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Wednesday, 19 June 2013

From Today's Papers - 19 Jun 2013
Afghans take over security from NATO
Explosion in Kabul a reminder of dangers facing Afghan forces

Kabul, June 18
Afghanistan will send a team to Qatar for peace talks with the Taliban, President Hamid Karzai said on Tuesday, as the US-led NATO coalition launched the final phase of the 12-year war with the last round of security transfers to Afghan forces.

Karzai's announcement was the first possible step forward in the peace process, which has struggled to achieve results despite many attempts, and is likely to be applauded by his Western backers. "Afghanistan's High Peace Council will travel to Qatar to discuss peace talks with the Taliban," Karzai said in Kabul, referring to the council he formed in late 2010.

"We hope that our brothers the Taliban also understand that the process will move to our country soon," Karzai said of the fundamentalist Islamic group that ruled the country with an iron fist from 1996 to 2001. There was no immediate comment from the Afghan Taliban.

Karzai was speaking following a ceremony in which the international coalition marked the beginning of the end of the handover of security to Afghan forces. About 2,000 persons, including NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, dozens of Western ambassadors and senior Afghan and international officials attended.

An explosion in Kabul early on Tuesday that targeted a senior member of the peace council illustrated concerns over how effectively the 352,000-strong Afghan security forces will be able to fight the growing insurgency after most foreign combat troops depart by the end of next year. Mohammad Mohaqiq, a prominent Hazara politician, escaped unscathed from the attack but three persons were killed and 21 wounded, a government official said.

Dubbed "milestone 2013" by NATO, the handover will culminate in the departure of all NATO troops serving in Afghanistan under the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) force at the end of 2014. Afghan security forces have been rapidly built up by the international coalition, from about 40,000 in 2009 to 352,000 in February this year.

The transfer of security responsibility began in July 2011 with a handover by ISAF of the country's most peaceful province, Bamiyan. There have been three further rounds since, taking to 87 per cent by last December the proportion of the Afghan population protected by the Afghan state. Tuesday's tranche comprises restive eastern and southeastern provinces bordering Pakistan. These include Helmand, Kandahar, Paktika, Paktia, Khost, Nangarhar, Kunar, Laghman, Logar and Nuristan.

Fatalities among the Afghan security forces show how soon they have been expected to take the burden of the Afghan war. In one year, the Afghan state has lost more troops than NATO has across the entire war. In reference to the peace talks, Karzai said three principles had been created - that having begun in Qatar, the talks must then immediately be moved to Afghanistan, that they bring about an end to violence and that they must not become a tool for a "third country" to exploit Afghanistan.

Karzai called on the Taliban last month to fight Afghanistan's enemies in what was widely seen as a swipe against Pakistan days after the neighbours' security forces clashed on their joint border. Pakistan, which helped the Taliban take power in Afghanistan in the 1990s and is facing a Taliban insurgency itself, said it would continue to support reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan, though did not mention the Qatar talks in a statement on Tuesday. — Reuters

Dawn of a new era

    Dubbed "milestone 2013" by NATO, the handover will culminate in the departure of all NATO troops serving in Afghanistan under the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) force at the end of 2014
    Afghan security forces have been rapidly built up by the international coalition, from about 40,000 in 2009 to 352,000 in February this year
    The transfer of security responsibility began in July 2011 with a handover by the ISAF of the country's most peaceful province, Bamiyan
    There have been three further rounds since, taking to 87% by last December the proportion of the Afghan population protected by the Afghan forces
    Tuesday's tranche comprises restive eastern and southeastern provinces bordering Pakistan. These include Helmand, Kandahar, Paktika, Paktia, Khost, Nangarhar, Kunar, Laghman, Logar and Nuristan
IAF inducts its first heavylift C-17 Globemaster III
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 18
The first of the 10 US-made Boeing C-17 Globemaster III aircraft landed at the Hindon airbase today.

The aircraft will enhance the operational potential of the IAF with its payload carriage and performance capability. It would also augment the strategic reach during disaster relief and similar missions. The induction of C-17 (ordered for $4.1 billion) is a major milestone in the modernisation of the IAF.

Five C-17 aircraft will be delivered this year, while the remaining five will come in 2014. With the completion of the order, India will become the largest C-17 operator outside the US.

Each plane has a carrying capacity of 74 tonne, which is more than double the capacity of the IAF’s existing heavy-lift aircraft-Soviet-origin IL-76. At present, the IAF has 12 IL-76 aircraft, which are largely used to ferry supplies to Jammu and Kashmir from Chandigarh. The medium-lift requirements are met by the fleet of 100-odd AN-32 planes, purchased from the Soviet Union around 30 years ago.

The new acquisition will play a crucial role in any force projection along the 4,057-km-long frontier with China. The plane can land at small forward airbases on semi-prepared runways, termed as advanced landing grounds (ALGs) in the Indian Defence Ministry’s parlance.

Such ALGs exist in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh. The aircraft can ferry a tank along with a couple of hundred troops. With India looking to add some 10 more of the C-17s to its fleet, its airlift capacity will then be to lift an infantry brigade (around 4,500 men) and land them at different place within hours.

The aircraft can land on unprepared sand runways with a clearance of 3,000 feet even while carrying its full load of 74 tonne. The aircraft’s real use will be for carrying heavy equipment such as tanks or helicopters.

It has an endurance of 4,500 km, hence allowing India to dominate its area of interest from the straits of Malacca in east to the Persian Gulf in west.

“This is an affirmation of the outstanding partnership that Boeing has with the Ministry of Defence and the Indian Air Force,” said Pratyush Kumar, president of Boeing India. The C-17’s arrival comes a month after the on-schedule arrival of the first Boeing P-8I long-range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft for the Indian Navy. Boeing will deliver a total of eight P-8I aircraft, which are based on the company’s Next-Generation 737 commercial airplane, to India. Boeing has now delivered 254 C-17s, including 222 to the US Air Force and 32 to countries such as Australia, Canada, India, Qatar, the UAE and the UK.

Jumbo carrier

    The plane has a carrying capacity of 74 tonne, which is more than double the capacity of the IAF’s existing heavy-lift aircraft, the Soviet-origin IL-76
    The plane can land at small forward airbases on semi-prepared runways and can ferry a tank along with a couple of hundred troops
    After the completion of the order, the IAF will be in a position to airlift an infantry brigade (around 4,500 men) and land them at different place within hours
    Five C-17 aircraft will be delivered this year, while the remaining five will come in 2014
India, U.S. Successfully Test Javeline Weapon System

Raytheon and Lockheed Martin successfully tested the Javelin Weapon System as an anti-tank guided missile, which is part of Indian Army and U.S. Army joint exercise.

Five Javelin missiles fired from the command launch unit achieved five direct-hits. The Javelins were fired by two U.S. Army gunners from the 82nd Airborne Division and three Indian Army gunners.

"In recent years, Indian and U.S. gunners have fired a total of 16 Javelin missiles with 16 direct-hits in multiple Yudh Abhyas joint exercises; the results speak for themselves," said Duane Gooden, president of the Javelin Joint Venture and director of the Raytheon Javelin program.
4,500 British soldiers to be axed
LONDON: Cash-strapped Britain on Tuesday axed nearly 4,500 Army personnel in the third and biggest round of job cuts since the 2010 defence review.

A total of 4,480 have been told to leave as the Cameron government tries to reduce the number of regulars by about 20% to 82,000.

Those who take voluntary redundancy will be leaving within six months, and compulsory redundancies will be completed in a year, the defence ministry announced.

The ministry said that the move was necessary to address the multi billion-pound deficit and bring the defence budget back into balance, but insisted that the operational capability would not be affected.

Announcing the latest tranche of redundancies, the defence secretary Philip Hamond said, "It is with great regret that we have had to make redundancies to deliver the reduction in the size of the armed forces, but unfortunately they were unavoidable due to the size of the defence deficit that this government inherited."

"Although smaller, our armed forces will be more flexible and agile to reflect the challenges of the future with the protection and equipment they need," he added.

He has confirmed there will be no further reductions in manpower in the next round of spending cuts.

"The end of combat operations in Afghanistan and the restructuring of our armed forces means they will be more reflective of the complex global situation and more adaptable to future challenges and threats," said chancellor George Osborne, speaking from the G8 summit in Northern Ireland earlier.

He told Sky News, "We've got to have an Army we can afford And when it comes to the military what we've said is we want to make sure that Britain can still project itself abroad, defend itself at home, and that our soldiers have all the latest equipment they need to do that."

"As part of these changes, yes there have been difficult decisions about getting the size of the Army right, but we're also purchasing for them the latest equipment.

"Both the chief of the defence staff, General David Richards, and the head of the Army, General Peter Wall, are concerned about the impact of further defence cuts.

Wall said that Britain's chances of success on the battlefields of the future could be at serious risk if the Army was downsized in the latest spending review, the results of which will be announced next week.
Nawaz Sharif raises Pak’s defence budget; does India have to worry?
First, here is some news that some may find alarming.

Pakistan has just increased its annual defence outlay in 2013-14 budget by 10 percent — to 627.2 billion Pakistani rupees (PKR) from current year’s 570 billion (revised allocation).

What does it signify for India? Does India have to worry? Can Pakistan launch a military provocation against India like what happened in 1999 during the previous regime of Sharif when Pakistan triggered the Kargil War?

The brief and emphatic answer is: NO. Here are the detailed reasons and a deconstruction of Sharif’s seemingly bold move.
Pakistan cannot afford a war even with Nepal or Bhutan (for argument’s sake), leave alone India. Its actual foreign exchange reserves have fallen to just about four billion dollars which are not enough even for one month’s imports. According to international norms, a nation state should consider itself in the comfort zone only when it has enough foreign exchange reserves for at least three month’s imports.

In contrast, India’s foreign exchange reserves are a healthy $ 292 billion as of 31 May, 2013.

Pakistan is on the precipice of an acute economic crisis and financial experts have been arguing that it should seek a bailout of at least $ 5 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the sooner the better. But then borrowing from the IMF is unlike you and me borrowing a few lakh rupees from a local bank. The IMF lays out a long list of stringent pre-conditions before it releases the first tranche of the agreed bailout amount. Seeking a bailout from the IMF virtually means allowing it to micro-manage your country’s economy.

Nobody knows it better than Pakistan which took the IMF route to overcome its last fiscal crisis in 2008 and borrowed $ 11 billion. The Pakistan People’s Party-led coalition government found it much too hard to continue dancing to the IMF tune and eventually walked out of the bailout programme in 2011. But the important point is that Pakistan still owes $ 5 billion to the IMF.

So if Pakistan seeks another $ 5 billion bailout, it would actually amount to $ 10 billion. That is the quandary before Nawaz Sharif.

And yet, the budget appears intended to appease IMF for earning a bail-out package from it, with total amount of fiscal adjustments, including lowering of subsidies, at 655 billion (2.5 percent of GDP), which is higher than target of 2 percent suggested by IMF in preliminary talks. Total size of federal outlays went up barely by 21 billion (0.6 percent) over last year’s. Deficit is projected at 1.6 trillion (6.3 percent of GDP), lower than last year’s 8.8 percent.

But then why did Sharif raise the defence budget in spite of his country reeling under acute economic crisis marked by high inflation, weak economic growth, grave energy crisis, depleting foreign exchange reserves and opposition from civil society?

Bad economics often makes good politics. Who would know this better than the old fox Sharif? His move should be seen as an insurance policy for his own survival. After all, how would he navigate the ship of his country out of the choppy waters until his own survival is first ensured!

Nawaz Sharif’s clever move, therefore, is aimed at placating the army with whose blessings he can think of completing his term which he has been unable to do in his past two tenures. Wasn’t it the army and the man called General Pervez Musharraf who had ousted him in a bloodless coup on 12 October, 1999 after Pakistan suffered a bloody nose and loss of face internationally in the Kargil War?

Sharif, once bitten twice shy, wants cordial relations with the army. That is why, in a move designed to hide actual defence spending, separate allocations have been made from civil budget for payment of defence pension (132.7 billion) and security related expenses (78 billion – in addition to 72 billion allocated under the same head to police forces).

The military also gets additional 150 billion under contingent liability, 70 billion under Coalition Support Fund (CSF) and 35 billion for UN peace-keeping missions, totaling the actual defence budget to 1,014 billion, amounting to 28 per cent of total budget.

Allocation under all heads of Defence spending has been increased, with operational expenses up from 146 billion to 162 billion and physical assets from 120 billion to 131 billion. (All figures are in Pakistani Rupee.)

Pakistan government expects reimbursement of PKR 112.135 billion from CSF next year. Unpopular measures likely to generate public ire, worth 167 billion, include increase in GST from 16 to 17 percent, additional 5 percent sales tax on unregistered industrial/commercial power/gas consumers on monthly bill of over PKR 15,000, increase in excise duty on soft drinks from 6 to 9 percent, tax of PKR 1/KG on locally produced ghee and cooking oil, PKE 4/KG on imported seeds, adjustable withholding tax on wedding parties at hotels/banquet halls/clubs to be paid by organizers, tax on cash withdrawals from banks, adjustable advance tax of 5 percent on educational fees, increase in vehicle tax, abolition of fiscal relief package to 13 districts of KP, FATA and PATA affected by war on terror, non-increase of salaries of government servants for the first time in years.

The list is long and one can go on.

But to cut a long tale short, the just-installed Nawaz Sharif government is going to face its first test by fire soon. Pakistani government servants under the banner of ‘All Pakistan Federal Employees Union’ have already declared strike on 21 June. They want the government to lower income tax, no tax up to income of Rs.4 lakhs, increase in tax holiday period on industrial investments from 5 to 10 years, reduction of tax on import of hybrid vehicles, with no tax on those up to 1200 cc, etc.

A disturbing feature, however, revealed by the Budget documents reveals that the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) was provided PKR 600 million to accomplish a ‘Special Assignment” on the directive of Pakistan PM. The amount was released to DG, ISI under the head of ‘Supplementary Demands for Grants and Appropriations 2012-13’.

Pakistan’s Defence Budget is rarely discussed in Parliament and ISI’s budget is never documented in the general budget. As such, this is a rare case, although no details are given about the “Special Assignment” carried out by the ISI.

Documents also show expenditure of PKR 300 million on operational requirements of Pakistan IB and PKR 900 million on its employees.

This is the real point of worry for India. Indian security establishment will have to be hundred times more cautious in the coming days. ISI does not waste its money on non-India-centric operations.
Recent border problems with China solved'
Claiming that the recent border problems between India and China have been solved to the satisfaction of both countries during the prime ministerial-level talks, defence minister AK Antony on Tuesday said the remaining disputes could be sorted out during his China visit next month.

He was speaking to media persons after laying the foundation stone of the 1,047-bedded Command Hospital (Research & Referral) of Southern Command in Pune. Chief of Army Staff General Bikram Singh, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GoC-in-C) Southern Command Lt Gen Ashok Singh, Director General of Armed Forces Medical Services Air Marshal DP Joshi and other senior service officers and civilian dignitaries were present.

The defence minister planted a sapling on the construction site. The ground-plus-six storied hospital would be a green building and would be cost Rs382 crore.

Terming China as the country’s closest neighbour, Antony said together India and China are the world’s most populated countries. There is close cooperation in some areas while in a few areas there are complications. Antony said there are cordial relations when it comes to trade, education and culture, but it is not so when it comes to border disputes.

Refusing to comment on the recent border problems, Antony said, “I will not comment anything since it was solved to the satisfaction of both countries and was discussed during the prime ministerial-level talks.” He said he hoped to improve bilateral relations during his China visit.

Replying to a question on increased role of army for peace-keeping, Antony said since the primary role of the Indian Army is to protect national security, too much of peacetime duties are not good and could divert the army’s agenda. However, if citizens are suffering after a calamity, the army would provide full support.

Replying to a question on the army’s role in combating the Naxal menace, he said the government was not for direct operations against the Naxal menace, but the Army can provide training and logistics without direct involvement in operations against Naxals. ‘
Pakistan's 'dirty' wargames: Create disturbance inside Indian Territory to keep the army engaged
New Delhi/ Islamabad: For decades Pakistan has been successful in waging a hidden war against India. The neighbouring country has successfully engaged the Indian forces with its devious tricks of creating disturbances inside the Indian Territory.
Many argue that Pakistan started creating rifts inside India after the creation of Bangladesh in 1971. However, many are not aware of a secret military doctrine envisaged by Pakistan intelligence.
In 1950, Pakistan intelligence proposed an assessment that would keep India on its toes for many decades to come.
It’s said that the intelligence agency in Pakistan believed that keeping India destabilised and its military preoccupied with internal security duties would be one of the way of neutralising the superiority of the Indian army over Pakistan's armed forces.

In the past, Pakistan has been found indulging in sponsoring or morally supporting anti-state activities in India. Be it the rise of separatist forces in Punjab for the creation of Khalistan or the ongoing tensions in the northern state of Kashmir- Pakistan has successfully implemented its policies inside the Indian Territory with the aim of creating an atmosphere of insecurity and mistrust.
On the contrary, Pakistan blames India for creating or trying to create disturbance in Sindh and Baluchistan region. India has overwhelmingly denied these allegations as baseless. Pakistan has accused India of sponsoring the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) to carry out attacks against the Pakistan establishment.
On the other hand, Pakistan's involvement in Kashmir and its sponsoring of militant activities inside the state have been proven time and again. Pakistan has vehemently pursued its practice of infiltrating the region with the purpose of creating unrest in the region.
The nation's intelligence agency, ISI, believed that keeping Indian forces involved in internal matters would be equivalent to "Pakistan having two extra units at no additional cost".
The Director General of ISI Lt. Gen (retd) Hamid Gul said that giving up on this policy would further increase the budget of Pakistan forces.
The policy found further support after the humiliating defeat of Pakistan in the 1971 Bangladesh war.
In fact, defence analysts believe that a successful implementation of the policy has prevented India from emerging as a paramount military power in the region.
The methodology was further strengthened by the 1979 Soviet war in Afghanistan. American intelligence, CIA was successful in creating a group of insurgents known as Mujahideen's to fight against the Soviet forces. The Mujahideen were trained and equipped in the countless ‘madarsas’ inside Pakistan and unleashed on the soviet forces. After the war ended, Pakistan effectively used the same methodology to fulfill its devious agendas inside India.
The fact was resonated by eminent Pakistani columnist, Azhar Abbas in the 1999 edition of the Herald.
He said that keeping the Indian army engaged in internal conflict will prevent it from maintaining the much-needed 3:1 military superiority ratio which is required for an aggressive move.

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