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PAF successfully employs air-to-air refuelling skill

March 22, 2010 Leave a comment

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) on Sunday employed an air-to-air refuelling skill successfully, thus, attaining another milestone to prove itself. The attainment of the capability was part of the ongoing ‘High-Mark 2010’ exercises, which kicked off a week ago, an official said.

A senior officer of the PAF said that the first air-to-air refueller aircraft of Pakistan Air Force, which had joined PAF in the mid of December 2009, took an active part in the exercises and refuelled two fighter aircraft in the PAF’s inventory.

The PAF is expecting delivery of three similar refuelling aircraft by June this year. By virtue of its ability to refuel the air defence aircraft in air, PAF’s overall capability in terms of its effectiveness to defend the airspace of the motherland has significantly enhanced, he said. The area of exercise High-Mark 2010 is spread over the entire country from Skardu in the north up to the Arabian Sea in the south. The exercise has been tailored to include joint operations with extensive participation from Pakistan Army and Pakistan Navy that would further enhance might to conduct joint operations amongst the three most essential services.

The High-Mark 2010 is aimed at conducting operations in near-realistic tactical environment while integrating new inductions and providing role-oriented training to combat and support elements of PAF and other services. “It is designed to achieve stipulated objectives with special emphasis on exposing PAF combat crew to simulated air battles based on contemporary concepts,” he said.

He said all the Main Operating Bases (Peace Time) and Forward Operating Bases (War Time) were operative during the ongoing exercise. New inductions like the JF-17 Thunder aircraft and force multipliers such as Saab-2000 Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft and air-to-air refueller aircraft are participating in the exercise for the first time.

The exercise is PAF’s biggest operational event that is being conducted after a pause of five years. The ever-changing geo-political environment in the region demands change in employment concepts and doctrinal changes in the application of air power with emphasis on joint operations, the PAF official said. The Exercise High-Mark 2010 will provide PAF an opportunity to validate these concepts that are vital in the overall defence of the country.

Army Chief Driving Pakistan’s Agenda for Talks

March 22, 2010 Leave a comment
By JANE PERLEZ

KARACHI, Pakistan — In a sign of the mounting power of the army over the civilian government in Pakistan, the head of the military, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, will be the dominant Pakistani participant in important meetings in Washington this week.

T. Mughal/European Pressphoto Agency

Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has met with cabinet officials at the military’s headquarters.

At home, much has been made of how General Kayani has driven the agenda for the talks. They have been billed as cabinet-level meetings, with the foreign minister as the nominal head of the Pakistani delegation. But it has been the general who has been calling the civilian heads of major government departments, including finance and foreign affairs, to his army headquarters to discuss final details, an unusual move in a democratic system.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has been taking a public role in trying to set the tone, insisting that the United States needs to do more for Pakistan, as “we have already done too much.” And it was at his request that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton agreed this fall to reopen talks between the countries at the ministerial level.

The talks are expected to help define the relationship between the United States and Pakistan as the war against the Taliban reaches its endgame phase in Afghanistan. It is in that context that General Kayani’s role in organizing the agenda has raised alarm here in Pakistan, a country with a long history of military juntas.

The leading financial newspaper, The Business Recorder, suggested in an editorial that the civilian government of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani should act more forcefully and “shun creating an environment conducive to military intervention.”

The editorial added, “The government needs to consolidate civilian rule instead of handing over its responsibilities, like coordination between different departments, to the military.”

“General Kayani is in the driver’s seat,” said Rifaat Hussain, a professor of international relations at Islamabad University. “It is unprecedented that an army chief of staff preside over a meeting of federal secretaries.”

General Kayani visited the headquarters of the United States Central Command in Tampa, Fla., over the weekend, and will attend meetings at the Pentagon with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Monday. He is also to attend the opening ceremony of the talks between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Qureshi at the State Department on Wednesday, a spokesman at the American Embassy in Islamabad said.

The most pressing concerns in the talks, according to officials on both sides, will be trying to establish confidence after several years of a corrosive relationship between allies, which only in the past few months has started to gain some positive momentum.

But the complexity of the main topics at hand — the eventual American pullout from Afghanistan, and Pakistan’s concerns about India — is expected to make for a tough round of talks.

On the positive side for Pakistan, the Obama administration has been rethinking its policies toward the country, said Maleeha Lodhi, a former Pakistani ambassador to the United States.

“There is a realization that some of its assumptions over the past year were not correct: that Pakistan’s security paradigm could be changed, that its military could be pressured,” Ms. Lodhi said.

Meanwhile, concerned about efforts by the Afghan government to engage in talks with Taliban rebels, who have important bases and allies on Pakistani soil, the Pakistani government will offer itself as a mediator in any such negotiations, Professor Hussain said.

He said that the message would be, “If you want to talk to bring the Afghan Taliban into the mainstream, you should talk to us.”

Tensions with Afghanistan have been raised by some of Pakistan’s recent operations against the Taliban, most notably the recent capture in Pakistan of a senior Afghan Taliban leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. The former head of the United Nations mission in Afghanistan, Kai Eide, said Friday that the arrest had jeopardized back-channel negotiations with Mr. Baradar’s faction of the Taliban.

But the spokesman for the Pakistani Foreign Ministry, Abdul Basit, said Saturday that Mr. Baradar’s arrest had nothing to do with reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan.

India’s growing role in Afghanistan was also high on Pakistan’s agenda. The spokesman for the Pakistani military, Gen. Athar Abbas, said Pakistan would be “conveying very clearly” its displeasure with India’s offer to help train the Afghan Army at the behest of American and NATO forces. Pakistan has made a counteroffer to train the Afghans, an offer that Pakistan knows is unlikely to be accepted but that it made to pressure Washington to stop the Indian proposal, Pakistani analysts said.

General Kayani arrives in Washington after what the Pakistani military considers a stellar nine months in fighting the Pakistani Taliban, first in the region of Swat and most recently in South Waziristan.

The militants, according to the Pakistanis, have been weakened in their bases in the tribal areas, but at a high cost. According to Pakistani Army figures, 2,377 soldiers were killed in the two campaigns. About 1 in 10 of those killed were officers, a very high rate, Professor Hussain said.

With those sacrifices and the heavy toll on army equipment in mind, Pakistan is expecting quicker reimbursement from the United States of its expenses in fighting the militants, General Abbas said.

Pakistan has complained that the United States has unfairly held up payments of $1.2 billion for 2009 under an agreement to help finance the fight against insurgents. For its part, Washington says its auditors need to satisfy Congress that the Pakistani military has properly spent the money owed.

US amenable to providing Nuclear power plants to Pakistan

March 22, 2010 Leave a comment

US amenable to providing Nuclear power plants to Pakistan

There seems to be sea change in US attitudes towards Islamabad. According to press releases, analyst reports, Islamabad’s demands, and positive signals from US officials, Pakistan will ask for Atomic energy, and the US Administration seems to be amenable to providing Civilian Nuclear Power plants to Pakistan.

Regional experts say Pakistan will be looking to Washington to recognize the threat it perceives from its eastern neighbor India, against whom it has fought and lost three wars. Pakistan is concerned that Indian economic and political involvement in Afghanistan could lead to unfriendly governments on both its eastern and western borders. Huffington Post. Pakistan to ask for more understanding at US talks. KATHY GANNON | March 19, 2010 10:43 AM EST |

  • Current US Administration accepts Pakistan as Nuclear state
  • US should do more: “We have already done too much … Pakistan has done its bit, we have delivered; now it’s your (the US) turn. Start delivering,” he said at a media briefing on the upcoming US-Pakistan strategic dialogue.Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
  • Pakistani security concerns: “One is to implicitly accept Pakistan’s status as a declared nuclear weapons state and thereby counter conspiracy theories that the United States is secretly plotting to seize Pakistani nukes,” The Washington Post.
  • Nuclear Power Plants for Pakistan: “We are beginning to have a discussion with the Pakistan government” on the country’s desire to tap nuclear energy. “We are going to have working level talks” Ambassador Patterson, the US envoy in Islamabad, Pakistan Link.
  • Civilian Nuclear Energy for Pakistan: “We have a very broad and complex agenda in these talks, and this is the first strategic dialogue ever at this level, and the first of this administration. And we’re going to listen carefully to whatever the Pakistanis say.” Richard Holbrooke.
  • Nuclear Deal: Civilian nuclear deal may be able to diminish Pakistani fears of US intentions while allowing Washington to leverage these gains for greater Pakistani cooperation on nuclear proliferation and terrorism”. C. Christine Fair, Assistant Professor at Georgetown University.
  • Growing Energy Demand: “Civilian nuclear technology will help Pakistan meet its growing energy demand… the [transfer of] drone technology will… [lead to] wider public acceptability [of strikes]“. President Zardari.
  • Reversing Anti-Americanism in Pakistan: Parity, Nuclear Plants

Empty promises will not work anymore. The US has to expeditiously deliver ROZ, FTA, nuke plants and Drone technology. This has to be resolved expeditiously. US Pakistani strategic partnership?–Here is a list

WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s request for nuclear power plants may come up for discussion during the US-Pakistan strategic dialogue, which begins in Washington on March 24.

The indications came from two senior US officials, ambassadors Richard Holbrooke and Anne W. Patterson.

Ambassador Patterson, the US envoy in Islamabad, told a Los Angeles-based Pakistani newspaper: “We are beginning to have a discussion with the Pakistan government” on the country’s desire to tap nuclear energy. “We are going to have working level talks” on the issue in Washington this month.

She told the Pakistan Link newspaper that earlier America’s “non-proliferation concerns were quite severe” but attitudes in Washington were changing. “I think we are beginning to pass those and this is a scenario that we are going to explore,” she added.

Mr Holbrooke, the US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, was less categorical but what he said at a briefing on Friday on the US-Pakistan strategic talks conveyed a similar message.

“While addressing Pakistan’s energy needs, are you considering helping them establish nuclear power plants to meet their energy needs?” he was asked.

A transcript released by the State Department on Saturday quoted Mr Holbrooke as saying: “We have a very broad and complex agenda in these talks, and this is the first strategic dialogue ever at this level, and the first of this administration. And we’re going to listen carefully to whatever the Pakistanis say.”

The response marks the first time a US official did not reject the Pakistani request outright. On all previous occasions, US officials insisted that their agreement for supplying nuclear power plants to India was exclusive to New Delhi and could not be offered to another country.

The Washington Post reported earlier this month that the Obama administration was taking several steps to address Pakistani security concerns. “One is to implicitly accept Pakistan’s status as a declared nuclear weapons state and thereby counter conspiracy theories that the United States is secretly plotting to seize Pakistani nukes,” the report said.

Last month, a US scholar wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal backing Pakistan’s demand that the US should negotiate a nuclear deal with Pakistan, as it did with India.

“More so than conventional weapons or large sums of cash, a conditions-based civilian nuclear deal may be able to diminish Pakistani fears of US intentions while allowing Washington to leverage these gains for greater Pakistani cooperation on nuclear proliferation and terrorism,” wrote C. Christine Fair, an assistant professor at Georgetown University.

In her interview to the Link, Ambassador Patterson said the US was acutely conscious of the precarious energy situation in Pakistan, of people “sweating in 120 degree” without electricity, and would play its due role in raising installed generating capacity and making up for the present shortfall. US companies will be persuaded to invest in the power sector in Pakistan. N-plants to figure in talks, says Patterson By Anwar Iqbal ,Sunday, 21 Mar, 2010

President Zardari has clearly informed the US Administration that if they want to reduce the trust deficit in Pakistan and reverse growing Anti-Americanism in the region–then President Obama has to accord Islamabad parity with Delhi and not hold back on critical technologies that Pakistan needs. The two areas identified are Nuclear and Drone Technology. Pakistan needs both of these in order to resolve the energy crisis and to deal with the terror groups that cross into Pakistan. Since the US is responsible for the spillover of the war into Pakistan, and because Pakistan has been a front line state, first against the USSR, and now against terror–it is Pakistan’s right to demand reparations for the losses incurred.