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Monday, 12 July 2010

From Today's Papers - 12 Jul 2010

  India’s interests in Iran It’s tough time for diplomacy 
The six agreements signed between New Delhi and Tehran on Friday after a two-day meeting of the India-Iran Joint Commission can go a long way in enhancing cooperation between the two countries in different areas. India and Iran can gain a lot through their joint efforts on a number of issues over which they have no clash of interests. They have convergence of views to a considerable extent on Afghanistan. India has to find a way to accept the Iranian invitation to invest in Chahbahar port, as this will help in protecting India’s interests in Afghanistan. There is a plan to link up the strategically located port with Afghanistan’s Zaranj-Delaram highway, built with Indian assistance. There is also need to increase the volume of Indo-Iranian bilateral trade, which currently stands at $15 billion. Better trade relations between the two countries will hopefully enable them to strengthen their ties in various other areas.  Of course, there is a major handicap owing to the economic sanctions imposed on Iran by the UN Security Council following Tehran’s refusal to cap its controversial nuclear programme. The fourth round of sanctions announced recently cover a significant Indo-Iranian joint venture, Iran-o-Hind, which has been used for crude oil imports by India from Iran. India, which gets 12 per cent of its crude oil requirement from Iran, will now have to look for an alternative shipping arrangement for the purpose. India has to honour its international obligations, but at the same time it has to ensure that its interests in Iran are safe.  Despite the realisation that the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline will help New Delhi considerably in meeting its fast growing energy demand, India has so far not been able to join the venture. It is not only the security factor that is coming in the way. The unending US-Iranian tussle is also there. It is really a tough time for Indian diplomacy. India’s interests lie in sticking to its old stand on the Iranian nuclear issue — as there is a humanitarian angle to it — that harsh sanctions will mean punishing the Iranian masses, who have nothing to do with the policies of the Ahmadinejad government. Only dialogue and diplomacy should be used for settling the nuclear crisis.

 Fresh crisis in the valley Beware of Pakistan’s designs
by K. Subrahmanyam  Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has called for an all-party meeting to take stock of the volatile situation in the valley where the Army had to be called in as a deterrent in support of the curfew-enforcing state police force and paramilitary forces. One Opposition leader has called for the intervention of the Prime Minister and another for the imposition of Governor’s rule. There is a lot of talk of anger of the Kashmiris and the need to address the basic political problem. Though there are vague mentions that the basic Kashmir problem, going back to 1947, is related to autonomy, there has not been a fully set-out framework of that autonomy, especially in respect of finances and security.  There is no analysis in our media or among the politicians, including those in Kashmiri, whether the volatile situation could be related to the forthcoming meeting of the Foreign Ministers of India and Pakistan and the developing situation in the Af-Pak area. There is increasing US pressure on Pakistan to initiate action on the Afghan Taliban in North Waziristan and to crack down on the Lashkar-e-Toiyaba (LET) on the basis of disclosures made by David Coleman Headley. What would suit Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Quereshi better than to focus on the volatile situation in Kashmir and “innocent, nonviolent organised stone throwers” being shot by the police in Kashmir.  Fortunately for Quereshi and the ISI of Pakistan, the Indian politicians are of the view, as they argued on the day of the bandh, that stone throwing and bus-burning are nonviolent activities. Supporters of stone-throwing and bus-burning in Kashmir cite the arguments of the Indian politicians to uphold their stand. It is difficult to legislate against stone throwing in Jammu and Kashmir without accepting that such activity should be made a criminal act in India as well. This issue is not raised and discussed by our political leaders who are otherwise eloquent on the developments in Kashmir.  According to media reports, sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) say there are as many as four major stone-pelters organisations active in the valley, proving to be a nightmare for the security forces. “The Jammu and Kashmir Stone-Pelters’ Association, the Stone-Pelters’ Association of Kashmir Valley, I Am A Stone-Pelter and the Stone Throwers are the four organisations active in the valley for the past couple of years,” they said. These organisations allegedly recruit young men and pay them at the rate of about Rs 150 to Rs 300 per day for throwing stones at the security forces and disturbing normal life in the valley.  So far, 1,875 CRPF personnel have been injured, with 211 of them becoming victims since the latest spate of stone-pelting started on June 11. Sources said the local police had even intercepted communications of the LeT on the ways in which to build up the agitation through stone-pelting.  Meanwhile, intelligence agencies have found that the stone pelters were funded from across the border through money-transfer agencies like Western Union via Dubai. “It is not easy to track them, as they dispatch money through small amounts. As the transactions are below Rs10 lakh, it is not easy to keep a watch always. The money is transferred to agents in small lots. It is an open secret that stone-pelters are hired for Rs 300 per day by these local agents.  The ISI is taking advantage of the vulnerability in the Indian system where politicians and businessmen use hawala channels extensively to get funds from abroad. This again is an all-India problem and not an exclusive Kashmir problem. The Prime Minister should call an all-party conference to discuss how far the mores and value systems of Indian political parties contribute to the security problem in Kashmir and make India vulnerable to the ISI Jammu and Kashmir is a highly fractional polity. The real problem in arriving at a political solution is that the Kashmiri parties will not sit down together to discuss a constructive solution to what they consider to be their grievance. It is also a highly personality-oriented politics. Even among the separatists there are different categories. External money flow and consequent influence are crucial determinants in crisis generation in the state from time to time. To obfuscate these factors, many of the parties, especially those with very limited popular support, blame Delhi for not solving the basic political issue.  As it happens in many other conflict zones where a certain equilibrium has been reached, the conflict and threat of escalating it become effective instrumentalities to extract greater financial concessions from Delhi. It will be a useful exercise to carry out a cost-benefit analysis in the utilisation of grants from the Centre. A turbulent situation is an excellent shield for gross inefficiency and seepage of funds. Conflict zone conditions also permit various kinds of extortions.  In spite of the prolonged conflict, Jammu and Kashmir is among the relatively faster growing states. In recent months it looked as though the state will enter a trajectory of faster growth and job-creation because there was greater harmony and understanding between the young Chief Minister and the Central Government That widespread perception itself should have sent a warning to the security establishment that those who benefited out of conflict and conditions of tension would try to sabotage the young Chief Minister. Any success of Omar Abdullah would have been looked upon not only as a threat to the interests of various vested political interests in Kashmir but also to Pakistan’s future plans.  Heightened tension in Kashmir will provide Pakistan an excuse vis-a-vis the Americans both in respect of action against the LeT and the Haqqani faction of the Taliban in North Waziristan. It will give the Pakistan Foreign Minister some counter-arguments in his discussions with our External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna. It boosts the morale of anti-Omar Abdullah elements in Kashmir. It attempts to create a wedge between Delhi and Srinagar. That explains the demands for the Prime Minister’s direct intervention.  Involving Delhi increasingly in Kashmir at this stage will suit the interests of the Pakistani Army, the ISI and the elements under the influence of the ISI as also those who have a vested interest in perpetuating the status quo conflict situation in Kashmir. There have been analyses to establish that in terms of casualties the present situation is not worse than what obtained under the previous three Chief Ministers. And there are hints that the present may be a case of over-reaction.  That will not be a correct perception if we factor in the Pakistani compulsions. The present action appears to be fully justified, but Delhi should be extremely cautious in involving itself. That will be playing into the hands of Pakistan. This is also an opportunity for Omar Abdullah to assert his leadership.

Gains in Kashmir not built upon: Army Chief
Girja Shankar Kaura Tribune News Service  New Delhi, July 11 Chief of Army Staff General VK Singh said today the cause for the recent flare up in the Kashmir Valley was as a result of the failure to build on the gains that had been made by the security forces in the troubled state.  Speaking to news channel, General Singh said, “The Kashmir situation has been tense for quite some time and the reasons are many. The basic reason being that we have not been able to build on the gains that have been made.”  In comments, which may not go down well with the political dispensation, he said the Army had brought the situation under control to a certain level from where other steps should have been taken to carry forward the process and bring peace to the Valley.  “So far as the Army is concerned, I think as security forces, a lot of work has been done. The situation has been brought to a particular level when other initiatives should have started to make way for betterment,” he said. He pointed out that efforts should have been made to identify the miscreants behind the violent protests as that would bring the volatile situation under control.  “There are people who are passing instructions on the phone. They have to be identified. There are people financing the protests. They must be identified,” he said. He was of the view that the local administration had failed to take steps to instil confidence among the people. He said it was for the local administration and the elected representatives to win the confidence of the common man and convince him to stay away from protests.  “How do we connect with the common man and build confidence in him so that he can stay away from all this? This is both an administrative measure as well as it depends on the elected leaders out there at various levels,” he said.  As had been explained by Home Minister P Chidambaram, the Army Chief also said the Army had been deployed in parts of the Valley as a deterrent to curb violence that had rocked Kashmir since June 11.

Flood Fury Army help sought to plug breaches
Tribune News Service  Mansa/ Fatehabad, July 11 Fresh breaches in the Ghaggar river on Sunday forced the Army to be called out in both Punjab and Haryana.  Although moderate rainfall was recorded across the region and water receded from various parts of the state, water continued to flow at alarming levels in other places.  Official figures pegged the death toll due to drowning and electrocution in the two states at 32. The breach in the Ghaggar affected Fatehabad district in Haryana as well and men of the 33Armoured Division from Hisar were rushed for relief and rescue operations.  Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal visited flood-hit areas and reviewed relief operations. Punjab government has estimated crop losses to the farmers at Rs 480 crore. As much as 2.5 lakh acres of farm land and three lakh people in 763 villages have been affected by the flash floods, according to official reports.

Special powers for special needs: Army chief to NDTV 
Nitin Gokhale, Updated: July 11, 2010 17:30 IST  PLAYClick to Expand & Play New Delhi:  The Armed Forces Special Powers (AFSP) act has been increasingly controversial, with a degree of criticism coming from various quarters on the misuse of powers. Speaking exclusively to NDTV, the Army chief said that the special powers act was necessary in special situations.  Here's an excerpt from the interview:  NDTV: Why is there is a controversy and what is your view on the demand on the dilution or withdrawal of AFSP act?  Gen Singh: I think this subject has been discussed for a long time. There are a large number of views on it. The Army has got a very simple outlook and that is like this: all the special situations require special treatment. When you are operating like a normal police man, he is protected by the CrPC. Certain assistance that is given. Similarly if you are putting armed forces into a situation like this, a certain legal protection will be given and that is all there is given. I think at times we get too carried away.      * NDTVShare on Twitter     * NDTVShare on Social     * NDTVGmail Buzz     * NDTVPrint   NDTV: The allegations that is constantly brought in by human rights group is the abuse and the misuse by the Army.  Gen Singh: To date let me be very categorical. 98 per cent or more of these allegations when investigated have been found to be false. A lot of allegations are instigated. Unfortunately what happens is that the NGO or Human Rights organizations, they don't know in what circumstances we operate in. They feel anything can be possible. I think we need to be careful, but I think a great amount of care is taken that we do not...our troops have got strict instructions. Well, in somewhat manner aberrations may have occurred, but that doesn't means that act has been misused.  NDTV: They always quote the example of Patribal.  Gen Singh: No, but since you came to Patribal, the information was given by the police SSP. In fact, he went to the newspaper, to TV, after the operation was over to say that this operation was successful because of me. So it is on record. Newspaper flashed his photograph, TV carried him all over. If you tell me if so and so is hiding in his house and he is terrorist, I will go and knock him down. I don't know whether he is innocent or not, I don't have the means, I just have the information given by the police.

Two terrorists killed in encounter in Kashmir
July 11, 2010 19:53 IST Tags: Abdul Hafeez, Kashmir, Kishtwar, Jammu, Rajouri Share this Ask Users Write a Comment  Two terrorists, one of them a Lashkar-e-Tayiba [ Images ] commander, were killed in separate gunbattles with security forces in Jammu and Kashmir [ Images ] on Sunday.  The LeT terrorist was killed in Kishtwar and another in Rajouri during search operations launched by security forces in Jammu region, police said.  Acting on a tip-off that some LeT terrorists were hiding in Sarwan forest belt in Kishtwar district, troops conducted searches to flush them out.  In the ensuing gunfight, an LeT terrorist, identified as Abdul Hafeez alias Nomaan, was killed while others escaped.  In another gunbattle, said to be a Pakistani terrorist, was killed in Daylote forest belt in Rajouri district.  An AK rifle, four grenades and a map were recovered from his possession, police said. © Copyright 2010 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.

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