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Tuesday, 10 May 2011

From Today's Papers - 10 May 2011

Operation Geronimo dominates Strike Corps-IAF exercise
SP Sharma/TNS  Suratgarh, May 9 The prestigious 2nd Strike Corps of the Indian Army is practicing Operation Geronimo-type operations among other manoeuvres during a joint exercise with the IAF currently underway in North Rajasthan.  The exercise of the Ambala-based Kharga Corps, one of the three Indian strike corps, began some days ago and Army Chief VK Singh is reportedly keeping an eye on ‘Vijayee Bhava’. He would formally inspect the exercise on May 12 but is learnt to have already visited various components of the ongoing exercise.  ‘Vijayee Bhava’ is the first amongst a series of summer exercises being held in sweltering temperatures of 45°Celsius. The exercise in inhospitable climate and rugged terrain is considered significant, as troops have by now been trained to enter into enemy territory within a given time frame.  The exercise envisages sustained, massed mechanised manoeuvres in a simulated environment by composite combat entities, ably supported by air and complemented by a wide array of weapon systems and enabling combat logistics. According to Ministry of Defence spokesman SD Goswami, the manoeuvres are being conducted to test the operational and transformational effectiveness of the Kharga Corps as also validate new concepts that have emerged during transformation studies undertaken by the Army.

Pakistan denies complicity in hiding Al-Qaida chief
Claims ISI gave leads to US for Abbottabad operation Afzal Khan in Islamabad  No apology to Pakistan: White House  Washington: Rejecting Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's criticism of the unilateral action that killed Osama bin Laden, the US on Monday asserted that it would not apologise to the Pakistan Government for the incident. "We won't apologise for the action," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters. At the same time, the Obama Administration maintained that it expects the Pakistan Government to continue to cooperate with the US in the 'war against terror'.  Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani on Monday rejected allegations that the killing of Osama bin Laden by US troops in the country showed Pakistani incompetence or complicity in hiding the Al-Qaida leader and dispelled the impression that the Pakistan-US relations have nosedived after the incident.  “Allegations of complicity or incompetence are absurd,” Gilani told National Assembly, adding that it was disingenuous for anyone to accuse Pakistan, including its spy agency, of “being in cahoots” with the Al-Qaida network.  Addressing the National Assembly, Gilani said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would soon visit Pakistan to discuss the post-Osama scenario. He further announced that a joint session of Parliament has been summoned on Friday to debate the US raid on Abbottabad that killed Laden. Army, air force and intelligence chiefs will brief Parliament in an in-camera session on the entire episode and security implications of the US raid.  He blamed “failure” of global intelligence agencies in not locating bin Laden and praised the role of both ISI and the army. “There are no differences between state institutions (of Pakistan). Let me affirm the full confidence of the government in the high command of the army and the ISI.  The ISI is a national asset. We are proud of its role in the anti-terror campaign...We are all on the same page,” he said dismissing media reports of disconnect among the state institutions.  At the same time, he claimed it was ISI’s leads that led US into the operation that finally killed bin Laden. Gilani announced a probe by the Adjutant-General, Lt Gen Javed Iqbal, to go into theoperation that eliminated Osama.  Seeking to put up a brave front, Gilani disapproved of the “unilateral action” of the US forces in entering the Pakistani territory and said such action ran the risk of inherent consequences as was demonstrated by the forced destruction of its own helicopter by the US commandos.  Notwithstanding differences with US on the Osama operation, he said Pakistan and US had convergence of views and dissonance was about operational and technical matters.  However, he said the killing of Al-Qaida chief was indeed “justice done” but Pakistan was not so naive to declare victory.  “The legacy of Osama bin Laden needs to be demolished.” The Prime Minister said that terrorism nurtured by bin Laden needs to be addressed and blamed him for “waves and waves” of terrorist attacks that killed innocent people in Pakistan.  While claiming that relations with major powers and immediate neighbours were good, Gilani warned against repeat of any Abbottabad-like operation saying “any attack, overt or covert, (on Pakistan) will get a matching response. Pakistan reserves the right to retaliate against such a move with full force.”  Referring to India, he said Pakistan will pursue an engagement which will be “positive and constructive” and vowed to continue the policy of engagement and dialogue with India for resolution of bilateral disputes and bringing peace and stability in the region.  In an oblique reference to demands for his and President Asif Zardari’s resignations for failure to recognise and confront gravity of the Abbottabad operation, Gilani said there was no division among state institutions including the military, the President and the Prime Minister on the question of combating terrorism. He said the statements issued by the military commanders and the Foreign Office were authorised by the political leadership.

After Laden, China-Pak ‘nexus’ getting stronger
Ashok Tuteja/TNS  New Delhi, May 9 Mounting tension between the US and Pakistan in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s killing is further pushing Islamabad into the arms of its ‘all-weather’ friend China. This is the sense among officials in New Delhi who have been closely monitoring the developments ever since the Al-Qaida chief was killed by US forces in a pre-dawn operation at Abbottabad deep inside Pakistan on Monday last.  Official sources said this was also one of the reasons why New Delhi had been treading cautiously in articulating its views vis-a-vis Pakistan in the aftermath of bin Laden’s killing. On its part, India would make no attempt to corner or isolate Pakistan. Peace talks would go on in accordance with the schedule drawn up by the two countries. New Delhi would, however, continue to nudge Pakistan to act against terrorist groups operating from its soil.  The sources pointed out that it was a well known fact that China wanted to gain a foothold in South Asia. Beijing is also said to be keen to further tighten its already close relationship with Pakistan, given the role Islamabad would be called upon to play in Afghanistan post the phased withdrawal of coalition forces from the troubled nation from July.  The extent of China’s economic engagement in Afghanistan is by now well known. Since 2002, China has pledged nearly $1 billion in aid to Afghanistan. Of late, Beijing has launched a charm offensive in Afghanistan, having sensed that the time to begin shaping Afghanistan’s post-2011 regional alignments is now. More than anyone else, it is only Pakistan which can help China further its strategic and economic goals in Afghanistan and subsequently seek a role in the affairs of South Asia.  The sources also drew attention to China’s reaction to bin Laden’s killing which clearly indicated that Beijing would not let down its close friend, especially in the face of its worldwide condemnation for hosting the world’s most wanted terrorist for almost five years.  Reacting to bin Laden’s killing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu only had words of praise for Pakistan for its ‘contribution’ in the fight against terrorism, thus indirectly rejecting criticism from the West and India that Pakistan was providing safe havens to terrorist groups of all hues and colours.  “China will continue to staunchly support Pakistan in formulating counter-terrorism strategies based on its own national conditions and stands ready to work with South Asian countries, including India and Pakistan, to jointly safeguard regional peace and stability,” he said.

Pakistan says knew of US raid just after it began
Dubai:  Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik told an Arab satellite TV on Monday he knew of the US raid which killed Osama bin Laden only 15 minutes after its launch but had no idea of the target.  "I was made aware of the operation 15 minutes after it started," the minister told Al-Arabiya channel in an interview, but he was not aware of the target.  Helicopter-borne US commandos carried out a raid lasting less than 40 minutes, killed bin Laden and took his body from the one-million-dollar house near the Pakistan capital of Islamabad on May 2

China recognizes India help in rescuing its sailors
Beijing:  Acknowledging Indian Navy's effort in rescuing 24 Chinese sailors from a ship hijacked by Somali pirates, China today said it was working out a new security plan to protect its vessels and crew members from such attacks.  The Chinese vessel MV Fu Cheng (Full City), registered in Panama, faced a pirate attack 450 nautical miles off the Karwar Coast (of Karnataka) while it was on its way from Jeddah to Tuticorin port on May 6.  The Indian Navy swung into action and mobilised its aircraft and ships immediately after receiving an emergency call from the Chinese authorities and thwarted the attack.  "It was thus the navies of other countries, Turkey's and India's among them that helped to drive away the pirates and escorted the ship to safety," Chinese Vice-Minister of Transport Xu Zuyuan said.  
This is for the first time top Chinese officials acknowledged efforts of Indian Navy to save the ship. Currently 51 sailors from China are in the custody of pirates, state-run China Daily quoted Xu as saying.  In all Somalian pirates are holding 338 sailors in custody from various countries besides 26 vessels in captivity.  So far this year, pirates have attacked 118 vessels and hijacked 20 ships. In the past week, they assaulted two ships with Chinese sailors on board.  Xu said his ministry is now trying to learn what other measures can be adopted to strengthen ships' defences and mulling over options like paying security-service companies to station guards on board.  He said sailors should watch out for their own best interests when they seek employment.  "Many Chinese sailors now work for foreign shipping companies, but some are small. Once hijacked, these small foreign shipping companies just disappear at times, abandoning the hijacked ship and leaving sailors on their own," he said.  "Sailors should know more about a potential employer before signing a work contract. Government departments and non-governmental organisations, such as China Shipowners' Association, can provide information to sailors about foreign shipping companies," he said.  

Time to bury the idea of strategic asset
It is strange that even the killing of Osama bin Laden at Abbottabad, near Pakistan's capital, has failed to raise fundamental questions about the idea of creating Frankensteins in the name of strategic assets and the wisdom of the defence experts and strategic analysts. A cursory look at history since the end of the Second World War shows that strategic assets proved to be an albatross around humanity's neck: they played a key role in undermining legitimate political struggles across the globe. Yet the military narrative has not freed itself from the stranglehold of two fatally flawed ideas — strategic asset and strategic depth.  Before exploring the debilitating impact of these two terms —strategic asset and strategic depth — it is important to understand the origins of these terms. They were the product of the colonial imagination where the world was divided among the empires, and the geostrategic pivots determined the expansion or shrinking of any colonial power. One state was pitted against another and people became collateral damage even before the term could gain the current political currency. The Cold War invested the two terms with an entirely new meaning and scale of application and the damage done to peoples and countries across the world was incomparably greater.  West Asian authoritarianism, for example, is in part the creation of the notion of strategic asset in the form of oil reserves. Much has been written, by way of strategic analysis, about the role of the Soviet Union in Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia. But its move into Afghanistan is the source of our present concern and the one that redefined international politics permanently. The United States, the Arab dictators, and Pakistan used the Soviet occupation as an excuse to create a political Islam that not only distorted the religion but also unleashed unprecedented violence against its perceived enemies and against itself. The Soviets left Afghanistan by February 1989 but the so-called ‘liberators' never left the country, which has been under one form of occupation or another since 1979. The mujahideen and their jihads were supported, funded, trained, armed, and seen as great strategic assets that could provide strategic depth to bleed the opposition to death. This vision did not take into account the irreparable damage it would inflict upon the Muslim world in general and Afghanistan and Pakistan in particular.  Well-known Pakistani writer Zahid Hussain pointed out the cost to Pakistan during an India-Pakistan-Afghanistan editors' meet. He said: “I think 2007 was the turning point for Pakistan, when almost a dozen militant leaders got together and formed the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). This group had a distinctive agenda of enforcing a so-called Sharia rule in the style of the Afghan Taliban — before that, the focus of the Pakistani militants had largely been on fighting the U.S. coalition forces across the border…. That also changed the perception of how the Taliban and the Afghan Taliban are tied together. It is not only the nexus between the TTP and al-Qaeda; there is also a growing nexus between the banned militant groups and the Taliban, and a new form of al-Qaeda that has emerged. I think probably al-Qaeda has taken a different form, which the Americans have failed to understand. The new al-Qaeda is largely Pakistani. Further, there is also distinction between al-Qaeda and the Taliban: TTP provides the recruits or suicide bombers, but al-Qaeda largely attracts educated Pakistanis who have not been a part of other militant organisations.”  A tenuous peace process, weak governance, a security structure that is yet to gain the confidence or competence to tackle sectarian violence, growing doubts about whether to make a deal with the “good Taliban” or to break the “bad Taliban”, and the wavering international commitment have made Afghanistan more vulnerable then ever before. There is an apprehension in Kabul that with the death of Osama bin Laden, the U.S. might not show the same intensity to wage its “war on terror” as its principal enemy has been eliminated. With multiple players trying to create their own strategic assets, Afghans fear that their country might once again be divided into myriad fiefdoms of warlords and drug mafia. The tragedy is Afghanistan today is much worse off than it was before the Soviet occupation and withdrawal.  This dangerous trend spilled over to India in the form of increased militancy in Jammu and Kashmir, a shocking terrorist attack on Parliament, the monstrous Mumbai carnage, to name just a few of the horrific experiences of the past decade and a half. It is not that India is free from delusions of strategic assets and the grandeur of strategic depth, despite every move backfiring badly — notably with respect to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. But that is another story.  Till the armed men from across the border reached the valley, a large number of informed Indians understood the Kashmiri struggle, and did not hesitate to criticise the government of India for rigging elections. They refused to accept the BJP's demand for the abrogation of Article 370, which confers a special status on Jammu and Kashmir. However, the overt militarisation of the State inspired by the strategic interests of Pakistan has hurt the people of Kashmir incalculably. In reality, the power enjoyed by J&K today is decisively lower than what was enshrined in Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.  The same is true for most of the Northeastern States as their special status has been hugely undermined by the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and the constant appointments of former Army Generals as Governors, who tend to wield more power than the respective Chief Ministers. India's new strategic interest in using its close relations with Myanmar's military junta to check China's reach to the Bay of Bengal has already taken a toll. The country has virtually ceased its support for the pro-democracy movement and its iconic leader Aung San Suu Kyi and no one knows what the fallouts will be.  The language of strategic asset reduces the ideas of home, state, country, and continent to movable pieces on the chessboard. It is a language that is never peopled; it has no capability to empathise or be poignant; it fails to understand pain; and it has no sense to understand the profound grief of any society that lost its liberal space to a variety of bigots. The security experts' idea of supremacy is directly pitted against the people's deepest dream of living fully while existing. To achieve this, we need to temper the power of the entrenched security establishments and retrieve the space for a larger political discourse.

Five coup scenarios for post-Osama Pakistan
An Obama coup looks less than likely.... Jason OverdorfMay 9, 2011 06:59  Activists of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan hold placards during a rally in Islamabad on May 8, 2011 against the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Analysts say the fallout from the raid could help the civilian government wrest control from the military or drive the army to grab even more control. (FAROOQ NAEEM - AFP/Getty Images).  Indian policy wonk C. Raja Mohan of the Center for Policy Research lays out some intriguing post-Osama scenarios in an Indian Express editorial titled "Pakistan's next coup."  Here are the five possible outcomes that he predicts:  1. “Zardari’s coup”: With the Pakistani army and the Inter-services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) left with egg on their face, Pakistan's heretofore powerless democratically elected President Asif Ali Zardari has "a fleeting moment" to put army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and ISI head Ahmad Shuja Pasha "in their place."    Mohan notes that "the last three times Zardari sought to assert his authority — reaching out to India, bringing the ISI under elected rulers, and mobilising political support in the US Congress for promoting civilian primacy — Kayani slapped him down."  And even though reports say that the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is gunning for Pasha's forced resignation, it's not clear whether they're ready to dump Kayani, or if China would step up to back him.  2. “Kayani’s coup”: Blaming American adventurism, "Kayani could dismiss the civilian government and take direct charge of the nation. He could bet that Washington still needs the Pakistan army in the Afghan endgame and that will give him sufficient space to ride through the current crisis," Mohan says.  Kayani's decision send Pasha off to a friendly capital (Riyadh or Beijing, we don’t know) suggests Kayani is mobilising much needed external support, he says, though others suggest Pasha may be headed for a dressing down from the CIA in neutral territory.  3. “Beijing’s coup”: "China’s defence of Kayani last week when the rest of the world was pointing fingers at him was indeed extraordinary," Mohan says, adding that "It points to Beijing’s growing partnership with the Pakistan army in securing China’s expanding interests in Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf."  This is really just another way of saying Kayani's coup, as Beijing would back him through a fresh package of financial and military assistance and thus present itself as a strategic alternative to the traditional US primacy in the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia.  4. “Obama’s coup”: Mohan says US President Barack Obama has "already won big" by proving he wouldn't let Pakistan deal off the bottom of the deck forever. But for him to double-down and force Kayani to come clean on just who was helping Osama and to turn over the other terrorists hunkered down in mansions near military installations, he'd have to go against the grain in Washington. "There are many in Washington who want Obama to treat Kayani with kid gloves even after Abbottabad," Mohan argues. "They point to the dangers of pushing Rawalpindi into the hands of jihadis or China. They highlight the dangers of a nuclear-armed failed state in Pakistan."  5. “Anarchist coup”: Uh oh.  "Pakistan’s jihadi groups may not be well-organised or coherent enough to capture power," says Mohan. "But they have the capacity to stage spectacular terror acts, including major political assassinations that could produce new facts on the ground."

Exercise ‘Vijayee Bhava’ to boost synergy between armed forces
New Delhi, May 9: A six-day joint exercise of the Indian Army and the Air Force has started on Monday in the deserts of Bikaner and Suratgarh near the Pakistan border in order to boost the synergy between the defence forces.   Exercise 'Vijayee Bhava' (blessed to win) is the first amongst a series of Western Command routine annual summer exercises.  'Vijayee Bhava' will involve tank-to-tank wars, helicopter operations and others. Personnel from both the services had been practising for the past 15 days for the drill.  Battlefield tactics for warfare are being practised in the exercise that also aims at fine-tuning the concept of Cold Start doctrine.  The manoeuvres are being conducted in North Rajasthan to test the operational and transformational effectiveness of the Ambala based Kharga Corps as well as validate new concepts which have emerged during the transformation studies undertaken by the Army.  The Indian Army, which is working towards a 'capability based approach', has embarked on a series of transformational initiatives spanning concepts, organisational structures and absorption of new age technologies, particularly in the fields of precision munitions, advance surveillance systems, space and network-centricity.  During the conduct of the exercise, combat decisions taken at each level of command will be analysed for their ability to synergise the application of state-of-the-art weapon platforms, to achieve optimum results. Such routine exercises with troops are conducted during the training cycles of formations.  According to the Army, it conducted 10 major exercises near the Pakistan border in the last six years.

Recognising a rare civilian moment in Pakistan
The killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan by the U.S Navy's special operations force has created an obvious rift between the people of Pakistan and their Army. Tough questions are being asked about the security establishment's role in the entire affair: did it know that the world's most wanted man was living at walking distance from the Pakistan Military Academy at Kakul in Abbottabad? Was it involved in turning him in? If not, why not? Did it know about the U.S. operation in advance? If so, why did it allow the unilateral operation on its territory? If it did not know, what is the point of a military?  The last time public ire against the military was apparent was in 2007 when Pervez Musharraf was running the show as “President General” — he was Army chief as well as head of government. Eight years had passed since his coup against Nawaz Sharif, and if Pakistan had once welcomed the takeover, it was quite sick of him by this time. Not surprisingly, his decision to sack Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary backfired not just on him but by his association with it, on the entire Pakistan Army. The judge was hailed as someone who had finally shown the guts to stand up to the “khakis” by his refusal to resign, and became an unlikely hero.  Throughout that summer, there were cries of “Go Fauj (military) go,” alongside the slogans of “Go Musharraf Go.” Questions were asked about the military budget; a vehicle mounted with a cut-out of a military boot stomping over the common man was a permanent feature of countless rallies that year asking Musharraf to quit office. But if there was a civilian opportunity here, it disappeared quickly.  After Musharraf finally tearfully stepped down as the Army chief in November 2007 before taking oath as President for a second five-year term as part of a grand political bargain with Benazir Bhutto, the new Army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani wasted no time in setting about rebuilding and restoring the image of the institution.  It did not take him too long. Aside from its immediate goal of having the Chief Justice restored to his position, the lawyers' movement may have at times seemed as if it was about reducing the Pakistan Army's oversized role in national affairs; in reality, it was about getting rid of one unpopular soldier, General Musharraf, not only because he had tried to sack the Chief Justice, but also for a sackful of different reasons: for his pro-U.S. policies, for handing over alleged terrorist suspects to the U.S, for cracking down on militant groups, for what people saw as virtual “surrender” to India on Kashmir.  Rid of Musharraf, the Army distanced itself from him immediately. Though military co-operation with the U.S remained intact, Gen. Kayani took measures that restored its popularity and made him look good in comparison to Musharraf, such as pulling military officers from civilian positions in government, prohibiting the officer corps from hobnobbing with politicians, and reining in the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) during the February 2008 election, so it played no role in the selection of candidates, during the voting itself, in government formation or in the allocation of portfolios.  The unpopularity of Asif Ali Zardari, especially after he became President, helped improve the Army's stock. The November 2008 Mumbai attacks tilted the delicate civilian-military balance completely to the side of the military. By cranking up fears of a strike by India and scrambling its fighter jets to meet the purported Indian threat, the Pakistan Army deflected the entire debate about the Mumbai attacks to the imminence of an India-Pakistan war. The nation rallied behind its Army, and India was no longer victim, but the aggressor. President Zardari's vision of building not just peace but “synergies” with India, which he articulated several times in 2008, was given an unceremonious burial.  After that, the Pakistan Army was on a roll. The anti-Taliban operations in Swat saw it aggressively market itself as the saviour of the nation. Much of the Pakistani media was eating out of its hands. By the time the Kerry-Lugar Bill authorising non-military aid to Pakistan came to fruition in late 2009, the Army was in a position to rally the entire country to protest against conditions in the legislation that sought to rein in its role in national affairs, and to blame the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government for having those conditions inserted. For a country that had taken pride in its democracy movement just two years earlier, this was a swift turnaround.  Much to the glee of the people, the Supreme Court aggressively questioned hapless government officials for letting President Zardari off the hook in corruption cases. But neither the judges nor the media ever asked any questions of General Kayani — as the head of the ISI in 2007, he was part of the regime's “A” team that worked out the details of the amnesty granted to Benazir and Zardari in order to facilitate Musharraf's election as President, flying between Islamabad, Dubai and London for meetings with the PPP leader on behalf of his boss.  Instead, there were stories about how General Kayani was the only one of the assembled top brass who did not say a word at the March 2007 meeting at Army House in Rawalpindi where Musharraf asked the Chief Justice to resign, while the heads of Pakistan's Intelligence Bureau (IB) and Military Intelligence (MI) went as far as to submit affidavits to support Musharraf's move against him.  The bin Laden episode has brought back questions about the Army. As in 2007, this time too there is more than one thread to the people's anger. There are those who are taking the Army to task for allowing the U.S. to violate national sovereignty, thus putting at stake national honour and pride; they are asking how this self-appointed guardian of the “national ideology” can guard its frontiers from other wolves at the door, mainly India,  Separately, there are those asking questions about what Osama bin Laden was doing in the country, right in the middle of the military's stamping ground, why the Pakistan Army and the ISI had failed to find him when he was in their midst all these years, if they knew he was there, if so, why did they not give him up.  Once again, there is a civilian opportunity, but it lies in the second line of questioning about the Pakistan Army's national security vision, its strategic priorities and its links to extremism and militancy.  Predictably though, it is the first line of questioning that the security establishment is using to reassert itself because it is this that helps shift the debate back towards the perceived threat from India, the oxygen on which the military has built its pre-eminence in national life.  Statements from the Indian defence establishment, and others boasting about the Indian Army's capacity to carry out Operation Geronimo style raids to seize India's “most wanted” such as Dawood Ibrahim, aside from being highly dubious, have only given a lifeline to the Pakistan Army as it flails about trying to explain away its OBL failure.  It has sent out a thinly veiled warning to India of the consequences of “any misadventures of this kind”. And it has sought to reassure the “national honour” school of critics that Pakistan's nuclear jewels are safe, reasoning that unlike an unguarded civilian compound that could be attacked by an airspace violating helicopter, these are under stricter care. This has helped deflect some of the attention from its dubious role in l'affaire OBL and divert it across the border. Predictably also, efforts have begun to implicate the country's civilian leadership for what was essentially a military fiasco from Pakistan's point of view.  For India, peace with Pakistan is dependent to a large extent on the strengthening of that country's civilian moments. Undoubtedly such moments suffer from the absence of good leadership; the country's politicians are hate figures distrusted by the people; the people too are easily swayed by their security establishment, as they were after the Mumbai attacks. But Indian chest-thumping at Pakistan's multiple embarrassments last week does nothing to help tilt the balance toward the civilian side either; it only ends up strengthening the military and pushes back the two countries chances for normalising relations.

Indian Army-Air Force joint exercise begins
Pressing ahead with its work of building a “capability-based approach,” the Army’s Western Command has embarked on a simulated war game in the deserts of northern Rajasthan, with the Indian Air Force supporting the drill.  “Vijayee Bhava” (Blessed to Win) is the first in a series of annual summer exercises that got under way at Suratgarh in Rajasthan. The manoeuvres are being conducted to test the operational and transformational effectiveness of the Ambala-based Kharga Corps (a strike corps) and to validate new concepts that have emerged during the transformation studies undertaken by the Army, an official release said.  The pivot corps manoeuvres are scheduled to take place later this month, with the Command headquarters synergising the operations of the pivot and strike corps.  The exercise envisages sustained mass mechanised manoeuvres by composite combat entities, supported by Mi-25 attack helicopters and MiG-29, MiG-21 Bison and Jaguar aircraft and complemented by a wide array of weapon systems and enabling combat logistics.  The Army has embarked on a series of transformational initiatives spanning concepts, organisational structures and new technologies, especially in precision munitions, advance surveillance systems, space and network-centricity. These will be fielded and trial-evaluated by nominated test-bed formations and units. The aim is to help the Army emerge as a modern, lean, agile and enabled force. Combat decisions taken at each level of command will be analysed for their ability to synergise the application of the state-of-the-art weapon platforms to achieve optimum results.

Ex-armymen held for duping people with army jobs
With the arrest of two persons in Lucknow’s Aliganj area on late Friday night, the police claimed that they have busted a gang, which collected money from youngsters after promising them jobs in the Army.  The two arrested persons – Anand Kumar Srivastava alias Anil Kumar alias Brigadier alias Sajjan and Brij Kishore Singh – are former army men. They were posted at Indian Army’s Medical Core, said police and added that while Anand Kumar, a native of Faizabad, resided at Gudamba, Singh is a resident of the Cantonment area.  “We received a complaint about the existence of such a racket about two months ago,” said Circle Officer of Aliganj, Rajesh Kumar Srivastava.  Police said that one Anil Kumar Shukla, a resident of Bahraich, informed them that he had been duped of Rs 1.5 lakh by one Anand Kumar Srivastava, who collected money from him on the pretext of promising a job in Army. The police then began a manhunt for Anand Kumar.  Srivastava said that both the accused have confessed to committing the crime and had duped around a dozen people. During interrogation, the duo said that they collected anything between Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2 lakh from each person, said police. To get in touch with the victim, they used to take the help of a local member of the gang.  “To avoid any iota of doubt, the gang members conducted victim’s medical, training and other ‘tests’ in Lucknow after collecting money from the victims,” said Station Officer Mohammad Zaheer Khan.

Cornered Pakistan may strike India to salvage lost pride
Deeply embarrassed by the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden under its nose, the Pakistan army might be tempted to ratchet up hostility towards India and even encourage the terror proxies it controls to stage strikes on the Indian mainland, the Indian security establishment feels.  The Pakistan army is having to deal with not just the disbelief of foreign governments over its claims of being unaware of Osama being in Abbottabad, a crowded city with a heavy military presence, but some hostile questioning at home as well. Its claims of being able to thwart any intrusion – protecting sovereignty being the army’s USP – have been dealt a hard blow by the US action.  There is a view that the Pakistan military may look to recover lost prestige by diverting popular attention towards India and army chief Ashfaq Kiyani’s aggressive response to Indian Army chief V K Singh’s claim that India could stage an Abbottabad-type operation indicates as much. In a statement, the Pakistan army said it would respond strongly to any Indian “misadventure.”  It serves the Pakistan army’s purpose to feed popular paranoia about India and the possibility of Islamabad’s “nuclear jewels” being under threat. A flare up of regional tensions can help turn the spotlight from its failures at a time when US law makers are asking why another dollar should be paid to an ally who might have harboured Osama.  While opening the terror tap at a time when its reputation as jihad central stands highlighted in bold is a risky path to tread, militarists may be guided by very short term calculations, security sources feel.  Keeping in mind the unsettled state of affairs in Pakistan with analysts agreeing that India would top the list of Pakistan army and ISI targets, the Indian security establishment is being doubly cautious to ensure that it does not provide any excuse for Pakistan to seize on to up tensions.  The present position of the Pakistan army, the country’s most powerful institution, also rules out possibility of an immediate military coup. As recently as 10 days ago, an assessment here spoke of the growing restlessness in the Pakistan army top brass with the political leadership. There were also inputs indicating ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha may have written directly to prime minister Yousuf Gilani expressing displeasure over some politicians for criticising ISI. “A coup is extremely unlikely in the present situation,” a senior official said.

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