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Archive | October, 2010

Indonesia’s tsunami

India must respond and assist Indonesia in its time of need.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is on a three-nation tour of Japan, Malaysia and Vietnam, attempting to give impetus to India’s “Look East” policy.  The tour culminates with the 8th India-ASEAN summit in Hanoi.  Earlier this month, the defense ministers of the ADMM Plus members met, again in Hanoi, to continue dialog on multilateral security and cooperation in the region. And in an effort to underscore India’s view of Indonesia as an important strategic partner, New Delhi will host President Yudhyono as chief guest at next year’s Republic Day.

In recent days, an earthquake and tsunami have wreaked havoc in Indonesia.  Over 300 are confirmed dead, with about 500 are missing.  The Christian Science Monitor reports:

The Indonesian government and a host of relief agencies scrambled to pull supplies together Wednesday before making the 12-hour journey from Sumatra to the Mentawai Islands, where more than 150 people were killed after a powerful earthquake sparked a tsunami that struck the remote region on Monday.

Two days after the 7.7-magnitude quake struck, little aid has reached the islands due to rough seas and stormy weather. The few reports trickling in have come mainly from survivors, and a few surf charters that were out on the water when the tsunami hit. [Christian Science Monitor]

When the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami struck the region, India distinguished itself at not only being able to provide critical assistance to its own citizens, but also assisted its neighbors as well.  As part of Operation Gambhir, the Indian Navy responded to aid Indonesia, by deploying a hospital ship, providing relief supplies and setting up medical camps to aid disaster victims at Meulaboh, where over 1,800 patients were treated.

Though the present disaster is of a smaller scale than the 2004 tsunami, Indonesia requires assistance, and India, as an ally that shares historic cultural ties with the Great Archipelago, must respond with conviction. The Indian Navy is experienced and well equipped to respond to disaster relief and rehabilitation efforts.  The time for pretty speeches was last week; India must offer to assist Indonesia in its time of need.

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Sinnerman, where you gonna run to?

Roznama Jasarat’s unintentional honesty.

In Roznama Jasarat’s October 8, 2010 cartoon, there’s a palpable feeling of victory over Pakistan recent squabbles with NATO and the U.S.  But in all the excitement at having clipped NATO’s wings (or removed its tusks), the poor little talib in Jasarat’s cartoon appears to be blissfully unaware that he is actually marching off a precipice.  That poor talib could be Pakistan.


 

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How to say nothing (in 2,000 words)

If Mr. Antony is in the vicinity, a pretty speech can’t be far behind.

Defence Minister AK Antony was the Chief Guest during the presentation of the the Field Marshal Cariappa Annual Memorial Lecture (themed “National Security and Military Modernization”), marking Infantry Day celebrations.  Excerpts of his address follow:

Our strategic, geopolitical situation and the compulsions of history pose unique challenges for our country. Some nations are keen to incite threats to our unity and integrity. The prevalent security environment necessitates securing our land, air and sea borders to effectively guard against traditional threats to our land borders, defending our airspace and protection of our maritime energy supply routes. Our neighbours are building their military capabilities at a feverish pace. Thus, to successfully meet such challenges, the need for us to be vigilant and prepared at all times goes without saying and is unquestionable.

Our Government is alive to the urgent need to quicken the pace of modernization of our Armed Forces. We have initiated a number of measures to provide an impetus to defence procurement. Defence Ministry is in the process of implementing a new procurement policy, which would be even more effective and quicker than the current DPP-2008.

We should leverage the strengths of both – the Defence PSUs and the private sector to achieve our objectives in the realm of defence.

Last but not the least, I would like to flag one issue of real concern. Even with a large industrial infrastructure, we are still importing about 70 per cent of our defence requirements. We are still far off from establishing ourselves as a major defence equipment manufacturing nation. Our efforts to reduce the import content of our defence requirements are not yielding the desired results. Given our economic status, this is not a very desirable state of affairs. If modernization is to be more meaningful, it must go hand-in-hand with indigenization. [Press Information Bureau]

So really, what is our Defence Minister of half a decade telling us here?  From “[t]he prevalent security environment necessitates securing our land, air and sea borders…” (thank you, by the way, Mr. Minister, this is a real eye-opener) to “the need for us to be vigilant and prepared at all times goes without saying and is unquestionable”  (I prostrate myself before you for so divine a revelation), there is nothing that Mr. Antony has said that will give hope to those who despair over the state of India’s defense preparedness.

Beware the man who says he is “in the process” of doing something, for not only has he not started doing what he should, he also has no intention of completing it.  India’s defense procurement is broken.  Not only do the services regularly underspend their allocated budgetary capital,  procurement is shackled by provisions capping FDI in defense at 26 per cent.  And nothing the Defense Minister has said or done in the recent past indicates that this will be changed.  Yet, he says that the new procurement procedure would allow “more effective and quicker” transactions than DPP-2008. Indeed.

Further, we continue to assign priority to indigenization in defense.  But this is misplaced thinking.  Indigenization is only relevant if domestic industries possess the expertise, capacity, incentivization and backing needed to thrive, be profitable, and address the needs of the services.  The private sector has slowly started making its presence felt  — the Arihant project is a good example — in an industry that it was effectively shut out of, for decades, but it is still curtailed by systemic inefficiencies.  And innovation and profitability are not even incentivized in DPSUs.  Yet, India’s Defence Minister suggests that India leverage the strengths of DPSUs (which have, by his own admission, not met the requirements of the armed forces) and a very shackled private sector to meet our defense needs. Given the current state of affairs, how does he expect this to yield effective results?

And when Mr. Antony stands up and says that there is a need for us to be “vigilant and prepared at all times,” is this a mere philosophical statement, or does he actually plan to do something at the lamentable state of India’s defense preparedness?  It is just as well that Mr. Antony works in government.  With this sort of track record and reputation, he might have been summarily dismissed a week before reporting to duty in the private sector.

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Tehreek-e-Azadi-e-Kashmir

Pakistan’s military-jihadi-complex stokes the flames.

Nawa-i-waqt reports yesterday that the who’s-who of Pakistan’s military jihadi complex was present at the September 27 rally in Islamabad in “support of Jammu and Kashmir’s independence.”  Let the name not fool anyone, the Tehreek-e-Azadi-e-Kashmir is a  Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) front.  It has brought its road show to several towns in PoK, including Mirpur, Kotli and Muzafarabad, before the Islamabad rally.

Concurrent to Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi ratcheting up “Kashmir” at the U.N. General Assembly, the MJC has pulled out all the stops to further stoke flames in the Valley.  The TAK is not an irrelevant rabble of jihadi groups.  It includes among its ranks, a sitting member of the Pakistani Senate — Professor Sajid Mir (PML-N).

Those present in the rally included Munawar Hasan (Jamaat-e-Islami amir), Sajid Mir (Senator representing PML-N), Hafiz Abdul Rehman Makki (LeT/JuD), Samiul Haq (Jamaat Ulema-e-Islam), Hafiz Saifullah Mansoor (JuD), Ghulam Mohammad Safi (Hurriyat Conference — Tehreek-e-Hurriyat-Jammu Kashmir) and Hafiz Khalid Waleed (JuD, son-in-law to Hafiz Saeed).

Excerpts of the article are included below:

The Islamabad rally supported by the Huriyat and religious parties claimed that Kashmiris were fighting Pakistan’s war, while Pakistan’s civilian administration was seeking dialog with India.  If Kashmir could have been resolved through diplomacy, it would have already been resolved through a UN referendum.  But India has labelled Kashmiris’ fundamental fight for freedom, “terrorism.”

Jamaat-e-Islami’s amir, Munawar Hasan claimed that Kashmiris were fighting Pakistan’s war, while Pakistan’s leaders were yearning for dialog with India.  Senator Sajid Mir stated that the streets of Srinagar are drenched in the blood of Kashmiris, but Pakistan’s leaders have remained silent.  He said that it was the responsibility of the Islamic world to reveal India’s violation of human rights and its cowardliness to the rest of the world.  Samiul Haq stated that Kashmir’s independence cannot be obtained through dialog with India, but only through jihad.  Several JuD leaders claimed that the Indian army is trying to portray itself through a façade of sanctimony in Kashmir. [نواےوقت]

 

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