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Saturday, 28 May 2011

From Today's Papers - 28 May 2011

20 major-generals to be promoted
New Delhi, May 27 After over a six-month delay, the government has cleared more than 20 Army major-generals for promotion to the rank of lieutenant-general, following the two-year-old policy of dividing them into the much sought after command and less attractive staff streams.  Government sources said here yesterday that the promotion of the major-generals to the next rank was approved by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet chaired by PM Manmohan Singh recently. A total of 63 major-generals were in contention for promotion, but most of them retired in the past six months, thereby losing out on continuing in service and getting the higher rank. — IANS
Need for Chief of Defence Staff
It is unavoidable under the circumstances by P.R. Chari  There is timelessness about administrative reforms in India, which transcends the familiar cliché that all bureaucracies are conservative, but defence bureaucracies are the most conservative and resistant to change. India’s defence decision-making apparatus was inherited from the British. But they established several commissions of inquiry after World War II to review and reform their defence establishment. By tradition the recommendations made by Royal Inquiry Commissions are generally accepted and implemented. Not so in India, where the reports of Administrative Reforms Commissions, Commissions of Inquiry, Task Forces, Groups of Ministers and so on are treated as suggestions for the government’s consideration. Their reports are straightaway sent for comments to the very authorities that are to be reformed.  Little wonder that they have a loathing to change and find reforms to be anathema. Procrastination, therefore, is their first line of defence, followed by objections, preferably one at a time, to delay implementation. It is not surprising, since the bureaucracy is programmed to find a problem for every solution. The political leadership lacks commitment and is happy to let the difficult issues that underlie reforms to linger without decision. Therefore, these destitute reports languish until the efflux of time consigns them to gather dust in capacious cupboards.  These sad realities of the reform process in the sphere of defence were aired once again in a conference held recently in New Delhi. The occasion was the passage of a decade since the Group of Ministers (GoM) submitted their report to the Union Cabinet in 2001. The GoM was established by the Union Cabinet on the receipt of the Kargil Review Committee (KRC) Report in August 1999. It would be recollected that the KRC was constituted immediately after the Kargil conflict ended to deflect national criticism that India’s armed forces were caught by surprise by the Pakistani intruders; only the valour and self-sacrifice of their younger officers had countered this failure of intelligence. Following the receipt of the KRC Report four GoMs were set up to study and make appropriate recommendations on intelligence, border management, internal security and defence.  Mercifully, no recommendations emerged from this conference to embarrass those who shall be arranging the next conference. Blame attribution too — civilians on the military, military on the civilians, and both civilians and the military on the political leadership — was kept to the bare minimum. A conscious effort was made to concentrate on the glass half-full rather than draw attention to the half-empty glass. This helped in reaching the unexceptional conclusion that much had been done, but much also remained to be done.  The centre-piece of the GoM Report on Defence, chaired by Mr Arun Singh, was its recommendation that a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) should be appointed to represent the collective views of the three Services, and provide single-point advice to the political leadership. He would also seek closer integration between the Ministry of Defence and Services Headquarters, while simultaneously promoting “jointness” within the armed forces. Additionally, the CDS, assisted by a Vice-CDS, would directly administer the joint commands for the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and nuclear forces, coordinate planning activities and so on. Something has, without doubt, been done in all these directions, but these efforts remain half-hearted and sub-optimal. For instance, an Integrated Defence Staff (IDS) organisation has been set up within the Ministry of Defence, but its linkages with the ministry and Services Headquarters remain tenuous. The belief is rife that a posting in the IDS is only a stop-gap appointment before a more worthwhile posting becomes available. Similarly, “jointness” was designed to ensure effective combined arms operations. Little has been done, however, towards developing a joint operational doctrine, training and planning programmes, or even the culture to permit all this to happen.  Incidentally, the CDS was recommended by the GoM to replace the current Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC), who is the senior-most among the Chiefs of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. This position rotates between the three Service Chiefs in terms of their seniority; in consequence, the Chairman, COSC, has no fixed tenure. In the matter of functioning, the Chairman, COSC, is only the first among equals, and is less than effective in dealing with the political leadership. Dark suspicions are voiced in the Services that the civilian bureaucracy has perpetuated this situation to keep the Services divided and unable to jointly represent the armed forces.  But this is an exaggeration, which became abundantly clear in the conference with the Indian Air Force strenuously voicing its objections to the CDS system. Their objections have a long history and have been traced back to the doubts expressed by Air Chief Marshal P.C. Lal in the early seventies. These objections derive from a long-standing angst in the Air Force and the Navy that a CDS from the Army would be insensitive to their interests since they are much smaller Services. On the other hand, the Army believes that a CDS from either the Navy or the Air Force would hardly carry any conviction since the strength of the India Army is roughly four times that of the other two Services combined. The great wonder is that this debate has continued for nearly four decades without reaching any conclusion.  It is rumoured that a second Group of Ministers may soon be discussing these issues. This is a welcome move. No reform process can succeed unless it is periodically reviewed to take stock of what has been accomplished and why what remains unaddressed has not been done. Hopefully, this GoM will address the paradox that only military or ‘hard’ security issues were considered by the first GoM, whereas non-military and human security issues have gained ascendancy over the last decade. Instrumentalities are important for security exercises to reach fruition; hence, the imperative need for a Chief of Defence Staff to advise on and implement national security decisions. Without a CDS India would be hoping to stage Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark.
Pakistan's terror ties and the shifting relations between Pakistan and the U.S.
Since 9/11, the United States has touted Pakistan as a “key ally” in the fight against terrorism, even though we’ve long suspected that some elements of the Pakistani government are working with the terrorist groups they claim to be fighting. The relationship became even more strained after the U.S. discovered that Osama bin Laden was hiding in a town populated by Pakistan’s military elite, not far from the nation’s top military academy. Where do we stand with Pakistan right now?  The location of bin Laden’s hideout has raised questions about whether the government knew of his whereabouts, though officials have denied for years that bin Laden was in Pakistan. (For more on this, see our bin Laden reading guide.) Still, the U.S. has been trying to smooth out things with Pakistan since the raid.  Pakistani officials have criticized the raid as a violation of the country’s sovereignty, and the military said it would rethink cooperating with the U.S. if there are any more unilateral attacks. The Pentagon announced Wednesday that it is complying with Pakistani officials’ request to scale back the U.S. military presence there.  In return, the U.S. is calling on Pakistan to step up its game in fighting terrorism. According to CNN, the State Department’s special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan met with civilian and military leaders last week to demand more concrete action:  “Specifically, the United States is looking for Pakistan to demonstrate a willingness to go after senior al Qaeda targets, take action against factories producing improvised explosive devices for use against U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and support Taliban reconciliation,” CNN reported.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton paid a surprise visit to Islamabad Friday morning to work out the details of the U.S.’s relationship with Pakistan after bin Laden’s death. She said that the U.S. is expecting Pakistan to take “decisive steps” in its fight against terrorism over the coming days.  Her visit comes after Pakistan agreed to let the CIA send a forensics team to examine the bin Laden compound more closely. What’s the situation with U.S. aid to Pakistan today?  The U.S. has provided $20.7 billion in aid to Pakistan since 2002, $14.2 billion of which has gone to Pakistan’s intelligence service for its fight against terrorism. Military experts say Pakistan is vital because most supplies to U.S. forces in Afghanistan must pass through Pakistan by truck.  There’s a long history of U.S. aid money being used against U.S. interests in Pakistan. Leaked diplomatic cables suggest that the US has been worried about misuse of aid money for some time. Lawrence Wright has a great piece in The New Yorker describing the U.S.’s changing motivations for supporting Pakistan and how aid money has been poured disproportionately into the military, or diverted toward arming Pakistan against India, including in the development of nuclear weapons. Wright suggests the misguided allocation of aid money may have empowered the military to associate with terrorist groups:  “The [Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI)] became so glutted with power and money that it formed a ‘state within a state,’ in the words of Benazir Bhutto, who became Pakistan’s Prime Minister in 1988. She eventually fired Gul, ( Hamid Gul, a former ISI director) fearing that he was engineering a coup.”  According to Wright, a major concern about cutting aid to Pakistan is that Pakistan may respond by barring U.S. drones from its airspace. Though civilian and military leadership have publicly condemned drone strikes, Pakistan’s English-language paper Dawn learned through WikiLeaks last week that Pakistan’s military has been requesting U.S. drone backup for its counterterrorism operations for years.  Debates about cutting US aid to Pakistan are ongoing. U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently voiced his support for continuing military aid. Unanswered questions about Pakistan’s current terror ties  Pakistan’s military has a history of working with terror groups to advance its own agenda. Lashkar-i-Taiba, the militant group behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks, was formed in the late 80s “and used by Pakistan as a proxy army in the fight against India for the Kashmir region.” The U.S. has also accused Hamid Gul, the former ISI director, of aiding the Taliban and al-Qaeda. An unnamed Pakistani official close to Gul told the Washington Post that “Gul is widely viewed as the "godfather" of a Pakistani policy that used guerrilla groups such as Lashkar as proxies in the conflict with India over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.”  While Pakistani security forces have long been suspected of working with terrorists groups like Lashkar-i-Taiba even after they were banned in 2001, specifics about the extent of the government’s present involvement haven’t been nailed down.  In many cases, it’s unclear whether isolated officers of the ISI are working with terrorists, or whether the support is more widespread in the security forces. The fact that U.S. officials lumped the ISI together with terror groups in the leaked Guantanamo files suggests the U.S. believes it’s the latter.  In The New Yorker, Wright describes an organizational structure that allows the military to deal surreptitiously with terrorists:  “Within the I.S.I., there is a secret organization known as the S Wing, which is largely composed of supposedly retired military and I.S.I. officers. ‘It doesn’t exist on paper,’ a source close to the I.S.I. told me. The S Wing handles relations with radical elements. ‘If something happens, then they have deniability,’ the source explained.”  One of the big unanswered questions is the extent of the ISI’s involvement in the plot behind the Mumbai terror attacks. Some answers may emerge in the following weeks as Tahawwur Rana, one of the alleged plotters in the Mumbai attacks, stands trial in Chicago. The Rana trial: Why it matters, and what we’ve learned so far  The U.S. Justice Department has accused five men of helping to plan the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India, which killed 166 people. Among the dead were six Americans, including a Brooklyn rabbi and his pregnant wife. Tahawwur Rana is being tried in federal court in Chicago for helping David Coleman Headley, who has confessed to scouting locations for the attacks. The U.S. has also indicted an alleged ISI officer in the case. That officer, known as Major Iqbal, is among the suspects who are still at large.  The star witness in Rana’s trial is Headley, who has confessed not only to working for the terrorist group Lashkar-i-Taiba but also for the ISI. So far, Headley claims that ISI officers recruited him as an intelligence operative for the Mumbai attacks and that Major Iqbal funded and directed his reconnaissance and played a key role in the plot.
India, Pakistan to discuss Siachen issue on May 30
NEW DELHI: The twelfth round of Defence Secretary level talks between India and Pakistan on Siachen will be held in New Delhi on the 30th and 31st of May 2011.  The Defence Secretary Shri Pradeep Kumar will lead the Indian delegation. The other members of the team include Special Secretary RK Mathur, DGMO Lt General AM Verma and the Surveyor General S Subha Rao.  The Pakistan delegation will be led by Defence Secretary Lt General (retired) Syed Ather Ali. The other members include Maj Gen Ashfaq Nadeem Ahmed, Maj Gen Munwar Ahmed Solehri and Maj Gen (Retd.) Mir Haider Ali Khan.  The Defence Secretary level talks between the two countries to resolve the Siachen issue dates back to 1985. The decision to hold talks followed discussions between then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and then Pakistan President Gen Zia-ul-Haq at Oman and New Delhi.  The talks became a part of the composite dialogue with Pakistan, on all issues including Kashmir, from the eighth round of talks in August 2004 in New Delhi. Eleven rounds of talks have been held so far.  It was decided by the two countries to resume the bilateral dialogue on all outstanding issues following the meetings of the Prime Ministers in Thimpu in April 2010 followed by the meetings of the two Foreign Secretaries on February 06, 2011.  The Siachen issue is historical in nature. The Cease Fire Line (CFL) and the Line of Control (LOC) in J andK were delineated by the Karachi Agreement of 1949 and the Shimla Agreement of 1972 respectively up to point NJ 9842.  The area beyond this point has remained un-delineated. This has led to different interpretations.
France stops military equipment sales to Pakistan
BANGALORE: France will stop sales of heavy military equipment to Pakistan hoping to assuage Indian concerns and prolong the recent success it has had in winning contracts from the Indian armed forces.  Gerard Longuet , the French defence minister, began his two-day visit to India by assuring the country that France does not want to be seen feeding Pakistan's military ambitions.  "Concerns did come up in my discussions with the defence minister about India's concerns. We supply Pakistan equipment that enables them to intercept terrorist communications. And we have decided to discourage any requests from Pakistan for heavy equipment, notably naval equipment," the defence minister said.  While Longuet did not expressly mention the Inter-Service Intelligence, he strongly alluded to the agency's suspected role in providing a safe haven to the 9/11 mastermind.  "After the death of Osama bin Laden, Pakistan should be given an opportunity to explain its position vis-a-vis terrorism," he said.  India, for long, has maintained that the sale of weapons by the West to Pakistan in the name of terrorism has instead been used by latter to build its own military arsenal rather than the actual purpose of the sale.  French President Nicolas Sarkozy during his state visit to India last year had called upon Pakistan to fight terrorism more determinedly.  There is a reason behind the hard line against Pakistan on the issue. French companies have had remarkable success in winning key defence contracts in India, including being short-listed for the $11-billion Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) tender, often described as the al-Yamamah - the famed arms race to supply the Saudi Kingdom in the 1980s - of the modern era.  Further, India's efforts to build up its submarine fleet, with Project 75 and 75I - to build six Scorpene submarines, will also see French defence companies playing an integral role.  The $2.4-billion Mirage-2000 upgrade is also expected to be announced shortly. Last week ET had reported that the Cabinet Committee on Security, the apex body which is responsible for large defence procurements, had already given its approval for the contract. French defence giants Dassault Aviation, Thales and MBDA will be the lead contractors on the project.  "The France-Pakistan relationship is largely based on geo-political terms. France, which is one of the most multi-cultural societies in Europe, has to take into consideration global terrorism issues. But there has been major reorientation in its foreign policy towards Pakistan," Deba Ranjan Mohanty, senior fellow with the New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation, said.  Paris has been keen to establish closer defence and strategic ties with New Delhi, and by positioning itself as a more natural ally of India, it provides an interesting bulwark to the growing proximity between South Block and Pentagon .  "As most bilateral relationships, this is also a product of politics and economics. There is a massive commercial and strategic angle. India is not only a huge market, it is also seen as the only stable force in a very volatile region," Mohanty said.  Mr Longuet's visit comes also at a time when India is looking to finalise the lucrative $11-billion fighter jet deal for the Indian Air Force . French aerospace giant, Dassault Aviation is one of the contenders, through its offering, Rafale.  "We have one single speaking partner (Dassault) instead of four partners (European firms from Italy, Germany, Spain and UK). Mr Longuet said, taking an expected swipe at rival short-listed candidate, the pan-European consortium built, Eurofighter Typhoon.  The MMRCA tender is considered the most high-profile military aviation contracts in recent times, and had some of the world's largest defence vendors vying for it, including Lockheed Martin , Boeing and Saab .  The French minister also said that a decision on the IAF's $2.4-billion Mirage-2000 fleet upgrade was also eagerly awaited.  "We are in the final stages of the upgrade agreement. It is up to the Indian political establishment to take a decision. We are confident that it will happen soon," he said.  France's ambassador to India, Jerome Bonnafont also confirmed that price negotiations over the deal had been completed, and a decision was awaited.
India, France discuss pending fighter jet deals
NEW DELHI (AP) — France's defense minister made a final pitch for his country's fighter jet on a visit to India on Friday, hoping to secure a lucrative contract with the world's biggest arms importer.  India says it's nearing a decision on which fighter jets it will buy, having eliminated all options but France's Rafale and the Eurofighter Typhoon, which is built by a consortium of Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain.  French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet discussed the $11 billion deal to supply 126 jets to India's air force and several other multibillion-dollar military contracts with the Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony during a two-day visit to New Delhi.  France has stiff competition: India is being wooed by major arms manufacturing countries as it replaces its obsolete Soviet-era weapons and aircraft. New Delhi is expected to spend $80 billion between 2012 and 2022 to upgrade its military.  Longuet told reporters that buying French military equipment was attractive because it is accompanied by technology transfers.The French government gives buyers of military hardware the commitment that equipment and spares will always be available and that it will provide upgrades as technology evolves, he said.  French companies are also negotiating another $2.5 billion dollar deal to upgrade 50 Mirage-2000 fighter jets in the Indian air force.  Defense ties between India and France have drawn closer in the past few years. The air force and navies of the two countries have conducted joint exercises, while army units were scheduled to hold drills soon, Longuet said.  France views India as a stabilizing force in a volatile region and fully supports India's bid for permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council, Longuet said.
China drops the Gwadar hot potato
The occasion of Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Gilani's official visit to China was an opportunity for both parties to stake a claim to a post-United States future as the closest of allies, with a shared commitment to a stabilized Afghanistan and recovering Pakistan.  Chinese state media gave spectacular coverage to the visit as a sign of its geopolitical significance. The Chinese government contributed to the sense of occasion with the kind of gesture the Pakistani military - smarting from the humiliation of the killing of Osama bin Laden by American Special Forces inside Pakistan - appreciates the most: a promise to expedite delivery of 50    Chinese fighter jets.  Then Pakistan's Defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar put his hoof in it:      "The Chinese government has acceded to Pakistan's request to take over operations at Gwadar port [in Balochistan province] as soon as the terms of agreement with the Singapore Port Authority (SPA) expire," Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) quoted Defense Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar as saying in a statement.      According to APP, Mukhtar said Pakistan appreciated that the Chinese government agrees to run the port, but would be more grateful "if a naval base is constructed at the site of Gwadar for Pakistan." [1]  His remarks set off alarm bells around the world, as pundits dusted off the "string of pearls" analogy describing China's alleged efforts to create a network of military-ready ports, and raised the specter of the Chinese dragon bathing his vermilion claws in the milk-warm waters of the Indian Ocean.  China promptly issued a denial - about building the naval base, at least - that made the whole episode look like another spasm of incompetence by President Asif Ali Zardari's administration. [2]  It also forced China's quasi-official nationalistic mouthpiece, Global Times - which had uncritically picked up on the Associated Press of Pakistan report - to do some backtracking, backfilling and blustering:      Beijing recently denied a rumor that the Pakistani government has invited it to build a naval base at the port of Gwadar. But this doesn't stop some of the Western countries and India, China's regional competitor, playing with the so-called China threat theory.      [I]f the world really wants China to take more responsibilities in Asia-Pacific region and around the world, it should allow China to participate in international military co-operations and understand the need of China to set up overseas military bases.     Peace is China's only military interest and the international community should keep this in mind. [3]  It looks like Mukhtar badly overreached in his attempt to convince the administration of US President Barack Obama of China's willingness to replace the US as Pakistan's official best friend forever.  It may simply be that he was just trying to be helpful, and get Pakistan out of an embarrassing jam on the operation of Gwadar.  There are three likely reasons and one unlikely reason why China has little interest in helping Pakistan play the Gwadar card, either as a commercial or military property.  The unlikely reason was floated by The Times of India. It linked the port project to the attack by militants on the Mehran naval base in Karachi this week, apparently in an attempt to publicize the fact that Chinese engineers are assisting the by now globally unpopular Pakistani military:      Apparently jolted by the Taliban attack on Pakistan's naval base, China on Tuesday indicated it would not invest funds on creating another naval base in that country. [4]  The linkage between the two events probably does not extend beyond the shared use of the three words "naval base" and "China".  As we shall see, deadly peril is a fact of life for Chinese personnel at Gwadar already. China would be unlikely to reverse a major strategic decision because 11 Chinese helicopter technicians were in transitory peril more than 1,000 kilometers from Gwadar during an attack intended to embarrass the Pakistani military and destroy two US surveillance planes as retaliation for the raid that killed Bin Laden.  As for the likely reasons for Chinese wariness:  First and foremost, Gwadar is a failed commercial port - built with over US$200 million in unenthusiastic Chinese aid - in the middle of a wilderness that nobody visits. [5]  In the most recent court case that has bedeviled the port and its operator - Port of Singapore Authority or PSA - it was alleged that the only way to get business to Gwadar - for what purpose and to whose benefit it can only be imagined - was to divert cargo from Karachi:      Since PSA has failed to attract commercial vessels to Gwadar Port, it is reported and in common knowledge that the government at the expense of the public exchequer is subsidizing and artificially creating business for PSA by diverting different cargoes of urea and wheat (otherwise destined for the ports at Karachi) to Gwadar Port which reportedly resulted in a loss of at least Rs 2,500 [US$40] per ton in extra, unnecessary and unwarranted costs to the public exchequer. PSA has failed to make any investment in additional facilities at Gwadar Port contrary to the tall claims at the time of award of the CA to PSA, it added. [6]  The cash-strapped Pakistani government apparently reneged on a deal to develop a free-trade zone at the port, ditched plans to build transportation infrastructure connecting the port to the interior, and failed to follow through on a no-cost transfer of developable land at the port to the operators. The unhappy operators, PSA, have been subjected to accusations of non-performance it dismissed as unfounded, and harassing lawsuits inspired, it alleges, by interests from the competing port of Karachi.  Pakistan's Supreme Court has instructed the Gwadar Port Authority to cancel PSA's concession. If a new operator could be enticed into taking over the port, it is extremely unlikely that PSA would insist on serving out its contract until 2047.  Pakistan is understandably keen to find a new operator pronto for the troubled commercial port.  China has been floated as a potential replacement for PSA virtually since the inception of the contract, long before Mukhtar's statement; but China is unlikely to be enthusiastic about taking the port off PSA's hands except as an expensive favor to Pakistan.  It would not only take an immense expenditure - perhaps $2 billion - to link Gwadar to inland economic centers in Pakistan, western China and Central Asia; the effort would be largely zero-sum for Pakistan, taking business away from Karachi. The strategic justification for China - that Middle East crude could be landed at Gwadar, thereby avoiding the perils of the Straits of Malacca, and pumped or trained over the Himalayas at a capital cost of $30 million per kilometer in the more difficult stretches - seems more Pakistani wishful thinking than China's planning. [7]  Mukhtar might have been trying to sweeten the bitter commercial pill of taking over the commercial port by dangling the prospect of an advantageous cooperation between Islamabad and Beijing on a naval base.  He also may have been trying to placate the Pakistani navy at the same time by building a base for it at Gwadar, since the navy's reported unwillingness to surrender 582 acres (236 hectares) of prime land have been cited as a key obstacle to happy and harmonious development of the port. [8]  If so, Mukhtar's brainstorm, instead of pleasing everyone, will probably end up pleasing no one - especially the Chinese.  Which brings us to the second explanation for Beijing's lack of enthusiasm.  China is attempting to promote American military retreat from Afghanistan, and a reduced US security footprint in Central and South Asia. Showcasing Sino-Pakistani ties was supposed to serve as a declaration that the region's priorities were shifting from a massively destabilizing war effort led by the United States to an infrastructure and social development effort supported by China to the benefit of Pakistan as well as Afghanistan.  Raising the possibility that China was going to militarize Gwadar provided the US with an incentive to stick around and work out the kinks in its military relationship with Pakistan, instead of pulling up stakes.  The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs categorically knocked down the naval base story, as Dawn reported:      BEIJING: China said on Tuesday that it had not heard of Pakistan's proposal for China to help it build a naval port at the deep water port of Gwadar.      "Regarding that specific cooperative project, I have not heard of it," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a regular news briefing in Beijing.      "It's my understanding that during the visit last week this issue was not touched upon," she said. [9]  Thirdly, Gwadar is in Balochistan ... and Balochistan is a loaded gun at the head of Pakistan and China that will go off if either country tries to make geostrategic hay with the port.  Pakistan's army seized Balochistan in 1948. Through five different bouts of hot insurgency and martial law, Pakistan asserted control over the region - and maintains control today - with its usual combination of brutality, incompetence and smug indifference, allegedly disappearing, torturing and murdering any Balochi leader of stature.  The entire province only has 6 million people - in a nation of 170 million - and their concerns and priorities are largely swept aside by the Pakistani government.  The Balochistan vibe is something along the lines of Afghanistan with an ocean view: mineral wealth, violence and resentment. Independence sentiment, or at least, independence rhetoric, is a staple of Balochi discourse.  In a similar but more subtle replay of the "you say Myanmar, I say Burma" clashing nomenclatures, "Balochistan" is the official name of the Pakistani province; "Baluchistan" is frequently the preferred spelling for independence advocates.  Supporting Balochistan independence is also something of a cottage industry among strategic thinkers in the United States.  Their motives are rather transparent - unless one believes that ardent support of Balochi independence can be reconciled with utter neglect of the aspirations of that other land of the dispossessed, the one that happens to be administered by India: Kashmir.  An independent Balochistan would be another case of substandard American nation-building, along the lines of Kosovo and Southern Sudan. But it would, like them, serve a negative purpose: weakening a disliked regime and denying a significant strategic asset to a competing power.  Independent Balochistan would achieve a trifecta of sorts. In addition to discommoding Pakistan and China, it would encourage agitation for independence across the Pakistani border among the Balochis of eastern Iran.  To support the independence of Balochistan - which would involve a radical dismemberment of Pakistan - a supporting narrative to merge the Baloch and anti-terror themes has been created to delegitimize the Pakistani state and challenge its right to territorial integrity. It goes like this:  The extermination of Islam-tinged terrorism is the world's existential errand in South and Central Asia.  Pakistan is infected with the radical Islamist virus.  By this framing, Pakistan is said to have two - and only two - alternatives.  One is to engage in a civil society revolution to root out extremists and the military-security complex that shelters them. This scenario is predicated upon rapprochement with a benevolent and generous India to knock the ideological, economic and national security props out from under Pakistani hardliners - and their Chinese enablers - and remake Pakistan as a vibrant, multi-ethnic democracy.  As Pakistani scholar Hami Yusuf articulated the position:      Policymakers have long acknowledged that the only way to ensure South Asian peace and prosperity is by normalizing relations between Pakistan and India. The chances for boosting trade, cooperating in Afghanistan, launching water- and energy-sharing projects, and eventually addressing disputed borders and transnational threats such as climate change are extremely low if Pakistan and India remain locked in an arms race spurred by Chinese contrivance. [10]  As the outpouring of official Pakistani satisfaction with Gilani's visit shows, the position described by Yusuf is not yet a "policymaker" consensus - unless vast swaths of the Pakistani and Indian military and security apparatus are excluded from the definition. For that matter, better to exclude the Pakistani people as well.
The most recent Pew poll of Pakistani attitudes - released in July 2010 - reported that India was regarded as the "greatest threat to Pakistan" by 53% of respondents. That's compared to 23% who named the Taliban. [11]  Pakistani civil society may be disgusted with its spooks and generals and their antics - like the accusation by ex-Inter-Services Intelligence chief and alleged de facto Taliban asset Hamid Gul that the United States carried out the Mehran raid - but consigning the country's future to the tender mercies of India - is still a hard sell.  That leaves the second alternative: Pakistan is relieved of its Islamist extremist problem by shedding its border regions - and    its militants - through some internationally imposed disassociation, something that is, with a straight face, referred to as "peaceful Balkanization".  A notorious map published by Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters in the Armed Forces Journal in 2006 provided a picture of what a Balkanized Pakistan would look like.  Independent Balochistan would be a sizable rectangle composed of about 50% of current Pakistani territory - and a sizable chunk of Iran. For good measure, Peters envisioned Pakistan losing its Pashtun west to a muscled-up Afghanistan and dwindling to a narrow territory on either side of the Indus River. [12]  For the Obama administration, the attractions of presiding over the dismemberment of Pakistan have taken a back seat to obtaining the help of its security and military apparatus in finding a way out of the Afghan mess.  However, as the United States looks to wind down its involvement in Afghanistan and has less incentive to overlook Pakistan's inadequacies as an ally, the "let Pakistan go down the drain" faction may get a more favorable hearing.  The Balochistan independence movement is ready to assist.  The Baloch Conference of North America held a meeting in Washington at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on April 30, 2011. It issued a declaration describing the horrors of the Pakistani occupation.  Going beyond the issue of Balochistan, the declaration characterized Pakistan as not being "a truthful and trusted ally in the war on terror" (making the prescient assertion, prior to the notorious raid to kill Bin Laden in Abbottabad, that "Bin laden, [his deputy] Aymen al-Zawahiri and [Taliban leader] Mullah Omar ... are still hiding in Pakistani sanctuaries provided to them by Pakistani military and its ISI").  In article 8, the declaration stops pussyfooting around to declare:      This Conference considers Pakistan a terrorist state and asks the UN and the International Community to declare her as such.   Article 13 ties the various strands together and declares:      This Conference calls for a peaceful balkanization of Pakistan on ethnic and linguistic and cultural lines to eliminate and eradicate Islamic extremism and terrorism once and for all. This Conference rejects the artificially drawn British boundaries of the Durand line and Goldsmith line and demands the redrawing of the map of the region based on ethnic, linguistic and cultural lines. [13]   Linking Baloch independence to the war on Islamist extremists may appear to be an attractive, low-cost way to entice the United States into stirring the pot.  However, in practice "peaceful Balkanization" would probably look a lot more like a perpetuation of the miserable, expensive counter-insurgency the US has been conducting in Afghanistan and Pakistan for the past 10 years.  In February, before a Chinese-built naval base at Gwadar was even a glint in Ahmed Mukhtar's eye, Selig Harrison sounded the twin clarions of Balochi independence and the "war on terror" in an op-ed in the National Interest:      [T]he United States should do more to support anti-Islamist forces along the southern Arabian Sea coast. First, it should support anti-Islamist Sindhi leaders of the Sufi variant of Islam with their network of 124,000 shrines. Most important, it should aid the 6 million Baluch insurgents fighting for independence from Pakistan in the face of growing ISI repression. Pakistan has given China a base at Gwadar in the heart of Baluch territory. So an independent Balochistan would serve US strategic interests in addition to the immediate goal of countering Islamist forces. [14]  Great Game On!  On a demographic note, the entire Baloch population of Balochistan is only around 6 million. It is questionable that every one of them qualifies as an "insurgent" in open rebellion against the Pakistani state. Whether or not every man, woman and child in Balochistan is an insurgent, the sense of grievance against Islamabad is strong and genuine.  And, because they are seen as Islamabad's partners in penetrating and exploiting Balochistan, the Chinese are not popular there either.  The rhetoric of Balochi politics is dominated by resource nationalism of the sort that would receive short shrift from the United States and the international business community if it were invoked by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and not voiced by a group much inclined to do the West a geostrategic favor in Pakistan.  Balochi politicians are agitating against Chinese investment in a copper and gold mine at Sendak as an Islamabad-coordinated raid on the region's riches.  On the issue of Gwadar, the provincial government has made the rather dubious claim that the key to success of the white elephant port is not massive investment to link it to Central Asian markets, but the exercise of professional Balochi management.  Asserting that former president Pervez Musharraf had slow-walked construction of Gwadar not because it was an immensely expensive boondoggle in the desert but because he wanted to delay Balochi enjoyment of this mercantile gold mine, the provincial government called for cancelation of the 40-year contract by PSA, and takeover of the contract by local interests.  When the first report of the alleged Chinese takeover of Gwadar hit the Pakistani papers, the provincial chief minister, Nawab Muhammad Aslam Raisani, who is also chairman of the board of directors of Gwadar Port, rushed to Islamabad to object to getting blindsided on the announcement and press the case for local, instead of Chinese, management. [15]  Under the rubric of forestalling "Panjabi-Han" infiltration, warnings - or unsubtle threats - to the Chinese to steer clear of the region are familiar themes in Balochi politics.  As an editorial, "Balochistan for Sale", in an online Balochi journal put it:      It is extremely disturbing the way Islamabad unilaterally decides the fate of certain mega projects and lands inside Balochistan without even the consent of the local stakeholders. Foreign investment is one thing but deciding the future a controversial project is another thing.      Such secret deals will only antagonize the local people of the conflict-driven province. In the past, Baloch armed groups had attacked and killed Chinese engineers because of the same reason. If Islamabad does not consult the Baloch and proceed with these high level deals, it is going to irresponsibly compromise the safety of the Chinese. The security of foreign nationals would further be jeopardized if Islamabad annoys the government of Balochistan too. [16]  The idea that China would find itself exposed to the same kind of savage insurgency that bedevils the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan is not, I suspect, unwelcome to American pundits.  Robert Kaplan, the Atlantic security columnist, has adopted Gwadar-as-linchpin framing and frequently returns to the theme of Baloch insurgents turning the province into a sea of sandy fire for unwelcome outsiders. He interviewed a Baluch nationalist, who told him:      "No matter how hard they try to turn Gwadar into Dubai [in the United Arab Emirates], it won't work. There will be resistance. The pipelines going to China will not be safe. They will have to cross through Baluch territory, and if our rights are violated, nothing will be secure." In 2004, in fact, a car bomb killed three Chinese engineers on their way to Gwadar. Other nationalists have said that Baluch insurgents would eventually kill more Chinese workers, bringing further uncertainty to Gwadar. [17]  Several Chinese engineers have died in attacks around Gwadar and security was cited as one of several reasons why the Chinese pulled the plug on plans for a 200,000 barrel/day refinery at Gwadar.  There are nagging rumors that the Balochi separatists are receiving assistance from the US Central Intelligence Agency, India's Research and Intelligence Wing, and even Russian intelligence as part of their ongoing support for the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, and to punish Pakistan for its pro-Taliban Afghan policy.  Asia Times Online's Pepe Escobar has made the case for Gwadar as the key objective in the battle of Pipelineistan - US efforts to block the Iran-Pakistan (and maybe India) natural gas pipeline - in favor of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline bringing in the stuff Pakistan so desperately needs through Afghanistan from Central Asia. [18]  On her blog, Dr Stuart Bramhall retailed some of the accusations of foreign involvement in training Balochi insurgents - which are indignantly denounced by Baloch advocates - while echoing the pipeline them.      [The United States, India and Russia] support Balochistan independence, owing to the province's strategic importance as an energy transit route. Not only is it a conduit for the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India oil pipeline (which is mostly non-functional because the Taliban keep blowing up the Afghanistan section) and the planned Iran-Pakistan-India natural gas pipeline, but more importantly it adjoins the Arabian Sea and the Straits of Hormuz, which annually transship 30% of the world's oil resources pass every year. [19]  In any case, to the Chinese, Gwadar spells bad economics, premature geostrategic confrontation with the United States and the prospect of becoming the target of a burgeoning local insurgency that just might be receiving covert support from Washington and New Delhi.  However, if China decides to play the long game on Gwadar, and shoulder the burden and risks of operating the commercial port, a port call by Chinese naval vessels - and, later on, the oft-rumored naval base - may indeed be in the cards.
New Talwar class frigate for India Navy launched
Moscow: A new Talwar class stealth frigate built by Russia for the Indian Navy was launched at a solemn ceremony at Yantar Shipyard in Russia's Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad.  Ira Malhotra, wife of newly-appointed Ambassador Ajai Malhotra, launched the stealth frigate 'Trikand', the third of the three stealth frigates christened by President Pratibha Devisingh Patil along with 'Teg' (Sabre) and 'Trakash' (Quiver) in the Navy's tradition of naming the same class of warships beginning with common letter.  "Trikand", means a mythological arrow with three heads.  Deputy Head of the Defence Committee of the State Duma, Savenko, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Baltic Fleet Vice Admiral VP Kravchuk and top officials from ROSOBORONEXPORT state arms exporters, United Shipbuilding Corporation, Federal Service for Military Technical Cooperation, Russian industry and public representatives also attended the ceremony.  Ambassador Malhotra congratulated workers of the state-owned Yantar Shipyard and all associated organizations on the successful launch.  He recalled that defence cooperation was a key pillar of the special and privileged strategic partnership between India and Russia, and that that the launch of INS Trikand reflected the sophisticated level that India-Russia defence co-operation had achieved.  Malhotra noted that joint development and construction of advanced and frontline defence system and platforms, such as INS Trikand, had become a new hallmark of India-Russia defence cooperation.  The first warship under the present project, "Teg", was launched in November 2009.  The second ship, "Tarkash", was launched in June 2010. Delivery of all three ships to the Indian Navy and their commissioning will take place during 2011-12, after completion of outfitting works and extensive trials in harbor and at sea.  Like its predecessors the INS Trikand will carry the supersonic BrahMos missile system.  It would also be armed with advanced surface to air missiles, 100mm artillery guns, and other sophisticated equipment, as also a deck- based KA-31 helicopter.  The INS Trikand is powered by four gas turbines and is fitted with state -of -the -art navigation, communication and electronic warfare equipment.  It is also equipped with very advanced radar and sonar systems for early detection and warning.  Earlier, Russia had built INS Talwar, INS Trishul and INS Tabar at Balitiisky Zavod shipyard in St Petersburg.
Russia, India sacked admirals for failures
LAHORE: During the last decade-and-a-half, Navy chiefs and other top-ranking marine officials of Japan, Russia, India, China, United States, Ukraine, Peru and Paraguay etc were given the pink slips and sent home after having starred in fiascos that had heaped humiliations on their respective countries.  Now that the calls to sack the Pakistani Navy Chief have started gaining momentum following the glaring security failure at Karachi’s PNS Mehran base that has surely made the shoulders of the 170 million Pakistanis drop yet again, the government is seemingly in no mood to axe the top Armed Services official entrusted with the task to supervise his country’s naval and amphibious warfare. It would surely have been much easier to send the Pakistani Navy Chief Admiral Noman Bashir packing, had a precedent been set after the May 2 debacle at Abbotabad by holding the guilty elements accountable. Interestingly, Pakistan does have a history of forcibly retiring one its former Navy Chiefs.  Admiral Mansurul Haq was deposed in 1997 by the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and arrested. He was implicated in Agosta class submarine deals scandal in 1994.  The Admiral was then tried in military court during General Musharraf’s era and was arrested again in 2001, this time by the US authorities on request of the Pakistani military regime. He was extradited to Pakistan.  The Naval Chief had later managed to negotiate a plea bargain with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and was subsequently released, though of late there have been reports that the shadowy Agosta deal was signed before Admiral Mansur by his predecessor Admiral Saeed Khan and that he (Mansur) was made a scapegoat despite having nothing to do with the decision and selection of the submarines.  A quick look at the reasons leading to the ousters of the Navy Chiefs of Japan, Russia, India, China, United States, Ukraine, Peru and Paraguay etc reveals that they were fired with the primary aim to prevent the recurrence of the incidents which had brought their downfall.  On March 20, 2008, the then Japanese Navy boss Admiral Eiji Yoshikawa was punished, along with nearly 90 officials, after a series of scams including a naval accident that killed two fishermen and leakage of information on the functioning of a US-developed radar combat system.  Japanese Defence Minister Shigeru Ishiba was also asked to voluntarily return part of his salary to the state exchequer, giving back 320,000 yen (3,200 dollars) for two months.  Leading British daily “The Times” had described this development in these words in its March 22, 2008 edition: “Admiral Eiji Yoshikawa, chief of staff of the Maritime Self-Defence Force (MSDF), was one of 88 people disciplined one month after an incident in which a 7,750-tonne ship crushed a fishing boat while the officers on watch were sheltering from the rain and its captain was asleep.”  “The Times” had gone on to write,” The MSDF is the successor to the wartime Imperial Navy, the most respected of Japan’s armed services, which won glory for its audacious and devastating attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.” This was the biggest house cleaning in recent years, as far as the Japanese Navy was concerned.  In June 2006, the Deputy Commander of the Chinese Navy was sacked on graft charges and expelled from the national legislature.  According to a BBC Report of June 29, 2006, the Navy Deputy Navy Commander Wang Shouye was shown the door after an unmarried young woman had reported his activities and admitted an “improper relationship” with him.  The BBC Report further said,” Wang is one of the most senior victims of an ongoing anti-corruption drive. China’s ruling Communist Party is worried that widespread official corruption is undermining its legitimacy, and has taken care to highlight a number of high-profile falls from grace.”  In the words of the Chinese news agency Xinhua, the Deputy Commander was kicked out of service on account of his “loose morals” and the fact that he had abused his power to ask for and take bribes.  In January 2011, a senior American Navy officer was removed from his command, years after the release of vulgar videos, containing sexual innuendos.  Captain Owen Honors, who headed the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, was fired on January 4 this year, just two days after a series of dirty videos made by the senior naval officer in 2006 and 2007 had surfaced on the Internet.  The US media had quoted the Commander of US Fleet Forces Command, Admiral John Harvey, as saying, “Captain Honors’ profound lack of good judgment and professionalism while previously serving as executive officer on Enterprise calls into question his character and completely undermines his credibility to continue to serve effectively in command.” The US Navy has also launched a broader probe into the four-year-old videos and the failure to take disciplinary action against the dismissed captain. In September 2005, the Russian President Putin had fired his Navy chief, Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov.  Admiral Vladimir Kuroyedov, the longest-serving Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy, had to bear the brunt of a few crucial naval accidents during his tenure.  During his service, the Admiral first helplessly saw the sinking of the Kursk, the nuclear-powered Russian cruise missile submarine on August 12, 2000 and was then held responsible for the August 5, 2005 accident of the Russian deep submergence rescue vehicle called AS-28.  The Russian Press openly reported that President Putin could not bear the embarrassments and failures of his Navy Chief and was compelled to take a harsh decision.  On September 13, 2007, another Russian Navy Chief—Admiral Vladimir Masorin— was fired by President Putin for accepting an American award from Admiral Mike Mullen in Washington.  According to “The Moscow Times,” Admiral Mike Mullen had presented a Legion of Merit to the Russian Navy boss Masroin, which may have upset senior defence ministry personnel and President Putin. Admiral Masorin was appointed on this position by President Putin in 2005.  India had also sacked its Navy Chief, Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat, in December 1998 for “not complying with the orders of the cabinet.”  According to “The Times of India” edition of December 31, 1998,” This is the first time that a service chief has been dismissed from service in India’s post-Independence history. The closest other example was when chief of Army staff General P.N. Thapar who had resigned following the Indian Army’s debacle in the 1962 war with China.”  “The Times of India” further stated, “A single page terse statement issued by the defence ministry here said that the government had terminated the services of Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat because it had been noted for some time that the officer has been taking series of actions in deliberate defiance of the established system of Cabinet control over the defence forces.”  The top Indian newspaper wrote, “The statement, however, did not spell out any details of the defiance. But, it pointed out that the decision had been taken consciously and deliberately in the face of action which threatened the established structure of democracy, traditional neutrality and objectivity of the armed forces as well as national security.”  The newspaper noted, “Admiral Bhagwat’s dismissal comes in the wake of his refusal to comply with an Appointment Committee of Cabinet’s decision to appoint Vice-Admiral Harinder Singh the deputy chief of naval staff. Admiral Bhagwat had opposed Vice-Admiral Singh’s appointment arguing that as the Navy chief he was entitled to choose his principal staff officer in accordance with the Navy Act.”  In March 2010, the Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich had dismissed the country’s Head of Naval forces, Igor Tenukh, who had allegedly initiated the information war against Russia and for blocking the entrance for the Russian Navy while it was taking on the Georgian forces in 2008.  The decision was published on the President’s official website.  In November 2001, Peru’s President Alejandro Toledo removed his Navy Chief, Admiral Alfredo Palacios, for leveling accusations against the country’s jailed ex-spy-chief Vladimiro Montesinos. The Navy Chief had alleged the former spymaster of secretly trying to extort from people while locked away in a naval prison.  In November of 2009, Paraguay’s president Fernando Lugo had dismissed the commanders of the his Army, Navy and Air force, after he said that there were “pockets of coup-plotters” in the country’s armed forces.  Meanwhile, there have been a few Navy Chiefs in recent years who had resigned on their own, which included the Uruguayan Navy Chief —Oscar Debali-who had resigned in March this year after his nephew was found involved in a corruption scandal.  In November 1996, the Georgian Navy Chief— Rear-Admiral Aleksandr Dzhavakhishvili-had relinquished charge because of a serious disagreement with his country’s defence minister.  In 2009, Admiral Mikhail Abramov, the chief of Russia’s Navy Staff, has submitted his resignation citing poor health reasons.  In 1999, Pakistan Navy chief Admiral Fasih Bokhari had resigned from his post and had conveyed his decision for early retirement to the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who had acceded to the request.  Three years after his resignation, Admiral Bukhari was quoted by a web portal “South Asia Tribune” as saying, “I resigned on October 5, 1999, a week before Musharraf’s coup of October 12 because I had come to know that he had decided to topple the Sharif government.”  In July 2007, the then Israeli Navy Chief Admiral David Ben-Bashat had submitted his resignation, ending a 37-year career in the military.  Admiral Ben-Bashat was harshly criticized that year over the Navy’s failures in the Lebanon War, which had led to the Hezbollah missile attack on an Israeli war ship, killing four sailors.

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