DTN News: Pakistan TODAY November 17, 2009 ~ Struggle For Supremacy In Pakistan Hurting US Interests
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) WASHINGTON, USA - November 17, 2009: Pakistan’s civilian and military leaders are engaged in a power struggle that is complicating America’s strategy to stabilise the Pak-Afghan region, a US television channel reported on Monday.NBC News noted that ‘the military felt confident it would emerge as the survivor in all this, with Mr Zardari’s popularity now measured in the teens in almost every Pakistani public opinion poll’. *
The NBC News reported that in Pakistan the fate of President Asif Ali Zardari had become ‘a more profound issue’ than the suicide bombings that had killed hundreds of people and the ongoing military operation in South Waziristan.
The president, the report noted, was ‘engaged in a seemingly never-ending battles with the country’s powerful military and intelligence establishments’.
According to the US channel, President Zardari’s opponents had ‘begun raising the stakes, setting up what some are calling a ‘soft coup … a legislative coup’ – an attempt to force Mr Zardari out.’
End of NRO
The channel reported that the US had played a key role in arranging the National Reconciliation Ordinance, which would expire on Nov 28. The end of NRO would revive several cases against Mr Zardari and his associates, the report noted.
Experts told the channel that while they did not see the president stepping down after the NRO, they expected a constitutional crisis early next year, when the prosecutors would close in first on his aides, then on him.
‘One potential issue is whether Mr Zardari has presidential immunity for any crimes committed before he was elected. He may have it for his time in office, but it’s uncertain that he does for any crimes alleged before he assumed office,’ the report noted.
Rift in power structure
The report claimed that while US officials were alarmed by the development, it was not a surprise for them as they were aware of deep personal and professional differences between military and civilian leaders.
The television channel noted that while it was not clear how Mr Zardari would deal with the situation, ‘but he is certainly trying to get help from his allies in the US government’.
The report ruled out the possibility of a military takeover, but indicated that the army wanted a ‘government of national unity’, populated with technocrats.
Both fear Sharif
The report also noted that Mr Zardari would not want to fire the army chief because he understood that the consequences would be dire, ‘so there is a stalemate and no clear leadership’.
The NBC News observed that both Mr Zardari and the military feared ‘the charismatic but more religious Nawaz Sharif, and would band together to thwart any power play he might attempt’.
The report claimed that President Zardari had long been working on a plan to keep Mr Sharif out of power. Mr Sharif was banned from serving as head of government under a constitutional amendment pushed through by former President Musharraf.
Mr Zardari promised to remove the ban but hasn’t followed through.
Pakistani military officials told NBC News that their objections to the bill were not meant to cause troubles for the government. They were only trying to make clear that some clauses were detrimental to the long-term security of the country.
The officials claimed that none of the three drafts of the controversial bill ‘were ever discussed with anyone in the army or ISI.’
But one of Mr Zardari’s aides said the army chief had been briefed ‘in full and in person’ on the details of the bill.
‘If that was the case, however, why didn’t Mr Zardari leak the communications showing the military was briefed,’ asked one military official.
Summarising the conflict, the NBC News noted that ‘the military felt confident it would emerge as the survivor in all this, with Mr Zardari’s popularity now measured in the teens in almost every Pakistani public opinion poll’.
DTN News: AgustaWestland AW149 Performs Its First Flight*Source: DTN News / AgustaWestland....News issued Date ~ 13/11/2009
(NSI News Source Info) VERGIATE, Italy - November 17, 2009: AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company, is pleased to announce that the first prototype of the AW149 multi-role military medium twin helicopter successfully completed its maiden flight on November 13th at AgustaWestland’s Vergiate plant. The aircraft, flown by AgustaWestland Chief Test Pilot Giuseppe Lo Coco, performed as expected undertaking a 20 minutes flight that included an assessment of the helicopter’s general handling and basic systems. The first helicopter will be followed by a second prototype in 2010 with the aim to achieve initial operational capability in 2014.
Giuseppe Orsi, CEO, AgustaWestland, commented “The maiden flight of the AW149 adds to the recently accomplished first flights of the T129, the AW101 in the latest variant and AW159, confirming the company’s capability to continuously develop new products to maintain its competitive edge and to offer the market the most complete and modern product range”.
Bruno Spagnolini, COO, AgustaWestland said “We are proud to have achieved this major milestone seeing the only new generation medium twin military helicopter take to the air. AgustaWestland is once more demonstrating its ability to develop the very latest rotorcraft technology designed to meet a range of requirements”.
The first AW149 prototype is fully representative of the AW149 final configuration with respect to the airframe and avionics, whilst the second prototype will fly in the final configuration incorporating two 2000 shp class GE CT7-2E1 turbines with FADEC and an all new transmission system. With a fully digital avionics system with open architecture and fully integrated mission equipment, a modern glass cockpit and a 4-axis auto-pilot, the AW149 8 ton class helicopter is specifically designed for modern battlefield operations.
The AW149 is fitted with the latest all weather day-night operational capabilities, dedicated avionics and a NVG-compatible cockpit, while rotor ice protection will be available as an option. The AW149, by its open architecture design, will be capable of being fitted with role equipment and systems as required by the customer to perform a wide range of roles and also to be easily re-roled or upgraded to meet future requirements. Advanced sensors, communication and data sharing systems provide high situational awareness for network-centric environments. The AW149, capable of seating up to 18 troops, is perfectly suited to perform a wide range of duties such as troop transport, battlefield and logistic operations, fire support, SAR and combat SAR, special forces operations, reconnaissance, surveillance, CASEVAC, command control & communication, external load lifting as well as VIP military transport. The AW149 has been developed to meet the Italian Air Force requirement for a new medium class SAR helicopter. The AW149 is also being offered in the marketplace to meet the demand for a modern technology helicopter to replace thousands of older generation helicopters in service with military operators worldwide. A customised version of the AW149, named the TUHP149, is the candidate for the Turkish Utility Helicopter Programme (TUHP).
DTN News: Airbus A400M Military Transport Aircraft Future Likely To Be Decided Nov. 18
*Source: DTN News / Defense Media
(NSI News Source Info) PARIS, France - November 17, 2009: French Defense Minister Hervé Morin said he would meet his German counterpart Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg on Nov. 18 in Paris and would discuss the troubled Airbus A400M military transport aircraft program. The French and German defense ministers will meet later this week to discuss the A400M airlifter program. (EADS) A ministerial meeting on the airlifter program would be held early in December, possibly at Seville, Spain, Morin told journalists at the Dubai Airshow, which opened here Nov. 15. If another meeting were needed, it could be held in January, he said.
The French defense ministry has previously said that a ministerial meeting on the A400M due to have been held Oct. 15 had been delayed to allow time for the new German government to be installed and sworn in.
The seven European launch customers of the A400M agreed to a contract standstill until the end of December to allow time for a renegotiation of the fixed price 20 billion euro ($30 billion) contract. Airbus seeks approval of a new delivery schedule, standard configurations and funding requests.
Morin was attending the air show as part France's desire to strengthen bilateral ties with the United Arab Emirates. Morin was accompanied by French Air Chief Jean-Paul Paloméros and senior officials of the international department of the Direction Générale pour l'Armement (DGA) procurement.
DTN News: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev Met with U.S. President Barack Obama In Singapore For START-1 Treaty
*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) SINGAPORE - November 17, 2009: The two Presidents discussed progress on drawing up a new strategic arms reduction treaty to replace the START-1 Treaty, signed in 1991, which expires in early December. Mr Medvedev and Mr Obama agreed to make the mechanism for verifying strategic arms reductions simpler and less costly.Russian President Dmitry Medvedev inspects an honour guard during his official visit to Singapore on November 15, 2009 following the end of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. Medvedev earlier in the day at APEC warned Iran it could face new sanctions if there is no progress in the deadlock over its nuclear programme.*
In a joint press statement with Mr Obama following the talks Mr Medvedev said he hoped that the new strategic arms reduction treaty could be concluded in December this year.
The two leaders also examined options for settling issues related to the Iranian nuclear programme and the situation in Afghanistan.
Press Statements following Talks with President of the United States Barack Obama
November 15, 2009
PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES BARACK OBAMA: I just had an excellent meeting once again with President Medvedev. We discussed two primary topics - one is our efforts to conclude a deal on the START treaty.
As many of you know, in our first meeting when I traveled to Moscow, we arrived at an understanding that it made sense for our two countries to begin reducing further our nuclear stockpiles. Our negotiators have made excellent progress over the last several months. Our goal continues to be to complete the negotiations and to be able to sign a deal before the end of the year. And I'm confident that if we work hard and with a sense of urgency about it that we should be able to get that done. And I very much feel as if both sides are trying to work through some difficult technical issues but are doing so in good faith.
And so I thank President Medvedev for his initiative and leadership on that issue.
The second issue that we discussed was the issue of Iran. Again, in my first meeting with President Medvedev I emphasized to him our desire to try to resolve the issue of Iran's nuclear capacity in a constructive fashion, and it was my strong belief that if countries like the United States and Russia were able to present two paths, two roads to the Islamic Republic of Iran, one that led to further integration, the ability to obtain peaceful nuclear energy, but a insistence on Iran forsaking nuclear weapons, that that would be the most positive outcome.
The alternative would be an approach that would involve increasing pressure on Iran to meet its international obligations. These concerns were further heightened with the Qom facility that had not been properly disclosed, and since that time we have continued to consult closely with the Russians in terms of providing Iran a very concrete, specific, and fair proposal for some confidence-building measures including a proposal to get low-enriched uranium out of Iran, processed, and then sent back to Iran - to display their ability essentially to have peaceful nuclear energy without weaponization capacity. Unfortunately, so far at least Iran appears to have been unable to say yes to what everyone acknowledges is a creative and constructive approach. And that's not just the U.S. position, that's been the position of the IAEA and the Director General Mohamed ElBaradei.
We are now running out of time with respect to that approach. And so I discussed withPresident Medvedev the fact that we have to continue to maintain urgency and that our previous discussions confirming the need for a dual-track approach are still the right approach to take. And we believe that the United States and Russia will continue to urge Iran to take the path that leads them to meeting its international obligations. We can't count on that, and we will begin to discuss and prepare for these other pathways.Russian President Dmitry Medvedev inspects a naval honour guard while visiting the Russian Navy missile cruiser 'Varyag' as a last point of his official visit to Singapore on November 16, 2009 after the end of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. Medvedev on November 16 said Russia should learn from Singapore's 'great example' of economic transformation as he made the first ever visit by a Russian head of state to the island.*
The last thing I just want to mention is that we discussed some other issues, both economic and security-related issues, including Afghanistan. And I have found, as always, President Medvedev frank, thoughtful, and constructive in his approach to U.S.-Russia relations. And I am somebody who genuinely believes that the reset button has worked and that we are moving in a good direction.
PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA DMITRY MEDVEDEV: I want to say that we spent this hour in the constructive and trusting atmosphere that characterises our relations with President Obama.
We reviewed several different issues which were all named just now. We did indeed devote a considerable amount of time to discussing the future treaty on strategic arms reductions. We agreed to add impetus to these talks and resolve all of the outstanding matters, a number of which are technical points, and a number of which are subjects requiring political decisions. But it is precisely for such cases that we hold these kinds of presidential-level talks. We will instruct our aides to work on these matters.
I hope that, as we agreed at our first meeting in London, and at our subsequent meetings too, we will have a final draft of the treaty ready in December. This will be our joint contribution to strengthening international security because the overall climate in the area of strategic nuclear weapons and strategic delivery systems reductions depends precisely on this issue and on the positions taken by Russia and the United States. The world is watching us. In past years too, much depended on our ability to listen to each other, and this is all the more important now when we are no longer divided by the old ideological barriers but on the contrary are working to resolve the tasks placed upon us in as friendly and constructive a manner as possible.
Iran was another of the issues that we discussed with President Obama. We have participated in a whole series of recent joint consultations. Some progress has been made. I think that our joint efforts have kept things moving and prevented the situation from becoming an insurmountable obstacle. On the contrary, the process is moving forward, but it is true that we are not entirely happy with the pace and scope of this process. We expect that by working together with Iran we will succeed in concluding the agreements discussed earlier, and we hope that Iran will pursue a peaceful nuclear programme that will not raise all the questions that our countries and the international community have today. But more effort will be needed to reach this point.
At the same time, as politicians acting, I hope, on the basis of common sense, we realise that no process can go on forever. Negotiations exist not for the sake of enjoying the process itself, but in order to reach practical objectives. The objective in this particular case is clear – a transparent modern peaceful nuclear programme, and not a programme that raises concerns among the international community. We will continue striving towards this aim, and I hope that our combined efforts will produce results. If the results are not forthcoming we still have at our disposal the various instruments mentioned earlier in order to move the process forward by other means.
We discussed other subjects too. Fortunately, our relations are not limited to strategic arms reductions and problem situations. We discussed economic matters and spoke about the steps we can take to bring peace to long-suffering Afghanistan and help it establish a modern state able to resolve the various challenges it faces today. We are ready to work together on this.
I want to thank my colleague, Barack Obama, for the fact that once again, as at our past meetings, we were able to discuss all of these different issues in such a friendly atmosphere and find good responses to the problems facing our countries and the entire world. Thank you, Barack, for today’s work.
DTN News: U.S. Raises Pressure On Pakistan Over Taliban, al Qaeda*Source: DTN News / Int'l Media
(NSI News Source Info) ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - November 16, 2009: The United States has stepped up pressure on Pakistan to expand its fight against Taliban and al Qaeda militants, the New York Times reported on Monday, as a suicide bomber killed four people in the latest militant attack.Pakistan Army soldiers help newly arrived displaced tribal people, who fled their villages due to fighting between security forces and militants, arrive in Tank, near Waziristan, Pakistan on Monday, Nov. 16, 2009. Hundreds of thousands of people are displaced and living in different places on northern Pakistan.
Pakistan has faced a surge of attacks, most in or near the northwestern city of Peshawar, since the army went on the offensive against the Pakistani Taliban in their South Waziristan bastion near the Afghan border last month.
The United States, weighing options for how to turn around deteriorating security in Afghanistan, has welcomed the offensive but is also keen to see Pakistan tackle Afghan Taliban factions in lawless enclaves along the border.
U.S. President Barack Obama is expected in the coming weeks to announce an overhauled strategy for Afghanistan that may include sending up to 40,000 more troops.
The United States has warned Pakistan the success of the strategy depends on Pakistan broadening its fight beyond the militants attacking it to groups using Pakistani havens for attacking against U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the Times said.
Obama sent a letter to President Asif Ali Zardari saying he expected the Pakistani leader to rally political and national security institutions in a united campaign against extremists, the Times reported.
The newspaper said Obama's national security adviser, General James Jones, delivered the letter. Jones met with Pakistani government and military leaders on Friday in Islamabad.
Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit confirmed Jones had delivered a letter but declined to give details.
"It was a diplomatic communication," said Basit, who also declined to comment on the reported U.S. call for Pakistan to do more.
In the letter, Obama offered a range of incentives to the Pakistanis for their cooperation, including enhanced intelligence sharing and military cooperation, the Times said.
The United States has made repeated calls for Pakistan to increase its efforts in the campaign against militancy since the September 11 attacks on the United States.
The calls have at times angered Pakistani officials, who say Pakistan has lost far more members of its security forces battling militants on its side of the border than the United States has in Afghanistan.
But critics say while Pakistan has arrested hundreds of al Qaeda members, including several top leaders, and is now battling militants fighting the Pakistani state, Afghan Taliban factions have been largely ignored.
Pakistan nurtured the Taliban during the 1990s, partly as a bulwark against Indian influence in Afghanistan, but officially stopped supporting the Islamists after the September 11 attacks.
In the latest in a wave of attacks, a suicide car-bomber killed four people when police challenged him at a checkpost near an air force base close to the northwestern city of Peshawar.
The bomber drove a van of a type often used as a delivery vehicle and came from the Khyber ethnic Pashtun tribal region where Taliban have been active, said Peshawar police chief Liaquat Ali Khan.
"We have beefed up checks at entry and exit points to and from the tribal areas and that's why these blasts are taking place at our checkposts and our men are laying down their lives," Khan told Reuters.
The army went on the offensive in South Waziristan on October 17 aiming to root out Pakistani Taliban militants who stepped up their war on security forces in 2007.
But for the time being at least, allied Afghan Taliban factions operating out of semi-autonomous Pashtun lands on the border are being left alone.
Analysts say with both the United States and Afghanistan raising the possibility of talks with the Taliban, Pakistan is unlikely to fight factions that might soon be part of a negotiated Afghan settlement.
The lengthy time Obama is taking on the decision about additional troops for Afghanistan, with some advisers and many in his own Democratic Party expressing concern about a large increase, has reinforced the view Washington may seek a deal rather than try to crush the Taliban militarily.
The Pakistan army has declined to comment on what it will do in its campaign against the militants after South Waziristan.