Monday, November 30, 2009

Paper for sepoys’ recruitment leaked, 3 arrested

The question paper of the exam for the recruitment of sepoys in the Army, which was held in many parts of the country today, was allegedly leaked last night by some unscrupulous agents from Amritsar.

This startling disclosure was made by none else than sleuths of the Intelligence Wing of the Army functioning from the city after it managed to apprehend three candidates from Faridkot Railway Station last night.

A senior official, on condition of anonymity, said three candidates- Satnam Singh, Jagmeet Singh and Gurpreet Singh from the Malwa region- were allegedly noting down questions on a paper while talking to Amritsar- based agent Daljeet Singh over the phone. When these questions were matched with the question paper issued by the Army authorities, which was held at Faridkot today, both turned out to be the same.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that due to the leakage of the paper, the start of the exam at Faridkot was delayed by half an hour.

Sleuths of the wing handed over the trio to the Faridkot police, which after carrying out preliminary investigations found that the paper was actually leaked in Jalandhar.

Faridkot SSP Arun Mittal said as the paper was leaked in Jalandhar, a case could be registered in that district only.

The sleuths also did not rule out the possibility of the involvement of high rank officials of the Army and retired personnel.

They have also written to the Army authorities for conducting a thorough probe into the matter and cancel the exam.

Ex-servicemen’s rally held

An ex-servicemen’s rally-cum-Fauji Mela was organised at Palma Academy in Palma village of the frontier district of Rajouri.

The event was organised by a Rashtriya Rifles battalion under the aegis of the Counter- Insurgency Force (Romeo).

The rally was inaugurated by General Officer Commanding, Counter-Insurgency Force (Romeo).The Deputy Commissioner, Rajouri, the Secretary, Zila Sainik Board, Rajouri, representatives of Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS), Rajouri, Controller of Defence Accounts (Pensions), Allahabad, and nationalised banks attended the rally and addressed the ex-servicemen to educate them about various welfare activities and schemes launched by the government for their benefit.

A medical camp was also organised wherein Army and civil doctors, including medical specialists, surgery specialists and gynaecologists /lady Medical Officers provided healthcare advice and free medicines to the ex-servicemen. A dental detachment was also available.

An information cell to provide multifarious information to the ex-servicemen and register their grievances was set up during the occasion. ECHS information and Smart Card counters were also established at the rally venue for the benefit of the ex-servicemen.

Over 500 ex-servicemen attended it.

21 impersonators held

The Army today apprehended 21 persons who were impersonating in the written exams held for recruitment to various categories of soldiers.

The Jammu-based PRO of the Ministry of Defence, Lt-Col Biplab Nath, said the written examination was being conducted for the candidates, who had already cleared the first round of physical and medical tests held last month. “When the recruiting officers were conducting preliminary identification, they became suspicious and found that some candidates were impersonating ,he said.

On investigation, it was found that 21 fake candidates had been impersonating.

“All 21 impersonators were handed over to the police at Channi Himat and a complaint stands lodged against them,” the PRO said.

The test was postponed and the new dates would be announced later.

MoD pays for ignoring SC ruling

The Delhi High Court and the Armed Forces Tribunal have, in separate cases, imposed costs on the Ministry of Defence and the Army for not taking due cognizance of a Supreme Court order pertaining to grant of pension to disabled veterans and filing appeals contrary to the “settled legal position”.

The Supreme Court had earlier ruled that disabled ex-servicemen are entitled to pension even it they have sought retirement voluntarily. The MoD, however, is continuing to file appeals against the order of single benches of high courts allowing pension in such cases. Disability pensionary benefits were not being released by the MoD to voluntary retirees though the Supreme Court had held voluntary retirees entitled to disability pension in 2008.

Acting on a petition file by Bachan Singh, a resident of Ludhiana, the Delhi Bench of the AFT had a few days ago, imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on the Adjutant General’s branch. The Bench observed that the approach of the authorities was casual, which drove poor personnel to unnecessary litigation when the issue stood decided by the high court and the Supreme Court.

The AFT order also quotes a recent case where the Delhi High Court had imposed costs of Rs 25,000 on the MoD for denying disability pension to a voluntary retiree contrary to the settled legal position.It is learnt that the MoD had filed appeals against benefits granted by the courts to disabled veterans by sweeping under the carpet the legal opinion of the office of the Solicitor General.

Even after a bunch of judgments of the Supreme Court upholding an earlier decision by the Delhi High Court, the Legal Advisor of the MoD had recommended further SLPs in similar cases. The matter was then referred to the Solicitor General’s office for opinion. The Additional Solicitor General, however, clearly opined that similar matters had been decided by the Supreme Court and had attained finality and such cases were not fit for SLPs.

Army Headquarters also requested that the MoD sanction disability pension to voluntary retirees citing that the same would result in reduction of court cases on the subject. The Army HQ had further pointed out that cases were “being contested by the government despite knowing the settled position of law.”

Maoists blow up railway station, school buildings

Two persons were killed in an explosion triggered by Maoists during their two-day Jharkhand bandh that began today. They also blasted a railway station, uprooted tracks and blew up school buildings.

The blast triggered by Maoists at Amjore village in East Singhbhum district, DSP (PCR) Dinesh
Oraon said.

A contingent of security forces have reached the spot to track down the ultras, he said.The extremists also blew up Mahubuang railway station in Simdega district and railway tracks early, IGP V Deshmukh said, adding that they also blew up a stretch of railway track between Jageswar and Dania stations in Bokaro district late last night.

The blasts disrupted train services on the route, Railway officials said. However, security personnel have reached the spot and repair work is going on, they added.

In Pipra village at Palamau district, the Maoists blew up a panchayat hall and five school buildings hours before the bandh, Palamau police chief Jatin Narwal said. — PTI

Red Fort to be cleared of Army remnants

NEW DELHI: The ugly tin sheds, toilet blocks and hutments, which were built by the Indian Army during its stay in Red Fort from 1947 to 2003, are finally on their way out. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has decided to demolish the structures as part of its conservation plans for the citadel. It also plans to reopen the drains along Red Fort's walls, which had been closed by the British.

Over 100 such structures that have no archaeological or historical merit have been identified in the Comprehensive Conservation Management Plan (CCMP) prepared for Red Fort."These structures were built by the Indian Army when they stayed inside the Red Fort complex from independence to December 2003. They will be phased out in the next few weeks,'' said a senior ASI official. Two canteens within the fort grounds will also be removed.

According to conservationists, spaces like these have been an eyesore for tourists visiting the Red Fort complex, which boasts of buildings from three different eras, including the Mughal and British periods. "The Army built many structures small hutments, tin sheds, toilet blocks to house soldiers in the fort. For conservation purposes, these structures need to be removed and the space they are occupying opened up,'' said a senior official. Once the structures have been removed, the Diwan-i-am and Rang Mahal will be renovated and the fort's many museums will be shifted to the British-era barracks.

ASI is also planning to open the six-foot deep drains that run along the citadel's outer walls. According to sources, they were blocked by the British when they took over the fort after the 1857 uprising, a move that is now posing problems. "The water trapped in the drains is stagnating at various points, triggering capillary action in the fort walls. During the Mughal era, the drainage ensured that not a single drop of water would enter the Red Fort. However, the British wanted huge lawns so they had the drain blocked,'' said an official.

ASI officials said the blocked drainage has also damaged the two gateways to the fort Lahore Gate and Delhi Gate. "The blocked drainage causes water to seep inside the foundation of the fort wall and the two gates. This weakens the structure and the problem had to be addressed urgently,'' said officials.

Conservation work is expected to kickstart once the CCMP gets the final nod from the Supreme Court-appointed expert committee. Red Fort is the second most visited monument in the city after Qutub Minar. ASI has also constructed a parking lot at the fort, which is awaiting clearance from Central Public Works Department. 

Navy, Army race-cum-expedition to Kochi sails off

An Indian Navy and Military College of Electronics & Mechanical Engineering (MCEME) joint race-cum-sailing expedition to Kochi set sail from Mumbai Sunday.

A total of four teams, including an all-women civilian team, are participating in the Mumbai-Goa leg of the expedition which will culminate at Kochi Dec 17, an official spokesman said.

The expedition will be conducted in four laps - Mumbai-Goa, Goa-Mangalore, Mangalore-Bevpore and Bevpore-Kochi, covering a total distance of 1,200 km in 18 days.

The Corps of EME comprises the maintenance engineers of the Indian Army for the entire range of vehicles and equipment, ranging from the smallest medical equipment to the most advanced helicopters.

The event is part of the MCEME 9th Corps Reunion celebrations at the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad Jan 8-10, 2010.

Besides the race-cum-sailing expedition, other sports and adventure activities, including high sea sailing, hot air ballooning, white water rafting, desert safari, and mountaineering expeditions spanning different regions are currently in progress to commemorate the occasion. 

Post-26/11, number of Army jawans from Maharashtra doubles

MUMBAI: Until now we have seen candle-light vigils and peace marches, debates and prayer meetings. But there has been another response to the 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai that has gone largely unnoticed. And it has come not from the educated, well-to-do elite visible in the media but from every nook and corner of Maharashtra.

Since 2007, and especially in the wake of 26/11, the number of persons volunteering to serve in the armed forces to defend the country has doubled in Maharashtra. While there were a little more than 2,000 recruits in 2007, over 5,000 have already enlisted till November this year. These numbers relate not to officers but what the defence forces call personnel below officers’ rank (PBOR).

Simply put, they are the ordinary jawans or footsoldiers who form the fighting mainstay of our country. These recruits have come from both rural and urban areas of Maharashtra and their social background can be gauged from the fact that they do not possess the educational qualifications to seek service as officers.

The volunteers have been lining up at selection centres in Aurangabad, Kolhapur, Nagpur, Lonavla, Pune and Mumbai. As a result, recruitment from the state to all three wings of the defence forces — the army, navy and air Force — have shown a significant jump this year. In fact, in 2009, Maharashtra sent the second-largest number of PBORs to the Indian army.

Following the brutal 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai there was a surge of patriotism across the country. After watching images of military commandos fighting terrorists, several young men expressed a desire to don the army’s olive green uniform. Thus, states such as Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have also shown an increase in fresh recruits to the defence forces, but nowhere have the numbers gone up as significantly as in Maharashtra.

The armed forces are short of over 13,000 officers but there is no such problem with regard to PBORs. In the last three years, more than 1,24,000 PBORs have joined the army, navy and the air force. 

Sound infrastructure needed on border with Tibet: Kapoor

PUNE: Chief of army staff General Deepak Kapoor on Sunday stressed the need to build sound infrastructure on the Indian side of the Tibetan border.

“Such development is necessary in view of the huge infrastructure build-up on the Chinese side of the border with Tibet. We have been constantly saying that we need to bring infrastructure on our own side up to the acceptable levels,” he said.

The army chief was talking to reporters on the sidelines of the passing-out parade
(PoP) of the 117th course at the National Defence Academy (NDA) at Khadakwasla here. His comments were in response to a query regarding the threat perception from China.

“Both India and China have an appropriate mechanism in place to take care of minor skirmishes or disputes, if and when they arise on the border front,” Kapoor said. 

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Be humane while in charge of warships

KOCHI: As many as 135 officer cadets of the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard, from the 78th Integrated Cadet Course, have successfully completed the basic afloat training onboard the First Training Squadron.The cadets’ passing-out parade at the Naval Base here on Saturday, which included 16 assistant commandants from the Coast Guard, was reviewed by Southern Naval Command Flag Officer Commanding- in-Chief Vice Admiral K N Sushil.Addressing the cadets, the Admiral emphasised the importance of humane leadership in the running of a warship.“Do not to distance yourselves from the men you command,” he said. The First Training Squadron, commanded by Capt. G Prakash, comprised INS Tir, Shardul, Krishna and Tarangini, besides Coast Guard ship Varuna.During the 24-week ship-phase of the training, the cadets were exposed to the different facets of seafaring and life onboard a warship. They sailed to various ports of the country and to island territories.They also called on the ports of Colombo, Port Louis (Mauritius) and Victoria (Seychelles), interacting with their counterparts in those countries and visiting their training facilities.Cadet C Murali Krishnan was awarded the Chief of Naval Staff Trophy and ‘Binoculars’ for coming first in the overall order of merit. He was also adjudged the best all-rounder cadet. Cadet Rajesh Babu Pillai was awarded the Squadron Senior Officers’ Trophy for coming second, and J Immanuel Jaya Kumar with the FOC-in-C East Rolling Trophy for the most promising cadet, while Manu Mishra was got the FOC-in-C South Rolling Trophy for the best sportsman.Assistant Commandant Shyam Kishore got the trophy for topping the order of merit from the Coast Guard.The cadets will join ships of the Navy’s Western and Eastern fleets and the Coast Guard for the next stage of training.Their parents, who came from various parts of the country, also attended the parade.Honour for Malayali officerIt was a proud moment for Chandran and Rathi, parents of C Murali Krishnan, who was awarded the ‘Chief of Naval Staff Trophy’ at the passing out parade of cadets in Kochi on Saturday. Murali Krishnan, who completed the three-year course and passed out from the Goa Naval Academy, had won the President’s gold medal on completion of the course.“The Indian Navy offers great opportunities to us and ensures a good future for us. It will be a great career option in the coming days,” Murali Krishnan said. “It is of course a great moment for us to witness our son receiving such an award. He has always been hardworking and has been winning accolades right from his childhood,” said Rathi and K P Chandran of Sopanam, Nenmara, Palakkad.Chandran is working at Nenmara NSS College. Murali’s only sister Megha is a student. Immediately after the passing out parade, Vice Admiral K N Sushil congratulated Murali Krishnan. “It is only a foundation. You should continue to work hard,” he told Murali.

Force One, buildup fail to instil confidence


As the country’s commercial capital observes the first anniversary of 26/11 attacks on Thursday, a question that stares in the face of Mumbaikars is whether their city is better equipped or otherwise to either prevent or combat a mayhem of the kind witnessed last year, notwithstanding the efforts made by the State and the Central Governments to step up the security set-up in the metropolis.

In the run-up to the first anniversary of the 26/11 attacks, the Congress-led DF Government has been working overtime to create a “feel secure” atmosphere among the citizens by talking extensively about the various initiatives taken by it and the Centre, by way of training sections of its personnel in combat and intelligence gathering operations and providing sophisticated state-of-the-art weapons, security vehicles and other equipment to them.

On paper, the Mumbai Police personnel seem better prepared than they were one year ago to fight terrorists. For, their top brass has kept “in readiness” a 1,000-member Quick Reaction Team (QRT) to tackle any terror-combat situation; it has raised a 216-member commando group named ‘Force One’, it has set up bomb detection/disposal squads in all 13 zones of the city; it has purchased 39 combat vehicles for the 585 QRT officers and junior police personnel, more than a dozen bullet-proof vehicles, it has devices like GPS, installed 200-odd CCTVs on different roads of the city and it claims to have stepped up coastal security.

Besides, the Mumbai Police has trained its first batch of 45 intelligence officers, who have committed to dedicate their entire career for intelligence gathering and assessment.

“As far as weapons are concerned, we today have more than sufficient number of AK-47 rifles, Colt M4 flattop carbines, Smith and Wesson pistols, M82 sniper rifles and MB 5 sub-machine guns. Our preparedness has enhanced manifold,” says a senior police officer.

Incidentally, Mumbai is the only city in the country which has three commando wings of the security forces which are doing the same job. For instance, it has QRT personnel trained by experts from the Indian Army, National Security Guard (NSG) and foreign special forces’ specialists. Besides, it has also newly set-up ‘Force One’ and a hub of NSG.

As City Police Commissioner D Sivananandan himself put it at a recent “security and resilience” summit organised jointly by citizens groups Bombay First and London First, “We never imagined of a 26/11-kind of an attack. Our lack of imagination had exposed our lack of preparedness. It was a war, nothing less than a war…. But today our response systems have undergone a sea change during the period.”

However, people from various sections of the society, including the retired police officers, do not share Sivanandan’s optimism. Nor are they ready to buy the “feel secure” campaign being carried out by the State Government.

“(From the point of view of its security concerns), Mumbai is as vulnerable as it was last year. The State Government is talking about providing fool-proof security to the citizens, but it is nowhere near achieving its objectives. This kind of a campaign by the State Government will only improve the atmospheric. But tangible security will not follow from its efforts. More than the weapons and equipment to fight terror, what we need today is to improve human skills of the constables and junior level officers in the police force to react to situations of the kind we faced last year,” says Mahesh Vijapurkar, a consultant on governance and urban planning.

Former Mumbai Police Commissioner MN Singh is not as critical as Vijapuikar, but he hits the nail on the head when he says: “The intelligence gathering is one of the weak areas of the Mumbai police. Though there is some coordination now-a-days among the various intelligence agencies, the fact remains that the intelligence machinery of the city police does not have either wherewithal or talent to gather intelligence information about terror activities. It is somewhat good that the State Government is raising a team of dedicated intelligence. But, it will take a few more years before the trained officers develop their own network of informers.”

Singh says that there “is nothing new in the concept of QRT” which he adds “is good, but did not serve the purpose it was set up for after the terrorists’ attack on Indian Parliament in 2001”, when Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) terrorists attacked Mumbai between the night of November 26 and the morning of November 29, 2008, killing nearly 180 people, injuring over 300 others and virtually siege of south Mumbai for 60 hours.

“The QRT had virtually become a dormant force and was of no use when the ten Pakistani terrorists attacked Mumbai last year. No wonder that we had to wait for several hours for the NSG personnel to arrive and take over the combat operations. But, the fact remains that being trained commandoes, the QRT personnel should have gotten into the action first. But, being in disuse for a long time, the QRT personnel did not know how to go about the combat operation. Nor was there a higher officer to guide and motivate the QRT personnel,” says Singh.

Neema Kamdar, a housewife from Kandivli in north Mumbai, says: “The State Government has not taken any concrete steps to insulate the citizens in the city from any major terror act in future. Whatever the Government may say, I have a strong feeling that our police personnel are not trained to fight the international terrorists. I am not talking about the NSG personnel. As far as the Mumbai police personnel are concerned, I understand that they do not even have adequate number of sophisticated weapons like AK-47 to carry out any anti-terror operation like the one we saw in November last year.”

Another retired IPS officer YP Singh, who is now both practicing law and crusading on public issues, does not quite agree with the perception in certain quarters that the Mumbai police do not have adequate weapons, particularly the ones AK-47 rifles, and the pre-requisites for the personnel combating terror like bullet-proof jackets.

A comment coming from a well-known critic of the State Government like YP Singh, the State Government should feel relieved. Says he: “A false impression is sought to be created in certain quarters that the Mumbai police do not have adequate number of weapons or bullet proof jackets in their armoury. Let me make it clear that the Mumbai police have more than adequate number of AK-47 rifles and standard bullet proof jacket, unlike in the past when the officers like then ATS chief Hemant Karkare were forced to wear rejected and sub-standard bullet-proof vests. I saw over 100 combat police personnel wearing standard bullet-proof jacket when they participated in a rehearsal of the first 26/11 anniversary this morning.”

However, the words of comfort handed by YP Singh are limited to weapons and bullet-proof packets.

YP Singh agrees with MN Singh when he says: “The intelligence gathering is one area we have hardly done anything. Had we had our intelligence network in place, we would have arrested LeT terrorist David Coleman Headley ourselves as early in 2007 than waiting for information to know about him from the FBI. Intelligence is one area which has been totally ignored both the Mumbai police top brass and the State Government’.

Like MN Singh, YP Singh accepts that QRT is very essential for a city like Mumbai, but says: “It cannot deliver unless that it is trained and motivated on a continuous basis. More than weapons, what the QRT and commandoes need are proper guidance and motivation. The weapons are only for taking care of the 11th hour needs. What about the happenings during the remaining 10 hours?” YP Singh asks.

MN Singh is candid, when he says the Mumbai police is riven by factionalism. Alluding to criticism of certain officers in the Mumbai force by the widows of slain IPS officers Hemant Karkare and Ashok Kamate over the suspicious circumstances in which their husbands were ambushed on the night of November 26, 2008 and comments by the then city police commissioner’s allegation against four of the senior IPS officers, MN Singh said: “Unfortunately, there is a lot of groupism among the senior officers in the Mumbai police force. This kind of groupism is not good for the force. The State Government should take immediate steps to bring normality in relations among the senior officers in the force.”


  • Did Mumbai Police or Maharashtra Government at all receive specific intelligence inputs prior to the 26/11 attacks?
  • Is yes, why no action was taken on the basis of intelligence inputs?
  • Did the Mumbai Police use a Standard Operating Procedure in responding to the 26/11 attacks?
  • What was Quick Response Team (QRT) of the Mumbai Police doing at the time of attacks?
  • Why did it take so long for Maharashtra Government to requisition services of NSG?
  • What delayed NSG in arriving in Mumbai and starting its anti-terror operations?
  • Did Taj and Oberoi-Trident have proper security measures in place?
  • How did the LeT come to know about Chabad House?
  • Did Mumbai Police have proper weapons to deal with such a situation?
  • How did then Police Commissioner Hasan Gafoor use his senior officers in combating the attacks?
  • Is there a truth in Gafoor’s allegation that four of his subordinate officers, Parambir Singh, KL Prasad, Deven Bharti and K Venkateshan, failed in discharging their duty during 26/11 attacks?
  • Who sent Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamte and Vijay Salaskar to Rang Bhavan lane, where they were shot dead by Pak terrorists Mohammed Ajmal Kasab and Ismail Khan?
  • Why did senior police officer Rakesh Maria ask Kamte to head to Rang Bhavan lane when the fact remained that the latter had been asked by then Police Commissioner to come to Oberoi-Trident at that time?
  • Why no rescue teams were rushed to help wounded Karkare, Kamte and Salaskar?
  • Why reinforcements were not sent to Cama Hospital from front side?
  • Why did Maharashtra Government virtually bury Ram Pradhan Committee report?
  • Why does Gafoor’s allegation against four of his senior colleagues not figure in the Pradhan report?
  • Why did the Ram Pradhan committee not ask the four IPS officers against whom Gafoor has made allegations, to depose before it?
  • What does the Maharashtra Government have to say about allegations made by the widows of Hemant Karkare and Ashok Kamte?
  • Why are the police not making public the log records of the Mumbai Control Room on November 26/27,2008 night?
  • Are David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Rana linked to the 26/11 attacks?
  • Did Headley and Rana pass on the video footage of Taj and Oberoi to their LeT handlers behind the 26/11 attacks?
  • Did LeT terrorists get any local support during the 26/11 attacks?

Women and war

Would you agree that Pratibha Patil looked rather fetching in a G-suit? The picture of her waving from the cockpit of a Sukhoi, a radiant smile on her face, could transform the image of Indian women. Not surprisingly, journalists used the occasion to ask whether women should be inducted as fighter pilots. Her reply was equally winning — it’s a decision best left to experts and service commanders.

Now, why can’t politicians and some of our interfering commentators heed this excellent advice?

The debate over what role women should play in combat is neither new nor easy to resolve. It cropped up three years ago when the former Vice-Chief of the Army, Lt. Gen. Pattabhiraman, said: “Ideally, we would like to have gentlemen and not lady officers at the unit level. Feedback from lower formations suggests that comfort levels with lady officers are low.”

It returned to the front pages last week when the present Air Force Vice-Chief said women could only be accepted as fighter pilots after they agreed to conditions on having children and taking maternity leave.

Frankly, both officers are right and the screams of protest from the politically correct brigade missed the point. Men and women are, of course, equal but equality is not similarity. Women are not the same as men. For the defence services the difference is critical.

One of their key concerns is if captured women would be more liable for abuse and mistreatment than men. For this reason even the Israelis do not permit women in direct conflict roles. And it’s not sufficient to say let women decide for themselves if they want to take the risk. When it affects national security, the importance of the issue surpasses the right to individual choice.

But there are other good reasons too. First, women would be at a serious disadvantage in hand-to-hand combat with enemy male soldiers. If the defence of India depends on how our soldiers respond to a Chinese or Pakistani invader staring down the barrel of a gun, I have no hesitation in stating the preponderant majority would feel more confident with male soldiers. And that includes most women.

Second, the Indian Army is likely to remain a male-dominated force. Our jawans are traditional in their outlook and would feel uncomfortable, maybe even insecure, under women officers in combat. Clearly the fighting formations are not the place to teach them how to accept orders from women.

The Air Force has different but equally pressing concerns. It costs Rs 11.66 crore to train a fighter pilot and up to 14 years service to recover the investment. If a woman were to drop out after marriage, the service would have to forego the investment in her training. If she takes ten months maternity leave she would require expensive re-training on return. This is why the service insists on pre-conditions before women are inducted as fighter pilots.

Meanwhile, the argument ‘Is cost everything, social correctness nothing?’ is easy to answer. A poor country cannot afford to waste resources simply to satisfy political correctness.

Of course, none of this is to argue against women officers in the services. All three have them and they do a brilliant job. But if women don’t choose to be hangmen, Formula One drivers or sumo wrestlers, why is it incorrect to keep them out of combat roles?

The views expressed by the author are personal

from Pak : Indian Cold Start doctrine

Asif Haroon Raja
Strategic alliance with USA helps India in fulfilling its grandeur plans to become the regional and world power. In 1971, Soviet Union had helped India in achieving a false military victory and in truncating Pakistan. Indians now hope that America would help in fulfilling their dream of either reducing Pakistan into an Indian satellite or removing it from the face of world map. It is in this context that Indo-US-UK-Israeli-Afghan nexus has been formed in Kabul which is dedicated towards harming Pakistan. Both covert means and media campaign are complementing each other to achieve stated objectives. The Indo-western media has embarked upon a malicious campaign to besmirch the reputation of institutions of Pakistan and project it as a failing state. All sorts of fairytales are fabricated and pasted in leading newspapers and magazines controlled by the Jews. Deadlines are given and each time the given the given date expires uneventfully; a new deadline of collapse of Pakistan is given with a heavy heart but with renewed hopes.
Several scenarios are in circulation ranging from truncation to break up in small quasi states. Independent Balochistan and Pashtunistan figure high in their fanciful plans. Each of the self-perceived scenario is linked to Islamic threat in northwest of Pakistan. One of the principle objectives of India is to weaken ISI and cut its long-arm capability drastically so that it is neither in a position to harm India through covert means or to provide first line defence to Pakistan effectively against external subversive threats. Pakistan specific Indian consulates in Afghanistan and tens of RAW infested training, educational and cultural centres have nothing else to do except to devise different means to cause harm to Pakistan and destabilise it.

To give concrete shape to the chalked out plans, the said nexus unfolded a comprehensive subversive plan in January 2002 to systematically destabilize Pakistan. Fuel was constantly sprinkled in interior Balochistan, FATA and Swat to inflame these regions. Brahamdagh Bugti based in Kandahar and patronized by RAW-CIA-RAAM is coordinating sabotage and subversion in Balochistan. Southern Punjab and Karachi are planned to be inflamed in the final phase to spread anarchy throughout the country so as to pave way for disablement of our nuclear weapons and to clear the way for India to launch its military instrument. Washington’s continued insistence to make India a key player in Afghanistan and to induct its 150,000 troops is meant to enable Indo-Afghan forces to exploit yet another avenue from the northwest and catch Pakistan in a double pincer.

Indian Cold Start doctrine envisages formation of battle groups supported by dedicated artillery, combat air support and tactical nuclear weapons. It perceives launching 15-16 limited attacks along the entire length of eastern border and Line of Control (LoC) with battle groups of two mechanised regiments and an armour regiment or vice versa. Each battle group is mandated to capture an objective of tactical importance and to exploit success as far as possible but remaining well away from core areas so as to restrain Pakistan from using its nuclear response. Having dispersed the defender on a wide front in battle of frontiers, trying to defend every inch of the territory, subject to successes achieved, and deflection or commitment of our strategic reserves, it would then launch main and secondary efforts with its strike formations in two sectors. Indian military would achieve air superiority in main effort area for a specific period of break in and break out battle towards deeper objectives.

After Mumbai attacks, India continues to remain in an offensive mode and is in no mood to recommence stalled peace talks. Pakistan’s concerted efforts spread over one year to make India see reason have gone in vain. Flustered and frustrated by quick successes achieved by Pakistan Army against Indian funded and trained terrorists in Swat and in South Waziristan, Indian leaders have taken a new line that runaway militants after getting defeated have become a security hazard for India. Since last May, they are wailing like a frightened child in anticipation to a self-imagined terrorist attack emanating from Pakistan on the pattern of Mumbai-like carnage. When asked to provide intelligence so that the mishap could be thwarted they refuse to divulge the basis of their anxiety. Indian media has alleged that Dave Headly and Tahawar Hussain Rana suspected for terrorism in USA were linked with Mumbai attacks and that Dave was observed sniffing around Indian nuclear sites. Accordingly, Indian authorities have sounded a red alert in affected areas where their nuclear material is stored to avert a possible attack. To further up the ante, Indian Army Chief Deepak Kapoor has sounded a warning that a limited war under the nuclear overhang is still very much a reality, at least in Indian subcontinent. Our foreign office spokesman rightly remarked that it reaffirms Indian dangerous and offensive nuclear doctrine.

In the wake of Pakistan going nuclear in 1998 in response to Indian nuclear blackmail, which has made the option of all out war almost impossible, Indian military has been feverishly working on its Cold Start doctrine which was shaped in consultation with Israeli military. The three services of India have also been acquiring latest state-of-art weapon systems from all over the world and upgrading its nuclear arsenal as a consequence of which the conventional and nuclear balance has tilted heavily in favour of India. Simultaneous to the efforts by the military, RAW has been hectically engaged in weakening and destabilising Pakistan from within. Its focus has been towards enfeebling and discrediting Pakistan Army and ISI. Application of military instrument has been made conditional to success achieved through covert operations against these two pillars. India observed the pulse of Pakistan for ten months in 2002 after manufacturing a terrorist attack on Indian parliament in December 2001 and again after Mumbai carnage in November 2008 that was also cooked up. Both times, it found Pakistan Army well poised and resilient and had to beat a retreat.

India may be visualising that this time Pakistan Army has got deeply embroiled in several troubled spots and is not in a position to withdraw as was the case last time. It is hoping that Pashtun and Baloch militants would be fighting Pakistan Army in case of war with India. It is satisfied with its successful policy of encirclement and destabilisation of Pakistan resulting in enfeeblement of its economy. It considers overall geo-political environment favourable. It considers the time ripe for devising another drama to justify its troop build up. The purpose will be:
  1. Coerce the leadership to extract further concessions as it had extorted after military standoff in 2002-03.
  2. Relieve pressure on Tehrik-e-Taliban and make it recapture lost ground.
  3. Demolish Balochistan package which has the potential of defusing separatist movement sponsored by India.
  4. Rejuvenate demoralised RAW agents operating within Pakistan.
  5. Force Pakistan to liquidate Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad and to hand over alleged culprits of Mumbai carnage to India.
  6. Force Pakistan to fight terrorism as dictated by USA and India.
  7. Further weaken economy of Pakistan.
  8. Force Pakistan to accept pre-eminence of India in Afghanistan and in the region and to allow its trade with Afghanistan through Wagah.
  9. Solve Kashmir dispute by accepting LoC as permanent border.

In case Pakistan refuse to be cowed down, it might initiate Cold Start but it would be subject to full assurance by USA that it would prevent Pakistan Army from assembly and move of nukes to deployment areas.
War game codenamed Azm-e-Nau was conducted to tackle emerging Indian threat along eastern front revolving around Cold Start but did not take into account possible ingress from western border and expansion of limited war into full-fledged war. In 1971 in East Pakistan, India first weakened Pakistan Army contingent through civil war and psychological operations. Indian military then induced threat perception which forced us to take up an exaggerated forward posture all along 1400 miles border to prevent any piece of land falling into enemy hands. Dispersed in penny packets we were strong nowhere. Indian offensive launched on 21 November from multiple directions succeeded in making 23 lodgement areas across the border. In our bid to liquidate or contain the ingresses we committed everything we had in the battle of frontiers. After an operational pause and having fixed our forces in compartments, Indian forces under massive air cover launched main, secondary and auxiliary offensives from three different directions on 4 December and raced towards Dacca. Making a dispassionate comparison of East Pakistan offensive with Cold Start one finds certain similarities.

Pakistan has already suffered grievously because of its exaggerated policy of appeasement and cannot afford to cede more ground and that too at the cost of its sovereignty and dignity. We need to condition our forces and structure them organisationally to fight two front wars together with internal threat in the southwest and northwest. Blissfully, Pakistan Army is in its finest trim and is in position to meet any challenge resolutely. Having found out foolproof evidence of involvement of RAW in aiding and abetting terrorism in Pakistan, and the US and UK complicit in the evil game of destabilising, denuclearising and balkanising Pakistan, should we still be imprudently calling these so-called friends as our well-wishers and relying on them? I have no doubt in my mind that the US would not betray Israel or India but would certainly betray Pakistan and leave it in a lurch once again.

Same go for Afghanistan under US puppet Karzai who has provided Afghan soil to foreign agencies for launching covert operations against Pakistan. He doesn’t realise that India, whom he considers as a sincere and dear friend is gradually working towards reducing Afghanistan into its client state. If US Administration is negotiating with Afghan Taliban, we have every right to keep in touch with them particularly after their worthy role in hour of crisis. While US military opted to vacate border check posts, Afghan Taliban refused to come to the aid of fake Taliban in South Waziristan.

How long will we follow humiliating policy of appeasement which is ruining Pakistan? Isn’t it high time to sound the bugle and chase out Blackwater type non-actors from the soil of Pakistan before they swoop at our nukes and whisk them away? We need to guard our nukes with utmost vigilance and cut those hands that try to get near them. Operation Rah-e-Nijat which has proceeded excellently should clear South Waziristan of the presence of hardcore local and foreign terrorists speedily. After returning extra forces to peace locations, process of rehabilitation of people of South Waziristan to be put into full gear. These assets must be handled with utmost care and affection. They deserve an even better package then Balochistan since none among them raised the slogan of separation or sought materialistic gains.

Asif Haroon Raja is a defence and political analyst based at Rawalpindi and author of several books. Email:

Maoists kill close to camp

Midnapore, Nov. 28: Maoists have shot dead three persons in West Midnapore since last night, killing one of the victims close to a security camp to thumb their nose at the troops’ vigil in Lalgarh and its neighbourhood.

In Jhargram, the Maoists dragged Karuna Sindhu Mahato, the CPM pradhan of Salboni gram panchayat, from his home at Jitusole village and shot him dead.

“They had never targeted a pradhan before in this district. Earlier, they had killed the pradhan of Sonachura panchayat, Nishikanta Mandal, in Nandigram (East Midnapore),” a police officer said.

Manoj Verma, the West Midnapore superintendent of police, said: “Mahato’s bullet-riddled body was found today on a state highway connecting Jhargram to Mumbai Road.”

Another victim was timber merchant Bomkesh Giri. He was found on the metalled road in front of the Koima police camp late last night. “The Maoists shot him dead on the road, a few metres from the police camp and about 2km from Bhimpur High School where joint forces have been staying since June,” an officer said.

According to the police, 62-year-old Giri, his two managers and six labourers had gone to the Kalaimuri jungles to buy logs from the forest department.

“After loading the logs on his vehicle, Giri was returning to his godown in Lalgarh bazar. On the way, a group of Maoists intercepted them and beat up the managers and labourers. The attackers allowed them to go, but not Giri,” said a Lalgarh police officer.

The Maoists took Giri through a jungle path to the metalled road in front of the Koima camp. “It seems the decision to kill Giri near the camp was meant to prove their strength in Lalgarh,” the officer said.

This morning, the Maoists shot dead Brajokishore Mahato, member of the CPM’s Salboni branch committee. Mahato was abducted last night when he was returning home from a party meeting. 

Nuclear panic at Kaiga

Mangalore / Delhi: Residents of Karwar spent a sleepless Friday night after 40 maintenance personnel from the Kaiga nuclear plant were admitted to hospital with 'symptoms' of radioactive poisoning.

The 40 people, who were working at unit 1, were rushed to the Kaiga nuclear corporation hospital. The hospital authorities have denied the reports of radioactive poisoning and said all the 40 staff members were discharged immediately.

Senior members of the Delhi-based National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), who are monitoring the situation, said there was no reason to panic."We have spoken to our colleagues at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and there is no need to worry. Our nuclear reactors are very safe," said B Bhattacharjee, a nuclear scientist at NDMA.

Bhattacharjee said there was no leak at the nuclear plant. Sources said the employees working at unit 1 were found with high radiation levels in their body after they drank water from a water cooler in the operational area. It was later found that the water cooler was situated inside the plant on the operating island of KAPS-I. Tritium, also known as Hydrogen-3, is said to be the cause of the contamination, the sources said.

When the employees had to undergo a urine examination, which is manadatory for people working at the site, high tritium levels were detected. They were admitted to hospital and were treated.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

China boost to Pak military troubles India

Warships, fighters, missiles and millions in aid, Islamabad has it all
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 27

The ongoing military relationship between China and Pakistan is worrying India. Defence Minister AK Antony today hit out at China saying the “increasing nexus between China and Pakistan remains an area of serious concern ….. we have to carry out continuous appraisals of Chinese military capabilities and shape our responses accordingly”.

He was speaking at the 44th foundation day celebrations of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) in the Capital. 

“India wants to develop a friendly and cordial relationship with its neighbours including China. We continue our efforts. At the same time, there are issues that are a matter of concern to us,” he said. Antony’s fears are not misplaced. New Delhi feels the China-Pakistan military nexus is detrimental to its interests and the strategic balance in the South Asian region. 

Another area of concern for India is Chinese transfer of equipment and technology for Pakistan’s nuclear weapon programme. China has helped Pakistan build two nuclear reactors in the Punjab province and continues to support its nuclear programme.

China is Pakistan’s largest defence supplier. These include short-range ballistic missiles, fighter aircraft, frigates with helicopters, T-85 tanks, jet trainers, besides arms and ammunition.

Pakistan is scheduled to get the second of the four warships China is building for it next month. PNS Shamsheer, the frigate class warship F 22P, has anti-submarine warfare capabilities and armed choppers on board. In July this year, just days after India had launched its first N- powered submarine, China had handed over the first warship to Pakistan. Three of these ships will be built at a Chinese port, while the fourth one will be built in Pakistan. 

Just last week, the two neighbours of India had announced that they were co-developing a fighter jet named JF-17. The production facilities of the same will be housed in Pakistan, while China will provide most of the parts that includes a Russian-built engine. Separately, China has already agreed to supply some 36 J-10 fighters to Pakistan. The single-engine fighter is somewhere close to the Mirage-2000 owned by India. 

In the past, the Chinese have supplied Pakistan with K-8 jet trainers, Al-Khalid tanks and Al-Zarar tanks. Both have lower capability than India’s T-90 tanks. China has also supplied small arms and ammunition besides having built a ballistic-missile manufacturing facility near Rawalpindi to develop the 750-km-range, solid-fuel Shaheen-1 missile for Pakistan. 

Apart from two nuclear reactors, a huge port at Gwadar near Karachi has been set up with Chinese aid. In the second project, China has pumped in 80 per cent of the expenses, say sources. 

However, Antony was hopeful that China would reciprocate India’s initiatives aimed at mutual prosperity and understanding.

Countering Naxalism biggest challenge: PC


Asserting that countering the spread of Naxalite movement was the most serious challenge before the central government, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram has maintained that the CRPF had to play a major role to bring the tribesmen into the mainstream. 

“The Naxals, by their powerful propaganda machinery, succeeded in brainwashing innocent tribesmen into believing that they were their saviours…the Maoists have stepped up attacks on forces…the CRPF, which is already in the thick of it, has to play a major role…” Chidambaram said while addressing the CRPF’s 70th anniversary parade at Kadarpur in Gurgaon district today.

The minister asserted that the union government was fully committed to providing all necessary assistance in achieving armed forces’ professional objective.

“Enhanced security requirements are to be met squarely with increased capacity-building measures, professionalism and sharing of intelligence by all stakeholders,” he said, adding that state-of-the-art communication systems, data centres, micro-gadgets, precision weapons and BP jackets were being procured, which would help in planning and executing tough missions with precision and low-casualty rates.

Chidambaram said the state government had been asked to ensure basic facilities to the force personnel. He announced that the government had approved proposals for the construction of 8,826 quarters as separated family accommodation at existing CRPF locations.

Admitting that the force personnel bear high risk and there have been casualties in Jammu and Kashmir, northeast and LWE regions, the minister announced that adequate compensation for the risk undertaken was under active consideration at the Home Ministry.

Lauded the achievements of the CRPF, he said whenever challenges had been posed to the CRPF, they had invariably acquainted themselves well and achieved the objectives for which they were specially charged.

CRPF Director-General AS Gill said the annual changeover of battalions had been stopped to help the force to develop better understanding of the area of deployment.

Earlier, the Home Minister inspected and took salute of the parade comprising contingents, including women troops and sectors including RAF, commandos and retired gallantry medalists.

The minister awarded President’s Police Medal for Gallantry and Distinguished Services to 16 CRPF officials, including three posthumous ones. Those who were awarded the President’s Medal for Gallantry include late CT Dhanjay Singh, late CT Ganshyam, late CT Binod Roy, Inspector Gopal Prasad Singh, CT Jagdish Patel, HC Pyare Lal and CT Ram Ratan Meena.

President’s Police Medals for Distinguished Services were awarded to SMZ Rizvi, IG (Ops) Jorhat, RK Dua, DIG (RAF), SK Kapoor, DIG (on deputation with NTRO), RS Mehra, DIG (Greater Noida), SK Singh, IG (CRPF), NP Nathanael, IG (Guwahati), BK Sharma, IG, (Lucknow), Abdul Hakim, TA, DIG, RTC, Peringoam, and Khazan Singh, DIG (Sports).

The sponge of terror

Another 26/11 would bring immense public pressure on the government to retaliate, which would be matched by American pressure to remain unprovoked.

US pressure has worked earlier, notably after the 2001 attack on Parliament when India mobilised its military along the Pakistan border in 2002’s Operation Parakram. It annoyed the US no end because Pakistan moved 60,000 troops to the border, allowing so many al-Qaeda and Taliban types to slip into Pakistan and escape post-9/11 US military action in Afghanistan. The CIA learned that India was planning a brigade-level commando raid into PoK; the US, along with Britain and Germany, in June publicly withdrew all but essential diplomatic staff, delivering a veiled threat to India. The government started looking for a way out and declared Operation Parakram over after the successful J&K elections in August 2002.

Then there was last year’s siege of Mumbai.

The then foreign minister, Pranab Mukherjee, made some angry noises prompting former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to read the riot act to Pakistan; Islamabad retaliated with extortion when “unnamed military officials” said that any confrontation with India would hamper Pakistan army operations on the Afghan border. The CIA again noted two Indian Air Force violations of Pakistan airspace, as well as IAF preparations to hit terrorist camps in PoK, so the US vise on India was tightened.

The pressure to not retaliate was enough, perhaps, for the prime minister to require a multiple-bypass heart operation, but he had already told Parliament that war was not a solution, letting Pakistan off the hook.

You cannot help but wonder what happens after the next terrorist strike. With a pro- America prime minister who does not directly face the electorate and who gets visibly thrilled by grandiose American pronouncements about India-on-the-global-stage (notice no one making such lofty declarations ever makes promises about India becoming a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council), there are no prizes for guessing whose pressure will be more effective. India is likely to remain, in the words of Ashley J Tellis of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, at a US Senate hearing earlier this year, a “sponge that protects us all”. To quote Tellis: “India’s very proximity to Pakistan... has resulted in New Delhi absorbing most of the blows unleashed by those terrorist groups that treat it as a common enemy along with Israel, the US, and the West more generally”.

None of us wants to be a “sponge”. When the next terrorist strike comes, many of us will want to see some “payback”, even if it is a token muscular gesture. So let us examine what may initially seem an absurd proposition: why not leave Pakistan alone (for these days it is the bigger “sponge” for terrorism, to the extent that Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence directorate is repeatedly hit), and why not start talking of hitting targets in Saudi Arabia? Naturally no one would ever touch the holy places and of course the government should never do anything to distress or incite Indian Muslims. Also, Saudi Arabia is not a weak country; it has powerful allies.

Yet in the post-9/11 cacophony Pakistan is repeatedly called the epicentre of terrorism while no one talks much about the House of Saud’s role in promoting Islamism whether for religious reasons or geopolitical ones.

(Actually, several people pointed out that Osama bin Laden was a Saudi of Yemeni descent, and Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 911 explored the nexus between Saudi oil wealth, the Bush dynasty and terrorism).

When one gentleman, the venerable Ram Jethmalani, pointed out at a conference last Saturday that Wahabism was responsible for terrorism, the Saudi ambassador to India, Faisal-al-Trad walked out in protest; Law Minister Veerappa Moily had to sweettalk him into returning, saying that Jethmalani’s was not the government’s view.

There is something to what Jethmalani says, however. We have heard ad nauseam about how for decades the Wahabis have been promoting through petro-dollars their literalist and austere interpretation of Islam.

It is now a historical fact that most of today’s Islamists were spawned in the mujahideen resistance to the USSR’s invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979; that resistance was funded evenly by the Saudis and the Americans.

What people seem to overlook is that Saudi intelligence deliberately encouraged the growth and the agenda of the ISI during the resistance against the Soviet Union, according to Steve Coll’s excellent Ghost Wars; that the Saudis were never interested in moderates in the resistance; and that after the US abandoned Afghanistan following the withdrawal of the USSR, the Saudis encouraged the ISI to back extremist Gulbuddin Hekmatyar over others. And as radical Islam grew, the Saudis hint that they had to turn a blind eye to it so that the monarchy could be protected; that, however, does not explain the Saudis’ wilful support to the ISI’s agenda of promoting radical Islam, an agenda that combined two Pakistani strategic objectives: keeping India off-balance in Kashmir and controlling Kabul.

When the Taliban swept into power, they fulfilled these objectives perfectly; the ISI became more powerful and the Saudis more supportive, to the extent of pressing the Taliban case with the Americans. Saudi Arabia, UAE and Pakistan were the only countries to recognise the Taliban government (the Taliban showed its gratitude by allowing Saudi and UAE royals to hunt for bustards in the southern Afghan desert), knowing fully well that the Taliban could not care about governance or the welfare of its citizens; and when it came to the reconstruction of post-Taliban Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia wouldn’t even pay its half of the bill for the Kabul-Kandahar road, leaving the US to pick up the tab (in contrast, several Indians have died building Afghan roads). The Saudis have always turned a blind eye to the Harkat- ul-Ansar, the Jaish-e-Mohammed and the Lashkar-e-Toiba; it is no secret that the Saudis dislike India. No wonder their immense wealth is directly responsible for the ISI’s growth, nurturing and evolution.

Saudi Arabia is the benefactor and sustainer of the ISI in the same way that the ISI is the benefactor and sustainer of the LeT and other lethal anti-India groups. Saudi Arabia finances the global growth of Islamist ideologies, from which spring extremism and terrorism. So while some may argue that to get at the root cause of terrorism in India, one has to get at the ISI, this column would go one step further: for getting at the root cause of the Frankenstein called ISI, one has to start talking about getting at Saudi Arabia.

And next time there’s an attack on India, we could respond to US pressure by pointing the finger at the House of Saud. Or we could continue being the sponge for terrorism.

Russia floats out first frigate for Indian Navy

A Russian shipyard floated out the first of three frigates for India's Navy on Friday, a company spokesman said.
"The first of three Project 11356 frigates the company is building on an Indian order has been floated out," Sergei Mikhailov of the Yantar shipyard in Russia's Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad said.
The warships will become modified Krivak III class (also known as Talwar class) guided missile frigates for the Indian Navy under a $1.6 billion contract signed in July, 2006.
Mikhailov previously said sea trials would not start straight away as "post-construction work" was still to be carried out. The trials should start in 2010, he said.
The shipyard is to deliver the last warship to India in 2011-2012.
He said the ceremony was attended by senior Russian and Indian military and civilian officials.
"The ship was given a traditional 'baptism,' when prayers were read in Sanskrit," Mikhailov said. "India's consul general to St.Petersburg, Radhika Lokesh, was the godmother and smashed a coconut against the frigate. And a Russian shipyard worker smashed a bottle of Champagne, according to Russian tradition."
They will be also equipped with a 100-mm gun, a Shtil surface-to-air missile system, two Kashtan air-defense gun/missile systems, two twin 533-mm torpedo launchers, and an anti-submarine warfare helicopter.
KALININGRAD, November 27 (RIA Novosti)

What Obama’s dinner served India

Crystal, chandeliers, stars & stripes- it was a romantic setting, which could have been utilized by two willing partners to the best of their interests. In fact, the right moves were made by both sides like clinking champagne glasses while listening to love songs. But the date ended in a damp squib of sorts as no vows were taken.

We are of course not talking about a PG Woodhouse story or a Yash Chopra movie; but the Tuesday rendezvous of PM Manmohan Singh and President Barack Obama had all the makings of a bestseller and a blockbuster. But it sunk like Blue, with no big agenda in sight.

The dinner was an affair to remember no doubt. The Obamas kept their best foot forward in making the Singhs feel at home- the best one in America. Obama said ‘Namaste, Aapka Swagat Hai’ to Singh saab and Michelle gave the final word on high fashion as she wore churis and dupatta on her gown. The first state dinner of America’s first black President broke the George W Bush tradition in being a gala event for over 300 people in the lawns- Bush liked it small and exclusive; he held only 6 state dinners and one was for Dr Manmohan Singh.

And needless to say, more fruitful too. He convinced the world that it was time for India to come out of the shadows and deserved having the high end nuclear technology, which was denied to it so far. And he was funny, so that gave us a lot to write home about. But that’s a ‘misunderestimated’ aspect of his relationship vis-à-vis India.

So snatching attention from AR Rahman crooning Jai Ho at the green dinner- no link to Pakistan here; just the table drapery and cuisine theme- and focusing it on the business of the high profile visit, one may come to some clear conclusions about the new leadership in the US and its perception of India.

Pakistan & Afghanistan

It was probably for the first time ever that India made it clear it didn’t want the international forces to exit from Afghanistan just yet- and leave the field open for Pakistan to rebuild Taliban there. Singh said in no uncertain terms that he couldn’t believe the Pakistani Army going after its local Taliban and expected Obama to acknowledge, if not endorse, his views.

Tut, tut.

Obama expressed satisfaction at operations in South Wairistan and just said, “Obviously Pakistan has an enormously important role in the security in the region by making sure that the extremist organisations that often operate out of its territories are dealt with effectively." He did not even mention about the billions of dollars being pumped into that country that is most often- as a recent CIA report also said- used against India, though some strict provisions were introduced in the Kerry-Lugar Bill. How far would that be monitored remains to be seen.

The saving grace was Obama’s appreciation of India’s rebuilding efforts which flies in the face of Pakistani charge of India throwing the region off-balance by its presence their.


One of the primary aims of this visit was to test the waters about American policy on Asia and especially China and not just in view of the recent aggression of the communist nation which the PM ‘noted’. The concern was aggravated when Obama-Hu expressed their desire of working for peace in South Asia.

While there has been no retraction on that stance despite the loud noises India made, Obama clearly recognized India as a power, which was essential for peace and stability in Asia.

"Beyond Asia, as the world's largest multi-ethnic democracy, as one of the world's fastest-growing economies, and as a member of the G20, India will play a pivotal role in meeting the major challenges we face today,” he said, adding that India and US shared ‘values’ and were ‘natural and growing partners’. This language was absent during Obama’s China visit where he talked about respecting territorial integrity.

Terror and Security

Obama made it a point to remember the ghastly Mumbai terror attacks two days ahead of its first anniversary. He urged that perpetrators of 26/11 be brought to justice, but failed to name Hafiz Sayeed, who India believes is the mastermind. He vaguely said about cooperation on counter-terror front with India and both countries uniting against ‘external threats.’

He also said," To prevent future attacks, we agreed that our law enforcement and intelligence agencies will work even closer, including sharing more information," he said.

Obama’s mention of ‘terror’ and ‘neighbourhood’ in the same phrase was good to hear ofcourse, but the words have not begun matching actions and policies yet.

 Nuclear deal and non-proliferation

The celebrated India-US civil nuclear deal has emerged as perhaps the biggest sticking point between Obama and Manmohan. A left-over of the Bush era, the deal was to be signed with finality during Manmohan’s visit, but something changed when he landed there as India’s Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao announced they did not expect the PM to lock the deal.

Singh said only "Is remained to be dotted and Ts crossed" to complete the landmark deal.

The issue of reprocessing spent fuel and American nuclear companies having minimum liability in case of any nuclear eventuality in India in their plants has become a stumbling block. Even as both Obama and Manmohan maintained a reassured posture towards completion of the deal that changed relations between the biggest and greatest democracies, India accepting invitation to the Nuclear Conference next year has raised some eyebrows.

While Obama accepted India was a nuclear power, he tactfully added in the joint statement that both countries would work towards a nuclear free world. This falls in line with his proposed amendment to the deal when he was Senator in 2006 that almost wrecked it.

Economic cooperation

Economy is probably the best anchor for stable and prosperous ties between the US and India in times of recession. Not only is the US our largest trade partner, Indian companies invested an estimated USD 10 bn in that country which have created 65,000 jobs.

Some concrete steps have been taken to engage in better economic and trade ties. A new US-India Economic and Financial Partnership to strengthen bilateral engagement on macroeconomic, financial sector, development, and infrastructure related issues will be established by the Finance ministers of the respective countries in 2010.

On long-standing American concerns over India’s reforms, Singh, the architect of these reforms, said the positive changes would continue to occur in the Indian system. That India wants ‘a web of economic relationships to intensify both business-to-business and people-to-people contacts’ was made known by Singh to everyone who mattered.

It resulted in signing of MOUs between the patent offices of the two countries to share their knowledge and avoid any confusions like in the case of ‘neem’. A Memorandum of Intent has also been signed to promote two way investment. However, the two sides still do not see eye-to-eye on the issue of free trade which has stalled the Doha round for years now and it was not even taken up in this visit. An FTA with the US also seems a distant possibility right now.

 Climate Change

Probably the most crucial issue in the world at this time, climate change figured high on the table between the two leaders as was evident in the launching of a ‘Green Partnership’ programme. It envisages enhancing cooperation on energy security, energy efficiency, clean energy, and climate change.

The US is the second biggest polluter while India is the fourth one and both have locked horns in the run up to the Copenhagen Summit on global warming in early December. Obama-Manmohan did not defuse any tensions on the issue though gave a workable idea of bilateral agreements going a longer way. But does Earth have time for every country to enter a pact with the other for saving it?

There were 6 MOUs that both countries signed in various fields.


This was perhaps the most surprising and pleasant development during Manmohan Singh’s meeting with Obama. A highly educated man himself, Singh pushed for a new initiative in the area and launched a USD 10 mn 'Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative’.

This will encourage increased interaction and links between Indian and American universities. The bi-national Fulbright-Nehru Scholarship Program has been given a boost through a 45 per cent increase in funding by each government.

In the end, while one can’t say if India will stand to gain anything from the man who gave a new hope to the world and won the Nobel without even ending the war in Afghanistan, it is true that our PM is returning a happy man. And that is not just because Obama invoked Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr and Nehru in his welcoming remarks, but because he has probably realized that while the new President is no Bush, he is at least quite accommodating as well as forthcoming on issues common to India and the US.

After all, for the first time in its history, a US state dinner had a vegetarian menu, in the honour of the man from India.

Versions of Daksh to be displayed at Defence Expo


A few months ago, the Indian Army placed orders for an Improvised Explosives Device (IED) handling robot - Daksh - a two feet tall remote controlled machine used for removing improvised explosive devises. It can handle the IED from a distance, scan it to see if it contains a bomb and then disrupt it using a on-board water jet disrupter.

Now, the DRDO is coming out with varying versions of Daksh, which will be show-cased at the Defence Expo to be held in Delhi on February.

It is trying to build a smaller, more compact version which could be used by local law enforcement agencies like the CRPF, or the National Security Guard.

The R & D wing of the Indian Army is also working on a Gun mounted Robot. Instead of an IED handler, the robot will have a rifle, an LMG and a grenade launcher. This is designed somewhat along the lines of the Talon, a US made robot; around 1000 Talons have already been deployed by the US in the Iraq, said Alok Mukherjee, DRDO scientist.

“This could be useful in hostage situations. Instead of posting personnel on each and every corner, a robot loaded with arms could be sent to save lives,” he said.

Another version of the Daksh is the disrupter-mounted robot. While the original arm of the Daksh is used in handing IEDs, the disrupter-mounted version has no such appendage, reducing its weight. While Daksh is useful in handling suspect explosive objects before they are defused, the disrupter-mounted robot is designed just to destroy the suspect IED from a distance. 

from pak : Is it really India?

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi says that Pakistan is ‘compiling hard evidence of India’s involvement’ in terrorist attacks on Pakistan’s public and its armed forces.
If he and the interior minister are correct then we must conclude that the Indians are psychotics possessed with a death wish, or are perhaps plain stupid. While India’s assistance for Baloch insurgents could conceivably make strategic sense, helping the jihadists simply does not.

As Pakistan staggers from one bombing to the other, some Indians must be secretly pleased. Indeed, there are occasional verbalisations: is this not sweet revenge for the horrors of Mumbai (allegedly) perpetrated by Lashkar-i-Taiba?

Shouldn’t India feel satisfaction as Pakistan reels from the stinging poison of its domestically reared snakes?

But most Indians are probably less than enthusiastic in stoking fires across the border. In fact, the majority would like to forget that Pakistan exists. With a six per cent growth rate, booming hi-tech exports and expectations of a semi-superpower status, they feel that India has no need to engage a struggling Pakistan with its endless litany of problems.

Of course, some would like to hurt Pakistan. Extremists in India ask: shouldn’t one increase the pain of a country — with which India has fought three bloody wars — by aiding its enemies? Perhaps do another Bangladesh on Pakistan someday?

These fringe elements, fortunately, are inconsequential today. Rational self-interest demands that India not aid jihadists.

Imagine the consequences if central authority in Pakistan disappears or is sharply weakened. Splintered into a hundred jihadist lashkars, each with its own agenda and tactics, Pakistan’s territory would become India’s eternal nightmare.

When Mumbai-II occurs — as it surely would in such circumstances — India’s options in dealing with nuclear Pakistan would be severely limited.

The Indian army would be powerless. As the Americans have discovered at great cost, the mightiest war machines on earth cannot prevent holy warriors from crossing borders.

Internal collaborators, recruited from a domestic Muslim population that feels itself alienated from Hindu-India, would connive with jihadists.

Subsequently, as Indian forces retaliate against Muslims — innocent and otherwise — the action-reaction cycle would rip the country apart.

So, how can India protect itself from invaders across its western border and grave injury? Just as importantly, how can we in Pakistan assure that the fight against fanatics is not lost?

Let me make an apparently outrageous proposition: in the coming years, India’s best protection is likely to come from its traditional enemy, the Pakistan Army. Therefore, India ought to now help, not fight, against it.

This may sound preposterous. After all, the two countries have fought three and a half wars over six decades.

During periods of excessive tension, they have growled at each other while meaningfully pointing towards their respective nuclear arsenals.

And yet, the imperative of mutual survival makes a common defence inevitable. Given the rapidly rising threat within Pakistan, the day for joint actions may not be very far away.

Today Pakistan is bearing the brunt. Its people, government and armed forces are under unrelenting attack. South Waziristan, a war of necessity rather than of choice, will certainly not be the last one.

A victory here will not end terrorism, although a stalemate will embolden jihadists in south Punjab, including Lashkar-i-Taiba and Jaish-i-Mohammad. The cancer of religious militancy has spread across Pakistan, and it will take decades to defeat.

This militancy does not merely exist because America occupies Afghanistan. A US withdrawal, while welcome, will not end Pakistan’s problems. As an ideological movement, the jihadists want to transform society as part of their wider agenda.

They ride on the backs of their partners, the mainstream religious political parties like the Jamaat-i-Islami and Jamiat-i-Ulema-Pakistan.

None of these have condemned the suicide bombings of Pakistani universities, schools, markets, mosques, police and army facilities. 

Pakistan’s political leadership and army must not muddy the waters, especially now that public sanction has finally been obtained for fighting extremism in Swat and Waziristan.

Self-deception weakens and enormously increases vulnerability. Wars can only be won if nations have a clear rallying slogan. Therefore the battle against religious extremism will require identifying it — by name — as the enemy.

India should derive no satisfaction from Pakistan’s predicament. Although religious extremists see ordinary Muslims as munafiqs (hypocrites) — and therefore free to be blown up in bazaars and mosques — they hate Hindus even more.

In their calculus, hurting India would buy even more tickets for heaven than hurting Pakistan. They dream of ripping apart both societies, or starting a war — preferably nuclear — between Pakistan and India.

A common threat needs a common defence. But this is difficult unless the Pakistan-India conflict is reduced in intensity.

In fact the extremist groups that threaten both countries today are an unintended consequence of Pakistan’s frustrations at Indian obduracy in Kashmir.

To create a future working alliance with Pakistan, and in deference to basic democratic principles, India must be seen as genuinely working towards some kind of resolution of the Kashmir issue.

Over the past two decades India has been morally isolated from Kashmiri Muslims and continues to incur the very considerable costs of an occupying power in the Valley.

Indian soldiers continue to needlessly die — and to oppress and kill Kashmiri innocents. It is time for India to fuzz the Line of Control, make it highly permeable and demilitarise it up to some mutually negotiated depth on both sides.

Without peace in Kashmir the forces of cross-border jihad, and its hate-filled holy warriors, will continue to receive unnecessary succour.

India also needs to allay Pakistan’s fears on Balochistan. Although Pakistan’s current federal structure is the cause of the problem — a fact which the government is now finally addressing through the newly announced Balochistan package — it is nevertheless possible that India is aiding some insurgent groups.

Statements have been made in India that Balochistan provides New Delhi with a handle to exert pressure on Pakistan. This is unacceptable.

While there is no magic wand, confidence-building measures (CBMs) continue to be important for managing the Pakistan-India conflict and bringing down the decibel level of mutual rhetoric.

To be sure, CBMs can be easily disparaged as palliatives that do not address the underlying causes of a conflict.

Nevertheless, looking at those initiated over the years shows that they have held up even in adverse circumstances. More are needed.

The reason for India to want rapprochement with Pakistan, and thus end decades of hostility, has nothing to do with feelings of friendship or goodwill. It has only to do with survival. For us in Pakistan, this is even truer.

The writer teaches at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad