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Saturday, 4 October 2008

From Today's Papers - 05 Oct












6th Pay Panel It’s about equality, not money: Navy chief
New Delhi, October 4
Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta today said the pay commission issues raised by the three armed forces was “not about money” but status and equality.

“The issue here is not about money. It has been overplayed by the media. It is about status and equivalence that existed (before the pay commission), and the command and control relationship (between the armed forces officers and their civilian counterparts),” Mehta, who is also the chairman of the chiefs of staff committee, said after the Territorial Army Day parade here.

“How it (status, equality, command and control structure) has been disturbed (by the pay commission report), nobody knows,” he said when asked about the issues raised during the meeting of the services chiefs with external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee yesterday.

Mukherjee heads a three-member ministerial committee set up by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to look into the grievances of the Army, Navy and Air Force over “anomalies” in the 6th Central Pay Commission (CPC).

“It was a fact-finding mission. We had a long discussion with the minister over the issues,” he said. Meanwhile, welcoming the Cabinet approval to Phase-II of the Ajai Vikram Singh Committee report for creation of 1,896 new posts, from Colonels to Lieutenant Generals and their equivalents in the three forces, Mehta said: “We are happy with the implementation. This was an ongoing thing.” — PTI


Primus Inter Predators? The IAS lobby has cornered for itself far more pay than the Union cabinet cleared

SAIKAT DATTA

Smash & Grab

* The Union cabinet had cleared two additional increments for IAS officers, but bureaucrats gave themselves four
* Even the two additional increments cleared by the cabinet were meant only for a limited period. But the IAS lobby has manipulated to see that this incremental edge over others stays throughout service period.
* The additional fiscal burden for these increments not sanctioned by the cabinet is Rs 12 crore a year
* New notifications scripted by the babus have ensured that junior IAS officers will draw more than their seniors in other services
* Those in other services who were drawing the same pay as their IAS counterparts will now get less

***
Who is supreme, the Union cabinet or the bureaucrat? There was never the need to raise this question. But the flurry of notifications from babus of the department of personnel and training after the Sixth Pay Commission's recommendations were approved by the cabinet on August 14 makes one wonder whether bureaucrats—IAS officers—have overriding powers. Documents accessed by Outlook show that the cabinet approved a certain pay structure, but it was subverted by the IAS lobby for salary gains.

The notification that gives IAS officers a pay advantage

At a conservative estimate, this manipulation entails an additional annual burden of Rs 12 crore on the exchequer, not taking into account the proportionate gains the IAS lobby has allowed the IFS, or foreign service. Besides, in terms of arrears, 4,000 IAS officers will end up being paid Rs 32 crore. All this is money that wasn't authorised by the cabinet in the first place. Here's how the interpretations and manipulations took place:

# On August 14, the cabinet okayed two additional increments for the IAS in the fifth year of service. This would put them ahead of other streams vis-a-vis salary till the completion of sixteen years, after which there is pay parity across all services.
# However, while interpreting the new pay band system, the IAS lobby slipped in an additional two increments in the tenth year as well.
# The bureaucrats have also ensured that the pay edge they have got over others remains till they retire. There will be no cutoff after the 16th year in service.

These machinations haven't gone down well with the other services. They have already shot off strong letters to the cabinet secretary and have also taken up the matter with senior members of the cabinet. "This malafide manipulation raises a basic question about who is supreme in the government—is it the Union cabinet or the IAS? The fact that this has been done shows that even the cabinet has no sanctity when it comes to the self-interest of a particular lobby in government," a senior police officer told Outlook.

State associations of IPS and Indian Forest Service (IFS) officers have sent in strong protests and representations, demanding not only a reversion to the original intent of the cabinet but also action against the officials responsible for "misinterpreting a cabinet decision."

In response to a fax to the Union finance ministry, an official associated with the pay commission told Outlook that the intention of the cabinet was to continue with the advantage for the IAS and IFS at three levels."This was discussed at several meetings and has the sanction of the government," the official insisted, and pointed out that "members from the other services, including the IPS and the IFS, were present, they were fully aware of the implications, and gave their stamp of approval." However, the meetings took place on July 2, much before the issue came up before the cabinet.

Besides awarding themselves additional increments, the bureaucrats have also arbitrarily awarded themselves a higher salary structure than what was recommended through several arbitrary means. While the commission recommended Rs 9,000 as grade pay for joint secretary level officers, it has been increased straightaway to Rs 10,000.

The justification runs thus: an IAS officer of the director rank is equivalent to a colonel in the army or an SP in the police. The next step up the ladder makes a bureaucrat a joint secretary, equivalent to a major general or inspector general of police. However, police officers and those in the army and other defence services have to pass through one more rung—the brigadier-DIG level —before they are on par with a joint secretary. The commission's increment for DIG-level officers meant a grade pay of Rs 8,400—just Rs 100 more than an IAS director. The former protested and the grade salary was raised to Rs 8,900. This upset the joint secretaries, as their grade pay was Rs 9,000. The IAS lobby promptly raised it to Rs 10,000.


The cabinet mandated that the IAS has an edge over other services at only 3 middle levels, with 2 additional increments. But the new notification means that IAS officers get 4 additional increments, which continue throughout their career.The manipulation of recommended pay structures doesn't end here. In a bizarre move, the slew of new pay notifications have also ensured that junior IAS officers get more money than their seniors in other services. For instance, a junior IAS officer drawing Rs 16,300 in the old pay structure will now get a gross of Rs 40,890 under the new scheme. But officers from other services, who were his seniors and were drawing a higher pay packet of Rs 16,400, will now get Rs 39,690.


The other services have also been crying foul at the way grade pays have been fixed for them, while keeping the IAS at an advantage. In representations to the Centre, other service associations have pointed out that their increments have been proportionately much lower than that of their IAS counterparts. While increments for other ranks have been higher, for the DIG/brigadier level the ratio has been kept at a measly 0.14. This has led to IAS officers at a lower level drawing more than DIGs and brigadiers.

Similarly, an IAS officer drawing Rs 15,100 today will now get Rs 39,690. But his counterpart in the other services, drawing the same salary, will now, inexplicably, get Rs 38,500. "It is not just about money," a police officer says. "Pay structure also decides seniority, perks and powers. By ensuring the superiority of one service at the cost of all other services, you are ensuring bad governance. This will mean that other services will remain subservient to the wishes of the IAS. Is that desirable in our framework of good governance or in view of the efforts that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is making to bring about more professional delivery of governance in India?" he asks.

In the end, even as bureaucrats bestow increments and sops on themselves, can citizens expect better governance? All government employees associations have rejected a key recommendation made by the commission: to link twenty per cent of annual increment to performance.So, while the exchequer is drained at the expense of the common man, the babu has ensured that he will continue to reap benefits—even as he shortchanges the government he is supposed to serve.


Another infiltration bid foiled along LoC

PTI October 04, 2008 21:20 IST

The army has foiled an infiltration bid by armed militants, who tried to intrude under the cover of firing from the Pakistan side along the Line of Control in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir, making it the fourth such incident this week, police said.

India lodges protest with Pak over ceasefire violations

Armed militants from across the border tried to intrude into Jammu and Kashmir, under the cover of firing from Pak
Rangers on Friday night, making it another incident of cease-fire violation.

A group of militants entered into Indian territory along the LoC in Sabra Gali area of Mendhar sector, police� said.

BSF foils infiltration bid; militant killed on J&K border

As army troops challenged them and opened fire, militants escaped back to Pakistan. However, there was no loss of life or damage to property on Indian side.

The Border Security Force along the international border had foiled three infiltration bid supported by Pakistan troops on September 27, October 1 and October 2 in Jammu sector, in which one militant was killed.



Defence land to be sought for laying approach road to residential colonies

S. Ganesan

The move follows an altercation between residents of Crawford and Territorial Army

There are as many as 21 entry points into the defence land

TIRUCHI: The Tiruchi Corporation has decided to seek the transfer of about 3,000 square metres of defence land near Crawford for laying approach roads between residential colonies in the region and on K. K. Nagar / Sathanur Road.

The move follows a recent row between residents of Crawford and Territorial Army over the former’s claim for a link road across the defence lands.

Residents of nearly a dozen colonies in Crawford have been crossing over the training area of the 117 Infantry Battalion (TA), The Guards, as a short cut to reach K. K. Nagar, to reach schools, offices, shops and hospitals.

A large number of autorickshaws, two-wheelers and even four-wheelers are using the narrow gravel pathways, ignoring the signboards of the TA warning against trespass.

Sporadic attempts by the TA to prevent the ‘unauthorised entry’ have met with persistent resistance.

According to TA officers, there are as many as 21 entry points into their land. Recently, a large number of residents resorted to a road blockade after the TA personnel attempted to block these access points. Following the dispute, the Collector advised that the Corporation could seek the transfer of a portion of the defence land on prevailing market rates for providing a pathway for the residents.

A subway is also being planned across the four-lane bypass road coming up across the defence land.

Based on the advisory, the Corporation has decided to seek about 2,957 square metres of land for laying the link road either free of cost or at market rates.

The proposal will be forwarded to the Commissioner of Municipal Administration for follow up action. The council also agreed to bear a part of the costs for the construction of the subway by the National Highways Authority of India across the new bypass road.

The Corporation had previously sought 138 acres of the defence land for development purpose.


BOOK REVIEW: Afghan war’s hidden blunders —by Khaled Ahmed

How We Missed the Story:
Osama bin Laden, the Taliban, and the Hijacking of Afghanistan
By Roy Gutman
Vanguard Books Lahore 2008
Pp322
Available at bookstores in Pakistan

The book brings clarity to the Indo-Pak war number four (or five?) relocated to Afghanistan with India firmly entrenched with the Northern Alliance and the Karzai government, and Pakistan with its proxies embedded in Al Qaeda

Journalist Gutman has certainly produced the most comprehensive and revealing account to-date of the post-Soviet invasion Afghan war. He has moved from the written sources available to all to interviews that he was able to conduct with such key personalities as were involved in the internecine jihad of the triumphant mujahideen after the defeat of the Soviet Union. Everyone who went into the savage cauldron of Afghanistan today finds himself defeated, including the two states that most preened themselves over the victory: the United States and Pakistan.

The story begins in 1988 with Pakistan in the driving seat, putting together a government in exile — Interim Islamic Afghan Government of the mujahideen — in Rawalpindi near the Pakistan Army headquarters. The 519-member shura that was to choose the government was nominated by the seven jihad militias located in Peshawar and was plied with $26 million from Saudi Arabia. Mujaddadi was chosen president but he travelled to Iran and promised the Shia leaders one hundred seats in the shura. Back in the councils of the Sunni seven, the view was different: one hundred was cut down to sixty after which the Shias boycotted.

Bravery comes only with myopia and that was what was practised by the mujahideen. The government represented only 30 percent of the population of Afghanistan. Saudi money ensured that Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, the Wahhabi warlord the Arabs liked, was nominated prime minister, and Pakistan was able to get its favoured warlord Hekmatyar nominated defence minister with Saudi help although the rest of the militia leaders despised him for his tactics. The 1989 plan to attack the Najibullah regime in Jalalabad and establish the jihadi government there was set afoot with ISI chief Hamid Gul promising Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto that the Afghan government would fall in one week (p.28).

The Jalalabad offensive was a fiasco. The great mujahideen suffered their first defeat after defeating the Soviets, one third of the 12,000 killed being theirs. Soon afterwards, the Massoud-Hekmatyar vendetta made its imprint, the latter’s commanders killing 30 of Massoud’s in an ambush. Mujaddidi denounced Hekmatyar as a criminal and Hekmatyar left the government as defence minister. Jamiat commander Massoud caught four of Hekmatyar’s guilty commanders and executed them. Defeats and killings were to have no moral impact on anything in Afghanistan after that. Those who backed the savages sustained all the damage and warded off punishment in Pakistan by the simple device of taking over power.

The second lethal defeat for Pakistan was the Jalalabad-like offensive of Mazar-e-Sharif in 1997, organised by the ISI once again, based on the defection of a Rashid Dostam second-in-command, Malik Pehlawan, in favour of the Taliban. This was the offensive from the west of Afghanistan; another offensive from the south was mounted after buying the defection of a Massoud commander (p.102). Seeing Pakistan involved, Iran weighed in on the other side, training the troops of Jamiat’s other commander Ismail Khan and airlifting munitions and Hezbe Wahdat Shia warriors to them. Uzbekistan sought to make its own chess-move against Pakistan, conscripting Uzbeks to help despatch supplies to Dostam. Uzbek-dominated Tajikistan came down on the side of Massoud.

Another ally of Dostam, General Abdul Majid Rozi changed loyalty in Badghis province and arrested Ismail Khan whom he handed over to Mullah Razzaq who proceeded to Mazar-e-Sharif to take charge of the city abandoned by Malik. Jamiat chief Rabbani fled to Tajikistan and Dostam sent his family away and made himself scarce too. The promise to Malik was that he would be made governor of Mazar, but soon Mullah Razzaq began to enforce the Sharia, beating up unveiled women and destroying shops selling ‘prohibited things’. He entered Malik’s room and tore down a painting of Omar Khayyam with a goblet of wine because that was ‘against Islam’ (p.104). All TV sets were smashed in the city and Malik was told to go to Kabul as a deputy foreign minister while his transport and other assets were simply taken over.

At this point Pakistan recognised the government of the Taliban, but Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif didn’t know who had okayed the recognition because he hadn’t. Foreign Minister Gauhar Ayub followed orders that came from a source other than the prime minister but that was more or less routine in Pakistan by then (p.105). Then the defeat started. Mullah Razzaq went to the Hazara quarters in the city and asked them to disarm. They refused, and already scared by the ‘enforcement’ of Taliban sharia, began hunting for the Taliban under Malik’s command. They killed 350 of them including Mullah Razzaq. They ended up bagging 3,000 as prisoners. What followed was a massive war crime. The prisoners taken in war were all executed.

The book says Pakistan was the dominant power behind the scenes, the ISI putting Malik in touch with Mullah Ghaus the foreign minister, telling the latter the Taliban could capture Mazar without a fight. But uncannily it also sent in Pakistani Kashmiri militants as military assistance. Hamid Gul told the author, ‘ISI brokered a deal but it was the wrong one’ (p.108). Col Imam, the ISI officer called Ruler of Herat, later denied that the Mazar defeat was a big fiasco and funnily also claimed that the Taliban who invaded Mazar were unarmed and were mostly traders! He also put the blame on Iran for asking the Hazara Shias to resist and start the massacre (p.109).

Col Imam was really the American-trained Amir Sultan Tarar, the commando officer who trained the mujahideen in camps run by Pakistan and the US. He was sent into Kandahar in 1994 to keep the Taliban going in the right direction but he soon moved to the more ‘strategic’ location of Herat, which was to put Pakistan and Iran face to face when the Taliban finally got hold of Mazar in 1998 with a massacre to shame all massacres, including the killing of the Iranian diplomats in the Mazar consulate at the hands of the Sipah Sahaba boys sent in from Pakistan. The book says they arrested the officers but, after taking their cash, handed them over to the Taliban for the killing (p.137).

This book is an epitaph for the doctrine of ‘strategic depth’, but the policy of playing proxies in Afghanistan was never abandoned after 9/11; so the war against India goes on while Washington thinks it is against NATO-ISAF. The book brings clarity to the Indo-Pak war number four (or five?) relocated to Afghanistan with India firmly entrenched with the Northern Alliance and the Karzai government, and Pakistan with its proxies embedded in Al Qaeda. The real epitaph will come later and it will be for a much bigger demise than just the fading of the doctrine of strategic depth. *


Two sides of the same coin
Sun, 2008-10-05 01:58

By Asif Haroon Raja from Pakistan
Soon after Partition, apart from irascible hostility of India, Pakistan had to contend with unfriendly Afghanistan. Besides being the only Muslim country to oppose Pakistan’s membership to the UN, it had demanded certain parts of Baluchistan and NWFP. It had repudiated all treaties signed between Afghanistan and the British Government before the birth of Pakistan and rejected Durand Line as an international border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. It maintained a consistent hostile policy towards Pakistan and subjected it to vile propaganda and urged the tribes residing on Pakistani side of the Divide to create independent Pakhtunistan. It always provided refuge to dissident and anti-Pakistan elements and supported 1973 insurgency in Baluchistan. Conversely, it always maintained friendly ties with India.

It was only during the brief spell of Taliban rule that Pakistan enjoyed cordial relations and its western border became safe and Indian influence waned. The old animosity re-appeared no sooner Taliban regime was replaced with Karzai led regime in Kabul in 2002 and the Indian influence re-emerged in a big way. The Afghan leadership has allowed its soil to be used by foreign agencies for destabilisation of Pakistan.

From 1947 till as late as 2004, Pakistan’s north-western tribal belt known as FATA inhabited by highly patriotic tribesmen remained peaceful. The entire length of over 1400 miles long porous and treacherous border was guarded by them and no regular soldier ever entered into this territory. Notwithstanding the unchecked trans-border movement of the ethnically linked tribes living both sides of the border, they never made any compromise on Pakistan’s sovereignty. Their courageous role in the three wars with India and during the ten-year Afghan war needs no amplification.

Unlike the ANP and certain regional political parties in Baluchistan who had maintained close ties with India and former Soviet Union, the FATA people never cultivated secret links with foreign powers and were ever ready to fight for the cause of Pakistan. They however consider it their moral obligation to come to the rescue of Afghan brethren whenever in distress. They had fought the Soviet forces alongside the Afghan Mujahideen and had given refuge to the displaced Afghans, Chechens, Arabs and other Muslim fighters who had participated in the Afghan war. They had also fought the invading forces at the side of the Taliban in October-November 2001. They had felt equally anguished on the reckless destruction of Afghanistan and had vowed to help the Taliban in pushing out the foreign forces.

When the US and its allies occupied Afghanistan in November 2001 after causing immense destruction and installed non-Pashtun regime led by American stooge Karzai, the Taliban and their leaders sought shelter in Pashtun dominated provinces of Afghanistan while some trickled into the Pashtun belt of Pakistan. They vowed to free their country from the clutches of USA and started to regroup. Once they began to strike back in 2002 it became obligatory for the Jihadis residing in FATA who had always fought side by side with the Afghans against the aggressors to support them. Once the balance of power started to shift in favor of the Taliban in southern Afghanistan and became difficult for the US-UK troops to contain them, NATO troops were inducted to beef their strength in 2003.

When the army was inducted into FATA in 2003 at the behest of USA to flush out foreigners from South Waziristan inhabited by Wazirs, the locals extended their support. It was when the army expanded its operations towards Mahsud dominated areas and then to North Waziristan and reneged on peace agreements and started to use gunship helicopters and jetfighters resulting in death of innocent civilians that the tribals began to confront the army. Handing over their guests and kinsfolk to USA and tales of torture of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay and in Bagram Base further antagonised them. They became convinced that the army was fighting its own people at the behest of non-Muslim America to promote its interests.

The flames of insurgency have now spread throughout the length and breadth of FATA and have engulfed settled areas of NWFP including its major cities. At present, warlike situation is prevalent in Swat and Bajaur, while Kurram Agency is in the grip of sectarian fire. Khyber Agency is restive where several militant groups have cropped up creating serious law and order problems in the suburbs of Peshawar. Cases of kidnapping for ransom from the capital city are mounting. Kohat tunnel remained closed for over a month and operations in Darra are still continuing to subdue the militants. Mohmand Agency is turning into yet another battleground while Hangu and Aurakzai Agency are also simmering. Military?s hands are full quelling disturbances in several trouble spots but because of foreign interference the fire of militancy is not getting controlled.

The people of FATA are caught up in a nut cracker situation wherein they are suffering at the hands of the army, the militants and US drones. At one time 700,000 people had been rendered homeless and even now over 300,000 residents are living in pathetic conditions in makeshift relief camps. They are pleading for peace but peace is nowhere in sight. Ongoing anarchic conditions have ruptured the already fragile economy of FATA. The administrative structure that worked under political agent together with the Jirga system that used to preserve law and order and deliver verdicts on all sorts of disputes has since been trampled after the army stepped in and assumed control. Over 600 pro-government Maliks who would help in maintaining semblance of order have mostly been wiped out. The elected FATA MNAs and MPAs do not pick up courage to visit their home towns.

The militants fighting the army are not prepared to ceasefire and surrender arms as demanded by the government. They are killing pro-government tribals and US spies and the army is not in a position to provide security to them. The cross fire between the militants and the military is resulting in killing and injuring of peaceful residents as well. Collateral damage has increased manifold ever since the army has begun to use jetfighters, choppers, artillery guns and heavy mortars more liberally. To top it all, missiles fired by US Predators are mostly killing innocent men, women and children. So far about 8000 militants have been killed. Another menace that has surfaced is the mushroom growth of criminal gangs over which the law enforcing agencies have no control. Besides, large numbers of militant groups have emerged in the tribal belt and these are sponsored by foreign agencies to serve their vested interests.

Heavy displacement of the people causing countless hardships together with the loss of lives of the innocent at the hands of security forces and US drones has resulted in the intensification of hatred against the army and USA. They have now realised that the Musharraf regime and the present one under Zardari are two sides of the same coin and that the latter is going one step ahead of the former to please the Americans. Feeling left out and isolated, more and more volunteers are joining the militants to seek revenge from the ones who have caused them distress. Since the Taliban have made inroads in Punjab as well where most of the banned Jihadi outfits are based, there is a regular flow of volunteers from Punjab particularly from southern Punjab. Some are joining the Taliban from Sindh as well.

Major reasons for the common people gravitating towards the Taliban and growth of terrorism are:

(One). The rulers are seen as the lackeys of USA, who instead of caring for the people are pleasing USA to safeguard their interests.

(Two) . The Indo-US-Israeli nexus has made up its mind to destroy Islam and replace it with secularism and the secular leaders are helping them in attaining their objective.

(Three). The trio is the real axis of evil that has destroyed peace of the world.

(Four). The West minister system of democracy and governance is inept and Anglo-Saxon system of judiciary corrupt and both are pro-rich.

(Five). Pak army is on the payroll of USA.

(Six). The Taliban are simple and God fearing soldiers of Islam and they do not demand material benefits but imposition of Sharia.

(Seven). Justice based on Islam offered by the Taliban is cheap and speedy.

(Eight). The rulers and the elite class are leading life of opulence and immorality and are insensitive towards the poor.

(Nine). Osama bin Laden is not a terrorist but a hero since he had sacrificed everything to defend the cause of Islam.

(Ten). The root cause of terrorism within the Muslim world is unsolved problem of Palestine and Kashmir, America’s anti-Islamic and unjust polices and illegal occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq.

These perceptions injected into the minds of the have-nots have helped the Taliban in earning their goodwill and in swelling their strength. Their motivational nodes based on ideological indoctrination and spirit of Jihad turn each member into a diehard Islamist ready to sacrifice his life for the cause of Islam. Devoid of worldly comforts and living under adverse conditions they become hardy, well trained and enthused. It is quite apparent that outside forces are replenishing the militants with arms and ammunition as well as cryptic means of communication enabling them to keep the 150,000 strong military force at bay for the last five years.

Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and suicide bombers are the main weapons in the armoury of militants to cause maximum damage to military targets. Security troops operating in FATA and Swat have suffered maximum casualties because of IEDs. Greater the loss incurred greater will be the impact made. They have succeeded in motivating and training sizeable number of suicide bombers to attack the chosen targets within high security zones. Reportedly, women have also been trained as in the case of Iraq. Factors of poverty, religion, honour and revenge have enabled the masterminds to enrol suicide bombers.

Lal Masjid massacre propelled the suicide attackers to launch series of attacks against the perpetrators of crime. Some of the important targets hit by them were Tarbela SSG Mess, ISI Hamza Camp, ISI bus, CJCSC House and AMC Lt Gen in Rawalpindi, FIA and Naval College Lahore buildings, air force buses in Sargodha and Badhaber, two attacks on Benazir Bhutto on 18 October and 27 December, and recently POF Wah and Marriott Hotel Islamabad located within Red Zone. Besides, attempts were made on former President Musharraf, PM Shaukat, interior minister Sherpao and present PM. Having put top PPP legislators on the hit list, ANP elected members have also been added in the list and some have already been slain.

Hujra of ANP leader Asfandyar in Charsadda was hit on 3 October in which he had a narrow escape. These attacks are other than routine attacks on military convoys, check posts and police stations. Kidnapping of security persons, foreigners and diplomats are other means employed to get their demands met and prisoners released or to compel the security forces to wrap up certain check posts causing hindrance to their movement.

While the foreign hands are definitely involved in destabilising Pakistan, however, they are not the sole cause of prevailing chaos. This can be seen from the fact that after the election campaign picked up momentum in January 2008, cycle of suicide attacks ceased. The cycle recommenced once the PPP and ANP betrayed the trust of the people and showed their true colours. Had the new civilian government lived up to its commitment of restoring deposed judges, made the corrupt and criminals accountable, revised the faulty policy of war on terror and abided by the agreements signed with the militants in Swat, Bajaur, Mohmand and South Waziristan Agencies in May 2008, and taken meaningful steps to redress their grievances by introducing the promised Shariah in Malakand Division and undertaken development works, the menace of militancy could have got controlled to quite an extent.

Now that militancy is almost getting out of control, it is becoming that much easier for foreign agents to get submerged in the melee and add fuel to fire. Instead of taking corrective measures to cleanse the muck left behind by Musharraf led regime, our myopic leaders are following old policies in letter and spirit. They are reinforcing failures by stating that it is our war and more force will be applied. Rehman Malik instead of resigning after the Marriott intelligence failure has gone bonkers and is roaring like a wounded tiger that he will not rest till each and every militant is put to sword. Daily killings of militants in Bajaur, Swat and Darra are being triumphantly announced with a measure of exultation and achievement, hoping against hope that killing of few thousands would curb militancy. In Iraq, massacre of over one million has increased and not lessened militancy. Unless our rulers change their lifestyle, ensure good governance, impose effective system of accountability, deliver cheap justice to all, promote people friendly policies and win their hearts and minds, whatever force applied to eliminate extremism and militancy would prove counterproductive.

Asif Haroon Raja is a defence and political analyst based in Rawalpindi.

- Asian Tribune -


India to revive airbase on India-China frontier
October 4th, 2008 - 2:14 pm ICT by IANS -

Leh (Jammu and Kashmir), Oct 4 (IANS) India is set to revive another air base on the India-China frontier, nearly four months after landing an aircraft at one of the world’s highest airstrips at Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) in Ladakh, officials said.The Fukche airbase in eastern Ladakh, which is only 2.5 km away from the Line of Actual Control (LOAC) - the de-facto border between India and China - will be made operational in a month. The Indian Army has been carrying out repair work at the airbase.

“The airfield should be ready in a month’s time and thereafter the Indian Air Force (IAF) will conduct trials to see if a fixed wing aircraft could land at the base at times of natural calamity,” Western Air Command Chief Air Marshal P.K. Barbora told IANS.

Defence sources said the base will enable India to boost its communication network and improve supplies to the troops positioned in this region.

“The Fukche advanced landing ground would be ready for operation in a month’s time and will boost the operational skills of the force on the India-China frontier,” an army official said on condition of anonymity.

“The strategic airstrip is located close to the LOAC with China near the Aksai Chin area and would help in maintaining supply chain for the troops posted in the area,” he added.

In May this year, the IAF created history by landing a fixed wing aircraft at DBO, the highest airstrip in the world at a height of 16,200 feet, after 43 years.

DBO is an important army forward area post on the ancient silk route to China. This base was built during the Sino-Indian conflict in 1962. Packet aircraft of the IAF operated from DBO between 1962 and 1965. In 1966, an earthquake caused some loosening of the surface soil, making this base unfit for further fixed wing aircraft operations.

The army official, however, said that no plans were afoot to revive the Chushul air base in Ladakh.

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