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Wednesday, 20 July 2011

From Today's Papers - 20 Jul 2011






INS Godavari prevents pirate attack, escorts Greek ship   Read more at:

New Delhi:  INS Godavari has successfully foiled a piracy attempt on a Greek ship MV Elinakos in the Gulf of Aden.  Eight Somali pirates attempted to hijack the Greek ship on July 16 Jul. INS Godavari was escorting four other ships at the time in the Gulf of Aden, when it received the distress call.  INS Godavari was quick to launch a helicopter to locate the skiff being used by the pirates.  It subsequently launched marine commandos to board the pirate boat. On being approached by the naval boat, they dumped their arms, ammunition and other piracy triggers.  A German naval ship also coordinated with Godavari in the operation








Pak Navy's surveillance plane crashes into refinery   Read more at:

Karachi:  An unmanned surveillance aircraft of the Pakistan Navy crashed into an oil refinery and burst into flames following a bird hit in Karachi. No casualties or damage to property on the ground were reported.  The drone crashed into the National Refinery in the Korangi area of Karachi. The aircraft was seen flying at a low altitude before it crashed, witnesses said.  Local news channels quoted naval officials as saying that the drone was on a routine surveillance flight when it crashed after hitting a bird. The aircraft burst into flames after hitting the ground but the fire was extinguished.  A naval spokesperson confirmed the crash of the unmanned aerial vehicle and said such aircraft were used for photography and surveillance.  Police and security forces cordoned off the area and prevented people and the media from approaching the refinery.  The Pakistan navy has increased aerial monitoring of Karachi after terrorists attacked the navy's main airbase in Pakistan's largest city in May. Ten security personnel were killed and two maritime surveillance aircraft were destroyed in that attack.








Malegaon blasts: NIA takes custody of Lt Col Purohit   Read more at:

Mumbai:  The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has taken custody of Lieutenant Colonel Purohit, Major Upadhyay and Dayanand Pandey, accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case, till July 30.  Purohit is the first serving Indian army officer accused of playing a major role in planning and executing a terror blast.  Earlier, in January 2009, the Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) filed a chargesheet with 4,500-plus pages in the case before the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) court in Mumbai.  It named 11 accused, including Purohit, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, self-proclaimed Shankaracharya Dayanand Pandey alias Sudhakar Dwivedi, Sameer Kulkarni, Rakesh Dhavade and others. It name two accused - Ramji Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange - as absconders.  According to the chargesheet, it was Pandey who had instructed Colonel Purohit to arrange for the RDX used in the blast.  Purohit had come in contact with Major Upadhyay when he was posted at Nashik in the Army's liaison unit.  Seven people were killed in a bomb blast on September 29, 2008, at Malegaon, a communally-sensitive textile town in Nasik district Maharashtra. The probe into the blast had brought into focus some right-wing Hindu groups.







India's Sri Lanka Problem

By SADANAND DHUME  When Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits Chennai today, both United States and Indian officials will be eager to emphasize the robust commercial and people-to-people ties that increasingly bind America to one of India's most dynamic regions. The consulate in Chennai issues more skilled temporary worker visas than any other U.S. outpost in the world. Tamil Nadu, the state of which Chennai is the capital, houses a flourishing Ford Motor factory, and is regarded as one of India's most business-friendly areas.  Even though Indian foreign policy is not the focus of Mrs. Clinton's visit to Chennai, her trip to Tamil Nadu nonetheless flags an important issue: the dismal state of affairs across the Palk Strait in neighboring Sri Lanka.  The island nation's problems are not entirely of India's making. But New Delhi has failed to slow Sri Lanka's rapid slide toward authoritarianism, protect the rights of minority Tamils, or stem rising Chinese influence. This raises an awkward question about India's quest for great-power status. Simply put, how can India expect more clout on the world stage when it wields so little influence in its own neighborhood?  At the heart of India's Sri Lanka problem lies the thuggish regime of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. For many Sinhalese, Sri Lanka's dominant ethnic group, Mr. Rajapaksa is a hero for ending a 26-year-old civil war two years ago with a crushing military victory over the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. But while ending the war and eliminating the Tigers—a vile terrorist outfit whose chief claim to fame was the perfection of suicide bombing—are indeed laudable achievements, they are also the only bright spots in an otherwise dismal record.  Since his election as president in 2005, Mr. Rajapaksa has turned a former British colony once blessed with relatively strong institutions, an educated middle class and a robust press, into a classic banana republic. He has installed one of his brothers as the head of the defense ministry, responsible not merely for a bloated 200,000-strong army but also for all non-governmental organizations. Another brother heads the ministry of economic development, which includes the board of investment and the tourism promotion bureau. A third brother is speaker of parliament. Rajapaksa cousins serve as ambassadors in Washington and Moscow.  This nepotism on steroids has gone hand in hand with one of Asia's worst human rights records. A United Nations panel estimates that tens of thousands —most of them innocent civilians shelled indiscriminately by the Sri Lankan army—died in the closing months of the country's civil war. "Sri Lanka's Killing Fields," a documentary by Britain's Channel 4 released last month, contains graphic footage of troops shelling hospitals and brutalizing Tamils.  View Full Image dhume AFP/Getty Images  Hillary Clinton arrives in New Delhi. dhume dhume  Nor has the Rajapaksa regime confined itself to mistreating minority Tamils. Kidnappings of journalists have become commonplace, and more than a dozen have been killed since Mr. Rajapaksa took office. Freedom House rates the Sri Lankan press as "not free."  Through all this, India's record has hardly been inspiring. In 2009, India's toothless admonitions failed to prevent the massacre of civilians. Two years later, it has failed to convince the Rajapaksa regime to extend an olive branch to its own citizens. (Most of India's 60 million Tamils opposed the LTTE, but support Sri Lankan Tamil demands for equal rights and a measure of autonomy.) Colombo has neither demilitarized the Tamil majority regions in the country's north and east, nor fulfilled its promise to devolve power to local authorities. An Indian project to build 50,000 homes for displaced Tamils has barely taken off, in part due to government apathy in Colombo.  To be sure, India is haunted by its own past blunders in Sri Lanka. Seeing itself as the protector of the Tamils against Sinhalese chauvinism, India helped arm and train the LTTE in the 1980s only to turn around and send its army to fight them in an ill-fated peacekeeping operation in 1987. A Tamil Tiger's assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 triggered a permanent change of heart in New Delhi, which helped Sri Lanka marshal much-needed diplomatic support on the long road to victory against the terrorist group.  To some extent, India's ineffectual policy can also be traced to a fear of losing influence to China. Chinese arms and money gave Sri Lanka the wherewithal to defeat the Tigers. China is Sri Lanka's biggest aid donor; it gave upward of $1 billion in 2008. The massive Hambantota port, regarded by many Indian and U.S. military commanders as part of a "string of pearls" strategy to encircle India, is another Chinese gift to Sri Lanka. Beijing's support at the U.N. means Colombo doesn't need to worry about being hauled up over human rights.  As in Burma, India has tried to compete with aid projects of its own, on the theory that hectoring Colombo would only push Mr. Rajapaksa into Beijing's arms. Ultimately this is a short-sighted strategy. India has neither the deep pockets nor the expertise to beat China at the aid and infrastructure game.  Instead, India must retool its Sri Lanka strategy to play to its own strengths: pluralism and democracy. This means keeping open the option of throwing its weight against Colombo at the U.N. It means support for liberal elements in Sri Lankan society—Tamil and Sinhalese alike. It means working with Western democracies, Japan and thehuman rights community to demand a degree of accountability in Colombo as a step toward a lasting peace.  Should India continue to get Sri Lanka wrong, it will likely symbolize a broader pattern of playing defense against Chinese expansion in its own back yard, let alone in the broader world. But if India succeeds in nudging Sri Lanka toward embracing pluralism and democratic values as the foundation of prosperity, New Delhi will have enhanced both its influence and its international prestige.  Mr. Dhume is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC and a columnist for Follow him on Twitter @dhume01









Indo-US talks: Hillary Clinton eyes Indian defence market

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday played the role of a good salesperson pitching defense deals. Seeking the bigger pie of India's defence kitty, her meeting with the Indian team went on for more than three hours stretching over lunch.  The pitch was for a contract of 22 apache helicopters and an upgrade of jaguar engines a contract worth 1.8 billion.  While counter-terror cooperation and the recent Mumbai attacks were discussed, she did have words of sympathy and advice about being engaged. She repeated the old line about Pakistan being a victim of terrorism. Clearly the US is not willing to dehyphenate the Indo-Pak relationship and its needs in Afghanistan will determine its strategic choice of Pakistan as an important ally in the war against terror.  "Counter-terrorism cooperation is on top of our mind after last week's bombings in Mumbai," she said, adding, "We cannot tolerate safe haven to terrorists anywhere. It is in the interest of Pakistan itself to act against terrorism."  The message was clear that India will have to fight its own battle on terrorism.  On the other big issue of entry of India into the Nuclear Suppliers Group while the support was forthcoming, India made it a point that the US shouldn't use it like a strategic issue to bargain with India. The US also insisted that India should tweak its liability legislation and sign the supplementary convention on liability.  There were differences on issues such as Libya and on market access to the US agricultural products in India.  While trade was on the menu, they did agree to resume the negotiations on the bilateral investment treaty.  India also flagged the Tri-Valley students issue and problems for Indian IT professionals.  "We discussed a broad range of regional developments. We reviewed progress of our relationship. Our cooperation on counter-terrorism has deepened," Minister for External Affairs S.M. Krishna said. On the Tri-Valley issue, she has assured us on an early solution, Krishna said of Hillary.  The scope of the strategic dialogue also was limited given that it was low keyed compared to its original idea where top cabinet ministers from both sides were supposed to be present.  While the visit was not about big ticket substantive outcomes, it did lead to the two sides managing to keep the relationship on an even keel.  The takeaways from the visit  Both sides have reaffirmed their commitment to take the relationship forward. The relationship was running out of steam and they have managed to put it on an even keel.  While NASA and ISRO will collaborate on the International Space Station, on the Commercial Space Launch Agreement, India is not comfortable with the text.  Annual Higher Education Dialogue between the US Secretary of State and Human Resource Development Minister of India has been discussed.  While India agreed on maritime cooperation, it is still weary about operational engagement with the US.  India is keen to take a lead on fighting Somalian pirates and has offered to host the meeting of the contact group on Somalia.  India raised its concerns on visa and countered the US argument that over 50 per cent of the H1-B visas have been given to Indians. New Delhi wants the US to provide visas for Indians sponsored by Indian IT firms.  India also raised the issue of a totalization agreement and argued that 300,000 Indians were losing out on their savings because of a lack of a totalization agreement, which leads to their social security contribution not being returned to them on their return.  The US wants closer cooperation between the TSA and Indian security agencies, but the Home Ministry is not too keen. New Delhi was also cold to the US demand to post a transport security administration.










India-U.S. focus on maritime security

Washington hails New Delhi's move to chair plenary of Contact Group on Somalia-based piracy  India and the United States on Tuesday welcomed the progress in bilateral defence cooperation underscoring the engagement in maritime security with Washington welcoming New Delhi's decision to chair a plenary of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia next year.  In her opening remarks, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mentioned that maritime security was an area of major concern, as both countries sought to protect sea lanes, combat piracy and defend freedom of navigation.  This also found reflection in the joint statement with both sides noting the importance of maritime security and agreeing to continue consultations on the issue with regard to the Indian Ocean region in existing fora, such as Defence Policy Group and its appropriate sub-groups.  This sector stands codified in the 2006 Indo-U.S. Framework for Maritime Security Cooperation and since then both countries have cooperated towards addressing Somalia-based piracy, disaster relief, illicit trafficking in weapons of mass destruction and enhancing maritime domain awareness.  The Group, which met in Washington earlier this year, is now scheduled to hold another meeting next year. At the end of the second round of bilateral strategic dialogue, both sides noted that India had procured defence equipment worth $8 billion (approx Rs. 37500 crore) over the last decade.  India and the United States noted in the joint statement “that these sales reflect strengthened cooperation” and affirmed their desire to strengthen cooperation through technology transfer, and joint research, development, and production of defence items.  Earlier this year, the United States had removed four Indian organisations, including the Defence Research Development Organisation, from the list of entities to which sale of high technology items was not permitted.  On defence technologies, Ms. Clinton said the U.S. expected to continue developing and selling the world's most competitive products. “We view these sales as [not only] important on their own terms, but also as a means to facilitate the work that the Indian and American militaries can do together — whether patrolling the seas or providing relief to the victims of natural disasters,” she said.




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