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Sunday, 25 December 2011

From Today's Papers - 25 Dec 2011

Headley, Hafiz, 2 serving Pak officers among 9 chargesheeted by NIA
New Delhi, December 24 American-born terrorist David Headley, founder of Lashker-e-Taiba terror group Hafiz Saeed and two serving Pakistani Army officers were among the nine people chargesheeted today by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for planning and execution of terror strikes in India.  Besides 51-year-old Headley, NIA has chargesheeted his Pakistani-Canadian accomplice Tahawwur Rana, whom the US courts had found "not guilty" in Mumbai terror attack on November 26, 2008 in which, 166 people were killed.  Two serving Pakistani Army officials — Major Iqbal and Major Sameer Ali — believed to be working for ISI, were also named in the chargesheet filed before the special NIA court here.  Al-Qaida operative Illyas Kashmiri, Sajid Malik, handler of Headley and Abdul Rehman Hashmi, former Pakistani Army officer, were also named in the chargesheet filed against the nine for waging war against the country and under other relevant sections of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.  The chargesheet, which was filed after two years of probe by the central agencies and later by the NIA, had been accorded sanction for prosecution against all the nine after being convinced of their role in planing terror strikes in India.  Initially, NIA had registered a case against Headley and 50-year-old Rana, but after a thorough probe and testimony of Headley to the NIA, seven other names were included in the case.  The NIA document gives details of Headley's 293-day stay in the country and his involvement in carrying out surveillance of places of iconic installations including his recce of Mumbai before the 26/11 terror strikes.  The voluminous chargesheet mentions the fake plea made by Rana to the Indian authorities about Headley being a representative of his Immigration Law Centre.  It refers to Rana's meeting with 40-year-old Pasha, a former Pakistani army officer, in Dubai and his sudden exit from India, barely five days before the Mumbai terror strike. Both Headley and Rana are at present in the custody of US authorities and NIA has only got limited access to Headley, who had entered into plea bargain with US authorities to escape stiff sentence.  The chargesheet said Headley attended several basic and specialised terrorist training programmes of LeT. The immigration business of Rana came in handy, as a front office was opened in India for launching Headley in this country.  Neutral contacts of Rana in India were easily available for Headley's assistance. The office of Rana and his business partners in the US were used for providing documents for obtaining visa for Headley, it said.  Headley furnished incorrect and false information relating to the name of his father and his marital status and after obtaining visa, he made multiple trips to India between September 14 and March 15, 2009, the chargesheet noted.  During his trips, he conducted tactical surveillance of potential targets of terrorist attacks and collected tactical details including video footage of all places which were attacked during 26/11 in Mumbai.  Headley also collected information and videos of places including but not limited to different Chabad houses in India, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mantralaya and Air India building in Mumbai and National Defence College.  He befriended several individuals who had no knowledge about his activities, during his stay in Mumbai for carrying out reconnaissance of important places in India, it said. — PTI

Procurement irregularities cost NCC Rs 20 cr: CAG
Vijay Mohan Tribune News Service  Chandigarh, December 24 Adopting incorrect practices in the procurement of various items for use by cadets, the Directorate General National Cadet Corps (DGNCC) bought items like tents, mosquito nets at exorbitant prices, thereby incurring an extra expenditure of about Rs 21 crore over the past five years.  Scrutiny by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has revealed that the DGNCC violated provisions of the Defence Procurement Manual in the procurement of mosquito nets by buying 80 per cent of the total quantity of 97,762 from secondary sources. This resulted in a higher expenditure of over Rs 2 crore.  Similar violations were found in procurement of 34 other items procured through 349 supply orders, entailing an extra expenditure of Rs 17.87 crore, CAG has said in its latest report.  Based on Annual Provisioning Review for 2007-08, the DGNCC made an open tender enquiry in August 2007 for procurement of 97,762 mosquito nets for which 37 tenders were received. One firm offered the nets at the rate of Rs 180 plus taxes, which received only 20 per cent of the order, while the remaining 78,210 nets were bought at the rate of Rs 429 plus taxes.  The Ministry of Defence stated in February 2011 that the practice being followed in the DGNCC was as per Director General of Supplies and Disposals (DGS&D) Manual whereby 80 per cent of order quantity is given to past suppliers with a proven track record and 20 per cent is ordered on new suppliers. The Ministry added that unlike the Army, the NCC had no reserve stock and to ensure timely availability of stock, supply orders were issued to different suppliers.  In another case, 4088 Tents Extended Frame Supported (TEFS) were procured by the DGNCC between February 2010 and May 2010 from commercial firms while the same item was available on rate contract at lower rates. This was also in violation of provisions. Thus despite the availability of above item on rate contract at cheaper rate, an extra expenditure of Rs 1.09 crore was incurred.  The DGNCC has maintained that the tents procured were mentioned with specification number and schedule number, whereas the tents available under the rate contract were mentioned only with the specification number, which meant that the specification of the tents procured by the DGNCC are different from those available on rate contract.

Forgotten lessons & heroes of ‘India’s greatest victory’
After being subjected to foreign conquests and humiliation for 1000 years, India tasted its first military victory, that too against Pakistan in 1971, negating its two-nation theory and claim that the defence of its eastern wing lay in the west. The liberation of East Pakistan was truly the first synergized politico-military diplomatic campaign coupled with excellent stage-management facilitated by the local Mukti Bahini.  There were other historic firsts: first integrated tri-service campaign; first heliborne capture of Sylhet and heli-lift across Meghna river; first paradrop at Tangail; first amphibious assault near Cox's Bazaar; first naval blockade; first deception and psywar that converted a ceasefire into abject surrender masterminded by Gen Sam Manekshaw.  The 13-day lightening campaign was catalyzed by the strategic, political and legal cover provided by the treaty of friendship and cooperation signed with the USSR four months before the war. India fought its last and shortest conventional war, correcting the geo-strategic incongruity of a Pakistan separated from its eastern wing by 1000 miles of India.  Maj Gen Nazir Husain Shah, GOC 16 Pakistan infantry division at Bogra, told me after the surrender that India won because it had a 'just cause' and Pakistan lost since 'humne khuda ka khauf nahin kiya' (we did not fear God). The Pakistan military had alienated the Bengalis with a brutal crackdown for which some of their local conspirators are being currently tried by an international tribunal for war crimes. Gen Shah also forecast, not entirely inaccurately, that Bangladesh would be a 'disturbed desh'. His officers, invited for lunch, wrote in the Officers' Mess Visitors' Book: "One day we will take revenge for 1971 and the creation of Mukti Bahini." Last week, JuD's firebrand Hafeez Saeed urged the Pakistan Army to avenge Bangladesh.  The Kashmir insurgency and Kargil were Pakistani reprisals for its dismemberment. With strategic locations in Kashmir, 5000 sq km of territory in the west and 93,000 prisoners of war in our hand, India failed to convert the military victory into a full and final settlement of Kashmir. Due to lack of strategic foresight, India not only squandered a rare opportunity in Shimla but also missed out on securing guarantees from Bangladesh.  The war of liberation was a classic operation, the fastest advance since the North Africa campaign in World War II. The grand strategy entailed fighting a defensive war in the west while seeking a decision in the east. The Soviet Union ensured that neither China nor the US intervened and vetoed several UN resolutions calling for ceasefire, enabling the Indian military and Mukti Bahini to force the surrender.  The drivers of the successful outcome were mastery of the skies, naval blockade, critical intelligence and local support of Mukti Bahini and the decisive tactics of bypassing fortress defences that facilitated the race to Dhaka. In 1971, there was no National Security Council, National Security Advisor, Chief of Defence Staff or actionable strategic intelligence. Yet, excellent civil-military relations and impeccable planning and stage management scripted victory. The military was reasonably well-equipped after the 1962 debacle in the high Himalayas.  Forty years on, despite the creation of NSC and NSA, there is little value addition to intelligence, defence and deterrence. We have lost our operational edge against Pakistan now that its military assets are not divided. Without a CDS and for reasons that have made the military completely subservient to the political and civilian class, civil- military relations are at a new low; and triservice jointness exists only in name.  Military modernization is pathetically slow and operational infrastructure-creation on the border moving at a crawl. Defence minister AK Antony, who puts probity above defence acquisitions, has admitted that modernization is lagging behind. Key steps recommended by the Defence Planning Staff in 1988 are being addressed in 2011. Similarly, major recommendations of the Group of Ministers report after Kargil are hanging fire. The Naresh Chandra Task Force established this year to streamline decision-making in national security is in reality meant to quash queries on the GoM report.  None of the geo-strategic advantages India created in 1971 are easily replicable. The luxury of stage-management and long planning is unavailable. The next conventional war, whenever and if ever, will be at short notice. We are in the era of low intensity conflict and terrorism. With the spirit of 1971 gone, strategic restraint has become the alibi for military unpreparedness.  Bullying by China can be parried only by deterrence and a credible strategic capability. China is much ahead of India on the military scale. PM Manmohan Singh telling Parliament that China will not attack India is no substitute for operational readiness. Worse, with successive governments allowing the victory spirit to sap, it seems that it is mainly the Army that celebrates Vijay Diwas, instead of the country. Finally, before the country honours Dhyan Chand and Sachin Tendulkar, let us not forget Manekshaw, the architect of India's greatest victory.

Defence lab wasted money on bridge Army couldn’t use: CAG
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has now targeted city-based Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) lab Research and Development Engineers (R&DE). A CAG report has revealed that the non-execution of a project to build a modular bridge by the R&DE resulted in wastage of assets created at a cost of Rs 21.46 crore as the users, in this case, the Army, found the bridge unusable. The report, however, mentions that the DRDO and the Army were aware of the project limitations but no attempt was made by either of them to resolve the matter beforehand.  The report says the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had, in October 2002, sanctioned a project to build a 46-metre single-span bridge of Military Load Class 70 (MLC 70). R&DE was supposed to complete the work by October 2006 at a cost of Rs 24.25 crore. In May 2006, it sought an extension of the Probable Date of Completion (PDC) up to October 2008. In October 2007, the R&DE, against specifications, submitted a trial report to the DRDO headquarters for a 20-metre bridge and MLC 40 standard, which was not acceptable to the Army. Also, the PDC of the project was again extended to December 2009.
During this time, the R&DE developed a 40-metre, MLC 70 bridge, which was usable after trials but was not what the users had specified (46 m). The report said in March 2010, the R&DE closed the project after having spending Rs 21.46 crore and proposed to develop a new project worth Rs 13.25 crore with original specifications, which was to be completed by July 2012.
“Thus instead of adhering to specifications, R&DE, Pune, developed a bridge which was not required by the users. The end result was — after an expenditure of Rs 17.89 crore, excluding the cost of five carrier vehicles being used in next project, the requirements of the user could not be served,” the report says.  “The details of the case, MoD’s reply and the clarification given by the users reveal that both the user and DRDO were aware that the bridge being built was 40 metres and MLC 70. Further, the DRDO had its limitations for construction of the bridge with original specifications. Though both the user and the designer were aware of the limitations of the project, neither of them took the initiative to foreclose the project,” it says.  Manish Bharadwaj, scientist and spokesperson, DRDO said, “We will have to speak to DRDO authorities before commenting.”

Pakistan Army is back from the barracks
The elected government in Pakistan has found that the little control it had over the army has been completely eroded, says B Raman  General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, Pakistan's Chief of the Army Staff, who had taken the army  back into the barracks after succeeding General Pervez Musharraf and announced that it would no longer dabble in politics, has reversed his past stand and re-asserted the role  of the army as one among equals -- along with the executive, legislature and the judiciary -- in matters concerning national security.  His action in filing before the Supreme Court a separate affidavit in connection with the inquiry being undertaken by the court under Chief justice Iftikhar Ahmed Chaudhury into the memogate affair, without getting the affidavit vetted by the ministry of defence and approved by Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, indicates the assertion of the right of the army to take an independent view in matters concerning national security without having its view approved by the elected executive.  Memogate refers to the allegations made by Mansoor Ijaz, an American citizen of Pakistani origin, that at the instance of then Pakistani envoy to US Hussain Haqqani, Ijaz had passed on a memo drafted by him to Admiral Mike Mullen, the then Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressing the concerns of the Pakistan government over the possibility of a military coup after the US raid into Abbottabad on May 2 to kill Osama bin Laden.
The matter is already under enquiry by a committee of the National Assembly and Haqqani has resigned as the ambassador to the US. Expressing his dissatisfaction over the enquiry by the committee of the National Assembly, Nawaz Sharif, the leader of the Pakistan Muslim League, who himself was overthrown in a coup in 1999 by the Army then headed by Musharraf, filed a petition before the Supreme Court seeking an inquiry by the court. Other petitions on similar lines have also been filed by private individuals.  Taking notice of these petitions, the Supreme Court had called for affidavits giving their comments, inter alia, from President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, the ministry of defence, Haqqani, Ijaz, Kayani and Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, director-general of the Inter-Services Intelligence.  The affidavits submitted by Kayani and Pasha do not oppose the enquiry by the Supreme Court whereas the government's view has been that since a committee of the National Assembly was already looking into the matter, there was no need for an enquiry by the court.
Kayani and Pasha have taken a diametrically opposite stand of not questioning the need for a separate enquiry by the court. A careful reading of their affidavits would also indicate that they do not question the veracity of the claims of Ijaz, which have been strongly denied by Haqqani.  Thus acting independently, the army has taken a stand which is at variance with the stand of the government and Haqqani and has sought to give credence to the version of Ijaz.  An equally intriguing aspect is that Lieutenant General (retired) Naeem Khalid Lodhi , defence secretary, submitted his own affidavit to the court without getting it cleared by the government.
In this affidavit, he took the stance that the Army and the ISI were not under the operational control of the ministry of defence. What this amounts to is his saying that Kayani and Pasha were entitled to take an independent stand before the court without having it approved by the government.  It is this open assertion before the court -- of the independence of the army in national security matters in an enquiry initiated on the basis of a petition by Nawaz -- that made Gilani tell the National Assembly and a public gathering that there was a conspiracy against the government.  He also rejected the notion of the independence of the army in national security matters and underlined that the army is subordinate to the government and cannot be a state within the state.

‘Pay salaries, retirement benefits to prisoners of war kin’
The Gujarat High Court has come to the help of the kin of 54 Indian Army soldiers who fought against Pakistan in the 1971 war and are languishing in jails in Pakistan as Prisoners of War (PoW) for 40 years.  A bench of the high court, consisting of acting Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice JB Pardiwala, has ordered the Union government to approach the International Court of Justice (ICJ) within two months seeking the return of the soldiers.  Criticising the role of the central government, the bench also ordered to give benefits to the kin of POWs by ordering it to pay full salary and retirement benefits within three months to next of kin of 54 PoWs. The court, however, pointed out that once they are released, the next of kin would have to return the compensation amount.  The court issued orders to give service benefits looking to the government's admission that the soldiers had not actually died on the war front or they are not retired from service. The government, in fact, admitted in Parliament on August 14, 1978 that the 54 soldiers did not die on the war front. Even the then prime minister Indira Gandhi had taken up the issue with the external affairs ministry of Pakistan.  The court issued the highly important judgement that affects bilateral relations between the neighbouring countries, while hearing a petition filed by late Lt Gen Jagjit Singh Arora in 1999. Arora's lawyers Kishor Paul and MK Paul sought high court intervention and direction from the court for the central government for release of PoWs of the 1971 war.  "After having admitted on the floor of Parliament that it believes that the soldiers are imprisoned in Pakistan jails and that it is making all efforts to get them back — the then PM of the country having also supported the grievance of the imprisoned soldiers — the Union of India now cannot desist from approaching the only lawful forum for protecting the life and the personal liberty of its soldiers when 40 years have elapsed."  The court further said, "In our opinion, the act of approaching the International Court of Justice is not an instance of third party mediation but one of the enforcement of rights of the state to have its imprisoned soldiers returned to their motherland and to enable them to live with dignity, an obligation cast upon the state under Article 21 of the Constitution."

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