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Wednesday, 4 March 2009

From Today's Papers - 04 Mar 09

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EX-SERVICEMEN TO INTENSIFY THEIR STIR FOR “ONE RANK ONE PENSION”

Mar 1st, 2009 | By Dr. Avnish Jolly | Category: Defence

1 Mar: As per Supreme Court’s ruling, “Pension is ‘Delayed Wages’ for the Services rendered”. Hence, two persons who render same service, both quantum-wise and quality-wise should get same ‘Delayed wages’ (Pension). In the military ‘Quantum’ and ‘Quality’ of service are measured by length of service put in and ‘Rank’ held. Hence the concept of One Rank One Pension (OROP) as ‘Ranks’, the world over are only peculiar to Military alone and define the responsibilities held. With each ‘Pay Commission’, the pay of the serving Defence Personnel is revised upwards and accordingly those in the same rank who retired earlier get much less pension. Now, a Sepoy who retired on 31 December 1995 would get 82% less pension than a Sepoy who retired after 01 January ’06.

The principle of OROP was accepted by many Governments. Some Presidents, Prime Ministers and Defence Ministers announced the same even on the floor of the Parliament. To counter other Govt employees asking for the same, Mr VP Singh, the then Prime Minister (1990) is on record having remarked “Let them (the civilian employees) swap places with the Military”. Mrs Sonia Gandhi, the Congress President, in an Ex-Servicemen’s Rally at Chandigarh in November ’02 declared, “When we come to power, we will grant OROP”. The Standing Committee on Defence in its 20th Report (2003), specifically recommended implementation of OROP and went to the extent of recommending it to be made a ‘precedent’. The Congress party’s Manifesto for last Lok Sabha election, says, “Long pending issue of One Rank One Pension will once again be re-examined and a satisfactory solution arrived at expeditiously”. The issue of welfare of Ex-Servicemen was also included in the President’s address to the Parliament in 2004. OROP thus is the declared policy of the Government and not just of any one political party. It is pertinent to mention that all MPs, MLAs, judges, freedom fighters, direct entry IAS and IPS officers are already given One Rank One Pension. Why deny it to the Defence Forces, who served in harshest, most exacting conditions and contributed the most in safe guarding the country, as compared to any civilian?

Unfortunately, now the govt has rejected One Rank One Pension that it was not possible to implement this stated policy on financial and administrative grounds. What has changed after their promise of 2004 that granting of One Rank One Pension has suddenly become unfeasible NOW? This has forced the Ex-Servicemen to go on ‘Relay Hunger Strike’ with effect from 16 December ’08. They had a huge “Protest Rally’ at Jantar Mantar Road on 08 February. It is a matter of shame for India that about 300 of them who fought wars returned their most precious possession, their “Medals” to the President of India, who is their Supreme Commander, with a stipulation that they would gratefully accept their medals back when they were granted One Rank One Pension. Another lot of medals were returned on 21 February. This process of depositing the Medals will continue. The next installment of medals returning will be on 14 March. Thereafter they would be doing so every month till all the medals are returned.

The apprehension of other govt employees demanding OROP is unfounded, because, like soldiers, based upon their ‘Rank’, civilians DO NOT start retiring at the age of 35. (All civilians serve up to 58/ 60 years of age); they do NOT join the service with the condition that they would sacrifice their lives while performing duties; they have NOT been denied their fundamental rights by the Constitution of India and they Do NOT spend major portion of their young lives away from their families. That’s why when ‘One Time Increases’ was granted to the soldiers twice earlier, there was no reaction from the civilians.

If after surrendering their Medals, the Ex-Servicemen do not get JUSTICE, they would be forced to intensify their agitation by other means, which may have negative effect on the serving Soldiers with disastrous consequences. The Ex-Servicemen, have formed themselves into a “VOTE BANK” and in conjunction with serving Soldiers who have been given the right to vote at their place of posting, they would vote for only those who commit, in writing, that they will get principle of ‘One Rank One Pension’ implemented. Implementing O R O P will strengthen National Defence as it will raise the morale of the Serving Soldiers since they would know that they would be well cared for after retirement.

Original article at: http://www.theindiapost.com/?p=9086

Pakistan is ‘time bomb waiting to explode’
Faraz Ahmad and Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 3
Even as the political class reacted with shock and dismay over the terror attack on the Sri Lankan cricketers in Lahore the general feeling here is that Pakistan has to realise the gravity of the situation and the people there should rise up to terrorists there.

Even parties like the CPI and CPM mostly reticent over such developments and reluctant to blame Pakistan have reacted with alacrity and asked the people of Pakistan to “Take up the challenge of facing this serious threat.”

The CPM Politburo while condemning the attack said it “Highlights the extent to which the terrorists’ activities have grown in that country. The people of Pakistan will surely realise how serious a threat terrorism is. We also hope that the peace-loving and democratic people of Pakistan will unitedly and resolutely take up the challenge of facing this serious threat.”

In the same vein the central secretariat of CPI too has called upon the people of Pakistan “To realise the severity and savagery of terrorism operating from and in the territory of Pakistan. We appeal to them to bring pressure for eliminating terrorism and join the secular democratic forces of the subcontinent.

As for the Congress and the BJP, t they reacted on predictable line. The Congress has patted the government on the back for having called off the Indian cricket team’s tour to Pakistan and the BJP has asked Pakistan to stop being in denial mode and brushing the whole thing under the carpet.

Congress spokesman Manish Tiwari complimented the government for taking the right stand and canceling Indian cricket team’s tour to Pakistan following the 26/11 incident. Recalling criticism from various quarters Tewari said though there was a lot of criticism from various quarters on “mixing of politics with cricket” the government chose to stand firm by its decision of canceling the tour.

He regretted that Pakistan was ceding its territory to “fundamentalists and Taliban” of the world and the government there was limited just to Islamabad now, adding that “this is the result of all the policies Pakistan has been following since 1979.”

India Warns of More Attacks if Pakistan Does Not Act

New Delhi
India Tuesday condemned the "audacious attack" on Sri Lankan cricketers in Lahore and warned that such incidents may recur unless Pakistan takes "meaningful and decisive steps" to dismantle the "infrastructure of terrorism" on its soil.

"We are shocked at the audacious attack on the Sri Lankan cricketers at Lahore this morning. We offer our sympathies and good wishes for their speedy recovery as well as of those other individuals who have been caught up in the attack," External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters here.

Six escorting security personnel were killed and seven members of the Sri Lankan cricket team, including the assistant coach, were injured when the team cavalcade was attacked close to the Gaddafi stadium where the third day's play of the second Test between Sri Lanka and Pakistan was to commence.

"I request the Pakistani authorities not to divert the attention of the international community, but to take courage in both hands and dismantle the terrorism infrastructure and take strict measures against the perpetrators," Mukherjee said at a joint press interaction with Bulgaria's Deputy Prime Minister Ivailo Kalfin.

"Only then will such issues be adequately addressed."

The attack on the Sri Lankan cricketers justified India's decision to cancel the cricket tour to Pakistan due to the volatile security situation in that country.

"It was not a pleasant decision. But we were constrained to take the decision because we knew the security situation was not good," Mukherjee replied when asked whether India felt vindicated in scrapping the tour of the Indian cricket team in the light of the latest attack.

With the Mumbai attacks in mind, Mukherjee also reminded Islamabad to take swift action against the perpetrators of the attacks and reminded the international community of the global menace of terrorism flowing from Pakistan that posed a threat to the entire world.

"What pains me is whether it's the terror attack in Mumbai or the attack on Sri Lankan cricketers, unless terrorism infrastructure facilities available in Pakistan are completely dismantled and the perpetrators (of the attacks) brought to justice, such incidents may be repeated," he said.

"It's the responsibility of the incumbent government to take all steps, particularly when the international community wants each and every member of the UN to take steps to deal with terrorism."

Mukherjee described terrorism as "the biggest threat to world peace and human civilization".

"The international community will have to address the issue. This is part of international terrorism. This is the biggest menace in the post Cold War world and it should be tackled effectively," he stressed.

Sri Lanka Army foils sea attack by rebels

Press Trust of India

Monday, March 02, 2009, (Colombo)

Sri Lankan forces on Monday foiled an LTTE sea attack by destroying three boats and killed 20 rebels in intense fighting in the island's north, even as the army faced stiff resistance from the Tamil Tigers fighting to save their last stronghold of Pudhukudiyiruppu.

The Defence Ministry said LTTE rebels launched 15 boats, including 4 suicide craft, assisted with simultaneous heavy mortar fire at security forces directed from the declared 'no fire zone' in the region.

"LTTE rebels suffered another defeat at Mullaittivu, when 55 Div troops thwarted an rebel offensive attempt North of Puthumathalan by destroying 2 LTTE boats while damaging another in a separate incident," the defence ministry said.

"Heavy fighting was reported in the area between security forces and LTTE since last morning till evening," it said.

At least 20 rebels were killed in the clashes, the Ministry said. Intercepted LTTE communication confirmed heavy damages to LTTE, the ministry quoted security sources as saying and added that senior Tiger leaders, including Soosai and Lawrence, have commanded the attack.

The Ministry also said soldiers faced heavy resistance from the LTTE cadres who "seemed to have placed all their heavy artillery and mortar guns in the No Fire Zone (NFZ) demarcated for the civilians".

The LTTE has launched the attack in clear desperation in order to boost the disintegrating morale of its cadres while instilling fear among the civilians who are seeking protection with security forces, the Ministry said.

Battlefield reports indicate that 58 Division soldiers thrusting into Puthukkudiyiruppu from west and northwest have given inflicted damages to the LTTE rebels during last 24 hours, the army said.

During the search operations, two rocket propeller grenade (RPG) launchers, one Light Machine Gun (LMG) , one radio communication set, and 12 T-56 riffles were recovered from the area.

Meanwhile, army snipers deployed in the forward areas confirmed 8 targets were acquired. Meanwhile, troops rescued 16 civilians held hostage by the Tiger rebels in Kombavil area, the military said, adding that the civilians were immediately rushed out of the battle zone and then towards Kilinochchi.

Bangladesh army launches probe into mutiny

Anisur Rahman in Dhaka | PTI | March 03, 2009 | 21:36 IST

The Bangladesh army on Tuesday launched its own probe into the mutiny spearheaded by Bangladesh Rifles personnel, in which 73 of its officers were massacred.

The government may take the help of United States and British intelligence agencies in its probe. Five more rebels were taken into custody today, following the arrest of the suspected ring leader of the bloody revolt.

Army chief Lieutenant General Sinha Ibne Jamali said the military's probe into the mutiny, which erupted last Wednesday, would be independent of the investigation launched by the government.

The army probe would be headed by Quartermaster General Lieutenant General Mohammad Jahangir Alam Choudhury, he told reporters.

Jamali said the army's seven-member probe would be, if necessary, assisted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Scotland Yard, whose help had been sought by the government.

The investigation was launched by the army as the government reconstituted its probe into the mutiny.

The government probe, earlier headed by Home Minister Sahara Khatun, would now be led by a retired top bureaucrat and have three more members, including a senior army officer, apart from its original strength of seven.

The elite Rapid Action Battalion arrested the suspected ring leader of the mutiny along with five other accused, nearly a week after the revolt claimed 77 lives, 73 of them army officers.

http://www.rediff.com///news/2009/mar/03bangladesh-army-launches-probe-into-mutiny.htm

Kashmir Govt Looking for Alternate Accommodation for Indian Army

By Fayaz Wani


Srinagar, March 3: The pro-Indian government in Kashmir has said that it is looking for alternate accommodations for the Indian soldiers, who have occupied government buildings and public places across the restive Kashmir after the eruption of the militancy in 1989.

Scores of government buildings including hospitals, schools, colleges and the tens of thousands of acres of agriculture land in Kashmir is still under the occupation of the Indian army.

Replying to a query of Kashmir lawmaker in Assembly on Tuesday, Taj Mohi-ud-Din senior minister in Kashmir government said, "As soon as alternate accommodation is made available to the forces occupying public places, the same would be handed over to them for emptying the occupied public buildings".

He admitted that buildings including health institutions are under the occupation of Indian troops in Kashmir. "Efforts are also being made to construct an alternate accommodation for the security forces occupying the health institutions," he added.

The minister further said that it is a fact that in some cases rentals and compensation have not been paid to the owners, whose lands have been occupied by the Indian army. He said that the issue has been taken up with the Indian Defence Ministry by the Chief Minister and the Ministry has acceded that the rentals and compensation would be given very soon in respect of the affected persons whose cases that have been pending a long.

Fayaz Wani reports on life in Srinagar, Kashmir.

India's Revenge: RAW Attacks Cricketers in Pakistan

by M. Hussain

In a terrorist attack reminiscent of the Mumbai attacks, 6 Sri Lankan cricket players were lightly injured while a third umpire was critically injured while on their bus. The incident took place outside the Qaddafi Stadium in Lahore, the capital of Pakistan's Punjab province. Five people have been confirmed dead from the security detail. While the Mumbai attack showed confusion and cowering Indian security forces, the Pakistani reaction, in contrast was swift, taking casualties but effectively repulsing an organized and surpise attack.

The attack was well organized and involved two bomb blasts followed by small arms firing. While five security guards were killed and several injured, the security forces managed to repulse the attack. The attackers numbered 12 and came on motorcycles, fired indiscriminately and then fled, leaving back ammunition bags and weapons. The firing continued for about 25 minutes.

Bags of ammunition was left in front of Al-Fatah store in neighborhood of Gulberg. Weapons left behind included 84mm Carl Gustav recoiless rifles, controversially a standard issue weapon to the Indian Army, a weapon not typically found with the Taliban.

Carl Gustavs are of Swedish origin and exported to the Indian army and never exported to the Mujahideen. RPG-22 rocket propelled anti-tank grenades, another standard issue for the Indian special forces (and another weapon less typical for the Taliban who more typically prefer RPG-7s) was also used. A senior defense correspondent, while remaining anonymous, states that the choice of weapons as well as other evidence, clearly indicates India's hand in the present attack and is being seen as a "response" to the Mumbai attacks.

Terrorist attacks perpetrated by RAW have many previous precedents but given the present sensitivities and the Indian reaction to the Mumbai attacks, they could prove to be a catalyst for heightened tensions between the two belleaguered neighbors.

Sri Lankan cricketers Kumar Sangakkara, Ajantha Mendis, Thilan Samaraweera and Tharanga Paranavithana received minor wounds. The Third Umpire is seriously injured and The cricket team has been recalled by Sri Lanka in light of these attacks.

Gavin Scovell, a sports producer and a witness to the attacks applauded the security detail for their rapid and calm response. In a press release, he stated:

"The guards were brilliant. They weren't panicking. They were very calm," Scovell said. "It must have been a terrifying experience, but they handled it well."

Meanwhile, two unidentified bodies have been found but it has not been released yet if these are of the attackers or of civilians.

BDR mutiny and after
Time for India to maintain strict border vigil

The Sheikh Hasina government, severely jolted by the mutiny staged by the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), needs all kinds of help at this critical hour. A friendly country like India, which shares a long and porous border with Bangladesh, cannot keep quiet. That is, obviously, why External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee has written to the Bangladesh Prime Minister that India is ready to provide any form of assistance Dhaka may require at this juncture.

The unsuccessful attempt to destabilise the Hasina ministry has had its impact on India too. Many of the 1000 BDR men responsible for the massacre of army officers have reportedly sneaked into India as civilians and more may try to escape the law in this manner.

The BSF has been alerted to maintain strict vigil on the border. But there is a need to launch a manhunt for those BDR men who might have already taken refuge in India disguisedly.

India, however, believes that Bangladesh is capable of handling the crisis it is faced with. Dhaka has asked India to ensure that no BDR man is able to cross over to this side of the border. Bangladesh has sought help from the FBI of the US and the Scotland Yard of the UK to go deeper into the BDR mutiny. The problem before Dhaka is too complicated, as the BDR, a large paramilitary force responsible for taking care of the country’s borders, has become suspect in the eyes of the people and the government. It may well have more rogue elements in its ranks. It will be dangerous to assign the BDR the task of guarding Bangladesh’s borders without the force’s complete detoxification.

There is a demand that the BDR should be disbanded. Former military ruler H. M. Ershad is of the view that the BDR must be made to disappear “if you call it a mutiny”. He has a point. Bangladesh had to disband one of its army units in the past when it staged a revolt. It is, in any case, for the Hasina government to decide whether to retain the BDR or not. Any step, even if harsh, must be taken in the interest of stability in Bangladesh.

War on terror
Pakistan takes the US for a ride
by K.Subrahmanyam

Fareed Zakaria, Editor of Newsweek, in his weekly programme on CNN, Global Public Square, discussed on March 1 with an eminent panel the pros and cons of distinguishing Al Qaeda and the Taliban in the ongoing war in the Pak-Afghanistan region.

While the Taliban is extremist in its values, regressive and even Fascist it has no ambitions of taking the war to the US and hurting the Americans, while Al Qaeda carried out the 9/11 attack and proclaimed its aim to wage war against crusaders (Westerners), Zionists (Israelis) and the Hindus.

In these circumstances will it make strategic sense if at this stage the US and the NATO focused exclusively on the war against Al Qaeda and started negotiations with the Taliban to separate them from Al Qaeda.

As a liberal Zakaria was totally opposed to the Taliban but would it not make better sense if it is opposed politically, economically and culturally and not militarily in an undifferentiated way along with Al Qaeda?

Does not the present strategy drive the Taliban and Al Qaeda together and make the task of the US and NATO forces more difficult?

In Iraq the Sunni opponents and Al Qaeda were successfully divided and will not a similar strategy work in the Pak-Afghan region? One of the panelists pointed out that in 2001 when the Taliban was offered the choice of dissociating itself from Al Qaeda, it chose to go down fighting with them.

The discussion did not come to any conclusion;but it reflected some of the ideas that are still on the table. It also highlights the confusion still widely prevalent in the US on the basic facts relating to the war in the region.

In 2001 the person who was sent to persuade the Taliban to dissociate itself with Al Qaeda was the then Director-General, Inter-Services Intelligence, General Mehmud Ahmed, who authorised Omar Sheikh to dispatch 100,000 dollars by wire-transfer to Mohammed Atta, the leader of the 9/11 hijack team.

In retrospect, it would appear that Pakistan had decided to give a safe haven to Al Qaeda rather than allow the Al Qaeda leadership to be handed over to the Americans.

It was more in the interest of Pakistan that both Al Qaeda and the Taliban should survive to fight another day. That was the only way Pakistan would be able to get the US to support military-dominated rule in Pakistan, accept the Pakistani nuclear arsenal and continue massive military and economic aid to Islamabad.

These aims were clearly spelt out by General Musharraf in his TV broadcast of September 19, 2001. Pakistanis saw in the US operations against the Taliban a second golden opportunity to milk the US as they got in 1979 when they joined the Carter Administration to provoke the Soviet intervention.

The continued survival and operations of Al Qaeda were absolutely vital for Pakistan continuing to get US aid.The moment Al Qaeda was decimated Pakistan would have no use for the US.

As British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told the Pakistani Prime Minister, Gilani, 75 per cent of attempts at terrorist attacks in the UK could be traced to Pakistan.

Islamabad did hand over a few top Al Qaeda leaders as the US agencies were closing in on them and also a lot of foot-soldiers of Al Qaeda. But the top leadership of Al Qaeda was provided an absolute safe haven.

Simultaneously the Afghan Taliban was allowed to reinforce, re-equip and regroup itself in Pakistani territory under the leadership of Mullah Omar, functioning brazenly in Quetta.

The Pakistani Taliban also emerged in the tribal areas with the support of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence.

Partly this was the Musharraf strategy to neutralise the mainstream political parties, the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz).

Presumably, the Pakistani Army and the ISI ensured that in exchange for a provision of safe haven Al Qaeda would not launch any more direct attacks on the US main land.

But the sword of Damocles of terrorism by Al Qaeda would be held over the US through various terrorist threats and resurgence of Taliban activity in Afghanistan which will ensure continued US military dependence on Pakistan and the flow of US aid.

That worked out well for Pakistan. The Americans perhaps felt that this could be improved upon with a Musharraf-Benazir deal which would provide a civilian fa├žade and business as usual.

But both Musharraf and the Bush administration calculated without taking into account the mentality of the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban. While the Pakistani Army and the ISI felt that they were manipulating the two Taliban and various associated jehadi militant groups, the latter felt they had the popular support, the drug money resource, a weak-willed Pakistani army which cannot effectively fight them and a civilian government embroiled in power struggle and intrigues.

Such circumstances provide the Taliban and various jehadi militant groups vast opportunities to extend Talibanism over larger areas of Pakistan.

So long the areas are Talibanised, Al Qaeda will have its safe haven. Al Qaeda can lie low till after the US and NATO forces leave and then re-emerge. For the last seven years they had kept their heads down.

There are very major differences between dealing with the minority Sunni resistance in Iraq and dealing with the Taliban. The US did not have a friend in Iraq, like Pakistan, which was aiding and abetting the US adversary as the Pakistan army has been doing with the Taliban.

The US has transcripts of General Kayani’s telephonic conversation in which he referred to the Taliban as his strategic asset.

Iraqis really want the Americans out and they have oil resources to finance their development. They did not have grand designs of leading the Islamic world as a nuclear weapon power and having a strategic depth in Afghanistan and all that to be financed by American taxpayers’ money.

It makes strategic sense to talk to the Taliban and separate the Taliban from Al Qaeda. But the real problem for the US and NATO in Afghanistan, as highlighted by President Obama, is Pakistan. So long as the Pakistani army believes it is in a position to take the US for a ride neither Afghanistan nor the tribal territories of Pakistan will be allowed to settle down.

This is not the first time the Pakistani army tried to be over-smart and came to grief. It happened when they launched Operation Gibraltar in Kashmir in 1965. A worse disaster followed when they unleashed genocide on Bangladesh in March 1971.

At Kargil, too, they suffered defeat. Sooner or later, the Americans have to wake up and discover their real problem is Pakistan, which had successfully played a double game with them for the last seven years and the issue is not the Taliban but the Pakistan army.



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