defence and security news


Friday, September 12, 2003

Defense News
Aug 29, 2003
India To Vie for Mirage Fighters From Qatar
The Indian Ministry of Defence plans to launch an aggressive bid for 12 Mirage 2000-5 fighter aircraft being sold by Qatar.
The Indian Air Force wants the aircraft to augment its nuclear weapon delivery system, but also plans to bid to keep the aircraft out of Pakistani hands, a senior Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) official said Aug. 25. He said Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates also are bidding for the aircraft.
India is ready to pay up to $37 million per plane, the MoD official said. A new Mirage 2000-5 costs around $53.2 million.
Qatar bought the aircraft in 1997 from Dassault Aviation, Saint Cloud, France, and the nine single-seat Mirage 2000-5 EDAs and three two-seat Mirage 2000-5 DDAs are “like brand new,” a senior Indian Air Force official said Aug. 25.
See the full story in the Sept. 1, 2003, i

Defense News
Aug 29, 2003
India Balks at U.S. Demand in Weapons Deal
Indo-U.S. defense ties have hit a snag following Washington’s insistence that New Delhi disclose deployment plans for the weapons it wants to buy from the United States.
Indian Ministry of Defence officials here say government leaders have serious reservations on this stipulation, and that warming relations could cool once again as a result. The immediate victim could be the sale of P-3 Orion maritime surveillance aircraft, which India plans to buy from Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co., Fort Worth, Texas, the officials said.
The U.S. position was made known to India during the joint Defence Policy Group meeting in Washington Aug. 6-7, one senior ministry official said Aug. 26, adding that such a demand will not be accepted by India.
See the full story in the Sept. 1, 2003, issue of Defense News.
DefensenewsAug 15, 2003
India Eyes British Carrier
The Indian Navy is eyeing Britain’s HMS Invincible aircraft carrier, as talks with Russia over another carrier deal remain at a stalemate.
British Defence Ministry officials offered to sell the Invincible to India when naval chief Adm. Madhavendra Singh visited the United Kingdom July 1-3. The offer includes an unspecified number of Sea King helicopters and used Sea Harrier aircraft, said a senior Indian Defence Ministry official, who declined to disclose the cost and the timetable of the possible deal.
A senior diplomat at the U.K. High Commission here confirmed the British government made an offer.
See full story in the Aug. 18, 2003, issue of Defense News.

Defense News
Sept 03, 2003
India To Set Up Elite Counter-Terrorism Units Within Infantry Battalions
India will spend more than 3 billion rupees ($65 million) to set up “lethal units” in its infantry battalions to counter terrorism, Defence Secretary Ajay Prasad announced Sept. 3.
Prasad said the decision was made by the security Cabinet presided over by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.
“The security Cabinet has also decided to authorize the modernization of battalions with enhanced firepower, state-of-art communication equipment and night-vision capability through hand-held thermal imagers,” Prasad said.
He said the platoons would be carved from the existing battalions of India’s Army and armed with lethal weaponry, part of which will be imported from the international arms bazaar.
“The lethal units will be ready by 2007,” Prasad told a crowded press conference after the security Cabinet meeting.
The Indian Army is spread thin on the country’s borders, having to assign large portions of its combat formations on “internal security” duties, a euphemism for counter-insurgency tasks.
Islamic militancy is steadily bleeding the 1.3-million-strong Army in the Indian zone of troubled Kashmir, where 38,000 people, including hundreds of soldiers, have died in separatist violence since 1989.
Tribal and ethnic insurgencies in six of India’s seven northeastern states also have taken a deadly toll and a general distaste for “internal security” has led to a staggering shortage of 15,000 officers in the military.
Prasad said the Army also will spend an additional 2.9 billion rupees ($62 million) over the next two years to create special units to deal with land mines and other ambushes involving explosives.
“Keeping in view rampant terrorism it has been decided to create special units to neutralize improvised explosive devices used by terrorists,” he said, adding a “sizeable number” of such units will be drawn from the Army’s engineering, infantry and other formations.
“These units in the Army will be able to handle challenges,” said Prasad, in an oblique reference to India’s mounting military casualties in disputed Kashmir.
Most paramilitary organizations in Indian Kashmir have trained, cutting-edge commando units but they often fail to match the massive firepower of better-armed separatists in ground combat.
“It is a good step as the chief of the Army had been asking for better equipment for years,” said V.N. Sharma, former Indian Army chief general.
Defense News
Sept 08, 2003
India To Produce 30 More Surface-to-Surface Nuke-Capable Missiles: Report
India will produce at least 30 more short-range surface-to-surface missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, a newspaper report said Sept. 7.
The decision to build more Prithvi missiles, which have a range of 150 to 300 kilometers, was taken last week at the first meeting of the country’s Nuclear Command Authority chaired by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, the Press Trust of India (PTI) news agency reported.
The exact number of Prithvi missiles with the armed forces is not known as it is considered classified information.
The new Prithvi missiles would have a new solid propellant instead of the present liquid-fuel motor, PTI said, quoting unidentified defense sources.
The agency said separately that India may test-fire the under-construction Agni III, a ballistic missile with a range of 3,000 kilometers, in November.
Defence Minister George Fernandes has said two shorter variants, the Agni I and Agni II, will be deployed sometime this year. PTI said the government gave the nod to the two missiles’ induction.
The report said the cabinet also sanctioned the building of more missile launchers. At present, Army missile battalions are equipped with eight launchers each, it said.
French Navy Regional Commander To Visit India
The naval commander of France’s Indian Ocean deployment, Rear Adm. Richard Wilmot-Roussel, was to arrive in India on Sept. 9 for a two-day trip focused on naval cooperation.
“This visit is a part of the ongoing close Indo-French naval cooperation and will be an occasion for in-depth discussions between the Indian and French navies,” the French embassy here said in a statement Sept. 8. “The Indian Ocean plays a key role in the Indo-French relations.”
The French Navy has permanently stationed 10 warships in the Indian Ocean, which participate in annual joint naval exercises with Indian ships.
A dozen French warships call each year at Indian ports.
Defense News
Sept 08, 2003
India, Israel To Sign Phalcon Deal in ‘Couple of Weeks’: Israeli Official
Israel and India were likely to sign a $1 billion deal for three Phalcon Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) radar systems within weeks, an official travelling with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon confirmed late Sept. 8.
“It will probably be another couple of weeks because of a couple of bureaucratic lapses, things that have to be worked out,” the official told reporters on condition of anonymity.
He did not explain further, but defense sources hinted it was likely the source of the delay hinged on the issue of the transfer of source code for the system.
The Phalcon is an Israeli-developed long-range radar warning and control system carried in a Russian Ilyushin-76 cargo plane.
The United States, which had been blocking the sale of Phalcons to both India and China, gave Israel the go-ahead last month to sign the AWACS deal with New Delhi.
The Israeli leader arrived here late Monday at the head of a high-powered delegation including chief executives of major Israeli armaments firms.
Indian officials said last week that while the two sides would discuss the sale of Israeli Phalcon AWACS during Sharon’s stay, they would not sign a pact for the systems.
Defense News
Sept 09, 2003
India, Israel Discuss Billion-Dollar Radar Deal
Top military officials from India and Israel met Sept. 9 on the sidelines of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s visit with their talks focussing on a $1 billion deal for Phalcon radar systems.
Amos Yaron, director-general of the Israeli Ministry of Defense, met Air Chief Marshal Srinivasapuram Krishnaswamy, head of India’s Air Force, for talks that lasted for nearly an hour, officials from both countries said.
“The two sides discussed a series of issues, but their talks mainly focussed on our requirement for the three Phalcon AWACS [airborne warning and control systems], for which there are no obstacles now,” an Indian Air Force official said on condition of anonymity.
Yaron’s talks with Krishnaswamy came after an Israeli official accompanying Sharon told reporters here that the long-awaited deal would be signed within weeks.
The Phalcon is an Israeli-developed long-range radar warning and control system carried in a Russian Ilyushin Il-76 cargo plane.
“It will probably be another couple of weeks because of a couple of bureaucratic lapses, things that have to be worked out,” an Israeli official said on condition that he not be named.
The official did not explain further, but Israeli defense sources hinted it was likely the source of the delay hinged on the issue of the transfer of source code for the system.
The United States, which had been blocking the sale of Phalcons to both India and China, gave Israel the go-ahead last month to sign the AWACS deal with New Delhi.
Sharon arrived here late Sept. 8 at the head of a high-powered delegation including chief executives of nine major Israeli armament firms and on Sept. 9 met his Indian counterpart, Atal Behari Vajpayee, and others.
Indian officials said last week that while the two sides would discuss the sale of Israeli Phalcon AWACS during Sharon’s stay,they would not sign a pact for the systems.
Indian Defence Ministry sources said that Yaron and Krishnaswamy also discussed upgrading India’s crash-plagued, Russian-built MiG-21 fighter jets.
Yaron, heading an Israeli military team comprising Col. Yoash Rubin and Col. Moshe Kravitz also held a 75-minute meeting with V. K. Atre, the Indian Defence Ministry’s chief scientific adviser, the sources said.
“The talks focussed on a possible collaboration between state-owned Israeli Aircraft Industry and India’s Defence Research and Development Organization for joint production of unmanned aerial vehicles,” one source said.
The Israeli military team is set to hold a series of meetings Sept. 10 with Indian military planners, talks that are likely to accelerate the sale of Israeli Travos infantry weaponry for counterinsurgency operations.
Yaron, a retired major general, will hold talks Sept. 10 with India’s Navy chief, Adm. Madhvendera Singh, and Army chief, Gen. N.C. Vij, while Defence Minister George Fernandes will call on Sharon after the day’s negotiations.

Defensenews.com12 Sep 03
India, Myanmar Begin Naval Exercises
Within a week of the visit by Adm. Madhavendra Singh, India’s Navy chief and chairman of the Chiefs of the Defence Staff, to neighboring Myanmar, two Indian warships reached Yangon on Sept. 10 for joint exercises.
Disclosing their arrival at the Myanmar capital, a senior Indian Defence Ministry official here said the two Khukri-class warships would carry out joint exercises with Myanmar naval ships. The official, however, clarified that the Sept. 10-15 joint maneuvers were planned before Singh’s visit.
“The first joint naval exercise between India and Myanmar will send a strong political signal in the region,” asserted an official of India’s Ministry of External Affairs here.
Chinese naval bases are located in Myanmar, also known as Burma. The joint naval exercises between India and Myanmar are likely to upgrade into defense ties between the two countries, the same official added.
There is no defense cooperation pact between the two countries, but India is favorably inclined to sell weapons and equipment to Myanmar, the Indian Defence Ministry official said. Yangon is looking for spares for infantry systems, ammunition for small and medium arms, grenades, rocket launchers and military clothing.
The Indian Defence Ministry also supports Myanmar’s proposal to send its 10 MiG-29 aircraft, bought from Russia in the last five years, to India for upgrades and maintenance. 12 Sep 03
India Will Not Send Troops to Iraq, U.N. Mandate Or Not: Reports
India will not send troops to Iraq even if the United Nations mandates multinational peacekeeping operations in the strife-torn country, the Indian media reported Sept. 12.
Quoting top government sources, newspapers said the line New Delhi is now pushing is that it cannot spare any of its million-strong Army for peacekeeping operations due to security threats within the country and on its borders.
However, the real reason, the reports said, was that national elections are due in India by October 2004 and the ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) believes it would be politically disastrous if any Indian soldier died in Iraq.
India on July 14 rejected a U.S. request to send 15,000 to 20,000 troops to Iraq but said it would reconsider if there were an explicit U.N. mandate.
Washington has since proposed a U.N. resolution to send a multinational force to Iraq.
However, France, Germany and Russia — which all opposed the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein — have expressed reservations about the U.N. draft resolution.
Most major newspapers Friday quoted the unnamed government sources as saying that U.N. mandate or no U.N. mandate, India will not be sending troops to Iraq.
“It’s for the same reason that we turned down the (U.S.) request to send troops to Liberia,” the Hindustan Times quoted one source as saying. “We said we’re in no position to spare troops because of the situation in our northwest sector [on the border with Pakistan] and the kind of terrorist activity that happens in Kashmir on a daily basis.”
Kashmir is in the grip of a 14-year-old Islamic insurgency which has so far claimed 38,000 lives, according to Indian figures. Separatists put the death toll between 80,000 and 100,000.
India already has committed two infantry battalions for U.N. peacekeeping operations — in Lebanon and along the Ethiopia-Eritrea border, the source added.
Diplomatic sources said the BJP had recently taken a firm decision not to send troops to Iraq no matter what — but for internal political rather than logistical reasons.
The Hindu newspaper at the weekend hinted as much when it said domestic political considerations more than anything else were likely to dissuade the BJP, which heads India’s coalition government, from sending its troops.
The Hindu report said the Indian government saw “no particular merit in giving the opposition any handle” for attack.
The Asian Age newspaper Friday quoted Indian Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani as telling former U.S. Ambassador to India Robert Blackwill: “What would we say to the nation if our soldiers get killed?”
The report said Advani made the remark when Blackwill, trying to persuade India to commit troops, had expressed concern over American soldiers being killed in the post-Saddam period.
Defense 12 Sep 03
China Lashes Out at Pentagon’s ‘Distorted View’ of Military Might
Beijing on Sept. 11 lashed out at “groundless” conclusions in the United States’ annual report on China’s military power, saying it “wantonly misrepresents” Chinese policy.
In an article published in the state-run People’s Liberation Army Daily, and repeated as the main opinion item in the English-language China Daily, China said the Pentagon got it wrong.
“Based upon Washington’s long-held position that China is a potential challenger to U.S. strategic interests in the Asia Pacific, the report wantonly misrepresents China’s strategic goals and defense policies,” it said.
The annual report to Congress, released in late July, said Beijing was annually adding 75 short-range missiles across from Taiwan and acquiring or developing weapons and tactics aimed at countering technologically superior U.S. forces.
It cited one Chinese military publication, “Junshi Wenzhai,” as claiming China already had a trump card to counter U.S. air superiority in the western Pacific: simultaneous attacks on aircraft carriers with fighter bombers, submarines, anti-ship missiles, torpedoes and mines.
Besides acquiring modern Russian-designed fighter aircraft, destroyers and submarines, China also is taking aim at the United States’ high-tech edge with cyber and electronic warfare capabilities, as well as efforts to develop radio frequency weapons and possibly anti-satellite weapons, the U.S. report said.
The newspapers denied China was bent on building its military capability, saying the country had no tradition of conquest.
“The fact is that China has never desired or developed the kind of military capability necessary for strategic expansion,” they said, adding that such a theory was in marked contrast to China’s primary goals of developing its economy and improving living conditions.
“As a developing nation, China’s top priority is to safeguard national security and create a peaceful international environment for its economic construction,” the papers said.
They blasted the “concocted” report as permeated with a “China threat” theory from start to finish as an excuse to justify expanding U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.
“For a long time the United States has thought of Taiwan as an important chip to contain China’s clout, and taken the separation of Taiwan from China as a key to realizing its strategic interests in the region,” they said.
The United States remains the leading arms supplier to Taiwan despite shifting its political recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979.
Last month, reports said Washington had agreed to ship AIM-120 medium-range air-to-air missiles to the Taiwanese Air Force to ensure military balance in the Taiwan Strait.
Beijing considers Taiwan part of China that must be reunified and has repeatedly threatened to invade should the island declare formal independence.
The newspapers, however, insisted China was a “peace-loving nation” and would continue along that path, but warned Washington against rocking the boat.
“A healthy Sino-U.S. relationship is not always welcome to some politicians in the U.S. administration and Congress, thus some of them lash out at China when Sino-U.S.-relations turn better,” the opinion said.
“To push forward a steady Sino-U.S. relationship that benefits the interests of both countries and world peace, the United States should be careful about its groundless conclusions.”
Despite the mutual mud-slinging, China-U.S. relations are considered to be better than they have been in years. 12 Sep 03
India, U.S. Complete Week of Military Exercises in Disputed Kashmir
India and the United States on Sept. 12 completed a week of joint military exercises in disputed Kashmir’s Ladakh region, as Washington said it was offering spy aircraft to the Indian Navy.
Indian officials said the joint exercises by special forces from the two countries would continue for another week in the heights of Ladakh’s Himalayas, which overlook both Pakistan and China.
“It is for the first time that battalion-sized contingents from India and the United States are conducting a high-altitude exercise in India,” a Defense Ministry official said without elaborating on the nature of the training.
The U.S. embassy in New Delhi on the eve of the event had said the two-week maneuvers would focus on training for high-altitude operations, including “mountain safety, acclimatization and medical aspects.”
Indian troops, and its Air Force, had previously joined U.S. forces in similar maneuvers in the mountains of Alaska.
The U.S. troops were flown to Ladakh on Hercules transport aircraft on Sept. 5 and then ferried to an undisclosed location for the exercises.
Pakistan, which disputes India’s ownership of Kashmir, on Monday criticized the joint exercises between its South Asian archrival and the United States, its partner in the war on terror.
“This is a territory disputed by neighboring states so exercises [in the area] are not helpful,” Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood Khan said in Islamabad. “It may fuel concerns in the neighboring countries and I think it does not contribute to stabilization of Asia and the region,” he said, adding that Pakistan had not been informed in advance of the military event.
The U.S. embassy, meanwhile, said Friday a high-level team from the U.S. Navy had briefed their Indian counterparts earlier this week on the possible acquisition of P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft by India.
“The acquisition of modern P-3s would enhance India’s maritime patrol capability, as the aircraft can be equipped with a variety of weapons and sensors,” the U.S. embassy in a statement said.
India is considering the purchase of the naval spy planes for its anti-ship, anti-submarine, surveillance and search and rescue operations

Indian Tests of Israeli Missile System May Lead to Orders
Recent Indian Navy tests of an Israeli-made anti-missile system are expected to result in follow-on orders for the supersonic, vertical launch ship defense missile.
In interviews here, Indian and Israeli officials said an enhanced version of the Israeli Barak naval air defense system successfully intercepted two Russian-made missile targets in early September tests by the Indian Navy off the coast of Goa, in southwestern India.
“It was a splendid two-for-two performance. They launched two [Baraks] against two incoming missiles, and they destroyed them head-on,” a recently retired Indian general still associated with military modernization efforts, told on Sept. 9.
An Israeli defense official here confirmed the tests, as did representatives of Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) Ltd., and Rafael Armament Development Authority, partners in development and production of the Barak system. Leading executives of the two firms were accompanying Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon here Sept. 9-11 on the first state visit to India of an Israeli premier since the two nations established diplomatic ties in 1992.
“It was a significant test, since the missile was evaluated under particularly rigorous conditions,” an Israeli industry official said.
Defense officials from both countries said New Delhi has agreed to purchase at least eight new systems. The package follows an initial $270 million package concluded in 2001.
The Israeli Barak system is designed to intercept sea-skimming missiles, cruise missiles, or air-launched missiles in daylight, at night and under any weather conditions. It has an intercept range from a minimum of 500 meters to beyond 10 kilometers.
Indian Analysts Are Asking For Army's Accountability
By Harish Khare
AFTER the recent Mumbai blasts, the time has come to ask a few hard questions of the alleged iron-willed practitioners of our new 'hard state.' The post-blast rituals and post-massacre drills no longer suffice.
The post-violence rituals are only too familiar: The Deputy Prime Minister flies out to the scene of bloody massacre, announces the involvement of the Inter-Services Intelligence and repeats his demand for the "most wanted 20"; the Prime Minister and the President issue messages of condemnation; Foreign Ministers telephone our Foreign Minister, offering condolences and advising restraint; compensation is announced for the kin of those killed; the "martyred" army and paramilitary personnel are given a befitting funeral; politicians engage in blame game; within days, the "master-mind(s)" are arrested; Ministers and Police Commissioners hold press conferences to announce a "breakthrough," friendly and gullible journalists are palmed off "incriminating" evidence to link the arrested men to this or that outfit headquartered in Pakistan, and so on.
After a few days, we move on to other local or national distractions, till there is another outbreak of terrorist-perpetrated violence.
Perhaps these rituals are needed to reassure the apprehensive citizens that they are not helpless, that the "government" is alive to its constitutional duty to provide safety and security to every Indian, that "we" do have the men and the arms to take care of the terrorists, and that our rulers are not insensitive to the plight of the common man.
The therapeutic usefulness of these rituals cannot be overlooked, especially as we all know what happened in Gujarat last year when the rulers in New Delhi and Gandhinagar decided to do away with these rituals.
But surely, a regime that proclaims to have bestowed on India the status of a "nuclear power" ought to be able to do something more than simply wait for another terrorist outrage. The disease is no longer confined to Jammu and Kashmir but has now traveled to "smaller towns."
What is most alarming is the qualitative change in the nature and origin of the potential terrorist: he is home-grown. The terrorist outfits and their ISI puppeteers no longer need to send "Afghanis" to attack targets; they are finding recruits here on the periphery of the national capital.
Pakistan's involvement and its intractable hostility to our safety and security is an old — and tired — song. We cannot keep on wringing our national hands in despair, petitioning the "international community" to do something about Islamabad.
At least this was the promise of the 'deshbhakts' five years ago, when the country was invited to vote for tough men who knew what tough measures needed to be taken to tell our detractors that India was no longer a soft state. It is a different matter that the country is less secure than it was five years ago, and terror has traveled from the Kashmir Valley down to the heartland. It is possible to suggest that some political leaders find that this periodic terror is good for their electoral health. May be.
But the cynical political calculations of a few cynical men cannot be sufficient reason for the failure of the overseers of the Indian state to put in place instruments, procedures and practices that deny the terrorist local support.
Why should, for example, our political establishment go on blaming Dawood Ibrahim for suborning the loyalties of policemen in Maharashtra, Gujarat and other States? After all, Mr. D fled the country more than 10 years ago; Maharashtra, in the meantime, had a 24-carat nationalist government, headed by a Shiv Sena man, for five years; and, since 1998, we have been fortunate enough to have Sardar Patel the Second as our Home Minister.
Yet we continue to believe that the only way to put an end to this criminal-terrorist synergy is to have the "most wanted" 20-odd characters in our custody, without once wanting to know why and how these criminals (now allegedly patronized by the ISI) continue to get the better of police establishments across the country.
In fact, it was 10 years ago — after the first Bombay blasts, in 1993 — that the N.N. Vohra Committee put its finger on the crux of the context which allows foreign intelligence agencies (like the ISI) to play their mischief: "all over India crime syndicates have become a law unto themselves.
Even in the smaller towns and rural areas, musclemen have become the order of the day. Hired assassins have become a part of these organizations. The nexus between the criminal gangs, police, bureaucracy and politicians has come out clearly in various parts of the country.
The existing criminal justice system, which was essentially designed to deal with the individual offences/crimes, is unable to deal with the activities of the mafia; the provisions of law in regard to economic offences are weak; there are insurmountable legal difficulties in attaching/ confiscation of the property acquired through mafia activities."
Have we made any progress in our internal security management since the Vohra Committee alerted us to creeping enfeeblement of our law and order machinery? Admittedly not; and this enfeeblement has provided enough space for our nation's enemies to hand out franchises in the heartland.
Besides the first Vohra Committee report, the country's rulers have also had the benefit of the second Vohra Committee report. The former Union Home Secretary headed the Internal Security task force; it was one of the four groups (besides intelligence, border management, and security) that inquired into the "Kargil" making.
The Internal Security report remains a secret document, but it is well known that its most emphatic recommendation was that a "Federal Law Enforcement Agency" be set up. This recommendation was in tune with the first report, which had suggested a "nodal set-up", which, in turn, could draw on the resources of all intelligence and enforcement agencies, across the bureaucratic turfs.
Nothing came of the "nodal set-up," primarily because the political leadership was preoccupied with survival games and the bureaucrats were unwilling to cede any turf. The proposal was further elaborated in the second report; the idea being that the criminals and terrorists had succeeded in setting up national and even global networks, and that it was only logical that the security agencies should pool their resources.
The Central Government's most glaring failure on the internal security front has been its inability to create such an agency. In a written reply in the Rajya Sabha, on March 11, 2003, the Home Ministry conceded "there is no consensus on the proposal due to the perception of some of the States that this could impinge upon their spheres of responsibility with regard to the maintenance of public order."
The root of this perception is essentially to do with the entirely partisan political leadership at the North Block. This partisanship has neutralized whatever goodwill the Center has traditionally enjoyed in dealing with the States.
More than this unhelpful partisanship, what has hampered the Union Home Ministry is Mr. Advani's failure to provide the sustained, involved and inspirational leadership to the internal security bureaucracies. A successful Minister is one who looks ahead without getting caught in the smoke and crises of the current battle; ministerial leadership means honing bureaucratic resources to anticipate and meet problems as well as to demand that officers perform.
In this regard, the Union Home Ministry has been singularly unlucky. The Prime Minister needs to ask his Home Minister why he has not been able to sort out the internal security matrix.
A similar failure is evident in the other Ministry across the road. We have had a Raksha Mantri who has made a fetish of traveling to the remotest army posts to be with "the boys," but who has not yet demanded of his generals why they are not able to stop infiltration.
The reason is simple. The Government has devised this clever stratagem of denouncing any demand for accountability on the national security front as an unfair questioning of the "jawan."
This has worked well against an inept Opposition but in the process, the political leadership has lost its capacity and appetite for asking tough questions of the over-pampered generals as to why they continue to make the same mistakes again and again, especially in Jammu and Kashmir, as compared with the other para-military organizations.
And because no show cause notice is issued either to the

SA Tribune 12 Sep 03
US Officials Skeptical of Pak Crackdown on Taliban
By John Lancaster Saa Tribune 12Sep 03
MOHMAND AGENCY, Pakistan: Until recently, this remote tribal region on the Afghan border was the last of Pakistan's "no-go" areas, a lawless realm of parched mountains and mud-walled villages where not even the army dared to tread. Smugglers operated with impunity here, and so, some say, did the Taliban and al Qaeda.
But this June, Pakistani soldiers moved into Mohmand Agency, one of seven tribal areas that have been brought under government control for the first time in Pakistan's history. The situation is now so tranquil that the army recently organized a helicopter tour for Western journalists, showcasing a well-digging project and smiling villagers bearing trays of ice-cold Pepsi-Cola.
"We don't allow Taliban here," said Mohammed Shah, 45, a wiry-looking laborer who was among the well-wishers in the village of Faqir Wala. "If they come, we will throw them out."
The army organized the tour to counter charges by the US-backed Afghan government that Pakistan is allowing Taliban fighters to use its border areas as a base for stepped-up operations against US and Afghan forces in southern and southeastern Afghanistan. Such attacks, including recent large-scale assaults on police posts, have forced aid groups to curtail some relief and reconstruction efforts and raised doubts about plans to hold national elections next year.
They also are a cause of growing concern in Washington. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said after a visit earlier this month to Kabul, the Afghan capital, that Pakistan was "not doing as much as it can" to secure its border with Afghanistan.
Pakistani officials deny they are aiding the Taliban, saying they are committed to helping the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai while emphasizing the challenge of preventing illegal movement across the rugged frontier, much of which is not even marked.
Some analysts and Western diplomats, however, are skeptical of Pakistan's assurances. They cite Pakistan's historical ties to the Taliban, its animosity toward members of the former Northern Alliance militia who now dominate Karzai's government and its growing anxiety over links between Kabul and India, Pakistan's historical nemesis.
In particular, Pakistani officials accuse India of using newly reopened consulates in the Afghan cities of Kandahar and Jalalabad to stir up tension between Pakistan and Afghanistan, especially along the border. "I would not say the policy has gone to overt or covert support for the Taliban, but there could be a process of benign neglect," said retired army officer Ikram Majeed Sehgal, who retains close links to Pakistan's security establishment as the head of the country's largest private security firm.
"Given the fact that the Northern Alliance has taken over, [Pakistani security forces] would not crack down [on the Taliban] with the same enthusiasm they would have a year earlier," he added. "Now their worst fears have come true. The Indians have planted themselves in Kandahar and in Jalalabad."
A Western diplomat suggested that Pakistani intelligence agents still maintain "lines of communication" with fugitive Taliban leaders, who share Pakistan's hostility toward India and the Northern Alliance. If nothing else, the diplomat added, Pakistani officials perceive such contacts as "an insurance policy" in the event that Karzai's government fails and the Taliban returns to power in some form.
Pakistan's ties to the Taliban date from the early 1990s, when it embraced the movement as a stabilizing force in Afghanistan and -- along with Saudi Arabia -- supplied much of the weaponry and logistical support that underpinned its rise to power. The movement drew its manpower from Afghan and Pakistani students at Islamic seminaries, or madrassas, in the Pashtun tribal belt running through the border regions of North-West Frontier Province and Baluchistan.
Many of the madrassas were run by Jamiat-e-Ulema-i-Islami, one of Pakistan's main hard-line religious parties. The JUI is now part of the six-party religious alliance that leads the opposition in Pakistan's parliament and also holds power in the provincial government of North-West Frontier Province, which includes Mohmand Agency.
Following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, on the United States, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's president, threw his support behind the US-led war to topple the Taliban government and crush al Qaeda with help from the Northern Alliance, which occupied Kabul several months later. Since then, Pakistani security services acting in concert with the FBI and CIA have arrested nearly 500 al Qaeda fugitives in Pakistan.
But Pakistani officials say they make a distinction between al Qaeda members, most of whom are Arabs, and Taliban fighters, who they say are generally undeserving of the "terrorist" label. Pakistani authorities have arrested few, if any, senior Taliban figures, many of whom are thought to have taken refuge in Pakistan.
"Officials knew that using strong-arm tactics against the Taliban would be a mistake," Fazlur Rahman, the head of the JUI, said in a telephone interview. "One can have a difference of opinion with some of their leaders, but the Taliban were pro-Pakistan and would always remain so. My feeling is the army as an institution recognizes that fact."
Afghan officials say they are paying the price for Pakistan's ambivalent attitude toward the Taliban. In Kandahar, Afghan intelligence officials have been allowing Western journalists to interview captured Taliban fighters who describe themselves as recent recruits from madrassas in Pakistan's border areas.
One of them, identified as an 18-year-old Afghan from the central province of Uruzgan, told Reuters that he had been studying at a madrassa in Chaman, near the border with Afghanistan, several months ago when a pro-Taliban cleric invited him to "join the jihad." The captured fighter, Rahimatullah, said he traveled to the Pakistani city of Quetta, where he joined 10 more recruits before taking a taxi to the Maruf district of Kandahar province.
A few nights later he was captured during an unsuccessful raid on the home of a government official. Rahimatullah said he had been paid 3,200 Pakistani rupees, about $55, to join the militia.
A Western military source credited Pakistan with making a sincere effort to stop infiltration, however, noting that the army has established about 300 new outposts in the border areas in the last three months.
Pakistani army officers said they have so far deployed 25,000 men in the tribal areas of North-West Frontier Province. In Mohmand Agency, as in other tribal areas, many are involved in public works projects, such as building schools and roads. Others have been deployed along the border, occupying positions at one-mile intervals on the agency's 42-mile frontier with Afghanistan, according to Brig. Iqbal Harral, the brigade commander in the area.
Gen. Ali Aurakzai, the corps commander in the province, said his field commanders hold regular meetings with their US counterparts across the border and sometimes coordinate operations against pro-Taliban forces with the aid of satellite phones.
"We provided the anvil, and they provided the hammer," he said of one such operation that took place recently.
The writer is Correspondent for the Washington Post in Pakistan

Musharraf’s Record of Repeated Disasters: Can We Trust His Judgment?
By Shaheen Sehbai SA Tribune 12 Sep 03

LAST FRIDAY, when a moderate and half ambitious but widely-read Urdu columnist, Irshad Ahmed Haqqani, who had attended General Musharraf’s famous Lahore briefing, slapped the General with a brutal, almost discourteous smack in his column, it was clear that Musharraf was now being seen as a case gone astray, even by his sympathizers.
Wrote Haqqani in Daily “Jang” of August 22: “You have put the condition of an “honest and righteous” leadership to eradicate corruption. Excuse Me. You (General Musharraf) are the almighty dictator for the last three and a half years. Look at your own performance first and then open your mouth to advise and lecture others. Have you collected the “honest and righteous” leadership under the umbrella of Mr. Jamali’s coalition? If a philosopher cannot act on his own philosophy, how can he complain about others? One ounce of action is heavier than one ton of words. If you had taken action in the right direction on the conditions (you are laying down today), you would not have felt the need to lecture the nation…” Click to Read Column in Urdu
Strong words but coming rather late in the day. Yet it is now almost clear as a crystal that there has always been a very wide gap between what General Musharraf says and what he actually does. And whatever he does, has almost invariably, turned out not to be the right thing.
We compiled a list of decisions Musharraf took, since he became the Army Chief to the present, and it turns out to be so depressing, one almost loses faith in the ability and capacity of the man to take any, repeat any, correct decision, unless forced on him or when he had no choice. Whether he does it deliberately or whether it is the fault of his training and instincts developed over the years as a commando and a survivor is debatable.
Here are some of the key mistakes he made, as a decision-maker in various capacities:
- As Army Chief, Musharraf rallied all Corps Commanders to take a vow that if the political prime minister tried to assert his authority on the new army chief, as he had done with General Jahangir Karamat, who was forced to resign, the Army would stage a coup d’etat. That laid the seeds of violating the Constitution, even when there was no apparent reason. The conspiracy was already hatched.
- As Army Chief, Musharraf went to Abbaji, the father of the then Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, in Raiwind, and asked him to replace the PM with his brother Shahbaz Sharif, who was then Chief Minister of Punjab. That day, he lost the confidence of the PM, for good and was then not to be trusted. (This was recorded by me in an interview with Abbaji, published in Daily ‘Dawn’ in August of 2000.)
- As Army Chief Musharraf refused to obey the Prime Minister and support his peace initiative with India, when Vajpayee was invited to Pakistan for the famous bus trip. That decision signaled to the world that Pakistan was still a banana republic with the power in the hands of the army and civilians were helpless.
- As Army Chief Musharraf launched the Kargil operation which ended in a disaster and killing of 4000 Pakistan Army men (according to Nawaz Sharif’s latest statement made on Aug 14, 2003 at a protest rally in Lahore). Kargil has become the ultimate credibility factor for Musharraf and Pakistan Army as no one trusts him after that.
- After October '99 coup, he made some right sounding noises about a liberal and modern Pakistan, but soon slipped into the mould of a traditional self-perpetuating dictator, negating everything he said earlier. He twisted the Supreme Court judgment in Zafar Ali Shah case to grab powers and extend his tenure.
- In the April Referendum his decision-making power was exposed to the limit as the referendum took away 90 per cent of his credibility as a sincere and honest army commander who, he repeatedly and dishonestly claimed, had been forced into the October coup without ever intending it. The referendum was the beginning of his end as a credible leader.
- He made appointments which exposed his decision-making powers. A Brigadier, illegally promoted as Major General, was made his chief spokesman and all agreed he was a disaster. Maleeha Lodhi was made Ambassador to US, again proving that he could not make a better judgment of personalities. Javed Jabbar was made Information Minister, only to be removed after he ended up with media disaster, specially turning the General’s first UN/US visit in September 2000 into a war between the Pakistani Press and the Army.
- Perverted legal wizard, Sharifuddin Pirzada, was pressed again into service thereby sending the message to Pakistan that further rape and disfiguring of the Constitution was in the works. The LFO which came out proved that was a major disaster, still hanging around the General’s neck.
- His takeover as President, removing the compliant Rafiq Tarar, brought him into a situation which gave birth to the now universal demand for separation of the presidency from the army chief’s post.
- An open and shut case of bribing the top judges of the Supreme Court, by extending their retirement age, brought charges against the Army, but almost crippled the superior judiciary when the lawyers’ community revolted and refused to work with these tainted judges. Nothing could have damaged the Supreme Court more than this one decision.
- Come 9/11 and Musharraf was swept by the force of the strong current into making many decisions, some out of sheer helplessness and some deliberate. His famous U-Turns on Taliban and Jihadis could be justified as he had no choice but his decision to secretly support the religious extremists in local bodies’ elections first and then in October general elections backfired with such ferocity, he is still not able to get out of the mess. To this date the Mayor of Karachi is from Jamaat Islami, the party which refuses to accept Musharraf as a legitimate president in uniform. And everyone knows how Mayors were selected, not elected, by the Army and ISI.
- After the October polls, Musharraf shed all pretence of honesty, ethics and morality in the name of “pragmatism” and started to act like any corrupt politician he so publicly denounced. When a Washington-based journalist asked him recently how he should be judged because the “company he was keeping” was of corrupt and dishonest politicians, Musharraf got very angry.
- How good was his decision to associate the Choudhries of Gujrat, the turn-coats of PPP, the MQM of Altaf Bhai with his regime is now evident. It was his sheer selfishness which forced him into these gross mistakes and the entire Army as an institution is now being made to pay.
- His choice of Mr. Zafarullah Jamali as Prime Minister is now turning out to be another disaster. And he himself says so. He may be thinking of replacing him with another of his more loyal and obedient servants, probably Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz. That would be another and a bigger blunder.
- Just in the case of MQM, Musharraf’s interview to the Guardian of London on May 16, 2001 is a classic example of his double talk and capacity to make wrong decisions. Rory McCarthy and Luke Harding had this Q&A with him about MQM as part of their detailed interview:
Q: There is one other Pakistani politician in the UK at the moment, Altaf Hussain, who has just been given a British passport while he is facing several criminal cases in this country. What was your reaction when you heard the news?
A: I certainly wouldn't say that I am too happy about it, because Britain must understand that such political asylums being given to people who may be have worked against or are working against the interest of Pakistan should be given more serious thought before taking such action.
Q: Will you make an effort to bring him back to Pakistan to face trial?
A: I haven't given this a thought really. I don't think he has any place in Pakistani politics. I would like to stabilize the political environment in Pakistan, and in this effort certainly Karachi and Sindh need the stability which is going on at the moment, so I don't want to create waves in the waters at all.
Then, after a political deal, when MQM’s man was appointed Sindh Governor, Musharraf flatly denied there was ever any case against him registered in Karachi. He conveniently forgot that he himself had accused Mr. Altaf Hussain of working against the interests of Pakistan and had categorically stated that Mr. Hussain had any place in Pakistani politics. Now he is a close ally with a central place in that very politics.
- When Musharraf ditched his benefactors, Generals Mahmood and Aziz, under US pressure, it appeared to be a decision which was beyond his powers to resist. But when he started insisting that he would not take off his uniform until all of his Army colleagues including Aziz, his deputy COAS General Yousaf (Joe) and General Tauqir Zia, retire, it became clear Musharraf was now playing games with all of them. The result is that these Generals have started talking to Musharraf’s opponents, secretly sending messages, urging them not to drop the demand that he take off his uniform and give a date. When Musharraf acts in his own selfish interest, others who are below him are expected to do the same. The unity of the Army as an institution goes out of the window.
- This cracking up within the army ranks made Musharraf to demand from his Corps Commanders recently that they issue an unprecedented and highly objectionable political statement assuring Musharraf of their support and asking him to keep his uniform whenever he wanted. The very need for such a statement betrayed the lack of confidence Musharraf had in his junta. Of course when asked by the Chief to issue a statement, who can say no. But within their hearts, many would have felt the need to do something against this dictator who was now dictating to even his own colleagues.
- His decision to agree to revert the retirement age of the Supreme Court judges, against dealt a severe blow to his credibility as a dependable person. These judges went out of their way and risked their name and credibility to give him a lame excuse to remain in power. But the moment Musharraf saw that he could get support of a stronger political forum, the MMA in this case which could legitimize his unconstitutional rule in Parliament, he was ready to dump the judges. Now can he depend on the same judges to get another judgment in his favor, if needed?
- Likewise he has been talking to everyone,including his avowed adversaries like Asif Ali Zardari, to get a supporting hand. Whenever he thinks he may succeed, he sends vibes that others could be ditched. This has made him into a subject of jokes. The latest says if Fazal supports him he would kick Qazi, if Qazi supports him, he would kick Patriots, if everybody supports him, he would kick himself.
- In foreign affairs, his decisions have largely been dictated from abroad, but the ones he took himself, like the Agra summit, he bungled badly. Now after two years he has to eat humble pie and beg for a summit with Vajpayee again in New York. He punctured the Lahore bus in 1999 but had to push start it himself in 2003. How sound then were his judgments in the past?
- His Afghan policy is in a mess with a hostile western neighbor now harassing Pakistan troops amid serious talk that India may send its troops into Afghanistan as part of ISAF. That his secret support to Taliban and the recent activity from Pakistan soil against US troops will ultimately land him into deeper trouble, is just a matter of time.
Dozens of other examples can be quoted here to show that Musharraf as a 'man of vision' is not a dependable person. His vision is flawed. His decision-making powers are below average and his instincts are fatalistic.
The man has proved in these recent years that he is incapable of leading a complex country like Pakistan. If people like Irshad Haqqani have realized this fact, others who will have to face the brunt of his decisions, sooner than later, should realize it as well, and quickly.
How many mistakes can Pakistan afford and what if one blows up everything.
Is Pakistan's National Defence in Safe Hands?

By Ayaz Amir Satribune 12 Sep 03
NOT AN inappropriate question to ask on the eve of what, through a process of some self-bluffing, we choose to call the Defence of Pakistan Day (every September the 6th).
The self-bluffing comes from the fiction that the 1965 war was somehow imposed upon us, that a predator enemy, seeking our destruction, launched a war of aggression which we then fought back with amazing skill and bravery. While this makes for riveting if not soul-lifting history, it's not quite how it happened.
We set off on a small adventure in Kashmir which quickly got out of hand and saw us dragged into a full-scale war, a war we had neither sought nor indeed calculated for. We thought the fighting would remain confined to Kashmir and India would dare not cross the international border.
Unfortunately, India chose not to oblige us and -- as a little common sense, let alone Napoleonic insight, might have forewarned us--chose a place and time of its choosing to counter our moves in Kashmir. (Another proof of the adage that wars while easy to start are harder to finish. Ask the Brits and Americans about their adventure in Iraq.)
Our jawans and young officers fought well. (So did the Indian jawans and their young officers.) But that's hardly the point. Our soldiers fought an unnecessary war brought on by the stupidity of their warlords.
What led the nation into this fiasco? Simply put, one-man rule. Ayub Khan was his own commander and his own president. He had installed a yes-man as army c-in-c but it was Ayub with his field marshal's baton--something he had bestowed on himself--who called the shots. When he decided upon the adventure in Kashmir there was no one to stop him. (It's no use blaming Bhutto or anyone else. The buck stopped at the president's table.)
The '65 war ended in a draw. There was no such consolation for us in '71 when the folly of military rule led to abject defeat and surrender in what was then East Pakistan. What was to blame for that disaster? A repetition of the Ayub phenomenon: the fact that the same person was military chief and political ruler.
The Zia decade distorted the spirit of Pakistan and gave us in ample measure a culture of sectarian murder and hypocrisy. What led to this? Again, one-man rule and the destruction of political institutions.As if to prove that learning from history is not our forte, we are going through a similar phase again: another military ruler who is his own pope and Caesar. Echoing the cry of all his military predecessors he says he is indispensable and must remain president and military chief as long as he himself deems fit. In his book no bigger heresy exists than to question this self-proclaimed doctrine of indispensability.
Was national defence safe in the hands of Ayub, Yahya and Zia? The disasters they presided over tell us it was not. They were competent enough soldiers but they exceeded their briefs and stepped outside the circle of their competence. The results could have been predicted. They proved bad soldiers and poor leaders. Is there anything exceptional in our present set of military saviors? What grounds for supposing they can break the cycle of cause-and-effect?
Four years is a long enough time to judge anything. Has Pakistan been put on the road to development? Are the masses shouting for joy? Has military rule delivered better administration, quicker justice? Has it erected monuments to stability?
On any honest valuation, General Musharraf's government would be lucky to score 'average' on any performance chart. On its promise to cleanse the national stables and usher in an era of 'real' democracy it would probably score 'below average'. Well, everyone knows what these kinds of grades get you in the army: early retirement. But when you are your own umpire and examiner and you have the luxury of writing your own annual report, who's to stop you from proclaiming your performance as outstanding?
God knows our democrats too have been crying failures. They had the chance to change national direction, Benazir Bhutto in 1988, Nawaz Sharif in 1997. But they squandered their opportunities and furnished fresh justifications for the military to re-enter the political arena. All the same, Pakistan's salvation lies in democracy not militarism. Democracy can die a hundred deaths, suffer a thousand failures, but it will yet be the only path for us to follow.
If an army is defeated you don't disband it or forswear the use of arms. You raise a fresh army and invest more in weapons and training so that it fights better the next time there is a call to arms. In similar fashion, democracy's failure should not mean the disbanding of democracy but rather the creation of conditions where the chances of going wrong the next time round are minimized.
France was plagued by political instability from 1945 to 1958, the period of the so-called Fourth Republic. General de Gaulle put an end to France's malaise not by discontinuing democracy but by (1) devising a more stable system and (2) providing leadership to his country. The Fifth Republic, his legacy to France, survives to this day.
Yes, Pakistan needs leadership and it needs a stable democracy. But it will get neither the one nor the other from military presidents who think it their divine right to be embalmed in their uniforms - leaders whose outstanding talent, as our history tells us, is for repeating the failed experiments of the past.
Have our military saviors ever considered that when they remove democracy from the equation, or give the notion of democracy a self-serving twist, they are erasing the very raison d'être of Pakistan? Pakistan came into being on the basis of the right of self-determination. The Muslims of India, exercising their free choice, opted for a separate homeland. In other words, Muslim nationhood found political expression through democracy. Remove democracy from the scaffolding and the structure called Pakistan loses both identity and meaning.
True, Pakistan has not been served well by its governing class. Its leaders both military and political have largely failed it. (After Jinnah the only real leader we had was Bhutto. But we hanged him. And since then we have been groping for leadership.) But the solution lies not in raising tin pot figures and hoping that they will work miracles but in returning again and again, no matter how numerous the failures, to democracy.
Bhutto was a protégé of Ayub Khan's but as he moved along the political scale he became a champion of the masses and the father of the 1973 Constitution (not to mention the father of the A-bomb, the pride of our military). Nawaz Sharif was a product of another dictatorship but in his later incarnation he stood up for himself and turned the moribund Muslim League into a mass party. Like it or not, this is how political evolution occurs.
Pervez Musharraf also had a chance to evolve and write himself more than a minor footnote in history by holding honest elections and, if he was so desperate to cling to power, by standing for election as a legitimate president. This would have been the test of greatness for him, his chance to score 'outstanding' on the political scorecard. But he flunked it when he opted for a cooked-up referendum and a comprehensive cooking up of the subsequent elections.
He thought he was taking the safer and shorter route. As many a strongman before him learnt to his cost, often the longest distance between any two points is an illegitimate short-cut. - Courtesy Dawn
India plumps for British Hawks The Hindu 04 Sep 03
By Our Special Correspondent
NEW DELHI SEPT 3. The Government today approved the purchase of Hawks, the advanced jet trainers (AJTs) from Britain, for training Air Force pilots. The approval was among the five decisions taken by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). The proposal will entail an expenditure of Rs. 12,460 crores over several years.
Chaired by the Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the CCS decided to induct a total of 66 Hawks.
While 24 trainers will arrive in "fly-away" condition, the remaining will be manufactured in India under a transfer of technology agreement with the makers, British Aerospace Systems (BAe Systems).
Till the aircraft are finally acquired, BAe will train the Indian pilots in the United Kingdom. All the 66 aircraft are expected to be in service within six years. The BAe will be paid Rs. 6,000 crores and Rs. 2,000 crores has been earmarked for creating the required ground support facilities.
"This decision fulfils one of the long-standing needs of the Indian Air Force. The induction of the AJTs will increase the skill levels of our trainee pilots graduating from low speed trainers to advanced high performance frontline fighter aircraft,'' the Defence Secretary, Ajay Prasad, told newsmen. In the absence of the AJTs, such advanced training is now being conducted on operational aircraft like MiG-21 FL and, as an interim measure, the Government bought 27 second-hand MiG-trainers from Kyrgyzstan.
Nod after 21 years
The deal was approved 21 years after a committee headed by a former Indian Air Force chief first made the proposal, which was subsequently reiterated by the President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, then Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister. An inter-governmental agreement will be signed with the U.K. Government to ensure long-term product support.
The CCS also authorised a Rs. 3,000-crore modernisation for the infantry battalions of the Army.
The equipment will increase the firepower, improve communications and provide night-vision capability through hand-held thermal imagers. This will make the platoons in select formations get lethal firepower, better surveillance equipment and night-time fighting capability. The acquisition will be spread over the remaining years of the Tenth Plan, which end in the year 2007.
Engine blade 'nicks' in Sukhoi-30 squadron
By Sandeep Dikshit The Hindu 6 Sep 03

NEW DELHI SEPT. 5. The only complete squadron of India's frontline Sukhoi-30K fighters has been effectively grounded following the detection of `nicks' in the engine blades. The Indian Air Force wants the defective parts replaced free of cost but the manufacturers are reluctant because the warranty period has expired. The IAF has threatened to stall a long-term contract for the supply and indigenous manufacture of improved versions of this plane unless its makers advance the servicing schedule for the aircraft, said informed sources.
Other sources in the Air Headquarters admitted to the problem of `nicks' but said the flying had been `staggered' prior to their despatch to Russia for routine checks. "Flying hours have been `staggered down' to conserve the engine frame prior to its scheduled servicing in Russia which will begin only next year."
Each Sukhoi-30K plane has flown an average of 700 hours and only 300 hours of airframe life is left. Planes are regularly checked and `nicks' of a certain size and amount are permitted. Otherwise the blades are changed. According to warranty terms, these planes of `Sukhoi-30K' make are due to be upgraded by 2004.
India currently has 28 Sukhoi planes based at the Lohegaon IAF base at Pune. The first batch of 18 is of Sukhoi-30K make (NATO name `Flanker') and arrived in 1997-98. The remaining 10 of the improved `MKI' make arrived recently. The problem, according to informed sources, is with the first lot comprising the No. 24 Hunting Hawk squadron, the IAF's main high performance fighter fleet. With slight modification, these planes are considered ideal for delivery of nuclear weapons because of their long range. They are certain to find a place in the newly-created Strategic Forces Command, which will oversee all nuclear delivery systems such as warships, submarines, missiles and aircraft.
Informed sources said the rub lies in the fact that the IAF currently has too few multi-role combat planes. The number will increase after 22 Sukhoi-30 MKI arrive from Russia, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) makes another 140 and some French planes are purchased in due course. As a result, the IAF does not want to wait for a couple of years for the scheduled upgrade of these `K' variants to `MKI'.
Other sources, however, were confident that the crisis would blow over.
``Nicks happen all the time but the contract with Sukhoi is for a very long period. Their people have been at hand at the base for some time and will continue to be around till all the three versions of the plane are ready,'' said the sources.
Informed sources point out that the main reason for the selection of Sukhois over competitors such as Mirage-2000 was considerably lower costs, including life cycle costs. Its maker, Irkut, should, therefore, make an exception and take a close look at these aircraft. However, the Russian company has never been busier. Last year, it accounted for nearly one-thirds of total Russian armament exports and this year it began supplying Sukhoi planes to Malaysia, besides the two lucrative tie-ups with India and China.
It appears to be a tough call for both IAF and Irkut.
'Sukhoi-30s not grounded' The Hindu 7 Sep 03
The Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, and the Chief of Air Staff, S. Krishnasamy, looking up as a Su-30 gained height in a flash, traveling at over 800 km an hour and climbed from about 200metres to over 1.5 km at the IAF air show on the Marina. The hour-long show showcased the IAF's prowess and was aimed at motivating youth to join the force.
CHENNAI Sept. 6. The Chief of the Air Staff, S. Krishnaswamy, today denied that the Indian Air Force had grounded a squadron of Sukhoi-30 fighters.
"Those reports are wrong. How would the aircraft have flown (here) today", he countered when presspersons asked him if a squadron of the Su-30s has been grounded. "It is not a significant problem," he said when asked about the engine blade nicks. "There is no problem as is being made out," he said

Managing the nuclear deterrent Indian Express 03 Sep 03 Jassjit Singh

The announcement about the very first meeting of the National Command Authority more than five years after the country declared itself a nuclear weapons state would naturally raise more questions than it answers. The most crucial element of nuclear strategy is the issue of its credibility.
Transparency is a necessary element in influencing credibility. And announcements like these must be judged in that context. The timing of the present meeting, where little of actual relevance, leave alone substance, was announced, is likely to give rise to some perceptions that this was done in response to the Congress charges of the Government ignoring national security. This may carry conviction with many since the pattern of NSC meetings (that have met only twice since 1998, while the CCS takes all decisions) also give us no clue of the effectiveness of our key national security management institutions.
It appears that we are yet to deploy an operationally reliable mobile ballistic missile for nuclear delivery, and, of course, the submarine-based nuclear deterrent is many years away. Talking about the short range Prithvi missiles in this context is highly misleading. This leaves only aircraft delivery system, and we have a number of credible effective options in the shape of Su-30, Mirage-2000 and Jaguar aircraft available in service. This has been the core of our nuclear deterrent for the past five years since we announced nuclearisation.
These aircraft may not have the ranges finally required. But they would remain the core of our arsenal even after we have the full-range of ballistic missiles on land and at sea. The crux, however, is the mobile survivable ballistic missile. The deployment of an operationally reliable system in adequate numbers is yet to be announced. Such a deployment would automatically convey the signal within the country and outside that we have a credible deterrent beyond the aircraft-delivered arsenal.
But we dont need to rush into building a large missile force, though we need to keep testing them. In fact it is time we started to pay attention to space capabilities for defence since they would have a major impact on the way we can manage not only conventional military capabilities, especially air power, but also on our nuclear deterrent.
The other issue is that of command and control. The alternate chain of command is critical to the success of any nuclear strategy. This would be the simplest and least complicated in case of a strategy of no-first-use, and by implication extremely complex and costly (and susceptible to error and risks of accidents) in case of a first-use strategy. But what we need to remember is that the chain of command would be the priority target that the adversary would seek to destroy with a nuclear strike in an effort to decapitate the arsenal, and crucial for the success of our own strategy. This must, therefore, remain the most tightly guarded secret at all times.
Secondly, in a parliamentary democracy like ours, the Prime Minister holds the authority for nuclear strike. He would designate the alternate chain in case he is incapacitated for any reason. That chain need not follow a protocol-based system.
Incidentally, it is obvious that top political and military leadership must travel in aircraft that have secure communications, command and control infrastructure and reliable fast jets to ensure that they can discharge the functions of nuclear command responsibilities properly. It is surprising, therefore, that we have not yet upgraded our transport aircraft fleet in the Air HQ Communication Squadron which continues to fly the slow obsolescent Avro of the 1960s vintage knowing that there is qualitative change in the nature of transportation and communication needs after a country goes nuclear

Homework we need to do before we begin flying Air Cmde Jasjit Singh 4 Sep 03 Indian Express

The Cabinet Committee on Securitys decision to acquire the AJT finally opens the door to a crucial capability that the Indian Air Force has been seeking for more than two decades, and which it hasnt had for three. But while the door has been opened, the road to the destination is still a long one.
Military aircraft are not available on the shelf of a super bazaar, except when we buy those already in use somewhere else. The process of getting the full complement of aircraft could take as much as five more years although the IAF would seek interim arrangements which may include the British providing aircraft from their inventories to be replaced by newly manufactured aircraft later.
Fighter flying accidents have focused public attention on the AJT issue. But we must be clear that the AJT by itself is not a panacea. The crux of the reasons for a proper AJT has been the broader issue of better flying training for young pilots entering the fighter stream after basic and intermediate stages. This would help to reduce accidents due to errors of skill. Frontline fighters by definition are not suitable for such a role.
The Hawk has been one of the few aircraft in the world specifically designed for this type of role and has a proven record across the world for its performance. But to draw full benefit of introducing a proper AJT, we would need to ensure that the syllabus and pattern of training is also in consonance with the LaFontaine Committee report and the central logic of its recommendations.
The syllabus recommended by the Committee, accepted by the IAF experts and top brass, and approved by the government at the highest level would have required nearly 160 aircraft in the inventory. This number was apparently cut down in the interest of economy to 103 and then to 66. But this also means cutting the flying training syllabus in half. One can only hope that the final inventory would be planned in harmony with the original figure. This would provide better economies of scale and indigenous production run and product support for the future.
We must make sure that proper infrastructure, including for the AJT training is also set up. Absence of type simulators was a major handicap in the past since no simulators had ever been designed for the MiG-21, Hunter and Vampire aircraft used for this task. What we had were procedure trainers for MiG-21s, and they have their own limitations since they cannot simulate flight conditions of an agile manoeuvrable fighter aircraft.
Hawk simulators would make a major contribution to more effective training, especially for young pilots being initiated to fighter flying. The greatest benefit of the AJT would be to enhance flying skills of fighter pilots of future at lower risk of accidents while producing better combat pilots.
It would be foolhardy to speculate on the effect on future accidents. The impact of new training would take time to take effect and would start to be visible only after five years or more. I for one am confident that the fighter aircraft accident rate in IAF would come to about half in another 10 years.
There are other advantages of the induction of the AJT. We would no longer have to set aside a large frontline force of fighters for lead-in fighter training and they can be reverted to operational roles. The available combat ready force would then be restored to the authorised figure.
At the same time, the AJT fleet would be available for operational deployment in times of crisis. Aircraft like the Hawk would be particularly useful in the Himalayas in situations like that of the Kargil War three years ago.
(The author was the flight safety and flying training expert on the LaFontaine Committee 1982-83 which emphasised the need for proper aircraft at all stages of flying training

The Hawk has landed After 20 yrs, Govt decides to go for Advanced Jet Trainer; boosts IAF morale, says Air chief

Saikat dutta Indina Express 4 Sep 03

New Delhi, September 3: Filling a glaring hole in the Indian Air Forces fighter-aircraft training programme and ending a debate thats gone on for 20 years, the Government today decided to acquire the Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer.
Under the Rs 8,000-crore deal with British Aerospace, India will get 66 aircraft, a fleet that will for the first time help IAF pilots bridge the gap between subsonic and supersonic aircraft. As of now, 17 countries, including the UK and the US, fly about 800 Hawk AJTs.
Hours after the Cabinet Committee on Securitys decision, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal S. Krishnaswamy told The Indian Express: It is a timely decision that will boost the IAFs training programme and the morale of the force.
Indias choice of Hawk is a measure of the quality of the aircraft and the value for money it offers, said British Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon in a statement. I look forward to a successful contract.
Purchase of six VIP jets from Embraer, Brazil
Negotiations with US on a new jet for Prime Minister
Better firepower, possibly Israeli Tavor rifles, hand held thermal imagers and communication equipment for Special Forces and infantry ghatak units
Specialised units to detect, neutralise IEDs
Purchase of 7 ship-borne electronic warfare systems
Besides the AJT, defence purchases worth Rs 4,500 crore were also cleared (see box). This comes days after the Government was under fire in Parliament with the Opposition alleging that the armed forces were being neglected because Rs 9,000 crore was being returned unspent.
This year, however, the Defence Ministry will not only utilise the outlay but, officials said, even seek supplementary grants for advance payments for the deals cleared today.
The CCS, headed by Prime Minister A B Vajpayee, met this morning and decided to go ahead with the AJT after British Aerospace agreed to revise its cost down by Rs 300 crore.
An indication that the AJT was on the agenda came when Air Marshal Raghu Rajan, Deputy Chief of Air Staff and in charge of all acquisitions for the IAF, was invited to brief the CCS.
After the meeting, Defence Secretary Ajay Prasad, announcing the decision, said: There were difficulties (in the deal) which is why the process took so long.
What is an AJT?
The British Hawk AJT is a light-attack two-seat trainer. It grooms rookies who dream of becoming operational fighter pilots. The AJT is the vital link between subsonic and supersonic aircraft. A diving Hawk can touch Mach 1.2.
Why do we need it?
IAF cadets are currently at a big disadvantage. Stage I sees them train on the piston-engined HPT-32 Deepaks, Stage II on the HJT-16 Kirans. Stage III takes them straight to the supersonic MiG-21s. AJTs are needed to bridge the gap between the Kirans and MiGs.
This quantum jump from subsonic to supersonic aircraft is one of the prime reasons for accidents involving rookie pilots. Hawks will make more MiGs available for operational duty. Can be readied for combat duty whenever needed.
Why has it taken us so long?
India began scouting for AJTs in the mid-80s on the recommendation of the LaFontaine committee. The CCS okayed AJT procurement in July 1993 but zeroing-in on the right aircraft took considerable time.
Plus price negotiation was a factor. The Hawk deal shut out other AJT contenders like the Czech-Boeing L-159, French Alpha and Russian MiG-AT.
Who else is flying this AJT?
Over 800 Hawks are currently in service with 17 countries. User countries include UK, South Africa, US Navy, Finland, Indonesia, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, South Korea.
The deal involves outright purchase of 24 aircraft, with the remaining 42 to be manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. under license. India and Britian will also sign an inter-government agreement to ensure that the AJT fleet receives adequate product support from the original manufacturers and is sanction-proof.
While IAF pilots will move to the UK for training on the Hawk, the whole deal will be completed within six years of signing the contract.
In the running since 1982 when the MoD first sent feelers for an AJT, the Hawk 115Y had been a front-runner. Competition came from the French Alpha, Czech-American L-159B, Russian MiG-AT and YAK AJT, and an aircraft still being manufactured by Lockheed Martin.
In the end, as Prasad put it, This decision fulfils one of the long-standing demands of the IAF for training on the AJT.
It is understood that Defence Minister George Fernandes, who had informed Parliament a few weeks ago that the AJT was likely to come up, was in favour of clearing the purchase in the meeting that was chaired by the Prime Minister. Also present were Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani, ministers Yashwant Sinha, Jaswant Singh, National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra, Cabinet Secretary Kamal Pande, Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal and Prasad.
The IAF has been bogged down by an alarming rise in accidents resulting in fatalities of its young pilots. In fact, between 1971 and 2003, the IAF has lost 454 aircraft, with 165 attributed to errors committed by the air crew. Ever since the IAF set up the La Fontaine committee in 1982 to investigate air accidents, the acquisition of the AJT has been a key recommendation.
The Committee, which presented its report to Air Headquarters recommended that the AJT would significantly reduce accidents and improve training standards significantly.
The need for an AJT was once again reiterated by the high-powered Committee on Fighter Aircraft Accidents (COFFA) headed by APJ Abdul Kalam also recommended the purchase of the AJT and simulators to reduce accidents.
When the deal comes through India will be the third biggest customer for Hawks after the British Royal Air Force and the South African Air Force

IAF to get its elite commando wing: Garuda
Saikat dutta. Indian Express 5 Sep 03
New Delhi, September 4: The government has cleared the Indian Air Forces proposal to raise an elite commando force to protect its operational air bases and other strategic assets. Named after the mythological bird Garuda, the force will have nearly 4,800 men drawn from the IAF and trained in unarmed combat and use of close quarter battle weapons.
The proposal to raise the force mooted by Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal S Krishnaswamy was reportedly approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security after clearing proposals to modernise the armed forces. The need for such a force had been underscored by the spate of attacks on air force stations such as Avantipore a few years ago. Terrorists had tried to storm into the air force station sending shock waves through the top echelons of the IAF. The proposed Garuda force will select men from its existing ranks based on their physical fitness and ability to meet the demands of its job. Presently the air force stations are guarded by the Defence Security Corps, a force comprising ex-servicemen and air force personnel.

Pawan Hans delegation to Moscow for MI-172 spares Indina Express 6 Sep 03 Pranab Dhal Samanta

New Delhi, September 5: As a team of Russian experts gets busy trying to figure out what technical malfunctioning could have caused the MI-172 on ONGC duty to crash offshore at Mumbai, top officials of Pawan Hans Helicopters Ltd. left tonight for Moscow to streamline the supply of spares for the three MI-172s it has in its fleet of 30.
While two of these choppers are on duty with the ONGC and Arunachal Pradesh respectively, the third one is grounded for want of spares. According to officials, the disintegration of USSR meant that most of the suppliers of various spares now operate from different countries.
This is a big problem for us. For every little requirement we have to issue fresh tenders, go through the bureaucracy in these countries and then negotiate a price. It takes a long time which hits us commercially, says Pawan Hans Chairman and Managing Director N.V. Sridhar who is heading the team to Moscow.
If all goes well, Pawan Hans may end up signing a MoU with Kazaan Helicopter Plant, the original manufacturers of the MI-172. Though initially the company was reluctant to sign a deal on spares, they have agreed after nearly eight months of persuasion.

US special forces join Indians on Ladakh mountains Saikat dutta 6Sep 03 Indian Express
New Delhi, September 5: Indo-US military cooperation set out on a new road today when Indian and US Special Forces flew into Leh for joint exercises not far from the Chinese border.
While the Army described the exercises as routine, sources say this was the first time that US military personnel had landed in Jammu and Kashmir still a disputed area for Washington to conduct exercises in high altitude, mountainous terrain.
Indian and US special forces had conducted similar exercises in Alaska last year.
A complement of troops from the US Special Operations Command were airlifted from Air Force Station, Agra to begin the exercises in Leh with their Indian counterparts.
Defence minister George Fernandes, while maintaining that the exercises were routine, denied that the joint military exercises were being conducted for political reasons. In the past, we have held such exercises with some Asian countries. We have also done it with European countries. Now we are doing it with the US. Such exercises are carried out so that countries get to know the areas of strength and weaknesses of its military. There is no political reason for such exercises, he said.
It is learnt that Army chief Gen N C Vij was in Leh when the exercises began and would also be visit other forward areas in the sector. Vij left for his four-day tour on September 2 and was slated to visit forward posts in Leh, Ladakh, Machhal, Keran and Tanghdar sectors. While Vij visited troops deployed in the Ladakh sector and reviewed the situation on the Sino-India border, sources said that he would monitor the initial stages of the landmark exercise.
The exercises will go on for two weeks during which US Special Forces would be engaged in manoeuvres that would include tactics, para-jumps and other related activities. Nearly a battalion strength of Indian troops, drawn from various Special Forces units including 9 Para (SF) as well as parachute battalions, are participating in the exercise.
Indo-US exercises, which began in May 2001, have seen both sides take particular interest in each others Special Forces, indicating that they are keen to work together on responding to exigencies which require specialised skills. Indian and US Air Forces have conducted similar exercises, testing eachs ability to lift and air drop cargo as well as paratroopers

When Sharon takes the stage, in the wings will be defence deals Shshir gupta Indian Express 7 Sep 03

New Delhi, September 6: No bilateral defence agreement is going to be signed during Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharons visit to New Delhi beginning Monday. But that doesnt matter. For, in the sidelines of the first ever official visit of an Israeli prime minister, the issue is defence, defence and defence.
Beginning with the billion-dollar Phalcon airborne warning and control systems (AWACS) deal which will be tied up as a follow-up to the memorandum of understanding already signed in April.
Our shopping list:
the ware in hardware
Ongoing hardware deals between New Delhi and Israeli companies:
Elbit (Israel’s top advance defence electronics firm)
• Helmet-mounted sights for Indian fighters
El OP (World leader in Electro-optical systems and laser)
• Head-up displays for Jaguars and MiG-27s
• Thermal Imagers fire control systems for T-72 tanks
Rafael (Leader in anti-missile defence)
• Barak anti-missile defence for Navy
This deal, which will give Indian fighters air dominance in times of war, involves Russia as well since Moscow will provide three IL (Illyushin)-76 aircraft for installation of the Israeli radar and Indian software for the Phalcon command and control platform.
A date will also be fixed for the signing of the formal tripartite agreement.
With a third of the Sharon delegation comprising big gunsboth public and privatethe Ministry of Defence is also ready with its shopping list: from avionics for the Indian Air Forces Jaguars and MiG-27 fighters to thermal imagers and fire-control systems for the Armys T-72 main battle tanks (see box).
Even though Washington has not yet cleared the sale of Israeli Arrow-2 anti-missile system to India, Tel Aviv has supplied two Green Pine Radarsthe heart of Arrow systemin the past two years. The second Green Pine radar, which can pick up signals 500 km away, is understood to have been supplied in the past year.
Besides the big-ticket Phalcon and Green Pine deals, Israeli companies have tied up with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and other Defence PSUs in upgrading the IAF fighters, Armys tanks and Navys anti-missile capability.
Sources said to maintain this tempo and cut the red tape, Uma Pillai, Secretary, Defence Production and Supplies, will lead an Indian Defence PSU delegation to Israel later this year.
Also to be finalised during Sharons visit will be the date of the annual Joint Working Group (JWG) meeting on Defence Cooperation. The JWG held its first meeting between September 17-20, 2002 with then Defence Secretary Subir Datta going to Tel Aviv.
New Delhi and Tel Aviv may be downplaying this bilateral defence relationship but India has already conveyed to its Arab friends that just as New Delhi understands their purchasing missiles from North Korea, the purchases from Israel are in the countrys national interest.
To reinforce this case, they point to Tel Avivs track record. At the height of Operation Parakram last June, Israeli Director General Defence Amos Yaron flew to New Delhi following an SOS from the Defence Ministry for urgent defence supplies.

Seven pillars of wisdom The road map towards a functional, constitutional, Saddam-free Iraq is ready
L Paul Bremer Indian Express 09 Sep 03

Five months ago, the brave men and women of our armed forces were completing the liberation of Iraqs 25 million citizens. It was a tremendous military triumph. Gone are Saddam Husseins torture chambers. Gone are his mass killings and rape rooms. And gone is his threat to America and the international community.
The liberation was a great and noble deed. It is fair to ask: what is next? No thoughtful person would suggest that the coalition should govern Iraq for long. Although Iraqis have freedoms they have never had before, freedom is not sovereignty and occupation is unpopular with occupier and occupied alike.
We believe Iraqis should be given responsibility for their own security, economic development and political system as soon as possible. So, then, how can we get Iraqis back in charge of Iraq?
Elections are the obvious solution to restoring sovereignty to the Iraqi people. But at the present elections are simply not possible. There are no election rolls, no election law, no political parties law and no electoral districts. The current constitution is a Saddam-dictated formula for tyranny.
When Saddam loaded two trucks with money and fled the advancing coalition forces, he left behind a vacuum. Electing a government without a permanent constitution defining and limiting government powers invites confusion and eventual abuse.
So to hold elections Iraq needs a new constitution and it must be written by Iraqis. It must reflect their culture and beliefs. Writing a constitution, as all Americans know, is a solemn and important undertaking. It cannot be done in days or weeks. Nonetheless, the path to full Iraqi sovereignty is clear. The journey has begun and three of the seven steps on this path have already been taken.
The first step came two months ago with the creation of a 25-member Governing Council broadly representative of Iraqi society. These brave men and women have come forward willingly to help build the new Iraq. The second step took place last month when the Governing Council named a preparatory committee to devise a way to write a constitution.
The third and most important was putting day-to-day operation of Iraqi government in the hands of Iraqis. Last week the Governing Council named 25 ministers. Now every Iraqi ministry is run by an Iraqi appointed by Iraqis.
These ministers, who serve at the pleasure of the Governing Council, conduct the business of government. They set policy. Even today, they are preparing the 2004 budget and must operate their ministries according to those budgets. The coalition wants them to exercise real power and will thrust authority at them.
Writing Iraqs new constitution is the fourth step. It begins after the preparatory committee recommends a process for writing a constitution to the Governing Council later this month.
Step five, popular ratification of the constitution, is indispensable. Once written, the constitution will be widely circulated, discussed and debated among the Iraqi people.
All adult Iraqis will have the opportunity to vote for or against it. For the first time in history, Iraq will have a permanent constitution written by and approved by the Iraqi people.
The sixth step, election of a government, follows naturally. Shortly after the constitution is ratified by popular vote there will be an election to fill the elective offices specified in the constitution. The officials in charge of that government will be chosen through universal adult suffrage in an open election.
When that government is elected, Iraq will have a government designed and selected by Iraqis. It will be unique in Iraqs history and will send a powerful message about democracy to other countries in the region.
The seventh step, dissolving the coalition authority, will follow naturally on the heels of elections. Once Iraq has a freely elected government, the coalition authority will happily yield the remainder of its authority to that sovereign Iraqi government.
The process is straightforward and realistic. No doubt there will be bumps on the path, especially as terrorists have decided to make Iraq a key battlefield in the global war on terrorism.
But the Iraqi people, with the support of the administration and its coalition partners, are on the way to exercising full political sovereignty. Iraq faces many problems, including decades of under-investment in everything from the oil industry to the sewer system.
Security issues are a matter of grave concern. There are other problems as well, but knowing how to turn Iraq into a sovereign state is not one of them.
(The author is the US-led coalitions chief administrator in Iraq) (LAT-WP

Tough one for India: how to vote on friend Irans nuclear programme Jyoti Malhotra Indian Express 12 September, 2003

New Delhi, September 11: India was tonight debating a response to an extremely toughly worded draft resolution by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) this afternoon, demanding that Iran give it full access to its nuclear sites, suspend all nuclear activity until all issues are involved as well as sign an additional protocol with the IAEA promising that it would abide by its NPT obligations.
With India being on the 35-member IAEA board of governors, New Delhis response to the draft resolution authored by Canada, Australia and Japan, will signal New Delhis intentions to either ally with the West or, in the face of significant Western pressure, keep its traditional friendship with Teheran.
Highly placed sources here pointed out that even if India took the middle road and abstained, it would confirm a pragmatic trend in New Delhis foreign policy.
The Indian vote will be closely watched in the wake of the visit about ten days ago of Iranian foreign minister Kamal Kharrazzi, seeking New Delhis support of its position at the IAEA.
Highly placed sources here said it was inevitable that the resolution would be put to vote tomorrow in Vienna. But tonight the draft of the resolution was still being worked upon.
The sources said the Non-Aligned group, led by India, South Africa and Malaysia, were in the thick of things seeking a compromise formula which would not only help Iran save face, but also enable it to faithfully answer all the queries raised by the IAEA.
But analysts were mostly dismissive of Teherans threat yesterday to walk out of the NPT, especially if the IAEA vote seriously censured it. This is part of the Kathakali that is a given in multilateral negotiations, especially on nuclear issues, analysts said.
The IAEA vote on Iran comes at a time when six major powers are talking to North Korea over abandoning its nuclear programme. Pyongyang had also walked out of the NPT, accusing Western nations of not doing enough to assist it on its peaceful energy programme.
A member of the NPT, Iran has maintained that it has not violated its NPT obligations and that the contaminated uranium found at its Natanz reactor was only a red herring. Clearly, though, the IAEA today has taken a dim view of Iranian protests. Meanwhile, official sources here said New Delhi had taken full cognisance of Israels worries that any of its knowhow or expertise that it gave India would not be passed on to Iran. During Ariel Sharons visit, Israeli sources had said they had raised this issue with their Indian counterparts and had received satisfactory answers.
Indian officials are said to have explained that their cooperation with Iran was to a large extent to do with its intention to play a significant role in Afghanistan, especially since Pakistan was determined not to allow any Indian goods to cross its land borders

posted by promila 10:09 AM

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