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Thursday, 14 October 2010

From Today's Papers - 14 Oct 2010

  Misperceptions on J&K The facts India must highlight
by G. Parthasarathy  While glibly alluding to the “rights of Kashmiris,” few people appear to remember that Jammu and Kashmir is a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-religious state made up not just of “Kashmiris”. Roughly 45 per cent of its people are not Kashmiris, who live in the Kashmir valley, but are Dogras, Punjabis, Paharis, Bakarwals, Gujjars, Buddhist Ladakhis and Balti Shias in Kargil. Paradoxically, the Kashmir valley, where one now hears calls for “azadi”, had been ruled ruthlessly for over 700 years by Mongols, Afghans, Mughals, Sikhs and Dogras before the people there experienced democratic freedoms under India’s Constitution.  Moreover, while communal harmony has prevailed in the multi-religious Jammu and Ladakh regions, it is from the valley alone, which boasts of a proud history of secular “Kashmiriyat”, that 400,000 members of the minority community have been forced to flee from their homes by a Pakistani-sponsored “jihad,” backed covertly by a motley conglomerate of separatists calling itself the All-Party Hurriyat Conference. And, right now, we are faced with a situation wherein a section of the people from barely five of the 22 districts in the state is holding the entire country to ransom.  New Delhi’s handling of these developments has been marked by incredible naiveté involving attempts to alternately divide or appease the Hurriyat, whose charter explicitly proclaims its aim to promote “the build-up of a society based on Islamic values,” in keeping with “the Muslim majority character of the state”. The charter’s primary aim is described as a “struggle to secure for the people of Jammu and Kashmir the exercise of the right of self-determination in accordance with the UN Charter and the resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council. However, the exercise of the right of self-determination shall also include the right to independence”.  Every major outfit in the Hurriyat, which has splintered and split periodically, is associated with terrorist groups across the LoC ranging from the Al-Umar Mujahideen, which backs the “moderate” Mirwaiz Omar Farooq, to the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen linked to the “radical” Hurriyat leader, Syed Ali Shah Geelani. While the secular Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front led by Yasin Malik was the favourite of the ISI in the early years of militancy, the leadership shifted from Geelani to the Mirwaiz when President Musharraf was at daggers drawn with Geelani’s mentor, Qazi Husain Ahmed, the Amir of Pakistan’s Jamaat-e-Islami. Now that General Kayani is at peace with the Jamaat, the Mirwaiz plays a second fiddle to Geelani. The puppets may be in the valley, but the puppeteers are in Rawalpindi!  With the PDP emerging as a viable alternative to the National Conference, both parties have sought to match the rhetoric of the Pakistan-backed separatists by demanding a return to the position that prevailed in 1953, before the provisions of the Indian Constitution were made applicable to the State. Some of our misguided “liberals” advocate the conceding of “maximum autonomy”. They forget that what is being asked for by a section of the people of the state, exclusively from the valley, with little or no support from people in the Jammu and Ladakh regions, is a framework wherein the permit system for the entry of people from other parts of India into Kashmir could be revived, the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, the Election Commission and the Auditor-General of India will no longer extend to the state, and duties could be imposed on goods imported into Kashmir from the rest of the country.  Jammu and Kashmir will then become the only part of the country where the provisions of Article 356 and 357 of the Constitution will not be applicable and the Governor will be appointed not by the Union Government but by the state legislature. Just before the Mirza Afzal Beg-G Parthasarathi Accord was signed on August 23, 1974, Sheikh Abdullah told Indira Gandhi’s representative: “I hope I have made it clear to you that I can assume office only on the basis of the position as it existed in 1953.” Mrs Gandhi merely agreed to discuss this with Sheikh Abdullah, who assumed office soon thereafter.  The recent demonstrations in parts of the Kashmir valley have had no resonance elsewhere in the state. They are being orchestrated to pick up momentum and reach full throttle when President Obama is in India. The salient demand has been the revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, being strangely espoused at a time when the Army is no longer deployed for internal security anywhere in the valley. The Hurriyat leaders and their mentors across the LoC know that with the Army out of the security equation, the writ of the Indian State can be challenged with impunity. The autonomy being demanded by the Hurriyat is seen in Jammu and Ladakh as an instrument to achieve permanent hegemony of the valley population and fulfil the Hurriyats’s aspirations for a “society based on Islamic values”. Any initiative to reach out to people across Jammu and Kashmir must be premised on the basis that there has to be a consensus in all regions of the state.  While demanding “azadi” for “Kashmiris” and echoing the Pakistani line, the Hurriyat has been remarkably reticent on what is happening in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Surely, those demanding “azadi” should be asked whether their “demand” also covers the people of Gilgit and Baltistan. The resolution passed by the European Parliament on May 24, 2007, slams the domination of officials appointed by Islamabad in the affairs of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and notes that the 1974 POK Constitution “forbids any political activity that is not in accordance with the doctrine of Jammu and Kashmir as part of Pakistan”.  The European Parliament resolution notes that while the “Gilgit- Baltistan region enjoys no form of democratic representation whatsoever,” the State of “Jammu and Kashmir (administered by India) enjoys a unique status under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, granting it greater autonomy than other states of the Indian Union”. These are surely the facts that India needs to drive home aggressively to people in the Kashmir valley and to the international community rather than being continually defensive about deliberately engineered violence in the valley.  The broad understanding reached during “back channel” discussions between India and Pakistan between 2005 and 2007 reportedly involved an end to cross-border terrorism and equivalent autonomy on both sides of the Line of Control, with the LoC no longer being a barrier to the free movement of goods, services, investment and people. Despite the antics of General Ashfaque Parvez Kayani and Syed Ali Shah Geelani, this is a vision India must aggressively articulate and promote.

No link between Kashmir, UNSC seat, says India
Tribune News Service  New Delhi, October 13 New Delhi has dismissed as “wild speculation” reports that US President Barack Obama, during his visit to this country early next month, might ask India to settle the Jammu and Kashmir issue with Pakistan in return for Washington's endorsement of its candidature for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.  The Obama administration has not brought up Kashmir in any discussion with India because Washington also considers it an issue between India and Pakistan, official sources today said at an interaction with editors here. Noting that the Kashmir issue had never been on the agenda of the UN ever since 1965, they said it was raised at the General Assembly this time by Pakistan in the backdrop of the recent unrest in the Valley.  Asked what India was looking forward to during the much-awaited visit of Obama, the sources observed that there was an excellent rapport between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the US President and the two countries proposed to explore new areas of cooperation besides concentrating on defence, security and counter terrorism issues.

US favours India sorting out Kashmir with Pak: Krishna
Press Trust of India / New Delhi October 13, 2010, 16:07 IST  India today dismissed the possibility of a swap with the US on Kashmir problem for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council and said that Washington feels that it is an issue to be sorted bilaterally with Pakistan.  External Affairs Minister S M Krishna also asserted that India's role as non-permanent member, which it won in the UNSC yesterday, will not not encumbered by any issues.   There is no no truth in it. The US has been conveying to India that we should sort out the issue.  If similar suggestions are put we take them with seriousness," Krishna said at a breakfast meeting with editors here.  He was asked about reports that US President Barack Obama, who is to visit India next week, wants India to sort settle the with Pakistan and that Washington would help India get permanent membership of the UNSC.  He was also asked whether the handling of the Kashmir issue in its current phase harmed  its image and could encumber its role as a non-permanent member of the Security Council.  The minister said India's relationship with the US was not not dependent on its ties with other countries including Pakistan.  "India, US relationship are between two democracies which value rule of law and there are various circumstances that bring us closely together.  They (US) have their own compulsions in Afghanistan and that is where the US will need Pakistan much more now than before," he said.  Krishna said the US also understands India's constructive role in Afganistan. "So the US has a special relationship with India and they recognise India's efforts and they encourage it."

Look who’s teaching army - Hanoi tie-up in Maoist time
SUJAN DUTTA AK Antony (top), General Phung Quang Thanh  New Delhi, Oct. 13: The Indian Army has decided to learn from the masters of the bush war — Vietnam — in the middle of an intensive study of Maoist military tactics.  The irony is hard to miss. When the Naxalites emerged in India in the late-1960s, a popular slogan that reverberated in Bengal was “Tomar naam, amar naam, Vietnam, Vietnam”.  Translated it means “Your name, my name, Vietnam, Vietnam”, but the English does not have quite the same ring as the passionate Bengali in which the slogan was chorused.  That was in solidarity with the Communist-led resistance war against the Americans and their puppet South Vietnamese government. The struggle that drove the Americans out in 1975 was probably the most successful guerrilla war in modern history.  Today, nearly 35 years later, defence minister A.K. Antony and his Vietnamese counterpart General Phung Quang Thanh — a hero of that guerrilla war — agreed that the armies of the two countries will begin joint exercises from next year.  In 1968, a year after the Naxalbari uprising in India, Company Commander Phung, then a 19-year-old, was running the “Ho Chi Minh Trail” — a complex network of jungle routes that wove and tunnelled through forests to supply logistics to Viet Cong guerrillas. As a squad commander, he is personally reputed to have killed eight assaulting airborne troops while defending a guerrilla position atop a hill.  India’s Maoists, who have killed over 200 police troops this year, have drawn many of their lessons from Vietnam’s resistance war that serves as a model to them along with the tactics enunciated by Mao Zedong and Che Guevara.  The first exercise between the Indian and Vietnamese armies in mountain and jungle warfare will be held in India.  The Indian Army has limited its current role in the counter-Maoist offensive to training the police and logistics. But its Allahabad-headquartered Central Command is specifically tasked with mapping the Maoist militancy, analysing their tactics and equipping the army with the right resources.  None of this has figured in the agreement reached by A.K. Antony and General Phung Quang Thanh yesterday. The Indian Army believes it is among the very best in jungle warfare — given its counter-insurgency experience in the Northeast and in Jammu and Kashmir.  US troops have also been in training at the Indian Army’s Counter Insurgency and Jungle Warfare School in Vairangte, Mizoram, where the first drill with the Vietnamese is likely to be conducted.  Defence ministry sources said as part of India’s Look East Policy, New Delhi has offered to Hanoi its skills to “enhance and upgrade the capabilities of its (Vietnam’s) three services in general and its navy in particular”.  Antony announced India’s help at bilateral meetings with the top Vietnamese leadership, including President Nguyen Minh Triet, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and defence minister General Phung Quang Thanh.  “India will help Vietnam in its capacity building for repair and maintenance of its platforms. The armies of the two countries will also co-operate in areas like IT and English training of Vietnamese Army personnel,” Antony said yesterday.

Elite Russia troops to take part in India war games
Updated on Thursday, October 14, 2010, 00:10 Tags: Russia, war games, India Share Buzz up! Translate into: Powered by Translate Moscow: Over 200 elite Russian mountain troops are set to participate with their Indian counterparts in anti-terror 'INDRA-2010' wargames scheduled for October 15-24 in Uttarakhand bordering China, the Defence Ministry said on Wednesday.  Indian and Russian armed forces have been carrying out joint wargames since 2003 on biannual basis.  The crack troops of the North Caucasus-based 34th Independent Mountain Brigade of the Russian Army will fly to Barelly on board military Ilyushin Il-76 transport aircraft, from where they will proceed by road to Chaubattia near Ranikhet, the base of Kumaon Regiment of the Indian Army.  "During the upcoming exercise, the Russian and Indian military personnel will form a joint task force, and plan and carry out a series of mock anti-terrorism missions in the mountains," the spokesman for the North-Caucasus Military Area, Lt Col Andrei Bobrun, said.  The Russian troops will be equipped with their latest automatic weapons for mountain warfare and lightweight Permyachka Infantry Suits, which protect at least 80 per cent of the body surface from small-calibre bullets and low-speed shrapnel.  Both India and Russia have a rich experience in carrying out anti-militancy and anti-terror operations in mountains and the exchange of experience between their armed forces is extremely important, the Defence Ministry officials here said.  In the past, Indian and Russian navies and paratroopers have carried out joint wargames in the two countries with the aim of honing skills in combined operations against sea pirates and terrorists.

 India, Vietnam plan joint army training
India, Vietnam plan joint army training 2010-10-13 16:40: Hanoi, Oct 13 (IANS) India Wednesday announced a slew of measures to expand its defence ties with Vietnam, including joint training of armies and support to strengthen and upgrade the capabilities of the Vietnamese armed forces.  'New Delhi will provide support to Vietnam to enhance and upgrade the capabilities of services in general and navy in particular,' Defence Ministry Spokesman Sitanshu Kar said, after Defence Minister A.K. Antony, who is in Hanoi, met Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and his Vietnamese counterpart General Phung Quang Thanh.  Antony assured the Vietnamese leadership that India 'will help Vietnam in its capacity building for repair and maintenance of its platforms'.  'The armies of the two countries will also cooperate in areas like IT and English training of Vietnamese army personnel,' Kar said.  He said the two armies would also undergo joint training in mountain and jungle warfare in India next year.  'The two sides will work towards developing cooperation among defence institutes and establishing linkages for sharing experience and knowledge,' Kar said.  'Antony also offered assistance to Vietnamese forces in UN peacekeeping operations,' Kar said.  The two sides also discussed global and regional security issues, he said.  'Antony said Vietnam occupies a strategic position in New Delhi's policy priorities, both bilaterally as well as under its 'look east policy',' said the spokesperson.  Kar said that General Thanh thanked India for its valuable contribution to make the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) defence ministers' meeting a great success. The meeting was held here Tuesday.  Stating that India occupied a 'special position' in Hanoi's foreign policy framework, General Thanh said: 'We are indeed moved by your support.'  He welcomed more port calls by the Indian Navy to Vietnam and offered maintenance and repair facilities at Vietnamese ports.  Antony also extended an invitation to his Vietnamese counterpart to visit India next year.

Defence forces play their part in India's CWG success
Surender Negi, TNN, Oct 13, 2010, 03.47am IST NEW DELHI: The Indian Army has silently played a key role in India's march towards its highest medal haul in the Commonwealth Games. Army's efforts are not just limited to building a collapsed bridge and helping the security for the Games - sportspersons from the forces are also winning medals for the nation.  Till Monday, sportspersons from the Army have accounted for seven gold, four silver and five bronze medals. Naval sportspersons are also not far behind fetching five gold and a silver & bronze each with Suranjoy Singh still in contention for gold in 52kg category in boxing.  This performance by them can be traced back to 2001 when the Indian Army launched its Mission Olympics programme. The programme was envisioned by the Army to train talented and potential sportsmen in selected sports disciplines to excel with an overall aim to ensure a podium finish in the Olympics. Army's Mission Olympic Wings (MOW) has got five world class facilities across the country for round the clock training under experienced coaches in athletics, archery, boxing, weightlifting, wrestling, fencing, rowing and yatching.  "The Mission Olympics is designed to produce outstanding results in international competitions. Children in the age group of 14-16 are trained to excel in various Olympic sports. It is all about catching them young. Pick them when they are about 14 and train them for a good six years," Lt Gen Ramesh Halgali, Director General of Military Training said. "They are getting everything as far as upgradation is concerned - equipment, facilities and motivation," he added. Shooting, which has emerged the bedrock of India's biggest tally, has also accounted for majority of gold medals that the forces have won.  While Army has won six out of its seven gold medals through shooting, Navy has won three out of five. Vijay Kumar (army) and Omkar Singh (navy) have been the most successful shooters, each winning three gold and a silver.

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