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Friday, 4 September 2009

From Today's Papers - 04 Sep 09

Indian Express

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Times of India

MoD orders release of arrears to pensioners
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 3
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has ordered that the armed forces pensioners be paid the balance of arrears arising out of the implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission immediately.

A circular issued by the Principal Controller of Defence Accounts (Pensions) to the Reserve Bank of India, public and private sector banks and pension-disbursing officers on Tuesday states that the ministry has authorised those concerned to disburse the payment thereof immediately, but not later than September 30.

When the pay commission recommendations were implemented in August last year, the government had directed that 40 per cent of the arrears, along with the total tax due, would be paid in financial year 2008-09 and the balance in 2009-10. On August 25, the Finance Ministry issued orders that the balance 60 per cent be also released.

Consequently, the Department of Ex-servicemen’s Welfare in the MoD had, on August 28, written to the three service headquarters that all pension-disbursing authorities have been requested to release the 60 per cent of arrears to pensioners latest by September 30.

High court lawyer Maj Navdeep Singh, who deals with service and pension matters, said consequent upon the orders, not only the pay and pension arrears but also the arrears related to military casualty pensionary awards such as disability pension, war injury pension, special family pension and liberalised family pension would be released by the respective pension disbursing authorities.

Why worry about Pakistan?

Chitranjan Sawant

Thu, Sep 03, 2009 12:20:03 IST

THE NEWS digest of atomic development has noted that Pakistan is increasing its nuclear arsenal. The scientists stop short of expressing their opinion on its repercussions in the Indian sub-continent and eventually in the world. In any case, they are scientists and not defence strategists.

General Deepak Kapoor, chief of the army staff, India, who is presently in Pune, was asked by the ever vigilant pressmen about this nuclear development across the Indian borders. In the exchange of views with the army chief, it came out that Pakistan had 60 nuclear warheads till recently. All of a sudden, the count of their nuclear arsenal has gone up beyond 70 and may be touching the figure 90.

When asked to comment on this disturbing development in a hostile country, the Indian army chief said that the number is certainly beyond nuclear deterrence. A nuclear power certainly maintains the nuclear arsenal at a level that the potential enemy nation is deterred from launching an attack at will. However, when an unstable country like Pakistan amasses 90 or so nuclear warheads, it certainly becomes a cause for concern among the peaceful neighbours.

The Indian army chief expressed that concern in polite diplomatic language. At his rank and service he could not have gone beyond that. Moreover, it is for the Government of India to give a strong reaction that would be interpreted in political and diplomatic circles as per its wordings.

Be that as it may, why should we all the time cry wolf in India, if the hostile neighbour does sabre rattling. The correct course of action will be to do sabre rattling in Delhi on a louder pitch that would be heard loud and clear not only in Islamabad but also in Peshawar, Quetta and Karachi. Unless a rogue state is punished, its activities of a hostile nature would keep on multiplying.

A case in sight is the attempt by Pakistan to destabilise the Indian economy by pumping fake currency notes into India. This can by no chance called a friendly act on the part of Pakistan. Having said that, I would like to emphasise that it is the right of an independent and sovereign nation to build its defence capabilities to the extent that its economy can sustain. So, if Pakistan has a sizeable nuclear arsenal, there is no need for India to panic. The correct response to the potential threat from an enemy country lies in building a better and stronger nuclear arsenal in India.

Pak army banks on US
India watches with cautious optimism
by Air Marshal R.S. Bedi (retd)

Pakistan’s current war against the Taliban represents the first real war between the Islamic extremists and the army. The army had to employ all sorts of heavy weapons that are normally not used against the insurgents or the terrorists. However, it managed notable successes against the Taliban in Swat and elsewhere in months.

The army even pulled out troops from the eastern border with India for action along the western border with Afghanistan, some thing the army would never have done normally. The army’s outlook changed largely after May 2009.

Whatever the reason for this change, the American pressure on account of their own Afghan-Pak policy compulsions or their economic aid so urgently needed or Pakistan’s own internal threat perception that it was time for action and curtail likes of Baitullah Mehsud and his hordes who were gradually marching ahead with impunity.

Obviously, Pakistan and the army are entirely dependent on American largesse. Apparently, the army is no longer as powerful and dominant as hitherto. These developments are a welcome step from both India and Pakistan’s point of view.

Pakistan Supreme Court’s judgement on July 14 declaring November 2007 emergency imposed by Musharraf unconstitutional has also far-reaching consequences for Pak society. Even the lower judiciary has displayed rare courage by ordering registration of an FIR against the General for illegally detaining 60 judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts after promulgating emergency. These measures have emboldened the democratic forces in Pakistan which may change its future course besides deterring any General in the future from imposing dictatorial rule as in the past.

Though the Supreme Court judgement makes it easier to try Musharraf for high treason in Pakistan Assembly, the army may not be happy with the government taking such an extreme action against its former Chief. The fact that General Kyani has met Prime Minister Gilani a couple of times suggests army’s concern about it. Besides, some Generals including General Kyani himself were Musharraf’s “consultants” and hence a party in imposing the emergency in 2007.

Prime Minister Gilani took a cautious line that Musharraf could be tried for treason only if the National Assembly adopted a unanimous resolution which he knew wouldn’t be possible. Besides, President Zardari is also one of the beneficiaries of Musharraf’s clemency. The fact that such unprecedented measures are being considered publicly by the government against a former army Chief for usurping power is a positive indicator of gradual changes taking place in Pakistan society. The Army exercising authority without legitimacy is not being taken kindly any more.

Again, by presenting a list of 25 banned terrorists’ outfits to the National Assembly, the government seems to be telling the nation that it is fully conscious of its responsibility of tackling terrorism that has begun to hurt the very roots of Pakistan society. Hard to believe but the banned outfits include the likes of Jamaa-ud-Dawa (JUD), Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, amongst others. These were the groups that were involved in a variety of destructive activities including suicide bombings etc, often with the covert support of security agencies.

That’s how the Jud founder Hafiz Saeed was let off despite sufficient proof of his involvement in Mumbai rampage on 26/11. Unfortunately, the army still considers some of them as its useful “strategic assets.” Only time will tell whether Pakistan has really realised the dangers it faces to its own existence as a state from their home grown terrorists of varying hues.

Interestingly, President Asif Ali Zardari’s uninhibited address to former civil servants at the presidency on July 7 about the extremist shows how the thinking in Pakistan is changing as regards Indo-Pak relations. However, the President was careful in not stating that the security agencies under the military rulers created and nurtured these extremist organisations for meeting the requirements of internal and external agenda. In fact, these outfits were dubbed as “assets” in furtherance of strategic objectives in Kashmir and Afghanistan.

Apparently, this realisation has come about only after the extremists attacked the Continental hotel in Peshawar on June 9, the Federal Investigation Agency headquarters in Lahore on May 27, the police academy in Lahore on March 30 and the bus carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore on March 3, 2009.

This is the first-ever admission by the Pakistan President days after he said that the army would even target militants it had backed in the past for use against India as a proxy force. There has to be some understanding amongst the “top three”. Otherwise, such statements cannot not be aired in public so blatantly. Moreover, unlike in the past, President Zardari’s utterance have neither been denied nor retracted. The Army’s acquiescence in all these cases only suggests that it now stands weakened.

President Asif Ali Zardari also told his audience while speaking on the occasion of 62nd Independence Day, “From today, political activities will be started and will be allowed in FATA.” He further said” In the long run, we must defeat the militant mindset to defend our country, our democracy, our institutions and our way of life.” This can be seen as Pakistan’s attempt to draw the lawless region closer in main stream politics in order to overcome the problem of terrorism within the country. This also fits in well with the US strategy to defeat the Taliban and the Al-qaeda insurgents in Pakistan and Afghanistan

Over a period, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan had become a strong hold for hundreds of extremists who escaped from adjoining regions of Afghanistan into FATA after the Americans toppled the Taliban regime towards the end of 2001. These comprise seven “agencies” and six “frontier regions” and are governed through political agents who are appointed by the President. Political activities are banned in FATA and no foreigners are allowed there without the government’s permission.

By all accounts, while the Pakistan army and its ISI are seriously engaging the terrorists of varying hues operating along the western borders, they continue to provide shelter and succour to those operating across the eastern border. These extremists are considered “national assets” to be employed for destructive activities against India. As long as the Pakistan army remains paranoid of India, it is unlikely to shed its dual approach and Pakistan will remain embroiled in chaos. Terrorism ultimately strikes at its own mentor; a lesson the army refuses to learn despite the chaos created by multifarious terrorist organisations operating within Pakistan and having varying aims and objectives; some of them even challenging the state as well as the society. The army, despite its diminishing dominance, continues to assert itself.

Thus, the Pakistan government’s quest for restarting the dialogue with India in pursuance of trade and economic benefits urgently required for the country’s long-term interests will come to naught only. India at best can view these developments in Pakistan with cautious optimism.

The writer is a former Director-General, Defence Planning Staff

Underestimating India

Inder Malhotra Posted online: Friday , Sep 04, 2009 at 0420 hrs

The origins of many a war in history remain disputed to this day. The 1965 War between India and Pakistan, however, has the unique distinction of there being utter confusion over the date on which it began. For Pakistan this happened only on September 6 of that year, when the Indian army started its march on Lahore. Remarkably, this date is still observed as the “Defence of Pakistan Day” every year. For many Indians the war started on September 1 and lasted 22 days. For, at the beginning of September a taskforce of Pakistani tanks had attacked the Chhamb-Jaurian sector in a bid to make a dash for Akhnoor, the fulcrum of the supply line from the rest of India to Jammu and Kashmir. The assault was thwarted by this country’s use of air power.

It is a different matter that all the resolutions of the UN Security Council demanded of both countries to withdraw their troops to the “positions they had occupied on August 5”. Most significantly, exactly this was the basis of the Tashkent Declaration that Lal Bahadur Sashtri and Field-Marshal Ayub Khan signed in the Central Asian city under the Soviet auspices on January 10, 1966. The prime significance of August 5 is that on that day were detected massive infiltrations of Pakistani troops in Mufti and other irregulars into Kashmir. As in 1947, so 18 years later this was Pakistan’s first step towards wresting Kashmir from this country.

The infiltrations, code-named Operation Gibraltar, were the brainchild of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, then foreign minister, assisted by the veteran and hawkish foreign secretary, Aziz Ahmed, Defence Secretary Nazir Ahmed and Major-General Ahktar Hussain Malik, General Officer Commanding of Pakistan’s 12 Division. The general drew up the operational plan. Ayub Khan, a cautious man, was most reluctant to risk a war with India. But Bhutto and his cohorts talked him into it. If Pakistan wanted to wrest Kashmir by armed force, Bhutto argued, 1965 was the “last chance”. The opportunity would vanish once the expansion and reorganisation of the Indian Army was complete in a few years’ time. At the opportune time, said Bhutto, India was badly shaken by its “humiliating” defeat in the 1962 War with China, Nehru’s death, his successor Shastri’s “ineffectualness”, acute food shortage and a virulent anti-Hindi agitation in the South. “It was now or never”. Bhutto’s logic did appear persuasive. But both he and Ayub failed to realize that its two fundamental assumptions — that the arrival of “raiders” would start a revolt in the “discontented” Kashmir valley, and that because of “fear of China”, India “would not dare” extend the fighting in Jammu and Kashmir into a “general war” — could be dangerously wrong.

Ironically, after the Bhutto cabal had succeeded in convincing him, Ayub suddenly put his finger on Akhnoor on the sand model during a briefing, and said: “Why don’t you go for the jugular and cut Kashmir off from India”? He sanctioned more men and money for this assault that was code-named Operation Grand Slam. He also declared: “Hindu morale would not stand more than a couple of hard blows at the right time and place. Such opportunities should, therefore, be sought and exploited”. The crowning irony is that — in the words of his information secretary, confidant, biographer and indeed alter ego, Altaf Gauhar — while Ayub uttered these words he “did not know that Gibraltar had failed”. By then Indian troops and paramilitary forces had not only driven the infiltrators out but also seized Pakistani strategic heights, most famously the Haji Pir Pass.

In order to cover up this stark failure, those who had kept the Field-Marshal in the dark immediately launched Grand Slam though it was meant to begin only after the infiltrators had succeeded in “setting the Kashmir valley on fire”. By this time, Major-General Akhtar Malik had become thoroughly discredited among his peers. The Army Chief, General Musa, relieved him of the command of Grand Slam and appointed swash-buckling Major-General (later general and army chief and later still president) Yahya Khan in his place.

Grand Slam was still stuck when at first light on September 6,Shastri did what he had publicly told Pakistan he would do. He sent the Indian Army into Pakistan’s heartland in Punjab in the direction of the prized city of Lahore. In a memorable phrase, Altaf Gauhar says in his biography of Ayub Khan that when “India attacked Pakistan the most surprised person was Ayub Khan”. He adds: “Ayub’s surprise was shared by the Commander-in-Chief of the Pakistan Army (Gen. Musa) — Ayub was now facing the moment of truth”.

In the fog of war, as fortunes changed, both sides made mistakes. Pakistan had occupied the Indian village of Khem Karan just across the border on September 8. From there it launched its counter-offensive with its second armoured division in the vanguard. Strangely, the Indian side was unaware of the existence of this formation. Probably in a moment of panic the chief of the army staff, General J. N. Chaudhury, ordered the Western Army Commander, Lt.-General Harbaksh Singh, to withdraw to the east of the Beas river. To his credit, Harbaksh refused. Meanwhile Pakistanis were overconfident of cutting through Indian defences because they felt that their state-of-the-art Patton tanks would get the better of India’s outdated Shermans and Centurians. Precisely the opposite happened. After an epic battle, Asal Uttar, not far from Khem Karan, became the “graveyard of US-supplied Pakistani Pattons”.

Let Gauhar tell the rest of the story of “September 11, a fateful day”. Ayub had taken his acolyte into his office and showed him “on a map how the counter-offensive personally ordered by him was progressing and was extremely optimistic about its outcome”. At that precise moment, Ayub’s Military Secretary, General Rafi, “walked into the room in a state of great agitation and almost shouted that the Indians had breached the Madhupur canal — The Khem Karan counter-offensive had run aground, and with that had collapsed Pakistan’s entire strategy. For Pakistan the war was over”.

Yet it took 12 more days before the UN-sponsored cease-fire came into effect. Why and how will have to be narrated later.

The writer is a Delhi-based political commentator.

Pakistan’s policy is to maintain credible deterrence at the “minimum possible level”

U.S. fears about A.Q. Khan “baseless”

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday picked up the cry about a suspected Indian plan to conduct another nuclear test, and said it hoped that a moratorium on nuclear testing in the region since 1998 would continue to be observed.

“We are obviously disturbed by the reports that India might be considering to conduct an additional nuclear test,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit.

He was referring to reports that the recent claim by the former defence scientist, K. Santhanam, of the failure of the 1998 thermonuclear device test, was in fact a ruse by the Indian nuclear establishment to pave the way for conducting another nuclear test.

The spokesman said Pakistan had proposed a regional restraint regime, which included a regional nuclear test ban treaty.

“Those proposals are still on the table. Meanwhile, we hope that the unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing effective since 1998 in the region will continue to be observed,” Mr. Basit said.

Nuclear arsenal

Responding to remarks by the Indian Army Chief, General Deepak Kapoor, expressing concern over reports of Pakistan’s expanding nuclear arsenal, the spokesman said it was Islamabad’s policy to maintain a credible deterrence at the “minimum possible level.” Pakistan was against an arms race in South Asia, which was why, he said, it had proposed the restraint regime, including a ban on further testing.

He also dismissed as “baseless” fears expressed by the U.S. of the continued proliferation risk posed by A.Q. Khan, the scientist revered by Pakistan as the “father” of its nuclear bomb but internationally disgraced for selling the country’s nuclear secrets abroad.

Dr. Khan is fighting a court battle to have security restrictions against him removed. After a Lahore High Court judge ordered the removal of the restrictions last week, a two-judge Bench of the same court slapped them back again on Wednesday following an appeal by the federal government. The next hearing on the appeal is posted for September 15.

“Our export controls are as comprehensive and effective as any NPT or nuclear weapons state and I can assure that the government of Pakistan is cognisant of its responsibilities in this regard,” the spokesman said.

Islamabad voices concern over new Indian nuke tests

By Our Diplomatic Correspondent

ISLAMABAD—Pakistan has expressed its concern on reports that India is again preparing for a new nuclear tests. In his weekly news briefing, Foreign Office Spokesman Abdul Basit said there are reports that India has a new nuclear test in the works, adding these reports are rather embarrassing to Pakistan.

Commenting on the statement of Indian Army Chief regarding Pakistan’s nuclear programme, he said Pakistan has proposed India to enter into arms restraint regime and our proposal is still on the table that is waiting reply from other side since long. He said the statement of the Indian army chief is also a matter of concern for Pakistan because it indicates that India might be considering additional nuclear tests. “Pakistan is however steadfast on its policy of maintaining minimum defence deterrence and does not want arms race in the region”.

Responding a query regarding Mumbai investigations, the spokesman said Pakistan is serious to take those responsible to the book; while, the dossier recently delivered to Pakistan by India is same as the previous one.

Basit Khan said Pakistan believes that composite dialogue is the only way forward to resolve all outstanding issues. He said that this dialogue will not only benefit Pakistan but both the countries will benefit from that.

Army to tie up with IGNOU for giving soldiers a better life after retirement

Published on : Thursday 03 Sep 2009 16:14 - by ANI

By Praful Kumar Singh

New Delhi, Sep 3 - ANI: To empower soldiers educationally and to provide them with an opportunity of a second career option after retirement, the Indian Army has come out with a plan according to which soldiers who join service after school can study for a degree in market driven courses.

The Indian Army will tie up with the Indira Gandhi National Open University to set up community colleges on the pattern of the US system of community colleges in its cantonments and other defence establishments to impart education in market-driven courses and soft skill programmes.

The Army will sign an MoU with IGNOU on September 4 to give academic diploma or associate degree and graduation degree to soldiers, which is seen as a step towards empowering the soldier to live a life with dignity and confidence after retirement.

The project named Gyan Deep will benefit many of the 1.2 million soldiers of the Army. Nearly 50,000 trained soldiers retire every year from the army after an average of 15 years of service.

The jawans will be given BA, BBA, BSc and BCom degrees depending on their area of work, a senior officer said.

For soldiers who join after Class 10, the army will be organising bridge courses to bring them at par with those who have completed Class 12.

The Army-IGNOU Community colleges will function as autonomous bodies conducting examinations and their courses are hitherto fore. – ANI,army-tie-ignou-giving-soldiers-life-retirement.html

Army headquarters unit in Afghanistan ordered to stay 50 days beyond yearlong tour

Lara Jakes

September 3rd, 2009

Pentagon extends Army unit in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON — The Army has ordered a headquarters unit in Afghanistan to remain up to 50 days past its yearlong tour in what officials say could be the start of longer postings in the war.

Army officials on Thursday said the troops extensions will ensure continuity in Afghanistan.

As many as 200 senior soldiers and officers in the 82nd Airborne Division could stay up to 50 days longer in Kabul. The division is based out of Fort Bragg, N.C.

Additionally, soldiers with the 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade from Fort Stewart, Ga., may stay two more weeks in Afghanistan before returning home.

The extensions will give soldiers with the 101st Airborne Division Headquarters a full year at home before heading back to Afghanistan next spring. The 101st is based out of Fort Campbell, Ky.

In a statement Thursday evening, Lt. Gen. J.D. Thurman, the Army’s deputy chief of staff for operations, said the changes will “develop greater campaign continuity in regard to maximizing experience and stability” in the war in Afghanistan.

The move marks what one Army official called one of the first times a unit has been extended in Afghanistan since Defense Secretary Robert Gates last year cut the length of time that troops are in war zones from 15 to 12 months.

Asked if troops on front lines may soon face similar extensions, an Army official would not rule that out. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because that decision has not yet been made.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman did not immediately know the last time a unit had been ordered to extend its time in a war zone, but said it has happened at least once since Gates’ policy change last year.

Whitman called the extensions a necessary part of counterinsurgency operations.

“This allows people to go back to an area where they know the terrain, they know the enemy, they know the population — all things that are very important when you’re involved in a counterinsurgency fight,” Whitman said.

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