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Tuesday, 5 March 2013

From Today's Papers - 05 Mar 2013
New Maritime Laws in the South China Sea: Portends for Further Instability?
-              Kamlesh K Agnihotri
The Vietnamese National Assembly passed a 'Law on Vietnamese Sea'  on June 21, 2012, which provides legal basis for defining its internal waters, territorial waters, the contiguous zone, the exclusive economic zones (EEZ), continental shelf, islands, the Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelago, the Truong Sa(Spratly) archipelago and other archipelagoes under Vietnam's sovreignty, sovereign right and national jurisdiction. It also lays down the principles and policies for management and protection of such maritime zones. This Law took effect on January 1, 2013.

Interestingly, the provincial People's Congress of the Chinese Hainan Province also released new 'Regulation for the management of public order for coastal and border defense', to take effect on the same day, January 1, 2013. It provides  legal coverage for Hainan's Public Security Border Defense units to board or seize foreign vessels in case they are found to be indulging in activities ranging from stopping or anchoring within the territorial sea; entering ports without approval or inspection; landing illegally on islands under the administration of Hainan; destroying coastal defence facilities on such islands; violating national sovereignty or threatening national security; and threatening the public order in coastal and border areas.
Since the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982 provides for the individual countries to frame their own laws/regulations  for defining and governing their maritime zones in conformity with the provisions contained therein , various countries including China and India have done so. The Chinese National Peoples' Congress promulgated its own 'Law on the Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone' on February 25, 1992 and followed it up with the 'Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf Act' in June 1998. Likewise India also passed the 'Maritime Zones of India Act' in 1976, incorporating all the UNCLOS provisions applicable to it. So the instant Vietnamese law has just followed the prevalent legal practices with respect to their maritime jurisdictions vis-a-vis the 1982 UNCLOS. The Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, clarified as much by stating during an interview that "…for the first time, our country has a law which fully covers the legal status of sea and islands under Vietnam's sovereignty and sovereign rights in accordance with the UNCLOS. This is the important legal basis for the management, protection and development of our country's sea-borne economy."
Inherent Limitations of UNCLOS
The UNCLOS provides for the member countries to proclaim their specific maritime zone laws/regulations, with an overarching vision that an integration of all such laws will ensure that most of the global maritime space is uniformly managed and regulated. It would also facilitate clear demarcation and recognition of huge swaths of high seas as 'global commons' for the general usage of all countries and overall benefit of mankind. However, it has often transpired that the implementation of best laid out plans and many a well-meaning initiative has not actually panned out, as was originally envisioned. The interpretation and consequent implementation of the 1982 UNCLOS provisions has also faced the same impediment.
While the local maritime zones of a country which has vast sea-board all around would not come into conflict with those of any other country, such geographical luxury is a rarity. The real problems begin when the States are either located adjacent to each other or lie opposite, with not enough maritime space as stipulated by UNCLOS 82 provisions, between them. The existence of rocks, shoals, reefs and islands in such constrained space and differing levels of sea areas associated with them, further complicates the picture. To top it all, the definition of such landforms as laid down in UNCLOS are not fool-proof and are by implication, open to different interpretations, to suit the individual State's arguments. This makes the issue even more vexed.
Coming back to the 'Law on Vietnamese Sea', what has caused China to 'see red' are the 'operative words'  relating to 'Vietnam's  sovereign right and national jurisdiction over the Paracel and Spratly islands' in Article 1 itself, which  defines the scope of the regulation. Chinese State Council, in a 'tit-for-tat' reaction announced the elevation of the county level 'Sansha City' on the Woody Island to the next higher prefectural-level the day after, on June 21, 2012. This upgraded entity was mandated with the administration of Xisha, Zhongsha and Nansha islands, the Chinese names for the Paracel islands, Macclesfield Bank (submerged) and Spratly islands respectively. Hainan's new Regulation too makes a mention of its jurisdictional coverage, that is, "…islands under the administration of Hainan…"
Sovereignty: The Main Issue
Therein lies the crux of the problem, and that is the sovereignty question. The sovereignty dispute between the two countries has been a long-standing one. The countries have even resorted to force in 1974, when China wrested control of Paracel islands from Vietnam in a localised naval conflict and in 1988 over the Johnson Reef. The situation vis-a-vis Vietnam has thereafter remained relatively subdued though China again threatened to use Force against Philippines after it occupied the Mischief Reef in 1995. Perhaps Acknowledging that use of force was not a great option to resolve these disputes, China and the ASEAN countries signed a 'Declaration on Conduct of parties in the South China Sea' in 2002 (DOC 2002). The DOC 2002 provided for keeping the disputes pending for the time being, whereby all concerned parties would refrain from such activities that would complicate or escalate the situation. In the meanwhile, the parties were allowed to engage in cooperative endeavours like joint marine scientific research, environmental protection and search and rescue in the area. Further, all efforts towards dispute resolution were to be undertaken by peaceful means through negotiations between sovereign states directly concerned. The non-binding DOC 2002 was largely instrumental in maintaining peace and stability in the region till such time the signatories generally followed the confidence-building measures laid down therein.
However the boat was rocked again by China on May 7, 2009 when in an official communication to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, it stated that China "enjoyed sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the islands in the South China Sea and the adjacent waters, as well as sea bed and sub-soil thereof".  The Chinese government also attached a map showing the nine dotted lines therein, to substantiate its claim, an unaltered copy of which is shown opposite. The tensions between China and Vietnam on one hand and between China and Philippines on the other have become increasingly frequent and intense thereafter. Two notable incidents that occurred since then, one each against Vietnam and Philippines are mentioned below:-
             A month-long stand-off between China and Vietnam following the cutting of exploration cables of a Vietnamese seismic survey ship 'Binh Minh 02' by the Chinese maritime patrol ships in the Vietnamese EEZ in May 2011.
             An extended 'war of nerves' against Philippines over Huangyan Island (Scarborough Shoal) that lasted for nearly three month commencing mid April 2012.
Even though both countries made valiant efforts in opposing above Chinese actions which they felt were wholly unjustified and unjustifiable, it would not be totally incorrect to assume that China came off as the better placed opponent on the ground, when a temporary 'truce of sorts' descended. Another noteworthy aspect that emerged while China engaged its two maritime neighbours relates to the Chinese media, legal and psychological warfare, as part of its 'Three Warfare' theory. This was particularly apparent vis-a-vis US wherein China continued to paint the American interest in the region and the US call for multilateral resolution of the dispute as wholly unwarranted and, in fact detrimental to the peace and stability of the region. Specifically, China was extremely critical of the US Senate resolution  post May 2011 incidents in Vietnamese EEZ. It also warned Philippines against using American surveillance drones in the Huangyan area, when US offered their services to that country.
Serious Portends
The above narrative unmistakably brings out the fact that the issues of 'sovereignty' and 'maritime rights/jurisdiction' are intertwined in such complexities that there seems to be no scope for an early, sustainable and equitable solution. The absolute positions adopted, particularly by China and Vietnam with respect to sovereignty over the islands, comprehensively retard the resolution initiatives. Unfortunately, while the UNCLOS deals with the maritime zones, their governance, rights of coastal states and those of the others, as also dispute redressal mechanisms related to the maritime zones associated with the sovereign territory of the nations, it has no provisions for resolving the sovereignty disputes per se. By implication, promulgation of the 'Law on Vietnamese Sea' under the provisions of UNCLOS 82 would also have only limited bearing on the gains that it can offer to Vietnam in this aspect.
On the contrary, the legal mandate provided to its maritime law enforcement agencies which includes "Protection of sovereignty, sovereign right and national jurisdiction on seas and islands of Vietnam" brings forth serious portends for the two countries' forces to face off with increased resolve, in light of the fact that the Hainan's provincial law also grants similar mandate to its maritime agencies in "waters and islands under its administration".
In the interim, the Global community can only await such an eventuality.
Defence procurement policy set to change
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 4
Even as India will have no option but to wait for Italian prosecutors to move ahead with a probe into the alleged illegal payoffs in connection with the Rs 3,500-crore VVIP helicopter deal, its defence procurement policy is set undergo a change.

Defence Minister AK Antony told Parliament today that the UK had not launched any investigation into the case and was awaiting result of Italian investigations. The UK had been contacted as one of the middlemen in the deal was a British national.

In his two-page note in the Lok Sabha, Antony said the judge in Italy had said the matter, so far was covered under the secrecy laws of that country. "When the secrecy obligations are over, his office would be glad to examine a new request from India," Antony said citing the judge's communication.

Allegations of bribery had surfaced after top executives of helicopter maker AgustaWestland, a subsidiary of Italian Finmeccanica, were arrested in February 2013.

The minister went on to promise that the defence procurement procedure was going to change. He said the government had to import defence equipment because the services required the most modern equipment to meet their operational necessity.

"Because of the operational necessity of the services, on the request that they need the most modern equipment to meet the operational necessity, the government moves to import any high-value equipment from foreign sources," Antony said.

Repeating his stress on indigenous production, he said the government would give "more priority to indigenisation so that Indian public and private sectors can play a major role in producing state-of-the-art equipment for the Indian forces". Referring to the CBI investigation in the VVIP chopper deal, he said it would be too early to opine on the extent to which the case was likely to affect other defence deals that were in the pipeline.

The CBI, after a visit of its team to Italy and on further examination of the documents available, registered a Preliminary Enquiry on February 25, 2013, in this matter against 11 entities, including five Indian nationals and four firms (two Indian). Among those named in Italian court are former IAF Chief SP Tyagi and his cousins.

Executives of Chandigarh firms questioned

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation on Monday examined executives of two Chandigarh-based firms — IDS Infotech and Aeromatrix — in connection with alleged kickbacks received in the Rs 3,600-crore VVIP helicopter deal. These companies were named in the preliminary inquiry of the investigation agency. Executives of these firms arrived at the CBI headquarters in Delhi on Monday after being summoned by the agency. The CBI team collected records of ownership of these companies, the contracts handled by them besides other documents.
CRPF to raise two new women battalions
Vijay Mohan/TNS

Chandigarh, March 4
The Central Reserve Police Force will raise two more women battalions, taking the number of Mahila Battalions in the force to five.

"A new Mahila Battalion became functional a few months ago, while the proposed two battalions will come up within the next five years," said Inspector General (North-West Sector) Kulbir Singh, responsible for the administrative control of the CRPF's Mahila Range.

Raising new women battalions is in line with CRPF's long-term vision of having women personnel constitute at least five per cent of the three-lakh strong force responsible for supplementing the local and state police forces and undertaking counter-terrorist operations.

The three current Mahila Battalions - 88 at Delhi, 135 at Gandhinagar and 213 at Nagpur - have several of their companies deployed in New Delhi, Srinagar, Guwahati, Ayodhya, Imphal and Ajmer, primarily to assist in the maintenance of law and order and riot control.

"Some companies from Mahila Battalions were moved to Srinagar to deal with local women involved in protests and stone-pelting," Kulbir Singh said.

"Each of the CRPF's 10 Rapid Action Force battalions now has a complement of 100 women personnel attached to it to handle law and order situations involving women," he added.

The CRPF was the first Central Armed Police Force (CAPF) under the Ministry of Home Affairs to raise a women's battalion in 1986. A battalion has around 1,000 personnel. In the past few years, other CAPFs, like the BSF and ITBP, have also raised women battalions.

The CRPF has the largest component of women personnel among all CAPFs followed by the BSF with about 1,500 women constables.

Women power

    The CRPF was the first Central armed police force to raise a women's battalion in 1986
    Other CAPFs like the BSF and the ITBP also have women battalions
    The CRPF has the largest component of women personnel among all CAPFs
    Wants women personnel to constitute at least 5 per cent of its three-lakh strong force
New IAF boss at Nagpur

New Delhi, March 4
Air Marshal Sukhchain Singh has taken over as Senior Maintenance Staff Officer at the headquarters of the Indian Air Force, Maintenance Command, at Nagpur. Commissioned in the electronics stream of aeronautical engineering branch in the IAF in July 1979, Air Marshal Singh graduated as engineer in electronics and communication from REC, Kurukshetra. TNS
Musharraf to be back home
His expectations and the reality in Pakistan
by Rana Banerji

ON March 1, former Pakistan President Gen Pervez Musharraf (retd) announced in Dubai that he would return to Pakistan one week after the installation of a caretaker government to contest parliamentary elections under the banner of his political party, All-Pakistan Muslim League (APML), formed in June 2010. He had promised to return last year as well but deferred it at the last minute, ostensibly on the advice of his friends in the Army who feared for his life and safety.

The present, the government at the Centre and the provincial governments, including the National and Provincial Assemblies, are expected to be dissolved by presidential proclamation around March 15, which would make Musharraf's promised return date coincide very nearly with Pakistan's National Day on March 23, a moment permitting a diversionary impact by appeal to patriotic fervour.

Musharraf announced a four-point agenda — focusing on internal stability, regional peace, international acceptability and socio-economic development — and stressed that it was "now or never" for him to go back to "his beloved homeland", to fight against many serious problems facing Pakistan, including religious terrorism, which was "eating us from inside". In a message intended for his many detractors and political enemies, especially Nawaz Sharif, whose PML(N) has been given the edge in most recent opinion polls, he indicated that he would be seeking reconciliation on return.

If Musharraf does live up to his promise this time, he will have to face up to arrest warrants issued in at least two specific cases by anti-terrorism courts in Sibi, Dera Bugti, accusing him of involvement in the murder of Nawab Akbar Bugti in August 2006 and in the Benazir Bhutto assassination case of December 2007. He also faces a summons from the one-man Commission of Enquiry on the Lal Masjid case set up recently under Justice Shahzado Sheikh of the Federal Shariah Court, where he or his legal counsel have so far refused to appear. Though not likely to be found personally culpable for actions claimed to have been undertaken pursuant to "public purpose" and "national securiy", Musharraf has said he will have his lawyers ready to deal with these cases legally. He may even have calculated to seek some political mileage before the elections if he is temporarily incarcerated.

Earlier, there were moves also to drag Musharraf into treason proceedings under Article 6 of the 1973 Constitution, both for violation of his oath as an Army officer indulging in politics under Article 244 of the Constitution and malafide promulgation of the November 3, 2007, emergency, followed by the dismissal of the Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. Though the latter has no love lost for him, the absence of dissolved legislatures may preclude serious pursuit of this option at present.

For the caretaker administration, which will be having its hands full with implementing the election agenda, the prospect of evolving appropriate state responses to contentious litigation arising from Musharraf's return will pose a needless headache. There will be additional responsibility to provide adequate security as Musharraf will face a serious enough threat from both Islamic radicals belonging to the Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP), who tried to assassinate him twice earlier in December 2003 as also from Baloch nationalists. The Bannu jail-break in April 2012 saw 150 Taliban militants taking security officials by complete surprise and releasing, among others, Adnan Rashid, one of the serving other ranks personnel held from the air force cell which was busted after the attacks on Musharraf.

Meanwhile, Shahzain Bugti, grandson and legally anointed heir of the Bugti clan, has already announced a Rs 10 million "head money" award according to tribal customs to anybody who will kill him!

If Musharraf is able to overcome all these hurdles before the elections and actually contest, his APML, comprising lightweight though moneyed lawyers like Saif Ali Khan and some retired Army loyalists like Maj-Gen Rashid Quereshi, would make a marginal impact only, possibly eating into votes of the two mainstream parties in the urban areas of Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad as also weakening the impact of Imran Khan's Tehrik-e-Insaaf (TI) as a viable "third option".

The Army may view the prospect of Musharraf's return with mixed feelings. On the one hand, Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani remains personally beholden to him for having selected him for the top job in November 2007 over the claims of an equally deserving three-star General, Tariq Majeed, who was later given the ceremonial sop of Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff. On the other, institutionally, the Army would not be too happy to see him humiliated or berated in courts beyond a point. Also, Musharraf would be looking to the Army to provide him fairly foolproof security cover. If something untoward is attempted or happens to him, seen to be emerging either from Islamist or Baloch nationalist quarters, this may not augur well for the Army's image in civil society for its inability to protect its own former Chief.

In terms of Musharraf's electoral prospects, the Army would surely have assessed carefully that his performance may not significantly alter political equations likely to lead to a "hung parliament" situation. If he does unexpectedly better, it could suit the Army to add another pro-establishment string to their bow, but this seems unlikely at present.

In the ultimate analysis, Musharraf's decision to return may be conditioned by last minute assessments from the Army and the ISI on how the various factors outlined above are likely to pan out. Security may be cited as a reason if he defers his return again. Otherwise, electorally, it may well turn out to be a damp squib.

The writer is a former Special Secretary, Cabinet Secretariat, Government of India.
24 cases of ceasefire violation from Pakistan in 2013, says Indian Army
New Delhi: Indian Army sources have confirmed that there have been at least 24 cases of ceasefire violations from Pakistan in 2013 alone.

There were 20 cases of infiltration in January, while February saw four cases, sources said. It has been less than two months since the beheading of Indian soldiers Lance Naiks Hemraj and Sudhakar by Pakistani army.

Army sources have also estimated there are at least 550 militants in training camps across the Line of Control in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Missing soldiers of Indian Army: Where did they go?
In a grave issue which has come to light, around 64 of Indian Army soldiers belonging to Madhya Pradesh are said to have gone missing from the services in the past five years. Strangely, 24 among those disapperared belong to Indore's Aerodrome locality.

The statistics came to light during the question hour session of Madhya Pradesh Assembly. The question was raised by BJP MLA from Mandsour Yashpal Singh Sisodia. In his reply, state home minister Uma Shankar Gupta also revealed that a special team had been constituted to search for the missing people.

Notably, Sisodia has consistently raised pressing issues in the assembly. Earlier, he had questioned the state government on what action had it taken to curb human trafficking menace in districts located on border of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, which have become the hub of such illegal activities.

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