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Saturday, 31 July 2010

From Today's Papers - 31 Jul 2010

Extension for Kayani Will the Pak Army Chief follow Obama?
by K. Subrahmanyam  In its 63 years of independent existence, Pakistan has had 14 Army chiefs. The first two were Britishers. Of the other 12, five had either two tenures or were Army chiefs for longer durations. Generals Ayub Khan, Mohammed Musa and now Kayani have had two tenures sanctioned by superior authority, democratic or otherwise.  Three Generals had one tenure. They were Generals Tikka Khan, Aslam Beg and Abdul Waheed Kakkar. Two dictator Army chiefs, Generals Zia-ul-Haq and Musharraf remained as army chiefs for 11 and nine years respectively. In four cases, the incumbents could not complete the tenure. General Yahya Khan resigned after losing the Bangladesh war. General Gul Hasan was forced to resign after being accused of Bonapatism by Z.A. Bhutto, the President. General Asif Nawaz died in office under mysterious circumstances. Jahangir Karamat voluntarily tendered his resignation when accused of impropriety by Prime Minister Nawaz Shariff.  The Pakistan Army prides itself on its discipline. The story of betrayals, however, begins with Ayub Khan overthrowing his long-term patron Iskander Mirza. Yahya Khan toppled his benefactor, Ayub Khan. The charge against Gul Hasan was Bonapartism. Zia-ul-Haq turned on his patron Z.A.Bhutto.  The widely believed version of Zia’s death is that he was assassinated by disaffected army personnel. General Musharaff deposed the Prime Minister who selected him superseding his senior. Kayani had no compunction in joining with the civilian politicians and packing home the man who made him the Army chief.  This tendency to turn against one’s benefactor is not confined to the Pakistani military only. Z.A.Bhutto owed his meteoric rise to Ayub Khan. He helped to bring him down. Benazir Bhutto made Farooq Leghari the President. He sacked her in 1996. Once General Zia explained to an Indian Editor that in Islam, according to his interpretation, it did not matter how a ruler came to power, but he must implement the Shariah. The Pakistani politico-strategic culture displays a distinct loyalty-deficit among majority of politicians and generals.  In Pakistan, though there is an Election Commission, the ultimate control over the elections vests in the Army which conducts it. One General explained that the voting in Pakistan has always been free. It is at the counting stage that angels intervened. The counting was usually rigged. And this came out clearly at the time Musharaff stood for elections for the first time.  One of Kayani’s qualifications for extension was he held the second free and fair elections in the entire history of Pakistan. The first was held under General Yahya Khan in 1970 when the Inter-Services Intelligence predicted a hung National Assembly. Contrary to the prediction the election returned Mujibur Rahman as a clear majority leader. The Army would not accept that verdict, leading to the civil war which resulted in the emergence of Bangladesh.  This time, since Kayani was one of the architects of the Musharaff-Benazir reconciliation deal, presumably, the ISI assessment was a victory in the polls for Benazir’s Pakistan People’s Party, especially after her assassination. Therefore, there was perhaps no problem in the Army in conducting a free and fair election.  Kayani earned his popularity by enabling the return of the sacked Chief Justice and other judges and quietly showing the door to Musharaff to vacate the presidency and exit. In Pakistan, there is a very apt description of the state of their politics. Either the General is standing behind the chair or actually sitting on the chair. General Kayani has been a far more sophisticated person than the brash commando, Musharaff, he succeeded.  He has left the day-to-day governance to the politicians and got them to face all the unpopularity and disaffection arising out of misgovernance. He has kept in his hands the reins of real power by keeping the veto on defence, foreign affairs and intelligence fields. He has clearly demonstrated that he is in change in several ways. Prior to the strategic dialogue with the US, he summoned all concerned civilian Secretaries to the General Headquarters and finalised the agenda for the dialogue.  On her two visits to Islamabad, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spent more time talking to the Army Chief than to any other minister including the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister. In the Washington strategic dialogue, Foreign Minister Quereshi was only the nominal head and the Pakistani delegation was, in fact, headed by the Army Chief. The US Administration accepted that reality.  Though the Pakistan civilian government moved the UN Security Council to appoint a panel to investigate the circumstances of Benazir murder, it was compelled to protest against the criticism of the panel against the establishment (Army) and the Intelligence Services (ISI) in particular. The Army Chief and the corps commanders were critical of the provisions of Kerry-Lugar legislation on aid to Pakistan and US rushed Senator John Kerry, the author of the legislation and Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to mollify the Army leadership.  The Wikileaks covering 90,000 documents over a period of five years have clearly exposed the double game played by Pakistan Army during the period 2004-09 when pretending to cooperate with US, the Pakistan Army had been financing, equipping, sharing intelligence with and providing logistic support for the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Toiba, Haqqani Faction and other Jehadi groups.  From 2005 to 2008, General Kayani was the Director-General of ISI and then Army Chief. In fact, he was the person who executed the policy of double dealing with the US for the last five years. The Prime Minister of Pakistan has extended his tenure to ensure continuity of policy and direction for the counter-terrorism operation launched by the Army after 2009 when the Tehrik-e-Taliban-Pakistan (TTP) turned rogue and launched terrorist attacks on Army and intelligence installations.  Though the US has been urging the Pakistani Army to launch attacks on all terrorist groups, the Pakistan Army has not complied with the US request. US officials have told their Legislatures Intelligence Committees that the Pakistan Army considered some of the terrorist groups as their strategic assets against India and to hedge their bets in the post-US withdrawal phase in Afghanistan.  In those circumstances, extension of tenure for Kayani is a direct rebuff of President Obama strategy to disrupt, dismantle and defeat the five terrorist groups having safe havens in Pakistan and hitherto shielded and nurtured by the Pakistani Army and ISI. After the leaks, US Vice-President Biden said that the problems Wikileaks described within Pakistan’s Intelligence Services were being dealt with and things were changing.  The next few weeks will reveal to the world whether General Kayani will fall in line with Obama strategy or continue to pursue his double-dealing game with the US.

Five CRPF men killed, 44 hurt in blast
Bijay Sankar Bora/TNS  Guwahati, July 30 Five personnel from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were killed and 44 others injured when militants from the banned United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) detonated a blast targeting a bus carrying CRPF men along the road at Bhalukdubi inside Salbari Reserve Forest in Goalpara district of western Assam this morning.  Senior Assam minister Dr Bhumidhar Barman stated that the blast was a handiwork of the anti-talks faction of the ULFA led by fugitive commander-in-chief Paresh Barua. He said it was aimed at scuttling the initiative taken by the government to hold dialogue with top ULFA leaders, including its chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa now lodged in jail  Superintendent of Police Luise Aind said four CRPF men were killed on the spot while one died on way to Guwahati Medical College Hospital. He said 32 personnel were injured seriously. It was an improvised explosive device (IED) that was planted on the road. The CRPF men from 12th Battalion were coming back to Goalpara town after attending routine morning drill when the explosion hit them.  Explosive experts suspected that a mixture of TNT and RDX were used in the explosive device. Twenty-one seriously injured jawans were admitted to the GMCH while the rest were being treated at the Civil Hospital in Goalpara.  Meanwhile, a ULFA spokesman Anu Buragohain called up media here claiming responsibility for the blast and warned that the situation in the state would turn for the worse unless the government act responsibly in tackling the ULFA problem.  The blast occurred at a crucial juncture when the government has initiated a process to facilitate talks with ULFA top leaders including its chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa. Centre’s interlocutor for peace talks with insurgent groups in Assam, PC Haldar met with top ULFA leaders in Guwahati jail on Saturday last raising hopes for a dialogue.

US wants India to continue dialogue with Pak
 Lalit K Jha/ PTI / Washington July 30, 2010, 9:28 IST  Even as the ISI stands completely exposed in the eyes of the public for its terror links, in particular those against India, the Obama Administration has argued that New Delhi should continue its dialogue process with Islamabad.  "So we are simply encouraging Pakistan and India to pursue a dialogue that we think is fundamentally in the interest of both countries," State Department spokesman P J Crowley told reporters at his daily news conference.  "We encourage dialogue between India and Pakistan because it's in the interest of both the countries and in the interest of the US that these countries that have gone to war multiple times in the past 60 years need to build their own relationship, need to find ways beyond military conflict to remove tensions in the relationship, gain a greater understanding that can be of substantial benefit to both the people of India and the people of Pakistan," Crowley explained.  "As the (US) President said, we think that while there might be granularity in some of the material that's released, and again we emphasize that we think this release has done damage to our national security, there's no startling revelations in these documents," he said.  "Pakistan's relationship with elements that morphed into the Taliban go back to the Soviet occupation were very well known. They're known to the United States, they're known to India, and they're known to Afghanistan," Crowley said.  Crowley said the US itself is taking steps to bridge its trust deficit with Pakistan.  "We have demonstrated over the past couple of years our commitment to civilian government in Pakistan. And we understand that going back several years, the commitment to civilian government in Pakistan by the US has been uneven," he said.  "So this is part and parcel of improving the relationship with Pakistan. We are committed to civilian government in Pakistan. Our investments in Pakistan are geared towards helping that government build its capacity and deliver effective services to its people," he said.  The US is committed to helping Pakistan improve its economy, including the economy in the tribal areas, and the frontier areas where the US is concerned about the presence of extremist elements and safe havens that affect the security of Pakistan and the security of the United States.  "So, ultimately, we're trying to both improve relations with Pakistan and US, but we're trying to help Pakistan improve relations between its own population and its own government," he said.

VIEW: Idealism versus pragmatism
 —Mohammad Jamil  Pakistan is at war with terrorists and there are internal and external threats to its security. In such circumstances, extension of the army chief is justifiable. The Pakistan Army has avoided politics and one should appreciate an army chief who performs his duties within the parameters of the constitution  If idealism is pursued, no extension of extension of service should be given to the army chief, but for continuing the counter-terrorism measures, the extension can be looked upon as logical and inevitable. Ideally speaking, ad hoc judges should not be appointed, as it is against the established norms and principles, but after the PCO judges were shown the door, the chief justice sought appointment of ad hoc judges to ensure quick dispensation of justice. Also, in the case of the extension of the chief of army staff (COAS), pragmatism has taken precedence over idealism because of the dire conditions and the existential threat to Pakistan from local and foreign-inspired terrorists. But the debate continues to rage in the media, and many analysts oppose it on the grounds that individuals are not as important as institutions. Secondly, they state that it will deprive many officers of a promotion, which automatically comes with the retirement of the COAS. One has to remember that Pakistan is at war with terrorists and there are internal and external threats to its security. In such circumstances, extension of the army chief is justifiable. Similarly, in the US, Admiral Mike Mullen has been given a one-year extension because the war on terror has entered a very crucial stage.  But the problem is that our leaders have the penchant of making good decisions look bad by implementing them in a dubious manner. The prime minister’s remark that all major stakeholders — the president, the prime minister, the Supreme Court, chief justice and the army chief — were in a ‘secure position’ until 2013 is a case in point. On the other hand, detractors of the government and a few media personnel, who had supported the appointment of ad hoc judges, are opposing the extension of the army chief. By highlighting the ‘heartburn’ of the military officers who will lose their promotions, efforts are being made to undermine respect for the chain of command, a hallmark of the Pakistan Army. These groups do not realise that by doing so, they are wittingly or unwittingly trying to sow seeds of dissension among the army personnel, who are known for their sacrifices. Forgoing a promotion would be a trivial matter for them. Nonetheless, there was no dearth of patriotic media persons who wrote appreciatively about the extension, which they considered to be imperative in order to take the military campaign against terrorists to its logical conclusion.  Almost all political parties have supported the move or given comments like those given by PML-N. Some PML-N leaders complained that the prime minister did not discuss the matter with Mian Nawaz Sharif. Maulana Fazlur Rehman also hinted that he was not taken into confidence. If we walk this road, then other questions emerge. Did Mian Nawaz Sharif take the late Benazir Bhutto into confidence when he showed the door to then COAS Jehangir Karamat? Had Mian Nawaz Sharif consulted Mohtarma Bhutto when he appointed Pervez Musharraf as COAS, superseding General Ali Quli Khan, who immediately resigned? Knowing Mian sahib’s temperament, one could say that no such matters were discussed in the cabinet. According to reports, at the sacking of Pervez Musharraf, Mian Nawaz Sharif called the then Defence Secretary General Iftikhar and discussed the matter. General Iftikhar had reportedly suggested letting Pervez Musharraf return from Sri Lanka and then be shown a ceremonial exit, but the suggestion was ignored. The problem with our leaders is that they do not want to consult others on issues of national importance but expect others to take them into confidence.  There is no denying that General Kayani has conducted himself admirably during the last three years and stayed away from politics. He salvaged the situation when the government and opposition were on a collision course during the movement for the restoration of the judiciary. He is perhaps the first army head that strictly directed all officers of the Pakistan Army to avoid politics in line with the established rules and did not call any politician to GHQ. In a letter written to officers, he stated the role of the armed forces was already defined in the country’s laws and constitution, adding that the officers should not indulge in any profit-making venture other than their salary and perks as per their ranks. Following his directives, army officers deployed in civil departments were recalled to their units, a move that was appreciated by the people at large. The point here is that while people have often welcomed the promulgation of martial law, the writers and intellectuals have criticised and condemned it because the constitution is thrown to the winds. Nevertheless, one should appreciate an army chief who performs his duties within the parameters of the constitution.  Except for pseudo-intellectuals, who have a passion for Pakistan-bashing and wish to see clashes between the state’s pillars, all other groups will admit that the military is not involved in politics today and, according to reports, the political wing of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was also closed three years ago. The self-righteous and ‘paragons’ of scruples should not offer suggestions to the army chief to not accept the extension, which reportedly has been done. It is noteworthy that when General Kayani took over as COAS, terrorists had traumatised the people of the northwest and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The writ of the state did not exist in Swat and Malakand, as the civil administration was on the run. Even political leaders had abandoned their abodes to find safe havens. In FATA, extremists had either killed political agents or forced them to quit the region. Today, however, Swat and Malakand have been cleared and the operation in South Waziristan has been completed. A lot still has to be done, which justifies the extension of the COAS. It is hoped that he will lead the military to higher pinnacles of professionalism and preparedness during his next three years.  The writer is a freelance columnist. He can be reached at

Defence budget reasonable, says Chinese military
Beijing, July 30, PTI:  The world's second biggest military spender, China, today defended its whopping USD 77 billion defence expenditure, insisting it was strictly aimed at protecting its sovereignty, and pegged at nearly 1.4 per cent of the GDP, it was far below than other countries.  Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said that the country's defence expenditure was maintained at a reasonable and appropriate level.  Geng who took over the post today, was quoted as saying by Xinhua, that China's annual defence expenditure has been pegged around 1.4 per cent of its GDP in recent years while the share of some major world powers is between two and four per cent.  "We have always coordinated the national defence building with the country's economic development," Geng said, adding that China pursed a purely defensive national defence policy.  China will not enter into an arms race or militarily threaten any other country nor will seek hegemony and engage in military expansion, he said.  "The fundamental task of the Chinese military is to protect the nation's sovereignty, security and territorial integrity," he said.  He said China's current security environment is generally stable, but some threats do exist.  China this year increased its defence budget by 7.5 per cent to 532.115 billion yuan (USD 77 billion).  Last year China hiked the defence 14.9 per cent. Despite the modest increase this year, China would still continue to be second largest spender on defence, next only to United States. It spends twice as high as India on the defence head.  India increased its defence spending by 3.98 per cent this year to USD 32 billion. A number of foreign media reports in the recent months have said that the official announcement about reducing the increase of defence spending does not reflect the actual expenditure which could range from of USD 140 to 150 billion.  Decades of rapid growth has made Chinese Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) the largest standing army in the world with more than 2.3 million men.  Its Navy has about 255,000 men and its air force about four lakh men and officers.

DRDO employees threaten strike
30 Jul 2010, 1531 hrs IST,Peerzada Abrar,ET Bureau Topics:     
BANGALORE: All India Defence Employees Federation (AIDEF), which represents 4.5 lakh defence and civilian employees, threatened to go on an indefinite hunger strike on Thursday. The AIDEF employees are protesting against the defence ministry’s approval for private sector participation in defence technology in order to revitalise the DRDO and give a major boost to defence research. “We will fight tooth and nail against any such government decision. We are putting the Indian defence industry on its death bed and killing research in the name of restructuring DRDO,” said SN Pathak, president, AIDEF.  The restructuring will follow the recommendations of two review panels, one headed by former secretary in the department of science and technology, P Rama Rao, and the other, chaired by defence secretary Pradeep Kumar. The Rao committee was set up in February 2007 to suggest steps to improve the functioning of the DRDO, after legislators raised a furore over delayed projects and cost over-runs.  Among the projects running behind schedule is the development of the Light Combat Aircraft, the Kaveri engine and an interception, monitoring, direction finding and analysis system, known as ‘Divyadrishti’. Tactical Communication System (TCS) modernisation has also been delayed for years. “The government is acting under the pressure of Indian industry lobbies, lead by CII, FICCI, Assocham, multinational corporations and foreign lobbies, who are eager to snatch the increasing defence budget and earn their profits,” said Mr Pathak.  The federation plans to start a series of agitation programmes such as demonstrations, dharnas and hunger strikes, culminating in a one-day general strike by DRDO unions, if the government fails to settle all the pending demands of the employees, including the withdrawal of the decision to reorganise DRDO. DRDO’s top management said that public private partnership is the way ahead as the defence demand of the country is increasing and the government alone cannot meet this demand. “We spend Rs 50,000 crore on defence acquisitions abroad every year.  We have to become self reliant. Revamping the DRDO, collaborations and joint ventures with the private sector is the way ahead to achieve this goal,” said a top DRDO official, who did not wish to be quoted. “This strategy won’t have any impact on employees, as the work includes within the government and outside the government circle,” he added. The federation fears a reduction in the number of employees at DRDO as a result of the restructuring programme. “At present, there are around 7,000 top scientists and 27,000 group C and group D employees in the DRDO and once the commercialisation of the defence agency takes place, this will drop,” said Saila Bhattacharya, AIDEF general secretary.  Under the recommendations of Dr P Ramrao Committee report on DRDO, the government had in May decided to revamp the DRDO into 7 cluster groups. Some of DRDO’s 51 laboratories across the country will be merged with other public-funded institutions that have similar interests and administrative structures. AIDEF said that the decision by the government to throw 11 out of 51 DRDO laboratories including laboratories in Mysore, Kanpur, Tejpur and Gwalior and merge them with Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), is also a serious concern.  India is set to spend about US$ 200 billion on defence acquisitions over the next 12 years to replace its outdated Soviet-vintage inventory. According to a study by the India Strategic defence magazine, nearly half of this funding, or $100 billion, will go to the Indian Air Force (IAF) which would need to replace more than half of its combat jet fleet as well as the entire transport aircraft and helicopter fleet. The army needs new guns, tanks, rocket launchers, multi-terrain vehicles while the navy needs ships, aircraft carriers, an entire new range of propeller and nuclear-armed submarines.

'Corrupt' Colonel turns to god
By: Anshuman G Dutta                           Beleaguered soldier, who allegedly received kickbacks in Army transportation, seeks divine intervention  An Indian Army Colonel, who is awaiting court martial and dismissal from service, has sought divine intervention to correct his faulty grah-nakshatra. Interestingly, the colonel sought the solution for the 'errant stars' on an astrology website, mentioning his rank and name besides posting important dates related to disciplinary action against him.    Time for Tarot: A webshot of the site on which the colonel posted his details  Colonel Sanjay Jethi, the former commandant of Ordnance Depot at Mumbai was responsible for delivery of truck tyres to army units located across the country. But in connivance with private contractors and transporters, the colonel allegedly developed a unique strategy to fleece the army.  The ordnance depot hires private trucks to transport the material which lands at Mumbai dockyard. Colonel Jethi's modus operandi - which has surprised every one in the military fraternity- was to hire trucks of 9-tonne capacity for the job but record them as 16-tonne trucks in the account books. With the aid of the private transporters the colonel also made necessary modifications in the truck to give it the appearance of a bigger truck. The material used for the modification was mostly canvas.  "The cost of hiring a 16-tonne truck is much higher than a nine-tonner and there is a price difference of at least 1.5 times between the two," said a Ministry of Defence (MoD) official. According to sources, during the court of inquiry (CoI) the total misappropriation of funds were recorded to the tune of about Rs 50 lakh. During the CoI, which was headed by a brigadier rank official, few more surprising facts sprang out against the colonel. It was also discovered that on various occasions the trucks laden with goods existed only in the records and account books only. The colonel did maximum misappropriation of funds with the transportation of truck tyres to army units posted at different locations in the country.   The colonel's misdeeds were revealed when the authorities compared the chassis number of the trucks. "The chassis number of two trucks can never be the same but the account books gave same chassis numbers for nine and 16-tonne capacity trucks," said the officer. The CoI found the colonel guilty and recommended his dismissal from service.  Besides approaching the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) where he has challenged the recommendations of the CoI, the colonel also contacted a famous astrology website - for astrological help.

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