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Monday, 30 August 2010

From Today's Papers - 30 Aug 2010

Israeli envoy backs India on Kashmir, terror
Ashok Tuteja Tribune News Service  New Delhi, August 29 Israel yesterday extended its unflinching support to India on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir and combating terrorism emanating from Pakistan while strongly pitching for enhanced economic relationship with New Delhi.  “I would like to say without any compunction or ambiguity that Israel stands 100 per cent behind India, especially on the question of Kashmir and fighting terrorism emanating from Pakistan,” Israeli Ambassador to India Mark Sofer said in an interview to The Tribune.  He said his country believed that on both these issues, India had an approach that was responsible, wide-ranging and with the best interest of the country at heart. Referring to the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, he said the incident reflected that terrorism could only be fought through concerted and unified international action. “The only way to fight terrorism of the extremist ilk coming from Pakistan or that we have in West Asia from Hamas and other Iranian proxies is through concerted international action…it cannot be done by just one country.”  Sofer said the international community could not afford to lose the fight against terrorism, be it in India, Europe, the USA or Israel. “There are state-sponsored terrorists in South Asia and West Asia,” he said.  He said the problem in South Asia between India and Pakistan could not be described as a conflict between two religions. Similarly, the conflict in Middle East had no religious overtones. “We have a territorial and political conflict and not a conflict between the Jewish and the Muslim religions under any circumstances,” he said. He said Israel had the greatest respect for Islam. However, the religion had been used and abused by the likes of Bin Laden and the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT).  Asked to comment on speculation that Israel could establish diplomatic relations with Pakistan, the Israeli envoy acknowledged that reports to that effect had appeared in the international media from time to time. “However, nothing is on the cards,” he added.  Having said that, he added Pakistan was an important nation and almost every country, including India, had diplomatic ties with it.  To a question if India could broker peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, he said there was no substitute to direct talks between the two parties. “We have been talking to the Palestinians for 18 years…there have been ups and downs. The two sides have to find a way out. Paradoxically, on paper, at least, we agree what the end game should be: the state of Israel living side by side with the state of Palestine,” he said.

3 BSF men among 5 killed by Naxals 
Raipur, August 29 BSF men fell victims for the first time in a Naxal attack in Chattisgarh when three of them were among five security personnel killed today after armed Maoists ambushed security forces in Kanker district.  At least three Naxals are believed to have been killed in the exchange of fire when security forces were conducting search operation, ADGP Ramniwas said. One security personnel was injured.  Ramniwas said the incident occured when 77 security personnel comprising officers and jawans from Border Security Force, district police and special police officers (SPO) set out in the jungles in Kanker district for "area domination" exercise.  Naxals opened fire as soon as the security personnel reached the forests near Bhuski village killing five of them, he said.  This is the first time that BSF jawans have been killed in Naxal attack in Chhattisgarh where the victims among the security forces have been mainly men from CRPF, state police and SPOs. — PTI

China’s unfriendly acts India needs to take a tougher stand 
MUCH though India and China may feign that all’s well between them, every now and then the lack of understanding and trust in the relationship comes to the fore, locked as they are in a battle for high stakes as emerging powers. The latest spark lit by the Chinese by denial of visa to Lt-General B.S. Jaswal, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Northern Area Command, to visit China as part of high-level defence exchanges marks a new setback to relations between the two neighbours. Considering that the refusal of visa had to do with the fact that the General had Jammu and Kashmir under his charge, the Indian Government cannot but be outraged by Beijing’s challenge to the northern state being an integral part of India. Evidently, the China’s intentions are far from innocent. It wants the pot boiling on its contention that what India calls Arunachal Pradesh is actually China’s territory. At the same time, it is out to please Pakistan by dubbing J & K as disputed territory.  Last year, the Chinese had angered New Delhi by issuing visas on separate pieces of paper for Kashmiris which were then stapled into their passports. The practice resulted in many Kashmiris being prevented by Indian immigration officials from boarding their flights on the grounds that the visas were not valid. China has also been nitpicking in the past year over visits by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh.  The Indian response could well have been less conciliatory. There is little point in pretending that there is complete bonhomie between the two countries. While it is mutually-beneficial to nurture economic ties, India must make no bones about its disgust over Chinese actions that go against the spirit of friendship. The denial of visas to three Chinese army officers in retaliation for their refusal to issue visa to Lt-Gen. Jaswal is mere tokenism. Instead, the Chinese government needs to be told in no uncertain terms that actions like the denial of visa to the General only put the clock back on normalisation of ties between the two countries.

J&K: Infiltration bid foiled in Uri sector 
NDTV Correspondent, Updated: August 29, 2010 23:35 IST Ads by Google  Luxury Home Doors Windows – European Quality. Made for India. India's #1 Window & Door Company  Srinagar:  The Army has foiled one of the biggest infiltration attempts in the Uri sector of Jammu and Kashmir and is currently engaged in a fierce gunbattle with the militants in the area. The operation which started several hours ago is still on.  Unconfirmed reports suggest that six militants have been killed in the encounter.  According to a spokesperson of the Army, they got a tip off about a large, heavily armed group of militants trying to cross over to India from the border which was stopped by the Army. He, however, refused to reveal the exact number of militants.

Nirupama, Army chief for Lanka
Aug 30 2010  New Delhi, Aug. 29: Foreign secretary Nirupama Rao’s visit to Sri Lanka this week will be followed by that of Indian Army chief, Gen. V.K. Singh, early in September. The general’s visit will be part of a series of high-level visits to the island nation scheduled over the next few months.  Also on the anvil are the visits by Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik and defence secretary Pradeep Kumar, in that order.  External affairs minister S.M. Krishna is expected to visit Colombo later this year. His Sri Lankan counterpart, G.L. Peiris, is scheduled to visit India in October for delivering a lecture here, on the sidelines of which he can be expected to hold consultations with the Indian government on the progress of the decisions arrived at in Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s visit here in June.

India dismisses report of confiscation of material in China
 NEW DELHI: India on Sunday dismissed reports of alleged confiscation of some printed material depicting its map from the 'India Pavilion' at the Shanghai Expo by Chinese authorities in July, amid a row between the two countries over China's refusal to issue visa to a top Indian Army officer.  "I have seen a report...about alleged confiscation of some printed material depicting the Indian map, from the Indian pavilion at Shanghai Expo by the Chinese authorities," the spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs said.  He said, "There is no factual basis to this report. There has been no interference in the functioning of our pavilion at Shanghai Expo".  The report had said the Chinese police had seized the material showing maps depicting Arunachal Pradesh as part of India.  The comments come close on the heels of a major diplomatic row between the two countries after China refused to permit an Indian army general to visit that country as he is in-charge of "sensitive" Jammu and Kashmir.  In an angry retaliation, India put all defence exchanges with it on hold till the matter was sorted out.  India, which has already lodged its protest with China for denying permission to Northern Commander Lt Gen B S Jaswal, had said the Chinese action amounts to questioning the status of Jammu and Kashmir which is "unacceptable" as it relates to the country's sovereignty.

The China syndrome
 Business Standard  | 2010-08-30 01:10:00    China is once again in the news. Having overtaken Japan as the world’s second-largest economy, it is flexing muscles. It chose to deny entry to an Indian army officer scheduled to participate in a bilateral dialogue because of his posting in Jammu and Kashmir, has reportedly taken control of parts of the state from Pakistan, and has seized maps of India from the Indian Pavillion at the Shanghai Expo because they show Arunachal Pradesh as part of India. There is method in China’s madness. Keeping India off balance is an old Chinese game. Playing with India’s highly emotional media and political class with its "blow hot, blow cold" tease is another. Winning friends in India’s neighbourhood is a third. But to place China’s latest acts of "assertiveness" in perspective, one must also draw attention to internal divisions within China as to how it should deal with the world, with Asia and with India. If in India there are as many views as there are people thinking about an issue, in China there are at least two views. When the less assertive political leaders are on top, China appears reasonable and friendly; when the more assertive Communist Party and People’s Liberation Army leaders are on top, China appears menacing. With respect to India, there have been two underlying trends: first, the so-called "all weather friendship" with Pakistan; and, second, the willingness to hurt India every now and then to show who’s the boss in Asia.  How should India respond? Coolly and calmly. Impotent rage is no substitute for potent action. India should never lose sight of the internal political dynamic within China and should keep all its lines of communication open with the more liberal and sensible Chinese. Finally, India must continue to focus on its own economic development and defence capability. Six decades ago, in November 1950, India’s legendary home minister and "Iron Man" Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel wrote a letter of great foresight, vision and strategic thinking to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru outlining what India must do to meet the "China threat". Much of what Sardar Patel said remains relevant even now. Having shown the resolve to strengthen its own capability and defences, India must show the capacity to befriend as many other countries, especially major powers, as possible. That is precisely what China itself did. In seeking to deal with the challenge closer home, from the Soviet Union, China reached out to the United States, benefited economically from the relationship and helped the US win the Cold War. It is time India learnt a lesson or two from China on how to win friends in a multipolar world. It is, however, sadly amusing to see India’s Parliament defending national sovereignty with words on a piece of paper, the week China is challenging it with deeds on the ground!

Army’s inevitable focus
Submitted 10 hrs 35 mins ago  As the tense, nay hostile, Indo-Pakistan relations have worsened over the years, instead of changing for the better, the conclusion of The Wall Street Journal that Islamabad has shifted its focus from the eastern neighbour to militancy and the floods, is off the mark. Pakistan Army sources have not minced their words, debunking the WSJ story. The militants might be posing a grave threat to the security and stability of the country and the unprecedented floods might have created a crisis of unimaginable proportions, but both are of the nature of an internal phenomenon that would, no doubt, entail hard work and time to tackle. However, New Delhi’s designs fall into a completely different category. Therein lies an existential threat to Pakistan that India has ceaselessly kept alive since the day the partition plan was agreed to by all parties to the independence of British India. Its manoeuvrings played no insignificant role in cutting the country asunder in two parts. And, as questioned by a security official, “what has India done, politically and militarily, for this threat to have been reduced?” Rather, it has increased that threat, both in the conventional and unconventional sense, by using its presence in Afghanistan to muddy the waters for Pakistan, both in FATA and Balochistan. Its keenness to firm up its stay in Afghanistan, to which it has no direct land access, could not be divorced from its intention to encircle Pakistan. The security official used, more or less, the words of COAS General Kayani when he said, “the configuration of any defence force is based on enemy capabilities and not intentions.” With Kashmir and other disputes remaining unresolved, India’s baseless accusation of Pakistan’s role in the Mumbai attacks and declared intention of acting against Pakistan in case of another similar incident, is hardly the scenario in which Islamabad could drop its guard. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has said that India wants to have friendly relations with all neighbours, would have to settle Kashmir in line with the relevant UN resolutions and other disputes. A mere façade of talks without getting down to brass tacks about resolving this core issue would be a subterfuge for the world, but would not succeed in normalisation relations with Pakistan. That dispute also comes in the way of improving its ties with China, which has rightly refused to grant a visa to Lt-General B. S. Jaswal because his command covers the disputed state. If the Indians want to create a ‘peaceful and tranquil international environment’ they would have to rethink their policies towards both Pakistan and China. Hegemonic ambitions backed by military strength can compel weaker neighbours into submission, but it would have to accept the relationship of sovereign equality with the two nuclear powers and that too must be preceded by the resolution of disputes with them.

Indian Military Revolt?
The Diplomat has an interesting piece,Will India's Military Revolt?, arguing that the Indian military favor a hard line in Kashmir and against the Maoists, that the Sonia Gandhi - Manmohan Singh is ignoring the Indian military, and that the military may in some vaguely defined sense, "Revolt".  The first thing to note is that the author of the piece assumes that the Indian military are in favor of using the army against the Maoists.  India has a long tradition of relying on paramilitary outfits like the CRPF in counterinsurgency, and the Indian Army sees itself as defending the state against external enemies like China and Pakistan.  It is not at all obvious that the senior officers of the Indian army want to get the army involved in a war against the Maoists.  So this is an unproved assumption.  The second thing is that it is not at all obvious what the Indian army can do.  As Coup d'Etat by Ed Luttwak argues, for a military coup to work, the civilian bureaucrats have to cooperate by coming to work and doing their jobs after the coup, and the civilians have to cooperate by ignoring the coup and going about their lives.  India has a long extablished civil democracy and the the Indian economy is currently doing well.  So the Indian army has no reason to assume these preconditions for a coup will be met.  In fact, since the Indians have to look no further than Pakistan to see where a military coup might lead, it is pretty likely that a military coup would be resisted.  It is quite possible that the Indian Army will ignore this and follow the example of the French Army in April of 1861.  As readers of French history will be aware, this would not be a good idea.  On theother hand, the  leaders of the Indian Army haven't lost a war in Vietnam. nor are they losing a war in Algeria.  So it seems highly likely that the Indian Army will avoid risky adventures.  On the other hand, the Indian army might try to use the techniques the US army has developed to control events in Washington to increase its influence in New Delhi.   By allying itself with defense contractors who support the army viewpoint, having those defense contractors make "campaign contributions" to politicians who support the goals of the army as interpreted by the generals, and doing everything possible to defeat anti-military politicians, it would be possible for the Indian army to increase its influence substantially.  Leaks to the press would be a useful technique for embarassing pols who favor a soft line if the army favors a hard line.  Influence might be increased by shrewdly awarding defense contracts to companies in the districts of powerful politicians.  These methods may not be as useful for the Indian Army in the Indian system as they are for the US army in America.  Also, there are advantages to a  purely professional British approach that may it look better than the more politicized US model.  I kind of wonder if the article is really expressing an American desire to deal with the Indian army instead of the Indian government, rather than an Indian viewpoint.  The US is not known for a tolerant attitude towards Maoist rebellions, and it thinks of India as an ally )except when it is thinking of Pakistan as an ally).  The Maoist rebellion in India is becoming more widely known in the US (see the Foreign Policy articles Fire In the Hole and India's Failing CounterInsurgency Campaign for examble).  It seems likely that US counterinsurgency are less anxius for the Indian government to negotiate with the Maoists than PM Manmohan Singh is.    So elements in the US may be trying to egg the Indian army on, without really understanding the situation in India.  That said, I encourage people to read both the article and the comments.

Not convinced we won Kargil
Lt Gen Kishan Pal to NDTV   Not convinced we won Kargil: Lt Gen Kishan Pal to NDTV A General who led the Indian Army on ground in the Kargil conflict, has broken his 11-year silence to say that he believes India actually lost the war in strategic terms. In an exclusive interview to NDTV, Lieutenant-General Kishan Pal, who was then the head of the Srinagar-based 15 Corps, says India has failed to consolidate its tactical gains. Asked for his assessment of the conflict 11 years later, Gen Pal told NDTV: “Well for 11 years I did not speak at all…I did not speak because I was never convinced about this war, whether we really won it…We did gain some tactical victories, we regained the territories we lost, we lost 587 precious lives. I consider this loss of war because whatever we gained from the war has not been consolidated, either politically or diplomatically. It has not been consolidated militarily.” Gen Pal was recently in a controversy involving the battle performance report of one of his juniors, Brigadier Devinder Singh. Speaking to NDTV, the then Army chief General VP Mailk refused to get into the debate but said there was little doubt who won that war.

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