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EDITORIALS

End of Zarqawi
But crushing terrorism will take a lot more

IN their continuing war on terrorism, the US-led forces have rarely been able to lay their hands on the big boys. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi whom they killed on Thursday in an air raid was a prize catch with an award of $ 25 million on his head, the same as that on Osama bin Laden, who used to describe him as the “prince of Al-Qaida” in Iraq.

Squeeze
Inflation fears lead to rate hike

BANKERS may declare themselves surprised at the “sudden” rate hikes by the Reserve Bank of India, but the central bank had given ample hints of such a measure the last time that credit policy was revised, in April. 


 

 

EARLIER STORIES

Poor Mulayam
June 9, 2006
Complicating “Saral”
June 8, 2006
Costlier petrol
June 7, 2006
Make it uniform
June 6, 2006
Trust the doctor
June 5, 2006
Demilitarisation of Siachen
June 4, 2006
Boat ride to death
June 3, 2006
Strike and after
June 2, 2006
Returned to the sender
June 1, 2006
Court’s posers
May 31, 2006


Kick inertia
And aspire for the World Cup

INDIA, too, is witness to the football fever gripping the world every four years. As the World Cup 2006 unfolds in Germany, there is considerable enthusiasm from Kanyakumari to Kashmir and Kolkata to Kandla. 
ARTICLE

Kashmir: The internal question
Regional identities have to be recognised
by Balraj Puri

THE Prime Minister’s suggestions at the second roundtable conference regarding sharing of power among the regions of Jammu and Kashmir was perhaps the most significant for internal reform in the state. For, regional tensions have been the main cause of friction in the Centre-State relations and many a complication in the problem of Kashmir.


MIDDLE

Cleaned dry
by Trilochan Singh Trewn

THIS marriage at Yamunanagar was to be held within two days of our arrival there from Mumbai. My wife’s silk suits needed urgent drycleaning.


OPED

Even after Al-Zarqawi, no clear path in weary Iraq
by Ellen Knickmeyer

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Analysts and military spokesmen have said that the death of insurgent leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, killed when two 500-pound bombs obliterated his hideout north of Baghdad, will not extinguish the sectarian conflict that he helped foment and that is now claiming many more lives in Iraq than his campaign of beheadings and bombings.

Getting bin Laden is another story
by James Rupert
I
SLAMABAD, Pakistan — So what about killing bin Laden?
Eliminating militant icons such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi or his role model, Osama bin Laden, may make for gripping TV drama and a brief sense of triumph in the West. But, as U.S. officials repeated Thursday after news of al-Zarqawi’s death, it does not end the violence. And scholars of Islamic militancy stress that decapitating the movements does not address the core problems that radicalize young Muslims.

Pakistan doing better on both tanks and fighters
by Abhijit Bhattacharyya

ALMOST silently and invisibly, beyond the probing gaze of Indians, Pakistan appears to have attained an unassailable status in indigenous arms production, especially in tanks and combat aircraft. Without doubt, the role and contribution of the Chinese arms industry in this development is significant.


From the pages of

 
 REFLECTIONS

 

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End of Zarqawi
But crushing terrorism will take a lot more

IN their continuing war on terrorism, the US-led forces have rarely been able to lay their hands on the big boys. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi whom they killed on Thursday in an air raid was a prize catch with an award of $ 25 million on his head, the same as that on Osama bin Laden, who used to describe him as the “prince of Al-Qaida” in Iraq. Zarqawi, the head of Al-Qaida in Iraq, was known for his persistent brutality. To that extent, his death is a big psychological victory, which may do a lot for President Bush’s dipping popularity graph also. But it will be too presumptuous to expect it to translate into a decline in terrorism. For one thing, terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda are not like a regular army where a lot depends on the top brass. These function as small modules led by fanatic men who enjoy a fair amount of autonomy, which allows them to exist independent of each other. Two, there is no dearth of equally extremist leaders always eager to step into the shoes of a fallen terrorist. Then there is also the question of backlash.

The real dent in the terrorism armour can be made only by fighting the war unitedly. Only if the whole world gives the killers an unequivocal message that they are unwelcome everywhere, would they be on the run. Right now, there are several countries out to give them safe sanctuary for their own selfish and limited ends.

Some backers of terrorism are easily identifiable. Pakistan happens to be one of them. Ironically, it claims to be on the side of the fighters against terror. That has not stopped it from supporting the Taliban or exporting terror to India. Worse, the US has at times acquiesced in such duplicity. Till such condoning of violence by one’s allies is given up, the war against terror will remain a non-starter. Terrorism is terrorism, whosoever the perpetrator is. It cannot be justified by covering it in the cloak of a legitimate fight for rights. The US needs to put enough pressure on Pakistan to make it suppress all terrorist mischief emanating from its soil.

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Squeeze
Inflation fears lead to rate hike

BANKERS may declare themselves surprised at the “sudden” rate hikes by the Reserve Bank of India, but the central bank had given ample hints of such a measure the last time that credit policy was revised, in April. It had left interest rates untouched then, but it has now raised the repo and the reverse repo rates by 0.25 per cent, pegging them at 6.75 and 5.75 per cent, respectively. These rates apply to funds that the RBI borrows and lends to banks, and will have a direct effect on the various interest rates that ultimately affect the common man. While banks can now offer higher deposit rates, it also means that the cost of funds will go up, resulting in costlier personal and home loans. A large private sector bank has already increased its rates by 0.5 per cent.

The RBI has ostensibly taken this step to rein in rising inflation. That prices have been going up on several key indicators is clear, and with the recent steep hikes in petrol and diesel, the pinch can only get harder. Higher interest rates mop up excess liquidity — read money supply — in the market and thus help to keep prices down. In fact, in April, the bank had taken steps to mitigate overheating in two areas — equity and real estate — by increasing general provisioning requirements on bank loans for these sectors. The equity story today is a sorry one. Rising asset prices, however, including commercial and residential real estate, do need to be curbed.

But like the Sensex downturn itself, the rise in interest rates can also be linked to global trends. Concerns about US Federal Reserve rate hikes were a key trigger in the downturn of various Asian markets, along with a metals meltdown. In April itself, the RBI had warned that India could not keep itself out of a general tightening of monetary policy worldwide. To the extent that the rate hikes will control inflation and keep runaway asset prices down, they will have a beneficial effect on the economy. But the loan party has begun to wind down.

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Kick inertia
And aspire for the World Cup

INDIA, too, is witness to the football fever gripping the world every four years. As the World Cup 2006 unfolds in Germany, there is considerable enthusiasm from Kanyakumari to Kashmir and Kolkata to Kandla. It is also an occasion to ponder over why the second most populous nation is nowhere on the world football scene. With a ranking of 118, it has to go a long, long way to participate in the World Cup, let alone aspire to win the most coveted cup. Pitifully enough, there is no earnest desire, no earnest attempt even to emerge as an Asian football power. A victory at the Asian Games and participation in the Olympics remain at the moment unattainable dreams for a nation of over one billion people.

The irony is the situation has not always been that bad. There was a time when India nearly won the bronze in the Olympics. Since then, the situation has been going from bad to worse. That Olympians P.K. Banerjee and Chuni Goswami still remain football icons while I.V. Vijayan is known more for his acting skills is a sad commentary on the state of affairs. Tournaments like the Santosh Trophy are no longer what it used to be – prestigious events for states and services. Initiatives like the Tata’s of setting up a football academy in Jamshedpur remain small islands in the vast desert of Indian football. They need to be replicated in the hundreds to find a dozen boys who can master the most manly and riveting game and earn the nation a dignified position among the football-playing nations.

As a prelude, a lot needs to be done at the village, district, state and national levels to find talent and nurture them. Except for a club player in West Bengal, football as a career is not at all lucrative. State and private agencies need to promote football as they do in the case of cricket. Football demands exacting standards of stamina from the players which can be met only by providing them the best of facilities. All this is within the means of an economically growing India provided government, industry and individuals give the necessary patronage to football. In such an event, we need not remain just cheerleaders but active participants in the World Cup.

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Thought for the day

A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.

— William James

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Kashmir: The internal question
Regional identities have to be recognised

by Balraj Puri

THE Prime Minister’s suggestions at the second roundtable conference regarding sharing of power among the regions of Jammu and Kashmir was perhaps the most significant for internal reform in the state. For, regional tensions have been the main cause of friction in the Centre-State relations and many a complication in the problem of Kashmir.

Regional identities are, in fact, the greatest secularising influence on the politics of the state. They are cementing factors among various religions within each region. It was, after all, the appeal of Kashmiri identity that countered the appeal of the Muslim League and Pakistan in 1947 and attracted it towards a secular India.

Conscious of this fact I pleaded for recognition of regional identities with Nehru. In my meeting with him on April 14, 1952, I reminded him in a written note that “the greatest problem of the state is to maintain cordial relations between its constituent units”.

Again on the eve of the Nehru-Abdullah agreement on Centre-State relations in July 1952, called the Delhi Agreement, I reiterated my demand for regional autonomy as it was the logical corollary of autonomy of the state within India. Both agreed to my suggestion . The Prime Minister announced at a press conference on July 24, 1952, in the presence of Abdullah that “the state government was considering regional autonomies within the large state.” Sheikh Abdullah added that “the constitution of the state, when completed will give regional autonomy to Jammu and Ladakh.”

Unfortunately, the Nehru-Abdullah agreement on Centre-State and state regional relations was opposed by the Bhartiya Jana Sangh, the Hindu Maha Sabha and Ram Rajya Parishad and their ideological protege Jammu Praja Parishad which neither recognised regional identities nor a distinct identity of Kashmir. They wanted all of them to be merged with Indian identity. They started an agitation for abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which guaranteed autonomy of the state within India and withdrawal of commitment to regional autonomy in November 1952. Dr S.P. Mukerjee, founder president of the Bhartiya Jana Sangh, himself led the agitation. But he was arrested on entering the state.

In a long Nehru-Mukerjee-Abdullah correspondence, stretching over several months, several aspects of the situation were discussed. In a sudden climb down, Mukerjee offered in his letter on February 17, 1953, to withdraw the ongoing agitation in Jammu and accept the Delhi Agreement “if the principle of autonomy would apply to Jammu as a whole and of course also to Ladakh and Kashmir.” This was precisely the assurance that I got from Nehru and Abdullah in July 1952. Nehru reminded Mukerjee of this agreement and advised him to withdraw the agitation unconditionally and refused to give him any face saving device.

However, on the death of Mukerjee in Srinagar jail, Nehru appealed to the Praja Parishad to withdraw their agitation. He got its leaders released and invited them for talks; which concluded on the basis of Mukerjee’s offer.

His death added other complication. There were demonstrations by Hindu parties in Jammu and some towns of north India demanding “qatil Abdullah ko phansi do” (hang Abdullah, the murderer). This caused a great provocation among Kashmiri Muslims who thought that they had fought against Pakistan, a Muslim country, to join India and now their leader was called a murderer. This was one of the factors that alienated Abdullah from India who sought options other than India, of course encouraged by some foreign powers. This led to his dismissal from power and long detention. Thus first emotional rupture between Kashmir and the rest of India was caused by what may be caused Jammu problem.

In another worse turn in the situation, the Jana Sangh wriggled out of the commitment of Mukerjee and reverted to its stand of opposition to the autonomy of the state and of regional autonomy which added further complications to the Kashmir problem.

In October 1968, Sheikh Abdullah, as leader of the Plebiscite Front convened J&K State People’s Convention to discuss the future of the state. It was inaugurated by Jayaprakash Narayan. The Sheikh accepted my plea to discuss the future of regions before discussing the future of the state. I was the only member from the Jammu region on the steering committee of the convention. I was asked to draft an internal constitution of the state which I did. It pleaded for a five-tier constitutional setup for the state viz at state, regions, districts, blocks and Panchayats.

Apart from regional autonomy, the formula envisaged further devolution of power to the lower tiers. The draft constitution was unanimously accepted by delegates of the convention which was the most representative political gathering of Kashmir valley, including apart from the Plebiscite Front, Mirwaiz Farooq’s Awami Action Committee, Jamat-e-Islami, GM Karra’s Political Conference and stalwarts like Maulana Mohd Saeed Mussoodi, Bakshi Ghulam Mohd, PN Bazaz and Shamim Ahmad Shamim.

The Praja Parishad and its patron Jana Sangh rejected the draft constitution as it would strengthen disintegrating forces.

Another exercise in defining the concept of regional autonomy was made when the state government appointed Regional Autonomy Committee headed by me. After studying various experiments in India and abroad and every section of population of the state I had discussions with top experts of international law and social scientists of the country. The draft report more precisely defined powers at various tiers of the administration. It also provided for safeguarding interests of every ethnic identity of the state and prescribed an eight-point formula for allocation of funds at various levels. The eight points were indicators of backwardness of the area.

None of my exercises may be taken as a final word on the subject but could be a basis for a further discussion. The least that can be done is to decentralise power on the pattern of panchayati raj system, envisaged in 73rd amendment to the Indian Constitution. Too much centralisation in a diverse state like J&K is a sure way to generate tensions which seek various undesirable outlets in different regions of the state.

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Cleaned dry
by Trilochan Singh Trewn

THIS marriage at Yamunanagar was to be held within two days of our arrival there from Mumbai. My wife’s silk suits needed urgent drycleaning.

The Model Town area close to the railways station was developing fast. New shops were coming up on the wide road leading from the railway station to Jagadhari. We were residing close by.

Wife’s younger brother, a lieutenant in the army named Arjun, had also come. He was assigned the task of finding a suitable laundry shop in the emerging town.

He was impressed when he entered the new building with a large glass room displaying a large new laundry machine. Arjun looked around and found some more orders being executed with no likelihood of poor service.

Receipts of advance payment at urgent rates were handed over to Arjun. Suits were to be delivered after 48 hours to meet the marriage date.

Arjun was there on the appointed day as the laundry door opened. He handed over the receipt to the manager. One could see signs of uneasiness on the face of the manager. After a while he, in a faltering tone, regretted to Arjun that due to lack of electrical supply, cleaning was delayed and he would positively make suits ready before 5 pm.

Arjun was again there sharp in time. This time the manager again apologised for delay, but produced the two freshly pressed but “wet” suits.

Arjun reluctantly accepted the packet but tried to look around the premises. As he entered the work room strong chemical smell greeted him. It was from two buckets lying on the floor.

There were no signs of any cleaning petrol anywhere. Except for two hand brushes there was no other cleaning material in the room. Powerful blowers were there to quick-dry clothes. There was no trace of any items used for traditional drycleaning facilities.

Arjun’s curiosity attracted him towards the impressive new laundry machine. He was quick to notice that there was no electrical connection to the machine yet. He understood the game, glanced sternly at the manager, but said nothing.

He found an assistant manager known to him still working in the bank branch next door and brought him to the laundry. The manager rebuked the laundry boss and asked him to apologise and return the amount received with penalty for non-delivery. The laundry manager with folded hands submitted that he had delivered the two “drycleaned” suits which were already accepted. Arjun was in a hurry due to the wedding and rushed home.

Reaching home, the suit packet was opened. Each salwar and kameez was found two inches short in length due to shrinkage.

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Even after Al-Zarqawi, no clear path in weary Iraq
by Ellen Knickmeyer

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Analysts and military spokesmen have said that the death of insurgent leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, killed when two 500-pound bombs obliterated his hideout north of Baghdad, will not extinguish the sectarian conflict that he helped foment and that is now claiming many more lives in Iraq than his campaign of beheadings and bombings.
An Iraqi soldier showing the victory sign after the lethal raid on al-Qaida leader al-Zarqawi’s hideout near Baquba in Iraq.
An Iraqi soldier showing the victory sign after the lethal raid on al-Qaida leader al-Zarqawi’s hideout near Baquba in Iraq. — Reuters

The slaying of the Jordanian-born guerrilla leader eliminated the biggest advocate of the extreme violence against civilians that has made the Iraq war so grisly. Al- Zarqawi and his radical Sunni Arab group, al-Qaida in Iraq, carried out suicide attacks that could kill 100 or more passersby in a flash of light and videotaped the last gasps of foreign hostages being decapitated.

But there are other crucial questions about whether other foreign fighters will show themselves equally eager to slaughter civilians, whether the Sunni insurgency will split into fragments or broaden its base and, above all, whether the Shiite-Sunni killing that al-Zarqawi’s attacks helped unleash can be reined in.

“The immediate aftermath of this will probably be an upsurge of violence” as Sunni insurgents hurry to show that al-Zarqawi’s killing has not broken the resistance, said Michael Clarke, an expert on terrorism at the International Policy Institute of King’s College London.

“In the medium term, in the next month or two, it will probably help to downgrade sectarianism,” Clarke said by telephone. “But the dynamic of sectarian violence is probably past the point of no return.’’

“We’re looking for an increase in insurgent activity as each wannabe-Zarqawi vies for status as the baddest boy on the block,” an Army officer in Baqubah, near the scene of the lethal airstrike, said in an e-mail.

Attacks on Shiite Muslim civilians and on Iraq’s largely Shiite security forces, often carried out by al-Qaida in Iraq, fueled violence between Sunnis and Shiites for three years, although no group asserted responsibility for the attack that pushed the bloodletting to its current high level – the Feb. 22 bombing of a Shiite shrine in Samarra. Thousands of civilians have died in Baghdad alone since then.

The U.S. military focused on the potential impact of al-Zarqawi’s killing on the Sunni insurgency. Without al-Zarqawi, military officials contended, the insurgency lacks its main fund-raiser and figurehead. “He’s been really at the forefront in terms of being able to recruit and bring in foreign fighters, so this definitely will disrupt the effort,” said one military official familiar with the hunt for al-Zarqawi.

“No one behind him had the kind of charisma and operational intellect that he brought to the table,” the official said. “Our hope is no one can step in, and you end up with fragmentation and perhaps dissension among his followers.”

Critics of the U.S. military’s campaign in Iraq have accused American commanders of making their own use of al-Zarqawi, exaggerating the foreigner’s importance to suggest that the insurgency has been thrust upon Iraqi Sunnis more than it has been led by them.

Almost as soon as American officials declared al-Zarqawi dead on Thursday, they pointed to a foreigner as the man they thought likely to take his place.

Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, a U.S. military spokesman, identified the man as Abu al-Masri, an Egyptian and a veteran of the Afghan conflicts. Masri appeared to have come to Iraq in 2002, probably helped found the first Baghdad cell of al-Qaida in Iraq and was involved in bombmaking, Caldwell told reporters at a Baghdad news conference.

“But the key thing that we realize is he’s not an Iraqi,” Caldwell said. “You know, he’s from a different country, he’s come into Iraq and he’s been out killing innocent Iraqi civilians. He’s not the kind of person that the government of Iraq, the Iraqi people themselves nor the coalition forces care to have existing in this country.”

But Masri has no public profile. Ordinary Iraqis and international experts said they knew little about the Egyptian put forward by the Americans as al-Zarqawi’s heir apparent. And if U.S. commanders were quick to put a new foreign face on the insurgency, leaders of al-Qaida in Iraq were equally quick to insist that the new face was an Iraqi one.

A statement posted on Web sites and in mosques in the heavily insurgent western city of Ramadi declared that a Baghdad man — Abdullah ibn Rasheed al-Baghdadi — was the head of a recently formed umbrella group of Iraqi insurgent organizations that includes al-Qaida in Iraq.

The statement was issued in the name of Abu Abdul Rahman al-Iraqi, the nom de guerre of an Iraqi identified as a former army general. Abdul Rahman is said to have been behind some of al-Qaida in Iraq’s comparatively rare military-style attacks, including a multi-pronged raid on Abu Ghraib prison last year.

“We are Jihadists in the cause of God, not of Abu Musab or any other,” the statement declared. “We pledge to Sheik Osama bin Laden, our emir, that he shall see from the Qaida organization during the coming days longer breath, more strength and further scourging of Americans.” Abdul Rahman has been cited as al-Zarqawi’s deputy and possible successor since last year.

Al-Zarqawi himself is considered to have fallen out of favor with al-Qaida as a whole during that time, allegedly because of his slowness to declare fealty to bin Laden and because al-Qaida leaders saw that the beheadings and wholesale slaughter of civilians by al-Zarqawi’s group revolted supporters instead of rallying them.

“The man was a burden on al-Qaida,” said Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper and a noted Palestinian observer of international militant groups.

“I believe personally that President Bush unintentionally gave al-Qaida a huge reward in getting rid of Zarqawi,” Atwan said by telephone from London. “He was an unmanageable bully who forced himself as a leader of al-Qaida in Iraq.”

Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaida’s founding leaders, are likely to try to put in place a leader “they have more operational control of” and who will take fewer personal risks, according to a longtime participant in the U.S. military hunt for al-Zarqawi.

“To them, this day serves two purposes,” the participant said. “They’ve got their martyr, and they can put one of their guys in who they’ve been grooming, who is not running around playing master and commander on the battlefield but is going with the party line, and that is the danger.”

Observers held out the possibility that with the death of al-Zarqawi, whose insistence on targeting Shiite civilians rather than military targets caused a rift with al-Qaida leaders, the insurgency might focus more on attacking U.S. and Iraqi security forces.

— Staff writers Thomas E. Ricks, Josh White, Ann Scott Tyson and Barton Gellman in Washington and Washington Post Staff in Iraq contributed to this report.

— By arrangement with La Times-Washington Post

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Getting bin Laden is another story
by James Rupert 

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — So what about killing bin Laden?

Eliminating militant icons such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi or his role model, Osama bin Laden, may make for gripping TV drama and a brief sense of triumph in the West. But, as U.S. officials repeated Thursday after news of al-Zarqawi’s death, it does not end the violence. And scholars of Islamic militancy stress that decapitating the movements does not address the core problems that radicalize young Muslims.

And unlike al-Zarqawi, bin Laden is not believed to directly command fighters or plan attacks. His original al-Qaida network has been largely destroyed and replaced by a younger, broader movement.

Still, analyst Peter Bergen, author of “The Bin Laden I Know,” says capturing or killing bin Laden is important if only to remove a source of inspiration and strategic direction for Islamic extremist movements.

There is little to suggest that U.S. forces and their allies are any closer to catching bin Laden and his deputy in the old al-Qaida structure, Ayman al-Zawahiri, who are believed to be hiding and moving in either Pakistan or neighboring Afghanistan.

It was not immediately clear whether al-Zarqawi’s revealing half-hour video last month offered any clues that helped intelligence agencies track him down. But with that recording, clearly meant to boost his stature in the militant world, al-Zarqawi took risks that bin Laden and al-Zawahiri avoid in their more sterile video and audio messages.

Analysts such as Fawaz Gerges, a Middle Eastern studies professor at Sarah Lawrence College in New York, noted last month that al-Zarqawi’s environment was growing more hazardous because of divisions in the Sunni Arab section of Iraq where he operated.

But if anything, the environment providing bin Laden’s cover may be improving. In the past six months, his Taliban allies have consolidated control over a large swath of the border area, called Waziristan, and have raised a powerful new challenge to the U.S. and NATO forces in southern Afghanistan.

Also, U.S. forces cannot operate easily or openly on the Pakistani side, especially since January, when a U.S. air strike aimed at al-Zawahiri instead killed at least 17 Pakistani civilians.

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Pakistan doing better on both tanks and fighters
by Abhijit Bhattacharyya

ALMOST silently and invisibly, beyond the probing gaze of Indians, Pakistan appears to have attained an unassailable status in indigenous arms production, especially in tanks and combat aircraft. Without doubt, the role and contribution of the Chinese arms industry in this development is significant.

A look at Pakistan’s new main battle tank (MBT), going by Jane’s armour and artillery 2005-06, would show that shortly after the death of General Zia-ul-Haq on 17th August 1988, Pakistan announced her intention to manufacture a new MBT-2000 with the assistance of China at the Heavy Industries, Taxila. The project was approved and the contract signed in 1990 with China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO). It was not meant for a new MBT from scratch. Rather, it was planned to produce MBT-2000 with 45% of its components taken from the existing vehicles.

The result was the Al-Khalid (MBT 2000) with a three man crew – a 48 ton machine consisting of one 125 mm main gun (with 39 rounds of ammunition), one 7.62 mm coaxial machinegun (4000 rounds) and one 12.7 anti-aircraft gun (1000 rounds).

In comparison, the Indian manufactured Arjun MBT weighs 58.5 tons with a 4 man crew operating a 120 mm gun (39 rounds), one 7.62 coaxial machine gun (3000 rounds) and an anti-craft machine gun of 12.7 mm (1000 rounds). Interestingly, the Chinese assisted, Pakistani built MBT also appears to be superior (at least on paper) in three more categories - size and shape of the vehicle, power-to-weight-ratio and the ability to cross the trench hurdle. The Indian Arjun MBT only scores marginally over range (450 km to Pakistan’s 430 km), speed (72 kmph to Al-Khalid’s 70 KMPH) and clearing vertical obstacles (0.90 meter to Pakistan’s 0.85 meter).

A very significant factor making a difference between success and failure in tank warfare could be the shape and size of the armoured vehicle. Bigger may not necessarily be either better or an advantage. As has seen in the past, the bigger the tank, the easier it is to be targeted, notwithstanding its armour and defensive mechanisms. Tank warfare essentially consists of the “first sight, first shot” formula, provided the enemy is within the range of one’s weapon system.

Seen in this light, the Indian MBT is heavier and bulkier. The Pakistani Al-Khalid will continue to be virtually “at par” with Arjun, with a superior power-to-weight ratio at 25.08 horse power per ton to Arjun’s 23.93 horse power per ton.

The Sino-Pak aircraft journey began from 1988 with the Chinese made J-7 multirole fighter (which originated from the MiG-21 licensed manufacture in China) export to Islamabad. The latest and the best of the Sino-Pakistani air venture today is the attack fighter JF-17 Thunder which was launched in 1991 following cancellation of US participation in development of “Chengdu Super-7” fighter aircraft of Chinese origin.

Reportedly, the Pakistani requirement of this “attack fighter” stands close to 200 aircraft. In fact a broad hint of the aircraft’s deployment could be had from Jane’s which informs that “Pakistan received 12 aircraft” in 2004 itself for familiarization training.

Fighters apart, the Sino-Pak joint venture has also extended to the development and production of a basic jet trainer-cum-light attack jet called K-8 Karakorum.

Tomorrow China could meet the needs of bigger fighting vessels like battle ships, destroyers, frigates and corvettes. The Pakistan Navy is already in possession of Chinese made vessels.

— The author is an alumnus of the National Defence College. The views are his own.

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From the pages of

December 31, 1952

Hindu Mahasabha & Jan Sangh

ONE surprising result of the general elections in India was the virtual disappearance of communal forces from the political life of the country. Before the elections took place many people thought that the challenge to the Congress would come from communal parties rather than from the parties of the Left. The voters repudiated communalism in a most unequivocal manner because communal politics held no appeal for them. They refused to be exploited in the name of religion. Had Pakistan treated its minorities well and had it restrained itself over Kashmir, the Hindu Mahasabha and the Jan Sangh would have been hard put to justify their existence. Both these organisations are out of place in a secular democratic State.

The demand for Akhand Bharat can only give Pakistan an opportunity to claim that India has not fully accepted the partition and has aggressive designs on it. No one in this country takes their slogan of Akhand Bharat seriously, but it is bound to be misconstrued in Pakistan and used to discredit us abroad.
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He who is not content with what he is given and craves ever more and more, gathers only humiliation and frustration. For, greed is like a dark prison and vice is like a fetter around one’s ankles.

— Guru Nanak


May I be able to listen without distraction.

—The Upanishads


He alone is the truly 
disguised one who cleans his body of its filth and sanctifies it with its own fire, acknowledging thus the Lord within.

— Guru Nanak

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