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Saturday, 2 July 2011

From Today's Papers - 02 Jul 2011





322 Air Warriors inducted into IAF

Chennai, July 1 More than 300 Air Warriors were today inducted into the Indian Air Force at a passing-out parade held at the IAF station at suburban Tambaram.Air Commodore Alok Kumar, Command Flying Training Officer, reviewed the parade held at the end of their training.  Kumar said the career prospects in the IAF had 'substantially improved' and urged the newly inducted professionals to strive for excellence.  The operational efficiency of the IAF hinged upon maintenance and administrative support, he added.  "The IAF is in the process of a technology-based transformation and modernisation with the phased induction of high-performance, state-of-the-art aircraft and high-precision military hardware and automation," he said. Earlier, the Air Warriors had gone through a 'rigorous intensive training' at the Mechanical Training Institute and Workshop Training Institute.  Besides the 322 personnel, 13 soldiers from the Air Forces of Nepal, Myanmar and Sri Lanka also earned the training course certification, a release here said. — PTI








Making sense of our India policy?

There is an inexplicable complacency in Islamabad about our congenitally troubled relations with New Delhi. The Minister for Defence has considered it fit to issue an all well account along the eastern border with India. The problem with the world at large is that they take Pakistan’s Defence Minister seriously. We in Pakistan know better. There has so far in our independent history been only one Defence Minister who could be properly called that. It just so happened that General Ayub Khan, the self-anointed Field Marshall, had got himself appointed as the Defence Minister in Liaquat Khan’s cabinet while being the Commander-in-Chief of the Army due to the peculiar circumstances of Pakistan’s early days. That is that. Some of us still recall that incident of the Bhutto era when his Defence Minister, the Right Honourable Nawab Talpur, could not get a rest house room vacated from a Major. The poor chap had started taking his official title literally. And then there was General Tikka Khan, the butcher of our East Pakistani compatriots at the time, whose puzzlement was no less when they knocked at his door in the early hours of July 5, 1977 to nab him. He did identify himself as Pakistan’s Defence Minister, but the Captain in charge of the operation was not impressed. Little known to the Defence Minister till then was the reality that Zia had staged a coup and arrested Bhutto earlier the same night. So, this Defence Minister. It is all very well to service boots to even the Indian Army should they decide to place a bulk order at a factory not far from the Wagha border post, but quite a different cup of tea to shoeshine the ware by wiping the dust off the clear and present threat to Pakistan from our eastern neighbour. As we pointed out in an earlier writing in this newspaper (‘Pakistan at war – the external flank’, op ed, June 14), New Delhi is squirming as it has been told in no uncertain terms that it would have to come to a peaceful, negotiated settlement of the Kashmir dispute with Pakistan as no one in their sound mind would wish for the outbreak of hostilities between the two nuclear-armed neighbours in South Asia. As it is, last week’s visit of the outgoing Indian Foreign Secretary turned out to be nothing more than a farewell call on her Pakistani counterpart. Not even the date for our to-be-elevated Foreign Minister Hina Khar’s trip to New Delhi scheduled for July could be finalised, to say nothing of any substantive discussions on the tentatively resumed composite dialogue process broken off unilaterally by New Delhi on the pretext of the mysterious Mumbai attacks in October 2009.








India deflecting river courses to Pakistan

LAHORE – As heavy monsoon rains are lashing across Pakistan, India has constructed dozens of bundhs along the rivers on their side to deflect the river course towards Pakistan putting thousands of villages at high risk of massive deluge. Well-informed sources said here on Friday that the Pakistani engineers are working on war-footing basis to prevent New Delhi’s offensive to deflect river course to Pakistan as the Indian engineers are going to play dangerous game in the region by diverting the floodwaters to Pakistan. Water experts also revealed that Pakistani engineers are battling hard not only to destroy Indian hegemony over the river waters but also trying to avert possible massive deluge as India is likely to release over 200,000 cusecs of additional water in the river Ravi without prior information to the Pakistani authorities. “India has also constructed defense structures including bunkers near Dera Baba Nanak, Sadanwali, Kalanaur, Momaanpur and other areas raising high bundh on their side. Due to construction of these bundhs, a large part of land from Narowal to Sialkot districts, are washed away during the rainy season. “We have credible reports that India during this season is going to releases about 200,000-cusec additional water in the river Ravi, Sutluj, Jehlum Chenab. This high flow of water is bound to wash away thousands of villages in Punjab province, if efforts are not made to stop Indian hegemony on river waters,” water experts said. They also informed that India had constructed a cross bundh on their side near Cheema and Wadali villages that would help India divert its flow towards Pakistani side. Likewise, India has also constructed another bundh near Indian village Rossae on the right side of the Ravi. At least three more bundhs constructed by India alongside the LoC in the Indian Occupied Kashmir would multiply the problem, leading to the submergence of hundreds of Pakistani villages in Azad Kashmir and upper Punjab. Each bundh is reported to be around five kilometer in length and 20 feet in height. Around 170 villages along the Ravi are evacuated every year while the local administration is put on high alert in Narowal and Sialkot districts to cope with any emergency, official sources said.








Dialogue without end

THE time has surely come to take a retrospective look at the erratic course of the dialogue between India and Pakistan since 2006 with a view to making a realistic assessment of its prospect in the near future.  Talks between Foreign Secretaries Nirupama Rao and Salman Bashir concluded in Islamabad on June 24 on a pleasant note, with a joint press conference. As expected, though, the results were limited. They are likely to meet again to prepare for the foreign ministers` talks in New Delhi this month. Reports in the Indian press on Pakistan Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar`s leadership of Pakistan`s team are positive and she is assured of a warm welcome.  Limited though they are, the gains of the June 24 talks are not to be sniffed at. To begin with, trade across the Line of Control (LoC) has virtually come to a grinding halt, belying the expectations it had aroused and causing frustration amongst not only the traders but also the public. It is all to the good, therefore, that both sides have now agreed to convene a working group on cross-LoC confidence-building measures. The group is expected to propose ways of strengthening travel and trade arrangements and to suggest modalities for easing the present arrangements which verge on the obscene.  Existing cross-LoC trade is by barter. There are no banking facilities, no arrangements for the mutual acceptance of letters of credit and no agreement on currency. Pakistan`s currency is as freely available in Kashmir and even in some parts of New Delhi as Indian currency is accepted by some in Karachi, including not a few well-reputed establishments. Yet hackles were raised in New Delhi when the president of the People`s Democratic Party, Mehbooba Mufti, suggested the acceptance of both currencies in Kashmir.  Additionally, traders must be aware of the state of the market on the other side. That implies free and reliable telecommunications. The group will also discuss the expansion of the list of items that can be traded, an increase in the frequency of the bus service and in the number of trading days. If the foreign ministers settle this problem they will impart a significant fillip to the dialogue process.  The same holds true for confidence-building measures in the nuclear field. It may be recalled that the Lahore Declaration of Feb 21, 1999, signed by Prime Ministers Mohammad Nawaz Sharif and Atal Behari Vajpayee, recorded an agreement to “take immediate steps for reducing the risk of accidental or unauthorised use of nuclear weapons and discuss concepts and doctrines with a view to elaborating measures for confidence building in the nuclear and conventional fields aimed at the prevention of conflict”.  In the decade that followed this accord, “doctrines” and “concepts” were aired by both sides causing unease all around. The foreign ministers are expected to finalise arrangements for cooperation between the National Defence University in Islamabad and the National Defence College in New Delhi. They should go further and agree on visits by the army chiefs to each other`s countries. India and China hold such meetings, and there is no reason why India and Pakistan cannot. Discussions between the army chiefs will help remove misconceptions on “concepts” and “doctrines”. Think-tanks specialising in this field will also benefit from expositions of “the other” side`s views and fears.  The reported accord on the liberalisation of the currently severely restricted visa does not go far enough. Nevertheless, any and all the gains achieved are welcome. However, they deserve to be expanded.  Now for a retrospective look at and assessment of the prospects: we have not surmounted the problems created in the two difficult years of 2007 and 2008. Worse, positions have hardened on matters of consequence. That the talks in Islamabad concerning Wullar Barrage, held on May 12 and 13, failed caused no surprise, still less the failure of those on Siachen in New Delhi on May 31. That was the 12th round in a series that saw the accord of 1989 abandoned and the promising one of 1992 aborted, due in each case to pressure from the Indian Army. Only a political decision at the highest level will resolve these two disputes: Siachen as part of a settlement of the Kashmir dispute and the Wullar Lake as part of a process in which that settlement appears imminent.  In both cases, the outlines of a settlement are well-established, far more so on the Sir Creek issue. Yet in the talks in Rawalpindi on May 20 and 21, only non-papers were exchanged. Why? It is neither necessary nor profitable to guess precisely why an impasse has arisen on this issue. It is far more worthwhile to reckon with the impasse in the overall relationship and tackle its causes.  Progress on the limited accords will help significantly, as will exchanges between members of the civil society, especially legislators and media persons. But only an understanding on how to arrive at a closure on the Mumbai attacks issue, which is largely responsible for the freeze in the relationship, will help to put a promising dialogue back on the rails.  Meanwhile, the cause of peace is ill-served by fatuous slogans on the core issue — Kashmir. A broad accord subsists already. The cause will be best served by convincing the public on both sides that the accord is in the best interests of Pakistan and India — the only one our history permits.  When the foreign ministers meet later this month, they should keep that vision before them even as they tackle issues of the moment.









Not defence but foreign policy

DEFENCE Minister Ahmad Mukhtar has said the government is considering a change in the defence policy. … The defence minister`s statement coincides with deteriorating relations with the USA.… Because of Kashmir, we have a bitter history of mutual relations [with India]. On the western side Pakistan is regularly accused of creating trouble. We have always had very warm feelings for Muslim countries but now most of them are not showing any warmth [towards us]. … The only country we can trust is China.…  This is not the time to interfere in the internal affairs of others, for any excuse including that of strategic depth. War cannot solve any problem. Seeking a solution through negotiation is the only way to achieve human betterment. Even if an issue cannot be resolved [by this approach], war is no solution. …  Our elders had established the principle of not interfering in others` affairs and not allowing others to intervene in your matters. Unfortunately, we have either forgotten this lesson or we cannot fully comprehend its wisdom. We willingly became a part of the US war against Communism and tried to prove more loyal than the king. We gave our bases to the US. When the Russian army invaded Afghanistan in 1979 our military generals with the support of the religious leaders made it out to be a war between Islam and .… for them, it was a windfall. Nobody took the trouble to see the losses the country had to suffer.  The fact is that ours was a secular society which never encouraged religious politics but the educational system was so polluted that liberalism and tolerance disappeared, making social attitudes more brutal. Because of our great dependence on the singular world power, our foreign and defence policies became a sort of meaningless mixture.  If we want to change this, the first step should be ceasing to consider ourselves exporters of political revolution. The only guideline should be that we should have good relationships with all. That is the need of the moment, followed by the establishment of good trade relations…. — (June 30)









Army jawans to get as much meat as officers

NEW DELHI: A major dietary imbalance in the military has now been corrected, with Napolean Bonaparte's maxim that "an Army marches on its stomach" probably being kept in mind. In terms of quantity, jawans will be able to eat non-vegetarian dishes as well as their officers in the Indian Army now.  The defence ministry has approved the increase in the "scale" of mutton or chicken from 110 gms per man per day to 180 gms for all non-vegetarian jawans. "Keeping the physical nature of work and to ensure troops get wholesome non-vegetarian dishes, the case for this was taken up by Army chief General V K Singh with the defence minister A K Antony in February. It has now been approved," said an official.  This comes after a similar increase in the scale of fruits and eggs for JCOs (junior commissioned officers) and other ranks was approved to bring it on par with the officers, who number just about 35,000 in the 1.13-million strong Army. "JCOs and jawans, for instance, now get two eggs every day just like officers," he said.  "Then, there has also been authorization of special rations to troops deployed in posts above 12,000 feet, which includes areas like Kargil and Siachen-Saltoro Ridge, authorization of branded wheat atta, whole meal instead of grinded wheat, and procurement of branded salt and ready-to-eat vegetarian and non-vegetarian retort pouches," he said.  All these steps come in the backdrop of last year's CAG report, which blasted the Army's entire "supply chain management of rations'', hinting at widespread corruption and existence of cartels, which led to jawans often being provided sub-standard foodstuff and rations well past their consume-by dates.  The Army, of course, has also been hit by a series of meat, egg, atta, dal and other ration scams in recent years, with even Lt-General rank officers being indicted in the scandals.  The CAG report, on its part, painted a dismal picture of the way procurement and supply of dry (rice, wheat, dal, sugar, tea, oil, tinned stuff) and fresh (vegetables, fruit, meat, milk) rations was being undertaken at an annual cost of Rs 1,440 crore.  Noting satisfaction levels of troops about quantity, quality and taste of rations was "very low'', CAG called for a complete overhaul of the existing system, ranging from computerisation and better procurement procedures to expansion in the vendor base and blacklisting of defaulting parties. As per CAG, the main villains of the piece were Army Service Corps (ASC) and Army Purchase Organisation, all under the benign gaze of Army HQ as well as defence ministry.  As per CAG, around three lakh soldiers under the Northern Command in J&K, for instance, were issued rations by Army supply depots even after the expiry of their original estimated storage life (ESL) based on "repeated extensions'' given by the Central Food Laboratory at Jammu.  "While instructions prohibit any extensions beyond three months of the ESL, atta, sugar, rice, tea, dal, edible oil etc were consumed (by soldiers) even six months to 28 months after the expiry of the original ESL,'' said CAG, adding that MoD and Army HQ need to get their act together "to ensure supply of good quality rations to troops''.








Indian Defence Minsiter Inaugurates DRDO’s Composite Propellant Processing Facility

09:01 GMT, July 1, 2011 Indian Defence Minister Shri AK Antony on 29 June inaugurated the DRDO’s state-of-the-art composite propellant processing facility – ACEM (Advanced Centre for Energetic Materials) at Nasik in Maharashtra and dedicated the facility to the Nation.  “I am happy to dedicate this modern propellant processing facility to the nation. I congratulate all of you for reaching this milestone. I am sure the team of young scientists, guided by their experienced colleagues will deliver world class rocket motors and requirements for various strategic projects. The responsibility of making this facility one of the best in the world and making it Advanced in every sense of the word lies collectively upon all of you”, Shri Antony said in his inaugural speech.  The facility has been set up by HEMRL (High Energy Materials Research Laboratory), a Pune based DRDO laboratory engaged in research and development of high energy materials including solid rocket propellants. Speaking on the occasion, Shri Antony, said that today missiles have become one of the most important and effective means of delivering warheads. “Our strategic capability to boost our defence preparedness is judged by its weapon delivery.” He stated that despite doing well in many fields, we continue to be on the wrong side of the information divide. “Nations the world over are today judged by which side of the information divide they are on. I am sure that with the inauguration of this facility, we will take a small but significant step towards bridging this gap.”  He further emphasized that nothing but unwavering and full faith in our own capabilities will help us in achieving our objective. Expressing satisfaction that most of the plant and machinery under embargo had been constructed indigenously. He stressed that to be more meaningful and to be sustained for a longer term, the indigenization process must be total and irreversible.  Dr. VK Saraswat, SA to RM, Secretary Defence R&D and DG DRDO, speaking on the occasion, said that this was not the end but the beginning of a longer journey as new and more efficient propellants will keep emerging, for which the facilities will need to be created. He stated that the users expectations was high and assured that DRDO will come up to these expectations.  Sh. S Sundaresh, Distinguished Scientist & Chief Controller Research & Development (Armament & Combat Engineering) stressed upon the need to identify additional land for the residential complex in the vicinity of the facility and sought the help of district administration in this regard.  ACEM has been set up as a dedicated facility, to meet the requirements of composite propellants for solid rocket motors during their development phase as well as the limited series production. The facility is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and machinery operated remotely through PLC (Programmable Logic Controller) and SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition), thus, avoiding human exposure to hazardous processes.  It incorporates a large number of critical technologies and machinery, designed, developed and realized indigenously with the support of over 40 private firms participating in the endeavour. Many of these technologies and machinery such as special purpose mixers were inaccessible to India due to “denial regimes”. The mixers were designed and developed jointly by DRDO and Central Manufacturing Technology Institute, Bangalore. Thus, the Centre is equipped with highly advanced facilities for processing, NDT (Non-Destructive Testing), quality control, as well as static testing of various rocket motors. The installations have been made compliant to the applicable explosive safety norms and are equipped with integrated fire fighting system to ensure adequate safety.  The occasion was also graced by Shri Harishchandra Chavan, Member of Parliament, Shri Anil Sahebrao Kadam, local MLA and Dr. Subhananda Rao, Distinguished Scientist & Chief Controller Research & Development (Aeronautics) & Director HEMRL and Shri Avinash Chander-Distinguished Scientist & Chief Controller Research & Development (MSS).









U.S. Marine Gurpreet Singh Killed in Combat

U.S. Marine Cpl. Gurpreet Singh, 21, was killed in combat June 22 in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan.  Singh was born in Hoshiapur, Punjab, but immigrated to the U.S. in 2000 and grew up in Antelope, Calif., near Sacramento. He leaves behind his father Nirmal, his mother Satnam Kaur, his sister Manpreet and a brother, also named Gurpreet.  Funeral services for Singh will be held on July 2, 11 a.m., at Mount Vernon Memorial Park in Fair Oaks, Calif. Singh’s body was flown home June 28 to McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento.  “He was always a very patriotic man for the U.S.,” Nirmal Singh told India-Wes t. “From the time he was a little boy, he knew he wanted to serve in the U.S. military.”  “Gupreet was very proud of his service with the Marines and our family is proud too,” said Nirmal Singh, who was on his way to pick up his son’s body at McClellan.  Gurpreet Singh, who went to Oakmont High School in nearby Roseville, Calif., was on his second tour of duty with the Marines, where he served with the 5th Marine Regiment in the 1st Marine Division.  After finishing high school, Singh signed on with the Marines in November 2007 and trained at Camp Pendleton in San Diego, Calif., before going into active combat in Afghanistan to support Operation Enduring Freedom.  Singh had been in Afghanistan for seven months before he was killed. The Department of Defense said Singh died of wounds received while in active combat, but released no other information about the manner in which he was killed.  Gurpreet Singh was almost at the end of his four-year service, but extended his time to cover for someone who wanted to take a leave of absence, said a friend, also named Gurpreet Singh, who initially met the young Indian American at the West Sacramento Sikh Gurdwara.  “He had been shot before and had injuries, but went back nevertheless,” said Gurpreet Singh, adding that the Marine, before enlisting, had done a lot of volunteer work at the temple.  For his service with the Marines, Singh had received six medals including the Purple Heart, awarded to those who have been wounded or killed in combat. Singh also received a Combat Action Ribbon, a National Defense Service Medal, a Global War on Terrorism medal, a Good Conduct medal, and an Afghanistan Campaign Medal.  “Cpl. Singh was someone everyone could get along with,” said Cpl. Fort, commenting on the Los Angeles Times Web site. “Whether it be another patrol in hostile territory or just a morning greeting, Gurpreet would always have a positive attitude,” said Fort, adding: “Love you bro, forever in our hearts.”  The Helmand Province is becoming an increasingly dangerous place for U.S. soldiers, as Taliban fighters try to re-establish control in regions where they once dominated, Marines Major General John Toolan told reporters at the Pentagon last month. The Taliban are not well-trained as fighters but do know how to build and bury roadside bombs, which are a major threat to U.S. troops, he said.  In a televised address from the White House June 23, President Barack Obama announced that he was bringing home 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year. Another 23,000 troops are scheduled to be withdrawn in 2012, leaving about 68,000 American troops in Afghanistan until 2014, when the president said he would end America’s combat role in that country.  Approximately 1,634 American military personnel have died in Afghanistan.




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