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Monday, 26 July 2010

From Today's Papers - 26 Jul 2010

Reaching out to Pakistan has been a one-way street. The need of the hour is to drastically change our foreign policy while building up our military and internal security apparatus to meet the challenge posed by the Pakistani army.  Cut losses and change tack Lt-Gen Vijay Oberoi (retd)  AS expected, the talks between India and Pakistan at the Foreign Minister's level failed, although our government is at pains to tell us that this is not so! Such failures are an oft-repeated phenomenon as we have gone through many similar exercises. The results every time are sabotage by the Pakistan army, either directly as in Kargil, or indirectly, as has happened now. In the bargain, here we are - a potential superpower in the making, which continues to be taken for a ride by Pakistan. When will we learn? It is no solace that Pakistan has been taking the would’s sole super power, the United States, also for a ride for decades!  Foreign policies are not made or changed by individual whims and fancies, especially in a democracy. When majority of the populace does not support resumption of dialogue with Pakistan, till it not only abjures state sponsored terror but shows it by its actions, why does our political leadership persist in this charade? It is not that enough wise people have not warned or requested the leadership not to do so, but it seems our hierarchy listens more to emotions and diehard peaceniks than to hard facts. No doubt there is pressure to talk from the US, but it has to be resisted as we have good grounds for not re-starting the so-called peace-dialogue.  While peace should be the goal of all countries, no country does so by shooting itself in the foot! The present government has done so on more than one occasion and instead of learning, it now wants to persist in this endeavour. When perfidy by Pakistan since its formation is well known and documented, one fails to understand the reasons for the persistence of our leaders in continuing to try for peace with a nation that does not want it as a matter of state policy. It is state policy, as policy is made by the power structure in being and in Pakistan, its army calls the shots.The  so-called elected leaders know it, but they are not strong or clever enough to change this. It is unfortunate that Pakistan is yet to produce a political entity that can confront the army successfully.  The Pakistani army has its own agenda, where peace with India has no place. It wants to retain its powerful position as Pakistan's sole power center. Any headway in reaching a peace settlement with India would obviously undermine its pre-eminent position and would be opposed. Unless the army’s clout is reduced or eliminated, nothing will change. The onus for this lies squarely on the polity of Pakistan, but it can be facilitated by external actions too.  This brings us to the obvious question of how to proceed further. Statements emanating from the political leadership and officials they have made up their minds to carry on regardless. They have obviously not heard the phrase "cutting one's losses" and changing tack. There is a well-known military saying that asks military leaders to "reinforce success, not failures". Even if our political leaders pay little attention to "matters military', surely common sense should lead them to such a conclusion. However, linear thinking continues to be a bane of Indian establishment, where change has little meaning! The need of the hour is to make a drastic change in our foreign policy, as it relates to the India-Pakistan equation.  Till now, India's policy has been to reach out to its neighbours, including Pakistan, so that a friendly atmosphere is generated and problems are solved in a spirit of give and take. While this may be a splendid theoretical exercise, it can only be implemented if there is reciprocity.. In South Asia, India has managed to achieve this with some countries, but it has always been a one-way street with Pakistan. That country only wants concessions from India, with no inputs from its side. This can never be a solution to peaceful coexistence and this policy should, therefore, change.  We do have routine relations, with diplomats functioning at full strength in each other's capitals. There are also frequent meetings of senior bureaucrats and ministers at various multi-lateral fora. The PM also meets his counterpart on many occasions. In addition there are a several military CBM's in place like hot lines between the two DGMO's and agreements relating to flying aircraft in border areas, the conduct of military exercises near borders and so on. This should suffice till Pakistan stops state-sponsored terrorism.  Despite the machinations of Pakistan in destabilising India by sponsoring insurgencies in Punjab earlier and J&K currently, supporting Jihadi and similar outfits for launching terror attacks; flooding India with fake currency and providing support and shelter to indigenous militant groups, the economy of India continues to rise at a fast pace. While the growth rate of India is steadily increasing at 8-8.5 per cent of the GDP, that of Pakistan is stagnating at 2 per cent. Our democracy continues to be commented favourably by foreign countries, while Pakistan continues to earn the dubious honour of being the hub of terrorism and every act of terrorism in the world is linked to it. Our military continues to be apolitical, despite its gross mishandling and down grading by the political leadership and the "committed" bureaucracy, while that of Pakistan is always in a "military coup" mode even when a so-called elected government is in being. We have built and nourished numerous institutions, which are strengthening our democracy, but Pakistan struggles to sustain even rudimentary institutions it has managed to create. Lastly, while India has moved from an "aid receiver" to an "aid giver", Pakistan is perpetually on the verge of bankruptcy and only substantial funds it gets from USA keep it afloat.  The bottom line therefore is to take a much-needed break from any kind of formal negotiations with Pakistan. Let us continue with routine, impersonal and correct relationship with Pakistan, so that the Pakistani leadership - political, civil bureaucracy and military - fully understands that we mean business and we will not succumb to its threats, cajoling and blandishments, or pressure from other countries. This will require not only a drastic change in our policy but also building up our military and internal security apparatus for meeting the challenges posed by the Pakistani army.

 Synergy can’t be achieved without CDS
Col Pritam Bhullar (retd)  Addressing the Army Commanders' Conference recently, Defence Minister A.K. Antony made a strong plea for synergy among the Army, Navy and Air Force as future security matrix calls for a high degree of cooperation and inter-dependence among the services.  Antony also stated in Parliament that the proposal to appoint a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), recommended by the Kargil Review Committee, was "under examination", and institutional support and infrastructure had already been created in the form of an Integrated Defence Staff Headquarters to support the CDS "whenever created".  His statement amounts to putting the cart before the horse, as there was no need of creating a "headless" IDS Headquarters years earlier if the proposal for its head (CDS) was to remain "under examination" indefinitely.  Antony knows as much as everyone that the proposal for a CDS has been under consideration since before the Chinese aggression of 1962. Like in all previous wars, the necessity of having a joint head was felt in the Kargil conflict too, though it was a localised operation in a "war-like situation".  In Kargil, air action was delayed for several days due to differences between Army and the Air Force. It was only these were resolved at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) that the air action was put through. Similarly, the decision to move the Navy's eastern fleet into the Arabian Sea to send a strong signal to Pakistan, was delayed until the Navy Chief stressed on this in the meeting.  All this has again brought to the fore the necessity of having a joint head for the armed forces. What was heartening after the Kargil war was that the three service chiefs had unanimity. The Kargil Review Committee examined the necessity or otherwise of a joint head and recommended the appointment of a CDS besides restructuring the Ministry of Defence. The issue was then examined by a Group of Ministers, which recommended the creation of a CDS in 2001.  No sooner did this happen than a controversy started between the three services as each service staked a claim on this appointment. It took sometime to resolve this, after which it was hoped the appointment of CDS would come through. Formalities were completed in 2002, but the appointment still hangs fire.  In his book:, "Problems of Indian Defence", defence analyst K.M. Panikkar, says: "The separation of three services under independent commanders is, indeed, an outmoded concept. Division of functions makes sense only if they represent distinguishable strategic mission. Today, this is not possible…."  Modern wars not only call for close coordination between the services but also an integrated command set-up. In the 1965 war, the Army and the Air Force virtually fought independent battles, while the Navy had a very little role. In 1971, things functioned better because of the long preparatory period and a healthy nexus between the service chiefs who had the backing of a strong political leadership.  Both in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, each service had to carry out its own reconnaissance for operational planning. In Sri Lanka, the necessity of having representatives from the three services at each HQs was greatly felt. Until this requirement was met, the conduct of operations suffered.  After Lord Mountbatten came to India as Viceroy, he tried to convince Jawaharlal Nehru that India should adopt CDS system, but Nehru was reluctant. Mountbatten recorded: "I urged him to appoint General Thimayya the CDS right-away as I could see trouble brewing up. He liked Thimayya immensely and was no longer opposed to the CDS provided it got through the Defence Minister, Krishna Menon. He said Krishna was so bitterly opposed to Thimayya and indeed, all the really intelligent senior officers that he was sure he could never get Krishna to agree."  We never came as close to having a CDS as we did after the Kargil conflict. But when all hurdles were cleared, the political hierarchy dithered and put the issue in cold storage by saying that consensus of all the political parties was required, which is unlikely.  The powers-that-be have always shied away for two main reasons. One, the bureaucrats feel that the defence forces integrated under one head will become stronger, resulting in the bureaucrats losing some of their clout and powers. Two, the politicians suffer from an inherent phobia that a strong Army will not augur well for them.  In sum, synergy among the services cannot be achieved without creating a joint head for the armed forces. India is still following a system of command that is totally outdated and is neither in the interest of the country nor is it conducive to the operational efficiency of the services. There is, therefore a dire necessity to create a CDS as a modern war cannot be fought without integrating the three services under one head.

AFT acquits Lt Col dismissed 15 yrs ago
Vijay Mohan Tribune News Service  Chandigarh, July 25 Fifteen years after a general court martial (GCM) dismissed from service a Lieutenant Colonel, who was accused of bringing false charges against a Havaldar from whose custody a jawan accused of robbery had allegedly escaped, the Armed Forces Tribunal has set aside the GCM’s verdict. The authorities also forfeited 50 per cent of his pension.  “Having gone through the evidence on record, we are of the view that the prosecution failed to establish the charges against the appellant. The findings of the GCM are not sustainable and the impugned order of dismissal from service is set aside,” the Tribunal’s Bench comprising Justice S.S. Kulshreshtha and Justice S.S. Dhillon ruled. “The respondent shall consider restoration of the withheld pension of the appellant,” the bench further ordered.  Lt Col G.R. Verma had faced six charges under Section 52(f) and 63 of the Army Act for intent to defraud and acts prejudicial to good order and military discipline, including receiving a supposedly stolen scooter and tampering documents, the GCM had concluded in 1995 and he was held guilty on five charges.  Verma’s counsel, Maj K. Ramesh (retd), told The Tribune that the case related to the escape of a jawan, who was in custody of the appellant’s ASC unit for involvement in a bank robbery. An NCO, Hav K.A. Terdal, was said to have been guarding him. Thereafter, on the instructions of his Commanding Officer, Verma filed a chargesheet against Terdal, who pleaded guilty in the subsequent court of inquiry.

MiG-27 crash toll rises to 3 
Jalpaiguri (WB), July 25 The black box of the MiG-27 aircraft, which crashed yesterday in West Bengal’s Jalpaiguri district, was retrieved today as the toll rose to three, with two more persons succumbing to their injuries.  The black box or digital flight data recorder was located from near the spot in Bhotputti village where the crash took place, a senior Air Force officer said.  The MiG-27 had taken off from the Hashimara Air Base on a routine sortie and crashed within minutes, killing one person on the ground and injuring many. A farmer, Bholen Roy, who was cultivating his field, was killed when the fighter jet crashed between Moynaguri and Chengrabandha.  Two more persons, who were seriously injured, later died at hospital, taking the toll due to the crash to three. Teenager Purnima Rai succumbed to her burn injuries at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital last night. — PTI

AJTs for Indian Navy
Tribune News Service  New Delhi, July 25 The Indian Navy on Friday signed a deal with the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to procure Advanced Jet Trainers for the first time to train its pilots before they step into the more complex MiG 29-K, a naval variant of the same name fighter used by the IAF.  The AJTs will also replace the existing lot of jet trainers named “Surya Kiran”. The deal for Rs 3042 crore will be for the supply of 17 of these AJT’s. Delivery starts from 2013 and is expected to be completed by 2016, the Navy spokesperson said last evening. These AJT’s are capable of carrying some weaponry for self protection. Unlike the MIG 29-K , these cannot land on the deck of sea-based naval aircraft carrier.  The IAF has already ordered for 66 of such trainers for its pilots.

Rashtriya Rifles better option against Naxals?
Man Mohan in Bastar Tribune news service  At a road-side tea shop before Sukma, 80 km from Dantewada in South Bastar, an ordinary sari-clad tribal woman, carrying a heavy-looking cotton sling bag, walked in. Everyone stopped talking. After 10-minutes, she got up, paid the bill and sharply looked at the only stranger, this correspondent, and walked out.  “Who was she?” this correspondent asked the non-tribal shop owner.  Looking both sides, in a low-tone, he said, “Naxal, sahib.” Questioned, whether these Naxalites move around so freely, he whispered, “they are everywhere.”  This indicate that peace will continue to elude picture postcard Bastar for long.  That it is going to be a long haul is evident from frank acknowledgement that Union Home Secretary Gopal K Pillai made during his recent two-day Chhattisgarh visit “It will take three to seven years to finish the red rebels.”  Actually, doubts have started surfacing in the mind of high-ranking police officers, bureaucrats and people, including anti-Maoist tribal leaders, about the capability of the Central security forces.  Seeing their awful performance, the Naxal watchers are wondering whether the Centre should go for the deployment of only one aggressive para-military force, Rashtriya Rifles (RR) - if they have spare battalions - and do away with multiple security forces. None of them are trained and equipped to face the Maoists in a mobile or positional warfare.  The RR, which draws men only from the army, has earned a good reputation in Jammu and Kashmir by playing a pro-active role in neutralising terrorists.  The CRPF has suffered heavy casualties this summer. “Instead of getting scared,” a police officer in Narayanpur said, “the Maoists are showing dare-devil attitude by taking them head-on.”  In J&K and north-east, the CRPF and the BSF have remained pitted mainly against unorganised mobs on the streets. But in Chhattisgarh, fighting terrorism is a different ball-game. The Bastar battle zone is getting worse as the red rebels are raising an independent Brigade formation (about 4,000 to 5,000 men), based on military pattern, to fight a mobile or positional battle. The Maoists’ surprise multi-prong attacks are making the forces incapable of rendering assistance even to each other.  “Both the CRPF and the BSF suffer from a historical (traditional) mindset. They deploy themselves for a ‘holding’ role rather than going for the ‘area domination’ role,” a senior police officer in Jagdalpur explained. “Unlike the army,” he observed, “they are not capable of moving forward to win back the territory occupied by the enemy.  In J&K jungles and hills, the RR commandos have proved their mettle. They ascertain the source of trouble, threat level and devise strategies to neutralise the enemy’s firing positions. In Bastar, the para-military forces only try to secure themselves at their base when they come under fire.  Recently, in Nakulnar, 30 km from Dantewada, the Maoists attacked the house of a Congress leader-cum-contractor, Avdesh Singh Gautam. Simultaneously, they opened fire at nearby Kuankonda police station. About 100 CRPF men were also stationed there around midnight. No one stirred out to rescue Gautam, who, after two hours, managed to escape. The Maoists melted back into the forest when a CRPF reinforcement team was spotted by their lookouts moving from Dantewada at 3 a.m. “Unless and until, you create fear by eliminating the enemy, you can’t succeed,” said an army officer associated with the Naxal issue in an advisory role. “At present,” he pointed out that “faceless Maoists are striking anywhere, any time at their own sweet will.”  About the demand for the army’s deployment to handle the red terror, a Major-General from New Delhi said, “The opening of a new front for the army won’t be good as it will send a wrong signal to the world. We should not become another Pakistan fighting terrorism in every nook and corner of the country.”

Cameron’s Visit Hawk contract, cultural deal on anvil 
London, July 25 A £500 million deal for BAE systems, Britain’s biggest defence contractor, to supply Hawk jet trainers is expected to be among a string of high-profile contracts to be signed during Prime Minister David Cameron’s two-day visit to India commencing on Wednesday. There is also likely to be a major cultural agreement involving museums, ‘The Observer’ reported today .Cameron is taking with him seven Cabinet ministers and a huge trade delegation, including representatives from BAE as well as from Rolls-Royce, Standard Chartered Bank, construction group Balfour Beatty and the British Museum.  The BAE has set up joint ventures with the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics in Bangalore. The Indian group makes BAE’s Hawk trainer aircraft under licence. Dick Olver, BAE’s Chairman, said British business needed to think about India becoming as important a trading partner as America. — PTI

Pragmatism prevails in extending COAS tenure 
By Makhdoom Babar  Pakistan’s Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has been granted a three-year extension of service by the government to ensure continuity in counter-terrorism operations, ending months of speculation over his continuance. The 58-year-old Kayani, who replaced former President Pervez Musharraf as army chief in 2007, was to retire on November 28. Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani announced the government’s decision to extend his tenure during a short but to the point televised address to the nation. Justifying what he said “relaxation in existing policy” in according extension to Army Chief’s service the Prime Minister said the decision was done in the best interests of the country, for the sake of continuity of counter-terror operations that were in their crucial stage.  The Prime Minister announced this key decision in his address to the nation on electronic media and the decision, he said, was taken in consultation with President Asif Ali Zardari. According to the officials of the Prime Minister’s Secretariat, the address to the nation had this one-point agenda and Premier Gilani wanted to take the people into confidence for this important decision.  Although it is an unprecedented move since former Army Chiefs and dictators like Ayub Khan, Yahya, Zia and Musharraf had been granting extensions to themselves. This is the first time ever that a democratically elected government, has extended the tenure of office of an Army Chief that too on pure merit and not under coercion or intimidation. Kayani, a cool and composed professional soldier, who had numerous opportunities to grab power in the past two and a half years during various crises, like the restoration of Judiciary’s Long March and other moments of anarchy, has proven beyond a shadow of doubt that he has no political ambitions. Instead, he lived up to his promise of taking the Army back to its professional duties and not meddle in the affairs of the state and thus not only provided a much needed respite to the budding democracy and restored the tarnished image of the Army but also lent a helping hand to the politicians when they needed a helping hand in steadying the boat. Kayani’s stature has risen in the eyes of the public because he is viewed as a picture of stability and has had a calming effect. The Kerry Lugar Bill, India’s belligerence, the onslaught of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan at the behest of RAW, all challenges met with a rock steady hand, after careful deliberation and meticulous planning. Indeed the unparalleled success of the Pakistan Army against the terrorists in Swat and South Waziristan not only won Kayani accolades in Pakistan but the NATO Commanders heralded Pakistan’s operations and Admiral Mike Mullen went to the extent of visiting the areas cleared of the miscreants and requested General Kayani to share his experiences with the NATO and ISAF commander in Afghanistan so that they could emulate him.  Another feather in General Kayani’s cap is that he has engaged the Pakistan Air Force in such a manner that it has proved to be a pillar of strength in the anti-terrorism operations. Such joint operations and cooperation were never seen in Pakistan during earlier wars or operations and speak volumes for the General’s capabilities and qualities of head and heart. He has also envisaged a welfare programme for the soldiers and other ranks of the Army. Up till now, the welfare programs were reserved for the officer cadre, but the humanitarian element in General Kayani has ensured that the various schemes like housing, welfare, re-employment and so on are extended to retired soldiers and the dependants of shaheeds too.  It is not clear at this stage, whether General Kayani would be retained as the Army Chief or would become the Chief of Defence Staff with all three service chiefs under him, but one thing is clear that the nation needs the services of a clear headed and able General like him to finish the job of eradicating the menace of terrorism from the region and his extension is a welcome step; both for his professional competence and democratic vision, General Kayani is respected and regarded in high esteem by the international community as well as the people of Pakistan.

Crucial Challenges for U.K. 
ublished: 26 July 2010 Print  Print  |  Print  Email  By the end of this year's Farnborough International Air Show, little doubt remained that Britain's defense and security landscape is changing.  The seminal moment came on the show's second day, when Defence Secretary Liam Fox told contractors to cut prices charged for defense goods and services.  He noted the British government won't hit the Ministry of Defence as hard as other departments while it works to cut the deficit. Nonethe-less, the cuts will be painful; MoD has approved more programs than it could ever pay for.  Fortunately, the new government defense team appears solid. Fox and his Liberal Democrat deputy, Nick Harvey, both have served as shadow defense ministers, while policy chief Gerald Howarth has decades of experience.  Acquisition chief Peter Luff is new to defense, but he's already impressing. Foreign Secretary William Hague, who serves as a bridge between Fox and Prime Minister David Cameron, will help shape Britain's world role. Among the top leaders, only Business Secretary Vince Cable appears less than supportive of aerospace and defense.  The Strategic Defence and Security Review will release its findings in October, and many expect the Army and Air Force to be hit hard. Moreover, Fox's plan to cut MoD's running costs by 25 percent, no matter how artfully executed, will hurt Britain's military capabilities; the only question is, by how much.  And getting publicly traded companies to cut prices and increase product investment will be tricky. Fox says a carrot-and-stick approach will get him there, but business pays attention to customers with money, so industry is focused on Asia, India and the Middle East.  Meanwhile, U.K. defense research and technology spending has fallen by 23 percent to $676 million over three years, and no one will rule out further cuts.  Britain also foresees a tighter defense relationship with France, allowing its shrinking military to retain maximum capabilities.  The next year will be crucial for British defense, and success, in large measure, depends on doing as little harm as possible.  The government should double research and technology investment to ensure commercially attractive future products and meet its stated goal of boosting exports.  Acquisition policies must be revised to en-courage more competition and innovation. Government leaders must be far more selective in spending, seeking cheaper programs that are effective, if less ambitious, to free money for more expensive, higher-priority systems.  On the diplomatic front, London must reassure Washington about its growing ties with Paris, with whom the Anglo-American nations have long had a checkered relationship. U.S officials, who have given British counterparts access to sensitive technologies because of their special friendship, will have to be convinced that such ties are in America's interests.  If the new defense team can carry all of this out, Britain's military may find itself smaller yet in better shape when Farnborough rolls around again in two years.  Finally, the Obama administration should help its closest ally by convincing the Senate to ratify the U.S.-U.K. defense cooperation treaty. The treaty has been stalled since it was inked three years ago, an unnecessary and ugly irritant.

Remembering Kargil heroes, 11 years after victory 
The nation will on Monday remember its soldiers who were killed in the summer of 1999 while protecting the Kargil heights in Jammu and Kashmir from Pakistani raiders and camouflaged regular troops in an audacious invasion attempt that was met with heroic deeds and a decisive military victory.  Defence Minister A.K. Antony and the three service chiefs - Gen V.K. Singh of the army, Admiral Nirmal Verma of the navy and Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik of the air force - will pay homage to the 'Kargil martyrs' at the Amar Jawan Jyoti on the occasion of Kargil Vijay Diwas, as the day is also remembered.  Officers and soldiers as well as families of many of those killed will place wreaths at the war memorial in the capital. More than 500 Indian soldiers were killed in the Kargil war that lasted two long months.  In the past 11 years, the day has been marked by emotive gathering as parents and siblings of soldiers assemble at various places for functions to pay homage to their loved ones who perished while fighting Pakistani raiders in the high altitude and inhospitable battleground.  As part of its strategy to reach out to defence and paramilitary personnel, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will mark the day by taking out processions, candle-light vigils and paying tributes to the martyrs.  The war took place on the peaks of Kargil near the Line of Control - the de facto border that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan. Like in the better known Tiger Hill and Tololing, heavy fighting took place in 1999 for the strategic hills off Drass, the second coldest inhabited place in the world located about 60 km from Kargil town.  The entire region falls in Kargil district, giving the 1999 military showdown the name of "Kargil war".  Pakistan-backed Islamist insurgents as well as regular soldiers sneaked into Jammu and Kashmir and quietly took control of the hills until they were first detected by nomads. Their discovery in Indian territory led to full-fledged fighting between Indian forces and the heavily-armed infiltrators, almost triggering the fourth full-scale India-Pakistan war and leading to an intervention by the US.  The battle for Drass was immortalised by the death of Captain Vikram Batra of 13 Jammu and Kashmir Rifles who helped capture two peaks and then died fighting for the control of Point 4875.  He came under attack while trying to rescue an injured officer. His final words, according to his colleagues, were "Jai Mata Di"!  The intruders, who had come for a long haul, came as close as 300 metres to a key national highway connecting Srinagar with Leh and the border town of Kargil. Drass town suffered heavy damage in the fighting.  The intrusion took place as India was busy celebrating then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's successful Lahore peacemaking visit.  Kargil gave the country many young and fearless champions. Names like Captain Anuj Nayyar, Captain Vikram Batra and Lieutenant Manoj Pandey became household heroes.  July 26 is annually celebrated as "Kargil Diwas" or Kargil Day.

  Kargil war: the neglected heroes Many
military veterans have returned the medals awarded to them for gallantry and fighting wars to the President, a sure sign of frustration and feeling of neglect, points out Gen V.P. Malik (retd)  Illustration: KULDEEP DHIMANPeter and Saily Keishing live in a small double-storey house in a narrow, steep sloping street of Shillong. When we visited their home recently, the whole family was present to give us a warm reception. Our conversation was mostly about their middle son, Nongrum, who had created history in Meghalaya by getting commission into the Army and leading his men of 12 JAK Light Infantry in the Kargil war.   Captain Nongrum had demonstrated outstanding gallantry while leading his men to capture Point 4812 and was awarded the Maha Vir Chakra (MVC) posthumously. His battalion also captured the first Pakistan Army prisoner of war, Naik Inayat Ali, which ended all misinformation about mujahideen being the infiltrators.  The Keishings maintain Nongrum’s room with almost everything that he left behind. All awards, presentations, write-ups in the media are kept in this room. Keishings have lost their son. But his gallantry and sacrifice for the nation live on for the family and their friends!  Gopi Chand and Mohini Pandey too maintain a separate room with all the memorabilia of their son Manoj in their house in Gomti Nagar, Lucknow. “He continues to live with us”, said his sister when we visited their home. Her brother Lieutenant Manoj Pandey of 1/11 Gorkha Rifles participated in a series of attacks at Khalubar. On the night of July 2–3, 1999, when Manoj’s platoon approached their final objective under intense enemy fire at Khalubar, it was nominated to clear the interfering enemy bunkers.  While clearing the third bunker, he sustained a machine-gun burst to which he succumbed. His daredevil act, however, enabled the Gorkhas to capture Khalubar. Manoj Pandey was awarded the Param Vir Chakra for his outstanding acts of bravery.  In every martyr’s home that I have visited after the Kargil war, there is a room or a corner full of memories, which gives pride and sustains the family.  Captain Vikram Batra, awarded the PVC for his actions at Point 5140 and Point 4875, reminds us of his success signal, “Yeh dil mange more”. Grenadier Yogendra Yadav, also awarded the PVC, led the assault to fix a rope for his colleagues on top of Tiger Hill. Captain Vijayant Thapar, in his last letter to his parents, wrote, “By the time you get this letter, I will be enjoying the company of Apsaras in the sky.” He ended up his letter with “OK then, it is time for me to join my assault party of the dirty dozen.” The Vir Chakra in Vijayant’s room is the pride of the family.  Sudhir Kumar, my ADC, volunteered to join his battalion 9 Para. Without acclimatisation, he led his troops to capture Zulu Top, almost the last battle in the Kargil war. Hanif-ud-din led his team of 11 Rajputana Rifles to capture Point 5590. He succumbed to his injuries and the body fell in a crevice. His mother had to wait for 20 days before we could recover his body and hand it over to her. Captain Kengruse scaled a sheer rock face at Three Pimples in Dras bare-footed, literally hanging on by his fingers and toes. After reaching the top, he killed two enemy soldiers with a commando knife before he was fatally wounded.  Thousands of Naga people along the road between Dimapur and Kohima spent long hours to salute his body on its last homeward journey. 1 Bihar lost Major Sarvanan in a failed assault on Point 4924 at the Jubar complex on May 29. Determined to recover his body, the battalion captured this feature finally on July 8. The battalion recovered his body along with a large cache of enemy arms and ammunition and dead bodies of many Pakistani soldiers. At this time, our national spirit and respect for the soldiers was so high that a Union Minister, the late Ranganathan Kumaramangalam, personally escorted Saravanan’s body to his hometown in Trichnapally, where a solemn farewell was given.  There were countless acts of gallantry, displays of steely resilience, single-minded devotion to duty and sacrifices. The war in Kargil saw unalloyed heroism, which will remain a benchmark for valour whenever the security of our nation is threatened. All units responded with alacrity and with their characteristic steadfastness and perseverance.  The above-mentioned tactical battles were a follow-up of a simple war strategy. At the grand strategy level, the approach was that India was a victim of intrusion and yet was willing to exercise restraint by not crossing the LoC or the border. That notwithstanding, it would take all measures, including military, to ensure that the intruded area is vacated. The military strategy was to threaten and maintain pressure on Pakistan throughout the land, air and sea borders with a view to creating a strategic imbalance for Pakistan and to reduce enemy pressure on Kargil.  We were prepared to escalate the situation and launch our forces across the border or the LoC if the situation demanded. All formations tasked for the western border were deployed on the front, or located close to it. Our strike formations were ready to cross into Pakistan at short notice. These formations, their equipment and ammunition —- over 19000 tonnes —- were moved in 446 military special trains over several nights. A part of the Eastern Naval Fleet was moved to the Arabian Sea. The Indian Navy deployed war ships from the Gulf to the western Indian coastline. The Air Force, which was already supporting battles at Kargil, had prepared all its bases and aircraft for war.  In the Kargil war, the Pakistan Army had taken the initiative and surprised us. We were reacting to a situation, like we did in 1947-48, 1962 and 1965 when attacked by the enemy. The political objective was to “get the Kargil intrusion vacated and restore the sanctity of the LoC” with a rider not to cross the LoC or the border. We achieved that on July 26 when Pakistani troops were either thrown out physically or withdrew from some occupied positions on our terms and conditions.  In the current geopolitical and strategic environment, it is not possible to take the war to the conclusion of old-style politico-military victories. Wars now are conducted with the objective of achieving political success rather than military victories. That is what we achieved for our political authority in the Kargil war. Our war diplomacy could not have succeeded if we had not been able to beat the hell out of the Pakistan Army intruders in Kargil.  When the truth about the foolhardy Kargil venture filtered out in Pakistan, all those responsible for the catastrophe were vehemently condemned within their country.  Historically and culturally, despite having to go to war so often for external and internal security, we Indians never take pride in our military achievements or our military heroes. It is a strategic cultural weakness. The military is sidelined as soon as the conflict is over. Till date, there is no national war memorial. Questions are raised whenever the military wishes to celebrate an event to maintain military traditions and to inculcate regimental spirit and espirit de corps. That is also the reason why our long-term defence planning continues to suffer. Kargil heroes and martyrs like those of 1971 and other previous wars are facing the same neglect.  It is sad to see that the political leadership, even the media, does not realise the adverse impact of such neglect while the military continues to be engaged in a proxy war in J&K and the Northeast. The media tends to spend columns and days describing a military aberration. But there is little coverage of its heroes and sacrifices. Many of them wrote off the whole of the Kargil war over a tribunal decision on a dispute between a Brigadier and his Corps Commander. It must be remembered that such disputes over promotions, honours and awards occur after every war. And for every single brave deed noticed and recognized, there are many that go unnoticed in the fog of war.  Recently, I was in Srinagar when Colonel Neeraj Sood of the Rashtriya Rifles was shot dead by the militants in Kupwara. At the airport, I witnessed his devastated wife and daughter taking his body to Delhi. Neeraj’s military colleagues were present to look after the family. Not a single representative from the Central or state government was present to see them off. The sense of nationalism and pride in the military generated during the Kargil war is missing today.  The men and women of the armed forces have been on the front lines of violence almost continuously since the early 1980s. There is not enough recognition of the stresses that they operate under and the terrible disruptions and strains that affect their families even after the Kargil war. Many veterans have returned medals awarded to them for gallantry and fighting wars to the President, a sure sign of frustration and feeling of neglect.  If we wish to maintain good civil-military relations to optimise national security, our people, particularly political and media leaders, must realize this important responsibility and ensure that there is no feeling of frustration or injustice in the military profession.

Missing  the target Artillery procurement delayed yet again
Ajay Banerjee Tribune News Service  New Delhi, July 24 The already delayed process to replace the 23-year-old Bofors artillery gun in the Indian Army’s arsenal has been held up yet again. The ongoing process has been cancelled and it will now start from the scratch that will result in at least a two-year delay.  A couple of weeks ago the Ministry of Defence had stalled the comparative trials between the guns of the BaE Mahindra and the Singapore Technologies, as was reported in The Tribune on July 14. Now the Ministry has decided to scrap the entire process and invite fresh bids from global gun manufacturers.  The situation arose after the ministry, acting at the behest of the Central Bureau of Investigation, ruled out the Singapore Technologies from the trial process. The Defence procurement procedure does not allow for purchase, if only one company remains in the fray during the selection process. “In such a single vendor situation, the trials had to be stalled and a fresh tender process had to be started”, explained a senior functionary.  This is the sixth major hurdle since 2002 when the Army decided to replace its guns which had showed their worth during the 1999 Kargil conflict in pounding enemy bunkers.  Going by the official procedure, largely dictated by the fear of corruption, the process will take upto two years to reach the stage it had reached now. Two days ago the Indian Army issued Request for Information to seek information from leading global artillery gun manufacturers. A minor correction was carried out on Friday. Once the RFI is completed, the Army will lay down its General Staff Qualitative Requirements (GSQR) and then the stage will come for the request for proposal which will be sent out to the companies that meet the GSQR’s.  It will be followed by an technical evaluation of the bids before field trials are conducted. The now-scrapped bidding process was at the trial stage and the 155 mm 52 calibre bore guns of two companies were ready to display their firepower.  The BaE was fielding its the FH77 B05 which owes its parentage to the Bofors. The Singapore Technologies was in the field with iFH 2000.  The canceled tender was for 1580 units, of which 400 were to be purchased off the shelf and the rest 1180, to be license-produced in India by the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) after transfer of technology. The Defense Acquisitions Council (DAC) had approved procurement on December 13, 2007 and a Request for Proposal (RFP) was issued on March 26, 2008. The Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) short listed the weapons of two firms.

World War veterans to get financial aid
Vijay Mohan Tribune News Service  Chandigarh, July 24 Lending a sympathetic view to the plight of aged world-war veterans, the Armed Forces Tribunal has “invited” the attention of the President, the Central government as well as the State government towards their welfare.  Disposing off a petition filed by a 92-year old war veteran, the Tribunal observed that the number of such survivours is very small and the authorities concerned should consider extending some financial assistance to those who could not attain pensionable service for no fault of theirs.  Piyara Singh, a resident of Hoshiarpur, had joined the British Indian Army in July 1943 and was demobilsed in 1946 after the Second World War ended. Born in 1918, he served with 25 Sikh Light Infantry in war zones and operational areas.  He was re-enrolled again after Independence and then discharged in 1953 after serving for about two years. His total service amounted to a little over five years and two months, which was less than that required to qualify for pension.  His counsel had contended that he was neither dismissed nor removed from service, but had been discharged for no fault of his. Further, the pension rules for the Army, which define the qualifying service, were framed in 1961 and though they have some guiding value, they were not strictly applicable to him. Also, when Piyara Singh was discharged, he was given other benefits for the purpose of being an ex-serviceman.

1 killed, 20 injured in MIG crash
Subhrangshu Gupta Tribune News Service  Kolkata, July 24 A MIG-27 aircraft of the India Air Force today crashed at the Mynaguri village, Jalpaiguri, about 30 Kms from Bagdogra Air Force base which caused the death of a farmer Bollen Roy (37) on the spot.  Some 20 villagers were also injured, according to reports reaching the state government headquarter at Writers Buildings.  The plane crashed during a routine rehearsal by the pilot after he took off from the Hashimara air base in the morning.   The Air Force authorities suspect sudden engine failure to be the cause of the accident.  The pilot and the co-pilot sustained injures and were admitted to the hospital.  An official inquiry has been ordered.

 Two US Soldiers Go Missing In Afghanistan
NATO reported on Saturday that two American soldiers have gone missing in Afghanistan. This report came after NATO reported death of five US troops killed by Taliban-style bombs. CJ: Alex White   Sat, Jul 24, 2010 23:34:54 IST Views: 8    Comments: 0 Rate:  1 out of 5 2 out of 5 3 out of 5 4 out of 5 5 out of 5 0.0 / 0 votes   NATO reported on Saturday that two American soldiers have gone missing in Afghanistan. This report came after NATO reported death of five US troops killed by Taliban-style bombs.   The two missing soldiers had left their compound in Kabul late Friday "and did not return," a statement from NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said.   "Nobody has been found but there are reports that there may be a casualty and that the body has been removed from the scene," a military official said on condition of anonymity.   All reports were unsubstantiated, he said.   ISAF's  said that a road and air search had been launched to find the two soldiers.   A Taliban spokesman, however, denied that there was any hand from the insurgents in the disappearance of the two soldiers. Though, kidnapping of foreign soldiers by Taliban is not frequent in Afghanistan but some criminals have been doing it for some ransom. If they could not get any, they sold it off to Taliban which would use them as political pawns. Speaking to AFP by telephone from an undisclosed location, the Taliban's spokesman for eastern Afghanistan, Zabihullah Mujahid, said: "So far, we are not aware of it and cannot confirm this".    Earlier on Saturday, NATO released a statement saying that Taliban-style bomb attacks had killed five US soldiers in southern Afghanistan.   The US and NATO have almost 150,000 troops stationed in Afghanistan. Another 30,000 American troops were fully deployed on the orders of the US President Barack Obama. Most of them are stationed in the southern hotspots of Kandahar and Helmand.

West Bengal: Mig-27 crash kills one, twenty five injured 
NDTV Correspondent, Updated: July 24, 2010 17:24 IST  PLAYClick to Expand & Play Jalpaiguri:  A MiG-27 fighter jet of the Indian Air Force (IAF) crashed in Bhotputti village in West Bengal's Jalpaiguri district today,killing one and, injuring the pilot and 25 villagers on the ground.  The pilot, Saket Verma, ejected from the aircraft but was injured and has been hospitalised, Superintendent of Police Anand Kumar said.  Inspector General of Police (North Bengal) Ranveer Kumar said that a farmer, B Rai, who was cultivating his field was killed when the MIG crashed between Moynaguri and Chengrabandha.  The SP said that 25 people were injured when the aircraft crashed, of whom 5 were in a serious condition.      An IAF spokesperson said in New Delhi that the MiG-27 took off from the Hashimara Air Base for a routine sortie and crashed within minutes of take-off at around 1030 hours.  This is the second Mig-27 crash in the eastern sector. In February this year, the IAF's entire fleet of over 100 Mig 27s were grounded for technical inspection, after a pilot was killed in a crash near Siliguri in West Bengal.  India lost two MiG-27 jets last year, and a total of about 12 since 2001, due to crashes attributed largely to defects in the aircraft's engines.  Soviet-designed MiG-27 fighter jets, known as the Bahadhur (Brave) in the IAF, have been produced in India under license since 1986. The IAF operates 5 squadrons of the  ground attack fighter.

Bofors trial scrapped third time
SUJAN DUTTA The ST Kinetics iFH 2000 towed howitzer, a Singaporean firm’s gun that is the Bofors’ competitor  New Delhi, July 24: A.K. Antony’s defence ministry has cancelled a competition of artillery guns for the third time for a multi-million dollar Indian Army order after a gun made by BAe Land Systems, the current owner of the Swedish-origin Bofors AB, emerged as the only contender in the fray.  The Telegraph reported on July 14 that the army had stalled the summer trials in the Rajasthan desert of the long-range towed heavy artillery guns and had sought directions from the defence ministry after Bofors’ competitor, ST Kinetics of Singapore, sought more time.  The artillery upgrade programme has been held up since 2002. For 23 years now, the army has not added a single big gun to its arsenal since the Bofors FH77B02, contracted by the Rajiv Gandhi government, raised a row over kickbacks.  The old guns are now rusty and the artillery regiments often resort to cannibalisation to keep some of them firing. The worth of the heavy artillery in recent years was proven in the 1999 Kargil war, and time and time again before the 2002 ceasefire with Pakistan on the Line of Control in Kashmir.  The re-tendering that is imminent means the programme has been set back by at least another three years.  No official reason has been given for the cancellation of the tender but the ministry has quietly put up a Request for Information (RFI) on its website. An RFI is a precursor to an RFP (Request for Proposals or global tender). Even the RFI was wrongly worded.  The first draft called for “towed/self-propelled” guns. Towed guns are pulled by vehicles. Self-propelled are mobile in themselves. The RFI has now been corrected for “towed”.  The Bofors FH77B05, now owned by BAe Land Systems, and the Singapore Technologies Kinetics (STK) iFH 2000, were the only two guns in the competition for the 155mm/52calibre howitzers.  STK has been blacklisted following a CBI investigation but it thrice requested deferment of the trials on technical grounds. But BAe has said its gun is in India and is ready for the trials.  “BAe Systems has acted in accordance with all elements of DPP (Defence Procurement Procedure) ’08 on this programme. As it has since the start of the competition in 2008, the company stands ready to continue to the competition’s field trial phase. The company is confident that the FH77B05, a modern, more powerful, and significantly upgraded version of the gun that performed so admirably during the Kargil conflict, will meet the Indian Army’s urgent requirement for artillery,” the company spokesperson Guy Douglas said.

How to deal with a brat like Pakistan
Chetan Bhagat, Jul 25, 2010, 12.16am IST One more round of India-Pakistan talks have failed. Our external affairs minister went to Islamabad for discussions, sporting his best diplomatic behavior. Their foreign minister took it as a rare chance to kick up a fuss and make India look silly.  I am sure S M Qureshi received some high-fives from his sycophants and a pat on the back from his seniors. Never mind that important issues involving millions of people didn’t get discussed. Never mind that both sides continue to burn money on defence supplies, wrecking finances. For the Pakistan army, the country’s real controllers, getting along is just not as much fun as a big fight. After all, what are so many generals going to do if there is nobody to fight? Work in security guard agencies?  While we all know how unreasonable the regime next door is, the big question is — what is India to do? The disputes are real and have to be resolved. However, when was the last time you heard the Pakistan government say anything sensible about India? The broader question is: how do you reason with unreasonable people?  Life would be easier if we were indisputably more powerful than Pakistan. When a gorilla is talking to a mouse, the mouse normally agrees with the gorilla. We have other tiny neighbours. They listen to India much of the time. And they would never dare insult our external affairs minister. Therefore, in the long run, India has to continue to outpace Pakistan economically until we find ourselves being heard better. But such a situation of clear supremacy is several decades away. Right now, we are dealing with a weaker if unreasonable person who can cause us damage. The approach here is not to send a delegation of smooth-talking experts and have a debating contest. No, mature activities like discussion assumes you are dealing with adults. India’s approach to Pakistan should be similar to the psychologist’s advice on dealing with a brat. Any parent will tell you that every child throws tantrums. They sulk, display aggressive behavior (hitting others, throwing things) or whine endlessly to get attention. In the old days, a spanking would take care of that. But, the modern approach to parenting does not advise this. Also, the situation is more difficult with Pakistan because it has nuclear bombs. It is like a problem child running around the house with a grenade in its hand. While the child may deserve a spanking, you have to handle him with care as he is quite capable of causing damage. But this does not mean you start treating him like an adult. Children are incapable of reason beyond a point, and firmness is the approach that works — make clear rules, administer immediate punishment for indiscipline and never ever make empty threats. In India’s case, while we keep harping on the 26/11 issue, the fact is we didn’t do much when the incident occurred. We made empty threats about attacks but didn’t carry them through. We do have some idea of what we want from Pakistan, but we haven’t made clear how we will punish it if it doesn’t listen to us. Military action is only one, and frankly, the less-preferred option. There are others.  Pakistan is de-facto run by the Army, and the biggest punishment is if India overtly and blatantly supports democratic, anti-Army movements in Pakistan. For this, we must first distinguish between the Pakistan Army, the political parties there and the Pakistani people. It is the Pakistan Army that is anti-India. The political parties and the Pakistani people may also have some anti-India sentiments but one can work around that. India can actively provide aid to all major Pakistani political parties in exchange for the peace agenda being included on their manifesto. That will mean whoever comes to power is pro-India. We can expose Pakistanis to what India is all about — a fast-growing, democratic, free country. We have a far stronger media. Every Indian channel should be made free-to-air in Pakistan, with signals strong enough to ensure they reach everyone there. The more India they see, the less likely they are to hate us or get swayed by hate speeches. India can take affirmative initiative, such as scholarships for Pakistani students, making sure they are advertised heavily in order to create a better image of India in Pakistan.  We have to engage with Pakistan as if its people are suffering from an oppressive, gun-happy regime. To weaken the Pakistani Army, we can appease one general and undermine another, thus setting off the politics of horse-trading, which Indian politicians are good at. At the global level, India can expose the Pakistani Army as the biggest threat to world peace, and lobby for aid to be cut until the Army steps back from governance.  Peace is our preferred alternative and we want to be nice. However, nice does not mean allowing the other side to walk all over you. India can offer friendship but if its agenda is ignored, we can - and should — make life so difficult for the Pakistani Army that they fall in line. Be reasonable but tough, and pretty soon, the insecurity behind its brattishness will be exposed. Then, like a child after a tantrum, it will be reduced to tears and run into daddy’s arms. That’s when you tell them: Can we talk?

Army probe against tainted ex-aide of Rodrigues sought 
A city-based NGO on Saturday demanded a military court of inquiry against Major Nirvikar Singh, aide-de-camp (ADC) of former Punjab governor and Chandigarh administrator SF Rodrigues, facing corruption charges.  The demand from the NGO, involving many retired defence officials and social workers, follows the Central Bureau of Investigation's (CBI) recent decision to register a First Information Report (FIR) against Singh, his mother and brother.  His name figured in a case of amassing disproportionate assets and wealth during his tenure here as ADC to Rodrigues, a former Indian army chief.  "For the last many months, we were trying to apprise the administration about the unwarranted and unauthorised involvement of Nirvikar Singh in various multi-crore (rupee) mega-project frauds. But nobody was listening to us," said Kuldip Singh Kahlon, president of Chandigarh Sanjha Morcha (joint forum) and president of All India Defence Brotherhood (Punjab and Chandigarh), while talking to reporters here Saturday.  "Now our stand has been vindicated. Rodrigues knew about all details and every investment made by Nirvikar Singh. We urge the army chief to immediately order court martial of Nirvikar Singh and a separate military court of inquiry against him and Rodrigues," he said.   Sources in the CBI revealed that Singh, who is presently on deputation with Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) in New Delhi, had incurred an expenditure of over Rs.9 crore in a span of just two years (2008-09).   Kahlon demanded that Singh should be removed from his present sensitive assignment in RAW and attached to some local military station till the completion of the CBI inquiry and military court of inquiry.  Social activist Hemant Goswami said: "Since it appears that Rodrigues not only helped Nirvikar Singh in amassing disproportionate wealth but also facilitated him by signing his annual property declaration; therefore the army has full authority to summon Rodrigues in the court martial and punish him if found guilty."   The CBI is also probing the allotment of different mega-projects, worth crores of rupees, to private bidders by the administration. These projects were initiated in the last six years, during the tenure of Rodrigues.

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