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

China-Pak military nexus a matter of concern: Antony

NEW DELHI: India on Friday expressed grave concern at China's continuing help to Pakistan to build its military capabilities, which for long has even covertly stretched to the missile and nuclear weapons arenas. 

"The increasing nexus between China and Pakistan in the military sphere remains an area of concern,'' said defence minister A K Antony, speaking at the 44th foundation day anniversary of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses here. 

This comes just a few days after the first JF-17 `Thunder' fighter jet, primarily designed and developed by China, rolled out of the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex at Kamra. Pakistan is going to induct well over 100 of these light-weight multi-role fighters. 

China is virtually Pakistan's largest supplier of military hardware and software but what is more worrying for India is the close cooperation between the two in the strategic weapons area. 

Pakistan's Shaheen series of solid-propellant ballistic missiles, for instance, is derived from the Chinese M-9, M-11 and M-18 missiles. Similarly, its Babur land-attack cruise missile has clearly been developed with China's assistance. 

Beijing, of course, has also helped Islamabad in its military nuclear programme, which is now geared towards supplementing Pakistan's ongoing enriched uranium-based nuke programme with a weapons-grade plutonium one. 

China, itself, remains a big source of worry. India is keeping a close-watch on the rapid modernisation of the 2.5-million strong People's Liberation Army and its expanding strategic transborder and `area-denial' military capabilities, with straight double-digit hikes in its military budget for the last 20 years. 

"We have to carry out continuous appraisals of Chinese military capabilities and shape our responses accordingly. At the same time, we need to be vigilant at all times,'' said Antony. At the same time, the minister expressed hope that China will `reciprocate the initiatives aimed at mutual trust-building and understanding'. 

Incidentally, while pointing out China's continuing military assistance to Pakistan, the latest defence ministry report holds, "The possibility of enhancing connectivity with Pakistan through the territory of Jammu and Kashmir, illegally occupied by China and Pakistan, and with other countries, will also have direct military implications for India.'' 

Competing militarily with China is, of course, just not possible for India. China has a huge missile arsenal, with both ICBMs (inter-continental ballistic missiles) and SLBMs (submarine-launched ballistic missiles), as well as 75 major warships and 62 submarines, 10 of them nuclear-powered ones.