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Monday, 28 June 2010

From Today's Papers - 28 Jun 2010

  Indo-Pak engagement Terror must be tackled for sustained dialogue
 India and Pakistan are now back in dialogue mode after the peace process between the two got snapped with the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attack. During the exchange of views between Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram and his Pakistani counterpart Rehman Malik on Friday, and between Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao with her opposite number in Pakistan Salman Bashir the previous day, both sides avoided taking aggressive postures, reflecting a welcome change in their attitudes. Interestingly, the two Foreign Secretaries talked of “working together” to remove the “trust deficit” and resolve the “outstanding issues”. The focus on Thursday, as expected, was on “deliverables” like people-to-people contacts, trade expansion and humanitarian issues, which are likely to be taken up during the July conference of the Foreign Ministers.  Despite the attempt to speak in a conciliatory tone, terror emanating from Pakistan was in focus on both days. Mr Chidambaram was more specific when he pointed out that Pakistan would have to deliver on the front of terrorism in the interest of peace in the subcontinent. This is essential for any government in India to remain engaged with Pakistan. Islamabad’s positive response does not mean much unless the results are seen on the ground. It has to answer nagging questions related to 26/11. Why are only two of the many masterminds of the Mumbai attack being proceeded against? Lashkar-e-Taiyaba founder Hafiz Saeed, the key plotter, continues to remain free. Why? Why has Pakistan not honoured the commitment it has been making, as it did during the Thimpu SAARC gathering recently, that it will not allow its territory to be used for carrying out terrorist attacks on India?  This, however, does not mean that the dialogue that has begun is an exercise in futility. India and Pakistan talking to each other is always better than their remaining incommunicado. The issues that have been the cause for tension between the two can be resolved only when they remain engaged. If it is not possible to settle issues like Kashmir these should be kept aside to make India and Pakistan move ahead on the road to normalisation of relations. There is a large peace constituency on both sides which must be allowed to expand.

  Gen. McChrystal's ouster
The dramatic dismissal of the US General has lessons for both military and civilian authorities, writes P.R. Chari  General McChrystal General McChrystal  President Obama cannot be faulted for taking the harsh decision to accept General Stanley McChrystal's (forced) resignation after the latter made derogatory references about the American civilian leadership in an interview to the left-of-centre magazine Rolling Stone. The magazine cited General McChrystal saying President Obama seemed "uncomfortable and intimidated" during their first meeting, referred to Vice President Biden as "Bite Me," and called the Chairman, Joint Chief of Staff, General James Jones, a "clown."  No Government-civilian or military-can afford to let its serving officials-civilian or military-speak out in public mocking the leadership and thus display insubordination or criticising national policy. Accepted bureaucratic practice, however, allows debate, often acrimonious, within the confines of the government. But debate cannot proceed in the public space; otherwise the anonymity required for objective decision-making would get compromised. Besides, discipline within the bureaucracy would collapse, a crucial requirement for the armed forces, given its hierarchical command structure. More significantly, the hallowed tradition of civilian control over the military would be eroded, which is the basic principle on which democratic societies are designed to function. All these are settled issues, and can hardly become the subject of a new debate.  US troops in Afghanistan US troops in Afghanistan  Within the American experience itself, the cases of Generals Patton, Stillwell and MacArthur have been recalled to illustrate these settled principles. All of them were removed from office after making indiscreet remarks or questioning the decisions made by the civilian leadership in public. General McChrystal and his staff officers were hardly unaware of these rules of the game.  Why then had General McChrystal and his aides deliberately made these derogatory statements that had rightly inflamed the American leadership? How can their conduct be rationally explained? Pique? Frustration at not being able to press their viewpoint? Concern that the logistic support required for the American war effort in Afghanistan was faltering? All of the above? Or, was the reason something quite different, relating to the hiatus that had developed between the military and civilian authorities in their understanding and approaches to the Afghanistan imbroglio.  The President's special envoy, Holbrooke, for instance, is known to be abrasive and overbearing and very difficult to work with. It is possible that the on-going Marja operations in Afghanistan having met a stumbling block, the existing differences between the civilian and military leadership had dramatically widened. No doubt, more authentic accounts to explain the aberrant conduct of General McChrystal and his aides will surface in the fullness of time. General McChrystal might also feel impelled to pen his memoirs in the established American tradition sooner or later.  The more relevant operational issue is that changing the military leadership during the Afghanistan operations conveys the wrong message to both friend and foe. President Karzai and elements in the Pakistani leadership have already voiced their dismay. The Al Qaeda and Taliban, it can be assumed, would sense confusion and demoralisation in the American ranks and that would boost the morale of their militant followers.  Significantly, General McChrystal was executing a new counter-insurgency policy in Afghanistan devised by General Petraeus; which seeks to restore normalcy in Afghanistan and permit a withdrawal of the U.S. forces by 2011.  However, replacing General McChrystal with General Petraeus is most appropriate, since the latter is the architect of the strategic policy that was devised for Iraq, and is being currently pursued in Afghanistan. .  And, what is this Petraeus strategy? One, the population has to be won over by living among them, and by respecting their rights, including those suspected of being insurgents. He believes in following the doctrine, "Live your values." The damage done by Abu Ghraib is permanent; since "The human terrain is the decisive terrain." The theater of operation thus becomes the whole country, Such "Full Spectrum Operations" require all available resources to be utilised, including the military but also the civilian agencies, armed militias and NGOs.  Apparently, the figures for Americans killed in Iraq and violent incidents have fallen dramatically in Iraq after this new strategy was put in place. Basic utilities have been restored and life is returning to normal. Quite evidently, suicide bombings continue in Iraq and the Al-Qaeda remains a disruptive presence. But, President Obama is confident that he can shift out American troops from combat missions and reduce their overall numbers by end-August, which is a fair indication of the success achieved.  Can this success be repeated by General Petraeus in Afghanistan ? The Marja offensive in February was premised on these principles in action. It was announced months in advance to allow civilians to leave the impending theatre of operations if they wished. Civilian deaths could not be avoided, which is unavoidable in urban fighting but were much less than what could otherwise have been expected.  Moreover, these casualties could not be exploited by the Taliban to channel public opinion against the United States. Currently, the Marja operations can only be considered a partial success since the Taliban are staging a comeback. But, it could be reasonably expected that the U.S. operations in Afghanistan will gain new vigor with Petraeus replacing McChrystal, although it should be assumed that the Al Qaeda and Taliban have also learnt their lessons.  So, what are the wider implications of the McChrystal ouster? The most obvious is that policy differences within the higher command apparatus for defence should not be aired in public. The 'No Comment' modality has its uses in conflict situations. The military should also realise that it will always come out second best in public encounters with the civilian leadership, particularly in democratic cultures. Nevertheless, this does not justify the civilian leadership displaying insensitivity towards the military's problems and their advice.  The strange aspect of the McChrystal affair is that nobody from the civilian side has been indicted for letting matters deteriorate to reach this pass. Civilian control over the military cannot mean civilian dictatorship over the military.  ( The author is associated with the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies )

Uphill task for US General in Obama's Vietnam
US troops are in Afghanistan for almost nine years By Patrick Cockburn  David Petraeus David Petraeus  General David Petraeus has a deservedly high reputation with an acute sense of US politics combined with a realisation of the importance of understanding the politics of Iraq and Afghanistan. His great achievement in Iraq was to persuade Americans that they had won the war when, in fact, they were withdrawing with little achieved.  He was able to sell the "surge" as a triumph of military tactics when in reality its most important feature was that Sunni insurgents allied themselves with American forces because they were being slaughtered by the Shias.  Some US diplomats are astonished at the willingness of Congress and the US media to accept the Pentagon's version of what happened and the belief that the same success could be replicated in Afghanistan. One American diplomat said: "I am appalled ... It is like going back to pre-Vietnam days, when Americans accepted that what the military said was true."  An important aspect of the Iraq and Afghan wars is the degree to which US foreign policy has been militarised, with the State Department and civilian agencies playing only a limited role. This helps explain the lack of caution shown by General Stanley McChrystal in openly bad-mouthing civilians from President Barack Obama to the US ambassador in Kabul.  I first met General Petraeus in January 2004, when he was commander of the 20,000-strong 101st Airborne Division based in Mosul in northern Iraq. He was one of the few Americans in Iraq who showed any inkling about the ethnic and communal minefield in which the US had landed.  In Baghdad, the US envoy, Paul Bremer, had banned Baath party members from state employment, which meant that thousands of former Iraqi officers were ready recruits for the growing insurgency. General Petraeus was quietly sabotaging official policy. He was getting former officers to turn up in batches and renounce the Baath party and all its works.  He made other astute moves. He prevented returning exiles from getting positions of power. I asked him what would be his most important advice to his successor and he replied that it was "not to align too closely with one ethnic group, political party, tribe, religious group or social element".  This is what will be so difficult to do in Afghanistan. Already, suggestions that the Afghan government should talk to the Taliban is frightening members of the administration in Kabul who are not Pashtun. Last year, General Petraeus gave the impression that the Iraq troop "surge" could be restaged in Afghanistan. But conditions are very different in the Pashtun south and east of Afghanistan.  A problem for General Petraeus is that the Taliban appear to think they are winning and that their own "counter-surge" has been successful. General McChrystal's heavily publicised takeover of Marjah did not evict them permanently. When the US ambassador, Karl Eikenberry, and US envoy, Richard Holbrooke, both maligned by General McChrystal in the Rolling Stone article, visited Marjah a few days ago, their helicopter was shot at and suicide bombers blew themselves up.  In Iraq, General Petraeus was able to take advantage of local political conditions to claim success for a military strategy that was mostly an illusion. In Afghanistan, the problem is not that the Taliban is so strong but that the government is so weak.

PLA behind Sino-Pak nuclear deal?
 Ashok Tuteja/Tribune News Service  New Delhi, June 27 Worried over the increasing engagement of the US in the Af-Pak region, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) may have compelled the leadership in Beijing to strike a civil nuclear deal with the country’s ‘all weather friend’ Pakistan that has triggered a fresh debate world-wide over Sino-Pakistan nuclear nexus.  It is quite well-known in diplomatic circles that China has not been comfortable with the domineering role Washington has been playing in South Asia, posing a challenge to Beijing’s geo-political interests in the region.  Officials here say the nuclear agreement under which China will construct two 650 MW nuclear reactors in Pakistan’s Punjab province appears to be just one more significant step Beijing has taken at the instance of the PLA to strengthen the strategic ties between the two countries and hit Washington where it hurts.  While the US has questioned the Sino-Pak nuclear deal, Washington is unlikely to go too far in opposing it since it needs both China and Pakistan for different reasons - Beijing for implementing UN sanctions against Iran and Islamabad to pursue its agenda in Afghanistan.  It is in public domain that China has been assisting Pakistan in its clandestine nuclear programme for years. However, questions have been raised about its latest deal with Pakistan since China has now become a full-fledged member of the NSG while the Sino-Pak agreement is not in line with the guidelines of the 46-member nuclear cartel.  A meeting of the NSG in New Zealand earlier this week ended with uncertainty about Chinese plans to sell nuclear reactors to Pakistan. But the group’s annual meeting revealed sharp divisions in international response to the development. China appeared hesitant to spell out its intentions in view of stringent NSG rules which prohibit the export of civil nuclear technology to countries like Pakistan that have not signed the NPT.  Several governments were highly sceptical about any further nuclear trading with Pakistan given its poor track record in the field of nuclear disarmament.  It is precisely for this reason that India has expressed concern over the deal while not publicly opposing it. Indian officials, accompanying Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on his trip to Toronto for the G-20 Summit, are believed to have taken up the Sino-Pak agreement with their counterparts from some of the important nations attending the summit.  Key members of the European Union (EU) are also not enthused over the China-Pakistan deal. “The EU has no problem with peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Whatever arrangements are to made have to be within the purview of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA),’’ according to Catherine Ashton, EU’s High Representative for foreign affairs, who was in New Delhi for talks with Indian leaders.  But many European countries and those vehemently opposed to nuclear proliferation are now blaming India and the US for furthering the Sino-Pak nuclear cooperation. A Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, wondered how anyone could stop civil nuclear cooperation between China and Pakistan after the US bulldozed all NSG members to secure a nuclear waiver for India in September 2008 for undertaking nuclear commerce. “There can’t be different yardsticks for different countries,’’ he said, suggesting that the NSG might not be able to do much in the matter.

Jawan killed in encounter
Tribune News Service  Kolkata, June 27 A CRPF jawan and Maoist were killed during a gun-battle between Maoists and the joint action force in the Jangalmahal area, near Jhargram, west Midnapore today. The police, however, claimed altogether three Maoists had been gunned down, though only one body could be recovered from the jungle area after the operation. The suspected two other Maoists’ bodies had been carried away by their companion inside the jungle across the Orissa border.  According to reports reaching the state government at Writers Buildings, in the morning, the joint action force conducted a combing operation in the Jangalmahal area, near Jhargram, following an information that a group of Maoists had gathered there for launching attack on the police camp. Soon followed an exchange of firing between the two groups which lasted for about an hour.  In the clashes, one CRPF jawan was killed and several others received bullet injuries. Later, the police recovered a bullet-ridden body of a Maoist activist.

Army clarifies Chief’s remarks on AFSPA 
New Delhi, June 27 In a damage control exercise, the Army today sought to explain away its Chief Gen V K Singh's controversial comments on the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) by claiming that these had not been "understood in the correct perspective".  Even as the Centre prepares to make AFSPA, that gives sweeping powers to the Army in Jammu and Kashmir and Northeast, "more humane", the General has gone on record to voice his opposition to any changes, saying demands for dilution of the act were being made for "narrow political gains".  His comments come in the backdrop of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's promise to make the act more humane. Union Home Minister P Chidambaram has already sent a note to the Cabinet on diluting the Act.  Affirming that "all those who ask for its (AFSPA's) dilution or withdrawal, probably do so for narrow political gains," Gen Singh had said that any dilution "will lead to constraining our operation".  The Army said that the General had told a defence journal in April that "AFSPA must be understood in the backdrop of trying conditions a soldier is operating in the militancy-infested areas in Jammu and Kahmir and North East." The statement said that General Singh's comments were "primarily in context to the local politics in J and K with special reference to the separatist forces. Their sole aim is to demoralise the security forces." — PTI

Can’t silence Hafiz: Pak  ‘Freedom of expression in Pak as in India’ 
Islamabad, June 27 Pakistan has virtually ruled out barring Jamaat-ud Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed, mastermind of the Mumbai terror attack, from making inflammatory speeches targeting India.  “In a democracy, there is freedom of expression in Pakistan as in India. There are all sorts of people making all kinds of speeches. There are people with extremist views in both India and Pakistan and there is nothing you can do about it. There are views being expressed in Pakistan that I can do nothing about,” Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told reporters here.  He, however, said the “positive” thing was that the views of extremist elements did not reflect that of the majority opinion, either in India or in Pakistan. “The overwhelming majority of people do not agree with hate speeches. They want normalisation, they want peace, they want growth, they want development,” he said.  He termed as “presumptuous” India’s contention that enough was not being done in the Mumbai attacks case, saying the two countries would understand “each other’s challenges and difficulties” only through engagement.  In an interview, he pressed for a common approach to deal with terrorism and promised to take action against any handler of 26/11, insisting that Islamabad would not sleep over leads forwarded to it.  The pace was slow because of “complications” arising from the fact that the crime was committed in a different country and exchange of information was a “cumbersome” process, he said.  He said India and Pakistan should work together to send out a message to the terrorists that they could not “drive a wedge” between the two countries.  “If you say Pakistan has not moved, it will be unfair,” Qureshi said when pointed to India’s refrain that enough had not been done by Islamabad in investigating the 26/11 case and bringing to book all those behind the carnage. “Do not question our sincerity. We want to move on because terrorism is hitting us as well,” he said.  India has been complaining that Pakistan is not taking action against Mumbai attack mastermind and JuD chief Hafiz Saeed and several other identified handlers continue to be at large. When referred to this, Qureshi said, “This is being presumptuous. You are presuming because we are not talking. You are presuming because we are not in contact.” He said when the two sides “sit, meet and talk, these presumptions will disappear and the reality will surface. When the reality surfaces, we will be able to understand each other’s challenges and difficulties”.  On India’s warning that any repeat of Mumbai attacks would lend a serious setback to the bilateral ties, Qureshi said such statements amounted to giving handle to terrorists to dictate the agenda. “We feel, by making such statements, you (India) are playing in the hands of those who want to scuttle (improvement in relations). The minute you say that, terrorists feel they control the agenda,” he said. — PTI

Mahindras aim big in defence
JAYANTA ROY CHOWDHURY Growth drive  New Delhi, June 27: Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) and UK’s BAE Systems will soon start manufacturing the RG-31 — a mine-proof vehicle — in the country for the Indian Army and police forces operating in Maoist strongholds.  Sources in M&M, which has entered the defence automotive business, said the automobile major was also looking at producing the FH77 B05 Advanced Howitzer, already in use in the country.  BAE Systems has supplied 165 mine-proof vehicles to the Indian Army and another 600 to the US, UN and Canadian forces. The monocoque hull of the RG-31, made of welded armour steel, is supposed to protect occupants against anti-tank mines and has a modular interior layout. The vehicle can be configured as an armoured personnel carrier, ambulance and surveillance vehicle. The air-conditioned vehicle can carry up to 10 people.  Maoists have often targeted police vehicles with mines planted deep inside highways and jungle tracks, which normal minesweepers fail to detect. Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa and Bengal have been impacted by Maoist attacks.  Though M&M officials have targeted the army as the principle buyer of the vehicle, the company will also chase possible orders from paramilitary forces as well as limited orders from state police forces, especially specialised anti-Maoist squads such as Andhra Pradesh’s Greyhound.  “We are also looking at bringing in a battle tank for the army through our joint venture with BAE but bringing in restricted technology will be possible if we are able to offer them a 49 per cent stake in the venture,” M&M sources said.  At present, FDI rules allow foreign investors a 26 per cent stake in Indian defence. The M&M-BAE venture is complying with the norm.  However, the commerce ministry has put forward a proposal to increase FDI in defence to 74 per cent, a move which domestic firms such as the Mahindras, L&T and the Tatas have opposed.  They maintain that a 49 per cent stake will suffice to attract top firms in defence business and join Indian partners.  M&M has entered the lucrative defence automotive sector with Defence Land Systems Ltd — the joint venture with BAE — and the manufacturing of bullet-proof and customised vehicles. Among others, it makes the Rakshak, a bullet-proof Scorpio, and Marksman, a customised war vehicle.  The joint venture is expected to make an initial investment of $21.25 million over three years. Defence Land Systems India will have a facility in Faridabad, just outside Delhi.

Pak Armed Forces not unaware of country’s defence: FM 
ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said that the armed forces of the country are not unaware of country’s defence and have full ability to defend the country.  Talking to a private TV channel, the Foreign Minister said that wars are not solution of any problems but if Indian Army is ready then the Armed Forces of the country know their responsibilities.  Welcoming the initial talks held between Pakistan and India, the Foreign Minister said that these talks would improve relations between the two countries.  Responding to a question, Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that India came on the negotiating table and it is a success of Pakistan, adding both countries should take steps in the best interests of the country.  The Foreign Minister said that talks were suspended after Mumbai incidents, however, after meeting of Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao with her Pakistani counterpart, Salman Bashir, Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna would visit Pakistan next month and all issues to be discussed.  The Foreign Minister urged that both Pakistan and India should solve all their outstanding problems through negotiations as war is not solution of any problem.  On war on terror, Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that Pakistan played role as Front Line State and rendered unprecedented sacrifices in the war and the international community should help Pakistan. He said that no country can alone eliminate the menace of terrorism and it is the collective responsibility of all.

Dire need to counter RAW’s terrorism 
June 27, 2010 posted by Michael Leon · 3 Comments  Share  By Asif Haroon Raja  It is now an established fact that no South Asian state has ever indulged in covert operations or cross border terrorism against its neighbors. The only culprit is India which resorts to this evil practice against all its neighbors, be it Pakistan , Sri Lanka , Bangladesh , Nepal , Maldives , Bhutan , China and Myanmar.  It has dovetailed clandestine operations into its war strategy to apply it against its foes during peace time for harassment, intimidation and blackmailing purposes and for weakening them from within. Afghanistan has been used by Russia and India to raise the bogey of Pashtunistan, render support to Pakistani runaways and rebels and to launch covert operations against Pakistan. Karzai has belatedly assured Pakistan that it would not allow its soil against Pakistan. Hopefully he sticks to his commitment. Marching orders given by Karzai to his intelligence chief and interior minister, both venomously anti-Pakistan and favorites of Washington are positive signs though some more steps are needed to scatter away clouds of distrust built over nine years.  The US military has starting packing its bags to wind up its business in Afghanistan and go home starting July 2011. The US and Karzai’s tilt towards Islamabad are ominous developments for India vying to have complete sway over Afghan affairs after the departure of coalition forces. The entire Indian leadership is in a state of depression. Its spin doctors are at a loss but are still scratching their heads how to retrieve the situation. Indians are feeling out of place since they are akin to traits of a scorpion which stings compulsively.     Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and Home Minister Chidambaram were here in Islamabad to renew talks. An Indo-Pak talk is a drama staged by India at the behest of USA . India loses all and gains nothing out of composite dialogue, which she had purposely stalled after Mumbai attacks. She stubbornly clung to her one-point agenda of no talks without Pakistan tackling India ’s concerns about terrorism. After intense pressure from USA , stuck in Afghanistan and urgently requiring Pakistan ’s services for a bailout, India has reluctantly relented and agreed to resume talks. However, the entire focus of talks was on terrorism. Chronic issues such as Kashmir dispute, Siachin and Sir Creek problems, water problem, RAW’s [Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India's external intelligence agency's] support to terrorists in Balochistan and in FATA were skipped. India wants solution to Kashmir as suggested by former President Gen Musharraf. It had been mutually decided to sideline UN resolutions on Kashmir , convert Line of Control (LoC) into soft border and to put the dispute in cold freezer as had been done during Simla Agreement in 1973.  But for lawyers movement which weakened Musharraf, the sellout plan would have been implemented in 2008. It is for this reason that Indian leaders fondly remember Musharraf and pray for his return. President Zardari was also in favor of this plan as was evident from several statements he had made on Kashmir and the so-called ‘good news’ he wanted to give to the nation. Had the Army under Gen Kayani not taken a firm stand and had Zardari not lost his reputation and credibility, he would have given a go ahead signal to the plan.  Zardari’s inability to open up nuclear program for US and IAEA inspection, bring ISI under Interior Ministry and to implement Indian dictated Kashmir solution has disappointed USA and India . To twist his arm, he is off and on subjected to barrage of vilification campaign, most of which is based on facts.  Pakistan had been led up the garden path by India through much hyped composite dialogue in early 2004. It was pledged that all issues including Kashmir would be resolved through dialogue. Four rounds of talks were held but nothing concrete came out of the meetings. While Pakistan lost a lot, India gained a lot. Under the garb of friendship, India successfully completed fencing of LoC, defanged armed resistance in Held Kashmir, redirected all Jihadi outfits towards Pakistan, made Balochistan, FATA and large parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa restive, lowered the image of Pak Army and other institutions through propaganda campaign, consolidated tentacles of RAW within Pakistan, disturbed law and order situation, built several dams over rivers Chenab, Jhelum and Indus and reduced flow of water into Pakistan. India not only enhanced its presence in Afghanistan significantly but also spread hatred amongst Afghans against Pakistan to keep the two neighbors perpetually hostile to each other. Through these acts, it impoverished the economy of Pakistan.  While preaching friendship, Indian military feverishly built up its strength and former Indian chief Gen Kapoor hurled threats of Cold Start and limited war under a nuclear overhang. Pakistan quietly digested all the insults and harms inflicted upon the body of Pakistan under the skewed policy of appeasement and under a misperception that Kashmir issue would be resolved. In return, India didn’t budge an inch over any of the disputes and continued to maintain its pre-2004 rigid stance on all issues. It showed its ugly face after Mumbai carnage and reverted to its old policy of antagonism.  Having gained on all fronts, India is unprepared to dole out any concession to Pakistan . It still wants more from Pakistan . It wants Pakistan not to oppose its key role in Afghanistan , its right for a land route to Afghanistan via Wagah, and its membership to UNSC. It also wants Punjab based banned Jihadi groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jamat-ud-Dawa, Jaish Mohammad and Sipah-Sahaba to be crushed and Muredke religious centre to be dismantled. India is keen to extend physical support to help Pak security forces to tackle these outfits. Punjab being the only stable province, it has become an eyesore for India and it desperately wants its destabilization. The likes of Salman Taseer and RAW sponsored Tehrik-e-Taliban are helping India in its nefarious designs.  RAW is among the leading terrorist organization which is bleeding South Asia but surprisingly no finger has ever been raised on it. The US and western think tanks and newspapers never tire of concocting stories against ISI but see RAW, Mossad and CIA chaste and spotless. This is because they are birds of same feather and are flocking together in pursuit of common objectives.  Pakistan and other South Asian countries have remained the victims of intrigues and conspiracies of India for the last 63 years. It pretends to be well meaning and friendly but it always carries a dagger under its armpit and strikes whenever opportunity comes its way. It is principally responsible for impeding the growth of SAARC because of its habit of hegemony and selfishness. It is high time for SAARC countries minus India to get together and collectively combat the Indian menace. Awareness drive should be initiated by Pakistan to expose true face of India .  I propose immediate establishment of a joint intelligence centre at Islamabad or Colombo on the pattern of the one working in Jabal-al-Siraj, north of Kabul . Both are well trained in the art of counter terrorism and have successfully fought RAW sponsored terrorism. The new intelligence setup should have tentacles in all the affected South Asian countries to share intelligence and monitor activities of home based and foreign based terrorists, spies and double agents. Assistance of China may be sought or it may be co-opted. Intelligence Centre should maintain close liaison with intelligence agencies of selected Muslim states which follow independent foreign policies and are not close to India . Intelligence can be exchanged with CIA, FBI and MI-6 prudently and on need basis only.   Besides, a joint media and publicity cell should be opened to counter Indo-US-Israeli propaganda. In addition, each country should raise a counter terrorism force fully equipped with requisite firepower, mobility and technology superior to what the terrorists possess to be able to dismantle terrorist networks, disrupt supply routes and sources of funding. Collective efforts should be made to beat RAW in its own game.

Mute’s the mantra for armed forces  
Anantha Krishnan M               / DNA Sunday, June 27, 2010 9:31    US president Barack Obama recently sacked his top commander in Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal for remarks against the US administration in the latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine.  Media reports said General McChrystal was given his marching orders in just under 20 minutes following a one-on-one with Obama at the White House. While this piece goes to print, General Mchrystal’s items are being shipped out of Afghanistan.  While an efficient general was being given the boot for making headlines, back in India, many service heads were watching the events with interest. One senior IAF Air Marshal at AIR HQ, said that there are certain unwritten rules that the service chiefs fall under.  “Anything related to the security of the country, we can’t open our mouth about. We can’t speak on government policies, rules and regulations. It’s a strict ‘No, No’. We may express our thoughts privately, but it’s unethical to do so in public. But it happens quite often in the US. There have been many such instances there. In India, the one that has hit headlines was that of Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat,” the official said. On whether Obama’s decision was right, the official said: “Anything unethical needs to be punished.”  Former chief of naval staff Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat was removed by the Vajpayee government in 1998 after he refused to accept the Cabinet Committee on Appointments’ decision to make Vice-Admiral Harinder Singh his deputy. His displeasure became an open debate and the media made merry with the admiral’s displeasure. In the end, the admiral lost his job and title, and even the supreme court dismissed his plea.  According to I Ramamohan Rao, former Principal Information Officer (PIO) at the Centre, the service chiefs have to convey their views to the defence minister. “On general matters and issues of sensitivity, the chiefs are generally not supposed to talk. Neither can they comment on the relationship with our neighbours. At times, credibility demands that the person in uniform explain the developments during war and other conflicts. It’s an exception and Kargil is an example, when the media was briefed regularly,” says Rao, who has worked closely with four prime ministers.  Recalling an instance, Rao, now 76, says former army chief General KS Thimmaiah had briefly resigned from his post in 1959 following differences with then defence minister VK Krishna Menon. “Parliament objected to a statement made by the general, forcing him to quit. But, then PM Jawaharlal Nehru refused to accept the resignation letter.”  On occasions like Services’ Day, Commanders’ Conference and at historic armed forces’ events, the chiefs do speak to the media. According to Sitanshu Kar, additional director general (Media & Communication), Ministry of Defence, policy guidelines clearly mention that the services chiefs should not speak to the media often. “However, in some rare cases, if the chiefs need to interact, then the defence minister needs to be informed. I regularly brief the media on behalf of MoD,” says Kar, who is also the MoD’s official spokesperson.  Sources said that the service chiefs were recently told not to comment on issues that didn’t come directly under MoD, like the Naxal attacks in Dantewada when some opinions were expressed.  The Defence Technical Publicity Rules (DTPR), 1940, acts as the bluebook for interaction with the media. “This has undergone several changes over the years with the last being in 2004. This clearly specifies who can speak, under what circumstances, when, where, and why,” adds Kar. It is learnt that the Kargil war and the technological advancements of Indian defence establishments forced MoD to make amendments to DTPR in 2004.

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