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Tuesday, 5 July 2011

From Today's Papers - 05 Jul 2011






Rethinking India-Pakistan relations

S P Seth  While India is weighed down by Pakistan’s lurch toward militancy and terrorism mounted by the Taliban and associated extremist groups, for Pakistan it is an existential crisis  Even as Pakistan’s establishment weighs up the country’s situation in the midst of its multiple woes, a certain perspective of contemporary history might help. Ever since India’s partition and the creation of Pakistan as a sovereign state, the relationship between the two countries has been, in so many ways, a continuation of the pre-partition politics. But with independence and separation, the stakes rose by externalising and accentuating what was once the internal politics of an undivided people. The Hindu-Muslim divide, fostered by the British during their long rule, is continuing to characterise India-Pakistan relations. As a smaller state with its perceived insecurity, Pakistan sought powerful friends and allies to strengthen it.  This is where the US came in with its own national and strategic interests. During the Cold War, the US was inclined to regard India with suspicion for its close ties with the Soviet Union, which created a convergence of political and strategic interests between the US and Pakistan, though they did not have quite the same agenda. Pakistan wanted to create leverage against India, while the US was more interested in Pakistan’s strategic location not far from the then Soviet Union. The point is that Pakistan’s insecurity against a larger India (a carry over of the pre-partition politics) militated against a fresh start between the two countries. And this has continued to this day, with added complications.  Indeed, with both India and Pakistan as sovereign nations, it was possible, after initial hiccups, to build upon their shared history and culture. But it was not done and both are paying the price for it. For instance, the economic imperative of lifting the standards of their majority populations living in poverty would have created regional stability. There would have been greater cultural interaction to explore a common past and build on it. The vast amount of monies spent on defence budgets could have been used in more productive ways to fund infrastructure, thus creating employment opportunities, and to fund literacy and education, to extend and improve health facilities and outcomes, and the list goes on. The stakes thus created in common good would have acted as a curb on extremism and terrorist activities.  A shared peace between India and Pakistan is imperative for their common prosperity, now torn by artificial barriers built on prejudice and fear. While India is weighed down by Pakistan’s lurch toward militancy and terrorism mounted by the Taliban and associated extremist groups, for Pakistan it is an existential crisis. Therefore, it is time for a rethink in Pakistan to confront the new reality when the state has become a hostage to militant groups dictating the country’s contours in a direction that is alien to a majority of its population, if their voting record is anything to go by. In other words, the country’s leadership across the political spectrum requires strategic clarity. That is to decide: which is the biggest danger to Pakistan? Is it a perceived threat from India or a possible internal collapse?  When the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan after a bloody civil war and with Pakistan’s support, it was regarded as a great strategic victory. Under a friendly Taliban regime beholden to Pakistan, Afghanistan was said to provide ‘strategic depth’ in a potential war with India. But what happened was that the Taliban’s nexus with al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and the 9/11 attack on the US, believed to have been orchestrated by him and his close lieutenants, eventually ended up embroiling Pakistan in the US war in Afghanistan. This is still causing serious problems in the country, including rolling attacks in parts of Pakistan by the Taliban’s offshoot, the Pakistani Taliban. And these attacks have de-stabilised Pakistan to the point of creating an existential threat to the state.  The concept of ‘defence in depth’ turned into a nightmare created by the Afghan Taliban because of its dalliance with al Qaeda. But the concept still finds favour with Pakistan’s political and military establishment. As the US proceeds with withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, the prospect of the Taliban once again capturing power in Afghanistan and being beholden to Pakistan for sheltering its top leadership, the idea of ‘strategic depth’ in Afghanistan might once again become attractive. But it might turn out to be as deceptive as before. Islamabad might find again that a Taliban regime would like to pursue its own agenda.  As Tariq Ali has recently commented in the London Review of Books, as part of a review of two books on Afghanistan: “...Gradually, Mullah Omar’s government gained autonomy from its patrons in Islamabad and even engaged in friendly negotiations with US oil companies. But its Wahabi connections proved fatal. The rest we know.” This time, it might take the form of supporting the Pakistani Taliban against the state. Their ideological affinity to promote and impose a Wahabi version of Islam on both Afghanistan and Pakistan is a dreadful prospect.  Pakistan, therefore, needs to rethink the country’s ethos and identity. It is true that Pakistan was created to ensure a secure future for the subcontinent’s Muslim population from a Hindu-majority India. But it has not worked like that. It has simply externalised that sense of insecurity. True, the younger generations of people on both sides have very little or no experience of the violence and forced migration of communities that followed partition. But the narrative of that experience by elders and school/university textbooks has, in some ways, deepened the chasm.  Pakistan’s Taliban insurgency is not only widening the gulf, but also threatening the state. Pakistan’s establishment might rethink its founding ideology as a counter to a Hindu-majority India. Its negative formulation tends to cast it into a state of permanent insecurity and threat from India to the point that it cannot even see the serious danger it is facing from within. For sure, it will be controversial after so many years. But there is need to think outside the box of permanent hostility between India and Pakistan, because it has not served the people’s interest. Besides, there is need for a new vision and a new direction in its national affairs.  The writer is a senior journalist and academic based in Sydney, Australia. He can be reached at\07\05\story_5-7-2011_pg3_5








$1-bn IAF deal for Swiss basic trainers grounded

New Delhi The $1 billion deal to purchase new basic trainers for the Indian Air Force (IAF) has been put on hold after serious allegations have surfaced about discrepancies in the procurement process. The defence ministry is taking a re-look at the selection process following a request from South Korea to investigate concerns about the validity of commercial documents submitted by a Swiss firm that was declared as the lowest bidder.  The procurement process has now been slowed down as the ministry as well as the IAF is scrutinising the selection process. As reported by The Indian Express, Swiss firm Pilatus had emerged as the cheapest when commercial bids were opened in May this year, making it the automatic winner of the competition to provide 75 basic trainers to the IAF.  However, sources said that serious allegations have now cropped up that have necessitated a re-look, including a charge that incomplete commercial bids were submitted by the Swiss firm and certain charges like transfer of technology costs were not factored in. “We are looking into the matter and if there are any discrepancies, action will be taken as per the Defence Procurement Procedure,” an official said.  It is learnt that an official request for a look into certain charges regarding the selection was received by the defence ministry from South Korea. As reported, Korean Aerospace Industries (KAI) came out second in the pricing bid while US firm Hawker-Beechcraft was the most expensive. This is also the first major Indian military aviation deal that Korea is taking part in.  While a thorough scrutiny is being conducted, there is a sense of urgency to purchase the new basic trainers given that the current fleet of HPT 32 basic trainers has been grounded since 2009 due to safety reasons.  Cadets are currently being trained on the ‘harsher’ Kiran aircraft, that are more famous for their aerobatics as part of the Surya Kiran team. The grounding of the HPT 32’s meant cadets were directly being trained on Kiran — actually meant for second level training — instead of being gently initiated into flying on slower and safer propeller driven aircraft.  However, there is some reason to cheer as the grounded HPT 32 fleet may come back to service in the next few months, thanks to a new safety feature.  The fleet is likely to get reactivated with a new Ballistic Recovery System (BRS). With this system, which was been approved by HAL and is set to be retrofitted to the entire grounded fleet, the entire HPT 32 aircraft will descend with the help of a large parachute in case of engine failure.









Asia Needs a Larger U.S. Defense Budget

By DAN BLUMENTHAL AND MICHAEL MAZZA  In Washington the season of budget cuts is in full blossom. Unfortunately, leaders of both political parties may soon agree to further slash the defense budget. Yet this comes as the military is fighting an ongoing war against jihadi terrorists while also confronting a China that is using its growing military power more aggressively. The prescription should be more, not less, U.S. military power. It is easy to see how cuts will save today, but difficult to assess how much cuts will cost tomorrow. In Asia, the price will be unacceptably high.  China's military rise is changing the balance of power in its neighborhood. While Washington debates how to cut America's military, China continues to spend generously on defense. Last year, the Obama administration took the first steps in a $400 billion defense spending cut, ending several crucial programs. The White House has now asked for another $400 billion in cuts. China, meanwhile, has averaged 10% annual spending increases for more than 20 years. As former Secretary of Defense Harold Brown once said of the Soviets, "When we build, they build; when we cut, they build."  Beijing has the most ambitious missile program in the world—including an anti-ship ballistic missile that threatens U.S. aircraft carriers. China is also investing heavily in submarines and surface ships; stealthy fighter aircraft; and space and cyber-warfare capabilities. The equation budget cutters should ponder is that China's aggressive build-up plus American defense cuts equals Asian instability.  That instability could have far-reaching consequences. America's military has ensured peace and stability in the region, made the seas safe for trade and transit, provided Asians with the political space to prosper, and guaranteed that no hostile power would again use the Pacific as an avenue of approach for an attack on American soil.  Indeed, there would be no possibility of an "Asian Century" absent U.S. power. The international trade that has fueled the region's economic boom is dependent upon the immeasurable strategic tasks undertaken by the U.S. military—from keeping safe maritime shipping to reassuring friends and allies while deterring China and North Korea. The value of these daily operations is hard to price in a budget.  Military planners understand this. The Defense Department is developing a new military concept called AirSea Battle, which would bolster cooperation between the Navy and Air Force in ways that are particularly relevant for meeting the challenge of a rising China.  This is an expensive undertaking. The U.S. military will require next-generation bombers; large numbers of attack submarines; many fifth-generation fighters and refueling tankers; more and better surface ships; and long-range intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. AirSea Battle requires more defense investment, not budget cuts.  Spending cuts will further encumber the Navy's already withering fleet, which plays a central role in AirSea Battle. The Navy says it needs 328 ships compared to the current 284, but that goal remains out of reach. Further starving the already under-resourced Navy guarantees that the Navy will never have the number of ships it needs.  The nuclear attack submarine fleet, for example, will certainly come under additional strain. The Navy's stated requirement is 48 such boats, a number that will increase with the demands of AirSea Battle. Yet if the Navy's 30-year shipbuilding plan does not receive additional funding the Navy will have substantially fewer than the 48 subs it needs. There is also no provision in the plan for surging production to meet China's own growing sub acquisitions. China has fielded on average more than two subs annually for 16 years. It now has more than 60 attack subs in its fleet, with more in the pipeline. And unlike the U.S., which spreads its fleet among the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans, China operates all of its boats in Asia.  The long-term costs of defense cuts are not worth the short-term savings. If America skimps on its military, China will become the regional hegemon. One need only look to Beijing's recent behavior to imagine an Asia under Chinese domination. China has been bullying its neighbors over disputed claims in the South and East China Seas, while continuing an arms build-up across from Taiwan.  In response allies and friends are asking for greater American presence—the U.S. military is obliging, but is doing more with less. Such strategic insolvency is unsustainable. Should American military power further erode, the region would face one of two unhappy futures. China could successfully pacify its neighbors and dominate Asia. America would thus fail to maintain a longstanding objective—the prevention of a hostile hegemon dominating Asia.  Alternatively, Asian countries might find ways to resist Chinese pressure themselves. In this scenario, countries would arm to the teeth and form ever-shifting constellations of power. Many would develop weapons of mass destruction. Asia would look something like Europe did before World War I—but with nuclear weapons. Confronting either future tomorrow could be more expensive than properly resourcing our Pacific forces today.  Mr. Blumenthal is director of Asian Studies at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. Mr. Mazza is a senior research associate in foreign and defense policy at AEI.










Afghan War will Shift to India?

By Sajjad Shaukat  In the post-Osama scenario, taking cognisance of the recent major terror-events such as militants’ assault on Pakistan’s naval base, cross-border attack of 500 heavily armed militants who entered Pakistan’s Upper Dir from Afghanistan on May 22, and again targetted the Bajaur Agency on June 16 in wake of intensity of subversive acts and drone strikes in the country, our political experts agree that before leaving Afghanistan, US will shift Afghan war to Pakistan.  Notably, on June 22, Obama confirmed that troops withdrawal from Afghanistan will commence from this July and will be completed in 2014. While referring to Islamabad, Obama elaborated, “we will work with the Pakistani government to root out the cancer of violent extremism…no country is more endangered by the presence of violent extremists.” While ignoring the sovereignty of Pakistan and resolution of the parliament in this respect, Obama repeatedly made it clear, “he was ready to order more assaults against any safe havens” of terrorists in Pakistan.  In fact, under the pretext of Talibanisation of Pakistan and unrest in the country, which has collevtively been created by the American CIA, Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad, as shown by a perennial wave of suicide attacks, bomblasts, targetted killings, assaults on the checkposts of the security forces including support to Baloh separtists, US with the help of its arch anti-Pakistan allies like India and Israel has been destabilising Pakistan, while preparing ground to ‘denculearise’ the latter by propagating in the world that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are not safe.  While observing the ongoing anti-Pakistan developments, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad disclosed on June 7 that there was “accurate information…Americans are to sabotage Pakistan’s nuclear facilities to find dominance over the country.” While also indicating Zionist regime behind the conspiracy, he elaborated that for this purpose, the US can also use “the United Nations Security Council as tool to exercise pressure on Pakistan and weaken its national integrity.”  In this connection, without bothering for the public backlash in our country, US high officials continue their pressure on Islamabad by emphasising to “do more” against the militants and also take military action against the Haqqani network in North Waziristan.  Taking note of the present critical situation, on June 9, Pakistan’s Chief of the Army Staff Gen. Kayani remarked regarding military operation in North Waziristan, “a well thought out campaign is under no pressure to carry out operations at a particular time…future operations, as and when undertaken, will be with political consensus.” By stressing upon national unity, Kayani especially explained, “any effort to create divisions between important institutions of the country is not in national interest…the people of Pakistan whose support the army has always considered vital for its operations against terrorists.”  Now, strained relations between Washington and Islamabad could be observed from the fact that in the recent past, Pakistan’s civil and military leadership has flatly refused to act upon American undue demands. Knowing the double game of America and its intentions of transferring Afghan war to Pakistan, Islamabad sent home 120 US military trainers.  The fact of the matter is that if Afghan war shifts to Pakistan, it will also envelops India with whom the US signed an agreement of civil nuclear technology in 2008 and wants to counterbalance China by making India super power of Asia. Besides, US and some western countries also have tilt towards New Delhi because they consider it their larger commercial market at the cost of Pakistan which is taken as an obstacle in the way of their nefarious strategic designs.  It is notable that the former Soviet Union which had subjugated the minorities and ethnic groups in various provinces and regions through its military, disintegrated in 1991. Even its atomic weapons could not stop its collapse. Another major cause of its disintegration was that its greater defence expenditure exceeded to the maximum, resulting in economic crises inside the country. In this regard, about a prolonged war in Afghanistan, the former President Gorbachev had declared it as the “bleeding wound.” However, militarisation of the Soviet Union failed in controlling the movements of liberation, launched by various ethnic nationalities. On the other hand, learning no lesson from its previous close friend, India has been acting upon the similar policies in one way or the other.  It is worth-mentioning that under the mask of democracy and secularism, Indian subsequent regimes dominated by politicians from the Hindi heartland—Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) use brutal force ruthlessly against any move to free Assam, Khalistan, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu and Tripura where wars of liberation continue in one or the other form. In the recent past, Maoists intensified their struggle, attacking official installments. In this context, Indian media admitted that Maoists have now entered the cities and states like Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Orissa, expanding their activities against the Indian union.  In case of the Indian-held Kashmir, Indian forces have failed in crushing the freedom movement by employing all the possible tactics of military terrorism such as curfews, crackdowns, sieges, massacre, targeted killings etc. to maintain their alien rule.  Post-Napoleonic era in Europe proves that it is not possible to suppress the wars of liberation through military terrorism. In that respect, Prince Metternich, emperor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire did what he could to subjugate the alien peoples by employing every possible technique of state terrorism. In this regard, Indian historian, Mahajin writes, “Matternich had to admit that he was fighting for a useless cause, and the empire disintegrated, resulting in the independence of Italy, Bulgaria and other states whose secret societies had been waging wars of liberation.”  In the recent past, despite the employment of unlimited atrocities by the President Milosevic, collapse of the former Yugoslavia could not be stopped.  It is mentionable that every entity of South Asia is well-aware that even under the rule of Congress which claims to be a secular party, fundamentalist parties like BJP, RSS, VHP, Shev Sina and Bajrang Dal have missed no opportunity to communalise national politics of India. Although violence against the other communities has been used by Hindu fundamentalists as a normal practice since partition, yet anti-Christian and anti-Muslim bloodshed in the last decade coupled with the dissemination of Hindutva has increased. Besides previous genocide of Muslims and destruction of the Babri Mosque, more than 2500 Muslims were massacred in 2002 in the BJP-ruled Indian state of Gujarat. On September 13, 2008, the communal riots in Uttar Pradesh killed more than 200 Muslims. In one of the most tragic incident in Assam, Hindu extremists burnt alive six members of a Muslim family. Similarly, assaults on Christians and their property have continued by the Hindu mobs in Orissa, Assam, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, killing a number of innocent Christians. Other minorities of India are also target of Hindu terrorism.  Besides, provincial and regional disparities have been widening in India day by day as majority of Indian people is living below the poverty level, lacking basic facilities like fresh food and clean water.  In these terms, while weakening Pakistan as part of their unfinished agenda, US-led New Delhi should realise the fact that non-state actors, popularly called militants have connections with each other from Afghanistan to India and the Indian occupied Kashmir to Central Asian Republics.  History proves that turmoil in any area affects other countries of that particular region. Past and present history of Balkan gives ample evidence that insurgency and movement of separatism in one country have drastic impact on other neighbouring states. For example, World War 1 was initially a local issue between the two tiny states of the region, but very soon it enveloped the major European states including the US, Japan and Turkey. Similarly civil war and unrest either in Somalia or Sudan has been affecting all the states of Darfur region, while recent violent uprising in Tunis, Egypt, Syria, Libya etc. radicalised a number of the Middle East countries.  Consequently, America must know that if after departing from Afghanistan, it entangles Pakistan in an allout war with the Taliban and Al Qaeda-related fighters, ultimately, Afghan war will shift to India, jeopardizing American regional and global interests. So a stable Pakistan is in the interest India, America and Europe.  Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations









Come Dec, Defence scientists will unveil an affordable laptop

DRDO ties up with IIT Jodhpur for design, development Hyderabad, July 4:   With low-cost PCs, tablet PCs and laptops being the in thing to not just attract more users, but reach the benefits of the Internet revolution to larger numbers in the country, Indian Defence scientists have also joined the race to develop an affordable laptop.  After the Simputer and several low-cost PCs and laptop versions getting into the market, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) plans to get its own version ready by December.  The Hyderabad-based Defence laboratory – Anurag – has joined hands with the IIT Jodhpur to design and develop a low-cost laptop, said Dr V.K. Saraswat, Chief of the DRDO. In-house expertise  The ANURAG had earlier developed the 32-bit micro-processor and ANUPAMA the parallel processor-based super computer as well as ANAMICA a medical imaging software and has in-house expertise in design and development of computer systems.  Dr Saraswat told Business Line that the social need for PC and laptops, especially the affordable version for the large number of poor people was high. Therefore, the DRDO felt that with design and development expertise available it was time to come up with a marketable product.  The intention is also to help the Ministry of Human Resources Development which is pushing for providing a computer for a large number of people across the country at affordable prices. Several companies have already developed low-cost PCs. Own operating system  The ‘One Laptop Per Child India' initiative is also looking at a sub-$100 laptop to provide computer literacy and information access to the poor.  The DRDO was also developing its own operating system in view of the security threat. It proposes to start two new software engineering centres in Bangalore and New Delhi. A consortium of Institutes, which will include the Indian Institute of Science Bangalore, Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai, Centre for Development of Telematics will work with DRDO to develop the new secure operating system.










BrahMos air variant to be tested before 2012 end: Pillai

India will test the air variant of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile before the end of 2012, a top official of BrahMos Aerospace said today.  "We are going to test the missile from air so that it can be inducted into the Indian Air Force. The testing will be done before the end of 2012," Brahmos Aerospace Chief Executive Officer A Sivathanu Pillai told reporters here.  BrahMos has already been inducted into the Army and the Navy after succesful tests.  Pillai said the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) was working on increasing the speed of its missiles. "We are also working on achieving hypersonic speed. It will take some five years from now."  Former President and missile expert A P J Abdul Kalam had recently asked the BrahMos Aerospace to "develop an hypersonic version" that should be able to deliver its payload and return to base.  The cruise missiles developed by BrahMos, a joint venture between India and Russia, can travel at speeds of Mach 2.8 (2.8 times the speed of sound) against US' Tomahawk at 0.8 Mach, he said.  India is the only country to have a supersonic cruise missile developed in a joint venture with Russia and the maiden launch of BrahMos was carried out a decade ago at the Interim Test Range at Chandipur-on-sea in Orissa.




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