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Wednesday, 27 July 2011

From Today's Papers - 27 Jul 2011





Remembering Kargil Need for a sound defence management system

Twelve years after the Army assisted by the Air Force successfully vacated Pakistani intrusions in the high-altitude Ladakh region, New Delhi and Islamabad have travelled some distance to put the Kargil War behind. Barring occasional violations, both sides continue to honour an agreement reached in November 2003 to maintain a ceasefire along the Line of Control that divides the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.  But the year-round permanent deployment of troops in this hostile mountainous terrain is testimony that India cannot afford to let down its guard.  Military victory in vacating the intrusions, which occurred due to a combination of intelligence failure and ineptitude on the part of Army formations deployed in the area, came at a tremendous manpower and material cost. Although India also went on to score a diplomatic and moral victory, the war nevertheless raised serious questions on the country’s defence management system which still remains pertinent. In December 2001, India mobilised and deployed its armed forces along the western border with the initial aim of attacking Pakistan to punish it for sponsoring an attack on the Indian Parliament. The deployment, the largest since the 1971 Bangladesh War, ended up exposing India’s lack of preparedness for a war. This was despite the findings of the Subramanyam Committee and the consequent comprehensive national security review carried out by the Group of Ministers that followed soon after the Kargil war that had occurred just two-and-a-half years earlier.  A sound higher defence management system is needed for India with its large size, its internal and external security concerns, major territorial disputes, and its regional and global aspirations. Instead, India lacks a centre point for military advice in the form of a Chief of Defence Staff, the creation of which was recommended by the Group of Ministers. There is also need for greater synergy between the armed forces and for creating theatre commands. Even more, there is need for the critical ‘overlap’ as recommended by Carl von Clausewitz, the 19th century Prussian general, entailing a sound understanding of each other by the political executive, the bureaucracy and the military leadership.









Post-Mumbai diplomacy Move towards substantive Indo-Pak talks

by Nasim Zehra   The Pakistan and Indian Foreign Ministers’ talks are the culmination of the post-Mumbai phase of Pakistan-Indian diplomacy which started at the Thimpu-1 meeting in April 2010 between Prime Ministers Yusuf Raza Gilani and Manmohan Singh.  At Thimpu the two — Gilani and Manmohan Singh — made a political resolve to return to the dialogue track. At Thimpu-2 in February 2011 the Pakistan and Indian foreign secretaries firmed up details of fresh rounds of bilateral talks by the eight working groups.  In between Thimpu-1 and 2 the Pakistani and Indian Home Ministers met to cover ground on the Mumbai investigation. The significance of Thimpu-1 was that the Indian and Pakistani political leaders together came to the conclusion that the post-Mumbai diplomacy of making substantive dialogue conditional to progress in the Mumbai investigation was counter-productive for both the Mumbai investigations and the bilateral relationship.  The Indian Prime Minister’s earlier attempt, through the Sharm-el Shiekh statement in July 2009, to go along with Pakistan’s position of returning to substantive dialogue, fell prey to the wider policy-making opinion in Delhi that India’s post-Mumbai diplomatic posture must say no to dialogue unless Pakistan moved faster on punishing the Mumbai suspects.    At the conclusion of the Delhi talks the likely announcements will cover a new visa regime to promote people-to-people contact and additional cross-LOC confidence-building measures (CBMs) to increase travel and trade between the divided Kashmiris. Besides, dates for meetings of the reconstituted working groups of experts on nuclear and conventional confidence-building to consider additional measures to build trust and promote peace and security and to discuss the implementation and strengthening of the existing arrangements will be announced. Perhaps, Pakistan’s agreement to give the most favoured nation (MFN) status, conveyed during the Commerce Secretary-level talks, may also be announced.  Beyond the context of a decision on the structure of the dialogue process, the active revival of the Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) will also be announced. The JMC, set up in the eighties, has met intermittently, depending on the state of bilateral relations and the preferred dialogue track of the governments in power. For example, in 2005 the JMC met after a break of 16 years. Its last session was held in February 2007 but will now be formally revived. As was the mandate of the JMC, technical-level working groups on agriculture, health, science and technology etc will also be revived.  Reviving multiple-track engagement between the two nuclear states, home to millions of economically, socially and security-deprived citizens, is a welcome development. Equally, Delhi’s decision to opt for a cooperative as opposed to a confrontational approach on Mumbai and Pakistan’s decision to give MFN status to India, are also important steps towards improving the context within which there can be substantive cooperation between the two countries. After all, given the regularity with which relations between the two countries take a nosedive, the significance of improving the context and bringing substantive dialogue back on track cannot be underestimated.    Meanwhile, in the context of the changing regional environment, involving major troop withdrawals from Afghanistan, the search for a reconciliation formula for a post-ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) Afghanistan, the re-entry of the Taliban as a factor and Pakistan’s own comprehensive counter-terrorism thrust in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), the budding problem of home-grown Hindu and Muslim militancy within India and India’s vying for a permanent UNSC seat, have all contributed, though in varying degrees, to encourage Islamabad and Delhi to re-engage and insist that in this round they want a “sustained and meaningful” engagement. Indeed, “meaningful” will require not only no war, no diplomatic and political antagonism and no interrupted dialogue process, but it also means the resolution of outstanding problems. The score card on resolution is weak.  The agreement on holding a composite dialogue, on its modalities and the eight issues was first worked out and announced during the Sharif-Gujral governments in the joint statement of June 23, 1997 announced by foreign secretaries Shamshad Ahmad and Salman Haider.    Working groups were to be set up to deal with eight issues: peace and security, including CBMs; Jammu and Kashmir; Siachen; Wullar Barrage Project; Sir Creek; “terrorism and drug trafficking” — not “cross-border terrorism”; economic and commercial cooperation; and the promotion of friendly exchanges in various fields.  The Foreign Secretaries were to deal with peace and security and Kashmir, while also co-ordinating and monitoring the progress of work of all the working groups. Significantly, this is the structure that has still survived. Yet 14 years into this, albeit with an interrupted process, solutions on less complicated matters like Siachen and Sir Creek seem distant.  While this latest round of post-Mumbai diplomacy has improved the context of bilateral relations, the socio-economic, ideological and security challenges that Pakistan and India are confronted with, require movement on resolving outstanding problems. Clearly, unless there is serious intent on both sides to resolve the outstanding issues that perpetuate suspicion and hostility, substantive bilateral cooperation and the revision of respective threat perceptions are unlikely. And against the backdrop of acute economic, ideological and security crises, our two States will gallop ahead towards greater, yet ill-advised, militarisation of the region.n  The writer is a Pakistani national security analyst and host of TV programme “Policy Matters”.










Better infrastructure across LoC worries India

Presence of Chinese troops in PoK adds to threat perception Vijay Mohan in Drass  July 26 Twelve years after the Kargil War, the biggest challenge emerging in the mountainous theatre that had seen some of the most decisive battles fought in the history of high altitude warfare, is the large-scale development of infrastructure across the Line of Control that would enhance Pakistan’s logistic capability.  Also to be factored into the emerging threat perception is the presence of Chinese troops in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK).  Though the LoC has remained peaceful since the ceasefire that came into effect in 2003, construction of highways and rail tracks in the PoK continues. Besides an effective communication between Pakistan and China, this would also facilitate rapid troop movements into the PoK.  There have been reports that about 11,000 Chinese troops are stationed in the Gilgit-Baltistan regions of the PoK, where they are purportedly involved in infrastructure development, including areas along the LoC. The Gilgit-Baltistan region is reportedly simmering with internal unrest and has serious security implications for both Pakistan and China as it adjoins other provinces in western China that are also facing unrest.  Officially, the Army maintains that the presence of Chinese troops in PoK is not a cause of immediate concern at the moment as they are engaged only in development works. “This is an arrangement between two sovereign nations and it does not pose a threat to us,” General Officer Commanding 14 Corps, Lt Gen Ravi Dastane, said. He added that the LoC was well defended with more bunkers, better technical and aerial surveillance assets and the Army was capable of dealing with any situation.  Moving along the Batalik-Kargil-Drass axis, it is easy to see the vulnerability of the strategically critical NH-1, with peaks that were occupied by Pakistani forces within a stone’s throw. Further east, the Chinese presence and reported incursions across the LAC in Ladakh have been in the limelight for quite some time.  There are concerns in some quarters about the possibility of long term or permanent presence of Chinese troops in the PoK, increase in their numbers and the possibility of a gradual ‘hemming-in’ of Ladakh from the north and the east.  Another issue that arises is the impact that the presence of Chinese troops in the PoK and along the LoC would have on the Army’s operational planning and execution of operations in case of breach of peace. Though remote, military planners will have to factor in the consequences of Chinese troops getting caught in a crossfire in the eventuality of hostilities, even if a limited cross-border conflict. Top Army commanders responsible for this sector maintained that so far there has been no change in their operational planning.  Pak-China Camaraderie  The presence of Chinese troops in PoK has to be viewed in the larger perspective with a long-term view in the backdrop of the Sino-Pakistan strategic partnership, the Chinese designs in South Asia and their claims on Indian territory. “The Chinese may be there for development works at present, but things may turn out differently later,” an officer said. It is also felt that Pakistan might use the presence of Chinese troops as a shield or deterrence against an Indian response if it ups the ante along the LoC, revives pre-Kargil plan to open new routes of infiltration into northern Kashmir or increases the level of proxy war in Kashmir.










Tributes paid to Kargil martyrs

Tribune News Service  Drass, July 26 Tributes were paid to martyrs at the Forever in Operations War Memorial on the 12th Kargil Vijay Diwas, signifying the victory of Indian forces in evicting Pakistani intruders who had occupied large tracts on this side of the Line of Control in the Kargil sector.  (Right) At the India Gate in New Delhi, an armed forces personnel at a ceremony to commemorate the Indian victory, on Tuesday. A relative of a Kargil martyr breaks down during a ceremony to pay tribute to the martyrs. Meanwhile,  Tribune photos: Anand Sharma, Mukesh Aggarwal  It was on this day in 1999 that the last of the Pakistani intruders, who included army regulars as well as militants, were flushed out from fortified positions in inhospitable terrain at heights up to 18,000 feet. As many as 543 Indian troops, including many young officers, were killed in the two-month long war.  General Officer Commanding of the Leh-based 14 Corps, Lt Gen Ravi Dastane, GOC 8 Mountain Division, Maj Gen R.J. Noronha, GOC 3 Mountain Division, Maj Gen K.M. Balsara, brigade commanders, commanding officers of various battalions deployed in this sector as well as a large number of officers, jawans and their family members attended the ceremony. Also present were next of kin of some of the martyrs, ex-servicemen from this region and civilian dignitaries.  Later addressing a special sainik sammelam, Lt Gen Dastane called upon all ranks to draw inspiration from the unity, steely resolve and spirit of sacrifice displayed by the armed forces and continue to strive for professional excellence. He said the Kargil conflict was a testimony to the indomitable spirit and fighting skills of the Indian soldier.  War widows and next of kin of martyrs were also honoured on the occasion. A barakhana for all troops, a massed band display, polo match between Ladakh Scouts and Dras Bravo, a local civilian team, cultural programme for the locals, a candle lighting ceremony and an audio-visual presentation were other events organised to mark the event.  A cycle expedition organised to commemorate the golden jubilee of 70 Infantry brigade, deployed in Batalik, was also flagged-in at the war memorial. The expedition had started from Nyoma in eastern Ladakh on July 5.









ACM Naik's parting 'advice' for Gen Singh

NEW DELHI: Even as he reiterated his opposition to the creation of a chief of defence staff (CDS) post for the "next five to 10 years", Air Chief Marshal P V Naik has advised Army chief Gen V K Singh to do whatever he feels is "right" as far as the controversy over his age is concerned.  "All the three Service chiefs, including Gen Singh, Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma and myself, are from the Hunter squadron of the National Defence Academy...we share a great synergy," said the outgoing IAF chief.  "My only advise to Gen Singh is that he must do whatever he thinks is right," said ACM Naik when asked about the raging controversy over the Army chief's official age.  As reported earlier, after months of dithering, the defence ministry has now held that Gen Singh will have to retire next year, not in 2013 as he wanted, since his official date of birth - May 10, 1950 - is being considered.  The Army chief, in turn, has contended his actual date of birth is "May 10, 1951", and all his earlier attempts to get it corrected in official records were foiled by "vested interests".









Pakistan’s Defence Budget: Cloaked in Secrecy

Every year there are demands from politicians, the media and members of civil society that the burgeoning defence budget be discussed in detail in parliament. The general practice has been to dismiss the defence budget in a cursory manner, without providing any details. The excuse given year after year is that it is not in the national interest to publicly discuss the defence budget.  However, in a departure from the norm, the budget for 2011-12 gives a breakdown of what used to be a one-line budget provision. The total amount allocated to Defence Affairs and Services is Rs495 billion, which is 32% of the net revenue receipts of the federal government, after providing for the provincial share. Foreign debt repayment and interest on domestic debt takes away another 67%. To meet the expenditure on other ends, budget makers are relying on over-estimated net capital receipts, external receipts, provincial surplus and bank borrowing. All these estimates are speculative, so chances are we may just run into a bigger deficit than otherwise stated in the budget.  The breakdown of the defence budget for 2011-2012 is as follows. Employee salaries: Rs206 billion; operating expenses: Rs128 billion; physical assets: Rs117 billion; and civil works: Rs42 billion. During Musharraf’s tenure, the pension for retired army personnel was shifted to the civilian budget. It was close to Rs27 billion then, but according to estimates, it must have increased significantly by now. The defence establishment can claim that the increase of their share in the new budget is only 11.48%, which is below the average 14% inflation in the last year. However, the same holds true for the civilian governments as well.  As a major chunk of the foreign arms purchases are made through loans, there is no account of the amount of loans taken or the interest paid on them.  Despite vociferous demands from the public and the opposition that the defence budget be discussed in detail in parliament, no legislator had the courage to ask for more details. Interestingly, a couple of parliamentarians who had earlier raised this issue preferred to ignore it altogether. Instead of taking the security agencies to task for their failure on May 2, most parliamentarians cleverly redirected the wrath of the House towards the US by mainly discussing the issue of Pakistan’s sovereignty and how it was violated by the Americans.  However, it is imperative that a national security policy be formulated before the political dispensation undertakes any discussion on the curtailment of the defence budget, or they will run into snags. The internal insurgency that Pakistan faces is being used to justify the present spending by the army. But even before the war on terror, we have always had a consistent enemy: India. All those who have benefitted from a war-based economy will continue to harp on the imminent threat of war with India in order to justify the spending on the 600,000-strong army.  While the perception of threat from India has always been used to justify the heavy defence expenditure, the truth is that we have fought four wars with India since 1948 to date, out of which three were initiated by Pakistan – the Kashmir war where the dangerous policy of using a tribal lashkar was introduced; the 1965 war when armed insurgents were sent into Kashmir following which India decided to choose its own battlefront; the Kargil misadventure in 1999 which backfired. It was only in 1971 when India came to the support of the Bangladeshis in their “war of liberation” and avenged the previous two attacks. It should be noted that the 1971 war was the result of Pakistan’s military operation in Bangladesh.  The Khakis argue that India is buying arms and ammunition worth billions of dollars and consequently, the Pakistan Army has to maintain some sort of balance as a preventive measure against possible aggression. The same argument is used to justify the purchase of some of the most expensive war toys such as F-16s or the $35 million P-3C Orion planes that were blown up by a handful of terrorists at the PNS Mehran base in Karachi. Ostensibly the amount spent on the country’s nuclear facility is over and above the disclosed defence budget of the country. Even retired finance secretaries are tight-lipped about where this money comes from.  While citizens are willing to foot the bill for the army to protect themselves from terrorists, they are in the dark about how much of their money goes into financing the so-called “good Taliban” or to various India-specific jihadi organisations. So unless the political government is allowed to formulate a national security policy that is not India-centric, we will not have a clear picture of exactly how much real defence expenditure is.  There is lot of fat in the defence budget that can be cut with the resources diverted to health and education. To begin with, the country does not need this big an army. When East Pakistan was a part of Pakistan, the armed forces had about 250,000 enlisted personnel. Now with half the country gone, we have more than double that number. At the same time, when we are spending billions of dollars on nuclear bombs and their delivery system, why do we need such a large conventional army? This is a question that parliamentarians should be asking.  To get a wider perspective, I asked my network of consultants in the Asia Pacific region whether the defence budget is discussed in their respective countries and whether parliament has oversight of the defence establishment and intelligence agencies. Akhil Mohan from India says that the annual accounts of the ministry of defence are presented in parliament and are available to the public. Although they are fairly detailed in accounting terms (current and capital account spending, etc.), many expenses are often disguised or clubbed under broader heads in instances where the government does not want to disclose specific details. But these numbers are almost never debated in parliament.  There is a parliamentary standing committee on defence, which deals with issues such as procurement irregularities or the need to upgrade military capability, etc. However, the committee has not been particularly effective and certainly has not helped in shaping the defence policy or action. The Indian parliament rarely discusses defence except when one political party is trying to nail another on charges of corruption and kickback allegations. Like the ISI, the operations and appropriations of the two major Indian intelligence agencies – RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) and IB (Intelligence Bureau) are not under any form of parliamentary oversight. Goes to show that we are no different from our cousins next door.  According to Michael Boyden from Taiwan, a country that lives under constant threat of annexation from mainland China, the 113-seat unicameral parliament is empowered to discuss the defence budget. Defence officials are summoned to the assembly for interpretation sessions by the chamber at large and/or committee, and are sometimes quite roughly quizzed. Civilian control of defence only came in 2000. However, intelligence budgets are not discussed.  From Thailand, Chris Bruton states, “You may think that Pakistan’s defence budget and military are the most secretive in the world. You are wrong. Within the ASEAN, we have more secretive military regimes: Myanmar, Vietnam and Laos, for example.” Additionally, “We have very limited access to details of military spending, and there are secret funds of which no details are given at all. There is no parliamentary oversight for either the military or the intelligence agencies, including the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) which acts almost as a parallel governmental authority” adds Bruton. 000_HKG2003090667781  Photo: AFP  Richard Martin from Australia reports that their defence budget is presented in great detail and is available on their government website. Interestingly, with a whole continent to defend, the strength of the Australian armed forces – including the reserves – is 93,000 personnel. The Australian defence budget on the website also talks about the future expenditure, until 2012-13.  From Malaysia, my friend Paddy Schubert tells me that their defence ministry has a number of bodies including the Economic Planning Unit (EPU), a committee at the ministry level, and the parliament and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to monitor any discrepancies. The defence budget for Malaysia for 2011 is RM9.1 Billion (US $2.93 billion). There is a ministerial oversight committee which includes the head of the PAC. Top intelligence agencies are also monitored by elected politicians.  Coming back to Pakistan, recently a Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the civil society has called for a paradigm shift in the national security policy of the country. They also observed that the security imperatives have brought alienation from the state, particularly among the people of Balochistan. Perhaps, Nawaz Sharif is the only national leader who is boldly demanding that the military be held accountable, while Zardari is playing it safe – so safe that the Sharif government is referring to him as the army’s newest spokesman.  The parliamentary committees on defence should be fully authorised to have complete access to the details of the defence budget before giving their approval. There should also be an intelligence committee, as is the case in the US, to reign in the country’s unbridled intelligence agencies. They should be the ones approving the appropriation of funds.









Govt rejects Gen V K Singh’s request to attend meet of Pacific Army chiefs

In a fresh faceoff, the Defence Ministry has denied Army Chief General V K Singh permission to attend the biennial Pacific Armies Chiefs Conference at Singapore this week. Instead, it has asked the Army to downgrade its participation by sending the Vice-Chief of Army Staff.      This refusal has come as a surprise to the Army because at the last conference in 2009, the government had upgraded its participation by sending former Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor.  Ministry sources have told the Army that was an “exception” and have asked it to revert to the previous practice of sending the Vice-Chief.  In response, the Army is learnt to have taken a stand that the forum has confirmed participation from 23 Army chiefs, including from China and, possibly, Pakistan which makes it an extremely useful platform. In fact, sources said, it was for this reason that the Army Chief went himself in 2009 because it met protocol requirements to set up more bilateral meetings at the Chief’s level.  Ads by Google  The conference is being sponsored by the US Pacific Command — this, sources said, is believed to be a factor for the MoD which believes India should not be seen “actively” involved in US efforts and, thereby, signal that it’s part of any particular grouping. It’s learnt that Gen Singh has written to Defence Minister A K Antony arguing that engaging the US is important through these forums.  It’s unlikely that India will at all participate this time given that the conference is slated to begin on Wednesday.









Defence Ministry looking for site for war memorial in New Delhi

The Defence Ministry is looking for an “alternative site” for constructing the National War Memorial as the armed forces’ proposal to build it at India Gate complex has been rejected by the Government.  “Unfortunately, we have not been able to find a solution. But again we are trying to find an alternative place for which the discussions are going on,” Defence Minister A K Antony said.  The Minister was speaking to reporters after paying homage to the martyrs on the 12th anniversary of the Kargil war fought in 1999.  The Minister said the Government was trying to find a solution to the issue “at the earliest”.  The armed forces had submitted a proposal three years ago to construct a war memorial within the India Gate complex three years ago but after the rejection of their proposal by the Government recently, they are now looking at new locations for it, Ministry officials said.  The Government had decided against the proposal after certain objections were raised by the Urban Development Ministry.  The India Gate, which at present is the only national war memorial, was built in the pre-independence era for Indian soldiers killed in action during the World War I and the third Anglo-Afghan War.  India does not have a memorial for post-independence martyrs.




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