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Sunday, 29 March 2009

From Today's Papers - 29 Mar 09

The missile boomerangs

CPM demands a CBI probe, BJP vows to investigate the Rs10,000 cr Israeli deal if NDA comes to power

DNA Correspondent. New Delhi

Both the BJP and the CPM have called for an enquiry into the Rs10,000 crore MRSAMs (Medium Range Surface To Air Missiles) deal between the ministry of defence and Israeli firm, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). The CPM, citing reports by DNA, has demanded a CBI probe into the deal, and called for immediate cancellation of the contract pending investigation.
CPM's Sitaram Yechury said that the deal was murky for several reasons, not least of which was the Rs600 crore "business service" charge paid out to alleged middlemen in the deal. The timing of the deal, just two days before the model code of conduct for General Elections kicked in, was also suspect, he said. The CPM has forwarded a list of queries to the government (see box).
Meanwhile, the BJP on Saturday reiterated that the NDA, if it comes to power, would investigate the matter. BJP spokesperson Sidharth Nath Singh likened it to the Bofors scandal. "Surprisingly, the Congress-led UPA government has not learnt anything from the past," said Singh. "In spite of a government policy of not dealing with any agency or industry being investigated in a corruption case or kickbacks, this government has gone against all norms and in a hush hush manner signed this deal a few days before the elections were announced," he added.

AfPak Riddle: India Hopes for More US Pressure
on Pakistan

By Manish Chand

New Delhi
The US' new policy on Afghanistan and Pakistan has revived cautious hopes in India that Washington will be vigilant against the misuse of aid and exert greater pressure on Islamabad to dismantle the Taliban and Al Qaeda, sections of whom are linked to anti-India terror activities.

Broadly supportive of the regional approach towards stabilizing Afghanistan and linking aid to Pakistan with its performance against terrorism, New Delhi is, however, cautious about other aspects of the Afghanistan-Pakistan policy (AfPak, as it is called in strategic circles) that includes persuading New Delhi and Islamabad to resume talks amid the unfinished business of bringing those behind the Mumbai terrorist attack to justice.

"The new policy is a recognition of the ground realities that Pakistan has not been fully cooperative in assisting the NATO forces in fighting the Taliban and Al Qaeda," Brajesh Mishra, former national security adviser, told IANS.

"They are now focusing on Pakistan. Defeating the Taliban is definitely in the interests of India," Mishra, a close aide to former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, underlined.

"If they really want to, they can put pressure on the Pakistan army which they can't resist. After all, who finances the Pakistan army?" he said.

A senior Indian official, who did not wish to be named, told IANS: "We hope there is greater pressure on Pakistan to take action against terrorists. Linking aid to concrete action on the ground is a good way to hold Pakistan to account.

"But the devil lies in details. It's hard to tell how effective it will be, given the past history of the diversion of these funds for anti-India activities," he added.

According to sources, the US gave around $10 billion to Pakistan for combating terrorism during the seven years of the Bush administration, but these funds were used for bolstering the military and terrorist infrastructure.

The new AfPak policy announced by US President Barack Obama Friday envisages $1.5 billion per year to Pakistan for the next five years to build roads, hospitals and other civilian infrastructure and bolstering American troops and the Afghan National Army as key elements in the US strategy to win the war on terrorism in the region.

Obama has, however, made it clear that the aid will not be a "blank cheque", but will be linked to action against high-level terrorist targets inside its borders.

Says Salman Haidar, a former foreign secretary of India: "There will be greater pressure on Pakistan to perform and not to thrive on ambiguities as it has done so in the past."

"It will be difficult for Pakistan to continue with the dual game they have been carrying on for years," Haidar added.

"We have to wait to see how they will actively implement the conditionalities," C. Uday Bhaskar, a strategic expert, added on a cautionary note.

Strategic experts and diplomats have also welcomed the regional approach, as outlined in Obama's policy, which also calls for setting up a contact group for stabilizing Afghanistan and also includes key regional players like Iran, Russia, India and China besides the Central Asian states and the Gulf nations.

"It's a fresh look at an old policy. We have to give it time," said Major General (retired) Ashok Mehta, a keen Pakistan watcher.

Haidar considers the regional approach as a "step forward", but said one has to wait how different players define their role and interests in the new arrangement.

However, a sub-text in Obama's policy statement that nudges India and Pakistan to resume composite dialogue has tended to revive India's old fears about the US trying to play an interventionist role in the garb of a regional approach to Afghanistan.

"The pressure will be on India to resume dialogue. In the past, it was conflict management. But now they seem to be talking about conflict resolution," said Mehta.

"If America is unwise, they will push us to resume dialogue. This will not play out well in India," said Haidar. We can also use this opportunity to push the US to pressure Pakistan to be more active against the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks.

Mishra pointed to US National Security Adviser Gen James Jones' clarification that the US will not involve itself in the Kashmir issue to underline that such worries are unfounded.

Army to test Israeli defensive suite on Arjun
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 28
The Army would be evaluating an advanced laser-based defensive suite on the Arjun battle tank this summer. The system is being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation in collaboration with Israel.

Designated the Advanced Laser Warning and Countermeasure System (ALWCS), the suite comprises a laser warning system, infra-red jammer and an aerosol smoke grenade system. The sensors for these systems are mounted on the front and sides of the turret.

The purpose of ALWCS is to enhance survivability of armoured vehicles against anti-tank guided missiles. Israel’s Elbit Systems Limited, which manufactures and integrates hi-tech defence electronic and electro-optic systems and undertakes weapon upgrade projects for militaries throughout the world, is DRDO’s collaborating partner for the ALWCS.

The Arjun, which is under development for the past 36 years, is scheduled to undergo comparative trials with the Russian-origin T-90 tanks in Rajasthan in May-June. Last year’s summer trials were not reported to be successful and had generated some controversy after some top defence ministry functionaries had suspected sabotage behind Arjun’s poor performance.

As part of the Arjun’s protection capability, DRDO’s Adavi-based Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment has also developed a mobile camouflage system (MCS) to provide multi-spectral signature management for reducing the vehicle visual, thermal and radar signature against sensors and smart munitions.

The general approach of the MCS is to hide glossy or flat surfaces and conceal significantly recognisable parts of the vehicle, like turret and guns, with contour disrupters. Such systems can also obstruct laser reflections to affect the enemy’s range measurement accuracy.

MCS system has been developed in collaboration with Barracuda Camouflage Limited of Gurgaon, which is a subsidiary of the Swedish Saab Barracuda Group.

Army chief to visit France
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 28
Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor will pay a four-day official visit to France from March 31, an official press note said.

France and India share common values and have convergence of views on many issues that affect the emerging world order. The number of bilateral agreements signed between the two countries in the recent past in diverse fields, including the Civil Nuclear Deal, is a testimony to their growing strategic partnership. The visit to France by the Army chief comes at a time when relations between the two countries are at an all-time high.

The bilateral defence cooperation has been vibrant and intense and is progressing well under the aegis of institutionalised mechanisms. These encompass varied activities like visits, training exchanges, equipment collaboration and participation in Seminars and Conferences.

The visit by Gen Kapoor will add the necessary impetus to the defence relationship and broad-base it further into a mutually beneficial partnership. During his visit, the Army chief will interact with senior military and civilian defence hierarchy and discuss various contemporary defence related issues.

Pak was ready to counterattack post 26/11

Press Trust of India

Sunday, March 29, 2009, (Sargodha)

Pakistan's new air force chief Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman on Saturday said he had devised an "air strategy plan" to launch "offensive operations" to counter any possible surgical strikes by India in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks.

Suleman, who took over as air chief last week, said he had drawn up the "air strategy plan" when the threat of possible surgical strikes was "about to cross the threshold". In the space of hours, the Pakistan Air Force was on red alert and capable of launching offensive operations, he said.

A statement issued by PAF quoted Suleman as saying, "When the surgical strikes' threat was about to cross the threshold, I devised an air strategy plan and unfolded it to the then (PAF chief Air Chief Marshal Tanvir Mahmood Ahmed) and within four-five hours, the whole PAF was on red alert status and present everywhere to defend and launch offensive operations."

Addressing personnel at an airbase at Sargodha in Punjab province, Suleman said the PAF "played a vital role in averting an imminent war" in the aftermath of the 26/11 attacks.

The new air force chief was on an inaugural visit to the airbase in Sargodha after assuming his post.

Suleman will make a series of visits to various airbases to unfold his vision for preparing the PAF to meet the challenges of air operations in the 21st century.

Sandeep Dikshit: Sino-Indian border tranquil: Menon


The Sino-Indian border is tranquil and both sides are maintaining the status quo, Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon said here on Thursday. Pointing out that both sides had their own perceptions about the boundary, Mr. Menon said each side treated the other’s crossing over as an incursion. But the important thing was whether there had been a change in the pattern of incursions and whether it was taking place in new places. The answer to both was in the negative, he said, while taking questions at the release of the book “India-China relations – The border issue and beyond” co-authored by Mohan Guruswamy and Zorawar Daulet Singh.

“Both sides maintain the status quo. We don’t see changes in the pattern by either side,” Mr. Menon added.

While there was a border issue there was no border dispute with China unlike with Pakistan. The last casualty that took place was in October 1975 and even that was an accident.

Read also Indian Army fears China attack by 2017, by Rahul Singh on Hindustan Times:

The Indian military fears a ‘Chinese aggression’ in less than a decade. A secret exercise, called ‘Divine Matrix’, by the army’s military operations directorate has visualised a war scenario with the nuclear-armed neighbour before 2017.

“A misadventure by China is very much within the realm of possibility with Beijing trying to position itself as the only power in the region. There will be no nuclear warfare but a short, swift war that could have menacing consequences for India,” said an army officer, who was part of the three-day war games that ended on Wednesday.

In the military’s assessment, based on a six-month study of various scenarios before the war games, China would rely on information warfare (IW) to bring India down on its knees before launching an offensive.

The war games saw generals raising concerns about the IW battalions of the People’s Liberation Army carrying out hacker attacks for military espionage, intelligence collection, paralysing communication systems, compromising airport security, inflicting damage on the banking system and disabling power grids. “We need to spend more on developing information warfare capability,” he said.

And Red Dragon rising - China adopts ‘military strategy of active defence’ by Gurmeet Kanwal and Monika Chansoria:

IN keeping with its past practice, China released its sixth White Paper on National Defence in January 2009. Though it is an improvement on previously published White Papers in terms of transparency, there still is considerable opacity in revealing key defence policies and China’s strategic outlook and its annual defence expenditure.

Beijing had estimated its defence expenditure for 2008 at about US $61 billion. This was much lower that the estimate made by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. According to SIPRI, China is likely to spend a staggering $140 billion on the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), its navy and air force this year.

The Chinese leadership believes that “China’s security situation has improved steadily,” although China is still confronted with “long-term, complicated and diverse security threats and challenges.”

The White Paper cautions the Chinese people that China is facing “the superiority of the developed countries in economy, science and technology as well as military affairs… and faces strategic manoeuvers and containment from the outside.”

Although, China continues to reiterate that its defence policy is purely defensive in nature, the White Paper reveals that it is working towards implementing a “military strategy of active defence.”

While formulating its military strategy of active defence for the 21st century, China is focussing on four crucial components: emphasising the prevention and deterrence of crises and wars; building hi-tech military capabilities to win local wars in conditions of ‘informationisation’; enhancing the ability to counter various security threats; and, improving its military mobilisation and logistics mechanism.

Media allege corruption in massive Israel-India arms deal

By Yossi Melman India, Israel News, IAI
Allegations of possible illegalities in a massive arms deal between Israel and India have surfaced over the weekend in the Indian media. The size of the deal between the Indian Ministry of Defense and Israel Aerospace Industries, estimated at $1.5 billion, had grown to allow for the payment of commissions, which is illegal in India, said the press there.

The deal in question, signed in late February between Israel Aerospace Industries and the Indian Defense Ministry, is for the delivery of 2,000 Barak Mark VIII missiles, which were originally designed as sea-based weapons.

According to the deal, a third of the value of the deal will be spent in India, where the IAI will make offset purchases from Tata, a local consortium.


An Indian daily from New Delhi, DNA, says it has information showing that $120 million of the overall deal is described as "business expenses." According to Jessie Joseph, a journalist, officials familiar with the deal told him that an IAI representative explained these costs are meant to cover insurance, bank and transportation costs.

However, the newspaper hypothesizes the actual payments are for commissions, or even bribes, for senior Indian government officials who approved the deal.

IAI refused to comment on Saturday, but Israeli sources familiar with the deal said the entire process followed regulations and was clean.

Last week IAI filed a report with the regulatory authorities here that it had concluded a $1.4 billion deal but did not specify the country. Indian sources said New Delhi had requested the deal be kept secret.

The newspaper notes (although does not offer details) that Elul, a subsidiary of Elul Asia, belonging to David Kolitz and Israel Yaniv, was also involved in the deal. According to the report, Elul is known for its ties to Tata.

Nine years ago, Yaniv retired from the weapons development authority Rafael, where he worked in marketing, and then joined Elul, setting up a subsidiary where Elul is a co-owner.

Rafael is also involved in the deal, as a subcontractor in the manufacturing of the Barak missiles, but the extent of its role in the project is not known.

The links between Elul and Indian business activities are, according to the daily, based on ties with the Indian businessman Sudhir Chowdhary, who resides in Britain.

"The Israelis joined up with Chowdhary for him to manage their contacts in India with officials in government and the army," according to the newspaper.

Kolitz said in response that he is not involved in any arms deal and has no ties with Chowdhary. "I wish I could benefit from a 6 percent commission," he said.

The daily maintains that Chowdhary has family connections with a senior minister in the Indian government and with senior army officials.

His name had previously been linked by the Indian media to another Israeli arms company, Soltam, in relation to a deal for an upgrade of artillery, in which there were suspicions of wrong doing.

The report in DNA raises questions about the new arms deal, including the actual approval of the deal by the government, which is currently led by the Congress Party; its head, Sonia Gandhi, is under investigation for her role in an earlier deal for Barak missiles, from the 1990s.

The newspaper article questions how it was possible to approve the deal on the day parliamentary elections (for the lower house) were declared, when Indian governments are forbidden from doing so since the deals will be binding on the incoming government.

Redrawn map of South Asia?

Mohammad Jamil

In November 2008, Pulitzer Prize winning writer Nicholas Kristoff said in an article published in the New York Times: “There is an increasing belief among Pakistanis including members of the armed forces, that what the US really wants is the breakup of Pakistan, the only Muslim country with nuclear arms”. But such an idea is fraught with dangers beyond the comprehension of the big powers, and could make the world a very dangerous place to live in. At the Brussels Forum conference, US representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Hollbrooke said: “The heart of the problem for the West is in Pakistan. The militants are operating out of bases in Pakistan, where a fragile government has recently taken over and the army is focused more on fighting India than insurgents in lawless tribal areas”.

Holbrooke has to understand the simple logic and fact that every country takes measures to defend its borders with a view to safeguarding its integrity and stability. If the US can conduct operations thousands of miles away from its borders for the safety and security of America and its citizens, Pakistan is well within its right to defend its borders from the next-door hostile neighbour. To make Pakistan’s security perilous, India’s RAW has covertly been supporting centrifugal forces in Balochistan. Killing and kidnapping of Chinese, a and also made inroads in militants’ organizations in Pakistan.

Take the case of terror attack on Sri Lankan cricket team, the rocket launcher and other arms and ammunition were the same as used by Indian army. The objective is to prove that Pakistan has failed to rein in terrorists. India and the US are also opposing any peace agreement in FATA or Swat with tribal elders, so that impression can be created that Pakistan army is either incapable or is not willing to crush militants and terrorists. To cover up the real designs, President Barack Obama has said US objective is to ensure that Afghanistan is no more a safe haven for Al Qaeda operatives, and attacks against the American homeland or American interests do not take place. But to tarnish Pakistan’s image, a top adviser to the US Central Command, David Kilcullen who advises CENTCOM commander General David H Petraeus on the war on terror said that Pakistani state could collapse within six months if immediate steps are not taken to remedy the situation. In an interview to The Washington Post published on Sunday, he warned that if things spin out of control in Pakistan it would ‘dwarf’ all the crises in the world today.

Asked to explain why he thought Pakistan was so important, Kilcullen said: “Pakistan has 173 million people, 100 nuclear weapons, an army bigger than the US Army, and Al Qaeda headquarters sitting right there in the two-thirds of the country that the government doesn’t control”. The same day, Indian Home Minister Chidambaram in an interview to Karan Thapar on ‘India Tonight’ said: “Pakistan is pretty dysfunctional and perilously close to becoming a failed state”. UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown also joined the chorus with Americans and Indians. Writing in The Observer he said: “There is an Al Qaeda core in northern Pakistan trying to organize attacks on Britain, as we know there are a number of networks here”. The outgoing US ambassador to Kabul William Wood told the UK’s Sunday Observer that America would be prepared to discuss the establishment of a political party, or put up even election candidates representing the Taliban, as part of a political strategy that would sit alongside reinforced military efforts to end the increasingly intractable conflict. Other ideas being discussed include changing the Afghan constitution as part of potential negotiations, taking senior Taliban figures off UN blacklists to establish dialogue and possible prisoner releases. Recently, there was a meeting between Afghan government and representatives of Gulbadin Hikmatyar to explore the option of bringing Pushtun on board. And of course this is the right way of doing it because by ignoring the majority, there can never be peace in Afghanistan or for that matter in the region. It has to be mentioned that America could explore other options but they are blaming Pakistan of great sin if it negotiates with the tribal elders or militants.

It would be appropriate to look into the circumstances in which Pakistan had been sucked in the big-power game. First World War had provided an opportunity to Communist Party of Russia for completing the socialist revolution. After the end of World War II, socialists of Eastern European countries were facilitated by the Soviet forces that were present in those countries to form socialist governments. On the other hand, the US had influence over the western European countries to form a capitalistic bloc. Thus Cold War era started whereby the world was divided in two camps – Western and Socialist. In 1950s, British-trained bureaucracy convinced the then Pakistani leadership that the US could help build Pakistan’s army and also other infrastructure therefore they decided to go with the West and become its camp-follower. The government did not pay heed to Quaid-i-Azam’s advice that Pakistan should maintain good relations with all the countries of the world, and joined military pacts with the US and the West. Some call it an error of judgment while others call it inaptness of the bureaucracy.

During 1965 war with India, people of Pakistan understood the meaninglessness of the defence pacts because nobody came to Pakistan’s rescue. In fact, Pakistan’s so-called allies stopped all military and economic aid. In 1971, our so-called allies played the role of silent spectators when Pakistan was disintegrated. There was a perception that had Pakistan not become camp-follower of the West, it would not have been disintegrated as a result of international intrigue. Evidence suggests that Soviet Union had used its Veto in United Nations General Assembly only after American spy plane U-2 had taken off from Budh Ber near Peshawar in 1958. Soviet Russia had not vetoed the resolution bestowing the right on Kashmiris to decide through a plebiscite if they wish to join India or Pakistan.

In 1979, when Soviet forces occupied Afghanistan, the US and the West started propaganda blitz against Soviet Union and persuaded Pakistan to organize a proxy war to push Soviet forces out of Afghanistan. But for Pakistan this proved to a recipe for disaster. After 9/11 when the US coerced Pakistan into joining war on terror it was due to the fact that US was the only super power after disintegration of the Soviet Union and it was mainly due to Pakistan’s cooperation that the US enjoyed the status of the only super power. Since the US and the West are reviewing their strategy and policy, Pakistan should also reviews its foreign policy, which in fact should have been done in 1971.

A Tribune Special
Publish history of all wars India fought
Declassify the Henderson-Brooks report, says Dinesh Kumar

The Central Chief Information Commissioner’s recent decision to uphold the Defence Ministry’s refusal to declassify the 46 year-old Henderson-Brooks committee report that inquired into the debacle of the 1962 Sino-Indian war makes little sense and reflects a vintage mindset.

The government’s refusal to declassify this report submitted in May 1963 spans every political dispensation that has ruled at the Centre since 1993 when the 30-year secrecy clause officially lapsed.

Since then, successive defence ministers have cited ‘public interest’ as the
reason for not declassifying this report each time a question on this has been
raised in Parliament.

The government has on only two occasions voluntarily declassified an official war history / report – the Official History of the 1947-48 Kashmir war with Pakistan 41 years later in 1989 and the Kargil Review Committee Report on the 1999 Kargil war, less than a year later, in 2000.

All the other official war histories – of the 1962 Sino-Indian war and the India-Pakistan wars of 1965 and 1971– have never been officially released but, yet, are available on the website because of exposes by the media. These reports may be true to the text, but it is clear that these are not authenticated versions.

While the Henderson-Brooks report continues to remain in the Defence Ministry lockers, the three other war histories have been kept away from public eye even though the statutory 30-year period is long over.

This is even though a specially convened Military History Review Committee comprising three experts categorically recommended in 2001 that the war histories of these wars be declassified. The Committee, chaired by former Defence Secretary N.N. Vohra (currently the Jammu and Kashmir Governor), was established in 2000.

This exercise coincided with a comprehensive review of India’s security system by four specially set-up Task Forces reporting to a Group of Ministers Committee in the aftermath of the May-July 1999 Kargil war.

In January 2001, a report prepared by the Vohra Committee comprising Lt Gen (retd) Satish Nambiar and the former Director of the History Division of the Defence Ministry, Dr S.N. Prasad, as members, recommended the release of the three war histories in their original form.

Two key reasons given for declassifying the report were (i) the need for the armed forces’ to draw military lessons from the wars, and (ii) because it was a legal obligation to declassify documents after 30 years vide a parliamentary legislation.

The Vohra Committee report, which took just three months to prepare, also argued that it made little sense not to declassify the war histories when so many years had elapsed and scores of books, including accounts by military officers who fought in these wars, had been published.

Although the Henderson-Brooks report was not included in the agenda of the
Military History Review Committee, Mr Vohra had informally advised the then
Defence Minister George Fernandes to declassify the report on the latter’s asking
around that same time.

Mr Vohra had suggested that if the report was considered that sensitive, then an abridged version comprising lessons learnt for the Army and the Air Force could be released so that successive generations of armed forces officers could learn from it.

He also argued that in any case a large number of books had been written on the Sino-Indian war, including by a number of western authors.

The government did not accept the committee’s recommendation following which Lt Gen Nambiar was assigned to edit and ‘sanitise’ the history of these three wars. Yet, this too did not cut ice with the government.

While the release of the Henderson-Brooks report has been opposed primarily by the Ministry of External Affairs on the ground that bilateral relations and the on-going negotiations on the border dispute between India and China may be affected, declassification of the three other war histories has been largely held up because of differences between the Army and the Air Force.

For example, Army war diary accounts of the 1965 war record their disappointment with the Air Force for not providing them with adequate air support and also, on several occasions, for killing ground troops in friendly fire.

The Air Force, on the other hand, accuses the Army for either not seeking air support in time or for not providing accurate information about ground troop movements. Interestingly, even these war histories were very nearly not written.

Behind this lies a story. Soonafter the P.V. Narasimha Rao government came to power in 1991, Union Finance Secretary Montek Singh Ahluwalia (presently Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission) issued a circular directing the Ministry of Defence (and also other ministries) to wind up all ‘marginal’ departments as a cost-saving exercise. The Defence Ministry’s Historical Division was identified as one such ‘marginal’ department.

Before this department was axed, Mr Vohra, who was then Defence Secretary, quickly commissioned Dr Prasad to write the war histories of the 1962, 1965 and 1971 wars. A total of 50 numbered copies of each of these three war histories, which were finalised between June and November 1992, were published and distributed on a restricted basis to key officials.

They included the Cabinet Secretary, the Foreign Secretary, the Defence
Secretary, the three Service Chiefs, and the Commandants of the College of
Combat (since renamed Army War College), the College of Air Warfare, the
College of Naval Warfare, the National Defence College and the Defence
Services Staff College among others.

The Henderson-Brooks inquiry report pertains to the only war that India has lost in its post-Independence history. Lt General Thomas Bryan Henderson-Brooks, an Anglo-Indian who later migrated to Australia, and Brigadier (later Lt Gen) Prem Singh Bhagat, were tasked with holding an internal inquiry into the 1962 war.

The report was submitted to Army chief General Joyanato Nath Chaudhri on May 12, 1963 who forwarded it to Defence Minister Yashwantrao Balwantrao Chavan on July 2 of that year.

Eight years later, Neville Maxwell, an Australian journalist working with The Times, London, published his book India’s China War citing from “an unpublished Indian Army report on these events”. Any doubt that the report had been leaked to the British author were dispelled when Maxwell published a paper in 2001 titled Henderson-Brooks Report: An Introduction which is since available on the Internet.

Quoting from the report, Maxwell’s paper questions the wisdom of both decisions and indecisions taken by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Defence Minister Vengalil Krishnan Krishna Menon, Intelligence Bureau Director Bhola Nath Mullick and some top military officers including the General Officer Commanding of the Tezpur-based IV Corps, Lt Gen Brij Mohan Kaul, over whose promotion the previous Army chief, General Kodendera Subayya Thimayya, had earlier tendered (and then also withdrawn) his resignation in 1959.

Even so, the Henderson-Brooks report is not without two major anomalies. First, the Henderson-Brooks committee was never given access to top secret documents of the military operations directorate.

And secondly, though Lt Gen Henderson-Brooks was then just a Corps Commander, he was entrusted with the task of commenting on tactical decisions and actions by several officers much senior to him.

By not releasing both the Henderson-Brooks report and the 1962 Sino-Indian War History, the government has unwittingly been giving a free hand to the Chinese to propagate their version of the history which is publicly available.

Some of the more valuable nuggets about wars India has fought have come from accounts written by retired military officers. For example, it was only 24 years after the 1971 war that Vice Admiral Mihir K. Roy had exploded the myth that the Indian Navy sunk the Pakistani submarine PNS Ghazi.

Instead, as he revealed in his book War in the Indian Ocean, the submarine had, on the contrary, sank accidentally while laying sea mines off the coast of Visakhapatnam, the headquarters of the Eastern Naval Command conducting maritime operations against East Pakistan at that time.

Inquiries into wars and debacles are necessary if military lessons have to be learnt. The United States and Britain have held their share of inquiries and that too in the midst of wars, military operations, and the Cold war. Even Israel, which is secrecy-obsessed and located in a hostile neighbourhood, has held inquiries relating to its military actions, which have subsequently been declassified.

Only a few years ago, the United States declassified the famous Nixon Administration documents that formed part of the Foreign Relations of the United States (1969-1976) documents containing details of the US’ pro-Pakistan tilt both prior and during the 1971 India-Pakistan war when Richard Nixon was President and Henry Kissinger, his Assistant for National Security Affairs.

The details of the Nixon-Kissinger anti-India tilt is recorded in South Asia Crisis,
1971 (Volume XI),that form part of these declassified documents that are now
publicly available.

In 1967, even while the Vietnam war was on, US Defence Secretary Robert
Strange McNamara commissioned a study of how the United States had come
to be ensnared in Vietnam.

A Vietnam History Task Force produced a history of the US’ involvement in that country spanning 47 volumes, 15 of which came to be known as the Pentagon Papers. These were leaked, published in two US newspapers, and their publication subsequently upheld by the US Supreme Court.

During the midst of the Korean war, the US Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees held joint hearings into defence and foreign policies following President Harrry S. Truman’s dismissal of the famed General Douglas MacArthur.

Even while the First World War was on, Britain instituted a Special Commission in 1916 “to enquire into the conduct of the Dardanelles operations”, an infamous campaign in which the Allies lost a large number of their soldiers.

Barely a month after the end of the 16-day Yom Kippur war with Egypt in 1973, the Israeli cabinet appointed a commission to probe intelligence and deployment of the Israeli Defence Forces. The report was submitted in April 1974, partially declassified a year later in 1975, and fully declassified 20 years later in April 1994.

On January 30, 2008, Israel published the final report of an inquiry instituted into Israel’s war against the Hizbollah in Lebanon in 2006. The 629-page report found “grave failings” among both the political and military leaders and even censured Prime Minister Ehud Olmert who had testified before the inquiry.

Publishing war histories is crucial to draw lessons for any modern and progressive military and also for assisting policy-makers, diplomats, and military historians to similarly draw lessons.

It makes little sense for the government to be so cautious and paranoid about
publishing the histories of three wars that were fought so far back as up to 38,
44 and 47 years ago.

Pay Commission
Frustration prevails among ex-servicemen
Attar Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 28
Every Central Pay Commission has increased the gap between new and old retired defence pensioners and as a result before 2006, the Personal Below Officers Rank (PBOR) up to the rank of Havaldar and equivalent in other services, have been placed in basic pension of Rs 3,500 which is given to Class IV civilian pensioner.

This has caused frustration among the PBORs, said Prabhjot Singh, president of the Indian Ex-services League, Punjab.

The aggrieved soldiers said the first three pay commissions did not touch the pension of defence pensioners.

It was only the fourth pay commission, which revised the pension of the old pensioners and minimum pension of Sepoy (reservist) was fixed at Rs 375 per month whereas pension of the General was fixed at Rs 4,500 per month creating a gap of Rs 4,125.

The next pay commission fixed the minimum pension (reservist) at Rs 1,275 per month and maximum pension (General) at Rs 15,000 per month, which meant that the gap increased to Rs 13,725.

Prabhjot further said now the Sixth Pay Commission had fixed the minimum at Rs 3,500 per month and maximum at Rs 45,000 per month, increasing the gap to Rs 41,500.

The league has thought to exercise their voting right judiciously to press the demands of the ex-servicemen and has decided in principal to support the candidates on merit instead of supporting any single party.

Other things being equal, a candidate with the defence background will be given preference. But above all, the candidate will have to give an undertaking that he would support and project the demands of the ex-servicemen in the Lok Sabha after his victory.

The league has further taken the most democratic step to authorise its district presidents to select the candidate of their constituency independently, keeping in view the guidelines provided by the state body.

The president said immediate demands of the ex-servicemen were grant of two pensions to the widow of ex-serviceman, who drew two pensions during his life and gainful employment up to age of 60 years to the ex-serviceman.

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