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Tuesday, 26 August 2008

From Today's Papers - 26 Aug

Pakistan Violates Ceasefire Again,
Four Guerrillas Killed

Four guerrillas were killed during an infiltration bid from across the Line of Control (LOC) in the north Kashmir Gulmarg sector Monday, police sources said. Two Indian Army troopers were injured in a separate incident of another violation of the bilateral ceasefire by Pakistan troops.
The militants were killed when security forces intercepted a group of infiltrators and asked them to lay down their weapons, according to the police.
"The militants started firing at the security forces, triggering an encounter in which four guerrillas were killed," a police officer told IANS here.
In Teetwal area of north Kashmir Tanghdar sector of the LoC, Pakistan Rangers troopers fired a mortar shell which exploded on this side, injuring two troopers of the Assam Rifles, according to sources.
This was yet another violation of the 2003 bilateral ceasefire between India and Pakistan.
The ceasefire was announced by the two countries in December 2003 and was holding till the beginning of this year when Pakistan troops started violating it.
Intelligence sources here maintain "the violations of the bilateral ceasefire by Pakistan troops are aimed at providing cover to the intruding guerrillas into the Indian side of the LOC", which is the de facto border between the two countries in divided Kashmir.

Air Chief Marshal FH Major releases book "The Muse with Wings"

New Delhi

Mon, 25 Aug 2008:

New Delhi, Aug 25 (ANI): Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal FH Major today released a book "The Muse with Wings" by Air Marshal VK Verma, Director General (Inspection and Safety).

The book is a collection of well-written articles covering a wide range of topics based on the Air Marshal Verma's persal experience of forty years in the IAF.

His vast experience and insight describes the Indian Air Force' transition from a tactical Air Force to an Aero space power with strategic reach.

The language is easy to comprehend and the ideas and events are as relevant today as they were yesterday.

Releasing the book the CAS mentioned that even though the book is related to aviation, it also contains the views of the Air Marshal on Cooperation between Defence and industry, on leadership, on utilizing Disinformation as a weapon and on jointness. (ANI)

BSF, BDR agree on joint patrolling
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 25
The BSF and the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) have reached an agreement to have joint patrolling along vulnerable areas of the border between India and Bangladesh, while the BSF has handed over a list of 110 terror-aiding camps in that country. Separately, the BSF has sent a list of 263 persons, including terrorists, wanted in India for various crimes. Director-general, BSF, A.K. Mitra, who returned from a visit to Bangladesh, told mediapersons today that BDR had agreed to joint patrolling of vulnerable areas.

ANALYSIS: Musharraf’s mistakes — Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi

Pakistan’s state and society were fully overwhelmed by the military, leaving little space for autonomous functioning of civilian institutions and processes. Political and commercial advancement was no longer possible without being co-opted by the Musharraf government

Pervez Musharraf’s spirited defence of his policies in his last address to the nation as president did not alter the fact that he represented yet another failure of a military ruler to create viable civilian institutions and processes. Having lost all political support, he left the presidency as a lone man with an uncertain future. It is not clear if he will live in Pakistan or join his favourite prime minister, Shaukat Aziz, abroad.

Many had welcomed Musharraf’s assumption of power on October 12, 1999, because the civilian government led by Nawaz Sharif had mistreated its political adversaries and attempted to subdue all state institutions, including the army, to his partisan agenda.

Musharraf’s departure was equally celebrated in the streets of the main cities. Whereas the supporters of the ruling coalition distributed sweets, others expressed relief and hope for a better future. There was hardly anyone who regretted Musharraf’s departure with the exception of his close associates, especially the top leadership of the PMLQ.

Had Musharraf resigned immediately after the February elections, he would have gone home with some goodwill, which would have set him apart from Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan and Zia-ul Haq. However, like his predecessors, he did not quit until he was fully discredited and had lost all other options. Zia also had no plans to quit and was planning another carefully managed election when he died in an air crash in 1988. Therefore, history’s judgement on Musharraf will be as negative as its judgement on earlier military rulers.

Pakistan’s experience suggests that the top generals can rely on a disciplined and professional army to overthrow divided and weak political leaders and establish a government that is able to show some effectiveness in the beginning. However, when it comes to addressing socio-economic and political problems that cause fragility and inefficacy of civilian institutions and processes, military rulers fail miserably.

A military government can show some specific and individual successes but these “achievements” neither pull in one direction nor do these create an alternative political and economic order that can sustain itself without the backing of its founder. The military-tailored political and economic system reflects the military ethos of hierarchy, discipline and management from above. It cannot cope with the pressures of political participation and socio-economic justice. A military government falters in promoting a broad-based political consensus and continuity because of its aversion to open competitive politics.

Rulers like Musharraf have a tendency to develop a ‘messiah’ complex and tend to view themselves as indispensable. This is a self-created illusion that makes it difficult for military rulers to consider voluntary surrender of power. Musharraf’s downfall was expedited by his refusal to recognise that he had lost much of his political support, making it difficult for him to get re-elected. His sycophants in and around the presidency, especially ex-PM Aziz and the PMLQ leadership ill-advised him on ways to overcome constitutional and legal obstacles to his re-election to a second presidential term. His over-ambitious and blatant actions in 2007 cost him his office.

Musharraf created an authoritarian and centralised political order that was based on the military principle of centrality of command and concentration of power in the presidency. He carefully tailored the system to civilianise his military rule by constitutional and political engineering, co-option of a section of the political elite who agreed to play politics on his terms and exclusion of those who questioned his legitimacy. He carefully managed an uncontested referendum to ensure his continued rule and held a dubious election to ensure the success of the co-opted leadership. When this method did not achieve all objectives, he used the intelligence agencies to divide and weaken political adversaries and installed his favourites in powerful positions.

Naturally, a parliament and prime minister created though such manipulation could not acquire an autonomous role. The three prime ministers who served under him were appointed or removed by him in his exclusive discretion. The ruling PMLQ and the parliament gave formal approval only. During the Shaukat Aziz years, major policy decisions were taken in special meetings presided over by the president; the federal cabinet had fewer meetings in which it dealt with routine matters.

Musharraf strengthened his rule by inducting a large number of serving and retired military (mainly army) officers to key posts in government departments and semi-government institutions. He inducted more army officers to civilian institutions than any previous military ruler.

Musharraf strengthened his position by allowing the military to expand its business and commercial activities at a phenomenal pace. By 2007 the military had penetrated all major sectors of Pakistan’s economy.

Pakistan’s state and society were fully overwhelmed by the military, leaving little space for autonomous functioning of civilian institutions and processes. Political and commercial advancement was no longer possible without being co-opted by the Musharraf government.

His centralised governance was also marked by duality of policy. The government subscribed to a declared policy on a particular issue but the people within the official civilian and military circles were allowed to pursue a different approach that conflicted with the declared official policy. This duality reflected in all major policies, including counter-terrorism, treatment of the smaller provinces and economic development.

Counter-terrorism was the most publicised feature of Musharraf’s government but elements in official civilian and army circles continued to sympathise with, if not support, the Taliban and other militants.

Musharraf vowed to reduce inter-provincial tension but his effort to force development projects on Balochistan without taking into account the concerns of Baloch leaders increased political tension in Balochistan. The situation worsened with the initiation of military operation in parts of Balochistan and the killing of Sardar Akbar Khan Bugti. Today, the federal-provincial interaction is more troubled than it was when he assumed power.

Similarly, economic development also suffered from duality. The government publicised its economic strides and down-played the contribution of foreign economic assistance since September 2001, arguing that the key to economic strides was the inherent strength of the economy under Musharraf.

However, the fruits of foreign economic assistance did not reach the common people and the gap increased between the rich and the poor. The government fabricated data on economic development to show that Pakistan would soon become an economic miracle. Had there been genuine economic development Pakistan would not have faced the current economic crisis so soon after the collapse of the Musharraf system.

The duality in Musharraf’s policies alienated most sections of Pakistani society but the façade of Musharraf’s invincibility sustained until he overplayed his hand by attempting to remove the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the lawyers launched the movement for an independent judiciary. They were joined by other societal groups and political parties, setting the stage for Musharraf’s downfall. How the lawyers were able to sustain their autonomy and launched a movement that mobilised the society is discussion that warrants another article altogether.

Hopefully, the military top brass in Pakistan recognises its limits in directly handling political power. The experience of effectively managing a corps or a regimental centre does not qualify a general to run state affairs. These are two different domains and a task-oriented institution like the military is not suited to directly handling socio-economic and political problems in a diversified society.

Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi is a political and defence analyst

Concern over border firings conveyed to Pakistan

Staff Reporter

KASARAGOD: Incidences of firing from across the India-Pakistan border had increased considerably in the last two months and the country had conveyed its concern over it to Pakistan, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said on Saturday.

“We are in touch with the highest authorities in Pakistan on the issue,” the Minister said. He added that the armed forces of the country were on the alert and ready to meet any challenge. Pakistan had upped its aggressive posture and a few of our brave soldiers, including officers, had died in Friday’s firing, he said.

However, increased firing did not mean an increase in infiltration from across the border. The armed forces had defeated all infiltration attempts, he added.

Mr. Antony was answering questions at a press conference here on Saturday after laying the foundation of the strategic electronics manufacturing unit of the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. here.

Mr. Antony denied apprehension that a war-like situation existed along the border. “We have not deployed additional forces along the border,” he clarified. “I don’t expect further escalation of tension in the near future.” After October the armed forces would be put on high alert, he added.

Mr. Antony said the country’s armed forces commanded respect worldwide and had embarked on a systematic modernisation. The invitations being received by our armed forces from developed nations for a joint exercise with their armed forces were proof of the respect commanded by our forces, Mr. Antony pointed out.

The Army had conducted joint military exercises with the U.S, the Russian and the Chinese militaries and had won their acclaim, he said. The joint exercises had increased our confidence level, he said. For the first time in history, the Chinese Army would be participating in the joint exercises in the country in December, said Mr. Antony. On his coming visit to the U.S., the Minister said it was a part of continuing defence dialogue. He would hold discussions with U.S. Secretary of Defence Robert Gates, who had invited him. Mr. Gates had visited India earlier. He denied reports that he would hold discussions mainly on the nuclear deal.

A determined officer’s ultimate sacrifice in the service of nation

Staff Reporter

BANGALORE: The death of Colonel Jojan Thomas in an encounter with militants in Kupwara in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday morning has left his family and friends devastated. Nevertheless, for his family, which has several members who have served in the Defence forces, his death is the ultimate sacrifice he could have made for the nation.

Col. Thomas was killed as he led a quick reaction team from 45 Rashtriya Rifles in the dense forests of Macchal sector, near the Line of Control. His team shot down six militants and he was one of the four Indian soldiers who were killed in the battle. He is survived by his wife Beena Jojan Thomas, daughter Meghana Thomas, (18) and son Philemon Thomas (11).

The flat in Manekshaw Vihar on St. John’s Church Road, where Ms. Thomas lives with her children, witnessed a series of religious prayers on Saturday evening as the family members waited for the arrival of the body.

Many of Col. Thomas’s friends and colleagues joined the family members in the evening prayers, conducted by Kuriakose Mar Severios, the Archbishop of Malankara Syrian Knanaya Jacobite Archdiocese.

Col. Thomas worked in the Army Service Corps Centre and College here for about two years before taking up the task of heading the 45 Rashtriya Rifles in Jammu and Kashmir. Col. Thomas was an officer who led from the front. “He had a strong determined mind and believed in excelling in whatever he was doing, whether guarding the border or rescuing personnel,” said his colleague Col. T.K. Jacob who worked with Col. Thomas in the ASC Centre and College.

Col. Thomas was the eldest of four sons. His father P.A. Thomas, who served in the Indian Army as a mechanical engineer, died just a month ago. “Our family has been serving in the Defence forces for a long time. My brother worked in Indian Navy and another brother served in the Indian Army,” said Joby Thomas, Col. Thomas’s brother.

Col. Thomas was commissioned from the Officers’ Training Academy, Chennai, in March 1986 in the 11 Jat Regiment. A native of Kuttoor in Kerala, Col. Thomas held several prestigious staff appointments. He was also an experienced pilot. Major Sandhu, who served with Col. Thomas and was associated with him for eight years, said Col. Thomas was “a fantastic leader and had experience of participating in various counter-insurgency operations. There is a lot that I learnt from him … He was my mentor and godfather. Men under him were ready to do anything for him,” he said.

Col. Thomas’s body was brought by an Indian Airlines flight from New Delhi on Saturday. On Monday, Col. Thomas’s body will be taken to St. John’s Church in Domlur. He will be buried at the cemetery on Hosur Road with full State honours.

Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar to Take Over as Commander in Chief Andaman & Nicobar on September 30th 2008

Dated 25/8/2008

Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar, presently the Commander in Chief of Strategic Force Command is likely to take over as Commander in Chief Andaman & Nicobar Command on 30 Sep 08. He takes over from Air Marshal S Radhakrishnan.
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar, is an alumnus of the 34th NDA Course. He was commissioned in the Indian Navy on 01 Jan 70. A specialist in Navigation and Direction, he holds an M. Sc in Defence Studies and is a graduate of the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, Naval Higher Command Course and the Naval War College at New Port, USA. He has held a variety of staff appointments, which include Deputy Director in the erstwhile Directorate of Combat Policy and Tactics, Director at Maritime Warfare Center, Chief Instructor in Navigation and Direction School (K), Senior Instructor at the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington and Director of Staff Requirements at Naval Headquarters.
On promotion to the rank of Rear Admiral in Apr 99, he took over as the Chief of Staff of the Southern Naval Command, after which he was appointed in-charge of the Aircraft Carrier Projects at Naval Headquarters. He was promoted to the rank of Vice Admiral in Nov 05. He held the appointment of Deputy Chief Integrated Defence Staff Ops (Operations) and DOT (Doctrine, Organization and Training) at HQ IDS. He has been the Commander-in-Chief Strategic Forces Command since 31 Dec 06.
His afloat appointments include specialist tenures on board various fleet ships, Commissioning Navigator of INS Ghorpad and INS Rana. He was also Fleet Operation Officer, Western Fleet. His Sea Commands include Commanding Officer of INS Panaji in 1973, INS Himgiri in 1987, INS Ganga 1993 and Command of the Aircraft Carrier INS Viraat in 1995. He took over Command of the 'Sword Arm' of the Navy as the Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet in Jan 2003. His operational experience is backed by active service during the Indo Pak war of 1971. Command of INS Himgiri during Op PAWAN and as Chief of Staff Southern Naval Command during Op VIJAY
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar is a recipient of the Param Vishisht Seva Medal and Ati Vishisht Seva Medal.

Protests by French military spouses

The French Association for Military Rights (Adefdromil) website has a report of May this year. The report states that nearly 100 spouses of French military persons stationed in Djibouti held public protests on 26 May 2008 outside the French military headquarters there–

…in order to show their discontent against the incessant decline in overseas residence allowance, rising prices and new taxes introduced since January 1, 2007.

French website Secret Defénse reports that–

…the problem stems from the decline in overseas residence allowance(ISE) that government officials assigned abroad, both military and civilian, receive to compensate for differences in purchasing power in France and overseas. The ISE is set quarterly by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the French Defense ministry applies the same rate to its personnel. The decline is significant: on the order of least 400 euros per month for a master corporal and around 500 for a Chief Warrant Officer. This decrease is partly due to the rate of the US dollar (which is indexed on the Djibouti franc) compared to the euro.

These are the kind of scenes many veterans and serving officers were hoping for in India as well after the award of the SCPC. Thankfully, such a calamitous situation has been avoided by a combination of factors.

Oh, one final point…. the reaction of the French military was no different to that of any other military organisation in a similar situation.

Ce sont les familles des personnels de l’armée de l’air qui se seraient en priorité mobilisées.

[Translation - These are the families of the members of the French Air Force, who would be moved out of Djibouti on priority.]

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