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Tuesday, 6 July 2010

From Today's Papers - 06 Jul 2010

  Dialogue with Pakistan The mindset must change
by Air Marshal R.S. Bedi (retd)  Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s strategy of re-engagement with Pakistan is largely based on his belief that Pakistan under the circumstances may come around for a resolution of the long-pending and seemingly intractable issues. He has obviously realised that the US cannot be expected to go beyond a point in pushing Pakistan in the light of its own strategic compulsions in the region. However, the Prime Minister still managed to raise the issue with President Obama during the G-20 bilateral talks on the need to rein in Pakistan.  Re-engagement in Dr Manmohan Singh’s mind, perhaps, remains the only option for any forward movement with Pakistan. Even at the cost of some dissension within the party, he went ahead and took the initiative as it came his way at Thimphu in May this year.  The process began with the Foreign Secretary visiting Pakistan on June 23 for the first time after the 26/11 terrorist attacks, followed by the Home Minister visiting Islamabad on June 26. The External Affairs Minister will visit Pakistan on July 15 for comprehensive dialogue with his counterpart there. This reflected a fundamental shift in India’s stand for the last 18 months since 26/11 and rightly viewed by some with reservation and even deep pessimism. Obviously, the Prime Minister feels that the dialogue, notwithstanding the rancorous nature of mutual relations, is the only way to move forward and remove the so-called trust deficit.  Each side feels that the other is not playing the game in all fairness and looks for alibis to bypass genuine engagement on perceived core issues. From India’s point of view, Pakistan has done little despite the promises to dismantle the terrorist training camps on their soil, stop infiltration of militants from across the LoC, rein in jihadi leaders and take adequate action against the perpetrators of the Mumbai attack. Pakistan’s proclivity to raise hitherto unknown issues now and then also adds to the rancour.  On the other hand, Pakistan feels that India is not serious about resolving the Kashmir problem and views India’s continued interest in Afghanistan as inimical to its long-term security concerns.  Despite these things, there are indications that Pakistan is willing to proceed forward in all seriousness. It may be mentioned here that the present Pakistan Army Chief, General Kyani, who was a close ally of General Musharraf and a party to all the major decisions taken by him during the Indo-Pak dialogue going on then, particularly in respect of Kashmir, may now be on board with his civilian government. The Pakistan Army and the ISI, which were invariably opposed to any rapprochement with India in the past, may have realised the futility of their policy, independent of their government’s line of thinking, now that the 18th constitutional amendment has been passed by their National Assembly. The Pakistan Prime Minister now stands significantly more empowered. Despite this, to what extent the army is on board will remain a doubtful proposition.  However, no progress can be made in India-Pakistan relations, however much they may think out of the box or display cordiality or a facade of cohesion and cooperation as was evident during the current engagement. There is need for a change of the mindset on both sides. Pakistan has to overcome its passion for parity with India. The post-Independence generation now managing the affairs in Pakistan is not quite favourably disposed towards India. They have no such attachment as their forefathers had. Besides, there are hardliners on both sides who are ever ready to pull their governments down.  With a democratic dispensation in one country and military primacy in the other, it is not easy for the governments to find quick solutions. Neither can afford to be seen giving space to the other on the so-called core issues. In spite of good intentions, they have to per force tread with great caution.  The only way to go ahead is to set aside more intractable issues for the time being and concentrate on the less contentious ones that are more amenable to solution. India and China have been following this model despite the intractable nature of their border dispute. They are even cooperating diplomatically on major international issues. The more sensitive issues can best be handled first through back channel diplomacy and brought into public domain only when it is appropriate.  However, the way the current engagement is taking place has given the impression that less contentious issues were taken up by the Foreign Secretaries, leaving aside more complex ones for the Home and Foreign Ministers to tackle later on. If that be so, this division of agenda has at least resulted in laying down the priorities.  Pakistan, it seems, has now begun to feel that its intransigence towards India is proving counterproductive. The fact is that Pakistan has now realised the futility of the match with India in the light of the latter’s current politico- economic and military standing in the global milieu.  The economic disparity between the two countries is also growing fast. India’s GDP is nearly 10 times higher than that of Pakistan. But for the US doles, the Pakistan economy would have collapsed long ago, considering the way it spends on its defence. Pakistan is one of the highest spenders on defence. It would have never become a challenge for India but for the US succour. Despite Pakistan’s intransigence and consequent impediments in India’s rise, it still stands way ahead of Pakistan if we look at all socio-economic indicators. Pakistan is almost at the lower end of the spectrum of human development index.  Besides, the Pakistan Army, forced to fight its own people on the western border by the US since May last year, is in no position to manage a two-front war. It stands weakened with heavy casualties and low morale. “Pakistan needs to improve its relations with India so that it can focus on the situation along its western border with Afghanistan, where more troops have been deployed than any time in the past”, said Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi the other day.  Does this then mean that Pakistan is looking for an interim relief in the current dialogue, and as far as the army is concerned, there is no change of the heart or the mindset? Was the bonhomie displayed by the Pakistan leadership recently a mere façade?  Peace and war are the two sides of the same coin. To ensure peace, one has to have the means to win the war because that alone strengthens the negotiating position. If India could get Pakistan to stop state-sponsored cross-border terrorism, it would open the floodgates for enduring bonhomie between the two countries. The trust deficit will also narrow down then. The question is whether the Pakistan Army has also realised the need for the requisite change of the adversarial mindset. However, Dr Manmohan Singh has offered an opportunity to Pakistan to extricate itself from the decades of military adventurism and parity syndrome. It is for Pakistan now to use the opportunity in its own interest.

  Military Law Need to go beyond piecemeal changes
For a century, military law in India has remained stagnant in its colonial character. Unless fundamental changes are brought about to make it more effective and amiable to today’s socio-economic environment, dissatisfaction and litigation could increase. Vijay Mohan  Terming Indian military judicial system as cumbersome, the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT), while setting aside the conviction of an army major 22 years after his dismissal, has called for a serious consideration for overhauling the procedure of military justice.  That military law in India is archaic and requires a serious rethink is a debate going on in military and legal circles for a long time – with little outcome. Apart from cosmetic changes and a few modifications, the basic framework has remained unchanged since inception.  The law has its origins in the military law of England and its colonial character laying emphasis on the power of executive command rather than principles of natural justice continues. Statutory provisions were first made for the discipline of East India Company troops by an Act passed in 1754.  The need for revision was felt after independence but the Army Act 1950 was largely a replication of the existing Indian Army Act 1911,conceived by the British by amending its earlier Articles of War and other military codes. Interestingly, the British have completely revamped their own system and they now have a compulsory review of its Service Discipline Acts every five years.  Military justice in India is characterised by a system where the Army Act is the guiding instrument for laying down rules and regulations governing military personnel. Offences attracting penal action can be dealt with administratively, as in departmental action in civilian set-up or be tried by a court martial, which is akin to a criminal trial by a sessions court.  The Tribunal observed that the four-tier process from preliminary inquiry through hearing of charge and summary of evidence to the actual trial, was cumbersome, time consuming and totally unwarranted. Therefore this exercise be shortened like a criminal trial to expedite court martial proceedings. The bench also held that elementary mistakes were committed in conduct of military trials due to lack of training of court officials.  Courts martial, the bed-rock for enforcing discipline, are ad-hoc courts comprising of officers picked at random to hear a single case. Court members and the prosecutor, are not law qualified and are advised legal procedures by a judge advocate, the only legally qualified person on the bench.  The Tribunal recommended that a court martial’s presiding officer be a legally trained person who can regulate its proceedings and such presiding officers, prosecutors and judge-advocates should be sent for training to criminal courts where regular trials are conducted.  It in 1982 that the Supreme Court had pointed out serious anomalies in the military law. Using the words “archaic” and “antiquated” to describe it, the apex court had called for an overhaul of the system and had also strongly advocated setting up a separate tribunal to adjudicate appeals in military cases. Except for a few changes in the Army Act, overhauling the system was relegated to the back burner.  At the inauguration of the Army Institute of Law in 2003, then President Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam had, in the light of a number of decisions taken by courts martial being revised by High Courts, stressed for making a systematic study of the military judicial system and appropriately modifying service Acts.  As military law is meant for enforcing discipline, he opined that soldiers had gradually become knowledge workers with growth in education levels and technological progress, and the management of knowledge workers was different from the conventional system of managing soldiers. An educated, well-informed individual would be more aware of his rights or acts perceived to be disadvantageous to him than the brawny soldier of yore.  The society, of which soldiers form an integral part, has witnessed drastic changes in its socio-economic and cultural profile, leading to shifs in their perception of life, desires, family demands and social obligations. These have a direct correlation with service careers and related competition. Military law in India has not kept pace with transformation in a dynamic society.  Till recently over 10,000 cases pertaining to court martial appeals, promotions, postings and allied service matters were pending in High Courts. This is a reflection on the system. The AFT, to which these are being transferred, would no doubt help in speedier disposal of these matters, but except for relieving pressure on the high courts, its establishment after hanging fire for over 25 years, does not go into the root of the problem. Unless fundamental changes are brought about to make military law more effective and amiable to today’s environment, of course without compromising professional standards and discipline, dissatisfaction and litigation will continue and probably increase.  The defence minister recently announced a common law being conceived for the three Services, which are governed by different Army, Navy and Air Force Acts.  It is now, while forming the new Act that the government should take a deliberate and holistic approach and give a serious thought to the maladies affecting the Indian military law and bringing appropriate changes. There is also a need to go in for wider debate on the issue, involving members of the judiciary, bar, the service community and academia. .  One issue that needs serious consideration is separating the Judge Advocate General’s branch at various levels from the command hierarchy and making it an independent entity to prevent being influenced by commanders, as the JAG officers, the court and the accused report to the same overall commander.  Summary Court Martial, a feature unique to the Army where a unit’s commanding officer solely constitutes the court with powers to dismiss or imprison an individual, has also been an issue of considerable debate and there have calls to make this mechanism more transparent with greater checks and balances.  The shortcomings  How to remove them n Pre-trial procedures be shortened. Repetitive steps like court of inquiry, hearing of charge and summary of evidence be rationalised.  n Revision of findings and sentences by the convening authority as well as pre and post confirmation petitions be dispensed with.  n Introduction of provision of bail for persons placed under close arrest during pre-trial and trial period.  n Summary court martial is viewed as the most abused tool of power by the commanding officer where an accused does not have right to a counsel. There have been calls to introduce eater checks and balances.

AP to have 2 more missile units
Suresh Dharur Tribune News Service  Hyderabad, July 5 Two more missile-manufacturing units will come up in Andhra Pradesh soon. This will be in addition to the two existing units at Hyderabad and Medak. Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL), the public sector defence production unit, will set up the new units in Anantapur and Ranga Reddy districts at a combined cost of Rs 1,400 crore.  As part of new industrial policy 2010-15, the state government would facilitate establishment of missile production units and has already allotted 1100 acres of land in both the districts for the purpose.  A Rs 600-crore facility will come up near Bhagayat village in neighbouring Ranga Reddy district over an extent of 500 acres. Another Rs 706 crore missile production unit will be established at Kambalapalli village in Anantapur district.“The two units will provide jobs to about 2,900 persons and will be completed in three years,” Chief Minister K Rosaiah said.  The existing missile units at Kanchanbagh in the city and near Bhanur in Medak district are engaged in manufacturing a wide range of missiles including the long range surface-to-surface ballistic missile, Agni, to meet the requirement of the Army, Air Force and the Navy.  The proposed facility in Anantapur district will also have an integrated township for the employees. The BDL aims to achieve a sales turnover of Rs 1,500 crore in 2010-11.

BSF likely to take charge in Naxal heart
Man Mohan Our Roving Editor  Raipur, July 5 The Centre is thinking of using Border Security Force (BSF) in specific special operations against Maoists in view of CRPF men getting hit again and again by Red rebels in Chhattisgarh.  Compared to the CRPF, the BSF is far more experienced in counter-terrorism and jungle warfare. The BSF that is deployed in Kashmir and northeastern states, is also better equipped to counter Maoists, who have now graduated from guerilla tactics to military warfare.  A clear hint that the BSF is likely to be given responsibilities to fight Maoists was available today when Union Home Secretary Gopal K Pillai visited a BSF camp in Kanker. Pillai also visited BSF’s Bhanupratapur camp to meet officers and jawans.  The Centre has also stationed a battalion of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, another highly motivated fighting machine, in the Bastar region.  Sources said that in new redeployment plan, the Central paramilitary forces - the CRPF and the ITBP - may be asked to work under tactical guidance of the BSF.  Within the BSF, there are some reservations about getting involved in the internal law and order situations.  For quick response to reinforcements and rescue missions in the eventually of a Maoist attack, it is learnt, the Centre is planning to deploy helicopters at additional points in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand.  At present, the security forces are using BSF helicopters stationed at Raipur and Ranchi. The BSF fleet consists of three to four Dhruv Advance Light Helicopters and two MI-17 choppers.  Additional helipad sites under survey include Chhattisgarh’s first Counter Terrorism and Jungle Warfare College in Kanker, and Naryanpur, where 27 security personnel, including 25 of the CRPF, were ambushed and killed by the Maoist recently. A site in Gumla in Jharkhand is also being considered.  Pillai arrived in Chhattisgarh on Sunday night on a two-day visit to take stock of the ‘Red’ threat. Maoist have ‘greeted’ him with a stern warning: “We will kill whosoever murdered our top leader Cherkuri Rajkumar in Andhra Pradesh on Friday.”  On the other hand, Pillai claimed while talking to the local media in Kanker on Monday that “the Naxal menace will be finished completely in three to five years.” He has come to discuss redeployment of Central police forces in view of several deadly Maoist ambush and massacre of the CRPF men, and visit some Maoist-hit areas.  Union Home Secretary Pillai left here for Rajnandgaon early this morning in a helicopter, accompanied by Chhattisgarh’s Director General of Police Vishwa Ranjan and state Home Secretary NK Aswal.  In Rajnandgaon (which is one of the worst Naxal-affected district), Pillai met the police and local district officials. Pillai’s visit is being taken as important in view of successive Maoist attacks this year. Among all the Naxal-hit states, Chhattisgarh is considered to be the Maoists’ nerve centre. In southern Bastar, the Maoists have declared the Chintaner areas as their Dandekaran (Red Corridor) state’s capital.  Meanwhile, Naxals have vowed to avenge killing of their leader Azad. “We will take revenge and won’t spare whosoever killed our beloved Azad, who was the brain and spirit of people’s war against the state,” top Maoist leader Kishanji has informed the media. Maoist have declared a two-day bandh on July 7-8.  In view of Naxals’ aggressive attitude, Pillai’s specific movemets are being kept secret. Although it was officially announced that he would arrive here on Monday morning, he reached here on Sunday night by a private airline’s scheduled flight.

Indian Navy's first indigenous Light Combat Aircraft to roll out tomorrow 
Press Trust of India, Updated: July 05, 2010 15:14 IST  New Delhi:  India is all set to roll out its indigenous naval Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) facility in Bangalore on Tuesday, which will be witnessed by Defence Minister A K Antony.  "The first indigenous naval Light Combat Aircraft , the LCA (Navy) NP1,  is scheduled to roll out from HAL Aircraft Research and Design Centre (ARDC) hanger on July 6," a Defence Minister official said on Monday.  An important milestone for the naval programme of Bangalore-based Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), the aircraft would be brought out of the hanger where it was assembled part-by-part during the roll-out.  Navy Chief Admiral Nirmal Verma will be the chief guest at the event. The aircraft is being readied for induction into the Navy and for deployment on board the Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC), currently under construction at the Cochin Shipyard, by 2015 Following the roll-out, the Naval LCA, with state-of-the-art technologies and punch, will be ready for the phase of systems integration tests leading to ground runs, taxi trials and flight trials. Once the ground based tests are completed , the 'NP1' is expected to fly by the end of this year and the NP2 is likely to fly by the end of 2011.  The government had sanctioned the LCA (Navy) programme in 2003 and the first stage of development included design and fabrication of a trainer and a fighter,  NP1 and NP2 respectively,  along with a Shore Based Test Facility (SBTF) at Goa naval air base, which has already come up.  The SBTF is being used to simulate carrier take off and arrested landing and as a training facility for future pilots of the naval LCA. It is also being used for training on the newly acquired MiG-29K fighter jets, bought from Russia to be operated on the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier, which is under a repair and refit programme in a Russian shipyard.

Delhi court issues contempt notice to Indian Army chief 
ISLAMABAD: The New Delhi High Court on Monday issued a contempt notice to the Indian Army chief after he failed to comply with the court’s previous order of granting permanent commission to serving women officers who were selected on short-service commission basis. Justice GS Sistani also sought a response from the Defence Ministry secretary by August 18 on a petition filed by Lieutenant Colonel Sangita Sardana and other serving women officers of the Indian Army. The women had alleged that the army had failed to grant a permanent commission to them, a private news channel reported. Earlier in May, the court had also stayed the military’s decision to release the next batch of women officers. app

India-Nigeria defence cooperation to get boost
05 July 2010 18:48:49 by IANS ( Leave a comment )  Manmohan Singh New Delhi, July 5 (IANS) The Indian Army vice chief, Lt. Gen. P.C. Bhardwaj, left Monday for a three-day goodwill visit to Nigeria that will further boost the defence cooperation between the two nations. The June 5-7 visit would “further boost the historic and traditional defence relations” India has with with Nigeria, defence spokesperson said.  “During his three day official visit, he will be meeting senior officials of the Nigerian armed forces and attending the Nigerian Army Day celebrations,” the spokesperson added.  During his interaction with senior military officials, Bhardwaj will discuss “issues to enhance military cooperation”.  “The visit will further cement the historic ties between India and Nigeria which are based mutual trust and understanding,” the spokesperson said.  Defence cooperation has been a vital tool to enhance the relations between India and Nigeria, which share similarities in their struggle against colonialism and in their ethnic diversity and geo-political outlook.  India and Nigeria signed a strategic partnership deal called the “Abuja Declaration” during the visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2007.  The defence cooperation with Nigeria has existed since 1963 and the Indian armed forces have contributed significantly in laying the foundation of various army training establishments there.  The armed forces of the two nations have been comprehensively cooperating in the field of military training and United Nations peacekeeping training.

When the Indian Army Fakes It
What works in Bollywood works for the Indian army. After seven years a colonel of the armed forces has been fighting to prove that the ketchup on the bodies of his 'victims' was not his idea. There is a tragic-comic dimension to this story.  The report in short:      Col. Harvinder Singh Kohli is ordered by his superiors to bump off the five militants his men had taken into custody in an encounter. He chose to hand them (of the Assam Commando Group) over to the civil authorities. This was not on:      Kohli's bosses would not relent: his immediate superior, a brigadier, told him that "kills" in encounters were important and this is what mattered. If he could not kill anyone, then at least a "fake" encounter should be staged. An NDA cadet and brought up under the culture of obedience, Kohli made, what it seems now, the mistake of his life.      He dressed up five men and made them lie down on the ground. They were sprayed with ketchup and pictures were taken of them. The bosses were happy, so was Kohli. He did not have to kill anybody and his superiors were contented with pictures of the purported kill. Now the bosses, in order to keep the name of the regiment high, cajoled Kohli to recommend gallantry awards for his men (not for himself).   Before we go any further in this bizarre tale, we must understand the dynamics here. Kohli was being obedient. It just shows how these hierarchies work. More importantly, if militants are usually released to the civil authorities, then he was doing his duty. I fail to see the sympathy evinced about his innocence. Is he innocent of handing over the militants, which is what the government expects? Is he innocent of not being the person who wanted to carry out the fake encounter? If it was fake and no one was killed, then he is innocent.  The real issue is not of innocence but of culpability and connivance with the authorities under the garb of obedience and this army discipline we keep hearing about. Someone squealed about the ketchup. It was probably taken from the army rations and there wasn’t enough left for the burgers. Kohli was court-martialled and then dismissed.  The obedient Kohli did not reveal the name of the brigadier. There was more drama. A lieutenant colonel who assisted him told him if he pleaded guilty he would be let off with loss of two-year seniority. He confessed, but the other side did not keep their end of the bargain and he was dismissed.       Actually Kohli was fooled: he was given to understand that there was plea-bargaining, but on the records of the court-martial proceedings there was no mention of this.   There would not be. A Force that wants ‘kills’, that watches as a colonel sprays ketchup and pictures of live corpses are taken is unlikely to put all this on record.  Feeling cheated, he finally named names. The Brigadier S S Rao had ordered the fake encounter with the knowledge of his boss Major General Ravinder Singh, general officer commanding, 57 Mountain Division. Colonel Kohli presented taped conversations he had with the brigadier as evidence.  I am flummoxed. If kills are so important then why did the brigadier not get a junior officer to just shoot some guys? It is not unusual and has happened several times. Are we talking about the sensitive face of the Indian Army? The nice guys who are happy with the colour red but not a bloody mess? Who will twirl moustaches and present the image of braggadocio?  Did the incident create such a deep bond between Kohli and his senior that he could tape conversations? Was the brigadier so naïve that he would repeat his dramatic little outing and put his reputation at risk before a junior? Why was Kohli taping the conversations? Was it before his court-martial or after? If it was before, he was canny enough to anticipate trouble. If it was after, then the brigadier must be tried for foolhardiness rather than anything else.  Of course, after the investigations he had to forfeit five years of seniority and a reprimand. The major suffered a similar fate. Kohli was not reinstated. The matter reached the Army headquarters and the Defence Ministry after years, which is surprising. It has been proved that he acted on orders of his superiors and has “no personal interest in the matter”.  An army colonel ought to have a great deal of personal interest, in that it is his professional duty to arrest militants, not stage fake encounters and, if forced to do so, report to the authorities.  Unfortunately, the army is a ghettoised institution with regiments working in isolation and the pecking order deciding what came first and who comes last. The fact that there is plea bargaining in an institution that is the defence front of the state exposes it to all manner of falsification and skulduggery.

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