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Saturday, 13 December 2008

From Today's Papers - 13 Dec

Pension of Generals less than Colonels'
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
The pension of colonels retiring from January 1, 2006, is more that that of lieutenant generals who had retired prior to January 1, 1996. The revised pension fixed for a lieutenant general who retired before 1996 is Rs 26,150 per month, while that of a colonel retiring from 2006 onwards is Rs 30,375.

A perusal of the latest government letter on pension issued by the ministry of defence reveals similar disparities exist in the pensions of armed forces personnel down the line who had retired at different times.

These disparities are now not expected to be resolved anytime soon with the defence minister A.K. Antony ruling out implementation of the "one rank-one pension" scheme.

"The government has not found acceptable, the demand of ex-servicemen for one rank one pension," Antony stated in a written reply to MP Kalraj Mishra in the Rajya Sabha yesterday.

The pension of a pre-1996 major fixed at Rs 14,464 is now almost Rs 1,500 lower to that of a lieutenant, the Army's junior most officer. Similarly placed lieutenant colonels would draw Rs 17,063 while recently retiring captains would get Rs 17,865.

Disparities also exist in the ranks. To cite an example, a havildar retiring before 1996 after having put in about 18 years' service would get Rs 5,008 whereas a post -2006 retiree sepoy, the lowest in the rung, would get Rs 6,860.

The crux of the disparities lies in differences in pay scales fixed by successive pay commissions. One Rank-One Pension had been a major demand by ex-servicemen over the years and the several defence ministers in the past had announced that it would be implemented.

Following the implementation of the Fifth Pay Commission recommendations in 1998, the pension of some major generals was fixed at rates lower that that of brigadiers. They had moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking higher pension and the court had ruled in their favour. The Supreme Court upheld the HC decision a few months ago. According to informed sources, the ministry of defence is yet to implement the court orders.

Pakistan's Demand for Evidence a Delaying Tactic: India
By Manish Chand

New Delhi
India has "enough evidence" to link elements in its territory to the Mumbai terror outrage and sees Pakistan's demand for evidence as "nothing but a delaying tactic" to avoid dismantling "terrorist infrastructure" in that country, government sources said here Friday.

"It's absolutely redundant and nothing but a delaying tactic," high-level sources told IANS in response to Pakistan's demand for "credible information and evidence" about the Mumbai terror attacks, that killed 179 people, including 26 foreigners.

There is a variety of evidence that establishes the complicity of elements of the ISI (Pakistan's spy service Inter Services Intelligence) and elements of the army acting in collusion with jihadi groups, the sources said.

"India can provide this evidence in a court of law as is the procedure with criminal and terrorist cases," the sources, who only spoke on condition they were not named, maintained.

If India has enough evidence, what is preventing it from sharing it with Pakistan?

"You share information with somebody who does not know. Pakistan has the knowledge of what happened," the sources said.

"Our own investigations cannot proceed beyond a certain point without provision of credible information and evidence pertaining to Mumbai attacks," Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said in a televised statement Friday.

Pakistan's insistence on evidence comes on a day when the Dawn, a respected Pakistani daily, published a report that quotes the father of Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist captured by Indian authorities after the Mumbai attacks, saying he could recognize the photograph of his son which was repeatedly flashed on TV screens and in newspaper reports.

"I was in denial for the first couple of days, saying to myself it could not have been my son," the newspaper quoted Amir Kasab as saying in his village in Faridkot. "Now I have accepted it."

Part of India's reluctance to share evidence is the past experience of dealing with Pakistani authorities in terror-related cases.

In 2002, India shared evidence of the complicity of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JuM) and Laskhar-e-Taiba (LeT) in the Dec 13, 2001 attack on Indian parliament. "Information was shared. But nothing happened," the sources pointed out.

The sources pointed out that India has shared some information and evidence on the Mumbai attacks with "the US and other friendly countries."

Friendly countries have come to the same conclusion independently and jointly with Indian authorities about the complicity of Pakistan-based elements in the Mumbai attacks, sources said.

Sources pointed out that it was clear evidence that explains the swiftness with which the UN Security Council banned Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a public front for the outlawed LeT suspected of masterminding the Mumbai carnage, and put four top LET leaders on the consolidated list that subject them to assets freeze and travel ban. There was complete unanimity in the Security Council on banning JuD and terrorism originating from the Pakistani authority.

"There is no doubt what needs to be done. It is for the elected government of Pakistan to act now and dismantle infrastructure of terrorism in that country," the sources stressed.

Speaking in parliament, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee Thursday asked Pakistan to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure that ensures no terror attacks are carried out against India from the Pakistani territory. Mukherjee also told parliament that he has given a list of 40 fugitives to Pakistan who are wanted in different terrorist and criminal activities in India, but Islamabad had done nothing about it.

Under intense pressure from the US, Pakistan Thursday clamped down on JuD which has been branded as a terrorist organization by the UN.

Indian authorities have released what they said were the names and Pakistani hometowns of the 10 terrorists who subjected India's business capital to a terror spree for over three days.

Pakistan Should Go An Extra Mile
to Combat Terrorism: Nawaz Sharif

New Delhi
If Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone terrorist captured alive in Mumbai, was indeed from Pakistan then it was time for Pakistan to take "very serious action" and let India know, says former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

"If a Pakistani name is being taken, a man who belongs to a place called Faridkot or any other place, I think we should take very very serious notice of that. Not just notice, we should take serious action and we should let India know that, here, the action is now being taken against such elements. And it should also be a source of satisfaction to the Indian government, that yes, Pakistan is taking action," Sharif said in response to media reports that Kasab was from Faridkot.

"Pakistan must take action in a very transparent manner," he said in an interview to Tehelka newsmagazine conducted at his farmhouse at Raiwind on the outskirts of Lahore.

In a significant proposal, he said there should be "a no first attack pact, a no first pact agreement, a no war pact between the two countries and this included both conventional and nuclear". That, in his view, was the best for both countries and what they should be focusing on.

Dwelling on the troubled relations between the two countries, Sharif said if India had evidence to prove that Pakistani territory was used to export terror into Mumbai, "I think we should put our own house in order".

Describing the "business of allegations and counter-allegations" between the two countries as devastating, Sharif said when he was prime minister "diplomats from both sides use to get beaten up and there was this tit for tat bashing".

"I know that no civilized society will accept that - neither India nor Pakistan. These are the only
two countries I have seen in my life, acting like this... We did move forward but after the Mumbai attacks, the relationship has moved backwards and that is very painful.

Stating that he strongly condemned the Mumbai terror attack, Sharif said "given the situation India is confronting, Pakistan should go an extra mile to combat terrorism".

Giving the Asif Ali Zardari government a clean chit, he said: " If Pakistan is not directly involved, if the Pakistani government has no hand in it and if the Pakistani government is itself confronted with elements who are creating havoc and if Pakistani government is being seen as fighting the scourge of terrorism, I think you should have sympathy with the Pakistani government and also pave the way for Pakistani government to successfully fight this menace and extend full cooperation to India to lay its hands on the culprits."

Sharif, who parted ways with Zardari, said he was sure that the present leadership was not involved and "they cannot afford to be involved. The political leadership of Pakistan has no such agenda".

Discussing the role of Pakistan's spy agency ISI, he said it "legally and technically comes under the civilian government".

"But our problem has been that Pakistan has seen some adventurers in the past who have been derailing democracy, who have been responsible for overthrowing governments and abrogating the constitution and (former president Pervez) Musharraf even went to the extent of arresting the judges... We want to see that this adventurism doesn't happen again because it has been devastating for the country."

Admitting that he was not completely in the picture during Kargil (in 1999 when the two countries came close to war) even though he was then prime minister, he said: "...that was Musharraf's fault.".

The Indians, he said, were absolutely justified and so was then Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee "when he said they were stabbed in the back by us. I agree with Vajpayee - he was stabbed... but then, I too, was stabbed by Mr. Musharraf".

Sharif, who overthrown in a coup by Musharraf in October 1999, said India had held an enquiry on Kargil. Asking why Pakistan could not do the same, he said: "I hope one day the facts come to light."

Bangladesh Islamist Party Pledges Military Training
in Seminaries

Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, the country's largest Islamist party, has pledged the enactment of a blasphemy law and military training for students of Islamic seminaries (madrassas) in its manifesto for the Dec 29 general election, media reports said Friday.

The blasphemy law is meant to prevent the criticism of religion in books, newspapers or electronic media and punishment for those responsible.

"All will enjoy religious rights, but criticism or making bad remarks about others' religions is not acceptable. There is blasphemy law in the United Kingdom and nothing is wrong about it," Jamaat chief Motiur Rahman Nizami said Thursday as he announced the party's manifesto.

Blasphemy law exists in Pakistan where non-Muslims are brought before law, and there is no bail. The cases generally lead to conviction. Some judges who acquitted the accused were later killed.

"Madrassas and mosque-based mass education will be given priority. Mass education will also be introduced in all religious institutions," the Jamaat manifesto reads.

Along with students at madrassas, arrangements will be made to give military training to citizens aged between 20 and 30 gradually under the supervision of the defence forces, it added.

The Jamaat, a key component of the four-party combine led by two-term prime minister and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chief Khaleda Zia, also promised to strengthen the liberation war ministry and the Freedom Fighters Welfare Trust and increase allowances for the freedom fighters' families, The Daily Star newspaper said.

However, Jamaat had opposed the liberation war of 1971 that led to separation from Pakistan and emergence of Bangladesh, and its current top leaders stand accused of collaborating with the Pakistan forces in the killing of unarmed civilians and the intelligentsia.

Former freedom fighters and many parties campaigned against Jamaat's recognition as a political party to contest the forthcoming election. However, the caretaker government and the Election Commission, having promised an all inclusive poll, ignored the protests.

The Jamaat, which wants to establish a rule in the country based on the ideals of Islam, said it would initiate measures to spread the ideals of Islam through all mediums, including radio, television and newspapers.

Measures will also be taken to ensure that other religious communities can perform their religious activities freely, Nizami said.

The manifesto, however, did not make it clear how the party would tackle religious terrorism or the global financial crisis.

Western think tanks have alleged that Islamist militancy has been on the rise in Bangladesh since 9/11. The Jama'at-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and Harkat-ul-Jihad Islami (HuJI) were proscribed after protests at home and an international outcry.

On religious militancy, Nizami said Bangladesh has proved that terrorism can be uprooted within the shortest possible time.

"Some militants had started their activities in the country in the name of Islam, but the BNP-Jamaat alliance government resisted them strongly during its tenure", he said, adding that the bans on JMB and HuJI were imposed when his party shared power with Zia.

Moily panel suggests end to political meddling, babudom

Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

* Lower age profile, lateral entry

* Armed forces personnel can apply for top IPS posts

* Higher accountability

* No assured promotions

* New civil authority to control and decide on selections

* Change in exam system

* No deputation for IAS for profit-making bodies.

New Delhi, December 12

In what will be one of the biggest changes in the bureaucratically run Indian governance system, the Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) today suggested much-desired changes that aim to free the system from political meddling and also from the grip of bureaucrats hiding behind self-serving safety nets.

The ARC wants a change in the profile and method of recruiting civil servants to provide for a lateral entry on earmarked posts, identify specialists and have accountability. It also rules out assured promotions, besides having a civil services authority to administer the services.

The last one is aimed at de-politicising the babu, who gets plum postings on sheer closeness to a politician and on the basis of annual confidential reports. This will be backed by a Civil Service Bill to lay down rules. The commission also wants the code of ethics to be redrawn besides simplification of the procedure for punishing an erring bureaucrat or an official.

These are among the dozen new path-breaking suggestions - probably the biggest since Lord Thomas Macaulay laid down the basic policy governing recruitment to civil services in India in 1854 - that the ARC, headed by Congressman M. Veerappa Moily, made here today. Moily flanked by members of the commission made the stance of the government amply clear " now the steel frame is the people of India and civil servants cannot take the people for granted". The last important report the commission gave was on having a stricter law on terror.

Among the first change is the recruitment. The ARC wants younger men and women between age 21 and 25 for general category, 21 to 28 years for OBC's and 21 to 29 years for SC/ST. On conducting the preliminary and the main examination, the ARC says subjects should be on the Constitution, legal system, economy, polity, history and culture but it should have no optional subjects. That means specialists like doctors, engineers and others stand ruled out. "We will not judge people on the basis of their ability to cram and take an exam, it will be genuine merit," Moily said.

And to weed out automatic entry from state civil services into the IAS or the IPS, it says "let them take an exam". All those who have completed 8 to 10 years of service in grade 'A' posts be made eligible. A maximum of two attempts should be allowed and the upper age limit be fixed at 40 years for entry.

On selecting people for specific specialised posts, the ARC wants that all officers of the All India Service and the Central Civil Services, who have completed 13 years of service, be eligible to apply for specific posts that require knowledge of a particular domain. For example, this could be in finance, urban development, infrastructure, rural development, agriculture, revenue generation, taxation, etc.

The Civil Services Authority will then have a panel to interview the applicants on the basis of their work. Once an officer is selected for a domain then he or she will remain posted in that field only. Similarly for all senior level posts in civil and police, domain knowledge will be respected.

For example, the ARC realises the wide pool of talent in the armed forces who can be used for intelligence gathering, counter insurgency operations, etc. The ARC also says the first review will be at 14 years and the second at 20 years of service. There will be no such thing as assured career promotions.

The Civil Services Authority will be headed by a five-member body and appointed by the President, which will virtually administer the services for all particle purposes.

An exhaustive code of ethics, which will ensure impartiality and accountability, has been suggested. To stop abuse of power, the ARC suggests that rules be clearly defined for recruiting at each level so that there is no scope for misuse.

Govt servants to lose jobs if fails to meet expectations

Press Trust of India / New Delhi December 12, 2008, 19:03 IST

The government servants could lose their job after 20 years of service if they failed to come up to the expectations of their superiors under a new system of assessment suggested today.

The Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC), headed by M Veerappa Moily, recommended far-reaching changes in the service rules of government servants and suggested two intensive reviews to make civil servants accountable.

The report on 'Refurbishing of Personnel Administration' said the first review at 14 years would primarily serve the purpose of intimating to the public servant about his or her strengths and shortcomings, while the second review at 20 years would mainly serve to assess the fitness of the officer for further continuation in service.

"The services of public servants, who are found to be unfit after the second review at 20 years, should be discontinued. A provision regarding this should be made in the proposed Civil Services Law," the second Administrative Reforms Commission (ARC) said in its latest report released today.

To ensure better accountability, the 377-page report said that for new appointments, it should be expressly provided that the period of employment shall be for 20 years. "Further continuance in government service would depend upon the outcome of the intensive performance reviews," it said.

It also said that performance appraisal should be year round and provisions for detailed work-plan and a mid-year review should be introduced for all services.

How unsafe are our seas?

December 9, 2008

Commodore R S Vasan (retired), a former naval officer and head of Strategy and Security Studies at the Center for Asia Studies at Chennai, assesses the maritime dimensions of the Mumbai terror attacks

It has now been confirmed that an inflatable boat found in Colaba, south Mumbai, was the one the terrorists used to come ashore and unleash terror in Mumbai.

With the conclusion of Operation Cyclone, this analysis is aimed at examining the preparedness of our maritime forces and other security agencies, which have a major role in thwarting such attacks.

The naval authorities at Mumbai initially said that the ingress of the terrorists by boat was not substantiated. However, it was clear by the end of the day that the terrorists did use the sea route. The boat was abandoned and the terrorists fanned out towards their targets.

The naval ships of the Indian Navy's prized Western fleet and the dockyard facilities are close to the terrorists's landing point. The private shipping yards, some of which are engaged in building/repairing modern warships, are located adjacent to the naval facilities.

The Indian Navy's action/perception: In a media interview on November 25, the commander-in-chief of the Western Naval Command indicated that both the naval and the Coast Guard's surface and air units were deployed to locate the terrorists's mothership. If even a fraction of these very forces were deployed in a coordinated manner earlier, based on the wonderful intelligence provided, there would have been a good chance of thwarting the attack.

Pakistan Army's elite wing trained terrorists for Mumbai attack

Vicky Nanjappa in Mumbai | December 12, 2008 | 12:52 IST

The terror attack on Mumbai last month was the first time that terrorists had used the sea route to strike at the heart of the city.

Intelligence Bureau reports suggest that the terrorists received special maritime training from the Musa Company of the special services group of the Pakistan Army.

Following the training imparted at the Murdike and Thakot camps of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, the terrorists were shifted to Karachi, where they received maritime training from the Musa Company.

An Intelligence Bureau official told that the Musa Company, formed on the lines of Indian Navy's MARCOS, specialiases in maritime operations. IB reports suggest that at the training programme of the Musa Company, which was supervised personally by the Inter Services Intelligence, the terrorists received lessons in navigation, rough weather sailing and naval maneuvering.

The terrorists were told to use boats similar to Indian fishing boats to avoid suspicion and detection. During the training programme, these men were informed that the Coast Guard and Navy vessels don't navigate too close to the coastline, as it is crowded with fishing boats.

The terrorists were aware that the fishing boats sail in groups, with as many as 50 to 100 boats in each group, and joining any such fleet would help the terrorists dodge the Navy.

Statistics reveal that over 10,000 fishing boats travel across the Arabian Sea from Karachi everyday.

Encouraged by reports of the police and Customs officials accepting bribes, the Musa Company zeroed in on the Gujarat coastline, a route frequently used by smugglers. The coastline is manned by police and Customs officials, who do not have proper equipment to detect and apprehend terrorists.

Sino-India defence dialogue on December 15

New Delhi (PTI): Regional security, defence policy and annual exchange visit programmes between their defence forces will form the main agenda of the annual Sino-Indian defence dialogue that will begin here on December 15.

This will be the second annual defence dialogue between the two countries which fought a brief war in 1962.

To be led by Indian Defence Secretary Vijay Singh and Chinese People's Liberation Army's (PLA) Deputy Chief of General Staff Lt Gen Ma Xiaotian, the two sides will discuss their bilateral military relations and exchange views on regional and security matters, Defence Ministry sources said here on Friday.

Xiatian, who was in Belgaum, Karnataka, today to witness the final leg of the second Sino-Indian 'Hand-in-Hand' joint Army exercise, will return to Delhion Saturday to join the annual defence dialogue.

The first defence dialogue was held in November 2007 prior to the first Sino-Indian military exercise held in China's Kunming province.

During his visit to India, Lt Gen Xiaotian had called on the Defence Minister A K Antony on Dec 10 and discussed matters pertaining to security scenario, terrorism and bilateral defence cooperation before leaving for Belgaum.

US backs Pakistan's terror war policies

By Syed Irfan Raza & Baqir Sajjad Syed

ISLAMABAD, Dec 11: US Deputy Secretary of State John D. Negroponte said here on Thursday his country fully supported Pakistan's 'war on terror' policies.

In his meetings with President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, he said if Pakistan and India did not act sagaciously to contain the fallout from the Mumbai carnage, peace of the whole region would be affected.

President Zardari assured the US government that Pakistan would not allow anyone to use its land against any country. "We will not allow the use of our territory for launching terror attacks against any country," he said.

He said Pakistan had assured full cooperation to India in investigating the Mumbai attacks. "The government is determined to take strict action against anyone found involved in terror attacks anywhere in the world from Pakistan," he added.

In a separate meeting with the US delegation, Prime Minister Gilani said Pakistan had taken note of designation of certain individuals and entities by the UN Security Council and would fulfil its international obligations.

The prime minister reiterated his government's desire to have cordial relations with India and briefed Mr Negroponte on Pakistan's efforts to defuse the situation.

He said Pakistan, with a view to offering cooperation in the investigations into the Mumbai incidents, had proposed the formation of a joint investigation commission.

Mr Negroponte assured the prime minister of his country's full support to Pakistan for defusing the situation.

He promised to convey to the Indian leadership Pakistan's desire for cooperation in punishing the perpetrators of Mumbai carnage.

US Ambassador Anne W. Patterson was also present during the meetings. Pakistan's secretaries for interior, defence and foreign affairs attended the deliberations.

The US deputy secretary of State came here on Thursday with an assurance that India would not indulge in any military adventurism as long as Pakistan maintained verifiable commitment in action against proscribed groups that could have been involved in subversive activities in India.

According to diplomatic sources, Mr Negroponte in his meetings with President Zardari, Prime Minister Gilani, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Chief of Army Staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani urged them to avoid taking steps in panic, particularly shifting combat assets from the country's western to eastern frontiers. He expressed the fear that such a move could affect the military operations in Afghanistan.

His assurance coincided with a statement by Indian External Affairs Minister Parnab Mukherjee in parliament that war with Pakistan was no solution.

A Foreign Office statement said Mr Negroponte emphasised the need for continued focus on the war against terrorism to promote international and regional peace.

The US official arrived after the UN Security Council ordered sanctions against four leaders of Lashkar-i-Taiba and said that Jamaatud Dawa was also subject to sanctions.

The Foreign Office described Mr Negroponte's two-day visit as part of regular visits by State Department officials for consultations on matters of mutual interest.

He is reported to have asked his interlocutors in Islamabad to continue action against Lashkar-i-Taiba and expand the scope of the operation to other religious-minded groups that may be linked with subversive activities in India.

He is believed to have shared with the authorities here a list of organisations against whom the US and India would like the government to take action.

The list contains familiar names like Lashkar-i-Taiba, Jamaatud Dawa, Jaish-i-Mohammad and Al Rashid Trust, as well as previously unheard of names like Pasban Ahl-i-Hadith.

His agenda obviously included discussions on the implementation of the UN sanctions against the leaders of Lashkar-i-Taiba.The US official also took up the matter of security of Nato supplies for Afghanistan through Pakistan.

Sources claim that the US is particularly concerned about the security of its supplies after last week's attacks by militants on its three depots in Peshawar.

Talking to Mr Negroponte, the foreign minister underscored the importance of a stable, broad-based and long-term Pakistan-US relationship for promoting peace, stability and progress in the region, and beyond.

He said Pakistan had conveyed its willingness to extend cooperation to the Indian government in investigating the Mumbai attacks and bringing the culprits to justice.

The US deputy secretary of state will visit New Delhi on Friday.

Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband telephoned President Zardari and discussed the situation in the region.

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