Thursday, 30 June 2011
Saturday, 25 June 2011
Lokpal and defence procurements
IN recent weeks, the Lokpal Bill has dominated public discourse. There seems to be a naïve belief that a strong Lokpal will root out all corruption. However, a law to establish a Lokpal is unlikely to be more effective than the existing laws to prohibit dowry or untouchability. To make a significant dent on the all-pervasive malaise of corruption, reforms will be needed at different levels of governance and in different sectors, particularly those prone to corruption. One sector needing special attention is defence. John Githongo, Kenya’s former Permanent Secretary for governance, has called defence “the last refuge of grand corruption”. Fortunately, over the past few years, the defence sector in India has remained untainted by any major scandal. But the world over defence is rated as the most corruption-prone of all international businesses. According to Transparency International’s (T.I’s) Bribery Payers’ Index, defence has the dubious distinction of ranking among the top three most corrupt sectors, along with oil, construction and engineering. A US Department of Commerce report asserts that the defence sector alone accounts for 50 per cent of all graft allegations. Experts estimate that bribes amount to nearly 15 percent of expenditure on arms acquisition. Hence, ministries of defence can never afford to be complacent. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that in his recent address to the top brass of the Army and Air Force, Defence Minister A.K. Antony had cautioned them about “the danger of falling prey to corrupt practices perpetrated by vested interests in the garb of aggressive marketing” and urged them to “stand guard with resolve against any such overtures”. Corruption in defence hurts the nation’s vitals. It makes defence more costly and diverts scarce resources from development. Corrupt practices dramatically impact operational effectiveness and in turn the credibility of the defence forces. Corruption scandals erode public trust, create insecurity and demoralise the armed forces. National security is treated as sacrosanct. Why is then defence so corruption prone? Transparency International offers some answers. First, defence contracts are large, technically complex and extremely difficult to comprehend fully. Understanding technical specifications of highly sophisticated equipment like a modern-day multi-role aircraft can be a daunting task. Technical specifications are more specific in defence than in other sectors and hence vulnerable to manipulation. Second, defence contracts involve huge sums of money with all their attendant risks. All transactions are carried out under a cloak of secrecy, on the ground of national security. However, secrecy works more in favour of companies and officials rather than public interest. Third, the task of developing technology-intensive weapon systems requires huge investment in research and development over a number of years. The arms export market is highly restrictive in nature. The supply side of the market is controlled by government and multilateral export regimes. On the demand side is generally the government or a government agency. The nature of the market is such that the equilibrium of demand and supply is hardly ever achieved. Most sellers are desperate to recover their huge investments and profiteer, whenever an opportunity arises. This desperation leads to unscrupulous practices. Fourth, the use of agents and middlemen in defence business is widespread; they flourish despite all types of bans. Agents act as the conduits for bribes. Information about agents is, therefore, treated as commercially sensitive. Fifth, because of the very nature of defence business, there are only a handful of suppliers. This situation leads to lack of competition. An analysis of the available data shows that more than 50 per cent purchases in defence are from a single source, making price discovery a complex task. Finally, offsets, which are additional investments made by suppliers over and above their sales, are a large and unregulated area, which pose a special challenge in terms of transparency. Economists see offsets as highly problematic and inefficient. The World Trade Orgranisation has banned offsets in other sectors, but the practice of offsets in defence transactions is common. In India too, offsets are now a mandatory requirement in large contracts. Assessing a fair value of offsets from the preferred supplier is never easy. Can an effective Lokpal make defence corruption-free? The answer is obviously no. But such an institution can help the process of investigation and prosecution of the corrupt. This has to be done in a manner that it does not hamper decision-making for defence procurements, which is already painfully slow. What can then be done to deal with corruption in defence? One major area needing reform is the formulation of technical specifications or ‘Qualitative Requirements’. Either on account of inadequate technical knowledge and data or due to deliberate design, these are often worked out in such a manner that only a couple of vendors or sometimes just a single vendor can meet them. This practice virtually eliminates competition and renders price — negotiations an infructuous exercise. Unless qualitative requirements are designed broadly, by specialists, with a view to consciously encouraging competition, defence transactions will remain vulnerable to corrupt practices. According to an International Monetary Fund paper on the subject, “The natural policy prescription to attack corruption in military spending/procurement should be to introduce competition and reduce patronage at the level of officials receiving bribes”. This calls for greater transparency regarding defence requirements. Sharing of information regarding future defence requirements, however sanitized, is essential for providing prospective vendors leads for the future. Defence budgets are often approved by parliaments without detailed scrutiny. Disclosure of costs and expenditures associated with defence purchases and stricter parliamentary oversight can help promote greater transparency. In the process of reforming procurement procedures, defence suppliers should be fully engaged through a consultative process. While agents and middlemen are banned in India, if in actual practice they continue to operate, it is better to disclose their identities, payments and terms of their contracts. Offsets should be subjected to rigorous standards and supervision. They should also be fully disclosed to enhance transparency and facilitate monitoring. No one should be under an illusion that the Lokpal law alone can effectively fight corruption. Equally vital will be the role of systemic reforms which prevent opportunities and incentives for corruption. The writer is Director-General, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi.
India, Pakistan agree to more LoC trade, travel*
Frequency of Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus service to be increased * Foreign Secy talks end on positive note, Foreign Ministers to meet in July Ashok Tuteja in Islamabad India and Pakistan on Friday decided to initiate a series of nuclear and cross-LoC confidence building measures (CBMs) as the foreign secretaries of the two countries concluded their two-day talks on a positive note. Addressing a press conference after their meeting, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir said the two sides had agreed to carry forward the dialogue in a constructive and purposeful manner. The two foreign secretaries on Friday discussed Jammu and Kashmir and promotion of friendly exchanges, having discussed peace and security, including CBMs, yesterday. Rao made it clear to the Pakistani side that it would be difficult for the two countries to move forward on the J & K issue under the shadow of the gun and extremist violence. In this connection, she drew attention towards inflammatory statements on Kashmir being made by top Pakistani leaders in the run-up to elections in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). The Indian side also conveyed to Islamabad its concern over continuing infiltration in J & K. The top Indian diplomat was forthright in telling Islamabad that the ideology of a military conflict should have no place in the 21st century in India-Pakistan relations. This was obviously aimed at conveying a strong message to the military leadership of Pakistan to give up its India-centric approach and rather concentrate on tackling the situation in the restive provinces of Pakistan. It was agreed that the Pakistan foreign ministers would visit India in July for a review of the dialogue process with External Affairs Minister SM Krishna. The Pakistani Foreign Secretary would also travel to New Delhi prior to the minister’s visit. Indications are that Pakistan would promote Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar to Cabinet-rank. On the Mumbai terror attacks, Rao made it quite clear to the Pakistani side that it could not be business as usual between the two countries until the trial in the case was brought to a ‘satisfactory closure’. She said India wanted justice for the victims of the attacks. The Pakistani Foreign Secretary avoided a direct reply when asked whether he still considered the evidence provided by India on Mumbai terror attacks as a ‘piece of literature’, a statement he had made during his visit to India last February, sparking strong reactions. Bashir said Islamabad did understand India’s concern on the Mumbai attacks. He said the issue was being dealt with by the home/interior secretaries of the two countries, adding it needed to be addressed in a collaborative manner. Over the cross-LoC CBMs, Rao said the two sides agreed to convene a meeting of the working group in the matter for strengthening and streamlining the existing trade and travel arrangements and propose modalities for introducing additional cross-LoC CBMs. The working group, to be headed by joint secretary-level officers on both sides, would meet in July. The two countries have decided to increase the frequency of the Srinagar-Muzafarrabad bus service, open more trade routes along the LoC, increase number of trading days as well as the validity of travel permits to six months and provide banking facilities to businessmen. They also decided to set up a group of experts on nuclear and conventional CBMs to discuss implementation and strengthening of existing arrangements and to consider additional measures to build trust and confidence and promote peace and security. The two countries have in the past discussed nuclear CBMs like prevention of an arms race in the outer space and nuclear disarmament. At the Foreign Secretaries’ meeting over the past two days, they discussed an agreement to prevent any untoward situation at high seas as was witnessed recently in the Gulf of Aden when sailors of MV Suez were being taken to safety. Indian officials said the two sides considered meetings of defence training institutes of the two countries and regular exchanges between defence experts and coast guards personnel. On the nuclear safety issue, India told the Pakistani side that this was essentially the responsibility of every nation. Each country has to take measures to ensure the safety of nuclear sites in the backdrop of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.
ANALYSIS: India-Pak moving forward, step-by-step
"The ideology of military conflict should have no place in the paradigm of our relationship of the 21st century. Instead, this relationship should be characterised by the vocabulary of peace, all round co-operation in the interest of our people, growing trade and economic interaction, as well as, people to people contacts – and all this, let me emphasise, in an atmosphere free of terror and violence." This is how Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao [ Images ] summed up India's vision behind ongoing talks between India and Pakistan. Rao conducted talks with her counterpart Salman Bashir for over six hours, spread over three sessions over the last two days in Islamabad. Official sources said there was no cussedness between two sides and the chemistry was excellent.Before leaving for Washington, this was her last important diplomatic assignment that went as per the script. The government sources, while speaking about Pakistan's readiness to bring in substantial proposal for a change, said, "We are resuming the dialogue. Now, they have to assess their own internal political dynamics. Diplomacy works in context of reality only." It was evident at every step that India and Pakistan both took care and observed caution to see that the peace process doesn't get derailed. The importance India attaches to continue talking to Pakistan was highlighted in the range of issues discussed across the table. The most important talk was about the issue that was uppermost on mind of India. How is Pakistan securing its nuclear plants and what kind of measures are being taken so that nuclear weapons do not fall into hands of militants? According to official sources, the Indian side informed Pakistan that India is improving the safety of its nuclear plants and weapons by forming a nuclear regulatory authority. India told Pakistan that, as its happening world over, the security of the nuclear plants is "national responsibility." India and Pakistan held more than two hours of talk on Jammu and Kashmir [ Images ]. The J&K issue has now got an official Working Group to discuss Confidence Building Measures. Bashir reminded that both sides have "stated position" on J&K. The joint statement issued after the meeting said that both sides agreed to convene a meeting of the Working Group on Cross-Line of Control CBMs to recommend measures for strengthening and streamlining the existing trade and travel arrangements across the LoC and propose modalities for introducing additional Cross-LoC CBMs. The Working Group will meet in July 2011. Also, both sides "noted with satisfaction the progress made towards finalisation of the Visa Agreement which will help liberalise the visa regime and facilitate people-to- people, business-to-business and sports contacts." Both sides also discussed new ideas about their coastal securities and also, significantly, how to prevent conflicting situation at sea. In fact, Indian sources said there was readiness to listen on side of Pakistan. The senior source in government said, 'There was no tit-for-tat. The language we used was such that we were able to put across our views in "reasoned way." The Pakistan side in fact asked India to revive the Lahore [ Images ] agreement of 2007. Both secretaries would meet again next month in New Delhi [ Images ]. Before the meet started, no substantial breakthrough was expected because a foreign minister-level meeting is expected soon and also, the prime minister-level meet may be possible in Male, Maldives [ Images ], in November, on sidelines of South Asian Association For Regional Cooperation. So, it was heartening to note that both sides resisted from scoring points or giving spins to the event, and that itself was an achievement in view of assembly elections in Pakistan occupied Kashmir, and sensitivity in India over the slow progress made by Pakistan over26/11. India also talked about David Headley's [ Images ] statements during the Tahawwur Rana [ Images ] trial and the links between terror groups such as Lashkar-eTayiba and the Inter-Services Intelligence. Basheer said that Pakistan understands India's concerns on terror but he hoped that there would be "a collaborative approach." India also told Pakistan that there is infiltration on the LoC, but it has reduced on the international boundary. India tried to raise the level of confidence by saying that there is no scope for military conflict now. Pakistan said there is sense of proportion when it's talking to India. You name it and they talked about it. The issue of Jammu and Kashmir, progress on prosecuting the accused of 26/11, the nuclear safety and security issue. They even mulled over how to have co-operation in preserving the legacy of great poets Iqbal, Faiz and Amir Khushrow. Both diplomats even talked if it's good idea to promote cricket matches between the women teams from both sides and they even asked each other if it's possible to launch an India-Pakistan Women Forum. The official sources said "We are moving ahead step by step and inch by inch." Rao expressed concerns about terrorism and the pending issues related to the 26/11 and Pakistan asked what's happening to the case of the blast on Samjuata express. But, the official sources said that one should not fall into trap of pitting the terrorism of 26/11 against the terror blasts on Samjuata express. "We are not condoning the incident of Samjauta where human lives were lost. India is not afraid of standing up and condemning it. The 26/11 attack is of gross proportion." The Indian side has told Pakistan that once the investigation in Samjauta blasts is completed, they will brief Pakistan about it, while Pakistan has told India that there are legal glitches and issues about the cases related to 26/11 in the Pakistani courts. The government source said, "Some cynics ask what difference such talks make? I think it does make the difference." The source went as far as to claim that, "The meeting was one of confidence that said that we( India-Pakistan) can face the world together!" Image: Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir leave after a joint news conference at the foreign ministry in Islamabad
India seeks details of MiG 29K crash from Russia
NEW DELHI: India has asked Russia to provide the details of crash of a MiG 29K fighter jet, which was manufactured for the Indian Navy, to assess whether there was a need to ground such planes already in service here. India had placed orders for 16 MiG 29Ks from Russia under a deal worth over USD 900 million, in 2004. Some of these planes have already been inducted into service at Goa. "We have sought clarifications from the Russian company ( MiG Corporation )) as the aircraft was still with them and was being flown by their own pilots. At the moment, we have not received feedback, but if there is a technical reason that demands grounding, we will do that," Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma told reporters here. A MiG-29KUB twin-seater fighter, which was part of the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier deal, crashed in south Russian Astrakhan region yesterday killing its two-member crew. The Russian Defence Ministry has grounded the entire MiG-29 fleet till the probe is over. Verma said an Indian Navy team was already there at the MiG factory and "if there is any technical reason, we will address it. But no such thing right now". India had later placed an order for 29 additional MiG 29Ks from Russia
India-Pak discuss ''contacts'' between defence establishments
From Rezaul H Laskar Islamabad, Jun 24 (PTI) India and Pakistan today held talks on a wide array of defence-related confidence building measures during talks between their Foreign Secretaries, including a proposed pact to prevent "situations at sea" and contacts between their military training establishments.An Indian draft on an agreement to prevent "situations at sea" involving vessels of the two countries has been discussed at previous meetings and the Pakistani side agreed to have a look at the document, an Indian official said at the conclusion of the two-day talks today.There were discussions on contacts between the defence training establishments of the two countries, including India's National Defence College and Pakistan's National Defence University, the official said."There was also a suggestion for contacts between defence and security think tanks, including the holding of seminars and conferences," the official added.Among other proposals discussed by the two sides were measures for better coordination between India's Coast Guard and Pakistan's Maritime Security Agency and steps to put in place new nuclear and conventional confidence-building measures, the official said.The two countries decided that groups of experts, headed by officials of the rank of joint secretary, would meet soon to discuss such CBMs.Dates for the meetings of these groups will be decided through diplomatic channels, the official said.The talks between Pakistani Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir and his Indian counterpart Nirupama Rao focussed on the Kashmir issue, peace and security, including CBMs, and the promotion of friendly exchanges.
Is it going to be Lt Col Dhoni?
After Kapil Dev and Sachin Tendulkar, Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, 29, is in line to be conferred an honorary rank in the defence forces. On Thursday, Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda wrote to the Ministry of Defence recommending that Dhoni be awarded the honorary rank of Lt Colon el for his ‘stupendous performance and leading team India to lift the World Cup trophy after a gap of 28 years’. Fans have mixed reactions to the proposal. “Finally, we can literally salute him like the soldiers,” says Naresh Vardhman, 18. Shuchi Sinha, however, says, “What’s wrong with these guys? Those ranks are earned by fighting wars, not playing!” Kapil Dev got the honorary rank in the Territorial Army in 2008 while Tendulkar was honoured with the rank of Group Captain in the Indian Air Force last year.
ASSOCHAM calls for setting up defence SEZs, raising FDI cap to 49%
Industry body ASSOCHAM today called for raising the permissible limit on foreign direct investments in strategic defence sector from 26 per cent to 49 per cent for better technology transfers and building domestic capabilities. The government should also support setting up defence special economic zones to help create an industrial ecosystem for strengthening manufacturing activities in the country, said The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM). “Incentives may also be given to establishments in such SEZs to boost export to neighbouring countries,” it said in a set of suggestions for the working group on defence and aerospace industry under the Planning Commission for 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17). The large defence purchase orders and contracts to foreign original equipment manufacturers have created large offset obligations, churning out huge business opportunities for small and medium enterprises. Offset obligations worth Rs 150,000 crore are to be fulfilled in the next five to six years. The government may consider an option of providing 25 to 30 per cent reservation to SMEs in defence orders, said vice admiral (retd) P.C. Bhasin who is chairperson of ASSOCHAM national defence council. Cluster development on public private partnership model with focus on defence, electronics and homeland security manufacturing of equipment and components should be pursued, he said. “A dedicated fund of Rs 400 crore may be created to support research and development work by the private sector.” ASSOCHAM secretary general D.S. Rawat called for close coordination between the ministry of defence and other ministries like that of communications and information technology which is also making a serious effort in expanding the manufacturing base. He said raising the FDI limit in defence sector to 49 per cent will allow foreign firms a larger share of risks and profits, and the confidence to transfer sensitive technologies to joint ventures in India. ASSOCHAM also proposed infrastructure sharing for developing innovative technologies and select products between the Defence Research and Development Organisation and the private sector. The ultimate goal should be self reliance in defence production rather than large scale imports, it said.
Will ground MiG-29 if needed: Indian Navy chief
New Delhi, June 24 (IANS) Against the backdrop of a twin-seater MiG-29KUB combat jet meant for the Indian Navy crashing in Russia, the navy said Friday it will consider grounding the planes it already has if there was a technical reason to do so. Indian Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma told reporters here that the force was yet to get feedback from the Russians on the air crash involving the MiG-29KUB plane in south Russia's Astrakhan region Thursday. The aircraft is the trainer version of the MiG-29K that the Indian Navy fleet will operate from the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya (erstwhile Admiral Gorshkov) when it joins the fleet in 2013. The navy has purchased 16 planes, of which 12 are single-seaters and four are trainers. "We did get this input (air crash) yesterday (Thursday). So we have sought a clarification from the Russian company...because this aircraft was still with the company and was being flown by its own pilots. At the moment, we have not got the feedback," Verma said. "If they (MiG Corporation) feel there is a technical reason to do it, which demands grounding, that would be done," he said. Verma said an Indian Navy team was present in the MiG Corporation factory to oversee the aircraft's manufacturing and the naval headquarters here was in constant touch with it. "So if there is any reason to believe that there is some technical reason, we will address it at that time. At this point of time, that is not the case," he said. Both pilots were killed in the Russian crash. The Russian defence ministry has already grounded its entire MiG-29K fleet till the investigation into the crash was over. Of the 16 MiG-29s India has purchased, 12 are single-seater fighters and four are twin-seater trainers. India has already got delivery of 11 aircraft, including two trainers. These aircraft are operating from the Goa Naval Air Station till the time INS Vikramaditya is delivered to the Indian Navy by Russia's Sevmash shipyard, which is carrying out a refit on the warship. The Indian Air Force (IAF) also operates a variant of the MiG-29 and these too have been plagued with problems, with nine aircraft crashing since 1997. The IAF currently has some single-seater MiG-29s and 10 twin-seaters.
Analysis: Pakistan army chief shows no signs of quitting soon
(Reuters) - At the height of the storm which swept Pakistan after the May 2 killing of Osama bin Laden, army chief General Ashfaq Kayani spoke for 1- hours, then told his officers they could ask whatever they wanted, and lit a cigarette. "This is a very delicate situation," he said, in answer to a question about relations with the United States at the National Defense University on May 19. "It's not an easy one." "If we come out of it, keep our relevance and show them we are part of the solution, not part of the problem, we will succeed," Kayani said in one of a series of "town hall" meetings he held to revive army morale. Those meetings have since fueled speculation - particularly in the United States - that the most powerful man in Pakistan, by opening himself up to questions, is fighting for survival. Participants at the meeting, however, said Kayani showed no outward sign of being under pressure as he sat in full dress uniform at a table on the same level as his audience. Equipped only with a file, ash tray and glass of water and facing rows of some 80 officers along with a few civilians, he patiently answered questions from all ranks. "In uniform, we tend to see everything in black and white," Kayani said when a young colonel asked why Pakistan kept a relationship United States if Washington did not trust it. "In the real world there are a lot of grey areas and you have to deal with it." A Reuters correspondent attended the meeting, but since it was off-the-record did not report it until after participants themselves relayed to the media versions of what Kayani had said. Kayani's comments were reported by participants and verified by Reuters. The Pakistan army, the last line of Defense in a country battling a growing Islamist militant insurgency, has come under intense pressure since U.S. forces found and killed bin Laden in the garrison town of Abbottabad on May 2. Its inability to find the al Qaeda leader and to detect the U.S. helicopter-borne raid in which he was killed has left it facing its most severe crisis since its humiliating defeat by India in the 1971 war in which then East Pakistan won independence as Bangladesh. In some ways it is even worse than 1971, when state-run media suppressed the worst of the news in a war happening far away from the traditional heartland of the country. This time, U.S. forces carried out a raid undetected deep within the heart of Pakistan, not far from the prestigious Pakistan Military Academy. That same month militants attacked a naval base in Karachi and blew up two maritime patrol aircraft. Nobody knows what is going to happen next. DRAWING OUT QUESTIONS Yet no one expects Kayani to step down any time soon, or at least not until he has restored confidence within the army. And nor do they expect his most senior officers to turn against him. "The army as an institution is under attack so if the Corps Commanders ask him to leave, that unleashes a very explosive dynamic," said Imtiaz Gul at the Center for Research and Security Studies in Islamabad. "That's why the Corps Commanders will never ask him to step down." In inviting questions, Kayani was following a military tradition where officers encourage their men to express their doubts before going into battle, but after the orders are given, expect them to be followed without question. "In the military, it is regarded as a reflection of loyalty if you are frank," said General (retired) Ehsan ul-Haq, when recalling meetings of the Corps Commanders, the army's top officers with command over troops across the country. "There is a discussion (among the Corps Commanders), but there are no fireworks," said Haq, a former head of the military's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency and then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "There is a lot of poise and dignity in how you address issues." At the evening meeting at the National Defense University, Kayani, far from appearing on the defensive, actively encouraged questions. When a young female student put up her hand to ask a question and the officer running the event said there was no more time - it was by then nearly midnight - Kayani insisted on answering it. The student asked about the threats Pakistan faced. Kayani in response made no mention of Pakistan's traditional rival India -- the subject did not come at all in four-hour long session. "What worries me is the indirect threat and that is the economy," he said. "If you want to be secure ... you have to address your internal situation and the economy is the major issue." And rather than relying on the Americans for money, Pakistan should reform its economy and raise taxes domestically. "We have to stand up on our own feet and we cannot do this unless we have a strong economy," he said. UNPRECEDENTED CRITICISM U.S. media reports that Kayani is fighting for survival have infuriated the military which sees them as a deliberate attempt to malign the army. Those have been accompanied by unprecedented domestic criticism of the army, which peaked after Pakistani journalist Saleem Shahzad was kidnapped in Islamabad and beaten to death at the end of May. Shahzad had previously spoken of being threatened by the ISI over his reporting, and suspicion immediately fell on the powerful intelligence agency. It denied involvement. And while the army still enjoys high approval ratings in Pakistan, its critics accuse it of sucking up scarce resources in military expenditure focused on India. They also blame it for cultivating Islamist militants in the past for use against India, who are now increasingly slipping out of its control and turning on Pakistan. There are, moreover, unquestionably strains within the military, a Muslim army which for 10 years has been asked to suppress the anti-Americanism which threads through society and fight in a campaign which many see as "America's war." Some of those strains rose to the surface this week when the army said it had arrested a brigadier over links to the banned Hizb-ul-Tahrir, an Islamist political group seeking to overthrow the civilian government and establish an Islamic theocracy. Kayani himself has also been the subject of private grumblings in the military after he obtained last year a three-year extension to his term of office to November 2013 - effectively strangling promotions further down the line. But barring another big unexpected event which dents the army's credibility further, there appears to be little evidence to suggest that Kayani is about to be forced out. Over tea, biscuits and sandwiches which followed the meeting at the National Defense University, he appeared relaxed and smiling as he chatted to participants. "As long as you are in the (army chief's) seat, there is no threat to you," said Imtiaz Gul.
China strengthens hold on Nepal, comes to India's doorstep
A series of recent events reveal that China’s geo-strategic policy has Nepal firmly in its cross-hairs and is determined to bring it definitively under its influence. China has now recommended a proposal with potentially far reaching implications, especially for India. Intended to achieve multiple objectives, it retains the focus on Nepal while seeking to neutralise Tibetan activism, undermine the Dalai Lama’s influence, including in Nepal, consolidate China’s political and economic influence in Nepal, and help China achieve its long-term strategic goal of bringing Nepal irrevocably under its influence. Success in the last two means that China will have crossed the Himalayas and established its influence up to the lower foothills bordering India. When the Chief of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) visited Kathmandu this April, he signed a USD 19.8 million defence agreement directly with Nepal’s Army, ignoring the protestations of Nepal’s Ministry of Defence. Following the visit, the Beijing-based and supported Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation Foundation has now proposed a $3 billion Development Plan for Buddha’s birthplace, Lumbini, ostensibly ‘with no strings attached’. Beijing, which for the first time in 2006 officially described Buddhism as a peaceful ‘ancient Chinese religion’ and has held two World Buddhist Forums, apparently continues to seek legitimacy from the Buddhists. Composition of the board of the Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation Foundation hints strongly at Party and PLA links. Nepal’s Maoist leader Prachanda, is the Foundation’s Vice Chairman has attended two of its events in Malaysia and Singapore in October 2010 and March 2011 respectively. He claims a major role in getting China’s support for this project. Xiao Wunan, a senior Chinese Communist Party cadre who is Deputy Director of an office of China’s National Development and Reform Commission in Western China, is Executive Vice President of the Foundation. He is also Vice President of the World Buddhist Peace Foundation, which helps organise the Beijing-sponsored World Buddhist Forums, and was formerly Vice President of the editorial board of the journal Study on Maoism. The Executive Director of this Foundation is Eric Tay, who graduated in 1993 from China’s Air Force Institute of Engineering. He owns companies in Beijing and Shenzhen which invest in commodities and energy resources. Article continues below the advertisement... This cheque-book diplomacy by Beijing reinforces earlier road and rail projects linking Lhasa with Kathmandu and promises a huge cash infusion to a country with a GDP of barely USD 12.5 billion. Plans envisage construction of temples, an airport, a highway, hotels, convention centres and a Buddhist University. Expectations are that Lumbini, which presently attracts 5,00,000 tourists annually and is just a two hours drive from India’s Gorakhpur, will become a trans-border tourist attraction spawning numerous ancillary service enterprises, generating a steady revenue stream. Xiao Wunan has said he hopes the Lumbini project brings together all three Buddhist Traditions, namely Mahayana, Tibetan Buddhism and Theravada. The proposed university will rival the one planned at Nalanda. Unstated is that these construction projects will be awarded to Chinese companies and probably PLA-affiliated sub-contractors, or engineering personnel will be employed. This implies long term Chinese presence, and going by the experience of many countries in Africa, the mushrooming of illegal Chinese settlements along Nepal’s borders with India. This $3 billion overture to Kathmandu is, interestingly, accompanied by Beijing’s apparent decision to shed its earlier aversion to non-formal contacts with prominent Tibetans and Tibetan entities. This subtle, but significant, shift was noticed during Governor of Sichuan, Jiang Jufeng’s 3-day visit to India this April. Jiang Jufeng met privately with Dolkar Lhamo Kirti, President of the Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA) and Samten Choedon, TWA’s Vice President, at the Maurya Sheraton Hotel, Delhi. They discussed the protests in Kirti Monastery where 300 monks are in jail since March 16. Accepting their petition, Jiang Jufeng assured the matter would be examined. This is the first time a visiting senior Chinese official privately met exiled Tibetans in India. It could be a tactic to divide the exiled Tibetan community, or an attempt by both sides to find new methods at accommodation. The latter is suggested by the Tibetan community’s failure to stage routinely organised protests during the visit of former hardline Tibet Party Secretary, Zhang Qingli, to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji this May. — The author is a former additional secretary in the Cabinet Secretariat, Government of India.
Time to Put the Indian Courts Martial on Trial
By Chandra C P Nath Strident cacophony in the Indian media about arresting corruption in the Indian Defence forces has sent Indian Army scrambling for action. Where does the cacophony of the media leave Indian Military Justice system is a question I raise in this article. In addition, the thesis developed for this article is that the current Military Justice System is weighed against the accused and violates the human rights. The Indian system will be examined with close reference to UK as these originated from the single common source of Roman laws. Did the Indian Chief of Army Staff violate the law by trying to shield his Principal Staff Officer? If the original decision not to prosecute Lt General Avdhesh Prakash was based on sound professional judgement, why did he buckle and order a Court Martial? Are matters of honour of distinguished soldiers decided in such a flimsy fashion? To come under pressure because of media onslaught and to ask the Chief to order a court martial may itself be violation of law by the Indian Defence Minister because he is interfering with strictly judicial powers of the Chief. It is an accepted dictum that to perform a superior judicial function, security of tenure is mandatory. Does the Chief or for that matter, any one working under him have any security of tenure? Constitution of India Article 311 protects bureaucracy but not men in uniform! A Naval Chief was dismissed by the Raksha Mantri and there was not even a whimper! Does the military justice system as it exists in India to day violate Human Rights? The case of Findlay v. United Kingdom decided unanimously by the European Court of Human Rights on February 25, 1997 that courts martial violate Human Rights had a major effect on courts-martial in all the countries that derived its military laws from the English laws. The resulting changes and reforms forced on UK’s system through the Armed Forces Act 1996 and 2006 prove the point that it is just a matter of time that some one raises human rights violation of all courts martial. Lt General P K Rath was punished severely for giving security clearance for a school near the military area. Did the prosecution prove a culpable mental state where he committed the crime knowingly, intentionally, recklessly and/or negligently or was it just an error of judgement in an administrative function? Contrast this with a Lt General who was alleged to have tampered with the war diary during Kargil operations. This is not an error of judgement but an alleged crime committed knowingly, intentionally and recklessly, in the field of military operations in the face of the enemy. He allegedly makes an official record, knowing that it is false in a material respect he knows or has reasonable cause to believe that the record was official. He was not even charged with an offence leave alone punished because no media pressure forced the Chief to order a court martial. In contrast the error of judgement in a purely administrative function committed by Lt General PK Rath was charged and punished. The only difference was, one was placed as the accused in front of a court martial and the other was not. So, every thing revolves around who is placed as the accused in front of a court martial. There was no media pressure on the Chief to charge the Lt General in the Kargil operations. Does it mean media determines who should be charged, who not to be charged? Didn’t the Chief breach a known duty to prosecute? It did not require much deliberation for the European Court to pronounce that the court martial was not an “independent and impartial tribunal”, that it was not a tribunal “established by law”. The members of the court martial were appointed ad hoc, that the judge advocate’s advice on sentencing was not disclosed, that no reasons were given for the decisions taken by the court-martial, the conforming and reviewing officers, and that the post-hearing reviews were essentially administrative in nature and conducted in private. European Human Rights Court (in Findlay v. UK in 1997) expressed the unanimous opinion that there had been a violation of Article 6 para 1 of the Convention (art. 6-1). All the officers appointed to the court were directly subordinate to the convening officer who also performed the role of prosecuting authority. The lack of legal qualification or experience in the officers making the decisions either at the court martial or review stages made it impossible for them to act in an independent or impartial manner. Any accused in a court martial in India could claim that his trial by court martial failed to meet the requirements of Article 6 para 1 of the Human Rights Convention (art. 6-1). The recent spate of widely publicized trials by court-martial of high ranking Generals have hopefully focused national attention on military justice. Let us remember what US Supreme court as stated in O’Callahan v. Parker that military trial of soldiers committing civilian offences should always be viewed with suspicion. “There is substantive disapproval of the general use of military courts for trial of ordinary crimes. Courts-martial as an institution are singularly inept in dealing with the nice subtleties of constitutional law.” Should we not accept the legal principles of stare desis and jurisprudence constante as established in the Human Rights Courts quoted? Indian Military Justice system is an anachronism as it is totally derived from what was promulgated for a colonial army for the expansion of colonies by the colonial power and not suited for the citizen soldier of a democracy which should believe in liberal values of human rights and protection of the same from usurpation by the State. UK has totally overhauled their system under pressure from Human Rights courts. USA, Australia, Canada and New Zealand have also revised their laws pertaining to military justice system to come to terms with the requirements of a modern society. If the Indian Parliament is convinced that the military justice system is bereft of the essence of justice in terms of human rights, drastic reforms may, hopefully, be forthcoming. Chandra C P Nath served in the Indian Army from 1966 to 88. He currently works in USA in the intersection of information security, privacy and law. He can be reached at email@example.com .