Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites

Loading

Monday, 29 August 2011

From Today's Papers - 29 Aug 2011

 

 

 

Army band to get lessons in Indian classical music A first: A 14-member Kumaon Regiment band enrols with a

sangeet academy in Lucknow Shahira Naim Tribune News Service  Lucknow, August 28 It is a first of its kind effort by an army band to get formal training in Indian classical music.  Fourteen members of the Kumaon Regiment band have registered as casual students at the prestigious Bhatkhande Sangeet Sansthan in the city to acquaint themselves with the nuances of Indian classical music.  Bhatkhande musician Kamlesh Dubey, in charge of the training of the band, said when an officer from the Army contacted them with a proposal to train the Kumaon regiment band named String, he and Bhatkhande Vice-Chancellor, the famous vocalist Shruti Shirodkar Katkar, decided to take up the challenge.  “We visited the band in the cantonment and heard a concert. With most of the members belonging to the hill state of Uttarakhand, they have a natural flair for music though they are not formally trained. We saw enough potential in them to take up their training in classical music,” said Dubey.  Officially, the army bands till now have been formally trained in western style of music at the Army Music College situated in the picturesque Panchmarhi. This establishment has been tasked to train band masters and instructors in band instruments for the Army in particular, and for the armed forces of the country in general.  During the British regime, the training of Indians in the army band was neglected as most of the band masters and instructors were British, who had their own training establishments back home.  A few Indian band masters who were there at that time gained appointments on the basis of experience and natural talent in the discipline without having undergone any formal training in their profession. The establishment of Military Music Wing as a part of AEC Training College and Centre, Pachmarhi, was set up in October 1950 under the patronage of the then Commander-in-Chief General (later Field Marshal) KM Cariappa.  The college hit international headlines when on December 16, 1997, in New Delhi, 4,449 musicians from the Indian Armed Forces under the guidance of the AEC band specialists played “Amazing Grace”, forming the largest band under one conductor, and thus entered the “Guinness Book of World Records”.  However, now the 14-member team undergoing classical music training is learning Indian ragas like Bilawal and Yaman.  A tailor-made course has been conceptualised for them. Of them, two are learning the tabla, others in batches of two are mastering the sarod, sitar, flute and violin, while the remaining two are working on the dilruba and harmonium, respectively.  With training in Indian classical music, one expects a more varied Kumaon regiment band, with its natural flair of hill folk music and orientation in western music at Panchmarhi, says Dubey.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2011/20110829/main6.htm

                   

Normalising Indo-Pak ties Intimations of a new beginning

The visit of Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Ms Hina Rabbani Khar, went off better than one had expected. She struck the right notes when she spoke of “changed mindsets”, the need to “shed the burden of history”, and the young generation’s desire for peace and friendly relations with India. She owned up, without the least hesitation or embarrassment, Manishankar Aiyar’s idea of “uninterrupted and uninterruptible” India-Pakistan dialogue to resolve problems.  After Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna’s bad experience in Islamabad with Shah Mehmood Qureshi last year, a gesture from Pakistan was called for to restore civility and a modicum of mutual courtesy and respect between high-level interlocutors. Ms Khar made the gesture with commendable dignity and grace. Her poise and youthful charm and the candour and transparent sincerity of her public pronouncements have warmed many hearts and won her a large constituency in India. All this augurs well for a sustained effort to make the dialogue “uninterruptible” and result-oriented.  I was dismayed by the huge play in our media of Ms Khar’s Birkin handbag and Jimmy Choo shoes, and her meeting with Hurriyat leaders. The first is pardonable, because she came here at the end of Delhi’s Couture Week and dazzled the Capital as no ramp-walker had done. The media should have paid more attention to the elegance, warmth, simplicity and conviction in which she clothed her words and her mission of peace. The tone of voice and feelings of Pakistan’s youth she brought to us merit India’s serious attention. A fast globalising world is no place for abiding animosity, and it was a particularly touching gesture on Ms Khar’s part to pray at the two famous dargahs in Delhi and Ajmer for India-Pakistan peace.  I personally attach no importance to her meeting with the Hurriyat leaders. It needn’t have caused the kind of flutter it did in government circles and in our media. These gentlemen are known to be Pakistan’s constituency in our country. It was not entirely inappropriate for Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary to describe the event as “democratic reach-out”. We should have laughed the matter off, instead of expressing concern over it. Ms Khar herself, having done the chore, was dismissive of the event. Perhaps, the Generals back home, who must have concurred in her peace mission, needed a mollifier.  Pakistan is in a difficult internal situation and growing isolation externally. At home, it is ravaged by violence on the part of a whole generation of young jehadis raised in Pakistan’s madarsas. They will be around for another decade or two; this is, therefore, a problem for the long haul. Externally, the ISI and the army are engaged in a running feud with the US and are, seemingly, unwilling or unable to stabilise Pakistan’s turbulent western frontier to prevent the Taliban’s depredations in Afghanistan.  There is some muted appreciation in Pakistan that while its army is engaged in action in the west, India is not giving them cause for concern in the east, but well-meaning Pakistanis are looking for more tangible support for Pakistan’s fragile democracy. Many Pakistani friends have told me in recent months of a mood-change in Pakistan in regard to India, even in sections of the Pakistan military. In Pakistan’s list of enemies, they say, India has been downgraded to the lowly third position, after the US and the indigenous terrorist organisations!  There isn’t much India can do to help Pakistan in its ongoing spat with the US: they are allies of long standing, need each other and are bound to make up as the situation becomes clear in Afghanistan. Nor can much be done to allay Islamabad’s unwarranted concern over India’s development work in Afghanistan. But a lot can be done to forge a good neighbourly relationship through greatly enhanced people-to-people contacts, sports links, trade facilitation, joint economic activity, student exchanges and cooperation in ending the menace of terrorism. This last is a core issue with India and the onus to resolve it lies on Pakistan. What is needed is a visible dismantling of the whole India-focused apparatus of terror created and nurtured by the ISI since the 1980s.  Both China and the US have exploited Pakistan’s geo-strategic importance, in parallel ways at different times, during the last six decades as an armed balancer against India in South Asia, and as the base for jehad against the erstwhile USSR. Unanticipated consequences of Pakistan’s enthusiastic participation in those ventures is now threatening its stability; none of it has really enriched or strengthened Pakistan.  Pakistan’s truly geo-strategic role lies in its as-yet-unrealised potential as a highway for the flow of trade and commerce, thought and culture between Central Asia and India. Activation of that role would enrich Pakistan and eliminate its aid-dependence in no time. In the bargain, it would make two vast regions dependent on it. But realisation of this potential also requires a stable, tranquil and cooperative Afghanistan.  India and Pakistan need not be at odds with each other in Afghanistan. We should be working together to safeguard Afghanistan’s independence and integrity, its development and stability. Pakistan’s suspicions of an Indian pincer on its left flank are totally misplaced. Sadly, Afghanistan did not figure in the Foreign Ministers’ talks last month.  Of course, there are issues between our two countries, and Kashmir is the foremost among them. It is not a core issue only for Pakistan; Islamabad’s illegal occupation of a part of the Indian state is a core issue for India as well. But the short-point about Kashmir is that India cannot give it to Pakistan, and Pakistan cannot take it by war or by turning its back on India. And clearly India is not going to war with Pakistan over PoK. Therefore, the only viable solution lies in restoring the freedom of movement and cultural and economic intercourse across the LoC: then it wouldn’t matter very much which part of J&K belonged where. Our joint endeavour should be to make J&K a free-trade area and reduce the LoC to a line on the map. Rightly, therefore, the central focus in the Foreign Ministers’ talks was on Kashmir-related CBMs. The CBMs they agreed on, though, are too slow-moving and much too limited in scope and in the areas they cover.  The dialogue on security issues should not remain confined to Kashmir, terrorism or the slow-moving Mumbai trial in Pakistan. Pakistan’s security concerns vis-a-vis India, which keep General Ashfaque Parvez Kayani so distressingly India-focused, should be addressed in candid talks. Why can’t the Chiefs of Staff of the Army of the two countries meet to allay each other’s concerns? War is no longer an option for either country; so, why don’t we invite General Kayani over for a visit and reassure him of India’s peaceful intent? And why not go a step further and invite President Zardari to be the Chief Guest during the Republic Day celebrations in 2012 or 2013?  Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s initiatives at Sharm-el-Sheikh (Egypt), Thimpu and Chandigarh, viewed with much skepticism at the time, were far-sighted. It is time now for even bolder steps.  The writer is a former Foreign Secretary of India.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2011/20110829/edit.htm#4

                   

Capacity Building for Future Conflict

Brig Gurmeet Kanwal (Retd)  Indian troops train for conventional warfare in the plains. It is necessary to substantially upgrade capabilities for achieving victory through the orchestration of overwhelming firepower or India will have to be content with a strategic stalemate Indian troops train for conventional warfare in the plains. It is necessary to substantially upgrade capabilities for achieving victory through the orchestration of overwhelming firepower or India will have to be content with a strategic stalemate  The key geo-strategic challenges in South Asia emanate from the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan and on the Af-Pak border; unresolved territorial disputes between India and China, and India and Pakistan; and the almost unbridled march of radical extremism sweeping across the strategic landscape. In May 1998, India and Pakistan had crossed the nuclear Rubicon and declared themselves as nuclear weapons states. Though there has been little nuclear sabre-rattling, tensions are inherent in the possession of nuclear weapons by neighbours with a long history of conflict. While the probability of conventional conflict on the Indian sub-continent remains low, its possibility cannot be altogether ruled out. Hence, there is an inescapable requirement for defence planners to analyse future threats and challenges carefully and build the required military capacities if push comes to shove.    In view of India’s unresolved territorial disputes with China and Pakistan in the Himalayan region, there is a very high probability that the next major land conflict on the sub-continent will again break out in the mountains. As it is not in India’s interest to enlarge a conflict with Pakistan to the plains south of the Ravi River due to the possibility of escalation to a nuclear exchange, there is high probability that the next conflict, having broken out in the Himalayas, will remain confined to the mountains. While the three strike corps are necessary for conventional deterrence and have served their purpose well, it is in India’s interest to enhance its military capability to fight and win future wars in the mountains.   A strategic defensive posture runs the risk of losing some territory to the adversary if capabilities do not exist for launching a deep ingress to stabilise the situation. The first requirement is to upgrade India’s military strategy of dissuasion against China to that of genuine conventional and nuclear deterrence and vigorous border management during peace. Genuine deterrence can come only from the ability to take the fight deep into the adversary’s territory through major offensive operations. To achieve this objective, it is necessary to raise and position one mountain strike corps each in J&K for offensive operations against China and Pakistan and in the northeast for operations against China. In addition, as a strike corps can be employed only in a particular sector and cannot be easily redeployed in the mountains, it is necessary to give the defensive corps limited capability to launch offensive operations with integral resources.   In the modern era, military strategists have invariably preferred Liddell Hart’s strategy of the indirect approach through deep manoeuvre, rather than the heavy attrition that used to be routine on the battlefields of World War-I, to achieve a favourable decision. It is necessary to recognise that in the Indian context manoeuvre is extremely limited in the mountains and India’s capability for vertical envelopment is rather low. In the plains too India’s strike corps cannot execute deep manoeuvres due to the risk of Pakistan’s nuclear red lines being threatened early during a war. As firepower is the other side of the coin, it is inescapably necessary to substantially upgrade capabilities to inflict punishment and indeed achieve victory through the orchestration of overwhelming firepower. Unless firepower capabilities are upgraded by an order of magnitude, India will have to be content with a stalemate.   Firepower capabilities that must be enhanced include conventionally-armed ballistic missiles to attack high value targets in depth. Air-to-ground and helicopter attack capabilities should be modernised, particularly those enabling deep ground penetration and accurate night strikes. In fact, the IAF should aim to dominate the air space and air strikes must paralyse the adversary’s ability to conduct cohesive ground operations. Artillery rockets, guns and mortars must also be modernised. Lighter and more mobile equipment is required so that these can be rapidly redeployed in neighbouring sectors. India’s holdings of precision-guided munitions (PGMs) continue to be low. In recent conflicts like the war in Iraq in 2003 and the ongoing Afghan conflict, PGMs have formed almost 80 per cent of the total ammunition used. Indian PGM holdings must go up progressively to at least 20 to 30 per cent in order to achieve high levels of operational efficiencies. Defence planners must recognise that it is firepower asymmetries that will help to achieve military decisions and ultimately break the adversary’s will to fight.   Capabilities for heliborne assault, vertical envelopment and amphibious operations are inadequate for both conventional conflict and dealing effectively with contingencies that might arise while discharging India’s emerging regional responsibilities. Two rapid reaction-cum-air assault divisions, with an amphibious brigade each, need to be raised by the end of the 13th Defence Plan, (2017-22). The expenditure on these divisions will be highly capital intensive and will be subject to the defence budget being gradually raised to first 2.5 per cent and then 3 per cent of the GDP.    C4I2SR capabilities are still rudimentary and must be substantially modernised to exploit the synergies that can be achieved by a network centric force. A seamless intelligence-cum-targeting network must be established to fully synergise the strike capabilities of air and ground forces in real time. A good early warning network will enable the army to reduce the number of troops that are permanently deployed for border management and will add to the reserves available for offensive operations. Infrastructural developments along the northern borders have failed to keep pace with the army’s ability to fight forward and must be speeded up.    During the long history of post-independence conflicts with neighbours and prolonged deployment for internal security, the armed forces have held the nation together. Dark clouds can once again be seen on the horizon, but the efforts being made to weather the gathering storm are inadequate. The government must immediately initiate steps to build the capacities that are so necessary for defeating future threats and challenges. It must take the opposition parties into confidence as a bipartisan approach must be followed in dealing with major national security issues. In fact, there is a requirement to establish a permanent National Security Commission mandated by an act of Parliament to oversee the development of military and non-military capacities for national security.  Top                   Army as an instrument of national power Col B.N. Bhatia (Retd)  Everyone knows the Army’s challenge in countering insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir for over two decades has been enormous. Expansive mountainous terrain favouring the insurgents, an aggrieved population easily swayed by propaganda and an extensive Line of Control (LoC) facilitating infiltration gave Pakistan the ideal “playing field” to up the ante. To bleed India and fatigue its security forces has been Pakistan’s objective.  We have played into Pakistan’s hands all along. The counter-insurgency grid expanded manifold in the Kashmir Valley, in line with the adversary’s plan to make us commit more troops. It later spilled south of the Pir Panjal ranges into the Jammu-Poonch region, consuming more Army formations. The Doda hinterland came next. What do you think should have been India’s response?  Insurgencies cannot be countered by the military alone. A multi-pronged approach using other instruments of national power like economic, political, social and information, if implemented once the situation had stabilised in mid-1990s, would have changed the situation and eased the army’s involvement. If such a plan was drawn at the apex level it left those at the operational level guessing. Was there a vision for peace? Not likely  How did the foremost principle of war – economy of force – get violated? Leadership voids at political levels, including associated diplomacy and administrative services which failed to keep pace with the ground situation, kept the army slogging. And voila! What did we have in 1999?  A fearful Pakistan imagining that its sponsored insurgency in J&K was on the wane, masterminded intrusions across the LoC in the Kargil sector. Surprised both at the political and military levels, the Army went into overdrive to evict the intruders. What followed were a series of sheer frontal attacks a la World War-I. Young officers and men assaulted dominating heights in ways unthinkable by any army in the world. If there was any brilliance in generalship during this war, it was just to move and organise troops who willingly sacrificed themselves to regain the lost territory.  We had again played into the enemy’s hands by joining battle in a place, manner and time of his choosing and advantage. Rather than “economy of force”, we used overwhelming force. When was the last time we thought of dislocating the enemy psychologically? Arguably this cannot be done in the face of political riders, as happened in Kargil.  To secure its own territory, India was forced to launch attacks in such disadvantageous circumstances because of the fear of nuclear retaliation or a flare-up. Nuclear weapons are not what Pakistan got from the bakery down the street while coming into the Kargil heights. They had it much earlier. Did Indian leadership at the core political level ever war-gamed such a scenario in conjunction with the military chiefs?  It was always known that Pakistan’s acquisition of nuclear weapons would enable it to raise the threshold of tolerance for India, allowing it to resort to more derring-do in its proxy war.  This happened again just a couple of years later. In December 2001 the attack on the Parliament was the highpoint. Yet again we reacted in a huff and mobilised the armed forces. What followed during Operation Parakaram was ten months of strategic stalemate sans any results.  Estimates of total costs of this “misadventure” could touch Rs 10,000 crore. More than that, this self-goal cost us dearly. We lost face and bared our inability to follow through a resolute intention. Terribly blown apart was the credibility of our deterrence. Former Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal A.Y. Tipnis remarked: “We have shown enormous patience, now it is time to show we have resolve too. Inaction is damaging our credibility; people have begun to believe India is incapable of taking any action.” Strategic affairs commentator Brahma Chellaney wrote: “The harsh truth is that the government played a game of bluff not just with Pakistan but also with its own military… When a nation enjoys credibility, it can usually achieve its objectives with a mere threat to use force. However, when there are serious credibility problems, even modest objectives are difficult to accomplish. Vajpayee ended up practising coercive non-diplomacy.”  Did we end up also fooling ourselves? Probably we’re used to it by now. It’s sad when we realise that Kautilya’s Arthashastra originated here. No matter how powerful an army is and how competent its generals, its effectiveness can be easily diluted as we have witnessed all along.  Leadership at the political level is structurally, mentally, intellectually and emotionally “distanced” from military leadership. The price is heavy. Unfortunately there is no “fiscal” calculation of what it costs the nation. No one knows or cares at the level where it should matter most. To continue to pretend that this callousness can continue indefinitely without affecting either the military leadership or the efficiency of the fighting force would be ineptitude of the highest order.  A friend called up to say that if the “Anna effect” was misjudged in our own country, how can we ever dream of assessing the capabilities and intentions of other nations? A valid point. And, if in our little dream world we imagine that others have not already noted our continued failings it will be compounding the error.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2011/20110829/edit.htm#6

                   

Army as an instrument of national power

Col B.N. Bhatia (Retd)  Everyone knows the Army’s challenge in countering insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir for over two decades has been enormous. Expansive mountainous terrain favouring the insurgents, an aggrieved population easily swayed by propaganda and an extensive Line of Control (LoC) facilitating infiltration gave Pakistan the ideal “playing field” to up the ante. To bleed India and fatigue its security forces has been Pakistan’s objective.  We have played into Pakistan’s hands all along. The counter-insurgency grid expanded manifold in the Kashmir Valley, in line with the adversary’s plan to make us commit more troops. It later spilled south of the Pir Panjal ranges into the Jammu-Poonch region, consuming more Army formations. The Doda hinterland came next. What do you think should have been India’s response?  Insurgencies cannot be countered by the military alone. A multi-pronged approach using other instruments of national power like economic, political, social and information, if implemented once the situation had stabilised in mid-1990s, would have changed the situation and eased the army’s involvement. If such a plan was drawn at the apex level it left those at the operational level guessing. Was there a vision for peace? Not likely  How did the foremost principle of war – economy of force – get violated? Leadership voids at political levels, including associated diplomacy and administrative services which failed to keep pace with the ground situation, kept the army slogging. And voila! What did we have in 1999?  A fearful Pakistan imagining that its sponsored insurgency in J&K was on the wane, masterminded intrusions across the LoC in the Kargil sector. Surprised both at the political and military levels, the Army went into overdrive to evict the intruders. What followed were a series of sheer frontal attacks a la World War-I. Young officers and men assaulted dominating heights in ways unthinkable by any army in the world. If there was any brilliance in generalship during this war, it was just to move and organise troops who willingly sacrificed themselves to regain the lost territory.  We had again played into the enemy’s hands by joining battle in a place, manner and time of his choosing and advantage. Rather than “economy of force”, we used overwhelming force. When was the last time we thought of dislocating the enemy psychologically? Arguably this cannot be done in the face of political riders, as happened in Kargil.  To secure its own territory, India was forced to launch attacks in such disadvantageous circumstances because of the fear of nuclear retaliation or a flare-up. Nuclear weapons are not what Pakistan got from the bakery down the street while coming into the Kargil heights. They had it much earlier. Did Indian leadership at the core political level ever war-gamed such a scenario in conjunction with the military chiefs?  It was always known that Pakistan’s acquisition of nuclear weapons would enable it to raise the threshold of tolerance for India, allowing it to resort to more derring-do in its proxy war.  This happened again just a couple of years later. In December 2001 the attack on the Parliament was the highpoint. Yet again we reacted in a huff and mobilised the armed forces. What followed during Operation Parakaram was ten months of strategic stalemate sans any results.  Estimates of total costs of this “misadventure” could touch Rs 10,000 crore. More than that, this self-goal cost us dearly. We lost face and bared our inability to follow through a resolute intention. Terribly blown apart was the credibility of our deterrence. Former Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal A.Y. Tipnis remarked: “We have shown enormous patience, now it is time to show we have resolve too. Inaction is damaging our credibility; people have begun to believe India is incapable of taking any action.” Strategic affairs commentator Brahma Chellaney wrote: “The harsh truth is that the government played a game of bluff not just with Pakistan but also with its own military… When a nation enjoys credibility, it can usually achieve its objectives with a mere threat to use force. However, when there are serious credibility problems, even modest objectives are difficult to accomplish. Vajpayee ended up practising coercive non-diplomacy.”  Did we end up also fooling ourselves? Probably we’re used to it by now. It’s sad when we realise that Kautilya’s Arthashastra originated here. No matter how powerful an army is and how competent its generals, its effectiveness can be easily diluted as we have witnessed all along.  Leadership at the political level is structurally, mentally, intellectually and emotionally “distanced” from military leadership. The price is heavy. Unfortunately there is no “fiscal” calculation of what it costs the nation. No one knows or cares at the level where it should matter most. To continue to pretend that this callousness can continue indefinitely without affecting either the military leadership or the efficiency of the fighting force would be ineptitude of the highest order.  A friend called up to say that if the “Anna effect” was misjudged in our own country, how can we ever dream of assessing the capabilities and intentions of other nations? A valid point. And, if in our little dream world we imagine that others have not already noted our continued failings it will be compounding the error.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2011/20110829/edit.htm#7

                   

Faulty policy on the Taliban

The latest cross-border attack of fugitive Taliban terrorists has mounted tensions between Islamabad and Kabul. Pakistan suffered a huge loss on Saturday when over two dozen security men were killed in another pre-dawn onslaught by 300 terrorists on seven Pakistani check posts in Chitral. There are conflicting reports about the actual death toll in the attack as the intense firing between the security forces and the terrorists continued for hours. The ISPR put it at 25 while the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Malakand division claimed killing 80 security personnel and capturing another six. Lodging a strong protest with Afghanistan’s envoy in Islamabad, Pakistan stressed that ISAF and the Afghan National Army need to take effective measures to thwart such cross-border incursions by the terrorists from their sanctuaries in the Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nuristan bordering Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Pakistan’s military authorities have held the inadequate presence of Nato and Afghan security forces in the northeastern region of Afghanistan responsible for the attacks. It also said that despite intelligence sharing for the last one year about the large concentrations of the Taliban in the area, Nato and Afghan forces did not take any action against them.  Saturday’s attack on Pakistan’s border security personnel was the sixth deadly attempt since April 21 when 14 Frontier Corps soldiers were killed by terrorists in the Kharkari area of Dir. In four other attacks, more than 50 security men, including civilians, lost their lives. Since the US-led Nato forces withdrew from remote outposts in Kunar and Nuristan, a security vacuum had been created there. The situation required prompt and stringent security measures from Pakistan. But we failed in doing so. Before demanding the Afghan government to check the terrorists, we should question ourselves about what are we doing for our own defence. How effective are our own security measures? Instead of pointing a finger at Nato and Afghan forces, it is time that Pakistan should increase its own security and reinforce the borders. No doubt, ensuring security along the 2,430 kilometre long rugged and porous border that Pakistan shares with Afghanistan is a strenuous task; however, extraordinary situations also entail extraordinary efforts.  Our government and the military authorities should also not buy the TTP’s denial regarding the involvement of the Afghan Taliban in their cross-border raids. It is evident that the Taliban, who had fled from Swat, Dir and Bajaur during the military offensives have taken refuge in the bordering provinces of Kunar and Nuristan and organised themselves with the help of the Afghan Taliban. In collusion with each other, they plan, attack and kill not only Pakistani troops deployed at isolated border checkposts but also the innocent villagers living nearby. We should come out of the fallacy that surrounds the ‘good Taliban’ and ‘bad Taliban’ notion. There is no such division. The Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan are one and the same, bent upon carrying on their terrorist activities with impunity. The presence of Taliban sympathisers in both our parliament and the military ranks is not a secret. Our military has been nourishing the Taliban, including the Haqqani network, as its strategic assets since decades. Despite suffering massive human and property losses, our military still seems reluctant in taking action against its Afghan proxies. We have been repeating in this space that these jihadi outfits have to be disbanded once and for all. We need to be for our own survival. Protests to the Afghan government for the menace of terrorism, which we ourselves have inflicted upon us, would not serve any purpose until we change our policy and stop supporting these terror outfits. *  SECOND EDITORIAL: Intriguing developments in Kashmir  Maulana Showkat Ahmed Shah, president Jamiat-e-Ahle Hadees, was killed in April this year in Srinagar by an improvised explosive device (IED). This was the third attempt on his life, the previous two being in 2006 and 2008. Maulana Showkat was known as a moderate Kashmiri cleric despite his closeness to Yasin Malik’s faction of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF). In an interesting development, Pakistan-based banned organisation, Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT), conducted an internal investigation into and admitted that those responsible were from within its ranks. As per the LeT, “Earlier we thought the Indian army or its agencies killed Maulvi [Showkat Ahmed Shah] to defame the movement and create misgivings. We had not even imagined that the murderer would turn out to be our own men.” What is even more intriguing is that the LeT hinted at Pakistan’s hand in the assassination by stating that “it is possible that this order, this message [to kill Maulana Showkat] may have come from Pakistan”. LeT has had overt and covert support from the Pakistan military and the ISI to carry out jihadist activities in Indian-held Kashmir and terrorist activities in other parts of India. The LeT is also said to be behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks. So, what could possibly be the reason for the LeT to turn against its own men and its handlers in Pakistan?  From 2004 onwards, when General Musharraf started a peace process with India, militant groups that were used against India, like the LeT, were put in deep freeze. When the indigenous movement started in Kashmir back in 1989, it soon fell into the hands of Pakistan-backed jihadis. Their support deteriorated because of hardline views that they tried to impose on the Kashmiris. The armed struggle dwindled partly because of its increasing ineffectiveness and partly because of hardline Islamic views. Last year’s protests in Kashmir were different from the armed struggle. It seems as if killing of moderate Kashmiri leaders is an act of desperation on the part of the extremists to reclaim their lost ground by frightening and intimidating moderate voices. LeT’s claim that men from within its ranks acted alone is hard to believe since members of this banned organisation follow strict discipline. Either it is a cover-up or the reaction against Maulana Showkat’s assassination was so strong that they had to finally admit to it, while at the same time distancing themselves from responsibility. This also points to the difficulties that the Kashmir movement is going through right now. The Indian government should have taken recent developments as an opportunity to seek a political solution to the Kashmir issue but it seems to be sitting complacently. If the Indian government talks to all factions of the Kashmiri leadership and finds middle ground, even Pakistan would not have any reason to argue against it. The Kashmiri people have suffered enough through the decades; they do not deserve any more pain. *

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2011\08\29\story_29-8-2011_pg3_1

                   

Army chief takes age row to minister

In an unprecedented development, Indian Army chief General VK Singh has filed a statutory complaint under the Army Act stating that the government order on his date of birth was unjust and has requested defence minister AK Antony to re-examine the issue purely on merits.  On July 22, the government had rejected General Singh's contention that his date of birth was May 10, 1951 and ruled that it was actually May 10, 1950.  Defence ministry sources said Singh filed the statutory complaint with Antony on August 26 and according to the rules, it is mandatory that the grievance be addressed in 90 days.  It is learnt that the complaint filed by the army chief runs into nearly 500 pages with detailed annexures containing documentation to substantiate his claim.  The army’s Adjutant General Branch, the custodian of personnel records, has already sought from the government the legal basis for the July 22, 2011 order in writing.  Official sources said Singh has appended his National Defence Academy form and a letter from the Union Public Service Commission that he needed to reconcile his date of birth as his certificates revealed 1951 as his year of birth and not 1950 as he had then stated in his original application.  Asking the defence minister to reconsider the decision, Singh has apparently said that preceding and succeeding correspondence must be looked into by the government after he allegedly accepted 1950 as his date of birth in writing to the ministry before taking over as army chief. The appended correspondence reveals that Army Headquarters, then headed by General Deepak Kapoor, had threatened action against Singh, who was the Eastern Army Commander at that time, if he did not accept his date of birth as May 10, 1950.  At the heart of this age controversy lies the fact that Singh will get one more year to serve as army chief if the government settles his year of birth as 1951. This will scuttle the chances of current Eastern Army Commander Lt General Bikram Singh to take over as the next army chief. However, VK Singh is apparently opposed to linking of the succession plan with his age. His argument is that the government should decide on the tenure of army chief’s appointment but not his date of birth as it would be tantamount to his being labelled a liar before his men.  Although both the government and VK Singh want to resolve the age issue quietly due to the sensitivities involved, the controversy may assume as different dimension in the coming days, with political parties wanting the Manmohan Singh government to resolve the problem quickly in the interest of national security.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Army-chief-takes-age-row-to-minister/Article1-739012.aspx

                   

New Delhi could have anti-missile shield by 2014

According to a new Pentagon report on China’s military, Beijing has paid India a sort of compliment. The People’s Liberation Army now targets India with its best and latest nuclear-tipped missiles, the solid-fuel Dongfeng-21 (NATO designation: CSS-5) medium range ballistic missile (IRBM), tipped with a 250-kiloton nuclear warhead that would flatten a large part of Delhi. Until now, India had been considered deserving only of China’s oldest and most decrepit missile, the primitive, liquid-fuelled Dongfeng-3 (NATO designation CSS-2).  India’s defence establishment is taking this new threat seriously, as also that posed by Pakistan’s nuclear-tipped MRBMs — like the Ghauri-2 and the Shaheen-2 — which can strike targets 2300 kilometres away. In an exclusive interview with Business Standard, the Defence R&D Organisation’s chief missile scientist has announced that, within three years, India will have a fully deployed missile-defence shield to safeguard a city like New Delhi from missile-borne nuclear attack.

Termed an anti-ballistic missile (ABM) shield, this complex system has been in the making since 1996. The DRDO is satisfied with the system’s ability to detect and track an incoming missile, and then launch an interceptor missile to destroy it while it is still in space (exo-atmospheric interception). If that misses, there is a second interceptor that homes in on the enemy missile while it is in the upper atmosphere (endo-atmospheric interception). In internationally watched tests, these interceptors have been tested thrice each.  But only now has the DRDO announced that a fully integrated ABM system is close to deployment. Says Dr Avinash Chander, the DRDO’s Chief Controller for Missiles and Strategic Systems; “We can deploy an effective ABM system for a single city within 3 years from now. We can definitely ensure the safety of one city in that time frame. After that, the [ABM shield for] other cities will follow.”  Chander will not confirm that Delhi will receive India’s first ABM shield but, given Delhi’s vulnerability to MRBMs from Pakistan and China, and its status as the capital city, experts predict that it will almost certainly be the first city to be safeguarded.  “We are planning more ABM trials in a month or two. Both exo and endo-atmospheric interceptors are doing well in development. We already have a demonstrated capability against enemy missiles that are fired from up to 2000 kilometres away. After some more trials we will be going into deployment mode. The ground systems and the missiles are going to be available… there is no issue,” says Chander.  The sophistication of an ABM system depends upon the range of the incoming enemy missile. The longer the range of the incoming missile, the faster it travels and the more difficult it is to it detect and shoot it down. The missiles that currently target India — the Shaheen; the Ghauri; and the Dongfeng-21 — can all be successfully intercepted, says the DRDO.  “Pakistan can only target India with missiles that have ranges of less than 3000 kilometers, otherwise the missile will overshoot India. Our ABM system will be capable of detecting and shooting down incoming missiles from those ranges,” says Chander.  However China, with its arsenal of longer-range intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), and the geographical space to launch missiles from thousands of kilometres away, is capable of defeating India’s ABM system in its current form. The DRDO says that it will gradually enhance the ABM system to enable the interception of longer-range missiles.  For now, deployment is on track, says the DRDO’s missile chief. The radar network that is needed to detect an incoming enemy missile is already being sited. This includes a Long Range Tracking Radar (LRTR), which Bangalore-based Electronics and Radar Development Establishment (LRDE) has developed in collaboration with Israeli company, ELTA. The LRTR picks up incoming missiles at ranges out to 300 kilometres.  The ABM system also has a “guidance radar”, which tracks the incoming missile in its terminal phase and guides the interceptor missile onto the target. The DRDO developed the guidance radar in collaboration with French company, Thales. In addition, ABM systems also use satellite-based detection systems to detect enemy missile launches.  ABM systems are controversial; strategists argue that they destabilise a nuclear balance, incentivising the production of more nuclear weapons to defeat an enemy’s ABM shield. Indeed, Pakistan now has the world’s fastest growing nuclear arsenal after it aggressively expanded its Khushab reactor complex to produce more plutonium for bombs.

http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/new-delhi-could-have-anti-missile-shield-by-2014/447350/

                   

Court rejects plea of armyman's widow for relief

New Delhi : The Delhi High Court has dismissed the plea of an armyman's widow seeking direction to the defence ministry to grant her ex-gratia relief for her husband's death while he was posted on the India-Pakistan border in Rajasthan in 1999.  Rejecting Manju Tiwari's petition, a bench of Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Sunil Gaur said that family members of defence personnel were entitled to ex-gratia only if they died in war or border skirmishes.  She said her husband died Aug 11, 1999 after suffering cardiac failure on duty. "Since he died in service, the army should sanction Rs.7.5 lakh as ex-gratia to me," said her petition.  Pointing to the government's Sep 22, 1998, circular on ex-gratia payment for army personnel, the bench said, in its order passed Aug 25, that compensation was allowed only in cases of death during war.  "The circular relating to grant of ex-gratia compensation uses the expression death occurring during enemy action in international war or border skirmishes," the court said.  "In other words, ex-gratia envisages death, not in a war-like situation, but in actual war during enemy action or border skirmishes," said the bench.  "An ex-gratia is to be paid for valour that is death in the battlefield and not in an operational area in a war-like situation," the bench observed, while upholding the findings of the Armed Forces Tribunal which dismissed her plea earlier.  "The tribunal has rightly opined. Indeed, the fact which is not in dispute is that though India-Pakistan border in Rajasthan was declared an operational area, there was no enemy action by way of war or even a border skirmish in the said area when husband of the petitioner died," the bench said.  Tiwari said in her petition that her husband was deployed on the India-Pakistan border in Rajasthan in May 1999 when the Kargil war broke out in Jammu and Kashmir.  "Though the war was fought on the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, the army units deployed on the border in Rajasthan were on high alert. While on duty, my husband suffered cardiac failure at 3.25 a.m. Aug 11, 1999, and died," the petition said.

http://twocircles.net/2011aug28/court_rejects_plea_armymans_widow_relief.html

                   

 

No comments:

Post a Comment

 

Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal