Friday, May 13, 2011



The success of Osama bin Laden in evading detection and arrest by the Pakistani security agencies for nearly six years since 2005 when he lived in a house near the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) in Abbottabad was the result of a comprehensive intelligence failure by all agencies responsible for the collection of intelligence inside Pakistan and not the result of a failure by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) alone, which has been sought to be exclusively blamed in the US and Pakistan for the failure.

2. According to reliable sources in Pakistan, this was a point that was vehemently made by Lt.Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the DG, ISI, in his secret testimony at an in-camera joint session of the two Houses of the Pakistan Parliament on May 13,2011. While accepting responsibility for any failure of the ISI and offering to resign if so demanded by Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani, Pasha pointed out that other agencies of the Government such as the Intelligence Bureau (IB), the Police and its Special Branch also had a major responsibility for keeping a watch on the suspicious presence of foreigners in the Pakistani territory and their activities and that they seem to have equally failed in making enquiries about the suspicious looking house in which OBL was living and its occupants.

3. The IB, the Police and the SB come under Senator Rehman Malik, the Interior Minister. According to these sources, without mentioning him by name,Pasha seemed to be implying that the Ministry of the Interior was as much responsible as the ISI for the intelligence failure which enabled OBL to live in Abbottabad undetected. Pasha's offer to resign was rejected by Gilani and the in-camera session passed a resolution which, inter alia, recommended the setting up of an independent commission to enquire into the failure. A decision on the composition of the Commission and its terms of reference is expected to be taken by Gilani in consultation with the opposition leaders. The suggestion of Nawaz Sharif, the leader of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML), for the appointment of a judicial commission of enquiry headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhury, who is not liked by the Army, did not have many takers outside the PML (N).

4.There was an over-all consensus during the in-camera session that Pakistan should not allow its Army and the ISI to be discredited to propitiate the US anger. The focus of the discussions was on two failures--- the intelligence failure which enabled OBL to live undetected at Abbottabad and the security failure which enabled the US naval commandos to carry out their clandestine raid undetected by the Pakistani Army and Air Force. While Pasha testified on the intelligence failure, the Deputy Chief of Air Staff Operations Air Marshal, Muhammad Hassan testified on the security failure. Both Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), and Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman were present during the session. Kayani left before the question and answer segment of the session started. The Chief of the Air Staff remained present throughout.

5. According to these sources, there seemed to be greater concern over the implications of the security failure than over the implications of the intelligence failure. Two concerns over the security failure were reflected during the question and answer session---- Will the US be able to mount a similar undetected raid to neutralise Pakistan's nuclear arsenal? Can there be a repeat of the Abbottabad raid elsewhere? These sources say that while India was not mentioned by name, it was apparent that the concern was over the adequacy and effectiveness of Pakistan's radar cover against Indian air intrusions.

6.The officers of the Air Force, who testified, assured the members that there was no question of the US mounting undetected a raid against Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. They did not go into details. They also claimed that the failure of Pakistani radars to detect the US chopper intrusions was due to the superior stealth technology of the US.

7. The in-camera session also saw demands from all sections of the Parliament for a comprehensive re-examination of Pakistan's relations with the US in general and its counter-terrorism co-operation with the US in particular. These sources say that the Army is also in favour of such a re-examination of relations with the US.

8. In the meanwhile, the US has stepped up pressure on the Pakistan Army to return to the US the undestroyed portion of the US helicopter, which hit the compound wall of OBL's house while coming down and had to be blown up by the Naval commandos. While both Pakistani and Chinese officials have denied that China has shown any interest in examining the undestroyed portion, the US is concerned over the possibility of Chinese experts having access to it. This issue is expected to be taken up by Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations committee, during his forthcoming visit to Islamabad. ( 14-5-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre for China Studies. E-mail: )



Xia Ping, head of the Personnel Department of the People's Liberation Army (Navy), is reported to have told a military conference at Beijing on May 9,2011, that the PLA (N) would be recruiting more than 2000 PhDs in the next five years. This statement, coming in the wake of earlier reports of plans to step up the recruitment of technology-savvy cadres and officers to the PLA (N), has given rise to speculation that in addition to inducting an aircraft-carrier, the PLA (N) has embarked on a plan to expand its surface fleet to give it a greater power projection capability. Annexed is a commentary on the subject carried by the Party- controlled “ Global Times” on May 11,2011. ( 13-5-11)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-Mail: _


Navy talent drive fuels carrier buzz

Source: Global Times
May 11 2011

By Zhu Shanshan

A recent pledge by the navy to find top talents to upgrade its weaponry has led to new speculation that China plans to build its first aircraft carrier, a key move that would pave the way for a blue-water maritime force.

The People's Liberation Army (PLA)Navy is seeking to recruit more than 2,000 PhD degree holders in the next five years, Xia Ping, head of the Navy Personnel Department, said Monday at a military conference.

The military already cultivated more than 1,000 commanders and technical personnel to develop and operate new batches of marine weaponry, including "large surface combat ships," nuclear submarines and new warplanes, between 2005 and 2010, Xia said, without identifying the weapons.

Such plans to build a talent pool for large surface combat ships have served to reinforce widespread assumptions of the launch of an aircraft carrier later in the year, analysts suggested.

Indications of the carrier's development were believed to have begun in 2009 when Navy Commander Admiral Wu Shengli announced a development plan for large surface warships.

In an interview with the Xinhua News Agency that year ahead of the Chinese Navy's 60th founding anniversary, Wu revealed the army's ambition to accelerate its development of advanced weapons, including large surface warships.

But Wu did not specify if the plan included the development of an aircraft carrier, with media reports only citing him as defining large surface combat ships as those with a displacement of more than 10,000 tons.

Zhang Zhaozhong, a professor at the PLA National Defense University, told China Central Television that a large-scale destroyer already in service definitely falls into such a category, and an aircraft carrier with a displacement ranging from 60,000 tons to 100,000 tons based on US standards could also be included.

No further information was available on Tuesday when the Global Times contacted the Navy to ask if the training of talents has anything to do with the potential development of China's first aircraft carrier.

Li Jie, a researcher at the Chinese Naval Research Institute, told the Global Times on Tuesday that a large-scale naval surface force mainly refers to heavy-tonnage vessels including cruisers, amphibious assault ships, destroyers and aircraft carriers.

"Dock landing ships are the most common ones in the current navy's fleet," Li said.

"China's future development of an aircraft carrier can't be ruled out," he said.

Liu Yong, from the China Security magazine, told the Global Times that the enhancing of human resources is aimed at paving the way for the future development of an aircraft carrier as part of a systematic project, which requires experienced pilots and commanders.

Chinese military officials have kept a tight lid on information related to the development of an aircraft carrier.

Geng Yansheng, a spokesman of the Ministry of National Defense, told reporters in March while unveiling China's military white paper that no relevant information was available on the subject.

In January 2010, the ministry dismissed rumors China was building a carrier.

But reports alleging that China's first aircraft carrier would take to the ocean for its initial sea trial in July have continued to circulate.

Li said the Chinese military is being cautious in revealing information, and recent announcements of a personnel training plan seemed to be another sign that authorities were releasing information updates at a carefully designed pace.

Liu said it is understandable for China to keep cautious on revealing information on its first aircraft carrier.

"An open and explicit timetable for the development of a carrier would put China in a passive position. There has to be some level of flexibility for a huge project involving an aircraft carrier, especially its construction, which if confirmed, would mainly depend on home-grown technology," Liu said.

Citing an anonymous US naval officer, Tokyo-based magazine The Diplomat said on Monday that China's first carrier could become a major symbol of the second phase of the development of China's navy.

The two-step process would see the "PLA Navy evolve from its current, mostly coast-bound status to a true 'blue-water' force capable of controlling distant waters and influencing events in adjacent lands," the magazine said.

The idea was echoed by Li, who said with the country's growing global clout came an urgent need for the navy to protect Chinese offshore interests with activities such as anti-terrorism drills.

However, Li warned that the Chinese navy is still under-staffed as it accounts for less than 10 percent of the military, totaling over 200,000 personnel, which is far less than the average proportion of one-third of other major forces in the world.

Huang Jingjing and Xinhua contributed to this story