Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites


Friday, 12 October 2012

From Today's Papers - 12 Oct 2012
Sukhbir Badal defends Bluestar memorial
Says it’ll only be a gurdwara with no photographs inside
Perneet Singh/TNS
Amritsar, October 11
Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal today defended the SGPC move to construct an Operation Bluestar memorial, contending that it would only be a gurdwara.

Talking to the mediapersons after deliberating on Amritsar’s master plan, he said, “Thousands of people were killed in the Operation Bluestar, including women, kids and elderly. The memorial is being built in their memory. It will only be a place of worship. There will be no photographs inside it.”

Replying to a query regarding a pilgrim approaching him with a complaint of snatching during his visit to the Golden Temple in the morning, he said he had issued instructions for launching a statewide campaign against petty crimes, including snatchings. The district police chiefs would personally monitor the campaign.

He said all major cities of the state would be put under high-tech CCTV surveillance within six months to check activities of antisocial elements. He would not tolerate any laxity on law and order front and the SHO under whose command area a crime took place, would be held accountable.

He said the DGP had been asked to launch a special drive against bad elements and 700 such persons had already been booked by the police. He said he had already sanctioned an urban police model and a separate Rs 52-crore rapid rural police patrolling system that would become operational in the next month. He declined to comment on the corruption case involving former state minister Gulzar Singh Ranike, saying the matter was sub judice.

He said Amritsar was all set to don a new look with today’s meeting approving projects worth Rs 2,951 crore for the holy city and towns on its periphery. He said there would be no dearth of funds for these projects, which would be executed in the next three years.
Power play around Af-Pak
Uncertainty breeds competition
by Inder Malhotra

NO one should be surprised by the intense power play focused on Afghanistan because of the widespread fear of renewed “uncertainty and instability” in that war-ravaged country with which Pakistan is so inextricably intertwined that the American-invented expression “Af-Pak” has found international acceptance. At the root of the current activity lies the belief that although the United States plans to maintain an “enduring presence” in Afghanistan even after the withdrawal of all NATO combat troops by the end of 2014, it is a “receding” power in the region. Consequently, other major stakeholders in the region are busy redesigning their policies.

Quick to enter the Afghan arena is China with its vital interests, including in Afghanistan’s rich mineral resources, having already acquired a license to extract mammoth quantities of copper. It is also taking care of playing both sides of the street — befriending President Hamid Karzai’s government and simultaneously keeping contact with the Taliban. Some analysts appear to have concluded that Beijing may be distancing itself from its “all-weather friend”, Pakistan, in order to establish itself in Afghanistan. This is far from being the case. Indeed, China is one country about which no one in Pakistan across the political spectrum says a critical word. The GHQ knows that China is its most reliable ally. Astute Chinese leaders would not let go of this advantage.

Understandably Russia is also anxious to play a larger role in the region, if only to safeguard its supreme interests in the former Soviet republics of Central Asia and to guard against a sudden spurt in the smuggling of narcotics through these republics. Moscow is also determined to prevent the return to the former Soviet territory of Islamist insurgencies that had rocked it in the 1990s. Indicative of Russia’s anxiety about the region is that Russian President Vladimir Putin was in Kyrgyzstan only the other day and signed agreements that would substantially increase Russia’s footprint there, including a 15-year extension of Russian lease on the Kant airbase.  He will be in Tajikstan soon on a similar mission.

With all that, however, Russian policy has shown a “strange confusion” in recent days. Mr Putin cancelled his visit to Pakistan at the last minute, causing dismay in Islamabad. For, had it taken place, it would have been the first ever visit to Pakistan by a Soviet/Russian leader. And then, using the pretext that he was expected in Islamabad only to attend the meeting of Russia-Tajikstan-Afghanistan-Pakistan forum focusing on Afghanistan, he dispatched his foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, to Islamabad for the meeting. More remarkably, Russia also invited the Pakistan Army Chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, to Moscow. The general was keen to meet Mr Putin but it is not yet known whether such a meeting took place.

Russian sources are reluctant to explain these twists and turns beyond saying that it is a “complicated matter”, but it seems the Russian policy makers felt that their President’s sojourn in Pakistan at this stage would be “premature” because several “difficult pipeline projects” are still up in the air. Therefore, the agenda for a summit-level Russo-Pakistan meeting cannot be complete until these issues are settled. This shows there can be no doubt about an imminent warming of relations between Russia and Pakistan. Moscow knows that it would not be possible for it to be proactive in Kabul without good relations with Pakistan that has practically an open border with Afghanistan because nobody respects the Durand Line. Having learnt its lesson in the 1980s, Russia has absolutely no intention to intervene in Afghanistan in any case. Nor has it forgotten that its efforts to maintain the pro-Soviet regime of President Najibullah had turned out to be futile.

At the same time, there is no cause for any undue alarm in New Delhi over these developments. The era when in South Asia the Soviet Union/Russia could be friends exclusively with India is over.

International relations across the board have undergone a change. Indo-US relations are no longer what they used to be. Ditto for India-China relations. Relations between the US and China, which became virtual allies in 1971 after two decades of bitter enmity, have undergone significant variations even in recent years. Three years ago, on a visit to Beijing, President Barack Obama was so solicitous of cooperation with China that his hosts had started talking of a “G-2” dispensation. Today the US has shifted the “pivot” of its foreign and security policies to East Asia obviously because of Chinese over-assertiveness.

Whatever its aims and compulsions in Afghanistan, Russia also knows that in this region India is its weightier friend. Improved Russo-Pakistan relations, are therefore, no threat to the time-tested India-Russia friendship in both the Soviet era and the subsequent one. In Afghanistan itself Indian presence is considerable and significant. And almost all other players, with the exception of Pakistan, want the Indian footprint to be enlarged. The advice by some for Indian military presence there has to be shunned, of course.

On the other side of fence at a time when Russia and China are getting active in Afghanistan in cooperation with Pakistan, the US has taken steps to prevent a further decline in its relationship with Pakistan that are already in a dire state. President Obama has waived the conditions on the resumption of military and economic aid, imposed by the US Congress, on American assistance to its one-time “most allied ally”.

Some other features of the Afghan situation, with a bearing on the future, should also be noted. The 200th Ame ican soldier was killed only the other day, and this can have repercussions even on the US presidential elections. Especially because there is no love lost between the Afghan national army and the NATO troops. Many of the latter have been shot to death by uniformed Afghan personnel, not all of them being Taliban masquerading as Afghan soldiers.

In his latest speech Mr Karzai has been sharply critical of the US on several counts. He lambasted it for using drones to kill civilians and others in Afghanistan but not targeting the sanctuaries of the jihadis in Pakistan. He also complained that the US was not giving Afghanistan sophisticated weaponry. “Does it want us to buy it from Russia, China and India”? According to seasoned observers, this could be a “bargaining chip” in negotiations with the US or a need of domestic politics.
Trainee NDC officials on study tour
MUMBAI: About 111 officers undergoing the 52nd National Security Studies Course at the prestigious National Defence College (NDC), New Delhi, are on a visit to Mumbai, Karwar and Goa from October 9 to 12.

Defence officials said that the NDC is a globally renowned defence institute, concentrating upon 'security' as a whole, rather than having limited scope to 'defence' alone. It is the highest Institution of advanced studies, not just for the Armed Forces alone, but for Civil Services officers as well.

Officials said that the NDC, which was founded in 1960, provides a forum for holistic studies on security for Senior Defence and Civil Services officers from India and a number of friendly foreign countries. ""Focused upon strategy, geo-politics and the higher direction of warfare, it seeks to provide decision-makers with the necessary skills and knowledge required in senior positions in national security and allied government organizations,"" said Chief PRO (Defence) N Vispute.

The NDC Course Members will be visiting Headquarters, Western Naval Command, Naval Dockyard, Mazagon Docks Ltd, offshore oil facilities of the ONGC, as well as naval facilities at Karwar and Goa. The officers will also embark warships of the Western Fleet for a 'Day at Sea' to get a first-hand experience of naval operations. The participants include officers from the Indian Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, the IAS, IFS, IPS and other allied Civil Services as also 25 officers from friendly foreign countries.
Gunmen kidnap retired Pakistan army official serving in ISI
Islamabad: Unidentified gunmen kidnapped a retired Pakistan Army brigadier serving in the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency after killing his driver near the federal capital on Thursday. The gunmen intercepted Brig Tahir Masood's car at Sihala town on the outskirts of Islamabad shortly after he left his home within the Defence Housing Authority.

His driver, also a retired army soldier, was shot by the kidnappers when he resisted. The abductors took Masood away to an unknown location. At least four men were involved in the kidnapping, police officials said.

Masood was serving on contract with the ISI following his retirement, media reports said. No group claimed responsibility for the abduction. There was no official word on the incident.
Pakistan scores a diplomatic brownie point: Kayani gets Russia to 'ignore' old friend India

Pakistan army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani (right) has scored a diplomatic brownie point over India with his three-day trip to Moscow from October 6.

Russian defence minister Anatoly Serdyukov postponed a high-level annual meeting with defence minister A.K. Antony in New Delhi so that he could meet Kayani in Moscow.

Earlier, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, who was to visit India on October 4, landed in Islamabad instead to hold talks with the Pakistan foreign minister.

The two visits have caused some discomfiture in New Delhi. Russia is an ally and India's largest defence supplier. Kayani's visit was much more than drawing a wedge between India and Russia.

He wants Russia to partially fill the vacuum that will be created with the withdrawal of the US-led Nato forces from Afghanistan in 2014.

Russia does not have borders with Afghanistan but is concerned about the spread of religious extremism through the Central Asian republics. Russia also sees Pakistan as a key regional player.

The erstwhile Cold War foes seem to have agreed to greater military ties with agreements expected to be signed soon, government sources said.

Russia had in 2009 pointedly ignored Kayani's wish list for helicopters, night-vision goggles and electronic warfare equipment. It has been wary of selling arms to Pakistan for fear of irking India.

It is not known how Russia reacted to Kayani's latest list. Kayani's Moscow visit was finalised two months ago.

The details of his meetings with the military brass weren't publicised. Defence analyst Maria Sultan believes a Pakistan-Russia partnership can change the regional scenario.

Lt-Gen (retd) Hamid Gul, former ISI director-general, believes it's the first step towards forming a Pakistan-Russia-China block - a move Kayani would like to take credit for.
Two-front war remote, but threat from China real
NEW DELHI: India's worst-case scenario is a simultaneous two-front war. This nightmarish possibility is fuelled by the ever-deepening military nexus between China and Pakistan, ranging from continuing assistance in the nuclear and missile arenas to presence of Chinese soldiers in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan areas.

Much before defence minister A K Antony formally directed them to do so in 2009, Indian armed forces were already "actively" factoring this two-front contingency into their plans and doctrines. But while planning for the worst is good strategy, many military experts say the likelihood of a two-front war seem remote.

China may have long used Pakistan to peg India down in South Asia but has never directly intervened on Islamabad's behalf during any Indo-Pak conflict. Moreover, even as it shadow boxes with the US in Asia-Pacific and elsewhere, China remains wary of doing anything that may force India to firmly join the American corner.

The threat of a single-front conflict or skirmish is "much more real". Pakistan has always been the more in-your-face threat for India, stoking militancies, launching incursions and rattling its nuclear sabre. "But Pakistan can be managed," says a senior military officer.

"China is the actual long-term threat. Its strategic intentions remain unclear. We have to constructively engage with Beijing but also keep our powder dry for all eventualities," he adds.

Both in terms of nuclear as well as conventional military power, China by far outstrips India. China's primary aim is to dissuade any US intervention in the Taiwan Strait or the larger South China Sea, but ground realities cannot be ignored.

China has systematically built military infrastructure all along the unresolved 4,056-km Line of Actual Control (LAC), with five airbases, an extensive rail network and over 58,000-km of roads in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). Apart from deploying medium-range ballistic missiles and fighters on the Tibetan plateau, People's Liberation Army (PLA) has now also taken to holding a series of high-end air and ground combat exercises near the Indian borders.

Beijing also continues to systematically widen its arc of influence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) by forging extensive maritime linkages with eastern Africa, Seychelles, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Pakistan, among others. "China may be doing all this to protect its sea lanes supplying energy but it also strategically encircles India," says a naval officer.

The PLA's increasingly "aggressive" behaviour along the LAC, with over 550 "transgressions" into Indian territory being recorded just since January, 2010, also points to a deliberate hardening of its stand in laying claim to disputed areas.

Indian armed forces, however, are no longer the pushovers they were. "I assure the nation as Army chief that 1962 will not be repeated...Nahi Hoga!" says General Bikram Singh.

Adds another officer, "In terms of equipment and training, we are far better off now. We learnt our lessons from 1962 and built them into our plans. China's armed forces may be more than double our size but they do not have the kind of force ratios that will overwhelm us."

IAF and Navy, too, have emerged as forces to reckon with. Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne asserts India could have even turned the tables on China during 1962 if it had used "offensive airpower", much like it did against Pakistan during the 1999 Kargil conflict. "It was airpower that concluded the (1999) war," he says.

Sukhoi-30MKI fighters taking off from Tezpur and Chabua, or Leh and Thoise for that matter, can strike high-value targets deep inside China with mid-air refuelling. Similarly, China may have last month commissioned its first aircraft carrier, the 65,000-tonne Liaoning, but Indian Navy is leagues ahead in blue-water experience. If required, Indian warships can effectively "interdict" Chinese sea lanes for its energy imports, as can fighters based in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

India has been slow to react to China's strategic moves, both on land borders as well as IOR. But after deploying Sukhoi-30MKI fighters, missile squadrons and spy drones in the north-east as well as raising two new divisions (over 15,000 soldiers each) in Nagaland and Assam over the last couple of years, planning is now underway to raise a new mountain strike corps (over 35,000 combat troops) in the 2012-17 timeframe.

India cannot hope to ever compete with China in terms of military assets or manpower, but a repeat of the abject knockout in 1962 is no longer possible. "We can punch back now," says a Major-General.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal