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Monday, 19 November 2012

From Today's Papers - 19 Nov 2012
MoD to review projects impacting national security
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 18
The Ministry of Defence gets into introspection mode this week, with Defence Minister AK Antony beginning a four-part review of key projects impacting national security and country’s preparedness.

Antony will meet top officials over four days to assess key components: status of infrastructure in Arunachal Pradesh, development of the indigenous aircraft carrier, working of the Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs) and the working of the ordnance factory board.

Sources said the review is expected to toss up some bitter facts, especially issues concerning the languid pace of work and the need to speed up matters in view of multiple threats faced by India.

The status of infrastructure in Arunachal Pradesh is a sensitive issue and is flagged in almost all sessions of Parliament.

The review comes at a time when India remembers the most humiliating military defeat at the hands of China in 1962 with Arunachal being the major flashpoint.

In consequence of the Sino-Indian clash, New Delhi had held the view that the construction of roads in the border areas could prove counter-productive as it would facilitate the entry of the Chinese army and ensure uninterrupted supply lines for the invading force.

But over the last decade, this theory has changed and India now wants to match China in building roads along the disputed frontier with China.

On the other hand, China has a vastly superior infrastructure across the frontier, thereby putting India in a disadvantageous position.

Several parts of Arunachal Pradesh are still not connected with the rest of the country through the road network.

The Indian Air Force and the Army has projected the need to upgrade the existing mud-paved advanced landing grounds (ALGs) to fully paved concrete runaways.

The ALGs - built by the British for the Burma operations in 1944 - exist at Pasighat (East Siang), Ziro (Lower Subansiri), Mechuka (West Siang), Tuting (Upper Siang) and Walong (Anjaw). Another ALG at Vijainagar was paved last year. Vijainagar lacks a road link or electricity for its 6,000 inhabitants. The only alternative to air transport is a six-day trek through a 157-km stretch of thick jungles to Miao, the nearest town.

Under Lens

    Status of infrastructure in Arunachal Pradesh
    Development of indigenous aircraft carrier
    Working of Defence Public Sector Undertakings
    Working of the ordnance factory board
Turnaround in Islamabad?
Steps against jihad a must for peace
by B.G. Verghese

DAYS before Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik’s proposed visit to India to sign the liberalised visa agreement between the two countries, it appears that the country’s CID has told the anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi trying those charged with the 26/11 attack on Mumbai in 2008 that Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the mastermind, and his accomplices were trained by the LeT in Karachi, Muzaffarabad and other places. But there is no reference to official involvement of which India has sufficient proof.

This information, carried by Dawn, confirms what India has been saying from the start, based on independent information and intercepts of conversations between the suspects and their handlers. This development marks a step forward in the tortuous progress of the Lakhvi trial and comes just before details of the proposed visit of the Indian National Investigation Agency to Rawalpindi to confront Lakhvi and his associates directly. Hopefully, all this is indicative of the 26/11 perpetrators being soon brought to justice four years after committing their dastardly crime.

Rehman Malik, who recently met the Indian Home Minister, Sushil Kumar Shinde, on the sidelines of a Rome Interpol conference, has also promised his counterpart of acting to curb infiltration and cross-border terrorism in J&K that has brazenly gone on for decades. Action on all of these matters is important if a climate is to be created for the PM to visit Islamabad and if Pakistan desires movement towards a Kashmir settlement that eluded conclusion in 2006-08 with Musharraf running aground politically. The idea of a soft border along the LoC with freer movement, trade and exchange across it, leading to structures of joint management of this relationship and possibly even joint management of Indus waters that was formulated in talks with Dr Manmohan Singh was a practical and honourable way of leaving nobody with a sense of loss, let alone defeat. Nehru and Sheikh Abdullah had suggested this in 1964, but it was scorned by Ayub Khan then while the PPP government has yet to come to terms with it now.

Gen Kayani was shocked and shaken by the avalanche that took 168 of his soldiers’ lives below the Saltoro ridge, west of Siachen, last March and proclaimed that a settlement with India was essential as defence without development was not a credible option. Other hardliners too have echoed this view with dawning realisation that Islamabad’s Kashmir-terror-jihadi-fundamentalist crusade has not yielded dividends but has, on the contrary, almost brought Pakistan to its knees.

If reconciliation with India through trade and investments, a liberalised visa regime and a sincere conflict resolution process is to be Pakistan’s new strategic doctrine, then justice for those involved in 26/11, and an end to infiltration and cross-border terror constitute obvious elements. Certified terrorists like Hafiz Saeed keep spouting venom while Syed Salahuddin, sitting in Muzaffarabad, has threatened harm to all the panches and sarpanches recently elected in J&K unless they resign. Reports that Rehman Malik plans to meet the Hurriyat leaders in Delhi follows a long-standing pattern of cultivating hollow men and hirelings who know they will come to grief if they genuinely talk peace as it happened to Moulvi Farooq, Abdul Ghani Lone, Fazle Haq Qureshi and even Abdul Ghani Butt and Abbas Ansari.

More importantly, if Pakistan truly wishes to build a climate of peace, it must stop inculcating hatred for India and Hindus in young minds and extolling jihad through its officially produced school textbooks. The Social Policy and Development Centre brought out a study by leading educationists in 2004, titled “The Subtle Subversion”, which painted a grim picture of what was being taught in schools in the history and social study texts. Improvements were promised but few were made. A fresh report by the Jinnah Institute last April deplores what it still describes as a “curriculum of hate” with unfortunate omissions and assertions. UNESCO long years ago said, “Wars begin in the minds of men”.

India too has some horrid texts, privately produced, but these have been stoutly opposed and efforts at rewriting history have been confronted. It is time Pakistan acted more swiftly and firmly to amend its textbooks to portray as objectively as possible all sides of contentious issues and build amity and understanding. This writer has often commended the idea that a group of historians from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh be commissioned to write a non-official primer on South Asian history for children. That could mark a wonderful beginning.

Meanwhile, political parties are readying to fight all the wrong battles in Parliament with the Left leading the charge by giving notice of a motion on the FDI issue which many in the Opposition argue the government has brought in duplicitously by reneging on its earlier promise of wide consultation and seeking to operationalise it by executive order. Public debate has raged and nothing has been done clandestinely. The FDI order is an enabling measure and not coercive and it has been left to the states to go ahead or hold their hand. A debate on the issue does not require to be voted on and if any party is dissatisfied it is for them to move a vote of no-confidence.

This none has so far been willing to do. Dr Manmohan Singh is in a stronger position than before with none in the Congress prepared or able to challenge him before the polls, when he will retire. The Opposition parties and UPA partners are not ready for elections, being divided and unwilling to be held responsible for the possible fall of the government, though this is not on the cards. All the talk about the UPA being in a “minority” after the Trinamool’s withdrawal is mistaken. The Constitution does not require a government to have a majority but to demonstrate that it enjoys “the confidence of the (Lower) House”. India has experienced powerful and long-lasting “minority” governments which won issue-based support from various quarters as the occasion demanded. The same could happen again, with some abstaining or choosing not to vote against the government on a particular motion. The Akalis are with the BJP but Punjab favours FDI which could work well for it.

Hence all the clever prognostications of voting patterns with innumerable permutations and combinations in pretty charts are irrelevant. Some of the hype too is beginning to wear. The re-auction of cancelled 2G “Scam” licences has turned out to be a fiasco with gross overpricing of rates yielding few bidders and paltry receipts. This knocks the bottom out of all the pious theorems on the basis of which the CAG made its extraordinary calculations, disregarding simple economic and social principles.

Those who said there was “zero loss” came nearer the truth than those who forgot to balance assumed, notional losses against actual, realised social gains that empowered tens of millions and networked India. Screaming politicians and sections of the media must realise that they are preaching and aiding non-governance and anarchy. These are dangerous tendencies. Stalling Parliament again could only aggravate disaster.
Display of arms by Punjab Regiment
Ramgarh: The Punjab Regimental Centre (PRC), one of the oldest regiment of the Indian Army, has come up with a plan to motivate school children to join the army. For the students of Guru Nanak Public School, affiliated to Central Board of Secondary School Examination (CBSE), arms and ammunition used by army were on display.

Brigadier Anil Pandey, commandant of the Punjab Regimental Centre, said here that in the run up to the golden jubilee celebrations of Surya Command (Central Command, Lucknow), the Indian Army is taking steps to help in the all-round development of the students and also to motivate them to join the army and by doing so they would not only have a bright career but also serve the nation.

Shivam, a student of Guru Nanak Public School, who witnessed the display of arms and ammunition used by the army, said: "I was excited to see all sophisticated arms and ammunition in one place which was a unique thing to happen in my life as these arms and ammunition were used for the nation's security and the very thought made me proud."

The programme commenced with the conduct of a lecture by Major Saptarshi Gupta on 'importance of education towards a better society and the role of students of the society and nation as a whole.' The lecture was followed by a weapon display for the students.

The programme concluded with a friendly volleyball match between the students and young recruits of the army who are undergoing training.
Two of Army’s off-air cellphone interceptors ‘missing’, govt seeks information
NEW DELHI: Two of the Army's off-air interceptor systems, which can listen in on cellphone conversations, are untraceable, a senior source told TOI, adding a fresh twist to the ongoing Army audit into the devices that were suspected to have been used illegally by a secretive unit under former chief General V K Singh.

"The suspicion is that they may have been destroyed," the source said. It is not clear at what stage the Army's internal investigations is, and if it has put on record and informed the home ministry about the missing interceptors.

It is not known either if the two interceptor units were in the custody of the erstwhile Technical Support Division (TSD), set up by Gen V K Singh after he took over as Army chief in March 2010. However, details about the two missing systems has been conveyed to the Army higher-ups informally, sources said.

A detailed Army audit of electronic warfare systems has been under way for the past several months. Among the key reasons behind the check is the doubt in the security establishment that the TSD may have been illegally listening in on phone conversations of important people in the national capital.

MHA sought information on all 35 interceptors

Ever since the allegations emerged, the home ministry has repeatedly raised questions about the Army possessing equipment capable of intercepting phone conversations. This MHA probe came even as a nationwide audit of off-air interception equipment was on, following allegations of the misuse of the devices by various government and private agencies.

Over the last year, the home ministry has sought details from the Army about the deployment of around 35 off-air interceptors and electronic warfare systems with the capability to listen in on phone conversations. The first set of questions was raised earlier this year when around 20 off-air interceptors were imported through defence public sector unit, Bharat Electronics Limited. Recently, the home ministry is believed to have raised questions about another 15 systems. The alleged misuse of off-air interceptors of the Army came to light several months ago when the activities of the TSD, which was created after Gen V K Singh took over as the Army chief in March 2010, came under the scanner. The TSD was created as part of Military Intelligence but was reporting directly to the Army chief.

In August, three months after General Bikram Singh became the chief, the Army decided to shut down TSD after a thorough review of its activities. An inquiry panel headed by Director General (Infantry) Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia is reviewing the activities of the TSD. It is not clear if the two off-air interceptors that are unaccounted for were in the TSD's custody.

Lt Gen Bhatia's panel is also examining the use of intelligence funds by the TSD. The probe is focusing on whether TSD routed money to an NGO in Kashmir that had moved court against Gen Bikram Singh, accusing him of killing an innocent Kashmiri in 2001. The NGO, which has no other known activities, had moved the J&K High Court a few months ago, raising questions over Gen Singh's appointment as the Army chief.

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