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Monday, 30 September 2013

From Today's Papers - 30 Sep 2013
India, Pak DGMOs to draw road map for LoC peace
Manmohan talks tough in his first meeting with Sharif in New York, says border tranquillity a precondition for dialogue
Raj Chengappa

New York, September 29
The controversy-ridden first meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif in New York ended with the two neighbours reflecting the undercurrent of tensions that prevailed.

India took a tough stand and insisted on the restoration of peace and tranquillity on the Line of Control (LoC) as a precondition to move forward on the stalled dialogue process. Both sides agreed to task the Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) of the two armies to come out with an effective road map to ensure that the 2003 ceasefire agreement is enforced on the LoC and take steps to maintain tranquillity.

Describing the talks as “useful and necessary”, National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon, who briefed the media, said: “Both sides want to have better relations with each other but we needed to address issues like ceasefire violations first.”

Pakistan Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani appeared more optimistic in his assessment of the outcome stating that the “talks were positive and constructive” and that, “the main purpose of the meeting was to create a conducive environment to discuss and resolve all outstanding issues.”

The only significant outcome appears to be that despite stiff resistance from many quarters in India, the Indian Prime Minister decided to keep his appointment with Sharif and the meeting went off without any incidents. But then in the hour-long meeting Manmohan Singh stuck to his script he had outlined in his engagements prior to it including his tough statement against Pakistan in the UN General Assembly the previous day and his discussions with US President Barack Obama where he described Pakistan as the epicentre of terror and mentioned that he was not too hopeful about the outcome of the talks.

When Sharif met Singh in a suite in New York Palace in mid-town Manhattan where the Indian Prime Minister was staying, the greeting was formal. Though both speak Punjabi, the usual pleasantries were exchanged in English with Singh remaining unsmiling not even making eye-contact with Sharif during the photo-op for the media.

With the talks happening in the backdrop of continued firings on the LoC, both sides appeared wary to make any commitments on key outstanding issues between the two countries whether on trade, Sir Creek, Siachen and Kashmir though, as Menon stated, these were discussed.
Clearly the recent events had cast a shadow on the talks including the Jammu attacks, Manmohan Singh raising Pakistan’s lack of tough action to curb cross-border terrorism with Obama and the purported remarks of Sharif to a Pakistan TV journalist calling Manmohan a “dehati aurat” for doing that which saw Opposition leader Narendra Modi go to town with it before it was clarified that the remarks were quoted out of context. While denying that he said it, in his meeting with Manmohan, Nawaz is said to have offered to apologise if it hurt the PM’s sentiment

Rahul Gandhi’s outburst against Manmohan Singh’s decision to promulgate an ordinance to overrule a Supreme Court decision on convicted politicians also seemed to have had an impact in reducing Sharif’s enthusiasm of making “a new beginning” with India. Sharif was to announce a trade liberalisation regime, including giving India Most Favoured Nation status, but decided against doing so apparently because he felt it may be better to wait till the outcome of the 2014 General Election in India. To a specific question by The Tribune on carrying forward the unfinished agenda of trade, Menon said, “Trade issues were discussed but it was decided to first tackle the immediate issue of tranquillity on the border before moving forward on the others.”

In the meeting, Manmohan Singh emphasised the need to take effective action against terror and that India looked forward to speedy progress on the trial in Pakistan to bring the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai attack to book. Sharif outlined the steps his government had taken including sending a judicial commission recently in Mumbai to collect evidence and cross-examine witnesses. Sharif also said that Pakistan was a victim of terrorism describing the recent attacks in his country.

Sharif extended an invitation to Manmohan Singh to visit Pakistan and the PM reciprocated by inviting him to visit India. But India made it clear that unless tranquility was restored on the LoC there would be no resumption of the dialogue process. Menon stated that no dates were fixed for the next meeting and that “peace on the LoC” was a precondition for improvement in ties.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh were also present at the meeting. From Pakistani side, Sharif’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz was among those who attended the meeting.
Motivate youth to join military, Army Chief tells veterans
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 29
Highlighting the sacrifices made by martyrs, Chief of Army Staff General Bikram Singh appealed to veterans to motivate the younger generation to join the Indian Army. General Bikram Singh, who addressed a well-attended rally organised by ex-servicemen under the aegis of the Vajra Corps in Jalandhar Cantonment area here today, lauded the contribution of Punjab towards the armed forces and said that the sacrifices of heroes would continue to inspire present and coming generations.

General Singh, who was accompanied by his wife, also reiterated the Army’s commitment and concern for the well-being of ex-servicemen, ‘veer naris’ and widows and highlighted the measures being taken to ensure their well-being.

On the occasion, 24 physically challenged veteran soldiers were provided with modified scooters and 500 ‘veer naris’, widows and ex-servicemen were felicitated by the Army Chief.

The rally was attended by the Adjutant General from Army HQ and many other distinguished senior officers. Earlier, he inaugurated a state-of-the-art Vajra Corps Headquarters building which is equipped with ultra-modern facilities.

Issues related to pension, education, housing, insurance, placement, recruitment, finance and personnel records were also addressed.
Need for humane approach towards Maoists, says CRPF boss
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, September 29
While “good”, hard intelligence has been boosting the anti-Maoist operations, there is also a need to have a “humane” approach towards the Maoists as they are “our own people”, said the Director-General of the Central Reserve Police Force here today.

Dilip Trivedi, the DG of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), shared the development on the sidelines of flagging off a 121-member male contingent of the CRPF on a United Nations peace-keeping mission to Liberia today. “We have put up good contribution with the state police. We have had good intelligence and done good work,” he said. Speaking about a successful operation, Trivedi mentioned that 14 alleged armed Maoist cadres were killed by the police in the Malkangiri district of Orissa on September 14.

Trivedi quickly added that the Maoists are our own people. “They are not outsiders. We are operating within the country and not fighting against someone from across the border. We have to be selective in our action against the Maoists. I feel we have to be more humane in our approach. There is a mental hesitation when you fight your own people, but that is not going to reduce our preparedness against the Maoists,” he said.
Lack of cohesion hurting country’s defence
In India, much of the problem of civil-military relations is centred around the nature of relationship between the armed forces and the country’s political executive and bureaucracy.
Dinesh Kumar

The controversy generated both by and about former Army Chief General Vijay Kumar Singh reflects poorly on the current state of civil-military relations in the country. General Singh has been a lightning rod for controversy starting from a year after he attained the highest office in the Army’s hierarchy in 2010 and continuing well after his retirement last year.
Among the many firsts that he has ‘scored’ in the last two years alone, General VK Singh became the first Service chief to represent against the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in the Supreme Court over his age issue which coincided with a questionable if not ominous military movement of Army troops in the direction of New Delhi. While still as Army Chief he also sought a CBI enquiry against a serving Lieutenant General without even informing let alone seeking permission from the MoD; allegedly used a military intelligence electronic surveillance unit to snoop on the MoD; allegedly orchestrated a Public Interest Litigation against his named successor who is presently the Chief of Army Staff; ‘revealed’ that there was a long standing practice by the Army of paying bribes to a section of state ministers in Jammu and Kashmir and also went on to soon after his retirement associate himself with a briefly popular public movement against corruption led by Anna Hazare.

All this and, in fact, even more by a man who, starting from his teenage, spent about 45 years of his life associated with an institution revered for its professionalism, for its apolitical nature and for its unquestioned obedience to its civilian masters including even on orders for controversial operations by the government and, that too, in a neighbourhood that is replete with a history of coups, military dictatorship and authoritarian rule. Phew! What a man, some might remark.

But is this issue about a former service chief who many demonise and regard as a deviant or is it about a larger issue relating to a range of far more complex and serious issues involving the current nature of civil-military relations in the country, the manner in which the country’s higher defence management system is structured, the quality of our polity, the generalist nature of the MoD’s senior level bureaucracy that sometimes confuses and misinterprets civilian supremacy to be civilian superiority, personality clashes among the top military brass and inter-services rivalry to name a few.

Well known American academic Peter Feaver has summed up the civil-military ‘problematique’, as he succinctly terms it, as follows: ‘Because we fear others we create an institution of violence to protect us. But then we fear the very institution we created for our protection’. This raises two important points – the need to have protection by the military and the need to have protection from the military

Civil-military relations

Unlike Pakistan and Bangladesh, which have been carved out of pre-Independent India, the Indian armed forces have never been a threat to civilian rule. Given the manner in which both the higher defence management system and the command system of the armed forces have been structured, it would be difficult for the armed forces as a combined entity to execute and, more importantly, to sustain a coup and run a country as geographically vast and politically and ethnically diverse as India. The Indian Army, which has kept away from political interference, has a long record of battling insurgents and terrorists in states where, for years together, it has had sweeping powers and where often there has also not been a politically elected government.

In India, much of the problem of civil-military relations has been about the relationship between the armed forces and the country’s political executive and bureaucracy. The armed forces nurse a grievance against the political executive for not devoting time and having the inclination to seriously understand, consult and involve them in decision making. They regard the bureaucracy with distrust and resent the fact that generalist bureaucrats occupy pivotal positions in the rank of joint secretary and above and wield considerable power and authority with little or no understanding of the armed forces. In fact, let alone joint secretary and additional secretary level officers, there have most strangely been instances of the top post of Secretary of Defence being appointed barely a year or two before his retirement without ever having previously served in the MoD.

Most politicians in turn regard the armed forces with awe but have little time for the armed forces and for reforming the system since, as a vote bank, the latter are far too limited and dispersed. They are used to and prefer dealing with bureaucrats who, in turn are adept at dealing with politicians. Many (not all) senior rung bureaucrats consider themselves to be superior to the fauji who, in their view, ‘does not read or write enough and knows only how to fire a gun, drive a ship or fly a plane and knows little about the intricacies of governance in a complicated country like India’.

Lacking in synergy

The trust deficit is no less palpable within the armed forces. There is not enough jointness and synergy between the armed forces and the service chiefs, each of who is possessive about his own turf. Barring a few occasions such as on the issue of corrections for anomalies in the Sixth Pay Commission award, seldom have the service chiefs been united on matters pertaining to, for example, procurement of defence weapons. Following the Kargil War, a secretariat headed by a Chief of Integrated Staff was formed but the services remain uncoordinated at the top in the absence of a Chief of Defence Staff who is meant to serve as the principal defence advisor to the government.

Then, within the services, there has been serious infighting and differences. For example, in recent years Army chiefs have been targeting their successors or predecessors either directly or by proxy. Former Northern Army Commander Lt General HS Panag blew the whistle on General Deepak Kapoor, a former Army Chief who was his predecessor at the Command headquarters in Udhampur. Thereafter, General Kapoor and General VK Singh (who was then an Army Commander) were locked in a standoff over a land scam involving the former’s principal Staff officer (Military Secretary) Lt General Avadesh Prakash. Soon after he took over, the present Army Chief General Bikram Singh was quick to reinstate Lt General Dalbir Singh Suhag against whom a CBI inquiry for alleged corruption had been ordered by General VK Singh.

The dissent

Service chiefs in India are known to have expressed their difference with the political executive. In 1959, General Kodendra Subayya Thimayya resigned following differences over policies on China but was persuaded by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to withdraw his resignation only to end up being criticised in Parliament. In 1971, General (later Field Marshal) Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw differed with Indira Gandhi over when to send the Army into East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) but yet succeeded in convincing her. In 1991, General Sunith Francis Rodrigues publicly criticised the government’s policy of deploying the Army in internal security operations and made disparaging remarks against both the US and Pakistan. He was subsequently criticised in Parliament. But the most serious incident occurred in December 1998 when the government resorted to a historic first-ever dismissal of a service chief – Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat owing to a serious breakdown in civil-military relations between Admiral Bhagwat and the government, notably defence minister George Fernandes.

Regardless of how superior the military view of a situation may be, the civilian view trumps it. In other words, ‘civilians have a right to be wrong’, both Feaver and Michael Desch, another American academic, have argued. The armed forces have been pushed into controversial operations such as Operation Bluestar in Punjab (1984) and Operation Pawan (Indian Peace Keeping Force) in Sri Lanka (1987-1989). The Army has been fighting insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir for almost two-and-a-half decades following a long history of political and administrative mismanagement by successive governments in the state and at the Centre. The same is true in the north east where the Army’s engagements have been for far longer durations owing to precisely the same reasons. In other words, officers and men of the Indian Army have been making the supreme sacrifice fighting the demons that have been created due to dirty politics and bad administrative policies of the civilian government.

Since the ‘civilians have the right to be wrong’, the latters then must also bear greater responsibility. They must be prepared to listen and to educate themselves about the armed forces. They also must ensure that the relevant officer cadre of the armed forces is appropriately educated about the complexities of governance and decision making at the top.

Need to address the problem

General VK Singh has been a loose cannon making sensational statements and allegedly engaging in even more questionable activities. While personifying the issue or demonising him is one way of looking at it, General VK Singh’s outbursts and behaviour reflects sorely on the inner functioning of India’s higher defence machinery and selection system. General VK Singh’s outbursts are symptomatic of a deeper malaise. For, indeed there are serious misgivings between the government and the armed forces and within the services themselves.

The government needs to give a serious re-look into the way the Ministry of Defence is structured. The Ministry of Railways has its own cadre of bureaucrats. The Ministry of Finance permits posting of only those bureaucrats with domain experience in finance. In contrast, all pivotal bureaucratic positions in the MoD are occupied by bureaucrats on short term deputation, many of whom have had no prior experience of working in this key ministry.

In the armed forces, service officers attain the rank of Major General and above much later in their service and therefore end up spending fewer years in these ranks and so have limited years of experience in senior positions. In contrast, promotions are faster in the civilian bureaucracy up to the pivotal rank of joint secretary at which point they spend longer time and therefore attain greater exposure and experience of government functioning.

The government must not fall into the trap of further emasculating the armed forces just because of outbursts by a former Army chief. Similarly, the senior officer cadre within the services must desist from launching a witch hunt and ‘fixing’ officers. Rather, there is a need to look holistically and deeper at the above issues. A country that does not look after its soldiers does so at its own peril. The internal health of the armed forces and the functioning of the MoD is a matter of serious concern, marked as it is by corrupt practices, serious deficiencies in self-reliance capability and severely impoverished by indifferent and self absorbed politicians, a generalist and arrogant bureaucracy and some egoistic self-seeking generals.

We have a problem. Is there anyone out there addressing it?
India and Pakistan Talk, but Tensions Are High
LONDON — The leaders of Pakistan and India held their first official meeting in New York on Sunday, leaving with renewed promises of mutual restraint in Kashmir but little real hope for a fresh start in relations.
 Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan shook hands for the cameras at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan before their long-anticipated meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. But despite the smiles, violence back home formed the backdrop to the encounter.

A series of cross-border artillery exchanges in the disputed territory of Kashmir over the past two months has led to the death of at least eight soldiers on both sides, and plunged diplomatic relations to their lowest ebb in years. In the latest episode, on Thursday, a militant raid on an Indian Army base in Indian-controlled Kashmir resulted in the deaths of at least 10 people, causing an outcry in India.

India’s national security adviser, Shivshankar Menon, said that Mr. Singh and Mr. Sharif agreed during their meeting on Sunday to dial back tensions in Kashmir, the disputed territory that has triggered three wars between Pakistan and India since 1947.

The leaders pledged to push senior military officers to find “effective means” of restoring a 2003 cease-fire in Kashmir, Mr. Menon said.

Both Mr. Singh and Mr. Sharif personally favor normalizing relations, but both are hamstrung by domestic considerations — especially hard-line elements in their respective military and political establishments — that drastically limit their room to maneuver.

Mr. Singh’s party faces an electoral challenge early next year against Hindu parties that have called for a tougher stance against Pakistan. Under fire at home for meeting with Mr. Sharif, he established a tough tone in an address to the United Nations on Saturday in which he called Pakistan the “epicenter of terrorism” in South Asia.

For any progress to occur, he said, Pakistan has to first ensure that the “terrorist machine” operating from its soil is shut down. That was a reference to Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant group that was responsible for the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, in which 166 people were killed, and whose leadership still enjoys free movement within Pakistan.

Mr. Sharif, 63, was more optimistic, telling the United Nations on Friday that he wanted “a new beginning” with India, and deploring the resources both countries have spent on their nuclear-arms race — a pointed statement given that it was Mr. Sharif who ordered Pakistan’s first nuclear test during his last stint in power in the late 1990s.

Mr. Sharif’s push for a new peace initiative can be seen in part as an attempt to continue the business of that previous term, in which he staked much on reaching out to India in a process that was derailed by a nuclear crisis and a military coup in 1999. Now, as then, he has framed better relations with India as an economic necessity for both countries.

“We stand ready to re-engage with India in a substantive and purposeful dialogue,” he said during his speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Friday.

For Mr. Singh, 81, whose lack of personal political power has made him a deeply cautious prime minister, meeting with Mr. Sharif was a bold move.

On Sunday at a large rally in New Delhi, Narendra Modi, who is the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate, questioned Mr. Singh’s ability to undertake the meeting effectively.

“I wonder if he will meet the Pakistan P.M. confidently today?” Mr. Modi asked. “Will he be able to ask him when Pakistan will stop aiding terrorism? Will he be able to question Nawaz Sharif on the Indian soldiers who were brutally killed?”

Analysts said Sunday’s meeting met its low expectations, and could at best stabilize relations until the political climate in both countries improved.

“This can help border incidents from escalating until India’s election season is over and more serious business can be transacted between the two countries,” said Maleeha Lodhi, a former Pakistani ambassador to the United States.

Stephen P. Cohen, an American academic who recently published a book on the India-Pakistan conflict, said the leaders appeared as “two men with tired ideas and constraints that they cannot overcome, afraid to take the bold measures that could liberate them.”

But even with the best intentions, Pakistani and Indian leaders have frequently found their efforts at diplomacy undone by the spoiling tactics of hard-liners.

In 1999, Mr. Sharif made impressive strides toward peace with Atal Bihari Vajpayee, India’s prime minister. Months later, the Pakistani military carried out a covert operation in the disputed territory of Kashmir that spectacularly upended the peace drive and, for a brief period, edged the two countries toward a nuclear conflict. A coup deposed Mr. Sharif soon afterward.

In November 2008, Pakistan’s president, Asif Ali Zardari, told an Indian conference that Pakistan was ready for a more moderate nuclear weapons policy, and called for closer economic ties between the countries. Days later came the militants’ coordinated attacks in Mumbai.

The long conflict between India and Pakistan has become a major preoccupation of the security establishment in both countries, and has found expression through proxy forces in third countries like Afghanistan.

Indian officials have for years demanded that Pakistan take action against Lashkar-e-Taiba and its founder, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, who lives openly in Lahore. Mr. Menon, the Indian security adviser, said in New York that Mr. Sharif had promised to take action against those responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Mr. Menon said the tone of the talks was friendly, but added: “As for how useful and productive the meeting was, I think the only proof will be in the months to come.”
Sharif gets army to back off on India peace bid
Unlike his predecessors, Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif seems to have got some leeway from the country’s powerful military establishment in pursuing peace with India. Islamabad’s relations with New Delhi fall under the ambit of the army leadership, which closely monitors any
dealings Pakistan’s diplomats or politicians make. “The ISI works out of the foreign office. India, China and the US are areas of special concern,” concedes a former Pakistan envoy to India.

Since his return to power in May, the Punjabi PM’s India strategy has been to focus on trade and people-to-people relations. Even here, the army has stepped in on many occasions, such as in the case of according India MFN (most favoured nation) status and easing visa restrictions. A former secretary of the commerce ministry recalls how he had to give two briefings after talks with Indian delegations, one to Sharif and the other to the ISI.

However, there is a change, albeit a small one. Sharif is now effectively curtailing the military’s role in civilian affairs. He has been consistent in his stance that the army stay away from political issues. Even on the thorny subject of talks with the Taliban, he publicly berated the army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, for issuing a statement ahead of his policy announcement.
Power politics in Pakistan suggests a leader from the country’s largest province is the only person who
can push back the army, which also gets the bulk of its
officer and soldier strength from Punjab. “This is how it works in Pakistan. Only a Punjabi can push back a Punjabi,” says Ayaz Khan, a senior Lahore journalist.

Expectations from Sharif are high. Private discussions with Sartaj Aziz, his de-facto foreign minister, suggest the challenge is two-pronged: pursue confidence-building measures to win back India’s trust while checking the activities of militants and non-state actors, who get an active push from the intelligence agencies. “The more difficult challenge is to check people like (Lashkar chief) Hafiz Saeed who operate with impunity thanks to official patronage,” says defence analyst Aisha Siddiqa.

Political governments have traditionally been against adventures in Kashmir. But the army has consistently indulged in this, the recent incursions across the Line of Control being a case in point. Of late, non-state actors have been used but the army pulls the strings. And for Sharif to cut these strings, he needs to have more control of the army. He has been unable to do this so far and it isn’t expected to happen any time soon.

But all that comes later. The Sharif regime’s priority right now is to bring India back to the negotiation table by taking all the measures in its power. To that end, it has repatriated almost all Indian prisoners. There is also talk about increasing cross-border trade and giving Indian goods passage through Afghanistan, a move the ISI opposes tooth and nail.

Sharif is also keen on people-to-people contact. “There is nothing he’d like more than going to Delhi and playing a cricket friendly with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to illustrate goodwill and brotherly ties,” confesses an aide.

The premier has also hinted off the record to journalists that he’d like to drive to his ancestral village in Amritsar and be back in Lahore by evening. “No border control and better still, state-of-the-art infrastructure on both sides,” he said.

But till the larger issues — Kashmir among them — remain unaddressed, his advisors say he is aware this won’t happen.

For now, Sharif has pushed back the army leadership and made overtures to India, like his insistence on talks at a time when the Indian response remains cold. New Delhi is still mum on the proposed meeting between Singh and Sharif on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York later this month.

This has brought Sharif a lot of internal criticism, much of it from right-wing religious parties that have traditionally been close to the intelligence agencies.

An important factor in all this will be the change of guard in the army and ISI, both of which will get new chief within the year.
US General Wants to Learn from India

Ninan Koshy

General Raymond T. Odierno was in an upbeat mood. He had just returned from a visit to India. He was profuse in his praise for the Indian Army. He said the US Army had to learn a lot from its Indian counterpart.

The US Army Chief of Staff visited India at the end of July. During that visit he met with defence leaders in India including his counterpart, the Indian Chief of Army Staff, General Bikram Singh. He visited the Indian Army’s Northern Command, responsible for the borders with Pakistan and China, and interacted with the staff and commanders there. The Northern Command has the Srinagar-based 15 Corps and Nagrota-based 16 Corps which look after the counter-insurgency operations in the State. General Odierno thus gained firsthand knowledge of India’s counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations, particularly in Jammu and Kashmir.

He said mainly two things in an address on July 29 to the American Enterprise Institute: about the great influence of the Indian Army and what the US Army can learn from it.

“The Indian Army is by far the most influential in the Asia-Pacific region,” he said, asserting that the “US should work with partners like India and Egypt to shape a stable global order”. He elaborated on this: “As it is in many of the Asia-Pacific countries, the Army is a dominant service in these countries. India is a prime example. It is by far the most influential.” That is why, he argued, it is important to build Army-to-Army relations with the Indian Army, “as we continue to work with our strategy”. He made clear what the strategy is: “to continue to rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region”.

It is significant to note that he puts the Indian Army and the Egyptian Army on the same footing in terms of Army-to-Army relations. Does the General mean that the roles of these two Armies are the same? Of course, he says that the Indian Army and the US Army are based on the lines of professional Armies of “the two largest democracies in the world”; obviously he had in mind the strengthening of relations with Armies in the region for what he calls “a stable global order”. But what does he mean by stressing the influence of the Indian Army?

Highly impressed by the Indian military’s successful counter-insurgency operations, he said: “The US would like to learn from the Indian experience as to how to fight militants in a tough environment and difficult terrain as in Afghanistan.” This is an admission of the failure of the US counter-insurgency strategy in Afghanistan and indicates the distinct possibility of being tied up there, in spite of US efforts to extricate itself from that place. The General may also have in mind the possibility of similar US adventures in the future in ‘a tough environment and difficult terrain’.

The General expressed interest in conducting US-India joint exercises in Kashmir. “The US may be interested in but still need to take a look at by sending people to train in these types of environment,” he said. Indian and US troops have held joint exercises in the mountainous Ladakh region in 2003. The renewed interest in Kashmir has a reason. “The basis of our continued relationship will be the sharing of information about what they face on a day-to-day basis with Pakistan as well as with China.” What is the message that the General is conveying to Pakistan by speaking about the possibility of joint India-US military exercises in Kashmir?

The General could as well go to Tel Aviv to learn about the strategy and tactics of counter-terrorism in India. During the visit by (then) Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres to New Delhi in January 2002, a Foreign Ministry spokes-person said: “India finds it increasingly beneficial to learn from Israel’s experience in dealing with terrorism since Israel too has long suffered from cross-border terrorism.” It appeared that the rationale for training thousands of Indian special troops by Israel was the equation of the Palestinian struggle with cross-border terrorism. India and Israel not only exchange crucial intelligence information on what they call “Islamist terrorist groups” but Israel is also ‘helping’ India to ‘fight terrorism’ in Kashmir by providing important logistical support such as specialised surveillance equipment, cooperation on intelligence gathering, and joint exercises.

The Israeli ‘involvement’ in Kashmir has a longer history than cooperation between the USA and India on counterterrorism. Jane’s Defence Weekly reported in March 2000 that Israeli security officers were regularly visiting the Kashmir border. Jane’s Terrorism and Security Monitor (August 14, 2001): “Israeli intelligence have been intensifying their relations with Indian security apparatus and are now understood to be heavily involved in helping New Delhi combat Islamic militants in the disputed province of Kashmir.” All these happened before the USA launched the War on Terror. The Jerusalem Post reported on February 3, 2003 that India was sending three battalions of nearly 3000 Indian soldiers to Israel for specialised anti-insurgency training. India has been using tactics adopted by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) in counter-terrorism. Do we have to believe that the US Army Chief of Staff does not know all this?

India and the USA have counter-terrorism cooperation from 2001 buttressed by the Framework Agreement on Defence Cooperation between the two countries, signed in June 2005. “What really caught me is what they have been doing for the last 20 years in what we have been doing for the last 12 years.” That means India began its counter-terrorism operations in 1993—actually in 1989—whereas the US began it only from 2001 with the War on Terror. India has always claimed that it had a longer history of experience of terrorism and counter-terrorism operations. The General seemed to concede the claim.

The Indian Government’s official position is that India had long been involved in fighting terrorism, especially of the Osma bin Laden variety via Pakistan. In the official Indian view, the result of the September 11 attacks was that the US had joined India in the struggle against terrorism and not the other way round. Prime Minister Vajpayee had told the UN General Assembly in 2001 (November 10): “We in India knew from our own bitter experience that terrorists develop global networks driven by religious extremism.”

The US Army Chief of Staff stated that the US would continue to support and collaborate with India in counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency actions. He cannot be unaware of the many challenges to effective counter-terrorism cooperation.

One of the main challenges is the difference in perceptions on terrorism, especially when it is about cross-border terrorism in Kashmir. While both sides would agree that the scourge of terrorism needs to be addressed, there are concerns in New Delhi about Washington’s relationship with Pakistan. For India, Pakistan represents the epicentre of the terror threat to India. But there is no evidence that the USA shares or even takes serious note of this perception

There is also enough reason for India to have serious doubts about the US commitment to bilateral cooperation in the absence of transparency in Washington’s actions. The prime example of the David Headley case stands out. India was surprised by accounts that the US was aware of Headley’s connections and movements much before his arrest as a terrorist. Serious doubts about US transparency rose when queries to question Headley were not immediately granted.

As Lisa Curtis of the Heritage Foundation said in her testimony before the US House of Representatives’ Committee on Foreign Affairs’ Sub-committee on Terrorism and Non-prolife-ration on September 14, 2012, “It took almost nine months before Indian authorities were given direct access to Headley. The US failure to pursue arrest and prosecution of Pakistani intelligence officers named by Headley as being involved in the 2008 Mumbai attack has also reinforced Indian beliefs that the US will gloss over Pakistani involvement in India so long as Pakistan continues to cooperate with the US against groups that attack America. By choosing to view the activities of the Al-Qaeda and other Pak-based terrorist groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba through a separate lens, US officials have failed to hold Pakistan accountable for dealing effectively with terrorists located on its territory.”

New Delhi knows that the US cannot be relied on terrorist cases implicating Pakistan. Washington will not share with New Delhi any information that would compromise its relations with Pakistan. It is this pronounced trust deficit that has pervaded the US-Indian relationship and prevented deeper cooperation on specific regional threats. India has been frustrated by what it views as inconsistencies and backsliding in the US’ public statements concerning the Pakistan-based terrorist threat to India. The apparent reluctance of the USA to push the Pakistani Army leadership to dismantle the Lashkar-e-Taiba’s infrastructure and its operations along the border is a matter of concern in New Delhi. Washington has also withheld information on the Al-Qaeda’s terrorist operations suspected of having ties to Kashmir militants.

Dr Ninan Koshy, formerly a Visiting Fellow, Harvard Law School, USA, is the author of The War on Terror—Reordering the World and Under the Empire—India’s New Foreign Policy.
Britain plans army to fight cyber attacks
LONDON: Britain is working on creating an army of hundreds of tech-savvy recruits to tackle cyber attacks.

UK defence secretary Philip Hammond revealed plans for the revolutionary military unit at the annual Conservative party conference in Manchester on Sunday.

"In response to the growing cyber threat, we are developing a full-spectrum military cyber capability, including a strike capability, to enhance the UK's range of military capabilities," Hammond said.

"Increasingly, our defence budget is being invested in high-end capabilities such as cyber and intelligence and surveillance assets to ensure we can keep the country safe. The cyber reserves will be an essential part of ensuring we defend our national security in cyber-space," he added. Recruitment for the new posts will begin next month.

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