Tuesday

Winners and whiners in the scramble for Africa

The growing influence of China, Russia and India in Africa has set the alarm bells ringing in Western countries, which accuse the BRICS of exploiting the Africans. How true is the charge?

In September 2009, when Manoj Rai, a quality control engineer from India, accepted a managerial job offer at a beverage company in Rwanda, his only concern was homesickness. After all, the east African country was over 6000 km away. His fears proved to be baseless – when Rai and his wife landed in Kigali, Rwanda’s beautiful capital city, they were blown away by the warmth of their African neighbours and colleagues. And to make them feel right at home, their corporate perks included a brand new Indian made Mahindra Scorpio SUV. This wasn’t out of the blue, as Mahindra, Tata, Bajaj and TVS vehicles are an increasingly common sight on African roads. By March 2012, the couple was able to use a mobile phone service provided by Airtel Rwanda, a subsidiary of India’s Bharti Airtel.

On air

 In June 2010 when Bharti Airtel announced a $10.7 billion investment in the nascent African telecom market, it was ridiculed as a monumental overreach – an uppity Indian company was seen as burning cash in a continent the West had written off. Where were the urban agglomerations required for mobile phone subscribers? Who would secure the cell towers in these ‘unstable’ countries? And didn’t Africans need food rather than mobile gizmos?

Well, seems like Airtel wasn’t listening. When pundits declared Africa was a high-cost operation because of its vast distances and thinly spread out population, Airtel simply duplicated its low-cost India strategy. It slashed tariffs and carpeted the vast continent with cellular networks. Today, Airtel is a household name in 17 African countries, including countries whose names are – in Western parlance – synonyms of failure: Congo, Niger, Chad, Gabon, Malawi, Ghana, Zambia, Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone.

The Indian company’s bold push has benefitted Africans where it matters most – in their pockets. Mobile tariffs have fallen up to an incredible 90 percent across the continent.

Suddenly, the likes of CNN have stopped laughing. For, Airtel’s price war has swept away or checked the expansion of Western competitors. And it’s making money – revenues from mobile services in Africa crossed $1.1 billion in the year up to September 2012.

On land

Approximately 10 km north of the international airport in Lubumbashi, the second largest city in the central African republic of Congo, is the swanknew Kiswishi satellite city. In this formerly civil war blighted territory, Russia’s Renaissance Group is investing $50 million to build gleaming new malls, lavish residential suburbs, supermarkets and dining strips. The building boom in the mineral-rich country is fuelled by factories and businesses that are rising from once barren land. Where today thousands of hectares of new glass-and-steel edifices stand, last year there was nothing.

At breakneck speed, Moscow-based Renaissance Partners, which manages a $750-million investment portfolio, is constructing luxury developments that cater for Africa’s growing middle class. Across Africa, from Ghana to Zimbabwe and Zambia to Nairobi, its projects are dotting what used to be dusty districts. The Russians’ grandest project is yet to come – the $5-billion Tatu City outside Nairobi, Kenya.

On water

Eighty per cent of the waters that go into the mighty Nile river originate in Ethiopia, not Egypt. But despite being the uppermost riparian state, an unequal 1959 treaty saw to it that Ethiopia was able to use only 2 per cent of the Nile’s flow.

While every dictator and his sidekick was being lured into the Western camp with IMF-World Bank dam-building loans (dams held a peculiar attraction for the Bretton Woods twins), Ethiopia was conspicuously denied loans. There was a reason: Egypt was under Western control and helping Ethiopia dam the Nile would be wrong policy.

Today, free of internecine wars, Ethiopia is turning to Chinese banks to underwrite around a third of the cost of the $4.8 billion dam. Though significant, the Ethiopian investment will be a footnote in China’s African portfolio. Since 2000, Chinese investment in the continent has ballooned from $2 billion to an incredible $166 billion this year.

A question of turf

As China, Russia and India strike deals in Africa to fuel their growth, it is causing a great deal of heartburn among the old interlocutors. Says Canada’s Globe and Mail, “In an age-old pattern, much of the BRIC investment flowing into Africa is benefiting the political and business elite, rather than ordinary Africans.”

“In Lubumbashi, some of the harshest criticism has been directed at BRIC investors – including an Indian company, Chemaf, which processes copper and cobalt in several factories around the city.”

The Canadian newspaper says although the Indians have created 3,000 jobs in the area, their factory has become a major health hazard, polluting the air and soil. It claims local people have been scalded by acid spills. “They are coming with nice words about what they will do. But when they start working you see the opposite face,” the Globe and Mail quotes the Congolese as saying.

The Globe and Mail admits its investigation was spurred by the need to reexamine Canada’s aid programme and its corporate interests in Africa. It complains how Congo seized a massive C$2.5 billion project jointly owned between Canada’s First Quantum Minerals, the World Bank and Congo’s Gecamines. The project is now being implemented by Kazakhstan.

Colonial Way vs BRICS way

Like the Canadian news site, there are a number of outfits carping about the new players in Africa. However, they should pause to think – Western companies and charities have been carrying on their work for over a hundred years yet have barely made a dent in the poverty.

Africans say they have been following Western business and development models for decades without seeing any improvements in their lives. Borrowing a metaphor from a popular Hindi movie of yesteryears, aid is like liquid oxygen – the liquid won’t let you live and the oxygen won’t let you die.

Conversely, investment by Chinese, Indian and Russian companies is lifting vast swathes of Africa out of the Third World. And these new players are guided purely by the profit motive. Where once there was colonialism, today it is straightforward capitalism at work.

And what do you know, it works. The companies profit, the Africans have jobs, and the local governments collect taxes. And as for the new enterprises benefiting only the elites, even if that were true it is worth noting that when the West was running the show, it was often just one dictator – and his family – who was making money.

It is worth mentioning that the over 6500 African employees of the old networks Airtel acquired were not retrenched or replaced but were retrained and reabsorbed within subsidiary companies.

New players, new strategies

The emerging powers hold key advantages in the continent. China has endless reserves of cash. Not only do the Chinese give Africa credit at firesale rates, they do it with a flourish – at the end of every major project they are known to throw in a significant gift such as a free school, hospital, luxury hotel or a glitzy convention centre. Try beating that.

However, the Africans are now looking to Russia for an alternative, in an attempt to hedge their risks. Moscow is drawing upon the former Soviet Union’s legacy of political and economic influence. At a December 2011 Russia-Africa Business Forum initiated by Ethiopian Prime Minister Melas Zenawi, the Russian side announced it would return to Africa in a big way.Mikhail Margelov, the Russian presidential representative, said: “In the 1990s, Russia gave up practically all of its interests, freeing up the territory for the United States, the European Union and China. In 1992, Russia closed nine embassies in Sub-Saharan Africa. The new economy led to strategic losses, and now we need to make up for them.”

India’s good run in Africa is remarkable for being private sector propelled. Its leaders are only known to issue token statements but India’s soft power, its entrepreneurial diaspora, and history of fighting colonialism and Apartheid (India refused to play South Africa in the 1974 Davis Cup final) are widely acknowledged.

African safari – who’s in the front seat?

Africa is the last great untapped market. It has 60 percent of the uncultivated land on earth. (This has attracted as many as 20 Indian farming companies, such as Bangalore-based Karturi Global which is leasing 741,000 acres of local land, an area larger than Luxembourg.)

The mineral wealth is incalculable, with Congo alone having $24 trillion worth of untapped resources, which is equal to the GDP of the US and Europe combined. 

The peace dividend is kicking in too. With the end of the Cold War many of the long-running proxy wars have fizzled out, making it possible for trade and industry to flourish for the first time in more than three centuries.

To be sure, the West isn’t prepared to let the BRICS eat their lunch. By passing the African Growth and Opportunity Act the United States hopes to redefine its relations – earlier governed by aid, emergency relief and Cold War thinking.

But in the new race for Africa’s markets, America and Europe because of their colonial legacy will remain suspect in African eyes for a very long time. As Kenya’s founding father Jomo Kenyatta said, “First, we had the land and you had the Bible. You asked us to close our eyes and pray. When we opened our eyes, we had the Bible and you had the land.”

India, China and Russia on the other hand are 100 per cent kosher.




Monday

India Completes Phase-1 of Coastal Surveillance Network on Mainland


India has successfully completed the phase-1 of its ambitious plan to have a gap-free coastal surveillance network (CSN) with the installation of 36-radar chain.

The completion of the phase-I of the project on the Indian mainland took place when Minister of State for Defence Jitendra Singh inaugurated the static sensor chain at Visakhapatnam on November 23.

India has already installed a chain of 36 radars along the Maharashtra, Gujarat and Kerala coast in the phase-1 of the CSN on the mainland. Under the Phase-1 alone, another 10 radars are to be installed in the island territories of Andaman and Nicobar and the Laskhadweep and Minicoy by mid-2013.

"The minister of state for defence has inaugurated the chain of static sensor at Visakhapatnam on November 23. The chain of radars will provide real time surveillance cover up to 25 nautical miles along the eastern coastline of India," a Defence Ministry official told defencenow.com

The CSN was envisaged post-26/11 terrorist attacks in Mumbai in 2008 following an emergent need to strengthen coastal security was recognized by the government and on recommendation made by a group of ministers.

The Indian Coast Guard was delegated to implement the project.

Gujarat, Maharashtra and Kerala clusters of the network was inaugurated on August 25 and September 15 respectively.

"With the inauguration of eastern clusters at Visakhapatnam, the phase-I of implementation CSN at mainland is completed," the official said.

In the phase-2 of CSN, India will have another 38 radars chain to cover the rest of the 7,500-km long coastline.

The government had signed the contract with the state-owned Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) in September 2011 at a cost of Rs.602 crore ($108.5 million) considering the strategic nature of the turnkey project and with an aim to develop indigenous capabilities in the field.

Linking up of the National Automatic Identification System Network (AIS) and Vessel Traffic System (VTS) of Gulf of Khambat with the Coastal Security Network would help the security forces in identifying a friend or foe in the Indian waters.

Ballistic Missile Defence


India has signaled that it is ready to deploy a home-grown Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) system in the near future with a successful testing of an advanced interceptor missile, prompting the defence scientists to claim a shield could be thrown over Delhi skies by 2014.

The big fireworks over the Bay of Bengal when India tested its experimental BMD system resulted in elation as the trial turned out to be "bang-on accurate".

The interceptor missile destroyed an incoming target missile in a direct hit at an altitude of nearly 15 km over the Bay of Bengal, demonstrating the efficacy of the system.

DRDO officials said the electronically simulated target, which mimicked a missile coming from a distance of 1,500 km, was electronically hit at an altitude of 120 km.

Within minutes of the launch of the real attacker missile, a modified surface-to-surface Prithvi from Chandipur, Advanced Air Defence (AAD) missile, the actual interceptor, took off from Wheeler Island and destroyed the 'hostile' missile at an altitude of 15 km in the endo-atmospheric mode at 12.52 p.m.

Missile technologists from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for the first time tested the configuration for destroying an incoming actual missile and another electronically simulated missile. The score: BMD - 2, Enemy Missiles - 0. 

Celebrations broke out at Wheeler Island following the success of the mission, which was the eighth ballistic interceptor missile test. So far seven missions have been successful and one of them, the first one was conducted in exo-atmopshere at an altitude of 48 km in November 2006.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony lauded the DRDO scientists for the successful test.

This was the seventh time the BMD system has been tested successfully over the last six years and promptly, the DRDO declared a missile shield could be deployed for New Delhi by 2014. 

"We are now ready to convert the BMD system from an experimental to an operational one that can be deployed on demand. I am confident we can deploy the Phase-I of the BMD system by 2014," said DRDO chief V K Saraswat said of the result from the Wheeler Island test range off Odisha coast.

All said and done, even American missile defence systems like Patriot Advanced Capability-3, Aegis BMD-3 and THAAD (terminal high-altitude area defence), as also Russian and Israeli ones, are not fully foolproof as of now and further efforts are on to perfect them. 

As soon as the target missile was launched, the Long-Range Tracking Radars and the Multi-Functional Radars traced it and passed on the data to the guidance computer to launch the AAD, which homed on to the target missile and pulverised it.

In the latest BDM test, only one of the incoming missiles was real: a modified Prithvi missile mimicking M-9/M-11 class of Chinese Dong Feng short-range ballistic missiles. The other was an electronically simulated missile of a longer range of 1,500km. 

But both the 'enemy' missile launches were, however, conducted "in the same window" to test the BMD system's capability to handle "multiple threats" simultaneously. 

"This has been done only by the two superpowers (US and Russia) till now. The real missile was destroyed at an altitude of 14.7-km by the interceptor missile with a direct hit," Saraswat was quoted as saying.

"The entire test was done practically in deployment configuration," he said. 

Meanwhile, DRDO has also begun work on adding a third tier to the BMD system.

The existing two-tier system is designed to track and destroy ballistic missiles both inside (endo) and outside (exo) the earth's atmosphere. The third layer is planned to tackle low-flying cruise missiles, artillery projectiles and rockets in the line with the overall aim to achieve "near 100% kill or interception probability". 

"Look what is happening in the Middle-East (Hamas firing rockets at Israeli cities before the recent ceasefire)...hence, protection against low-cost, very close range threats is also needed. We have begun some initial work on the third-tier. We will try to integrate it with the BMD system once it fructifies," Saraswat said. 

At present, the BMD system's phase-1, under which interceptors fly at 4.5 Mach high-supersonic speeds to intercept enemy missiles, is meant to tackle hostile missiles with a 2,000-km strike range. 

Under DRDO's plans, the BMD phase-2 will take on 5,000-km range missiles, virtually in the class of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), with interceptors at hypersonic speeds of 6-7 Mach. 

During the present test, Long Range Radar and MFC Radar located far away could detect the enemy missile from take-off and tracked it through its entire path. The total trajectory of the incoming Missile was continuously estimated by the guidance computer and subsequently the AAD Missile was launched at an appropriate time to counter and kill the ballistic missile, DRDO officials said.

"The Ring Laser Gyro-based navigation system in target, Fibre Optic Gyro based INS in Interceptor, on board computers, guidance systems, actuation systems and the critical RF Seekers used for the terminal phase have performed excellently," a defence scientist said.

"The AAD Missile system, initially guided by Inertial Navigation system, was continuously getting update of the target position by the radar through a data link. The Radio Frequency (RF) seeker tracked the missile and on board computer guided the missile towards the target missile and hit the target. The Radio Proximity Fuse (RPF) exploded the warhead thereby destroying the target missile completely," he added.

In this mission, a special feature of intercepting multiple target with multiple interceptor was demonstrated successfully, DRDO spokesperson Ravi Gupta said.

"An electronic target with a range of 1500 km was launched and the radars picked up the target missile, tracked the target missile subsequently and launched an electronic interceptor missile. This electronic interceptor missile destroyed the electronic target missile at an altitude of 120 km," Gupta said.

"All the four missiles were tracked by the radars and all the guidance and launch computers operated in full operational mode for handling multiple targets with multiple interceptors. All the four missiles were in the sky simultaneously and both the interceptions took place near simultaneously" he said.

"This has proved the capability of DRDO to handle multiple targets with multiple interceptors simultaneously. The complete Radar Systems, Communication Networks, Launch Computers, Target update Systems and state-of-the-art Avionics have been completely proven in this mission," he added.

DRDO Chief Controller (Missiles and Strategic Systems) Avinash Chander, Research Centre Imarat Associate Director Sateesh Reddy and AD Mission Programme Director Adalat Ali were present.

Thursday

Indo-Russia Fifth Generation Fighter Jet

The signing of the Sukhoi T-50 fifth generation fighter aircraft contract propels India to joint developer of the world’s most advanced stealth aircraft.



Mars missions race. India takes lead

India aims at sending an orbiter to Mars in 2013. The race for the Red planet unwinds with NASA planning a launch for the same 2013 fiscal year and China somewhat lagging behind. Earlier this month Europe gave a go ahead for a Mars mission with Russia in 2016. Russia and India have also a plan for a joint lunar mission scheduled for 2014.
India is pushing ahead with its ambitious Mars Mission in which an Indian spacecraft will orbit Mars in November 2013.
Senior officials of the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) have deliberately set the date of the Mars Mission for November 27, 2013 when the red planet will be closer to earth.
By doing so, India will join the US, Russia, Europe, Japan and China who have all sent missions to Mars.
A 320-tonne Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle rocket will be used to carry the orbiter spaceship which will blast off from the Isro launch site at Sriharikota.
The government has cleared this unmanned mission which is expected to cost over `5 billion. The objective of this exercise will be to focus on the life, climate, geology, origin and evolution of the red planet and also to find out if the planet sustains any life forms.
This project will be a major leg up for India’s space programme which had sent Chandrayaan-1 lunar probe to the moon. The spacecraft probe had discovered water on the moon and this discovery had proved a major credibility boost amongst the established space-faring nations.
The spacecraft is expected to take 300 days to reach the Martian orbit with the spacecraft expected to be placed in an orbit of 500 x 80,000 km around Mars.
Scientific payloads have been shortlisted by Isro’s advisory committee for space sciences and the baseline, solar array and reflector configuration of the satellite have already been finalised.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has finally announced the Mars Orbiter Mission which he believes will be a huge boost to India’s science and technology.
Already, US robot Curiosity is currently on the surface of the red planet after landing on Mars more than a month ago. Nasa scientists believe Curiosity has found clear evidence that its landing site was once awash with water, a key ingredient for life.
Curiosity, a nuclear-powered vehicle, has been designed for a minimum two-year mission.

Why Muslims and Chinese hate Pakistan

Pakistanis evoke highly negative emotions worldwide, including in Muslim majority countries, says a US survey. Not just the elites but the common Pakistani too is culpable in the country’s spectacular failure.
It has never been easy being a Pakistani. Pick a terrorist act committed anywhere in the world and chances are it has Pakistani fingerprints all over it. In many places, the word ‘Pakistani’ is a four-letter word.

So it must be a nasty kick in the guts for the Pakistanis to learn that their only allies, the Chinese, as well as the majority populations of several Muslim countries, including Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan and Lebanon, see them as a bunch of baddies.

A survey of 21 countries released on June 27, 2012 by the United States-based Pew Research Center suggests that Pakistan is not only a universally disliked country but the Pakistanis themselves have learnt nothing from their history, continuing to support the very actors who are responsible for their country’s negative image.

It is a measure of Pakistan’s penchant for exporting terrorists, counterfeit currency and drugs that India has constructed a 2043 km long steel fence across its border with its wayward western neighbour. The floodlit fence is so bright it can be seen from space as a bright orange line snaking from the Arabian Sea to Kashmir.

Now Iran is building a 700-km steel and concrete security fence along its border with Pakistan “to prevent border crossing by terrorists and drug traffickers”. When complete it will make Pakistan the most fenced-in country in the world.

You get the picture. Pakistan is not exactly a popular tourist destination.

In four of the five predominantly Muslim nations covered by the American survey, over half give Pakistan negative ratings. Jordan (57 percent), Lebanon (56 percent), Tunisia (54 percent) and Egypt (53 percent) had an unfavourable opinion of Pakistan. The only exception is Turkey, where attitudes are divided (43 percent negative and 37 percent favourable).

In East Asia, 52 percent of Chinese see Pakistan unfavourably, as do 59 percent in Japan and 59 percent in India. The Chinese response is not surprising as Pakistan-trained Uighur Muslims have launched terror strikes in China. Japan, a nation historically distrustful of foreigners, decided not to take chances and deported more than 15,000 Pakistanis after 9/11.

Runaway military most loved

Every country has an army but the Pakistan Army has a country. The Pakistani military runs a $20 billion commercial empire that includes interests such as milk processing plants, bakeries, banks, cinemas, heavy industry and insurance. Plus a good chunk of the billions of dollars in American aid goes straight into the pockets of the generals.

This corrupt empire is walled off from civilians. Defence analyst Ayesha Siddiqa, author of Military Inc: Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy, says there is little accountability and widespread siphoning of funds. The Pakistani military operates a virtual apartheid where an increasingly poor civilian population faces discrimination at virtually every level of national life – from jobs to pensions.

Also, the Pakistani military has lost four wars against India. After each of these wars Pakistan lost territory and the generals their credibility. But bizarre as it sounds, this military is the most respected institution in the country. As many as 77 percent say the military has a good influence on the country, nearly the same percentage (79 percent) as last year. The Pakistanis are either very tolerant or very brainwashed.

Sure, the military’s ratings have slipped from a high of 86 percent in 2009, but all it takes is one border flare-up for the ratings to travel north. The generals always oblige.

The media comes next with a 68 percent rating, followed by religious leaders at 66 percent.

President Asif Ali Zardari receives the most negative reviews. Only 12 percent believe he has a good influence, while 84 percent dislike him. Attitudes about Zardari are particularly negative in Punjab (96 percent bad influence) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (95 percent).

Why is he so unpopular? Well, Zardari has done more than any previous leader to normalise trade and diplomatic relations with India. His mending fences approach lacks the customary anti-India sting.

Attitude towards militancy

Militant groups such as Al Qaeda and the Taliban have limited appeal among Pakistanis. Relatively few Pakistanis express a positive view of either Al Qaeda (13 percent) or the Taliban (13 percent). Attitudes toward groups affiliated with the Taliban fare no better in the eyes of the Pakistani public. Tehrik-i-Taliban, an umbrella organization of Taliban-linked groups in Pakistan, and the Afghan Taliban are viewed positively by only 17 percent and 14 percent of Pakistanis, respectively. The secretive Haqqani network, which is also associated with the Taliban movement, is viewed favourably by only 5 percent of Pakistanis.

The attitudes toward Lashkar-e-Taiba are somewhat more positive – 22 percent say they have a favourable opinion of this militant group. This is hardly surprising because the Lashkar mostly targets India.

How Pakistanis see India

When asked which is the greatest threat – India, the Taliban, or Al Qaeda – a clear majority named India. Roughly a quarter cited the Taliban and only 4 percent say Al-Qaeda. This is despite the fact that Al Qaeda blew up the Karachi naval base last year.

Only 22 percent of Pakistanis have a favourable view of India, although this is actually a slight improvement from 14 percent last year. Supporters of the two major opposition parties – former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) and cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) are much more likely to name India as the biggest danger (71 percent and 61 percent, respectively) than those that affiliate with Zardari’s governing Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP), where this view of India is held by 46 percent.

Pakistanis in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa regions are more likely to dislike India. For example, 84 percent in Punjab and 90 percent in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa see India as a serious threat, while 64 percent in Sindh and 61 percent in Baluchistan say the same.

This should alert liberal Indians who rush to the border to hold “candlelight vigils” for peace. Most Pakistanis are united by their hatred and fear of India – it is only a matter of degree; some hate more, others less.

Biting the hand that feeds

India does not get any aid from the United States and yet among all 21 nations Pew surveyed, Indians seemed most favourably disposed towards it. Only 12 percent said they had an unfavourable opinion of the United States.

On the other hand in Pakistan, which is heavily dependent on American cash and weapons, 80 percent had a negative opinion of America, with 74 percent regarding it as an enemy country. Around four-in-ten (38 percent) said US economic aid is having a mostly negative impact on Pakistan, while just 12 percent believed it is mostly positive.

Curiously, 40 percent said American military aid is having a mostly negative effect, while only 8 percent said it is largely positive. Pakistan’s military stockpile is largely American supplied. Do the Pakistanis believe their North Korean knockoffs will do a better job?

Be Pakistani, act Indian

One of the ironies of Pakistani life in the West is that they pose as Indians, the very people they hate so much. According to Asghar Choudhri, the chairman of Brooklyn’s Pakistani American Merchant Association, a lot of Pakistanis can’t get jobs after 9/11, and after the botched Times Square bombing, it’s become worse. “They are now pretending they are Indian so they can get a job,” he told a US wire service.

That is because Indians are among the highest educated and best paid ethnic groups, besides being highly integrated immigrants. Pakistanis, on the other hand, have been accused of honour killings, cousin marriages,child sex rackets, and terrorist activities in the very lands that gave them shelter.

From Ramzi Yousef, who bombed the World Trade Center in 1993 (eight years before Osama Bin Laden) and is now serving a 240-year prison sentence to Mir Aimal Kansi, who shot dead two CIA agents and was later executed by lethal injection, to Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square “Idiot Bomber”, there is a long list of Pakistanis who have left a trail of terror.

Terror on course

The Indian mask that many Pakistanis wear is to get around Western suspicions. Back home, it’s business as usual. Two incidents amply demonstrate that Pakistanis have learnt nothing about the dangers of flirting with terror. One was the widespread outrage across the country over Bin Laden’s killing by American commandos. The other was the unholy fracas over Kansi’s execution.

The day after a Virginia, United States, court handed the CIA shooter the death sentence, four Americans were shot dead on the streets of Pakistan. After his execution in 2002, Kansi’s funeral was attended by the entire civilian administration in his hometown Quetta, the local Pakistani Corps Commander, and the then Pakistani ambassador to the United States.

Thousands of mourners turned out as Quetta city shuttered down. Kansi’s coffin, draped in black cloth with verses from the Koran embroidered on it in gold, was carried on the shoulders of young men some 10 miles from the airport to his family’s home in Quetta.

In Islamabad, the capital city, lawyers and university students poured out on the streets in support of their newest ‘martyr’.

Veteran’s view

Veteran Indian writer Khushwant Singh is hardly the sort of person you would call anti-Pakistani. In fact, he’s been accused of “trenchant secularism” because he often backs the Muslim view against the Hindu-Sikh narrative. For decades, Singh’s house has been a watering hole for many of his Pakistani friends, who come to vent their frustrations. His mostly tabloid rants aren’t taken too seriously but he has a finger on the Pakistani pulse.

In November 2008, 10 Pakistani terrorists raided the Indian city of Mumbai, killing 166 people – mostly innocent civilians. How did the common Pakistani react when confronted with the fact that it was an operation planned and executed by their countrymen?

On the first anniversary of the attack here’s what Singh wrote in his column in the daily newspaper Hindustan Times: “To begin with, there was blank denial of any Pakistani being involved in the crime. This was tinged with apprehension that India may retaliate by carrying out similar operations in Pakistan and trigger off yet another mutually destructive war. When that fear proved baseless, it was replaced by a sense of achievement, a feeling of pride that their countrymen could plan and execute such a daring exploit with such finesse…Even the fact that among the innocent victims over 40 were Muslims was brushed aside. The sense of false pride in performing a foul deed still persists.”

This is a snapshot of Pakistani society where the arrow of time is travelling backwards, taking it into a spiral of medieval madness. Where the death of a terrorist merely means he will be instantly replaced by a hundred clones.

Is it any wonder that Paki is a four-letter word?

Yuri Dolgoruky strategic nuclear submarine

Russia’s nuclear ballistic missile submarine Yuri Dolgoruky, the first unit of the Borei class officially designated as Project 955, will be deployed with the Russian Navy in 2013.

Russian-Indian BrahMos supersonic cruise missle



India’s BrahMos supersonic missile has turned into a ‘super rocket’ with its latest technological addition that will enhance its strategic capabilities. The Indian BrahMos supersonic cruise missile has been augmented by the installation of the advanced satellite navigation systems from Russia’s Kh-555 and Kh-101 strategic long-range cruise missiles. The GPS-GLONASS technology has been added to the current Doppler-inertial platform.
This latest integration of the navigation systems from Kh-555 will lend the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile a sub-strategic capability above its normal tactical range. The latest integration will enable BrahMos to hit targets over 300-500 kilometres from sea, land and air launchers. It is also capable of being armed with a nuclear warhead.
According to BrahMos, the installation of the advanced navigation system is specifically configured and optimized for the new air-launched version of BrahMos. This new version of BrahMos will be used by India’s Russian-built Sukhoi Su-30MKI strike fighters and this lethal combination will extend India’s long-range strike capability.
With this latest development, BrahMos missile is advancing from a tactical strike one to a strategic one. The capabilities of the BrahMos will now be more lethal coupled with its vertical steep dive at supersonic speeds. India plans to deploy over 200 advanced Sukhoi Su-30 MKI strike aircraft by 2020 for the air launched version of BrahMos.
Earlier this week, the Indian Navy successfully test-fired a highly-maneuverable version of the 290-km range BrahMos supersonic cruise missile from a warship off the Goa coast. The missile, which was fired without a warhead, hit the target ship after performing intricate maneuvers. The weapon did not take a straight attack path and kept turning around before hitting the target and this capability will make it difficult for the enemy to locate the Indian warships during operations.

Friday

Peace with Pakistan: an idea whose time has passed


A leading Indian english language newspaper has chosen to begin 2010 by stirring up controversy. It has run a series of editorials advocating peace initiatives with Pakistan, despite the manifest unwillingness of Islamabad to punish the perpetrators of 26/11. What might have begun as a practical joke by the newspaper’s editorial staff has since acquired pretensions to seriousness.

The newspaper cites a dubious and unverifiable poll result, suggesting that most people in India and Pakistan strongly desire a resumption of peace talks between the two countries. Going by the reader response posted on the newspaper’s website, the poll was either poorly conducted or biased in its sampling. A very large number of Indians are in no hurry to forget Pakistani sponsorship of terrorism. Their reluctance to let bygones be bygones stems not from hostility towards Pakistan per se but rather, a natural instinct towards self-preservation.
It is no secret that even now; Pakistani terrorist groups are planning attacks in India on a scale that aims to surpass 26/11. One can be assured that if such an attack were to occur, Pakistani officials would first condemn it and then suggest that resolution of the Kashmir issue would prevent further attacks. There is a word for such double-edged statements: blackmail. The victim of wrongdoing is being made to feel that he is responsible for his own suffering, merely because he has failed to oblige the whims of the wrongdoer.
Ever since the 1993 Mumbai blasts, Pakistan has adopted a policy of killing Indian civilians to get what it previously failed to get through negotiations and war. From its perspective, Islamabad is being reasonable. It has offered the Indian government the option of surrender. Should India stand firm, Pakistan cannot be blamed for the hundreds more Indian lives that will be lost in terrorist attacks planned from its territory.
The fact that many Pakistanis attempt to rationalize this policy is understandable, if unfortunate. They are after all, captive to the propaganda of a rogue army that claims it is protecting them from an existentialist Indian threat. The same army did not hesitate to butcher three million Bengalis in 1971, conduct aerial bombing of Baluch nationalists in 1973, hang a democratically elected leader in 1979, support Sunni sectarian groups in terrorizing Shias after 1980 and topple civilian governments throughout the 1990s. Furthermore, the selective use of logic permits Pakistani intellectuals to advocate peace with India on one hand, while simultaneously asserting that there can be no compromise on Kashmir. Thus, while the ordinary people of Pakistan may want peace, it still has to be on the terms laid down by their army. Like hostages in a hijack situation, they suffer from the Stockholm Syndrome and believe in the rightness of their tormentors only because they have no choice. The people of Nazi Germany faced the same situation in the 1930s.
The Pakistani state today shares more in common with fascist dictatorships of yesteryears than with democratic India, yet Indian peace activists stress the similarity between the two peoples. In doing so, they fall prey to a common analytical failing known as mirror-imaging. Basically, what this means is that rather than make the intellectual effort of seeing the world from your enemy’s point of view, you merely assume that the enemy is no different from you. Whatever you would do is what the enemy can be expected to do. Conversely, anything that you would not do, the enemy would not do either. The weakness of this logic became apparent in 1999, when the Pakistan army unilaterally violated the Line of Control in Kargil, destroying the Lahore peace process initiated by India. Self-deception among the top Pakistan army brass had led them to believe that the aggression would be cost-free because ‘Indians have no stomach for a fight’. Hitler made a similar assumption in 1939, when he invaded Poland and triggered off World War II.
What are the similarities between India and Pakistan, which Indian peaceniks go on about? Other than ethnicity, food and to a lesser extent language, squat all. The two countries are on different political, cultural and economic trajectories. Since 1971, Pakistan has strived to reinvent itself as an Arab state, in order to draw the wider Islamic world into its fight against India. Wahabbi madrassas funded by Saudi petrodollars have metastasized across the country like a rampaging cancer. These madrassas stress the need for Pakistani society to regress back to the 7th century and the fundamentals of Islam (as interpreted by the Wahabbis only). They advocate medievalism over modernity. Liberal Sufi and Barelvi traditions are being replaced by religious orthodoxy that would be unrecognizable to anyone who lived in pre-partition India, when there was no Pakistani army and no Lashkar-e-Toiba. How can any peace process be durable unless Pakistani civil society first frees itself from these two terrorist groups (one in uniform, the other outside it)?
Economically, Pakistan has been a basket case since the mid 1990s. The country is dependent on foreign aid to make up for the financial deficits caused by its ever-expanding public sector i.e., the Pakistan army’s business empire. Land-grabbing by army officers is institutionalized in the form of grants awarded by generals to their favourite subordinates. A neo-colonial system of economic predation combined with a population explosion is pushing Pakistan back to the 18th century, while the Indian economy continues to liberalize and grow. Despite having a population seven times larger than its neighbour, India’s per capita income grew to exceed that of Pakistan in 2003 and the gap has since widened. From a purely business perspective, the argument for better relations with Pakistan simply does not make sense. Even the European Union is facing problems due to income disparities among its constituent states.
Why then, are some Indian journalists so keen to jump on the peace-making bandwagon, especially when Mumbai has eclipsed Kashmir as the ‘unresolved issue’ in Indo-Pak relations? Are they genuinely unable to differentiate between the tasks of reporting facts, formulating policy and providing light amusement? The ‘Aman ki Asha’ initiative by the Times of India and Jang media groups fails miserably on the first count, with its lack of empirical evidence and logical argument and resort to clich├ęs like ‘turning swords into ploughshares’. As regards influencing policy, flowery language is insufficient to dissuade Pakistan from supporting terrorist groups, as successive Indian prime ministers have learnt. All that the proposed peace initiative does is provide an example of the wordplay that appeasers engage in when they run out of arguments and have to keep talking.
Were it not for the insult which the authors of this initiative deliver to the memory of 70,000 Indians killed by Pak-sponsored terrorism in Punjab, Kashmir and elsewhere, their delusions would be laughable. Not only have they allowed themselves to be wined and dined into serving as ISI mouthpieces, but they also perniciously suggest that their views are shared by a majority of people. In the process, they forget that with each successive terrorist attack in India, a growing number of people have legitimate cause to hate Pakistan and all that it stands for. From the Akshardham Temple siege in 2002 to Mumbai in 2008, victims of the dead and injured lost any reason to support peace initiatives with a terrorist state. The same holds true for families of soldiers who died reclaiming the heights of Kargil. While harping about Pakistani hospitality, Indian peace activists could pause to consider the hospitality shown to Lt Saurav Kalia and his men for fifteen days in May 1999. Lest anyone argue that the actions of a few crazed jihadis do not represent the majority of Pakistanis, it must not be forgotten that their savagely mutilated bodies were returned to India by the Pakistan army, not Lashkar-e-Toiba.
There is a concerted effort on by interested third parties to create an impression that resumption of the peace process is ‘inevitable’. It is not. Even the most pacifist of Indian prime ministers have demonstrated a steely resolve on national security issues, such as V.P Singh in 1990 when he threatened to go to war if Pakistan intervened overtly in Kashmir. Similarly, in 1997 IK Gujral did not allow his dovish image to stop him from publicly shooting down a British attempt to mediate on Kashmir. Those who believe that New Delhi can be flattered or badgered into negotiating with a terrorist state only risk damaging their own relations with India. During the first few weeks of the Kargil war, there were the usual calls for restraint from Washington and London. These transformed into pressure on Pakistan only after India made clear that it would not negotiate under threat. Today, a similar message of firmness needs to be sent out.
Failure to do so would encourage the belief currently prevailing within the Pakistan army that its use of terrorists is a viable strategy. India has already made the biggest confidence building measure possible, by not retaliating to a single act of terrorism originating from Pakistan. ISI officials continue to plan terrorist attacks in India, knowing that they will not be targeted for assassination. Until November 2008, New Delhi remained on cordial terms with Islamabad, despite the urban bombing campaign by the so-called ‘Indian Mujahiddin’ (actually Lashkar-e-Toiba by another name). The Mumbai attacks broke this dynamic because Pakistan instead of reciprocating Indian goodwill, chose to ratchet up its proxy war. By sending Pakistani mercenaries to kill Indians under the cover of a non-existent terrorist group called ‘Deccan Mujahiddin’, the ISI overplayed its hand.
The fortuitous capture of Ajmal Kasab was a huge embarrassment for Pakistan. It initially attempted to bluff its way out by denying Kasab’s nationality, just as it had previously done with its soldiers in Kargil. In the first few hours after the attack, Indian media coverage only mentioned that the attackers had Pakistani links, without suggesting that they were state-sponsored. Islamabad responded to this restraint by claiming it was being made a scapegoat for India’s homegrown terrorist problem. Pakistani blame-shifting and obfuscation was what led to a hardening of Indian public opinion, not inflammatory media coverage. For some Indian journalists to now believe that their role in reporting the truth amounted to war-mongering, suggests a lack of professional integrity. They condemn jingoism while forgetting that excessive sentimentalism is equally dangerous.
Rather than preaching about the need for Indians and Pakistanis not to be held hostage by history, peace activists could first study that history in order to explain how it differs in any meaningful way from the present. Specifically, are they in any position to provide an assurance to their readers, on whose behalf they claim to speak, that Pakistan will convict those responsible for the Mumbai attacks? Instead of setting overly ambitious goals of freeing two countries from hatred, the Indian and Pakistani media could first combine forces to free 54 Indian Prisoners of War, being illegally held captive by Pakistan. If, as the initiators of the ‘Aman ki Asha’ farce claim, they are motivated by humanitarian considerations, they can set up forums for common people in both countries to denounce Lashkar-e-Toiba and its supporters. Only then will they command any credibility as representatives of popular opinion.
Other initiatives could include asking the Pakistani government to shut down terrorist training camps, extradite Dawood Ibrahim, prosecute Hafeez Saeed, stop blocking Indian attempts to join the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) and stop ganging up with China to thwart India’s bid for a UN Security Council seat. Forward movement by Islamabad in even one of these areas would constitute a solid foundation for re-starting peace talks and would be more than reciprocated by India. Absence of any progress on the other hand, would demonstrate that the Pakistani desire for good relations extends only to cultivating Indian opinion-makers through fine food and paid holidays.
Evidence of such intellectual subversion already exists, in the form of arguments that a ’stable and prosperous Pakistan is in India’s interest’. Which Pakistan are these people talking about? The one that colonized Afghanistan in the 1990s while ostensibly seeking strategic depth and then further trying to extend its influence into Central Asia or the one that regularly diverts foreign aid money towards building up its India-centric war machine, or the one that survives on a narco-trafficking industry whose annual turnover equals 25 percent of the nation’s own GDP? Anyone who believes that a strong Pakistan would be a responsible state needs to read Michael Scheuer’s book Imperial Hubris. Scheuer, a former CIA analyst, describes the period 2000-2001 as representing a ‘golden moment’ for the Pakistani military elite. India was on the defensive in Kashmir and Afghanistan was firmly under the control of the Taliban. A quick review of Indian Home Ministry statistics for these years would reveal how many Indians died in terrorist attacks by Pakistan-based groups during the ‘golden moment’.
Rather than emulate the condescending arrogance of Western writers, who insist on bracketing India with Pakistan, would-be peaceniks should first come to terms with reality. They equate India with Pakistan as a victim of terrorism, without regard for the fact that Pakistan is a victim of its own terrorist-sponsoring policy, while India is a victim of proxy warfare. The two situations are not comparable on any level. Making any further peace overtures to Pakistan, without meaningful progress on the Mumbai investigations, would be tantamount to political suicide for whichever party tried it. Subversive propaganda such as ‘Aman ki Asha’ would not change the facts of the situation, only the way policymakers perceive them, to their own detriment.
is a strategic affairs analyst at a leading think-tank, based in Western Europe









Thursday

Pakistan Problem Solution


Dr Amarjit Singh
Dr. Amarjit Singh is a professor at the University of Hawaii.

Risat-1 'Spy Satellite' Launched


In 2009, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had launched the RISAT-2, a spy satellite acquired from Israel for $110 million. In the last week of April this year, ISRO successfully launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, its first indigenously produced “spy satellite” RISAT-1, aboard the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) C19. It inserted the 1,858-kg radar imaging satellite into a polar circular orbit at an altitude of 480 kilometres and an orbital inclination of 97.552 degrees. The mission was proclaimed to be a grand success. RISAT-1 has day and night capability and can see through cloud cover or any other atmospheric obscurity. Orbiting the Earth 14 times a day, it will give India continuous surveillance capability. Meant primarily for a number of civilian applications, the all-weather surveillance tool can also function as a “spy satellite”. RISAT-1 carries a C-band Synthetic Aperture Radar operating in a multi-polarisation and multi-resolution mode and can provide images with coarse, fine and high spatial resolutions of about one metre. It has a mission life of five years.
Here are the top 10 facts on RISAT-1:

1. Weighing at 1858 Kg, RISAT-1 is the heaviest satellite ever launched by India.
 
2. It was powered by a 321 tonne rocket, the most powerful Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).
 

3. This is the third time that ISRO used a PSLV-XL (Extra Large) rocket. It was first used in October 2008 to put Chandrayaan-1 in orbit and again in July 2011 during the communication satellite GSAT-12 launch.

4. The indigenously made satellite has day and night viewing capacity and will not be blinded by cloud cover. 
 
5. RISAT-1 will help in crop monitoring and flood forecasting. It will give India the ability for continuous surveillance.

6. The satellite carries a C-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) payload, operating in a multi-polarisation and multi-resolution mode to provide images with coarse, fine and high spatial resolutions. It has a best resolution of up to 1 m

7. It has taken ISRO 10 years to make this sophisticated satellite. So far PSLV has consecutive 19 successful launches. 
 
8. The total cost of mission is about 
Rs. 500 crores. While the cost of the rocket is about Rs. 120 crores, the satellite costs around Rs. 380 crores. However, none of them are insured.
 
9. The project Director N Valarmathi, is the first woman to head a remote sensing satellite project, and the second to be the satellite project director at ISRO.
 
10. Apart from RISAT-1, India already has another spy satellite RISAT-2 acquired from Israel which was launched in 2009.

The indigenously built RISAT-1, with a life span of five years, will be used for disaster prediction and agriculture forestry. The high resolution pictures and microwave imaging from RISAT-1 could also be used for defence purposes as it can look through the clouds and fog.

At 5.47 a.m., the rocket - Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle C19 (PSLV-C19) - standing 44.5 metres tall and weighing 321 tonnes and with a one-way ticket, hurtled towards the skies ferrying the 1,858 kg RISAT-1 after unshackling itself from launch pad No.1.

The ISRO-made RISAT-1 is the heaviest luggage so far ferried by a PSLV since 1993.

At around 17 minutes into the flight, PSLV-C19 delivered RISAT-1 into a polar circular orbit at an altitude of 480 km and an orbital inclination of 97.552 degrees.

ISRO, with its network of ground stations, monitored its health.

"PSLV-C19 mission is a grand success. This is the 20th successive successful flight of PSLV. India's first radar imaging satellite was injected precisely into orbit," ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishnan said after the launch. "With this launch India joins a select group of nations like the US, Canada, Europe and others to have such an advanced technology. It is a 30 year effort," he added.

"With RISAT-1 we can now forecast Kharif season," Dr Radhakrishnan said.

According to satellite director N. Valarmathi, RISAT-1 can take images in all weather conditions and during day and night. "The satellite has high storage device and other several unique features," she added.

For ISRO, this is the first launch this fiscal as well as in the calendar year.

According to Dr Radhakrishnan, the Indian space agency is planning couple of more satellite launches - communication and remote sensing satellites - this year. He said the space agency would launch a communication satellite weighing 3.5 tonne through the Ariane rocket from French Guiana and two PSLV missions were scheduled for later this year. ISRO will also send SARAL satellite - an Indo-French initiative - using its PSLV rocket from Sriharikota. There will also be the launch of first Indian regional navigational satellite this fiscal.

Speaking about the status of the space agency's heavy rocket - Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) - that can carry communication satellites, Dr Radhakrishnan said the advanced rocket GSLV Mark III has crossed several milestones and an experimental flight will be made in a year from now.

He said the experimental flight will be to test the rocket systems in the atmospheric flight phase.

The Indian made cryogenic engine is also undergoing several tests.

Meanwhile, the solar panes of RISAT-1 were deployed successfully soon after it was injected into the orbit.

According to Dr Radhakrishan, in three days time the satellite will be taken up to its intended orbit at an altitude of 536 km by firing the on-board motors.

Remote sensing satellites send back pictures and other data for use. India has the largest constellation of remote sensing satellites in the world providing imagery in a variety of spatial resolutions, from more than a metre ranging up to 500 metres, and is a major player in vending such data in the global market.

With 11 remote sensing/earth observation satellites orbiting in the space, India is a world leader in the remote sensing data market. The 11 satellites are TES, Resourcesat-1, Cartosat-1, 2, 2A and 2B, IMS-1, Risat-2, Oceansat-2, Resourcesat-2 and Megha-Tropiques.

RISAT-1's synthetic aperture radar (SAR) can acquire data in C-band and would orbit the earth 14 times a day.

In 2009, ISRO had launched 300 kilogram Risat-2 with an Israeli-built radar enabling earth observation in all weather, day and night conditions.

With Thursday's launch the PSLV rocket has launched successfully 53 satellites out of 54 it carried - majorly remote sensing/earth observation satellites both Indian and foreign - and has been a major revenue earner for ISRO.

The one failure happened in 1993 when the satellite was not able reach the orbit.

The rocket that delivered RISAT-1 in the space is ISRO's four stage PSLV's upgraded variant called PSLV-XL.

The letters XL stand for extra-large as the six strap-on motors hugging the rocket at the bottom can carry 12 tonnes of solid fuel as against the base version that has a fuel capacity of nine tonnes.

The PSLV's four stages are fuelled with solid and liquid propellants. The first and third stages are fuelled by solid fuel, while the second and fourth stages are powered by liquid fuel.

ISRO had used the PSLV-XL variant for its Chandrayaan-1 moon mission in 2008 and for launching the GSAT-12 communications satellite in 2011.