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Saturday, 19 May 2012

From Today's Papers - 19 May 2012
NATO supplies through Pak
Islamabad succumbs to US pressure

The Pakistan government has ultimately accepted what was unavoidable under the circumstances. It has agreed to allow the movement of NATO trucks loaded with non-lethal items like food for the multinational troops in Afghanistan. NATO’s loaded trucks can now freely use Pakistani territory to reach Afghanistan, the route closed for NATO by the Pakistan government after 40 Pakistani soldiers were killed last November in US drone attacks as American forces mistook them for Taliban fighters. The Pakistan army had refused to accept the US explanation that the killing occurred unintentionally, and mistakes were made from both sides. NATO trucks were also coming under attack from the Taliban, who would get all kinds of support from local people in the Pakistani areas bordering Afghanistan.

The immediate advantage for Pakistan is that it will be participating with little hesitation in next week’s NATO conference at Chicago which will discuss issues relating to security in the Af-Pak region besides other subjects. Now the Obama administration will not allow the blockage of any promised aid to Pakistan. Islamabad had been finding it difficult to get any kind of assistance from Washington DC after the souring of their relations in the wake of the November incident near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The US had resorted to financially squeezing Pakistan after the latter indulged in non-cooperation with the super power.

Pakistan has not had an easy time ever since it stopped NATO supplies from its territory in deference to the wishes of the people and the armed forces. People in general and the extremist elements in particular had welcomed the step against NATO, but it was not in Pakistan’s larger economic and strategic interests. Pandering to the people’s anti-American sentiment was proving to be too difficult to bear for Islamabad. It is true that the US too needs Pakistan to safeguard its interests in Afghanistan, but Washington DC has been successful in bringing to bear on Islamabad that this single factor cannot help it for too long. The new course Pakistan has adopted vis-à-vis the US shows pragmatism even if the public and some opposition politicians will not approve of it.
Trilateral consultations
US for ‘constructive’ ties with India, China
by S.D. Muni

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to India in the first week of May has drawn considerable media and strategic interests. However, one of her proposals having far-reaching strategic implications has remained generally ignored. In Kolkata, Mrs Clinton called for “building constructive relationship not only bilaterally but among our three countries in fact. The trilateral connection among China, India and the United States will be essential in the future as well.” That she asked for trilateral consultations between India, China and the US soon after her wide-ranging discussions with the Chinese leaders adds to its significance. Surely, she discussed this proposal with her interlocutors in New Delhi, but there was no official reaction.

Mrs Clinton’s proposal for trilateral consultations involving India and China is, however, not a new one. It was first sounded by her in New Delhi in July 2011. In her view “a strong and constructive” relationship between India, China and the US was necessary for addressing the “pressing issues of the 21st century”. She admitted that “this will not always be easy. There are important matters on which we all disagree, one with the other. But we do have significant areas of common interest…”

Her aids in the Department of State have continued to reiterate the significance of the proposal since then. Addressing the World Affairs Councils of America, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns said in November 2011: “Let me explicitly state that (in) the 21st century Asia-Pacific (what) we seek is one in which India, the United States and China all enjoy good relations. Whatever our differences, we know that as this century advances, fewer and fewer global problems will be solvable without constructive cooperation among our three great countries…I have no doubt that Asia and the world are big enough for the three of us”. Again in December 2011, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell said: “We believe that it is absolutely critical that the three great states of the 21st century – United States, China and India – begin closer consultation.” He also disclosed that the “US was in active consultation with Chinese friends” on such proposals (including one on US-China-Japan trilateral).

India’s response has been positive to the idea of such trilateral consultations. Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai, speaking at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington DC in February 2012, endorsed the Clinton proposal saying: “There are a number of regional and global challenges on which India, China and the United States must work together…China is our largest neighbour… We have considerable challenges in our relations, but also enormous opportunities for mutually beneficial partnership at the bilateral and global levels… India is carefully watching to see how the proposal takes shape. An unknown official reportedly said during Mrs Clinton’s recent visit: “Let the US and China talk to each other and then we will take a decision. We are open to the idea”.

India hopes to derive a number of advantages when the trilateral consultations get institutionalised. To begin with, it will considerably reduce India’s anxiety about a possible China-US tie-up (G.-2) on critical Asian strategic affairs. Many in the US have been pleading for such a tie-up. Recall President Obama’s invitation to China in 2008 to help in stabilising security in South Asia. Then there were reports of the Chinese PLA General calling on the US to divide the Indian Ocean and the Asia-Pacific regions for influence and stakes between their two countries. The trilateral mechanisms will set at rest speculations on joint Sino-US management of Asia. This mechanism may also help India consolidate its regional position in South Asia as it would send a strong message to its recalcitrant immediate neighbours, including Pakistan, that there are limits to playing the proverbial China card against India. It may also provide India with yet another forum to build confidence with China, in the comfort of the US presence, in the critical areas of nuclear stand-off, regional water management and the lingering border dispute.

The trilateral forum will seek to convince China that India is not conspiring with the US to contain China or exploit its weaknesses and vulnerabilities in the areas like Tibet and human rights. Since all the three countries have deep stakes in the stability of Pakistan and fight against Islamic extremism, their collective efforts and initiatives would hopefully nudge Pakistan towards a constructive role containing Islamic extremism and ensuring greater regional stability in South Asia, including post-2014 Afghanistan.

India should, however, keep in mind that the US initiative is primarily aimed at serving the US interests in Asia. It is a reflection of the US dilemma in coping, on its own, with the rise and assertion of China in Asian and global affairs. Through this proposal, the US wants to consolidate its Asia-Pacific ‘pivot’ strategy by occupying the centre of Asian strategic hub. This will limit the damage done to the US by such other groupings as kept the US out like BRICS, the SCO and India-Russia-China meetings. While explaining the rationale of such trilateral consultation, US Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell had reiterated: “We see none of these venues as in any way exclusive or exclusionary…We are interested in supporting a range of interlocking, overlapping dialogues in Asia going forward”.

The US will seek to ‘rebalance’ the Asian major players by pitting them against each other and playing a moderator or a mediator in their areas of competitions and rivalries. And while doing so, it will sell arms, explore markets for its goods and services and seek to command allegiance from all the intra- Asian competitors and rivals. A Brookings Institute study by Kenneth Liberthal and Wang Jisi released in March 2012 supporting the Clinton proposal had said that “such trilaterals may reduce the chances of developing strategic cleavages that put the US on one side and China on the other and other countries in the region in a position of having to choose sides”. Being the weakest player in triad, the challenge for the Indian diplomacy in these trilaterals will thus be to ensure that neither the US nor China gains at the cost of India’s vital interests.

China has been cold to the US proposal for a long time as it did not quite like the idea of treating its Asian neighbours — India and Japan — as its equal and negotiating Asian affairs with them in the presence of the US. But, of late, there is a change in this position. Chinese Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Le Yucheng, accepting the proposal in principle, said that China was “open and positive towards such mechanism” as “we believe dialogue is better than confrontation”. It remains to be seen if the Chinese shift is tactical or real. The details of the structure and mechanism of the proposed trilateral are yet to be worked out and surely China, as also India and the US, will have definite views on what issues are put on the table and what not.

The writer is Visiting Research Professor, Institute of South Asian Studies, Singapore.
Army is family counselling
Indian Army hi­res marriage counsellors to so­lve marital discords involving young and mid-career officers and men, so that they do not suc­cumb to psychological st­ress while deployed on the field.

Deposing before a parliamentary committee, Army officers said marital discords are one of the major causes of stress amongst troops, and marriage counsellors were hired at station level and paid from the station welfare fund for the service they rendered.

Government hospitals and institutions are not the only source for such counsellors. “Formations have been advised to seek the help of non-governmental organisation or trusts, subject to necessary clearance and verification,” the officers informed the Committee on Empowerment of Women, which tabled its report in the Parliament on Friday.

Free legal counselling and aid was being sought and provided by the NGOs and voluntary trusts, the report said.

Though the panel did not establish a formal link between rising level of suicide and stress in the armed forces, the report comes days after the government pointed out that almost every year in the last decade, close to 100 Army men committed suicide.

The count was the lowest in 2005 (77) and highest in 2006 (129).

“The possible causative factors for soldiers committing suicide/fratricide are stress, personal problems and financial problems,” Defence Minister A K Antony stated.

More than 100 officers and men committed suicide every year since 2006 barring 2009 when 96 officers and men took their lives. Till May 2012, the suicide toll is 26. Compared to Army, suicide rates are far less in the Indian Air Force – on an average 20 each year – and Navy, where it is the least.

The suicide cases are in addition to regular instances of fratricide, which too is the maximum in the Army.

All the three services have trained psychological counsellors to help the service personnel manage stress, which is factored in while planning deployment of personnel for counter-insurgency operations. With inadequacy in accommodation being a prime reasons behind marital discord, the defence ministry is building thousands of houses for accommodating married defence personnel.
Army Chief defamation case: Court to hold inquiry

New Delhi: A Delhi court on Friday said that it will hold an inquiry into the allegations levelled by Lt Gen (retd) Tejinder Singh in a criminal defamation case filed by him against Gen VK Singh before passing any order on summoning the Army Chief.

The court also directed the Defence Ministry to place before it the file relating to the publication of the Army's March 5 press release in which Tejinder Singh was accused of offering a bribe of Rs 14 crore to the Army Chief.

The court, in its order, said it was "prima facie satisfied that the March 5 press release was defamatory" as "ex-facie" serious allegation of "bribery" has been made against Tejinder Singh, who had a long and distinguished career in the Army.

However, the court said before passing any order, it has to be inquired whether the Army Chief and four others named in the complaint, had any role in the publication of the press release.

The court said that the "only important question that now survives" before it is that whether among the five persons, mentioned in the complaint, the Army Chief and two others -- Lt Gen SK Singh and Lt Gen BS Thakur -- had any complicity in the publication of the press release.

"I find that at this stage i.e. On the basis of evidence available, this court cannot draw any positive or negative inference and it would be appropriate for this court to postpone the issuance of process and hold an inquiry as per section 202 of the CrPC," Metropolitan Magistrate Jay Thareja, in his 17-page order, said.

Section 202 of the CrPC empowers the court to hold inquiry for the purpose of deciding whether or not there is sufficient ground for proceeding in a complaint.

Perusing the complaint and the press release, the judge said, "In my view, at this stage, testimony of the complainant supported by the testimonies of complainant witnesses...Is sufficient to prima facie satisfy this court that the press release dated March 5 is defamatory i.e. False and injurious qua the character and reputation of the complainant.

"The bribery allegation made in the press release dated March 5 appears to be a ex-facie serious allegation when seen in light of the fact that the complainant has claimed to have rendered thirty nine and half years of distinguished service in the Indian Army and have obtained two medals from the Government of India for his distinguished service," it said.

The court, which was scheduled to pass an order today on summoning Army Chief and four others, said that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) would send the file, relating to publication of the press release before it in a sealed cover.

"In pursuance of the inquiry under section 202 of the CrPC, it is directed that file regarding publication of the press release dated March 5 be summoned through office of the Secretary, MoD, Union of India.

"In case the file is not available in the office of the Secretary, MoD, it is expected that Secretary, MoD would summon the file from the Army Headquarters and ensure that it is sent in a sealed cover through an appropriate officer, for perusal by this court," the court said.

It said that as per the facts in the complaint, it does not disclose the commission of offence described under section 211 (false charge of offence made with intent to injure) of IPC because till the filing of complaint, "no criminal prosecution had been instituted against the complaint."

The court, in its order, said it appeared that the persons named in the complaint had issued the March 5 press release in violation of the Army Act and other Rules.

"I find that at this stage of the proceedings, it appears that respondents (named in the complaint) have issued the press release dated March 5 in violation of Section 21 of the Army Act, 1950, Rule 21 of the Army Rules, 1954 and the Defence Technical Publicity Rules, 2004 and therefore, at this stage, the benefit of section 197 (2) cannot be granted to the respondents.

"However, I also find that a final decision regarding grant/refusal of benefit of section 197 (2) of the CrPC can be taken only once the respondents enter appearance and lead evidence in their defence," the court said.

It also said the respondents have "consistently claimed that the contents of the press release dated March 5 are true and correct and the press release dated March 5 was issued by the Army as an organization".

It said that on the point of owning up responsibility for the publication of the press release, "the respondents have taken inconsistent stands".

It noted that respondent no.4 Maj Gen S L Narsimhan and respondent no.5 Lt Colonel Hitten Sawhney had, in their reply to the notices send by Tejinder Singh, stated that the view expressed in the press release are "not their own views and that in pursuance of their duty, they had forwarded" the same.

The court observed that in their replies, the other three persons named in the complaint, including Gen VK Singh, had stated that they have not issued the March 5 press release and it was issued by the Army as an organisation.

"In my view, at this stage, the replies given by Narsimhan and Sawhney are sufficient to draw a prima facie inference that they were involved in the publication of the press release dated March 5, because in their replies, they have categorically admitted that they had forwarded the press release," the judge said.

Besides the Army Chief, Tejinder Singh has named Vice Chief of Army Staff S K Singh, Lt Gen BS Thakur (DG MI), Major General SL Narshiman (Additional Director General of Public Information) and Lt Col Hitten Sawhney, accusing them of misusing their official positions, power and authority to level false charges against him.

Tejinder Singh, a former Director General of Defence Intelligence Agency, had filed the defamation complaint against the Army Chief and four other Army officials rejecting the allegations that he had offered the bribe for clearing a deal for 600 "sub-standard" vehicles.

The case was transferred to Metropolitan Magistrate Jay Thareja as the court which was earlier hearing the matter, had refused to proceed with it citing loss of confidence of Tejinder Singh's counsel in it.

The court had earlier recorded Tejinder Singh's statement and the pre-summoning evidence in support of his defamation complaint over a press release alleging he had offered a bribe on behalf of Tatra and Vectra Ltd which supplies vehicles to BEML.
China reacts to India's 500 transgressions remark
Beijing: Reacting guardedly to India's assertion of over 500 transgressions by Chinese troops along LAC in the past two years, China on Friday said it is committed implement agreements to ensure peace at borders, while the official media charged that Indian violations could be double than that.

"Chinese position on China and India boundary question is clear and consistent. China is always committed to (implement) bilateral agreements aimed at ensuring peace and stability at the border areas", Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Hong Lei told a media briefing here today replying to a question.

He was reacting to Minister of State for Home Mullappally Ramachandran's statement in Rajya Sabha on March 16 that Chinese Army has transgressed Sino-India border more than 500 times in the last two years.

While Hong preferred not go beyond China's commitment to implement bilateral agreements on border areas, Chinese official media here said Indian violations along Line of Actual Control, (LAC) could be more than double than that has been alleged by India.

While reporting on Ramachandran's remarks, state-run Global Times quoted a strategic analyst Wang Dehua as saying "if Indian troops were held accountable for crossing into China's territory, the number of transgressions by Indian side could be more than double that during the same period".

He said China is "covering it up" because such assertions would not serve any purpose.

"Upholding the agreement by both sides not to aggravate the border tensions, China has been covering up this figure" because it does nothing to solve the boundary problems between China and India, Wang said.

He also said that Indian army was encouraged by the US to make some noise to distract China from the South China Sea, where it is in a spat with its sea neighbours such as the Philippines and Vietnam over the disputed islands.

"But India is neither on the US side nor on China's side, but has its own agenda," Wang said.

Besides holding 15 rounds talks to resolve the disputed boundary, India and China had also formed a new mechanism consisting of officials from the Ministry of Defence and foreign affairs to attend to problems relating to patrols by both sides of the disputed areas.
Ensure No Officers-Jawans Clash In Future: Antony to Army
NEW DELHI – Unhappy over the initial report, India’s Defense Minister A K Antony has asked Army to take immediate “corrective” steps to see that incidents like the clash between jawans and officers at a firing range near the India-China boundary in Nyoma, Ladakh Jammu and Kashmir state do not recur.
The Minister is understood to have expressed his displeasure to the Army top brass over the initial report that is said to have attempted a cover up on the clash that has raised questions over discipline in an important unit of an artillery regiment, highly-placed sources said here.

Sources said army had attempted to describe the whole incident as only a minor scuffle between jawans and officers but no details were provided.

The army on May 12 had said the clash between the jawans and officers near Leh was an “isolated act of indiscipline” and not a mutiny and that the media had “sensationalized” the incident.

It also denied any arms and ammunition were used during the incident, saying, “The armoury has not been captured by the troops as is being reported wrongly.”

The Army has ordered a Court of Inquiry (CoI) into a scuffle that broke out between officers and soldiers in Ladakh after the Ministry sought a detailed report from it on the incident.

Army sources said the officers and jawans involved in the clashes will now be attached to the CoI ordered by the superior headquarters and will face action. The CoI is being headed by a Brigadier-rank officer.

Sources said Commanding Officer of 226 Field Regiment Colonel Prakash Kadam has been relieved of his command duties in view of the incident and another officer has been given the charge.

Sources said there was also a possibility of the unit being disbanded after the completion of the disciplinary proceedings into the case.

The clash between officers and jawans took place in Nyoma on Thursday following an incident of alleged molestation involving an orderly and the reported capturing of the armoury by agitated soldiers.

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