South Asia, the World’s most hostile region is a flash point next only to West Asia,. However the dynamics of international relations and conflict can convert this into a major conflict zone. over the years. Thge dynamics of conlfict in South Asia is such that it is affecting all dimensions low, medium, high which is a unique issue and can cuase for major concnern. however nonother region is similarly affected as the South Asiasn. where terrorism, convneitnal wars and nuclear wars are rubbing shoulder to shoulder side by side. The most significant demonstration of the same was in 2002 when Indian and Pakistan had occupied positions on the wire, the sore of terrorism festering in Kasxhmir and nuclear brinkmanship being practised by bopth sides in full view of the Worl community.
Yet news about defense and security issues on South Asia is scanty and virtually restricted to small morsels of information occassionally doled out out by the Government media which is eagerly lapped up by the news media in South Asia. This creates an aura of omnisceince around the strategic community in the sub Continent who through their ability to restrict flow of information is weilding extr ordinary clout.
This suits defense establshments of these nations who can monopoloixe funds, carry out functioning as inefficientlyt as any bureaurcracy can dn yet thrive. For, 'national security" has become a holy cow in South Asia for the simple reason that a single source of informaiton and knowledge is not available.
Defence and Security News attempts to overcome this deficienciyt by providing information avialble in the open domain on defence and security issues in South Asia in all its dimensions at one source dividied into the following facets
- Asymmetrical threats.
- Low intesity conflcit inclduign terroirsm
-Conventional conflict and weapons and equipment development
-Disarmament and Arms Control
Alll information is gleaned from public source with acknowedgement to the source please.
Contributions and comments are welcome at email@example.com/
posted by promila 10:18 PM
India developing Agni-III missile
India is developing surface-to-surface Agni-III missile with a range of more than 3,000km, Scientific Adviser to the defence minister V K Aatre said in New Delhi on Saturday.
"We will hopefully test-fire it before the end of the year," he said on the sidelines of a seminar on defence and internal security on the concluding day of the three-day Pravasi Bharatiya Divas.
Aatre also announced that surface-to-surface missile Agni-I, which was test-fired on Thursday, is ready for induction into the armed forces.
Agni-I, which has a range of 700 to 800km, has been tested twice. Asked if that was enough, Aatre said, "It is part of the Agni series of missiles, which have been tested eight times. We do not need more than the tests we have conducted."
Agni-I, which is nuclear-capable, can carry a payload of one tonne.
From Rediff.com/ web 11 January 2003Diaspora urged to help market defence products abroad
Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi
Defence experts on Saturday exhorted the Indian Diaspora to help them market indigenously developed defence products in their country of adoption by using their professional skills and good offices.
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited chief Nalini Ranjan Mohanty said this while making his presentation at the session on opportunities in defence and internal security pointed at the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas celebrations on Saturday.
He pointed out that HAL, established in 1940 by industrialist Walchand Hirachand and later taken over by the British government in India at the commencement of the Second World War for servicing its combat aircraft, had begun blazing a trail.
Apart from providing the various military aviation requirements, HAL manufactured under license MiG 21, MiG 27, Jaguar, Light Combat Aircraft, Advanced Light Helicopter and serviced Mirage aircraft.
All this required money, especially since the public sector company constantly undertook research activities.
He said that the LCA was indigenously designed and produced and was already flying with two technology demonstrators. It would begin production within a few years.
He pointed out that the ALH was a 40-seater multi-role, multi-mission aircraft which had attracted widespread appreciation since it operated under extreme climatic conditions, flying in sub-zero temperatures and during extreme heat.
Besides, HAL also made satellite structures and avionics and aggregates and these required huge local as well as international markets.
He appealed to the Indian Diaspora to step forward to market the Indian defence products, firstly through their ideas and secondly through their skills and clout in their country of adoption.
Scientific advisor to the defence minister, Dr Vasudev K Aatre, outlined the present security scenario of India and emphasized that the 'security at the border had got entangled with internal security.'
He referred to the functions of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (that he heads), which also entailed intelligence gathering, surveillance and cyber security.
Contending that DRDO was the country's largest R & D institution, he said its activities included 'mind to market conceptualisation, design and prototyping,' among other things.
"Its major technological challenges pertained to missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles, tanks and other weapons," Dr Aatre said. "We have a range of terrain on which we have to battle under extreme climatic conditions," he added.
The DRDO chief contended that it was engaged in developing missile system technology, aeronautical technology for which manpower was being generated from academic institutions.
"We have no dearth of R&D facilities in India, we have sufficient infrastructure and it is pretty good," he pointed out.
"We are mindful of technology to product, product to production and production to market," he said, adding that "our concept and system design are very good."
Dr Aatre referred to the Indo-Russian supersonic cruise missile, Brahmos, for which they were looking for markets.
This included consultancy and joint ventures with American universities.
However, he asserted that 'DRDO is open to NRIs but it must be done as equal partners.'
Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses chief K Santhanam said that the Indian defence establishment was aware about the 'technological interdependence as the world gets smaller.'
He referred to the indigenous intrusion-detection system and terrorism-tracker software and early warning system.
Santhanam favoured 'promotion of synergy between Indian and NRI strengths' and from the Indian side he wanted the participation of the government and the private sector in defence production.
Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited Komarilingam Gopalan Ramachandran referred to strengths and weaknesses of the Indian industry in defence technology development and praised defence minister George Fernandes for initiating privatisation in 2001 (excluding foreign participation).
"Otherwise India is generally satisfied with the absorption of the foreign defence technology," he pointed out, adding that "we need to be planning to target global markets."
Referring to the indigenous strengths, Ramachandarn pointed out that India had excellent manufacturing facilities including defence laboratories, DRDO and IITs. Besides, India's leadership in the IT sector was well acknowledged, he said.
"The Indian Diaspora can contribute firstly through ideas and secondly by suggesting specific projects," Ramachandran said.
DRDO chief facilitator Manthi Ram Natarajan referred to the designs of various mechanicals systems over the last two decades.
Contending that it sought support with US industries, he said the current activities pertained to systems engineering, propulsion systems, fire-control systems and specialised weapons for which work had been undertaken in DRDO labs.
He lamented that western countries had denied sub-system technology to India and "we lack fuel-injection systems."
However, sometimes the denial was a blessing in disguise because it spurred DRDO to develop the sub-system, he contended.
"R&D investments have remained pitifully low but the scenario is changing for the better," he said.
Ramachandran pointed out that "We have progressed from the engineering phase to the defence production phase and will continue to do so provided there is sufficient volume (of demand)."
Sharad Marathe, president and CEO of the US-based Universal technical Systems Inc pointed out that the western countries would continue to deny defence technology to India for a long time to come and the panacea was to become self-sufficient through indigenous development and production.
Pravasi Bharatiya Divas From Rediff.com 11 January 2003
India rattles the sabre a bit more, this time it's 3,000 km-range Agni III Press Trust of IndiaNew Delhi, January 11: India is developing surface-to-surface Agni-III missile with a range of more than 3,000 km and it is likely to be test-fired before the end of the year, scientific adviser to the Defence Minsiter, V K Aatre, said here on Saturday. "The development of Agni-III is on. It is being designed to hit targets at a distance of more than 3,000 km. We will hopefully test-fire it before the end of the year," he said on the sidelines of a seminar on defence and internal security on the concluding day of a three-day NRI convention here. Aatre also announced that surface-to-surface missile Agni-I, which was test-fired on Thursday last, is ready for induction into the armed forces. Agni-I, which has a strike range of 700 to 800 km, has been tested twice from a launch pad in Orissa. Asked if two tests were enough for Agni-I's induction, Aatre said "It is part of the agni series of missiles which have been tested eight times. We do not need more than the tests we have conducted.”
Aatre, who is also secretary, Department of Defence, Research and Development, said, "We have finished all development trials of Agni-I. It can be inducted anytime.” Nuclear-capable Agni-I can carry a payload of one tonne. He told reporters that the ship-borne version of Brahmos, a supersonic cruise missile, will be tested for the first time in the second half of this month. Brahmos, jointly developed by India and Russia, has a range of about 290 km. It has been test-fired twice before. At the interactive session on 'Opportunities in Defence and Internal Security--Research and Development', he said India is capable of developing missiles having ranges between 3,500 and 14,000 km. “Missiles with ranges between 3,500 and 14,000 km do not involve much of a change. We have the technology to do it," he said but added that India probably did not need such long-range missiles.
Expressindia.com 11 January 2003
India developing Agni-III missile PTI [ SATURDAY, JANUARY 11, 2003 02:51:32 PM ] TOI Inrnet Edn. 11 Janury 2203
NEW DELHI: India is developing surface-to-surface Agni-III missile with a range of more than 3,000 km and it is likely to be test-fired before the end of the year, Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister V K Aatre said here on Saturday."The development of Agni-III is on. It is being designed to hit targets at a distance of more than 3,000 km. We will hopefully test-fire it before the end of the year," he said on the sidelines of a seminar on defence and internal security on the concluding day of a three-day NRI convention here. Aatre also announced that surface-to-surface missile Agni-I, which was test-fired on Thursday last, is ready for induction into the armed forces.Agni-I, which has a strike range of 700 to 800 km, has been tested twice from a launch pad in Orissa. Asked if two tests were enough for Agni-I's induction, Aatre said, "It is part of the Agni series of missiles which have been tested eight times. We do not need more than the tests we have conducted." Aatre, who is also secretary, Department of Defence, Research and Development, said, "we have finished all development trials of Agni-I. It can be inducted anytime." Nuclear-capable Agni-I can carry a payload of one tonne.He told reporters that the ship-borne version of 'Brahmos', a supersonic cruise missile, will be tested for the first time in the second half of this month.Brahmos, jointly developed by India and Russia, has a range of about 290 km. It has been test-fired twice before.At the interactive session on 'Opportunities in Defence and Internal Security--Research and Development', he said India is capable of developing missiles having ranges between 3,500 and 14,000 km."Missiles with ranges between 3,500 and 14,000 km do not involve much of a change. We have the technology to do it," he said but added that India probably did not need such long-range missiles.On whether missile testing was affecting the environment in the coastal areas of Orissa, Aatre said Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has taken special steps to ensure environment was not affected."There is no conflict between the two. In fact the population of Olive Idle turtles, which bred there, has gone up," he said.Maj Gen P Mohandas, chief of Bharat Dynamics (BDL), which manufactures missiles and torpedoes, told the seminar that India was developing missile simulators to ensure proper training for the users -- the armed forces."We want the user to be totally trained in missile system operations," Mohandas said, observing that the country was absorbing technology.He said eight public sector units manufacturing Defence equipment have formed a consortium and foreign companies wanting to collaborate in the Defence manufacturing sector could approach it.BDL, Mohandas said, was also continuously modifying its products to see that they do not become obsolete and was taking steps for cost cutting. "We continue to get orders from the armed forces," he said, adding that India was absorbing technology from France, Italy and Israel in addition to Russia.The BDL chief said that his company required collaboration for manufacture of anti-tank and shoulder-fired missile systems. "We also need partners to market our products too," he said.
The Billions that went Down the Defense Drain
By Shahwar Faryal (From South Asia Tribune onn Form Net. 11 January 2003
ISLAMABAD: Concrete evidence has become available of the massive scale and expanse of the billions which have gone down the drain in Pakistan in the name of “Defense Expenditure”, never previously opened to any scrutiny by civilians.
Despite the fact that scrutiny of Pakistan’s Defense Budget and expenditures has never been seriously allowed by the armed forces, whatever little peeking has been done by some in-house audits and committees, the scale of misappropriations and irregularities is horrendous, according to a report prepared by the Auditor General of Pakistan.
The Report points out that the Defense Establishment totally ignores the objections and directives of the auditors, in utter disregard of any financial discipline.
A glimpse at the Report shows that in the last 10 years misappropriations and irregularities of over Rs. 70 Billion had been detected in various Defense Expenditures. More than 1,850 objections had been raised by auditors on these expenses but the military authorities had just ignored them. A consolidated list of 730 important objections was also sent to the Defense Authorities involving over Rs 8 billion but no one took any notice. Click for Selected Pages from Report Page1 | Page2 | Page3 | Page4 | Page5
These flaws, it may be noted, have been found in mostly administrative expenditures and do not include purchases of weapons and arms, aircraft, ships, tanks, missiles or anything related to the nuclear program. It only shows the gravity of the existing situation in the limited accounts which have been opened by the Defense Establishment for audit of some kind.
Bulk of the expenses still remain closed to any scrutiny and thus the billions misappropriated under those accounts may never become public knowledge.
It is interesting to note the trend and volume of these “irregular” expenses. The Chart compiled by the Auditors from 1989-90 to 1998-99 shows in the earlier years of the 90s, these expenses were comparatively on the lower side but during the political governments of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, the Generals got totally out of control and figures of objectionable expenses jumped from less than a billion rupees per year until 1993 to over Rs. 6.3 billion in 1994-95, to an astounding Rs. 43 billion in 1997-98 and another Rs. 12 billion in 1998-99. Click for Chart
The trend clearly indicates that the Generals were totally in control of the financial affairs even during the “elected political governments” of Benazir and Nawaz Sharif and had actually become so reckless that they just did not bother about any accountability or scrutiny by the civilians.
Since this Report deals with the accounts up to 1999, the situation after the Musharraf’s October coup would be of greater interest as after his take over, the entire allocation of the Defense Budgets, administration and expenditure came under army control with no political or civilian interference. It would be safe to presume that if by 1999 more than Rs. 70 billion had been misappropriated, in the next three years the theft level would not have gone down significantly.
The figure of these misappropriated amounts would, at present, be over Rs. 100 billion and still there is no sign that the new political government of Prime Minister Jamali would seriously try to scrutinize or curtail this huge drain on the economy.
These expenses were not scrutinized in detail by the Ad hoc Public Accounts Committee set up by General Pervez Musharraf headed by a timid bureaucrat HU Beg. Yet even this pro-army and pro-establishment committee could not ignore the massive scale of the plunder in the name of the Defense Expenditure run amok.
“Recurrence of a large number of irregularities has been observed by Audit despite Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Directives to stop these irregularities,” the Report noted in terse words, the significance of which should not be lost as this Report was compiled under a Military Regime and all attempts would have been made to brush the most blatant of scandals under the carpet.
The Report gives a long list of these “recurring irregularities” some of which just point to the tips of the icebergs and do not give any details. Many of these scams have been reported by this newspaper in earlier issues.
The main “recurring irregularities” pointed out were:
- Irregular use of Defence Resources for Officers Housing Schemes. CSDs, PAFWA, Bahria Foundation, MGOs Welfare Projects, etc. (This one-line explanation hides scandals by the scores as housing schemes for Defense personnel are a nationwide scam in which lands are grabbed and freely awarded to Generals and senior officers. The CSD stores provide cheap and duty-free goods of all kinds to the armed forces. The Associations like PAFWA and Bahria are huge scandals within themselves, with the Bahria having launched a whole new city near Islamabad on land acquired from the government and sold to Navy officers.)
- Irregular use of military lands by Army Authorities. (This noting covers land scams all over the country which would run into billions on their own. Details would become available when a new Public Accounts Committee set up by the elected Parliament comprising representatives of the people starts digging into the affairs of these military lands and how they were grabbed and distributed among the uniformed men of the armed forces.
- Irregular recoveries from CNE patients and non-deposit of receipts in Government account. (This is a case of outright theft as any money collected from these thousands of patients which has not been deposited in government account has gone into pockets of the army men. The exact size of this scandal is still not clear).
- Over issue of stores to contractors. (Again a case of direct theft the scale of which s yet to become public).
- Non-recovery of Risk and Cost Money from Defaulting Contractors. (This is a huge scam as military contracts run into billions and if these defaulting contractors are being helped by being allowed to go free without any penalties, the collusion of top military authorities is obvious and evident).
- Non-recovery of rent and allied charges from occupants of military buildings. (This again promises to be a huge scandal as military buildings rented out to tenants are in thousands all over the country and if rents are not being collected, someone at the top somewhere is making a lot of money, unchecked).
- Irregular waiving off of liquidated damages. (This apparently is a direct favor done to some of the favorites as waiving off millions of rupees is not done unless the competent authority has a direct interest in the write off. The extent of this scam is still to be determined).
Some other recurring irregularities were also given in the Report which too would amount to wastage or misappropriation of millions of government funds allocated to the Defense Budget.
posted by promila 9:20 PM
Ice broken, Naga talks bring hope
Both sides now mature, want to solve problem: Muivah
Bhavna Vij- Aurora
New Delhi, January 9: The much-awaited talks between Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Naga insurgent leaders of NSCN (I-M) kicked off on an optimistic note. Freezing discussions on all contentious issues including NSCN (I-M)’s controversial demand for a Greater Nagaland, a positive picture emerged after the 40-minute meeting, described as ‘‘cordial and friendly’’ by Isak Chishi Swu, chairman of the organisation. The focus, according to sources, was on building confidence between the two sides for a step-by-step solution to the decades-old insurgency in Nagaland — and on development and special economic packages for the state. The way for peaceful talks in the future has been paved, said Swu. The PM assured the NSCN leaders that the Central government will do everything possible for a peaceful solution to the problem, and asked them to respond likewise. Swu said that the PM and the the Indian leadership seemed sincere. Referring to the 1967 talks with then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah said that this time there was a ‘‘lot better understanding’’ on part of the Government. ‘‘At that time, the leadership was immature on both sides. So, we couldn’t solve the problem. But this time, the leadership is mature and wants to solve the problem realistically,’’ he said. This is the first time in 36 years that the NSCN (I-M) leaders had come to India to talk to the political leaders. Both sides understood the realities facing the other in a much better way, and were keen to find a solution in the given circumstances. The Government, according to Muivah, seemed to understand the need for solving the problem as per the unique history of the Naga people and ‘‘that is a good starting point.’’ ‘‘We discussed the Naga problem across the table. That was a big thing. It will be premature to say anything else now,’’ Muivah said. Centre’s principal negotiator on Naga talks K. Padmanabhaiah and Intelligence Bureau Director K.P. Singh were also present during the talks. The NSCN (I-M) leaders will meet Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani on Friday evening. According to former governor Nagaland, Lt General S.K. Nayyar, it was too early to cheer yet. These talks with the PM and the deputy PM tomorrow, he said, were not anything more than being symbolic. The NSCN (I-M) did not represent the Naga society. ‘‘There are other insurgent groups and then there is the civil society. If the government and NSCN talked peace, it’s peace for whom? For the people of Nagaland. How long can they be ignored? Sooner or later they would have to be involved in the talks. There are the Naga Ho Hos and the Baptist Church. A lasting solution has to include everybody’s voice,’’ he told The Indian Express. The process of reconciliation had started but for it to be completed, everybody had to be consulted. The various groups had to sit down for ‘‘substantive talks,’’ he said. The timing of the present talks was also very crucial. With elections in Nagaland next month and the ongoing peace talks, Lt Gen Nayyar said, it was difficult to dovetail the two. ‘‘The talks are bound to be politicised. They will be raised as an issue by various political parties and the entire process will be diluted,’’ he cautioned. According to him, more transparency was required in the talks with important issues publicly discussed. He also suggested that a person — possibly a politician — who understood both, the government and the Naga sentiments properly, should be involved in the talks. ‘‘Such important things cannot be left to bureaucrats and intelligence officials,’’ he added.
Indian Express Web Edition 10 Jan 03
MEANWHILE IN MANIPUR
Ultras strike; BSF loses 4 men in 2-day encounter
Kolkata, January 9: On a day when the Central government talked peace with the NSCN (IM) leaders in New Delhi, Manipur was rocked by violence and bloodshed. In one of the fiercest encounters between security forces and north-eastern extremist groups in recent times, the Manipur Peoples Liberation Front (MPLF), an umbrella organisation of three underground outfits of Manipur, shot dead four BSF personnel and seriously injured several others. The BSF casualty included an assistant commandant. The militants also took away a couple of AK 47s and a wireless set from the slain jawans. Three militants were reportedly hurt. The fight between the security forces and the militants which started on Wednesday morning continued till 5 pm this evening with massive deployments from both the BSF and the militants. While three BSF columns moved into the Sajik Tampak area of Chandel district about 100 km from Imphal, the MPLF has reportedly positioned more than 500 of its armed cadres to repulse the BSF operations. The militants were said to be at vantage positions in the hilly terrains and using rocket-launchers and grenades which made the job of the BSF more difficult. According to sources, the MPLF in a press release this evening in Imphal stated that the BSF had pressed into service helicopters and bullet-proof vans to face the challenge from the MPLF cadres. It also mentioned that arrangments were underway to hand over the bodies of the killed BSF jawans to the ‘‘Indian Occupation Force Front.’’ A senior BSF official clarified that a sector commander of the BSF actually made a recce of the area this morning and rations were supplied to the BSF camp by helicopters. A number of senior Manipur government administration officials when contacted over the telephone admitted that it would be ‘‘too simplistic’’ to consider the timing of the encounter ‘‘a sheer coincidence’’ with the peace talks in Delhi. Rather, there seems to be a message that there are other armed groups to reckon with in the north-east apart from the NSCN (IM). Official sources say that the MPLF comprises three underground outfits — PLA, UNLF and PREPAK. The combined strength of these outfits would be at least 7,000 armed cadres and an equally deadly fire power. B. K. Dey, the Inspector General of the Assam-Nagaland-Manipur frontier of the BSF, said the militants are very well-entrenched in the area where the encounter took place. He admitted that the ‘‘attack appears well-coordinated with the peace talks being held in Delhi.’’ BSF reinforcements from Sangai Kot, Chakpikarong and Phundep have already been rushed to the affected area which approximately covered about 50 sq km, officials added.
Indian Express Web Edition 10 Jan 03
7 killed in encounter
Imphal Jan. 9. At least seven persons — four security men and three militants — were killed as BSF personnel traded gunfire with the separatist Manipur People's Liberation Front insurgents in Chandel district today. The gunbattle broke out yesterday when a BSF party was fired upon by the insurgents. — PTI
The Hidu 10 jan 03
NSCN is sincere, it’s for both sides to take talks forward’
Samudra Gupta Kashyap talks to three chief ministers — Zoramthanga, Mizoram CM, O. I. Singh, Manipur CM and S. C. Jamir, Nagaland CM — who are intimately involved with the peace process.
ZORAMTHANGA, MIZORAM CMMizoram chief minister Zoramthanga is all too familiar with the twists and turns that mark the process of negotiations with the Centre. As a member of the then outlawed Mizo National Front (MNF), Zoramthanga sat down at the table through three-four years of talks that finally brought the curtain down on insurgency on June 30, 1986. And through 2002, Zoramthanga has been intervening in negotiations with the NSCN (IM) on behalf of the Centre. Your expectations from the talks? There is nothing much to expect at this stage. Thursday’s talks will be more in the nature of a courtesy call. But this is definitely a very good beginning that could open a new chapter of peace in the Northeast. Why are your expectations so low? It took us, the MNF, over three months just to understand the legal and administrative implications of the points that were agreed upon. And unlike the Mizos, the Nagas have so many groups, including tribal bodies and NGOs, that need to be consulted before reaching an agreement. There are groups that oppose the very thought of negotiating with the NSCN(IM). Any draft agreement, once accepted by both sides, will have to go through several rounds of correction. There will have to be talks with a nominated government representative — in our case, a Cabinet minister. Then, the government will have to prepare a Cabinet memorandum. What will be the impact of this meeting on other groups in the region? The fact that the NSCN(IM) has been talking to the government for the past several years has itself had a positive impact. Several other groups have expressed their willingness to negotiate with the government. Some have already entered into ceasefire agreements, peace is beginning to return. Once a major deal is struck with the NSCN(IM), other groups will also get convinced about the openness of the government towards solving issues through dialogue. What has been your experience after talking to NSCN(IM) leaders at the prime minister’s request? I have found them very positive and accommodating. There is a sincere urge on the part of the NSCN(IM) leadership to reach a peaceful settlement. They are convinced that the government is sincere. It’s for both sides now to take it forward. ‘Nagaland problem shouldn’t be settled at Manipur’s cost’ O. I. SINGH, MANIPUR CMManipur chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh supports the peace process — as long as it doesn’t spill over into his state. After all, the NSCN(IM)’s avowed aim is the creation of a ‘Nagalim’ republic, whose map includes parts of Manipur. Thus, the violence that followed the Centre’s decision to extend the unilateral ceasefire with the organisation ‘without territorial limits’ and outside of Nagaland in 2001.So while Manipur lifted the ban on the NSCN(IM) to facilitate talks, it hasn’t withdrawn its cases against Muivah. Not just yet. What are your expectations from the talks? The government has done a great job by winning the confidence of the NSCN(IM) leaders and convincing them to return. An acceptable settlement will go a long way in ending insurgency in the whole region — the people of Manipur are eagerly looking forward to this. But you haven’t withdrawn the cases against Muivah. I can’t withdraw the cases against Muivah. Even today, I can get him arrested in New Delhi. But I am not doing so in the interests of peace. Will you accept any settlement between the government and the NSCN(IM)? I will accept any kind of solution as long as it doesn’t affect Manipur. The NSCN(IM) has been demanding the inclusion of parts of Manipur in their proposed ‘Nagalim’ and they have also circulated maps showing portions of our state as well as parts of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh inside it. If the government agrees to this demand, I will be the first person to oppose it tooth and nail. How can a problem of Nagaland be settled at the cost of another state? Once Muivah agrees to drop inclusion of the Manipur districts, I will be the first person to welcome him. We will then withdraw the cases. I won’t even hesitate to give up the chief minister’s post. Consider a situation where Manipur doesn’t figure in the talks at all. What impact will a negotiated settlement with the NSCN(IM) have on other insurgent groups? Even within Manipur, there are more than 18 underground groups. I am sure most such groups will start looking forward to a negotiated settlement through peaceful dialogue. ‘NSCN(IM) alone doesn’t represent Naga population’ S. C. JAMIR, NAGALAND CMThe chief minister of the state where the talks will have their maximum impact is, predictably, showing the minimum enthusiasm. S C Jamir and Muivah and Co. have been at loggerheads for years — there are rumours that Jamir, from the Congress Party, sides with the rival NSCN Khaplang faction — and he insists that other Naga factions need to be involved in the talks; that the NSCN isn’t the sole representative of the Naga people. The Centre will have to balance any accord with the NSCN (IM) with the electoral pursuits of Jamir — Assembly elections will be held in Nagaland in February. What are your expectations from the talks? I welcome the talks, especially because the NSCN(IM) leaders have agreed to come to India and talk to the prime minister. This itself is a great leap forward. But talking to the NSCN(IM) alone can’t bring about an acceptable solution. There are so many groups here, and all need to be consulted and talked to. Do you mean all groups should be brought to the same meeting for discussions? Yes. I have been always saying that the NSCN(IM) alone does not represent the Naga people. This is the ultimate truth. There cannot be a permanent solution unless all sections of Nagas, including all militant factions and different communities are directly involved in the peace process. Will anything significant emerge from Thursday’s discussions? One should not get over-excited. A lot of things will definitely come up for discussion. These, again, would need threadbare analysis on the part of New Delhi and the NSCN. A solution cannot emerge overnight. All of us need to have patience. You have been voicing your apprehension that the NSCN(IM) will interfere in the Assembly elections. There have been reports that the NSCN(IM) will put up candidates or support some in the forthcoming elections. As a group that does not believe in the Indian constitution, they should definitely keep away from the elections. And if they do, then it is well and good.
Indian Express Web Edition 10 Jan 03.
The Hindu Web Edition 10 Jan 03
Agni missile test-fired successfully
By Sandeep Dikshit
NEW DELHI JAN. 9. India today successfully test-fired the 800-km-range Agni missile and plans to undertake more tests shortly before its induction in a newly-raised missile group drawn from the Army.
Test-fired with a one-tonne payload, its most likely warhead, the solid propellant-fuelled missile, fills the gap between the shorter range, Prithvi missile and the 2,500-km-range Agni-II. It will be cheaper than Agni-II and better than Prithvi, since it can be fired from a greater distance and with a heavier payload. Although the Prithvi has been inducted in the 333 Missile Group of the Army, its heavier weapon-carrying capacity is neutralised by Pakistan's M-11 missiles because of the shorter range. The Agni variant tested today can be placed at a much greater distance from the border and, thus, has much more survival capacity during hostilities. It also has a solid fuel-propellant system which means it can be launched much faster than a liquid fuel-propelled variant. Significantly, official sources said the missile was tested from a mobile platform which means that it has been nearly configured for use in a real-life setting — the Railways has already manufactured specialised wagons to carry it disguised as regular commercial goods cargo rake.
The launch met all the parameters and was tracked by a network of ground stations and naval ships. Sources said it was designed to carry ``special weapon payload'' which means a one-tonne nuclear device with a 45-kiloton thermonuclear design tested at Pokhran in 1998. Advanced tests might see the shorter range being tested with heavier payloads.
In addition to the shorter range Agni, India is also planning to test missiles of other capabilities. There are plans to conduct conclusive tests of the Brahmos cruise missile as well as the surface-to-air Akash and the anti-tank Nag missiles. The final phase of guided trials for Akash and the shorter range naval version, Trishul were planned last year.
Muralidhar Reddy reports from Islamabad:
Pakistan has alleged that the test-firing of the Agni missile is a reflection of the "war-mongering mindset" of the Indian leadership and maintained that "Pakistan is above such war-mongering psyche".
The Information Minister, Sheikh Rashid, who is known for his rhetoric, took the strident posture. In contrast, the reaction of the Pakistan Foreign Office was more measured as it sought to dismiss the test as "not an unexpected development".
The Foreign Office spokesman, Aziz Ahmed Khan, in a press statement, said the test was "not unexpected as India's nuclear and missile ambitions were well known." Asked whether Pakistan would respond with its own test, the spokesman said, "Pakistan conducts tests when our technical requirements so demand."
posted by promila 6:28 AM
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posted by promila 6:33 AM