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Wednesday, 15 June 2011

From Today's Papers - 15 Jun 2011




No possibility of Kargil-like situation in Arunachal: Antony

Tribune News Service  New Delhi, June 14 Defence Minister AK Antony today discounted the possibility of Kargil-type operations in Arunachal Pradesh as apprehended by a minister of the state, saying the situation on the border was under constant monitoring and capabilities were being upgraded.  “Just as the other side (China) is increasing its capabilities in our part, the Army and the Air Force are steadily increasing capabilities. We are confident of protecting our interest in any territory. At the moment the border is peaceful,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a function here.  “We are closely monitoring the border situation. Our Armed Forces, especially the Army, are constantly upgrading its capabilities in the eastern sector,” he added.








NCC to buy 110 micro-light aircraft

Vijay Mohan Tribune News Service  The micro-lights  These are twin-seater aircraft weighing less than 500 kg. The low weight allows these crafts to operate from grass strips, disused runways and small flying clubs with short runways.  What the NCC wants  n Crafts to carry a weight of at least 160 kg and minimum speed of 90 kmph n Built-in GPS navigation system, communication equipment, dual controls for the crew, safety measures n Minimum flying endurance of 1.5 hours  Chandigarh, June 14 Flying activities in the National Cadet Corps will get a boost with the induction of 110 micro-light aircraft. The NCC has about 55 air squadrons based across the country and each squadron is authorised two micro-lights.  These aircraft would be used for adventure activities and to expose cadets to the basics of airmanship. Some NCC squadrons already have a micro-light in their inventory. Each squadron is authorised 200 flying hours annually.  Sources said that the NCC had initiated the move to procure micro-lights over a year ago, but problems had cropped up. A fresh tender for procurement was issued earlier this month. The planes are expected to be procured in batches of 30, with the first batch expected 12 months after finalisation of the contract.  The micro-lights will replace unpowered gliders in service in some squadrons. Earlier, the NCC also had a few indigenously built Pushpak aircraft for basic flying training, but these were phased some years ago.










Removal of key army, police officials a common practice globally

LAHORE: Annals of history reveal that the sackings and sudden transfers of top military and police personnel under one pretext or the other have been a pretty common phenomenon throughout the world since the last 70 years or so, perhaps more frequent than what many would deem it to be.  Starting from Pakistan, a former ISI Chief General Ziauddin Butt was arrested by former military ruler General Pervez Musharraf’s coup-stage team in October 1999. General Ziauddin was nominated as the Pakistan Army Chief by the then Premier Nawaz Sharif in place of General Musharraf on October 12, 1999—-the coup day.  But following a successful coup, General Ziauddin was apprehended and kept in solitary confinement for two years by the Musharraf-led army regime. He was also subjected to three army investigations and consequently dismissed from service by General Musharraf.  Here follow just a few out of the many similar precedents from other countries like Britain, US, India, Russia and Germany etc. However, these examples cited below do not include details about dozens of army chiefs, navy admirals and spymasters, who were expelled from jobs on account of intelligence failures, their involvement in embezzlement and for featuring prominently in other operational debacles that had brought disgrace to their countries.  In fact, this correspondent has already filed various in-depth reports in this context in recent past, but paucity of space had always been a hurdle to pen down each and every incident of this nature.  Although former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill had said in 1942 that it was difficult to remove a bad General at the height of a campaign, adding that it was atrocious to remove a good General, he had himself dismissed General Archibald Wavell (the Commander-in-Chief of India and later a Viceroy there) and General Claude Auchinleck (also a Commander-in-Chief of Indian forces).  A study of Volumes III and IV of a famous book “Winston S Churchill, The Second World War” reveals that while relieving Generals Wavell and Auchinleck, the two distinguished commanders in World War II, Premier Churchill had told them that it was a decision of the British Cabinet.  Churchill’s generals were removed for not sufficiently opposing the forces of German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel during the Second World War. Just a few years later in 1951, US President Harry Truman had followed suit and sent his Korean War Commander, General Douglas MacArthur, packing for insubordination.  In 2005, another US General, Kevin Byrnes, was officially relieved of command after 36 years of military service, for disobeying an order from the then Army Chief of Staff Peter Schoomaker.  In 2009, General David McKiernan was fired as the American commander in Afghanistan and replaced by General Stanley McChrystal. He was the first US commander to be fired during wartime since Harry Truman had terminated General Douglas MacArthur in the Korean War.  In June 2010, General Stanley McCrystal, the then Commander of all US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, had to leave charge for making critical remarks about senior Obama administration officials.  In 1983, Germany’s Army General, Gunter Kiessling, was dismissed despite his denials following a sex scandal. The development had sent shock waves through Nato and German military and political establishments.  According to a leading British daily “The Independent,” the German officer was accused, in secret, of homosexuality, and was regarded as a security risk.  In March 2010, the German Defence Minister Karl Guttenberg removed General Henning Hars from his slot, after the soldier had questioned the dismissal of a fellow officer, General Wolfgang Schneiderhan in November 2009.  A CBC News report of November 26, 2009 read:” General Wolfgang Schneiderhan, the country’s inspector general—which is the equivalent to chief of staff-has been asked to be relieved of his duties. His resignation came after the German newspaper “Bild” had published what it claimed were still photographs from a video of the air strike. The newspaper said that the video shows civilians were likely killed and claimed the German military had the footage even as then defence minister Franz Josef Jung was denying there were civilian victims.”  In December 2002, Russian President Vladimir Putin had shown the door to General Gennady Troshev, the then commander of Russia forces in the North Caucasus.  According to the December 21, 2002 edition of web portal “The Asia Times,” General Troshev had been a key military commander in the Chechen war for three years, and when he was declined a transfer to Siberia, he had aired ‘contemptuous’ remarks against Putin’s administration at Kremlin. He subsequently had to pay the price.  In India, various army generals in recent past have been removed from service on charges ranging from corruption and smuggling to sexual misconduct.  For example, Indian Army Headquarter had issued orders for a general court martial of Lt General (R) Surendra Kumar Sahni for his role in committing irregularities in procuring meat and dry rations for the troops stationed at Siachen and other high altitude areas.  An Indian Army report said in this respect that food items were bought at cheaper rates by the contractors and then supplied to various military units, while rations worth of Rs19.2 million were untraceable as of March 2008.  An August 2010 report of the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India had also found the sitting Chief of Army Staff, General V.K. Singh, misusing his financial powers and sanctioning unauthorised construction of a golf club building at Ambala cantonment during his posting there.  Similarly, Major General A.K. Lal was dismissed after having been found guilty of sexually assaulting a junior woman officer. The woman’s parents had lodged a written complaint against the Major General to the then Army Chief General JJ Singh.  In 2007, two Lieutenant Generals, S.K. Dahiya and S.K. Sahni were charged in separate cases of irregularities. Again in 2007, the CBI sorted out Major General Anand Kapoor for possessing disproportionate assets to the tune of Rs50 million.  In another case, Major General Gur Iqbal Singh Multani was found guilty in smuggling large quantities of defence liquor to his hometown. He was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment, stripped of his rank and dismissed from service by a military court.  As far some of the sackings or transfers of police chiefs around the globe are concerned, the police officer in charge of the Queen Elizabeth’s security at Windsor Castle (London), was removed from his post in early July 2003.  “The Daily Telegraph” said on July 1, 2003:” Chief Inspector Goddard has been transferred to another job following Aaron Barschak’s gate crashing of Prince William’s 21st birthday party. The stand-up comedian posed as Osama bin Laden and climbed a series of walls before being directed to the party by a police officer. The measure is part of a wide-ranging security review following last month’s intrusion.”  Thailand’s National police commissioner, General Phatcharawat Wongsuwan, was transferred on November 28, 2008 to an inactive post as the state had moved to crack down on anti-government protesters.  Phatcharawat was moved to the prime minister’s office, apparently for not acting to prevent the disorder created by protesters in Bangkok.  Srinagar’s police chief, Riyaz Bedar, was removed in June 2010 by the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah after the death of a young man in firing by security forces had triggered angry protests in which some 30 people were injured.  Bangalore city’s Commissioner of Police, Shankar Bidari, was asked last month to surrender charge from his post and appointed as Additional Director General of Police in Indian Railways.  According to “The Deccan Herald” of May 2, 2011,” Bidari became the City Commissioner of Police on July 11, 2008 after the BJP government came to power. Though the police officer was in the good books of chief minister Yeddyurappa, he, reportedly, did not share good relations with his immediate boss, Home Minister Ashoka.”  In April 2011, the head of the security police in the restive Syrian city of Banias was removed from his post. According to a “Reuters” report on April 20, 2011, the said officer (Amjad Abbas) was actually held accountable for falling short in his duty to guard security and protect citizens.  Towards the end of March 2011, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev had given pink slips to 10 high-ranking interior ministry officials in an effort to reform Russia’s bloated police force.  According to France 24, a French television channel, nearly all the sacked officials were holding the rank of major general and all were chiefs of regional interior ministry departments— except one—who was the head of the ministry’s law institute.  According to the French TV, the Kremlin did not give a reason for their dismissal but the Interfax news agency, citing a ministry source, said the sacking was part of the plans to overhaul the interior ministry, adding the generals had reached retirement age. Just days earlier, the Kremlin had dismissed six top interior ministry officials.  President Medvedev, who says corruption is a major problem eating away at the national police, had ordered a 20 per cent cut in staff at the interior ministry in late 2009.











Bilateral talks more useful, says Antony

India is comfortable with bilateral discussions with the US when it comes to military matters as it finds them more effective that a joint dialogue involving more ministries. Defence Minister AK Antony has said that the ‘two plus two’ format of talks involving joint meetings between the Foreign and Defence ministers is not followed by India.  “We are comfortable with bilateral discussions. Two plus two is not a system we follow in the Defence Ministry. That is the problem. (We have) nothing against anybody,” Antony said at the sidelines of an Army function here. He added that India does not follow the joint dialogue format of talks with any country.  “We are following certain procedure and systems. As far as Defence Ministry is concerned we have not had any kind of two plus two dialogue with any country at the ministerial level. They are more effective, more useful ,” he said.  Ads by Google  While Antony said that ties between India and the US are increasing and he expects to meet the Defence Secretary at a mutually convenient time, he reiterated that the prevailing system of bilateral talks will continue. “We want to continue the system which we are following from the beginning. Let it be. We do not find any reason for changing it,” Antony said  As reported by The Indian Express, India has turned down an offer by the US to have a strategic dialogue involving the Defence and the External Affairs Ministers with their counterparts from Washington after objections were raised by the Defence Ministry.

While a high powered team from the US, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defence Robert Gates and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was to come in April for a joint strategic dialogue, the meeting was called off after Antony conveyed his unavailability.  On the domestic front, Antony rubbished concerns about a ‘Kargil type’ situation in Arunachal Pradesh that had been brought up by the state’s finance minster. Antony said that the Indian border with China is peaceful and the capabilities of the armed forces are being increased.  “Just as the other side is increasing their capabilities, our Army and Air Force are also increasing their capabilities. So we are confident of protecting our interest in any territory. At the moment the border is peaceful,” he said.











How can India help Pakistan?

By: Gen Ashok K Mehta  The killing of Osama bin Laden has led to a political tsunami in Pakistan not seen since 1971. Pakistan's former National Security Advisor , Gen Mahmud Durrani has said India must hold Pakistan's hand in its hour of trial. What can India do to help? Do nothing to make matters worse by turning the knife.  We should continue the dialogue. India Pakistan relations are bad enough. But currently Pakistan-Afghanistan ties are no better. Pakistan has been accusing Afghanistan of ganging up with India to foment insurgencies in Balochistan and Fata. Specifically, it has charged India with using its consulates in Jalalabad and Kandahar to train Baloch rebels and provide succour to Taliban in the Frontier region.  Islamabad has pulled up Kabul for encouraging activities inimical to it. This is the pot calling the kettle black. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's recent visit to Kabul has cleared the way to set the record straight with Pakistan on Afghanistan. The two could discuss how to cooperate rather than conflict in Afghanistan as they do in other multilateral fora, especially in UN peacekeeping.  Islamabad has fought the war on terrorism selectively despite periodic goading by the US to go after the Afghan Taliban in North Waziristan. Pakistan has told the US it does not have the resources since its forces are already overstretched.  According to the Australian Pakistan-Army specialist Col Brian Cloughley , It is neither the lack of capability nor intention but the fear that further depletion of troops from east to west will critically unbalance Pakistan Army facing India, which is enemy no 1.  In 2008 Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani briefed the Pakistan Parliament, the first time the Army had done so, on the scale and scope of counterinsurgency operations in Swat and Malakand divisions. The ownership of military operations appears settled and rests with the civilian government. Troops were first relocated from the east to west after 9/11 in the wake of the US-led war in Afghanistan.  Pakistan has two corps located astride the undemarcated Durand Line, one each at Quetta and Peshawar. Along with regulars, nearly 1,50,000 local militia are deployed. According to the Indian Army , Pakistan had redeployed almost three divisions of its forces from the Indian to the Afghan border.  At one stage, the assessment was that nearly 52% of its strike forces and 48% of the defensive elements had been relocated. Last year, testifying before Congress, outgoing defence secretary Robert Gates lauded Pakistan Army for its operations in South Waziristan, saying that nearly six divisions had been transferred from the east to west.  In 2010, the former corps commander of 11 Corps in Peshawar, Lt Gen Masood Aslam, now ambassador in Mexico, indicated that five divisions, 25 brigades and 88 infantry battalions were deployed under his command. Altogether these constituted 122 fighting units which included 15 artillery regiments in infantry role and 55 Frontier Corps battalions.  For an area as vast and rugged as the seven tribal areas of Fata, troops would always be insufficient. Gen Kayani has other worries if he thins out further from the Indian border. Not the least is the Cold Start doctrine which has reportedly rectified the sluggish onemonth long mobilisation of Operation Parakram following the attack on Indian Parliament in 2001.  Incidentally, the Army chief, Gen V K Singh , has disowned Cold Start, saying it is a creation of think-tanks and not an official doctrine. India's reaction to the Mumbai attack was not surprisingly measured without initiating any military response. In subsequent months, following the suspension of the composite dialogue, India took a number of steps to strengthen coastal defence and intelligence capacities.  On January 4, 2009, Air Marshal K D Singh of South West Air Command said at a public lecture that if Pakistan were to repeat a mass-casualty Mumbai- like attack, India's reaction could be a short and intense war. Home minister P Chidambaram has been warning Pakistan periodically "not to play any more games" and let Mumbai be the last such game. "If they carry out another attack, we will also retaliate with the force of a sledgehammer".  Notwithstanding the shrill but unworkable demand that India do an operation Osama to pluck Hafez Saeed or Dawood Ibrahim , it is clear that India has neither the political will nor the capacity for surgical operations inside Pakistan. Instead, let New Delhi settle for the more realistic objective of permitting Pakistan Army to redeploy more forces from the east to west to fight the Taliban with an assurance from India that it would not militarily exploit the strategic void.  Gates said recently that he was surprised that Gen Kayani had moved 1,40,000 troops from the east to west. That says something about India's strategic restraint.  (The author is founding member of Defence Planning Staff)












Chhattisgarh is not enemy zone: Antony

New Delhi, June 14: Defence minister A.K. Antony today said army units near the Maoist areas of Chhattisgarh would only be in training and not deployed for operations.  “It (Chhattisgarh) is not enemy territory,” he said, when asked what role was envisaged for the army that this month sent two units near a suspected Maoist base in Abujhmarh area.  “The army is training in many states… because they want to have a feel of all kinds of terrain — deserts, mountains and plains. They are now establishing a new training unit there,” he said.  The army does indeed have a shortage of training ranges. But the choice of a range in the Maoist areas has many meanings. First, it helps the army establish a staging post if it has to go into operations. Second, the army also gets to know and map a terrain where it never really had reason to venture into.  The army has also set up a “sub area command” near Raipur under its Allahabad-headquartered Central Command. Two units of the army went into the Naxalite areas this month to set up camps.  The presence of the army in an area where the military had no base has been opposed by the Maoists. Some experts believe the killing of 18 policemen in three successive attacks in Narayanpur and south Dantewada districts was an expression of the Maoists’ aggressive intent.  In January, army chief Gen. V.K. Singh had said that he had asked the government for “rules of engagement”. This requires the Union home ministry to clarify to the army if it can fire or counter-attack if baited by the Maoists.  The Indian Air Force, which has four helicopters in aid of central and state police in counter-Naxalite operations, has been told that it can fire in self-defence. Since last year, IAF helicopters have been armed with medium machine guns.  Antony said the army’s presence in Chhattisgarh is not intended to escalate conflict. “The land is allotted only for training. We will not cut a single tree, we will not harass anybody there. We are not against anybody, it is not an enemy territory,” he said.  When it announced it was opening a “manoeuvre range” in south Chhattisgarh last December, the army in a note said: “This will be the first time that any sizeable strength of the army moves into this region. The deployments will indeed open up the region to the outside world.  “Purchase of local materials and supplies will bring in jobs and finance to cash-strapped villages. The presence of the army will also bring a feeling of security to the villages.”  On a reported threat to Indian territory in the Northeast, Antony said the army and the air force were beefing up their capabilities. The comment came after the Arunachal minister for finance and planning, Kalikho Pul, reportedly told Planning Commission deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia that there was a threat from China.  “Just as the other side (China) is increasing its capabilities, our army and air force are steadily increasing their capabilities. So we are confident of protecting our interest in any territory. At the moment the border is peaceful,” Antony said.”











India to buy more than 16 C-17 airlifters

NEW DELHI: The IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik told India Strategic defence magazine in an interview that while the government had accorded approval earlier this month to buy 10 aircraft, the air force was now processing a case for six more of these airlifters. At a later date, "we will add some more," he disclosed but did not specify the number.  He said that IAF's existing Soviet-vintage IL-76 heavy-lift aircraft would last approximately another 10 years, and the induction of the C-17 Globemaster IIIs during this period would be a timely replacement. India has less than 20 IL-76 in a dedicated transport role, while there are six midair refuellers designated Il-78, and another three to house the Israeli Phalcon AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control Systems).  The IAF has to replace the old aircraft and also augment its capability and capacity in accordance with the current and emerging security situation in the region in the foreseeable future.  The Indian government has just cleared the deal for 10 C-17s for $4.1 billion, and together with another six aircraft, the deal would be for around $6.5 billion, inclusive of the 30 percent offset clause.  The US government, and the Congress, has already cleared the deal under the government-to-government Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme and it would be sealed once the Indian government signs the agreement and the US government issues what is called the LoA, or Letter of Acceptance, possibly by mid-June, to sell the aircraft to India.  Reliable sources, however, say the IAF could opt for eight more aircraft, in which case the deal for the C-17s could touch about $10 billion or so.  A key advantage of the offsets under this programme is assistance by Boeing to set up an approximately $500 million engine-testing wind tunnel for jet engines with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The air chief said that this project should go a long way in helping Indian scientists develop jet engines.  The indigenous capability in India for aircraft engines at the moment is vastly inadequate as it is difficult to master the engine core technology. Despite the acquisition of a very large number of aircraft from the Soviet Union/Russia and France, nobody has shared this expertise despite various collaborative programmes.  Even to test the Kaveri engine for the light combat aircraft (LCA) for instance, facilities in Russia have recently been used.  Notably, although Boeing is the largest manufacturer of civil and military aircraft in the world, it uses engines built by the GE and Pratt & Whitney. But Boeing has the talent and expertise to integrate, and help develop, the best of the aerospace technologies thanks also to its involvement in US space programme, particularly the space shuttles.  About the C-17s, Air Chief Marshal Naik observed that a key advantage of this aircraft is that despite being a huge airlifter with 75-tonne capacity, it can operate from very short and unpaved grassy airfields. As IAF has several small airfields all around, this is a decisive factor in acquiring the C-17, the other being a long-range global capability with mid-air refueling.  As for short landing and takeoff, this capability of the C-17 was demonstrated during the aircraft's trials in 2010. Boeing test pilot Col. Kelly Latimer, a former USAF pilot whose laughter matches the respect she commands in flying this huge aircraft, actually landed and took off in less than 3,000 feet from a small airfield in the mountains.  This writer had the privilege to meet this NASA veteran during a visit to the US. She explained the capabilities of the C-17 in peacetime for humanitarian missions as well as in the battlefield to airdrop special forces personnel, material or to pick up injured and wounded from short unpaved grassy fields in the thick of battle. The area around the landing field has to be sanitized though, as for any transport aircraft or helicopter in a battle zone, with the help of fighter and combat helicopter cover.  According to this writer's understanding, the C-17 also played a decisive role in the recent Operation Geronimo against Osama bin Laden by ferrying the highly-capable  multi-role Chinook MH 60R and Apache helicopters to Afghanistan. These helicopters were deployed in the Navy SEAL commandos strike against Osama's hideout in Pakistan's garrison city of Abbotabad.  Notably, India has played an active role in the international community in disaster relief even with IL-76 aircraft and they have been deployed usefully in crises situations also to help the neighbouring countries, including Sri Lanka and the Maldives.  The first IL-76 was flown into India in 1985 by Air Marshal (retd) Ashok Goel, who is now the mentor of 44 and 25 Squadrons which operate this aircraft. (He is also India Strategic's Aviation Editor).  According to Goel, it is imperative for the combat fleet to be supported by highly capable transport aircraft and helicopters. The reach of the combat aircraft is supported and sustained by airlifters, and timely supplies of equipment, supplies and boots on the ground in any operation can only be done by a mix of heavy-lift and other aircraft like the special operations' C-130J Super Hercules.  It may be noted that a modern version of the IL-76, designated just 476, is being developed in Russia and will be out in 2014.












Military’s response to scathing criticism

In entrenched or firmly established democracies, parliamentarians and media have the right to criticize the security lapses or intelligence failures of the security institutions but the objective is only to remove the loopholes and weaknesses and not disgracing the military. After 9/11 in America and 26/11 in India, commissions were formed that suggested measures to make security system foolproof. At least in America terrorists have not been successful to attack as they did on 9/11. However in those societies, elected representatives do not react angrily and reflexively to such incidents. In Pakistan, detractors of our military are not willing to listen to any argument, and continue to pass derogatory remarks against the military. They have to understand that if they can criticize the military, the later has the right to respond to their conjectures. After 139th Corps Commanders’ conference, a press release has been issued by the ISPR which stated that the commanders discussed at length various issues including broad contours of ‘renegotiated terms of engagement’ with the Americans.  The conference also took exception to the slandering by some politicians and media men stating: “The participants noted with regret that despite briefing the joint session of the Parliament and deferring the ultimate findings to the commission appointed by the government, some quarters, because of their perceptual biases, were trying to deliberately run down the Armed Forces; and the Army in particular.” It cautioned that the campaign against the army would be seen as an attempt to drive a wedge between the military, organs of the state and the nation. The military had the right to debunk charges against it, and they have used it. After America’s unilateral action in Abbottabad on 2nd May and terrorists’ attack on Mehran Naval base on 22nd May, military and the ISI are being subjected to scathing criticism by some anchorpersons and analysts who are blowing out of proportions the intelligence failure and security lapse in connection with the above incidents. After the ISPR’s press release, military is once again drawing flak on what the detractors say an attempt to interfere in the affairs of the government.  Some of them have been divisive and only on the basis of two incidents they say that armed forces’ performance has been disappointment despite spending 70 per cent of the budget on armed forces, which is travesty of the truth. In the budget for 2011-12 amounting to Rs. 2762 billion, a sum of Rs.495 has been earmarked for defence, which is less than 20 per cent of the total budget, and 25% of the tax revenue. America and its proponents and advocates have also been propagating that $13 billion was given to Pakistan military during the last ten years. Though belatedly, the military has now belied those claims in ISPR press release stating that American claim of giving $13 billion was not correct, as it got only $1.4 billion out of $8 billion remitted to Pakistan, and the rest was used for budgetary support. The military used its right by responding to the criticism by certain quarters. Those who is involved in the tirade against the military and also criticizing the contents of the ISPR’s press release, PML-N Quaid Mian Nawaz Sharif tops the list.  Addressing a reference meeting held on Friday for journalist Salim Shezad who was murdered in mysterious circumstances, Mian Nawaz said: “There is no sacred cow in the country and none should try to become a sacred cow, and I won’t allow such an attempt.” While admitting that he committed mistakes in the past, he said he had learned from those mistakes and others should follow suit. It appears that he has not learned any lesson, and he is living in late 1990s when his party had two-third majority in the National Assembly. The position today is that the PML-N does not have the numbers to rule even Punjab. Because of his arrogance, he and his party stand isolated. His tirade against the military could either be out of sheer desperation because of his isolation, or he is trying to play this card to attract people of Punjab who are known for their love for rhetoric and loud talk. Anybody with keen interest in politics would understand that the people were not excited on his 10 points’ agenda, proposals or other proposals and ideas he tossed around. The fact remains that people do not pay any attention to his statements, and do not throng his public meetings as in the past, despite the fact that the people are not amused or impressed by the shenanigans of the PPP-led government also.  Anyhow, the debate is raging over press statement by ISPR issued after the 139th Corps Commanders’ conference, which has drawn sharp reaction from certain segments obsessively disposed towards the military. Their reaction may have its origin in pedantic idealism or patent self-righteousness, however the reason for Mian Nawaz Sharif’s antipathy or hostility has seemingly to do with three Martial Laws in the past, especially when his government was overthrown by General Pervez Musharraf. Nevertheless, if military power usurpations are hard facts, the political eminences’ role in tempting these interventions and even becoming part of them are inexorable realities too. Leave alone the irrefutable fact that some of our biggest political reputes had had their genesis in the garrison hatcheries. Even Zulfikar Ali Bhutto made his political debut under Sikandar Mirza’s autocracy and got the political grooming in military ruler Ayub Khan’s stables. Indeed, the Jamaat-e-Islami, Nawabzada Nasrullah Khan’s Pakistan Democratic Party and the Pakistan Muslim League were very much part of dictator Zia-ul-Haq’s cabinet that formally approved the hanging of Z.A. Bhutto.  Of course, Mian Nawaz Sharif was one of Zia’s staunchest loyalists and a creature of a Punjab satrap-general, who at the behest of Zia also dealt a shattering blow to a united Muslim League headed by Mohammad Khan Junejo by sacking him from the office of prime minister. The party got split, with a splinter group under the name and style of PML-N acted as Zia’s front organisation. Another faction of the PML led by the Chaudhrys of Gujarat fell in the lap of military ruler Pervez Musharraf. Admitted that the military must be subject to civilian rule, but the civilian leadership must have the caliber, wisdom and statesmanlike qualities to assert their power. As regards respect, both civil and military leaders should respect each other; it can’t be one-way traffic. However, it must be remembered that militaries the world over do have significant influence in the decision-making by the government in the realm of security and even America’s foreign policy. In neighbouring India too, particularly when it comes to its Pakistan policy. In the US, Britain and even in India - the largest democracy in the world - political leaderships take decisions on the basis of the information provided by intelligence agencies and advice of military leadership.  Mike Mullen, other US and NATO Generals have been writing articles and holding press conferences to warn about flawed decisions of the government. As regards surge and then draw down from Afghanistan, President Barack Obama was not in favour of putting more boots in Afghanistan, but military prevailed upon him to send at least 30000 additional troops. On exit strategy, President Obama wants a significant draw down whereas Generals say the figure would not be more than 5000 troops. It is matter of record that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had in principle agreed to withdraw from Siachen but the army convinced him that India would lose strategic advantage and Indian forces would be vulnerable if India withdrew from Siachen. A blistering assessment of British policy in Iraq from the country’s top soldier General Sir Richard Dannatt had left Tony Blair reeling in 2006 when he said that troops should come home within two years - contradicting the then Prime Minister’s policy that the military will stay “as long as it takes”. Mian Nawaz Sharif should understand the ground realities and abandon the self-destruct course.




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