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Sunday, 15 June 2008

From Today's Papers - 15 Jun

Antony ticks off ‘lax’ officers

New Delhi, June 14: A.K. Antony has berated officers for being tardy in drafting rules for an armed forces tribunal he had planned to set up by June 1.

The defence minister is particularly anxious that the Armed Forces Tribunal — a military version of the Central Administrative Tribunal— be set up because crucial military disputes, including matters of life and death, are pending both in courts and on his desk.

Antony has now directed that the principal bench of the tribunal be set up by next month and the eight other benches by December, a senior defence ministry source said.

The minister called bureaucrats and legal officers of the army, the navy and the air force and stated clearly that his June 1 deadline to set up the tribunal was not met because they were lax.

More than 10,000 cases concerning military personnel are pending in courts. The defence minister also has to take a view on death sentences handed to soldiers by general courts martial for killing their superiors.

Should the tribunal be set up, all these cases will automatically get transferred to it, lightening the burden on the minister of dealing with such tricky issues.

At the meeting on Thursday, it was decided that the notification for the tribunal would be sent to the Union law ministry for vetting.

The principal bench of the tribunal is to be set up in New Delhi where an office has been found in the R.K. Puram locality. There would be eight other benches in Calcutta, Chandigarh, Lucknow, Jaipur, Mumbai, Kochi, Chennai and Shillong or Guwahati.

The act for the tribunal passed last December lays down that all cases of the military — such as allegations of bias in promotional matters, criminal charges, cases filed by officers/soldiers against their superiors and the government or vice versa — will automatically get transferred from the high courts to the tribunal. The appellate authority for the tribunal is the Supreme Court.

Antony has also written to the Chief Justice, K.G. Balakrishnan, seeking his recommendation for a Supreme Court judge who would chair the tribunal .

The tribunal will have 24 members (between one and three on each bench). The minister said the tribunal must reflect a “tri-service” character, meaning that no single service should dominate its benches.

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Srinagar under grenade attack
Tribune News Service/UNI

CRPF jawans stand guard over labourers held for questioning following a grenade attack in Srinagar on Saturday.
CRPF jawans stand guard over labourers held for questioning following a grenade attack in Srinagar on Saturday. — Tribune photo by Mohd Amin War

Srinagar, June 14
In an indication of heightened terror tactics, militants carried out three grenade attacks, including one near civil secretariat, seat of the Jammu and Kashmir Government, injuring a CRPF head constable and a civilian today.

This incident comes a day after militants ambushed a GREF vehicle and killed five officers, including a Lieutenant Colonel, in Kishtwar. The ultras also lobbed a grenade at a vehicle of security forces in Baramulla yesterday.

The injured CRPF head constable has been identified as Maipal Singh. The injured have been taken to a hospital where their condition is stated to be stable.

Official sources said militants hurled a hand grenade towards D-company, the 23rd Battalion of the CRPF, guarding the secretariat from the rare side. It exploded on the roadside.

A CRPF spokesperson confirmed that the grenade exploded near the rare gate of the secretariat. The secretariat remains closed on Saturday.

No militant outfit has claimed responsibility for the blast. This was the first such attack on the seat of the government after ‘darbar move’ offices reopened last month.

However, last month also, a similar attack was carried out by militants near headquarters of fire service, half a km away from the secretariat. The grenade did not explode and was later defused.

In another incident, militants hurled a hand grenade towards an under-construction house, housing a platoon of the 158 Battalion of the CRPF at Botshah Mohallah Lal Bazar in the city outskirts. However, it missed the intended target and exploded at a distance without causing any damage. In a similar attack, militants lobbed a hand grenade near Firdous cinema in Hawal, housing a company headquarters of the 96 Battalion of the CRPF. However, there was no report of any loss of life or injury to anyone.


How Pakistan insulates India from terror

A few days ago, the government of Pakistan abandoned a ceasefire pact with insurgents operating across the tribal Pakistan-Afghanistan border, reached by Pervez Musharraf but reasserted by his successors in power. On June 11, Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States, said in Washington that any future terrorist attack on his country would probably originate in this region, known by its acronym, FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas). This had become the most secure base of al-Qaida, he added, after the fall of the Taliban in Kabul.
Why has al-Qaida become a cancerous bone in Pakistan’s throat, with the country neither able to digest it or spit it out? There is general agreement across different elements of the Pakistan establishment that swallowing this bone will infect the body politic beyond cure. But instead of surgery, there is a paralytic helplessness as al-Qaida and Taliban beliefs and prescriptions seep into street, village and towards the foot soldiers that form the core of any armed force.
Both the army and newly elected democrats fumble when faced with a basic, if provocative, query: Why is Islamabad fighting America’s war against fellow Muslims? The overlap between Pakistan’s ‘national’ interest and the interests of the ‘Muslim ummah’ has been further blurred in the northwest frontier by a shared ethnicity that has never recognized the Durand Line as a barrier between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Islamabad’s dilemma revives a question that raged on the sidelines of the Partition debate between 1940 and 1947: Could united India ever have a secure border on its northwest frontier? The Khyber Pass was the traditional “gate” to Delhi. Would the Muslims of the region, and their brethren in the united Indian Army, secure the gate or open it for any Muslim invaders? The British, it is commonly known, regretted the division of the British Indian Army much more than they regretted the partition of British In dia. Others were not so sure. Among them was Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, the great Dalit hero who considered himself neither Hindu nor Mus lim and was thus above the growing bitterness between the two.
The Secretary of State for India revealed, trifle reluctantly, the ethnic composition of the British Indian Army in the House of Commons on July 8, 1943: Muslims were 34%, Hindus 50% Sikhs 10% and the rest 6%. But these were wartime statistics, when emergency recruitment had altered the traditional balance, or imbalance It was believed that the Muslim proportion of the peacetime British Indian Army, driven by the “martial races” theory and the belief that Frontier Muslims were superior soldiers, might be as high as 50%. There was no question that the army of a united India would retain a high percentage of Muslims, largely recruited from the frontier; political pressure from Muslims would ensure as much.
Would Muslim soldiers be immune to the lure of pan-Islamism? The Muslim League had re solved that the Indian Army should not be used against Muslim powers, conflating Indian and pan-Islamic interests. It was also recalled that during the Khilafat movement (1919-1922), Mus lims displayed potentially explosive angularities Maulana Mohammad Ali had invited the Amir of Afghanistan to invade India and conquer Del hi with the help of an Indian uprising.
Dr Ambedkar argued that India was better off divided, because it could not remain a secure state with such confused loyalties at its porous crown A new ‘Hindustan’ army, created out of the re sources of divided India, would be untroubled by dual loyalties. Given that Pakistan has few an swers to the incessant diet of bombs and suicide missions, we need only to pause and consider the havoc that a strong Qaida-Taliban movement would have caused across the cities of the Indian sub continent if it had not been substantially, though not completely, insulated by the Indo-Pak border Imagine the nightmare of an undivided India.
Indian Muslims, who consciously opted for their motherland, paid a heavy price: they were not to be fully trusted with the defence of India No one doubted their patriotism in the 1962 con flict with China, but during the 1965 Indo-Pak war they were picked up arbitrarily and detained with out trial by the Congress government of Lal Ba hadur Shastri. The heroism of Havildar Abdul Hamid was treated as an exception. This preju dice was a major reason for minimal Muslim pres ence in the Indian Army and police services.
The Indian Muslim mind shifted from a pseu do-glorification of the idea of Pakistan in the 1940s to fear, resentment and uncertainty over the next two decades. Bangladesh was the turn ing point; it was clinching evidence that Pakistan was not a paradise for Muslims, but the preserve of a regional culture and mentality that was not ready to treat every Muslim as an equal. Indian Muslims abandoned, completely, any residual temptation for Pakistan. This is not just my ef fort to be politically correct. There is evidence the complete lack of interest that Indian Mus lims have displayed towards the Kashmiri in surrection has puzzled and frustrated the self styled “pan-Islamic jihadi” organizations who expected Indian Muslim support in the effort to terrorize the Indian state and people.
When Indian Muslims get angry, they do so for their own reasons, not for Pakistan’s. Muslims born in free India are not ready to be victimized for the mistakes of their fathers. This is an as sertion of equality, part of the confidence gifted to them by the unique democratic values of the Indian Constitution.
The violent Sikh upsurge of the 1980s re minded India that there was more than one po tentially hazardous minority, and that the poli tics of indifference could not be sustained.
The most heartening image of contemporary India, to me, are the slightly funny pictures of young Muslims puffing their chests to meet phys ical criterion during periodic recruitment drives for the Indian Army or paramilitary forces.
I wish Indian politicians would appreciate that the politics of patronage is no substitute for the politics of indifference. Patronage is essentially demeaning, and serves only small Muslim cliques who enrich themselves at the cost of the com munity. The Indian Muslim wants to be treated as an equal. He is waiting for the establishment to appreciate the true nuances of the term.


JAMMU, June 13: An [Indian] army jawan allegedly committed suicide by shooting himself with his service weapon in the Reasi district today.

The deceased jawan has been identified as Immanuel Hmar, 31, of Churachandpur, Manipur posted with 59 Rashtriya Rifles.

"The jawan died on the spot after he shot himself with his service rifle at his residential quarter at Deolmarg in Reasi,'' Defence spokesperson Lt Col S D Goswami said.

A court of inquiry has been ordered into the incident and a case has been registered at the Reasi Police Station, he added.

[Kashmir Times]



Printed from The Times of India
Croissants & Crescents: How Pakistan insulates India from terror
15 Jun 2008, 0248 hrs IST, M J Akbar


A few days ago, the government of Pakistan abandoned a ceasefire pact with insurgents operating across the tribal Pakistan-Afghanistan border, reached by Pervez Musharraf but reasserted by his successors in power. On June 11, Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States, said in Washington that any future terrorist attack on his country would probably originate in this region, known by its acronym, FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas). This had become the most secure base of al-Qaida, he added, after the fall of the Taliban in Kabul.

Why has al-Qaida become a cancerous bone in Pakistan's throat, with the country neither able to digest it or spit it out? There is general agreement across different elements of the Pakistan establishment that swallowing this bone will infect the body politic beyond cure. But instead of surgery, there is a paralytic helplessness as al-Qaida and Taliban beliefs and prescriptions seep into street, village and towards the foot soldiers that form the core of any armed force.

Both the army and newly elected democrats fumble when faced with a basic, if provocative, query: Why is Islamabad fighting America's war against fellow Muslims? The overlap between Pakistan's 'national' interest and the interests of the 'Muslim ummah' has been further blurred in the northwest frontier by a shared ethnicity that has never recognized the Durand Line as a barrier between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Islamabad's dilemma revives a question that raged on the sidelines of the Partition debate between 1940 and 1947: Could united India ever have a secure border on its northwest frontier? The Khyber Pass was the traditional "gate" to Delhi. Would the Muslims of the region, and their brethren in the united Indian Army, secure the gate or open it for any Muslim invaders? The British, it is commonly known, regretted the division of the British Indian Army much more than they regretted the partition of British India. Others were not so sure. Among them was Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, the great Dalit hero who considered himself neither Hindu nor Muslim and was thus above the growing bitterness between the two.

The Secretary of State for India revealed, a trifle reluctantly, the ethnic composition of the British Indian Army in the House of Commons on July 8, 1943: Muslims were 34%, Hindus 50%, Sikhs 10% and the rest 6%. But these were wartime statistics, when emergency recruitment had altered the traditional balance, or imbalance. It was believed that the Muslim proportion of the peacetime British Indian Army, driven by the "martial races" theory and the belief that Frontier Muslims were superior soldiers, might be as high as 50%. There was no question that the army of a united India would retain a high percentage of Muslims, largely recruited from the frontier; political pressure from Muslims would ensure as much.

Would Muslim soldiers be immune to the lure of pan-Islamism? The Muslim League had resolved that the Indian Army should not be used against Muslim powers, conflating Indian and pan-Islamic interests. It was also recalled that during the Khilafat movement (1919-1922), Muslims displayed potentially explosive angularities. Maulana Mohammad Ali had invited the Amir of Afghanistan to invade India and conquer Delhi with the help of an Indian uprising.

Dr Ambedkar argued that India was better off divided, because it could not remain a secure state with such confused loyalties at its porous crown. A new 'Hindustan' army, created out of the resources of divided India, would be untroubled by dual loyalties. Given that Pakistan has few answers to the incessant diet of bombs and suicide missions, we need only to pause and consider the havoc that a strong Qaida-Taliban movement would have caused across the cities of the Indian subcontinent if it had not been substantially, though not completely, insulated by the Indo-Pak border. Imagine the nightmare of an undivided India.

Indian Muslims, who consciously opted for their motherland, paid a heavy price: they were not to be fully trusted with the defence of India. No one doubted their patriotism in the 1962 conflict with China, but during the 1965 Indo-Pak war, they were picked up arbitrarily and detained without trial by the Congress government of Lal Bahadur Shastri. The heroism of Havildar Abdul Hamid was treated as an exception. This prejudice was a major reason for minimal Muslim presence in the Indian Army and police services.

The Indian Muslim mind shifted from a pseudo-glorification of the idea of Pakistan in the 1940s to fear, resentment and uncertainty over the next two decades. Bangladesh was the turning point; it was clinching evidence that Pakistan was not a paradise for Muslims, but the preserve of a regional culture and mentality that was not ready to treat every Muslim as an equal. Indian Muslims abandoned, completely, any residual temptation for Pakistan. This is not just my effort to be politically correct. There is evidence: the complete lack of interest that Indian Muslims have displayed towards the Kashmiri insurrection has puzzled and frustrated the self-styled "pan-Islamic jihadi" organizations who expected Indian Muslim support in the effort to terrorize the Indian state and people.

When Indian Muslims get angry, they do so for their own reasons, not for Pakistan's. Muslims born in free India are not ready to be victimized for the mistakes of their fathers. This is an assertion of equality, part of the confidence gifted to them by the unique democratic values of the Indian Constitution.

The violent Sikh upsurge of the 1980s reminded India that there was more than one potentially hazardous minority, and that the politics of indifference could not be sustained.

The most heartening image of contemporary India, to me, are the slightly funny pictures of young Muslims puffing their chests to meet physical criterion during periodic recruitment drives for the Indian Army or paramilitary forces.

I wish Indian politicians would appreciate that the politics of patronage is no substitute for the politics of indifference. Patronage is essentially demeaning, and serves only small Muslim cliques who enrich themselves at the cost of the community. The Indian Muslim wants to be treated as an equal. He is waiting for the establishment to appreciate the true nuances of the term.

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