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Thursday, 6 June 2013

From Today's Papers - 06 Jun 2013
ISI reviving militancy in Punjab: Shinde
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 5
Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Wednesday warned of attempts by Pakistan’s ISI to revive militancy in Punjab and other parts of the country. This is the second time in nine months that the Centre has cautioned against revival of terrorism in Punjab.

On September 6 last year, then Intelligence Bureau chief Nehchal Singh Sandhu had warned that terror groups focusing on Punjab and neighbouring states posed a challenge. Sandhu, then speaking at the inauguration of Directors General and Inspectors General of Police conference, had said: “Given the sort of external support they receive, terrorist groups -- including those focusing on Punjab and neighbouring states -- are likely to pose a challenge.”

Shinde, in his opening remarks at the Chief Ministers’ conference, was more candid in apportioning blame on Pakistan. “There have been some significant developments on the militancy front. Its commanders based in Pakistan are under pressure from the ISI to further the spy agency’s terror plans not only in Punjab, but also in other parts of the country,” the Home Minister said.

“Sikh youth are being trained at ISI facilities in Pakistan. Interdictions and interrogations have revealed use of jailed cadres, unemployed youth, criminals and smugglers by Pakistan-based Sikh terror groups for facilitating terror attacks,” Shinde said, adding that Sikh youth based and settled in Europe and the US were also being motivated to join in.

Shinde went on to say that a large quantity of arms, ammunition and explosives, including RDX, managed to find its way into Punjab through the borders, even as a significant quantity of RDX has since been recovered in police action in Rajasthan and Punjab in the last one year.

India’s porous border with Bangladesh and Nepal has been used by Pakistan-based jihadi groups to ex-filtrate terrorists out of India for training in Pakistan and induction of terrorist elements and money into India for actions.

Jihadis in Pakistan affiliated to Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad and Indian Mujahideen have set up channels for transfer of funds from Pakistan to India via the Gulf and Nepal, besides using Western Union Money Transfer and ‘hawala’ channels.

What Minister said

    Militants based in Pakistan under pressure from the ISI to further the spy agency’s terror plans in Punjab and other parts of the country
    Sikh youth being trained at ISI facilities in Pakistan
Antony in Australia; holds talks to bolster defence ties

Canberra/New Delhi, June 5
Defence Minister AK Antony, who is on a visit to Australia, met his Australian counterpart Stephen Smith over two days to discuss shared strategic and security interests, including maritime security and bilateral defence cooperation.

Both ministers issued a joint statement Wednesday after talks in Perth and in Canberra. Antony's visit is the first ever official visit by an Indian Defence Minister to Australia.

Speaking at a reception hosted in his honour at Perth, Antony said the defence cooperation between India and Australia has increased substantially in the last few years. He said: “India values its strategic partnership with Australia and we are committed to further strengthen our bilateral relations in various areas including defence.”

Referring to the Indian Ocean Region, Antony said: “It is critical to our maritime interests. India's economic development is dependent on maritime trade. The security of shipping along with sea lanes is of vital interest to us.”

According to a statement, Antony and Smith exchanged ideas concerning regional and international security as well as defence cooperation and exchanges between Australia and India. Both sides agreed to continue to contribute to the peace, stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region and to promote cooperation in the Indian Ocean region, according to the joint statement.

Both took note of the progress made in defence cooperation, in accordance with the MoU on defence cooperation inked in 2006, the joint declaration on security cooperation issued in 2009 and the joint statement issued during Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard's visit to India in 2012, the joint statement said.

The ministers “took note of the growing cooperation between the navies of both countries”. Antony accepted Smith's invitation for the participation of Indian naval ships in the International Fleet Review to be held in Sydney in October this year.

Both sides acknowledged that maritime security and freedom of navigation in accordance with principles of international law is critical for the growth and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean regions. — IANS

Maiden visit

    Defence Minister AK Antony and his Australian counterpart Stephen Smith exchanged ideas concerning regional and international security as well as defence cooperation and exchanges between the nations
    The sides agreed to continue to contribute to the peace, stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region and to promote cooperation in the Indian Ocean region
    Antony's visit is the first ever official visit by an Indian Defence Minister to Australia
If no NCTC, nation will pay a price: PC
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 5
Breaking his silence on the political bickering over the setting up of the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), Finance Minister P Chidambaram today said the country would have to “pay a price” if the anti-terror body was not put in place.

Chidambaram was the Home Minister when the idea of NCTC was first conceived. After the conclusion of the Chief Ministers’ Conference on Internal Security, he took on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for criticising the NCTC by terming it as a “poorly conceived idea”.

The former Home Minister said: “I am afraid the kind of seriousness that we should give to the NCTC is lost. I deeply regret that a couple of chief ministers opposed the NCTC even in its currently modified version. If this is opposed, I am afraid, as I said, the country will pay the price from time to time.”

Commenting on Modi’s statement that the country lacks a strong anti-terror law, Chidambaram said the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) has adequate provisions to deal with terror cases, what the country needed was instruments like NCTC to implement the law.

“Today, the Chief Minister of Gujarat is praising MAC (multi-agency centre). MAC was operationalised by me after I took over in December 2008. That is one instrument. The NIA is the second instrument. The third, and I maintain, the most important instrument, is the NCTC,” he said.

On Modi, he said, “Actually, he wants to bring back TADA and POTA. Why did he not say... that I want POTA back. The Congress is opposed to POTA, the UPA is opposed to POTA.”

Modi had said that the proposed structure of the NCTC was not in congruence with the principles of federalism as it essentially tried to create a “federal police” which was an alien concept to the country.

Chidambaram also objected to Modi’s criticism of the Chief Ministers’ Conference on Internal Security as being a “ritual”, saying it was unfair to say so as most of the CMs took the meeting seriously.
Remove AFSPA in phases, says Omar
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 5
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today again demanded a phased removal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from his state and questioned why it was necessary to have such laws in his state when no such laws were being imposed on Naxals.

Omar Abdullah said, “If no AFSPA-like laws are required in Naxal-affected areas where heinous crimes are being committed, what is the necessity of having such laws in force in Jammu and Kashmir that has become by and large peaceful?”

Addressing the Chief Ministers’ Conference on Internal Security here today, Omar Abdullah made a strong case for setting in motion a mechanism which can guide a phased removal of AFSPA from J&K. “We cannot wait for the last gun to fall silent before moving ahead positively on this important issue,” the CM said.

Omar’s argument that there was peace in Kashmir was backed by Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde.

Shinde, in his opening remarks, said, “Jammu and Kashmir particularly has shown marked improvement since 2010.”

To back his argument, Omar Abdullah said: “There are many districts which have not witnessed militancy related incidents for quite some time. This gives the confidence to re-visit the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) which was enacted to counter the menace of militancy.”

“AFSPA can be removed in phases from areas which have been free from militancy for quite some time,” he suggested.

Working groups constituted by the Prime Minister have also recommended revocation of AFSPA, so have the interlocutors in their report, said the Chief Minister.

He reminded the audience that he has been continuously pitching for partial and gradual revocation of AFSPA and has had meetings with the Prime Minister, Home Minister and at various Unified Command Headquarters meetings and other fora.

“If someone feels that I should write a DO (demi-official letter) to the concerned authorities in this regard, I will definitely do the same,” he added.

There is also a need to resume talks with the neighbouring country (Pakistan) and further add to the list of confidence-building measures, he said.
India, Singapore ink Army training deal

In a significant move towards cementing bilateral defence ties with Singapore, India has agreed to extend military training facilities to its Southeast Asian neighbour for five years beginning August this year.

The two countries signed a joint agreement to this effect at a meeting held by Defence Minister A K Antony, who was on a daylong visit to Singapore, with his counterpart Ng Eng Hen.

Indian Defence Secretary Radha Krishna Mathur and Singaporean Permanent Secretary of Defence Chiang Chie Foo inked the deal in the presence of the two defence ministers, said Ministry of Defence officials, from Singapore.

Singapore had signed similar agreement with India in October 2007 when its air force required the Indian Air Force facilities at Kalaikunda air base in West Bengal for training and air exercise purposes. The deal was followed by an August 2008 agreement that allowed Singaporean Army to train at Indian facilities, particularly those at Babina in central India.

The agreement for training and exercises of Singapore Air Force in India was extended until October 2017 during the visit of Singapore’s Permanent Secretary of Defence to India in July last year.

Singapore is the only country to which India is offering such facilities. Defence Minister A K Antony, who is now on a three-nation tour,  arrived in Singapore on Monday evening.The two sides held wide-ranging talks on defence cooperation.

They also exchanged views on global and regional security issues including Asia-Pacific security.From Singapore, Antony left for Australia.
Why China's growing military should concern India
India has several reasons to be wary of, and counter, China's military build-up

China's latest white paper on defence, a once-in-two-year exercise, was issued on April 16. It clearly underscores the importance of the People's Liberation Army and its pivotal role in the economic development and growth of China. Its military rise is of concern for India, given its proximity to Pakistan, from where India has faced continuous threats of terrorism and military misadventures. The strategic relationship with Pakistan is evident from the number of joint exercises and training carried out in 2011-12 and economic investments.

The white paper emphasises China's peaceful rise and its intent to "never seek hegemony... But we will surely counterattack if attacked". China now sees itself as a world power that has arrived and it will likely intrude, even if it is not attacked, based on perceived threat or slight. The report says, "China's security and development are closely connected with the peace and prosperity of the world as a whole." This seems at times to be at odds with its sense of insecurity and the challenges that the report highlights in order to justify its massive military build-up.

The paper says: "It is a strategic task… to build a strong national defense and powerful armed forces which are commensurate with China's international standing and meet the need of its security and development interests." China intends to be a predominant military power in the region, apart from an economic power, which it already is, and will not hesitate to use its armed forces to protect its development interests.

In doing the latter, China is following the footsteps of the United States, which has often used its military ostensibly to promote democracy or to remove dictators; but, more often than not, it has been to protect its strategic economic interests. China will be no different, and won’t have pretensions of protecting democracy.

The report says, "Security risks to China's overseas interests are on the increase." China's engagements in countries like Sudan, Libya, Pakistan and Myanmar, and the Indian Ocean, have increased the risks its overseas assets face, and are driven by economic interests in mineral and natural resources and trade routes. Earlier this year, Pakistan transferred the operational control of the strategically located Gwadar port to China.

It is clear that China's military spend will continue to rise as it develops its strategic capabilities and firepower, both in terms of conventional warfare and information technology for cyber-espionage and cyber-warfare. Its perceived fears are of US hegemony in Asia, and threats to its territorial integrity, particularly from Taiwan and Japan. India has reasons to be concerned given the contentious border issue.

The white papers of 2010 and 2012, (this author has not read the previous papers) make it clear that China's political and military leadership are well integrated, although the 2012 paper does not mention the Chinese Communist Party (the 2010 paper established the Party's supremacy in the command structure).

In contrast, India lacks a strategic direction. Its military might has not been used to further its economic interests, and there is no evidence of such thinking among the political class. In fact, there have been signs of growing tension between the military leadership and the political class, particularly during the tenure of VK Singh as the army chief, and, more recently, the controversial non-defence helicopter deal involving former Air Force chief SP Tyagi.

A Domestic Defence Industry
Asia has become one of the largest defence markets in the world. India has the second largest number of active military personnel after China, a defence budget of nearly $50 billion, and is the world's largest importer of defence equipment. For any large military equipment manufacturer and exporter, India is an important market and will remain so.

The process of procuring military equipment, however, has been a very long one, and often mired in controversies. Allegations of corruption have often stalled decision making and harmed the strategic interests of India as reputed global vendors have been blacklisted. India has also failed to develop a domestic supply base and Russia has remained its primary source of defence supplies. Although defence procurement is being opened up for the private sector, it is painfully slow. This, while China’s dependence on foreign sources has reduced.

The Economist says, "The defence industrial sector, dominated by the sprawling Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), remains stuck in state control and the country's protectionist past. According to a recent defence-ministry audit, only 29 percent of the products developed by the DRDO in the past 17 years have entered service with the armed forces. The organisation is a byword for late-arriving and expensive flops"
Antony 'looks east', working bilateral relations around China
In Canberra today, on the second leg of his three-nation tour to Singapore, Australia and Thailand, Defence Minister A K Antony and his Australian counterpart, Stephen Smith, broadly agreed to enhance defence relations between their countries.

In considering Australia's increasingly fervent requests for a closer defence relationship, Antony walked a fine balance. On the one hand there is growing expectation across the Asia-Pacific for India to play the balancer in a region that worries deeply about a rising China. On the other hand, New Delhi is reluctant to be an instrument for containing China.

The joint statement from Canberra today is coloured more by Antony's native caution than by Australia's new ardour. He agreed to send Indian Navy warships to the International Fleet Review at Sydney in October. Existing mechanisms of engagement like defence ministers' meetings, policy dialogues and officer exchanges would all continue. But Canberra's key request for bilateral military exercises was conceded only half-heartedly.

The joint statement said that the two sides would "work towards a bilateral maritime exercise in 2015."

Senior Australian diplomats had told Business Standard before the visit that Canberra wanted a "framework developed for more bilateral maritime exercises." Australia had also asked for a bilateral air force exercise, pointing out that the two air forces flew common aircraft - notably C-130J Super Hercules and the C-17 Globemaster III - and that this would benefit interoperability.

New Delhi's lack of enthusiasm for bilateral military exercises with Australia stems only partly from the fact that India's military is already overburdened with bilateral exercises with a host of countries. Consequently, New Delhi favour multilateral exercises in which relationships with several countries can be serviced in a single training exercise.

Multilateral exercises have a mixed history in the India-Australia context. In 2007, the US, India, Japan and Australia proposed a "quadrilateral exercise" involving the Asia-Pacific democracies. Australia's prime minister at that time, Kevin Rudd, backed off for fear of offending China.

That tentativeness towards China; Canberra's decision (now overturned) to deny India uranium for nuclear power generation; and negative perceptions in India stemming from apparently racist attacks against Indian students in Australia, served to reinforce a poisoned Cold War legacy. Australian academic, Michael Wesley described the earlier relationship: Australians viewed India as "the incarnation of Asia's impoverished teeming millions, poised one day to invade Australia's rich territory. For Indians, Australia epitomised the rich, white minority who controlled the world."

Today, Prime Minister Julia Gillard's Labor Party government operates under clearer premises. Australia's National Security Strategy of 2013 cites "The Australia-United States Alliance" as one of its pillars. India looms large as a partner. Australia's 2013 Defence White Paper notes that, "a new Indo-Pacific strategic arc is beginning to emerge, connecting the Indian and Pacific Oceans through Southeast Asia… India is emerging as an important strategic, diplomatic and economic actor, 'looking East' and becoming more engaged in regional frameworks."

Antony's measured approach to Australia contrasted with a warmer visit to Singapore yesterday. An agreement signed there allows the Singapore Army to train in India until 2018. Last year, the two countries signed an agreement allowing the Singapore Air Force to train in India till 2017. Singapore is the only country to which India offers such facilities, and with good reason. Joint exercises with the Singapore Air Force's F-16 fighters acquaint IAF pilots with the strengths and weaknesses of Pakistan's premier fighter. After Australia, Antony will visit Thailand, another potentially vital southeast Asian country that the Indian prime minister visited just a week ago. Before that, the prime minister made a high profile, three-day visit to Japan that India's foreign secretary termed "extremely successful."

This sequential bilateral diplomacy with China's neighbours is accompanied by a careful effort not to bait China in multilateral forums. Antony pointedly avoided attending the Shangri La Dialogue in Singapore that was held from May 31 to June 2, a forum at which China is frequently in the dock. According to South Block mandarins, China is best engaged one-to-one, rather than multilaterally.
India, Australia raise the pitch on maritime cooperation
India and Australia have agreed to hold a joint Naval exercise in 2015 to raise their defence cooperation initiatives to a higher level and strengthen their strategic partnership.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony, who is on a two-day visit to Australia, met his Australian counterpart Stephen Smith in Perth on Tuesday. They travelled together to Canberra on Wednesday to discuss shared strategic and security interests, including maritime security and bilateral defence cooperation.

A joint statement issued at the conclusion of Mr. Antony’s visit, the first by an Indian Defence Minister, stressed that both countries had agreed to continue Naval exchanges to build confidence and familiarity between the two Navies and work towards a bilateral maritime exercise in 2015. India and Australia had participated together in multilateral maritime exercises in Malabar in 2007 and in Milan in 2012.

Both sides acknowledged that maritime security and freedom of navigation in accordance with principles of international law were critical for the growth and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean regions.

Taking note of the growing cooperation between the two Navies, Mr. Antony accepted Mr. Smith’s invitation for Indian naval ships’ participation in the prestigious International Fleet Review (IFR) to be held in Sydney this October. The Indian Navy will get an opportunity to showcase its growing military capability at the IFR, where when mighty navies are expected to line up about 40 top-end warships. The Indian Navy’s participation is being seen as part of a big strategy unfolding in the Indian Ocean region to contain the ever-growing presence of China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy.

The Ministers took note of the progress made in defence cooperation in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding on Defence Cooperation concluded in 2006, the Joint Declaration on Security Cooperation issued during the former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s visit to India in 2009 and the Joint Statement issued during the visit of Prime Minister Julia Gillard in 2012.

“They [the Defence Ministers] agreed that interactions held between the defence establishments of both sides in a variety of fields and at various levels have been mutually beneficial. Both sides were pleased with the bilateral architecture established for pursuing defence cooperation and agreed that consultations had helped deepen mutual trust and understanding between the defence establishments,” the joint statement said.

They agreed to continue consultations and cooperation on issues concerning the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean regions bilaterally as well as multilaterally, including through the East Asia Summit, the Asean Regional Forum, the Asean Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus, Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) and the Indian Ocean Rim — Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC).

The Ministers noted that both countries were already cooperating through the IONS — which Australia will chair next year before hosting the IONS Conclave of Chiefs in Perth in March 2014 — and the IOR-ARC, of which India is the current chair and Australia the next chair.

The Ministers also agreed to maintain regular ministerial meetings; promote exchanges between the defence establishments and both the Armed Forces, including regularly holding the Defence Policy Dialogue, Armed Forces Staff Talks and professional military exchanges; and to promote the sharing and exchange of professional knowledge and experiences through participation in training courses in each other’s military training institutions. Mr. Antony invited Mr. Smith to visit India.
Defence chiefs warn of instability in Asia
Unprecedented economic growth in Asia has spurred military modernization in most of the region’s countries where they are competing to boost their army, navy and air force capabilities.
This has led to a warning by defence chiefs that Asian countries must guard against destabilising the region.
Asian governments, boosted by stronger economic growth and worried by regional tensions, have been beefing up their armed forces and there are fears the build-ups could be dangerous in the long run if not managed well, the chiefs told an international security conference last weekend.
“There are indeed inherent perceptional sensitivities in military build-ups that could create miscalculations, misjudgements, and mistrust,” Indonesian Defence Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro told the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual forum in Singapore.
“In order to avoid military modernisation becoming destabilising, there is a need for greater strategic transparency.”
Asia overtook European members of Nato in terms of nominal military spending for the first time last year, according to a report by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) released in March.
In the annual report on the world’s militaries, the IISS – which organises the Shangri-La Dialogue – said China’s defence spending in real terms rose 8.3 per cent between 2011 and 2012, while in Asia as a whole, spending rose 4.94 per cent last year.
Globally, China now ranks second behind the United States in total military spending, although the Pentagon’s annual budget of $600 billion still dwarfs Beijing’s arms expenditure.
Philip Hammond, Britain’s secretary of state for defence, said rising defence spending in Asia was “worrying” as it was taking place against the backdrop of growing tensions over territorial disputes and competition for resources.
“(It) has the potential to escalate and become at best a prolonged source for instability and at worst, a driver for conflict,” he said.
On May 9, a Philippine coast guard ship fired on a Taiwanese fishing vessel along their sea border, killing a fisherman. Taipei reacted angrily and held naval exercises near the Philippines in a show of force against its bigger but poorly equipped neighbour.
China is locked in a territorial dispute with four Southeast Asian countries in the South China Sea, and with Japan over the Senkaku islands, which Beijing calls the Diaoyus, in the East China Sea.
And on the Korean Peninsula, tensions remain high between US-backed South Korea and the nuclear-armed North.
Latest statistics released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute showed China’s estimated defence spending nearly quadrupled from $37 billion in 2000 to $166 billion in 2012.
India’s defence spending has grown 67 per cent since 2000, reaching $46.1 billion in 2012, it said.
South Korea’s defence investments swelled from $20 to $31.6 billion while Japan maintained its defence budget throughout the period at $60 billion.
But Tokyo in January announced that it would increase military spending this year for the first time in over a decade by over $1.15 billion under a ruling party plan.
Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera, who also spoke at the Singapore defence conference, justified the country’s increased spending.
“We believe it is essential to build-up a defence posture that will contribute to the enhancement of regional peace and stability,” he said.
Analyst Conn Hallinan writing in said last year India was the world’s leading arms purchaser, including a deal that will spend $20 billion dollars on high performance French fighter planes. India is also developing a long-range ballistic missile capable of carrying  multiple nuclear warheads, and buying submarines and surface craft. Its military budget is set to rise 17 percent this year to $42 billion.
“It is ridiculous. We are getting into a useless arms race at the expense of fulfilling the needs of poor people,” Praful Bidwai of the Coalition of Nuclear Disarmament and Peace told the New York Times.
China, too, is in the middle of an arms boom that includes beefing up its navy, constructing a new generation of stealth aircraft, and developing a ballistic missile that is potentially capable of neutralizing U.S. carriers near its coast. Beijing’s arms budget has grown at a rate of some 12 percent a year and, at $106.41 billion, is now the second largest on the planet. The U.S. budget-not counting the various wars Washington is embroiled in-runs a little over $800 billion, although some have estimated that it is over $1 trillion.
Tensions between China and other nations in the region have set off a local arms race. Taiwan is buying four U.S.-made Perry-class guided missile frigates, and Japan has shifted much of its military from its northern islands to face southward toward China.
The Philippines is spending almost $1 billion on new aircraft and radar, and recently held joint war games with the U.S.  South Korea has just successfully tested a long-range cruise missile. Washington is reviving ties with Indonesia’s brutal military because the island nation controls the strategic seaways through which pass most of the region’s trade and energy supplies.
Australia is also re-orientating its defense to face China, and Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith has urged “that India play the role it could and should as an emerging great power in the security and stability of the region.”
But that “role” is by no means clear, and some have read Smith’s statement as an attempt to rope New Delhi into a united front against Beijing. The recent test of India’s Agni V nuclear-capable ballistic missile is largely seen as directed at China.
India and China fought a brief but nasty border war in 1962, and India claims China is currently occupying some 15,000 square miles in Indian Territory. The Chinese, in turn, claim almost 40,000 square miles of the Indian state of Arunachai Pradesh. While Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh says that “overall our relations [with China] are quite good,” he also admits “the border problem is a long-standing problem.”
China’s forceful stance in the South China Sea has stirred up tensions with Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei, and Malaysia as well. A standoff this past April between a Philippine war ship and several Chinese surveillance ships at Scarborough Shoal is still on a low simmer.

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