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Friday, 15 May 2009

From Today's Papers - 15 May 09

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Pak forces surround Mingora; 5,000 Taliban men dug in

Press Trust of India, Thursday May 14, 2009, Islamabad

Pakistani military on Thursday surrounded the Swat valley capital Mingora where around 5,000 armed Taliban fighters were dug in for a long haul with roads being mined and trenches dug and a deadly battle loomed for control of the strategic town.

Fifty-four militants and nine soldiers were killed in intense fighting in the country's rugged north western region, as the military relentlessly pounded Taliban positions.

Security forces, backed by helicopters gunships and artillery were moving towards the Taliban-controlled Mingora, from four directions and had achieved a "lot of success" while keeping collateral damage low, chief military spokesman Maj Gen Athar Abbas said.

Pakistan Army had airdropped commandos behind Taliban lines early this week and said its forces had surrounded an estimated 4,000-5,000 fighters in and around Mingora, but so far have not marched into the town.

"We have surrounded Mingora. Our strategy is to encircle them," Abbas said, implying that the military had still not come up with a plan to overcome the well-entrenched Taliban.

Fifty-four militants, including three snipers, were killed in fighting in Mingora, Udigram and Peochar, a remote mountainous region where the Taliban have their main base.

"Nine Army personnel have also embraced shahadat (martyrdom)," Abbas said.

Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani visited the frontline and expressed his resolve to defeat the extremists.

Shocking CRPF job scam
It's proverbial tip of the iceberg
by Inder Malhotra

IN the midst of the heat, dust and cacophony of the elections, a horrendous recruitment scandal in the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has gone practically unnoticed. But the country can ignore it and its ramifications only at its peril. For, what has been exposed to the light of day is but the proverbial tip not of an iceberg but of a glacier.

No isolated case this, it is indeed symptomatic of the established pattern of recruitment to not only the CRPF but also to other Central para-military forces and, more importantly, to the police forces in the states. Whatever afflicts any one them proves contagious to others.

In this context what has come to light so far needs to be examined minutely. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has arrested and produced in a Patna court nine persons - including an Inspector-General, a Deputy Inspector-General and two battalion commandants of the CRFP - for amassing Rs 225 crore in the last few years by allegedly extorting bribes from those scrambling for jobs in the force.

Among those taken in custody are also some civilians, including a husband-wife team. Obviously, they are the "touts" acting as go-betweens the jobseekers and CRPF officers. It should also be evident that a racket of this dimension cannot go on without the knowledge, if not connivance, of the officials at the very top.

According to the CBI's investigations so far, the modus operandi of those with a gift for the grab is to let loose the touts on applicants with a view to collecting up to Rs 3 lakh each. The proceeds are then distributed.

Examination papers are leaked to those who pay and interview boards for them are "fixed" or "manipulated" carefully. Eventually, the flourishing scandal burst into the open only because those unable to pay screamed in protest. In the documents submitted to the court, the CBI has alleged that the Inspector-General now brought to book was suspected of indulging in the "same corrupt practices" also two years ago. But he escaped punitive action because of insufficient evidence though his superiors made adverse remarks in his annual confidential report.

Significantly, the arrests made so far are confined to the states of Bihar and Jharkhand. But the Union Home Ministry that called in the CBI has also directed it to investigate similar complaints about the CRPF recruitments in UP, Punjab and Haryana. In fact, this alone would not do. A thorough and high-level inquiry into the entire system of recruitment and promotions in various security and police forces is called for.

Several years ago in Punjab the then chairman of the state public services commission was arrested for allegedly demanding bribes for both fresh recruitment and promotions for those already in service. Crores of rupees in cash were recovered from the residence of the individual concerned.

It was disclosed that police inspectors with an ambition to become Deputy Superintendents of Police had to cough up Rs 2.5 lakh each. No one knows what has become of that case or whether the obviously influential accused was prosecuted at all. Any number of other instances, including the "auctioning" of "lucrative" police stations, can be cited but need not be.

Suffice it to say that politicisation of all police forces, incompetence or worse of investigative agencies and endless judicial delays have contributed materially to making corruption the low-risk, high-growth industry in this country.

Some may argue that if corruption is so rampant as to have become a countrywide cancer without cure, why single out the Central and state police and security organisations in this connection? There may be something in this, but there are two very painful problems that arise.

First, that if every constable has to pay lakhs of rupees before getting the job and every inspector another few lakhs to climb a rung on the ladder or a high officer has to bribe his political boss to secure a coveted post, wouldn't it have a multiplier effect on the loot on a scale to boggle the mind?

Secondly, if the right amount of money can get anyone into a security organisation, wouldn't terrorist outfits, foreign and homegrown, find it easy to infiltrate these sensitive departments? Of course, the same question can be raised about the armed forces, especially the Army. But there is a crucial difference. The Army has counter-intelligence and field security units. The armed police, Central or state, does not.

This brings one to an even more agonising subject. The Indian Army, very unwisely, increased in 1976 the duration of a jawan's service under the colours from seven to 17 years. Later, it realised its mistake because the Army tended to get older than it should be. On the other hand, it had to worry about the future of young soldiers having to leave after only five to seven years of service.

All concerned hit upon a brilliant idea: Let this trained, disciplined and youthful manpower be absorbed, after due selection, into the numerous and expanding para-military forces and given a year's training to enable them to cope with their new responsibilities. But there was no go. No one wanted to give up his monopoly on recruitment into his service.

The Fifth Pay Commission that reported in 1997 had asked the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) to conduct a study on this subject for it. The commission appreciated the institute's suggestions but did not include them in its recommendations. The Sixth Pay Commission ignored the matter completely.

Leave alone 26/11, armed constabularies of affected states have been unable even to deal with the Naxalite meance. The deficiencies of the Central para-military forces have also been evident, particularly in Jammu and Kashmir. The Army is, therefore, called in.

This cannot go on. Internal security has to be the responsibility of state and Central police organisations. But this cannot happen until all the police organisations are liberated from servitude to the politicians in power and made the servant of the law.

That is where the crying need for police reforms comes in and no story can be more dismal than this one. An unexceptionable Supreme Court directive on police reforms - issued in September 2007 after 11-year hearing of a public interest litigation by a former Director-General of Police, Prakash Singh - should have been operational since March 2008. But it is still hanging fire because of obstruction and obfuscation by state and Central governments.

Banned Jamaat-ud-Dawa resurfaces in charity avatar

May 14, 2009 | 17:35 IST

Jamaat-ud-Dawa is under the scanner again. Banned after being accused of terror links following the Mumbai terror attacks, the outfit has resurfaced at the centre of the aid effort to help hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing Pakistan's war on the Taliban.

A special report in the Independent says, "Scores of volunteers from the charity are openly working to ferry refugees from the edge of the conflict zone to emergency camps and hospitals. They are also providing food, water and first aid."

Interestingly, the outfit's arms reach places where the government agencies don't not reach.

The report says, "The government undertaking that it had cracked down on Jamaat-ud-Dawa -- described as the charitable arm of LeT -- and pledged that it would not allow it to operate under a different name, volunteers say they are providing crucial services in an area where the government's resources are stretched.

The report says the outfit has changed the name as well.

Th report says in the city of Mardan, where thousands of refugees are being taken, the volunteers operate under the name Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation (Humanitarian Welfare Foundation).

In addition to the foundation's logo, the volunteers' tent was hung with black and white flags carrying the symbol of Jamaat, a curved scimitar.

"The foundation used to work under the name Jamaat-ud-Dawa," said one of the volunteers, Jafar Khan. "We are operating emergency camps near the conflict zone where we are giving first aid, water, juices and food. We have 12 ambulances. We are taking people to the camps and to the hospitals. Our supplies are coming from Punjab," the report said.

Asked about the charity's motivations, another man, Dr Fazl-e-Azim said: "This is a humanitarian organisation. We help everybody, Muslims, Christians..."

During every such calamity, the outfit's volunteers are said to be offering help.

The government, the report says,is under fire for failing to close down the charity. The former interior minister, Aftab Sherpao, said: "They don't focus on anything. Banning Jamaat was just eye-wash. They just wanted the world to believe they were doing something."

Expectedly, security analysts are worried as they thinkthe outfit may use the sitation to use recruit possible jihadis.

"I am not surprised by [the emergence of a front group]. Jamaat has been playing a very active role in the relief operation," said B Raman, an Indian security analyst.

Christine Fair, a Washington-based expert on LeT, said: "I had heard reports that Jamaat had changed its name. I'd also heard that even before it was shut down, its money had already been moved. Of course, it's Jamaat's strategy to continue cultivating public support."

Zardari demands complete ownership of US drone technology

PTI | May 14, 2009 | 03:55 IST

Pakistan wants complete "ownership" of the US drone technology for carrying out strikes against terrorist targets in its territory, President Asif Ali Zardari said on Wednesday.

"We want ownership of the drone. Democracy doesn't believe in half measures," Zardari told newsmenin Londonwhen asked about reports that US has agreed to hand over control of drone aircraft to Islamabad.

Speaking shortly after his meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Zardari said Islamabad was "negotiating

terms" over the drones with the US, which has carried out a number of missile strikes in Pakistan's restive tribal areas,

targetting militant hideouts.

Pakistan has been bitterly protesting unilateral US drone attacks in its tribal regions, saying they violate its sovereignty and are counter-productive for the war on terror.��Over 360 people, mostly militants, were killed in nearly 40 US drone attacks targetting Taliban in the restive tribal areas since August last year.

His comments arise shortly after American army officials revealed that Pakistan will be involved in armed US Predator

missions against militants in its territory under a new partnership giving its military significant control over drone attacks.

Have we forgotten Kargil already?

Colonel A Sridharan VSM (retd) | May 13, 2009 | 15:20 IST

Kargil makes me sad. I served in Ladakh long before Kargil happened and know that terrain very well.

A lot has been written about the conflict which includes the lessons that the Indian Army should learn and what we should do to avoid another Kargil. Therefore, I am not going to write about matters military, but matters that are more relevant for our countrymen, especially our leadership and people.

For any nation, the soldiers are its assets. You can replace a weapon or buy new weapon systems but it takes years to train a soldier and make him fight as part of a group that is willing to sacrifice its life for protecting the country.

It takes years to train a combat pilot or a sailor. Soldiers, sailors and airmen give 'their today for your tomorrow,' which I quote from the graves in Kohima, Nagaland, left behind by the British after World War II, but still taken good care of. They continue to pay their debt of gratitude to those who laid their lives in that war, fought so fiercely for a tennis court in Kohima.

The Americans too care for their armed forces personnel. Their leaders show genuine concern and match their promises with action. Their veterans are the blessed lot and, what they get for what they gave is something the veterans in India can only dream of.

America is a land of dreams but they convert their dreams into reality especially, when it comes to taking care of the men and women who fought to protect their freedom in all corners of the world. Love, affection, respect and genuine concern shown for the armed forces personnel in these countries and in many more countries in the world is what we need to study and more importantly, emulate.

In our country, soldiers are remembered only in times of need. When Kargil happened many in our country were unaware of what happened and many did not care since it did not affect their daily lives. Yes, there was some war happening in a far off land beyond Srinagar. In any case, the Valley has seen so much of action, it was assumed that it was one more of such action, may be slightly larger in scale like the Taj and Oberoi hotels in Mumbai that were attacked by terrorists last November.

The general reaction of the public is: Some soldiers died and in any case, soldiers are meant to die for the country. So what if a body of a soldier who belonged to your city or town is brought for cremation? It is just another dead body and don't we see so many every day in our towns and cities?

So what if a soldier's widow and children are struggling for their livelihood after he laid down his life for the country? After all, so many widows are languishing in our country and one more does not matter. The soldier's widow cannot get a ration card. Many others also do not get one, it hardly matters...

That is the general apathy, even to the family of the soldiers who laid down their lives. If the soldier is disabled in war, people think it is nothing that affects them.

The enormity of the situation, the lessons learnt and the corrective action that were needed after Kargil were discussed and forgotten. Kargil is a blur in our memory, an event of history to be forgotten only to be remembered when reminded that we need to celebrate Kargil Diwas! Sadly, we have even stopped doing that!

It is not selective amnesia but permanent dementia. And as for the soldiers who were disabled or who lost their lives, less said the better.

India and Indians need to change their attitude towards its soldiers, both serving and retired. Indians need to remember the families of those who made their supreme sacrifice in conflicts like Kargil or anywhere while performing their duty. We need to pamper our armed forces personnel not because they wore that uniform for 30 years, suffered deprivation, found it difficult to make both ends meet while running two establishments when separated from family because of service conditions.

We need to because a nation which forgets its soldiers and which lets its bureaucracy dictate terms to the leadership to manage the armed forces in the manner that suits them or prove their supremacy, which ignores their genuine demands, is bound to suffer when the time of need comes again. History strangely repeats itself.

That is what is happening now. Why should the ex-servicemen (ESM) ever need to demand their legitimate rights? Why is the country's leadership not doing its duty to meet their legitimate demands without them asking for it? Do they not have any duty to perform towards the soldiers and their families as the soldiers have performed in silence, asking for nothing in return? Are the words honour, loyalty, duty applicable only to men and women in uniform?

The current ESM agitation which was characterised by many of them undergoing fasts in many places or returning their medals, including the ones awarded posthumously to the gallant officers and soldiers who died fighting in Kargil does not happen any where but in India.

The ESM have been forced to come out in large numbers onto the streets, shouting slogans to attract attention. The country as a whole has forgotten them and it is a pity that the ESM need to remind our countrymen to remember them by adopting agitation as the means to achieve their end.

Sadly, what they are asking for is One Rank and One Pension -- a small price for what they have given to our country for so long.

Why is it that our nation has pushed its veterans to this state of helplessness that today this apolitical force is taking sides with political parties to make their demand met? Does our country's leadership realise that the armed forces which had remained apolitical so far are now becoming politicised? Surely this is not a healthy trend.

The answers to all the question is known to all of us. Yet we are mute spectators because it does not affect the civil population in any manner. If war is an instrument of State policy, the armed forces are the means to achieve that policy when the time comes. Kargil is one more event in our history. The soldiers in and out of uniform are not. They are the ones who make that history happen.

Can Kargil rekindle the hearts of every Indian to make a pledge to give our soldiers the dignity and respect and give their legitimate demand without them asking for it? Surely that is not asking for much, unless we are a thankless nation.

If you fought the Kargil war and want India and Indians to know and understand the lessons of Kargil, please do send your article to

High Court Death of Cadet
NCC told to conduct probe
Swati Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 14
After two years of struggle, the parents of a 13-year-old boy, Rajat Kumar, who died after falling ill at an NCC camp in June, 2007, have some hope of getting justice.

Having run from pillar to post to get someone held responsible for the alleged negligence that led to the death of their son, Manphool Chand and Kamlesh Kumari have finally got relief from the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which has asked the NCC authorities to reinvestigate the case and give compensation.

The 13-year-old cadet fell sick during an annual training camp of the NCC and died soon after he reached home in 2007.

According to the medical report, he was suffering from acute encephalitis but was not taken to the hospital for medical check-up during the camp.

Providing relief to the parents, the High Court has directed the Group Commander National Cadet Corps (NCC) to hold a fact-finding inquiry into the circumstances that led to the untimely and sudden death of Rajat and also consider the claim of deceased's father regarding payment of compensation in accordance with law.

A student of Moti Ram Arya Senior Secondary School, Sector 27, Rajat had attended a 10-day NCC annual training camp at Ahlial, near Palampur, from May 25 to June 3, in 2007 and died of acute encephalitis at the PGI here on June 6, 2007.

The petitioner, Manphool Chand, said: "We have lost our son and the loss is irreparable. My wife had gone into a depression as she could not believe it. When he came back he was unwell and died.

"On June 3 around 5.30 pm, when I went to pick him up, he told me that he was suffering from severe headache and drowsiness. The following morning, he complained of uneasiness.

We took him to Government Medical College and Hospital-32. Later, he was shifted to the PGI where doctors diagnosed him with 'acute encephalitis', a brain-related disease."

Force divider

V. P. Malik Posted online: Friday , May 15, 2009 at 0021 hrs

Two recent events, the ham-handed sacking of the Army Chief General Rookmangud Katawal in Nepal, and an 'advisory' to all ex-servicemen (ESM) by the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM) to vote for a particular political party/alliance in India, merit attention due to the sensitivity of the civil military relations in a democratic society.

The adverse political consequences of the Nepalese event are many: a setback to the national peace process and political instability, a constitutional divide over the authority of the president and prime minister, and Nepal's foreign relations with India and China. No less important are its military consequences, which are a lack of trust and confidence between the civilian government and the military, and a divide within the military hierarchy. Both these will have an impact on the command and control, discipline, morale and combat proficiency of the Nepal Army. Also, there is an erosion of the historic military-to-military cooperation between Nepal and India where traditionally, the army chiefs have enjoyed the honourary status of a chief in each other's country.

The hot-headed civil and military approach to the absorption of Maoist military cadres was avoidable. I wish they had studied a similar military transformation following the first post-apartheid national elections and the adoption of a new constitution in South Africa. The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) replaced the earlier South African Defence Force (SADF) to include personnel and equipment from the former defence and homelands forces, as well as personnel from the former guerrilla forces of the political parties such as the African National Congress's Umkhonto we Sizwe, the Pan Africanist Congress' APLA and the Self-Protection Units of the Inkatha Freedom Party. This process started in 1994 was completed in 2004 with the integrated personnel having been incorporated into a slightly modified structure. Today, the SANDF is an effective force in South Africa, also making a substantial contribution to United Nations peacekeeping operations in Congo, Burundi and Sudan.

The 'advisory' and active lobbying to vote for a particular political party/alliance by a large ESM organisation during elections in India is not as serious as the Nepalese event, but is still unprecedented. It is not that men and women in the armed forces, and after retirement, do not vote, or that ESM do not join politics. But such an 'advisory' reflects a collective unhappiness and lack of confidence of the uniformed fraternity with the ruling alliance and is easily exploited. Considering that the ESM retain an umbilical connection with serving soldiers and maintain traditional camaraderie and kinship so essential in the profession of arms, many people would consider it as a step towards politicisation of the armed forces.

The IESM took this step primarily on account of the 6th Central Pay Commission (6CPC) Report and its ham-handed, disdainful processing by the government in which representatives of the uniformed fraternity were deliberately kept out. The government delayed resolving serious concerns of the armed forces personnel and pensioners on the disparities, anomalies, and demand for one rank one pension. Little attention was paid to the advice of the service chiefs, several former chiefs, and to the ethos and functioning of the armed forces. Meanwhile, an impression got built that the ruling political leadership is going along with the bureaucracy and has little or no interest in the emoluments and hierarchal status of the armed forces in the government and society. This felt injustice led to the birth of the IESM, which organised rallies, fast unto death agitations, and surrender of war and gallantry medals to the president to draw public and political attention.

The discontent and street protests by the armed forces veterans has exposed fissures in the civil-military relationship and thus led to the political manipulation of the latter. The belated efforts to resolve the aforesaid issues have only confirmed the perception that the government acts under political pressure; being disciplined and apolitical counts little when political supremacy over the armed forces degenerates into civil servants' supremacy.

This brings me to the core issue of the civil-military relations.

Civil-military relations form an essential component of a nation's security system. The Indian armed forces inherited a legacy of maintaining an apolitical stance and have steadfastly preserved it through the years. With their oath to the Constitution, they have stuck to the concept of loyalty to the constitutionally elected government, not to any particular political party or alliance. The credit goes not only to the military and its traditions, but also to the political leadership, our egalitarian society and other well-established democratic institutions.

In India, there is little awareness about the armed forces: their systems, procedures, traditions and the issues and concerns that affect their functioning. During a war, the armed forces are glorified, greatly respected, even treated with awe. But after the war, they feel forgotten and neglected by the political class and society. Since the ruling elite in the country consisting of politicians, bureaucrats and industrialists have stopped sending their kith and kin to the armed forces, the distance between the civil society including the aforementioned three categories and the armed forces has increased progressively.

Morris Janowitz, in his book The Professional Soldier: A Soldier and Political Portrait, has emphasised that 'civilian leadership includes not only the political direction of the military but the prevention of the growth of frustration in the profession, of felt injustice, and inflexibility under the weight of its responsibilities.' If we wish to maintain good civil military relations to optimise national security, our political leaders must realise this important responsibility and ensure that (a) there is no feeling of frustration or injustice in the military profession, and (b) that the armed forces are not politicised.

The writer is former Chief of the Army Staff, and is associated with Observer Research Institute, New Delhi

Shame on India for Ignoring its war heroes

Thursday, May 14, 2009 18:18 IST

In 1971, India won a comprehensive victory against Pakistan. It as in this war that the Indian Navy vanquished the Pakistani Navy, bombing Karachi and preventing the retreating Pakistani troops from escaping by sea in Bangladesh, even as the Indian Army smashed the Pakistani forces while the Indian Air Force controlled the skies in just a couple of days. This victory has meant no major war ever since and a Navy to reckon with.

The man who led the navy in 1971 was Admiral SM Nanda, who expired on May 11.

Now, if anyone wants to know why India has been one of the most invaded countries, why its greatest battles in history ended in defeats (from Alexander defeating Porus to Panipat to Plassey) we could start by seeing how we treat our war heroes.

Nanda was cremated with mere naval honours. President Patil, the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Defence Minister A K Antony, did not attend. Shamefully, the army and air force chiefs did not turn up.

Many might believe that the reason for the aversion to Nanda is because he tarnished his name after retiring from the navy. His son Suresh, a former naval officer, is embroiled in an arms case and is perceived as a corrupt arms dealer. It is widely believed that the admiral used his influence to help his son win contracts, making the family amazingly rich. A visit to the Nanda's opulent bungalow in New Delhi made it clear that this wasn't the house of retired pensioners but that of very, very rich family.His grandson Sanjeev mowed down six persons while drunk and driving a BMW. The Nandas then shamefully worked overtime to evade justice. Mercifully, Sanjeev was jailed and will hopefully serve his term (though it is possible that the family's wealth and connections might see him come out early; he was given three weeks parole to attend his grand-father's funeral. Why does he need three weeks?)

A killer grandson, a corrupt arms dealer son, and an indulgent Admiral Nanda have no doubt contributed to destroying the family's name and reputation, particularly the admiral's.But while we may not admire Nanda the arms dealer, should we ignore Nanda the admiral because of his son and grandson?

By that logic, Indira Gandhi shouldn't be honoured because while India hails her many achievements, including breaking up Pakistan in 1971, she also imposed Emergency and allowed her son, Sanjay Gandhi, to commit far too many crimes to enumerate here. Yet, we honour Indira and remember her achievements while ignoring her failures. Should not the same rule apply to Admiral Nanda?

It would be easy to believe that Nanda was ignored because of his post-retirement misdeeds except that there is a pattern in ignoring our military heroes. Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw died less than a year ago in Wellington, Tamil Nadu. Neither the president, prime minister, nor the defence minister turned up for the funeral and there was no election taking place then. Worse, even the three chiefs of staff did not show up (to be fair, the army chief was out of the country). There are no words to describe this most dishonourable behaviour.

In no other country that values its independence and its war heroes would such behaviour have been tolerated. Flags would have been at half-mast and national mourning would be the order of the day. After all, we do that for every two-bit politician whose contribution is less than a footnote in history.

Tragically, we remember our armed forces only during a war or a national crisis; at other times, the politicians and the media ignore them, while selfish bureaucrats plot to reduce their salaries and protocol rank. After seeing how we have treated our greatest war heroes, we need to face a fact: we deserve to lose the next war. But our armed forces are far too honourable: they won't let that happen despite the disrespect meted out to them with alarming regularity.

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