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Wednesday, 5 October 2011

From Today's Papers - 05 Oct 2011






India, Afghanistan establish strategic partnership

War-torn nation to get assistance in capacity building programmes Ashok Tuteja/TNS  New Delhi, September 4 In what is bound to irk Pakistan, India and Afghanistan today entered into a strategic partnership under which India will, among other things, assist the war-ravaged nation in training, equipping and capacity building programmes for Afghan National Security Forces. Key agreements  An MoU on cooperation in the field mineral resource development concluded. The two sides will engage in close political cooperation India to assist in training, equipping and capacity building programmes for Afghan security forces Both nations committed to strengthening trade, economic, scientific and technological cooperation  The landmark agreement was signed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Afghan President Hamid Karzai late this evening after their wide ranging discussions on the situation in the embattled nation and how India could strengthen its capacity building programmes in that country.  The two countries also concluded an MoU on cooperation in the field of development of hydrocarbons and another on cooperation in the field of mineral resource development.  Karzai's visit had been planned for months, but it finally took place at a time when his country is getting increasingly frustrated with Pakistan. Many senior officials accuse Pakistan's ISI of masterminding the assassination last month of Burhanuddin Rabbani, Afghanistan’s chief peace negotiator with the Taliban. Karzai himself has said there was a Pakistani link to the killing.  Though he was quite careful not to mention Pakistan by name on the Indian soil while addressing the media with the Indian PM, Karzai did take Islamabad to task for continuing to foment trouble in his country. “Radicalism is being used as an instrument of state policy against citizens’’ of Afghanistan, he said.  Prime Minister Singh, in his brief remarks, said India and Afghanistan were committed to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. “The people of Afghanistan have suffered enough…they should be allowed to decide their own destiny without outside interference, coercion or intimidation.’’ Wary of Pakistan which has been vehemently opposed to India’s involvement in Afghanistan’s development programme, Indian officials have always said they want to focus on what they like to call "soft power" — economic aid and trade.  In the past, India has trained a small number of officers from the Afghan National Army but avoided getting involved in security operations. The strategic partnership accord will certainly annoy Islamabad, which has stepped up its attempts to control the future dispensation in Kabul after the withdrawal of the US-led NATO forces by 2014.  Under the agreement, the two sides will engage in close political cooperation by establishing a mechanism for regular bilateral political and Foreign Office Consultations. Political consultations will be led by the Foreign Ministries of both countries and include summit level consultations convened at least once a year.  The two sides will also consult and cooperate at the United Nations and other international, regional and multilateral fora. India and Afghanistan also agreed to establish a Strategic Dialogue to provide a framework for cooperation in the area of national security. The dialogue will be led by National Security Advisers (NSAs) and involve regular consultations with the aim of intensifying mutual efforts towards strengthening regional peace and security.  Security cooperation between the sides was intended to help enhance their respective and mutual efforts in the fight against international terrorism, organised crime, illegal trafficking in narcotics, money laundering and so on, the text of the strategic partnership document said. India agreed to assist, as mutually determined, in the training, equipping and capacity building programmes for Afghan National Security Forces.  The two countries committed themselves to strengthening trade, economic, scientific and technological cooperation, as well as cooperation between other bodies of business and industry representatives, with a view to expanding trade and economic relations.


‘Indian Army’s war reserves below critical level’

New Delhi: The Army has pressed the panic button: it doesn’t have sufficient reserves of certain ammunition needed to secure the country in case a war is to be fought in the near future.  According to a report in a leading English daily, the Army has apprised the government in writing that some of its ammunition war reserves are currently below critical levels.  Following the development, the Defence Ministry has begun procuring ammo on an emergency basis, in some cases without adherence to the offsets policy. The policy lays down that if a foreign firm sells more than Rs 300 crore worth of ammo in a single transaction, it must re-invest 30 percent back in India.  The war reserves for certain ammunitions have declined mainly because of the blacklisting of certain firms by the government in the recent past. For example, Israel Military Industries (IMI) used to supply tank ammunition called the Armoured Piercing Fin-Stabilized Discarding Sabot (APFSDS). However, after the government blacklisted the firm and ordered a CBI probe against it, the number of APFSDS rounds in reserve with the Army have fallen to a critical level.  At present, the report said, the Army needs nearly 66,000 APFSDS rounds as an “immediate operational necessity”. The Army is facing a similar shortage of ammunition for the Smerch multi-barrel rocket launcher systems.  The blacklisting has forced the Army to look for fresh suppliers; however suppliers for such ammunition are few and most of them are quoting a very high price for the ammo.  The government is also reported to have floated tenders to urgently purchase Bi-Modular Charge (BMC) systems, which are critical to the upgraded 130-mm artillery guns’ operation at full capacity.


India agrees to train, equip Afghan army: Sources   Read more at:

New Delhi:  Afghan president Hamid Karzai and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today finalised the details of a strategic partnership between the two nations. A total of three bilateral agreements were signed this evening. Mr Karzai is on a two-day trip to India.    "Our cooperation with Afghanistan is an open book", said the Prime Minister at a joint press conference. India will stand by Afghanistan as the country prepares for its future after the withdrawal of international forces, said Dr Singh.    In that light, of crucial significance - among a host of other things - in the Strategic Partnership document signed between the two neighbours is India agreeing to train, equip and build capacity for Afghan security forces, including the Army, sources have said. So far, only individual officers from the Afghan military took courses at premier defence institutions in India.  This could further bolster ties between the two nations and give New Delhi a major strategic edge in the trouble-torn region. This given Pakistan's insistence on India not being allowed to be involved with the Afghan army at all. Incidentally, Islamabad had earlier proposed to train the Afghan army. New Delhi, so far, has been actively involved and is a major player in reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts in Afghanistan.  Mr Karzai said that through the document of strategic agreement - a first for Afghanistan with any country - the two sides have "put in words" an already-existing active partnership.  The Strategic Partnership between the sides is based upon the principles of sovereignty, equality and territorial integrity of States, non-interference in their internal affairs, mutual respect and mutual benefit, it said, adding it is "not directed against any other State or group of States."  Appreciating India as the "steadfast friend" of Afghanistan, Mr Karzai said New Delhi does not see his country as one of "terrorism and violence" but as a country trying to live in peace with its neighbours.  Mr Karzai's visit comes amidst tensions with Pakistan after former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani was assassinated nearly two weeks ago. An Afghan government commission probing Mr Rabbani's killing had alleged that Pakistan's spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), had prior knowledge of the assassination plot - believed to be carried out by the Taliban. Mr Rabbani was at the forefront of trying to broker peace with the insurgent group. Islamabad has denied its involvement in Mr Rabbani's killing.  Both leaders condoled the death of Mr Rabbani with the Prime Minister asserting his "brutal assassination should serve as an occasion for all of us to strengthen our resolve to jointly confront the menace of terrorism that threatens to undermine the security and stability of our region".  Apart from the Strategic Partnership agreement, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and Afghan Ministry of Mines on cooperation in the field of development of hydrocarbons. Another MoU on cooperation in the field of mineral resources was signed between the Indian and Afghan Ministry of Mines.  Mr Karzai's visit comes after Prime Minister Singh visited Kabul in May.   Read more at:


Arjun Mark II to go for second trial

CHENNAI: The Army will be watching closely as an updated version of its Main Battle Tank Arjun, which has incorporated 59 improvements, goes for a crucial trial in the next three months.  The Mark-II version, being developed at Combat Vehicles Research & Development Establishment (CVRDE), will go for a crucial trial in the next three months, DRDO sources said.  "We have incorporated 56 of the total 89 improvements recommended in Arjun Mark II after the last test in Pokhran in Rajasthan. We are hopeful of the next test which is scheduled in December this year or January next year," they said.  The testing would also include firing of Lahat missile, having a range of six kms.  After clearing the test, Mark II will have to face final integrated testing by Army in June 2012.  Some of the major improvements include changes in the commander's panoramic sight with eye safe LRF, night vision, driver's uncooled thermal image, digital control harness, new final drive for increased weight, new track and sprocket.  "Once Arjun Mark II comes out successfully through the integrated testing in June next year, the production of the latest version of Arjun tanks will start in Heavy Vehicles Factory," the sources added.  Indian Army has ordered 142 MBT Arjun Mark-II which would be ready for commissioning within a couple of years.


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