. Eliot’s protagonist, we have this time around, not stooped to folly in the unremitting waste land of India-Pakistan relationships. Instead we have politely agreed to disagree; accepting the Pakistani non-paper laconically; emphasising that our positions held on the Saltoro Ridge be accepted and plotted on maps as a prelude to their vacation, as well as firmly rejecting the brazen Pakistani suggestion that China be co-opted, being a concerned party. Indian troops train at the Siachen Battle School prior to induction in to the battle zone. Based upon intelligence inputs that Pakistan was planning to occupy Siachen, the Indian army moved into the glacier in 1984 and with continuous deployment since then, built up a number of permanent posts and helipads on what is known as the world’s highest battlefield Indian troops train at the Siachen Battle School prior to induction in to the battle zone. Based upon intelligence inputs that Pakistan was planning to occupy Siachen, the Indian army moved into the glacier in 1984 and with continuous deployment since then, built up a number of permanent posts and helipads on what is known as the world’s highest battlefield  The key to understanding the Siachen conundrum lies in a clinical understanding of its terrain and layout and its geo-strategic significance for the protagonists.  The 76 km long Siachen Glacier is sourced at Indira Col (5,753m) in the eastern Karakorams. It is sandwiched between the Saltoro Ridge to its west, and the main Karakoram Range to its east. The Pakistani positions are west of the Saltoro Ridge and have no direct observation of the glacier. The only way they can access it is by crossing the Saltoro Ridge through five passes: Sia La (7,300m), Bilafond La (6,160m), Gyong La (5,640m), Yarma La (6,100m) and Chulung La (5,800m), all held by India. The key Bilafond La (Pass of the Butterflies) is on the ancient Silk Route linking undivided India and China. Domination of these strategic passes is a key to the control of the surrounding areas. The glacier, at its snout (3,620m), converts into the Nubra River.  The average annual snowfall on the Saltoro is 10 mts, with temperatures ranging from minus 30 to minus 80 degrees centigrade. The important terrain deduction is that the 110 km long Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL), which the Indian Army occupies on the Saltoro Ridge, is reachable only after a vertical climb and then a suicidal frontal assault. India thus holds the commanding heights while Pakistan is at a severe military disadvantage.  Operation Meghdoot  For tracking how this military feat was achieved, one has to go back in time. Finding in Alpine climbing circles that Pakistan was claiming the area, Col Narendra “Bull” Kumar volunteered and was permitted to lead a fact-finding mission.  Post his path-breaking expedition in 1978 (he trekked along the Siachen from snout to source and climbed the Sia Kangri) and confirmation of Pakistani presence, Army HQ was alerted. With clinching evidence of Pakistani Special Services Group (SSG) presence detected by India’s Ladakh Scouts in 1983, the Army launched Operation Meghdoot on April 13, 1984, inducting 4 Kumaon by using the knowledge base provided by Col Kumar. IAF helicopters dropped the doughty Kumaonis at Bilafond La. Simultaneously, 4 Kumaon secured the two major passes — the Sia La and Gyong La — on foot, establishing posts that put India in command of Siachen Glacier. Today the Siachen Battalion HQ at 4,880m is named Kumar Base in honour of Col Kumar.  India, since 1984, has lost 720 soldiers, with 60 per cent falling to General Glacier. Many more have been evacuated due to the effects of serving in super high altitude. In cost terms, analysts estimate that it costs India Rs 1,200 to 1,500 crore annually to maintain its 7,000-plus manpower in the Siachen area. Our strategic interests and national pride demand that we accept this cost.  The Battle for Quaid Post  How desperately Pakistan tried to occupy the Saltoro Ridge as a mandatory prelude to capture of the Siachen Glacier is evident in their bold, surreptitious 1986 occupation by a JCO-led SSG team, of a dominating feature south of Bilafond La. The Pakistanis justifiably called it Quaid Post and the Indians, the Left Shoulder. This post, protected by a 1,500 foot high vertical foot snow wall, overlooked most Indian posts. On April 18, 1987, withering machinegun fire from it mowed down five soldiers of 5 Bihar located at the air-maintained Sonam Post. Amar, Ashok and U-Cut posts, all helicopter maintained, also became untenable. Capturing Quaid thus became very critical for the Indian Army. Pakistani occupation of Siachen would be near impossible to evict, given their easier access to Saltoro from POK. Also, if we pull out, Pakistan would be able to have access to Aksai Chin. The reality is that complete withdrawal of the army and air force will not be possible. Indian military establishments in that area are important is not only from the strategic point of view, but are also the lifeline for civilians Pakistani occupation of Siachen would be near impossible to evict, given their easier access to Saltoro from POK. Also, if we pull out, Pakistan would be able to have access to Aksai Chin. The reality is that complete withdrawal of the army and air force will not be possible. Indian military establishments in that area are important is not only from the strategic point of view, but are also the lifeline for civilians  The relieving battalion, 8 J&K LI, undertook this challenge. On May 29, the Commanding Officer, Col A.P. Rai, sent a ten-man patrol under 2/Lt Rajiv Pande to fix ropes for ascending Quaid. Unfortunately, the activity of rope fixing was detected and most of the patrol including Rajiv was shot. A specially selected task force of two officers, four JCO’s and 58 men under Maj (later Brig) Varinder Singh was created to capture Quaid and huge air effort expended to bring this force to area Saddle, 1000 metres away. Maj Varinder launched Operation Rajiv on June 23 and after masterminding three days and nights of superhuman effort, without food and water, constant shelling and losses of men, he located the ropes laid by Pande. Nearing the top, he launched Naib Subedar Bana Singh, the last of his four braveheart JCO’s to finish the capture of the depleted Quaid Post. Starting at 12.11 PM, on June 26, Bana and his four men finished off the job by 2 PM, shooting the last two defendants dead and launching the Indian Tricolor at 21,153 feet. Maj Varinder, though seriously wounded, followed and took charge. Quaid became Bana Post, with Bana being awarded the Param Vir Chakra.  What do India & Pak want?  Tim McGirk and Aravind Adiga in a May 4, 2005 article in Time magazine (War at the top of the world) correctly write that while India wants Pakistan to authenticate the AGPL both on the maps as well as on the ground, the latter insists on maintaining the pre—1972 troop position as agreed in the Simla Agreement. That way, say the Indians, if Pakistan does try to seize the Indian positions after a withdrawal, it would attract international condemnation. Analysts feel that Siachen should be linked to the Kashmir solution and that India demand a quid pro quo on Kashmir. The realist school opines that in case of a Pakistani occupation of Siachen, they would be near impossible to evict the, given their easier access to Saltoro from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. An equally valid argument is that in case we pull out, Pakistan would be able to have access to Aksai Chin.  Finally, the reality is that complete withdrawal of the Army and the IAF will not be possible. Thoise (not a real name but an acronym: Transit Holding Of Indian Soldiers Establishment) is a military airfield and small village in Shyok Valley. It enables a quick inflow of men and material from the Indian mainland to Siachen. “Its importance is not only from the strategic point of view, but also as a lifeline to the civilians,” says the IAF. They are right.  Pakistan, on its part, shies away from AGPL validation, ostensibly because that would “legitimise” India’s “intrusion” into Siachen. They insist that India has broken the 1972 Shimla covenant, both arguments being contrived. Pakistan’s “China card” opines that the northern part of the glacier abuts the Shaksham valley which is under Chinese control. Hence the need to have Beijing on board. The reality is that Shaksham valley, a 5,800 sq km area located just north of the Karakoram Pass, was part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and was illegally ceded by Pakistan to China in 1959. The Tribune editorial (The Siachen question: Playing China Card won’t help Pakistan, June 2, 2011) that Pakistan invariably brings up China when driven to a wall is spot on. The Indian positions on the Saltoro overlook Shaksgam Valley, and given the recent frenetic Sino-Pak collusion in this area, there is no reason for us to give up this strategic advantage. The specious argument that demilitarization is needed to stop global warming – the glacier is receding 10.5m annually – does not amuse India as her strategic considerations override global warming.  Siachen is not, as Tim McGirk and Aravind Adiga have written, the “low-hanging fruit” of the India-Pakistan peace process, in that it is easier to resolve than Kashmir. India and Pakistan must, on the contrary, see its resolution as a break from their current “trust deficit” relationship, and use its resolution for further peace-making. The ball is clearly in Pakistan’s court.
No naval build up, says China’s Defence Minister
Chinese National Defence Minister Liang Guanglie on Sunday dismissed out of court suggestions that Beijing was carving out “a permanent naval presence” in India's neighbourhood in South Asia.  Answering questions at a plenary session of the 10th Asia Security Summit, organised here by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies , General Liang disclaimed moves to build naval bases at Gwadar in Pakistan and at a Sri Lankan port.  Emphasising his credentials as a member of the Chinese State Council and Central Military Commission, he said “we will have a very serious and careful study of an issue of such importance to the government and the military” like the reported move for establishing naval bases in Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Indeed, “we will have exact plans and set up a panel to discuss it” if the move were for real. However, “I haven't heard of it,” said General Liang, delivering a calibrated political punch-line.  Asked by Manish Tewari, Congress party's spokesman, to spell out China's core interests in South Asia and the Indian Ocean area, General Liang said: “The core interests include anything that is related to sovereignty, stability, and form of government. China is now pursuing socialism. If there is any attempt to reject this path, it will touch upon China's core interests. Or, if there is any attempt to [encourage] any part of China to secede, that also touches upon China's core interests related to our land, sea, or air. Then, anything that is related to China's national [economic and social] development also touches upon China's core interests.”  On China's military modernisation, which the IISS experts see as a politically correct term for an arms build-up or arms race, General Liang said: “We do not have a large arsenal of ‘third generation weapons' or system-platforms. [Henry] Kissinger [former U.S. official] once told me ‘there is a clear gap between the U.S. and China.' Now, China's defence modernisation is compatible with its growth. While we focus on economic growth, we are sparing some resources for the development of the military.”
India beefs up China front with UAVs, copters to monitor PLA
NEW DELHI: India is now deploying spy drones or UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) and light observation helicopters along the borders with China to keep a hawk-eye on the stepped-up activities of People's Liberation Army.  The construction of over 5,500 "permanent defences and bunkers" along the borders is now being speeded up to ensure their completion within four to five years, under the Rs 9,243 crore military infrastructure development project approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security for the Eastern Army Command.  "Sukhoi-30MKI fighters are already being based in IAF airbases like Tezpur and Chabua. Army Aviation bases in Assam are also now being upgraded, with seven helicopters and four Israeli Searcher-II UAVs already been deployed there," a defence ministry source said.  The Army is also pushing for a mountain strike corps after having raised two new mountain infantry divisions. The new divisions, with 1,260 officers and 35,011 soldiers, have their HQs in Zakama (56 Div) in Nagaland and Missamari (71 Div) in Assam.  Though quite belated, all these plans are meant to strategically counter China's massive build-up of military infrastructure all along the 4,057-km Line of Actual Control (LAC) over the last two decades.  A flurry of high-level meetings in the last two-three months, which included a top military briefing to PM Manmohan Singh, have dealt on the dire need to boost India's military infrastructure, strike capabilities and operational logistics along the LAC.  Incidentally, with five fully-operational airbases, an extensive rail network and over 58,000-km of roads in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), China can now move more than 30 divisions (each with over 15,000 soldiers) at their "launch pads" on LAC in double-quick time, outnumbering Indian forces by at least three-is-to-one.  China's rapidly-expanding footprint in infrastructure projects in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, in the backdrop of the Beijing-Islamabad military nexus which targets India, has served to further heighten concerns in the defence establishment here.  India's counter-moves, however, are anything but swift. Only 15 of the 73 all-weather roads earmarked for construction along the unresolved LAC, for instance, are actually ready till now.  IAF is now also upgrading eastern sector ALGs (advanced landing grounds) like Pasighat, Mechuka, Walong, Tuting, Ziro and Vijaynagar as well as several helipads in Arunachal after reactivating western sector ALGs like Daulat Beg Oldi, Fukche and Nyama in eastern Ladakh. "But the entire process needs to be hastened," said an official.  Similarly, Army and IAF want faster inductions of the indigenous Akash surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems to counter the threat posed by enemy fighters, drones and helicopters on both western and eastern fronts.  While IAF has ordered eight Akash squadrons for Rs 6,200 crore, six of which are to be based in the North-East, the Army has placed an order for two regiments at a cost of Rs 14,180 crore.
Russian Arms Sellers Exude Optimism
Some of our most remarkable discussions during the May 25-27 session of the Valdai International Discussion Club in Moscow were with senior military and civilian officials in Russia’s defense community. These occurred under “Chatham House Rules,” which allows us to use the information without attributing it directly to the speaker.  One such dialogue might particularly interest Second Line of Defense readers. On Tuesday, May 25, we had dinner with the head of one of Russia’s main defense corporations. He shared with us his insights on a number of issues, including Russian perspectives on future sales opportunities at home and abroad.  The fall in Russian arms sales to China in the past few years has led many Western defense analysts to believe that Russian arms dealers have essentially given up on the Chinese.  Since Russia and China signed a military-technical cooperation agreement in December 1992, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has purchased more than 90 percent of its defense imports from Russian firms.  During the 1990s, the value of these deliveries peaked at about one billion dollars annually. During the mid-2000s, this yearly figure has sometimes been twice as much. Between 1992 and 2006, the total value of Russian arms exports to China amounted to approximately $26 billion, or almost half of all the weapons sold abroad by Russian firms (more than $58 billion during that period).  In recent years, this situation has clearly changed. The growing sophistication of China’s defense industry now enables the PLA to buy Chinese-made systems rather than import Russian-manufactured ones. With the PRC government’s encouragement, Chinese defense firms have been exploiting the opportunities for licensed production in order to learn how to manufacture substitute products that, while perhaps not as good as the most advanced Russian weapons, would be still on par with those produced during the late Soviet period. PRC manufacturers are producing either more indigenous advanced weapons systems or more defense technologies, sub-systems, and other essential components that Chinese firms can insert directly into foreign-made systems. The Chinese have also objected to the quality of some of the weapons they imported from Russia in addition to poor post-sale servicing of the imported systems. Furthermore, PRC representatives have also complained about how Russian production difficulties have resulted in lengthy delays in the fulfillment of Sino-Russian defense contracts. For their part, Russian and foreign experts suspect that the Chinese have reversed engineered some of the imported Russian military technology.  Since 2005, the PRC has stopped purchasing Russian warships and warplanes and has ceased signing new multi-billion arms sale contracts. The director of Russia’s state-controlled arms export company, Rosoboronexport, recently forecast that the value of Russian arms sold to China could decline to as low a level as 10 percent of the value of all Russian military exports in the coming years.  Some experts believe that figure could fall even lower.  But the defense company head we had dinner with insisted that Russian firms still see opportunities for additional lucrative weapons sales to China. Although he recognized that Russia helped contribute to the improved quality of the PRC defense industry through its license transfer of Su-27 technologies and other means, he still saw future opportunities for profitable collaboration with the Chinese. According to him, such collaboration is possible since most representatives of the Chinese aerospace industry recognize that China’s defense sector is still lagging and therefore needs to rely on foreign partners.  When I asked about the PLA’s recently unveiled “5th-generation fighter,” this defense company leader responded that the Chinese have a long way to go before they will produce a genuine “5th-generation” plane equivalent to the Russian Tu-50. He explained that although some of the subsystems of China’s J-20 might be considered 5th-generation, the Chinese still need much more time to combine all these subsystems effectively and produce a genuine state-of-the-art 5th-generation craft.  Conversely, the defense company president also expressed some irritation at the Indians for forgetting that it was Russia, rather than India, who was the leading partner in their defense relationship. He added that, despite the decision of the Indian defense ministry to eliminate Russian (and U.S.) planes from their latest round of competition to sell India its next multi-role fighter, he still considered the country a good sales market as long as New Delhi realized that the process was a two-way street and that Russia had useful things to offer.  In terms of Russia’s own weapons purchases, the business executive expressed his approval for the Russian government’s newly adopted State Armament Program (SAP) 2011-2020, which seeks to increase the large-scale acquisition and procurement of modern military equipment. The SAP envisages raising the proportion of modern weaponry in service with the Russian military from approximately 15 percent today to 30 percent by 2015, and to 70 percent (up to 100 percent for some types of weapons) by 2020. The Ministry of Defense (MOD) priority procurement areas will be strategic nuclear forces, high-precision conventional weapons, and Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems.  Under the SAP, military research and development spending will decrease considerably from current levels of approximately 20 percent to 10 percent of overall spending, while 80 percent of the MOD SAP will now go to purchasing new weapons, with the remaining 10 percent paying for repairs and upgrades of existing equipment. A senior Russian general we met later said that the Russian military has adopted a long-term perspective toward its R&D efforts. The MOD is willing to wait many years before some funded projects yield results.  The defense company head we met with considered the SAP to be well-balanced between what the Russian arms industry could efficiently produce (in terms of economies of scale) and what the Russian military can absorb (in terms of training adequate personnel and paying for the systems’ acquisition and upkeep). Russia’s defense industry could produce many more weapons systems, but the Russian Armed Forces would be incapable of incorporating all of them. The SAP is also sufficiently large as to place the Russian defense companies in a good position to produce more after 2020, when Russian government defense procurement is expected to increase further. He also praised the MOD for adopting a more effective practice of servicing their systems in partnership with Russian firms rather than, as was done previously, trying to do everything in-house.  In contrast, he argued that Russian defense companies saw few good commercial opportunities in many former Soviet republics. Their defense budgets are so small that they can only afford to buy a few modern systems. Many of these purchases are discounted or subsidized by the Russian government as a means of bolstering the regional security ties. The CEO, however, acknowledged that Russian firms do have opportunities to service and upgrade these countries’ existing Soviet-origin weapons. In the case of modern aircraft, such servicing and upgrades can be very lucrative. But some of these states, such as Kazakhstan, have pursued what he considered the mistaken policy of having firms from Belarus service their warplanes simply to save money despite the inferior quality of work.  But this official did see good global sales prospects for the Sukhoi T-50 (PKA FA), including those in Southeast Asia, Latin America, and even a few African countries. The Russian Air Force will also continue to purchase these planes through at least the current SAP (2020), and probably beyond, while the Indian Air Force will begin buying the planes around 2015. He also believes that the Russian aircraft industry would further develop the Su-30/34/35 series, which he argued was completely different from the Su-27 sequence. He also stated that these 4th-generation planes would experience strong sales due to the Sukhoi’s commitment to produce 5th-generation craft. Buyers appreciate the company’s commitment to remain a leading developer of aerospace technology and could see how 5th-generation technology could be backfilled into their 4th-generation planes, as Sukhoi was doing in the Russian Air Force.  Finally, he confirmed that Russian arms sellers did not consider European military aircraft manufacturers as major competitive threats. Although their planes were often of very high quality, they were typically very expensive due to limited production runs (resulting from the small size of the European domestic markets) and to high European labor and manufacturing costs. (The fact that Eurofighter and Dassault have made it to the final round of the Indian multi-role fighter competition, while the Russian entry did not, presumably explains his critical remarks about the Indians not appreciating that their defense relationship with Russia must be a two-way street.)  In our May 27 meeting in the Ministry of Defense, a high-ranking officer confirmed Russia’s willingness to import some foreign weapons systems if the domestic manufacturers lack the capacity to produce items efficiently. Nonetheless, Russian policymakers are aware that purchasing sophisticated foreign weapons is a difficult and expensive path, so it will only be done on a limited basis.
Pakistan war-gaming to counter India's military plan
New Delhi : With the Indian Army perfecting a short but power-filled warfare doctrine intended against its western neighbour, Pakistan too is war-gaming a counter-strategy in an exercise on for a fortnight now, a few kilometres from its borders with India's Rajasthan state.  The Pakistan Army's Karachi-based V Corps launched the exercise a fortnight ago in the desert terrain between its Sindh and Punjab provinces that abut the Thar desert around Sadiqabad, senior Indian intelligence sources told IANS here.  The war game, described by the Pakistan Army as a collective summer training exercise, will be completed within the next fortnight and is primarily focussed on testing its man and machinery in both defensive and offensive warfare manoeuvres, the sources said.  The corps' infantry, mechanised infantry and armoured units, along with other battle assets such as their artillery units, were pushed to the limits in searing heat in the Thar desert during the field exercise.  The corps commander, Lt Gen Mohammed Zahir-ul-Islam, too witnessed the manoeuvres of his troops last week, sources added.  The Pakistan Army has conducted a couple of major exercises in the last four years to train its troops to counter an Indian strategy, loosely termed as 'Cold Start' doctrine by Indian military think tanks and the media.  Though the Indian Army chief Gen. V.K. Singh has stated that there was no such strategy called 'Cold Start', Indian armed forces have over the last seven years since 2004 held over 10 major military exercises in the Rajasthan desert and the Punjab plains.  Based on its experience during the 2001-02 Op Parakram when troops mobilised over months, the Indian Army war games have focussed on validating the army's latest doctrine of mobilising troops in shortest possible time and for launching an offensive using its mechanised forces and artillery of its strike corps and division-sized formations within its defensive pivot corps.  The Pakistan Army's V Corps has among its formations a mechanised division with battle tanks and armoured personnel carriers, two infantry divisions, and an independent artillery brigade.  Raised in 1975, the corps, known as the Victory Corps, would be Pakistan's first line of defence, as it is spread over the Sindh and southern Punjab provinces, along its eastern borders.  This corps had been mobilised by then Pakistan president and army chief Gen. Zia-ul-Haq in 1986-87, when India carried out a major war exercise, Operations Brasstacks, in the Rajasthan desert under then army chief General K Sundarji, viewing the Indian war gaming as a major threat.  It also had a role to place in the coup by then Pakistan army chief Gen. Pervez Musharraf in 1999, soon after the India-Pakistan Kargil conflict, to oust then prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

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