Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Donald Trump Presidency May Cast Shadow On India, Us And Australia Trilateral Relations


With Donald Trump set to be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States on 20 January, will his presidency alter India-US-Australia trilateral relations?

It is an indisputable fact that the US is a vital strategic ally for Australia. The depth of the collaboration between the two Pacific-rim countries can be seen in various spheres like foreign policy and national security. Australian defense policy is basically driven by the Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Alliance (ANZUS). The ties between the two English-speaking democracies have been so strong that Australia is often derided as the Deputy Sheriff of the US in the region.

All this could undergo a drastic makeover once Trump takes the presidency of undoubtedly the most powerful country on our planet. If the US significantly downgrades the alliance with Canberra, there is a likelihood that Australia could move over to seek similar ties with its largest trading partner, China.

If this happens, India's burgeoning diplomatic and trade ties with Australia could also come under severe strain. In a worst-case scenario, there is a possibility that a Trump presidency can negatively impact the supply of uranium by Australia to India. Similarly, various multilateral dialogues involving Australia, India and the US could also be scrapped or downgraded.

It would be relevant to mention here that the upswing in the Indo-Australian bilateral ties can be traced to the early 2000s when policymakers looking to maintain US dominance in Asia started considering India as a potential counter-weight to China.

If the leaked US diplomatic cables (published by WikiLeaks) are to be believed, the US cajoled Prime Minister John Howard to change Australia's hard stance on India. The push came after President George Bush and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee signed what is known as the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership (NSSP) agreement in 2004.

In March 2006, Howard signed six bilateral agreements in India, including a memorandum of understanding on defense cooperation.

Foreign affairs experts believe that if pushed too hard by the US, Australia is likely to take a serious look at strengthening its relations with the Asian powerhouse China. There is already pressure from the Australian business community on Canberra to move away from the US-centric foreign, defense and trade policies.

Dhruva Jaishankar, a Fellow for Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution India Center in New Delhi, recently commented: "...there is an evident tension between Australia's strategic establishment (largely confined to a bubble in Canberra) and the business community. For some, China's importance as a trade partner and immigration trends point to a recalibration of its international relations away from the United States and the West, and there are certainly some such pressures from Australian business."

These tensions would have exacerbated in the recent months as the President-elect unveiled his vision to "Make America Great Again".

The concerns over Donald Trump's threat to scarp the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal and the Anzus continue to occupy a significant space in the public dialogue Down Under.

Trump's foreign policy can bury the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD) which was started as an informal strategic dialogue between the United States, Japan, Australia and India in 2007. It could also have a negative impact on the high-level trilateral dialogue between India, Japan and Australia.

The allies are definitely experiencing pangs of uncertainty about the global outlook Trump may have during the initial stage of his presidency.

In a video released after winning the contentious elections, Trump had expressed his intention to withdraw the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

"On trade, I am going to issue our notification of intent to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a potential disaster for our country," Trump had said. "Instead, we will negotiate fair, bilateral trade deals that bring jobs and industry back on to American shores."

Australian mandarins may have developed the jitters after Stephen Moore, Trump's senior economic adviser, dropped a bombshell when he told the BBC that dramatic tax cuts are the "single most important thing for our country right now". Australian business analysts are worried that such tax cuts would plunge the Australian economy into a crisis.


Afghanistan Attackers Living In Pakistan, Says Ashraf Ghani


ISLAMABAD: Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani said on Monday he told Pakistan's army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, that perpetrators of recent attacks in Afghanistan were "living and being recruited from Pakistan but no action has been taken".

Ghani told Bajwa that his government had a strong will to avenge the terrorist attacks and ensure security across the country . Kabul's allegations came during a conversation with Pakistani army chief on Sunday , where Bajwa condemned the attacks. Pakistan army's media wing said that Bajwa also offered intelligence cooperation and border management to stop infiltration.

Nearly 60 people were killed in the bomb attacks in Afghanistan last week.


Pak Resolution Condemns Modi’s Statement


The Pakistani Senate on Monday passed a unanimous resolution condemning the statements of Army chief General Bipin Rawat and Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleging Pakistan’s involvement in terrorism.

The resolution, moved by Senator Sehar Kamran from the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), stated that India has committed unprecedented acts of violation along the Line of Control (LoC) and has been targeting civilians.

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said that Pakistan’s armed forces would respond with full force if India tried to carry out any surgical strikes inside Pakistan. He also said that India’s past claims of surgical strikes were found to be baseless and false.

Mr. Asif claimed that Kashmir’s ‘struggle for freedom’, India’s political compulsions, and its avoidance of a composite dialogue were among the reasons for its unprovoked ceasefire violations. He also said that India was making failed attempts to link the ‘Kashmir struggle’ with cross-border infiltration and terrorism and claimed that India’s campaign to isolate Pakistan has failed.

He informed the Senate that India had carried out 330 ceasefire violations along the Line of Control and 40 along the ‘working boundary’ until December 2016, which killed 45 civilians while 138 others were injured.


The Pragmatist’s Pivot To India


by Shashank Joshi

The death of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani on January 8 was a landmark for the Islamic Republic of Iran. Rafsanjani was a pivotal figure in the country’s path since the 1979 revolution: a founding father, a military leader in the war with Iraq, and twice President. More parochially, his presidency also saw a historic shift in ties with India, laying the groundwork for the cooperation that has unfolded, haltingly, over the past 20 years.

From Radical to Moderate

Rafsanjani’s two nicknames, “Akbar Shah” and “the shark”, convey his blend of power, cunning, and adaptability. His funeral last week drew more than two million people, comparable only to that of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989. But in his most recent political incarnation, Rafsanjani was also a source of support for Iran’s beleaguered reformists. The man who had helped elevate Ali Khamenei after Khomeini’s death, presided over an assassination spree of dissidents at home and in Europe, refused to lift the fatwa on Salman Rushdie, and was famously, fabulously, corrupt — this same man became, in the final decade of his life, a totem of pragmatism, moderation, and reform.

It was Rafsanjani who warned that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s victory in 2009 would bring “Islamic fascism”, blamed the Bashar al-Assad regime for the use of chemical weapons in 2013, and supported Hassan Rouhani’s successful bid for the presidency that same year. He was pushed to the margins of politics, had two of his children jailed, and was blocked from returning to the presidency himself. And so the mourners thronging the streets of the capital last Tuesday — never a comfortable sight for the regime — included the rare sight of supporters of the Green Movement, crushed by force in 2009, and vocal critics of Russia, alongside which Iran is fighting in Syria.

Transforming Ties With India

Rafsanjani’s flexibility also played a role in the evolution of Iran’s ties with India. In the early 1990s, the situation was delicate. In September 1993, P.V. Narasimha Rao became the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Iran since the revolution. This, President Rafsanjani noted, was “a turning point”. In March 1994, Iran bailed out India in the UN Commission on Human Rights, blocking a consensus on Kashmir. Five months later, in August, this bonhomie was interrupted.

Mr. Rouhani, then secretary of Iran’s powerful Supreme National Security Council and deputy speaker of parliament, paid a visit to India. Iran’s now-President spoke his mind: on the “persecution” of minorities, on the Babri Masjid, and on the importance of India-Pakistan talks, including “true” representatives of Kashmiris, such as the Hurriyat Conference, to resolve the conflict in the Valley. This “unfortunate departure from diplomatic norms”, as one Indian newspaper put it at the time, cast a pall over relations. Worse still, in October, Rafsanjani cancelled his own visit, concerned at being associated too closely with India while the then Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) was preparing once more to censure India on Kashmir. The snub was taken badly in India.

But within a year, things had changed. Perhaps the Taliban’s spectacular advance in Afghanistan by then with the support of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence had concentrated minds in both countries. And so, in April 1995, Rafsanjani finally arrived in New Delhi, to be greeted by Prime Minister Rao himself. It turned out to be a landmark visit. Speaking to over 10,000 Shias at Lucknow’s Bara Imambara — and promising ₹10 million for its upkeep — Rafsanjani gave an unexpected endorsement of Indian secularism, dodged a Pakistani journalist’s question on the Babri Masjid (“I believe there is no need for further propaganda in this regard”), and even praised India’s “serious will” on Kashmir while dismissing Pakistan’s call for American mediation.

In substantive terms, Rafsanjani signed a three-way India-Iran-Turkmenistan transit agreement, allowing India to avoid Russian or Ukrainian ports. He also urged a Tehran-Delhi-Beijing axis — his proposal, sandwiched between India’s 1993 and 1996 border agreements with China, was perhaps less quixotic than it looks today. Indian officials, in turn, batted away American criticism of Iran, going so far as to mock then U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin for complaining that his trip to Delhi had coincided with Rafsanjani’s. India’s warm welcome to both was itself a foreshadowing of what, a decade later, would come to be called multi-alignment.

Rafsanjani did not single-handedly change the relationship. Structural factors, such as India’s economic liberalization and the situation in Afghanistan, were more important. But as a relative pragmatist, he was able to overcome those in Tehran who had argued for a tilt to Pakistan and a continued focus on Kashmir and communal issues. Although Ayatollah Khamenei would make a pointed intervention on Kashmir in 2010, calling it a “nation” and comparing it to Gaza, I can find no account of Rafsanjani’s successors, Mr. Ahmadinejad and Mr. Rouhani, of doing anything similar. In fact, Rafsanjani’s trip marked several themes that would shape India-Iranian relations for the next two decades. One was economic diplomacy focused on connectivity, energy, and trade. Another was mutual concern over the future of Afghanistan, and Pakistan’s role there. A third was India’s effort — not always successful — to prevent relations with Washington and Tehran from interfering with one another. How have these developed?

Economic Diplomacy

Economic diplomacy has only grown in importance, as a rising India has looked to Central Asia and Iran has emerged from the sanctions straight-jacket. This explains last May’s historic agreement over the Chabahar port, even if Iran is considerably more relaxed than India about Gwadar, China’s regional infrastructure plans, and the Chinese navy’s presence in the Indian Ocean. Last year, India’s oil imports from Iran trebled from the previous year, pushing it into fourth place in the ranking of Indian suppliers, and there is pressure on the Reserve Bank of India to allow Iranian banks to open branches in India, which would boost the relatively modest amount of bilateral trade.

Afghanistan is a more complicated story, with Tehran now openly flirting with parts of the Taliban even as Delhi and Kabul draw closer together. Recall that Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour’s death in a U.S. drone strike in May 2016 came as he was returning to Baluchistan from Iran, possibly after a long stay. Although Taliban delegations have been coming to Iran for years, they attended December’s International Islamic Unity Conference in Tehran with no semblance of secrecy.

As for the Tehran-Washington balancing act, this has eased in recent years as the Obama administration in the U.S. has taken a softer approach. With Boeing and Airbus queuing up to sell to Iran, it’s easier for India to do so. But Donald Trump will assume the presidency in three days, surrounded by congenital Iran hawks such as National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, Defence Secretary James Mattis, and CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Within the past few days, President-elect Trump has repeated, to a British newspaper, his view that Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran is “one of the worst deals ever made”. He will not rip it up on Inauguration Day. Neither Europe nor Mr. Trump’s apparent hero, Russian President Vladimir Putin, would agree to a re-imposition of sanctions. But with Mr. Rouhani seeking re-election this year, and hardliners breathing down his neck, it’s not difficult to imagine a spiral of U.S. and Iranian steps that leads to its unraveling. Will the self-styled arch deal maker demand that American support to India on Pakistan require a quid pro quo from India on Iran?


India, UAE Ties To Turn Strategic During Crown Prince’s Republic-Day Visit


Prime Minister Modi receives Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Zayed at Delhi International Airport


NEW DELHI: India will conclude Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with UAE, which until now has been a key strategic ally of Pakistan.

The shift is signified with India inviting the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan as Chief Guest for Republic-day. UAE, which has enjoy deep defense ties with Pakistan, has decided to expand its ambit amid the growing flux in West Asia. Pakistan too has been exploring new equations of late.

The CSP with India that was agreed to be concluded during Zayed Al Nahyan visit here last February is not an empty box. This includes robust defense ties including exports to the Gulf state and joint production besides expanding scope of counter-terror and economic partnership.

India sees UAE as one its main destinations for arms exports in the future, according to persons familiar with the matter. Reliance Defense Limited (RDL) has signed a strategic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Emirates Defense Industries Company (EDIC), a leading integrated Defense Company in the United Arab Emirates. RDL and EDIC will jointly explore the opportunities for manufacturing and building capabilities in defense vehicles, aviation and associated areas, defense equipment and armament manufacturing, defense electronics, commercial and navy ships, MRO of military equipment / platforms, according to informed sources.

The two sides also plan to give momentum to joint defense training and exercise. Both sides took forward their training relationship after a gap of eight years in 2016. 'Desert Eagle II', which was the second in the series of bilateral exercises between Indian Air Force (IAF) and United Arab Emirates Air Force (UAE AF), was held during May-June 2016. This was a ten-day air combat exercise in which the IAF and the UAE Air Force undertook air exercises from Al-Dhafra Air Base, Abu Dhabi starting from 22 May 2016. The last desert eagle exercise was held in 2008. A contingent from the UAE armed forces is expected to participate at the Republic Day Parade.

Strengthening Defense partnership was one of the major outcomes of Narendra Modi's trip to the UAE in 2015 -- his first trip to the region after getting election and first by an Indian PM to Abu Dhabi in over three decades. Bilateral defense ties, which has potential to be first comprehensive in nature between India and any Gulf nation, received further boost with Zayed Al Nahyan's last trip.

Expansion of counter-terror coordination and cooperation including cooperation among security agencies will add momentum to India-UAE CSP. This is significant amid reports of further slide in UAE-Pak ties following recent assassination of five UAE diplomats in Afghanistan. Kandahar's Police Chief Abdul Raziq had alleged that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence and the Haqqani Network were behind the terror attack. This was the first time that UAE diplomats were targeted on foreign soil. Earlier in 2015 UAE has been upset with Islamabad for its refusal to send troops in the Yemen conflict.

The growing India-UAE strategic partnership can be gauged from the fact that Abu Dhabi sent out a clear public statement on September 19 a day after Uri attacks suggesting that Delhi should take decisive action against perpetrators. Earlier UAE was among the countries that came out in India's support within hours of the Pathankot attack. According to counter-terror experts UAE is perturbed with growing terrorist network in the Gulf fearing attacks on its soil. Delhi is emerging as a key counter-terror partner for Abu Dhabi notwithstanding UAE's traditional ties with Pakistan. But Islamabad's Kashmir bogey is cutting not much ice with UAE.

Resource rich UAE sees considerable economic opportunities in India as evidenced by its decision to invest $75 billion in India's infrastructure over the long term and a huge business delegation is likely to accompany the Crown Prince for his trip. Indo-UAE energy ties particularly with regard to strategic oil reserves is also expected to receive boost during the Crown Prince trip.


Warships Sold, Not Gifted To Pakistan, Says China

China had handed over two ships to the Pakistan Navy to safeguard the strategic Gwadar port and trade routes under the USD 46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor

China on Monday clarified that it had not “donated” two warships to Pakistan, but that the transfer of vessels, apparently for the defense of Gwadar port, was part of a legitimate “military trade” between the two countries.

“I have learnt that some reports said China has donated these vessels. This is not correct... It is normal military trade cooperation [between] the two countries and complies with the international commitments of the two countries,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying at her regular press briefing.

Pakistani media reports on Monday said China has handed over two ships to Pakistan Navy on Saturday to safeguard the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Ms. Hua said: “So I want to clarify that it is not donation, it is military trade cooperation; the Pakistani side bought these two ships from China.”

The Pakistani daily Dawn had reported that the two ships would be deployed for “joint security” along the CPEC sea route. However, the newspaper also carried a clarification by the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) that the two ships had not been provided exclusively for protecting the Gwadar port.

“The ships will be employed in all maritime zones of Pakistan to undertake search and rescue operations,” the PMSA said.

Besides, the vessels were handed over to the agency in Guangzhou, China, and not at Gwadar, it observed.

The daily reported that China is building two more ships, named Dasht and Zhob, which will be delivered to the Pakistani Navy soon.

In response to another question on whether China would reappraise its position this year on India’s demand for a ban on Jash-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar in the 1267 committee of the UN Security Council, Ms. Hua said Beijing will continue to remain engaged with “relevant parties on this”. India has sought a UN ban on the head of the JeM chief following last year’s attack on the Pathankot air base.

On Masood Azhar and NSG

She also said that China had not blocked India’s move to impose a ban on the JeM chief.

“On the Azhar issue, I don’t like the word ‘block’. As we have explained our position before, [on] this question, the 1267 committee needs to base its decision on solid evidence and follow relevant resolutions and rules of procedure and make a decision based on consensus. The technical hold China proposed is to allow more time for consultation and deliberation,” she said.

In response to another query on remarks by outgoing U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Nisha Desai Biswal, that China was an “outlier” in blocking India’s membership to the 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Ms. Hua said that membership to the grouping could not be considered a “farewell gift” that countries give to each other.


Welcome To The Emerging Asia: India And China No Longer Pretend To Be Friends, And Russia Is Playing All Sides


by Harsh V Pant

After a few timid signs of warming, Sino-Indian relations seem to be headed for the freezer. While Beijing refuses to take Indian security concerns seriously, New Delhi may have decided to take the Chinese challenge head-on. To complicate matters for India, its erstwhile ally Russia, which has become a close friend of China, is showing interest in establishing closer ties with Pakistan.

The latest move that clenches teeth in India is China refusing to lift a hold on Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar, accused of plotting multiple acts of terrorism against India, and blocking him in December from being listed as a terrorist by the United Nations. Since March, China has blocked India’s attempts to put a ban on Azhar, under the sanctions committee of the UN Security Council, despite support from other members of the 15-nation body. In response, India has gone beyond expressing dismay by testing its long-range ballistic missiles—Agni IV and Agni V—in recent weeks. Pakistan, aided by China, has also jumped in by testing its first sea cruise missile that could be eventually launched from a Pakistani submarine.

China has upped the ante, indicating a willingness to help Pakistan increase the range of its nuclear missiles. China’s official mouthpiece, Global Times, contended in an editorial: “if the Western countries accept India as a nuclear country and are indifferent to the nuclear race between India and Pakistan, China will not stand out and stick rigidly to those nuclear rules as necessary. At this time, Pakistan should have those privileges in nuclear development that India has.”

China’s $46 billion investment in the so-called China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, or CPEC, also troubles India as the land corridor extends through the contested territory in Kashmir which India claims as its own. India views CPEC as an insidious attempt by China to create new realities on the ground and a brazen breach of India’s sovereignty and territory. The Chinese media have suggested that India should join CPEC to “boost its export and slash its trade deficit with China” and “the northern part of India bordering Pakistan and Jammu & Kashmir will gain more economic growth momentum.” New Delhi has questioned if China would accept an identical situation in Tibet or Taiwan, or if this is a new phase in Chinese policy with China accepting Pakistan’s claims as opposed to the previous stance of viewing Kashmir as disputed territory.

Faced with an intransigent China, India under the centre-right government led by Narendra Modi is busy reevaluating its China policy. Modi’s initial outreach to China soon after coming to office in May 2014 failed to produce any substantive outcome and he has since decided to take a more hard-nosed approach. New Delhi has strengthened partnerships with like-minded countries, including the United States, Japan, Australia, and Vietnam. India has bolstered its capabilities along the troubled border with China and the Indian military is operationally gearing up for a two-front war. India is also ramping up its nuclear and conventional deterrence against China by testing long-range missiles, raising a mountain strike corps for the border with China, enhancing submarine capabilities, and basing its first squadron of French-made Rafale fighter jets near that border.

More interesting is a significant shift in India’s Tibet policy with the Modi government deciding to bring the issue back into the Sino-Indian bilateral equation. India will openly welcome the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader who has lived in exile in India since 1959, at an international conference on Buddhism to be held in Rajgir-Nalanda, Bihar, in March. And ignoring Beijing’s protests, the Dalai Lama will also visit the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh which China claims as part of its own territory.

After initially ceding ground to Chinese sensitivities on Tibet and refusing to explicitly acknowledge official interactions with the Dalai Lama, a more public role for the monk is now presented as an essential part of the Indian response to China. In the first meeting in decades between a serving Indian head of state and the Dalai Lama, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee hosted the Buddhist leader at the inaugural session of the first Laureates and Leaders for Children Summit, held at the president’s official residence in New Delhi in December.

India-China-Dalai-Lama

China has not taken kindly to these moves by India and vehemently opposes any attempt to boost the image or credibility of the Dalai Lama.

China has been relentless in seeking isolation for the Dalai Lama and often succeeds in bullying weaker states to bar the monk. After the Dalai Lama’s November visit to the predominantly Buddhist Mongolia, where he is revered as a spiritual leader, the nation incurred China’s wrath and soon apologized, promising that the Dalai Lama would no longer be allowed to enter the country.

But India is not Mongolia. There is growing disenchantment with Chinese behavior in New Delhi. Appeasing China by sacrificing the interests of the Tibetan people has not yielded any benefits for India, nor has there been tranquility in the Himalayas in recent decades. As China’s aggressiveness has grown, Indian policymakers are no longer content to play by rules set by China. Although India has formally acknowledged Tibet as a part of China, there is a new push to support the legitimate rights of the Tibetan people so as to negotiate with China from a position of strength.

This Sino-Indian geopolitical jostling is also being shaped by the broader shift in global and regional strategic equations. Delhi long took Russian support for granted. Yet, much to India’s discomfiture, China has found a new ally in Russia which is keen to side with it, even as a junior partner, to scuttle western interests. Historically sound Indo-Russian ties have become a casualty of this trend and to garner Chinese support for its anti-West posturing, Russia has refrained from supporting Indian positions.

Worried about India’s growing proximity to the United States, Russia is also warming up to Pakistan. The two held their first joint military exercise in September and their first bilateral consultation on regional issues in December. After officially lifting an arms embargo against Pakistan in 2014, Russia will deliver four Russian-made Mi-35M attack helicopters in 2017 to Pakistan’s military. It is also likely that the China-backed CPEC might be merged with the Russia-backed Eurasian Economic Union. Jettisoning its traditional antipathy to the Taliban, Russia indicates a readiness to negotiate with the Taliban against the backdrop of the growing threat of the Islamic State in Afghanistan. Towards that end, Russia is already working with China and Pakistan, thereby marginalizing India in the regional process.

As the Trump administration takes office in Washington on Jan. 20, it will be rushing into headwinds generated by growing Sino-Indian tensions and a budding Sino-Russian entente. Trump’s own pro-Russia and anti-China inclinations could further complicate geopolitical alignments in Asia. Growing tension in the Indian subcontinent promises to add to the volatility.


A Feel of Flying Machines, Up Close!


Unforgettable: Students visited the Air Force Station in Hyderabad for Republic Day celebrations


For at least a few thousand students from different schools in and around the twin cities, it was an unforgettable experience seeing from up-close the magnifying flying machines — the noisy Chetak helicopters, the advanced jet trainer Hawk, the Pilatus PC-7 turbo trainer, and twin-seater jet Kiran MK-1, among others.

This was the scene at the Air Force Station (AFS) in Hakimpet, where defence officials, who are normally serious in nature, were at their friendliest-best, taking the students around the vast expanse of the station where many of the country’s fighters and ground maintenance are trained.

The event, which was a part of the Republic Day celebrations, was inaugurated by the Air Officer Commanding of the training station, Air Commodore Hardeep Bains.

The students’ enthusiasm was as infectious as that of the personnel. The objective of the event was to familiarize and motivate young students opt for a challenging and exciting career in the Indian Air Force. A static display was arranged for schoolchildren to see and get a close feel of the powerful machines.

The students also got an opportunity to witness the Induction Publicity Exhibition Vehicle (IPEV), a specified modified facility that showcase various aspects of the IAF and serves as a medium to bring the air force to the doorstep of students and aspirants across the country. The IPEV gives career-related information and IAF’s flight simulator to experience various facets of the air force.

Students were also taken to the IAF museum for a blast into the past. In addition, a film show about life in the IAF was screened.

The icing on the cake, however, was that the young ones were treated to a screaming fly-past by Kiran and Chetak aircraft.


Nawaz Sharif Forms Special Panel For Clearance Of Indian Films


The move came days after cinema owners in Pakistan resumed screening of Indian films, ending a self-imposed ‘temporary suspension’ of more than two months.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday formed a special committee for the clearance of Indian movies to be screened in the country, according to a report.

The move came days after cinema owners in Pakistan resumed screening of Indian films, ending a self-imposed “temporary suspension” of more than two months.

The panel would include minister of state for information and broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb, advisor to the prime minister Irfan Siddiqui, film censor board chairman Mubashir Hasan and a representative from an intelligence agency, Geo News reported quoting sources.

Secretary commerce Azmat Ranjha would serve as the secretary of the committee that will be responsible for clearing the films to be screened in the country, the report said.

Cinemas across Pakistan had stopped screening Indian movies in September last year after the Indian Army conducted “surgical strikes” across the Line of Control (LoC) that came in the wake of the September 18 terror strike in Uri that claimed the lives of 18 Indian soldiers.


Parrikar Wants Private Players To Tap DRDO’s Knowledge

Dr S. Christopher, Secretary, DD&D and Chairman DRDO along with Dr. G. Satheesh Reddy, Special Adviser and Director-General, Missiles and Strategic Systems, briefed him on various technological developments

Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar on Monday said there is lot of knowledge and infrastructure base with the DRDO and it needs to be tapped by the medium and small-scale firms and private industries, which in turn will lead towards the establishment of a self-reliant defense industrial complex.

The Minister visited the DRDO’s Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam Missile Complex on Monday.

He went round the integration center at the Research Center Imarat (RCI) and reviewed ongoing missile technologies and related programs.

Industries have been significantly contributing in the realization of various defense products with the know-how provided by the DRDO and some even graduated as lead integrator, he pointed out. The partnership between DRDO and industries is transforming the country into a global defense manufacturing hub and the synergy has provided thrust for exporting defense products.

“We are taking initiatives in this direction and I am sure that our state-of-the-art missiles and weapon systems will garner the much needed interest in the global markets and generate foreign exchange,” Mr. Parrikar said.

He congratulated DRDO scientists for recent successful missions like the ‘Smart Anti-Airfield Weapon, Long Range Ballistic Missiles Agni V& Agni IV, Guided Pinaka and Astra’.

The Missile Complex came in for praise for its effort in indigenising technology products and strengthening the defense industrial base in the country as also DRDO’s initiative to sign MoUs with universities in diversified research areas, a press release informed on Monday.


Indian Navy Team Completes Siachen Training As Pre-Mt Everest Climb


Visakhapatnam: How do you feel if you are to stay for a while in freezing temperature when it dips down to say zero degree Celsius? You feel as if the cold will chill your bones to death and your blood will freeze.

Now, imagine staying continuously under minus 20 degree Celsius for about a month amidst squally winds. 24 brave-hearts from the Indian Navy did just that for a battle of a different kind.

Challenging death at every step, it was a month-long cold endurance and technical skill enhancement training and test that the Indian Navy team was subjected to in the Siachen Glacier region from December last year. The team, consisting of 24 members including 16 from the Eastern Naval Command (ENC), is attempting to conquer the world's highest peak Mount Everest between March and June 2017.

It was not the altitude at Siachen, the world's highest and coldest battlefield, but the adverse climatic condition in sub-zero temperature and high-speed winds that was a test for the team. "Everything gets frozen in this temperature. Liquid water becomes a scarcity. We have to continuously keep heating the iced water and snow in order to make water potable for daily use and cooking," said a navy officer from ENC, who is a prominent member and one of the most experienced mountaineers of the Indian Navy.

The specialty of this final technical training expedition is that the Indian Navy's entire Everest team gathered together for the first time at Siachen. Earlier, teams from various naval commands and headquarters used to separately undertake expeditions to various snowy peaks.

The team members for Siachen included officers Amit Rathi, Anant Kukreti, Cdr DN Chaitanya (team leader), Hari Prasath, Harsha Ranganath, IB Udaya, Pratik Dhariya, Rajanikant Yadav, S Karthikeyan, Shashank Tewari, Vinit Doshi and Yogesh Tiwari. The sailors included Amit Rana, Ashish Gupta, Avinash Bhawane, Bijender Kumar, Hariom, Manesh Kumar, Manoj Adari, OD Sharma, Sachin Kanjalkar, Sandeep Chaubey, Sandeep Singh and Sanjeet Sherawat.

Elaborating on what all went into this special and final technical pre-Everest training at Siachen's Army Mountaineering Institute (AMI), a navy officer and experienced team member said, "It was a training to enhance cold bearing capability of the climbers. The salient features included crevasse crossing on ladder, ice-wall climbing with the help of ladders, using ice axe and crampon for climbing, using supplementary oxygen while climbing beyond 8000 metres (death zone), rope works, rescue techniques and so on."

The team got extensive training guided by the instructors from AMI daily from December 21, 2016 to January 8, 2017 after undergoing acclimatisation schedules of phase one for six days at Thoise (Pratappur) and phase two at Siachen Base Camp (12,000 ft) for four days. Everest-related documentaries were shown and lectures were imparted by Indian Army men experienced in the Everest expedition as part of experience sharing.

"Further, the team also went out camping without any administrative and logistic support for two days to enhance and build up survival skills of the climbers. During this time, the team successfully reached top of a hanging glacier at an altitude of around 5,000 metre. The team offered prayers at the OP Baba shrine at Siachen Base camp and also expressed gratitude to soldiers martyred during Operation Meghdoot at Siachen war memorial," added another officer and experienced mountaineer. This training has given the climbers a complete picture of what they are heading into and prepare themselves physically and mentally for the risks of climbing the highest point on earth.


ISI Will Continue Its Proxy War Against India, Claims German Political Scientist Hein Kiessling

LeT Terrorist Group Chief Hafiz Saeed

NEW DELHI: Pakistan's spy agency ISI will continue its proxy war against India regardless of any change in its leadership because it needs an enemy, and ISI defines it as India's "control over Kashmir", said German political scientist Hein Kiessling, who spent 13 years in Pakistan researching and interacting with its intelligence and military elites, here on Monday.

Last month, Pakistan's new army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, had abruptly removed the head of ISI and appointed Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar as director-general replacing Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar.

The ISI, under any leadership, would continue supporting Kashmiri separatists and run terror camps in POK to keep the conflict with India alive, Kiessling said here at Observer Research Foundation, while launching the Indian edition of his book 'Faith, Unity, Discipline: The ISI of Pakistan'. The book was first published in German in 2011.

The ISI, he said, "is flexible" and could increase or decrease the "intensity" of the proxy war and even change its strategy in Kashmir to advance its hostile relationship with India. But the ISI will not cease to focus on Kashmir and Afghanistan, he claimed.

Kiessling said he personally believed Kashmir could be resolved within the status quo framework, which incidentally is the Indian position too. "But I shut my mouth," Kiessling said, after he received unfavorable reactions from the ISI in Pakistan.

The German historian, who lived in Pakistan between 1989 and 2002, saw some of the country's significant shifts from military rule to democracy and back, and from a nuclear power to a failed state. His book covers ISI's origins, failures, successes and its latest machinations domestically and foreign interventions in Kashmir and Afghanistan.

One of ISI's biggest weaknesses is that it doesn't take into account the geo-political situation, Kiessling said. "Its analysis is poor," he said, adding that a former top ISI official believed the "conspiracy theory" that "9/11 was an inside job". Kiessling said it was impossible that top ISI officials were unaware of 9/11, bin Laden's hideout in Abbottabad, Raymond Davis case and the Mumbai attacks.

"I believe Gen Musharraf may have known something about 9/11 if not the specifics. They did not report it to Washington the way they should have," he said. 26/11 could not have happened without the knowledge of the Pakistani COAS, Kiessling added.

Expressing concern over religious radicalization of ISI and Pakistani Army, Kiessling said, "It has entered the larger society of Pakistan and it is very difficult to root it out now."


Army Report Lists 50 Problems Faced By Troops; Food, Body Armour, Weapons Among Them


The report on Future Core Technologies and Problem Statements acknowledges the challenges that soldiers face. 

Food served to soldiers at high altitudes doesn’t suit their palate, reveals a new army report that has called for replacing it with something that tastes better. The report predates a video clip in which a BSF Jawan raised questions about poor meals, but it does link troop motivation to food quality.

The 119-page report, compiled by the Army Design Bureau (ADB), lists 50 problems that need to be quickly addressed to provide the best protection to front line soldiers and develop cutting-edge weaponry for battlefield triumphs.

The report on Future Core Technologies and Problem Statements acknowledges the challenges that soldiers face, ranging from vulnerability of their body armour, outdated night fighting gear, problems with winter clothing to lack of situational awareness systems to keep them updated during operations.

In his maiden press conference as army chief, General Bipin Rawat on Friday touched on the report promising that front line soldiers would be equipped with world-class gear and the force was collaborating with the country’s top academia and industry to fix the problems.

The army says high-calorie food, improvised for Indian tastes, is required to improve the operational efficiency of soldiers at high altitudes.

“Presently, troops deployed in high altitude areas are being issued tinned food and some ‘meals ready to eat (MRE)’ but these are not adhering to Indian tastes and have issues related to shelf life,” the report says.

It goes on to add that supply of food that suits their palate will “tremendously enhance the motivation levels” of soldiers. The report cites the examples of other countries that provide soldiers food conforming to their tastes. It also suggests the possibility of using edible packing material to get rid of disposal problems. The army hopes to come up with a solution within a year.

The body armour used by soldiers offers them limited protection, a concern flagged by General Rawat. The army chief said the bullet proof jackets worn by soldiers provide protection in the front and back but leave them vulnerable on the sides and neck.

Fewer soldiers would have been killed in operations if they were equipped with superior body armour. The ADB says the existing bullet-proof jackets are heavy, uncomfortable and fall short of international standards.

The bullet proof headgear or ‘patka’ is not only heavy at 1.7kg but also exposes soldiers to risks as it covers only the sides and leaves the top exposed. The report states the forehead plate caters for ballistic protection from 7.62 mm ammunition, but the side plates provide protection “only from 9 mm” fire. It lays down a time frame of two to three years to fix the problem.

The army has stepped up efforts to buy new bullet proof vests and ballistic helmets for soldiers who carry out more than a hundred operations daily in Jammu and Kashmir.

General Rawat said an army team, headed by deputy chief Lieutenant General Subrata Saha, has held 25 rounds of interactions with the industry and academia from Indian Institutes of Technology and other centres of excellence to involve them in finding solutions for the force’s needs.

Indian soldiers may be deployed on the Siachen glacier, the world’s coldest and highest battlefield, but the army is still struggling to provide them quality winter clothing.

The report says the winter clothing used by the army is cumbersome, restricts freedom of movement and makes it difficult for soldiers to carry loads or use equipment such as radio sets. Soldiers have been forced to buy light-weight clothing from the market for their survival, the report highlights.

Inaccurate sniping is another typical problem at high altitudes. Soldiers can’t engage targets with precision in the absence of world-class sniper scopes. The report says sniper fire has been found to be inaccurate due to terrain and weather conditions and new scopes with inbuilt distance and crosswind correction need to be bought within four years.

STRUGGLING TO SHARPEN MILITARY EDGE

A 119-page report, compiled by the Army Design Bureau (ADB), lists 50 problems that need to be quickly addressed

Chinks in the Armour:

- Lack of wire strike protection systems puts low-flying helicopters at risk, night-vision gear for aircrew also required
- Gearboxes of advanced light helicopter prone to premature failures, metallurgy needs to be improved to prevent frequent chipping
- Mobility of artillery guns severely constrained in the mountains due to terrain, steep gradient and weight and turning radius of the weapon systems
- Lack of awareness of the location of soldiers during operations a crippling problem faced by commanders on the ground
- Army’s helicopter fleet lacks weather radar to warn pilots about turbulence, compromising flight safety
- Army requires smart vests with built-in codes for auto identification of troops to prevent friendly fire casualties

Plugging The Gaps:

- Food supplied to soldiers in high-altitudes not to their liking
- Troops buying lightweight winter clothing from the market for their survival
- Bullet-proof jackets heavy, uncomfortable, not up to global standards
- Soldiers can’t engage targets with precision in the absence of world-class sniper scopes
- Navigation devices based on foreign GPS application prone to inaccuracies and denial during war time

Such scopes are required for sniper teams deployed in counter-terrorism operations, plains and high altitude areas of up to 20,000 feet.

“To achieve effective results out of the precision fire of a sniper rifle, it is important that forced incidental errors due to environmental factors be reduced to the minimum,” the ADB has pointed out.

The army has flagged concerns about lack of awareness of the location of soldiers during operations, with the report describing it as a “crippling problem” faced by commanders on ground. “Despite the existence of facilitating technology, we are yet to adopt a credible and lasting solution to this problem,” the report says. The army hopes to fix the problem by next year to increase command and control efficiency.

The force also plans to equip soldiers with a helmet assembly serving as a hub for real-time situational awareness, providing communications and the visor acting as a heads-up display monitor in three years.

“We are identifying technology trends worldwide to tailor them to our requirements,” said a senior army officer, familiar with key ongoing projects.


PAK SCAN: Pakistan’s Economy Will Collapse In The Next 10 Years: Pak Minister


Education is linked with economic prosperity but the education sector in Sindh is under-performing despite the fact that Rs700 million of the province’s annual development budget has been allocated to the education sector, said Education Minister Jam Mehtab Hussain Dahar.

“Pakistan’s economy is going to collapse like that of Greece’s in the next 10 years,” he warned. Dahar was addressing the inauguration ceremony of a conference, titled ‘International Conference on Transforming Economic Development: Policies and Strategies’, organised by the Applied Economics Research Centre (AERC) at the ICCBS, Karachi University on Tuesday. “Pakistan has been divided into haves and have-nots classes,” he said.

Like other flourishing countries, Pakistan has to manage according to its own environment to achieve the international Sustainable Development Goals, he said.

Pakistan is facing enormous challenges such as illiteracy, poverty, inequalities, corruption, energy and governance issues that have had a direct negative impact on the economic development and growth of the country, he pointed out.

“Pakistan is heading towards a social and economic hurricane that will cause great damage,” said AERC director Prof Dr Samina Khalil, adding that the economic hurricane will sweep away much of the current economy and Pakistan’s assumptions about the future.

The three-day conference aims to devise development policies and strategies for the transformation of the economy of Pakistan, explained Dr Khalil. It is providing a forum for discussion among renowned national and international academics, researchers, practitioners, policy makers and students, she said.

Seconding the education minister, economist Dr Kaiser Bengali said that Pakistan has been divided into two classes, the haves and have-nots. “The country’s exports are being reduced as compared to imports, which have increased,” he said, pointing out that the deficit created from this difference between exports and imports is mounting up debts.

Tension with India is extremely harmful for us, said Pakistan Institute of Development Economics vice-chancellor Dr Asad Zaman. “Pakistan needs to rethink and reconfigure trading patterns; self-sufficiency is the need of the hour,” said Zaman.


IAF And Royal Air Force Of Oman To Hold Joint Exercise

A Eurofighter Typhoon jet of the Oman Air Force

A five-day joint exercise by Indian Air Force (IAF) and Royal Air Force of Oman (RAFO) commenced on Monday at IAF base in Jamnagar. This is the fourth bilateral air exercise named "Ex Eastern Bridge-IV" between the two countries.

The Royal Air Force of Oman contingent arrived at the IAF station in Jamnagar on January 14 to participate in Eastern Bridge IV and they were welcomed by Air Officer Commanding- IAF Station- Jamnagar, Sanjay Nimesh.

In this edition of the exercise, both air forces will participate in joint air defence and offensive counter air missions for which the difficulty levels will be increased gradually to large force engagements. This joint exercise will help consolidate the military ties between India and Oman and provide exposure to the participants.