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Thursday, 16 May 2013

From Today's Papers - 16 - 17 May 2013
NCTC back on agenda at June 5 CMs’ conference
Ajay Banerjee/TNS

New Delhi, May 15
A year after chief ministers protested against the formation of the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC), the anti-terrorism body, the agenda will be back on the table. A revised NCTC draft will be discussed at the conference of the chief ministers on June 5.

Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde today confirmed: “The draft of the proposal (of the NCTC) with changes would be placed before the chief ministers for discussion at a conference here on June 5.” The conference will deal with internal security matters and the NCTC will be on agenda.

Shinde said: “Since we have removed the operational powers from the purview of the Intelligence Bureau, there should not be any more apprehension from anyone”. Most of the non-Congress chief ministers had opposed the original proposal of the NCTC saying it would infringe upon the states’ power and hurt the federal structure of the country. The original memorandum of February 3, 2012, had been held in abeyance following the protest.

Last month, on April 17, Shinde while making a statement in the Lok Sabha said it was time to “quickly put the NCTC in place” while adding that the focus of the ministry was on human intelligence gathering. The states had objected to the use of Section 43(A) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). This says: A person (suspect) may be arrested by any officer of the designated authority. As per the February 3 office memorandum issued by the Union Home Ministry, the operations wing of the NCTC, placed under the IB, was the ‘designated authority’. This gave pan-India powers of arrest to the NCTC.

The MHA has agreed to the demand of the states’ and agreed to remove the operations wing from the IB and make it report directly to the Ministry of Home Affairs. Secondly, the power to arrest under Section 43-A will not be used independently by the NCTC. The apex body will function in unison with the state police and no arrests would be made without notifying the nearest police station. On its own, the NCTC will detain, not arrest, someone in extremely urgent cases and inform the local police immediately.

On the eve of the NCTC draft discussion, Shinde is headed to the US on May 18 where he will visit the FBI and other anti-terror agencies of the US. Shinde may take up the issue with the US to allow access to 26/11 terror accused Tahawwur Hussain Rana during his visit.

Proposed changes

    The MHA has agreed to remove the operations wing from the IB and make it report directly to the Ministry of Home Affairs
    The power to arrest under Section 43-A will not be used independently by the NCTC. The apex body will function in unison with the state police and no arrests would be made without notifying the nearest police station
    On its own, the NCTC will detain, not arrest, someone in extremely urgent cases and inform the local police immediately
    The Multi Agency Centre, being looked after by the IB currently, will be under the NCTC for easy availability of information
New twist to Navy ‘sex scandal’
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 15
The alleged sex scandal in which a woman has alleged that her Navy-officer husband was forcing her to get 'sexually involved' with his colleagues, has taken a new twist. The officer has reportedly presented documents to claim that the complaint of his wife was an 'after thought' following pending mutual-consent divorce proceedings between the couple.

The Naval-officer, a Lieut Commander (equal to an Army major), has submitted to the Navy authorities a set of documents to claim that he and his wife had filed a mutual-consent divorce petition in a Ghaziabad court on April 18 and she complained to the Naval authorities on April 26.

The officer, posted in Karwar has informed the Navy that mutual settlement had been worked to Rs 22.5 lakh and he has already deposited a bank draft of Rs 8 lakh in the court. The remaining sum of Rs 14.5 lakh was to be paid at the time of the divorce plea was to get finalised.

The divorce plea which has pictures of the couple says that the couple, who had got married on February 10, 2012, had decided to part ways on account of incompatibility.

In a complaint sent to the Defence Minister, she has demanded departmental disciplinary action against him.
Dealing with China
Significance of Li Keqiang visit

Despite the hiccups now and then in the relations between India and China, as seen during the stand-off following the developments near the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, the ties between the two are moving in the right direction. Though the visit to Beijing by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid was primarily meant to lay the groundwork for the coming visit of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to India, the exchange of views between the two sides provided clear indications that China attaches greater significance to its ties with India than with many other countries. The latest proof of it is available in the fact that New Delhi will be his first port of call after he became China’s Premier in March. Reports suggest that “considerable thought” has gone into the planning of Mr Li’s first foreign tour. After India he will visit Pakistan from where he will fly to Switzerland and then to Germany during his three-day sojourn.

As the Chinese leadership indicated during Mr Khurshid’s visit to Beijing, both sides need to maintain the momentum of “the sound development of bilateral relations” with a view to achieving their long-term objectives. Both are bound to make tremendous gains in the areas of trade and industry by ensuring that nothing comes in the way of their efforts to maintain at least the level of relations they have built up over the years. They have aimed at achieving the bilateral trade volume of $100 billion by 2015. Their past efforts have borne fruit as bilateral trade stood at $66.4 billion in 2012.

There are also hints from Beijing that the border dispute needs to be settled as early as possible. Perhaps the message from the Chinese leadership is that this factor alone is not allowing the growth of their economic relations at a much faster pace so that they can exploit their maximum potential. This shows that the Indian leadership has to be ready to fully respond to any move by the Chinese towards settling the border dispute. India should consider the visit as a major opportunity to understand if there is any change in the stance of China vis-à-vis India.
TURNING POINT: defining the army’s role
Even with the advent of a democratically elected government with a clear mandate, the fear of military intervention at some stage continues to linger in Pakistan. In Lahore, Raj Chengappa, Editor-in-Chief, The Tribune Group of Newspapers, speaks to General Jehangir Karamat, who preceded Gen Pervez Musharraf as army chief, to read the temperature within the barracks as well as outside.

‘With democracy maturing, coup not likely’
— General Jehangir Karamat (retd), former Pakistan Chief of Army Staff
Gen Jehangir Karamat (retd), 72, remained Chief of Staff of the Pakistan Army from January 1996 to October 1998. He resigned as army chief following differences with then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Having served as a professor of political science at the National Defence University in Islamabad, General Karamat is also an expert on defence and security matters, especially with his career in the military. In 2004, he was appointed Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US, where he served from November 2004 to June 2006.

How do you view the outcome of these elections – what’s the big message?

The message that has gone out is that it was a performance-based response. They looked at the five-year performance, and then responded to that. Secondly, while there was great desire for drastic change, it has been tempered by a more rational outlook, which speaks for a great deal of maturity among the public — voting in a person who is experienced and is known. Another positive aspect is that a third political force, which is only going to become stronger, has emerged. Overall, it is a very positive development for democracy and the political environment in Pakistan.

What are the key challenges on the security front?

Security and economy are both in a precarious situation. Both are very important and interlinked in many ways. If you do not have security, you won’t have investment coming in. If the economy is strong, you can take care of many of the security aspects with greater capacity. The two will have to be tackled together as part of a comprehensive national security strategy, which we hope will emerge in the days ahead.

We have a situation on the western border that needs to be defused and stabilised. Obviously, one of the pillars of that is good bilateral relations with Afghanistan and India. The violence in Afghanistan has developed linkages in Pakistan also. So you have an internal security problem that translates into a human security problem also. An intersection of economy, security and foreign policy has to happen to bring about a comprehensive national security strategy.

What should be the new approach to dealing with Afghanistan?

In Afghanistan, we had a problem with the US defining the end game, which brought in a lot of uncertainty. This uncertainty then led to sanctuaries on Afghan soil doing cross-border things in Pakistan, and vice versa. Now the focus is on the end game. From Pakistan’s point of view — and this is my opinion — we need to have a relationship with all stakeholders in Afghanistan — the Taliban, the Afghan government and the US. We should also support the process to make Afghanistan stable and capable of managing itself. That will give us enormous advantage in dealing with our own problems linked to Afghanistan, including the Tehrik-i-Taliban (Pakistan) and other factions.

How should the Nawaz Sharif government deal with internal strife?

Thus far assertion of state power hasn’t really happened, and because of that we haven’t developed capacity for it. Overall, Pakistan needs to harden itself internally. There is no time to be soft on the inside. There should be no spaces that are either marginally governed or not governed. You need to make sure there is the rule of the law, credibility of government and governance.

There is talk of a multi-pronged approach being adopted to deal with domestic militancy.

They have taken steps, there has been a tremendous urge to take care of the grievances in Balochistan and handle that situation. There has been an effort to manage the situation in Karachi so that these linkages between ethnic and sectarian insurgent groups don’t spawn violence. There has been an effort to limit violence to the extent possible. That is one prong we need to move on.

The other is the political aspect, which all these problems have — like Balochistan and Karachi. There are the religious parties and other people wanting a space in the political system. We moved on that track in these elections. People linked to various groups in popular perception have been allowed to participate. They haven’t got elected, but the fact that religious parties and other people participated in the elections is important because you have now moved on the political track also.

The economic track has been weak because of the overall economic decline and the security situation that prevented us from moving quickly on this. This is a key aspect. Put the economy on centre stage. Orchestrate your foreign and security policies and other issues to have economic linkages, support and viability.

Sharif seems keen to build bridges with India again. Will he succeed?

Relations have hit a low with the LoC incidents and the tit-for-tat incidents in jail, and a lot of the inevitable rhetoric. Mr Sharif has a track record of promoting the economy. He is for free market, deregulation and infrastructure development. He can make positive moves on this aspect in the relationship with India.

There are a lot of other issues that cloud our relations. For example, Sir Creek is resolvable. If there is will and political decision making, you can resolve it. Siachen can be resolved without difficulty. The logical step after ceasefire on the LoC would have been demilitarisation — to avoid the eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation, which inevitably leads to some incidents.

Mr Sharif has at the outset sent signals that he wants to continue the process that started in 1999, with Mr Vajpayee’s visit to Lahore, which is a positive thing to do under the circumstances. More importantly, the fact that he is focusing on the bilateral relationship with India, which means trade, economy, foreign policy — the whole spectrum of things — the signs are good. But we have been through these good signs before and then stepped back. I hope we do not do that now. It is very important for both the countries. There are so many asymmetries developing between India and Pakistan. Reassurance from your side and a positive response to overtures Mr Sharif is making should go a long way in helping us towards a better relationship.

Bringing the 26/11 perpetrators to justice has been India’s theme song, but Pakistan isn’t listening. What prevents Pakistan from moving quickly on that?

From what I have read and heard from people who know about this, I believe there are some legal issues that need to be resolved before these people can be tackled. You cannot just be pressured into taking action without going through due process. There are lawyers on both sides who have been involved in this, may be a discussion between them would help. I wish this does not stay the ‘theme song’, and turns more into a learning experience. The need is for a joint investigative mechanism so that whenever there is an incident — whether on the LoC or a non-state actor does something in India or Pakistan, or an incident in jail — that mechanism should kick in immediately, and not allow the media to take over the situation, and then turn into a government response to the media situation.

The Indian media does report that Hafiz Sayeed, the mastermind of 26/11, is in Pakistan and free to move around. Why isn’t Pakistan taking action against him?

I believe there was some action taken, he was detained, investigated, and so were other people. But we would have to look at the exact interrogation, reports, etc, that took place. May be there is scope for legal minds to put their heads together on this.

On the other major issue, which is Kashmir, what do you think is the way forward? Is there any army perception that it is time to settle it now?

I think a bit of this has happened already. You have moved on trade, you’ve had a ceasefire in place for some time; you very quickly get into discussions whenever something happens. In a way you have already moved towards saying that relations could be normalised. Trade, economic issues, etc, could take over. Getting bogged down in an issue which is not being resolved means missing all the economic opportunities in this region — like energy flow from Central Asia or Iran — we both lose out on those. I don’t think there is resistance from the military to any of these things, but Pakistan’s basic stance on Kashmir remains unchanged. It is stated often enough — that this is the basis on which it has to be resolved. But then, a long time has passed, and perhaps more discussions are needed to relook at the problem, as happened during the Musharraf regime. Maybe a review of what happened then is needed, and then take up the process from there.

Nawaz Sharif says he wants to pick up the thread from 1999, leaving out the fact that there were many threads after that. Yet we always seem to take steps backward. What can be done to insulate the relations from such political vagaries?

On our side there is the question of ownership. When you talk of 1999, you want ownership of a process that you started and are now taking forward. You have to factor in 2004. You may repackage it so that ownership remains with you, and then move on. It is important that there is a more comprehensive and wholesome look at the entire process between India and Pakistan and not just condemning one segment because ‘so and so’ did it. I think once this happens we can have a process that is insulated from transient changes.

The second is the dialogue that started after the visit of then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. It was a very comprehensive dialogue. We have resumed it off and on. There are all these proposals for confidence building and hotlines. They all have their place. But one thing Pakistan has had on the table for long, that India does not look at seriously, is a strategic restraint regime between the two. That may help us plateau in some of the weapon development areas, which are extremely costly for both the countries. I know on your side there is a drift to a maritime strategy and a look at the Pacific, so you have to spend on acquiring that capacity. Indians also cite threats from China and sometimes say that for them the China and Pakistan threats are one. You have to cut through all that.

There will be an understanding here of India’s maritime threat and problems with China. But some Pakistan-specific policy studies in India, and similar studies on our side, could help in getting us to some kind of a restraint agreement. It is being worked out in Europe and there are models for it, so we don’t have to invent the wheel all over.

Nawaz Sharif also talks of setting up a Kargil commission in a move to absolve himself of the blame. How well will such a move go down with the Army?

That may be a difficult area. You had a Kargil commission in India immediately after the incident. I think that commission did a good job in terms of highlighting lapses and suggesting areas that needed to be strengthened. India has gained from that report. We could have done a similar thing and gained from it. But now reviving that without getting everybody on board and starting a process may not be wise. I think Kargil has been studied and examined within the Pakistan Army, and lessons have been learnt. Those just have to be harnessed and discussed with all the actors.

But Nawaz Sharif appears intent on pinning the blame on Musharraf?

I think going off on tangents and blaming individuals, being vindictive, looking at retribution, is going to be counter-productive. We have got to look at the present and move on to the future. There have been many changes in Pakistan since Kargil. There has been a democratically elected government for five years and another government has come. There are great hopes on the economic front too. So I think focus should be on these issues and not getting side-tracked. It could turn into an enormous distraction. You have to put the past behind and move on.

Sharif has already stated he believes in civilian supremacy and would ensure it. How will the army take it?

There is a change already in the last five years. The Army has consciously kept itself out of political decision-making and situations, which is a good sign. This is going to be Kayani’s legacy when he leaves — that he worked for better civil-military relations and for democracy in the country, and made a very positive contribution. It is already being said by everybody. Structures for civilian supremacy already exist. You have the Defence Committee of the Cabinet, which is institutionalised. Everybody sits there; the minutes are recorded before decision-making. You have the Ministry of Defence, which handles the budget for the armed forces and other policy decisions pertaining to the forces. There is the Defence Council, which is a body chaired by the Defence Minister. I think if you work the system and use the institutions, you have everything to develop very good civil-military relations.

You said there is a change in the Army’s approach, what is that change?

The change in the army’s approach has been to completely stay out of the political arena and situations. Let the dynamics of situations play out and let the political institutions resolve things. The situation was grave in Balochistan and Karachi. But the military didn’t interfere in that. The political government did its best to handle it on its own. While an elected government should have institutional and structural strength of the military behind it to assist it, you shouldn’t have points of friction where the army holds back or waits before it gives everything. One thing that could help vastly is that an elected government should establish its credibility and retain that through good governance, management of the economy, internal security, etc. Once that credibility is there, there won’t be any reason for friction among the institutions.

Some experts say the army is no longer a government-in-waiting. Is it true?

Yes, in a way it is true because the complexity of the problems has increased vastly. There is also global abhorrence of a military imposing itself and shunting out democracy or elected governments. The proof of this is that we have been through very precarious situations like Swat, but the military never even considered doing anything to upset the democratic process. So I think there is a sea change.

However, whenever I met Indian colleagues and friends, they have the obsession that it is the military which calls the shots in Pakistan. Perhaps there is a history and it was true in the past. But during the past five years — and five years is not a short time — there has been a considerable change. Nawaz Sharif has been making very positive and definite statements and there will be a change. More focus should be on a political government.

It is not only India but other people also who say Pakistan does not have one power centre, and they do not know who to talk to. Democracy is all about resolving this image of Pakistan. The focus should be on the elected government, and it should be the main decision-maker.

The ISI is dubbed by many as a state within a state. Will the new government be able to manage the ISI?

I think it has already happened. The ISI is a great asset for Pakistan. It works under the Prime Minister and provides strategic intelligence for Pakistan. There have been brief periods in the past when the ISI was kept out of decision-making, and the government took all the decisions. Mr Sharif knows this. During the past five years, the ISI has again been kept out political affairs. But I think ISI inputs are very important, as are military inputs. That is why I tried to hint at a national security strategy that may bring everybody on board and lay a directive to everybody on how the political government wants them to operate and deliver. Of course, I believe the ISI’s role should be confined to intelligence, which will help all institutions, including the military and the ISI itself.

Is there chance of another coup by the military?

You had events triggering that in the past. I do not think that in the prevalent global situation and economic situation or with the host of problems facing the country, there is any chance of a military coup to succeed. For anybody it will be foolhardy to take such a step.

What if the political and economic situation deteriorates?

Actually, I am looking at the situation improving and moving up from a very low point, and not looking at some kind of a catastrophe. Of course, if such a catastrophe does strike, and national survival is at stake, then steps could be taken, but I don’t foresee any such situation. We have shown resilience through some very difficult times. There have been misunderstandings down the road, yet nobody was provoked into taking any such action. The past was another time. With the present environment, I don’t think it is an option at all.

Did Musharraf make a miscalculation by returning to Pakistan?

I think Musharraf took a very conscious decision to come back. He must have had a good idea of what he could face. I think what he wants to do is go through the process and get himself cleared of many of the allegations levelled against him.

Is the army upset that for the first time a former chief is being prosecuted and in some ways humiliated?

In the past too we have had military dictators subjected to criticism at the tail-end of their tenure. Our country still looks at every military intervention as a negative event. People who carried out those are subjected to criticism. In that sense the army has accepted criticism at the individual level. This time, of course, it is a legal process and the hope is that President Musharraf will go through the legal process and come out of it positively. There is no desire to intervene. Everybody is sorry that it happened, and it should not have happened. But now that it has, if it clears the air, it could help.
Good relations with Pak vital for resolving tricky issues: Shinde
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 15
Close on the heels of Nawaz Sharif — who is certain to be the new Pakistan Premier after his emphatic election win —seeking warmer ties with India, Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde on Wednesday said good relations with Islamabad were vital for resolving tricky issues between the two countries.

"When Nawaz Sharif’s party was leading in majority of seats, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had congratulated him and in return Sharif had invited the Prime Minister to attend his swearing-in. It’s a good initiative. Such initiatives can greatly help in resolving tricky issues,” Shinde told reporters here.

On being asked if government agencies have made an assessment of the situation in Pakistan after elections, Shinde said: “It was too early to make a review”.

In December 2012, Shinde had to face an embarrassment when his then Pakistani counterpart Rehman Malik during his visit to India had equated Babri mosque demolition to terror attacks. Malik at that time had even claimed that 26/11 mastermind and Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed had been arrested in Pakistan. Later, it was revealed that Saeed had never been arrested. Shinde had told Malik that it was of "paramount importance" to bring perpetrators of terror strikes to justice for smoother Indo-Pak ties.

The Home Ministry, meanwhile, has asked all states to set up fast-track courts to take up cases of youth jailed for suspicion of being involved in terror cases. The Centre has sent an advisory to states and was also trying to find out how many Muslim inmates (involved in terror cases) were in jail.

"We are trying to ascertain the facts. It will take time. We have asked the states to set up fast-track courts," Shinde said. Minister of State for Home RPN Singh had informed Parliament recently that under the NIA Act, the Central Government had set up 39 special courts to take up terror-related cases. About three months ago, Minority Affairs Minister K Rahman Khan had expressed concern over "wrong arrests" of Muslim youths in different parts of the country in terror cases. He had taken up the matter with Shinde and had proposed setting up of special courts to ensure speedy trial in such cases.

No decision on Bhullar

On demand for commuting the death sentence of terrorist Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar, the Home Minister said he had received a number of representations but no decision has been taken yet. "We are still looking into these demands,” he said.
India rejects China's demand for notification of patrol time
India has rejected China’s proposal for having a bilateral arrangement to notify each other in advance before sending troops on patrol along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The proposal for setting up a bilateral institutional mechanism was woven into the draft text of the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) that China recently gave to India. New Delhi and Beijing are currently negotiating the proposed agreement, although it is not clear whether it would be ready for signing before Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s maiden visit to India commencing next Sunday.

Indian Army was against disclosing the patrol timings to the Chinese, which would rob off the crucial surprise element in border patrolling. “It’s our territory. We can patrol it whenever we want,” an army officer told Deccan Herald.

China proposed to set up a formal mechanism for more regular “friendly contacts” between the personnel guarding the LAC. The underlying objective is to institutionalise the practices the troops follow while patrolling the 4,057 km line of actual control.

New Delhi, however, was cagey about the proposed deal, because certain clauses of the draft text, if accepted, would require the local units of the army and paramilitary force of one country to inform their counterparts on the other side before sending troops on patrol. The proposed BDCA seeks to consolidate the arrangements New Delhi and Beijing agreed in 1993 and 1996 deals as well as the 2005 protocol for Confidence Building Measures between the armies of the two countries along the LAC.

Negotiation on the agreement has taken the centre stage in the wake of the face-to-face situation in Depsang Bulge along the LAC in eastern Ladakh.
After both sides withdrew troops, New Delhi is “carefully considering” the draft text of the proposed agreement. Sources said India had not committed itself to signing the pact with China as a precondition for the withdrawal of Chinese troops.

New Delhi may insist on modifying the text of the draft agreement to accommodate concerns of the Indian Army and paramilitary forces guarding the LAC. Meanwhile, local army commanders from either side of the border met at the customary border personnel meeting at Nathu La (Sikkim) on Wednesday. A brigadier rank officer from the Indian Army and a Senior Colonel from the People's Liberation Army, headed the respective delegation.

This is the second BPM between the two sides after the first one at Chusul (Ladakh) on May 1.

A third BPM will be held in Bum La (Arunachal Pradesh) on May 30, which will be followed by two more BPM in September and October. The frequency and venue of these BPMs are pre-decided.

India insisted on early settlement of border dispute to fulfil its “strategic objective”, to advance the basic interests of both nations. Exchange of maps delineating the respective perception of the LAC could be one of the forward movement, though there is no clarification on what would be the approach to such exchange.

India and China exchanged maps of the central sector of the LAC more than 10 years ago, but the western and eastern sectors remain contentious.
Nehruvian pacifism ruined our defence manufacturing
Narendra Modi has timely gunned for self-sufficiency in defence production. His statement comes as a morale-lifter. It is a pity that even after 65 years of independence, the Indian armed forces are heavily dependent on imported weapons and equipments. Paradoxically, we can design intercontinental ballistic missile like Agni-V; launch more than 60 satellites, including the Chandrayan, into the space; but we still need to import aircraft & helicopters, artillery guns and even army trucks. India’s defence import Bill, aided by scandalous devalourisation of the rupee under Manmohanomics, has bloated in the last few years.
Drain on India’s foreign exchange is not the only downside of defence imports. It also retards the capacity for technological value addition. This is because India has a tendency to buy off-the-shelf. We might actually be buying yesterday’s weapons to fight tomorrow’s wars.

Defence scams under the UPA-I

Defence deals are notorious for the bribery and kickbacks involved. Within a span of the last one year procurement deals of 600 all-terrain trucks from Tatra, 12 VVIP helicopter from AgustaWestland and 197 Advanced Light Helicopters from Eurocopter came under cloud. The cases of VVIP helicopters and Tatra trucks deals are now being investigated by the CBI. The Eurocopter deal has been cancelled.

In April, 2012 the Ministry of Defence blacklisted six companies including four foreign ones for a period of ten years. The CBI has charge sheeted Sudipta Ghosh, ex-Director General of Ordnance for accepting illegal gratification from those companies.

But the cancellation of defence deals leaves us equally vulnerable. They dent our defence preparedness. For instance, the blacklisting of M/s Israeli Military Industries has hit the completion schedule of Nalanda Ordnance Factory. The scheduled retirement of Russian-made Mi-series helicopters used for VVIPs is now in limbo after the AgustaWestland episode. The Government has not dared to scrap the deal. Our fleet of 15 submarines mostly of German origin also needs to be replenished. It took us a long time to zero in on the French-built Scorpene. The negotiation consumed nine long years. But the project is facing time and cost overruns. The first of the six Scorpene submarines would now be delivered after July, 2015 instead of envisaged December, 2012.

Ordnance factories produced civilian goods

For almost two centuries, the British had kept India free from invasions. It was an exceptional record when viewed against one thousand years that preceded British rule. Some 2.5 million Indian soldiers participated in the World War II on the Allied side. All ammunition needed for them was produced in Indian ordnance factories. All the 16 ordnance factories in British India fell on the Indian side after partition. Not a single one went to Pakistan.

But the pacifist policies of Nehru negatively impacted India’s indigenous defence production. The ordnance factories took to production of civilian goods. On May 10, 1953 Deputy Defence Minister Satish Chandra informed the Rajya Sabha on the varieties of civilian goods manufactured in ordnance factories. These included rods and tubes, sporting guns and ammunition, leather goods, textile items, steel and cast iron castings, Acetone, steel billets and bars, forgings and die castings etc.

By 1956, railway wagons and carriages were also being produced by the gun factories. Around 3000 ordnance workers were engaged in this task. Other Ministers did not lag behind in placing orders. The value of non-military goods produced in ordnance factories was Rs 80 lakhs in 1952-53, Rs 189 lakhs in 1953-54, Rs 393 lakhs in 1954-55 and Rs 280 lakhs in 1955-56.

The India-China war of 1962 and the India-Pakistan war of 1965 shook and woke us up.

INSAS rifles: Mass producing a folly?

Today, there are 41 ordnance factories in India placed under an Ordnance Factory Board. But it would be a revelation that their most manufactured weapon is the one junked by the army. The rifle factories at Ichapur, Kanpur and Tiruchirapalli together churned out 1,00,000 units of 5.56 mm bore INSAS (Indian Small Arms System) rifles annually. The 5.56 mm INSAS rifles developed by the DRDO were first inducted in the army in 1994-95. But the army was dissatisfied with their performance from the beginning. Yet, their production continued at top gear despite the army wanting to shelve them. The army, in the process, was saddled with half a million rifles and carbine. The Ministry of Defence has now decided to phase them out within five years.

Even the Border Security Force (BSF) did not want them. A BSF jawan once told me how insecure he felt defending the border at Punjab with 5.56 mm bore INSAS rifle instead of 7.62 mm bore SLR as previously. With a hit from INSAS 5.56 mm, an infiltrator can safely escape with an injury, whereas a shot from 7.62 mm SLR could kill him instantaneously. But it is a pity that ordnance factories were producing merely 6,000 units of 7.62 mm SLR as against one lakh units of 5.56 mm INSAS.

The Rs 200-crore Beretta goof-up

The BSF also wanted to dump the 5.56 mm INSAS rifles. The Home Ministry decided to give them Italy-made Beretta sub-machine guns. A deal for 30,000 guns was struck for Rs 200 crore. But after the first consignment of 17,000 guns arrived in September, 2011, there were complaints about the condition and performance of those weapons. Test fires often went awry. Ultimately, Beretta agreed to replace the faulty weapons.
Shinde rules out Army control over ITBP
NEW DELHI: Amid a raging turf war between the home and defence ministries over control of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), home minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Wednesday rejected the Army's demand to get operational command of the paramilitary force which guards the border with China.

Seeking to end the debate which got a new lease of life after the recent Chinese incursion in Ladakh, Shinde said, "The ITBP will stay with home ministry only."

One of the seven central armed police forces under the home ministry, ITBP mans the 4,057-km Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China with around 17 battalions. The Army is positioned in "depth" for support with some 23 battalions.

In the wake of the recent Chinese incursion, the Army, backed by the defence ministry, had reiterated its decade-long demand for ITBP to be placed under its "operational control" for "better and coordinated border management" along the LAC.

But the home ministry stuck to its stand. Officials in the ministry stressed that ITBP showed alacrity in reporting the 19-km deep intrusion by Chinese soldiers in Depsang Bulge to all authorities concerned on April 15 itself.

The Army, however, contended there were "glaring deficiencies" in the "deployment and patrolling patterns" of ITBP, which is also "not optimally-equipped in weaponry" and has "limitations" in reacting to operational contingencies. "The trip-wire situation along the LAC can escalate without much transition time... ITBP, which has a police mindset, is not geared for this," an Army officer said.

The home ministry's stand has been backed by the external affairs ministry in the past with the belief that border management with China is best done by a central police force during peace-time. ITBP automatically comes under Army's operational control during any conflict.

India's land borders with China, Pakistan, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Nepal — totalling 14,880-km — all suffer from a similar lack of coordination and synergy among the multiple forces manning them. The Army and home ministry, for instance, are also at loggerheads over the latter's move to replace Assam Rifles with BSF along the 1,643-km border with Myanmar.

Though the defence ministry did not agree with the home ministry's demand to replace Assam Rifles with BSF, Shinde on Wednesday insisted that the matter was still being discussed.
Defused by diplomacy
recent tensions between Indian and Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control end without a shot being fired thanks to calm diplomacy. By JOHN CHERIAN

THE brief exercise in brinkmanship on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) between Chinese and Indian military patrols in the eastern Ladakh region finally ended on an amicable note, as most serious military and political analysts had predicted.

Indian and Chinese soldiers briefly faced each other in a standoff that started on April 15. It was announced on May 5 that both the Indian and Chinese patrols that had pitched tents on territory that was unoccupied until recently would withdraw to their original positions. The issue was hyped up by the Indian media, with support from sections of the Indian establishment. The issue had briefly threatened to derail the high-profile visits Chinese and Indian leaders had planned in the coming weeks and months.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid is scheduled to be in Beijing in the second week of May for talks and to prepare the groundwork for the visit of the new Chinese Premier, Li Keqiang, to India in the third week of May. During the fortnight of China-baiting in the Indian media that preceded the return of normalcy, there were loud demands from the leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Samajwadi Party for the Minister to call off his trip. Defence Minister A.K. Antony, under pressure from the opposition and a media barrage, suggested that all options were open to resolve the minor military impasse that had developed along the LAC. “India will take every step to protect its national interests,” the Defence Minster said. After the May 5 agreement, highly placed Indian sources are now claiming that the Indian media were getting their inputs from “those who were not in the loop”.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was more restrained in his comments, when he said that it was “a localised problem” which could be solved. This time, the tensions lingered a little longer than necessary as it was allowed to be hijacked by a jingoistic media. In comparison, there was very little coverage of the incident in the Chinese media, an indication that Beijing did not want to dramatise a minor flare-up along the LAC.

According to External Affairs Ministry officials, even when flag meetings on the LAC between Indian and Chinese military officers were going on, the matter was taken up expeditiously by Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai. He called up the Chinese Ambassador in New Delhi on April 18 and asked for the restoration of the status quo ante on the LAC. He coordinated with the military authorities and Indian Ambassador in China S. Jaishankar while talking to senior officials in Beijing. The Indian side, according to sources involved in the negotiations, had concluded at the outset that the incident was a “very localised” one and could easily be sorted out. Their optimism was justified.

The official spokesman for the External Affairs Ministry issued a statement on May 6 which said that the governments of China and India had agreed “to restore the status quo ante along the LAC in the western sector of the India-China boundary as it existed before April 15”.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a terse statement that both the countries had “terminated the standoff at the Tiannan River Valley area”. The statement went on to add that both the sides had “moved forward and adopted a constructive and cooperative attitude and calmed the tensions through border-related mechanisms, diplomatic channels and border defence meetings”. The official spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that the agreement was reached keeping “in mind the larger interests of bilateral relations”.

The dispute

Senior sources in the Indian government have said that the tin structure that the Indian Army had built in the Chumar area has been dismantled but that no other commitments or concessions were demanded or given. According to reports, the Chinese patrol had pitched its tents when it discovered the Indian Army’s presence there. India claims that the area is well within its side of the LAC and that the Chinese had pitched their tents 19 kilometres inside Indian territory. China has strongly differed with this assertion, stating that its troops were very much on the Chinese side of the LAC.

As things stand today, the border between the two countries has not been completely demarcated, leading to varying perceptions about the exact location of the LAC in many parts of its 3,500-km-long boundary. In fact, there is no line of control that is recognised by either side in the area where the recent dispute arose. Indian officials have been saying that demarcating the LAC clearly “would be helpful”. This issue is going to be discussed during Khurshid’s visit to Beijing.

An agreement on “Peace and Tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China Border Area” signed in 1993 between the two countries relating to the border issue clearly states that the references to the LAC should not prejudice their respective positions on the boundary question, as no commonly accepted alignment of the LAC exists. Both sides patrol the inhospitable and desolate stretch of land but had desisted from putting up permanent structures. According to Indian sources, New Delhi will be considering a recent proposal by Beijing for the signing of a Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA). The BDCA draft submitted to India focusses on ways to improve communications between the troops deployed on both sides of the LAC so that untoward incidents along the border can be avoided.

The Indian side involved in the recent negotiations said that its primary objective was to get the “relationship back on track”, before it spun out of control. It was obvious that the leadership of both the countries did not want to jeopardise the forthcoming high-level visits. The Prime Minister is also scheduled to visit China before the end of the year.

“Aggressive patrolling”

In recent years, both sides have been resorting to what is being described as “aggressive patrolling” along the LAC. The Chinese side has not taken kindly to the new military airports being constructed by India adjacent to the LAC and an increase in Indian troop numbers. The latest incident, according to the Chinese side, was triggered by the infrastructure build-up and construction of bunkers by the Indian military in the Fukche and Chumar regions of Ladakh.

There was an agreement in 1996 between the two countries to keep a ceiling on troop levels along the LAC. A 2005 border protocol signed between the two countries also bans the construction of permanent structures in disputed areas. The construction of structures in a disputed area led to the latest incident. According to reports, India has agreed to address some of China’s concerns about permanent structures being put in southeast Ladakh’s Chumar area. The Indian Army had put up forward observation posts and bunkers and deployed surveillance equipment in the area.

The Army’s build-up along the LAC started in the middle of the last decade. Two new mountain divisions were created to defend Arunachal Pradesh and three Air Force bases were created for the deployment of Su-30s in Assam, along with several batteries of Akash missiles. Eight Advanced Landing Grounds were refurbished along the LAC to facilitate easy landing of a heliborne force.

The Army has announced plans for the creation of a mountain strike force to be put on the ground by 2017. The Chinese side could have been more worried by the Army’s deployment of two additional infantry brigades in south-eastern Ladakh. Advanced Landing Grounds have already been activated by the Army in Daulat Beg Oldi.

China had offered a draft proposal to India in April suggesting that both sides freeze their troop levels along the LAC. India already has more troops than China along the border. The Indian Army, however, argues that the transport infrastructure China has across the LAC makes it easy for it to move troops at short notice to the border. Indian troops, on the other hand, have to depend mainly on air transport to move around the rugged Himalayan terrain.

Beijing may not be viewing the recent event in isolation. It is warily watching the evolving strategic and defence relationship between India, the United States and Japan. The latest crisis has coincided with the Barack Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia” whose unstated goal is to contain the rise of China to the status of a leading global power.

As Indian and Chinese military officers were meeting at the LAC to resolve the latest border tangle, India, the U.S. and Japan held their latest round of trilateral dialogue in Washington, the fourth so far.
5 sex scandals that rocked the Indian armed forces

New Delhi: The Indian armed forces, beacon of honour and pride, are increasingly being dragged in to several controversies. From high level corruption to shameless sex scandals, the armed forces of our nation are fighting an inside war, one that involves their dignity.
The navy’s boat has been rocked by yet another sex scandal. It has been learnt that the wife of a senior officer has alleged that her husband forced her to get sexually intimate with his colleagues. The officer in question is a Lieutenant Commander (equivalent to a Major in the army). He is posted at the Naval Ship Repair Yard at Karwar in Karnataka. She has also accused him of torturing her both physically and mentally.

She has met Defense Minister, AK Antony, who has ordered a departmental inquiry. He has also assured her of justice in the case, once all the facts emerge. While this step is being seen in a positive light, the Navy has been left red-faced since this is not the first case of such kind.
In recent years, all three wings of the armed forces, navy, air-force and the army, have suffered from similar crisis of confidence.

Earlier in April this year, the wife of a young officer had levied serious charges against her own husband. She had alleged that senior officers had molested her and wife swapping was a norm. The police subsequently arrested the officer along with 10 others. However, the navy rubbished her claims as unsubstantiated.
The young officer was posted in the Southern command as a Lieutenant and one of the accused was an officer of Commodore rank. She had also accused three members of the Commodore’s family of sexual abuse. She had been married for only an year.
She also accused her husband and his family of harassing her for dowry. Failing to submit to his demands, she was forced to sleep with his colleagues. She chose to contact police in Delhi, where she was preparing for her Civil services exam. Speaking to a TV channel, she said that her husband had also threatened to kill her and throw her off in the sea if she didn’t withdraw her case.

Her husband forced her to perform these humiliating sexual acts with his superiors so he could get promoted and also enjoy other benefits.
In April 2012, the Army suffered great embarrassment when a divorced lady officer accused a fellow officer of physical abuse after he promised to marry her, but refused later. This incident was reported from the Army hospital situated in Dehradun. They had gotten married but he refused to get it registered.
An officer of the rank of Lieutenant General lost his job because of a controversy about a sex scandal. AK Nanda, who was an Engineer-in-chief with the army, was forced to resign after he was accused of molesting his technical secretary’s wife during an official trip to Israel. Nanda became the first Lieutenant General in the history of the armed forces to lose his job when General VK Singh asked him for his resignation.

Not only the army but army- run institutions have also been corroded by instances of depravity. The principal of General BC Joshi army public school in Pithoragarh,Uttarakhand accused a Colonel of exploiting her.

Principal Vimmi Joshi leveled these charges at Colonel Hitendra Bahadur, who was the Vice President of the committee that ran the school. She said that the Colonel had written her a letter which contained lewd and derogatory language. When she approached the school management, they terminated her instead of delivering justice. She then approached the Court over this matter.
This particular incident left the Indian government particularly embarrassed since it involved a foreign nation. In 2012, a court of inquiry found four soldiers along with an army major guilty. The incident occurred during a 2007-08 joint mission. The DNA of one of the soldier’s matched that of a boy in Congo. The other three faced an administrative inquiry.

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