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Archive | July, 2010

Link Digest: July 18, 2010

l’affaire Lahore.

Your weekly news digest:

  • The ISI…controlled and coordinated [26/11] from beginning to end“:  G.K. Pillai’s interview with Indian Express on J&K, Naxalism and 26/11.
  • It was the Pakistanis who deviated from the summit’s agenda: Vir Sanghvi stands up for G.K. Pillai after some journalists pilloried the Home Secretary for his statements on the eve of the S.M. Krishna — S.M. Qureshi talks.
  • Pakistan’s Urdu press reacts.  “No India-Pakistan talks can produce a result without Kashmir being resolved” (Ausaf); “One more India-Pakistan dialog drama — May God  not compell us to use our atomic bomb” (Nawa-i-Waqt); “Sensitivity from the Indian side is the need of the hour” (Jang); “Why did India agree to the agenda and send S.M. Krishna if he had no mandate?” (Express).
  • Ignore. With Contempt: Sound advice from B. Raman on how New Delhi should react to S.M. Qureshi’s jibes.
  • Can we talk?: Thomas Friedman says CNN was wrong to fire Octavia Nasr for condoling the death of Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah (who many consider the spiritual leader of the Hizballah).
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SM Qureshi’s outburst

A tongue of the slip?

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi lost his cool last night in a heated debate with members of the Indian media contingent.  When asked whether inflammatory speeches made by Jamaat ud-Dawwa chairman Hafiz Muhammad Saeed were vitiating the environment, Mr. Qureshi responded by drawing parallels between Mr. Saeed’s speeches and recent statements made by Indian Home Secretary, G.K. Pillai.  Mr. Pillai had cited information provided by 26/11 mastermind David Headley which indicated that Pakistan’s ISI was intimately involved in the planning and execution of the attacks in Mumbai.

So the question needs to be asked.  And Mr. Qureshi should be nudged to explain.  If Mr. Pillai is a ranking member of the Indian government (which, as Home Secretary, he undoubtedly is), what position is Mr. Qureshi suggesting Mr. Hafiz Saeed holds in the Pakistani establishment?

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New submarines for the Indian Navy

Where are the questions from the media?

The Times of India ran an article on July 11, 2010 indicating that the Defence Acquisitions Council (DAC), chaired by Defence Minister A.K. Antony approved the allocation of Rs. 50,000 crore ($11 billion) towards the construction of six “next generation” submarines for the Navy, via a project codenamed Project-75 India (P-75I):

[The DAC] has finally decided that three of the six submarines will be constructed at Mazagon Docks (MDL) in Mumbai and one at Hindustan Shipyard Ltd (HSL) in Visakhapatnam, with the help of a foreign collaborator. “The other two submarines will either be imported from the foreign vendor directly or constructed at a private shipyard in India. Fresh estimates show each of these six diesel-electric submarines will cost almost Rs 8,500 crore,” a source said. [The Times of India]

There are several issues relating to the new project that should be of concern, not the least of which should be the amount allocated, which appears excessive for six conventional submarines (maybe The Times of India can clarify what was so  “new generation” about the subs). If a decision was taken to allocate such a large sum of money towards a project,  it should have been directed towards augmenting the indigenous nuclear submarine program, with India’s mid- to long-term security interests in mind.

Further, if MoD’s past record in cost projection is any indicator, $11 billion will be a significant underestimation.  Initial estimates of about $950 million for the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier, escalated to almost $4 billion.  Going back further, the  SU-30MKI deal  was initially estimated at about Rs. 22,000 crore, as against actual final costs of about Rs. 40,000 crore.  Again, based on MoD’s past record, a six year time estimate for the roll-out of the first of these submarines (which seems excessive, in and of itself) is likely fairly optimistic.  If MoD’s primarily concern is about plugging potential gaps before the Scorpene submarines become available (beginning 2014), a more effective sourcing strategy would be through a short-term lease agreement with another country.

The MoD’s lethargic approach towards requirements projection and sourcing, coupled with this Defence Minister’s obsession with self-reliance in manufacturing and “squeaky-clean” defense deals (let’s face it, they don’t exist) have already negatively impacted India’s defense preparedness.  This is further compounded by the almost complete absence of probing questions from the press on such issues.

“Mother of all” defense deals are good attention grabbers, but requirements for several other basic, but un-sexy equipment — grenades, howitzers, assault riffles, helmets, bullet-proof jackets, night vision devices and others — have been documented, re-documented and distributed to their final resting place, where they gather dust in some old office in South Block.

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Link Digest: July 10, 2010

Kashmir, Afghanistan, Indo-Pak dialog, Naxal insurgency and Bharat bandh.

Your weekly link digest:

  • The making of Srinagar’s teenage martyrs: Praveen Swami on the rioting in Kashmir and what the administration must do to address macro issues in the state.
  • It is time to be realistic about Kashmir: Vir Sanghvi opines on the ongoing violence in Kashmir in the larger context of India-Pakistan peace talks.  (h/t @pragmatic_d)
  • Pakistan-India uninterrupted and uninterruptable dialogue, impossible: Smita Prakash on the on-going India-Pakistan dialog and terrorism.  Are there irreconcilable differences that cannot be addressed by insulating dialog with an impotent civilian administration from terror perpetrated by the MJC?
  • Analysts: Postwar Afghan political landscape unclear: Dr. David Kilcullen asserts that India’s “increasingly assertive bids” to exert influence in Afghanistan has made Pakistan “very nervous.”  Also see my INI colleague Dhruva Jaishankar’s response to the interview.
  • Push into Naxal territory: IAF plans to build a new airbase in Chhattisgarh in the event that a larger role for the air force is envisaged to counter the Naxal insurgency.  But given the nature of the conflict, where is the need for an 8 sq. km. air base which would include 3,500 yards of runway?
  • Protest, softly: Pratap Bhanu Mehta asks what role social protests such as “Bharat bandh” serve in today’s India in addressing very legitimate grievances.
  • The return of the Ottoman: Some shameless self-promotion.  My piece on Turkey’s reorientation post l’incident flottile and how this impacts India and the subcontinent.
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