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Sunday, 1 December 2013

From Today's Papers - 01 Dec 2013

BSF fast-tracks ‘great wall’ in Jammu
Massive embankment behind fencing is aimed at thwarting intrusion, but can face land acquisition hurdle
Shaurya K Gurung & Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Tribune News Service
Over two months after Pakistan-based terrorists sauntered across the Hiranagar area barely 5 km from the International Border in Jammu killing 10 persons, including Lt Col Bikramjeet Singh, the Border Security Force has fast-tracked its ambitious “great wall” project.

The ‘wall’ – an embankment 135 feet (41 meters) wide and 10 meters high – will lie behind the existing border fence. It will straddle the 179-km stretch (from Paharpur on Punjab-Kathua border to Akhnoor, north of Jammu) out of 198 km border in the Jammu region. The BSF wants to have a second line of defence to ward off terrorists and smugglers besides giving a secure atmosphere to the farmers living close by.

This became clear on Friday when at a press conference, Director General of the Border Security Force Subhash Joshi for the first time spelled out details of the embankment. “The government has cleared the project. Land has to be acquired and construction will begin soon after,” said Joshi.

A BSF delegation headed by the DG will leave for Lahore in December and inform Pakistan Rangers before starting the project, sources said.

BSF Jammu Frontier, IG, SS Tomar said work would be taken up “very shortly”. It would start from Manyari (in Kathua district).

It’s not the external threat the “great wall” plan would be first faced with. Given that nearly 45,000 people live close to the International Border, the land acquisition process could prove to be a cumbersome exercise. Officials said the project involves 118 villages in three districts of Kathua (17), Samba (29) and Jammu (72). The revenue survey has reached at an advanced stage in majority of the villages barring seven villages, said an official.

“The project, lying with the Union Home Ministry since 2010, picked up momentum this year only after the Hiranagar attack,” said a state Home Department official. The Army already has a ditch-cum-bundh (DCB) in the Chamb-Jaurian area that starts from the banks of the Manawar Tawi river in Jammu. The DCB is 30 feet wide and is filled with 10-15 feet water. The water prevents the movement of tanks and can prevent enemy troops from using ladders to climb over. The bundh consists of bunkers with pillboxes. It remains to be seen if the BSF too will have the same system. The BSF Jammu Frontier IG said: “The proposed embankment can make the area more secure. We are more worried about the local population.”

“The Central Public Works Department will undertake the project,” said Tomar.

Double protection

    It is like an embankment 135 feet wide. The existing fence is 60 feet wide
    The location: From Paharpur on Punjab-Kathua border to Akhnoor, north of Jammu
    Second line of defence: Will lie behind the existing border fence
    The length: Will cover the 179-km stretch out of 198 km border in the Jammu region

The obstacle

Land acquisition: Nearly 45,000 villagers live near the border in 118 villages in three districts of Kathua (17), Samba (29) and Jammu (72)
 SSB seeks revival of intel gathering role along Nepal border
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 30
Rapidly changing dynamics in Nepal, where China is cementing its place, has forced a rethink in India. The Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) - tasked with policing India’s borders with Nepal and Bhutan - has sent a formal proposal to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) asking that its old role of gathering intelligence be revived.

The SSB was set up in 1963 as a “people’s force” and its original name was “Special Services Bureau” and was renamed in 2001. Its men and women were also given designated uniform.

The original SSB worked in civil clothes mingling with people in the border areas gathering vital human intelligence and working in coordination with the local police.

Director General of SSB Arun Chaudhary yesterday said: “We want to revive the earlier role of the SSB that included intelligence gathering. The case for this is pending with the MHA.”

Chaudhary was speaking at a function to mark the Golden Jubilee of the SSB. To mark the event, a seminar was organised on “Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan relations security challenges” and a commemorative stamp was released by Union Minister of State for Home Affairs RPN Singh.

Chaudhary was categorical that the proposal to fence the Nepal border did not find favour with him. “Border fencing is so far being resisted by the SSB,” said Chaudhary. His opinion was seconded by Jayant Prasad, former Indian envoy to Nepal: “I agree, we don’t fence borders with friendly countries.”

Prasad, who retired from service in April, earlier listed out what India needs to do more once the new government in Nepal is in place after the recent elections.

“Renew and adjust the 1950 treaty between the two countries, allow Nepal greater movement of its goods by way of roads and a railway network, sign the strip-maps and work out land boundary,” said Prasad. The 1950 treaty has not been renewed as Nepal feels India has not addressed its concerns.

Inspector General of SSB Somesh Goyal said smuggling of fake Indian currency, timber, goods, machinery and cross-border poaching were some of the issues that need to be addressed between India and Nepal.
 AFSPA extended for one year in Manipur

IMPHAL, November 30
Barring seven Assembly constituencies within Imphal Municipal area, the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958 will be extended for another year in the insurgency-hit Manipur from Sunday.

The Act will be enforced in all the districts of the state except seven assembly constituencies of Wangkhei, Yaiskul, Thangmeiband, Uripok, Sagolband, Shingjamei and Khurai, all in Imphal municipal areas. The Act has been enforced in the state for more than two decades after it was extended annually. — PTI
Gen Sharif’s earned his stripes, spots yet to show
The most important question is how new Pak army chief General Raheel Sharif will view the J&K dynamics. However, a reversal of policy is least likely, especially when there is a change of command.
Lt Gen Syed Ata Hasnain (retd)
General Raheel Sharif, as a protégé of Gen Parvez Musharraf, has a military pedigree many soldiers would envy. As a fellow of the prestigious Royal College of Defence Studies, London, he is in the exalted company of his mentor.

Media reports ascribe to him the thinking behind Pakistan’s doctrinal aspects of countering India’s pro-active strategy. While being a great professional citation, this is hardly likely even if he is considered an expert at defensive, and not offensive, warfare because Pakistan’s reaction of moving some of its formations to strategically more viable locations was thought through well before General Sharif rose to the level of a Corps Commander (30 Corps, Gujranwala).

Hamid Hussain’s assessment that General Sharif “is probably not suited to lead an army engaged in a war” needs to be evaluated more comprehensively. Study of history belies the assumption that the body language of senior military leaders and their appearance can lead to definitive deductions about their military intellect, translation into ground execution and leadership skills under duress and stress.
Of Pakistan’s senior leadership it can authoritatively be said that it is outstandingly wily and innovative at ‘conflict initiation’ but astonishingly unprofessional at taking the intent and aim to its military conclusion as part of ‘conflict termination’. This has been borne out in the 1965 Indo-Pak conflict, the actions in East Pakistan in 1971, in the operational content of Exercise Zarb-e-Momin in 1990, the Kargil misadventure in 1999 and in the recent exchanges on the LoC in Poonch, Mendhar and Keran.

None of these events led to any positive gains for Pakistan. In fact, the only decision which led to a possibly positive outcome was President Musharraf’s mutual initiative with the India to bring about ceasefire on the LoC on November 26, 2003, a decision which had far-reaching implications for both armies. Will General Sharif show similar cerebral capability and ‘soft’ approach towards the LoC to enable the task at hand on the more difficult western and internal security fronts, which are wrenching Pakistan apart? In fact, the most important question is how General Sharif will view the Jammu & Kashmir dynamics.

Will it be bravado at the LoC to display an offensive personality in charge? The negative spinoff of any such machismo will be an immediate effect on Nawaz Sharif’s declared intent of treading the peace path with India. Secondly, Pakistan’s current penchant with filling the Valley and Jammu region with infiltrated terrorists to retain options in calibrating the proxy war may well tempt General Sharif to project an offensive character. A reversal of policy is least likely especially when there is a change of command.

With Pakistan’s supposed perception that nothing major is likely on the diplomatic front over the next six months the situation points towards Mr Sharif giving his new army chief time and space to settle, even at the cost of a few flare-ups on the LoC. Although Mr Sharif has had negative experience with his chiefs, it is unlikely he will sully the internal military reputation of the new chief by placing unreasonable controls on him. We are therefore unlikely to see any major change in the policy on Jammu and Kashmir; only time and our response at the LoC will dictate which way the situation will head.

The Indian establishment needs to ensure that traditional assumptions of winter being a period of stability on the LoC are put at rest. The Pakistan defence establishment has been known for its innovations in conflict initiation. Whatever the personality of General Sharif, the dynamics of 2014 will force him to be aggressive on Kashmir. He may be forced by the hardliners to aid and abet the current Kashmir policy.

Some would expect that a personal loss in the form of his elder brother in a battle with the Indian Army in 1971 may have created in General Sharif a latent antipathy against India and this would be an opportunity for revenge. His credentials do not appear to suggest that. General Sharif is likely to think through any initiative.

The label of being less offensive possibly appears due to his track record of appointments and being an Infantryman. Flamboyant commanders are presumed to be black uniformed (Armoured Corps or Special Forces) with a record of commanding units and formations aggressively on the LoC, which General Sharif lacks. Possibly, PM Nawaz Sharif was advised on this and he deliberately chose to have a stable conformist. Infantrymen may not carry flamboyance, but it needs to be remembered that aggression comes naturally to them. On the Indian side the majority of iconic military leaders, Cariappa, Manekshaw and Aurora were all Infantrymen.

Predicting anything about Pakistan is fraught with danger, most of all the panning of personality of its military leaders. However, on balance, General Sharif’s tenure needs to lend stability in the approaching difficult and challenging years of the security scenario in the sub-continent. His politico-military compulsions of keeping J&K on the simmer (not boil) have to be assessed. He is unlikely to kowtow with radical elements beyond current levels knowing that tactical gains will not translate into strategic victory. Lastly, the Indian establishment needs to carefully evaluate whether General Sharif is the man to trust. In short, it is a situation where there are shades and shades of grey in which a black and white mind would only spell paralysis.

The writer is a Fellow of the Royal College of Defence Studies, London, and former General Officer Commanding of the Srinagar-based 15 Corps
India, China spar over Arunachal Pradesh
New Delhi/Shanghai:  China on Saturday urged India not to aggravate problems on the border shared by the two nations, a day after President Pranab Mukherjee toured Arunachal Pradesh and called it an integral part of the country.

The two countries, which fought a brief border war in 1962, only last month signed a pact to ensure that differences on the border do not spark a confrontation.

But Mr Mukherjee's visit to Arunachal Pradesh in the remote eastern stretch of the Himalayas that China claims as its own provoked a fresh exchange of words.

"We hope that India will proceed along with China, protecting our broad relationship, and will not take any measures that could complicate the problem, and together we can protect peace and security in the border regions," China's official news agency, Xinhua, quoted Qin Gang, a spokesman of the country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as saying.

"Currently Sino-India relations are developing favourably and both sides are going through special envoy meetings and amicable discussions to resolve the border dispute between our two countries."

Mr Mukherjee was on a routine visit to Arunachal which has been part of the Indian state for decades, and where India has regularly been holding elections. But China has of late grown increasingly assertive and questioned New Delhi's claims over the territory, calling it instead South Tibet.

Mr Mukherjee told members of the state's legislative assembly it was "a core stakeholder in India's Look East foreign policy" that intends to link the country's northeast with South East Asia.

"We seek to make our neighbours partners in our development," Mr Mukherjee said in Itanagar, the state capital. "We believe that India's future and our own best economic interests are served by closer integration with Asia."

China lays claim to more than 90,000 sq km (35,000 sq miles) disputed by New Delhi in the eastern sector of the Himalayas, while India says China occupies 38,000 square km of its territory on the Aksai Chin plateau in the west.
BSF say no transgression in Samba sector but keen to build 10 metre high embankment
The Border Security Force (BSF) today refuted the charge of any breach in its defence mechanisms in Jammu’s Samba sector last September thus indirectly putting the onus on other security agencies, including the Indian Army to explain the transgression.

A lethal attack launched by Pakistani fidayeens had killed at least 10 people in Samba sector in September, including a Lieutenant Colonel of a Cavalry unit.

The reports then suggested three terrorists entering Hiranagar in Samba sector after crossing the International Border (IB) through a riverine area. The Union Home Ministry had also asked for an inquiry report in this case as the IB is guarded by the BSF.

“After the attack we carried out an in-depth analysis and saw that the fence was intact. There are some ‘nullahs’ along the fence and they were well-guarded and on that day all mechanisms were in place. We have not come across any such transgression and this is where it stands today,” director general of BSF Subhash Joshi said during interaction on the occasion of forces’ 48th Raising Day.

Joshi, however, said that to ensure better vigilance the BSF has revived an old proposal of building an embankment on the IB in Jammu sector.

“The proposal has been approved by the cabinet and land is being acquired by the J&K government,” Joshi said.

Running across 170 kilometres, the 10 metre high embankment, made of earth but reinforced, will manage to save the villages from the onslaught of Pakistani fire to some extent besides making transgression a more difficult proposition for the terrorists.

To be constructed before the three tier fence and nullah, the embankment will allow BSF to construct bunkers within to have a better view of the border and check.

Given the task to replace Assam Rifles on the Myanmar border, the BSF is planning to send a detailed proposal to erect 41 new battalions, Joshi said.

“It will take about 5 years to raise these battalions. As most of Border Outposts on Myanmar at bang on the border with no connectivity we would be relying heavily on the air support and thus the proposal will also include the requirements to give more teeth to air wing,” Joshi said.

The BSF plans to upgrade its air wing with 8 more MI-17 helicopters and at least two more fixed wing aircrafts to help guard the addition responsibility.
The moment of pride for 290 cadets at NDA
 It was a proud moment for the parents of 290 cadets who passed out from the 125th course of India’s prime defence institute, the National Defence Academy (NDA). After three years of rigorous training and hard work, these cadets were awarded a bachelor’s degree in the convocation ceremony held on Thursday.

Cadet Sonu Barak bagged the Chief of Naval Staff trophy for scoring the highest grades among students of all three streams -- science, computer science and social sciences. While Barak also won the Commandant’s silver medal for topping the science stream, cadet Karan Thukral got silver medal and Admiral’s Trophy for standing first in the computer science stream, and cadet Suraj Ithape bagged Commandant’s silver medal for standing first in social sciences stream.

Cadet Sonu Barak, who hails from Rohtak in Haryana says he got inspiration to join the armed forces from his father. Like his father Hansraj Barak, Sonu too wants to join the Indian Air Force.
“Once I join the Air Force, I will work hard to fulfill my dream of flying the Sukhoi.” Along with his father, batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar is also his role model. “I love cricket and Sachin is my hero. Incidentally, he played his last Ranji match in Rohtak.”

Unlike Sonu Barak, cadet Suraj Ithape is the first person from Ithape family to be joining the armed forces. Suraj hails from Chindawali village of Satara district and his father works as a development officer in a bank and mother is a housewife. He completed his education in Satara’s Sainik School and he got inspiration from his seniors who joined NDA.

“After standard X, my focus was clear. I wanted to join NDA. In my first attempt, I didn’t come in the merit list. The next six months I was at home and did not apply anywhere else. Finally I got through and I am very happy that I managed to complete this tough training,” Suraj said.

Suraj’s father Sanjay Ithape said, “Suraj was always good in studies and we all wanted him to pursue UPSC or MPSC, but did not want him to join the armed forces as we had little knowledge about it. Today we are extremely proud to see his achievement.”

For cadet Karan Thukral, last year had been pretty tough as he lost his father when he was in the 4th term of NDA. However, he did not lose his composure and manged to bag first prize in computer science. “It was a tough time for me when I lost my father. But because of the immense support from my batchmates, I could overcome all odds and achieve my goal. I wish my father was here to see me receiving this prize,” Karan said. He will join the Indian Army after he completes his training at the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun.

Total 290 cadets received a bachelor’s degree at the NDA on Thursday’s convocation. Out of these 290 cadets, 122 are from the science stream, 101 from computer science and 67 are from social sciences.
General Raheel Sharif assumes command of Pakistan Army
RAWALPINDI: General Raheel Sharif on Friday assumed the command of Pakistan Army. The change of command ceremony was held at Army Hockey Stadium near General Headquarters (GHQ) which was also attended by Federal Minister for Defence Khawaja Asif, senior serving and retired military, civil officers, diplomats and soldiers.
In a befitting but simple ceremony outgoing Chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani formally relinquished the command of Pakistan Army by handing over ‘Malacca Cane’ to the new Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif.
General Raheel Sharif is the 15th Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan Army.
Addressing the audience, after inspecting farewell Guard of Honour Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said the Pakistan Armed Forces are fully prepared to thwart and face any internal and external threats. He said with the support of the Pakistani nation Pakistan Army had been fighting the terrorism for the last 10 years. “Our officers and jawans gave matchless sacrifices only to restore peace in difficult and remote areas,” Gen Kayani added.
He said Pakistan Army not only fought the menace of terrorism but also helped the people of the country in difficult times like natural calamities.
Commenting on the command handing over ceremony, he said that it was a memorable event for his life which had a special importance in his career in Pakistan Army, spanning over 44 years.
Gen. Kayani said that commanding a world’s prestigious army for six year, was an honour for him. Expressing good wishes to the new Army Chief, he expressed the confidence that under the leadership of General Raheel Sharif, Pakistan Army would continue to enhance its professional capability.
Earlier, military band enthralled the audience with exquisite national and regional tunes before arrival of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Chief of Army Staff-Designate, Gen. Raheel Sharif at the stadium.
A smartly turned out contingent of Pakistan Army presented general salute to Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani who also reviewed the parade.
The audience also lauded ‘Drum Solo’ performance.
Life sketch of Gen Raheel Sharif: General Raheel Sharif, Hilal-i-Imtiaz (Military) hails from a martial stock. He was born in Quetta on 16 June 1956 to Major and Mrs Muhammad Sharif. He is younger brother of Major Shabir Sharif, NH, SJ and Capt Mumtaz Sharif, Sbt. He is an alumnus of Govt College Lahore, and Pakistan Military Academy from where he passed out with 54th PMA Long Course. He was commissioned in Oct 1976 in the battle hardened and renowned 6th Battalion The Frontier Force Regiment in which his elder brother had embraced Shahadat.
As a Young Officer, he performed his duties in Gilgit in an Infantry Brigade and also served as Adjutant of Pakistan Military Academy. He did Company Commander?s Course from Germany and subsequently served in the prestigious School of Infantry and Tactics as an instructor. He attended the Command and Staff College Canada, graduating with distinction.
The officer carries with him a vast experience of Command, Staff and Instructional appointments. He served as the Brigade Major of an Infantry Brigade and has commanded two infantry units i.e 6 Frontier Force Regiment at Kashmir along LOC and 26 Frontier Force Regiment along the Sialkot Border. He remained on the faculty of the Command and Staff College, Quetta and attended Armed Forces War Course at National Defence University, Islamabad in 1998. As a Brigadier, he has commanded two Infantry Brigades, including an Independent Infantry Brigade Group. The General has had the honor of being the Chief of Staff of two Corps, i.e 30 Corps and 12 Corps. He is also a graduate of the prestigious Royal College of Defence Studies, United Kingdom.
He has been the General Officer Commanding of an Infantry Division and the Commandant of prestigious Pakistan Military Academy. As a Lieutenant General he served as Corps Commander 30 Corps for two years before taking over as Inspector General Training and Evaluation in which capacity he oversaw the training of Pakistan Army. His stewardship resulted in fructification of Pakistan Army’s operational thought and doctrinal response to the much vaunted Cold Start doctrine of Indian Army. The general is married and has two sons and a daughter. He is an avid reader and enjoys hunting and swimming.
Jawan-officer clashes in Army worry government
After taking feedback from a whopping 16,000 Army personnel in the wake of a few incidents of officer-jawan clashes in the past few years, the Army has directed that there should be elimination of any lavish officer-centric activities in units and that there should be more involvement of personnel below officer rank in unit activities as well as more involvement of children of PBORs in social functions and activities, sources have said.
Meanwhile, the government is also believed to have indicated its concern on the incidents of officer-jawan clashes to the Army top brass.
With the officer-shortage in the Army, there are fewer Army officers posted with the units compared to the situation several years ago when there were adequate number of officers in every unit.
Some of the officers are also away from the units from time to time on official work. This has put enormous strain on the officers who are posted with the units and is being perceived as a major reason for situations in which there has been a visible deterioration in officer-jawan (PBOR) ties.
Sources said the Army’s emphasis on elimination of any lavish officer-centric activities in units is because such activities that exclude the jawans may result in a sense of alienation and resentment among the jawans.
Historically, in the Indian Army, officers have led by example and the Army is keen that there should be no deterioration whatsoever in officer-jawan ties since this could have a severe negative impact on operational matters.
There are just about 35,000 officers in the 1.1 million-strong Army. Also, over a period of time, the educational profile of jawans has increased significantly and so have their aspirations.
The government is also believed to have conveyed its concern earlier to the Army.
India to crank up military diplomacy by posting more officers abroad
NEW DELHI: India is expanding its military presence around the globe. No, it's not covertly establishing military bases or outposts overseas. Instead, New Delhi is slowly but steadily cranking up the number of its defence attaches or advisors (DAs) deployed abroad as part of its larger military diplomacy strategy.

The endeavour is to post more DAs in Indian missions in hitherto-neglected but strategically crucial areas like the energy-rich Central Asia and Indian Ocean Region (IOR) as well as strengthen presence in countries like China.

Defence ministry sources say the plan is to gradually create as many as 26 new DA posts over the next few years, even as several new "billets" abroad have already been "filled or approved" over the last several months.

"By combining diplomatic and military tools, DAs can promote India's military and security interests. As our military-to-military engagement with countries around the world expands, it's important to post more uniformed officers with domain knowledge in Indian missions," said a source.

With the world's second-largest standing Army, and a Navy and Air Force in the top five or six, India is also helping friendly countries in "capacity-building" of their armed forces. Much like Bhutan and Botswana, for instance, an Indian Army Training Team will soon also be based in Myanmar, where China has made deep strategic inroads.

India now has 100 DAs posted in different countries, with 67 of them being from the Army. "Four new posts for Army officers have been approved in Nigeria, Norway, Azerbaijan and Papua New Guinea," said the source.

Only the US, the UK and Russia have Indian DAs from all three Services till now. India is also going to post a naval attache (NA) to Beijing, even as it steps up its maritime engagement with countries in the IOR.

India feels that its central location in the IOR, astride major commercial routes and energy lifelines like the Malacca Strait makes it a major stakeholder in the region's security and stability. "With defence minister A K Antony holding India has to be the 'net security provider' in the IOR, NAs have also recently been posted to countries like the Maldives and Myanmar," said the source.

Similarly, with DAs already present in Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, India is also focussing on other Central Asian countries like Turmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. "The Persian Gulf is another area where the military cooperation is going up," he said.

"A DA can provide a fillip to the overall strategic relations with a country by being the main interface with the host country's military authorities. Apart from assisting the mission in security and protocol tasks, he also keeps an eye of the military technology available," he added.

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