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Tuesday, 11 June 2013

From Today's Papers - 11 Jun 2013
Two-pronged strategy to tackle Maoists urged
KV Prasad/TNS

New Delhi, June 10
Amid strong demand from the sections of political leadership for the ‘strongest action’ against the Maoists, the Left parties today suggested the government cannot treat the issue as a law and problem alone but delve deep and address the basic issues of tribal people who were being disposed of their land and resources.

“We are considering strong action against Maoists, all parties have asked to take strongest action”, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said after a meeting of political parties called by the Prime Minister on the issue in the backdrop of the May 25 CPI (Maoist) attack on Congress leaders and security forces in Bastar district of Chhattisgarh.

The meeting adopted a resolution suggesting that “The state governments as well as the Central Government should adopt the two-pronged strategy of sustained operations to clear the areas of Maoist influence and pursue the objectives of effective governance and rapid development. We urge them to use all legitimate means to defend the security of the country and its institutions and quell armed insurgency and violence”.

CPM leader Basudeb Acharia told TNS that BJP leaders had a word of praise for former Home Minister P Chidambaram for his policy in dealing with Left Wing extremism and wanted the Government to eliminate the Naxalites/Maoists operating in various districts. BJD chief and Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik wanted the security forces to flush them out.

Acharia said tackling the problem through security forces was not the right approach since both the Centre and the state Governments would have to find out why tribal people were supporting the Naxalites and feeling exploited and deprived. “Today mining has been opened to multi-national corporations who are minting money while the tribals continue to suffer”, he said.

Aware of the sensitivity, through a resolution adopted at the meeting, parties appealed to the youth of the affected states to abjure violence and pursue their goals through legitimate and democratic means while assuring them that the governments will be sensitive to their concerns and redress any sense of alienation and injustices of the past.

In the resolution, the parties described the May 25 incident as an attack on democracy, freedom and free speech and expression stating that “Nothing can be more dangerous to our Republic than the insurgency of the CPI(Maoist) in the pursuit of its misguided goal of overthrowing Parliamentary democracy and the Constitution of India through violent means. The Indian state cannot, and will not, accept the pernicious Maoist doctrine. The CPI(Maoist) must give up the path of violence and destruction. On this, there can be no compromise”.

Earlier, in his opening address, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the strength and robustness of the democratic forces in the country would suffer if the space for political activity gets restricted because of fear or terror. Therefore, “It would not be wrong to say that the Chhattisgarh attack is a frontal assault on the democratic foundations of our nation”.

At the same time, he said the Centre is following a twin-pronged strategy to deal with Left Wing extremism through operations against Maoists and addressing development and governance issues in the areas affected by it. “We believe that there is a need to further fine tune and strengthen this strategy. We have already started work in this direction.”
Pakistan’s Afghan challenge
National security remains a major concern
by Gurmeet Kanwal

In a historical first, an elected civilian government in Pakistan surprisingly survived its full term of five years – even though its record was uninspiring. Elections were held reasonably smoothly and the transition to a new government has been hassle-free. This has led to the hope that the Nawaz Sharif government will be able to stem the rot in Pakistan. In the recent past, governance has been abysmal, the economy is in a shambles and sectarian violence and creeping Talibanisation have shaken the very foundations of society and are eroding the idea of Pakistan as an Islamic state.

The greatest challenge that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will face will be on the national security front. Fissiparous tendencies in Balochistan and the restive Gilgit-Baltistan Northern Areas are a perpetual security nightmare. Karachi remains a tinderbox that is ready to explode. Al-Qaida has gradually made inroads into Pakistani terrorist organisations like Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Harkat-ul-Jihad Al-Islami (HuJI), Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), and while it is still far from forming an umbrella organisation encompassing all of them, it is moving perceptibly in that direction. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has consolidated its position in North and South Waziristan despite the army’s counter-insurgency campaign over the last two summers and appears capable of breaking out of its stronghold to neighbouring areas. Only concerted army operations launched with single-mindedness of purpose can stop the TTP juggernaut.

However, the fallout of the draw-down of the US-led NATO-ISAF forces by the end of 2014 will pose the most complex challenge to the new government as it is an external security threat with internal security linkages. The security vacuum that will be created by the departure of foreign troops from Afghan soil is likely to lead to a Taliban resurgence as the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF – army plus the police) will be incapable of independently assuming responsibility for security for all of Afghanistan. Though the numbers of the ANSF have gone up to the planned figure of 3,52,000, these are insufficient for the task at hand. The ANSF are inadequately equipped – they lack heavy weapons, artillery, air support and helicopters for logistics support. They are poorly trained, badly led and lack the motivation necessary to sustain complex counter-insurgency operations on a prolonged basis. Fratricide and desertions with weapons are commonplace.

The present situation is best described as a stalemate at the tactical level as the US-led forces are not exactly losing and the Taliban are not winning. A stalemate between a superpower and a motley array of rag-tag militiamen of a non-state actor will be seen as a moral victory for the Taliban. The US strategy to clear-hold-build-transfer-exit has succeeded only partially as al-Qaida has not been completely eliminated. Hence, no matter whether the Afghan government agrees to limit the US presence to 10,000 to 12,000 soldiers or a lower number, special forces and drone strikes against the remnants of al-Qaida and the leaders of other organisations considered inimical to US national interest will continue, including on Pakistani soil, with or without the concurrence of the Pakistan government and the army. The recent killing of Wali-ur-Rehman, the deputy chief of the TTP, is a case in point. This will pose a dilemma that Nawaz Sharif, who seeks to bring the army and the ISI firmly under the control of the civilian government, will find hard to resolve.

The Karzai government is seen as an obstacle to the realisation of Pakistan’s key objectives in Afghanistan due to its steady rejection of Pakistan’s overtures, including the use of its good offices for reconciliatiory negotiations with the Taliban. The Afghan Security Council has called for Pakistan’s ISI to be blacklisted and, in a weaker moment, President Karzai urged the Taliban to turn its guns on Pakistan. India’s commitment to a strong and stable Afghanistan and its US$ 2 billion investment in the country’s reconstruction are a cause for concern in Pakistan, particularly among the security agencies. They resent Afghan calls for military aid from India due to fears of military encirclement – even though the Pakistan army appears to have realised the folly of seeking ‘strategic depth’ in Afghanistan. To counter the perceived attempts at encirclement, the Pakistan army and the ISI have begun to reach out to members of the erstwhile Northern Alliance.

Another bone of contention is Pakistan’s accusation that insurgent groups like the TNSM of ‘Radio’ Mullah Fazlullah, are operating out of secure bases in Afghanistan. At present the Pakistan army lacks the capacity to fight these groups across the Durand Line. However, it may have no option but to attempt to do so in case these groups step up their attacks post-2014 and the Afghan government is powerless to stop them. Such a scenario could even lead to state-on-state conflict in the worst case.

There are approximately 1.6 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan today. Most of them are Pushtoons. Besides being an economic burden, they are seen as a national security threat since the Afghan government does not recognise the Durand Line as the boundary with Pakistan. Though the Pushtoons in Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa are fairly well integrated with the national mainstream, separatist tendencies can come to the fore again. If the post-2014 security situation deteriorates into a civil war four to five years later – a probability that cannot be ruled out – Pakistan will be deluged with hundreds of thousands of additional refugees, further exacerbating the problem.

Pakistan is hesitant to back Mullah Omar’s Taliban fully because it is unsure of getting its unfettered support if the Taliban comes back to power sometime in future. The Nawaz Sharif government faces manifold security challenges from Afghanistan, but has very few arrows in its quiver to deal with them effectively. Its inability to do so will lead to further instability in the region. It must consider cooperating with other regional powers, including India, to prevent Afghanistan’s slide into a civil war, which will be disastrous for the region.
India set to develop killer robot soldiers, says army chief

INDIA is currently working on development of an army of killer robot soldiers, it has emerged.

Bosses at the country’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) plan to create super-intelligent robots to fight alongside human troops.

And they believe the android squaddies will be up and running within a DECADE.

The India Times reports that they could then be deployed in and around the “Line of Control” area of the India-Pakistan border to guard Indian territory against potential attack.

DRDO Director General Avinash Chander said: “We are going to work for robotic soldiers.

“We are going to look for very high level of intelligence in it than what we are talking of today.

“It is a new programme and a number of labs are already working in a big way on robotics.

“Unmanned warfare in land and air is the future of warfare."

The bots would be equipped with special software to help them distinguish between friend and foe and Chandler says they could potentially save human lives, taking on the deadly front-line fighting

He continued: “Initially, the robotic soldier may be assisting the man, but slowly in due course of time, the robotic soldier would be at the front end and the human soldier would be assisting him.”

They would also be able to venture into places human soldiers can’t, like high-radiation zones.

He added: “It will have multiple technologies in terms of communication with team members and ability to recognise an enemy.

“Today, you have neural networks, whenever the soldier tells [the robot] that this is a human solider, he will derive his own logic as to what is the difference between him and others.

“That learning process will keep building up.”
Antony orders internal probe into Army housing scam
NEW DELHI: Defence minister A K Antony has ordered an internal inquiry into allegations of several misdeeds, and possible criminal conspiracy, in the way the Army Welfare Housing Organisation (AWHO) has been selling houses to military families.

Sources said Antony has asked defence secretary R K Mathur for a detailed report into the allegations. The defence secretary is expected to ask Army headquarters for a report, based on which further decision would be taken.

The Army headquarters had last week told TOI that it was in possession of a performance audit of AWHO, while denying TOI report that Lt Gen J P Nehra was moved as the adjutant general recently because of the serious nature of allegations regarding AWHO's functioning. The Army had said in a formal statement to TOI, "A performance audit of AWHO has been done by a board of officers, which is a normal feature and being done for other departments in the Army also for evaluating and improving the performance of the organisation. Allegations that AWHO tied up with private builders to sell their houses and of financial wrongdoings in land purchase are incorrect."

However, complaints with Antony and several sources are contradicting Army's claims.

Sources said Antony is in possession of detailed complaints, and some regional media reports, pointing out serious lacunae in some AWHO projects. Allegations surrounding the Kochi project of AWHO are serious in nature, and include allegations of deliberate efforts to scuttle the AWHO's own project and possible conspiracy.

AWHO had bought a 4.25-acre plot on Silver Sand Island in 1987 near Kochi to build houses at affordable rates for its applicants in Kerala. However, even after 25 years the houses are still not ready. Meanwhile, AWHO got into a 'turn-key' project with a private builder and bought an apartment complex from it and sold it to military families. Sold at Rs 2,940 per square feet, the turn-key project is next to a railway track on a small plot and without much civic amenities.

Allegation abounds that AWHO quoted the cost of its own project on Silver Sand Island at a higher rate than the turn-key project, and thus tempted applicants to the private builder's complex. Strangely, its own project should be far cheaper because the land cost was negligible and the AWHO operates on no-profit no-loss basis.

Worse, the cost of both the AWHO projects in Kochi is more than the open market rate of several good apartment complexes in Kerala's commercial capital, according to complaints by serving and retired officers.

There are also hints of a possible conspiracy in Kochi, with the AWHO awarding the contract for constructing its Silver Sand Island project to the same builder whose building was earlier bought on a turn-key basis. It is alleged that the tender processing was flawed and there may be serious violation of norms, which led to the same builder bagging the contract.

Even as Antony seeks a report, sources are also talking about widespread irregularities in AWHO projects elsewhere in the country.
Indian army airlifts dead soldier’s body after ceasefire violation from Pakistan in Kashmir

Poonch (Jammu and Kashmir), June 8 (ANI): The Indian army airlifted the body of dead soldier Naib Subedar Bachan Singh after the completion of the post mortem on Saturday.

Saajad Rasool, the doctor attending the Indian martyr spoke about the cause of his death.

“This man has died due to the shelling from the Pakistani side. He has multiple injuries but he has sustained a fatal injury on the chest. There are also serious injuries in the abdomen,” he said.

Singh was killed in the latest firing from Pakistan side on the border area of disputed Kashmir region.

Indian and Pakistani troops exchanged fire for 40 minutes across the line of control in Sawjian area of Mandi sub sector.

Reportedly, Naib Subedar Bachhan Singh succumbed to his injuries after he was hit by shrapnel close to his Khalsa-2 post.

Singh’s body was airlifted in an army helicopter after all the procedures were completed in the local hospital at Mandi.

His body was taken to Jammu from where it would be taken to his native village.

In January 2013, India denounced Pakistan over a fire-fight in the disputed territory of Kashmir in which two Indian soldiers were killed, but the nuclear-armed rivals both appeared determined to prevent the clash escalating into a full diplomatic crisis.

The body of one of the soldiers was found “badly mutilated” in a forested area on the side controlled by India.

Firing and small skirmishes between the two countries are common along the 740-km (460-mile) LoC despite a ceasefire and slowly improving bilateral ties.

There were more than 75 ceasefire violations along the Line of Control in 2012, killing eight people. Most of the violations were exchanges of fire between the two sides.

Thousands of weary people living in villages near the military control line fear they will again be caught in the crossfire after the recent border clashes.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars since 1947, when they became independent from Britain. The two countries share many similarities in language and culture, though most of Pakistan’s citizens are Muslim and most of India’s Hindu.

Kashmir, and the human rights abuses committed there by Indian troops, is a politically explosive issue in Pakistan. Pakistani security forces have long trained militant groups to attack Indian soldiers.(ANI)
Indian army chief lauds NA role
KATHMANDU, June 10: Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army General Bikram Singh on Monday lauded the role played by Nepal Army and described it as being apolitical and accountable to democracy.

The visiting Indian dignitary was speaking at a flag-in ceremony of the joint Nepal-India Everest expedition team held at the Army Headquarters.

The professionalism and standard of the Nepal Army is remarkable and worth learning in many ways, General Singh said, while pointing out the distinct relationship between the two armies“ "The spirit of the sacrifice and high team spirit made the expedition successful and this will certainly help further enhancing the historic and mutual relationshi”."

The joint expedition team was organized to mark the diamond jubilee of the first ascent of the world´s highest peak. The team which comprised 14 members from Nepal and 20 from the Indian Army, had also cleaned the routes and camp sites during their expedition. The joint team reached atop the peak on May 19.

In his congratulatory note, CoAS General Gaurav Shumsher JB Rana said“ "The joint attempts have added a new dimension in the relationship between two neighboring countries and become an example in preserving the ecological diversity of the Everest region by disposing more than four thousand kgs of garbage at camp II and camp I”."

"The successful attempt has once again elevated the prestige and valor of our armies and added another milestone in the annals of the mutual ties between the two armie”," Rana said.

Team leaders Major Sunil Singh Rathor of NA and Major Ranabir Singh Jamwal of IA made a presentation highlighting the historic and recent expedition events.

After the successful completion of the expedition, the joint army´s team also participated in the Everest Marathon 2013 and won six medals as well, according to the NA´s Department of Public Relations.

Various record-breaking summitters were also felicitated during the ceremony. Among those honoured were Appa Sherpa, who climbed Everest 21 times, Ang Rita Sherpa, ten time summitter without oxygen, Seven-Sister Ladies Expedition Group, Nima Chamji, the youngest climber and Min Bahadur Sherchan, the oldest Nepalese climber at the age of 77, who reached atop the peak four years ago.

Secretary at the Ministry of Defense Tilak Ram Sharma, Secretary at the Ministry of Tourism, Culture adn Civil Aviation Sushil Ghimire, former CoASs, IGP Kuber Singh Rana, army officers and host of other dignitaries were on hand to felicitate the successful climbers.

Before participating in the ceremony, the visiting Indian dignitary also called on Chairman of Interim Election Council Khilaraj Regmi and CoAS Rana separately.
Army veterans demand CBI probe in case
Peeved over the impact of the plot scam on Indian Army’s image, a group of former officers have demanded a CBI inquiry into the case.

Reacting to HT’s reports, Major General (retired) Satbir Singh, vice-president of the Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement, said, “It is unfortunate that some officers, who are a miniscule minority, indulge in such malpractices. The Army’s training gives them highest level of a sense of discipline. But sometimes, they are influenced by external elements.”

He said only a fair probe will unravel the truth. “There should be a holistic and fair probe not only on the misuse of defence quota but other quotas as well. The probe shall be on the overall plot scams in Haryana,” he said.

Major General (retired) GD Bakshi said, “This is shameful. This malpractice has rendered eligible and deserving officers deprived of plots. Strict action should be taken against those involved.”
Indian Army in Kashmir: Gurmeet Singh takes over as new GOC Chinar Corps

Srinagar: (GNS) GOC Chinar Corps Lt Gen Om Prakash Monday handed over the reins of Chinar Corps to Lt Gen Gurmeet Singh.

Sinagar based Defense Spokesman in a statement issued to Global News Service said that Lt Gen Om Prakash dedicated his tenure of one year towards ushering a sustained peace in the Valley. “During his tenure, he has successfully taken the normalcy forward and reinforced the vitality of peace towards development and progress in the Valley.”

Alongside the sustained counter terrorist operations resulting into successful elimination of large number of militants, he conceived and implemented various people friendly initiatives benefiting the vast cross section of the society, the spokesman said.

“Restoration of peace in the Valley post Afzal Guru Hanging was one such fruit of his vision. Valley saw an increase in the militant related activities after last winter. However, due to the unrelenting efforts of security forces led by the Chinar Corps, incidents of militancy were minimized effectively,” he said.

Lauding GOC, the spokesman said he is a soldier’s General and a great motivator. “His tenure saw tremendous improvement in the relationship between “Awaam and the Army” due to his positive, humane and friendly approach towards the people.”

“He undertook several initiatives for skill development and sporting activities of youth. He has been genuinely concerned for providing succor to the needy,” he said.

The spokesman said “Through his Awaami Milap programmes, he identified and addressed several needs of people particularly in far flung areas. Due to his consistent efforts and directions, the frictions between the Jawan and Awaam have been totally reduced at functional level. Lt Gen Om Prakash now goes to Army HQs on his next assignment”.

The Defense Spokesman said Lt Gen Gurmeet Singh who took over the reigns of Chinar Corps has an excellent understanding of Valley as he has a very rich track record of serving in the Valley in various capacities as commander as well as staff. “He commanded a brigade and division in the Valley and served as Brigadier General Staff of Chinar Corps. As ever, the command of Chinar Corps goes into the safe hands of a very experienced General Officer and the bond of bonhomie between Army and Awaam is further going to see new vistas in times to come.” the spokesman added. (GNS)

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