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Friday, 18 November 2011

From Today's Papers - 18 Nov 2011

5,000-km range missile enough for India: Kalam
Rajmeet Singh/TNS  Rajpura/Fatehgarh Sahib, November 17 A nuclear-warhead capable inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) that has a range of 5,000 km was enough to watch India’s strategic interest, said former President Dr APJ Kalam while interacting with students of Chitkara University here today.  “An ICBM with 5,000-km range was enough as the potential enemies were well within this range,” said Dr Kalam, replying in context of India’s announcement to test Agni-V, an ICBM that can travel more than 5,000 km. On being asked about the need to develop ICBMs with longer range, the Missile Man of India, without referring to rapidly emerging neighbour China, said the threat was not from trans-Atlantic Ocean.  On being asked about the education system in the country, he said though the Indian students were in big demand abroad, the educational establishments needed to focus more on research. “Good research would mean better teaching faculty and students with multi-pronged approach. The technologies and the system should converge,” he said while calling upon the faculty and students to learn integrated system design. Giving a success mantra to the students who would be graduating from the university, he said the future was for those who could design, integrate and manage systems and technologies such as nanotechnology, biotechnology and information technology.  Stressing upon the audience to work for the nation’s welfare, he said everyone needed to deliver back to the system and society. “Nations with knowledge and synergy are the world leaders and others follow,” he said.  He outlined 10 pillars of Indian development profile 2020. Based his interaction with 12 million youths in the country and abroad, he said everyone would have become unique and think out of the box. “There has to be aim, regular update of knowledge, hard work and perseverance to achieve a goal in life,” he said while trying to strike a chord with the students who cheered to every advice handed out to them.  Earlier, he was at Sanghol in Fatehgarh Sahib to inaugurate the International Conference on Rural Development Challenges and Opportunities. The conference is being organised by Lord Rana’s, UK-based charitable trust at Cordia Group of Institutes.  He said nuclear energy was a clean energy and it would be beneficial for the people and the state. He said the states must go for nuclear energy.  He also stressed the need to ensure development of rural India by strengthening PURA (Providing Urban Facilities in Rural Areas) and to take it as a mission. Elaborating on PURA, he said it involved physical, electronic and economic connectivity. He suggested to the DC and Lord Rana to make Sanghol village “Sanghol PURA”.
Pak govt, army spar over secret memo
Zardari meets Kayani twice in two days Pak envoy to US Husain Haqqani offers to resign Afzal Khan in Islamabad  Amid reports of rising tension between the military and PPP-led civilian government over secret communications with the US in May, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has met powerful army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani twice in two days, even as Pakistan's envoy to the US Husain Haqqani offered to resign on Thursday.  "I've been consistently vilified as being against the Pakistani military even though I have only opposed military intervention in political affairs," Haqqani said.  "It's not easy to operate under the shadow of innuendo and I have not been named by anyone so far, but I am offering to resign in the national interest and leave that to the will of the President," he added.  A controversial memo was purportedly written on behalf of President Zardari to former US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen following the Abbotabad raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Zardari had "sought" American help against the military’s "conspiracies" to destabilise the government.  While Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was present in Wednesday's meeting, Zardari and Kayani had a one-on-one meeting on Tuesday. Media reports said Kayani had insisted that the government clear its position on the memo and remove Haqqani, if allegation against him were proved.  US business tycoon Mansoor Ejaz had in an article in the Financial Times, London, said that a senior Pakistani diplomat had dictated the memo to him and he had further handed it over to Mullen. Though Ejaz did not name the diplomat, it was widely believed that he was referring to Pakistan’s Ambassador to Washington, Husain Haqqani.  While the Presidency and the Foreign Office say they did not approve such a communication, Mullen’s spokesman confirmed the admiral had received the memo, but said it did not impact his relations with Kayani.  Haqqani denied dictating the memo, but confirmed that he offered to resign after he was summoned to Islamabad. Gilani had announced in the National Assembly last night that Haqqani has been called to Islamabad to clear the air.  It is learnt that Kayani is insistent on Haqqani's removal and even showed evidence to substantiate allegations against him. Haqqani has been at odds with the army in the past, particularly after the passage by US Congress of the Kerry-Lugar Bill, which laid down conditions to bring the army under civilian control.
In Pak, reports of army vs govt over secret memo row  
Islamabad:  Tension between the Pakistan Army and the civilian government has reached fever pitch over a secret memo, purportedly sent by President Asif Ali Zardari to the Obama administration, warning of a possible military takeover after Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan, in May this year. Mr Zardari met General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani today - their second meeting in as many days. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was also present at the meeting. Mr Zardari also met the US Ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter.  Pakistan's Ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani, has reportedly written to President Zardari and has offered to resign. "According to sources, Ambassador Husain Haqqani is believed to have sent a letter to President Asif Ali Zardari, offering to resign if he is found guilty of writing a letter which has strained relations between the president and the military establishment," leading Pakistani news website has reported.  In his letter, he has reportedly said, "I serve at the pleasure of the President of Pakistan and the Prime Minster of Pakistan. And I have communicated my willingness to resign or participate in any inquiry that brings to an end the vilification against Pakistan currently being undertaken by some elements in the country...Since I was appointed ambassador in 2008, some people have consistently vilified me as having been involved in undermining the Pakistani armed forces, which I have never done."  Reports of his offer to resign come a day after Pakistan's political circles were abuzz with speculation about his recall in the wake of media reports on secret communications between President Asif Ali Zardari and the American administration to avert a possible military takeover.  Mr Haqqani has been at the centre of a controversy following Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz's revelations about President Zardari's purported efforts to reach out to the Obama administration to prevent the army chief from staging a coup. Mr Ijaz has claimed that he was asked to contact the US administration by a senior Pakistani official. Though he did not identify this official, the media and analysts have speculated that Haqqani was involved in the matter without providing any proof to back up their claims.  After a meeting of the ruling Pakistan People's Party's top leaders chaired by Mr Zardari on Monday, an official statement said a decision had been made to call Mr Haqqani to Islamabad to "brief the country's leadership on a host of issues impacting Pakistan-US relations and the recent developments".  Information minister Firdaus Awan has said Mr Haqqani's meetings in Islamabad are routine in nature. He added there was no substance in rumours over differences between civil and military leaderships.  There have been several indications of fresh strains in ties between the military and civilian government, with analysts noting the absence of Pakistan's top four military officials, including General Kayani, from an official banquet hosted by Mr Zardari at the presidency on Monday.  There are many questions doing the rounds in Pakistan such as why Husain Haqqani, who's seen by many as Mr Zardari's and Washington's favourite, would need a businessman to mediate with America's leadership. But, as Washington and Islamabad's relations sink further, and divisions within Pakistan grow deeper, perhaps the biggest question is what this unfolding drama means for Pakistan's internal political situation.
IAF to set up hi-tech landing for Army on China LAC
In the ongoing effort to strengthen military infrastructure along the India-China border and keep pace with Chinese build up across the Line of Actual Control(LAC), the IAF will activate an advanced landing ground in Vijaynagar in Arunachal Pradesh on Friday. It will be the sixth such landing strip close to the LAC in the hilly and provide year -round logistical support to Army deployments on the border.  Stating this here on Thursday, officials said the landing ground would accommodate AN-32 transport planes besides helicopters. The AN-32 planes can carry more than 40 tons of equipment including weapons, troops and essential items and the Vijaynagar landing strip will cut down the time taken for delivering these items to the forward posts.  At present, the weapons and other equipment are ferried on mule back through inaccessible mountainous terrain and putting the Indian formations in a disadvantageous position vis-a-vis China.  It has built modern infrastructure all along the 4,500 km-long LAC including all weather roads and landing grounds. India is going all out to negate this advantage at the earliest.  In fact, Defence Minister AK Antony on Tuesday expressed concern over rapid modernisation of Chinese infrastructure along the border and said India had also stepped infrastructural development in the north eastern States.  Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will hold talks with Premier Wen Jiabao in Bali, Indonesia on Friday during the ASEAN summit in the back drop of China warning India on Tuesday about its military buildup including reported plan to deploy more than 1,00,000 troops on the LAC.  Sources said the two heads of state will discuss all the bilateral issues including the complex boundary dispute, trade and fostering more people to people relations.  Moreover, the meeting will take place ahead of 14th round of talks on boundary dispute here in the last week of November between National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon and his Chinese counterpart Dai Bingguo.  India and China will also hold the annual defence dialogue in Delhi on December 9 between Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma and his Chinese counterpart.  The dialogue and military to military interaction between the two countries was put on hold by India last year after the then Northern Command chief Lt General BS Jaswal was denied a visa by Beijing as it questioned the status of Jammu and Kashmir.  As regards landing grounds in Arunachal Pradesh, the IAF has five such strips and three of them are able to accommodate transport planes. The reactivation of Vijaynagar landing ground will add to the operational preparedness of the armed forces, officials said.  Helicopters could only land at Vijaynagar base till three years back and the government then gave the ahead to the IAF to upgrade it to enable the big transport planes to operate from there.  Incidentally, the IAF in the last two or three years activated at least three advanced landing grounds in Ladakh region facing China to bolster logistical base.  These bases located at heights ranging from 13,000 feet to 18,000 feet are Nayoma, Fuckhe and Daulat Beg Oldie and two of them can handle AN-32s, sources said.  Moreover, the IAF plans to upgrade the runway at Kargil airport to enable giant transport planes like IL-76s and C-10 Globemasters to land.  The project will take about two to three years and will provide additional capabilities to cover vast areas in that region which remains cut off for more than five months due to snow.  Elaborating on the ongoing projects in the north-east states, officials said at least 30 landing grounds and small airports were identified for modernization and the entire process was expected to be completed within the next four to five years.  The Government was also laying great stress on building at least 17 strategic roads in Arunachal Pradesh and this project was also expected to be completed in four years.
India, Pakistan, and God's geostrategic will
Pakistan is unlikely to deliver justice on 26/11 — but India seems willing to gamble that the internal crisis Islamabad is beset with will compel it to keep the peace in future.  “God's acts are never irrational,” wrote Ziauddin Najam, commander of a Pakistani strategic forces division, in a 2008 essay: an essay remarkable for both the Major-General's unwavering belief in a divine project and his evident loss of faith in the doctrinal credo that the nation's nuclear weapons would ensure its survival. “Pakistan was created on the night of the 27th Ramadan”, the General went on, “and is [therefore] there to stay forever: we must have faith in it.”  Major-General Najam's despairing words could help an extraordinary effort to bring about a rapprochement in India's fraught relationship with Pakistan — an effort more than one commentator has dismissed as a consequence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's own theology of regional peace.  Last week, after Foreign Ministers Hina Rabbani Khar and S.M. Krishna met in the Maldives, the leaders let it be known that the “trust deficit between the two countries is shrinking.” Pakistan's Interior Minister, Rahman Malik, called for the hanging of the incarcerated 26/11 assault team member Muhammad Ajmal Kasab — a man he once insisted was not from his country.  Dr. Singh later addressed his critics at home: “I did discuss with Prime Minister [Yusaf Raza] Gilani whether the Pakistan Army is fully on board to carry forward the peace process. The sense I got was that after a long time, Pakistan's armed forces are fully on board.”  The claim, if true, is remarkable. New Delhi and Islamabad made multiple attempts to revive their fraught relationship since 26/11, but each floundered in the face of continued Pakistani military support for anti-India jihadists and unwillingness to act against the perpetrators of the Mumbai carnage, the Lashkar-e-Taiba.  Evidence that any of this has changed is thin — but there is some reason to believe that the Pakistan army, behind its bluster, is weaker than ever and, therefore, desperate to secure its eastern flank at a time it appears besieged from all sides.  For weeks now, Pakistan has been seeking to demonstrate its commitment to peace: the release of an Indian helicopter that strayed across the Line of Control and the tentative movement on opening trade across the border are among the signs of a thaw.  It is also clear, though, that Pakistan's military isn't about to turn on its Islamist proxies. Even though a judicial commission is scheduled to visit Mumbai to record the testimony required for the prosecution of 26/11 suspects being tried in a Lahore court, there is plenty of evidence that Islamabad continues to harbour terrorists — among them, men directly involved in the attack.  Sajid Mir, Lashkar commander who crafted the assault plan, has been reported by both the United States and India's intelligence services as operating out of his family home near the Garrison Club in Lahore; Pakistan's Federal Investigations Agency hasn't yet got around to paying him a visit. Muzammil Bhat, who trained the assault team, is claimed by Pakistan to be a fugitive, though two journalists who went looking for the terror commander in Muzaffarabad located him without great effort. Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi, sole senior Lashkar operative held for his alleged role in the attacks, has continued to communicate with his organisation from prison. Pakistan hasn't, tellingly, even sought to question David Headley, Pakistani-American jihadist who has provided the investigators with a detailed insider account of the attacks — including the role of the Inter-Services Intelligence in directing them.  Back in December 2008, Pakistan's envoy to the United Nations, Abdullah Haroon, promised that his country would proscribe the Lashkar's parent organisation, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa; the government lists released earlier this year, like those before them, do not mention the organisation.  Even the U.S. is dismayed by Pakistan's conduct: in a recent testimony to Congress, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton voiced concern at Pakistan's “continuing failure, in our view, to fulfil all of the requirements necessary for prosecution related to the Mumbai attacks.”  India's policy establishment has long argued that Pakistan's conduct of the 26/11 case would be a litmus test of its military's strategic intentions. So what has led New Delhi to change course?  Pakistan's hard-nosed generals do not likely share Dr. Singh's almost religious beliefs about the need for peace in South Asia. Their bottom line, though, is likely this: beset with an Islamist insurgency that has undermined both its internal cohesiveness and legitimacy as a guardian of the Pakistani state, the army just cannot sustain a future crisis with India.  In 2010, things seemed quite different: Pakistan's Army Chief Parvez Kayani bluntly told journalists that the country's relationship with India “will not change in any significant way until the Kashmir issue and water disputes are resolved.” The proclamation came in the wake of a reversal of his predecessor's decision to temper jihadist operations against India. In 2008, soon after General Kayani took office, the ISI authorised a murderous attack on India's diplomatic mission in Kabul. The Lashkar's infiltration across the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir surged. Later that year, it became clear from Headley's testimony that the ISI Directorate provided direct support for the Mumbai attack.  This aggressive posture marked a substantial change in Pakistan's strategic thought. In a thoughtful 2002 paper, scholar George Perkovich cast light on Gen. Musharraf's reappraisal of the Pakistani military strategy on India. Lieutenant-General Moinuddin Haider, who served as Interior Minister under President Musharraf, told Dr. Perkovich that he argued that the long-term costs of continuing to back jihadists would be higher than the potential losses from taking them on. “I was the sole voice initially,” Gen. Haider recalled, “saying ‘Mr. President, your economic plan will not work, people will not invest, if you don't get rid of extremists'.”  Gen. Haider gathered allies — among them the former intelligence chief, Lieutenant-General Javed Ashraf Qazi. “We must not be afraid,” General Qazi said in the wake of the 2001-2002 India-Pakistan military crisis, “of admitting that the Jaish was involved in the deaths of thousands of innocent Kashmiris, bombing the Indian Parliament, [the journalist] Daniel Pearl's murder and even attempts on President Musharraf's life.”  Gen. Musharraf listened: in the wake of the 2001-2002 military crisis with India, which imposed crippling costs on Pakistan's economy, he presided over a steady scaling back of support for the jihad in Jammu and Kashmir, and gradually cut back the backing for terrorist attacks elsewhere in India.  From Major-General Najam's article, we have some sense of how these new policies were seen by his commanders. “Pakistan's complete turnaround from its earlier policy,” Gen. Najam wrote in the 2008 issue of theGreen Book, the army's premier internal platform for doctrinal and geo-strategic debate, “brought the state into a direct clash with a sizeable segment of its society, particularly those religious zealots who had gained considerable clout and power through exploitation of religious sentiments. Also sympathetic to these religious extremists were those deprived elements of society who for long had been denied economic and educational opportunities”.  Looking back, 26/11 was General Kayani's Kargil — an audacious attempt to rebuild legitimacy with the religious right-wing and consolidate his position within Pakistan's armed forces, all by advertising his commitment to their core anti-India concerns. Kargil, though, backfired — and so did 26/11. Like Gen. Musharraf, Gen. Kayani found the Pakistan armed forces' covert support to the jihadists exposed in public — and the country under pressure.  For two years, Gen. Kayani was able to weather the 26/11 storm: the U.S. was willing to go easy on Pakistan, in return for its cooperation, however fitful, in the war against the jihadists in Afghanistan. The problem, Gen. Najam pointed out, was that a “sizeable segment of Pakistani society, rightly or wrongly, perceives Pakistan as serving [the] U.S. interest at the cost of [its] own people.” “Pakistan today,” he concluded, “finds itself in an ironic position: the more it provides support to GWOT [the Global War on Terror], the greater [the] reaction [that] develops in its society.”  In evermore desperate efforts to manage that reaction, Gen. Kayani sought deals with the jihadists acting against the Pakistani state; backed anti-U.S. jihadists in Afghanistan in an effort to secure leverage against those targeting his forces; and deepened his relationship with the anti-India groups like the Lashkar and the Jaish-e-Muhammad in an effort to befriend Islamists.  Like most trapeze acts, this one proved impossible to sustain. Following the May 2 raid that claimed Osama bin Laden's life, ISI chief Shuja Pasha angrily told Pakistani legislators: “At every difficult moment in our history, the United States has let us down. This fear that we can't live without the United States is wrong.”  Pakistan can, however, only live with so many enemies at once — and that is precisely the strategy opportunity Indian policymakers are seeking to benefit from.  Home Minister P. Chidambaram warned Pakistan in the months after 26/11 “not to play any more games.” “If they carry out any more attacks on India,” he said, “they will not only be defeated, but we will also retaliate with the force of a sledgehammer.” The truth is that the blows will have terrible costs for India also — costs that no sensible policymaker believes should be used to compel Pakistan to deliver justice on 26/11. The worst case scenario before the Prime Minister is that his peace gamble, like those before it, fails: but that would leave India exactly where it was the day before Ms Khar and Mr. Krishna met in the Maldives.  Pakistan's peace cheque is post-dated, and issued on a bank in dubious health — but with else nothing in hand, New Delhi has little to lose by accepting the promise that is being held out.
India: more AWACS and BrahMos missiles
NEW DELHI, Nov. 17 (UPI) -- India is in final negotiations for buying two more Israeli-made EL/M-2075 Phalcon Airborne Warning and Control Systems, the Times of India reported.  The $800 million contract is in addition to another $1.1 billion deal for three Phalcons signed in 2004 with Israel and Russia, the Times report said. In that deal, Russia supplied the AWACS aircraft -- Ilyushin-76 military transport plane. The three planes were delivered in 2009 and 2010.  The Phalcon is developed by Israel Aerospace Industries and Elta Electronics Industries of Israel. Apart from India and Israel, the Phalcon is used by Chile and Singapore.  India also is on schedule for developing its own AWACS, a smaller system than the Phalcon and for use on smaller planes.
India developing indigenous artillery guns
NEW DELHI (PTI): With the army failing to induct new artillery guns in the last 25 years, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has started developing an indigenous 155mm 52 calibre howitzer for the armed forces.  "Armament Research and Development Establishment (DRDO's lab) in Pune is working on developing indigenous artillery guns," DRDO chief V K Saraswat told reporters here.  He said the work on these guns has been on for quite some time now but the agency was "lying low" and focusing on other programmes.  "The laboratory is working on advanced metallurgy for the barrels of the howitzer and is looking at an increased rate of fire in it. We are hoping to complete the development in another four years time," the DRDO chief said.  Asked if there was any specific request from the armed forces to produce the guns, a senior DRDO official said after the Bofors gun deal in 1986, no gun has been inducted in service and it was felt that the Army would need such a gun.  DRDO had earlier developed the 105 mm field artillery guns for the Army and is still in operational service.  DRDO had started working on the development of the Bhim self-propelled howitzer about a decade back but the project was virtually scrapped after South African firm Denel was blacklisted by the ministry.  Despite several attempts, cancellation of tenders due to various reasons has not allowed the army to induct any new artillery gun in the last 25 years after the controversy surrounding the Bofors guns snow-balled into a big political issue.  Talking about the developments in the advanced version of the Arjun Main Battle Tank (MBT) programme, he said, "We are looking to test-fire a missile from its canon and demonstrate that capability by next year."

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