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  1. #1

    Indian Global Relationships

    New thread..........

    India To Expand Relations with Thailand, Australia

    Jun. 7, 2013 - 10:21AM


    NEW DELHI — As part of its policy to strengthen defense ties with countries in the Asia Pacific Region, India plans to improve relations with Australia and Thailand.

    Visiting Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony and his Australian counterpart, Stephen Smith, agreed during talks in Canberra on Wednesday to step up military exchanges and naval combat exercises.

    “The Defense Ministers of Australia and India agreed to continue to have regular bilateral Defence Ministers’ Meetings, to promote exchanges between the Defence establishments and the Armed Forces of both sides,” says an Indian Ministry of Defence statement.

    Without specifying concern over Chinese assertiveness in the South China Sea, a joint statement issued at the end of the talks in Canberra said, “maritime security and freedom of navigation in accordance with principles of international law is critical for the growth and prosperity of the Asia Pacific and Indian Ocean Region.”

    Indian Defence Ministry sources said the Indian government does not want to formally participate in regional, multilateral security tie-ups, which was conveyed to Australian officials during Antony’s visit.

    “Australia is part of an [informal] quadrilateral alliance between the United States, Australia, Japan and India, which will help check Chinese assertiveness in the Indian Ocean Region and the Asia Pacific region,” said Nitin Mehta, New Delhi-based defense analyst.

    “While China looks at this quadrilateral strategic arrangement with suspicion, New Delhi wants to send a strong message to China that it is determined to stem the growing influence of Beijing in the Indian Ocean region,” Mehta said.

    Defence Ministry officials denied that any talks were held regarding the “so called” quadrilateral alliance during Antony’s talks in Canberra.

    “The Defence Minister A.K. Antony offered to discuss with Thailand possible areas of cooperation and collaboration in defense production. During talks with his Thai counterpart, Air Chief Marshal Sukumpol Suwanatat in Bangkok, Antony said India has, over the years, developed a well-established defense industry which can meet varying requirements of the Thai armed forces,” says the Indian Defence Ministry release.

  2. #2

    Mr. Singh Comes To Washington: India, China & The Pacific

    By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.on September 23, 2013 at 4:34 PM

    India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (center), seen here at a military review, will meet with President Obama on Friday.

    WASHINGTON: When Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh meets with President Obama at the White House this Friday, the rise of China may not be on the official agenda, but it will be on everybody’s mind – and Beijing will be watching warily.

    Friday’s meeting will be just the latest in a series of summits that began with George W. Bush – whose first term, not coincidentally, started with a pre-9/11 crisis over China’s downing of a US Navy spy plane off Hainan. Relations have kept getting closer ever since the Bush administration elevated India to the ranks of our most important allies. India has been the world’s biggest arms importer for the last four years in a row, and the value of its purchases from the US has soared since their nadir of zero in 2004-2005, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI.

    India’s navy is buying Boeing’s P-8 patrol plane, while their air force flies Boeing C-17 and Lockheed C-130 cargo aircraft (although it passed on F-16 and F-18 fighters in favor of France’s Rafale, with the Russian Sukhoi Su-30 reportedly the backup option if the Rafale deal falls through). The two countries’ militaries regularly exercise with one another, especially at sea. There is even talk of regular “rotations” of US Air Force units through the Indian airbase at Trivandrum, similar to the US Marine Corps’ long-term but not permanent presence in Darwin, Australia, which already gives Beijing the heebie-jeebies.

    The growing closeness of Washington and New Delhi is bad news for Beijing, whose leaders fear “encirclement” by hostile powers. Ironically, that fear may well become a self-fulfilling prophecy because of China’s own increasing aggressiveness towards its neighbors, from Japan to the Philippines to India itself.

    Just this April, Chinese soldiers crossed into Indian-claimed territory in the Himalayas and camped out in Indian-claimed territory for three weeks. The move so thoroughly provoked Indian nationalists ahead of a visit by China’s new premier that some observers speculated PLA commanders were acting without Beijing’s approval, perhaps in a deliberate attempt to scuttle any Sino-Indian détente. On the Indian side, just eight days ago, India staged a new test of its first ballistic missile with enough range to drop a nuclear warhead on Beijing, the Agni V, a weapon some Indian hawks have dubbed “the China-killer.”

    Meanwhile, US-India relations grow warmer. Obama and Singh themselves have met three times already: in Washington in 2009, in New Delhi in 2010, and in Bali in 2011. Just this July, Vice-President Joe Biden and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno both visited India. Deputy Secretary of Defense Ash Carter was there last week. He not only touted US arms sales but also proposed that the US and India co-develop the next-generation of the Javelin anti-tank missile, built by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. He even advertised new “priority funding” incentives to encourage US and Indian researchers to collaborate: “That’s something we’ve only ever done before with the United Kingdom and Australia,” Carter told reporters in New Delhi just five days ago.

    But Carter’s visit also highlighted the limits of the US-India defense relationship. The proposal to jointly develop the new Javelin, for example, follows on earlier US offers to build production sites in India for the existing Javelin, the MH-60 helicopter, a naval gun, and a minelaying system. New Delhi is still thinking about it. Tellingly, the two countries can’t even agree on what the “T” stands for in a partnership called “DTI”: Washington says “Defense Trade Initiative,” to emphasize the US selling arms to India, while New Delhi calls it the “Defense Technology Initiative,” to emphasize the US transferring new technology to India. Meanwhile, US and Indian diplomats are rushing to finalize a civilian nuclear power deal — signed with great fanfare five years ago but never implemented — in time for Singh’s visit on Friday.

    As much as hawks in both the US and India would like their countries to jointly contain China, there are reasons India will be cautious. The issue is not so much on the US side, despite the Pentagon’s repeated protests that, as Carter said in New Delhi last week, “the rebalance is not aimed at China.” In fact, under Carter’s leadership, the Pentagon has overridden the State Department’s reluctance to sell advanced weaponry to India, just as Bush overturned the sanctions put in place to punish India for its 1998 nuclear tests. But on the Indian side there are still deep-rooted obstacles: a six-decade commitment to “non-alignment,” an arsenal largely built with Russian weapons (“We don’t have the history that Russia does here,” Carter acknowledged), and sheer institutional inertia have slowed New Delhi’s response to US offerings. Indeed, arms sales to India can take decades to finalize, when the seller is lucky.)

    The Elephant Dance: Engaging India Without Unnerving China

    It makes no strategic sense to discuss one of Asia’s rapidly growing giants without considering the other. When US strategists talk about the rise of China in the West Pacific, India is the elephant in the room next door. Conversely, when America courts the world’s largest democracy, you can bet it’s seen with some suspicion by the authoritarian superpower across the Himalayas. Any engagement with one will create a reaction in the other – and as with any maneuver involving elephants, a great deal of delicacy is required.

    So how can the US cultivate India without alarming China? “I don’t think that’s possible,” said Carl Baker, director of programs for the Pacific Forum at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). “There’s always been sort of a strategic tension between the two,” he said. Points of friction: the two nation’s nuclear arsenals; China’s support of Pakistan; India’s support for Tibet’s exiled Dalai Lama; the disputed Himalayan border over which the two countries fought a brief war in 1962; and, increasingly, overlapping maritime ambitions in the Indian Ocean and South Pacific.

    So Beijing is naturally leery of US-Indian cooperation, especially the increase in recent years in arms sales, joint exercises, and high-level military meetings. US officials, of course, make haste to dispute that.

    “Our [goal] is not to go contain China,” insisted Gen. Odierno, speaking at CSIS on his return from a visit to India in July. (It was his first as America’s top Army officer but the second in his career). “Containment is having large land forces stationed forward,” Odierno said, which America does not intend and India would not permit. But US forces regularly visit India and the India Ocean for joint exercises and may start regular deployments to the airbase at Trivandrum. So the general’s definition of “containment” conveniently ignores much of what the Chinese, like the Soviets before them, might consider “encirclement.”

    “This policy is not excluding China,” Odierno insisted. “It’s to work with China [to] ensure that we don’t get into conflict, we don’t build animosities between all the major power in the Asia-Pacific.”

    Just as the Chinese have their anxieties about the US and India, however, the Indians have deep doubts about the Chinese that no amount of American diplo-speak can smooth over. Those doubts date back to a border war the two countries fought in the Himalayas 51 years ago, a humiliation for India that the Chinese barely remember but which Indian patriots cannot forget.

    “When I was in India last year [to meet] high-level [defense] officials,” recalled Pentagon strategist and Georgetown University professor Oriana Mastro, “we spent the whole time speaking about the 1962 war.” (Mastro recounted this story at a Carnegie Endowment panel in June on “India’s naval rise”). The next week, she travelled to China and couldn’t find a single text on the border war in “the biggest bookstore in Beijing,” she said. When she asked the staff to help her, she got this incredulous response: “We fought a war with India in 1962?”

    Yet for Indian policymakers and elites, that half-century-old trauma has shaped their view of China ever since.

    India vs. China, By Land Or By Sea?

    It is essential to realize just how different the world looks from New Delhi. From the US perspective looking across the vast Pacific, for example, a hypothetical hostile China is primarily a naval problem: The Pentagon concept that de facto focuses on conflict with China is even called “Air-Sea Battle.” From an Indian perspective looking across the Himalayas, however, Chinese hostility is hardly hypothetical, and it’s an entirely terrestrial border dispute – assuming that neither side starts flinging nukes.

    While Pakistan has always been India’s primary threat, China steamrollered India in 1962 and the Himalayan boundary remains disputed to this day, with regular Chinese incursions. Just this April, People’s Liberation Army troops marched 12 miles into Indian-claimed territory and set up camp there for three weeks, watched warily by Indian soldiers.

    “As it is in many of the Asia-Pacific countries, the army is the dominant service” in India, Gen. Odierno noted pointedly. “It is by far the largest service, it is by far the most influential.”

    In contrast to how US defense spending is divided into roughly equal shares for each military department (Army, Air Force, and Navy/Marines), the Indian Army historically consumes more than half of India’s defense spending. In the proposed 2013-2014 budget, the Army share shrank slightly, but it still gets 49 percent. The Air Force is a distant second at 28 percent, despite years of steady growth, and the Indian Navy actually shrinks to under 18 percent. (The remaining 5 percent goes to defense-wide activities, primarily research and development).

    “The Chinese-Indian confrontations are all on land,” said Norman Polmar, a leading naval historian and analyst. “There’s no naval confrontation between the two because there’s no naval intersection between the two.”

    That could change, however, as both Beijing and New Delhi increase their naval capabilities and ambitions. “The land border [is] a source of irritation, but I don’t think that’s what drives the real competition, ” said CSIS’s Baker, disagreeing with Polmar. “I think the competition ultimately is maritime.”

    In the oil-rich and much-contested South China Sea, for example, an Indian company is backing Vietnamese exploration of areas claimed by China. Last year India’s top admiral, D.K. Joshi, went so far as to say his fleet stood “prepared” to defend India’s energy interests there. It was a dubious claim in terms of the Indian military’s actual ability to intervene – Baker dismisses it as “bluster” – but it still that provoked a harsh Chinese response.

    For China’s part, the People’s Republic depends on the uninterrupted flow of Middle Eastern oil eastwards across the Indian Ocean and through the Strait of Malacca. (So do US allies like Japan and South Korea). Growing Chinese investments in ports around the region – in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar (Burma) – have spurred Indian anxieties about being encircled by a Chinese “string of pearls.”

    “Indeed,” scholar Iskander Rehman wrote wrily in 2012, “a first-time traveler to India could be forgiven for believing that India is on the verge of being subjected to a sudden wave of Chinese amphibious landings.” Now a fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, Rehman is deeply skeptical about potential Sino-Indian naval conflict. He emphasizes that India’s chief maritime problem remains Pakistan, from whose shores sailed the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai attack.

    That said, the Indian Navy has never been a mere coastal defense force and lately “has been pursuing an ambitious and impressive modernization program,” Rehman told me. The goal: “a 160 ship fleet, with 300 aircraft, structured around three carrier groups, by 2022.” (By comparison, the US Navy has ten carriers – a historic low –and over 3,700 aircraft).

    India’s ambitions, however, often exceed its grasp. Currently, India has a single geriatric carrier, an ex-Royal Navy ship first laid down in World War II. But it has bought the unfinished Soviet carrier Gorshkov (a smaller cousin to China’s carrier, the ex-Soviet Varyag, which has not yet entered service). The refurbished carrier should – after much delay – enter Indian service as the Vikramaditya this year, equipped with Russian-built MiG-29K fighters that far outclass India’s current Harrier jumpjets. Two Indian-designed carriers are also in the works, but they are even more delayed, and Rehman predicts the first won’t enter service “until 2018 at the earliest.”

    India also has two nuclear-powered submarines – one Russian import and one built domestically – and a dozen conventionally powered ones, with ambitious plans for a fleet of five ballistic-missile subs as a nuclear deterrent. It is also building a variety of corvettes, frigates, and destroyers. But in case after case, Rehman said, “these programs have been plagued by inefficiency, delays and severe cost overruns.”

    Current Limitations, Long-Term Potential

    Why does India’s domestic defense industry so consistently underperform? “India missed the industrial revolution,” sighed Vice-Admiral Venkat “Barry” Bharathan, a retired Indian Navy officer with 40 years’ service. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, he argued, the British deliberately kept their subcontinental colony from becoming an industrial competitor. After independence in 1947, India’s own policy of “non-alignment” and its poor relations with the US isolated it from many technological developments in the West, especially military ones.

    So India depended first on weapons inherited from the British and then on ones imported from the Soviets, solving its immediate operational needs at the price of stunting its home-grown defense industry. Since the Soviet collapse, India has upped its imports of US and other Western equipment but continues to work with Russia, from which it has bought Sukhoi SU-30MKI fighter-bombers and leased an Akula-class nuclear submarine. As a result of this complicated history, Bharathan said, the Indian military has become a unique and somewhat awkward hybrid: “a British clone using Russian equipment with Western doctrine and an Indian mindset.”

    To bridge the gap between its government’s growing ambitions and its domestic armsmakers’ limitations, India has been one of the world’s top arms importers for over a decade. From 2001 to 2012, according to SIPRI, India has been the world’s No. 1 arms importer six years out of 12 – including every year since 2009 – and No. 2 four times. Only China matches that record: In fact, it matches it exactly, with six years at No. 1 and four at No. 2. But India’s arms imports have soared in recent years to roughly triple China’s annual figure.

    Nevertheless, China’s total defense spending is three and a half times India’s, thanks to a rapidly growing economy and a significant domestic arms industry. (Both countries’ spending remains a fraction of the United States’).

    Both countries have cutting-edge Russian weapons like the Sukhoi SU-30 – Russia sells the SU-30MKK variant to China and the SU-30MKI to India – but China just has more planes, more ships, more tanks, more troops, and more military-age manpower available than India does.

    That is, it does for now. The legacy of Mao’s “one child policy” to limit Chinese birthrates has resulted in an aging population that is growing at half the rate of India’s. In fact, China’s population is expected to start shrinking circa 2025, just around the time that India’s population overtakes it, according to one RAND study. Still more significant is that China’s working age population already peaked in 2010, says RAND, while India’s workforce is expected to keep growing until 2030. And India’s economy is already growing almost as fast as China’s.

    So while India is hardly an equal counterweight to China today, in twenty years India will have more people and quite possibly more wealth available for its armed forces. For all the short-term frustrations, Washington’s bet on the world’s biggest democracy makes a lot of long-term sense.

  3. #3

    India Extends Relations With China, Russia

    Oct. 25, 2013 - 05:07PM | By VIVEK RAGHUVANSHI

    Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, right, and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang inspect Chinese honor guards in Beijing Oct. 23. The countries discussed ways to reduce border tensions. (Agence France-Presse)

    NEW DELHI — India has made small but steady progress improving political and defense relations with China and Russia, signing a border cooperation agreement with Beijing and agreeing with Moscow to purchase another nuclear sub.

    Still, the border issue with China has not been solved and a joint combat fighter effort with Russia remains unsettled.

    India and China, on Oct. 22, inked the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) during Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Beijing, establishing a formal mechanism to improve security along their 4,056-kilometer Line of Actual Control (LAC), which is the disputed border between the countries.

    The four-page BDCA was signed by Indian Defence Secretary R.K. Mathur and Lt. Gen. Sun Jianguo, Chinese People’s Liberation Army deputy chief of General Staff. The agreement is the fourth confidence-building agreement signed by the countries since 1993, an Indian Defence Ministry official said.

    Despite the BDCA, no final agreement appears to be in the offing on the border dispute between India and China over which the two countries fought a brief battle in 1962, said an Indian Army official. China claims 92,000 square kilometers of Indian territory and the border between India and China is currently defined by the LAC, which is neither marked on the ground nor on mutually accepted maps.

    “Given the enormous complex nature of geography, history and politics of their border dispute, it is not likely to be solved; it will gradually become less interesting and exciting for both sides. ... Boundaries will become gradually less important and get marginalized,” said Swaran Singh, professor for diplomacy and disarmament at Jawahar Lal Nehru University.

    The Army official said the BDCA would help improve understanding between the armies stationed along the border because there will be regular meetings at a senior officer level. Border personnel will meet at designated positions along the LAC, and there will be periodic meetings between officials of the defense ministries, an Indian Defence Ministry official said.

    The two countries are trying to reduce tensions along their borders, which has been exacerbated by frequent incursions by China, said the Army official. In April, troops of the two countries came face to face for 21 days in the Ladakh region of the northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, where Chinese soldiers planted tents inside Indian territory.

    New Delhi and Beijing have kept a low-key diplomatic stance regarding these incursions to avoid a confrontation.

    India and China held several discussions on the BDCA beginning in January, but after the incursion by Chinese troops in the Ladakh region, the pace of negotiations quickened. During Defence Minister A.K. Antony’s visit to China in July, the two sides agreed to quickly conclude negotiations.

    While no Indian official or analyst is optimistic of an early settlement of the boundary dispute, there is unanimity that India needs to be concerned about Chinese military modernization and its growing footprint in South Asia and the Indian Ocean region.

    “Attempts to find a resolution of the boundary dispute between India and China should be combined with military capacity building and defense preparedness by India,” said defense analyst Nitin Mehta.

    Russian Naval Deal

    Meanwhile, Singh and Russian President Vladmir Putin did not sign any new defense pact during their Oct. 20-22 meeting in Moscow, but Indian Defence Ministry sources said an agreement was reached to acquire another nuclear submarine.

    The* Navy will finance the construction of and then lease the Akula-class vessel for more than US $1.2 billion over its lifetime. Under the lease, Russia will handle maintenance and overhauls. India operates another Akula nuclear submarine, the Nerpa, which was inducted on lease from Russia in April last year.

    The highlight of the new Akula submarine, which India hopes to induct in about four years, will be its ability to mount the Indo-Russian BrahMos, a supersonic cruise missile, which has a range of 290 kilometers, said a Defence Ministry source.

    Akula-class submarines are able to carry nuclear missiles that have a range of 3,000 kilometers, but the Nerpa is armed with the Klub missile that has a range of less than 300 kilometers.

    The Defence Ministry source said the agreement to lease the nuclear submarine would not be included in public joint statements but confirmed that an agreement has been reached.

    The joint statement issued by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs after Singh and Putin met merely said, “The sides emphasized that the traditionally close military and technical cooperation between the two countries was a crucial element of the strategic partnership and reflected the high level of trust between the two states.”

    India and Russia still have not finalized a work-sharing agreement on the joint Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) project, an issue that also figured in the Moscow talks. Antony said he would discuss the work-sharing on FGFA during his visit to Russia in November, the Defence Ministry source added. India, which is contributing 50 percent of the development costs, wants to increase its work share, which is said to be less than 20 percent. India also plans to pay more than $25 billion for the aircraft.

    In 2010, a preliminary agreement was drawn between state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. and Russia’s Sukhoi Design Bureau to jointly develop the FGFA, but a final contract has still not been reached.

    India has been trying to maintain equal relations with Russia and Western sources as it forges defense ties since the United Progressive Alliance government came to power in 2005. But announcements of major defense projects are not made in summit talks, said analyst Mehta.

    “If the joint statement of the Oct. 21 summit level in Moscow does not mention any major defense project, it should not be read that defense ties between India and Russia are tapering off,” Mehta added.

  4. #4

    Concerns grow in Pakistan and India over border violence

    By Tim Craig, Sunday, November 24, 9:57 AM

    TAHIR JOIAN, Pakistan — For much of the past decade, the residents of this village near Pakistan’s border with India have lived in relative peace, tending their water buffalo and goats, despite a history of tensions between the countries.

    But this fall, mortar shells from India killed a 40-year-old rickshaw driver and several animals, residents say.

    “I have sent my family to relatives and keep my door locked,” said Mohammad Iqbal, 55. “When I am sure peace is restored, I will bring them back.”

    Recent attacks involving Indian and Pakistani troops have been the worst border violence since a 2003 cease-fire. Now, with snow falling on the mountainous border, fighting has subsided and displaced residents are trickling home.

    But analysts fear the calm will be relatively short-lived. While few expect another war, the flare-ups illustrate the simmering tensions that may only increase as the two countries jostle for influence in Afghanistan while U.S. troops withdraw.

    “This is the new normal,” said Stephen P. Cohen, a senior fellow and South Asia analyst at the Brookings Institution. “This is going to be just like the Middle East, but only with two countries with nuclear weapons.”

    The fighting this fall, which included artillery and mortar fire, claimed civilian and military lives on both sides of the border. Ominously, it took place not only in Kashmir, which has been a source of tension for decades, but also farther south on the outskirts of Sialkot, an industrial area known for producing quality soccer balls.

    Since predominantly Muslim Pakistan was separated from mostly Hindu India in 1947, the countries have fought two wars over Kashmir, which is divided between them but has a majority Muslim population.

    Each side has blamed the other for the recent fighting.

    Pakistanis speculate that the Indian government is becoming more aggressive toward its neighbor, in part to gain support ahead of national elections. Meanwhile, Indians accuse Pakistan of failing to rein in Islamist militants seeking an independent Kashmir. Some of the militant groups are widely suspected of having ties to the Pakistani military and intelligence services.

    The conflict started in January, when Pakistan accused Indian forces of killing a Pakistani soldier on the disputed border in Kashmir, known as the Line of Control. India then claimed Pakistani soldiers or militants crossed the border and killed three of its soldiers.

    In August, the feud took a dangerous turn when five Indian soldiers were slain in Kashmir. Pakistan denied responsibility but shelling between the two sides escalated.

    Last month, Pakistan’s military accused India of firing 4,000 mortar shells and 59,000 machine-gun rounds during a two-day period that coincided with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s meeting with President Obama in Washington. One of those shells killed the rickshaw driver in Tahir Joian.

    “We were forced to retaliate,” said Brig. Mateem Ahmed Khan, a senior commander for Pakistan’s border force near Sialkot. He accused India of stoking the tension to undermine Sharif’s visit to Washington. “It was a rain of fire coming down on our villages and posts,” he said.

    With Pakistan restricting Western reporters’ access to the border, it is difficult to verify the claims of its military. In Tahir Joian, chunks of concrete were missing from walls and a hole was visible in a thatched roof, but there did not appear to be widespread damage.

    Efforts to avoid crisis

    When a reporter visited a Pakistani ranger outpost recently, soldiers were looking out over a tranquil border, listening to music from an Indian Border Security Force bunker about a quarter-mile away.

    The sound of music across the border underscores a crucial point: Unlike previous conflicts in the 1990s and early 2000s, which led to fears of another major war, India and Pakistan are working to keeping their skirmishes from turning into an international crisis.

    The directors of military operations for both countries hold weekly conference calls to try to keep hostilities in check. Khan recently met his Indian counterpart at the border to discuss matters such as how Indian forces can clear brush around their outposts without fear of being targeted.

    Sharif, who campaigned on improved relations with India before taking office in June, is pressing for security and trade negotiations with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Though the two met in late September, Singh has appeared hesitant to engage in substantive talks, expressing concern that Pakistan is not doing enough to control Islamist militant groups including Lashkar-e-Taiba, responsible for the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks.

    But many Pakistani analysts doubt that this country’s military is to blame for the tension, since it is focused on battling domestic militants. A bloody insurgency by the Pakistani Taliban has claimed more than 45,000 lives.

    “Pakistan is preoccupied with domestic issues at the moment, so the military would have no interest in heating up the Line of Control, none whatsoever,” said Maleeha Lodhi, a former Pakistani ambassador to Washington. “In fact, it has an interest in assuring all is peaceful on the eastern front so it can focus on the western front” with Afghanistan, an area where many militants are based.

    Lodhi said Singh may be adopting a tougher approach to Pakistan because of Indian elections in the spring. Singh is stepping aside, but his Congress Party faces a stiff challenge from the BJP party, led by Narendra Modi, an ardent Hindu nationalist who wants to take a harder line with Pakistan.

    The Afghanistan factor

    Even after the elections, analysts fear, the India-Pakistan border could turn volatile as the two countries struggle for influence in Afghanistan.

    In recent months, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been reaching out to India for military aid, a potential alliance that unnerves Pakistani leaders, who fear their country could become further isolated in the region.

    To Pakistanis, their nation’s regional importance was highlighted this summer when U.S. officials turned to the country for help in trying to arrange peace talks between the Taliban and Karzai’s government. The talks ultimately didn’t happen.

    In Pakistan, some officials believe India escalated tension at the border to draw attention away from Pakistan’s diplomatic efforts.

    “India was anxious it was getting left out and that Pakistan was not taking it seriously,” said Riaz Khokhar, Pakistan’s foreign secretary from 2002 to 2005.

    Sushant Sareen, a researcher at the Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses in New Delhi, called Khokhar’s comments “utter rubbish.” The real cause of the skirmishing on the border, he said, was Pakistan’s unwillingness to stop Islamist militant groups from crossing the border.

    In recent weeks, before snows in the Himalayan mountains made passage difficult, as many as 100 Pakistani insurgents sneaked into Indian territory, according to Indian intelligence and security officials. They say the insurgents plan to carry out attacks before the elections and stoke separatist fervor in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

    “Before, there was this looming American presence in the region that kept things from happening,” Sareen said. “But now, with that focus shifting from the area, it’s going back to business as usual.”

    Annie Gowen in New Delhi and Babar Dogar in Lahore, Pakistan, contributed to this report.

  5. #5

    India Seeks Closer Sri Lankan Ties as Chinese Presence Grows

    Dec. 2, 2013 - 03:10PM | By VIVEK RAGHUVANSHI

    Sri Lankan Navy personnel fire a 21-gun salute during Independence Day ceremonies. India is pursuing closer military ties with Sri Lank and has offered to help train sailors at Indian facilities. (Agence France-Presse)

    NEW DELHI — Concerned over the rising presence of the Chinese in the Indian Ocean region, India has offered to boost defense ties with the southern island nation of Sri Lanka.

    Indian Navy Chief Adm. D.K. Joshi was on a five-day visit to Sri Lanka last week where he offered to help train Sri Lankan sailors at Indian training establishments.

    The visit comes after Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last month skipped attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo, after pressure from political groups in Tamil Nadu who oppose any diplomatic ties with Sri Lanka because of conflicts over the rights of ethnic Lankan Tamils.

    “It would be against Indian interests to see Sri Lanka tilting toward China and even allow establishment of a base on the island nation, close to India,” said Mahindra Singh, retired Indian Army major general and defense analyst.

    China has established a presence in ports around India, including Chittagong in Bangladesh, Coco Island in Myanmar, Hambantota in Sri Lanka and Gwadar in Pakistan, added Singh.

    The UN Human Rights Council in March adopted a US-sponsored resolution regarding human rights violations in Sri Lanka with 25 countries, including India, voting in favor.

    China has been able to establish deeper relations with Sri Lanka at the expense of India after the Indian government hardened its stance against Colombo because of domestic political pressure, said a source in the Indian Foreign Ministry. New Delhi now has to work hard to strike better defense ties with the island nation.

  6. #6

    India, US to Boost Ties

    Aug. 8, 2014 - 12:44PM | By VIVEK RAGHUVANSHI

    US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel inspects a Guard of Honour of Indian troops during a welcome ceremony in New Delhi on Friday. (RAVEENDRAN/AFP/Getty Images)

    NEW DELHI — The top Indian and US defense acquisition officials will work together to foster joint defense projects, the governments said Friday.

    No such project has been announced since the two governments created the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) in 2012, which aimed to boost cooperation and reduce red tape.

    The announcement came after a meeting here between Indian Defense Minister Arun Jaitely and US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, whose visit has also included meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.

    In a press release, Defence Ministry officials said, “With co-development and co-production of defense products in mind, India and the United States today agreed to take the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) forward. The contact person from the Indian side will be the Secretary, Department of Defense Production and the United States will be represented by, the Under Secretary for Acquisition, Technology and Licensing at the Pentagon.”

    Frank Kendall is the current US defense undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics.

    A defense analyst said India’s efforts to co-produce arms and defense gear with the US have been notably slower than that with Israel and Russia.

    “The eagerness to transfer of technology by United States to India has been the stumbling block in boosting these ties,” said Nitin Mehta.■

    Email: vraghuvanshi@defensenews.com.

  7. #7

    You're kidding yourself Mr Kanard. India can't even figure out how to buy 36x Rafales. Strategic partner? Yeah, right..

    And America 'only' has 10 carriers in service with an 11th in build? That's 9-10 more than anyone else in the world...

  8. #8

    India, Malaysia to deepen defence ties, set up Su 30 forum

    By Manu Pubby, ET Bureau | 24 Nov, 2015, 01.29AM IST

    The two countries have decided to set up a ‘Su 30 forum’, a joint platform that will exchange information on training, and technical support of the fleet.

    NEW DELHI: India and Malaysia plan to exchange notes on exploiting common military platforms and upgrading joint training exercises as part of a new thrust in defence relations agreed upon during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Kuala Lumpur.

    While India has in the past trained Malaysian air force pilots on the Russian Su 30 fighter aircraft that is operated by both nations, the two countries have now decided to set up a 'Su 30 forum', a joint platform that will exchange information on training, maintenance and technical support of the fleet.

    Follow @ETDefence Twitter handle for comprehensive coverage on other buzzing Defence stories

    The potent Su 30 fighter - India flies the customised MKI version while Malaysia operates the MKM variant - is being operated in the largest numbers by the Indian Air Force that will eventually get 272 of the jets.

    "We have considerable experience on the fighters and have operated them in all conditions. We can share our experience on things like maintenance as well as flight safety with Malaysia," an air force official told ET. Maintenance expertise as well as spares developed by state-run Hindustan Aeronautics could also be shared with Malaysia, he said.

    Besides the Su 30 forum, the two nations have decided to upgrade joint exercises under the Harimau Shakti series.

    The war games will be progressively upgraded in the coming years to eventually become a tri services exercise involving the army, air force and navy.

    Learning from the experience of the missing MH 370 airliner that escaped vigilance before disappearing, India and Malaysia will also form a joint mechanism to share information for humanitarian assistance, disaster relief as well as merchant shipping traffic. Besides regular dialogues between the defence ministers and senior military officials, from now on the annual India-Malaysia Defence Cooperation Meeting will be held at the defence secretary level.

  9. #9

    India and Pakistan To Resume Peace Process

    Agence France-Presse 4:19 p.m. EST December 9, 2015

    (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

    ISLAMABAD — India and Pakistan agreed to resume high-level peace talks on Wednesday, according to a joint statement that signaled a thaw in tense relations between nuclear-armed neighbors that have fought three full-scale wars.

    The breakthrough came at the close of a regional conference in Islamabad attended by India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, which also saw Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif meet in a bid to revive the Taliban peace process.

    “Both the countries have agreed to resume the stalled talks,” said Swaraj, who met with Sharif and his foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz.

    “We will start the dialogue process from scratch,” Swaraj added.

    The dialogue will cover peace and security as well as territorial disputes, including over Kashmir, a Himalayan region that has seen India and Pakistan fight two wars since gaining their independence from Britain in 1947.

    Delhi suspended all talks after Islamist gunmen attacked the Indian city of Mumbai in November 2008, killing 166 people. The attacks were later found to have been planned from Pakistan.

    The countries agreed to resume the peace process in 2011 but tensions have spiked over the past two years, with cross-border shelling over the disputed border in Kashmir claiming dozens of lives since 2014.

    A brief meeting between Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the UN climate change summit in Paris on Nov. 30, followed by talks between the two countries’ national security advisers in Bangkok, appeared to have broken the ice.

    Pakistani opposition lawmaker Sherry Rehman, a noted foreign policy expert, said the agreement was “important” but expressed disappointment that the dialogue would start from scratch — a demand she said likely came from the Indian side.

    “The good news is they’ve agreed to resume what they call ‘comprehensive dialogue’ and really all the subjects are the same,” she said.

    Rehman said it was unlikely the deal had been made without the approval of Pakistan’s all-powerful military, which ruled the country for around half its history and is widely seen as setting the country’s foreign and security agenda.

    “I’m assuming they’ve had a discussion and come to some agreement,” said Rehman.

    Neither side, however, mentioned whether a proposed cricket series in December and January would go ahead — an omission that Pakistan’s cricket chief said meant the plan was much less likely to happen.

    Taliban Talks

    On Wednesday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani arrived in Islamabad in an effort to jumpstart peace talks with the resurgent Taliban, as he and Sharif inaugurated the regional Heart of Asia conference.

    Sharif welcomed Ghani at the airport in a red-carpet reception with a guard of honor and 21 gun salute, in what was seen as an attempt to thaw frosty ties between the two Muslim neighbors.

    Ghani’s visit came as at least 37 people were killed in a Taliban siege at an airport in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, with analysts noting the “familiar pattern” of the insurgents launching large-scale attacks “whenever there is talk about peace talks.”

    Relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have foundered since the Taliban confirmed in July that its founder Mullah Omar was dead, a revelation that scuppered nascent negotiations between Kabul and the Islamist movement.

    Ghani subsequently blamed Pakistan for a surge in Taliban attacks inside Afghanistan, accusing Islamabad of sending “messages of war.”

    But on Wednesday, both leaders vowed to fight militancy and extremism in the region.

    Their meeting was seen as a strong signal that they are attempting to revive the Taliban talks, brokered by the Pakistani army, which has long wielded influence over the insurgent group.

    Ghani also met with Pakistan’s military chief Raheel Sharif, who assured him of the military’s “continued full support”, according to an army statement.

    “I strongly reiterate our commitment to a lasting and just peace within which all movements that resort to arms convert themselves to political parties and participate in the political process legitimately,” said Ghani.

    Pakistan later said the United States supported the talks, while the foreign minister for regional heavyweight China also backed the process after meeting Ghani, Sharif and a US official at the conference.

    “The Chinese side ... hopes that the Afghan government will overcome difficulties and stick to the peace talks with the Taliban,” Wang Yi was quoted as saying by Chinese state media.

    Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

  10. #10

    Carter, Parrikar Pledge Expanded US-Indian Relations

    By Aaron Mehta and Vivek Raghuvanshi 10:57 a.m. EST December 12, 2015

    Secretary Of Defense Ash Carter
    (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

    WASHINGTON and NEW DELHI — The military relationship between India and the US is poised to grow over the coming year, with military exercises expanding as a number of technology transfer programs enter a higher level.

    Speaking at the Pentagon on Dec. 10, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar pledged that the next year will see the relationship continue to expand, including India's return to the Red Flag military exercise, its first participation in eight years.

    "The pace is picking up. We've done so much more in the last year, probably than we've done in the 10 years before that," Carter said. "And I'm guessing that in the next 10 months, we will do yet again more than we've done in the last year."

    That includes taking technology transfer programs from agreement into application.

    The core of the technology relationship is the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), a specialized program launched in 2012 — brought to fruition by Carter, then deputy defense secretary — to develop those ties.

    Parrikar said the two nations are "doing more than walk the walk" on technology transfer, saying the DTTI "will definitely result in a great deal of things coming out in the next six, seven" months.

    "The objectives are clear. We are already concluded on two of the items. There were six on the [plan]. Two more are in the final stages. But many more are coming," Parrikar said. "And I think this initiative with a timeline of six months, we will see so many defense initiative technology transfers [and soon] US companies setting up production facilities in India."

    Parrikar's visit included discussion on two key technologies India is seeking: engine technology for its proposed homegrown advanced medium combat aircraft (AMCA), as well as an electro-magnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS) for the proposed indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vishal.

    While the AMCA is still on the drawing board, availability of a higher thrust advanced engine would kick-start the program. India plans to build medium combat aircraft similar to the Dassault Rafale, which it is buying from France, said a senior scientist of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which is developing AMCA.

    The US has already offered India an EMALS for the deck of its proposed homegrown carrier, capable of launching fifth generation fighter aircraft and airborne early warning aircraft.

    India, Russia and China operate carriers using the less advanced short take-off launch system. With an EMALS-equipped launch system, India's naval strike fighters would encounter less strain on their airframes and be able to conduct sorties faster.

    This is not the first time the two sides have discussed these technologies; there have been three previous meetings on the jet engine technology and four on the EMALS, a MoD source said.

    During a June visit to New Delhi, Carter announced the finalization of agreements to co-produce two new technologies: a chemical-biological protective suit and portable field generators. The agreements are not costly, with the US and India each kicking in $500,000 total over two years on each project.

    At the time, analysts praised the agreements, less for the size and more because they represented movement between the two nations on technology co-production.

    However, Nitin Mehta, a New Delhi-based defense analyst, was skeptical that joint cooperation in high-tech projects between India and US can take off in the near future.

    "It is too early to expect co-development and co-production of advanced weapons systems, and the two countries will have to begin with low-end weapon technologies to learn how the DTTI will work on the ground," Mehta said.

    And small technology programs are not enough to advance US interests in the region, according to Ashley Tellis, with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

    "Enabling New Delhi to sustain a competitive operational advantage over Islamabad and Beijing in military terms should therefore become the new functional objective of U.S.-Indian defense cooperation," Tellis wrote in a Dec. 10 analysis posted on Carnegie's website. "This aim comports with larger U.S. grand strategy and would breathe new life into and offer new direction for security cooperation more generally."

    Email: amehta@defensenews.com | vraghuvanshi@defensenews.com

    Twitter: @AaronMehta

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