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Monday, 15 March 2010

From Today's Papers - 15 Mar 2010

Dialogue with Pakistan
There is no need for hurry
by Chinmaya R. Gharekhan
Simply because some people repeatedly and with apparent conviction state that the Foreign Secretary-level talks were resumed by India under American pressure does not make it a fact. India had taken the initiative for the talks firstly because the Prime Minister is genuinely committed to going more than the proverbial extra mile to give Pakistan an opportunity to be satisfied about our desire for friendly relations, and, secondly, because the refusal to talk was being counter-productive in diplomatic terms.
The talks, no doubt, served an important diplomatic purpose. Our side went into the talks without any illusion on expectations of a breakthrough on issues of concern to us. It would be safe to assume that the Pakistan side had a similar assessment of the prospects of success or otherwise from their perspective. Thus, neither side was really disappointed with the way the talks went.
In the ultimate analysis, it came down to public relations part of it, with each side giving its own interpretation of what had transpired. The Indian Foreign Secretary was restrained in her Press briefing. For once, Pakistan made a hash of it this time. The Indian media, which usually fawns over every Pakistani visitor, was not willing to buy the Pakistani line as touted by the Pakistan Foreign Secretary. The fact that he met the Kashmiri separatist leaders also evoked negative reaction in India, though why our government allowed them to meet Mr Bashir is another matter.
Having demonstrated its goodwill and fulfilled its diplomatic duty, the government should not be in a hurry to repeat the exercise. Media reports indicate that the meeting was suggested by us and agreed to reluctantly, and as a gesture of goodwill on Pakistan's part. The Indian public would feel humiliated if we were to desire or agree to another round of talks in view of the shrill rhetoric in Pakistan during the past few days on water and the co-opting by the regime of Hafiz Saeed in his hate campaign, going to the extent of calling for a war against India. The artificial deadline of the SAARC meeting in early April should not be allowed to influence the decision.
Following the London conference of Afghanistan and Pakistan's totally understandable sense of triumphalism, we should expect even more strident rhetoric from Pakistan as witnessed by their Interior Minister invoking Balochistan. We should be grateful to Mr Karzai for being so candid during his visit to his "brothers" in Pakistan, and for making clear where India stands in his calculations. He has also helpfully revealed that he holds India equally responsible for using Afghan territory for waging proxy war against Pakistan.
Of course, "statesman-like" analysts and others would say that we must not overreact to what Mr Karzai has said, etc. That would be in line with our refusal to face realities and continuing with our illusions. The London conference and its aftermath should remove the cobwebs in our thinking, since it is now established that Pakistan is the "indispensable" player in Afghanistan.
India's problem is that while we do know who wields effective power in Pakistan, we cannot get to them. Engaging the civilian leaders might be unavoidable for the sake of form and protocol, but even they know that it is not going to be of any help in solving anything. The US Secretary of State, the British Foreign Secretary and others spend hours in meetings with General Kayani. But there simply is no tradition of our leaders discussing serious issues with Pakistan's military, except, of course, when they come into the open and assume the office of President. Equally, there is no precedent of our military meeting their Pakistani counterparts except, perhaps, socially over a glass of scotch, the preferred drink of the military in the subcontinent. This dilemma causes absence of any real or effective dialogue between the two countries.
The other aspect of the problem is: what should we talk about? The answer is obvious. We shall talk of what is of utmost concern to us today, namely terrorism, and they will talk about Kashmir. We must not let them bring in water except in the context of the Indus water mechanisms. The tendency to be defensive about any reference to Kashmir is difficult to understand. Our sensitivity to the mere mention of the "K" word by anyone has reached a point where all it takes for a foreign visitor to earn our gratitude is to avoid mentioning it! General Musharraf became a hero in India when he said that he will not invoke the UN resolutions on Kashmir.
We need to bring some maturity in our approach to the Kashmir question insofar as its being mentioned by either Pakistani or other foreign personalities is concerned. It is strange that the aggressor should put the aggressed on the back foot! By displaying the knee-jerk reaction every time Pakistan mentions Kashmir, we are only encouraging them to do so, since nothing would please their ego more than showing us in a negative light.
Negotiating with General Musharraf on Kashmir made some sense since he was both the de facto and de jure boss of Pakistan. If media reports are to be believed, an 80 per cent agreement had been reached until General Musharraf ran into problems with his judiciary. However, one should be a bit cautious about this channel. It is clear that if at all any deal is reached in these back-channel negotiations, it will certainly mean a net gain for Pakistan. Even if the mechanisms being talked about were only consultative, they will, legally, confer on Pakistan a right — a right they have longed to acquire for long — to have a say in the affairs of the valley. It will be an open invitation to the ISI to spread its net far and wide not only in Kashmir but also in the rest of India.
It is difficult to assess if Pakistan's military will have any reservation about engaging in discussions with Indian civilian leaders, but our leaders certainly will. What then is the wayout, if any? Can we think of the unthinkable and start a new "back channel" with the Pakistan military? Will even that lead to any useful outcome, given the Pakistan military's paranoia about India? The situation does not lend itself to answer, let alone easy ones.

Russia to make 1,000 stealth jets, eyes India deal
Reuters / New Delhi March 14, 2010, 12:14 IST

Russia will build more than 1,000 stealth fighter jets within four decades, including at least 200 for its traditional weapons buyer India, the head of plane maker Sukhoi has said.

Sukhoi test-flew its long-delayed fifth-generation fighter at the end of January, and Moscow said it would be able to compete with its U.S. F-22 Raptor rival built more than a decade ago.

Sukhoi said last week it hoped the fighter, codenamed T-50, would be ready for use in 2015.

"If you talk about warplanes of this type, there is definitely a market for it if we produce more than 1,000 jets," Sukhoi director Mikhail Pogosyan told reporters on the sidelines of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's visit to India.

"We have all grounds to believe that there will not be tough competition on the world market," he said.

He said Russia would produce more than 1,000 of the planes within 35 to 40 years.

After the test flight, Putin said Russia had plenty of work to do on the plane.

Analysts say Russia's plans for a joint venture with India to produce the stealth fighters will likely be watched with unease by India's uneasy neighbour Pakistan and regional rival China.

Pogosyan said an agreement on joint output of the jet with India was still in the works and did not say when a deal might be signed.

"I believe that more than 200 planes will be delivered (to India)," Pogosyan said.

"I think (Russia's) defence ministry will buy no less than this amount," he said. About 600 of the planes would be sold elsewhere, he said.

Analysts say several nations, including Libya and Vietnam, have already expressed interest in the fifth-generation fighter.

"Apart from America, the only other fifth-generation project is Russia's, while the Europeans have given up such plans," Pogosyan said.

"Probably the Chinese will try and promote such a product, but I think they face an immense amount of work to make their product competitive," he said.

India open to new round of talks with Pakistan
BORDER TALKS: A Pakistani Ranger stands near the Pakistani flag and Indian flag (L) at Wagah border.

New Delhi: India signalled on Friday it was open to a new round of talks with Pakistan, raising fresh hopes of a thaw in relations after last month's official dialogue between the nuclear-armed rivals produced no breakthrough.

The two nations' top diplomats -- their foreign secretaries -- met in New Delhi for their first official talks since the 2008 Mumbai attacks, but just agreed to "keep in touch" without mentioning if there would be another round of talks.

What followed the meeting was a bout of acrimonious exchanges between the two sides over what the focus of the dialogue was -- India on terrorism, Pakistan on the disputed region of Kashmir -- worsening the atmosphere for any future talks.

"We tried to make a beginning with the foreign secretary talks, but nothing came out of it am afraid," India's Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram told a conference in New Delhi.

"But I am told we are still open to another round of talks between the foreign secretaries." An easing of tension between the neighbours is important for stability in Afghanistan, where India and Pakistan have long battled for influence, complicating efforts by the United States to defeat Islamist militancy in the region.

India broke off a four-year-long sluggish peace initiative with Pakistan after the Mumbai attacks, saying dialogue could resume only if Islamabad acted against militants on its soil.

It blamed the attacks, which killed 166 people, on Pakistan-based militants. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, 77, seen as searching for a legacy in his last political years, has pushed talks.

Such a move is politically difficult given strong public opinion against a country India has fought three wars with.

Many say India could also be backing talks now because of a nudge from Washington and dwindling diplomatic options. What will limit the government's ability to push talks are a repeat of attacks like last month's bombing in Pune, which killed 16 people and sparked a sense of foreboding that it could herald more attacks. Police have not identified any group behind the attack, but Indian analysts suspect home-grown Islamist militants could have been responsible.

Chidambaram's comments were echoed by Pakistan's High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik. "Yes, we have suggested a roadmap for future interaction and we hope India will respond to that," he told the conference.

Test fire of interceptor missile postponed
March 14, 2010 21:34 IST

After being put off on Sunday, the test-fire of India's [ Images ] indigenously built Advanced Air Defence (ADD) interceptor missile, capable of destroying hostile in-coming ballistic missiles, is likely to be held at Integrated Test Range Island off the Orissa coast on Monday.

The trial, scheduled for the day at the Wheeler Island was postponed due to some technical snag in the sub-system, official sources said. After sorting out the problem and thorough examination of all systems, it was decided to make the test tomorrow as part of efforts to develop a full fledged multi-layer Ballistic Missile Defence System, defence sources said.

As planned earlier, the test-fire is proposed to be carried out from two different launch sites of ITR, they said. The target missile, a modified indigenously built Prithvi would first lift off from a mobile launcher from the ITR's launch complex at Chandipur-on-sea, 15 km from Balasore.

Minutes later the interceptor missile would blast off from the Wheeler's Island, about 70 km across the sea from Chandipur, to intercept it at an altitude of 15 to 20 km in mid-air over the waters. The new hypersonic interceptor missile is only called 'AAD' and is meant to be used in 'endo-atmospheric conditions'.

A welcome return of defence diplomacy
Daniel Korski 4:43pm

Shadow Defence Secretary Liam Fox has given an interview to the Sunday Express, where he talks about overcoming a sense of "colonial guilt" bestowed by revisionist historians and the need for a new government to forge defence links with commonwealth nations, such as Australia and New Zealand, but he also cited India and Saudi Arabia. They have a "strong appetite" for closer defence links with the UK, he argues.

Looking at variable defence relationships with countries like India, and non-NATO partners like Australia makes good sense. Nicolas Sarkozy has done the same – and even invited Indian troops to march down the Champs-Élysées last year on Bastille Day. A parade down the Mall with Indonesian, Indian, Pakistani, Brazilian, Chilean troops would be a powerful – and colourful – show of "Fox Doctrine".

But this policy is not without problems, even when it comes to close allies. Having worked with the Australian Army in Basra, I have the utmost respect for their commitment, and effort. But NATO-Australian defence links are not always as smooth as one might hope for. NATO commanders have recently expressed frustration over the restrictions imposed on the deployment of Australian troops in Uruzgan. At the same time, as more and more non-NATO governments join NATO missions, they naturally seek more involvement in decision-making, making NATO's committee-based process even more cumbersome. If every representative of every troop-contributing country speaks, it will take more than seven hours to finish.

Defence relations are about a lot more than operational cooperation. Liam Fox is on to something by eluding to the diminution of defence diplomacy over recent years. Where once the Ministry of Defence had independent funds in order to advance defence ties, these were taken away and pooled together with money from other departments. Recent changes have given some funds back to the MoD, but looking at ways in which Britain can enhance its security diplomacy -– and the MoD's role within this – is very welcome.

As part of this, a new Tory government should help NATO re-think its links with other countries. NATO has relationships with countries from Central Asia to the Middle East, but many of these are now outdated or perfunctory. NATO will need the help of the British government, an early champion of 'Partnership for Peace', which brought the Warsaw Pact into the Alliance, to rethink its "bilateral" links.  

One way to advance these links might be for Liam Fox to appoint a senior diplomatic adviser, perhaps a former senior Foreign Office mandarin like Charles Crawford, who can help rebuild the MoD's role in advance Britain's diplomatic clout.

Ex-servicemen hold protest, demand equal pension

A delegation of retired defence personnel Sunday marched to Rashtrapati Bhavan to return over 5,000 gallantry and meritorious service medals and submitted a memorandum signed in their blood, demanding "equal pension for each rank".

The retired personnel, however, did not return the medals as they wanted to give these to President Pratibha Patil in person. The president is the supreme commander of the armed forces.

"These medals are precious to us and we can't give these to anybody. As the president did not accept them personally, we brought back all the medals. We gave a memorandum signed by over 6,000 ex-servicemen with their blood," said Lieutenant-General (retired) Raj Kadyan of the Indian Ex-servicemen's Movement (IEM).

The IEM is demanding that irrespective of the date on which a soldier retires, he or she should get the same pension, which rises every time there is a wage revision.

According to Kadyan, a central government ruling on March 8, 2010, narrowed the pension gap between soldiers retired after and before January 2006 but they wanted the difference to be completely removed.

"We feel so dejected today that we are compelled to return our lifetime honours for our rights. Despite a raw deal being meted to us, we are ready to lend our support in any hostile situation," said Major-General (retired) Balbir Kataria.

Earlier in the day, around 1,000 ex-servicemen from the three defence forces held the protest at Jantar Mantar, the 18th century observatory on the edge of the commercial district of Connauht Place, and collected their gallantry medals.

"We fought for the country without caring for our lives and are now compelled to fight another battle for our rights. We are demanding one rank one pension, and as a protest are returning our honours that we won by putting our lives at stake," Commodore (retired) Lokesh Batra said.

Despite the central government rejecting their demand, the ex-servicemen have decided to continue their struggle.

"We will continue our struggle peacefully and it is a shame for the country that soldiers have to return their gallantry awards and meritorious medals," said another retired soldier who did not want to be identified.

According to IEM office-bearers, a soldier who retired before 1996 gets a monthly pension of Rs.3,670, but one who retired between 1996 and December 2005 gets Rs.4,680. A soldier who retired after January 2006 gets Rs.8,700.

Effectively then, an army havildar, who retired earlier, gets pension money that is less than what a soldier retiring after January 2006 gets, though the havildar enjoys a higher rank. The mismatch applies to all ranks, the ex-soldiers pointed out.

Israel eyeing big defense contracts in India
14/03/2010 05:04

Defense industries hopeful after New Delhi increases defense budget to $32 billion; Rafael and Aeronautics send UAV systems to Chile to assist surveying the quake damage, prevent looting.
Talkbacks (3)

Israeli defense industries are hoping for multi-million dollar contracts in India after New Delhi recently increased its defense budget for the coming year by 4 percent to a whopping $32 billion.

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems is preparing to increase its staff in New Delhi to four full-time employees in place of the single worker currently stationed there. It is also waiting for expected approval from the Israeli and Indian governments to establish a joint venture with India's Bharat Electronic Ltd., which will provide it with a foothold in the country.

Israel is today one of India's top defense suppliers alongside Russia, with sales since the beginning of the 1990s amounting to around $9b. Recent deals include a $1.4b. contract signed last March for the development and procurement of the Barak 8 medium-range surface-to-air missile.

"This is a growing market with tremendous potential now for all Israeli companies," a defense official said last week.

Rafael is currently competing for a number of tenders in India, including a multi-million contract to supply the Indian Army with anti-tank missiles, as well as another contract to supply the army with active protection systems.

Israel Aerospace Industries, which has sold India unmanned aerial vehicles and other platforms over the years, is also hoping to score major contracts in India and is in discussions with the Indian Air Force about the possible sale of another three Phalcon airborne early-warning and control aircraft in addition to the three already under order.

In related news, another Israeli firm, Rafael and Aeronautics, sent several UAV systems to Chile last week to assist security forces there in surveying the damage to the country caused by the recent earthquake. The UAVs will also be used by police to prevent looting.

Last week, the Chilean government announced that despite the earthquake, it was going ahead with plans to hold the FIDAE defense trade show in Santiago. The show will open later this month, and Israel will erect a large pavilion for a number of defense companies. It will display its wares, including Rafael, IAI, Plasan Sasa, Elbit Systems and Rada.

As an act of solidarity with Chile, Rafael has decided to donate close to $50,000 to two charities set up to assist people affected by the quake.

"We are proud to return to Chile after the earthquake," said Rafael Executive Vice President for Marketing Lova Drori.

"Chile is a close friend of Israel, and we will be at FIDAE in full force to show our support."

Indian sabotage of Pakistan continues
March 14th, 2010

On March 13, 2010, two suicidal bombers walked up to Pakistan military vehicles and exploded themselves in densely populated area RA Bazar of Lahore cantt. In these attacks 45 persons included five soldiers killed and more than 120 individuals sustained injures. This is the second attack of on going week. Earlier on March 8, 2010 Pakistani Intelligence Agency's "sub-office" in Model Town Lahore was rocked at the time of a suicide attack and killing 15 people and many injured. It is also added here that since January 2010 twenty suicidal attacks have been launched against soldiers and citizens. In the night at from 0830 – 0930 PM again three bombs exploded near Moon Market, in which many individuals got injured. Out of revealed suicidal attacks, 12 have been carried out against the security forces. President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani and Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani condemned the Lahore blasts of March 12. They expressed condolences with the families of those who lost their lives in the dastardly terrorist act. The President said the government and people are determined to defeat terrorism and such gruesome acts cannot deter the national spirit is ready to defeat terrorists. It is also mentionable here that last year five attacks were launched in Lahore:

    * 15 October 2009: Terrorists attacked Federal investigation Agency
    * 12 June: a prominent anti-Taliban cleric killed by a suicide bomber at his religious school.
    * 27 May: a car bomb attack on police buildings killed 23 persons.
    * 30 March: Gunmen attacked a police academy, killing eight people
    * 3 March 2009: Gunmen killed six police guards in an ambush of the Sri Lankan cricket team.

The conspicuous increase in volatility has been noticed since after 'Mumbai attack". India has started all out proxy war against Pakistan. Her Intelligence agency is using criminal elements of FATA and remote areas of Paksitan for fomenting terrorism. Indian Interior minister P Chidambaram and chief of Army Staff repeatedly threaten Pakistan. In a ceremony held on March 12, 2010 Inidan home minister once again alleged Pakistan for their domestic ongoing violence and militancy. He said that any act of terrorism from Pakistani territory against India will be taken as not be tolerant in future. In fact the purpose of such types of statements political and military leadership is to justify Indian covert and open sabotage activities against Pakistan. The statements have to be analyzed keeping in view of the on going war on terror. New Delhi is using criminal and militants to terrorize the determined Pakistani Security Forces and general masses. Pakistan Ambassador at New Delhi Shahid Malik while answering to journalists rejected Chidambaram stance and said that India is involved in spreading terrorism in Balochistan instead of resolving burning issue of Kashmir and water.

Indian Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor has also clearly shown her desire of striking Pakistan on November 22, 2009 when he warned that a limited war under a nuclear overhang is still very much a reality at least in the Indian sub-continent. On November 23, 2009 Pakistan Foreign Office Spokes man Abdul Basit asked the world community to take notice of remarks passed by the Indian Army Chief. He also said that India has set the stage and trying to impose a limited war on Pakistan.

In this context, earlier Pakistan Army Chief of Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has categorically expressed at number of occasions that Indian attack would be responded in full strength while using all types of resources.

Pakistani investigation agencies have collected the solid proves in the shape of fake Pakistani and American currencies, Indian made armaments, medical equipments and passports. The dossiers composed of evidences regarding Indian involvement in fomenting militancy in Pakistan has been provided to Indian authorities in recently held sectary level negotiations at New Delhi. It is also notable here that the terrorist are also being imparted training in Afghanistan and India for launching and targeting security agencies and important installations. A wave of suicide and bomb attacks across Pakistan has killed more than 3,000 people since 2007.

Hindus extremists are creating problems in Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. India is giving the money and weapons to the terrorists in these countries. India wants to destabilize his neighbours. But she should  not forget the result of the Russia / Soviet Union. If India did not changed its behavior then soon would be disintegrated into in 27 parts. Though secular India claimed that she is the most religious in tolerance but on ground facts are quite difficult. Muslims, Christens and Sikhs even cannot shake hand with extremist Hindus. India is the only country in which there are always riots, killing of minorities, raping Tamils, Maoists and Kashmiries innocent women. Yearly more than 3000 individuals of minorities are being killed by Hindus extremists. Sikh still crying for justice and cannot forget the incident of Golden Temple in 1984. The killings of Muslims after Babri Masjid Shahdat went to its extreme where more than 3000 Muslims killed in Gujrat in 2002.

Indian extremists Hindus even don't spare their own Sikh Prime Minister and use obnoxious language while criticizing him. In one of the comments posted in Indian Express called his Prime minister as "Manhoos Singh Govt'. The commentator also said that Indian government is appeasing all anti national elements. Talks with Pakistan, free entry to kashmiri militants, punishment to Tytler and Sajjan Kumar, everywhere this man (Manmohan Singh) is hurting India. He further stated that Kashmiri Muslims are our enemies. They will never be loyal to India. Crush them with an iron hand. The commentator has written these comments in response to news of killing a sixteen year old Zahid Farooq by a soldier of 68th BSF Battalion in the Kashmir Valley.

Research Analysis Wing (RAW) is known as brain of Indian Hindu Extremists. The radical Hindus are working in the nucleus of RAW. They are famous in elimination of their government and civilian personalities for the completion of their entrusted tasks. It is worth mentioning here that wife of Late Anti – Terrorism Squad Chief Hemant Karkare in an inquiry also alleged Col Prohit for murdering of her husband during Mumbai Drama. Col Prohit was also involved in killing of minorities and blasting of Samjota Express. Islamabad has at number of occasions demanded handing over of the Col to Pakistan for detailed investigations but New Delhi neither took any action against him and nor ready to hand him over to Pakistan. Reportedly, former Indian Intelligence officer Lt Col Prohit would soon be released.

Anyhow, coming back to the topic, I would say that India has chosen a calculated time frame for fomenting militancy in Pakistan i.e. (One) Pakistan Security Forces have met remarkable victory against foreign sponsored militancy; (two) American and NATO forces are no more interested to stay in Afghan region,(three) Indian stay in Afghanistan would be difficult after depart of US led ISAAF forces,(four) President Karzai has carried out successful visit of Islamabad , Pakistan Army Chief has offered the training of Afghan forces and police , (five) Pakistan recently stepped up its drive against the Taliban leadership (six) arresting Taliban second most senior commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, (seven) news about arresting many top figure heads of Al-Qaida, (eight) national unity against militancy, (nine) rising political and economical stability of Pakistan, (ten) to change world attention from Indian domestic violence, (eleven) American are stressing to resolve Kashmir and water Issues with Islamabad.

Thus the success of Pakistan, its security forces and intelligence agencies are not being digested by India and she has started a planned fresh wave of targeting heart of Pakistan (Lahore). New Delhi might be trying to force Pakistan to invest more forces on domestic fronts which would be helpful in case of already planned aggression against Pakistan. If it is true then World community should forces India to stop proxy war against Pakistan otherwise it would be proved another disaster for the global peace. USA and Russia should stop providing arms and transferring of nuclear technology to irresponsible country which is busy in spreading terrorism in the neighbouring countries.

US marines doing the job in their own way in Afghanistan
The Nato surge has brought more Marines in a record breaking time. The Marines have brought in new strategy to drive the Taliban away and it has given some minor headaches to the top NATO commanders.

THE TALL, well built and born fighters called Afghans hate the light skinned, green eyed, armed to teeth westerners. The former are all Muslims by faith and the latter are by and large Christians. generally speaking, they are fighting pitched battles against each other for the control of Afghanistan.

Waiting in the wings is Pakistan for the jackal feed after the lions fight it out. Now some Afghans have joined the ranks of the American-European forces as the Afghan National Army and the Afghan Police. The Nato surge has brought more Marines in a record breaking time. The Marines have brought in new strategy to drive the Taliban away and it has given some minor headaches to the top NATO commanders.


The US Marines have their own rules of deployment for battling the enemy and their top Generals ensure that the said rules be accepted by all concerned as the Gospel Truth. The basic rule is that the US Marines will be deployed as a big body of troops and supported logistically or strategically by the helicopters , gun ships and supply columns of the US Marines only.

This strategy was evolved after lack of such support by the Navy to the Marines in the Second World War. It passed the muster in the Vietnam war and the Iraq war and has been put into practical use in the Helmand province of Afghanistan. Of all places it is the God forsaken remote and semi-populated town of Delaram that the Marines have adopted for proving their point.

The NATO generals guiding the war against the Taliban from Kabul find the Marine theory funny. Why waste time and energy in Delaram when the real battle is to be fought in Kandhar this summer.

Kandhar is the nest of the Taliban chief, Mullah Omar and unless this citadel of terror is demolished, Afghanistan cannot be freed from the Taliban control. The Marines put forward a counter-argument that kandhar is sustained by supplies that pass through Delaram and Delaram also controls the highway used by supporters and sympathisers of Taliban bringing munitions of war and supplies from the borderr region of Pakistan.

So, it is Delaram where the NATO has to establish its supremacy.
WIN THE HEARTS AND MINDS OF AFGHANS -that has been the slogan of the NATO for a long time. Well, it is easier said than done. Nevertheless, the US Marines have had their own way of doing it.

The Marine Generals deployed some hand picked young officers in and around Delaram who understood the strategy of winning over the Afghan people - both men and women to their side.

To achieve this aim the leader of the society , the tribal elder had to be won over. Above all the tribal elders had to be convinced that the foreign troops had no eye for their women as they had their own women back home whom they loved. The young officers and the young Marines went no where near the Afghan women,
Never. To win them over to their side and to wean them away from the Taliban, the women had to be spoken to.

The US Marines deployed the Marine women on combat duty to go over to the Afghan women, ask what their personal and medical problems were and then address them. This showed tremendous results. When the tribal elders saw that their women were being cared for by the foreign Marine women, they melted and it meant that half of the battle was won.
In the Afghan social order, the Mullah who leads the prayers in the mosque is a great influential force. By and large, the Mullahs were hostile to the NATO presence and in their Friday sermons spewed poison against them. The US Marines brought to Helmand one of the two Imams that the US Navy has and asked him to mix and merge with the locals and prove that the American society too has white Muslims. Initially the clean shaven US Navy Imam was laughed at but when he led the congregation at a Friday prayer in one of the local mosques, the Afghans believed what they were seeing. The event was path breaking.

The Marines got credit for bringing the Afghan population back to a deserted small town in the area. They were criticised for wasting time on a deserted ghost town. The Marines said that they have won over the Afghans whom they brought back to their ancestral habitat from where they had been ousted by the Taliban. Moreover, the way to victory in war lies through winning small battles.

Not all are appreciative of what the US Marines have done. The NATO top generals are happy that they have got additional troops in the form of Marines but unhappy that the Marines run their own show in an unorthodox way. Nevertheless, the aim of neutralising the influence of the terrorists called Taliban is reduced, if not eliminated completely.

Success is success and nothing succeeds like success. The US Marines get the credit where it is due.

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