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Monday, September 14, 2009

Armed forces stick to their guns over diluting AFSPA

The Government’s proposal to dilute the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) has not found favour with the security forces as they want the act “in totality” to deal with terrorism and insurgency.

The Union Home Ministry has proposed to dilute some sections of the Act, including Clause 4, which give powers to security forces to “shoot to kill”. Facing criticism from human rights organisations and political leaders of Jammu & Kashmir and Manipur, the Ministry prepared a draft listing the amendment and sought the response of the Defence and Law Ministries. Setting up of a grievance redressal mechanism in case of misuse or abuse of the AFSPA was also mooted in the set of proposals.

The Government was also mulling over a proposal to withdraw the Act altogether from certain “relatively peaceful” parts of Jammu & Kashmir. The security forces were asked to give their opinion on this proposal and sources said a decision would be taken only after analysing the situation.

Clause 4 of the AFSPA allows an officer of the armed forces to open fire at a ‘suspect’ and provides him immunity even if the injury leads to death. The clause also prohibits the assembly of five or more persons or the carrying of weapons and explosive substances.

The proposed amendment drops words like “even to the causing of death” while retaining the language of the rest of the clause. The deletion of the word “death” as a consequence of an armed action was aimed at softening the tone and tenor of the clause to pacify the agitating political parties and human rights organisations.

Elaborating upon their reservations to the amendments, sources said that most of the times the operational commanders take all steps necessary steps to avoid a ham-handed approach and use force with due care to avoid collateral damage. They said the number of casualties suffered by the armed forces, including officers, in fighting militants in J&K bore testimony to the fact that force was used in a very judicious manner. Moreover, a very stringent punitive system was in place to deal with any human rights violations and the punishments, including life term, were pronounced in a very short time after the trial commenced, sources said.

Given this background and operational environment, officials said that any dilution in the Act would hamper the functioning of the commanders. The security forces were deployed in “extraordinary circumstances”, they added. With the near-absence of a functioning State administration, the security forces therefore needed “extraordinary powers” to deal with the situation and act effectively to bring normalcy and peace to the area, they said.

These views would be conveyed to the Government within the next few days, sources said, adding that the situation in the two border States was far from normal and the existing AFSPA was needed for tackling terrorism and insurgency there.

The AFSPA was promulgated in J&K in 1990 and the entire Manipur State was covered by the Act in 1980 after some parts were brought under the ambit of the Act in 1958.

U.S. aid was used on defence against India, says Musharraf



Pervez Musharraf
ISLAMABAD: The former President, Pervez Musharraf, has said the military aid the U.S. gave Pakistan for the war against terror during his tenure was used to strengthen defences against India.
Gen.(Retd.) Musharraf admitted that he had violated the rules governing the use of the military aid, but justified his action, saying he had “acted in the best interest of Pakistan.”
He did not want to compromise on Pakistan’s interests, he said.
In an interview to a news channel, he said he “did not care” whether the U.S. would be angered by his disclosure.
India and several influential lawmakers in the U.S. have been accusing Pakistan of having used the U.S. funds to strengthen its defences against India.
However, Pakistan has denied any wrongdoing.
Gen. (Retd.) Musharraf said that had he not supported the U.S. in the war on terror after the September, 2001 attacks, American forces could have entered Pakistan to capture its nuclear assets; it was also possible that the U.S. and India could have jointly attacked the country. — PTI

Pokhriyal seeks more patrolling forces on India-China border

Dehradun: Uttarakhand Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal has reportedly informed the Central government about possible incursions by the Chinese in his State.
Mr. Pokhriyal, quoting reports from locals in Rimkhim in Chamoli district, said the Chinese had entered the State on September 5 and left behind biscuit packet wrappers and cigarettes.
He informed both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Home Ministry about this development and sought their help in curbing what he described as frequent incursions in his State. “We have demanded more patrolling force on the India-China border,” he said.
No incursion: ITBP
The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) on Sunday denied media reports that the Chinese army has made any incursion into the Uttarakhand border but said security forces were on high alert.
“We have not sighted any incursion by the Chinese army on the Indian side in Uttarakhand,” ITBP DIG Sanjay Singhal said here. However, some civilians, mostly shepherds, come to the Indian side during the monsoon season which was not an “unusual” thing on the Uttarakhand-Tibet border, particularly in Barahoti area in Chamoli, Mr. Singhal said. — ANI/PTI

FLIR gets $7.2 million surveillance order from the Indian Air Force

September 1, 2009--FLIR Systems (Portland, OR) received a $7.2 million U.S. Government Foreign Military Sale (FMS) order for the Indian Air Force. The order includes FLIR System's Star SAFIRE(R) III infrared multi-sensor surveillance systems, training and related services. The units delivered under this award will be installed on C-130J Fixed Wing Surveillance Platforms in support of Indian Ministry of Defense airborne missions (see also "FLIR Systems announces foreign and domestic orders").
This FMS order represents the first fixed-wing sale of FLIR's multi-sensor systems to the Indian Ministry of Defense. Work on this order will be performed at FLIR's facility in Wilsonville, Oregon and deliveries are expected to be completed by 2011.
"This order, the result of FLIR's world-class products and significant investment in regional support and training, demonstrates our ability to penetrate new international markets," said Earl R. Lewis, president and CEO of FLIR Systems. "We are pleased the Indian Ministry of Defense has chosen FLIR products for their critical homeland security and national defense missions and look forward to collaborating with them in the future."

FLIR Systems designs, manufactures, and markets thermal imaging and stabilized camera systems for a wide variety of thermography and imaging applications.

Shamed, Krishna forgoes IAF’s special aircraft



External Affairs Minister S M Krishna
Krishna on Sunday announced that he would henceforth not use the government’s special aircraft to fly abroad and would rather travel economy class on commercial airliners. Pawar on Sunday flew economy class from Mumbai to Delhi on a private carrier.

It was Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s public appeal to Krishna and his deputy Shashi Tharoor to leave their five-star hotel accommodation that had set the UPA Government’s austerity agenda last week. Mukherjee’s call had come nearly three weeks after Congress president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi told a Congress Working Committee meet that party and government functionaries should be austere in private and public life to reflect the concern for the underprivileged people, particularly the drought-hit.

Pawar is believed to be among those who had protested against the austerity measures, particularly the finance minister’s suggestion that Union ministers should avoid flying premium class.

In a meeting of the Cabinet last Thursday, Pawar reportedly pointed out it would be difficult for him to study files and do official work while flying economy class.

But the two high-profile ministers fell in line on Sunday. Krishna’s tryst with austerity will begin immediately. He will travel to Turkmenistan and Belarus next Tuesday.

He was supposed to fly on the Indian Air Force Embraer jet with a delegation of about six Ministry of External Affairs officials. To drive home his commitment to austerity, Krishna declared he would travel economy class with only three officials. “I will go by commercial flights,” he said.

By virtue of the office they occupy, the home, defence and external affairs ministers are entitled to fly on IAF’s Embraer jets.

Krishna’s decision came a day after Mukherjee himself practised what he preached. The finance minister travelled from Delhi to Kolkata in economy class on the low-cost carrier SpiceJet and returned to Delhi in the same class on an Air India flight.

Pawar was in Mumbai to oversee the Nationalist Congress Party’s preparations for the forthcoming Assembly elections in Maharashtra. Like Mukherjee, he returned to Delhi flying economy class on Kingfisher Airlines.

Union Minister for Women and Child Development Krishna Tirath has cancelled her tour to New York. Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad asked officials to cut down on foreign and domestic travel. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Bansal had earlier cancelled a goodwill trip with around 12 MPs to Greece and Egypt, destinations to which he was to lead the delegation.

Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, who said her ministry had cut down on foreign travels by officials by 50 per cent and discouraged five-star hotel stay, said she had practised austerity for decades.(DH)

India is beefing up China border defences

New Delhi: A massive upgrade of infrastructure and military capabilities is under way along the disputed India-China border in a bid to be prepared for any misadventures from the other side.

To this end, a huge jump in military strength along the border is under way. While a decision to locate Sukhoi-30 fighters at Tezpur from June 2009 has already been announced, the Indian Air Force (IAF) may also beef up its presence in the Chabua airbase and maintain heli-lift capabilities in other parts of the north-east.

For decades since the 1962 war, India had officially decided not to develop its border with China fearing that it would provide easy access to invading Chinese troops. A few years ago, that policy was junked and India plunged into an aggressive development of its border infrastructure.

It is now reactivating several airstrips built during World War II or the 1962 war and abandoned later. On May 31 this year, the IAF reactivated the world's highest airstrip, at Daulat Beg Oldie in Ladakh, originally built during the 1962 Sino-Indian war. The strip, close to the Karakoram pass, is capable of landing AN-32 transport aircraft.

Several other advanced landing grounds, such as Fukche, Chushul and Nyama have also been made functional. "The logistics disasters of 1962 will never be repeated," says an air force officer, referring to India's inability at the time to provide support to its army in the frontlines.

India has also been trying to quickly catch up with China in building all-weather connectivity almost up to the last post, essential for a strong response to any Chinese misadventure, say many within the military leadership. "They are much ahead 

of us in infrastructure, but we are fast catching up," said a military source. A large network of roads is also being built; over 30 major new road links are in progress, besides several smaller strips.

In the north-east, the army is raising two divisions, with 15,000to 30,000 soldiers. They would add strength to the defence of the Arunachal Pradesh border, especially Tawang, which China is very keen to reclaim.

"We did exhibit our ability to carry out swift beefing-up of deployment during Operation Falcon in 1986-87," says a senior army officer. Operation Falcon refers to India's troop movement during the standoff with China at Sumdorong Chu. raising the country's third artillery division along the northeast border, with Bofors howitzers and indigenously manufactured Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launchers.

The absence of noise from the military leadership on the alleged Chinese incursions is because India wants to be discreet about its build-up, so as not to spark off any unnecessary complications between the Asian giants.

Military leaders also insist that though India may not match up to China in numbers, it is capable of responding well in the event of a major skirmish. "We are not the army of 1962. We have a competent presence, and technologically we are superior on many fronts," says a former commander of an army corps deployed along the northeast, an opinion shared by many senior army officers."I don't frankly see any change in the situation along the border. But, hypothetically, if it came to a military confrontation, we are confident of our capabilities," a senior officer in the army headquarters said.

Burma: A battleground for India and China

Great Game of the 19th Century was played between empire builders Britain and Russia, using Afghanistan as their football in seeking control of central Asia. Today, there is a new great game under way between two very different competitors - China and India. But this time the ball is Burma.
In much the same way that Afghanistan was a poor and undeveloped but strategic piece of territory, so Burma now fits that role for the two burgeoning economic giants.
The coastline of Burma provides naval access in the proximity of one of the world's most strategic water passages, the Strait of Malacca, the narrow ship passage between Malaysia and Indonesia.
The Strait of Malacca, linking the Indian and Pacific Oceans, is the shortest sea route between the Persian Gulf and China. It is the key chokepoint in Asia. More than 80% of all China's oil imports are shipped by tankers passing the Malacca Strait. The narrowest point is the Phillips Channel in the Singapore Strait, only 1.5 miles wide at its narrowest. Daily more than 12 million barrels in oil supertankers pass through this narrow passage, most en route to the world's fastest-growing energy market, China or to Japan.
If the strait were closed, nearly half of the world's tanker fleet would be required to sail further. Closure would immediately raise freight rates worldwide. More than 50,000 vessels per year transit the Strait of Malacca. The region from Burma to Banda Ache in Indonesia is fast becoming one of the world's most strategic chokepoints.
Controlling the strategic sea lanes from the Persian Gulf to the South China Sea, the United States has been trying to militarize the region since September 11, 2001 on the argument of defending against possible terrorist attack. The US has managed to gain an airbase on Banda Ache, the Sultan Iskandar Muda Air Force Base, on the northernmost tip of Indonesia. The governments of the region, including Burma, however, have adamantly refused US efforts to militarize the region.
Since it became clear to China that the US was hell-bent on a unilateral militarization of the Middle East oil fields in 2003, Beijing has stepped up its engagement in Burma. China is officially Burma's third-largest trading partner after Singapore and Thailand and the largest foreign investor in Burma, though the size of this investment is not recorded and not visible in international statistics.
China is also Burma's most important defense ally, supplying most of its military hardware and training. In recent years Beijing has poured billions of dollars in military assistance into Burma, including fighter, ground-attack and transport aircraft; tanks and armored personnel carriers; naval vessels and surface-to-air missiles. This has made the Burmese military - the second largest in Southeast Asia after Vietnam - much more technically sophisticated. It has enabled the army to expand from 180,000 men to more than 450,000 today.
In 1992, China and Burma agreed that China would modernise Burmese naval facilities, in return for permitting the Chinese navy to use the Small and Great Coco Island. Since then, Chinese experts have built an electronic intelligence station on Great Coco Island, vastly improved and militarised the Burmese port facilities in the Bay of Bengal at Akyab (Sittwe), Kyaukpyu and Mergui, and constructed a major naval base on Hainggyi Island near the Irrawaddy river delta.
China is currently building a deep-sea port in Kyaukpyu, which is located on the route connecting southwestern China's Kunming city with Burma's Sittwe, in Arakan. The port has a water depth of 20 metres and is capable of accommodating 4,000 TEU (20-foot equivalent units) container vessels. A feasibility study for the seaport and road construction, outlined as Kunming-Mandalay-Kyaukpyu-Sittwe, was made in 2005. Once the 1,943 km Kunming-Kyuakpu road is completed, it is expected to facilitate transit trade and provide job opportunities for Burmese workers and others in the region.
China assists in constructing a naval base in Sittwe (Akyab), a strategically important seaport close to eastern India's largest city and port, Kolkata. It also funds road construction linking Rangoon and Akyab, providing the shortest route to the Indian Ocean from southern China. It has also built an 85-metre jetty, naval facilities and major reconnaissance and electronic intelligence systems on the Great Coco Island, located 18 kilometers from India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands, giving China capabilities to monitor India's military activities, including missile tests. Access to Burma's ports and naval installations provide China with strategic influence in the Bay of Bengal, in the wider Indian Ocean region and in Southeast Asia.
In fact Burma is an integral part of what China terms its "string of pearls," its strategic design of establishing military bases in Burma, Thailand and Cambodia in order to counter US control over the Strait of Malacca chokepoint. There is also energy on and offshore of Burma, and lots of it.
As a result of increased Chinese influence in Burma, as well as arms-trafficking occurring along the Indo-Burmese border, India has sought in recent years to strengthen its ties with Burma. India's interest in Burma is largely motivated by the country's importance to its main economic and political rival, China. India is afraid of China's influence in Burma.
India's interest in and involvement with Southeast Asia has been growing steadily over the past decade. New Delhi would like to use the country as a trade link to the fast-growing ASEAN region. In 2004, an agreement was signed in Yangon by the foreign ministers of India, Burma and Thailand to develop transport linkages between the three countries. This included a 1,400 km highway connecting northeastern India with Mandalay and Yangon, and on to Bangkok, which would contribute to opening up trade between the countries and give India access to Burmese ports. India is also spending $100 million to fund a deal linking Burma's Sittwe port with an Indian one, perhaps Calcutta. A planned deep-sea port in Dawei, together with a new highway connecting it to Kanchanaburi in Thailand, would no doubt contribute further to commercial links.
Dawei, the capital of Tanintharyi division, is on the long, narrow coastal plain of southern Burma. Building Dawei port also has a direct security angle for the Indian navy, which is now in the process of sorting out the technical and financial details of its ambitious Far Eastern Naval Command (FENC) project at Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman Islands. FENC is intended to extend the Indian navy's nuclear/strategic combat capability. Dawei is located across the Andaman Sea on the Burmese coast, almost facing FENC. Indian analysts worry that the Chinese base on Great Coco Island poses a threat to the Indian tri-services command in Port Blair, which is only about 190 nautical miles (300 km) away. The Coco Island base lies only 22 nautical miles from Landfall Island, the northernmost of the Andamans. The Coco Island facility is also seen as a significant ELINT (electronic intelligence) and SIGINT (signal intelligence) threat to India's missile-testing range, Chandipur-on-Sea and the Sriharikota Island Launching Range, which are designed to assemble, test and launch Indian multi-stage rockets.
According to Indian security analysts, the Chinese presence on Coco Island should be seen in connection with the Sino-Pakistani defense project and cooperation on the Gwadar Port facilities, which give China access and basing facilities on the other side of the Indian subcontinent, near the Strait of Hormuz. What is especially worrisome from the Indian perspective is the 'maritime encirclement of India', with the Chinese based at Gwadar to the west of India and on Coco Island to the east. In addition, Burma's experiments with a nuclear research reactor are worrisome from an Indian perspective, especially since China, Pakistan and Russia have all been involved. Indian analysts fear that China's naval presence in Burma may allow it to interdict regional sea lanes of communication. On this account, Burma is emerging as the 'single largest threat to Indian strategic interests in South East Asia'. In an effort to check this state of affairs, India has started its own campaign to woo the Burmese regime by providing military training and selling it arms and military hardware.
Offshore natural gas has become the major source of income for the Burmese military regime, and will become increasingly important in the years to come. India and China have both engaged in acquiring Burmese oil benefits.
In 2004, Burma exported natural gas to Thailand for nearly US$1 billion, which is claimed to be at least twice as much as Burma could have earned from trade with the USA and the EU if they had not applied sanctions. The oil and gas sector continued to grow in 2005, owing to Chinese, Thai, South Korean and Indian investments. Thailand's imports from Burma, mainly consisting of gas from Yadana and Yetagun, rose by more than 50% that year. Gas is now by far the most important source of income for Burma, and one-third of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Burma is in the oil and gas sector. The combined FDI in Burmese oil and gas since 1988 is approximately US$2.5 billion, 33% of all of Burma's FDI. From the newly discovered Shwe field alone, the Korean Daewoo International has predicted at least US$86 million in net profit annually for 20 years from 2010, while Burma is projected to earn a minimum of US$800 million a year, and potentially up to US$3 billion.
In 2004 a large new gas field, Shwe field, off the coast of Arakan was discovered by Daewoo International. There are preliminary plans to explore for gas in several blocks in the Bay of Bengal, but so far test drilling has only been made in Shwe's blocks A-1 and A-3. The A-1 block is the largest, estimated to contain between 2.88 trillion and 3.56 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Partners in the project's international consortium are Daewoo (60%), the state-owned Korean Gas Corporation (10%), and India's ONGC (20%) and GAIL (10%). Production from the Shwe field is planned to start in 2009. Natural gas from Shwe has become a contentious issue in relations between India and China, and an obstacle to Sino-Indian energy cooperation.
In December 2005, Burma signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Petro-China to supply large volumes of natural gas from reserves of the Shwe gasfield in the Bay of Bengal.
The contract runs for 30 years. India was the main loser. Burma had earlier given India a major stake in two offshore blocks to develop gas to have been transmitted via pipeline through Bangladesh to India's energy-hungry economy. Political bickering between India and Bangladesh brought the Indian plans to a standstill.
Burma exemplifies the difficult balance between competition and cooperation between China and India over oil and gas resources in third countries. India and China's proximity to Burma provides an opportunity for both countries to enhance their energy security by diversifying fuel-supply sources while avoiding the need for expensive LNG (liquid natural gas) transportation.
For China, Burma also represents a possible overland supply route for oil and other commodities bypassing the Malacca Strait, a sea-lane that is vulnerable in the event of an attack or embargo. Access to Burmese ports and overland transportation routes through Burma are seen as a vital security asset for China. This has become increasingly important with the growing Chinese dependence on imported oil, 80% of which is shipped into China via the Malacca Strait. A key Chinese objective is thus to import oil through Burma. According to a recent report, plans for an oil pipeline linking Burma's deep-water port of Kyaukpyu with Kunming in China's Yunnan province were approved by the National Development and Reform Commission (a department of the Chinese State Council) in early April 2006.
China took advantage of the stalemate. China simply trumped India with an offer to invest billions in building a strategic China-Burma oil and gas pipeline across Burma from Burma's deepwater port at Kyaukpyu in the Bay of Bengal to Kunming in China's Yunnan Province, a stretch of more than 2,300 kilometers. China plans an oil refinery in Kumming as well.
What the Burma-China pipelines will allow is routing of oil and gas from Africa (Sudan among other sources) and the Middle East (Iran, Saudi Arabia) independent of dependence on the vulnerable chokepoint of the Malacca Strait. Burma becomes China's "bridge" linking Bangladesh and countries westward to the China mainland independent of any possible future moves by Washington to control the strait.
From a perceived China fear and with an objective to compete with China, India has been building up its military strength. India has worked to close the gap with China by spending heavily on modern arms. And under the threat perception, India has been pursuing the closer relations with the United States, something that worries China.
Themistocles, a Greek writer, once said that, "he who commands the sea has command of everything." It was Alfred T. Mahan, an American naval strategist who said in 1911: "Whoever controls the Indian Ocean dominates Asia…. in the 21st century the destiny of the world will be decided on its waves." Both China and India's growing military ambitions and maritime power building-up in seeking the control of Indian Ocean have the potential to destabilise the region. Of all the Southeast Asian states, Burma occupies the most sensitive position between India and China, giving rise to routine descriptions of a 'Sino-India rivalry' over the country. (The Independent)

US clears Hawkeye E-2D aircraft for India

The US government has cleared yet another high technology system for India, the "futuristic" shipboard Hawkeye E-2D aircraft for Airborne Early Warning (AEW) and battle management.
The clearance has been described by diplomatic sources as a fallout of the "successful" visit of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the signing of the End User Monitoring Agreement (EUMA) of military equipment being supplied or sold by the US to India. 
Like the Boeing P 8I Maritime Multi-mission Aircraft (MMA), of which the Indian Navy has already ordered eight aircraft, the Hawkeye E-2D is the very latest and is yet to be delivered to the US Navy. 
India is the second country after the UAE to be cleared by the US State and Defense Departments for sale of this sophisticated system. The US Navy has sanctioned $432 million for trials of the aircraft, currently underway at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland. The Naval Systems Command (NAVAIR) based there provides engineering and testing support for new naval systems and weapons. 
The Hawkeye E-2D has been under the US government's consideration for India for some time. In fact, in 2007, Pentagon sources in Washington had told this writer that the aircraft was being cleared, but apparently the previous version, Hawkeve E-2C, was eventually offered to which the Indian Navy said "No" in informal discussions. 
The aircraft is being manufactured by Northrop Grumman, a leading US player in Aerospace, Warships, Missiles, Combat Radars and Electronic Warfare systems. 
Northrop Grumman's programme Manager for International Business Development Tom C. Trudell told India Strategic magazine that the aircraft has "just been cleared by the US government for India" and that a presentation was made to the Indian Navy in August in New Delhi. 
Indian Navy officers had witnessed the capabilities of the Hawkeye E-2C but told the US officials that as the equipment it would buy would be used for years, it must be the best and the latest with future capability insertion potential. 
India Strategic quotes unnamed Indian officials as saying that the technology onboard the Hawkeye E-2D is "very tempting" and that although neither the Gorshkov aircraft carrier which India is buying from Russia nor India's first aircraft carrier indigenously being built would be able to accommodate this aircraft, India's future aircraft carriers could be a little bigger. 
"By the time this aircraft comes, and by the time the Indian Navy gets used to it from initial shore-based operations, plans for two more aircraft carriers could be amended to house this system." 
There have been no tenders of RfPs yet for the Hawkeye E-2D, but then companies from worldwide present their wares to various countries either by themselves and at their own cost, or make offerings in response to Request for Information (RfI) which are floated in routine by all the armed forces to know what is available in terms of newer generation of systems. 
Future aircraft carriers of the Indian Navy would also have to be equipped with catapult launching systems, for which it is already looking around. India's second and third aircraft carriers should have this facility along with lifts and adequate open area for what is called free deck takeoff.
The Mig 29Ks that the Indian Navy is buying for Gorshkov, will be launched by a ski ramp.
Tip to tip, the Hawkeye is a bigger aircraft than the Mig 29. 
Trudell said that although Northrop Grumman had been allowed to make presentations to the Indian Navy, its sale would have to be direct between the Indian and US government under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme. There are many systems on board, developed for US Navy, which only the US government can clear for transfer to other countries. 
The US Navy has initially ordered five Hawkeye E-2Ds under a Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) programme, and the first aircraft should be delivered to the US Navy in 2011. 
India can get the aircraft within three years of a contract being signed, said Trudell.

Governor visits Tangtse, Pangong Lake; conducts aerial survey, addresses troops

Leh (Ladakh), Sept 13(NAK): The Governor, N. N. Vohra, on the third day of his five-day visit to Ladakh region, visited Tangtse and Pangong Lake in Nyoma Sub-Division of Leh District, today.

The Governor was accompanied by the Chief of Staff, 14 Corps, Maj. Gen. R. K. Yadav, and the Principal Secretary to the Governor, Raj Kumar Goyal.

The Governor visited 114 Brigade, where he was briefed by the GOC, 3 Inf. Div, Maj. Gen. Anil Oberoi and the Brigade Commander, Brig. Somnath Jha about their sector.

The Governor addressed the troops and had tea with them. He had a special word of appreciation for the high devotion with which the officers and men were guarding the frontiers of the country, in difficult and hostile climatic conditions.

The Governor also had an aerial reconnaissance of various formations under 114 Brigade.

Later, on arrival at the Pangong Lake, situated at an elevation of 14,000 feet in the eastern sector of Ladakh, at a distance of 154 km from Leh, the Governor was presented the Guard-of-Honour by a contingent of the Army. Along with the senior Commanders deployed in this area, the Governor viewed the expanse of the lake, in a motor boat, for about half an hour. One of the largest lakes in the country, the other end of Pangong is held by the Chinese Army with whom the Indian Army officers hold periodic meetings.

India must become and behave like a strong 'State'

THERE HAVE been reports of Pakistan violating cease fire agreement across the border with India at both the International border and the Line of Control (LOC). At the international border and  Kathua range, the Pakistani army appears to be trying to bring in as many terrorists as possible to the other side of the area so as to ignite the terror mayhem in the valley against security forces and the common man.
Thus, ISI seems to be determined to keep the fire of Azadi burning in the valley to grind its own axe of annexing Kashmir. The ploy to support independent Kashmir is allegedly a tactic of Pakistan, as a weak and undefended Kashmir will be easy to grab as compared to one strongly protected and defended by the Indian armed forces.

The reason to accept a standstill agreement with the Maharaja initially had very early exposed the intention of our neighbour and the country had left no time in completely grabbing the entire state but for the timely intervention of Indian armed forces.

The bigotry of religion and politics based on religion was a great curse for the division of common masses of this sub-continent. Those, who, still favour and forward such agenda of hate and division on communal lines are in fact the enemies of common people and they just have been hoodwinking people.

It is immaterial if Jinnah was a secular or a communal person. At this stage all those, who supported the partition of the country are equally responsible. What happened at that time has been a bitter lesson and should not be revisited to create more confusion in the minds of people.

There is immediate need to address the security of the country and look after the reasons ocausing steep price rise. Drought can be one factor for price rise but the prices had started touching the skies even before the months of May, June, July and August. It is quite apparent that government has not been able to do anything on the most important and crucial fronts concerning common man in the country.

We have diluted the much talked about firm policy on Kashmir and have stepped back to a defensive posture, allowing the other party undue advantage. We have not been able to identify the people who have taken 70 lakh crore rupees from the country and deposited the amount illegally in foreign banks.

We have failed to regulate the economy because we have lost control over our markets and have landed people once again into the death knells of profit mongers, black-marketers, black money barons and counterfeit currency racketeers. Our leaders in both the ruling party and the opposition have miserably failed us. They seem to be busy with there turf ifghts and raising such issues which gives them momentary fame and mass attention for petty benefits of self glory and promotion.

Reading through the lines on China's insurgency

IN RECENT times, both the print and electronic media has been full of reports about alleged Chinese intrusions across McMahon Line. No doubt the outrage expressed regarding the Red army's insurgency is justified and has been well articulated. But what about the Indian response? Has the media done any research or in-depth reporting on the functioning of government of India?
 
The fact of matter is that Indian response to Chinese one-upmanship on the LAC has been always hobbled by the timidity of the Indian establishment. This timidity has led to the political heads surrendering their authority to the bureaucrats.
 
This fact is borne out by reports carried in many newspapers, particularly one carried by a prominent national daily on September 13, wherein it has been reported that the China Study Group, comprising of certain bureaucrats had a few years back, laid restrictions on the movement of the Indian Army along McMahon Line. The same group also reportedly stipulated that the ITBP men should go to certain areas unarmed. Imagine facing certain death without any means for self-defence.
 
What kind of system do we have? Is it a democracy? If yes, how come the Cabinet has surrendered it's authority over the armed forces to a bunch of bureaucrats? And, equally importantly, why has our media not taken up this issue? Would it take it up now?

State-of-the-art equipment and precision training add to the lethal power of the Indian Army’s infantry

A BMP infantry combat vehicle is put through its paces over
A BMP infantry combat vehicle is put through its paces over rough terrain
Photo courtesy Defence PIB
State-of-the-art equipment and precision training add to the lethal power of the Indian Army’s infantry, writes Vijay Mohan, after
a visit to
the Vajra Battle School
IN peace prepare for war, in war prepare for peace. The art of war is of vital importance to the State. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence, under no circumstances can it be neglected, says noted military strategist Sun Tzu, and very rightly so. This is the core of peacetime operations of armed forces all over the world.
The essence of modern military training lies in moulding its commanders and soldiers into effective tools of combat, capable not only of rapid re-adjustment and delivering across a vast spectrum of armed conflict when required , but also to maintain its capability of deterrence and enforce peace.
As the dynamics of geopolitics shift across the continents and non-state players become an increasingly hostile element in the security environment, soldiers have to be trained, equipped and oriented for a variety of roles in vastly different terrains and situations.
Army commanders and military think tanks have been involved in re-writing training manuals and devising suitable training models encompassing new subjects and fine-tuning the existing syllabi to cater to the current and future requirements.
Despite huge advances in technology leading to automation and digitisation of the battlefield, the ubiquitous infantryman retains his position of importance, though he, too, has become tech-savvy and a multi-role combat machine than the plain rifle-and-bayonet- wielding humble foot soldier of yore.
Consequent to the 1999 Kargil conflict, which was primarily an infantry affair with troops assaulting mountain peaks, the Indian infantry has witnessed significant modernisation. Hand-held thermal imagers and night vision goggles, GPS sets, light-weight secure radios and improved clothing and webbing have become the order of the day, enabling the infantry to observe, move and strike in the dark. Gone are the bulky 7.62 mm self-loading rifles and the huge recoilless guns mounted on jeeps.
Soldiers are now equipped with indigenous smaller and lighter 5.56 mm INSAS rifles, backed by awesome firepower from automatic grenade launchers, flame throwers, hand-held multi-grenade launchers and the latest Carl Gustav Mark-3 rocket launchers. Soldiers today, officers said, are catagorised by the quantum of their firepower and mobility.
The Army’s role in counter-terrorist operations, low-intensity conflict and operations in urban areas have given a new impetus to close quarter battle drills and combat in built-up areas.
A visit to Vajra Battle School in the western sector showed how serious the Army is about this aspect of warfare. A special indoor range, simulating a series of rooms with automatic prop-up targets, trains soldiers in reflex shooting, neutralising hostile elements in building and hostage rescue. Live ammunition is used and standards have been set where a particular number of targets have to be shot within a specific time.
"Though such activity was always a part of the training, the emphasis on combat in built-up areas is now more than before, though not at the cost of training in conventional warfare," an officer said. "Troops from all formations undergo this periodically and the school remains busy throughout the year," he added.
Also assuming greater significance is the slithering operation, where troops are trained to descend from helicopters hovering about 30 metres above the ground using ropes and special gloves. This indicates growing emphasis on heli-borne operations by the infantry and acquiring a capability of rapid redeployment.
With the nuclear umbrella shadowing the subcontinent, troops also have a new topic to learn — protection as well as combat in an nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC)-contaminated area. Special shelters have been designed to insulate troops from radiation as well as from chemically and biologically-contaminated environment. Though the Army is inducting equipment and training for operations in an NBC environment, it is still far from achieving the desired levels of sufficiency in equipment.
As the Army grapples with the challenge of modernisation and ambles down the road into the future, it has devised the concept of converting an individual soldier into a hi-tech fighting machine. Termed F-INSAS (Future Infantry Soldier as a System), it envisions the Indian infantry equipped with the latest weaponry, communication network and instant access to information on the battlefield. It includes a fully networked all-terrain, all-weather personal-equipment platform, enhanced firepower and mobility for the digitalised battlefield of the future.
With speed, precision and lethality being the hallmark of F-INSAS, the fully integrated infantryman will be equipped with mission-oriented equipment integrated with his buddy soldier team, the sub-unit, as also the overall C4I2 (Command, Control, Communications Computers, Information and Intelligence) system.
A soldier’s kit would include helmets with visors, video camera, thermal, chemical and biological sensors. and head-up display, waterproof but breathable clothing with a light weight bullet-proof jacket and health monitoring sensors, palmtop computer and a new array of multi-caliber assault weapons.
Glorious
trail

Western Command turns 62 on September 15
Western Command — the Army’s sword arm — turns 62 this month. Raised on September 15, 1947, with its Headquarters at Delhi and Lieut-Gen Dudley Russel as the first General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, it was then called the Delhi and East Punjab (DEP) Command, controlling formations with an operational role in the jurisdiction of the present Western, South-Western and Northern Commands.
A trooper lines up the sights of a Carl Gustav rocket launcher during training
A trooper lines up the sights of a Carl Gustav rocket launcher during training Tribune photo: S. Chandan
The genesis of the Command can be traced back to the abolition of the Presidency armies on April 1, 1895, and the subsequent formation of four commands. In June, 1947, the Punjab Boundary Force, comprising units of Indian and Pakistan armies was set up for both, east and west Punjab. But it was disbanded on September 15, 1947, with the two nations taking responsibility for their respective territories. It was then that the DEP Command was raised.
With war breaking out between India and Pakistan in October, 1947, the area of responsibility of the Command was extended to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Troops were immediately airlifted into the war zone and a battalion — the famed 1 Sikh — was deployed effectively on October 27. This action gave the Indian Army a foothold for undertaking subsequent operations that saved Srinagar from being captured by Pakistan.
Later, with the operational area of the Command extending beyond Delhi, it was decided to re-christen DEP as Western Command on January 18, 1948.
Since the Indian Government had imposed a ban on the movement of British officers in Jammu and Kashmir due to political reasons, it was decided to replace Lieut-General Russel. On January 20, 1948, Lieut-Gen (later Field Marshal) K.M. Carriappa took over the reigns of the Western Command. Problems of infrastructure and lack of accommodation in Delhi led to the Command being shifted to Shimla in 1954.
During the 1962 Chinese aggression, a number of officers and men from formations under the Western Command exhibited exemplary courage. The Command managed to save a major portion of Ladakh, including Leh and Chushul, from falling into enemy hands despite overwhelming odds.
In May, 1965, Pakistan’s "Gibraltar Force", consisting of guerrillas, started operations to capture the Kashmir valley. Anti-guerrilla operations launched by the Command cleared the Valley of "Gibraltar Force" within three months. This was followed by a major armour-backed Pakistani attack called Operation Grandslam, in the Chhamb Sector in September in an attempt to isolate Kashmir.
Opening new fronts, Western Command, then under Lieut-Gen Harbaksh Singh, deployed its formations towards Sialkot and Lahore — a manoeuvre, which checked the advance of Pakistan Army’s Patton tanks in the Chhamb area. The famous "Battle of Dograi", which is described as "the Infantryman’s finest hour", and the "Battle of Assal Uttar", that gave India its largest haul of enemy tanks when the offensive by Pakistan’s 1 Armoured Division was blunted, are notable examples of the Command’s achievements in this war.
In 1971, the Command Headquarters moved to Jalandhar. The Army, under the leadership of Gen (later Field Marshal) Sam Manekshaw, went into what was then known as East Pakistan. The western front, too, was under threat. Under the command of Lieut-Gen K.P. Candeth, preparations were made to thwart enemy movement. The "Battle of Basantar" is another fine example of military victory during the 1971 war.
After the 1971 India-Pakistan war, the Northern Command, with its Headquarters at Udhampur, was carved out of this Command to assume operational responsibility of Jammu and Kashmir.
Headquarters of the Western Command eventually moved to its present location at Chandimandir in 1985. In 2005, consequent to the raising of the South Western Command, the areas of responsibility of the Command were readjusted. Today Western Command guards the heartland of the country, including parts of Punjab and J&K. It has played an important role in all wars since Independence by blunting enemy offensives and carrying the battle into the enemy territory.
When militancy was at its peak in Punjab, the Western Command rendered yeoman service to combat militancy and restoring normalcy and faith of civilians in the democratically installed government in the strife-torn state.
The Command also won the hearts of the people of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh by rescuing marooned people in areas devastated by floods and other natural disasters. — VM(tribune)

BOLT system to give Indian army an edge on the battlefield

PUNE: City-based communication technology solutions company Transworld has developed Battle Online Tracking (BOLT) system for the Indian army, which will have tracking systems for tanks and heavy vehicles on the battlefield to ensure timely logistical support.
“The army formations will have a combination of communication capabilities like encrypted or local radio apart from GPRS and GSM. The solution will enable the officer concerned to see all his assets and it will be possible to zero-in on a particular tank or truck in the battlefield right from the army headquarters through an online platform,” Transworld Compressor Technologies Limited managing director Vikram Puri told Sakaal Times.

The solution, provided through a device called Mobile Eye, has already been successfully tested at the Armoured Corps Centre and School, Ahmednagar. 
The Northern Command has also started implementing Mobile Eye on their convoys for security against terrorist attacks, Puri said.
To win any battle, the most crucial aspect is timely and adequate logistics support. A tank division of 10,000 troops on the battlefield needs huge amount of logistics, including fuel, food, water and air support. 
“A lot of time is spent on the battlefield to ascertain the exact position of assets like tanks. This is traditionally done manually. The information can be intercepted by the enemy, which could be used to block our supply routes. In this case, every device is independent of any communication system and the message is encrypted. It can't be intercepted by enemy,” he said.
Moreover, since the exact location of the tanks are known, logistics support like refuelling, air and artillery cover can be provided precisely.
“The fuel and ration stock can be replenished without delay. This will not hamper the advancement of the troops. The reinforcements can be sent in exact numbers to the exact location. Most importantly, in case of air force or artillery cover, the exact location of our assets will not only help in preventing hitting our own troops, but also attain greater degree of accuracy in destroying the enemy,” Transworld director Khursheed Panthaki said.
Even if the enemy knocks out a few tanks which have the device, the communication system would not be affected as long as two tanks having the device installed are functional. “It is a self-healing network. As long as two devices are alive, information flow will continue,” Panthaki said.

Army to send passing-out officers to its Special Forces

New Delhi, Sep 13 (PTI) Facing an acute shortage of officers in its Special Forces, the Indian Army has decided to send two passing-out officers each from its academies to these elite units.

"We have shortage of over 60 per cent officers in our Para (SF) units. We would now be sending two volunteer officers each to these battalions right after they pass out from our academies such as the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun and Officers Training Academy (OTA) in Chennai," a senior Army official told PTI here.

Out of the sanctioned strength of around 35 officers, the official said, these units have only 10-12 officers.

"More than half of the officers on the strength of these units are out doing their mandatory courses in our various schools and centres.

Chinese incursions demand firmer steps from India

New Delhi: After Arunachal Pradesh, is China eyeing Uttarakhand, ask some. Incidents have been reported of Chinese incursion along the Indo-China border. The Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) has denied it but said the forces are on high alert.
Incidentally, this has come even as the Indian Army is asking for pro-active patrol along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China.
Chinese troop intrusions into India are now pushing a more assertive Indian response. The army is demanding that its patrols be allowed to move into sensitive areas on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control.
The army has reportedly argued that Chinese troops are repeatedly entering sensitive areas in Ladakh, Bara Hoti in Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh encouraged by the scant opposition .
The chief minister of Uttarakhand, Ramesh Pokhriyal said, "This is the head part of the Indian nation. It must always be well protected and held high. The patrols on the Indian side of the border must increase."
There have been several arguments in favour of strengthening patrol.
  • This is undermining India's control over its own territory,
  • The army must therefore be allowed to patrol intensively and close to the LAC in these areas.
  • The army must have better operational control over the ITBP, as is the case with the Border Security Force (BSF) along the Pakistan border.text
The army's request is presently with the China Study Group, which comprises of the secretaries of the ministries of Defence, Home and External Affairs.
It also includes the chiefs of intelligence agencies.
It was this group which imposed these restrictions many years ago.
Some have argued that infrastructure must first be improved before restrictions on army patrols are lifted. There are also fears that an assertive response from India could trigger a confrontation with China.
But the army says it is at a severe tactical disadvantage at present. The bureaucracy in Delhi must bite the bullet and lift the curbs on its patrols on India's side of the Line of Actual Control.

China getting ready for a showdown with India across Karakoram? Ashow down between China-Pakistan and US-India power blocks?

Strange activities are being watched by Indian residents near the border areas across Karakoram. Peaple’s Liveration Army of China (PLA) – has engaged in construction activities across the Karakoram ranges for stationing of additional personnel and mounting cameras for monitoring Indian troop movement. In addition secret underground construction is being watched that could be positioning short range nuclear missiles against Indian Army.
The Karakoram pass falls precisely on the boundary between India and China's Xinjiang Autonomous Region, marking northern end of Sino-Indian border, known as the Line of Actual Control. It also plays a major geographic role in the dispute between Pakistan and India over control of the Siachen Glacier area immediately to the west of the pass.
Some international think tanks believe that China is accelerating Military presence and infrastructure to make sure India-US power block does not corner Pakistan too far. Pakistan looks at China now for help against India-US power block. 
In addition to this construction work in Karakoram region of Ladakh sector, the Chinese Army has violated the International Border again in Ladakh region and painted boulders and rocks in the area red.
Chinese helicopters had violated the Indian air space on June 21 along the Line of Actual Control in Chumar region and also helli-dropped some expired food.
China continues instigating India now and then to make they presence felt and proclaim their solidarity with Pakistan and in general a world bully status.

Two more locations traced where Pak threw rockets

AMRITSAR: The BSF on Sunday traced two more locations inside Punjab where Pakistan fired rockets the number of missiles landing in Indian territory to five.

Two more locations hit by Pakistani rockets on that night were discovered today in Daleke and Rattan Khurd villages about 5-6 kms from the international border, a BSF officer said.

With the discovery of two more locations the troops are searching the entire border area vigorously for more such places if any.

On Friday night three rockets were found in open fields at Modhey and Dhoneya Khurd villages in Attari sector on the Indo-Pak border, prompting retaliatory gunfire from the Indian border troops.

BSF DIG (Punjab) Mohammad Akeal said the two missiles found today were fired between 10pm and 10.30pm on Friday night.

Asked if Pakistan has denied any firing, he said it is neither confirming nor denying it.

Pakistan had fired rockets into Indian territory on the same day when Indian Government had deployed the first batch of lady constables at the Indo-Pak border.

Meanwhile, as life returns to normal in the border villages, their inhabitants have urged the Centre to enhance security in all the 36 villages near the Attari border.
from across the border on Friday night taking

India accused of "spying" on Chinese military ware

BEIJING: A Chinese military expert has accused India of "violating" Beijing's diplomatic rights and "syping" on its military ware while inspecting the cargo plane of the UAE Air Force which was detained in Kolkata.

"The actions by Indian authorities violated diplomatic rights as the cargo on board belong to China," Dai Xu, a renowned military expert, said.

"Any inspection onboard, which may have violated China's property rights and constituted spying on its military secrets, should be approved by both the UAE and China," Dai was quoted as saying by the state-run 'Global Times'.

It also quoted an unnamed military source as telling the paper, a sister publication of the ruling Communist Party's mouthpiece, the People's Daily, that the UAE airplane, a C-130 Hercules, was on a mission transporting Chinese arms from an arms expo in Abu Dhabi.

India released the China-bound cargo plane on September 10, four days after it was grounded in Kolkata for not declaring the consignment of arms and ammunition it was carrying. The 10 crew members were also interrogated.

India gave the clearance after it was told by UAE authorities that its pilot had committed a "technical error" over declaring the on-board arms and ammunition for which they expressed regret.

Construction by Chinese army across Karakoram: J&K report

LEH (J&K): The Chinese army has done some construction activities along the international border across Karakoram ranges in Ladakh sector for the first time since the 1962 stand-off between the two countries with a report of Jammu and Kashmir government saying that they have been taking "land in inches and not in yards".

The Chinese Army - PLA - has been engaged in construction activities across the Karakoram ranges which could be used for either stationing of additional personnel or mounting a camera for monitoring Indian troop movement, official sources said.

The Karakoram pass falls precisely on the boundary between India and China's Xinjiang Autonomous Region, marking northern end of Sino-Indian border, known as the Line of Actual Control.

It also plays a major geographic role in the dispute between Pakistan and India over control of the Siachen Glacier area immediately to the west of the pass.

This situation arose from the Simla Agreement, signed in 1972 between India and Pakistan, when the treaty failed to specify the last 100 km of ceasefire line from end of the Line of Control to Karakoram Pass. The West of the Pass is also referred as China-Indian-Pakistani tripoint.

While Army tried to downplay this development, they, however acknowledged that some digging activity had been noticed. "There has been no report of concrete huts being built across Karakoram Pass. However, some digging has been noticed well inside Chinese territory," an Army spokesman said in a written reply to PTI.

In a related development, the report of Jammu and Kashmir government highlights the Chinese incursions into various parts of Ladakh.

"They (Chinese) have threatened the nomadic people who had been using Dokbug area (in Ladakh sector) area for grazing since decades long, in a way to snatch our land in inches. A Chinese proverb is famous in the world - better do in inches than in yards," the report filed by a former Sub Divisional Magistrate (Nyoma) Tsering Norboo said.

Norboo had been deputed by the state government to probe incursion of Chinese Army in Dokbug area and threatening the local shepherds to leave the land as it belonged to them. The area has been used by the shepherds to graze their livestock as the area is warmer compared to other parts of Ladakh.

The SDM pointed out that it was another attempt by Chinese to claim the territory as disputed in the same fashion as they had taken Nag Tsang area opposite to Phuktse airfield in 1984, Nakung in 1991 and Lungma-Serding in 1992.

Micro air vehicles to fight Naxals soon

NEW DELHI: The Centre plans to soon acquire unmanned aerial surveillance equipment to track hideouts and movements of Naxalites, as part of its efforts to give a technological edge to its counter-insurgency operations against Left-wing extremists.

On the potential suppliers’ shortlist is Honeywell Aerospace, the US-based defence equipment manufacturer. Talks are underway for acquiring its state-of-art micro air vehicle (MAV), a light-weight, backpackable, miniature spy helicopter that can hover over a height of up to 10,500 feet.

The home ministry, which is studying the feasibility of MAV for use in counter-Naxal operations, is set to witness live trials soon. MAV may be procured by the Central para-military forces operating in Naxal-infested areas or by the police forces of affected states.

The Honeywell MAV can be used for surveillance, communication and dropping sensors at sensitive places for intelligence gathering. It is different from the usual UAVs in that it can hover over an area for a long time, whereas the latter can only do forward motion.

MAV has both forward and downward looking video cameras, and can be fitted with night vision devices and thermal imagers to catch the slightest movement on the ground. It can help in spotting an ambush and locate improvised explosive devices and landmines, thus minimising casualties among counter-Naxal forces.

Most importantly, the Honeywell MAV on offer can be operated with ease, requiring barely 5 minutes for deployment and minimal operational training. It can be carried in a backpack, facilitating its deployment in heavily-forested terrain where Naxalites operate.

Circular MAV measures a little over 30 centimetres in diameter and is powered by gasoline. It can carry a payload of 7.71 kg with a service ceiling height of 10,500 ft. Different types of camera, night vision devices and thermal imagers can be mounted on it according to mission requirements.

The tiny machine can fly at an airspeed of 50 km per hour and is easily operated by a powerful remote control. Two MAVs can take off simultaneously from a single launch pad. Vertical take off and landing system also give it an edge over UAVs by enabling hover and stare mission profile.

The US defence forces have used this flying machine in Iraq for locating mines and high explosives.

US advisory warns of terror strikes

NEW DELHI: The US on Sunday issued a travel advisory warning its citizens about possibility of terrorist attacks in India during the festival season.

“The Department of State reminds US citizens of the continued possibility of terrorist attacks throughout India during the current Indian holiday season, which includes Hindu, Islamic and secular holidays as well as the period surrounding the commemoration of the September 11 terror attacks,” a statement said.

The US state department advised Americans to be cautious and maintain a low profile during their travel to India during this period which includes festivals like Dusshera, Eid and Diwali. The statement also mentions the November, 2008, Mumbai terror attacks saying “it provided a vivid reminder that hotels and other public places are especially attractive targets for terrorist groups.”

It asked Americans to monitor local news reports and consider the level of security present when visiting public places, including religious sites, or choosing hotels, restaurants, entertainment and recreation venues.

Meanwhile, in a development that will strengthen India’s plea for a reduction in western aid to Islamabad, former Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf has admitted that Pakistan has been diverting funds provided by the US as aid to fight al Qaeda and Taliban towards fortifying itself against India.

Mr Musharraf admitted in an interview to a news channel that he had violated rules governing the use of the military aid, and justified his actions by saying he had “acted in the best interest of Pakistan,” and that he “did not care” about the American response.