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Sunday, 7 July 2013

From Today's Papers - 07 Jul 2013
Musharraf case will test Pak leaders’ maturity
The government should pursue the treason case calmly, not as hounds on a hunting spree. It’s not the time to open a new front. The case must not be pursued at the cost of other pressing problems.
Nasim Zehra
It was no surprise that barring two parliamentarians, Shiekh Rashid, a former Information Minister of the Musharraf era, and Ijaz-ul-Haq, son of the former dictator and general Zia-ul-Haq, all the other political parties supported Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s historic announcement. His government will, according to the Constitution, file a treason case against former military ruler General Parvez Musharraf for suspending in 2007, the Constitution and dismissing and arresting the judges of the Supreme Court (SC) and imprisoning them. Ironically, Sharif was not keen to take this step but Pakistan’s activist SC ensured that he did. His challenge is to ensure that this move does not destabilise his government by opening any fronts, especially with the army.

With the judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan having ceased itself the Pakistan Bar Association’s case with the matter of invoking article 6 against Musharraf, the newly elected Nawaz government did not have the option to not address the issue soon after taking office. Hence less than two weeks into office, the government has submitted, through its Attorney-General Munir A Malik, that the government will try the former military ruler for his November 3 act of dismissing the superior judiciary and imposing Emergency. The government’s decision announced by the Prime Minister himself in Parliament suggests that the government will go by what is strictly legal on the case. The government did not have either the legal or the political option to tell the court that it would not pursue the case against Musharraf.
Of course the government could have categorically stated, as its Information Minister Senator Parvez Rashid did on June 9, that “we will submit nicely” to the court that proceedings against the former general were not a priority.

What the Information Minister said was one strand of thinking within the party. Earlier in his April 30 interview with me, Sharif had said: “I am legally bound to take the case to the court and I will do that.” The court, he said, would decide whether or not article 6 would apply. Interestingly, he disagreed with me that a Truth and Reconciliation Commission would be sufficient to clear up past accounts of blunders amicably. He asked how future acts of treason would be prevented if no one was tried.

There are two views in the country. According to one, the country is going through a very difficult period which requires the government’s full concentration on resolving the problems at hand. The other view argues that unless a military ruler is not tried in court for trashing the Constitution, the road to future martial law will remain open. Both views have merit. Even the Information Minister made the argument of prioritising issues rather graphically. He sai: “If on the one hand a dog is stealing milk while at the same time my child is drowning, what would I chose? Naturally, I will save my child.”

However multiple factors, no less the activist judiciary which is also indirectly an interested party, the PML(N)’s own political chanting egging on the PPP to invoke article 6 and a section of the public opinion calling for the former military ruler’s trial, did not leave the government the option of pushing the Musharraf case on the back-burner.

Pakistan’s difficult political history and by extension its socio-economic and ideological dilemma have their roots, to a great extent, in trashing of the Constitution. So accountability is necessary.

The challenge, however, is to turn this legally correct move into a wise one. Three factors are important. One, the government should pursue it calmly, not as hounds on a hunting spree. It is not the time to open a new front. Two, this case must not be pursued at the cost of other pressing problems. Confronted with multiple problems ranging from acute crisis of internal security to the crisis of load-shedding, the public wants the government to resolve these issues. Three, the government and the media must frame this case not as a score-settling between the army and Sharif or the army and Pakistan’s political class, but as legal action against an individual who trashed the Constitution.

As regards the army leadership, the maturity that the army chief has shown till now is expected in the coming months. How the army views the development will depend on how the government and the media frame it and also on how the military leadership interprets it.

As we now wait for the legal curtains to be raised on what can be billed as one of Pakistan’s most historic cases, there will be multiple, and not always comfortable, questions that will be raised. Why not the October 1999 coup? Only because the judges were also involved? The indemnity argument regarding the 1999 coup is nullified under the 18th amendment. As the case goes to court, the many-sided battles involving multiple actors will expose the contradictions, grey areas and indemnities. Some argue that the Chief Justice could be dragged in, and those serving as governors, corps commander, and the three chiefs during Musharraf’s time can fall in the collaborators’ category.

These are the facts we should not be scared of. The invoking of article 6, provided it is handled wisely, will go down as another landmark in the maturing of the Pakistani nation.

The writer is a Pakistan anchor and columnist.
India, China to scale up defence ties
Focus on frequent border meetings, faster negotiations on boundary agreement
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 6
India and China today pledged to strengthen the existing agreements on maintaining peace and tranquility along the disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC). The two sides also agreed on a slew of confidence-building measures, including increased military-to-military contact and frequent border meetings between commanders.

“Peace and tranquility on the border was an important guarantor for the growth and development of bilateral cooperation, trust and understanding between the two militaries,” said a joint statement released after Defence Minister AK Antony met his Chinese counterpart General Chang Wanquan at Beijing.

The two Asian giants agreed to quickly conclude negotiations on the proposed Border Defence Cooperation Agreement. The two ministers announced greater interaction between their defence forces. This is major change as India had suspended all military relations with China after the latter refused visa to its General and chief of the northern command in 2009.

Antony and his counterpart reviewed the working of various agreements and protocols to maintain calm at the border. A standoff in Ladakh had escalated tension between the two sides in April this year.

The joint statement listed new proposals to ramp up military ties. Senior military commanders from service headquarters, command/military region and field formations will go on exchange visits on a regular basis. Troops stationed on the border will engage in talks more often. The border personnel meetings will now take place with greater frequency and at more locations. Currently, such meetings take place twice in a year at each of the three designated spots - Chusul in Ladakh, Nathula in Sikkim and Bumla in Arunachal Pradesh. The two navies will increase ship visits, consider conducting joint maritime search and rescue exercises and cooperate in counter-piracy operations. Similarly, the air forces will expand their functional exchanges. Military training institutions will also strengthen their exchanges at the faculty and student levels.

General Chang Wanquan has accepted Antony’s invitation to visit India. Antony’s visit to China was the first by an Indian Defence Minister since 2006.

New proposals

    Senior military commanders from service headquarters, command/military region and field formations will go on exchange visits on regular basis
    Troops on the border will engage in talks more often
    The border personnel meetings will now take place with greater frequency and at more locations
Reds look to revamp military wing
Specially trained men to take up positions in guerilla zones, says document
Suresh Dharur/TNS

Hyderabad, July 6
Facing the heat from security forces, the Maoists have firmed up plans to raise an additional 14 battalions of People Liberation Army (PLA), the military wing of the banned CPI (Maoist).

An internal document of the outlawed outfit, procured by the anti-Maoist intelligence wing of the state police, reveals that the task of PLA reorganisation, training and placement of forces has been entrusted to a key member of the party's central committee (CC), Sonu, alias Nambala Keshav Rao.

The Maoist document (dated June 28) surfaced after week-long celebrations in the forests of Chhattisgarh to mark the 10th anniversary of the formation of

the CPI (Maoists). The celebrations were followed by a meeting of the central committee at an unknown location in Jammu and Kashmir last week.

The document indicated the plans to declare several regions in Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra as "guerilla zones" in the near future. The specially trained guerillas will take positions in these zones and continue their support for what they call "people’s agitations" for land. “The Maoist teams will wage war not only in their strongholds but also in the new areas to demonstrate our strength and commitment" the document said.

Nambala Keshav Rao (58), alias Basavaraj, accused in over two dozen cases and also said to be the one behind the recent attack on Congress leaders in Bastar, is the brain behind the Maoist intelligence network.

In a statement handed over to some select media organisations, Namburi Pratap, a spokesman of the central committee, has accused the AP Police of spreading false reports about the illness of some of the Maoist top guns like Ganapati, Katakam Ramakrishna and Sudarshan, as part of a propaganda to mislead the cadres.

The statement, handed over to mediapersons at Paderu in Visakhapatnam, indicated that the district committees of CPI (Maoist) would be revived in AP after a gap of over eight years.

The reports from Chhattisgarh say the Maoists have constituted ‘Baal Action Teams’ to deploy school children in different capacities, to counter the build-up of security forces. BAT, a specialised school children unit of the Maoists, which has started operating in Bastar region from past several months, would also help the Baal Sanghams (children's associations) and Chhatra Sanghams (students' associations), that are already functional in the areas, police sources said.

Bal Sanghams and Chhatra Sangham were active for the past several years in the region. They are used as informers, messengers and even as shields during the military operations.

AP was once a stronghold of Naxalites, so much so that the extremists were in a position to run parallel administration in their bastions, particularly in the Telangana region.

However, over the years, the Maoist movement witnessed significant erosion in its support base.

Dangerous plans

    An internal document of the banned CPI (Maoists), procured by the anti-Maoist intelligence wing of the AP Police, reveals plans to raise an additional 14 battalions of People Liberation Army (PLA), the military wing of the outfit
    Several regions in Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra would be declared "guerilla zones"
India, China agree to rebuild fragile defence ties
After two days of talks here, India and China have drawn up a long-term plan to gradually rebuild trust between their militaries, as they continue to grapple with the fall-out of the three week-long April stand-off along the border which has prompted both countries to re-examine the breadth of their defence ties.

The plan, announced in a joint statement released on Saturday and later detailed by officials after Defence Minister A.K. Antony concluded his talks, includes increasing both the frequency and number of locations of border personnel meetings along the disputed boundary, and expanding direct contact between the militaries.

The above two proposals, put forward by India, were a direct response to the April 15 incursion by Chinese troops into Depsang, in eastern Ladakh.

The incursion occurred in an area where differing perceptions of the disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC) were particularly pronounced. By increasing the number of border personnel meeting points, officials hope to gradually narrow the wide divergences between the two countries over the undemarcated border.

That the Depsang stand-off took as long as three weeks to be resolved also exposed the need for closer direct contact between the militaries. Part of the reason for the delay in ending the impasse was an apparent lag in communications between the Chinese military and the Foreign Ministry in Beijing, which was India’s main point of contact. Unlike in the Indian set-up, the Chinese Foreign Ministry holds far less authority than the PLA and is often kept out of the loop in the Army’s decision-making.

The Chinese side appeared to react positively to the two proposals, as Mr. Antony met his Chinese counterpart, General Chang Wanquan, and Premier Li Keqiang on Friday and held talks with State Councilor Yang Jiechi, Special Representative on the boundary question, on Saturday.

Mr. Antony said he was “happy about the outcome because there is a consensus of minds, a consensus between governments and military leaderships that till we find a solution to the border issues, we must maintain peace, stability and tranquillity.” He said the aim was “to avoid unpleasant incidents, and if they happen, to resolve them immediately.” “In that respect, military-to-military-level confidence building is essential. There should be trust and confidence and mutual respect at the ground level also,” he said.

While both governments have publicly continued to play down the April 15 incident, India has now made clear to China on at least three occasions in the months since the incursion that without peace and tranquillity on the border, there could be no foundation on which to take forward the relationship in any other area. This was first conveyed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh when he met Mr. Li Keqiang in New Delhi in May. A similar message was stressed by National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, when he travelled to Beijing last week for the 16th round of border talks with Mr. Yang Jiechi.

The joint statement on Saturday reiterated that point, “noting that peace and tranquillity on the border was an important guarantor for the growth and development of bilateral cooperation.” The statement said both sides reviewed the working of agreements and protocols relating to maintaining peace and tranquillity, and “directed that it be further strengthened.”

Both sides also “agreed on an early conclusion of negotiations” for a Border Defence Cooperation Agreement, a draft of which was first put forward by China, which has similar agreements with many of its neighbours, in March. After India responded with comments on the draft in May, which included objections to any commitments to freeze border infrastructure considering the prevailing wide asymmetry in China’s favour, Beijing put forward a revised draft shortly before Mr. Antony’s visit. Mr. Antony said there was “forward movement” on the draft, adding that on “most of the provisions there is consensus.”

On Saturday, last day of his visit to China, Mr. Antony visited the PLA’s sprawling National Defence University (NDU) and the PLA Air Force’s 24th Air Division near Tianjin, a port city 110 km from Beijing.

Reflecting the expansion of defence ties beyond the two armies, the two sides agreed to expand functional exchanges between their air forces and to increase ship visits, as well as joint search and rescue and anti-piracy operations between the navies. India is also considering taking forward long-discussed plans to station Navy and Air Force attachés in its Beijing Embassy, where there is currently only one defence attaché. On Friday, the two countries also firmed up plans to hold their third round of joint counterterrorism exercises in October, after a five-year gap.

“With the length of our land boundary and our history, the Army was the initial focus but now we are moving beyond this,” an official said. “Today, our ships, trade and naval activity in Asia have increased. More than 50 per cent of our trade comes from the east of India, through the South China Sea, East China Sea, Malacca Straits and Indian Ocean. We are operating in a larger space, they are operating in a larger space, so it is natural that our ships will be in the approximately same space.”

Officials were also dismissive of recent comments by a hawkish PLA Major General, Luo Yuan, who warned India not to “stir up” trouble along the border. The officials pointed out that Major General Luo, a strategic scholar, did not hold any official position and often made “provocative statements,” while the PLA officials during the last two days of talks had themselves expressed views that were vastly different.
A K Antony: India to have close military ties with China

New Delhi, July 6 (TruthDive): On the second day of his official visit to China on Saturday, defence minister AK Antony expecting close military ties with China said that it would be much easier for both the countries to maintain peace along the borders if both the forces build trust, mutual respect and confidence between each other.

“It would be easy to maintain peace at the border areas, if the military leadership on both sides from top to bottom can maintain faith, mutual respect as well as confidence,” said the Indian Defence Minister.

Visiting the academy of People’s Liberation Army in Beijing on Saturday, Antony who met Political Commissar of National Defence University General Liu Yazhou, said that an agreement to enhance the military exchanges was made between both the countries.

Recalling his meeting with the Chinese premier Li Keqiang, Antony said that he held wide ranging discussions with both Keqiang and defence minister general Wanquan on multiple issues such as maintaining peace and harmony at the border areas.

“India has close relationship with China and the relationship between both the countries is expanding in many areas,” said the defence minister adding that he had already discussed in brief with the Chinese leadership on bilateral ties. Both the countries are looking forward to have clear agreement to maintain peace in the border areas in order to prevent further confusion in the future, added the minister.

Antony along with dynamic top officials from Indian Army, Navy and Air force visited the rambling 15,000 sq mt varsity campus of China’s defence forces, training programmes for the officers and checked on all its three forces.

Antony also expressed his plan to visit the top military academy to get knowledge of the Chinese pattern as India just recently launched its National Defence University in New Delhi which will likely be ready in the coming few years.
AK Antony brushes aside Chinese general’s anti-India tirade
BEIJING: Defence minister A K Antony on Friday said India and China would conduct joint military exercises in October while brushing aside a top Chinese People's Liberation Army general's statement warning New Delhi against provoking "trouble" in border areas.

"My discussions were with the official people," Antony told journalists. He was responding to questions on Maj Gen Luo Yuan's statement warning India not to "stir up" trouble by increasing military deployment in border areas.

Antony's response suggested the Chinese leadership may have distanced themselves from Maj Gen Luo's comments hours before he landed in Beijing.

The move to resume joint military exercises highlights improvement in ties between the two countries. India had suspended military exchanges in 2009 after China refused to host the head of Indian Army's J&K-based northern command.

Antony, who had earlier met Chinese premier Li Keqiang and defence minister Chang Wankuan, said the two countries have agreed to go a step further and undertake "enhanced professional exchanges" between their navies and air forces.

He said the military relationship was an important part of the overall ties between the two countries. "This is also what was conveyed to him by the Chinese leaders.''

The defense minister said the recent Chinese incursion at Depsang was being discussed in detail for quite some time. "Outcome is very important. Everything will be discussed.''

Antony said he was satisfied with his discussions with the Chinese leadership so far. "The message is very clear. The PM again reiterated that the new leadership in China gives much importance to strengthening and expanding the relations with India,'' he said.

Officials said the two countries had further agreed that strategic communication and improved coordination among border guards of the two countries are required for building trust and understanding.

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