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Wednesday, 17 August 2011

From Today's Papers - 17 Aug 2011





IAF to rescue flood-hit in Assam
Bijay Sankar Bora/TNS  Guwahati, August 16 Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters have been pressed into action to rescue marooned people even as flash floods in Dhemaji district in eastern Assam inundated over 150 villages since yesterday.  Dhemaji Deputy Commissioner MS Manivannan said over 200 persons were rescued in the district by IAF choppers from the villages that were suddenly inundated due to flash floods of the Gai-nadi and several other smaller rivers yesterday. Several hundred people have taken shelter in five relief camps in the district so far.  The swirling Gai-nadi (Gai River) that flows down from Arunachal Pradesh all of a sudden changed course yesterday morning near Sisiborgaon and washed away several houses after damaging the NH-53 as well as the Rangiya-Murkongselek metre gauge railway track.  Eight members of a marooned family were atop a tree for over four hours until the tree along with the flood-hit were swept away by the strong currents.  While a team of the NDRF personnel tried hard to reach out to the marooned persons, but in vain. They were finally washed ashore, the official claimed, refuting initial reports about their death.  Incessant rains in Arunachal Pradesh and eastern Assam had sent several rivers in Dhemaji, Lakhimpur and Sonitpur overflowing in the past two days. In Dhemaji, the original course of the Gai River was abandoned and the river was flowing through paddy fields along the highway.  Swirling waters of the Brahmajan and Satrang overtopped NH-53 at two spots near Gohpur in Sonitur district in north Assam. Several villages have been inundated by the flood waters of the Brahmajan, Satrang, Kukurjan and Sessa since yesterday, an official source said. 








26/11: ISI men among seven charged in US
New Delhi, August 16 Seven persons, including those associated with Pakistani intelligence agency ISI, were charged in the USA with the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, the Lok Sabha was informed today. "As per the available inputs, the indictment filed by the US authorities in the district court, Northern District Illinois, seven individuals were charged with the Mumbai terrorist attacks, including those the government believe, are associated with the ISI," Minister of State for Home Jitendra Singh said in a written reply.  The minister said the testimonials during the trial drew attention to the links between the ISI and the terrorists responsible for the Mumbai terrorist attacks. Singh said the issue of support for terrorist organisations in Pakistan was also discussed during the India-US strategic dialogue held in New Delhi. — PTI 










Jihadism and the military in Pakistan — I
—A R Siddiqi  The Pakistan Army — a thoroughly professional (secular/colonial) war-tested fighting force — too went on to adopt the Islamic, jihadi symbols in sync with the revival of the jihadi spirit animating the Pakistan Movement and reinforced by the Kashmir war  The jihadi element had been deeply embedded in the psyche of Indian Muslims, particularly those from the minority provinces who were more afraid of the brute Hindu majority than of the British rule. The Indian National Congress is not known to have ever launched a concerted movement against the British until the civil disobedience and Khilafat Movement (1920-1924) under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi.  Hindus, by and large, were the most loyal subjects of the British.  Muslims in the 18th to 19th centuries raised the flag of jihad under Shah Waliullah (1703-1762). He invited Afghan King Ahmed Shah Abdali in 1748 to invade India and rescue the Muslims from the Marhattas.  In the 19th century (1829), Sayyid Ahmad Barelvi and his colleague Shah Ismail embarked on a jihad against the Sikh rule in Muslim Punjab and the North-West Frontier. Travelling all the way to their destination, they were betrayed by the Pathans, fell in action and were buried in Balakot.  The uprising of 1857, popularly known as Ghadar, was the third in the series of anti-British wars waged by the Muslims. The mainspring of the 1857 episode too was Islamic jihad. As the mutineers rode roughshod from Meerut to Delhi, their war cry was “deen, deen” (religion, religion). Gathering under the ramparts of the Qila-e-Mu’alla (Grand Fort) they called the aged King Bahadur Shah Zafar and begged him to assume their supreme command.  Between 1857 and the first quarter of the 20th century, except for the Khilafat Movement (1922-1924), Muslim Indian remained practically in a state of limbo. Then came Mohammad Ali Jinnah in the mid-1930s to reignite the dead flame of liberation.  Within a space of barely five years (1935-1940) came the Lahore Resolution to lay down the foundation of Pakistan. From 1940 to 1947, there was an uphill struggle for the achievement of Pakistan. The Pakistan Movement was no less than an undeclared and undefined jihad, both against the British and the Hindu majority. Through its crucial closing stages was heard loud and clear the chant of “Pakistan ka matlab kiya? La illha illallah”. Thus the implementation of the Kalama-e-Tayyaba became the rallying slogan of the Pakistan Movement. Off to a start as a political (secular) movement, the Pakistan Movement acquired all the trappings of a jihad without a sword.  Less than two months after the emergence of Pakistan erupted the Kashmir war in the aftermath of the accession of the overwhelmingly Muslim state to India by its Hindu Raja Hari Singh.  The Hindu Raja’s fraudulent accession to India infuriated the fundamentalist frontier Pathan tribesmen and they drove off to Kashmir with whatever they had — Lee Enfield bolt action rifles, daggers, kitchen knives and what have you. They were the mujahideen, the Islamic warriors, to give the undeclared Kashmir war the label of jihad.  Now, what is jihadism? It is commitment to wage a just war in the name of Allah to rid the world of injustice and tyranny. The world, in this context, could be a country or a people, regardless of their size and numbers. As for the military, mainly the Pakistan Army — a thoroughly professional (secular/colonial) war-tested fighting force — it too went on to adopt the Islamic, jihadi symbols in sync with the revival of the jihadi spirit animating the Pakistan Movement and reinforced by the Kashmir war.  The numeral 786, standing for Bismillah i Rahman i Rahim (In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful), was adopted as the universal number for all GHQ vehicles in addition to the individual number of each vehicle. The pre-independence crusaders’ triangular formation crest with straight swords was replaced by a rounded shield and curved Arab crossed scimitars on a green base complete with the Islamic crescent and stars. The only weekly periodical of the army was named Mujahid — the holy warrior.  The four companies at the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) were named after celebrated Muslim warriors/mujahideen — Tariq, Khalid, Qasim and Salahuddin. The commander of the Azad Kashmir forces, Brigadier Mohammad Akbar Khan, DSO, an army regular, adopted the codename of Tariq after the conqueror of Spain, Tariq ibn Ziyad.  In the middle of 1949, the Azad Kashmir Regular Forces (AKRF) celebrated the first anniversary of its raising in Hajira on the Pakistani side of the CFL. Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs, Nawab Mushtaq Ahmed Gurmani, attended the function along with a retinue of high ranking officers and a battery of pressmen. Dressed in a copious mazri (grey cotton) shirt shalwar suit, topped with a Jinnah cap, Gurmani might well have been the self-image of a traditional mujahid.  A retired subedar major with a powerful voice constantly recited Iqbal’s verse adulating the mujahid holy warrior — waging a jihad in Kashmir in the path of Allah.  The minister, in spite of his great bulk, carried himself with a great deal of agility and was greeted vociferously with the “zindabad” slogan. “Kashmir banega Pakistan” was yet another slogan that resonated in the parade ground.  In the same year, I happened to accompany the Minister of State for Defence, Dr Mahmood Hussain, on a day-long tour of Hajira on our side of Kashmir. GOC, 7 Golden Arrow Division, Major NAM Raza escorted the minister. We spent an exciting day that included a boat crossing over to the Indian side of the ceasefire line. Major General Misri Chand, an old friend of General Raza, welcomed us warmly and embraced Raza, an old comrade. High tea that included kulfis, was served as the two generals compared their notes of the good old days. Dr Mahmood Hussain was introduced as a senior Karachi-based editor.  We rowed back over to our side of the CFL to continue our journey back home. We broke our journey at the headquarters of a frontier force battalion under the command of a young Lieutenant Colonel, Siddiq Raja. After the ritual cup of tea, he briefed the party about the role of his battalion.  He got unstoppably carried away as he spoke. Addressing the minister, he asked, “Sir, for how long shall we go on having these Britishers in our high command? Do we not have Tariq, Khalid, Qasim and Salahuddin in our own ranks?”  He spoke for a good quarter of an hour or so cursing his British superiors until the GOC intervened: “That will be all, Raja. We are getting late.”  Back in Rawalpindi, I wrote my story opening it with the colonel’s speech. I filed it for my paper, The Civil and Military Gazette (C and MG) the same evening. The story appeared the next day under a double column.  Gracey read the story and was furious. He summoned Director ISPR Colonel Shahbaz Khan forthwith. He told him to get in touch with the C and MG editor F W Bustin and tell him the damage it had done to the army high command. After second thoughts, however, no further action was taken.  As Gracey handed the army command over to Ayub (January 17, 1951), he warned him against the presence of “Young Turks” in the senior ranks. Within less than a couple of months of Ayub’s assumption of the army command, the Rawalpindi conspiracy was unearthed. It was led by no less a person than the chief of the general staff, the maverick Major General Mohammad Akbar, DSO — leader of the Kashmir war group, disgruntled by the snap ceasefire. The conspiracy, purely secular in content, had nothing to do with the Islamic sentiment at the command level.  (To be continued)









Indo-Lanka co-operation helped in ending terrorism - Defence Secretary
Chaminda PERERA  Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa giving evidence before the Mount Lavinia District Judge MCBS Moraes yesterday said that the government succeeded in eradicating terrorism in the country due to the close co-operation between Sri Lanka and India.  Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa  The Defence Secretary said that the Indian government was regularly kept informed of what was happening in Sri Lanka during the humanitarian operation.  This strategy averted many misunderstandings which could have resulted in abrupt halts as was the case in the Vadamarachchi operation in the 1980s.  He was giving evidence in the defamation case against Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickrematunga and the Leader Publications company when it was taken up for hearing yesterday.  The plaintiff Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa complained that his reputation and good name was ruined due to the articles published between July and September 2007 in the Sunday Leader newspaper and claimed Rs 1,000 million as damages.  The Defence Secretary said that India is the only country which could interfere with Sri Lanka militarily due to its close proximity to Sri Lanka.  He added that terrorism would have ended 25 years ago, if there was proper coordination with the Indian government. Defence Secretary Rajapaksa said that the Vadamarachchi operation led by General Wijaya Wimalaratne and General Denzil Kobbekaduwa had to be stopped due to pressure exerted by India.  The Defence Secretary said that high level delegations were appointed by Sri Lanka and India with a view to sharing information with regard to the humanitarian operation.  He said that there was an era in which people believed what war analysts reported in papers.  They wrote articles giving indication that the number of soldiers injured in the humanitarian operation was always high. Such reporting resulted in the declining morale of soldiers. He said the people needed to know what was actually happening in the battlefield and there was no vibrant source that gave accurate news on the battle field.  The Defence Secretary said the Defence Ministry started a website www.news.lk with a view to disseminating more accurate news on the government’s mission of eradicating terrorism in Sri Lanka.  He said that over 40 million people around the world had visited the website at the last stage of the humanitarian operation.  The Defence Secretary also mentioned the Civil Defence Force which was mainly involved in protecting civilians in villages threatened by the terrorists in the North and East. The Defence Secretary said the number of CDF personnel was also increased from 19,000 to 42,000 and over 5,000 made their contribution at the last stage of the humanitarian operation.  Defence Secretary Rajapaksa said that there was a belief among the public and foreign countries that terrorism cannot be defeated at the time he was appointed Defence Secretary.  He added that the Ceasefire Agreement had been violated more than 10,000 times by the terrorists and the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission had received more than 3,000 complaints.  President Mahinda Rajapaksa had informed India that Sri Lanka was prepared to negotiate with the LTTE, while keeping the ploys adopted by them for the past 35 years in mind.  Defence Secretary Rajapaksa said that President Rajapaksa stressed the importance of strengthening the Sri Lankan Security Forces.  He said that the government had to implement a number of programmes to boost the morale of the Security Forces. The Defence Secretary said the number of personnel in the Sri Lanka Army was increased from 20,000 to 220,000 after he assumed duties as Defence Secretary with the approval of the President who is also the Commander in Chief.  Defence Secretary Rajapaksa said a series of programmes were also launched for the welfare of Security Forces personnel.  He stated that the intelligence service was sagging when he took over the reins of the ministry and the intelligence services of Sri Lanka Army, Sri Lanka Air Force, Civil Defence Force and other security establishments were combined and they took a concerted effort in the eradication of terrorism.  The Defence Secretary added that the number of Civil Defence Force personnel was increased from 19,000 to 42,000 and it helped protect villages threatened by terrorists.  Defence Secretary Rajapaksa added that he as the brother President Rajapaksa was blessed with the opportunity of informing him of what was actually happening in the defence sector at any time of the day.  He described an instance where the Director Operations of the Army phoned him and said that the ammunition for a particular weapon is running out and the military was in urgent need of that kind of ammunition.  The Defence Secretary stated that he promptly informed the President about it and the President was directly involved in purchasing the necessary ammunition through the Head of State of that country.  He said his father represented the Hambantota district in the State Council and became Deputy Minister, Deputy Speaker and Cabinet Minister.  The Defence Secretary added that more than 9 members of the Rajapaksa family have been elected to the legislature with a majority of votes. He said that his father D A Rajapaksa mortgaged their house and properties during the time the country was hit by a malaria epidemic.  The Defence Secretary insisted that the Rajapaksa family has never enriched themselves through politics and they have always been committed to the welfare of the general public.  Defence Secretary Rajapaksa said that he joined the Sri Lanka Army in 1970 as an Officer Cadet and rose to be Lieutenant Colonel at the time of retirement in 1991.  He said he has made a contribution to almost all key operations that were launched to eradicate terrorism in the country, during his unblemished 20 year career.  Senior Counsel Ali Sabry instructed by Sanath Wijewardena appeared for the complainant while M A Sumanthiran PC with counsel Viran Corea appeared for the defendants.  Further hearing was put off for September 11 and 31.










PMO opens doors for young army officers to join IPS
he Prime Minister’s Office has opened the doors to allow Captain and Major-rank defence officers to sit for limited departmental examination to join the Indian Police Service to bridge the shortage of IPS officers. Government sources said the final recruitment plan cleared by the PMO had permitted army officers from competing with state and paramilitary officers of the rank of deputy Superintendent of Police to join the police service.  The Union Public Service Commission is expected to hold the limited competitive examination for assistant commandant and deputy superintendent of police-rank officers from 2012.  The home ministry was earlier piqued at demands that army officers who join the IPS be ranked higher than other inductees from the police.

Minister of state in the home ministry Jitendra Singh told the Lok Sabha that the government had finalised the limited competitive examination as the third mode of recruitment to IPS which includes Captain and Major-rank officers of the defence forces.  As on 1 January this year, there were 3,393 IPS officers against an authorised strength of 4,720, leaving a shortage of 1,477 IPS officers. Filling up vacancies in the Intelligence Bureau, however, would be painfully slower. Nearly 10,000 posts are lying vacant in Intelligence Bureau across the country.  “A total of 9,443 posts are lying vacant in Intelligence Bureau in the country, including Bihar,” Singh said, attributing the vacancies to optimisation scheme, staggering of recruitment process and creation of new posts.




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