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Sunday, 15 December 2013

From Today's Papers - 15 Dec 2013

Pak proposes new road map for resuming talks

Islamabad, December 14
Pakistan has handed over to India a "new set of proposals" aimed at resuming the stalled bilateral dialogue and gradually addressing all longstanding issues, a media report said today.

The proposals were handed over to the Indian side on Thursday by Tariq Fatemi, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs, The Express Tribune daily reported. The proposals were included in a letter from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif inviting his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh to Pakistan. The letter contained a roadmap for reviving the stalled peace process between the two sides, the daily quoted its sources as saying.

Fatemi was part of a delegation led by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, the premier's younger brother, that travelled to Delhi and India's Punjab state this week.

Under the roadmap, Pakistan has proposed arranging a meeting between the National Security Advisers (NSAs) of the two sides to iron out differences over resuming the composite dialogue.

During a meeting with the Indian envoy on Wednesday, had proposed that there should be a institutionalised mechanism for meetings between the NSAs to discuss terrorism and allay concerns of both sides.

In the letter, Prime Minister Sharif said his government was willing to go "the extra mile" to improve ties with India, the daily reported. He suggested that issues like Sir Creek and Siachen should be settled through "backdoor diplomacy".
Under Gen’s wings, an officer is born
Jotirmay Thapliyal
Tribune News Service

Dehradun, December 14
For Lieutenant Kuljeet Kumar, the biggest day of his life came when he passed out from the Indian Military Academy (IMA) today. Not only has he become part of the Army officer cadre, but also proved himself to be a worthy “son” of former Army Chief Gen JJ Singh.

“Adopted” by former Army Chief Gen JJ Singh and his wife Anupama, Lt Kuljeet had no words to express his gratitude to the former Army chief, who has been a constant source of inspiration for him. There were the dark days of terror in the Bhaderwah area of Jammu and Kashmir; where he grew “What a proud moment it has been for me with former Army Chief Gen JJ Singh himself coming here today for the ceremony,” Lt Kuljeet said.

It was an unexpected reversal of fortune for Kuljeet, a seven-year-old son of a farmer, when Gen JJ Singh, then Brigadier, decided to “adopt” him in 1997.

Under the guidance of the former Army Chief, Kuljeet did his schooling from Army Public School before getting selected for Army Cadet College (ACC) and subsequently joining the IMA.

Gen JJ Singh said Kuljeet’s hard work had finally yielded results. “I always reminded him that there was no shortcut to success. I am now hopeful that he will become a good Army personnel,” he said.

General’s wife Anupama said it was like bringing up their own a child. “Kuljeet comes from a humble background. His success gives us a sense of accomplishment,” she said. Kuljeet’s entire family had come all the way from Jammu and Kashmir to attend the ceremony.

His mother Dhaneshwari, father Omraj, elder brother Kuldeep Kumar and Kujeet’s fiancĂ© Sunita were present on the occasion. “Kuljeet is my son by virtue of being born to me, but it is Anupama who is his real mother. It is she who actually encouraged him to excel in life,” said Dhaneshwari, trying to hide her tears of joy.

“Kuljeet happens to be the first person in our family to join the Army as an officer and this is all due to Gen JJ Singh,” Omraj said. Kuljeet’s fiancĂ© Sunita said she was proud to be part of the Kumar family. Lt Kuljeet has joined 9 Maratha Light Infantry, a unit once commanded by Gen Singh.
 IMA passout Afghan Guv watches his son with pride
Jotirmay Thapliyal
Tribune News Service

Dehradun, December 14
Afghan Army General of Cold War era and now Afghanistan’s Provincial Governor from Ghazni Lt Gen Musa Khan hopes for stronger military ties between India and Afghanistan in the near future.

On a visit to Indian Military Academy, Lt Gen Musa Khan was part of the delegation of military officers from Afghanistan, who trained at the Dehradun IMA during the 1970s and early 1980s.

As many as 37 men had trained at IMA during the US-Soviet Cold War when both the super power vied for toe-hold in the strategically vital country. India was firmly in the Soviet bloc and Afghans were trained between 1974 and 1982. Lt Gen Musa Khan was one of among those trained. He was then part of part of 66th regular course at the IMA and passed out from the academy in 1980.

It was also a great day for Lt Gen Khan, who today witnessed the passing-out parade of his son Abdul. He was accompanied by his wife Biwi Fatima and other sons, Rehman and Ahmad.

While asserting that the training he got from here was of immense help while fighting Russians, Lt Gen Musa Khan asserted India and Afghanistan kept a long history of bondage and can have better military ties in the near future.

An 11-member Afghan delegation was in IMA today to witness the parade and had came to encourage 52 Gentlemen Cadets from their country who passed out from the academy today.

One of the passing out Afghanistan Gentlemen Cadet, Mir Nasratullah Nazer from Kabul, said the visit of senior army officers came as big morale booster for them. Afghan delegation is on a week-long visit to India and will have an interaction with the Defence Minister and the Army Chief General Bikram Singh in New Delhi on December 17.
 BSF being recast to guard border with Myanmar
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 14
The Border Security Force (BSF) is being restructured and expanded after being designated to guard the Indo-Myanmar international border (IB) and its increased deployment in combating Left-wing extremism and internal security duties.

Two new posts of Special Director General (SDG) are being created at the apex level, one to shoulder responsibility for the management of the Indo-Myanmar border and the other to handle internal security deployments. In official hierarchy, the post of the SDG is the second senior-most in the force being equivalent to a senior Lieutenant General or and IAS/IPS officer in the Higher Administrative Group Plus scale. The BSF already has two SDGs responsible for the Indo-Pakistan and Indo-Bangladesh borders.

The BSF will take over the management of the Indo-Myanmar border from the Assam Rifles, which comes under the operational control of the Ministry of Defence and is the only para-military force to be led by officers from the Army.

India’s 1,643-km-long eastern-most IB, in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) own report, has been termed as “extremely porous”.

The Assam Rifles, with its primary responsibility of conducting counter-insurgency operations in the north-east, has just 15 out of its 46 battalions deployed on border guarding duties. The BSF proposes to raise 41 battalions for guarding the Indo-Myanmar border. With locals in certain areas resisting, a project to fence the border has been hanging fire for quite some time.

According to the MHA, a Free Movement Regime up to 16 km across the border as well as hilly and inhospitable terrain, which grossly lacks basic infrastructure, is being exploited by various Indian insurgent groups. The situation facilitates easy cross-border movement of militants as well as trafficking of illegal arms and narcotics.

Sources said that under the SDG, four Frontier Headquarters headed by officers of the rank of Inspector General, each, having several sector headquarters that would control various battalions, would be raised for manning the Indo-Myanmar border. To cater to its additional requirement, the BSF would raise 41 new battalions. Each battalion has a strength of about 1,200 personnel. Myanmar shares its borders with four states - Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram.
Navy knows its job, but do offshore officials?
It is one thing to administer a PSU such as the DRDO and quite another to handle the armed forces.

Defence Minister AK Antony recently rebuked the Indian Navy for the loss of the submarine, INS Sindhurakshak. I wonder if he even realised his faux pas. The Navy top brass had every reason to be riled when Antony proclaimed at the annual Commanders’ Conference that the Navy had frittered away national resources.

Still recovering from the tragic loss of Sindhurakshak, the unjust remark of the Defence Minister has not gone down well with the Navy and the rank and file of the armed forces.

With all on board killed in a flash and the submarine destroyed and sunk, it will be a long time before the technical Board of Inquiry is able to establish what happened to INS Sindhurakshak. When nothing is known, is it not strange that the Ministry of Defence has jumped to its own conclusions?

To ‘clear the yardarm’ is an old Navy expression that is synonymous with washing one’s hands of a responsibility. It came into being in the days of sail when Britannia ruled the waves and Lordships of the Admiralty perched ashore found it expedient to pass the buck.

It has a lot to do with the long standing need to integrate the armed forces into the Ministry of Defence. Obviously little has happened. And since the old order has not changed, it is still the old mindset of ‘we and they’.

Calling itself the Integrated Headquarters of the MoD may sound impressive, but inducing systemic changes requires much more than a cosmetic change of nomenclature. What is really needed is a change of attitude, along with a deep understanding of military ethos.

The fighting spirit of the armed forces rides on morale. And to weld together a professionally trained and highly motivated fighting force capable of defending the nation requires astute statesmanship. It is one thing to administer a civilian public sector undertaking such as the DRDO and quite another to handle the armed forces of the nation.

The political leadership would do well to take a leaf out of the Kargil report. It carries a doctrinal message on how the armed forces should be motivated and galvanised into action when the chips are down.

The need to induct the military into the national security loop was an important lesson from the Kargil conflict. It prompted the weekly meeting of the Prime Minister with the Chiefs of the Army, Navy and Air Force. The Prime Minister’s aim was simply to understand his armed forces since they are the primary instrument of state power. But it was too good to last and when the National Security Council came of age, the Prime Minister’s initiative fell by the wayside.

It has never been easy to understand the operational environment of the Navy and the risks that go with it. And many are the accounts of the life and hazards aboard a submarine. But it was the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi who placed it in perspective. Recording his experience under water, while embarked on the nuclear submarine INS Chakra in 1988, this is what he stated: “Thank God I was a pilot, not a submariner”.

Submariners are required to operate in the domain of danger where fire and flooding remain their greatest and constant threat. Since the year 2000, there have been 27 major submarine incidents — 10 American, six Russian, five British, two Canadian, one Australian, one Chinese, one French and one Indian (Sindhurakshak).

Moreover, being the most potent weapon of war, submarines are among the most complex war fighting machines ever developed. The experience of the Indian Navy goes back to the 1960s and having operated submarines in diverse combat conditions for more than half a century, the Navy is well geared to face the challenge that it offers.

The Russian navy went through a traumatic period after its nuclear submarine Kursk was destroyed in an underwater explosion. But the Russians came through the crisis. And so will the Indian Navy come to grips with the loss of INS Sindhurakshak. Professional navies know how to ride the storm. It is the officials ashore who need to brace themselves for the challenge.
India helping in having our own army: Karzai
 India and Afghanistan have agreed to deepen defence and security cooperation to increase the operational capabilities and mobility of the Afghanistan National Security and Defence Forces (ANSDF).

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai said his talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, especially in military training and equipment, were “very productive, resulting in satisfaction for the Afghan side.”

In an interaction with journalists and strategic affairs experts here on Saturday, he said, “We hope to have an army to defend Afghanistan through its own resources and its own citizens. To that objective we are being helped by India.”

Afghanistan had given a wish list of military equipment as well as sought greater cooperation in building up a battle-capable ANSDF. India was wise to carefully weigh the implications of greater defence cooperation, he said.

The President declined to give details about the wish list, but noted that this cooperation was on for a long time.

Besides defence and security, Dr. Singh and Mr. Karzai on Friday also agreed to work with Iran for developing new trade routes to facilitate trade and transit to Afghanistan and beyond. One of these is a land route beginning from the Iranian port of Chah-bahar. It enters Zaranj on the Afghan border from where India has built a road feeding into the garland highway connecting major Afghan cities. A spur connects Afghanistan to Central Asia, thus opening up further prospects for India’s trade and economic drive in non-traditional markets.

Mr. Karzai said both Kabul and New Delhi had applied for land at Chah-bahar to set up administrative and trade facilitation offices. He wanted Central Asian countries to also participate in this endeavour.

The President was confident of India going ahead with $11 billion Hajigak iron ore project, but pointed out that the Afghans were being very cautious about opening up its mineral resources for exploitation to prevent them from becoming a source of trouble as is the case in some African countries.

On the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) that has seen Mr. Karzai and United States officials exchange harsh words, he said both India and Afghanistan wanted U.S.\NATO troops to continue being stationed in the country. “It is good for Afghanistan as they will fill a certain vacuum of resources and bring to Afghanistan in a larger way a sense of stability.”

“We also discussed why we should have the peace process launched before the BSA and why we need complete protection of citizens. So the Prime Minister and I agreed on the need for Afghan conditionalities to be fulfilled. They need not frame it that way. Both are necessary – their presence in Afghanistan as well as protecting Afghan homes against attacks.”

Asked if the U.S. might walk away completely if the BSA, in its present form, is not signed, he laughed away the suggestion, describing it as “brinkmanship.”

Talks with Taliban

Mr. Karzai described talks with the Taliban as the “need of Afghan people”, but drew a distinction between those who are with terrorist networks in their actions and outlook and those drawn into insurgency due to circumstances beyond their control and that of the Afghan government.

He disapproved of the killing of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan’s Hakimullah Mehsud a day before he was to hold peace talks with Islamabad. “The U.S. should have given an opportunity to engage in talks. It should have waited to see if those talks would be successful.”

The President praised Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for expressing his desire “in very clear words” for an improved relationship with Afghanistan and India.

According to a Ministry of External Affairs release, Dr. Singh conveyed India’s confidence in Afghanistan’s ability to build a strong country that also contributes to regional peace and prosperity. The two leaders also agreed to work on further strengthening regional cooperation, it noted adding that India is hosting the next meeting of the Senior Officials of Heart of Asia in January.

Mr. Karzai also met President Pranab Mukherjee, Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid and National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon.

Mr. Mukherjee hosted Mr. Karzai to a private dinner on Friday evening where the two leaders discussed bilateral, regional and international issues of common concern. Mr. Mukherjee recalled his visit to Afghanistan to inaugurate the strategic Zaranj-Delaram Highway.Mr. Karzai is accompanied by Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Zarar Ahmad Osmani, National Security Adviser Rangin Dadfar Spanta, Acting Minister of Commerce & Industries Shaker Kargar and other senior officials.
India averse to give ‘lethal’ weapons to Afghanistan, but boosts military training
NEW DELHI: India is willing to supply only "non-lethal'' military hardware like helicopters, trucks and jeeps to Afghanistan as of now despite President Hamid Karzai's wish list that includes heavy weaponry like artillery guns, tanks and mortars as well. But there are no full-stops as far as training of Afghan military personnel is concerned.

Indian Army alone is executing plans to train as many as 1,050 Afghan National Army (ANA) in its different establishments in 2013-14, double the 574 personnel trained in 2012-13, even as the US-led coalition forces prepare to withdraw from the strategically-located country by next year.

But India is drawing the red-line at the supply of "lethal'' weapons like the T-72 tanks or 105mm artillery guns to the ANA — due to fears they could fall into wrong hands like the Taliban — but has left it to the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) to take the final call on the matter. India and Russia, however, are joining hands to run a maintenance and spares facility near Kabul for the Soviet-era tanks, helicopters and other weapon systems of ANA.

The training outreach has also been cranked up. As many as 52 Afghan "gentlemen cadets (GCs)", for instance, will be commissioned as officers during the passing out parade at the Indian Military Academy (IMA) in Dehradun on Saturday with defence minister A K Antony and Army chief General Bikram Singh in attendance.

"Moreover, there are also 48 Afghan GCs each in the first and second terms in IMA at present. There are also 20 Afghan cadets in the Officers' Training Academy, and another 18 at National Defence Academy. India-trained personnel in the ANA will be a big asset in the post-2014 era," said an officer.

India is also currently hosting 16 former ANA officers who were trained in the country during 1974-1982 before the bloody conflict between the then Soviet Army and Mujahideens in Afghanistan derailed the programme.

"Most of these officers went on to achieve high ranks in Army, government and civilian jobs. Of the 16 attending the functions at IMA, Musa Khan Akbarzada and Mehrabulddin Safi are the governors of the Ghazni and Kapisa provinces. Another, Lt-Gen Khaliq Khan, is director-general chief of staff in ANA," said the officer.

From training in counter-terrorism operations, military field-craft and signals to intelligence, counter-IED, information technology and battle-field nursing assistance, India is running regular programmes for ANA personnel. Around 100 ANA personnel, including 10 officers, for instance, have just undergone a course at the specialised counter-insurgency and jungle warfare school at Vairengte in Mizoram.

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