Bharat Karnad

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Bharat Karnad is professor at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi

A flying lemon

The anger in Washington policy circles when the US fighter planes — the Lockheed-Martin F-16IN and the Boeing F-18 Super Hornet — did not make it to the Indian Air Force’s Medium-range Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) shortlist, was a thing to behold. It was as if an ungrateful India had reneged on a done aircraft deal — just rewards for easing India’s entry

Khan of Pakistan

The one thing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh instinctively gets right every time is what next to do with Pakistan. The execution of Osama bin Laden, the iconic Al Qaeda leader, has strung out Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and his corps commanders between charges of incompetence and non-involvement cruelly hurled at them

Can India say ‘Don’t mess with us’?

The significant thing about the successful effort to locate and kill Osama bin Laden, the global symbol of Islamic extremism and head of the Al Qaeda terrorist organisation, is its doggedness. Stretching out over three administrations and some 10 years, this hunting down of Osama suggests the resolute will of the US Government

Nuclear independence

At bottom, the unrest in Jaitapur is not about the prospective Areva nuclear park and its perils but rather about angry locals feeling cheated and is akin to the agitations in Singur, Nandigram, and several other locations identified for big industrial projects. Beneath the hullabaloo, it is the prospect of disturbed livelihoods

Rethinking Pakistan

“Cricket diplomacy” and the meeting of the Indian and Pakistan home secretaries are important because these were approved through the back channel maintained by Delhi with the Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani — the hub of power in Pakistan. Whatever one may think of the Pakistan Army, it is a professional force driven by cold calculation. If it thinks it can get away with some outré action or the other against India, it does not hesitate to prosecute it (think Kargil).

A special command

Special Forces (SF) are the stuff of legend and military lore. Their derring do and nerveless actions in the field have time and again rescued the losing side and turned the course of wars. Because the SF are geared to attaining the ends by any and especially unorthodox means, they have scant regard for the norms and procedures conventional forces live and fight by, and end up treating the regular military with disdain. The payback is in terms of the special operations forces facing institutional inattention, fighting for budgetary crumbs and their commanders rarely rising to the highest ranks in the services.

Whiskey Charlie

The medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA), worth some $11 billion, is currently the biggest military deal on the block. There are two prongs to the deal: providing the Indian Air Force (IAF) with a so-called “4.5 generation” multi-mission aircraft and securing transfer of technology (ToT) to beef up indigenous capability to design and develop sophisticated fighter planes.

Nuclear mind games

When contemplating Pakistan’s nuclear build-up, Major General Ausaf Ali comes to mind. An engineer officer, also director general (operations and plans), Ali is arguably the most important man in the strategic plans division, Chaklala, the secretariat for that country’s Nuclear Command Authority.

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