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Monday, 1 September 2008

From Today's Papers - 01 Sep










Sexual Harassment Case Woman officer faces court martial for impropriety
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 31
A woman officer who had levelled allegations of physical and mental harassment against her superior officers last month now faces a possible trial by general court martial (GCM) for her alleged acts of professional impropriety, it is learnt.

Army sources revealed that a court of inquiry instituted into the allegations has held the complainant, Capt Poonam Kaur, blameworthy for disobedience of lawful command, wrongfully getting married accommodation allotted to her, unauthorised contact with the media and improper association with her driver.

Captain Poonam, posted with the 5682 ASC Battalion in Kalka, near here, had accused three of her seniors, her commanding officer Col R K Sharma, the unit’s second-in-command, Lt Col Ajay Chawla, and adjutant, Major Suraj Bhan, of harassing her over the past few months.

The Army had thereafter instituted a court of inquiry (COI) in the matter, which was presided over by Brig Attri, head of the EME Branch at Headquarters Western Command. Upon directions issued by the GOC-in-C, Western Command, on the COI, Captain Poonam has been attached to an armoured regiment in Patiala for commencement of disciplinary proceedings. She is expected to report there tomorrow.

Ordering disciplinary action initiates the process of convening a GCM, though the final decision in this regard would depend upon the outcome of subsequent proceedings like hearing of charge and recording of summary of evidence. There have been several instances in the past where the Army has initiated disciplinary or administrative action against erring woman officers, though so far the Army has convened only one GCM against a woman officer.

Her counsel, Col S.K. Aggarwal (retd), has termed the charges against her as false and baseless. He also alleged that her driver, Sep Sunil Kumar, with whom she is alleged to have illicit relations, has been kept in illegal custody and is being forced to implicate the officer.

According to the Army, on June 30, Captain Poonam was ordered to move to Pathankot for commanding one of the detachments of her unit located there but she sought deferment for the move citing personal reasons. When she was again instructed to move on July 11, she requested that she be permitted to leave on July 12, which was also agreed. However, she refused to go.

Thereafter, she had alleged harassment at the hands of her senior officers.


ISI bigger threat after Mush exit: NSA
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 31
Observing that “there is no strong central authority” in Pakistan, National Security Adviser (NSA) says the threat from the ISI had become greater following the exit of Pervez Musharraf from the political scene.

''Intelligence agencies are like alsatians, they have to be kept under check,'' he said, wondering whether this could happen after Musharraf's departure.

In an interview to the CNBC TV 18 programme “India Tonight” to be telecast on Monday night, Narayanan said the notorious intelligence agency was not controlled to the extent India would have liked even during Musharraf's regime.

In the past few months, it had become “hyper-active” in many ways, and India was concerned that its activity could increase.

About Pakistan’s violations across the LoC, Narayanan said there had been at least 31 this year. However, he did not believe these violations represented a rollback of the 2003 ceasefire or a reversal of Pakistan's policy towards India.

''I don't think Pakistan is today really in a position to think of a major offensive. The point really is why is this happening. What does it mean? It's a question of the absence of a strong central control. People are doing many more things than they would do if there had been a tighter control.''

On the nomination of Asif Ali Zardari for the presidentship of Pakistan, the NSA expressed doubts whether he would be able to deliver on the promises he made to put the Kashmir issue aside and get on with improving relations with India by boosting bilateral trade.

''The question is the capacity of any leader in Pakistan to do exactly what he would like. Many of them come with pious intentions but fail to deliver. The system works in a particular fashion and if you are a democratic leader, you cannot but be a part of that system…well, I think Zardari would have to take people along (and compromise),'' Narayanan said. He, however, hastened to add that Zardari was very friendly to India and New Delhi has very good relations with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). So at one level, the relationship could be better or stronger than in the past.

Asked whether Pakistani army is likely to step in in the absence of a strong central authority and in the feud between the PPP and PML (N), Narayanan said he did not think the army would be interested in any such step at this juncture.

"I think the Pakistani army doesn't want to get back into the driving seat at least while Gen Kayani is at its head ... one of the things that happened in the final years of the Musharraf presidency is a certain disenchantment with the Pakistani army at least amongst the middle classes ... so I think it will take time before they (even) think of getting back in."

Gen Kayani was respected as a soldier and was not interested in running the affairs of the state. ''That’ s fine by us.The question is will Gen Kayani work against our interests or not? I don't think we have seen any evidence that he will work against our interests,'' Narayanan added.

He said India was not upset or rattled by Islamabad's decision to raise Kashmir at the UN. "I think there's nothing new in this. Whenever an opportunity has presented itself, Pakistan has raised the issue. It's not a setback. We're used to it. Whether it's the UN, the OIC or European Parliament or human rights or violence, we're used to it."

Democracy and Pakistan

Abdul Basit

This August Pakistan celebrated its 61st birthday as the incipient democratic government is struggling to rid the country of yet another military rule. Having begun its nationhood with a British legacy of legal traditions, an educated political class and a vigorous press Pakistan failed to evolve a viable democratic system. Instead, Pakistan became a swamp of corruption, demagogy and hatred. In the last six decades more than half of country’s chequered history has been hijacked by military dictatorship. While both India and Pakistan started their journey together the former has never witnessed a military rule, the latter continues to go back and forth between civilian and military rules. The old vicious circle of short-lived inept civilian regimes followed by a decade long dictatorships does not seem to go away. The reasons of democracy’s failure in Pakistan are broad-based and multiple and they should be seen and studied in their current and historical entirety for right diagnosis to prescribe an effective cure to it.

After attaining independence father of the nation opted for vice regal system instead of parliamentary form of government like India. This is was the first jolt to democratic journey in the newly born polity. The Quaid was compelled to opt for such form of governance because most of the politicians in party ranks were relatively inexperienced. Political leaders were busy in resettling themselves through just and unjust claims of lands, houses, and factories and in some cases factories which they did not posses. Instead of establishing the roots of democracy our leaders remained busy in establishing themselves Pakistan Muslim League which was the mother party and champion of liberation in country was the only major political party in the country till 1967. Pakistan had its first parliamentary elections in 1970 after 23 years of its independence preceded by two dictatorships. Another major blow to democratic march came in the form of tragic deaths of Quaid-e-Azam and Liaquat Ali Khan. These initial blows derailed the march of the Islamic republic towards democracy.

This problem was further compounded by migration trends in formative years. Most of the migrants from Urdu speaking families settled in Karachi the then capital of Pakistan. They enjoyed a great majority in civil services the erstwhile ICS (Indian Civil Services). This disproportion of representation in bureaucracy increased their influence in politics as the inexperienced political leadership heavily relied on bureaucracy for conducting affairs of the state. These British trained Urdu speaking bureaucrats were great advocates of Western liberalism and parliamentary form of democracy for the state as opposed to views of religious clergy who viewed Pakistan as a theocracy as it was created in the name of Islam. Most of the religious clergy opposed creation of Pakistan for their own vested interests. But after creation of the county they tried to hijack the power structure seeing it a golden opportunity to assert their influence at the highest level. This dichotomy as to what should be the outlook of Pakistan, a moderate welfare Muslim state or an Islamic state with religious lay out marred constitution making business. Whereas India was very clear that its will be a Hindu dominated secular state Pakistan lacked a clear direction. Confusion about its national identity impeded the business of the state undermining its democratic credentials. While Jinnah’s famous speech to Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947 amply substantiates his vision about Pakistan: “You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the State,” confusions were created which paved way for repeated military intervention.

At the time of creation India continuously fished in Pakistan’s troubled water through unfair distribution of British left over resources, unjust water distribution, occupying many areas which belonged to Pakistan in clear violation of law of congruence and giving threats of undoing the partition of mother India. Anti-Indian sentiments and perpetual Indo-centric security dilemma enhanced the role of Pakistan army who were considered as defender of national integrity and custodians of geographical frontiers. It merits a mention here that right after the partition India abolished Central Command Structure of armed forces breaking it down into separate command units. Pakistan persisted with the same. India brought army chief subservient to civilian government under ministry of defence while in Pakistan army chief was hardly accounted for. The relatively inexperienced political leadership created a vacuum which was filled by relatively disciplined and resourceful Pakistan Army. This major disequilibrium in efficiency and powers of different state institutions enhanced military’s role all the more who considered corrupt civilian leaders as enemies of the nation and Field Marshal Ayub Khan staged first military coup in 1958 on advice of Sikandar Mirza. No major reforms were carried to restructure the armed forces that later played havoc with national political fabric in the name of protecting the country from corrupt political leadership.

Another primary reason of our unenviable democratic record is role of the religion in affairs of state. This is not just Pakistan’s problem but most of the Muslim countries throughout Asia and Africa have suffered at the hands of dictatorships. Viewing the problems from this angle brings in the role of religion in affairs of state. Many Western authors have accused the religion for such sorry state of affairs. Francis Fukuyama considers Islam as an authoritarian religion which in many ways is close to fascism as it asserts its influence in every walk of life including politics. While politics has no religion and in Western liberal democracy peoples will has the last say as against the nature of Islam where religion has the final say. This intervention makes realization of democratic dream difficult in Muslim countries. While Fukuyama and many others like him adopt a reductionist approach about the role of religion’s in politics. The assertive role o religious clergy has undoubtedly dented democratic norms and traditions in Pakistan. But this has less to do with religion and more to do with connivance of religious parties with military junta who otherwise found very little public support in electoral politics. For them the best way to make it to highest level of decision making was to side with military usurpers. Jamat-e-Islami’s support for Zia is an open fact while the creation of the MMA was the handiwork of the establishment on Musharraf’s directives. The MMA not only helped in passing of controversial 17th Amendment but bailed out Musharraf on many occasion as well.

Foreign intervention and interference (read American) in our internal matters is another cause which continues to wreak havoc with our struggle to rid country of military rule and take it toward permanent democratic system. Americans have adopted double standards of championing democracy universally but turning a blind eye to military rules throughout Middle East and South Asia for its own vested interests. Americans who prefer interests over ideals supported Ayub, Zia and Musharraf in Pakistan against civilian regimes. Superpowers backing of authoritarian rulers (the only source of their power) has undoubtedly dented democracy in Pakistan. America has micromanaged things in our polity.

Though in the February 18 elections people have given their verdict against authoritarian forces dream of permanent democratic rule will remain illusive as long the much needed balance in not restored between different state institutions. Currently what Pakistan needs is de-politicisation of military and de-militarisation of politics coupled with a free and fair judiciary.

The writer is an M.Phil Student at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad


Don't accept any compromise with min nuke deterrence: Ex-gen

New Delhi, Aug 31 (PTI) Days ahead of the crucial meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers Group to grant a waiver to operationalise the Indo-US nuclear deal, a former senior army officer has said India should not accept any condition which compromises on the issue of minimum nuclear deterrence.
"As a global power, we must possess a nuclear weapons capability that is sufficient to act as a deterrent to all other nuclear weapon states.

"What does it translate into? Very simply stated we should be able to absorb a first strike and yet retain the capability to strike back with our residual capability in a manner that makes the costs to the attacker unacceptable," Lt Gen Vinay Shankar said.

He said this was the minimum capability India must seek, and it should "not accept the imposition of terms that could cause us to accept compromises on this issue." In an article in the forthcoming issue of 'Indian Defence Review', the former general sought a reappraisal of India's nuclear doctrine and lamented that formulation of defence strategy and the oversight of India's defence preparedness "has never been given sufficient importance." The article came as top government and UPA leaders held deliberations on a revised draft prepared by the US for consideration of the Nuclear Suppliers Group at its meeting on September 4-5.

Referring to the structures for national security management, the former army officer said while precedents were set in the first decade after independence, since then "no Prime Minister or Defence Minister has had the confidence or the inclination to bring about meaningful changes in the management of national security." PTI

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