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Monday, 20 October 2008

From Today's Papers - 20 Oct

Retired defence personnel set for nationwide strike

New Delhi (PTI): With the government yet to announce pensionary benefits of the 6th Central Pay Commission, over 15 lakh retired defence personnel from across the country would sit on a relay hunger strike from Monday onwards.

A release on Sunday stated that the relay hunger strike will be carried out by representatives of the Indian Ex Service Men (IESM) movement.

The hunger strike would be carried out in over 500 districts of the country with massive participation from the states of Punjab, Haryana and the four southern states. In Delhi region it will be conducted at the India Gate lawns.

Earlier in a press conference here, defence service veterans had announced that if their demands are not accepted by the government they will proceed on a countrywide relay hunger strike from October 20.

"We are beginning the hunger strike to press for our genuine demands and this will intensify to a hunger strike till death. Barring the J&K and North eastern states we are conducting the movement everywhere," Vice Chairman of the IESM movement, Major General Satbir Singh told PTI.

Military veterans had demanded for sanctioning of 'one rank, one pension' for protecting the interest of older pensioners.

The Parliamentary standing committee on defence too had been recommending a similar structure for defence pensioners. Currently defence pensioners are receiving pensions based on cost calculation of the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

ISSUES OF ARMED FORCES

To: knayar@nation. com.pk

My Dear Mr Nayar,

1.Thank you for writing an article on the major issues of the Armed Forces.I wish to put across my views on two issues, you have stated in the article.

2.Unionism by Chiefs.The Chiefs of Staff Committee( CoSC), an approved committee of the RM ,consists of all the three chiefs ,which take decisions collectively. Though there is a Chairman CoSC;presently the Naval Chief, but he has no authority, as he remains a titular head,like the President of India.Therefore the three Chiefs had to approach the RM collectively on the issues of Armed Forces . Had the Govt accepted and implemented the Subramanium Committee report on the appointment of a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS),this contingency would not have arisen.Therefore the impression of a unionism attitude of the Chiefs as stated by you is a perceptional difference.If the CDS is appointed, he becomes the principal advisor to the RM on all defence matters.This may not be to the liking of the Defence Secretary,who wields unlimited authority on defence services without accountability.

3.BSF Vs Army. BSF does not perform the same tasks as the Army and neither are they the first line of defence.They manage the borders during peace times and in no war no peace situations.The moment a conflict erupts they are withdrawn to the least threatened areas in the rear and replaced by regular army. They are also not trained and equipped entirely as the regular army.BSF is given only defensive roles in least threatened areas or in most cases,allotted in sub units under the command the army for employment in less important tasks.They are never employed for Offensive Operations. Even in counter insurgency operations like J&K/NE states,they are generally deployed near inhabited areas,under army formations ,keeping the Army away from civil population as far as possible.The deployment of army in this operation is at the cost of its primary task of providing external security.Therefore comparing BSF ,a para military force ,with the
regular army is synonymous with the comparison of medical staff with para medical staff.

4.The Armed Forces are NOT asking for more money as perceived by many,but for restoration of their Honour(Izzat) which has been eroded over the last 60 years,by the bureaucracy with their ill intended advice to the ignorant political masters,in the garb of civilian control,which defacto becomes the control by the bureaucracy. In a materialistic world,unfortunately , the status is determined by the pay package and hence the linkage with the pay commission and comparative wages.

5.I may add that a willing horse has been flogged for too long without caring for its long term implications on the security of the nation.

With best wishes and warm regards,

Brigadier PTGangadharan, Guards,
Veteran,

Pakistan Army Kills 30 Militants

Islamabad

Security forces killed at least 30 militants in Pakistan's restive Swat district Sunday as a top US diplomat discussed counter-terrorism initiatives with the country's leadership, officials and media reports said.

US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher, who arrived in Islamabad on an unannounced visit Saturday, held talks with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari Sunday over the militant violence in the north-west and security along the Afghan border.

The US diplomat's visit was being kept low-key, with the US embassy just saying that the trip was not an unscheduled one and it had been planned in advance.

Boucher's meetings come at a time when the relations between the United States and Pakistan are at a low ebb because of the recent upsurge in American air strikes against militants holed up in the country's tribal region bordering Afghanistan.

Zardari reaffirmed Pakistan's commitment to fighting Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters inside its territory, but said Afghan militants were infiltrating into the tribal areas to support the Islamist insurgents, the DawnNews channel reported quoting unnamed officials.

Dawn News said Boucher pledged US assistance to train and equip the Frontier Corps paramilitary forces to fight militants in the restive north-western region. Boucher also gave similar assurances in his overnight meeting with Pakistan top civilian security official, Rehman Malik.

Pakistani security forces are currently engaged in offensives against pro-Taliban rebels in the treacherous tribal belt and militancy-plagued areas in the adjoining North-West Frontier Province (NWFP).

On Sunday, jet fighters of the Pakistan Air Force strafed a stronghold of Islamist militants in NWFP's Swat district, killing at least 30 insurgents including key commanders.

Successive bombing sorties were carried out in Swat's Matta sub-district to take out the headquarters and training facilities of the supporters of region's radical cleric Maulana Fazlullah, who last year launched an armed struggle to enforce strict Taliban-style laws.

"Around 30 militants were killed and several were injured when security forces engaged their positions in Barthana and Parao areas," military spokesman Major Murad Khan said.

One of Fazlullah's senior aides, Commander Alamgir, was among those killed in the attack that also destroyed the militants' ammunition dumps.

Hours after the operation, militants struck a military convoy with a roadside bomb in Swat's Kabal sub-district, killing one soldier. Troop also shot dead three insurgents in the ensuing skirmish.

Swat, located 250 km north-west of capital Islamabad, was a popular tourist destination until early 2007 when it became a virtual battlefield between government troops and the rebels.

Sri Lanka army 'breaks' Tiger lines

Sri Lanka's army has broken through the "last major defences" of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) near their de facto capital of Kilinochchi, according to the defence ministry.

At least 19 Tamil Tiger bunkers were also captured along a two-kilometre line during Saturday's fighting in the north of the island, the statement said.

"Army's 57 division troops yesterday pierced the LTTE-built earth bund in Akkarayankulam, the terrorists' last major defence south of Kilinochchi," the defence ministry said on Sunday.

The Sri Lankan military statement did not detail casualties from the fighting but it said that the Tamil Tigers "suffered significant attrition in terms man and material".

"Several soldiers made their ultimate sacrifice for the nation while many others suffered injuries during this battle," the defence ministry added.

The LTTE, which has been fighting for an independent state for ethnic Tamils in the north and east of the island since 1972, did not immediately comment on the military's claims.

It is impossible to independently verify competing claims by the two sides as the region, where the army has been pursuing an offensive against Tamil Tigers for more than a year, is closed to most journalists.

'Gas attacks'

The military claimed that Tamil Tiger fighters had used "poisonous gas attacks" in an attempt to halt the advance of government forces. Military sources told the AFP news agency that a type of tear gas commonly used in riot control had been used.

"However, troops withstood the chemical attack and beat off the terrorists," the ministry said.

Three weeks ago, the military announced that it was within striking distance of Kilinochchi, the loss of which would be a major blow to the Tamil Tigers who are thought to have been significantly weakend by the sustained military offensive.

The fighting took place as Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka's president, sought to reassure Manmohan Singh, India's prime minister, that the military was trying to minimise civilian casualties, a foreign ministry statement said.

Nearly 40 politicians from the ruling Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK) party in India's Tamil Nadu state submitted their resignations on Friday in an attempt to put pressure on the government to intervene in Sri Lanka.

Tamil Nadu is home to about 55 million Tamils who have ancestral links with the Tamils in Sri Lanka.

The DMK is allied to Singh's Congress party and it gave the government two weeks to do something or face being brought down.

India sent peacekeepers to Sri Lanka in 1987, only to withdraw them after losing more than 1,000 men in battle.

Himachal government taking up one-rank-one-pension with Centre-Dhumal

Posted By MH News Network On October 3, 2008 @ 4:02 pm In News

Kangra: The Central Government has finally approved in principle to grant one-rank-one-pension to the ex-servicemen revealed Prem Kumar Dhumal, the Chief Minister, as he addressed the members of the HP State Ex-Servicemen League Meeting held at Kangra today.

He said that the state government had been raising various demands of the ex-servicemen at the highest level and he had been personally pursuing and following the matter with the higher authorities. H announced that the state government had recently created a separate department to cater to the welfare, relief, rehabilitation and the resettlement needs of the serving and retired soldiers and the same department would also be assisting the wards of the soldiers in getting their various grievances redressed. Also, there is a separate cell in the Chief Minister’s Office to cater to the needs of the ex-servicemen, monitored by him personally.

He said that the holy land of Himachal Pradesh had produced great sons like First Paran Vir Chakra Awardee late Major Som Nath Sharma, late Lt. Col. Dhan Singh Thapa, late Major Vikram Batra and Shri Sanjay Kumar. He said that out of four PVCs awarded during the Operation Vijay in Kargil, the state soldiers were awarded two, which brought laurel to the state. He assured the ex-servicemen that the interests of the ex-servicemen were safe in the hands of the state government.

War cabinet - way forward

By MOHAMMAD TARIQ just now

Nation is aghast at what is happening. Where are we heading. How have we landed into this chaotic situation? Who is responsible? Is there a way out? This is the most talked about issue anywhere in the country. One is reminded of the quotation of a sage that "It doesn't matter what happens to you, what matters is how you behave while it is happening." This article is an attempt to suggest what we should do to meet the challenges threatening our very existence.
Before we suggest a way let us recapitulate how we have arrived at the present situation. While doing that it will also be evident where did we go wrong. This is only to set the stage for the final argument. Struggle for Pakistan as a separate nation state was spearheaded by Quaid-i-Azam and was opposed by religious parties on the grounds the Muslim Umma transcends geographical boundaries. Since then we are caught between being a Muslim first or a Pakistani first.
Quaid's early demise was a big blow to the political development in the country. Foremost in his mind was to frame the constitution. Nehru in India managed it in 1949. Since we had no constitution, the office of the Governor General Quaid held it as interim measure assumed far greater importance than being a mere ceremonial appointment. The other hard luck with our fledgling democracy was the squabbling of our inept politicians. The vacuum was filled by the bureaucracy. Democratic process received a massive jolt at the hands of bureaucratic Governor Generals Ghulam Muhammad and Sikandar Mirza. The latter in his quest to strengthen his hold inducted Army Chief Ayub Khan as the defence minister.
Our foreign policy from the beginning was aligned with the west. Recall Prime Minister Suharwardy's unequivocal support to the British-French led Israeli attack against Egypt in 1956 despite widespread and massive protests in the country. We have not changed much ever since except our developing close ties with China. In the economic field our policies were flawed from the beginning. Compare our wrong priorities as opposed to India in this regard. She is almost self-reliant and we are hugely dependent on others.
Ayub Khan imposed martial law and put the first nail in the coffin of democracy in Pakistan. Other opportunistic military rulers followed suit and it is only now in 2008 that we are witnessing the dawn of democracy albeit with problems of infancy. Ayub's 1962 constitution was presidential in form. It might have worked had the electorate was universal franchise. However public apprehension against it was strengthened when presidential elections were unabashedly engineered in favour of Ayub Khan. Then came 1965 war. A war which was politically ill-planned and strategically ill-conceived. That armed forces fought bravely and thwarted the Indian aggression and nation gelled behind our valiant soldiers is demonstrative of our potential. However the war hurt our economy and also sowed seeds of further discontentment amongst East Pakistanis.
Ayub Khan became highly unpopular and was replaced by an even worst military man, Yayha Khan. He held general elections in 1970 in which the Awami League swept in Eastern Wing and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) got the majority in the West. Awami League should have formed the government but leadership in West Pakistan did not let it happen. Army was called to suppress the revolt in East Pakistan. India exploited the opportunity and dismembered Pakistan.
Peoples Party led by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto formed the first civilian government in truncated Pakistan. New constitution was framed in 1973 which was federal parliamentary in character. PPP had governments in the centre and two larger provinces while the National Awami Party (NAP) controlled North West Frontier Province and Balochistan. Through political manoeuvring NAP governments were dissolved in1974 and army was called in to quell armed uprising of Balochi sardars and their tribes. It was a sizeable involvement and the army was withdrawn only after Gen Ziaul Haq, the army chief, imposed martial law in 1977 owing to massive political upheaval and public unrest in the wake of rigged elections by PPP.
In the general elections of 1977 there was widespread reporting of rigging and manipulation of results. Opposition parties managed to stir up massive rallies, protests and congregations which paralysed the civilian government. Army chief intervened and imposed martial law. Initially, Ziaul Haq stated it would last for only three months but it carried on for eleven years till the military ruler was killed in an aircraft crash in 1988. In this period the most significant development was the Russian occupation of Afghanistan. Pakistan became a front line state of the West waging a war of liberation. There were more than three million Afghan refugees who came to Pakistan. A large number is still here. It caused a huge drain on our meagre resources besides spreading a menace of religious extremism and drug and weapon running. Afghan mujahideen were recruited, supported, trained, equipped and launched by our military and intelligence agencies. America spearheaded the war effort financially and materially.
Afghanistan has been a buffer state in the Great Game between Russia and Great Britain. Its people have developed a fiercely independent character despite poverty and backwardness. Similarly our tribal areas have been deliberately left minimally governed by the British while they ruled with iron hand rest of India. Hence similar lifestyle of our tribal people.
Demographically Southern Afghanistan which forms almost half of the country is of Pashtun ethnicity like our tribal belt. Therefore, Pakistan and US did not find much difficulty in finding the requisite and proper manpower to challenge the Russian forces. However, since it was seen as Muslims fighting the infidel invaders, previous Russian ventures in mind, many volunteer jihadies from other Muslim countries or nationalities joined the Afghan struggle for liberation. These people were well supported by the West and us. Later on a majority of these joined hands to form Al-Qaeda under Osama Bin Laden.

Malabar 2008: India, United States Begin Arabian Sea Naval War Games from October 20th 2008http://www.google.com/reader/ui/2412528845-go-to.gif

from India Defence by

The Indian and the US navies are all set to engage each other in war games in the Arabian Sea. The exercises, which will be undertaken under the recurrent Malabar series of exercises that commenced in 1992, would take place from October 20 in Goa. Diverse activities ranging from gun-firing and fighter combat operations from aircraft carriers, to combating the scourge of terror, through Maritime Interdiction Operations exercises would be included during the exercises.The exercise is primarily aimed at deriving mutual benefit from the experiences of the two participating professional navies. These exercises are meant to increase intel-operability, that means being able to operate together and using the same procedures that we can understand, as all navies have slightly different procedures from each other, said Anil Chopra, Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet, Indian Navy. The Indian navy will be represented by, INS Mumbai, an indigenous Delhi Class guided missile destroyer; INS Rana, a Rajput Class guided missile destroyer and four guided missile frigates - INS Talwar, Godavari, Brahmaputra and Betwa. In addition, INS Aditya which is an underway replenishment tanker and Shishumar class submarine, Sea Harrier fighters, fixed and rotary wing aircraft are also scheduled to participate in the joint exercise. Ronald Reagan Strike Group (RRSG) of the USN 7th Fleet which is based at Yokosuka, Japan will represent the US navy. The RRSG will include USS Ronald Reagan, a nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Chancellorsville, USS Gridley, USS Decatur, USS Thach and USS Bridge, an underway replenishment tanker. In addition, one submarine, USS Springfield and one P3C Orion aircraft will also participate in the exercise. The regular India-US navy interaction over the years has resulted in an increase in the complexity and professional content of the bilateral exercise. The thrust of the exercise this year would be on Surface or Air Operations, Advanced Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), Surface Firings, VBSS (Visit Board Search and Seizure) and Submarine Operations. These exercises will enable enhancing maritime cooperation. We also hope to advance to more complex operations and teach our cadets to go beyond technical exercises which we have continued to do with Malabar. Ninety percent of the world's trade passes on the oceans. The maritime cooperation of the two navies is a vital component to reach stability and prosperity for India, US and other nations, said John P. Nolan, USN, Commanding Officer of Chancellorsville, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Indian warships were involved in exercises with the USS Ronald Reagan in waters off the Sri Lankan coast last year, which had five participating countries - India, US, Australia, Japan and Singapore.

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