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Friday, 10 June 2011

From Today's Papers - 10 Jun 2011

India-Pak dialogue Foreign Secys to review progress
Ashok Tuteja Tribune News Service  New Delhi, June 9 The foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan will meet here by the end of the month to review the progress in the dialogue process that was resumed in March after a hiatus of more than two years in the wake of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.  This was conveyed by Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao to a group of visiting Urdu journalists from Pakistan which called on her. The talks will be held after a series of meetings between top officials of the two countries on a range of bilateral issues, including Siachen, water, trade and commerce. An India-Pakistan joint working group for simplifying visa procedures had also met recently in Pakistan.  After the meeting between the two top diplomats, the Foreign Ministers of India and Pakistan are scheduled to meet in July to discuss the roadmap for future parleys.  Meanwhile, Rao told the Pakistani journalists that New Delhi was committed to the dialogue process with Pakistan but Islamabad must address India’s concerns over the issue of terrorism.  “India has shown the courage to resume the dialogue with Pakistan as we believe that it is the best way to resolve problems peacefully. We should aim for a sustained dialogue and we must not be impatient. Every step we have taken in this regard is a meaningful step, she added.  Rao said India was concerned about the spurt in terrorism in Pakistan. “Pakistan has got identified with what happened on 26/11 and other terror incidents. It is unfortunate that many people have died in Pakistan owing to terrorism. Pakistan is going through difficult times.”  She regretted that Pakistan was not serious about tackling terrorism directed against India from its soil. In this connection, she specifically drew attention towards Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Mohammed Saeed who has been spewing venom against India in his public speeches in Pakistan.  26/11 trial: Malik wants permission to interview officials in India  Pakistan has said it had put the trial of seven Mumbai attack suspects on the fast track and any delay in proceedings is due to India's failure to decide on a request to allow a judicial commission to interview key officials there. Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik has indicated that New Delhi should provide more evidence to enable Islamabad to act against other suspects.

N-capable Prithvi-II test-fired successfully
Shubhadeep Choudhury Tribune News Service  Bangalore, June 9 India today successfully test-fired indigenously built surface-to-surface nuclear capable Prithvi-II missile from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur on Sea in Orissa.  The missile, capable of carrying a pay-load of 500-1000 kg for hitting installations at ranges of up to 350 km, reached the designated target in the Bay of Bengal with high accuracy (less than 10 metres deviation from the target). Radars located along the coast tracked and monitored the missile throughout the flight path. An Indian Navy ship located near the target watched the final hit.  The missile, developed under the country’s prestigious Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP), is propelled by liquid propulsion twin engine.  “The flight test of the Prithvi-II met all the mission objectives and was like a text book launch. Dr VK Saraswat, scientific adviser to the Defence Minister and secretary, Defence R&D, witnessed the launch operations and congratulated the armed forces and the DRDO scientists for the successful flight test”, a press release issued here by the DRDO said.  The indigenously developed missile mounted on a mobile launcher was test-fired at around 9.05 am. The missile, with features to deceive interceptors, had demonstrated flight duration of 483 seconds reaching a peak altitude of 43.5 km in a trial in 2008.  Later, as a part of the operational exercises by the military, two Prithvi-II missiles, aimed at two different targets at 350 km from launch point of ITR, were successfully launched within minutes of each other on October 12, 2009, and all the mission objectives were met.  The missile again proved its accuracy when the armed forces tried it in a ‘salvo mode’ on March 27 and June 18 last year from ITR, Chandipur. It was the fourth successful Prithvi-II flight within a period of eight months.

5 jawans killed in Naxal attack
Raipur, June 9 Five jawans of the Chhattisgarh Armed Force were killed today when the Naxals opened indiscriminate fire at them near their camp in Narayanpur district, the police said.  Some jawans were involved in their regular chores near the camp of the 16th Battalion in Jharaghati village when the Naxals attacked them killing four jawans, Rajiv Shrivastav, (IG) Naxal Operations said. The Naxals also decamped with two weapons of the jawans, he said. — PTI

Prithvi takes off for the sky without hitch
BALASORE: The army on Thursday successfully test-fired the indigenously developed nuclear-capable Prithvi-2 ballistic missile from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur-on-sea in Balasore district. Defence sources said, as part of the user training exercise, the trial was conducted from the launching complex-III of the ITR around 9.05 am amid tight security.  "The flight test of Prithvi-2 was like a textbook launch meeting all mission objectives," said an official present during the test. He said the missile mounted on a mobile launcher was test-fired in a vertical mode. The missile, which carried a dummy payload, covered the desired striking range before plunging into the sea at a pre-determined splash-down point.  "Taken from a routine production lot, the missile was launched with an improved aided inertial navigation system and achieved single digit accuracy reaching close to zero circular error probability (CEP)," he said.  The 8.56 m high and one m thick Prithvi missile, with a launch weight of 4.6 tonne, has a strike range of up to 350 km. Powered by liquid propellant; Prithvi can operate with both liquid as well as solid fuel. The missile is thrusted by liquid propulsion twin engine and uses Advanced Inertial Guidance System ( AIGS) with manouvering trajectory and reaches the targets with few metre accuracy.  Prithvi is India's first indigenously built ballistic missile. One of five missiles being developed under India's Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme ( IGMDP), Prithvi is capable of carrying a payload of between 500 kg and one tonne, including nuclear weapons.  Top army officials and DRDO scientists witnessed Thursday's launch. Scientific advisor to the defence minister V K Saraswat, programme director of AD V L N Rao, director of RCI S K Ray and ITR director S P Dash oversaw operations of the launch. Defence minister A K Antony has congratulated all scientists of DRDO and officials of the armed forces on the successful launch of Prithvi-II.

Pakistani Army Pleads for Respect
Pakistan's army leadership, under mounting domestic pressure since a U.S. strike team infiltrated its soil to kill Osama bin Laden, issued a rare defensive response to domestic critics Thursday, offering to reduce its reliance on U.S. military aid and training and setting strict limits on American intelligence operations within the country.  Since the May 2 raid, army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and his inner circle have had to contend with American demands for more cooperation in the fight against Islamist militants while trying to reassure soldiers who are openly questioning the rationale for Pakistan's tight military embrace with the U.S.  Pakistan's opposition politicians have joined the fray, spurring public disenchantment with the military, for decades the dominant political and economic powerbroker in the country.  The roughly 1,000-word statement—at various points apologetic, belligerent and strident—was the clearest indication to date that in striking a balance between the competing demands, Pakistan's military leaders are looking to first assuage their own people, even if that means scaling back ties to the U.S.  The statement also offered an indication of the crisis now gripping Pakistan's military and the lengths its leaders are potentially willing to go to restore public respect. The statement also said the army would be willing to divert U.S. military aid to help improve the lot of ordinary Pakistanis.  The military's attempt to court the public faced an immediate challenge Thursday when a video emerged of paramilitary soldiers in Karachi shooting dead an unarmed teenager who was pleading for his life. It was aired nonstop by television news channels and overshadowed the military's statement.  Gen. Kayani in recent weeks has attempted to rally his troops, going from garrison to garrison to explain that he shares their sense of humiliation over the raid but that now is no time to jettison ties with the U.S.  "I felt betrayed by the U.S. military action as I have been involved deeply in developing strategic relations with the United States," he told senior field officers at Islamabad's National Defense University last month, according to people who attended the event.  After the speech, a colonel in attendance pointedly asked: "How can we trust the United States?"  On Thursday, Gen. Kayani told senior commanders the army was responding to that sense of frustration, according to the military's statement. He said the army had "drastically cut" the number of U.S. troops stationed in Pakistan and ended U.S. training of Pakistani soldiers.  Gen. Kayani also told commanders that U.S. military aid for Pakistan should be diverted to help the economy, signaling that he no longer sees it as essential. Pakistan said it received $8.6 billion in U.S. military assistance in the past decade through an American program meant to reimburse the country for money spent fighting militants. The figure is slightly lower than numbers provided Thursday by the Defense Department.  Gen. Kayani, however, said that only $2.6 billion of that sum went to the armed forces and the rest was spent on budget support for Pakistan's cash-strapped government.  The Defense Department said Pakistan had requested the number of U.S. military trainers in Pakistan be reduced. It didn't provide numbers, but U.S. officials have previously said troops would be cut from a high of about 330 last year to slightly more than 200, and some training operations were being curtailed.  Thursday's statement also indicated Gen. Kayani is unlikely to heed U.S. demands for expanded cooperation in the fight against militants. He told commanders Pakistan won't be pressured to agree to a timetable to attack North Waziristan, a Pakistani tribal area that borders Afghanistan and is home to a slew of militant groups, including one at the top of the U.S. target list, the Haqqani network.  Gen. Kayani also told commanders that U.S. drone strikes against militants in the tribal areas "were not acceptable under any circumstances." Pakistan has always publicly condemned the program while privately acquiesing and, at times, assisting it. Since the bin Laden raid, Gen. Kayani has faced widespread criticism among his ranks for letting the drone strikes continue.  U.S. reaction to the Pakistani statement was muted. American officials said they understood Gen. Kayani needed "breathing space" to get his own people back on his side. "The government has been in a difficult spot domestically since the bin Laden raid, and the Pakistani military is probably tying to re-establish some of the credibility it perceived it lost," said a U.S. official in Washington.  Some Pakistani officers fear that anger over the bin Laden raid could make lower-ranking soldiers more amenable to Islamist influences. One group, Hizb ut-Tahrir, which has roots in the Middle East, clandestinely dropped pamphlets in military cantonments after the bin Laden raid calling for officers to establish an Islamic caliphate.  "It is a slap in the respected officers' faces that on May 2 American helicopters intruded in the dark of night and barged into a house like thieves," the pamphlet read. It added: "It could not have been possible without the acquiescence of your high officials."  Military officers said it was highly unlikely the pamphlets could have been distributed without assistance from in the ranks.  The U.S. has assiduously courted Gen. Kayani—a stand-out student in the 1980s at the U.S. Army's Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kan.—since he took control of the army in 2007.  Many U.S. officials say Pakistan is supporting Afghan Taliban factions in the hope of using them to maintain influence there once the Americans leave.  Pakistanis are insulted by such talk. They point out that they have caught numerous al Qaeda members. A third of Pakistan's army is arrayed along the border with Afghanistan fighting local Taliban militants, a campaign in which almost 3,000 Pakistani soldiers have died. Many generals, Gen. Kayani included, say the nation is now critically exposed to attack from archrival India on its eastern flank.  In the field, soldiers say they are angry at the lack of recognition from the U.S. for their losses fighting militants.  "We are fighting for the whole world. It's very bad it's not recognized," said Lt. Col. Fazal Rabbi, a helicopter pilot with the Frontier Corps.  U.S. pressure to do more, which would inevitably mean pulling more soldiers off the border with India, has deepened Gen. Kayani's concerns. "The Americans," said one senior Pakistani officer, "talk to us like they don't give a damn if Indian soldiers can walk into Pakistan."  In much of his dealings with his American interlocutors, Gen. Kayani chain smokes and nods but never says much, according to a former official who worked with him.  Some U.S. officials acknowledge that the general sees the Americans as short-timers in the region. "We're like high school kids talking about what do Friday night," said a senior U.S. military officer. "He's planning what he's going to do after college."  Gen. Kayani's skepticism was summed up at a meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House in October.  After Mr. Obama pressed him on the need to move against Taliban sanctuaries, Gen. Kayani handed over a 13-page document outlining the distance between Washington's short-term focus, which centers on getting out of Afghanistan, and Pakistan's long-term challenges of living in an unstable region alongside a more populous and powerful India, say U.S. and Pakistani officials briefed on the meeting.

India developing indigenous artillery guns
With the army failing in its attempts to induct new artillery guns in the last 25 years, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has started developing an indigenous 155mm 52 calibre howitzer for the armed forces.  Armament Research and Development Establishment, the DRDO's lab in Pune, has already started working on developing indigenous artillery guns for the armed forces, senior DRDO officials said.  Other DRDO laboratories will also be involved in the programme but ARDE will be the lead agency for it, they said.  The officials said the research agency had started working on the development of the Bhim self-propelled howitzer about a decade back but the project was virtually scrapped after South African firm Denel was blacklisted by the ministry.  Despite several attempts, cancellation of tenders due to various reasons has not allowed the army to induct any new artillery gun in the last 25 years after the controversy surrounding the Bofors guns snow-balled into a big political issue since the late 80s.  Even the recently issued global tender for procuring 400 guns has run into rough weather, with one of the main contenders Bofors deciding to pull out of the deal.  As part of its over Rs 20,000-crore artillery modernisation plan, the Army is looking at inducting several types of howitzers through inter-governmental pacts and global tenders.  The army presently uses a mix of 105mm field guns and 130mm and 155mm howitzers.

Trials begin of upgraded Indian main battle tank
New Delhi, June 9 (IANS) The trials began Thursday of an upgraded version of the indigenous Arjun main battle tank (MBT) that is expected to form the backbone of the Indian Army's armoured fighting units from 2014, a defence ministry official said.  The trials come just a year after the government had accorded the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) the go ahead for developing the Mark-II version of the Arjun tank, a project that has taken the country over three decades to complete.  "The trials of the Arjun Mark-II tanks have begun at the Pokhran ranges in Rajasthan from today. The development programme is right on track and on schedule," a senior defence ministry official told IANS. The Arjun Mark-II is also expected to go through its winter trials later this year.  The defence ministry had, last May, asked the DRDO to develop the Mark-II version of the Arjun tank during a review of the premier defence research agency's performance. "In 24 months from now or in early 2014, the Arjun Mark-II tanks will be ready for production," a DRDO official had said in February.  Among the upgrades, the Mark-II tank would feature an indigenous engine that would replace the German engines of the 58-tonne Arjun Mark-I.  The Arjun Mark-II will have about a dozen changes from the first lot, being armed with missile firing capability through a laser homing device.  Though this device had been tested on the Mark-I version of the tank about five years ago, it did not form part of the final design of the initial 124 delivered to the army, and nor will it be mounted on the second lot of 124.  The device would have a range of about eight km, within which it will be able to destroy enemy tanks after homing on to the target using a laser.  Other modifications include better explosive-reactive armour for the tank to protect it from enemy missiles and rockets, improving the sighting facility to provide it a wider view of the battlefield, night vision capability and an improved communication system.  The Arjun Mark-II will have over 90 percent indigenous systems on board, except for some hydraulic and electronic systems.  "Each of the dozen upgraded systems are being tested one after the other during the trials," the official said.  The army has ordered 248 Arjun Mark-I tanks for induction into its armoured regiments. The first lot of 124 tanks, for which the orders were placed on the Avadi-based Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF) in 2004 at a cost of Rs.170 million ($4 million) each, have been handed over to the army.  The army is now operating the 124 Arjuns as part of two regiments in the western sector and last May placed an order for an additional 124 tanks, primarily to keep the HVF production line running before the Mark-II version was ready for manufacturing.  The army gained confidence in operating the Arjun tanks, despite the initial hesitation, after the first two regiments were pitted against the Russian-built T-90 MBTs early last year in comparative trials in the desert terrain.  The Arjuns had outsmarted the T-90s in all the parameters set for the trials and had prompted the army top brass to agree to inducting two more regiments.

Pakistan: A reality check amid the terror and chaos
Today Pakistan finds itself in the eye of the terrorism storm. An environment of controversies, contradictions, distortions and mutual suspicions prevails all around, polluting and weakening the war on terror. The situation demands a clearer understanding of ground realities in south Asia, bridging the acute trust deficit and developing a unity of thought and action among all coalition players. Blame games, rigidity, arrogance and insensitivity to others' interests will always remain counterproductive.  I would like to start by analyzing the existing environment in its historical perspective. How did religious militancy get introduced into Pakistan? There is no doubt that Pakistan is a victim of terrorism and is certainly not the perpetrator. Advertisement  In 1979, the United States, in its own interest of containing Soviet expansion, and Pakistan, in its own national interest of preserving its integrity against the Soviet design of reaching the warm waters of the Indian Ocean through Pakistan, initiated a jihad (holy war in defense of Islam) in Afghanistan. We inducted 25,000 to 30,000 Mujahedeen (holy warriors) from all over the Muslim world into Afghanistan and also pumped in Taliban from the tribal agencies of Pakistan after arming and training them.  In effect, therefore, for 10 long years from 1979 to 1989, we gave birth to religious militancy under the call for jihad. The freedom struggle in Indian-held Kashmir started in 1989 and continues till now. It has tremendous public sympathy in Pakistan and has given birth to several Mujahedeen groups. This is another big cause of religious militancy in Pakistan.  Then there was the most disastrous period of 1989-2001 for Afghanistan when the United States summarily quit the area, resulting in the coalescing of the Mujahedeen into al Qaeda and the rise of the Taliban. During this period, four million Afghan refugees came into Pakistan.  Finally, to crown it all, there was 9/11, initiating the U.S. military offensive in Afghanistan and Pakistan's membership of the coalition. In its aftermath, all hell broke lose in Pakistan, with religious militancy from the east and the west. Pakistan's national and social fabric was torn asunder.
Why is there so much antipathy in Pakistan's public mind against the United States? This is despite the fact that Pakistan was very consciously in strategic alliance with the United States and the West for 42 years since our independence in 1947 and together fought a jihad in Afghanistan for 10 years from 1979 to 1989. Our relationship, and even public perceptions of each other, were pretty normal and friendly until 1989.  The abandonment of Pakistan after 1989, with a strategic shift of U.S. policy towards India and military sanctions against Pakistan, cost U.S.-Pakistan relations very dearly. In Pakistan's public mind, the United States ''used'' Pakistan and then abandoned it: this was taken as a betrayal. The U.S. nuclear policy of appeasement and strategic co-operation with India against Pakistan is taken by the man in the street in Pakistan as very partisan and an act of animosity against our national interest. The continuing U.S. military presence and operations in Afghanistan, the indiscriminate drone attacks with increasing collateral damage in the tribal agencies of Pakistan and, finally, the violation of Pakistani sovereignty in the cross-border strike against Osama bin Laden are all now seen most negatively by the people of Pakistan. Advertisement  To further complicate and indeed weaken our joint war against terror, there is an acute deficit of trust and confidence between the United States and Pakistan at all levels of government, the military and intelligence. This has increased manifold over the last year. It started somewhat with myself in 2004-2005. Our policy in Pakistan's tribal agencies was to wean away Pakthuns from the Taliban. I coined a phrase back in 2002-2003 that all Taliban are Pakthun, but all Pakthun are not Taliban. The methodology adopted was through the convening of Jirgas (gatherings of notables and elders), which are very much a tribal custom. This was seen in certain quarters in the United States and also the media as ''double dealing." There were accusations against me that I was "dealing" with the Taliban.
My many exhortations that this was a baseless accusation -- and the logic of how I could be dealing with people who were trying to assassinate me -- fell on deaf ears. Problems also arose whenever the United States showed tendencies towards micro management. My argument always was to co-operate and believe in strategic coordination to fight al-Qaeda and the Taliban and to leave the tactics and micro management to us. The bone of contention now seems to be the general feeling in U.S. circles that Pakistan refused to take military action in North Waziristan against the Siraj Haqqani group of Taliban. American accusations about Pakistan's military and intelligence services being complicit with the Taliban basically result from this. Advertisement  I am not privy to Pakistan's strategy of not operating against the Haqqani, at least for the time being. However, I am very sure that they cannot be supporting them. The malicious role of India and the Afghan government itself in maligning Pakistan's military and intelligence must not be overlooked. We know what Indian consulates in Kandahar and Jalalabad especially are doing. We also know that Afghan intelligence, military and foreign service personnel go for training in India. Not a single one comes to Pakistan, despite Pakistan's longstanding offer of free training since my time in office.  The locating and killing of Osama bin Laden in the most unlikely hideout of Abbottabad has shocked the world -- most of all Pakistan. It indeed strengthens the argument about Pakistan's complicity with the Taliban. The question being debated is whether this is complicity or incompetence. I would certainly go for the latter: incompetence and callousness of the highest degree.  The simple logic that I would apply, whether anyone believes it or not, is that if bin Laden was hiding in Abbottabad for five years (which my sense of logic does not readily accept), then any complicity involves me also. I knew nothing about it, and I cannot imagine in my wildest dreams that the intelligence agencies were hiding it from me. Therefore, there was no complicity at the top.
Could rogue elements within the intelligence services have been harboring him? Not possible. The intelligence detachment personnel in the area, or at least the commander, must have changed at least three times in this period. Could all of them have been aiding and abetting him? No. Does not knowing bin Laden's whereabouts, for however long, stand the test of reason? I think it does. After all the thousands of people living around Osama's house also did not know. Human intelligence, after all, gathers information from people. Advertisement  Let me finally come to the way ahead. Does the present environment bode well for the global war on terror? Certainly not. Therefore, the earlier we mend fences, the better for Pakistan, the United States, the south Asia region and indeed the whole world.  The first and most urgent need of the hour is to restore trust. We must speak the truth with each other very openly and frankly. Pakistan needs to explain clearly why it is not acting against the Haqqani group or when it will operate in North Waziristan. The intelligence agencies of Pakistan should be purged of any elements who may not be committed to the official line of fighting al Qaeda and the Taliban.  The United States, on the other hand, must trust that Pakistan is committed to fighting terrorism and that it is doing this in its own interest. Attacking targets in tribal agencies must be left to Pakistani forces, even if it means giving drones to Pakistan. Our sovereignty must be respected. Pakistan's army looks overstretched and maybe somewhat fatigued. There is a need to raise about 20 more wings of Frontier Corps and equip them with more tanks and medium guns. Abandoning the area by U.S. and other Coalition forces without creating the appropriate political environment and the military capability in the Afghan forces would be most inadvisable.  The ulterior Indian motive of creating an anti-Pakistan Afghanistan has to stop. Afghan President Hamid Karzai must also understand this and stop stabbing Pakistan in the back. Only the United States can ensure such an essential change. The Kashmir dispute needs an urgent, amicable settlement. That is the core towards stopping the religious militancy of the Kashmir-orientated Mujahedeen.
In the final analysis Pakistan also has to look inwards to resolve its sociopolitical conflict. We, as a nation, have to boldly demonstrate our resolve towards moderation and rejection of extremism from within our society. We have to follow, with courage, the five-point agenda that I created to check extremism within:  1. Stop misuse of madrassas and mosques from preaching militancy of any form. 2. Stop printing/publishing and selling/distributing any material spreading violence and militancy. 3. Ban militant religious organizations and deny their reemergence under different names. 4. Keep the religious syllabus and curriculum in schools under constant review to prevent any teaching of controversial issues, which could lead to religious rigidity, extremism and intolerance. 5. Implement a madrassa strategy to mainstream Taliban into the social fabric of the nation. Advertisement  All this is easier said than done. It needs a government that comprehends the magnitude of the task, has the following of the people and the determination to change. In the present political scenario none of the political parties or their leaders has the acumen to achieve such lofty ideals. We face an acute leadership vacuum. This has to be filled. We have to break the political status quo. We have to produce a political alternative to be seen domestically and internationally as viable and take it to victory through democratic means.  Time is of essence for Pakistan. Too much water has flown under the bridge. The next elections will be the mother of all elections.

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