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Wednesday, 23 June 2010

From Today's Papers - 23 Jun 2010

Ceasefire violations could hit ties, India tells Pak
Ashok Tuteja Tribune News Service  New Delhi, June 22 On the eve of her departure for Islamabad, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao today said India has told Pakistan that recent ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops and the increase in infiltration from across the border could have a negative impact on bilateral ties.  “In the last few meetings that we have had (with Pakistan), we have drawn their attention towards the rise in infiltration and ceasefire violations…such incidents provoked for no reason do not contribute to creating a positive atmosphere between India and Pakistan’’ she said at a press conference here.  Her comments came after Pakistani troops violated the seven-year-old ceasefire on the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir twice in the last few days.  The top Indian diplomat said she would once again impress upon Islamabad the pressing need to take ‘credible’ action against the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks when she meets her counterpart Salman Bashir in Islamabad on June 24.  Home Minister P Chidambaram would also take up this issue when he holds bilateral talks with Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Mailk on the margins of the SAARC Interior Ministers’ meeting on June 26.  Nirupama said India had always emphasised that Islamabad must take seriously the evidence provided by India on the involvement of elements in Pakistan in the Mumbai carnage and take substantive action.  India recently gave another dossier, 11th to be precise, to Pakistan containing additional information on those involved in the Mumbai attacks, including Jamaat-Ud-Dawa Chief Hafiz Saeed. It also provided a copy of the court judgment sentencing Ajmal Kasab, the lone captured terrorist in the terror attacks, to death.On the nuclear deal between Pakistan and China under which Beijing will supply two additional nuclear reactors, Nirupama said India was monitoring the debate and developments at the nuclear suppliers’ group (NSG), which is meeting in New Zealand.  The Sino-Pakistan nuclear agreement has attracted world-wide attention since it is in violation of NSG guidelines. The US has opposed the deal while other NSG members are also said to be agitated over it. India has taken up the issue with China, drawing Beijing’s attentions towards Pakistan’s inglorious non-proliferation record though it has not lodged any protest over it.

UN Missions IAF choppers to be withdrawn 
Tribune News Service  New Delhi, June 22 India will scale down its role in UN peacekeeping operations as far as the contribution of the Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters are concerned. A total of 15 IAF choppers are in UN operations in three African countries and these are to be requisitioned back to India in a phased manner to meet the needs here.  The Ministry of External Affairs, working on the request of the Defence Ministry, has started to work with the UN authorities for a “phased withdrawal” of IAF choppers.  Observing that the Defence Ministry had raised the issue of withdrawal of its helicopters from the UN operations with MEA foreign secretary Nirupama Rao said today that the ministry was in touch with India’s permanent mission to the UN in New York and officials of the global body for the “phased withdrawal”.  IAF, had told the Defence Ministry that it was running short on choppers due to increased duties like evacuation and relief efforts in Naxal areas.  The Home Ministry was looking for helicopters for the movement of paramilitary forces during anti-Naxal operations and even was looking to lease choppers like the Mi-17, medium lift, that can drop up to 22 men in one sortie for a targetted operation. About 15 such IAF choppers are deployed in UN operations.

  Indo-Pak talks Looking for small but substantial steps 
Indo-Pak talks, slated in Islamabad later this week, will start off with the huge advantage of not having any baggage of expectations. The distrust between the two countries is already so high that neither side would be expecting a major breakthrough in bilateral relations. Indeed, the deliberations already threaten to follow old patterns when Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram meets his Pakistani counterpart Rehman Malik. Indian concerns over cross-border terrorism, infiltration, ceasefire violation, drug trafficking, fake currency, etc, will predictably be taken up while Pakistan will expectedly question the role of India’s Research & Analysis Wing ( RAW), alleged human rights violations in Kashmir and disputes over the sharing of river waters. Both sides, however, seem to be ‘cautiously optimistic’ about the coming dialogue. The Indian delegation claims to be in an exploratory, and not accusatory, mode on the eve of its departure and Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir is on record as saying that Pakistan is not interested in a ‘cosmetic engagement’ with India. There is no harm, therefore, in keeping one’s fingers crossed.  Indeed, there is a discernible thaw in their relationship after the two Prime Ministers met at Thimphu earlier this year on the sidelines of SAARC. The two sides now seem increasingly keen to talk about trade rather than terror, although sharing of ‘intelligence’ and countering terror will be high on the agenda when both sides meet. Mr Chidambaram is known to be business-like and he can be trusted to convey Indian concerns in as diplomatic a language as possible. With the Indian Foreign Secretary, Ms Nirupama Rao, also slated to hold talks with her counterpart over confidence-building measures and people-to-people contacts, etc, the revival of a joint anti-terror mechanism and more concessions for cross-border trade appear in the realms of possibility.  Even as the two sides grapple over the bottlenecks to peace and stability, time is running out for both. With the US pullout from Afghanistan being merely a matter of time, India and Pakistan both will get singed if they fail to cooperate and work for a stable and peaceful region. Under the circumstances, even token gestures like the grant of the ‘Most Favoured Nation’ status, to India, which merely means there would be no discrimination in trade practices, setting up universities or hospitals and the exchange of students and academics will go a long way to reduce the trust-deficit between the two countries. 

  The neglected infantry
But it has won maximum gallantry awards by Maj-Gen Ashok K. Mehta (retd) 
Although the infantry is called the king and the queen of the battlefield, it is treated as a jack of all trades. Despite being the key combat arm, it is lowest on the priority list of modernisation even as it is involved 24x7 in counter-insurgency operations, stretching from Jammu and Kashmir to the North-East and with an increasing probability of joining the counter-Naxalite drive.  Why has the infantry been neglected when it has bagged 80 per cent of all gallantry awards and taken 75 per cent of casualties? Former Army Chief Gen S. Padmanabhan used to say that the Indian Army was fighting a Kargil every 14 months, meaning 517 infantry soldiers were being lost in that period. Why is this insensitivity to casualties and its lagging behind in modernisation? The truth is that the infantry has been taken for granted while modernisation has focused on tanks, guns and aircraft.  Conceptually, marginalisation of the infantry happened when after the Gulf war, strategic thinking veered round to the belief that wars were winnable from the air. In 1991, the Gulf war lasted 42 days, and 38 of these were fought from the air. In 1995, the Bosnia campaign was 17 days’ long without any land offensive. The Kosovo war in 1999 was fought for 78 days and entirely from the air. But Afghanistan broke the myth of supremacy of air power. Of the 76-day war, 65 of these were air operations, followed by an 11-day land offensive. The 20-day Iraq war, on the other hand, was entirely a land operation without any preparatory air campaign. The ongoing Afghanistan war is a classic infantry operation.  In this period, the Indian experience was very different: from fighting proxy wars in J&K and the North-East to vacating Pakistani aggression in Kargil, these operations were infantry-focussed and handicapped by constraints like minimum force — no use of heavy weapons — and strategic restraint of maintaining the sanctity of the LoC. No other infantry in the world is tasked to combat asymmetrical challenges without the use of the artillery and the air force. Add cumbersome combat gear, substandard weapons and inadequate equipment — it is a wonder how the infantryman does so much with so little.  There is yet another handicap. India’s policy is one of merely containing insurgency — keeping the lid on instead of catalysing a political solution. Kashmir is the best example of the military having created the best conditions for a political solution but the government failing to capitalise on it.  India has not fought a conventional war since 1971 and is not likely to do in the near future. Low-intensity conflict will be the primary challenge of the future. The blame for the neglect of the infantry must be put on successive Army Chiefs, most of whom were from the infantry. Ironically, the Chiefs from other arms did more to advance the case of infantry modernisation than those from the infantry. It was only after Kargil that holes in the infantry inventory began being plugged through fast-track acquisitions. This deviation in the interest of war preparedness was ultimately trumped by probity, leaving behind the Coffingate scandal and a former Defence Minister and Navy Chief being investigated for fraud.  Tinkering began with modernisation, started in the 1990s, to replace World War-II vintage equipment. In 1991, the Review of Combat Echelons was largely an exercise on paper, followed by incorporating lessons from Kargil in 1999. The first serious modernisation attempt was made in 2003 but with a paltry sum of Rs 30 million to provide new weapons, better communications and surveillance, increased mobility and night-fighting capability. Reducing the battle-load of soldiers, improved combat kit projects were undertaken in 2004. Units still struggle with the outdated INSAS rifle and have not found replacement for World War-II sten machine carbine, for example, and battle loads, especially at high altitudes, are still very heavy.  By 2005, the outlines of the F INSAS — future infantry soldier as a system — were conceptualised, leading next year to sharing the concept with corporates in the Army-industry partnership conference in 2006. Integral to Infantry Vision-2020 was this statement, “To field in battle by 2020, infantry soldiers, who can read the battle environment instantly and respond either individually or as a tactical team with speed, precision, lethality and agility, exploiting optimally all the supporting combat components.”  F INSAS envisages a man-machine mix of five sub-systems. The weapon sub-system is to be a family of robust reliable and modular weapon system to include four variants — carbine/micro-assault rifle, assault rifle and light machine gun complimented with an integrated site featuring thermal imagery, laser pointers and range finders.  The helmet sub-system will have a head-up display, integrated with the soldier’s personal computer and other sensors. The personal computer will be attachable to the backpack frame and connected to personal radio and GPS. The radio sub-system will enable soldiers to receive and transmit voice and data signals. The protective clothing will vary for terrain and extreme climate and will include mine protection boots and smart vests with physiological monitoring systems.  By 2012 the Army expects to field the first version of F INSAS based on available technology. The Infantry Directorate’s F INSAS project team has studied the modernisation programmes of 20 countries which has helped in refining its project definition. But a lot of work has still to be done.  Why the F INSAS project took four years to move from Sena Bhavan to South Block is a mystery, explained by insiders as turbulence in the Infantry Directorate. F INSAS was approved by the then Army Chief, Gen Deepak Kapoor, only in January 2009. F INSAS is at the request for information stage before the General Staff Qualitative Requirement is made. It is extremely unlikely that the first version of F INSAS can be fielded by 2012. The delay by current reckoning could be by three to five years, going by the pace of acquisitions — make or buy. The programme will inevitably encounter the DRDO’s tall promises.  Officers in the Army are paranoid about probity and say no one is prepared to take chances when weapons acquisition has become a game of political vendetta. Almost everyone at Army Headquarters is agreed that funding is not the problem; it is how to spend it on time. General Staff Qualitative Requirement makers must get the balance among technology, practical application and cost right based on the Indian experience without aping Western infantry models. Levels of sophistry and technology must be commensurate with what soldiers can master without becoming slaves to equipment.  A former Nato commander told a conference recently: “This business of fielding the infantry in multi-mission, multi-role, on digital and network-centric battlefields is great. But for Pete’s sake, our soldiers are being blown up by IEDs in Afghanistan. Let’s fight this war before preparing for the next…”  Gen James Mattis, the Marine Corps Commander, told American soldiers last month that human interface is the most important item, “we don’t want things that take geniuses on the battlefield to operate, and, therefore, need to create systems, organisations and equipment that don’t need a master’s degree in maths to operate.” India’s F INSAS General Staff Qualitative Requirement must remember this.

All options on table: White House on McChrystal
June 23, 2010 03:54 IST Tags: Stanley McChrystal, General McChrystal, Barack Obama, Pentagon, Robert Gates Share this Ask Users Write a Comment  The top American commander in Afghanistan appeared to be on his way out after the White House and Pentagon [ Images ] took strong objection to his controversial comments against key aids of Obama administration in an interview.  General Stanley McChrystal, Commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, (in the picture) has been recalled to Washington to explain the President Barack Obama [ Images ] and Pentagon about remarks that were made in the Rolling Stone magazine article, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said in a statement.  Terming McChrystal's remarks inappropriate, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, said "all options" are on the table, when asked if McChrystal would be fired for his highly critical remarks.  "The President looks forward to speaking with him tomorrow about what's in that article," Gibbs, said adding he thinks McChrystal will meet Obama privately.  He said General McChrystal, has made "an enormous mistake, a mistake that he'll get a chance to talk about and answer tomorrow to both officials in the Pentagon and to the commander-in-chief."  Earlier Gates in a statement said he believes that McChrystal made a significant mistake and exercised poor judgement in this case.  "Our troops and coalition partners are making extraordinary sacrifices on behalf of our security, and our singular focus must be on supporting them and succeeding in Afghanistan without such distractions.  "Gen. McChrystal has apologised to me and is similarly reaching out to others named in this article to apologise to them as well. I have recalled Gen. McChrystal to Washington to discuss this in person," Gates said.  In another statement, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin said he is troubled by McChrystal's comments, which are inappropriate and also demonstrate an uncharacteristic lack of discipline on his part.  Three top Republican Senators, John McCain [ Images ], Joe Lieberman [ Images ] and Lindsey Graham in a joint statement said McChrystal's comments, as reported in Rolling Stone, are inappropriate and inconsistent with the traditional relationship between Commander-in-Chief and the military.  "The decision concerning General McChrystal's future is a decision to be made by the President of the United States," they said.

Army offers to depute officers for advise on anti-Naxal ops
June 22, 2010 16:55 IST Tags: Indian Air Force, Cabinet Committee on Security, United Natioons, Army, North East Share this Ask Users Write a Comment  As the government continues to weigh options of fighting Naxalism more effectively, the army has offered to send Colonel-rank officers to the Union home ministry on deputation for advise in anti-Maoist operations.  The army has sent a proposal in this regard to the Union defence ministry, army sources said.  "We have offered to depute Colonel-rank officers with experience of commanding battalions in counter-insurgency operations to provide advise in anti-Naxal operations," a source said.  The number of officers to be sent to the home ministry has not yet been decided.  The government has to decide how and where it would want to use these officers, they said.  Experience of these officers in battling terrorism and insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir [ Images ] and the North East will help the states plan anti-Naxal operations more effectively, the sources said.  Some Naxal-affected states have been requesting the army for services of senior officers with experience in counter-insurgency operations, they said.  The move comes at a time when the government is weighing various options of dealing with Naxalism more effectively.  The home ministry is looking for an enhanced role of the armed forces in anti-Naxal operations. The defence ministry is hesitant to get involved in it although it is not averse to providing some kind of logistical support.  The home ministry has sought army's help in defusing improvised explosive devices and demining the Naxal-infested territory.  It has also asked the Indian Air Force to provide helicopters for quick deployment and evacuation of paramilitary forces during anti-Naxal operations that may be carried out in inaccessible areas.  The proposal is currently before the Cabinet Committee on Security, which is yet to take a final view.  IAF has suggested to the defence ministry that its 15 helicopters deployed in the United Natioons missions in African countries may be called to meet the shortage of choppers.

Jawans to benefit as archaic practice goes
No more wait; now on, quick salary statement No more wait; now on, quick salary statement  The more than seven-decade-old practice of making advance payments to the jawans of the Indian Army and other personnel below officers' rank will be replaced with the monthly salary system by the end of this year.  Up until now, the men were paid advances as per their salary entitlement and their accounts, which were maintained on Individual Running Ledger Account.  This practice was introduced in 1939 to ensure that families of jawans living in small towns and villages, were not financially affected while their men battled the enemy during World War II. The families received money (amount specified by the jawan) by money order while the jawans received a part of it if they wished from the imprest holders in different army units.  Sources in the Defence Accounts Department told The Hindu that about Rs. 1,500 crore is disbursed as salary to about 1.2 million jawans and other personnel below officers' rank in the Indian Army every month.  “So far, about 25 per cent of the jawans in the Army have been covered under the monthly payment,” Nand Kishore, Controller General of Defence Accounts, told presspersons on Tuesday after launching the monthly payment scheme for Army Service Corps-Bangalore, Madras Engineering Group, Bangalore, and Maratha Light Infantry, Belgaum, whose personnel comprise about 10 per cent of the Army.  The process of converting salary accounts to the monthly payment scheme, he said, had commenced from Lucknow in August 2009.

Phased pullout of choppers
SUJAN DUTTA AND ARCHIS MOHAN  New Delhi, June 22: The Union home ministry will decide on the appointment of officers for the counter-Naxalite offensive that the Indian Army has offered and the Indian Air Force’s pullout of helicopters from UN missions will be a “phased withdrawal”, government sources said here today.  The Telegraph had reported on Tuesday that India wants to pull out its air force helicopters from UN missions in Africa and that the army was proposing to depute colonels to Naxalite-hit states.  India is staking its international reputation as a peacekeeper by seeking to pull out its air force helicopters from UN missions in Congo and Sudan because it needs to keep the peace in Naxalite-hit regions within the country.  Confirming that the defence ministry had urged the external affairs ministry to ask the UN department of peace keeping operations for the air force helicopters to be relieved, foreign secretary Nirupama Rao said today: “The ministry of defence has raised this issue with us and we have raised it with our permanent mission in New York. We are considering a phased withdrawal.”  Army headquarters sources said here that its proposal to depute colonels to help states in their offensive against Naxalites has been made to the home ministry at its request. It would be up to the home ministry in with the state governments to decide where and how to use the expertise that the army was offering through its colonels.  “We have offered to depute colonel-rank officers with experience of commanding battalions in counter-insurgency operations to provide advice in anti-Naxalite operations,” the army source said. A brigadier is currently posted to the home ministry as the military adviser.  Depending on how the counter-Naxalite operations shape up, the army may also send more brigadiers to the home ministry.  The home ministry had earlier asked for major generals as advisers.  But it is the IAF’s insistence that its helicopters on UN duty be withdrawn that has greater strategic implications for India.  India cites its traditional and large contributions to UN peace missions since the 1950s as one of the reasons to justify its claim for a permanent seat in the security council.  It also leaves the UN Department of Peace Keeping Operations (UNDPKO) in a tight situation because India was the only country that agreed to deploy its air force in Congo and Sudan.  Army sources said the number of officers that it was ready to depute to the Union home ministry for the states is yet to be decided. It has sent its proposal through the defence ministry.  The request to army for its expertise in counter-insurgency was made after Naxalite-hit states inquired repeatedly about military assistance.  Last week’s cabinet committee on security meeting on the strategy to rework the counter-Naxalite operations was inconclusive. But the security establishment is moving to calibrate the direct involvement of the military.  The home ministry is looking for an enhanced role of armed forces in anti-Naxalite operations.  The defence ministry is hesitant to get involved in it although it is not averse to providing some kind of logistical support.  IAF told the defence ministry that its 17 helicopters deployed in the UN missions in African countries may be called to meet the shortage of choppers in counter-Naxalite operations.

Punjab MP seeks permanent commission for women army officers      
Punjab Newsline Network Tuesday, 22 June 2010 CHANDIGARH: Member Parliament from Bathinda constituency Harsimrat Kaur Badal Tuesday urged Union Defence Minister A.K. Antony to direct Army to grant Permanent Commission to Women Officers by implementing the orders of Delhi High Court in this regard.  In a communiqué to Union Defence Minister, Member Parliament said that it was commendable that Indian Air Force has decided to grant Permanent Commission to 22 Women Officers without challenging the verdict of Delhi High Court but regretted that Indian Army has not still implemented the High Court order reflecting its bias and prejudice against women as a class.  Badal said that two organs of Defence services can not have separate standards with one accepting order while other ignoring it. She said that such retrograde attitude does not reflect well on the Army.  Seeking immediate implementation of High Court order on Permanent Commission to the women, rising above the gender discrimination, Harsimrat Badal said that she had already requested Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh seeking immediate withdrawal of notification of Union Public Service Commission barring the recruitment of women as Officers in Paramilitary Forces.  Badal requested Defence Minister to ensure that Army sheds its retrograde outlook towards women officers and implement High Court order without any delay. She requested the Union Defence Minister to issue orders to Army in this regard.  Badal lamented that UPA government claiming the credit of introduction of Women Reservation Bill in Parliament, was reflecting it male oriented bias by barring the entry of women constituting 50% population of the country, as direct officers in paramilitary forces and denying them Permanent Commission  in the Army.  She said that women had shown their competence in every field. She said that several militaries globally induct women, but only a few allow them to perform active combat roles.  Badal said that Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Norway and Switzerland whereas U.S.A, Britain and Israel allow women to serve in combat arms positions like artillery, but exclude them from infantry whereas Britain and Israel allow women to serve in combat arms positions like artillery, but exclude them from infantry.  She said that when BSF opened the entry of women and they were posted on Western and Eastern borders, the infiltration and smuggling from these areas declined considerably.

Antony visits Ladakh border area near China
2010-06-22 21:46:30  KashmirLOC_250 KashmirLOC_250  Leh: A K Antony on Tuesday became the first Indian defence minister to land at the Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) of the Indian Air Force (IAF) at Nyoma, close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC) - the defacto border with China in the strategic Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir.  The defence minister flew in an IAF Mi-17 helicopter to land at Nyoma, at an altitude of 13,300 feet, which was opened for fixed wing aircraft on September 18 last year when an AN-32 landed for the first time at the compacted airstrip.  The Nyoma ALG was developed to connect the remote areas of Ladakh to the mainland during the harsh winter, besides enabling the communication network in the region, facilitating economical ferrying of supplies as well as promotion of tourism to the general area.  'China way ahead of India in border infrastructure'  Antony also also visited the Siachen base camp for a first-hand experience of the progress made to improve the living and operational requirements of the forces since his last visit in May 2007, defence ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said.  "He spoke to a number of men and officers of the army and air force and sought their frank views on the situation. Many jawans (soldiers) expressed their gratitude to the defence minister for substantially improving the quality of rations for those deployed in high-altitude areas," Kar said.  Antony had a chance meeting with a group of soldiers who had just returned from their deployment in the high-altitude areas.  'China set to unveil nuke deal with Pakistan'  He offered them farm-fresh fruits and vegetables which he was carrying from the Defence Institute of High Altitude Research (DIHAR) in Leh.  During the discussions, the soldiers wanted that the quality of some of the accessories such as socks be improved and also sought more snow-mobiles for their operational requirements. Among their other demands was a reduction of telephone call rates to facilitate communication with their families.  Antony assured that early action will be taken on all the issues raised by them, said the defence ministry spokesperson.  China, Pakistan pledge to deepen defence ties  Antony returned to New Delhi on Tuesday evening after a two-day trip to Ladakh. He was accompanied by Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar and other senior officials of the ministry, the army and the air force based at Leh. SEARCH

Always in the Line of Fire
Harinder SinghRamesh Phadke  June 22, 2010  For some weeks now there has been a growing chorus for the employment of the armed forces to combat the ever growing Naxal threat. With every Maoist strike the demand gets shriller and the opposition also becomes equally vociferous. There is an urgent need to address this dilemma because there has been a tendency among civil society to root for the armed forces every time the country faces a crisis situation; whatever its origins and objectives. But use of the armed forces would be counter productive and severely stretch their resources that are meant to be used to face external threats.  While the threat of Maoist violence has indeed become increasingly menacing and has spread to a sizeable expanse of the country, the state response has been less than adequate. As a result, there exists an atmosphere of despondency and helplessness sometimes bordering on desperation. The reasons for this less than optimal response are not far to seek. An enduring lack of consensus between the central and state governments, accompanied by the inability of the state police and central paramilitary forces to contain the threat, are the main causes for the worsening of the problem. Compulsions of coalition politics both at the state and the centre and the unholy nexus between some elements in the establishment and exploitative elements in civil society has allowed the Maoist leadership, ideologues and their sympathisers to capitalise on the genuine grievances of the tribals - since Maoist affected areas are also rich in minerals and natural resources - and at the same time question the legitimacy of the state apparatus and response. Employment of the army also cannot guarantee a lasting solution since the problem is essentially political. As seen in Jammu & Kashmir and the North East, the army had brought the situation under control over a decade ago but the regions continue to be plagued by civil unrest and poor development.  Ironically, the Indian state boasts a strength of 716,0001 [1] paramilitary forces – a whopping 60 per cent of the strength of the army. Here, we do not include the 65,000-strong Rashtriya Rifles (RR), because the force was specially raised to fight the insurgency in Jammu & Kashmir, remains manned by army personnel and is under the control of the Ministry of Defence. The 64,000 troops of Assam Rifles (AR), a true paramilitary force officered by the army but controlled by the Ministry of Home Affairs, are deployed in the Northeast. Of the remaining forces, 208,000 BSF personnel are primarily deployed to guard the international borders, whereas 230,000 CRPF, and 94,000 CISF men are currently employed in various other sundry security tasks wherein they perform only static, VIP security, watch and ward, and guard duties at vital installations. As a result, they find themselves completely incapable of undertaking counterinsurgency operations involving guerrilla tactics in difficult terrain. Absence of suitable and appropriate training and organisational structures prevent their ability to respond to such threats and hence the confusion and reluctance on the part of decision makers to deploy them in strength. Very often aged and yet inexperienced leadership is employed in a knee jerk fashion resulting in avoidable failures and casualties. Lack or at times complete absence of local intelligence exacerbates the problem.  Under these circumstances the clamour for immediate and massive deployment of the armed forces would appear natural. This would, however, have serious and long term consequences and carry the risks of further stretching the capacity of the armed forces to face external threats and defend the nearly 5000 kilometres of disputed and live border almost all of which falls in difficult mountainous terrain. Inhospitable and hostile terrain in these border areas compel the armed forces, especially the army, to periodically rotate their personnel from forward areas to peace time locations to ensure adequate rest and recuperation with their families and training to continuously enhance and update their skills. The soldier’s rest and recuperation time has already reduced to a level where he spends a mere 18 to 24 months in peace location before he is once again due for a three-year long field tenure. The over two decade long insurgency in Jammu & Kashmir and the Indian Army’s involvement has increased the total time spent by a soldier in field areas from about half to two-thirds of his total service career of 17 to 20 years. The army has already witnessed a higher level of dissatisfaction and unhappiness due to the soldier’s inability to find enough time to resolve pressing familial issues back home. Insensitivity and indifference if not total apathy of civilian officials at the district level further exacerbates this problem and affects the morale of the troops.  This, therefore, leaves a very small number of reserve forces for deployment in other contingencies. It is therefore axiomatic that the additional burden of combating the Maoists shall aggravate the army’s difficulties. There is also the risk of the armed forces inviting more criticism from civil society, especially from the Maoists sympathisers if and when allegations of excesses are made. This would be fodder for those vehemently opposing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) without which the army simply cannot be expected to function.  Our past experience clearly shows that the army has invariably fought internal disturbances and insurgencies with one hand tied behind the back and suffered avoidable loss of life. The myth of an insensitive army unleashing disproportionate violence on hapless civilians and taking shelter under the so-called draconian AFSPA needs to be exploded here and now. It is not as if the army is beyond law but it certainly dislikes being dragged into concocted allegations and litigations that are often politically motivated. The Indian Army has always taken the most stringent action against wrong doers. The truth is that the army has all along shown the utmost distaste to get involved in any operations directed against fellow citizens. Unlike the Pakistan Army which routinely uses offensive air power and heavy weapons to quell civil protests and insurrections the Indian army has mostly resorted to softer methods. Past experience shows that long term deployment in counterinsurgency operations affects the mindset of the soldier and requires re-orientation for the primary role of fighting conventional military threats.  This, however, does not mean that the armed forces cannot make a useful contribution in combating this grave national threat. The army can help train in reasonably good time a sizeable number of paramilitary forces including young officers to lead them from the front. It can also run short term courses for middle and senior level paramilitary leadership to sensitise them to the gravity and magnitude of the problem and the inescapable necessity of addressing it on a war footing. Fighting the Maoist threat can no longer be treated as a part-time task. Another very cost effective and efficient way of building paramilitary forces is to immediately begin or allow the lateral transfer of ex-servicemen to quickly build their capacity. Currently some 50,000 thirty five to forty year old servicemen retire every year, and of these a sizeable proportion is already trained and experienced in counterinsurgency operations, providing a readymade and willing element for almost immediate deployment. The reason why this economical option has not been used in the past, we believe, is the problem of granting the ex-servicemen the necessary and well deserved seniority, perks and status that their true worth actually demands. It is time that the civilian bureaucracy overcame the fear of being swamped by the military. Such a mutually beneficial enterprise would undoubtedly help the paramilitary to absorb specialist military skills at no additional time and cost.  Yet another area of useful contribution that the army can make is in providing training for logistical support operations. Here the experience of RR battalions is relevant. Traditionally a RR unit consists of personnel with various assorted skills such as signalmen, mechanics, doctors and paramedics and maintains its own accounts and stores records enhancing the overall efficiencies and the ability to instantly react to a situation. We also recommend the use of helicopters and where possible UAVs for reconnaissance, surveillance, air mobility and casualty evacuation. Even a relatively small force of helicopters seconded or owned by the paramilitary (BSF already has a few) can provide almost instantaneous reinforcement in crisis situations raising the determination and morale of the CRPF and its sister organisations. Finally, it is imperative that the senior paramilitary leadership learns to function from operational command centres on a 24x7 basis to be able to provide timely guidance, support and oversight. The one critical attribute for success in anti-Maoist operations, however, is the availability of reliable and accurate intelligence for which the services of local police and CID/IB and state intelligence operatives is inescapable and unavoidable.  In short there are no short cuts to overcoming this grave threat to our democratic way of life. Broadening the mandate by handing over the problem to the army is neither fair nor efficacious.

Pushing Pakistan to precipice
News & Views Mohammad Jamil  Despite Pakistan’s vital role and sacrifices in the war on terror, the US continues to push Pakistan to the precipice by leveling accusations about aiding, abetting and harbouring the Taliban leadership. International media continues with coordinated offensive against Pakistan. “President Obama should make a few things clear to the general that America knows the extent of the ISI’s backing for the Taliban; that Pakistan Army will not keep getting money and weapons from Washington if it goes on backing groups that kill American soldiers,” the Boston Globe said in its editorial. The Economist carried an article under the title: “Land of the impure: Don’t blame the army for all Pakistan’s problems. Just most of them” was against Pakistan but somewhat balanced. The author wrote: “The leaders of the main parties are mainly to blame for their corrupt, feudal styles and for not practicing the democracy they espouse even in their own parties. Yet the army also shares some of the blame for political backwardness”. It is a sad reflection on the US and western media, as they continue Pakistan-bashing despite the fact Pakistan has given tremendous sacrifice in men and material.  At this point in time when Pakistan was expecting that new strategic dialogue initiated in March 2010 would usher in an era of real strategic partnership and America would take practical steps to help Pakistan in overcoming crises, US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke said on Saturday that there are militants’ sanctuaries in Pakistan. Talking to media representatives after his talks with Shah Mehmood Qureshi, he said that Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar were hiding somewhere along the Pak-Afghan border. The question is how the sole super power with all the facilities of intelligence and satellite surveillance has not been able to identify the exact area where top Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders are holed in? Americans should stop making absurd conjectures and come out with concrete evidence. However, to appease Pakistan and to keep it on board, Holbrooke added: “People all over the world should be more aware of the sacrifices Pakistani people and the army have made in pushing back militants in Swat, South Waziristan and other northwestern regions.” Holbrooke also warned Pakistan about Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, as the sanctions on Iran are applicable to it as well.  America on one hand promises to help Pakistan in various fields especially to overcome energy crisis, but on the other hand opposes China-Pakistan nuclear agreement for two nuclear reactors. America also demands of Pakistan to extend military operation to North Waziristan but does not reimburse the expenses military have incurred on fuel, food, clothing and other operational requirements of more than 100000 troops stationed in Waziristan and other parts of FATA. After repeated reminders, America has paid only a part of coalition support fund. Defence Secretary Lt-Gen (retd) Syed Athar Ali informed the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the National Assembly that financial reserves of armed forces were depleting fast because of the ongoing military operations near or along the western border. He warned: “If the funds required were not provided to the military it would be forced to ‘reprioritize’ its options, possibly affecting Pakistan’s cooperation in the war on terror”.  Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani warned on Saturday that public support for war on terror could wane if the international community failed to honour aid pledges and bail out Pakistans troubled economy. “Time is running out fast. Public support can only be kept intact if the international community starts delivering on their pledges.” It is encouraging to note that civil and military leaderships are on the same page, and they are determined not to acquiesce to American pressure and blackmail. Addressing a convocation ceremony at the National Defence University, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, General Tariq Majid stressed that Pakistan had to be mindful of a growing power imbalance due to continuing build-up of massive military machine including both hi-tech conventional and nuclear forces and blatant pursuit of military preponderance in its eastern neighbourhood carrying implications for Pakistan. The message is loud and clear. It is true that there cannot be equal partnership between two unequal powers, but the countries with bold and visionary leadership look after their national interest and do not buckle under pressure.  The objective of foreign policy for any country is to have cordial relations with other countries of the world especially the neighbouring countries, and also to safeguard its national security, independence, and promote the well being of its people. On the basis of this benchmark, our foreign policy has been a dismal failure. There could be cogent reasons for joining pacts with the West and bilateral agreement with the US, but later events proved the meaninglessness of these pacts, as Pakistan was disintegrated and our allies acted as silent spectators. Members of the US administration, American think tanks and international media criticize Pakistan that despite military and economic aid, Pakistan is not delivering or doing enough to eliminate terrorists. This is result of the fact that our foreign policy has been susceptible to manipulations due to internal political and economic instability brought about by inept leaders since 1950s. During the Cold War a few Arab countries were unhappy with Pakistan; the newly independent and non-aligned nations were suspicious of our role due to our alliance with the West; the socialist block considered Pakistan as their enemy, and the US-led western powers thought of Pakistan no more than a pawn on their international political chessboard.  Of course, there has been some positive development, and the CIA seemed to have been somewhat defanged in Afghanistan after Obama’s saddling into power. It is now obvious from President Karzai’s action vis-à-vis sacking chief of Afghan intelligence and interior minister who were reportedly working hand in glove with the CIA and the RAW. Though, Karzai’s realization has come belatedly, yet it is commendable, as Karzai’s distancing from CIA means also distancing from Indian RAW. We have all along been optimistic that American leadership would understand that it is in America’s interest that Pakistan should be stable and strong. But America continued to prop India and exacerbated asymmetry in the region by inking an agreement with India but refusing to enter into a similar agreement with Pakistan. It is unfortunate that the US has sought clarification from China on a deal to build two new reactors in Pakistan. China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman told a news briefing in Beijing that its civilian nuclear cooperation with Pakistan was for peaceful purposes, and is in line with each side’s international obligations. “It is for peaceful purposes, and is under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency,” he added.  US State Department spokesman PJ Crowley told reporters on Tuesday that Washington had asked China for more details on the deal. “We have asked China to clarify the details of its sale of additional nuclear reactors to Pakistan. Meanwhile, China and Pakistan Thursday pledged to strengthen defence ties at a meeting between Chinese Defence Minister Liang Guanglie and visiting Pakistani Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. “Cooperation between the Chinese and Pakistani armed forces is exemplary and has been fruitful,” Liang, said during the meeting with General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani at the Diaoyutai Guest House, reported Xinhua news agency.  Liang also said the two sides should make continuous efforts to conduct their cooperation programmes well. So many new developments are taking place because of America’s procrastination on making payments in regard to coalition support fund, and also resorting to mere rhetoric and its promises to help Pakistan in overcoming energy crisis remain unfulfilled. The time has come that Pakistan should take decision in the realm of foreign policy and do homework to overcome the challenges in case America withdraws its financial support.

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