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Archive for September, 2018

Our Liberal Intellectual, and the Gift that Keeps on Giving 

Saeed A.Malik.

The elections are done and are now being dusted. After the results have been declared, they have been greeted by the same cacophony of voices, which has become the norm as an election aftermath in Pakistan. In this sense, these elections were the same as any other. But a large majority point out two essential differences i.e that these elections were more peaceful than those held earlier; and that there was little or no rigging of the ballot itself. And hardly any complaint was lodged with the ECP on this latter score.

However, a lot may be said on the performance of the ECP itself. And the least that can be said is that it proved to be unprepared and incompetent beyond expectations. And there are many who blatantly, or through innuendo, accuse the army to have helped PTI over the finish line with help from the ECP. They forget that this ECP was hand picked by Zardari and Nawaz Sharif. It was designed under the ruling spirit of the “Charter of Democracy” which was sanctified by the 18nth Amendment. The methodology of how the election commissioners were henceforth to be chosen had a clear objective i.e that Pakistan must squirm under the alternating heels of Zardari and Nawaz Sharif, in perpetuity. That this did not happen has brought forth roars of rage from Mulla Fazal, and screams of anguish from Zardari, N.S, Achakzai, and Asfandyar Wali, all of whom plundered Pakistan in an unholy partnership without let or hindrance, or any fear of the same. 

Before the elections, we were dished out a standard fare by those who have now firmly acquired the sobriquet of “liberal intellectuals”. We were conditioned to expect that individuals like Ch Nisar and Brahamdagh Bugti will certainly win, being the favourites of the “establishment”. Also, those with the jeep as an election symbol, PSP, and GDA, will be helped across the finish line in large numbers, and that a very large number of independents will be returned. This narrative was also sold with uncommon zeal to the west, most notably in the U.S, and across the border in India. And none lapped it up so avidly as our Indian friends did.

But quite the opposite happened in EVERY particular. Each one of these predictions went wrong. Thus, for the moment at least there is confusion among our liberal intellectuals while they are busy concocting a new narrative. But what has been significantly missing from their narrative is the “other” story of Pakistan i.e the bankruptcy of the state largely achieved through ruthless plunder of state coffers by its leaders. This has left Pakistan hamstrung in a way that no calamity could have. Pakistan today is virtually defenceless because it does not have the means to sustain a defence if attacked.

John Perkins, in his book “Confessions of an Economic Hitman” clearly lays out the blueprint of how big powers undermine smaller states. It is the job of the Hitman to offer the President of the target country a project which is economically unfeasible and guaranteed to bankrupt this country so that it can then be held in eternal thralldom. And along with the offer of such a project, the subject President also gets a fat cheque in his Swiss Account. If the President refuses, jackals are sent after him and he is assassinated. Jamie Roldos of Equador and Omar Torrijos of Panama were both eliminated for not taking the bait offered them. And if the jackals fail because the security of the offending President is so watertight, as was the case with Saddam, he is then dealt with by an invasion.

Pakistan has lost the first phase of its war–the economic phase. It must now await the second phase. The enemies which dealt the mortal economic blow to Pakistan are Zardari, Nawaz Sharif, and all others who signed the infamous ” Charter of Democracy” which was little more than a blueprint of cooperation to loot the country dry. Their crime was not just plundering. It was also treachery. These people worked actively to undermine their country while filling their pockets at the same time. They should, therefore, be tried for both crimes.

The liberal intellectuals are guilty of providing intellectual cover to the crimes of the enemies of Pakistan, both internal and external. Theirs is the crime of abetment in the sale of a narrative which goes against the interests of the country which has given them all they own.

Free expression of opinion is theirs by right. But this ceases to remain so when opinion is put forward as fact and done specifically to help those who have undermined the very foundations of the state. When this happens it becomes abetment of the enemy, which both Zardari and Nawaz Sharif and their poodles clearly are.

Readers who are interested, need to just collect the writings of these liberal intellectuals and scrutinize them. They will hardly find a word against the massive theft which has taken Pakistan down, or against those who perpetrated it. But they will find streams of invective against the “establishment” which are presented as facts.

But for the majority of committed TV anchors and opinion piece writers who refused every blandishment from the gangsters who plundered Pakistan, the narrative of the liberal intellectuals would have been a runaway sell.

As Pakistan struggles to remain standing in the days and weeks ahead, the thieves may be remembered. But it is important that their abettors are also not forgotten.

P.S. We now see a fresh broadside from our liberal intellectuals taking shape. This is that Imran Khan is a “puppet” of the army. This has already been sold to the Indian media by our intellectuals, and Indian media outlets are spreading this around like it were God’s truth. But anyone who has any honesty about him and knows Imran just a wee bit will know that the man least likely to be anyone’s puppet is Imran. Hopefully, we will all see this being borne out in the days ahead. I also predict he will get along with the army better than most earlier parliamentarians. And his relationship with India will be more constructive than it has been in the recent past.

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Performance of PTI Govt in its infancy Part 1 Asif Haroon Raja

Performance of PTI Govt in its infancy

Part 1

Asif Haroon Raja

Midway in his second tenure, Nawaz Sharif (NS) was toppled by Gen Musharraf in a military coup on October 12, 1999. His team of eleven charted the six-point development agenda and produced excellent results in first three years of military rule, but then the reform and growth agenda and accountability went for a six with the coming in of King’s Party in 2002.

After getting his foe NS sentenced to life term jail by the Supreme Court, Musharraf sent NS, Shahbaz Sharif and their families into exile for ten years under Saudi mediated agreement in 2001. Although Mush failed to quash the lawyer movement which had sprung up in support of the sacked Chief Justice (CJ) Iftikhar in March 2007, before abdicating power in August 2008, he had deflated the popularity balloon of CJ Iftikhar and the steam of the movement. High expectations attached to the CJ fizzled out during the five-year inglorious rule of PPP.

Once NS returned to power in June 2013 with a heavy mandate, he was faced with the worst energy crisis, slumped economy, destroyed state-run enterprises and high-intensity terrorism. While dealing with these challenges, he also decided to put the former president and army chief Mush on trial in a treason case on account of declaring an emergency on November 3, 2007, and interning 60 judges including CJ Iftikhar and subverting the constitution for the second time. NS had not pardoned Mush for the prolonged trauma he and his family suffered at his hands.

Musharraf who had returned to Pakistan in May 2013 to take part in 2013 elections was arrested, and debarred from contesting elections. His Chak Shehzad farmhouse was converted into a sub-jail and multiple courts opened proceedings against him. To avoid indictment, he stayed in fortified AFIC for months guarded by troops of 111 Brigade. He was indicted in a treason case by a trial court and his name put on ECL. He, however, managed to escape to Dubai in 2015 under the plea of a backache and since then he is an absconder and wanted in several high-profile cases. It is said that the army under Gen Raheel Sharif (RS) had helped him in making good his escape.

Imran Khan’s first 100 days plan after coming to power

 

For five years, IK has been promising them to the people and lambasting the rulers, dubbing them as looters, characterless and a security risk. He kept the public amused and in a trance, cloned their minds, and they blindly believed that he is a magic man who will get rid of the rotten rulers, doctor all the ailments of Pakistan and transform it into a shining Pakistan in a flash. The more he heaped curses on his opponents, the more he received applause and accolades.

PTI won the race in the July 2018 elections, but the losers cried out that unprecedented rigging had been carried out on the polling day during the counting of votes. So far the parliamentary committee has not been formed to probe the allegations of all opposition parties.

PTI has formed governments in the Centre, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Punjab, and a coalition government in Baluchistan. It is the leading opposition party in Sindh Ministry. It has also easily captured the seat of President, thanks to the disgraceful role of PPP. Despite spectacular gains, PTI has achieved a simple majority in the Centre and in Punjab where PML-N has a strong presence. In the absence of a two-thirds majority, PTI faced difficulties in achieving the magical figures in National Assembly as well as in Punjab Assembly.

But for a sting operation in South Punjab and other parts of Punjab, PTI couldn’t have formed a government in Punjab. Jahangir Tareen (JT) played a key role in steering the flock of independents towards his party, ignoring what Imran Khan (IK) had been stating against this soul selling lot. Similar kind of efforts was made at the federal level to reach the figure of 172. For this, IK had to make compromises by inducting PML Q, whom he had termed as the party of Dakoos, and MQM-P against whom he had been spitting scorn. MQM-P’s 7-point demand-list and BNP-M 6-point agenda were accepted to take them on board. Both agendas are anti-military/intelligence agencies.

Although Gen Mush didn’t take part in the elections and his party APML didn’t secure a single seat, but a majority of IK’s federal cabinet are the teammates of Musharraf. All the coalition partners of PTI are from Old Pakistan and as expected are seeking their pound of flesh and creating obstacles in the way of shaping Naya Pakistan.

Out of 21-member federal cabinet selected by IK, which has now expanded to 28 on Sept 11, 12 ministers are those who were part of Mush regime. Sheikh Rashid (SR) had all along been part of PML-N and was in very good books of NS. He became a key player in the King’s Party formed by Gen Musharraf in 2002 and held key Ministries of Information and Railways. He later formed his own party Awami Muslim League (AML) and got aligned with PTI and became the right-hand man of IK. After the resignation of NS on July 28, 2017, IK fielded SR to contest the vacant PM seat. He has now been awarded his old portfolio of Railways Minister.

MQM-P has only 7 seats in the National Assembly, but it has been awarded two ministries in the federal cabinet. Farogh Nasim had served as a Law Minister in Mush regime and later on, Musharraf had appointed him as his defence lawyer in the treason case framed against him. Farogh has now been given Law Ministry. Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, head of MQM-P, who was also part of Mush regime, has been assigned Ministry of Information Technology.

Ch Tarar Bashir Cheema has taken over the Ministry of Frontier Works. An old PPP stalwart and a suspected member of Al-Zulfiqar, he was jailed in 1981 but was released along with other PPP convicts in exchange for the release of passengers of PIA that was hijacked to Kabul. He stayed out of the country till 2003 and then joined the ruling PML-Q. He got elected on PML-Q ticket in 2018 elections. 

Another old PPP leader Ghulam Sarwar who had served as a minister in Shaukat Aziz cabinet in 2004 has been awarded Ministry of Petroleum. Zubaida Jalal from Baluchistan contested 2002 elections on PML-Q ticket and soon became the darling of Mush and George W. Bush since she actively pursued Mush’s policy of enlightened moderation to show the soft face of Pakistan to the world. She was given the portfolio of Education Minister. In 2008, she was involved in a corruption scam. Rs 50 crore had been embezzled that were to be spent on streamlining Madrassas into the national education system. In the 2010 Pildat Report, Zubaida was declared as a second richest person in Baluchistan. Her total assets are worth Rs 5 crores 78 lacs. She has now been assigned Ministry of Defence Production.

Makhdoom Khisro was in Ministry of Foreign Affairs during Mush regime. He has been allotted Ministry of Environment. Fawad Choudhry was the spokesman of Musharraf led All Pakistan Muslim League Party. In 2012, he joined PPP and managed a ministry in the cabinets of both Gilani and Pervez Ashraf. In 2016, he joined PTI and after gaining complete trust of IK, he became the spokesman of the party. He was among the aspirants for Chief Minister (CM) Punjab chair. Shafqat Mehmood (Education Minister), Pervez Elahi (Speaker Punjab Assembly), Jahangir Tareen, Aleem Khan, Umar Ayub, Amer Kayani, Mirza Shehzad Akbar, are loyalists of Mush. IK himself was a fan of Mush and had fully supported him in 2001 presidential election and had become part of his team in 2002 for a year or so.

The Punjab cabinet formed on August 26 had 23 members and in this 12 were from N and Q Leagues. Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Bakht and Food Minister Samiullah are ex PML-N. While 26 winning independents had joined PTI after the elections, but only one was accommodated, which caused resentment. 17 independents boycotted CM Buzdar’s dinner on August 31, including few PTI ticket holders who had a similar grudge.

Fearing a revolt, 12 additional members were inducted on Sept 12 taking the total to 35. Among the new inductees, M. Aslam, Husnain Jahania, Amjad Cheema and Shaukat Lalika are independent MPAs. Six independent MPAs have been adjusted as advisers to CM due to a shortage of vacant ministries. The two MPAs who cribbed the most, Akbar Nohani and Taimur Lali, have again been ignored.  Almost one dozen MPAs including the two have not been given any portfolio. The resentful lot will continue to pose a danger to Buzdar.

Punjab Assembly presently consists of 354 MPAs from 5 parties. Out of them, PTI has 175 MPAs, N-League 159, Q-League 10, and PPP 7. From this, it is apparent that PTI has formed a govt in Punjab with a majority of 16 only. If Q-League is included, it takes the strength to 26. In case those who have been deprived ministries opt to rebel, this majority can reduce further. In the case at some stage, the 7 MPAs of PPP decide to join PML-N, it would add to the problems of PTI govt. To forestall such a development, the PTI with the help of Pervez Elahi is trying to form a forward block of 20-22 PML-N MPAs.  

The new regime under IK has made tall promises to build a corruption-free New Pakistan based on the model of Meesakh-e-Madina. IK has introduced simplicity and austerity and has made a good start by radically reducing the vehicles from 80 to two, and servants from 500 to two employed in PM House. Luxury and bulletproof cars are lined up for auction and it is intended to deposit the amount in national kitty. PM House will be converted in Research University and Governor Houses/state guest houses opened to the public.

IK is determined to bring back the looted amount from abroad and to eliminate the scourge of corruption and for this purpose intends to strengthen NAB and make it independent. He has formed task forces to recover looted money stashed in foreign banks.

He intends to reform the police and bureaucracy, improve civil service and FBR, and streamline education divided into three tiers, and make Pakistan clean and green by carrying out massive forestation. For the benefit of the poor, he plans to create one crore jobs, build 50 lacs cheap houses, improve govt hospitals and schools, issue health cards, provide interest free loans to the youth, make the state responsible for the care of street children, widows and crippled, dealing sternly with child abusers, and improve the dignity of a common man.

Ending terrorism, resolving water crisis, building four new tourist spots every year, improving local bodies system, attending to water and transport issues of Karachi, addressing grievances of Baluchistan, and directing civil courts to complete cases within one year and doing away with VIP culture are other projects in hands. 

All those who had milked the tax payer’s money and misused national resources to amass ill-gotten wealth and stash it in foreign banks have been identified. Sooner than later the law of the land is expected to fall upon them to get back over $200 billion. Given the trend of accountability and the rising ire of the people against the looters and plunderers, it is earnestly hoped that the corrupt do not get away this time.

Before the culprits are nabbed, forced to surrender their wealth and get imprisoned, I reckon they still have time and a chance to transfer their foreign accounts into Pakistani banks voluntarily, accept their crimes and apologize to the nation. This way, maybe some mercy is shown to them.

The judiciary, NAB and the Establishment are backing the govt in this regard since Pakistan is going through financial crisis and foreign debts have crossed the figure of $80 billion while circular debt has reached Rs 1160 billion. IMF under instructions from the USA is not prepared to give a bailout package without tough conditions.

The writer is a retired Brig, war veteran, defence analyst, columnist, author of five books, Vice Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan, Director Measac Research Centre, Member PESS and TJP. asifharoonraja@gmail.com   

 

 

 

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Zionist-led Double Game has Taken the Pak-US Relations on Backtrack By Sajjad Shaukat

Zionist-led Double Game has Taken the Pak-US Relations on Backtrack

By Sajjad Shaukat

 

 

Although the former presidents of the United States George. W. Bush and Barack Obama were secretly acting upon the Zionist-led double game as part of the South Asian policy, yet President Donald Trump clearly exposed America’s double game in South Asia. 

 

Despite the repeated assurances of Pakistan’s military and civil leadership that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are well-protected and are under tight security arrangements, having well-coordinated command and control system, a deliberate propaganda campaign against the safety of these weapons keeps on going by the US, India and some Western countries who are acting upon the Zionist agenda to ‘denuclearize’ Pakistan as the latter is the only nuclear country in the Islamic World. Besides, some other developments such as America’s pro-Indian and pro-Israeli policies, and anti-Pakistan, anti-China, anti-Russia and anti-Iran diplomacy are also part of the Zionist-led double game of the US who is in collaboration with India and Israel. Particularly, Washington which is in connivance with New Delhi and Tel Aviv has been destabilizing Pakistan politically and economically.

 

In this regard, a few days after the US cancelled USD 300 million in military aid (The so-called Coalition Support Funds) to Islamabad, accusing the latter of failing to rein in the terror groups operating from its soil in Afghanistan, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the former CIA chief who along with the US Joint Chief of Staff Chairman General Joseph Dunford had arrived on an official visit to Islamabad met with Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Imran Khan, Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on September 5, this year.

 

In a statement, Pakistan’s Foreign Office said that Qureshi highlighted that the priority of the new government was socio-economic development and for the success of people-centred agenda and economic reforms, an enabling regional security environment was imperative. He said improving relations with neighbours was a priority, in an apparent reference to strained ties with India and Afghanistan, which often accuses Pakistan of providing safe havens to terrorists to conduct cross-border attacks. Qureshi also reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to continue efforts for promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan.

 

The statement elaborated: “The two sides agreed that present conditions in Afghanistan were conducive to intensifying efforts for a political settlement. They underscored the need for the Taliban to seize the opportunity for talks in response to the Afghan President Ghani’s offer for an unconditional dialogue…Mr Pompeo stated that the US fully supported the reform agenda of Prime Minister Khan and wished the government success in its implementation…Mr Pompeo conveyed the US desire to work with Pakistan in furthering the shared objectives of peace and stability in Afghanistan.”

 

At the same time, reviving the US old blame game regarding cross-border terrorism, Pompeo emphasized upon Islamabad “to do more” at the meeting.

 

The international community knows very well that Pakistan’s Armed Forces have successfully broken the backbone of the foreign-backed terrorists by the military operations Zarb-e-Azb and Radd-ul-Fasaad. Army and top intelligence agency ISI have broken the network of these terrorist groups by capturing several militants while thwarting a number of terror attempts. Peace has been restored in various regions of Pakistan, including Karachi and Balochistan province.

 

But, like the previous diplomats of America, Mike Pompeo’s statement shows an unrealistic and contradictory approach towards Islamabad, as Zionist-controlled elements control the foreign policy of the US. Overtly, American high officials remark that they seek stability in Pakistan, but covertly, they continue to destabilize it to obtain the illegitimate interests of Israel.

 

Pakistan’s new Prime Minister who knows Zionist designs and American double game has vowed to review Pak-US relations. In this respect, Qureshi had said: “The disconnection between Washington and Islamabad was addressed in the meeting with Pompeo as both sides agreed to reset the two-way linkages.”

 

After meeting Pompeo, next day, addressing the Defence and Martyrs Day ceremony and hinting towards the US, Prime Minister Khan said: “The country will not be part of anyone else’s war, rubbished the myth of a civil-military divide in the country…We both [civil, military] have a common goal and that is to take this country forward.” He “saluted the valour and sacrifices of the armed forces, which stood strong against all odds in the aftermath of the 9/11 and the unconventional war that followed, to safeguard the interests of the country.

 

Addressing the ceremony, Chief of Army Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa said:  “Our forces and nation have rendered sacrifices in the war against terrorism…Our houses, schools and leaders were attacked. Efforts were made to weaken us internally.” Noting that more than 70,000 Pakistanis were martyred and injured in this war, the army chief vowed to collectively fight this menace of terrorism.

 

Gen. Bajwa added: “The country passed through a very difficult phase during the past two decades and the war is still continued.” He also said that the continuity of democracy was necessary for the country.

 

After visiting Pakistan, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo went to India where US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was already present.  Pompeo and Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met separately on September 6, 2018, before joining top defence officials for talks.

 

Taking to the media, Swaraj remarked, “India attaches the highest priority to its strategic partnership with the United States. We see that the United States is our partner of choice. Pompeo said the U.S. values its relationship with India and noted we fully support India’s rise.”

 

Mattis and Indian Defense Minister Nirmala Sithataman also met separately before joining the other two leaders. Sitharaman in her opening remarks stated: “Defense cooperation has become one of the most significant dimensions of the countries’ relationship. We have acquired various advanced defence platforms from the U.S. We are thus partners in building defence capability in the broadest sense of the term.”

Mattis said:  “Today our partnership has become one of the most consequential in the region and in the world.”

 

There are sticking points, however, including the purchase by India of Iranian oil and the Russian S-400 ground-to-air missile system, which could trigger US sanctions on India.

 

Pompeo told reporters “talks were ongoing on whether to grant waivers for India from U.S. sanctions on Iran — India’s second-largest oil supplier — and Russia. Our effort here is not to penalize great strategic partners like India.

 

Pompeo and Mattis later met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and conveyed Trump’s support for “India’s role as a leading global power and regional security provider.”

 

  1. Raja Mohan, one of India’s top foreign policy analysts and the director of the Institute of South Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore, opined that US-India ties have strengthened immensely over the past couple of decades, and Trump has ramped up diplomatic pressure on India’s main rivals, Pakistan and China, earning him plenty of goodwill.

 

In fact, the agenda for Indo-US talks included previous key issues such as anti-terrorism, maritime security and particularly countering China’s growing influence in the Indian Ocean and the region.

 

Strategic analysts remark that there are no permanent friends and enemies in international politics because of friendship and enmity change in accordance with the states’ interests which are of primary importance.

 

After having a strong relationship with the United States for more than 60 years, a rift has occurred in Pak-US ties which are moving on backtrack because of a number of reasons, and Pakistan has been further strengthening its relations with China. It has also inclined towards the Russian Federation which also needs the latter. Particularly, the US-led secret strategy which is part of the Zionist-led American double game compelled Pakistan to fortify its relations with Russia. 

 

In this connection, an agreement has been signed on August 7, this year between Pakistan and Russia for the training of Pakistani troops in Russia, decided at the culmination of the first meeting of joint Military Consultative Committee (JMCC) in Islamabad. Pakistan’s defence ties with Moscow are growing strong with each passing day and this pact has opened new avenues of cooperation between the two countries. A desire from both sides has already been seen in the near past in boosting economic and political relationships. Obviously, these moves are seen with suspicion by the US and India, including Israel. The fact of the matter is that American President Donald Trump’s pro-Indian strategy and anti-Pakistan policies have forced Islamabad to find new alliances.

 

Earlier, America announced to stop military training programmes with Pakistan. In this respect, Western media said: “The U.S. has stopped financing military training in the U.S. for Pakistani soldiers…The effective suspension of Pakistan from the US government’s International Military Education and Training program (IMET) will close off places that had been set aside for 66 Pakistani officers this year.”

Pakistani officials warned it could push their military to further look to Russia and China. Pakistan’s Chairman of the Foreign Affairs committee, Senator. Mushahid Hussain called the American move “wrong and counterproductive” and stated: “The U.S. is repeating past mistakes through a failed policy of trying to bully and browbeat Pakistan with such shortsighted sanctions.”

 

On August 3, this year, the US Congress had approved a $716 billion defence authorization bill to cut Pakistan’s defence aid from $750 million to $150 million. The Senate passed the conference report on National Defence Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill then was sent to president Trump seeking his assent. Last year, US defence bill had authorized a significant aid of $700 million for Pakistan under Coalition Support Fund that had been reduced afterwards. The defence policy bill backed President Donald Trump’s call for a bigger, stronger military and sidestepping a potential battle with the White House over technology from major Chinese firms.

 

It is notable that in an interview with CNBC television on July 30, 2018, the US Secretary of State Pompeo had warned on that any potential International Monetary Fund bailout for Pakistan’s new government should not provide funds to pay off Chinese lenders. Pompeo explained that the United States looked forward to engagement with the government of Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Imran Khan, but there was “no rationale” for a bailout that pays off Chinese loans to Pakistan.

 

Islamabad has dismissed America’s concerns that any new International Monetary Fund bailout for the nation would be used to repay Chinese debt as “totally wrong”.

 

It is mentionable that soon after the victory of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in the general elections of 2018, China agreed to further US$ 2 billion loans to aid its foreign currency reserves, something which cites trust in the new government. The then Chairman of PTI, Imran Khan emphasized close ties with Beijing and the implementation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). This came timely, as Pakistan has continued to face strained relationships with the US government, and did not want to rely on the IMF for a bail-out. Chinese announcement caused Pakistan’s rupee to jump the most in nearly a decade, as Khan was likely to take power with an economy in chaos. Beijing has stepped up to reinforce a geopolitical alliance which shapes the South Asian nation’s policies towards the US and India which are following a secret strategy of Israel against Islamabad. The gesture showed to Pakistan’s overwhelming reliance on China as a source of financial, diplomatic and military support at a time when US President Donald Trump has cut military aid to Islamabad.

 

Besides China, Prime Minister Imran Khan is also strengthening Pakistan’s relation with Russia, Iran and Turkey which are facing the US sanctions.

 

As regards Pak-Russian ties, in this connection, Pakistan’s Army chief Gen. Javed Bajwa arrived in Russia for a two-day visit on April 24, this year. It was General Bajwa’s first visit to Russia.

 

The statement of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said, “Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa arrived in Russia…where he met with Commander of Russian Federation Ground Forces Colonel General Oleg Salyukov at the Kremlin Palace…During the meeting, the Russian ground forces commander acknowledged achievements of Pakistan Army in the fight against terrorism and contributions for regional peace and stability. Colonel General Salyukov said that Pakistan is a geo-strategically important country and Russia is keen to expand its existing bilateral military-to-military cooperation…The COAS thanked the Russian commander and said that Pakistan reciprocates desire of enhanced bilateral military engagements. General Bajwa said that Russia has recently played a positive role to help resolve complex situations in the region.” 

 

 

Image result for pakistan china russia iran alliance

 

However, during the meetings between the top military and security leadership of the two countries, Pakistan and Russia reaffirmed their commitment to intensify and expand bilateral military cooperation.

 

In his meeting with the Gen. Qamar Javed, Russian Ground Forces Commander-in-Chief Colonel General Oleg Salyukov said his country was interested in expanding the existing military cooperation with Pakistan. Gen Bajwa, too, expressed Pakistan’s desire to enhance bilateral military engagements with Russia.

 

The two countries had in February, 2018 agreed to set up a military cooperation commission for promoting military cooperation. Both sides had signed a defence cooperation agreement in November 2014 and later inked military-technical cooperation accord, which allows arms trade between the two countries and cooperation in weapon development, in October 2015.

 

The press service of the Russian Security Council reported that in their meeting, “issues of bilateral military cooperation in information security and countering international terrorism were studied.”

 

The army chief’s trip was preceded by the visit of National Security Adviser retired Lt. Gen. Nasser Janjua to Russia. His meeting with Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolay Patrushev resulted in an understanding that the security cooperation between the two countries needed a boost.

 

Islamabad, Moscow and Beijing share the common opinion that the presence of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan failed to restore stability in the country.

 

Speaking to Chief of General Staff of Russian Armed Forces Gen Valery Vasilevich Gerasimov, Gen. Bajwa stated; “Russia supported Pakistan’s efforts towards reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan” and it was “willing to play a role towards that end.” He noted that Pakistan welcomed any initiative which could bring peace and stability to Afghanistan and the whole region would benefit from it.

 

Notably, in 2002, the 7th meeting of the Pakistan-Russia Consultative Group on Strategic Stability was held in Moscow. The two sides had discussed matters of mutual interest relating to international issues, including arms control, nonproliferation and counter-terrorism. On May 12, 2011, Islamabad and Moscow agreed to promote trade, investment and joint projects particularly in energy, infrastructure development, metal industry and agriculture. Russia has shown a special interest in energy projects. A working group of both countries had met in October 2011 to explore cooperation in this sector. Islamabad is interested in Russian investment in its oil and gas sectors as well as in heavy industries.

 

Russia has offered Pakistan counter-terrorism equipment. The package includes 10 MI-17 helicopters of unarmed configuration. When Russian military Chief Col-Gen. Alexander Postnikov visited Pakistan in May 2011, he discussed with the former Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani—the possibility of expanding defence ties by holding joint military exercises, exchanging trainees and trainers and selling and buying weapons. Moscow has also offered to sell Sukhoi Superjet 100, a modern aircraft with a capacity of up to 95 passengers, while up-gradation of Pakistan Steel Mills by Russia is being finalized. In the recent past, it was the first time that joint military exercises were conducted between the two countries in Pakistan.

 

In 2011, Putin publicly endorsed Pakistan bid to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and remarked that Pakistan was a very important partner in South Asia and the Muslim world for Russia. In the recent years, besides, various annual summits of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation which includes Russia, China and four Central Asian states including Pakistan and Iran, on 16 August 2007, in their summit, the leaders of the SCO displayed strength against the US rising dominance in the region and military presence in Afghanistan, near the region of Central Asia.

 

 

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It is noteworthy that on June 9, 20, Pakistan’s ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif held a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of SCO summit in Astana, Kazakhstan. President Putin stated that Pakistan is an important partner for Russia in South Asia and congratulated the then Prime Minister Sharif on Pakistan’s full membership to the SCO. Putin elaborated, “Russian-Pakistani relations have been constructive and mutually beneficial…our relations are developing in many areas, and our trade has increased.”

 

In a major development, Russia has offered its support for Pakistan’s entry into a free trade agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), of which Russia is a leading member.

 

The disqualified Prime Minister Sharif who thanked the Russian Federation for supporting Pakistan’s full membership in the SCO, said, “The SCO gives us a powerful platform for partnerships to promote peace, build trust and spur economic development for shared prosperity…it helps us all combat terrorism…expansion of the SCO has taken place at an opportune time, as China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative has transformed the global economic landscape…in Pakistan, we are diligently implementing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which is a flag of the OBOR.”

 

In this context, to bolster its strategic contest with China and Russia, the US is moving towards a military alliance with India. America which is backing Indian hegemony in Asia, especially to counterbalance China is supplying New Delhi latest weapons, arms and aircraft.

 

During ex-President Barack Obama’s second visit to India, the Washington and New Delhi had announced a breakthrough on a pact which would allow American companies to supply India with civilian nuclear technology, as agreed upon in 2008. During Indian Prime Minister Modi’s first visit to America, President Obama had strongly assured him to favour India’s membership in the coming meeting of the Nuclear Supplier Group. Earlier, Washington also pressurized the International Atomic Agency (IAEA) to sign an accord of specific safeguards with India. America had already contacted the NSG to grant a waiver to India for starting civil nuclear trade on a larger scale.

 

During his trip to the USA, Prime Minister Modi’s first meeting with the American President Donald Trump held on June 27, 2017. Both the leaders pledged to work together to boost their respective economies and other fields. Besides, President Trump and Prime Minister Modi pledged to deepen defence and security cooperation, building on the US’s recognition of India as a major defence partner. The president also thanked India for seeking a $2 billion arms deal with the United States for 22 naval surveillance drones.

 

Trump said, “The relationship between the United States and India is very, very strong and very, very powerful.” While, ignoring ground realities that the US-led Israeli Mossad and Indian RAW are sponsoring terrorism in Asia and Western countries, in the joint statement, Trump hailed pledges of closer cooperation between India and the United States, especially in the fight against the Islamic State group (Also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh). 

 

As a matter of fact, since the occupation of Afghanistan by the US-led NATO forces, the country has become centre of the intelligence agencies such as CIA, RAW and Mossad which are in connivance to obtain the covert designs of their countries and some Western countries against Russia, China and Pakistan, including Iran. Under the cover of fighting terrorism, these foreign agencies which are also in collaboration with Afghan intelligence agency, National Directorate of Security (NDS) support the militants of ISIS and Afghanistan-based Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), including their linked outfits which have been conducting terror-assaults in Afghanistan and Pakistan as part of the secret strategy of the US-led countries. Besides, these terrorist groups are weakening Tibetan regions of China and Iranian Sistan-Baluchistan through subversive activities.

 

Apart from Islamabad, the US has also accused Iran and Russia of assisting the Taliban in Afghanistan. The main purpose of Washington is not only to pacify their people and justify the unending war in Afghanistan but also to fulfil the secret strategic designs of the Zionist Jews against Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran.  Trump has so far focused on outreach to China, India’s strategic rival, as he also initiated a trade war with China.

 

It is of particular attention that India was openly opposing the CPEC and China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative; the US also joined New Delhi. In this connection, on October 3, 2017,  the then US Defence Secretary James Mattis told the Lawmakers, “The United States has reiterated its support for India’s opposition to China’s One Belt, One Road initiative…the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) a part of which traverses Pakistan-Kashmir.”

 

Islamabad strongly rejected the statement from the American defence chief that the multibillion-dollar road and rail network CPEC which is part of China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative, passes through a disputed territory of Kashmir, urging the international community to focus on blatant human rights violations and ‘heinous crimes’ committed by Indian occupation forces in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), and reminded the US that Washington had also participated in an OBOR summit.

 

Earlier, a statement from the Chinese foreign ministry also dismissed Mattis’ statement, saying that the OBOR plan was backed by the United Nations and that CPEC was an economic cooperation initiative. Russia also supports the OBOR and CPEC.

 

It is worth mentioning that Washington and New Delhi do not want to see peace and prosperity in the region. Sadly, Pakistan’s dominant role in Afghanistan’s peace process under the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) has, deliberately, been sabotaged by the killing of the Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansur in the CIA-operated drone attack in Balochistan. After the incident, Afghan Taliban leaders refused to participate in the US-sponsored talks with the Afghan government. While, in the recent past, with the help of Pakistan, a series of meetings were held in Islamabad and Kabul among the representatives of Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the US to develop an understanding for the earliest possible resumption of stalled talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban with view to ending nearly 17 years of bloodshed in Afghanistan.

 

During the sixth Heart of Asia Conference which was held in the Indian city of Amritsar on December 3 and 4, 2016 proved fruitless in achieving its goals due to the secret diplomacy of the US, India and Afghanistan owing to the blame game, especially of New Delhi and Kabul against Islamabad. In his opening remarks, following American secret diplomacy in Asia, in his frenzy and ferocious speech, Indian Prime Minister Modi had lashed out at Pakistan on terrorism as the central subject of the moot.

 

Speaking in the Indian tone, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani also accused Pakistan of providing sanctuary to terrorists and cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan.

 

Addressing the conference, Russian envoy Zamir Kabulov had rejected the Indian and Afghan allegations against Pakistan. He stated that Afghanistan is the pivot of the conference and the agenda of the conference should not be hijacked. He added that being friends and supporters, we should avoid the blame game and work together. He also said that Pakistan’s Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz’s speech at the conference was friendly and constructive.

 

Earlier, due to the double game of the US and failure of the QCG, China, Russia and Pakistan held secretary-level trilateral talks in Moscow on December 27, 2016, and discussed regional stability, including the restoration of peace in Afghanistan. The meeting also discussed anti-terrorism cooperation amid growing influence of the ISIL in the region and a peace process between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

 

It is mentionable that the American President Trump has withdrawn from the Iran nuclear deal and is following war-mongering diplomacy against Tehran by toughening sanctions, while Israel is also doing the same against Iran. Hence, Iran could abandon the US-backed India-Afghanistan Chabahar project and could join the CPEC project.

 

Notably, in the recent years, unbridgeable trust deficit existed between Pakistan and the United States owing to America’s double game with Islamabad. But, President Trump’s flawed strategy in South Asia, based upon anti-Pakistan moves, has taken the Pakistan-US ties to point of no return.

 

During the heightened days of the Cold War, despite Pakistan’s membership of the US-sponsored military alliances SEATO and CENTO, including Pak-US bilateral military agreement, America did not come to help Pakistan against India which separated East Pakistan in 1971.

 

After the end of the Cold War, the US left both Pakistan and Afghanistan to face the fallout of the Afghan war 1. By manipulating the nuclear programme of Islamabad, the US imposed various sanctions on Pakistan.

 

But, after the 9/11 tragedy, America, again, needed Pakistan’s help and President George W. Bush insisted upon Islamabad to join the US global war on terror. Pakistan was also granted the status of a non-NATO ally by America due to the early successes, achieved by Pakistan’s Army and country’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) against the Al-Qaeda militants.

 

Within a few years, when the US-led NATO forces felt that they are failing in coping with the stiff resistance of the Taliban in Afghanistan, they started accusing Pak Army and ISI of supporting the Afghan Taliban. They constantly insisted upon Pakistan to do more against the militants and continued the CIA-operated drone attacks on Pakistan’s tribal areas by ignoring the internal backlash in the country.

 

Reviving the double game as part of anti-Pakistan strategy, President Donald Trump stated in his tweet on January 1, this year, “The US has foolishly given Pakistan more than $33 billion in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies and deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”

 

Weeks earlier of this tweet, while, unveiling national security strategy, Trump had said, “We make massive payments every year to Pakistan. They have to help.”

 

In his speech on August 21, 2017, while announcing the US new strategy regarding Afghanistan as part of the policy in South Asia, President Trump, particularly, singled out Pakistan for criticism. Using tough words against the US ally Pakistan, Trump revived the old blame game of his predecessors Bush and Obama regarding the cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan by saying Washington could “no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations”, and threatened to target the terrorists’ sanctuaries in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Trump stated, “We have been paying Pakistan billions of dollars, at the same time, they are housing the very terrorists we are fighting…that must change immediately.”

 

Regarding Pakistan’s regional rival India, Donald Trump added, “We appreciate India’s important contributions to stability in Afghanistan…We want them to help us more with Afghanistan.”

 

Meanwhile, on January 5, 2018, the US suspended $255 million of military aid to Islamabad as a condition to do more against terrorism.

 

Taking cognizance of the latest tweet of President Trump, Pakistan’s civil and military leaders, including all the mainstream political parties united against the US aggressive stance against the country and offered a stark response to Trump’s false accusations. The then Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif remarked, “Terrorist sanctuaries are present in East Afghanistan. It is from these safe havens inside Afghanistan that terrorist attacks are being launched on Pakistan…The claim by Trump regarding the funds, if we account for it, they include reimbursements too for the services rendered by Pakistan…Our land, roads, rail and, other different kinds of services were used for which we were reimbursed.”

 

According to the earlier statement of the ISPR, “Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa stated that “Pakistan was not looking for any material or financial assistance from the USA but trust, understanding and acknowledgement of our contributions…peace in Afghanistan is as important for Pakistan as for any other country.”

 

While encouraged by the US President Trump, Indian Prime Minister Modi is flowing aggressive diplomacy against Pakistan, and India has continued shelling in Pakistani side of Kashmir which remains a nuclear flashpoint between both the neighbouring countries.

 

And various other developments such as Russia-Iran-Turkey alliance to fight the ISIS, and US decision to dispatch more troops in Afghanistan etc. are equally notable.

 

Nevertheless, taking note of the Zionist-led US double game, the new government of Pakistan led by Prime Minister Imran Khan is further fortifying country’s relations with Beijing, Moscow, Tehran and Ankara. Especially, he will prefer Russia and China over America.

 

It is also of particular attention that two days after the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s transit visit, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is reaching Islamabad on Friday (September 7, 2018) on a three-day visit. Besides meeting his Pakistani counterpart, Mr Wang is likely to meet Prime Minister Imran Khan and president-elect Arif Alvi during his stay in Islamabad to have discussions on bilateral issues with a focus on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects.

 

We can conclude that the Zionist-led double game has taken the Pak-US relations on the backtrack, and in future, the Russian-led China-Pakistan-Iran-Turkey alliance will emerge.

 

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is the author of the book: the US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

 

Email: sajjad_logic@yahoo.com

 

Courtesy Veterans Today

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LETTER TO EDITOR : Over-Reacting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LETTER TO EDITOR

6th September 2018

Over-Reacting

 

Though the Defence & Shuhada Day celebrations at various stations of Pakistan were really praiseworthy yet, our media at places overreacted in projecting the events of the 65 war.  For example; while praising the bravery of the Pak soldiers they were reported to have laid themselves in front of the Indian tanks with mines on the chests in the battle of  Chawinda !!  Well, nothing of the sorts happened or can ever happen.  The Commanding Officer of the men doing so would be Court Martialled. If someone can get that close to an advancing tank then why can’t he just jump on it to lob a hand grenade inside it which will not only kill everyone in it but also explode the tank main gun ammunition which would destroy the tank instantly?   Then, I don’t know why our media men are shy of using words and expressions not easily digestible to our clergy while reporting facts. The Indian General Chaudhry attacking Lahore had boasted of having a “Chota Peg” (small whisky) in Lahore Gymkhana club on the evening of 6th September, but our media for the fear of mentioning word Sharab distorted it to his having boasted of having a Nashta there next morning!!  What bl— nashta and for what? The illiterate media men should know that one celebrates one’s victory with a toast by clinking glasses and not with some  Nashta!  And again for the information of media, the toast is not that of bread but of a drink and that too a hard drink!  And of course, there were no angles in the skies over Sargodha or Lahore in white robes and green turbans fighting alongside the Pakistani soldiers killing Hindoo kafirs. I didn’t see any and I personally checked it up from late  Sq Ldr M.M. Alam who also didn’t see any angel up there.   

It is good to motivate the nation religiously to fight the enemies of Pakistan but let such motivation be realistic rather than fictional and fairy taled.

 

Col. Syed Riaz Jafri (Retd)

Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd)
30 Westridge 1
Rawalpindi 46000
Pakistan

E.mail: jafri@rifiela.com

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Why the Indian Air Force has a high crash rate RAKESH KRISHNAN SIMHA

Why the Indian Air Force has a high crash rate

RAKESH KRISHNAN SIMHA
Rossiyskaya Gazeta
In the backdrop of the sixth Sukhoi crash in six years, here’s a look at some factors that contribute to the IAF’s high crash rate.

More than 200 Sukhoi Flankers currently form the core of the Indian Air Force’s strike element, for a planned force of over 272 Su-30 fighter-bombers. India received the initial batch of Sukhois in 2002. The first of these aircraft crashed in 2009, and since then five more have crashed.

Now let’s look at the Sukhois in other air forces.

The People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has 150 Flankers of Russian origin and 229 Chinese knockoffs. That’s a total of 379 aircraft, for an eventual figure of 400 Russian made Flankers, derivatives and illegal copies. And yet the PLAAF has lost fewer Sukhoi in crashes. Are the Chinese Sukhois better maintained, better built or are Chinese pilots simply playing it safe? More on that in a moment.

The Russian Air Force has a total of 438 Flankers. Again, the Russian Sukhois don’t tumble out of the air at a rate close to the IAF’s. Similarly, there have been no reports of Flankers of the Vietnamese and Indonesian air forces being involved in crashes.

пустым не оставлять!!

Indian Airforce’s Excuses for High Number of SU-30MKI CRASHES

Why the Flanker force matters

The IAF calls the Su-30 its “air dominance” fighter for a good reason. The arrival of the Sukhoi has decisively tilted the balance of power in favour of the IAF in the region. The Flanker’s super-manoeuvrability, its armoury of advanced beyond visual range missiles and extraordinary range of 3000 km (extendable to 8000 km with aerial refuelling) are aspects that make it the wolf of the skies.

The Su-30 is also equipped with synthetic aperture radar (SAR), which gives it greater long-range reconnaissance capabilities. Armed with the SAR pod, the IAF Sukho are known to engage in aggressive patrols along the China-India and India-Pakistan borders.

Considering the Flanker’s hunter-killer reputation, anyone who questions its capability is clearly living under a rock.

So what explains the loss of six IAF Flankers in crashes? Let’s go into the various probable causes and also dissect the theories floating out there.

Crash No.1: 30 April 2009

The first ever Su-30MKI crashes in the Pokhran region, Rajasthan. The IAF’s Court of Inquiry establishes Wing Commander Vishwas Munje mistakenly switched off the warplane’s fly-by-wire system.

Crash No.2: 30 November 2009

Sukhoi crashes near Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, after a fire warning. An IAF investigation attributes it to accidental ingestion of a foreign object in the engine intake.

Crash No.3: 13 December 2011

Aircraft crashes 20 km from Pune. IAF says the crash is due to a malfunction in the fly-by-wire system.

Crash No.4: 19 February 2013

Aircrafts right-wing explodes over Pokhran, shortly after completing a training mission.

Crash No.5: 14 October 2013

Fly-by-wire system malfunctions yet again and the Sukhoi goes down near Pune. Russian experts blame pilot error but the IAF says the Court of Inquiry is yet to pinpoint the exact reason.

Crash No.6: 19 May 2015

Su-30MKI flying from Tezpur in Assam develops a technical snag and the pilot is forced to abandon the aircraft. The cause is yet to be established. 

Now that you have a good idea of what exactly happened in those six crashes, let’s look at the possible reasons why jet fighters crash in India.

Possible reason No.1: Intense training

The IAF is one of the few air forces in the world that conduct intense, year-round training. Benjamin Lambeth of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace says the IAF trains for a “high intensity, high stakes” conflict. Keeping in mind the possibility of a two-front war, the IAF puts its pilots and aircraft through the wringer.

Mock air combat can involve hundreds of aircraft flying thousands of kilometres. During such a war game in 2013, Sukhois flew 1800-km bombing missions from Chabua in Assam to the western front, with mid-air refuelling. In fact, IAF pilots are known to lead missions over 10 hours in their Sukhois.

Such training places a great deal of stress on aircraft, pilots and aircrews, which means potentially more accidents. But that’s the way the IAF trains for war. In fact, a former air force chief has gone on record that he would rather lose pilots during training than during the war.

The strategy has been amply rewarded. In the 1971 War, for instance, the IAF was able to conduct a wide range of missions – troop support; air combat; deep penetration strikes; para-dropping behind enemy lines; feints to draw enemy fighters away from the actual target; bombing; and reconnaissance.

 

A PLAAF fighter pilot would most likely be reprimanded if he deviated from the flight plan set by his commanders. Losing a plane would be cause enough for a court-martial.

Thankfully, the IAF does not believe in having robots but values superior training and innovativeness. IAF pilots have truly internalised what Sergei Dolgushin, a Russian Air Force ace with 24 victories in WWII, said is a prerequisite to being a successful fighter pilot: “A love of hunting, a great desire to be the top dog”.

Possible reason No.2: Harsh environment

Harsh is normal in India. Tropical India is an unforgiving environment for any aircraft. The hot air means aircraft engines produce less thrust and the wing produce less lift compared to similar aircraft flying in European skies. Sun-baked runways are also known to impact landing safety. These are factors IAF pilots have to live with.

Bird hits are another huge factor in aircraft accidents over India. The IAF attributes around 10 per cent of accidents to bird hits. Most IAF bases are located near populated areas, where birds are a constant menace.

The situation has got so dire that the IAF last year issued global bids to four companies for 45 bird detection and monitoring radar systems to be installed at airports and air bases across India.

Possible reason No.3: Missing trainers

According to figures released by the Ministry of Defence in March 2013, the IAF was losing the equivalent of one fighter squadron (approximately 18 fighters) in accidents every two years. This was primarily because of the lack of an adequate number of trainers.

Rookie fighter pilots begin on basic trainers, then move on to intermediate jet trainers (IJTs) before finally graduating to advanced jet trainers (AJTs). These three stages are critical elements of fighter pilot training and any shortcuts will certainly lead to disaster.

But what was happening was that in the absence of an AJT, rookie pilots were moving straight from the IJT to frontline warplanes such as the MiG-21. The upshot – young pilots died at an alarming rate.

With the induction of the Swiss Pilatus basic trainer and Hawk AJT from Britain, the crashes have come down – but not stopped.

Possible reason No.4: Shoddy maintenance

India is notorious for its ‘chalta hai’ or ‘it’ll be alright’ attitude. In this backdrop, shoddy maintenance could well be a factor. Although the IAF is known for its high standards, those standards are largely of its pilots; maintenance crews may not share that quality. Of late, there have been a number of incidents reported widely in the media about IAF ground crew involved in all sorts of serious crimes. The IAF should look at establishing an elite division of ground crews to service its high-end aircraft.

Possible reason No.5: Depleted air force

The IAF’s fleet strength is currently down to 34 squadrons or around 600 warplanes. The sanctioned number is 42 squadrons. In a country as vast as India, with multiple threats, such depletion in fighter aircraft means fewer aircraft have to perform more missions to get the same job done. It also means less downtime in maintenance hangars. This is where India quickly needs to induct more locally built Tejas interceptors and more locally assembled Su-30s.

Silver lining

The good news is that aircraft crashes in the IAF have shown a declining trend over the last three years. From a high of 30 in fiscal 2011-12, they declined to six in 2012-13 and an equal number in 2013-14.

пустым не оставлять!!

The IAF is now looking to improve overall fleet serviceability. The air force recently told a parliamentary committee that fleet-wide serviceability stood at 60-65 per cent, but could be increased to 77-80 per cent, provided spares were made available.

During a visit to Bangalore in December, IAF chief ACM Arup Raha said: “Budgets remain a constraint, especially the revenue budget, to maintain spares for the aircraft to maintain high operational readiness.”

While the IAF is clearly doing its best under the circumstances, it needs to do better. Bringing the crash rate down to the US or European air force levels should be the goal. Losing a Sukhoi each year is akin to burning Rs 350 crore in cash.

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