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Saturday, 30 August 2014

From Today's Papers - 30 Aug 2014

Pak made spectacle of talks by meeting Hurriyat: Modi
Says any meaningful dialogue requires a terror-free environment
KV Prasad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 29
For the first time after India called off official-level talks with Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said New Delhi was disappointed that Islamabad sought to make a "spectacle" of the efforts it made to take the relationship forward by holding talks with the Hurriyat.

Ten days after India told Pakistan that the scheduled August 25 Foreign Secretary-level talks were off, the Prime Minister made public his thoughts during an interaction with the Japanese media on the eve of his five-day tour of the country.

Modi said that India desires peaceful, friendly and cooperative ties with Pakistan and recalled the "very good meeting" with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif when he attended the swearing-in ceremony of his government this May.

"We together decided that the Foreign Secretaries should meet and explore how to take the relations forward. India has no hesitation in discussing any outstanding issues with Pakistan within the bilateral framework that has been established under the Simla Agreement and the Lahore Declaration.

"We, therefore, were disappointed that Pakistan sought to make a spectacle of these efforts and went ahead with talks with secessionist elements from Jammu and Kashmir in New Delhi just prior to the meeting of the Foreign Secretaries," the Prime Minister said in response to a question on how he plans to improve the deteriorated relations.

Modi said while New Delhi would continue to make efforts, any meaningful bilateral dialogue necessarily requires an environment that is free from terrorism and violence. While the interaction covered both bilateral and international issues, it was for the first time that Prime Minister Modi chose to articulate his foreign policy.

He denied the government was currently taking any initiative to review the nuclear doctrine adopted during the NDA regime which specifies "no-first use". The response was to a question about the BJP manifesto that promised to revise and update the document to make it relevant to current times.

The nuclear policy continues to be a sensitive issue in Japan and Prime Minister Modi made it clear that India's position on the Non-Proliferation Treaty and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is well-known. "India remains strongly committed to universal, non-discriminatory, global nuclear disarmament. Our track record of non-proliferation is impeccable... As to the CTBT, we are committed to maintaining a unilateral and voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive testing."

The assertion assumes significance as India has made quite a progress in talks with Japan for a civil nuclear agreement and New Delhi hopes to convert it into a much-sought-after accord with Tokyo that Modi could return home with.

In addition, there is emphasis on scaling up defence and strategic ties with Japan as also accent on infrastructure, including the bullet train.

Modi himself alluded to these stating: "There has been significant progress in our negotiations on the civil nuclear agreement; on the US-2 amphibian aircraft; and in the field of high-speed railway. It is my hope that my visit this time will pave the way for concrete cooperation in these fields."

Modi avoided expressing views to a question on China's "expansionism" instead suggesting that while New Delhi was working to realise the full potential of its strategic and cooperative partnership with Beijing -- as major countries in the continent -- India, China and Japan need to work together, build on common interests and convert the 21st century into an Asian century.

Not reviewing ‘no-first use’ N-doctrine: PM

    Modi, who was speaking to the Japanese media ahead of his Tokyo tour, denied the government was taking any initiative to review the nuclear doctrine adopted during the NDA regime which specifies "no-first use".
    “We remain strongly committed to universal, non-discriminatory, global nuclear disarmament,” he said, adding India’s track record of non-proliferation was impeccable
    On CTBT, Modi said India was committed to maintaining a unilateral and voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive testing
US copters for Mountain Strike Corps
MoD scraps tender for purchase of light copters, likely to be made within country
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 29
The government has decided to purchase two separate types of US-produced specialised helicopters, one used in attack role and the other for lifting heavy load.

Currently, the Indian Air Force has been using Russian/Soviet produced helicopters in both the roles. The move indicates a shift in New Delhi preferences for buying military equipment.

Clearance for the $ 2.5 billion (approx Rs 15,000 crore) purchase for these helicopters was accorded at a meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), the apex decision-making body of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) today. It also cleared proposals worth Rs 17,000 crore.

The meeting chaired by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley accepted the proposals of US company Boeing that will supply these copters — 15 heavy lift CH47F Chinook and 22 AH-64-D Apache — meant for the newly created Mountain Strike Corps.

The 22 Apache Longbow gunships, armed with Hellfire and Stinger missiles, will be worth US $ 1.4 billion.

The 15 Chinooks, equipped with powerful contra-rotating tandem rotors, will be for $ 1.1 billion. The US copters won the bid in an open competition beating the Russian-built Mi-26 and the Mi-28-H. Moscow, in the past, had protested the choice and said that US copters were no match to theirs, claiming that the US itself was buying Russian copters for forces in Afghanistan.

Notably, the DAC decided to scrap the tender to procure 197 helicopters for the Indian Army and the IAF. The European Airbus helicopters and the Russian Kamov were in the race for the 197 copter bid pending since 2010.

This throws up three options: First that the MoD-owned public sector undertaking Hindustan Aeronautics Limited ties up with a foreign collaborator. Second, private companies like Tatas, Reliance or Mahindra tie up with foreign partners. Third, the Indian Government could accept US offer made by its Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel to co-produce the copter.

The light helicopter is used by the Indian Army and the IAF in the mountains.

Boeing to supply 37 choppers

    Defence Acquisition Council cleared proposals worth Rs 17,000 crore
    The meeting chaired by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley accepted the proposals of US company
    Boeing will supply these copters
    India will get 15 heavy lift CH47F Chinook and 22 AH-64-D Apache meant for the newly created Mountain Strike Corps
India Cancels $1 Billion Light Helicopter Tender
NEW DELHI — India has canceled the purchase of 197 Light Utility Helicopters (LUH) worth $1 billion in which Airbus Helicopter’s AS550 was competing with Russia’s Ka-226T built by Kamov. The cancellation followed lengthy corruption investigations.

Cancellation of the LUH helicopter program, which was a re-tender from an earlier cancellation, would hamper Indian Army logistics operations in the Himalayas above 20,000 feet. The Army has been waiting eight years for new helicopters to replace aging Cheetah and Chetak platforms, said an Army official.

The Cheetah and Chetak helicopters, made by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. under license, are 40 years old and being flown beyond their age limitations, the Army official added.

The decision to cancel the LUH tender was made Friday by the Defense Acquisition Council, which is headed by the defense minister and is the highest Defence Ministry agency that makes decisions on weapon purchases.

“The move to cancel the LUH tender even at the cost of defense preparedness by the new government is contrary to expectations,” said defense analyst Nitin Mehta.

Last week, the Defence Ministry officially announced the imposition of a partial ban on purchases of weapons from Italy’s Finmeccanica and its subsidiaries in the wake of investigations by India’s anti-fraud agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), into alleged corruption charges regarding the purchase of 12 VVIP helicopters by the Indian Navy in 2010 from AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica subsidiary.

An MoD source said cancellation of the LUH tender comes after allegations of corruption against an Indian Army brigadier general, which surfaced last year during investigations into the VVIP helicopter program. The official allegedly promised to swing the LUH deal in favor of AgustaWestland. AgustaWestland, however, was eliminated at the technical evaluation stage in 2010.

The MoD source added that the CBI has leveled charges against the unnamed Indian Army brigadier general for his alleged involvement in manipulating the trial report of the LUH procurement.

The recent LUH tender was canceled after an earlier tender for LUH had already been canceled. In 2007, Eurocopter, with its Fennec helicopter, was on the verge of being declared the winner when US-based Bell Helicopter complained to the Defence Ministry about a lack of transparency in the procurement. The tender was canceled in 2008 and reissued in 2009.
Centre scraps light utility helicopter tender, opens it to Indian players
The government on Friday scrapped a tender worth Rs 6,000 crore to procure 197 light utility helicopters from foreign vendors for the armed forces and decided to allow domestic players to manufacture these helicopters.

Scrapping the tender, the Defence Acquisition Council chaired by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley put the acquisition under the “Buy and Make Indian” category, allowing the Indian industry to make the helicopters under a joint venture with a foreign manufacturer.

This is the second defence tender under the new government to be opened to the Indian industry. Last month, the government had opened the process to develop 56 transport aircraft to the domestic private sector.

The scrapping of the tender is significant as former defence minister A K Antony had deferred a decision on it following the VVIP helicopters scam. Investigations into the scam had also revealed alleged kickbacks in the light utility helicopters procurement process.

In January, the Central Bureau of Investigation had registered a case against a Brigadier working with Army Aviation Corps for allegedly fudging trial flight records of these helicopters.

While this decision is likely to spell bad news for two foreign vendors — one European and one Russian — who were in the race to equip the Indian forces with 197 light utility helicopters to replace their aging Cheetah and Chetak helicopters, sources in the Defence Ministry said it is likely to bring in business worth Rs 40,000 crore for the Indian industry.

“The DAC retracted the Request for Proposal for the procurement of 197 LUH and decided that it would be under Buy and Make Indian category. It confirms the policy of the Indian government to encourage Indian industry,” an MoD official said.

While clearing proposals worth Rs 20,000 crore in one go, the Defence Acquisition Council also cleared decks for the procurement of 22 Chinook heavy lift helicopters and 15 Apache attack helicopters for the IAF by approving the offset proposals of the US manufacturer. Jaitley also cleared the proposals for Navy, which include equipping 11 of its ships — four destroyers and seven frigates — with anti-submarine warfare suit at Rs 1,770 crore and a mid-life upgrade for six of its submarines at Rs 4,800 crore.

It also accorded extension of the Acceptance of Necessity for the indigenous MBT Arjun Mk-II tank, clearing the Rs 6,600 crore purchase for the Army, a mobile cellular communication system for 3, 4 and 14 Corps at Rs 900 crore and 40 self-propelled guns on the MBT Arjun chassis — provided all of them successfully completes the validation trials.
Pakistan 'soft coup' fears as army chief holds talks with protest leaders

Pakistan's army chief took centre stage in a national political crisis on Thursday night by holding talks with two protest leaders who have been agitating on the streets of Islamabad for the overthrow of the elected government for the last two weeks.

Politician and former cricketer Imran Khan and a Muslim cleric, Tahir-ul-Qadri, left their protest camps outside parliament for back-to-back audiences with Raheel Sharif, the general in charge of Pakistan's 500,000-strong army.

Officials said the general had agreed to mediate in a bitter stand-off between the government, Khan and Qadri – who have brought thousands of their followers to Islamabad.

The development was widely seen as a decisive re-assertion of power by an institution that has directly or indirectly ruled Pakistan for most of its history.

It was fiercely criticised by politicians and commentators as a major setback for the country and even described by some as a "soft coup" by the army. One key ally of Khan, a veteran politician called Javed Hashmi, said the army's involvement was a "shameful time for all politicians".

On Friday prime minister Nawaz Sharif, attempted to distance himself from the matter, telling MPs he had not requested the army chief's help.

"The army did not ask to play the role of mediator, neither have we requested them to play such a role," he told the National Assembly. Ayesha Siddiqa, an expert on Pakistan's military, said Sharif would now only be able to serve out the rest of his term as a "ceremonial prime minister".

"Any gains made in the last eight years to strengthen democracy have been rolled back," she said.

Sharif, a politician who lost power during the 1999 military takeover, was elected last year determined to curb the power of the army.

He enraged the military establishment by ordering the trial of former dictator Pervez Musharraf for treason, pushing for deeper trade ties with arch-enemy India and siding with the country's biggest television station after it accused the army of trying to kill one of its journalists.

On Thursday a senior aide to the prime minister said the army had agreed to help the prime minister defuse the crisis on the condition he left key areas of national affairs to the army, principally foreign and defence policy towards Afghanistan and India.

The aide said among the specific army demands was that Sharif should not call for investigations into firing by Pakistani troops across contested areas of the border with India, of which there has been an upsurge in recent weeks.

The prime minister's reliance on the army chief for survival was underlined by the regular meetings he has had with Sharif in recent days to discuss the crisis.

Some government officials believe the army deliberately encouraged Khan and Qadri to launch their protests to create the circumstances that would allow the army to intervene.

Khan, who has a fondness for cricket metaphors, has frequently hinted during the two-week political drama that a "third umpire" would at some point "raise his finger" and send the prime minister packing.

But it remains unlikely the army will support Khan's demand for the prime minister to be sacked.

Any unconstitutional move would risk billions of dollars of much needed US assistance. Sharif also enjoys solid support in parliament and the quiet endorsement of the US, which rejects Khan's claims that Sharif stole last year's election through industrial-scale rigging.

In the early hours of Friday morning, after his meeting with Sharif at Army House in the neighbouring city of Rawalpindi, Khan returned to his supporters to insist he would not drop his demand for the prime minister to step down.

"Our sit-in will not be called off until prime minister Sharif resigns," he told what remained of the crowd that gathers each night amid a carnival-like atmosphere to hear music and speeches.

Khan has watered down his demands somewhat, and now calls for Sharif to temporarily step down as prime minister whilst a judicial inquiry investigates claims of electoral fraud.

Qadri, a Barelvi cleric who spends most of his time in Canada, has also narrowed his focus. Although he wants to sweep away Pakistan's democratic system, which he says is irremediably corrupt, in recent days his demands have centred on a murder inquiry into the killing of his supporters in June.

At least 10 people died during clashes in Lahore after police attempted to remove security barriers near Qadri's office.

On Thursday, in an apparent bid to appease Qadri, the prime minister's office said a murder case had been registered against senior government officials including Sharif.

The inquiry may ultimately force Sharif's younger brother Shahbaz to resign from his powerful position as chief minister of Punjab province.
Make in India kicks off with defence deals
Taking a cue from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day “Make in India” mantra, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by defence minister Arun Jaitley on Friday scrapped the tender for 197 light utility helicopters (LUH) for the Indian Air Force and the aviation arm of the Indian Army. Instead, it opened it under the “Buy and Make Indian” category, opening it for the Indian defence industry.

This means the Indian industry will now be able to make this aircraft under a joint venture with a foreign original equipment manufacturer under a transfer of technology deal. The approximately Rs 6,000-crore deal for 197 helicopters is the second after the government opened the programme for 56 transport aircraft to the Indian private sector at the DAC meeting last month.

While the decision is likely to spell bad news for European and Russian vendors vying for the contract to replace the ageing Cheetah and Chetak helicopters, sources in the defence ministry said opening the deal for the Indian industry could eventually bring in Rs 40,000 crore of business which will include producing a larger number of helicopters as well as creating a supply chain for spare parts as well as maintenance.

“The DAC retracted the request for proposal for the procurement of 197 LUH and decided that it would be under Buy and Make Indian category. It confirms the policy of the Indian government to encourage Indian industry,” a defence ministry official said.

The DAC also cleared proposals worth Rs 20,000 crore in one go, including the procurement of 22 Chinook heavy lift choppers and 15 Apache attack helicopters for the IAF by approving the offset proposals of the US manufacturer.

Jaitley also cleared the Rs 1,770-crore proposal for the navy that include equipping 11 ships — four destroyers and seven frigates — with anti-submarine warfare equipment. Also cleared was the mid-life upgrade for six submarines — four Sindhughosh class and two Shishumar class — jointly by the Russian OEM and India for Rs 4,800 crore.

The DAC also extended the “acceptance of necessity” for the indigenous Arjun Mk-II tank (basically clearing the R6,600-crore purchase for the army), and approved a mobile cellular communication system for the 3, 4 and 14 Corps (R900 crore) and 40 self-propelled guns on the MBT Arjun chassis, provided all of them successfully complete the validation trials.

Friday, 29 August 2014

From Today's Papers - 29 Aug 2014

Resume talks with Pak, J-K Council resolution to Centre
Majid Jahangir
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, August 28
The J&K Legislative Council today unanimously passed a resolution urging New Delhi to resume the process of talks with Pakistan to ensure peace and stability in the subcontinent.

The resolution was moved by Council Chairman Amrit Malhotra and was passed by the House through voice vote after a discussion on the three amendments to the resolution. “The House unanimously resolves that the state government shall urge the Union Government to resume the process of Indo-Pak dialogue and to ensure peace and stability in the subcontinent, in general and the state of Jammu and Kashmir in particular," the resolution said.

"The state government shall urge the Centre to take effective steps to resolve violations on LoC (Line of Control) and IB (International Border) which has caused huge loss of life and property in the affected state. It also asked the state government to take steps to ensure rehabilitation of victims of LoC firing," it added. The Union Government headed by Narendra Modi had recently cancelled foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan after Islamabad envoy Abdul Basit held talks with Kashmir separatist leaders on August 18.

The members of political parties discussed three amendments to the resolution moved by Ghulam Nabi Monga and Naresh Kumar Gupta, both from the Congress, and Syed Mohammad Rafiq Shah of Panther's Party. All parties supported the resolution. Monga wanted talks between the two countries to be held at an “appropriate time and congenial atmosphere”. Speaking on the amendments, National Conference member Khalid Najeeb Suharwardy said India and Pakistan were using Kashmir as a “football” to suit their interests.

“There has always been match-fixing between the India and Pakistan and firing along border is part of that deal. This time Pakistan is helping India and tomorrow India would reciprocate,” Suharwardy said.

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) legislator Nayeem Akthar said it was important for the House to express the feelings of the people of J&K to the Government of India.

“The talks are inevitable and this thing must be conveyed to the GOI as these are the people of the state who are suffering,” he said.

NC legislator Devinder Rana said war was not an option and dialogue was the only way out.

After the discussion on the amendments, Monga and Gupta withdrew their motion. Rafiq Shah staged a walkout terming the resolution as unconstitutional.

Senior High Court lawyer and an expert on J&K constitution Zaffar Ahmed Shah said the resolution passed by the Council was not binding on New Delhi.

“Foreign affair is primarily a Central government subject. But, nevertheless, the issue pertains to the people of J&K. The resolution passed by the Council expresses the desire of the people of the state to urge the Government of India to resume dialogue. The council said war was not an option between the two countries. It is for the Government of India to respect the views of the council members,” he said.

‘Willing to discuss J-K’

India on Thursday made it clear that it was willing to discuss the issue of Jammu and Kashmir with Pakistan within the framework of bilateral agreements of Simla pact and Lahore Declaration. The External Affairs Ministry spokesperson was reacting to Pakistan government's remarks that the Indo- Pak dialogue without discussions on Kashmir was "unacceptable".
 Tatra deal: Court summons Tejinder

New Delhi, August 28
Taking cognisance of the CBI chargesheet, a special court today summoned Lt Gen Tejinder Singh (retd) on September 1 for allegedly offering Rs 14 crore bribe to former Army Chief Gen VK Singh for clearing file pertaining to procurement of 1,676 heavy mobility Tatra vehicles.

Special CBI judge Madhu Jain took cognisance of the chargesheet and relied upon statements of former Defence Minister AK Antony, VK Singh and other witnesses whose testimonies were recorded by the agency during the probe.

“I have gone through charge sheet and statements of Gen VK Singh (retd), Major Gen JP Singh, the then military assistant of the COAS, AK Antony, the then Defence Minister, and other witnesses, published Rajya Sabha debate on March 27, 2012 in which Antony has stated in the Upper House that General VK Singh had informed him about the bribe offered by Lt Gen Tejinder Singh (retd) and other relevant documents.

“On the basis of material on record, there is sufficient ground to take cognisance of offence under Section 12 (abetment of offence) of Prevention of Corruption Act... though offence under Section 7 (public servant taking gratification other than legal remuneration in respect of an official act) of PC Act was not committed in consequence of the said abetment and I accordingly take cognisance under Section 12 of the PC Act,” the judge said, while summoning Tejinder Singh as an accused on September 1.

During the arguments on consideration of the chargesheet, senior public prosecutor VK Sharma had told the court that there was sufficient evidence to take cognisance and summoned the accused. — PTI

‘Offered bribe’ to clear files

* Lt Gen Tejinder Singh (retd) is accused of offering a bribe to former Army Chief Gen VK Singh for clearing a file pertaining to procurement of 1,676 heavy mobility Tatra vehicles

* The CBI in its chargesheet had alleged that in August-September 2010, the file was pending before General VK Singh, who felt the total projected requirement of the vehicles had been inflated

* On September 22, 2010, Tejinder Singh met VK Singh in his office in South Block and allegedly offered him a bribe of Rs 14 crore for clearing the file, the agency said
Defence council to take call on copter deals today
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 28
The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), the apex decision making body of the Ministry of Defence, is slated to meet tomorrow and decide on crucial helicopter deals besides next generation of indigenous tanks.

This will be the second DAC meet to be chaired by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley and will take up cases that have been held up due to the change in government. The deals include 22 Boeing Apache attack helicopters and 15 Boeing Chinook heavy helicopters, both likely to be tasked with the upcoming Mountain Strike Corps.

Negotiations for both deals had ended during the UPA regime (May 2004 to May 2014). The DAC is also expected to okay the deal for 118 next generation Arjun Mark-II tanks. The tank is an upgrade of its first version inducted some five years ago.

The Army and the IAF are also awaiting government’s approval for 197 light multirole helicopters. The tenders are pending for more than four years and the helicopters are needed immediately to phase out the 1960s-designed Cheetah/ Cheetak helicopters. The fight is between the European Airbus and the Russian Kamov. The meeting is also expected to discuss the issue of buying third-generation anti-tank guided missiles for the Army.
ITBP seeks facilities on a par with Army
Shaurya K Gurung
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 28
The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) tasked along the India-China frontier has asked for facilities on a par with the Indian Army. The ITBP has asked the Ministry of Home Affairs for better powered vehicles, special high-altitude allowances and facilities to use the Indian Air Force (IAF) transport plane, the IL-76, to ferry troops between Chandigarh and Leh.

The ITBP had raised these issues during the recent visit of the Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju to ITBP locations in eastern Ladakh, according to sources in the government.

Rijiju had gone on a visit to Ladakh along the India-China frontier on August 23 and had returned to Delhi on August 25.

Sources said that during the visit, the ITBP had raised the issue of being given allowance on a par with the Army. The Army is currently been given High Altitude Field Allowance (HAFA) which is above Rs 7,000 in all high-altitude areas, including Ladakh.

The ITBP had also requested the minister for being provided with courier flights. “A courier flight, an IL-76, a military transport aircraft for the Army regularly takes off from Leh to Chandigarh for transportation of men, items and bodies. The ITBP had also requested for this facility,” said sources.

The ITBP had also asked the minister to provide it with high-powered vehicles for easily reaching their posts in high-altitude areas.
Agenda for new Army Chief
‘Critical hollowness’ in Army’s operational preparedness requires attention
Gurmeet Kanwal
On taking over as the COAS from Gen Bikram Singh, Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag said his priorities would be to “enhance operational preparedness and the effectiveness of the Indian Army.” He also said that force modernisation, infrastructure development, optimisation of human resources and the welfare of personnel are issues that are close to his heart.

In March 2012, Gen V K Singh, the then COAS, had written to the Prime Minister about 'critical hollowness' in the Army's operational preparedness. He had pointed out large-scale deficiencies in weapons systems, ammunition and equipment in service and the fact that many of the weapons and equipment were obsolete or bordering on obsolescence. In particular, he had brought out that the artillery and air defence arms needed the infusion of modern guns, missiles and radars and the aviation corps required new helicopters to replace the ageing fleet.

Two consecutive reports of the CAG of December 2011 and November 2012 brought out that the state of defence preparedness was a cause for serious anxiety. The Standing Committee on Defence (SCD) in Parliament has also noted these developments with concern several times. In an unprecedented move, the SCD insisted on meeting the three Chiefs to take stock of operational preparedness. The SCD has repeatedly urged the government to increase the defence budget to enable the armed forces to undertake meaningful modernisation.

Weapons, ammunition and equipment shortages have persisted for long and several Chiefs before Gen V K Singh had written to the PM and the Defence Minister for help to make up the shortfall. During the Kargil conflict the nation had heard Gen V P Malik, the COAS, make the chilling statement on national TV, “We will fight with what we have.” Though the conflict was confined to Kargil district, 50,000 rounds of artillery ammunition had to be imported as an emergency measure because the stock holding was extremely low. If it had become necessary to open another front, the shortage of artillery ammunition would have seriously hampered operational planning.

Military modernisation has two major facets: the replacement of obsolete and obsolescent weapons and equipment with modern ones, which results in increasing combat effectiveness; and, the qualitative upgrade of combat capabilities through the acquisition and induction of force multipliers. General Suhag, like his predecessors, faces a major dilemma: Given the small budget, how can the Army improve operational preparedness while simultaneously making concerted efforts to modernise? Logically, operational preparedness takes precedence over modernisation. The art of military leadership lies in finding an optimum balance so that all efforts that are made to enhance operational preparedness also contribute substantively to modernisation.

The most critical operational deficiency is the inadequacy of artillery firepower due to the obsolescence of guns and mortars. No modernisation has taken place since the Bofors 155mm howitzer was purchased from Sweden in the mid-1980s. The 'night blindness' of the Army's mechanised forces needs to be rectified immediately. The F-INSAS (future infantry soldier as a system) programme for the modernisation of infantry battalions must be implemented on an urgent basis.

Air defence guns and missiles and their radar systems are reported to be 97 per cent obsolescent. Aviation Corps urgently needs 197 light helicopters. The old and inefficient intelligence, reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition systems available today adversely impact command and control and 'targeting' during war. Hence, the C4I2SR system needs a complete overhaul. The logistics support system also needs to be revamped, with the concept of 'just-in-time logistics' being implemented.

The new COAS will preside over the modernisation process during the remaining three years of the 12th Defence Plan, including the raising of 17 Corps for deployment on the border with China. This Corps, being raised as a ‘strike corps’ for the mountains, is expected to cost Rs 64,000 crore to raise and equip over a period of five to seven years. Approximately 90,000 new personnel will be added to the Army’s manpower strength, including those in ancillary support and logistics units. New weapons and equipment will have to be procured for the divisions, brigades and battalions of this Corps. It will be a retrograde step to milk these from existing battalions to equip new raisings.

Recruiting additional manpower of the requisite qualifications has so far not posed any problems for the world's third largest volunteer army. However, finding officers for 17 Corps will be a major challenge as there is an ongoing deficiency of approximately 10,000 officers. Transferring officers from existing battalions will further dilute their command and control and weaken them intrinsically. The methods for remedying this shortcoming are well known; it is for the NDA government to take appropriate action in an early time frame.

General Suhag wishes to ensure that relatively softer issues like human resources development and the welfare of serving personnel and veterans are not neglected. Morale is adversely affected if these issues are not appropriately handled. As a member of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, the General will help in the formulation of the recommendations of the armed forces for consideration by the Seventh Pay Commission. This has been a rather contentious issue in the past and will require sage handling. Finally, civil-military relations have not been good in the recent past and need to be improved.

If one may take the liberty of using a few well-known American buzzwords and catch-phrases, the ‘revolution in military affairs’ had whooshed by the Indian Army in the 1990s. The 'transformation' process that followed must be gradually implemented even though it is a decade late — primarily due to budgetary constraints. The COAS will be responsible for the transformation of the Army to a ‘network centric’ force capable of executing ‘effects-based operations’ over the full spectrum of conflict. General Suhag must forge a light, lethal and wired Army that can fight and win India's wars on the battlefields of the 21st century — jointly with the Navy and the Air Force.
Pakistan's Ceasefire violations part of larger conspiracy: Army

The guns might have fallen silent momentarily as Indian security personnel held a flag march with their counterparts from across the border on Wednesday, but India's defence establishment is convinced that the recent spurt in ceasefire violations was part of a larger design.

More than 3,000 residents of villages along the border had to be moved from their homes last week as Pakistan breached the 2003 with a renewed intensity, targeting as many as 22 border outposts and 13 villages on Saturday alone. Such has been the frequency of ceasefire violations that the Director General of the Border Security Force (BSF), entrusted with surveillance along the International Border, described it as the worst spell of firing since the 1971 war.

Wednesday's flag meeting between the BSF and Pakistan Rangers, at the Pargwal forward area in Akhnoor, was held in this backdrop with the aim to defuse tension. Another round of meetings is expected to be held at the local level as Pakistan border troops had targeted even civilian locations.

But even as they attempt to restore peace along the tense border, security officials say they are sure the ceasefire violations are linked with infiltration, that the rain of fire may just be intended as a distraction tactic to allow militants passage into Indian territory as Jammu and Kashmir prepares for polls. Army sources say the spurt in firing could also be an expression of Pakistan's frustration at India calling off dialogue recently.

Officials point to the recent shift in strategy, which has seen Pakistan open fire along the International Border in a big way for the first time in many years. The Jammu region has been a particular target.

The increase has been most notable in the segments of RS Pura and Arnia. There have been reports of infiltration attempts from these areas as well. Sources added that there is a difference in the modus operandi adopted on the Line of Control (LoC) and the International Border (IB). The ceasefire violations along the LoC, they say, target a select few areas and are carried out with specific purposes because of the terrain. But in the flat plains along the IB, several posts are pounded indiscriminately.

However, thanks to the fact that India has implemented a multi-tier anti-infiltration grid, including sensors and night vision devices, infiltration across the LoC has become far more difficult. Consequently, officials said, infiltration attempts are now made on dark moon-less nights. But since most of the LoC is fenced and illuminated at night, these bids seldom fructify. Nevertheless, the mountainous terrain with dense vegetation does make escape easier for infiltrating militants.

Statistics back the claim. This year, only around two dozen attempts were made in the infiltration hotspots along the LoC, stretching from Kupwara-Machhal-Keran to Tangdhar and Poonch-Mendhar-Hamirpur-Bimber Gali sections further down.


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