Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites


Saturday, 10 September 2011

From Today's Papers - 10 Sep 2011

As rebels take over in Libya, fears rise that huge arsenal may have fallen into the hands of terrorists" When missiles go missing
Kim Sengupta  An anti-Gaddafi fighter stands on a SA-5 SAM missile in Burkan air defence military base, which was destroyed by a NATO air strike on September 6, 2011. An anti-Gaddafi fighter stands on a SA-5 SAM missile in Burkan air defence military base, which was destroyed by a NATO air strike on September 6, 2011. — Reuters photo  The long metal crates strewn on the grounds of the warehouse were empty. Hundreds of surface-to-air missiles, craved by terrorist groups and “rogue states”, had disappeared in the past few days, looted from one of Libya’s overflowing arms dumps.  Among the missiles taken away were 480 Russian-built SA-24s, designed for use against modern warplanes, which the US had been attempting to block from falling into Iranian hands, and the older SA-7s and 9s, capable of bringing down commercial airliners, which al-Qa’ida has been striving to obtain.  Abandoned, stripped bare  As Libya’s bloody civil war reaches its conclusion, myriad bunkers and barracks containing the regime’s weaponry, from Kalashnikovs to missiles, armoured cars and tanks, have been left unguarded, many to be stripped bare by militia fighters and the public.  The numbers involved are far larger than the caches that armed the insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan. And in Libya there are even fewer guards at these sites. Unlike those two fronts of the “war on terror”, there are no foreign troops present in Libya, and the opposition forming the new government has its resources tied up attempting to subdue the remaining loyalist strongholds and repairing infrastructure to safeguard the arsenals.  The ransacking of the depots containing missiles has set alarms ringing among security agencies in America and Europe. The SA-24 “Grinch” surface-to-air missile targets fighter-bombers, helicopter gunships such as Apaches, and even Cruise missiles, and can strike at as high as 11,000ft. Washington had lobbied the Russians to block sales to Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and to Tehran.  Surface-to-air missiles  The SA-7s and 9s are older but can destroy civilian jets or be used against military targets such as the drones increasingly employed by the US. Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director for Human Rights Watch, charting the arms depots, said: “The problem is pretty huge. There are around 20,000 surface-to-air missiles in Libya and a hell of a lot of them are missing. The Western agencies are obviously pretty concerned. This lot can turn the whole of North Africa into a no-fly zone.”  Nato air strikes destroyed an estimated 600 missiles, radar systems and storage facilities in the course of the campaign. In response, regime forces moved some of the weaponry away from military into civilian areas, where they could be accessed once the rebels gained control.  The missiles found to be missing recently had been taken from the Tripoli headquarters of the 32nd Brigade, under the command of Gaddafi’s son, Khamis al-Gaddafi, to a commercial storage area. Although the missiles had gone, there were still dozens of cases of mortar rounds, artillery shells, rocket-propelled grenades and rifle ammunition left in the vast room.  Dangerous land mines  Across the road, in an open field, lay piled-up boxes of anti-personnel mines, a weapon which has already caused a series of deaths, many among children, in districts where hostilities have ended. Some 12,000 land mines were reported missing yesterday. Ian Martin, the UN’s special adviser on Libya, said: “Proliferation of weapons is a major concern. We are taking this extremely seriously.” Unmas (United Nations Mine Action Service) is supposed to be taking the lead on this matter but, due to security concerns, it has only one member of staff in the Libyan capital.  There is increasing evidence of arms from Libya slipping into other countries. Abdelkader Messahel, an Algerian Foreign Minister, claimed al-Qa’ida fighters are “reinforcing themselves with arms coming from Libya”. The Chad government has reported that SAM-7s have arrived there from Libya, while the authorities in Niger are trying to track down consignments of Semtex, the plastic explosive once favoured by the IRA, heading for dissident Tuareg tribes.  Tanks for protection  At the town of Tarhuna, near Bani Walid, more than 100 Russian-made tanks and armoured personnel carriers are parked in hangars.  A group of armed local men had come to see whether they could make use of the armour. “These have been here for a long time,” said Mahmood Ishmail Zubeidi.  “We thought maybe our villages could have our own tanks to protect the revolution. We have even got two drivers. But all the fuel has been drained. So we are going to Tripoli to get ourselves some other things like AKs (AK-47 assault rifles). Maybe we’ll get some machine guns as well.”  The British division of an American arms company was upgrading the communications equipment of Muammar Gaddafi’s most feared army unit when the revolution against his rule broke out, documents unearthed in Tripoli show.  Radios for communication  General Dynamics UK had a contract to install new radio units for tanks, artillery and armoured troop carriers of the Khamis Brigade, an élite unit led by Colonel Gaddafi’s youngest son.  When the popular revolt against the Libyan dictator broke out in February, the Khamis Brigade spearheaded the regime’s military crackdown and has since been implicated in human rights abuses, torture and hundreds of extra-judicial killings.  Researchers for Human Rights Watch and the Reuters news agency unearthed letters from General Dynamics UK updating the Libyan military on the progress of its work at the Khamis Brigade headquarters. The latest letter, written by the UK project director Simon Kirkham, was dated 25 January and listed a variety of armoured vehicles in which the radio units would be installed.  General Dynamics pulled its 12 staff out of Tripoli on 19 February, two days after popular revolts were violently suppressed across the country.  Defending the deal  Andrew Boyle, a spokesman for General Dynamics UK, defended the company’s role in Libya. “General Dynamics worked with the Libyan government to deliver a communication system to one unit of the Libyan army and was part of a wider deal by the UK Government to bring the Libyan regime in from the cold. We did not provide any weaponry to the Libyan army.”  But Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director of Human Rights Watch, said Libya’s élite units were able to become so strong thanks in part to procurement from Western countries.  Mr Bouckaert said: “We’ve documented arms sales from not just the usual suspects but also Western companies. I think the lesson is that if you’re going to sell weapons to dictators, at some point down the line you’re going to be deeply embarrassed.” — The Independent  Latest on Libya  The following are the latest political and military developments in the Libyan crisis:  n More than 1,700 sub-Saharan African migrants have now taken refuge at a southern Libyan desert town and Gaddafi stronghold amid urgent efforts to try to evacuate them to safety, an international aid agency.  n South Africa’s refusal to recognize Libya’s new rebel rulers has again exposed the bureaucracy that often stymies decision-making in Pretoria.  n Already awash with bandits, ex-rebel nomads and a growing number of al Qaeda-linked gunmen, Niger’s desert north is now the main escape route south from the war in Libya-and could yet emerge as Muammar Gaddafi’s bolt-hole.  n Rebuilding Libya could be worth at least $200 billion over 10 years, but France’s role in ousting Gaddafi will not be enough to seal deals, the chief of France’s overseas business federation said.  n Gaddafi was last tracked heading for Libya’s southern border, the man leading the hunt told Reuters, though Burkina Faso again denied any plan to offer the deposed leader refuge.  n Haunted by gun-toting loyalists and festooned with faded portraits of Gaddafi, the besieged Libyan town of Bani Walid remains stubbornly in the hands of die-hard gunmen raring to fight for their deposed leader.  n Niger’s interior minister denied on Tuesday that hundreds of Libyan vehicles had crossed into the country, saying that, to his knowledge, only the head of Gaddafi’s security brigades and his family had been welcomed in the country.  n Gaddafi is still in Libya and is safe and well, his spokesman said, saying he had no idea about a convoy of Libyan army vehicles which are believed to have crossed the desert frontier into Niger.  n NATO said it conducted 118 air sorties Tuesday, 40 of them strike sorties to identify and hit targets.  n It said key targets hit included: one surface-to-air missile container, one multiple rocket launcher, four armed vehicles, one ammunition store, six tanks, six armoured fighting vehicles and one self-propelled artillery piece in the Sirte area  n Since NATO took command of air strikes on March 31, its aircraft have conducted 21,780 sorties including 8,180 strike sorties. NATO members participating in air strikes include France, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Belgium, Italy and the United States.  n Fourteen ships under NATO command are patrolling the central Mediterranean Sea to enforce a U.N. arms embargo. On Tuesday, 13 vessels were hailed to determine destination and cargo. Four were boarded but none diverted.  n A total of 2,514 vessels have been hailed, 262 boarded and 11 diverted since the start of the arms embargo.
Activist seeks drastic cut in defence budget
Islamabad: If the lack of an anti-corruption law bothers Indian activist Anna Hazare, 69-year-old Raja Jehangir Akhter is putting his life on the line for a drastic cut in Pakistan's military budget.  "Unless we take a U-turn, Pakistan won't be able to escape a blind street," he said, summing up his rationale to divert funds from defence to development.  The former Pakistan Army gunner and veteran of the 1971 war with India, Akhter is a true-blue labour unionist with a primary-level formal education. The father of three has gone on hunger strikes six times, with 22 days being the longest period of merely living on water.  "Always, except once, I could get the desired objectives behind the hunger strike," the grey-haired, clean shaven left-leaning businessman told Gulf News.
This fast unto death will be the hardest of all.  "I am going to challenge the political, military and bureaucratic elite of the country in the most pacifist manner," he said.  Since Akhter is not sure how many will join him in solidarity with the cause, he sees the upcoming hunger strike a real test of his mental and physical strength.  He was imprisoned twice during the Movement for Restoration of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry in 2007. Akhter staged a six-day hunger strike at the Ministers' Enclave for release of the CJ's children and wife as Musharraf had put them under house arrest after the Nov-ember 3 coup.  "Musharraf had to free the family of Chaudhry in less than a week of my fast," he said.  Placards bearing slogans for peace with India, lower military posture and elimination of corruption cover the walls of Akhter's 12-square foot office in Islamabad's Super Market.  In an exclusive interview, he candidly answered a series of questions:     Gulf News: You are known for your passion for hunger strikes, but do you owe the fresh initiative to Indian icon Anna Hazare?  Raja Jehangir Akhter: I first heard about Anna Hazare when he went on a hunger strike and forced the parliament to initiate the legislative process for an anti-corruption bill. However, he did not ignite the fire in me. My struggle against Pakistan's security mindset has a long history, spanning decades. However, in July, an Urdu newspaper columnist wrote that the Americans nuked Hiroshima as it was the military headquarters of the Japanese troops in the Second World War. I glanced at our map and found all our military installations were in the populated cities. A military accident or escalation may take a massive toll on human lives around the cantonments. Sky-rocketing inflation, swelling foreign loans and massive defence expenditures looked to me symptoms of a vulnerable Pakistan. So I announced an abrupt, emotional decision to stage a hunger strike from July 21 which I had to alter due to cultural sensitivities of Ramadan.  I had forgotten to realise that drinking water during the hunger strike in the holy month may hurt religious-cultural sensitivities here. So I rescheduled it for September 12.  Many people have pledged to join me but hunger strikes have never been a fashion here.  Though I always idealise activists who opt for hunger strikes, I believe more than Anna Hazare, the media has played a significant role in shaking the government regardless of the movement's success or failure. I salute his courage and commitment that he inspired the people and media on the one hand, and shook the Indian government on the other. I have observed six hunger strikes during the past three decades but the people here have never liked the action. Hazare's action may prove catalytic for the Pakistanis this time. People are longing for one like him. I hope Pakistanis will react favourably on September 12. While we stage our protest for slashing the military budget, our government should replicate the Indian bill and we should benefit from their deliberations and homework.     What is your hope for Pakistan?  This country is heading towards more anarchy and chaos. For the next few years, I see the writ of the law diminishing further, inflation soaring and corruption becoming a norm. Industrialists are leaving the country. We need to change the system as merely a democratically-elected government can't deliver. The PPP has failed and the Muslim League has no programme for reforms. Imran Khan talks about the challenges confronting the country and has an elaborate agenda for change. We need consensus within the political leadership to reduce the size of the military and automatically its budget. The struggle for Kashmir is ruining our economy.     What about insecurity on borders, especially the eastern one?  I don't accept the very basis of Pakistan's insecurity. My plea is if India is a threat then why was there no war during 1947 to 1965. The answer is very simple: the Pakistani economy was very strong. Our one rupee was equal to 1.50 of India's. Malaysian economic advisers used to frequently consult Pakistan for development policies and strategies. In fact, the 1965 war changed our course with the launch of Operation Gibraltar (General Ayub ordered Army commandos into Indian-administered Kashmir) and security replaced economic development as the prime goal. We gave India an opportunity to take revenge by opening a front of its choice. On the other hand, East Pakistanis had very little security while the war was waged by West Pakistan. Bengalis felt left alone and insecure, thus deciding to take their own course in future. I appreciate their decision. Today Bangladesh is doing better than us. Ironically, our industrialists are investing there.     What you do in public life has implications for them too. How do they react to your activism?  I have two wives, two sons and a daughter. One son is a lawyer and the other one is completing his MBA while my daughter is married. Neither my wife nor my children interfere in my public life and nobody has this right. Sometimes they don't come to see me in jail which I don't mind. In normal situations, they would deliver food and clothes in jail as if I am in another home. None of the children agrees with my politics.     Have you consider contesting for a public office?  I am not qualified enough for the National Assembly or Senate seat owing to my little formal education. I believe that only those should join who deserve it or are eligible for it.
Lies of the General   Read more at:
Army chief General V.K. Singh said he was born in 1950. It got him three crucial promotions as corps commander, army commander and finally, army chief. General Singh now wants the government to change his date of birth to 1951. A change in date will extend his tenure by 10 months.  Ministry of Defence (MoD) documents accessed under the Right to Information Act (RTI), now with India Today, paint a damning picture of the army chief's attempts to rectify his birth date. These documents include letters from senior MoD bureaucrats, including former defence secretary Pradeep Kumar, and Attorney General Goolam Vahanvati.  The documents are an insight into the upheaval within the MoD triggered by the Army Chief's May 25, 2011, representation to Defence Minister A.K. Antony. General Singh formally asked for his birth date to be changed. The defence minister sought legal advice from the law ministry and Vahanvati. Their opinions formed the basis of Antony's July 21 decision to ignore General Singh's plea. General Singh sent in a voluminous statutory complaint to the mod last month, the first ever by a serving chief.  General V K Singh and A K Antony A.K. Antony, right, has refused to budge on General V K Singh's pleas. Among his major contentions-his birth certificate and SSC certificate have May 10, 1951 as his date of birth. General Singh says the Military Secretary's branch failed to update records after receiving his SSC certificate in 1971. Antony is yet to respond to this new complaint but his decision is unlikely to differ.  Documents furnished under the RTI application show that General Singh went back on two written commitments in 2006 and 2008 explicitly accepting May 10, 1950, as his date of birth and agreeing not to rake up the age issue. His confidants say thoseletters were extracted from him under duress. The problem of two dates of birth, they say, arose because of a clerical error. The Adjutant General's branch that deals with the army's manpower planning issues recorded 1951 and the Military Secretary's branch handling postings and promotions recorded 1950 as General Singh's date of birth.  But as the documents show, General Singh accepted 1950 as his birth date for promotions but continued to insist on the 1951 birth date after he got them. The controversy first came to light in 2006 when Singh was a Major General. Then Military Secretary Lt General Richard Khare asked General Singh why he was indicating May 10, 1951, as his birth date. Rules said birth dates could be changed only two years after an officer is commissioned. Singh accepted 1950 as his birth date. He was subsequently promoted to Lieutenant General and given command of the crucial Ambala-based 2 Corps.  In January 2008, noting the two different birth dates, the MOD called for an inquiry. Then joint secretary (ground and air) Bimal Julka questioned his suitability as army commander. In a January 21, 2008 letter Julka asked General Deepak Kapoor to revisit V.K. Singh's appointment as army commander because he continued to "stand by a birth date not officially recognised".  General Singh, then commanding the Ambala-based 2 Corps, accepted the 1950 birth date. He was promoted as eastern army commander. In a final November 2009 letter to then army chief General Kapoor, General Singh accepted 1950 as his birth date and "treated the matter as closed". His name was proposed for army chief and approved by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet. His birth date was mentioned as 1950. It meant that General Singh, who was took over as Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) on April 1, 2010, would retire on June 1, 2012. Army chiefs serve a three-year term or until they turn 62, whichever is earlier.  In October 2010, an RTI application from a former IAS officer sought the army chief's birth date. The Adjutant General branch sent the RTI application to the legal adviser to the MoD, bypassing the ministry. The legal adviser said that the chief was born in 1951 and not 1950. A May 6 letter from Subhash Chandra, the Joint Secretary (Ground and Air), took serious note of being bypassed and of the Adjutant General branch's attempt to rectify the age based on the advice given.  Click here to Enlarge On May 7, then defence secretary Pradeep Kumar noted that the amendment of the Army Chief's date of birth would impact the succession plan. "The possibility of those affected by the decision seeking redressal in court cannot be ruled out. (General Singh is to be succeeded by eastern army commander Lt General Bikram Singh in 2012). "Therefore, it is essential that whatever decision the Government takes should be defendable in court," Kumar said. In May, the law ministry asked the attorney general "whether the amendment of the chief's date of birth was legally tenable after so many years". The query was forwarded to Vahanvati who turned down the army chief's plea. The army then produced the opinions of two retired Supreme Court chief justices to show why the chief had a strong case.  A series of facts detailed by Vahanvati in a second letter to the mod on June 21 knocks the bottom out of the Army Chief's case. Vahanvati said there were five documents with 1950 as birth date, including two from General Singh. The Attorney General reiterated his May 16 conclusion and again rejected the Army Chief's contention of 1951 as his birth date.  General Singh took office on the promise of cleansing "the internal health of the Indian army and battling corruption. His legacy will be that of a chief who went to battle to have his date of birth changed   Read more at:
Mausam hits turbulence with IAF
Just a week before its release, Pankaj Kapur's directorial debut " Mausam" has run into trouble with the Indian Air Force over an action sequence that occurs in the second half of the film. Shahid plays an air force officer in the film, and the scene that the IAF is objecting to is an action sequence involving six fighter planes, one of them commandeered by Shahid.  According to the letter that the air force sent to the producer and the Censor Board, the action sequence is not technically feasible and they would like a small change to be made to make the scene look more realistic. But producer Sheetal Talwar says he has been caught in a spot just days before the movie was to go to the Censor Board for clearance.  The film has been given only a conditional No Objection Certificate (NoC) by the air force, but till the movie doesn't get full clearance from the force, it can't be reviewed by the CBFC. When we spoke to Sheetal on Friday morning, he said, "I'm trying to seek a meeting with the concerned officials to make them see my point of view. We had got the script approved a year ago, and even the scene in question was discussed at great length, and a few technical changes were suggested by the air force, which we had accepted. We've abided by the book for everything in the movie, but this last moment decision is unexpected. We had sought their advice on the technical issues, such as if the badges are correct, the uniform, etc, but they can't comment on the script or suggest creative changes now. I have spent `2.5 crore on this particular action sequence and it is impossible to change it now. It will not just involve more time and money, but will also change my movie's story. It is not possible. If they do not see my point of view, I will be forced to move court."  Sheetal says that when the air force officials had seen the movie on Tuesday evening, they had said it was alright, but on Wednesday, he was surprised to see the conditional NoC. But a senior air force official told us, "We have no role to play here by interfering in someone's creative process. We are simply military men. All we have spoken about is a technical unfeasibility. We are just saying that if he makes those changes, it will be more practical. That sort of an action (in the scene) is technically not possible. That is the only change we have asked for." At the time of going to press, Sheetal was still trying to speak to the concerned officials.  "Mausam" is not the first film to have run into trouble with the defence forces. The release of "Rang De Basanti" had a similar situation when the Indian Air Force objected to a computer-generated sequence showing a MiG-21 crash. The IAF suggested those scenes be cut. The Indian Army had objected to Amitabh Bachchan's beard in "Major Saab". In Hrithik Roshan-starrer "Lakshya", which was set against the Kargil war, the army had objected to references to Bofors guns. The release of the Amitabh Bachchan-starrer "Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Sathiyo" had been delayed in 2004, and it was reported that an army panel had objected to Bachchan's portrayal in the film.
Indian attack chopper expected by year end
NEW DELHI, Sept. 9 (UPI) -- The Indian army will induct the attack version of the indigenously built advanced light helicopter into the army aviation corps this year, a defense official said.  The Rudra light combat helicopter is a "heavily loaded" version of the advanced light helicopter Dhruv. The Rudra is armed with an array of guns and rocket pods as well as air-to-air and anti-tank missiles, a report by the Press Trust of India said, without naming any army official.  The PTI report gave no other details or dates.  The Rudra first flew in March 2010.  India's army has been waiting for the armed version since the utility helicopter Dhruv, built by Hindustan Aeronautics, entered service in 2002. Around 160 are believed to have been ordered by the army and navy from the company's assembly plant in Bangalore.  Even the unarmed utility version, which also is available for civilian use, was a long time coming.  The Dhruv project was announced in 1984 when Hindustan Aeronautics began designing the aircraft with assistance from the German aerospace company Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm.  MBB was formed as the result of several mergers in the late 1960s and which in 1989 was bought by Daimler-Benz Aerospace. MBB is now part of EADS.  The Dhruv first flew in 1992 and has been exported first to Ecuador in 2008 for $50 million and then to Nepal and Israel.  Hindustan Aeronautics won the Ecuadorian order amid strong competition from Elbit, Eurocopter and Kazan.  "HAL's offer of $50.7 million for seven helicopters was about 32 percent lower than the second lowest bid from Elbit," a June 2008 Indian Ministry of Defense statement said.  But exports have suffered because of an accident in October 2009. One of the seven sold to the Ecuadorian air force crashed during a military parade, leaving two crew injured.  The helicopter veered off course while flying in formation with two other helicopters over an air force base near Quito and hit the ground nose first, the PTI reported at the time.  The Ecuadorian air force grounded the other six Dhruv until an investigation was completed. The investigation concluded pilot error was to blame.  In April, four Indian army personnel were killed in a Dhruv helicopter crash in north Sikkim state, near the Chinese border.  The Dhruv helicopter carries up to 12 passenger and two pilots sitting side by side, with a maximum takeoff weight of 12,125 pounds. Maximum speed of 180 mph is from two Shakti turboshaft engines or two Turbomeca TM 333-2B2 turboshaft engines. The service ceiling is around 27,500 feet.  The Rudra version has the two pilots sitting one behind the other.  Read more:
Time for India to Articulate its Interest in South China Sea
The reported confrontation, in late July, between a Chinese warship and the Indian naval amphibious ship Airavat in the South China Sea - also known as West Philippines Sea and East Vietnam Sea - shows that China wants India-Vietnam liaisons to be toned down, or should be conducted in a manner to the liking of the PLN commanders.
According to the Financial Times, the unidentified Chinese ship demanded that the Indian vessel "identify itself and explain its presence in what it said were Chinese waters."  India has maintained a stoic silence about the incident but it is perceived that while China has the political will and means to justify its presence in the Indian Ocean, India is a diminutive power, not capable of expressing its interest in the South China Sea.  Over the years, India has been cultivating ties with Vietnam in a more realistic fashion without getting undue media attention.  On its part, the Indian media has been conveniently myopic on issues related to East Asia. Probably that is the main reason India has not seen its relations with Vietnam in the same strategic light that China has viewed its ties with Pakistan in India's neighborhood.
It took a US president to make India understand the relevance of East Asia and cajole it to identify the need for a pragmatic stance on important issues of regional security and development in the extended neighborhood.  Why is Indian foreign ministry so naïve in its dealings with China? Why can't there be a strong rebuttal to intimation and encroachment of international waters by China?  While Indian intelligence agencies might be working overtime to sniff out the Chinese presence along the Line of Control (LOC) both in the eastern and northern sectors, the Ministry of External Affairs does not thinks it is a vital issue.  In recent memory, the only bright spot in the Indian foreign policy articulation in relation to China was when Preneet Kaur, Minister of State for External Affairs, stated at the ASEAN Regional Forum in 2010 that the South China Sea is an international sea lane of communication, and it should be free for navigation. She also emphasized on an amicable solution to the South China Sea dispute.  Thereafter, during last October's ASEAN Defence Ministers' meeting, the Indian defense minister conveniently chose to talk about piracy and maritime security, showing little interest in the South China Sea issue. Among other issues, the need for a Code of Conduct was discussed by the claimant parties to the Spratly Islands at that forum.  Significantly, Vietnam also chose not to magnify the issue fearing that the inaugural summit, which it hosted, might be jeopardised and it would be seen as the spoiler. Vietnamese decision makers are also of the view that the United States might conveniently cede territories to China as it had done with regard to Paracel Islands, which has been in Chinese control since 1974.  India has been trying to build relations with Vietnam, Japan, Indonesia and Malaysia. The country's level of engagement with Southeast Asian nations depends on their defense and political relations vis-a-vis China. While the Indian Maritime Military Strategy doctrine lists the South China Sea as an area of interest, it falls short on outlining its priorities in the region.  Vietnam, fortunately, is welcoming Indian participation and defence assistance. Though it has the largest standing army in Southeast Asia, Vietnam's naval ships are outdated. It is in the process of procuring six kilo class submarines, advanced frigates and state-of-the-art Sukhoi-30 VKM aircraft. Vietnam is looking for Indian assistance in training its submariners and future pilots.  There have also been talks about surveillance and intelligence cooperation between the two nations. There is a possibility of long term training and maintenance assistance to Vietnamese military forces.  India has, for quite some time, been requesting docking rights in ports like Nha Trang and Cam Ranh Bay. The increasing liaison visits by the Indian naval ships and the visits by high level delegations from both sides have annoyed China. India is working out possibilities of cooperation with Vietnam, Japan and Korea; but it has been moving gingerly because of China.  While the Indian military establishment is highlighting the need for defense exercises with countries such as Vietnam and Japan, so as to give signals to the Chinese defense establishment, the country's foreign policy mandarins seem smitten by the Chinese economic development and prosperity to such as extent that, for them, annoying China is a completely unthinkable proposition.  Increasing liaison, both in military and diplomatic terms, would mean that India would be poised to play a more active role than a fancied fence watcher. And it would also require more work and better policy articulation.  With strong defence cooperation with Vietnam, India can counter Chinese nuclear submarines and ballistic missile capabilities. Greater security understanding would also mean that China would have to think twice before embarking on any military intimidation or diplomatic demarche.  But so far, India has been a reluctant player. When China issued a diplomatic demarche in 2007 about India's oil and gas exploration projects near the southern Vietnamese coast, India conveniently chose to overlook and pressed the mute button.  Chinese infrastructure projects in the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and the feeble response by India shows that New Delhi, though it is concerned, is not serious about articulating its national interests. The time has come for India to speak louder in international forums rather than routinely dishing out diplomatic banalities.  (Pankaj Jha is a strategic analyst based in New Delhi, and he has previously worked as an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses. He is currently working on a book titled "India's Strategic Outlook and Extended Neighbourhood.")
India offers to strengthen Kyrgyz armed forces 
New Delhi, Sep 9 (IANS) India Friday assured Kyrgyzstan of its support in strengthening its defence and security apparatus.  The assurance was given by Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony to his Kyrgyzstan counterpart, Major Gen. Abidilla Kudaberdiev, who called on him here during an official visit here.  ‘The matter came up at a meeting between the Indian defence minister and his Kyrgyzstan counterpart here today (Friday),’ a defence ministry release said.  The two sides discussed the enhancement of training and other exchanges between the armed forces of both countries and also possibilities of military technical cooperation, including in defence research and development.  ‘Cooperation in training for UN peacekeeping operations was specifically discussed. The two leaders also discussed various global and regional security issues,’ the release said.  The Kyrgyzstan defence minister conveyed condolences for the loss of life in the terrorist attack in Delhi Wednesday. He noted that there is need for all the countries to unify forces to fight terrorism jointly.  The visiting minister was accompanied by a three-member delegation, while the Indian side included Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma, Defence Research and Development Organisation chief V.K Saraswat, and Indian Army vice chief Lt. Gen. A.S. Lamba.  The Kyrgyztan defence minister, who is on a three-day reciprocal visit to India, visited the Khadakvasla-based National Defence Academy and other defence institutions in Pune Thursday. Antony had visited Kyrgyzstan in July.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal