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Monday, 18 November 2013

From Today's Papers - 18 Nov 2013

 Pensioners to get arrears from Jan 2006
Apex court upholds earlier orders in favour of employees
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 17
The Supreme Court has dismissed the review petition filed by the Central Government wherein the government had prayed that the benefits of pension arising out of the rectification of anomalies of pre-2006 pensioners should be granted from September 2012 and not January 2006.

Consequently, all affected defence and civilian pensioners would now be entitled to arrears with effect from January 1, 2006, the date of implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission (SPC), and not just for the past about 14 months as was the government’s intention.

After the plea of the Central Government praying for release of pension arrears from September 2012 rather than January 2006 was dismissed by the Supreme Court in July this year, the Department of Pensions and Pensioners’ Welfare (DoPPW) had referred the file for further action to the law and finance ministries, which then directed the DoPPW to file a review petition.

The controversy on implementation of the SPC recommendations had been simmering for defence as well as civilian pensioners since January 2006. The issue involved the interpretation whether pension would be based on the minimum pay within the pay-band (PB 1,2,3 or 4) or the minimum of pay of the pay-scale applicable to various grades and ranks. Each pay band consists of several pay scales. The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) had however ruled in favour of pensioners and had directed re-fixation of pension from January 2006.

An anomaly committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary had finally corrected the anomaly but the arrears of the corrected pension were directed to be released by the government only with effect from September 24, 2012 rather than January 1, 2006.

When the decision of the CAT was challenged before the Delhi High Court, it was again directed by the High Court that arrears would flow from the date of inception of the anomaly, that is, January 1, 2006 and not September 24, 2012. The government had challenged the decision of the Delhi High Court by way of an SLP before the Supreme Court but the SLP was also dismissed.

A similar case filed by Maj Gen K Khorana for military pensioners is pending before the Chandigarh Bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal. Sources said the DoPPW had earlier supported the demands of pensioners but the same had been opposed by the Department of Expenditure in the Ministry of Finance.
Army coup story came from a fertile brain: VK Singh

 Mumbai, November 17
Former Army chief General VK Singh has dismissed the story of an alleged coup attempt by Indian army in January 2012 as the product of a "very fertile brain" and said it was at "somebody's behest".

"That (coup bid) story was at the behest of somebody," he said. "A routine movement which is meant to test certain units for their efficiency for certain tasks, if that gets construed (as coup), then God help us," he said. The former Army chief was speaking at the launch of his autobiography, "Courage and Conviction", at the 'Literature Live' literary festival here last evening.

Asked if it was necessary to have live missiles as part of the movement, General Singh replied, "Obviously. You move with the complete ammunition. You don't take duds with you. How will you know the timing taken to draw those missiles. How will you get the lessons," he said. "This was a story which came out from a very "fertile" brain," he said. "When you mobilise, then you mobilise with everything," General Singh added.

To a query on the "phobia" about the armed forces in government, the retired Army chief said, "This phobia or this paranoid feeling... I have talked about it in the book.” — PTI
 DRDO job scam: Antony recommends CBI probe

New Delhi, November 17
Defence Minister A K Antony has recommended a CBI probe into an alleged recruitment scam in DRDO where several senior officers including two of its former chiefs are under the scanner.

The Defence Minister has recommended a CBI probe into the alleged recruitment scam in which two former DRDO chiefs and a former Chief Controller of the organisation are under scanner for allegedly giving jobs to their kins in alleged violation of rules and regulations, sources said here today.

The vigilance wing of the Defence Ministry had been investigating the alleged wrongdoings in recruitment in the premier defence research agency for over a year. Recently, a Director-rank officer of the DRDO was under scanner for his alleged role in an appointment made against the laid down procedures and was suspended hours before his retirement from service in May.

The official, a senior scientist, was suspended by the department as an inquiry was pending against him in a recruitment-related case where he allegedly recruited his own daughter in the organisation. The matter had come to light after the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) recommended action against two DRDO officials for their alleged role in the case. The official suspended was involved in promotion and selection of scientists in the organisation. — PTI
Pakistan apprised of LoC concerns
There has been no progress on the issue of border violations
T.V. Rajeswar
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Foreign Affairs Adviser, Sartaj Aziz, arrived in Delhi on November 10 to participate in the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting of Foreign Ministers. External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid met the Pakistani envoy on November 12 and expressed Delhi’s disappointment with the manner in which Pakistan had conducting itself on various crucial issues. For starters, Khurshid made it very clear to Sartaj Aziz that peace and tranquility on the Line of Control was one of the most important confidence-building measures which had been regrettably ignored by the Pakistan Government and its armed forces.

Starting in mid-January 2013 the border incidents had been described as the worst bout of fighting in the region in nearly 10 years. Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said that a total of 136 ceasefire violations had been reported in 2013 alone, the highest in the past eight years.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had two brief meetings with his Pakistani counterpart on October 5 and 11 in New York when these border violations were specifically mentioned by Dr. Manmohan Singh and requested Nawaz Sharif to rein in the Pakistani forces and ensure peace on the Line of Control. Regrettably, there has been no progress in the matter.

The attitude of Nawaz Sharf towards the border violations has come in for serious doubt. While returning from his visit to Russia and China, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told media persons on his special aircraft that he was disappointed with the Pakistan Prime Minister since it was specifically agreed at the New York meetings that peace and tranquility should be maintained on the border.

Sartaj Aziz briefly met Dr. Manmohan Singh on November 13 as a matter of courtesy. Manmohan Singh did not say anything else to Sartaj Aziz since Salman Khurshid had already made it clear that for meaningful talks with India, Pakistan should demonstrate its good faith and behaviour on the Line of Control.

Sartaj Aziz had another agenda since he met as many as four delegations of Kashmiri secessionist leaders at the Pakistan High Commission on November 10. The two factions of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Syed Ali Shah Geelani took part in the discussions held at the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi.

Pakistan’s attitude towards India on basic issues has not undergone any change. In respect of India as well as America Pakistan’s attitude has been inscrutable. The case of the death of the Pakistan Taliban chief, Hakimullah Mehsud, in a drone attack carried out by America is a clear example. Mehsud was an agent of al-Qaida and was responsible not only for the attacks on the NATO troops but also the audacious bombing at New York’s Time Square. Pakistan summoned the American Ambassador and gave him a dressing down over the drone attack and killing of Hakumullah Mehsud.

A Western diplomat commented that any normal country would be celebrating the drone attack but Pakistan remained confused. Pakistan depends on America for financial support, while resenting the American strategy in the region, notably over Afghanistan and over America’s warm tie-up with India. Intriguingly, the Pakistani Army issued a condemnation of the drone attack on Hakumullah Mehsud. It was revealed that when Nawaz Sharif visited Washington soon after he became the Prime Minister last year, he quietly agreed to the continuance of drone strikes in the lawless Waziristan area. The Pakistan Army Chief, Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, is nearing the end of his term and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has the onerous task of finding his successor. In the interim period, he does not feel confident enough to go in for any initiatives towards peace with India.

Shyam Saran, former Foreign Secretary during the time of Prime Minister Narasimha Rao, recently disclosed that Nawaz Sharif had sent a messenger to Rao conveying that India would see a qualitative change in the situation on the ground. This was with a particular reference to cross-border terrorism then afflicting Kashmir and the continuing violence along the Line of Control.

Fast track to July 2013 and Shahryar Khan came to Delhi, again as the Pakistan Prime Minister’s special envoy. And now Sartaj Aziz has come, bearing more or less the same message. The sequence of events is different but the constant factor of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif being the same all speaks of one thing that nothing has changed in Pakistan and there is no indication of anything happening in the foreseeable future.

In this context, the recent revelations of Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s special envoy to the US, are an eye-opener. According to Haqqani, President Barack Obama secretly told Pakistan in 2009 that he would nudge India towards negotiations on Kashmir in lieu of it ending support to terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Toiba and Taliban but Islamabad rejected the offer. The secret letter was written by Obama to the then President, Asif Ali Zardari, and the letter was hand delivered by his then National Security Adviser, Gen (retd) James Jones. Obama wrote in the letter that America was willing to consider Pakistan as its long-term strategic partner. Obama told Zardari that fighting India through proxy groups like Lshkar-e-Toiba was not sustainable any more. Haqqani had written much more about the futile efforts of
America in his book “Magnificent Delusions”. If Zardari as well as Nawaz Sharif could not set their course of action on the peaceful path, there is little hope in doing business with Pakistan.

As Salman Khurshid pointed out to Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan has to demonstrate its bona fides by putting an end to the large number of incidents on the LoC. It is known that these incidents are meant to provide cover for the infiltration of terrorists from Pakistan and occupied Kashmir into Jammu and Kashmir. Nawaz Sharif in coordination with Parvez Kayani has to stop this on the Line of Control. Till then, India has to be on guard as usual on the Line of Control and elsewhere.
China to cut its army's size under new reforms
BEIJING: China has announced plans to cut the size of its 2.3 million strong military by reducing the number of non-combatant personnel in the People's Liberation Army.

The number of non-combat personnel in the PLA, the world's largest military, will be reduced in an effort to optimize its scale and structure, official media reported. The Chinese military has enlisted singers, dancers as well as athletes in its non-combat units.

The new roadmap stated that China will be adjusting and improving the ratio of army officers to soldiers and the ratio of combat units to non-combat institutions in order to meet the country's security demands.

The reforms announced at a key meeting of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) also stipulated that the military functioned directly under the party, not under the government like in others countries. The reforms which were approved at last week's Third Plenum are aimed to build a strong army that "obeys the Party's command, is capable of winning battles and has a sound work style", the report said.
Army should never have been used in Punjab insurgency: KPS Gill

Army should not have been used in anti-insurgency operations in Punjab and Assam as it created mistrust between security forces and civil society, former Director General of Police K P S Gill today said.

"Operation Blue Star in Punjab and Operation Bajrang in Assam were not necessary," Gill said.

"The operations were hijacked from the police administration creating a mistrust between the police, security forces and civil society. As a result, many innocent people lost their lives," he added.

The former Punjab Police chief said that police should have been given a chance to deal with the problem.

"The police could have dealt with it, if more power was given to them and if they had cooperation from all concerned, including the government and the society," Gill said during his visit here as the Chief Patron of North East Sports Foundation.

Operation Blue Star was carried out by the army to clear the Golden temple complex in Amritsar of Sikh militants in 1984.

Gill, who had served in Assam, claimed Bangladeshi infiltration has always been a major concern in the region and was the main cause of the different agitations.

"There is an urgent need to check Bangladeshi infiltration as extremists from the North East have taken advantage of this situation using Bangladesh as a major hideout over the years to make the region a trouble torn area," he added.

"When I was Superintendent of Police in Nowgong district, during 1961 to 1964, I detected about one lakh suspected Bangladeshi nationals," the former police official said.
Announcement of Army Chief to be made according to Constitution: Pervaiz Rashid
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Pervaiz Rashid has said that the announcement of new Army Chief would be made by the prime minister according to the timeframe given in the constitution.
In an interview, the information minister said that the government is confronting challenges on all fronts including economy, politics, law and order and international relations. He refused to comment on what Senator Rehman Malik had been doing in the past but said everyone should condole the incident of Rawalpindi in which precious lives have been lost. He said those killed in the tragedy were Pakistanis and it does not make any difference to which sect they belonged.
Pervaiz Rashid said Chief Minister Punjab Mian Shahbaz Sharif has already ordered a judicial inquiry to arrive at a conclusion and those found responsible would be made to face the law of the land.
He regretted that processions do not remain peaceful in Pakistan which is a very dangerous trend. What is more worrisome is that sectarianism has crept into state institutions and personnel. He said as a result no place, including places of worship, is safe.  He said the people of Pakistan are facing the consequences of mistakes committed by the state.
The information minister said Ulema were playing their role and the government would welcome those who would contribute positively.
In reply to a question he said the prime minister has to fulfill his national responsibilities and pointed out that the Commonwealth Summit was attended by heads of governments of other member countries. He said Pakistan has to play its due role at the international level and the visit of the prime minister was part of the national responsibilities.

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