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Sunday, 31 July 2011

From Today's Papers - 31 Jul 2011





Sukhois to get closer to Pakistan border

To be stationed at Halwara air base, 150 km away from frontier, by year-end

Ajay Banerjee/TNS  New Delhi, July 30 For the first time, India’s frontline fighter aircraft, Sukhoi-30-MKI, will be based very close to the Indo-Pak border, only around 150 km away, at Halwara, near Ludhiana.  Sources in the IAF said the runway reconstruction at the Halwara airbase was nearing completion and the first squadron of the Sukhois would move there by the end of the year or at best early next year.  The twin-engined Russian-origin Sukhois, which are now produced under licence in India, are one of the leading warplanes of the world. These are set to become deadlier with the slated fitting of super-sonic cruise missile BrahMos under its belly.  A Sukhoi-30-MKI flying at top speed of around two mach, about 2,450 kmph, will be able to reach the western border of India within 4 minutes of the take-off from Halwara.  The original plan was to have Sukhois at Halwara at the start of this year itself, however, it was held back due to the runway reconstruction project. The stationing of the warplane is significant as it can travel up to 5,200 km in one go and carry around 8,000 kgs of weaponry. As part of the beefing up of operations in eastern India, some Sukhois have been stationed at Chabua and Tezpur.  The warplane will provide additional capability to the IAF, which has a Sukhoi-30-MKI base at Bareilly in western Uttar Pradesh.  Over the past few months, the entire lot of 62 Russian-built MiG-29s has been deployed at Adampur, near Jalandhar. All three squadrons, around 62 fighters, are now based at Adampur which is nation’s second largest IAF base and had MiG 29s for long. Now all the MiG 29s from across Gujarat have been moved to Adampur, around 100 km away from the Indo-Pak border and less than 250 km from the Chinese border on the eastern side. The MiG 29s are under the process of being upgraded to carry better weapons, a state-of-the-art radar and advanced avionics.  Another important addition would be midair re-fuelling capability. A more powerful and latest series-III version of the existing RD 33 engine of the MiG 29 will be housed in the upgraded planes. A multi-functional radar will guide weapons with better precision. It will also enable the pilot to “see” even small targets like unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). A new weapon-control system will enable better targeting of aims and also upgrade the weapon delivery system. The existing flying range of the MIG-29 is around 2,100 km. Post add-ons, it will go up to 3,500 km.  After the upgrade, the MiG-29s, inducted in the late 1980s, will be just a shade lower than the Sukhoi-30-MKI in strike capability.  Meanwhile, the IAF has launched a major drive to fill vacancies of pilots. As per latest figures, the IAF has a shortage of 1,016 officers out of which 400 are the vacancies of pilots. The IAF has a sanctioned strength of 12,211 officers. It will be adding newer warplanes in the next 6 to 8 years as the supply of the 126 MMRCA fighter planes will start while the supply of the fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) is expected to commence in 2019.     n The warplane will provide additional capability to the IAF, which has a Sukhoi-30-MKI base at Bareilly in western UP  n The twin-engined Russian-origin Sukhois are one of the leading warplanes of the world  n These are set to become deadlier with the slated fitting of super-sonic cruise missile BrahMos under its belly  n The fighter aircraft flying at top speed about 2,450 kmph will be able to reach the western border of India within 4  minutes of the take-off from Halwara  n The stationing of the warplane is significant as it can travel up to 5,200 km in one go and carry around 8,000 kgs of weaponry

Browne to take over as IAF chief today

New Delhi, July 30 Air Marshal Norman Anil Kumar Browne will tomorrow take over as the new IAF Chief. A fighter pilot with a varied operational experience on all kinds of aircraft, including Jaguars and Sukhoi-30, Browne has logged about 3,100 hours of flying.  An alumnus of the NDA, he has served as an instructor at the Tactics and Air Combat Development Establishment and the tri-services Defence Services Staff College in Wellington. — PTI

Counter-terrorism: the Indian response

The security establishment appears divided on how to counter terror. Should the country opt for newer agencies and a new architecture or should it concentrate on consolidating existing agencies and the police—-is the question. Shishir Gupta

The evolution of the Indian counter-terror policy in the twenty-first century has roots in the 1999 India–Pakistan Kargil conflict and the hijacking of Indian Airlines flight IC-814 by the Harkatul-Mujahideen. In both the cases, the intelligence agencies were caught napping and even the response was leaden, to say the least, with huge consequences. As a result, the government set up a Group of Ministers under the Indian Home Minister to reform the national security system. Among its many recommendations for enhancing counter-terror response was establishing the Multi Agency Centre (MAC) under the Intelligence Bureau (IB).  However, it was after the 9/11 upheaval that the MAC was formally set up, on 6 December 2001. Its mandate was ‘to centrally pool and process all operational and actionable intelligence and disseminate them among the executive agencies for real time action, value addition and conversion of raw intelligence into actionable intelligence; build a national memory bank; develop round-the-clock early warning capability and communication network interfaced with Central security agencies and state police forces; and ensure coordination and synergy in response action through pooling of resources, manpower, technical equipment and intelligence’. But this evidently did not help as India was hit by a spate of bombings and terror attacks culminating in the 26/11 attack in Mumbai.  By the government’s own admission, made after 26 November 2008, the MAC had not lived up to its promise; the databases had not been created and no data relating to terrorist activities had been received from the central and state security forces and agencies.  Counter-terrorism Centre  In the interim, the second Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC), which was set up by the present government, in its report titled ‘Combating Terrorism’ in June 2008 recommended the following: ‘The MAC should be converted into a National Counter-terrorism Centre (NCTC) with personnel drawn from different intelligence and security agencies. Besides, it should be given the nodal role to ensure convergence and coordination of relevant intelligence data on terrorism from all such agencies in the country. At the state level the subsidiary MAC should play a similar role.’  With the government concurring with the ARC on enhancing its counter-terror capabilities, the Indian government on 1 January 2009 promulgated the ‘Multi Agency Centre (Functions, Powers and Duties) Order, 2008’. Its charter was:      * Gather, collate, store, analyse, share, disseminate and do any other thing or act that may be necessary in the respect of intelligence pertaining to terrorism, terrorist threats and terrorist offences.     * Develop, improve and enhance the capacity of the government to deal with terrorism and terrorist threats.     * Devise strategic and tactical measures to counter terrorism, terrorism threats and terrorist offences.  The order also stipulated that all civil and military authorities in the territory of India would act in aid of the MAC. The centre was extended to state capitals by setting up subsidiary MACs where all agencies operating at the state level, especially the special branch of the state police, were represented. In September 2009, Home Minister P. Chidambaram visited the US and was given a detailed brief on the US NCTC, which was established in August 2005. Having the backing of the ARC, Chidambaram unveiled the new security architecture on 23 December 2009 at the Annual Intelligence Bureau Endowment Lecture. In his speech, he said the NCTC’s mandate would include preventing a terrorist attack, containing a terrorist attack should one take place and responding to the terrorist attack by inflicting pain upon the perpetrators. The salient features of the proposal are:      * Establishing a national grid (NATGRID), which would link twenty-one separate databases, including the Crime and Criminal Tracking Network, to achieve quick, seamless and secure access to desired information for intelligence and enforcement agencies.     * The MAC would be subsumed into the NCTC with the added mandate of investigations and operations.     * The newly set up NIA would operate under the NCTC and its investigative arm.     * The operations wing of the NCTC would be set up to give NCTC the complete counter-terror capability.     * All intelligence agencies would be represented in the NCTC including the National Technical Reconnaissance Organisation (NTRO), the Joint Intelligence Committee, the Narcotics Control Board and the National Security Guard (NSG).     * The role of RAW, its air surveillance wing, the Aviation Research Centre and the CBI would be examined and eventually placed under the NCTC as far as their terrorism-related investigations are concerned.     * The NCTC would come under the Indian home ministry and would be accountable to Parliament.  The Indian NCTC proposal, albeit similar to its US counterpart, was a step ahead as the latter only assigns roles and responsibilities for counter-terror operations and limits itself to operational planning. It is this very idea to arm the Indian NCTC with operational capabilities and an umbrella agency with intelligence agencies reporting to it that has caused serious debate within the Indian security establishment.  Reservations  After analysing the home minister’s NCTC proposal, M.K. Narayanan, former NSA to the Prime Minister, extended his support to establishing the centre but wanted the intelligence agencies and particularly the MAC to be left alone. He argued in writing that the MAC should not be a part of the NCTC and that the operational capabilities of the proposed counter-terror outfit should not be made by hiving off the operational wings of Indian intelligence agencies.  Narayanan is not the only one who is opposed to the basic structure of the NCTC. The Indian intelligence chiefs also feel that like in the US NCTC, the IB and RAW should only send their representatives to the proposed centre with information they need to share, rather than report to the NCTC boss and be accountable to the Indian Parliament. The nay sayers within the Indian government got a shot in the arm when the US NCTC could not prevent the attempted Christmas Day airplane bombing by Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab despite having scraps of intelligence pointing to the same. Deposing before the US Senate Intelligence Committee on 20 January 2010, Dennis Blair, Director, National Intelligence, said: ‘The counter-terrorism system failed. We told the President that we are determined to do better.’  Although there are pros and cons to every new concept, the basic problem with the Indian NCTC or the foundation of the counter-terror architecture is its operationalisation. The easiest part is to appoint a head of the NCTC and empower him or her with a humongous mandate but who will train the operating counter-terrorism teams? Even if they were sent to mitigate a terrorist situation in a country as vast and diverse as India, who would take the responsibility of providing support and logistics? There is a growing fear that the NCTC would be like a number of bodies that were set up with a serious mandate but have become dysfunctional.  Beef up the police  The other argument against the NCTC is why not strengthen the existing Indian intelligence agencies and their operational wings. The British response to the 7/7 bombings was to beef up the capabilities of the MI-5 and MI-6 agencies rather than set up a new organisation. Perhaps, the answer to Indian needs does not lie in setting up another agency but in consolidating the existing mechanism. It has to begin at the grass-roots level as India desperately needs to increase police footfalls on the ground.  As of 2006, according to the Ministry of Home Affairs, India had a total of 16,32,691 persons in the police force with 145.2 policemen for every 1,00,000 inhabitants. Compare this with 559 police personnel per 1,00,000 inhabitants in Italy or even 192.7 per 1,00,000 in Nepal and you get the idea about the pathetic state of affairs.  What is even more alarming is that 145.25 was the sanctioned strength in 2006 but the actual strength is only 117.09 since the states have not taken police recruitment seriously in the past. In the most populated states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, police recruitment was riddled with corruption in the past with the ruling parties hiring personnel on caste considerations to further their electoral gains. Intelligence agencies face the same problem as either there aren’t enough personnel to pick up ground intelligence on terrorist modules or the priorities are lopsided and focused towards collecting political intelligence.  This meant that intelligence agencies had to overtly rely on technical means like communication intercepts, mobile phone tracking and call matching with little corroboration on the ground.

India, B’desh ink border management deal

Dhaka, July 30 India and Bangladesh today inked a key agreement aimed at enhancing quality of border management and ensuring cross-frontier security through measures like joint vigils to deal with human trafficking and smuggling of drugs and weapons.  The comprehensive border management agreement was signed in the presence of visiting Home Minister P Chidambaram and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sahara Khatun.  “We have just signed the agreement - the Border Management Coordination Plan for a comprehensive and joint management of all frontier issues,” Khatun told a joint news conference with Chidambaram after their nearly two-and-a-half-hour meeting, which came ahead of the September visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here.  Chidambaram said the agreement, signed by Border Guard Bangladesh’s Director General Maj Gen Anwar Hossain and his Indian counterpart from the Border Security Force (BSF) Raman Srivastava, was expected to resolve all outstanding frontier issues, including combating cross-border crimes.  “The agreement will enhance quality of border management as well as ensure (cross-border) security,” he said.  India and Bangladesh share 4,096 km border, of which 6.1 km is still un-demarcated. — PTI

Now, comics to bring war heroes to life

Ajay Banerjee Tribune News Service  New Delhi, July 30 The names of Indian Army war heroes will soon be on the lips of children across the country. The Indian Army has taken a cue from the Western concept of narrating tales of war heroes to its young ones.  India’s 1.3 million-strong Army - the second largest in the world - intends to hire professionals who will tell wartime stories through illustrated storybooks (comics) and animation - almost on the lines of the 50-year-old still-running concept of “Commando Comics” that started in Scotland and went on to become a global rage in 1970s and 80s.  Comics and animation are just half of the story. Besides, comics, animation and toys for children who are less than 13 years of age, storybooks for young ones between 13 and 18 years of age will be written by professionals.  Unfortunately, a computer game, which could have got the children hooked, is not in the pipeline as it would have needed a huge budget.  “Very little is known about Indian war heroes. Only adults who follow the subject diligently have some knowledge on the subject. Newspapers and magazines do not have time or space for such stories on a day-to-day basis,” said a senior functionary.  At last, it is time for the US GI Joe, who portrays the American soldier, is produced by companies in the US and exported globally, to vacate the space for the Indian braveheart. Toys for boys will be available on the same pattern.  At present, an attempt to produce illustrated storybooks - off and on - is being made by a retired Major General, using his own money, to further the stories of legends like Capt Vikram Batra - battle of Tiger Hill 1999 - or Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan - November 2008 Mumbai attacks.  The Army’s move, unconnected with the retired Major General’s initiative, aims at having a regular magazine - at least an issue a month - and on having a professional company to produce, market and sell these at book stores or through home delivery.  A senior official said, “How many persons know about the epic battle at Zo-jila Pass 1948 or the battle at Asal Uttar 1965 - the biggest tank battle since the World War II - or the battle around Hilli in 1971?”  If the Army’s initiative succeeds, your child, very soon, will definitely answer this question in the positive.

Major gunbattle in Kupwara, 2 Army jawans killed: Sources   Read more at:

Kupwara:  A major gunbattle broke out in the Farkian forests of Kupwara district in north Kashmir today after an infiltrating group of militants was intercepted by the Army, said sources.  Two Army jawans were killed and three others got injured in the initial shootout, the sources added.  The Army, however, did not confirm any casualties.  More details are awaited.   Read more at:

China wants more aircraft carriers to compete with India

BEIJING: A serving Chinese military general is citing India's capabilities in his efforts to edge the government to have more than one aircraft carrier. General Luo Yuan, a senior researcher with the Academy of Military Sciences, said China needs at least three aircraft carriers to defend its interests in the face of neighbors developing their capabilities.  "If we consider our neighbors, India will have three aircraft carriers by 2014 and Japan will have three carriers by 2014," General Luo was quoted as saying by Beijing News. "So I think the number (for China) should not be less than three so we can defend our rights and our maritime interests effectively."  China recently confirmed it was revamping an old Soviet ship to be its first carrier. The state media broadcast footage of its first carrier in a rare public mention of the project. The moves added to worries in the Asian region about Beijing's military expansion and growing assertiveness on territorial issues.  The government tried to reassure neighbors that its first carrier would be used only for the purpose of training and research and there was no plan for aggression involved.  "We are currently re-fitting the body of an old aircraft carrier, and will use it for scientific research, experiments and training," defence ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng told a news briefing.  The latest statement from General Luo shows there has been some rethinking, and Beijing is prepared to talk about using aircraft carriers for war preparedness. The general represents a government academy that plays a role in the military planning process. China is worried that Japan's three carriers, which are at present used for helicopter operations, would eventually be converted into full aircraft carriers. The two countries have serious disputes over some islands.  The United States indicated it was happy China had taken a step toward better transparency by openly discussing the issue about aircraft carriers.

Admiral Verma takes over as tri-service panel chief

NEW DELHI: With the government unwilling to usher in meaningful reforms in higher defence management, India will continue to wrestle with the lack of real synergy between the armed forces and the defence ministry as well as among the Army, IAF and Navy themselves for the foreseeable future.  Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma did take over as the new chairman of the chiefs of staff committee (CoSC) from outgoing IAF chief Air Chief Marshal P V Naik on Friday. But it could not detract from the fact that the creation of the crucial chief of defence staff (CDS) post remains as elusive as ever, despite the 12th anniversary of the 1999 Kargil conflict also being observed this week.  ACM Naik, who hangs his boots on Sunday, has reiterated his opposition to the CDS post, holding that India did not need it for the "next five to 10 years". The CoSC, however, has not ensured the requisite symbiosis needed in policy, procurement and operational matters among the armed forces.  The Army, for instance, remains hell-bent on getting its own fleet of attack helicopters and transport aircraft since it feels that the IAF simply does not understand its requirements. Similarly, the squabbling between the two has ensured that the planned acquisition of 384 light observation helicopters has been delayed for several years.  Egged on by the civilian bureaucracy, the defence ministry has taken advantage of this divide among the armed forces to put the CDS proposal in cold storage for over a decade now. Successive governments have consistently used the pretext of holding wider political consultations to stymie any forward movement.  This when the Group of Ministers' report on 'reforming the national security system' - the first comprehensive such review done in the aftermath of Kargil - had recommended a CDS to provide single-point military advice, 'administer' the strategic (nuclear) forces, and promote 'jointness' among the armed forces.  "The functioning of CoSC has, to date, revealed serious weaknesses in its ability to provide single-point military advice to government, and resolve substantive inter-Service doctrinal, planning, policy and operational issues adequately," the GoM report had warned.  Over a decade later, in the absence of a CDS, the entire defence planning process is still done in a haphazard manner, without proper inter-Service prioritization to systematically acquire military capabilities in consonance with India's long-term geostrategic objectives.  Similarly, the much-touted integration of Service HQs with the defence ministry has remained perfunctory.  Earlier, the K Subrahmanyam-led Kargil Review Committee had held, "India is perhaps the only major democracy where the armed forces HQs are outside the apex governmental structure."


Friday, 29 July 2011

From Today's Papers - 29 Jul 2011





India, Mongolia sign three agreements, including pact on defence

Ulaanbaatar (Mangolia), July 28 (ANI): In an endeavor to strengthen bilateral ties, India and Mongolia on Thursday signed three agreements, which includes defence cooperation, media exchanges and cooperation between their planning commissions.    Indian President Pratibha Devisingh Patil, who is presently on a four-day visit to Mongolia, also announced that India would extend a 20 million USD line of credit to set up a joint IT, education and outsourcing centre.

Describing talks with her Mongolian counterpart, Tsakhia Elbegdorj, as warm and friendly, President Patil hoped that the momentum between the two countries would continue to expand.    "A bilateral Defence Cooperation Agreement was signed. May I state, that India is willing and ready to expand collaboration in this sphere. President Elbegdorj and I discussed ways to further our cooperation, in the peaceful use of radioactive minerals and nuclear energy," said President Patil.    "(With a) Memorandum on Media Exchanges signed between the two Governments, we can now hope to see more media persons from Mongolia in India. We will also send more Indian journalists here. We also agreed to explore the possibilities of improving air connectivity between our two countries so as to enhance contacts between our peoples, including through tourism," she added.    President Patil, at the end of the media briefing, thanked Mongolia for extending support to India's long-held demand for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.    "I thanked Mongolia for its support extended to India in becoming a Permanent Member of a reformed and expanded United Nations Security Council," she said. (ANI)








China defends carrier plans, neighbors fret over buildup

(Reuters) - China's neighbors are worried its aircraft carrier program may in time intimidate regional rivals but its military on Thursday defended the plan as vital for maritime security.  A day after China confirmed it was refitting an old Soviet vessel, and sources told Reuters it was building two of its own carriers, the official Liberation Army Daily stressed the mix of patriotic glory-seeking and future security worries behind the decision.  China's humiliations at the hands of Western powers in the past centuries "left the Chinese people with the deep pain of having seas they could not defend, helplessly eating the bitter fruit of being beaten for being backward," said a front-page editorial in the paper.  That trend is changing as Beijing ramps up its military spending while Washington discusses cutting its much larger defense budget. Growing Chinese military reach is triggering regional jitters that have fed into longstanding territorial disputes, and could speed up military expansion across Asia.  In the past year, China has had run-ins at sea with Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines. The incidents -- boat crashes and charges of territorial incursions -- have been minor, but the diplomatic reaction often heated.  "The issue of transparency regarding China's defense policy and its military expansion itself are concerns not only for Japan but for the region and the international community," Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said on Thursday.  In the 2012 budget submitted to Congress this week, the Philippines wants to raise military spending to 8 billion pesos ($190 million) per year from a previous 5 billion.  "(China's military modernization) serves as a clarion call for the Philippines to also upgrade its military capability to patrol its waters," said Rommel Banlaoi, executive director at the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research.  The Chinese carrier program could fuel the drive for submarines in Southeast Asia, said Rory Medcalf, program director of International Security at the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney.  "There is already a submarine race, or submarine capability competition, in the region. This could add to that dynamic but I do not think it will be fundamental driver of it," he said.  COUNTERMEASURES  Japan's plan to boost the number of its submarines to 22 from 16, announced last year, was mainly a response to China's naval buildup, said Narushige Michishita, associate professor at Japan's National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies.  "Japan is already taking some countermeasures," he said.  As well as refitting the old Soviet-era carrier bought from Ukraine in 1998, China is building two indigenous aircraft carriers as part of a broad modernization program, sources told Reuters on Wednesday.  "Putting it in the overall context of China's expanding and modernizing military, there is some cause for concern," said Daniel Pinkston of the International Crisis Group in Seoul.  South Korea disputes territory with China, which is the major backer of the principal threat to security on the Korean peninsula, the North.  Taiwan, the self-ruled island China claims as its own and has never renounced the use of force to recover, will also be watching closely. It warned again last week about Beijing's growing military threat.  "In the previous 60 years, the threat to Taiwan was all from the west," said Alexander Huang, professor of strategic studies at Taipei's Tamkang University. "But with a moving platform, China can pose a threat to Taiwan from the eastern side, which means that Taiwan is threatened from all directions."  Others point to India, China's great rival as an emerging Asian economic and military powerhouse.  "If the Chinese leave the west Pacific, there's only one areas they're interested in, the Indian Ocean. In that sense, competition with (India) is inevitable," said Raja Menon, a former rear admiral in the Indian navy.  China's Liberation Army Daily identified future risks as a rationale for the carrier program, which will take many years to create an operational carrier force.  "The struggle to win maritime interests is increasingly intense," the editorial added. A powerful navy is "an inevitable choice for protecting China's increasingly globalised national interests," said the paper.  President Hu Jintao has made the navy a keystone of China's military ramp-up, and the carriers will be among the most visible signs of the country's rising military prowess.  China has repeatedly denied its military modernization is for anything other than defensive purposes, pointing out it that it spend far less than the United States on its military. ($1 = 42.110 Philippine Pesos)









US designs to destabilise Asia

During the last two decades, political experts have already been saying that the US which is acting upon a secret strategy, wants to make India the superpower of Asia in order counterbalance China, while this game has openly been disclosed by the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who was on three-day trip to India. In this regard, on July 20 this year, Hillary Clinton urged India to be more assertive in Asia, saying that the country should play more of a leadership role. She explained, “India has the potential to positively shape the future of the Asia-Pacific.” Clinton further said, “India should play a role as a US ally in regional forums such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).” On the other hand, while showing US paradoxical approach towards Pakistan, and concealing American double game, She remarked, “New Delhi could also help promote trade links in violence-wracked South Asia, which would bring prosperity and peace to India, Pakistan and Afghanistan…Pakistan must do more to tackle terror groups operating from its territory being used for attacks that destabilise Afghanistan or India.” In 2010, US President Barrack Obama’s visit to India had left a negative impact on the whole region. He announced $10 billion in trade deals with New Delhi to create more than 50,000 US jobs, declared the measures, America would take regarding removal of Indian space and defence companies from a restricted “entities list”, and supported Indian demand for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. Owing to various agreements with New Delhi, India will purchase latest defence-related equipments from Washington.  America which signed a nuclear deal with India in 2008, intends to make India a great power of Asia to contain China and destablise Pakistan and Iran. On the other side, by ignoring Sino-Pakistan peace-approach, on October 15, 2010, Indian Army Chief General VK Singh had openly blamed that China and Pakistan posed a major threat to India’s security, while calling for a need to upgrade country’s defence. Indian former Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor had also expressed similar thoughts. In fact, Pakistan’s province, Balochistan where China has invested billion of dollars to develop Gwadar seaport which could link Central Asian trade with rest of the world, infuriates both US and India. With the help of India, US desires to control Balochistan as an independent state in containing China and restraining Iran. It is due to these reasons that Washington and New Delhi are creating instability in Pakistan by backing Baloch separatists to complete their hidden strategic agenda. In this connection, the separatist group, Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) gets logistic support from India, while another American and Indian-backed separatist group, Jundollah (God’s soldiers) is also working against the cordial relationship of Pakistan with China and Iran. In the past few years, their militants kidnapped and killed many Chinese and Iranian nationals in Pakistan, while committing other subversive acts in the province. In this respect, on October 18, 2009, a deadliest suicide attack had killed dozens of officers in the Sistan-Baluchistan. On December 15, 2010, two suicide bombers blew themselves up near a mosque in southeastern Iran, killing at least 39 people. In both the cases, Iran had directly accused US and its CIA for patronage and funding of that type of terrorist attacks.  It is of particular attention that Islamabad and Tehran have signed the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline project without New Delhi as the latter was reluctant in this matter owing to its pro-US tilt. Under the pretext of Talibinisation of Afghanistan and Pakistan, American CIA, Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad have well-established their networks in Afghanistan from where well-trained militants are being sent to Pakistan to commit various terror-acts. Besides, in the past few weeks, these foreign secret agencies have also started backing heavily armed insurgents who enter Pakistan from Afghanistan and continue attacks on our country’s infrastructure and military check posts intermittently. As a matter of fact, before leaving Afghanistan, US is determined to shift Afghan war to Pakistan so as to weaken the country in wake of a perennial wave of CIA-operated drone attacks by ignoring the public backlash. In fact, Pakistan is the only ‘nuclearised’ country in the Islamic World. Hence US, India and Israel either want to destabilise it or to ‘denulearise’ it. In this respect, US also takes Islamabad as an obstacle in obtaining its Asian designs by boasting up Indian role. It is mentionable that in the recent past, more than 180 persons died in ethnic riots occurred in Urumqi, the capital of China’s Xinjiang province. In fact, New Delhi which has given shelter to the Tibetan spiritual leader, Dalai Lama and his militants has been playing a key role in supporting upsurge in the Tibetan and Muslim areas of China. Knowing the US-Indian secret aims, China has signed a number of agreements with Islamabad to help the latter in diverse sectors. And Chinese engineers are working on multiple projects in Pakistan. However, Washington has further emboldened India to keep on going with human rights violations in India and the occupied Kashmir—to continue its anti-Pakistan and anti-China designs.  Besides, American strategic thinkers presume China’s fast-growing economy and military modernization including its cooperation with Iran, Middle East and other African countries as a great threat to American interests. Nevertheless, in its pursuit to make India a great power of Asia, US is likely to initiate a new cold war between China and India, and will divide the world between two blocks—China block and the US-backed Indian block. Main players of the game such as North Korea, Pakistan, Iran and Asian Republics are likely to align with China alliance. On the other side, Japan, Georgia, Ukraine, South Korea will join the US-backed Indian block. After the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, the latter could also join the China block. As regards Russia, apart from differences over American occupation of Iraq and its national missile defence system (NMD), differences exists between Moscow and Washington over the US-led NATO’s attack on Libya. So Russia could join the China block as a leading member.  It is noteworthy that it is due to the US ill-conceived policy that it will compel India and China to follow the bygone days of the Cold War—deadly arms race, increase in the defence expenditures at the cost of development of public sectors and proxy wars including all the tactics of psychological warfare in wake of the modern world trends like renunciation of war, peaceful settlement of disputes and economic development. Meanwhile terrorism is likely to add a dangerous element of ‘hot war’ to the future cold war. In this regard, an unending ‘different war’ between the sovereign and non-sovereign entities in Afgahanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen etc. and other Middle East countries will make the matter worse. All these negative developments are likely create political and economic instability in Asia where some less developed countries are already facing multi-faceted crises at various level, but these will also envelop the developed countries such as Japan, South Korea etc.  Even India will badly be affected by following American such a strategy. India has already been facing separatism in more than seven states where terrorist incidents have become a routine matter. In case of Maoist insurgency, it has increased to a greater extent. On September 21, 2009, even Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had admitted that the Maoist “insurgency is the single biggest threat to India’s security” and, “Maoist violence affects a third of all districts…India is losing the battle against the rebels.” As regards the Indian-held Kashmir, Indian forces have failed in suppressing the freedom movement by employing all the possible tactics of military terrorism. Besides, fundamentalist parties like BJP, RSS, VHP, Shev Sina and Bajrang Dal have missed no opportunity to communalise national politics of India, posing another major threat to the country. Notably, on July 17, this year, Congress General Secretary Digvijay Singh called for investigations into the role of all Indian terror groups in relation to serial blasts in Mumbai, adding, “RSS runs bomb-making factories to spread terrorism in the country, and its role should be probed.”  New Delhi must also know that militants are well-organised from Somalia to Afghanistan and from Uzbekistan to the Occupied Kashmir. So after withdrawal of the US-led NATO forces from Afghanistan, these insurgents will not only roll back Indian networks from that country, but could also create unrest inside India. Nonetheless, it looks surprising that by learning no lesson from a prolonged war against terrorism, defeatism in Iraq and Afghanistan, heavy cost of war, acute financial crisis inside America, as to why the US has nourished designs to destabilise Asia by entangling India and China in a new cold war, which will ultimately damage American regional and global interests.








Jawans to wait longer for better quality sports shoes

New Delhi, Jul 28 (PTI) Indian Army jawans will have to wait for superior quality sports shoes as the project to procure these footwear has been put on hold after a protest over the use of cow leather to produce them.The sports shoes were to be issued free of cost to all Junior Commissioned Officers and Personnel Below Officer Ranks (PBOR) in the next few years, replacing the old brown canvass PT shoes given to them presently, Army sources said here."The project has been put on hold after protests were registered with the Defence Ministry by some animal rights activists over the use of cow leather to produce the shoes in large numbers," they said.Sources said earlier specifications for procurement said the shoes had to be made of either leather, canvass or cloth but it was amended by the Master General Ordnance (MGO) branch, which included cow leather also in it."We had carried out a feasibility study and found that shoes made of cow leather would have lasted longer and they were found to be fit for use by our soldiers," the MGO said.The Army had started the process of issuing better quality sports shoes to replace the basic brown canvas PT shoes provided to jawans in 2008.Trials were also carried out and some of the companies were also shortlisted for the possible award of the tender for over eight lakh shoes.



Thursday, 28 July 2011

From Today's Papers - 28 Jul 2011





Adarsh society accounts to remain frozen

Shiv Kumar/TNS  Mumbai, July 27 The Bombay High Court today dismissed a petition seeking defreezing of the bank accounts belonging to the controversial Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society. Members of the society had pleaded for the defreezing of the two accounts held by it with the Cuffe Parade and Wodehouse branches of the State Bank of India on the grounds that they needed to pay property tax amounting to Rs 1.5 crore to the BMC.  They also contended that the funds were required to pay the lawyers fighting the society’s case in courts. However, the counsel for the CBI, which had frozen the two accounts earlier this year as part of the ongoing investigations against the Adarsh Society, contested the plea on the grounds that the CBI was still probing whether the funds in the account were part of the ill-gotten wealth of members.

India, Pak talk peace, list cross-LoC CBMs

shok Tuteja/TNS  New Delhi, July 27 Refraining from rhetoric with a clear intent to keep the dialogue process on track, India and Pakistan today announced additional cross-LoC travel and trade confidence-building measures (CBMs) and resolved to find a peaceful solution to the Kashmir issue by narrowing down differences and building convergences.  At the talks between External Affairs Minister SM Krishna and his young Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar, New Delhi extracted an assurance from Islamabad to fight and eliminate the scourge of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.  India did express its sense of dissatisfaction over the progress in trial of the seven accused lodged in Pakistani jails for their involvement in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks. “We are very concerned about the Mumbai trial…there is a need for speedily completing the trial and bringing those responsible for the crime to justice,” Krishna is understood to have stated during the talks.  However, there was no reference to the Mumbai attacks in a joint statement that was released after nearly two-and-a-half hours of deliberations. The statement touched all outstanding issues between the two countries that have bedevilled their ties and reaffirmed the importance of carrying forward the dialogue process.  Significantly, the usual acrimony associated with an India-Pakistan dialogue was clearly missing this time around as Krishna set the tone for talks by declaring that India desired to see a stable, peaceful and prosperous Pakistan and wished the people of the neighbouring country well. The two sides have perhaps learnt a lesson from what happened in July last year when Krishna’s joint press conference with his then Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmud Qureshi in Islamabad ended in a disaster, giving a setback to the attempts to revive the dialogue process. Therefore, a joint press interaction by the two ministers was carefully avoided.  Krishna and Khar just gave soundbytes at the conclusion of their meeting and did not take any questions. Instead, the two sides fielded Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir to address the media.  “I can confidently say that that our relations are on the right track. We have some distance to travel, but with an open mind and a constructive approach, which has been demonstrated in this round of dialogue,” Krishna said after the talks.  On her part, Khar said Pakistan desired a genuine interaction with India in order to maintain cooperative relations. “We feel the relationship between the two countries should not be held hostage by the past.” She said officials on both sides must be “respectful of the reality of the two countries”. She carefully avoided the “K” word during her brief media interaction.  Apart from holding talks with Krishna, she reached out to the BJP leadership by calling on party veteran LK Advani and Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj. She also met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.  The glamorous Pakistani minister, however, did earn the wrath of New Delhi for meeting separatist leaders from J&K yesterday shortly after her arrival here.  “We have expressed our concern (to Pakistan) over yesterday’s events…as far as we are concerned, there are bilateral structures to resolve all bilateral issues, including J&K,” Rao said, when asked about the meeting between the Pakistani minister and Hurriyat leaders.  Bashir sought to play down the meeting, saying “in a democratic polity, it is our intent to reach out to everyone…we should not read more into it.” Pakistan’s position with regard to Hurriyat leaders or Kashmiri lobbyist Ghulam Nabi Fai in the US was well-known.  New Delhi also drew Pakistan’s attention to the anti-India statements being made on a regular basis by some key terrorist leaders like Jamat-ud-Dawaa (JuD) chief Hafiz Mohammed Saeed. The Pakistani side again sought to brush the provocative statements under the carpet, saying one should not consider the views held by an individual as those of the state.  On the Mumbai trial, Bashir defended the actions taken by Pakistan. “A lot has happened which is not available on the surface.” He also asked India to share the details of investigations into the Samjhauta Express blasts. To this, the Indian official said New Delhi would share the details once the Home Ministry had completed the investigations.  Rao aptly summed up the talks, saying, “We are fully aware of the complexities involved, but it is important for the fog to lift from the relationship.”

LoC encounter: Army officer killed; 2 jawans hurt

A junior commissioned officer of the army was killed and two troopers were wounded in a fierce gunfight with a group of infiltrating militants in Shamsnag area on the Line of Control [ Images ] in north Kashmir's [ Images ] Kupwara district on Wednesday.  A senior police officer said troops intercepted a group of heavily armed militants trying to 'infiltrate to our side of the LoC'.  "A fierce gunfight is still on in the area. In the initial firing by the militants one JCO was killed and two soldiers were wounded. The injured troopers were evacuated to hospital for treatment", the officer said.  The troops are busy searching the area, he added. He said exact number of militants was not known.  The infiltration bid comes close on the heels of three fierce encounters in Kashmir Valley this month leaving nine militants dead.

Fierce battle between Indian army-Pakistan militants in Kashmir

When Indo-Pak foreign ministers were talking peace, Pakistani army tried to push-in a heavily armed group of militants into Kashmir from across the line of control (LoC) in Machil sector sparking a fierce gun battle with the army that left one junior commissioned officer (JCO) dead.  Lieutenant Colonel JS Brar, defence spokesman at Srinagar, said the army intercepted a movement on the LoC Wednesday morning and when militants were challenged they opened fire on the troopers.  “There was a gunfight between the militants and security forces in which we lost one JCO,” he said.  The operation in the area continues as army is trying to flush out the militants if any, who might have sneaked into valley. “The operation is continuing in the area. We can’t give the details about the militants off hand,” Lt Col Brar said.  This is the first major infiltration bid this summer in the Kashmir valley. Lieutenant General Syed Ata Hasnain, general officer commanding of Srinagar, had recently stated that there are 42 terror camps operational in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) and 700 ultras are waiting to cross into the valley.  The army has foiled five infiltration bids on the line of control (LoC) recently indicating the desperation of the militants to cross over. The army had cautioned that things are building up on the LoC.  The fresh infiltration comes on the day when Indo-Pak foreign ministers agreed terrorism poses a continuing threat to peace and security. They reiterated the firm and undiluted commitment of the two countries to fight and eliminate this scourge in all its forms.  Both sides agreed on the need to strengthen cooperation on counter-terrorism to bring those responsible for terror crimes to justice  The Ministers affirmed the importance of carrying forward the dialogue process with a view to resolving peacefully all outstanding issues through constructive and result oriented engagement, and to establish friendly, cooperative and good neighbourly relations between Pakistan and India.

Maneka opposes cow slaughter for Army sneakers, stalls project

NEW DELHI: Animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi has come in the way of our soldiers getting trendy and comfortable leather sports shoes. She says thousands of cows will have to be slaughtered to make sneakers for 1.1 million jawans. But the Army believes that Maneka's objection is a ploy to "derail the process of procurement".  Some weeks ago, the central government announced the decision to award contracts for eight lakh pairs of high-quality sneakers replacing the no-frills brown canvas PT shoes that jawans use. But with Maneka throwing the spanner in the works, the project is stillborn. The shoe project is worth Rs 100 crore only in the first phase, when sneakers will be provided to eight lakh soldiers. More orders would follow.  Maneka told TOI that defence minister A K Antony had confirmed in writing that the contract was being cancelled. "It is illegal to use cow leather. Army should be the beacon of law in this country. About four lakh cows could be slaughtered to make eight lakh pairs," she said.  Army sources, though, cannot fathom why the smart sneakers project got stalled. In any case, they insist, several other shoes and items procured by them, the Navy and the Air Force are made of cow leather. Cowhide is tough and ideal for the difficult terrains soldiers operate in.  Prior to Antony scratching the contract, the ministry of defence sent a query to the master-general of ordnance (MGO), who handles procurement of supplies. A three-page MGO note argues that during interaction with a dozen vendors "cow leather was unanimously approved as the most appropriate material, being most versatile and tough to withstand anticipated usage by soldiers." The note is in TOI's possession.  The Army note says that in 2008-09, India exported products made of over 6.85 crore square feet of cow leather and 1.38 crore square feet of calf leather. "Indigenous cow leather products would perhaps be manifold and being used in India. The current tender is miniscule of just six to eight lakh sq feet for the Indian Army. Vested interests, therefore, appear to be attempting to sensationalize this issue and are far removed from the reality in India," the note reads.  In July 2008, the Army began the process of picking a new-generation sports shoe to replace the basic brown canvas PT shoes provided to jawans. Based on user trials, the Army recommended two possible choices as suitable for jawans. "We decided on cow leather (and not synthetic leather or other items) based on open consultations with all the companies that tendered," one source said.  Of the 12 companies that participated in the contract, one was disqualified at a very preliminary stage and the rest sent their samples for tests by the director-general quality assurance and another specialist institute. Two companies were finally shortlisted, before the commercial bids were to be opened. That is when Gandhi's objections about cow leather landed at the defence ministry.  "After three years of deliberations, intensive troop trials and fair and a transparent competitive bidding process, two firms have been found fully compliant in technical evaluation process," the Army has pointed out to the ministry. In the process of introducing the new-generation sportswear, the Army has slowed the process for purchasing the old brown canvas PT shoes. But all that is in trouble for now.

Second trial of Arjun Mark-II tanks begins at Pokharan

Jodhpur: The second trial of Arjun–Mark II, the advance version of India’s main battle tank, has begun in Pokharan firing range. The trial is aimed at testing the range and strength of the tank and other weaknesses pointed out in the first trail.  Following the first trial, the Indian Army had highlighted the need of some more technical requirements.  Arjun’s new version boasts of an improved missile firing range apart from a latest laser system, which can detect explosives on the ground.  Following the trial, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) will be making suitable changes in the tank on the advice of military experts. This advanced version of the tank is likely to be inducted into the Indian Army by next year.  “The trial of the advance version of Arjun has started in Pokharan firing range. This is a development trial and the tanks will be handed over to the Indian Army after removing all the faults pointed out by the military experts,” Col SD Goswamy, Defence spokesperson, said.  Apart from its phenomenal missile launching capabilities,  Arjun Mark II also has an enhanced auxiliary power unit, explosive reactive armour panels, mine plough, automatic target tracking, advanced land navigation system, digital control harness, and  advanced commander panoramic sight among  various other features.  One of the critical features of the tank is that a missile can be fired from it to destroy long range targets and also shoot down enemy helicopters.  The upgraded version of Arjun, which has been fitted with 58 tonne German engine, was inducted in the Indian Army over a year ago. The Indian Army has placed an order for 124 such tanks.

Indian Navy to get second indigenous stealth frigate

The second Shivalik class frigate will be commissioned on August 20 by Defence Minister A K Antony, said a navy spokesperson. Antony had commissioned the first ship,  INS Shivalik, last April.  The third ship in the line, INS Sahayadri, is likely to be inducted into the service in another nine months. Each ship is priced upwards of Rs 2,500 crore.  India currently operates three Russian stealth frigates (Talwar class) and has ordered  three more from Russia. The first one is likely to be delivered next week.  The stealth features—reduced radar signature—come from changed geometry of the top, few projections in the upper deck, less heat and magnetic signatures and diminished noise vibration.  India plans to design and develop seven more similar warships in Mazgaon Dock in Mumbai and Garden Reach ship builders in Kolkata.  While Satpura is being commissioned nearly four years after its launch in water, manufacturing seven more stealth frigates will be a long-drawn affair.  The designers are yet to freeze the design and the final project is yet to be approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security though it was cleared by the defence ministry.  The indigenous stealth frigate programme had been plagued with delay since the beginning. Navy placed an order for three stealth frigates under Project-17 way back in 1999.  But it was holed up for years due to delays in getting the design inputs for weapons suite, changes in the hull steel specifications, and delivery of high-strength D-40S steel from Russia.  To overcome the steel problems, the required high-grade steel was indigenously developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation and the Steel Authority of India.  The 6200-tonne Satpura which measures 142.5 metre from bow to stern will have Israeli Barak surface-to-air missile and Russian Klub cruise missile along with the torpedoes, anti-submarine missile and two helicopters which will soon be seen public.

IAF chief's 'very heavy response to Pakistan' remark irks Antony

NEW DELHI: A statement by Air Chief Marshal P V Naik that Indian response to a possible Pakistani nuclear attack would be "very heavy" doesn't seem to have gone down well with defence minister A K Antony.  Sources said the minister was "not amused" over the remarks made by the IAF chief, who is retiring on July 31, at a time when the two countries are holding foreign minister -level talks. In the backdrop of this development, Naik met the defence minister in his South Block office today.  The defence minister had himself refused to answer queries yesterday related to Pakistan's role in context of the Kargil war saying that he did not want to "vitiate the atmosphere" at such a time.  In his last press conference, the IAF chief had yesterday said that though India followed a 'no-first-use' nuclear policy but warned its response would be very heavy in the event of any nuclear attack on the country.  "Our nuclear policy is of no first use. It also talks about a very heavy response in case of a nuclear attack. It talks about a retaliatory and hard response, our policy talks about that... obviously our response would be absolutely violent as per our existing policy," he had said.



Wednesday, 27 July 2011

From Today's Papers - 27 Jul 2011





Remembering Kargil Need for a sound defence management system

Twelve years after the Army assisted by the Air Force successfully vacated Pakistani intrusions in the high-altitude Ladakh region, New Delhi and Islamabad have travelled some distance to put the Kargil War behind. Barring occasional violations, both sides continue to honour an agreement reached in November 2003 to maintain a ceasefire along the Line of Control that divides the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.  But the year-round permanent deployment of troops in this hostile mountainous terrain is testimony that India cannot afford to let down its guard.  Military victory in vacating the intrusions, which occurred due to a combination of intelligence failure and ineptitude on the part of Army formations deployed in the area, came at a tremendous manpower and material cost. Although India also went on to score a diplomatic and moral victory, the war nevertheless raised serious questions on the country’s defence management system which still remains pertinent. In December 2001, India mobilised and deployed its armed forces along the western border with the initial aim of attacking Pakistan to punish it for sponsoring an attack on the Indian Parliament. The deployment, the largest since the 1971 Bangladesh War, ended up exposing India’s lack of preparedness for a war. This was despite the findings of the Subramanyam Committee and the consequent comprehensive national security review carried out by the Group of Ministers that followed soon after the Kargil war that had occurred just two-and-a-half years earlier.  A sound higher defence management system is needed for India with its large size, its internal and external security concerns, major territorial disputes, and its regional and global aspirations. Instead, India lacks a centre point for military advice in the form of a Chief of Defence Staff, the creation of which was recommended by the Group of Ministers. There is also need for greater synergy between the armed forces and for creating theatre commands. Even more, there is need for the critical ‘overlap’ as recommended by Carl von Clausewitz, the 19th century Prussian general, entailing a sound understanding of each other by the political executive, the bureaucracy and the military leadership.









Post-Mumbai diplomacy Move towards substantive Indo-Pak talks

by Nasim Zehra   The Pakistan and Indian Foreign Ministers’ talks are the culmination of the post-Mumbai phase of Pakistan-Indian diplomacy which started at the Thimpu-1 meeting in April 2010 between Prime Ministers Yusuf Raza Gilani and Manmohan Singh.  At Thimpu the two — Gilani and Manmohan Singh — made a political resolve to return to the dialogue track. At Thimpu-2 in February 2011 the Pakistan and Indian foreign secretaries firmed up details of fresh rounds of bilateral talks by the eight working groups.  In between Thimpu-1 and 2 the Pakistani and Indian Home Ministers met to cover ground on the Mumbai investigation. The significance of Thimpu-1 was that the Indian and Pakistani political leaders together came to the conclusion that the post-Mumbai diplomacy of making substantive dialogue conditional to progress in the Mumbai investigation was counter-productive for both the Mumbai investigations and the bilateral relationship.  The Indian Prime Minister’s earlier attempt, through the Sharm-el Shiekh statement in July 2009, to go along with Pakistan’s position of returning to substantive dialogue, fell prey to the wider policy-making opinion in Delhi that India’s post-Mumbai diplomatic posture must say no to dialogue unless Pakistan moved faster on punishing the Mumbai suspects.    At the conclusion of the Delhi talks the likely announcements will cover a new visa regime to promote people-to-people contact and additional cross-LOC confidence-building measures (CBMs) to increase travel and trade between the divided Kashmiris. Besides, dates for meetings of the reconstituted working groups of experts on nuclear and conventional confidence-building to consider additional measures to build trust and promote peace and security and to discuss the implementation and strengthening of the existing arrangements will be announced. Perhaps, Pakistan’s agreement to give the most favoured nation (MFN) status, conveyed during the Commerce Secretary-level talks, may also be announced.  Beyond the context of a decision on the structure of the dialogue process, the active revival of the Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) will also be announced. The JMC, set up in the eighties, has met intermittently, depending on the state of bilateral relations and the preferred dialogue track of the governments in power. For example, in 2005 the JMC met after a break of 16 years. Its last session was held in February 2007 but will now be formally revived. As was the mandate of the JMC, technical-level working groups on agriculture, health, science and technology etc will also be revived.  Reviving multiple-track engagement between the two nuclear states, home to millions of economically, socially and security-deprived citizens, is a welcome development. Equally, Delhi’s decision to opt for a cooperative as opposed to a confrontational approach on Mumbai and Pakistan’s decision to give MFN status to India, are also important steps towards improving the context within which there can be substantive cooperation between the two countries. After all, given the regularity with which relations between the two countries take a nosedive, the significance of improving the context and bringing substantive dialogue back on track cannot be underestimated.    Meanwhile, in the context of the changing regional environment, involving major troop withdrawals from Afghanistan, the search for a reconciliation formula for a post-ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) Afghanistan, the re-entry of the Taliban as a factor and Pakistan’s own comprehensive counter-terrorism thrust in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), the budding problem of home-grown Hindu and Muslim militancy within India and India’s vying for a permanent UNSC seat, have all contributed, though in varying degrees, to encourage Islamabad and Delhi to re-engage and insist that in this round they want a “sustained and meaningful” engagement. Indeed, “meaningful” will require not only no war, no diplomatic and political antagonism and no interrupted dialogue process, but it also means the resolution of outstanding problems. The score card on resolution is weak.  The agreement on holding a composite dialogue, on its modalities and the eight issues was first worked out and announced during the Sharif-Gujral governments in the joint statement of June 23, 1997 announced by foreign secretaries Shamshad Ahmad and Salman Haider.    Working groups were to be set up to deal with eight issues: peace and security, including CBMs; Jammu and Kashmir; Siachen; Wullar Barrage Project; Sir Creek; “terrorism and drug trafficking” — not “cross-border terrorism”; economic and commercial cooperation; and the promotion of friendly exchanges in various fields.  The Foreign Secretaries were to deal with peace and security and Kashmir, while also co-ordinating and monitoring the progress of work of all the working groups. Significantly, this is the structure that has still survived. Yet 14 years into this, albeit with an interrupted process, solutions on less complicated matters like Siachen and Sir Creek seem distant.  While this latest round of post-Mumbai diplomacy has improved the context of bilateral relations, the socio-economic, ideological and security challenges that Pakistan and India are confronted with, require movement on resolving outstanding problems. Clearly, unless there is serious intent on both sides to resolve the outstanding issues that perpetuate suspicion and hostility, substantive bilateral cooperation and the revision of respective threat perceptions are unlikely. And against the backdrop of acute economic, ideological and security crises, our two States will gallop ahead towards greater, yet ill-advised, militarisation of the region.n  The writer is a Pakistani national security analyst and host of TV programme “Policy Matters”.










Better infrastructure across LoC worries India

Presence of Chinese troops in PoK adds to threat perception Vijay Mohan in Drass  July 26 Twelve years after the Kargil War, the biggest challenge emerging in the mountainous theatre that had seen some of the most decisive battles fought in the history of high altitude warfare, is the large-scale development of infrastructure across the Line of Control that would enhance Pakistan’s logistic capability.  Also to be factored into the emerging threat perception is the presence of Chinese troops in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK).  Though the LoC has remained peaceful since the ceasefire that came into effect in 2003, construction of highways and rail tracks in the PoK continues. Besides an effective communication between Pakistan and China, this would also facilitate rapid troop movements into the PoK.  There have been reports that about 11,000 Chinese troops are stationed in the Gilgit-Baltistan regions of the PoK, where they are purportedly involved in infrastructure development, including areas along the LoC. The Gilgit-Baltistan region is reportedly simmering with internal unrest and has serious security implications for both Pakistan and China as it adjoins other provinces in western China that are also facing unrest.  Officially, the Army maintains that the presence of Chinese troops in PoK is not a cause of immediate concern at the moment as they are engaged only in development works. “This is an arrangement between two sovereign nations and it does not pose a threat to us,” General Officer Commanding 14 Corps, Lt Gen Ravi Dastane, said. He added that the LoC was well defended with more bunkers, better technical and aerial surveillance assets and the Army was capable of dealing with any situation.  Moving along the Batalik-Kargil-Drass axis, it is easy to see the vulnerability of the strategically critical NH-1, with peaks that were occupied by Pakistani forces within a stone’s throw. Further east, the Chinese presence and reported incursions across the LAC in Ladakh have been in the limelight for quite some time.  There are concerns in some quarters about the possibility of long term or permanent presence of Chinese troops in the PoK, increase in their numbers and the possibility of a gradual ‘hemming-in’ of Ladakh from the north and the east.  Another issue that arises is the impact that the presence of Chinese troops in the PoK and along the LoC would have on the Army’s operational planning and execution of operations in case of breach of peace. Though remote, military planners will have to factor in the consequences of Chinese troops getting caught in a crossfire in the eventuality of hostilities, even if a limited cross-border conflict. Top Army commanders responsible for this sector maintained that so far there has been no change in their operational planning.  Pak-China Camaraderie  The presence of Chinese troops in PoK has to be viewed in the larger perspective with a long-term view in the backdrop of the Sino-Pakistan strategic partnership, the Chinese designs in South Asia and their claims on Indian territory. “The Chinese may be there for development works at present, but things may turn out differently later,” an officer said. It is also felt that Pakistan might use the presence of Chinese troops as a shield or deterrence against an Indian response if it ups the ante along the LoC, revives pre-Kargil plan to open new routes of infiltration into northern Kashmir or increases the level of proxy war in Kashmir.










Tributes paid to Kargil martyrs

Tribune News Service  Drass, July 26 Tributes were paid to martyrs at the Forever in Operations War Memorial on the 12th Kargil Vijay Diwas, signifying the victory of Indian forces in evicting Pakistani intruders who had occupied large tracts on this side of the Line of Control in the Kargil sector.  (Right) At the India Gate in New Delhi, an armed forces personnel at a ceremony to commemorate the Indian victory, on Tuesday. A relative of a Kargil martyr breaks down during a ceremony to pay tribute to the martyrs. Meanwhile,  Tribune photos: Anand Sharma, Mukesh Aggarwal  It was on this day in 1999 that the last of the Pakistani intruders, who included army regulars as well as militants, were flushed out from fortified positions in inhospitable terrain at heights up to 18,000 feet. As many as 543 Indian troops, including many young officers, were killed in the two-month long war.  General Officer Commanding of the Leh-based 14 Corps, Lt Gen Ravi Dastane, GOC 8 Mountain Division, Maj Gen R.J. Noronha, GOC 3 Mountain Division, Maj Gen K.M. Balsara, brigade commanders, commanding officers of various battalions deployed in this sector as well as a large number of officers, jawans and their family members attended the ceremony. Also present were next of kin of some of the martyrs, ex-servicemen from this region and civilian dignitaries.  Later addressing a special sainik sammelam, Lt Gen Dastane called upon all ranks to draw inspiration from the unity, steely resolve and spirit of sacrifice displayed by the armed forces and continue to strive for professional excellence. He said the Kargil conflict was a testimony to the indomitable spirit and fighting skills of the Indian soldier.  War widows and next of kin of martyrs were also honoured on the occasion. A barakhana for all troops, a massed band display, polo match between Ladakh Scouts and Dras Bravo, a local civilian team, cultural programme for the locals, a candle lighting ceremony and an audio-visual presentation were other events organised to mark the event.  A cycle expedition organised to commemorate the golden jubilee of 70 Infantry brigade, deployed in Batalik, was also flagged-in at the war memorial. The expedition had started from Nyoma in eastern Ladakh on July 5.









ACM Naik's parting 'advice' for Gen Singh

NEW DELHI: Even as he reiterated his opposition to the creation of a chief of defence staff (CDS) post for the "next five to 10 years", Air Chief Marshal P V Naik has advised Army chief Gen V K Singh to do whatever he feels is "right" as far as the controversy over his age is concerned.  "All the three Service chiefs, including Gen Singh, Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma and myself, are from the Hunter squadron of the National Defence Academy...we share a great synergy," said the outgoing IAF chief.  "My only advise to Gen Singh is that he must do whatever he thinks is right," said ACM Naik when asked about the raging controversy over the Army chief's official age.  As reported earlier, after months of dithering, the defence ministry has now held that Gen Singh will have to retire next year, not in 2013 as he wanted, since his official date of birth - May 10, 1950 - is being considered.  The Army chief, in turn, has contended his actual date of birth is "May 10, 1951", and all his earlier attempts to get it corrected in official records were foiled by "vested interests".









Pakistan’s Defence Budget: Cloaked in Secrecy

Every year there are demands from politicians, the media and members of civil society that the burgeoning defence budget be discussed in detail in parliament. The general practice has been to dismiss the defence budget in a cursory manner, without providing any details. The excuse given year after year is that it is not in the national interest to publicly discuss the defence budget.  However, in a departure from the norm, the budget for 2011-12 gives a breakdown of what used to be a one-line budget provision. The total amount allocated to Defence Affairs and Services is Rs495 billion, which is 32% of the net revenue receipts of the federal government, after providing for the provincial share. Foreign debt repayment and interest on domestic debt takes away another 67%. To meet the expenditure on other ends, budget makers are relying on over-estimated net capital receipts, external receipts, provincial surplus and bank borrowing. All these estimates are speculative, so chances are we may just run into a bigger deficit than otherwise stated in the budget.  The breakdown of the defence budget for 2011-2012 is as follows. Employee salaries: Rs206 billion; operating expenses: Rs128 billion; physical assets: Rs117 billion; and civil works: Rs42 billion. During Musharraf’s tenure, the pension for retired army personnel was shifted to the civilian budget. It was close to Rs27 billion then, but according to estimates, it must have increased significantly by now. The defence establishment can claim that the increase of their share in the new budget is only 11.48%, which is below the average 14% inflation in the last year. However, the same holds true for the civilian governments as well.  As a major chunk of the foreign arms purchases are made through loans, there is no account of the amount of loans taken or the interest paid on them.  Despite vociferous demands from the public and the opposition that the defence budget be discussed in detail in parliament, no legislator had the courage to ask for more details. Interestingly, a couple of parliamentarians who had earlier raised this issue preferred to ignore it altogether. Instead of taking the security agencies to task for their failure on May 2, most parliamentarians cleverly redirected the wrath of the House towards the US by mainly discussing the issue of Pakistan’s sovereignty and how it was violated by the Americans.  However, it is imperative that a national security policy be formulated before the political dispensation undertakes any discussion on the curtailment of the defence budget, or they will run into snags. The internal insurgency that Pakistan faces is being used to justify the present spending by the army. But even before the war on terror, we have always had a consistent enemy: India. All those who have benefitted from a war-based economy will continue to harp on the imminent threat of war with India in order to justify the spending on the 600,000-strong army.  While the perception of threat from India has always been used to justify the heavy defence expenditure, the truth is that we have fought four wars with India since 1948 to date, out of which three were initiated by Pakistan – the Kashmir war where the dangerous policy of using a tribal lashkar was introduced; the 1965 war when armed insurgents were sent into Kashmir following which India decided to choose its own battlefront; the Kargil misadventure in 1999 which backfired. It was only in 1971 when India came to the support of the Bangladeshis in their “war of liberation” and avenged the previous two attacks. It should be noted that the 1971 war was the result of Pakistan’s military operation in Bangladesh.  The Khakis argue that India is buying arms and ammunition worth billions of dollars and consequently, the Pakistan Army has to maintain some sort of balance as a preventive measure against possible aggression. The same argument is used to justify the purchase of some of the most expensive war toys such as F-16s or the $35 million P-3C Orion planes that were blown up by a handful of terrorists at the PNS Mehran base in Karachi. Ostensibly the amount spent on the country’s nuclear facility is over and above the disclosed defence budget of the country. Even retired finance secretaries are tight-lipped about where this money comes from.  While citizens are willing to foot the bill for the army to protect themselves from terrorists, they are in the dark about how much of their money goes into financing the so-called “good Taliban” or to various India-specific jihadi organisations. So unless the political government is allowed to formulate a national security policy that is not India-centric, we will not have a clear picture of exactly how much real defence expenditure is.  There is lot of fat in the defence budget that can be cut with the resources diverted to health and education. To begin with, the country does not need this big an army. When East Pakistan was a part of Pakistan, the armed forces had about 250,000 enlisted personnel. Now with half the country gone, we have more than double that number. At the same time, when we are spending billions of dollars on nuclear bombs and their delivery system, why do we need such a large conventional army? This is a question that parliamentarians should be asking.  To get a wider perspective, I asked my network of consultants in the Asia Pacific region whether the defence budget is discussed in their respective countries and whether parliament has oversight of the defence establishment and intelligence agencies. Akhil Mohan from India says that the annual accounts of the ministry of defence are presented in parliament and are available to the public. Although they are fairly detailed in accounting terms (current and capital account spending, etc.), many expenses are often disguised or clubbed under broader heads in instances where the government does not want to disclose specific details. But these numbers are almost never debated in parliament.  There is a parliamentary standing committee on defence, which deals with issues such as procurement irregularities or the need to upgrade military capability, etc. However, the committee has not been particularly effective and certainly has not helped in shaping the defence policy or action. The Indian parliament rarely discusses defence except when one political party is trying to nail another on charges of corruption and kickback allegations. Like the ISI, the operations and appropriations of the two major Indian intelligence agencies – RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) and IB (Intelligence Bureau) are not under any form of parliamentary oversight. Goes to show that we are no different from our cousins next door.  According to Michael Boyden from Taiwan, a country that lives under constant threat of annexation from mainland China, the 113-seat unicameral parliament is empowered to discuss the defence budget. Defence officials are summoned to the assembly for interpretation sessions by the chamber at large and/or committee, and are sometimes quite roughly quizzed. Civilian control of defence only came in 2000. However, intelligence budgets are not discussed.  From Thailand, Chris Bruton states, “You may think that Pakistan’s defence budget and military are the most secretive in the world. You are wrong. Within the ASEAN, we have more secretive military regimes: Myanmar, Vietnam and Laos, for example.” Additionally, “We have very limited access to details of military spending, and there are secret funds of which no details are given at all. There is no parliamentary oversight for either the military or the intelligence agencies, including the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) which acts almost as a parallel governmental authority” adds Bruton. 000_HKG2003090667781  Photo: AFP  Richard Martin from Australia reports that their defence budget is presented in great detail and is available on their government website. Interestingly, with a whole continent to defend, the strength of the Australian armed forces – including the reserves – is 93,000 personnel. The Australian defence budget on the website also talks about the future expenditure, until 2012-13.  From Malaysia, my friend Paddy Schubert tells me that their defence ministry has a number of bodies including the Economic Planning Unit (EPU), a committee at the ministry level, and the parliament and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to monitor any discrepancies. The defence budget for Malaysia for 2011 is RM9.1 Billion (US $2.93 billion). There is a ministerial oversight committee which includes the head of the PAC. Top intelligence agencies are also monitored by elected politicians.  Coming back to Pakistan, recently a Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the civil society has called for a paradigm shift in the national security policy of the country. They also observed that the security imperatives have brought alienation from the state, particularly among the people of Balochistan. Perhaps, Nawaz Sharif is the only national leader who is boldly demanding that the military be held accountable, while Zardari is playing it safe – so safe that the Sharif government is referring to him as the army’s newest spokesman.  The parliamentary committees on defence should be fully authorised to have complete access to the details of the defence budget before giving their approval. There should also be an intelligence committee, as is the case in the US, to reign in the country’s unbridled intelligence agencies. They should be the ones approving the appropriation of funds.









Govt rejects Gen V K Singh’s request to attend meet of Pacific Army chiefs

In a fresh faceoff, the Defence Ministry has denied Army Chief General V K Singh permission to attend the biennial Pacific Armies Chiefs Conference at Singapore this week. Instead, it has asked the Army to downgrade its participation by sending the Vice-Chief of Army Staff.      This refusal has come as a surprise to the Army because at the last conference in 2009, the government had upgraded its participation by sending former Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor.  Ministry sources have told the Army that was an “exception” and have asked it to revert to the previous practice of sending the Vice-Chief.  In response, the Army is learnt to have taken a stand that the forum has confirmed participation from 23 Army chiefs, including from China and, possibly, Pakistan which makes it an extremely useful platform. In fact, sources said, it was for this reason that the Army Chief went himself in 2009 because it met protocol requirements to set up more bilateral meetings at the Chief’s level.  Ads by Google  The conference is being sponsored by the US Pacific Command — this, sources said, is believed to be a factor for the MoD which believes India should not be seen “actively” involved in US efforts and, thereby, signal that it’s part of any particular grouping. It’s learnt that Gen Singh has written to Defence Minister A K Antony arguing that engaging the US is important through these forums.  It’s unlikely that India will at all participate this time given that the conference is slated to begin on Wednesday.









Defence Ministry looking for site for war memorial in New Delhi

The Defence Ministry is looking for an “alternative site” for constructing the National War Memorial as the armed forces’ proposal to build it at India Gate complex has been rejected by the Government.  “Unfortunately, we have not been able to find a solution. But again we are trying to find an alternative place for which the discussions are going on,” Defence Minister A K Antony said.  The Minister was speaking to reporters after paying homage to the martyrs on the 12th anniversary of the Kargil war fought in 1999.  The Minister said the Government was trying to find a solution to the issue “at the earliest”.  The armed forces had submitted a proposal three years ago to construct a war memorial within the India Gate complex three years ago but after the rejection of their proposal by the Government recently, they are now looking at new locations for it, Ministry officials said.  The Government had decided against the proposal after certain objections were raised by the Urban Development Ministry.  The India Gate, which at present is the only national war memorial, was built in the pre-independence era for Indian soldiers killed in action during the World War I and the third Anglo-Afghan War.  India does not have a memorial for post-independence martyrs.





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