The burning of Hotel Marriot at Islamabad that Indian TVs showed at length and repeatedly is still etched in the memory of the horrified people. They are worried about Pakistan. Even the hawks do not conceal their anxiety. The intelligentsia's concern is that the nascent democratic government might not be able to cope with the Al Qaida-Taliban and might have to depend on the military which would want its price.

People do not know how far the Al Qaida-Taliban combine has penetrated Pakistan. But the belief is that the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA), Waziristan and, to a large extent, the North West Frontier Province (NWFP), is under the control of the Taliban. Were they to "capture" more territory, what would be its effect on India is the greatest worry. President Asif Ali Zardari's remark that "the Taliban have an upper hand" is all the more unnerving. America agrees with him.

A Pakistani television commentator has challenged Prime Minister Yousuf Reza Gilani to travel from Kohat to Banu. The commentator's contention is that the Pakistan government has already "withdrawn" from this area.

If this is true, there is some truth in the repeated allegation that former president Pervez Musharraf, even when he wore the uniform, was never serious about curbing the Al Qaida-Taliban. He found it an effective way to mulct America.

That he connived at the intervention of the US troops on Pakistani soil is an open secret. In contrast, Zardari's statement or that of the Chief of Army Staff Pervez Kiyani that Pakistan's sovereignty would not be allowed to be trifled with has come as a welcome surprise.

Islamabad is defending its territory and there are signs of it when its guns drove away the American helicopters the other day. Pakistan is careful not to engage the superpower but whatever Islamabad is doing to keep its dignity intact needs to be commended.

I do not think that Al Qaida-Taliban is seeking territory in Pakistan. They want northern areas which would help them recapture Afghanistan which was under their rule until they were toppled.

In fact, the US is responsible for the birth of the Taliban. During the Cold War when Washington wanted to bleed Moscow to death, America trained and armed fundamentalists to oust the irreligious Soviet Union from Afghanistan.

America won the Cold War when the Soviet Union collapsed under the weight of what happened to it in Afghanistan. Those fundamentalists are today's Taliban and they have the weapons which were liberally provided by America.

What is not probably appreciated amply is that Pakistan's war against Taliban is India's war too. If ever Pakistan goes under, India's first line of defence would collapse. The Taliban would have secured the launching pad to attack India's values of democracy and liberalism which do not fit into their scheme of things.

Terrorism is the means, Talibalistan is the end. New Delhi and Islamabad should jointly fight against the menace.

There is a lesson for New Delhi which is a sad picture of inaction and ineptness when assessed in terms of action taken against communal forces. Law and order has always been a state subject. Still the centre's response was lukewarm.

It sent to Orissa, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Kerala an advice on the lines of Article 355 which enjoins upon the Union to protect states against external aggression and internal disturbance. Had New Delhi's order gone under Article 355 itself, the fundamentalist Bajrang Dal would not have openly butchered Christians and burnt churches. Surprisingly, there is no ban on Bajrang Dal.

New Delhi has done well in rejecting the demand of BJP for bringing back the Prevention of Terrorists Activities Act (POTA) which authorised the state to detain people for months without trial. The act was used against the Naxalites and Muslims mercilessly. In this atmosphere, the Muslims would have been the target.

This is what has happened after the encounter at Zakir Bagh at Delhi where two terrorists and one police inspector were killed. The debate over the veracity of the "encounter" is still raging. The locality believes it was stage managed. Why such a feeling arises is because of the credibility gap between the people and the authorities.

The matter is much more serious: Muslims and Christians have lost faith in the fairness of the state. This will be hard to restore if the secular forces do not assert themselves and retrieve Muslims, Christians and, more so, the Hindus from the bias and prejudice in which many are stuck.

Kuldip Nayar is a former Indian High Commissioner to the UK and a former Rajya Sabha MP.

Russian defence minister begins three-day India visit next week news
26 September 2008

New Delhi: Russian defence minister, Anatoly Serdyukov, begins a three-day visit to India next week during which he will co-chair an inter-governmental commission of the two countries and also negotiate key defence deals with New Delhi.

Anatoly SerdyukovAmong the issues that have been seeking resolution for quite some time are the sanction of additional $1.2 billion for the refit programme of aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya (ex-Adm Gorshkov). Pressing matters also concern the joint development of a fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA), a medium transport aircraft, and technology transfer for T-90 tanks.

The INS Vikramaditya is currently undergoing a refit at the Sevmash Shipyard in Russia.

Minister Serdyukov is due to arrive in the country on Sunday evening. He lays a wreath at the Amar Jawan Jyothi at India Gate on Monday morning, after which he will be presented an armed forces Guard of Honour at the South Block.

Here Serdyukov and his Indian counterpart AK Antony meet up for a half-hour before heading for the DRDO Bhawan auditorium where they co-chair the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission for Military and Technical Commission.

During the hour-long meeting, the two countries are expected to sign military protocols on issues of mutual interest and negotiate important defence agreements.

Antony and Serdyukov then address a joint press conference at the venue at 12.30 hours.

On Tuesday, Serdyukov visits Agra where he will be given a live demonstration by paratroopers of the Indian Army's 50 Para Brigade.

The Russian delegation then visits the historic site of the Taj Mahal before returning to Delhi.

Guest Post : SCPC… a dishonest broker

[BeeCee, who had penned a few guest posts earlier (here, here, here, here and here), is back with some fresh insights on how the SCPC has indulged in duplicitious behaviour. Regular readers of the blog are aware of BeeCee's credentials and his eye for detail. A slightly different version of this blogpost is at Navdeep's Blog.]

Having seen the cacophony on Pragmatic’s blogpost titled ‘SCPC logic‘ (mostly under the ’street light’ pattern), I managed to have a cursory look at the SCPC report on the net and their logic. I must say that they have been ‘less than honest’ brokers, to say the least.

This can be seen in the way they have selectively stated previous CPC positions and moved away from the established Service Officers - Organised Group A Services/ IPS equation to a new standard of comparison with CPMFs. The parity with civil services, though stated as given,has been given a complete miss.

  1. In the chapter on Armed forces, they have shown both Captain and Major as STS(III CPC) merely to manipulate and suit their view and take the logic forward. The Major’s starting pay was higher than JAG even if you add the starting edge of Rs50. The higher pay was also not because of any special dispensation, but because time for promotion to Major was 11 years as against 9 years(including training) for JAG. The distinction between pre and post AVS Major has been obfuscated. If this is placed correctly, present Lt Colonel[replacement of pre-IV CPC Major(SG)] as NFSG in armed forces would be clear.
  2. Only one pre-IV CPC civil NFSG scale has been shown for comparison with the armed forces. This was the highest NFSG among the many available then. If they had also shown the other civil NFSGs of the time(some shown in the chapters on Group A/AIS civil services) the logic would not have held.
  3. The pre-IV CPC scale of Major(SG) crucial for the equation up to NFSG level has not been shown.
  4. The III CPC scale of DIG which is shown appears to be wrong. What is shown is the Pre-IV CPC scale to mislead the reader. The DIG’s scales were revised by the Home Ministry just prior to the IV CPC placing him above Cols. This was explained and corrected by the IV CPC in its report and who again placed DIG between Lt Col and Colonel actually with a Lt Col and then upgraded the DIG. In fact there were two DIG scales linked to the year of promotion.
  5. The civil scale of SAG II(Brigadier’s nearest equivalent), that was merged with SAG I at IV CPC has not been shown. By the same logic, the Brigadier should also have been on the SAG scale from IV CPC.

In effect, what has been attempted now is to use the III CPC disparity that existed between ‘the most advantaged in the civil services’ vis-a-vis the armed forces to push down the Services, while narrowing the gap between the various civil services. This is the reason why Services are now left to compare with CPOs, MES etc instead of the Organised Services. (This is absolutely not to denigrate the CPOs or MES, but only to draw attention to the hierarchy that existed earlier, from which the Services alone have been displaced.) No mention has been made of the uniform progression up to 14 years available across the board so far and was to be maintained. If parity with civil pay structure has been accepted, why is it that only military officers don’t get paid during training? Unless the Services confused the issue by clubbing NDA and IMA training.

In places where the same logic has been applied for both the military and the civilians, like inter-se equation of JCOs with civilians, disability pension etc, the civil logic has been beneficial to the Services. In fact I do not know of any situation where Services have been at a disadvantage if the same logic is applied across the board.

I think Services walked into a trap with the ‘we are different’ argument.

Regarding the SDA, the IV CPC did away with the concept. They standardised progression up to NFSG in the 14th year for Organised Gp A services and Armed forces. For the Services this included Rank pay of Major. Since Maj(SG) was done away with, the pay of JAG and NFSG were combined to give a longer run for the Major terminating at the same level as NFSG. Only the starting edge and late commencement of pay was maintained. As to why this was done, may be the report clarifies it. I don’t know.

After the Vth CPC also, the Major moved to 14300/-(start of NFSG) in the 14th year(plus 1). This again included the Rank pay. They also don’t seem to talk of any edge in the scale as such.

Things may be clearer if the full reports are read. I am not sure if the extracts quoted by the VI CPC would give the complete picture or can be trusted. What appears to have happened is that VI CPC wrote the analysis/ findings first, and then extrapolated the figures to suit/ justify the analysis. Otherwise there is no way that they could have got to equate a Brigadier with a DIG or a Lt Colonel with a JAG.

There is no end to the debate on ‘my job is more important than yours’. It can get quiet silly as seen by various comments on the blogs. It is to avoid such meaningless debates that the IV CPC brought in ‘uniform career progression upto a point’ and the V CPC suggested a ‘model cadre structure’, i.e. a percentage of the cadre strength in each pay-grade. Implementing these would have been of tremendous benefit to the armed forces and would have given a sense of fairness across the board.

The problem at the last CPC was that they accepted the model cadre structure for every one, except the armed forces. This is the single major anomaly that has remained post V CPC. The issue of SDA was a forgotten chapter and irrelevant to be revived now by either the CPC or the Services.

A comparison with what the VI CPC says and what the Services actually asked for, or responses to each other could be enlightening.

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