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Wednesday, 20 August 2014

From Today's Papers - 20 Aug 2014

Defiant Pak envoy meets 3 Kashmiri separatist leaders
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 19
A day after an angry India cancelled the August 25 Foreign Secretary-level meeting with Islamabad, Pakistan’s High Commissioner Abdul Basit today held parleys with Kashmiri separatists amid demands for his expulsion from the country.

After meeting People’s Democratic Front (PDF) leader Shabir Shah yesterday, the Pakistani envoy today held protracted back-to-back meetings with Hurriyat hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief Yasin Malik and moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.

Basit’s talks with the separatists have further annoyed New Delhi, putting a question mark on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s bilateral talks with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in New York on the margins of the UN General Assembly in September. “If Pakistan continues to behave in this manner, we see no point in talking to them,” a source said.

During their meetings with the Pakistani envoy, the separatists are understood to have asked Islamabad to keep pressing New Delhi to resolve the Kashmir issue by involving the people of Kashmir in the talks.

Geelani was of the view that Pakistan should not show any anxiety in arriving at an accord such as the Simla Agreement on Kashmir since it would not be in the interest of the Kashmiris.

The separatists criticised New Delhi’s decision to call off the Islamabad talks because of Pakistan envoy’s meetings with them.

“Pakistan traditionally holds consultations with us on Kashmir since Atal Behari Vajpayee’s time…there was nothing new this time around,” Malik told mediapersons before going into talks with the envoy.

Various Hindu organisations, meanwhile, demonstrated near the Pakistan High Commission, protesting Basit’s meetings with the separatists. Amid tight security at the Pakistan mission, demonstrators raised slogans against Basit and called for his expulsion for breaching diplomatic propriety. Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh had yesterday asked the Pakistan envoy to desist from meeting separatists but he chose to ignore her suggestion. Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam, however, said there was no question of replacing the envoy since “there has been no violation of any diplomatic protocol” by him. She insisted Kashmir was a “disputed territory” and not an internal matter of India.

With the Pakistan Premier coming under siege at home and the Army reasserting its say over country’s ties with India, it is becoming difficult for New Delhi to deal with the neighbouring country. Conflicting signals have been emanating from Islamabad ever since the new government assumed office and there was virtually no possibility of resuming the dialogue.

Not subservient to India: Pak

Pakistan on Tuesday said it was ‘not subservient’ to New Delhi and was a ‘legitimate stakeholder’ in the Kashmir dispute. “The High Commissioner of Pakistan did not interfere in India’s internal affairs. Pakistan is a legitimate stakeholder in the J-K dispute,” said Foreign Office spokesperson. — PTI

"India should not have done it. The ground that has been made to cancel the talks is not a genuine cause.... We have been visiting Pakistan embassy several times to hold talks. The decision is undemocratic"

Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Hurriyat hardliner

"They first agreed to talk to Pakistan, that also in Islamabad, notwithstanding all this background. The government was in sonorous slumber.... With the separatists challenging the government and the Pakistan High Commissioner cocking a dare at the government, what does the government do next?"
Not talking to Pakistan is a disservice
It is difficult to see how India and Pakistan can get out of this cul-de-sac we have designed. Coping mechanisms are not simply matters for discussion between Governments; they have to be translated urgently into the lives of villages in both countries
Satyabrata Pal

Nawaz Sharif seems to be drowning in the clutches of a giant squid, the COAS, Imran Khan, Tahirul Qadri, the Taliban, the economy all tentacles wrapping themselves around him.

The Government of India appears to have decided that sending the Foreign Secretary to Islamabad now would be a waste of time, but to use the Hurriyat as an excuse is not only unworthy, giving its worthies an importance they neither have nor deserve, it lays down a precondition for talks with which Pakistan cannot comply. When we reach a settlement over Jammu and Kashmir, which came agonisingly close during Musharraf’s tenure, Pakistan will abandon the Hurriyat, whose demand for azaadi is as much anathema to it as to us. Till then, though, it must maintain the fiction that it supports their aspirations; “consulting” them is a ritual of anticipatory expiation, a charade with which everyone has played along, until now.

Since Pakistan cannot give up its meetings with the Hurriyat without losing face, there will be no talks for the foreseeable future. We are sanguine about this because, even if the talks had taken place, we intended to talk only about terrorism. We have made this our core concern vis-à-vis Pakistan, and since the civilians with whom talks are held do not control the terrorists, a hiatus in talks is neither here nor there. A view seems to be gaining ground that there are more muscular options available, should terrorism again rise above a threshold. Are there, and should terrorism be our core concern with Pakistan? Data for the last five years, collated by the South Asia Terrorism Portal, shows that in 2009, 721 Indians died in terrorist attacks, 759, 429, 252 and 304 in the next four years. These lives should never have been lost, but in 2013, when terrorism killed 304, the National Crime Records Bureau reported that 8,083 women were murdered for dowry. Terrorism is by no means the largest shadow looming over our lives.

The Portal’s figures also show that very few of the deaths from terrorism can be attributed to Pakistan. Of the 304 victims in 2013, 159 were killed by Left-wing extremists, 95 in Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya and Nagaland in the festering insurgencies that the rest of India ignores, and 30 in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal. In J&K, where Pakistan’s terrorists operate, they killed 20 civilians. (The same year, they killed 3,001 innocent Pakistanis.) This pattern has held steady for five years.

Nor indeed do we have viable sanctions backed by force. In the nostalgia over Parakram, we forget that it failed at an insupportably high cost. The Economic Survey for 2003-4 reported that “FDI peaked at $4.74 billion in 2000-1 and declined thereafter to $3.73 billion in 2001-2 and further to $3.57 billion in 2002-3”. FII, which dropped to $0.3 billion in 2002-3, made “a sharp recovery to $7.2 billion in April-December 2003”. The drying up of investment was directly related to foreign fears, as was the sharp drop in international tourist arrivals, which fell by 6 per cent in 2002, recovering with a 13 per cent growth in 2003, once the crisis passed. The World Bank estimated that India’s GDP growth was 4.9 per cent in 2001. It dropped to 3.9 per cent in 2002, rebounding to 7.9 per cent in 2003, once the crisis had passed. Parakram brought us no security; it cost us at least 2 per cent of GDP growth. A reprise would be even more costly.

In contrast, the Bank estimated that Pakistan’s economy grew from 2 per cent in 2001 to 3.2 per cent in 2002 to 4.8 per cent in 2003. Pakistan was (and is) immune to pressures, since for two decades now, it has survived on international aid; it has almost no investment or tourism, and trade is a small percentage of its GDP, which grew in the crisis because donors were either afraid to cut off aid or increased it, as some Arabs did, to keep it from falling apart.

So if a conventional military option is ruled out, what options do we have? Almost none if we see the challenge only as terrorism out of Pakistan, but this is not the only or the gravest threat to our security. There are other dangers brewing which can overwhelm both countries if we do not tackle them together, and these will not wait for us to resolve our differences over the Hurriyat and terrorism. Huge numbers of Indian citizens are more at risk from these than from terrorism.

For instance, seismologists estimate our region is shortly due for an earthquake of a magnitude that in the past has claimed tens of thousands of lives. Much of Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and eastern Gujarat, contiguous to Pakistan, are Zone-IV areas, where severe earthquakes are likely. Patches of J&K and the Rann of Kutch, right on the border, are in Zone-V, where very severe earthquakes are likely. Almost all of PoK is in the same zone as J&K, with a substantial circle centred on Muzaffarabad in Zone-V. It is entirely possible, as was the case when the last major earthquake struck J&K, that populations on both sides of the LoC will be hit. There, and across the international border, access to areas cut off by a major earthquake in one country might be easier from the other. It makes sense, therefore, to urgently negotiate disaster-relief protocols, which would include cross-border rescue and emergency relief.

These are precautions that our government owes the lakhs of its citizens who live in these highly vulnerable zones. It would also be politic: nothing lessens hostility more than a supposed enemy coming to help in an hour of need; the aftermath of the earthquakes in Turkey and Greece in 1999, when they did just that, showed how dramatically this can mould public opinion.

Agriculture is another key area where, for India’s own security, we must work closely with Pakistan. An ILO survey in 2013 of employment in Pakistan’s Punjab, which is its bread-basket and its industrial heartland, found that from 2007-08 to 2010-11, the percentage of the work-force employed in agriculture had gone up, from 43.44 per cent to 45.39 per cent. This confirms that industry has stagnated, and agriculture become crucial to its survival. Unemployment is high in Pakistan, but the ILO found that unemployment levels among Punjabi youth were 2.5 times higher than among adults. That is a recipe for domestic turmoil, which will not be contained within its borders.

Even if our worry is terrorism, the L-e-T, the J-e-M and the Punjabi Taliban recruit from the unemployed and unemployable rural youth of the Punjab. Ajmal Kasab and his fellow murderers were all from this background, which will yield an endless line of recruits. Helping Pakistan revive its agriculture is a hedge against this, and there is much we can do. Water management is an obvious and crucial example. Pakistan’s farmers, like ours, are profligate with water. Indiscriminate irrigation has made huge tracts of formerly fertile land saline and led to water stress. We share this problem. The UN’s Water Development Report 2014 shows the Indus and Ganges basins both under stress. The Fifth Assessment Report of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change, published in April this year, which concurs, recommends “integrated coordination” for water management between countries that share a river basin, including the Indus and the Ganges. The Indus Waters Treaty does not provide for this; we have to go beyond it.

It is as essential to work together to mitigate the broader economic impact of climate change.The Fifth Assessment Report warns that “there could be a decrease of about 50 per cent in the most favourable and high-yielding wheat area” in South Asia, and rice production would plummet. This would devastate Pakistan. The Report notes that in India, “the estimated countrywide agricultural loss in 2030 of over $7 billion that will severely affect the income of 10 per cent of the population could be reduced by 80 per cent if cost-effective climate resilience measures are implemented”.

For India, it would be very hard to absorb losses of this order; for Pakistan it would be impossible, plunging it into a chaos from which we could not insulate ourselves.We must explore coordinated adaptation and mitigation measures, cooperating on the coping mechanisms that we will both need. These are not simply matters for discussion between Governments; they have to be translated urgently into the life of villages in both countries. This is, without hyperbole, a matter of life or death.

On these, and a host of other problems, we cannot wait for the Pakistani army to change its attitude to India and terrorism to end, or for Pakistan to end its pasodoble with the Hurriyat. Both countries are at the mercy of forces infinitely more powerful than an army, and which are marching to deadlines which States cannot control. We have to forge common solutions to enormous common problems. Invoking shabby excuses not to do so, not even to talk about them, does our citizens no service.
We can’t talk to them the same old way any more
The moot point is that the decision to cancel the talks with Pakistan sends a clear and unambiguous signal that it will not be business as usual. It should be quite clear to all, that the current Indian government is not going to be guided by past practices.
Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty

Prime Minister Modi has bitten the bullet and called off the Foreign Secretary-level talks between the two countries, scheduled for August 25 in Islamabad, after the Pakistani High Commissioner went ahead with meeting one of the so-called Kashmiri separatist leaders in the High Commission premises in New Delhi.

The Pakistani High Commissioner was told beforehand by the Indian Foreign Secretary to avoid meeting the self-appointed Kashmiri separatist leaders, as this would be a needlessly provocative interference in India’s internal affairs. The High Commissioner ignored this advice, no doubt under instructions from Islamabad. The decision to cancel the scheduled talks came swiftly, as soon as the meeting ended.

The contrived outrage of the so-called Kashmir separatist leaders and their mentors and financiers based in Pakistan will fool no one. For Pakistan and these so-called Kashmiri leaders, Jammu and Kashmir remains disputed territory and Pakistan is a party to the dispute. Tut-tutting by commentators and analysts criticising the decision, ignore the fact that the BJP government will not let its Pakistan policy meander along the well-trodden path of yesteryear. The argument that such meetings have been taking place for the last 25 years and, therefore, should be ignored is no longer par for the course. Nor is the assertion that these separatist leaders do not represent the people of Jammu and Kashmir. If they do not, where is the need to humour them and hold talks with them?

Forcing a choice

The past practice of holding talks with these so-called separatist Kashmiri leaders was an attempt to bring all disgruntled people into the tent, It leaves Pakistan having to make a choice between the ritual of holding meaningless talks with the so-called separatist Kashmiri leaders and talking turkey with the Indian government. The Indian government’s decision to cancel the Foreign Secretary-level talks crosses a Rubicon and lays down a new threshold for the future, further complicating the minefield that characterises India-Pakistan relations

Those who are surprised by the decision to cancel the talks, ignore the fact that Prime Minister Modi made the first move to reach out to all neighbours, by inviting their leaders to the swearing-in ceremony. It was a gesture of immense significance and potential for India’s neighbourhood policy, particularly for Pakistan. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif understood the message when he accepted to attend the swearing-in ceremony and also eschewed the option of meeting the Kashmiri leaders. This time round, Pakistan has failed to read the fine print. The current political scenario in Pakistan is getting murkier by the day. Nawaz Sharif is facing a formidable challenge from cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and the Canadian-based cleric Tahirul Qadri. The Pakistan Army, the ultimate power centre and arbiter of all security policies and relations with India, is embattled on two main fronts – fighting the jihadists in the north-west border region and holding on to its plummeting public image as the defender of the state. Jihadist attacks on military installations, Karachi airport, suicide terrorist strikes killing and maiming innocents, the hunting down and killing of Osama bin Laden by American Special Forces, hosting the Afghan Taliban and a host of terrorist outfits have seriously dented the credibility of the Pakistan Army.

Struggle for power in Pak

The struggle for power being played out in Islamabad has led to the Army trying to re-assert its dominant role in India-Pakistan relations and set terms for dialogue with India, undermines Nawaz Sharif’s instincts, as a businessman, to reach out to India to further trade and other economic initiatives. The Army and its jihadist allies do not want to move away from the policy of perpetual hostility towards India, unless India bends on Kashmir. Their raison d’être is firmly rooted in anti-India and anti-Hindu rhetoric without which they face an existential problem. This policy also pays dividends as external powers like the USA and China find it convenient to manipulate Pakistan, in their quest for geo-political advantage and leverage vis-à-vis India.

In this environment, it is arguably quite appropriate to cancel the talks because no breakthrough, in any case, was expected. The dialogue between the two Foreign Secretaries would have been a fruitless reiteration of each other’s position. The only possible outcome would have been an agreement to meet again. This is not worth expending effort or political capital at this stage and the decision of the Indian government clearly reflects this thinking. The Indian government’s irritation was rising with more than 50 ceasefire violations, not just across the Line of Control (LOC) but also across the International Border (IB), ever since the announcement scheduling the talks. Another factor is the forthcoming election in Jammu and Kashmir where 87 seats in the Assembly are at stake, 46 in the Muslim dominated Valley, 37 in the Jammu and four in Ladakh. The prelude to elections in Jammu and Kashmir has always led to Pakistani attempts to undermining the elections which strengthens the Indian case that the people of Jammu and Kashmir have delivered their democratic verdict via elections. Pakistan, its paid agents and jihadi proxies in Kashmir find elections an anathema. Its undercuts the self-seeking role of the Kashmiri separatists leaders and further rolls back the fading hope of a referendum as per UN resolutions on Kashmir. Delhi’s tough stance on UNMOGIP, an anachronistic relic of history born out of the womb of the 1948 UN Resolutions, is also relevant in the build-up to the decision to cancel the talks.

Discarding the status quo

These developments do not mean that talks with Pakistan will go into a deep freeze. The Indian government will wait for a more propitious time to re-open talks. Meanwhile, Pakistan has to mull over how to play the ball in its court. If it persists with the sterile status quo of the past, then the prospects for normal relations with Pakistan will be bleak and India will be better off concentrating its energies on other neighbours, where prospects of progress are much brighter on the bilateral track. It would be better to wait and see whether Pakistan’s domestic politics creates the space for breaking out of its erstwhile India policy. It should be quite clear to all that the current Indian government is not going to be guided by past practices. Its decision on scrapping the Planning Commission is an indication that more such decisions can be expected. The comfort of the status quo is a luxury that has been discarded. A new model can now be crafted to deal with the vexed issue of India-Pakistan relations.
Prahaar was the only film on Indian defence I like: Nimr - See more at:
At a time when Bollywood is making many films with men in uniform as protagonists, actor Nimrat Kaur, who lost her army officer-father in a ­terrorist attack in 1994, feels that such films are not well researched.

"The only film based on the Indian defence ­services that I liked was the Nana Patekar and Madhuri Dixit-starrer Prahaar (1991). It talked about how people in the armed ­forces see and react to ­injustice," she says. - See more at:
Nimrat adds that films don’t always ­portray reality, especially when it comes to films ­revolving around the Indian Army. "Sometimes what you see on the celluloid is not correct. For ­example, certain defence services-based films don’t even use the right ranks. Either the colour on the flap is not right or the order of the rank is incorrect," says Nimrat. - See more at:
Talking about what needs to be done for the betterment of the army personnel in India, she says, "When I lost my father, we faced difficult days. I feel there are a lot of things that can be done for the forces and salary is one big area for ­improvement," she says.
No intrusion by Chinese personnel, says Indian Army
New Delhi: Reports from Leh said a patrol by Indian troops noticed the PLA personnel on Sunday while moving from their base towards a higher post in Burtse area of North Ladakh, at an altitude of 17,000 feet.

The troops spotted the Chinese after walking barely 1.5 km from base. They went back to their base and returned Monday, and saw there was no change, with the Chinese refusing to budge.

Army spokesperson Col. S.D. Goswami said “There are areas  where India and China have differing perception of LAC. Due to both sides undertaking patrolling upto their respective perception of the LAC, transgressions do occur. However, no incursion or encroachment of Indian territory by China has taken place.”
India ramps up defence along China border
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service
Leh, August 17
India has started ramping up military defences in the Ladakh sector of Jammu and Kashmir that faces China, especially after Beijing has ringed the area with at least six airfields, fighter aircraft, all terrain vehicles and special forces that are backed by top-class metalled roads right up to the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

New Delhi will be moving an armoured brigade — some 150 T-72 tanks — to Ladakh and also have Smerch multi-barrel rocket launch units placed at key locations. These are capable of hitting targets 70-80 kms away.

An armoured regiment — 46 tanks — had moved in last year to join the Kiari-based 70 Brigade and is now located at a forward sector, 20 km inside the LAC, where India suffered a setback in the 1962 conflict with China. This is separate from the upcoming Armoured Brigade that will be directly controlled by the Leh-based 14 Corps. Its three Regiments, comprising 46 tanks each, will be co-located with existing infantry and artillery regiments of the Indian Army. Meaning an armoured component will be available from the northern most tip, that is the base of the Karokaram pass at Daulat Baig Oldie, to the south eastern extreme of Demchok and Chumar, sources said. Adding up the numbers would mean that over the next 18 months India would have stationed 200 of the T-72 tanks in Ladakh and all night-sight equipped.

Ladakh being a plateau is ideal tank country. The only effort is in bringing the tanks through the narrow and high Himlayan passes on the Srinagar-Leh route or the Manali-Leh route.

The existing numbers of tanks are just not enough in case of an attack, especially after the Indian side was alerted of threat by way of a specialised exercise by the Chinese to have rapid movement across Tibet and Xinjiang, both abutting Ladakh. The Lanzhou Military Area Command of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China carried out rapid movement exercises in 2012. The first tank regiment moved to Ladakh in 2013.

New Delhi’s fears got an official stamp in March 2013 when the State Council of China published a white paper titled “The Diversified Employment of China’s Armed Forces” that talked about these rapid movements. It claimed the PLA extensively practised the move to concentrate troops. “Trans-military area command movements have been carried out. In 2012, the Chengdu MAC and Lanzhou MAC carried out the exercise.” Lanzhou and Chengdu — are dedicated to India. The Lanzhou MAC is tasked for J&K, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, while the Chengdu MAC is for Chinese frontiers facing Nepal, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. China in total has seven MACs.

China has ringed J&K with new airfields. The Ngari Gunsa airbase in Tibet has come up just 200 km east of Demchok in India. North of J&K, airbases at Kashgar, Yarkand, Hotan and Qeimo (Cherchen) in Xinjiang can be used to launch an attack.

More tanks and artillery

    New Delhi will be moving an armoured brigade, nearly 150 T-72 tanks, to Ladakh and also have Smerch multi-barrel rocket launch units placed at key locations
    An armoured regiment, 46 tanks, had moved in last year to join the Kiari-based 70 Brigade and is now located at a forward sector, 20 km inside the Line of Actual Control
    Three Regiments, comprising 46 tanks each, of Armoured Brigade will be co-located with existing infantry and artillery regiments of the Indian Army
Jaitley says India Inc should hire more ex-Army men
Defence Minister Arun Jaitley today urged the corporate sector to utilise the services of ex-servicemen for meeting their requirement for a highly trained and disciplined work force.

"Corporate India requires trained and disciplined manpower and the ex-servicemen provide a big pool of such people. Their commitment to work is paramount, their discipline is very high and they have worked in difficult conditions," he said here.

The Defence Minister was addressing the Directorate General of Resettlement Conclave where industry body CII and the Army would work together to provide jobs to ex-servicemen.

He said the majority of ex-servicemen retire early from the forces but they are "never tired and are always willing to go on in life".

Jaitley said the good management practices of the armed forces personnel can be seen from the fact that cantonments across the country are better maintained than other areas and defence buildings are in a better shape than other civilian buildings.

He said during his visit to an internal border post in Amritsar yesterday, the Army was maintaining a small village where its people were teaching in the local state government school.

Jaitley said the industry can also hire the defence personnel to carry out their Corporate Social Responsibility. Every year, 60,000 armed forces personnel retire and 44 per cent of them are in the age group of 40-50, 33 per cent in 35-40 year age bracket while 12 per cent people leave the
service at the age group of 30-35 years.

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