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Wednesday, 28 July 2010

From Today's Papers - 28 Jul 2010

  ISI hand, Taliban glove Pakistan ‘fights’ as well as backs terror 
That Pakistan is one of the largest exporters of terror is well known to India through first-hand experience. Now it comes out that the US has also reached a similar conclusion but fights shy of admitting this publicly for “strategic” reasons. Thousands of US documents leaked by WikiLeaks to the New York Times reveal in minute details how Islamabad uses its spy agency ISI to plot the death of US and NATO troops. ISI representatives have been meeting with the Taliban directly in “secret strategy sessions” to organise militants fighting US troops in Afghanistan and also to plot the assassination of Afghan leaders. One field report identified a Colonel in the ISI plotting with the Taliban to assassinate Afghan President Hamid Karzai. All this happened while Pakistan received billions of dollars for ostensibly cooperating in the war on terror declared by the US. There cannot be a better example of running with the hare and hunting with the hounds.  This is besides being actively involved in attacks on Indians working in Afghanistan. The ISI paid the Taliban and the Haqqani terror network to target Indian missions, road workers, doctors and engineers working there. These reports confirm for the first time that the US had leads on the ISI- Taliban-Haqqani links in coordinating attacks against Indians in Afghanistan. Not only that, the US military received a “threat report” in November 2007, full seven months before the first attack on the Indian mission in Kabul, that the ISI gave orders to one of its agencies to orchestrate an attack on Indian consulates in Afghanistan.  It is this tendency of the US to look the other way while Pakistan foments trouble abroad that has put paid to the hopes of winning the war against terrorism. There cannot be good terrorists and terrorists. One can understand the compulsion of the US to have Pakistan on its side given its geographical location, but what it should bear in mind is that unfaithful friends are worse than an enemy. Pakistan’s double game has gone on for far too long. The sooner the US breaks this dubious alliance, the better it would be for the American soldiers who are dying because their ally is also their worst enemy.

NATO confirms death of one sailor, search on for other
 The wide search operation to find another sailor who is said to be alive is on and they are not leaving any stone unturned to get the surviving sailor, said Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale, a spokesman for NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan. CJ: Alex White   Tue, Jul 27, 2010 21:03:23 IST Views:         7    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              A NATO spokesman has confirmed, on Tuesday, that one of the two missing US sailors is dead and that his body has been recovered. The wide search operation to find another sailor who is said to be alive is on and they are not leaving any stone unturned to get the surviving sailor, said Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale, a spokesman for NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The two US navy personnel left the premises on Friday but did not return. This incident took place in the eastern province of Logar, after an armoured sport utility vehicle was seen driving into a Taliban captured area. The officials were not able to say why they went off and what were they doing in such a sensitive part of eastern Afghanistan. The Taliban earlier said that they have killed one sailor in gun battle and another was captured alive. They have said that the surviving sailor is kept at a ‘safe location’ which can’t be traced by the forces. Jim Kerr, a Colorado legislator from the Denver suburb of Littleton, said the killed sailor was his wife's nephew, Justin McNeley, 30. He added that the family learned of sailor’s death on Monday. He said McNeley's mother is in Kingman, Arizona, but declined to give her name. According to Kerr the killed sailor was a father of two sons and was due to return in August. In a statement, the NATO-led command said the body was recovered on Sunday after an extensive search and that the coalition ''holds the captors accountable for the safety and proper treatment of our missing service member.''

Defence policy to boost indigenous manufacturing capacity
Press Trust of India / New Delhi July 27, 2010, 17:34 IST  Government today said it was formulating a Defence Production Policy to enhance indigenous capabilities in manufacturing systems and equipment for armed forces.  "Government is in the process of formulating a Defence Production Policy to enhance indigenous capabilities to manufacture our requirement for defence equipment," Defence Minister A K Antony said in reply to a Lok Sabha query.  He said under the policy, both private and public sector would be involved to manufacture indigenous defence equipment.     The minister said that 144 Industrial Licenses and Letter of Intents have been issued to Indian companies for the manufacture of various defence equipment.     The Defence minister said the modernisation programme of the Ordnance Factory board and the defence public sector undertakings was also being undertaken to improve their performance and efficiency.     On a query on P Rama Rao committee recommendations to review DRDO's functioning, the minister said it has recommended selection of an Industry partner (private or public) through a transparent process and its early involvement in development of products to avoid delays and maintaining secrecy.

Machil fake killings: Indian Army not to hand over men to Kashmir police
Posted Mon, 07/26/2010 - 10:52  Share  New Delhi, July 25: The Army has refused to hand over five troopers, including a colonel and a major, charged with the killing of three villagers during a fake encounter in Machil sector in Kupwara on April 30, to the Jammu and Kashmir Police.     The army says that an internal enquiry was on against its men for the killing of the three in Machil village in April, informed sources said Sunday.  The police had filed the chargesheet in a court against Colonel D.K. Pathania and four other soldiers. They were charged with killing the three and then claiming they died in a shootout.  'The five men are facing an internal enquiry. They cannot be handed over to police unless charges against them are proved,' an army source said.  'The army has instituted its own enquiry. Until the results of that are known, there is no question of handing over the men to police,' the source said.  Riyaz Ahmad, Mohammad Shafi and Shahzad Ahmad, killed in the alleged staged shootout, were shown as 'infiltrators'.  But a persistent enquiry by the state police about the place where they were buried and publication of pictures of the bodies unravelled that they were villagers and did not go over to Pakistan.  They left their homes April 27 in search of lucrative jobs and were killed April 30.

 Tehelka - India's Independent Weekly News Magazine  THEY ARE calling it a confused case of fuses — but only as a joke. And it’s a poor one, because the fact is there is no confusion at all. Many say it’s simply another instance of rules being bent to favour a particular party, sparking general outrage. Indeed, ever since the alleged impropriety came to light, it has been raining petitions in the Ministry of Defence (MoD), demanding a probe into the Rs 800 crore-procurement of artillery fuses four years ago. The fuses are tiny electronic devices that cause artillery shells fired from guns like the 155-mm Howitzer to instantly explode on reaching their target.  Just last week, Chief Vigilance Commissioner Pratyush Sinha received a complaint from Prasanna Patasani, a relatively unknown MP. “The acquisitions must stop and the facts collated by different agencies, including the Committee of Petitions, should be acted upon,” Patasani told TEHELKA. He is the latest in a long line of protesters — among them a Lok Sabha committee — to question the Rs 200-crore order, made on a singlevendor basis by the state-owned Electronics Corporation of India Ltd (ECIL). All spoke of how the ministry dumped multi-vendor competition, reportedly structuring the tender in a manner that excluded private bidders. Sinha has not replied, but CVC officials have confirmed receiving similar petitions earlier.  The case is a curious one, because ECIL is not a defence PSU and functions under the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE). And yet, it maintains an almost incestuous relationship with the MoD, which has made it the sole approved supplier of nearly 80 percent of the Army’s fuse requirement. Earlier, Cabinet Secretary KM Chandrasekhar also looked into ECIL’s near-monopoly status, after a stream of petitions by MPs, the CVC, the Lok Sabha Standing Committee on Defence and the Lok Sabha Committee on Petitions (43rd report, tabled on November 8, 2008) reached his office.  So just where are the fault lines? Those protesting against the decision call it arbitrary because ECIL routinely depends for supplies on South Africa’s Fuchs Electronics — the main supplier of fuses to South African armaments giant Denel, that the MoD has blacklisted. Highly placed ministry sources told TEHELKA that the tender’s successful execution depended a lot on ECIL’s dependence on imported fuse components from Fuchs. The Army allows import duty exemptions for fuse components of up to 70 percent of the value of the contract. Though ECIL is not a defence PSU it is the sole approved supplier of fuses to the army  Now consider this: the contract value includes a profit margin of about 15 percent — as a result of which the 70 percent exemption clause easily allows suppliers to import 80 percent of the fuses. Clearly, this cannot be classed under local production. “I would not call it indigenous, especially when a company is importing 70 percent of the fuses and assembling the components in India,” says Jagdish Prasad, chairman of HBL Power Systems, which has a far higher percentage of indigenous components in its fuses. Why, then, does ECIL remain the Indian Army’s sole choice? “All government policies have been bypassed just to accommodate the South African product under the cover that it is a PSU,” Manvendra Singh, MP and a member of the Committee of Petitions, wrote in his report. This was not all. Another committee member, HN Sharma, pointed out that ECIL merely assembles fuses from components supplied by Fuchs, and that the main components — a safety and arming device, the battery along with an electronic timer kit — are all imported.  “Petitions from another PSU, ITI of Bareilly, were passed over despite routine submission of fuses for trials,” Sharma told TEHELKA. He raised other contentious issues about the state-owned company (ECIL) as well, and explained in detail about how the company had flourished along with its key buyer, the artillery branch of the Indian Army. For example, he cited the note that Army headquarters sent to the Lok Sabha committee, admitting that former Director General of Artillery Lt Gen Charanjit Singh joined ECIL as an advisor immediately after retirement. In its defence, the Army says ECIL had routinely appointed several retired officers as its advisors, but that no one had ever questioned the move.  AND THOUGH ECIL — despite repeated nudging — is not talking, others have accused the ministry of allegedly doctoring the tender by lumping together three kinds of fuses: point detonation, timed and proximity. The rulebook is quite clear on this: either a vendor supplies all three, or none. This is hurting many, like the Hyderabad-based HBL Defence Electronics and Delhi-based Micron Instruments, because the stipulation puts them out of bounds. Artillery experts, too, find the ministry guidelines questionable; and since each type of fuse involves different technologies, lumping all three together puts the others out of the race. Whereas if these firms were allowed to bid and run, the ministry wouldn’t have to depend on just one large PSU. A Defence Procurement Policy in 2008 too had encouraged bringing in diverse suppliers.

The Indian Artillery Project: An Indian journey sans Bofors baggage 
A Pinaka multi-barrelled rocket launcher firing a single rocket. The Pinaka was developed by the ARDE in Pune (Photo: courtesy Military-Today)  by Ajai Shukla Business Standard, 27th July 10  In adversity, the saying goes, lies opportunity. Applying that principle, India’s indigenous defence complex is at a crucial moment where a resolute decision could make it a genuine supplier of high-end artillery equipment, instead of a mere spectator to a global shopping spree by the Indian military.  Last Friday, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) signalled (if confirmation were needed) that it lacks the political will to cast aside procedure in selecting a 155-millimetre artillery gun for the army. With the CBI proceeding against Singapore Technologies Kinetic (STK), one of the two remaining companies in the fray, the MoD restarted the entire process of tendering and trials rather than awarding the contract to the sole vendor remaining, UK-headquartered BAE Systems, which offered the politically contentious Bofors gun.  It is time to end this long-playing farce of trial and rejection and to put the MoD --- and global vendors of artillery systems --- out of their misery. The Indian Army must be frankly told that it will receive no 155 mm guns for the next 5-7 years. And a predominantly Indian consortium must be brought together to build an Indian gun within that period.  There are systems that remain beyond the capability of India’s defence establishment. Aircraft engines, even tank engines, have proven too complex for India to develop. The DRDO has also been unable to produce world-class night vision devices; electro-optic sensors; and electronically scanned radars. But India’s growing technological capability has given it the capability to take on projects that were unthinkable two decades ago: fourth-generation fighters; advanced warships; even a tank with a gun that has proven to be world class.  India has the skills for building a 155 mm artillery gun; leadership is needed to bring them together. The DRDO, increasingly sophisticated and technologically capable, is yearning to harness the proven manufacturing skills of India’s private sector. Global majors like Bharat Forge and L&T are straining at the leash, willing to put in money and muscle into what they have identified as a promising business vertical.  The Pinaka multi-barrelled rocket launcher (MBRL) has already proven how effectively the DRDO can leverage the private sector’s manufacturing skills. A state-of-the-art system, with electronics that are superior to even Russian frontline MBRLs, a single Pinaka regiment can obliterate a target 40 kilometers away by pouring down 72 rockets onto it in just 44 seconds. The DRDO’s choice of L&T and Tata Power as industrial partners in the Pinaka project ensured that a quality design was enhanced by skilled manufacture. In the past poor manufacturing practises, especially those of the public sector Ordnance Factory Board, had tarnished the reputation of otherwise well-designed DRDO products like the 5.56 mm INSAS rifle.  The MoD must bring together a public-private consortium, forming a joint venture (JV) --- call it, for now, the Indian Artillery Project (IAP) --- in which the DRDO, the Indian Army, and the prime private sector participants have financial stakes. The structure of the JV must allow for quick and flexible decision-making, without crippling regulations that mandate multi-vendor tendering and L-1 (lowest cost) procurement. And, most importantly, a project management group must be drawn from the IAP partners to set and monitor timelines ruthlessly.  The army will understandably resist this project, being desperately short of artillery and wanting guns yesterday. The most crucial component of combat capability, artillery guns --- firing high explosive shells at faraway targets --- have caused three quarters of all battlefield casualties over the last century of wars. But the soldiers will come around, given assurances about delivery within a clear time frame. Their choice is a stark one: continuing trials of foreign guns with no light certain at the end of the tunnel; or an official moratorium of 5-7 years, followed by the simplified procurement processes of indigenous equipment. The army is also aware that an indigenous 155 mm gun can be integrated ground-up into the overarching Artillery Command, Control and Communications System (ACCCS) that networks artillery resources into a seamless whole.  If that is acceptable to the army, it must frame its requirements realistically, rather than demanding a system so advanced that it remains a dream. If a range of 40 kilometers will suffice tactically, it is self-defeating to hold up the project by asking for 50 kilometers. The DRDO too, with its institutional love for living in the future, will have to be firmly pegged to the here and now.  Constituting and financing the Indian Artillery Project will be small change, given what the MoD plans to pay global vendors for the four different 155 mm guns that the army needs. Multiple procurements are simultaneously unfolding under the MoD-sanctioned Artillery Modernisation Plan. The tender for 1580 towed guns is worth an estimated Rs 8000 crores. Another tender for 140 ultralight howitzers for mountain formations is worth over Rs 3000 crores. Also being processed is a Rs 3500 crores purchase of 100 medium guns, mounted on tracked vehicles, for India’s mechanised forces. Another Rs 4000 crores is earmarked for 180 vehicle-mounted guns for self-propelled regiments. The total money in play here is some Rs 18,500 crores.  The MoD’s procurement procedures have a “Make” category, which has been envisioned for just such a project. The time for the Indian Artillery project is now.

Court takes a shot at army’s gender bias 
DNA Wednesday, July 28, 2010 2:22    The Supreme Court has exposed the gender bias in the armed forces by asking the army to show it the rule which states that women are barred from getting permanent commissions. It in a sense reiterated the Delhi high court’s statement: “If male officers can be granted permanent commission status while performing similar tasks, there is no reason why capable women officers cannot be granted the same. It is not charity being sought by women officers, but an enforcement of their own constitutional rights.”  The apex court felt that the attitude of the armed forces was in direct conflict with article 14 of the Constitution. It was hearing a defence ministry petition challenging the high court order which directed the armed forces to give equal rights to women.  Across the world, women are being given greater roles in the military including in combat units. But in India, inspite of our forward-looking Constitution, many of our institutions are mired in the past. They are unable or unwilling to change their hidebound views and use traditional arguments to cover their biases.  However, while it is easy to understand the prejudices of old generals — shameful though they may be — the attitude of the government is much harder to swallow. It is for the defence ministry to force the armed forces to get out of their chauvinistic attitudes to women and uphold the principles that have been the foundations of our nation since the middle of the last century.  As usual, it is the courts to the rescue to make sure that our nation marches ahead with the times. Women must have the choice to join the armed forces if they so desire and to be treated on par with men. In this case the army is resisting granting them permanent commissions up to the age of 60. The explanation that “various factors” have stopped women from going further is hardly tenable. The courts have asked the government the question.  Women deserve a fair answer.

India, Vietnam agree to firm up defence ties
P. S. Suryanarayana Share  India and Vietnam agreed in Hanoi on Tuesday to strengthen their defence cooperation.  The modalities of implementing the 2009 memorandum of understanding in this domain were discussed by Vietnam's National Defence Minister Phung Quang Thanh and Indian Army Chief General V. K. Singh. India's Ambassador to Vietnam, Ranjit Rae, and defence officials were present at the talks.  Gen. Singh, marking the first visit to Vietnam by an Indian Army Chief in over a decade, also met his counterpart there, Deputy Chief of General Staff Pham Hong Loi, for talks on follow-up action. Two areas spotted for immediate cooperation were training of military personnel and dialogue between experts on strategic affairs on both sides.  The National Defence Academy and the Strategic Institute in Hanoi played host to Gen. Singh, who will travel to Ho Chi Minh City for similar interactions at the provincial level before concluding his visit on Thursday.  Defence Minister A. K. Antony is expected to visit Vietnam in October to participate in the first-ever regional meeting of political leaders in the defence field. Vietnam, now chairing the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), has invited India to the Asean+8 Defence Ministers meeting. The 10-member Asean will be joined by Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea, and the United States.  The Asean, as the prime mover of this process, has also initiated efforts to convert such a grouping of countries into an expanded East Asia Summit. The Summit, an organisation as different from just a conference, does not include the U.S. and Russia at present.

 A.G. NOORANI  PRESIDENT Obama's dismissal of General Stanley A. McChrystal from his command in Afghanistan, for speaking to the media in intemperate language, is in the sound tradition of democratic governance. It flows from the fundamental principle of civilian supremacy over the military. Even in Communist China, Chairman Mao Zedong pithily prescribed that the party directed the gun. This tradition has been followed by India but not without serious breaches in the past and in recent years. Debate in the country has been uninformed and simplistic. The nuances of the principle have been ignored. The penchant for idolising the Army, accentuated since Kargil, has not helped in the discussion nor helped that splendid institution that has served the nation nobly, the Army.  Since the records are locked up in foreign archives, few know that there was a time when a Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) discussed the possibility of a military coup in India with the British High Commissioner and, for good measure, with the Defence Minister. And that, at the Minister's initiative. Another COAS, when he presided over the Eastern Command, revealed to the U.S. Consul-General in Kolkata the strength of the forces under his command – which, the Consul-General told his bosses, he already knew – and claimed to have told off the Defence Minister and to have wielded clout enough to change India's policy on Vietnam, if only the listener had spoken to him earlier. One wonders about the range of his candour if it was an Ambassador who had lent him an ear. One wonders, no less, how voluble must these two COAS have been in instances not known to us. The habit and the trait in these times are very evident.  In recent years, one Army chief successfully thwarted the government's policy on a sensitive issue with his calculated pronouncements on the eve of successive diplomatic parleys and well-advertised briefings to the media on precisely such occasions. More recently, we have heard comments by the COAS and a corps commander on the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958, (AFSPA) in crass ignorance of the law and with scant respect for its critics. They included a former judge of the Supreme Court. The trend is glaringly evident. When will it be arrested? And by whom? The government can go only thus far and no further. For, it faces not only the media but an opposition party (the Bharatiya Janata Party) that is out to break all the rules in its mad craze for power.  Read this: “The rise of the Hindu Right to power was anticipated by the systematic infiltration of the highest levels of the Army apparatus. While the bulk of the Army leadership remains avowedly apolitical, the BJP has made methodical efforts to subvert this tradition, dragging a section of senior officers on to expressly partisan terrain. The decision of Director General Military Operations [DGMO] N.C. Vij and Air Vice Marshal S.K. Malik to brief the BJP national executive on the Kargil war on May 6 [1999] is just one example of this process. Infantry Division commander Major General [V.S.] Budhwar helped provide logistical support for the RSS-organised Sindhu Darshan festival at Leh in 1998. [L.K.] Advani and ideologue Tarun Vijay were among those who attended. In 1999, he again attended the Sindhu Darshan, organised with official aid, and graced by [Atal Bihari] Vajpayee, [George] Fernandes and Advani. Asked by a journalist whether it was appropriate for him to associate with political organisations, Budhwar claimed not to understand the question” (Praveen Swami; The Kargil War; LeftWord Books; page 95).  Large sections of the public view the armed forces with an awe that suspends judgment. They chafe at the law of contempt as laid down by the Supreme Court. Presidents have not been immune to criticism, as A.P.J. Abdul Kalam discovered. The Army remains the one institution that is not subject to criticism. It strongly resents that, yet pronounces freely on matters beyond its legitimate domain. It regards itself unaccountable and above the law, a law unto itself.  Before one considers the record on which these comments are based, the constitutional position must be borne in mind. The position in Indian law is no different from that in British law. “The chiefs of staff are the professional heads of the armed forces; they give professional advice to the government on strategy and military operations and on the military implications of defence policy.… Major questions of defence policy cannot be decided in purely military terms without reference to the government's financial and economic policies, which affect the size, disposition and equipment of the armed forces.  “The chain of command within the police stops with the chief constable, and neither local police authorities nor Central Government may give him instructions on the operational use of the police. This is not the case with the armed forces. In the case of the army, for example, the line of command runs upwards from the private soldier, through his commanding officer and higher levels of command to the Chief of the Defence Staff and the Secretary of State for Defence. During active operations many immediate decisions have to be taken by soldiers in the field. But the tasks which are undertaken by the armed forces, the objectives which they are set and the manner in which they carry out these tasks are matters for which the government is accountable to Parliament – whether it be the activities of the troops in Northern Ireland… the making of a controversial public speech by a high-ranking army officer, the sinking of the Argentinean ship General Belgrano during the Falklands conflict in 1982, or the conduct of the armed forces during the Gulf hostilities…. The full range of parliamentary procedures which are available in respect of other branches of central government may be used in respect of defence and the armed forces. Thus the Public Accounts Committee has often investigated case of excessive spending by the services” (A.W. Bradley and K.D. Ewing; Constitutional and Administrative Law; 12th Edition; page 376; emphasis added throughout). The government is accountable if any officer of the armed forces shoots off his mouth.  Now for the record, past and present. On April 7, 1966, D.A. Scott of the British High Commission reported to London: “It so happens that just before your letter was received the High Commissioner had a talk with the Chief of Army Staff on this very subject, and I enclose a note of their conversation. The fact that General [J. N.] Chaudhuri was prepared to discuss such a delicate topic shows that it is not so far below the surface in the minds of the government and of the Army. (This is confirmed by a speech made by [K.] Kamaraj, the Congress president, in Madras on 17 March in which he said that if violence continued on the scale recently seen in the Punjab and Bengal, the military might conclude that democracy was unworkable and themselves take over the government.) We have accordingly set in hand a rather more detailed study of the subject and hope to be able to let you have it before the High Commissioner goes on leave on 22 April. [John] Freeman [the High Commissioner] would, of course, be prepared to discuss the subject with you and with anyone else who is interested when he is in London.”  Chaudhuri did reject the idea of a coup. But it was a nuanced rejection, not an unqualified one. General S.H.F.J. Manekshaw takes the cake. Here is the record (see box). In a talk with the U.S. Consul-General in Kolkata, he opined freely on Kashmir and India-Pakistan relations; belittled the politicians' capacity to achieve a settlement; with revealing lack of realism and the constitutional position, he held that civil servants and soldiers would accomplish it; mentioned the strength of the troops he had in his command; criticised his bosses, the Defence Minister as well as the Army chief, to a foreign official; criticised the government's policy on Vietnam, criticised its policy of purchasing arms from the Soviet Union for which he held Generals Chaudhuri and P.P. Kumaramangalam responsible, not the government; discussed his chances of promotion as COAS; and the like.  Not all were amused by his comment, half in jest, that Pakistan would have won the war if he were its Army chief. It belittled the jawan. But more reprehensible was his repeated claim, made, significantly, after her death, that he had told Prime Minister Indira Gandhi that he “ could” lead an Army coup; that he reaffirmed it when she contested the claim, whereupon she graciously conceded that he “ would” not. And he magnanimously accepted that. That the blatant falsehood passed muster for so long reflects poorly on retired officers of the Army and indeed on our defence “experts”. That fine soldier and gentleman Lt. Gen. Satish Nambiar is an outstanding exception. He publicly criticised Manekshaw.  Now for the realities. Army commanders do not owe their job to the Army chief. Both are appointed by the same authority, the government. Since they do not owe the chief anything beyond a proper respect and obedience, there is no reason to believe that they would have complied with any such sordid game. Still less the chiefs of the Navy and the Air Force. Air Chief Marshal P.C. Lal was a man of strong moral fibre. The survival of India's Constitution owes nothing to the forbearance of General Sam Manekshaw. Henry Kissinger sized him up correctly after they met in 1971 and told Richard Nixon, on October 7, 1971, that “he was so cocky, he thought he could defeat everyone in sight, all at the same time”. This is not the impression which the Prime Minister would have liked her Army chief to give to the U.S. in mid-1971.  In this regard, one of his recent successors, Gen. J.J. Singh, set a record. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pledged himself publicly to a settlement of the Siachen question. Differences have so narrowed as to lend themselves easily to a political decision. The dispute entails heavy loss in men and material and an environmental degradation without any strategic gain. Soldiers of high eminence have advocated a settlement in these last 25 years. Just when the prospects seemed bright, Gen. J.J. Singh intervened publicly and repeatedly to thwart the government's policy. On May 20, 2005, talks on the Siachen issue were resumed in Islamabad. That very day, Gen. J.J. Singh said in New Delhi that India's interests would be served only when the 110-kilometre-long Actual Ground Position Line, from NJ 9842 to the upper Saltoro range, was authenticated. The Army had given its views to the government. “We are awaiting the outcome of the talks.” They ended in failure the next day.  On June 12, 2005, Manmohan Singh addressed the Army jawans at the Siachen base camp, the first Prime Minister to do so. He was familiarising himself with the realities in a constructive spirit. “Siachen is called the highest battlefield where living is very difficult. Now the time has come that we make efforts that this is converted from a point of conflict to the symbol of peace.” He assured the jawans that in the talks with Pakistan, “your well-being and the security of our nation would be kept in mind”. But he left no one in doubt that he sought a change. “How long shall we allow such conditions to prevail?” But, how else could that be achieved except through a compromise acceptable to both?  Gen. J.J. Singh was not one to let that happen. On June 21, 2005, mediapersons asked him to comment on the Prime Minister's speech. He did not tell them that it was not his place to do so but replied all too readily. He had already given his views to the government, he said, and reiterated that the Army wanted that Pakistan should “recognise” the new buzzword – the existing ground position. In short, the Army disagreed with the Prime Minister and he wanted the public to know that.  A pronouncement avowedly on behalf of the Army, soon after the Prime Minister had spoken, has few precedents, if any, in India. Trust is a political judgment that is entirely for the political leadership to make, albeit after hearing the Army's views. As Lt. Gen. P.N. Kathpalia, former Director General, Military Intelligence, said on November 12, 1988: “A soldier always over-assesses…. If you know this character of the Army, it is for the civilian government to make a correct judgement and put the actions right.” He spoke specifically in the context of the Siachen trap.  Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, former Foreign Minister of Pakistan, is a committed friend of India who bravely incurred criticism in his country for his staunch commitment (vide his interview to the writer, Frontline, December 5, 2008, pages 59-63). But even he could not resist a telling comment on one of the general's statements calculatedly timed for the occasion. Arriving in New Delhi for talks with India's leaders, he was appalled to read in the day's papers one of Gen. J.J. Singh's pronouncements. He tartly told mediapersons that while Pakistan was criticised in India for letting the Army shape policy, things were no different in India itself, evidently.  The virus has seriously infected others. Unrest in Kashmir finds expression in stone-pelting because avenues of democratic peaceful protest are banned to the youth.  Last year, the violence declined steeply. The young, freed from the fear of the gun, wielded alike by the security forces and the militants, began to voice their protests peacefully on the streets, a fundamental right recognised in all democracies. But not by the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-in-C) of the Northern Command, Lt. Gen. B.S. Jaswal. Manmohan Singh's visit to Jammu and Srinagar, on October 28 and 29, 2009, and his statements had raised high hopes. Immediately thereafter, on October 31, Lt. Gen. Jaswal told the media at Udhampur: “Violence in Kashmir was on the decline since 2006, with just 26 incidents of violent incidents reported this year as compared to 276 in 2006. However, the ‘agitational terrorism' was a cause for worry.” He admitted that “militancy is down” but “my orders are to the troops – not only fight insurgents but also insurgency because that is the root cause of the whole trouble” ( Rising Kashmir and Greater Kashmir, November 1, 2009).  The insurgent is a human; insurgency is a movement, motivated by an idea. It is one thing to use the gun against a violent insurgent, another to use it against those who peacefully propagate an idea in meetings or processions. Jaswal equates that with terrorism, coining the expression “agitational terrorism”.  SHANKER CHAKRAVARTY  Outgoing Army Chief General N.C. Vij (right) handing over charge to his successor, Gen. Joginder Jaswant Singh, in South Block on January 31, 2005.  In 2005, this writer interviewed Lt. Gen. J.R. Mukherjee, GOC-in-C of the 15 Corps, in Srinagar (“A report on Kashmir”, Frontline, September 1, 2000). I had to interrupt him to stop the flow of his river of irrelevant rhetoric in spate in order to raise issues of the moment. For, his oration was devoted to the preposterous thesis that Kashmiris are not in a majority in Kashmir. He sought to establish it with slides and tables. The point is not that he was wildly off the mark. It is that he had no respect for the people or their feelings. Can you imagine the reaction to such a statement about Marathi-speaking people in Mumbai? After retirement, Mukherjee argued his thesis in a Kolkata daily, reflecting the depths of his disdain for Kashmiris.  Jaswal, endowed with a talent for “elegant” phrasing, spoke recently of the AFSPA as a “pious” document. One has heard of holy books, not pious ones. It is rather hard for an inanimate thing to achieve piety. He declaimed in Srinagar on June 14, 2010: “Don't touch this pious document or provisions of the Act giving the similarity [sic ] to a religious book.” The AFSPA is beyond reason and discourse. “I would like to say that the provisions of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act are very pious to me and I think to the entire Indian Army” (Kashmir Times, June 15, 2010).  His claim about the entire Army was perhaps not wrong. For, on June 25, Army chief Gen. V.K. Singh said that the “AFSPA is a misunderstood Act and all who ask for its dilution/withdrawal do so for narrow political gains.”  That would include presumably Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, who has been working on the amendments for nearly a year. Since they are before the Cabinet, the COAS' duty is not to go public with his views but communicate them to the Defence Minister. His attribution of motives is unworthy of a respected soldier like him. Would he care to recall Chidambaram's statement in Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh, on April 3 this year? He said: “There was a statement by the Prime Minister that he will take steps to replace the AFSPA with a more humane law” ( Asian Age, June 26, 2010). Is the Prime Minister also politically motivated? And so also Justice Jeevan P. Reddy, a former judge of the Supreme Court?  For, a committee to “review” the Act was set up by the BJP government on November 19, 2004. It was headed by Justice B.P. Jeevan Reddy (retd) and comprised Lt. Gen. V.R. Raghavan, former DGMO; Dr S.B. Nakade, former Vice-Chancellor and jurist; P. Shrivastav, Indian Administrative Service (retd) former Special Secretary, Union Home Ministry; and Sanjoy Hazarika, a journalist. The terms of reference cited the “concerns of the people of the north-eastern region” and studiously ignored those of the people of Kashmir. The committee held no hearings there. Its recommendations cannot be so restricted. They were explicit. “ The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, should be repealed. Therefore, recommending the continuation of the present Act, with or without amendments, does not arise” (Part IV; page 74 of the report).  The COAS' charge of political motivation reflects arrogant rejection of reasoned discussion. All such laws prescribe “reasonable use of force”. But the AFSPA contains a carte blanche, unheard of in any statute whether in India or abroad. Section 4(a) of the Act enables any officer of the armed forces to “ use force, even to the causing of death”. This is a juridical obscenity, a licence to kill with impunity. No COAS has any right to dismiss concerns about abuse of the AFSPA in the way Gen. V.K. Singh did.  The COAS is not bereft of rights. He has not only a right but a duty to speak up publicly, depending on the circumstances, besides, of course, his right to voice his fears and objections to the government in private. He is perfectly entitled to take the people into his confidence if he is asked to achieve the impossible. A recent instance suffices to establish this since it has been a subject of comment though it falls into a settled tradition.  It bears recalling that the GOC-in-C 15 Corps in Srinagar, Lt. Gen. Krishna Pal, said on March 8, 1998, that a military solution was not possible in Kashmir and a political solution must be sought. That was 12 whole years ago. On September 11, 2000, Army chief Gen. V.P. Malik said in Mohali, “ultimately there has to be a political solution to the [Kashmir] problem,” adding that it was imperative “to counter the alienation of the local population” (Asit Jolly, Asian Age, September 12, 2000). Such candour is rare.  Not by the Army alone  His successor, the new COAS, General S. Padmanabhan, said at a press conference in Srinagar on October 5, 2000: “We have no magical solution to any problem of this nature. In the history of mankind, no insurgency has been solved by any army.” He explained that “the Army's duty is to hold insurgency within acceptable levels so that the government here continues to function”. Ergo, it is then for the government, which won the reprieve, thanks to the armed forces, to take advantage of it and reach out to the militants politically and thus establish peace, not use the peace to perpetuate its power.  Gen. Padmanabhan said that all the organs of the state had to work together to address the causes of the insurgency. He knew the realities having served as GOC Northern Command and as commander of the 15 Corps (1993-95) when he played an important role in resolving tactfully the crisis when militants occupied the Hazratbal dargah in 1993. It was a turning point in the decline of the insurgency (Showkat A. Motta, Greater Kashmir, October 6, 2000).  What sins, then, did the present COAS Gen. V.K. Singh commit when he reiterated in honest candour these very views in a press interview? He said: “I feel there is a great requirement for political initiatives which take all the people forward together. Militarily, we have brought the overall internal security situation in J&K firmly under control. Now the need is to handle things politically” (Rajat Pandit, The Times of India, June 30, 2010).  On July 11, after the troubles had erupted fiercely, he remarked “that when the security situation had improved, the State administration should have reached out, but instead has frittered the opportunity away” ( Indian Express, July 12, 2010). This is a restatement of what Gen. Padmanabhan said 10 years ago in 2000. Gen. V.K. Singh was within his rights on both occasions, June 30 and July 11.  Asked to comment on Gen. V.K. Singh's statement of June 30, Gen. V.P. Malik defended him on a wrong notion in his interview to the BBC's Urdu Service on June 30. The COAS, he asserted, was a “politico-military adviser”. That, he is not. He is a military adviser.  It is another matter that his advice will have political implications. They are for the politicians in power to assess. Unless the distinction is fairly maintained, the military will not only assess threats but also decide on the response. Israel provides warning enough. Kobi Michael of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel has described the grim situation there in an erudite and insightful article entitled, “Who Really Dictates What an Existential Threat Is? The Israeli Experience” ( The Journal of Strategic Studies, October 2009, pages 687-713).  Amir Oren wrote in the respected Haaretz of January 24, 2008: “In the dispute between the system's leaders, the CGS (Chief of General Staff) is still the most powerful (actor) in comparison to the Head of the Mossad, Head of GSS (General Security Service) and even (the) Minister of Defence and Prime Minister – because nobody dares to decide against the position. The military echelon in Israel is the ultimate knowledge authority on the definition of security threats and shaping the responses for tackling them.”  Kobi Michael rightly asserts: “National security is the clear domain of political leadership. Therefore, the responsibility for defining existential threats and their appropriate responses is the political leadership's responsibility. The meaning of this responsibility is the supremacy of the political thought from which grand strategy is derived... when military strategy becomes hegemonic, existential threats will be defined on the basis of conceptual systems from the world of military thought, whose weaknesses are a bias towards conservative realism, anti-intellectualism, and worst-case scenarios.”  The military claims superior access to information and also to assessment. Most politicians yield to both claims because they know no better and there is an “absence of alternative knowledge infrastructure” to military ones.  Both soldier and politician collaborate to propagate the “religion of security”. Joseph McCarthy used security as a political tool. So does the BJP. Hence its fondness for the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA). “A vacuum is created and the public looks for the military's professional advice.” The public is seduced by the worst-case scenarios painted by the irresponsible opposition, which preys on its fears.  The talkative generals have done no little harm. It speaks for the strength of our democratic system that it survived those of the past even as it condones the trespasses of the recent ones. But the trend is clear and it must be arrested – now. Only the moral and intellectual authority of the political leadership can nip the creeping menace in the bud.

Welcome for Indian army chief
 HA NOI — Lieutenant General Pham Hong Loi, Deputy Chief of Staff of the People's Army of Viet Nam, hosted Indian General Vijay Kumar Singh, Chief of the Indian Army, at the Ministry of Defence's headquarters in Ha Noi yesterday.  At the reception, Loi said Singh's visit to Viet Nam with his delegation was a good chance for the armies of the two countries to share experiences and seek co-operation activities.  In the past, the armies had exchanged delegations and helped provide training in each other's languages, Loi said, adding he hoped the ties would continue to develop for mutual benefits.  Singh said he was happy with his first working trip to Viet Nam and hoped the two armies would enhance co-operation in training, humanitarian services and search and rescue, and share their experiences about taking part in United Nations-run peacekeeping forces.  Singh also called on General Phung Quang Thanh, Vietnamese Minister of Defence, and met officials of the Institute of Military Strategies. — VNS

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