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Tuesday, 14 October 2014

From Today's Papers - 14 Oct 2014

 Plea against Gen Suhag admitted in SC
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, October 13
The Supreme Court today admitted for detailed hearing a petition against the appointment of Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag as the Army Chief. The petition has been filed by Lieutenant Gen Ravi Dastane, who has since retired.

Lt Gen Dastane has challenged the appointment, alleging favouritism by ignoring material facts against Lt Gen Suhag, including the disciplinary and vigilance (DV) ban slapped on him in April 2012 by the then Army Chief Gen VK Singh.

In response to the SC notice on the petition, the Centre had filed an affidavit defending its decision to elevate Lt Gen Suhag with effect from August 1, 2014 and terming the disciplinary proceedings against him as “premeditated, vague and illegal.”

Gen VK Singh, who is now a minister in the NDA government, had initiated action against Lt Gen Suhag for his alleged “failure of command and control” while carrying out an intelligence operation when he was Dimapur-based 3 Corps Commander.

An apex court Bench headed by Justice TS Thakur granted leave to the petitioner, which means that the Bench has admitted the plea for detailed hearing.
Pakistan takes Kashmir issue to the UN

Gunfire recently punctuated cross-border encounters in Jammu and Kashmir. Many civilians lost lives in the heavy shelling along the Line of Control and the international border. The ceasefire that had been in effect since 2003 has been repeatedly violated. Now another long-standing understanding between India and Pakistan to settle contentious issues bilaterally, has been wilfully ignored. Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to the Pakistan Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs, has written to UN chief Ban Ki-moon, to protest what he calls unprovoked Indian shelling. He has also asked for a plebiscite in the region. Aziz’s letter is consistent with the stand taken by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who had, during his recent visit to New York, raised the “core issue” of Kashmir at the UN General Assembly. These actions represent a new, and more strident diplomatic offensive against India.

Islamabad has been systematically fermenting trouble in Kashmir by sending in terrorists and thus violating the first condition under which any possible plebiscite could be held. It has also used the Kashmir bogey to often successfully turn the focus away from its own internal failures. India, on the other hand, has rightly maintained that the vitiated atmosphere that comes in the wake of infiltrating terrorists and sponsoring terrorism is the opposite of what ought to be done.

Peaceful relations between India and Pakistan would result in a spurt in economic growth in both countries something that would certainly improve the life of their citizens. Promises of better trade and commerce have often been voiced and even the limited trade that takes place now highlights its potential. However, for all this, the prerequisite is peace, which Pakistan has been unable to deliver. Prime Minister Narendra Modi seemed keen to start with a new slate soon after his swearing in, but the situation deteriorated thereafter, with jingoistic statements of political leaders on both sides accelerating the process. Given the circumstances, and Pakistani diplomatic offensive, any improvement in relations is unlikely to happen in a hurry, which is a pity.
India should be prepared for cross-border terrorism
Gen V P Malik (retd)
The India-Pakistan ceasefire along the 1,050-km international border, Line of Control (LoC), and the Siachen Glacier area, came about on November 26, 2003. The then Pakistani Prime Minister, Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali, had announced it as a commemoration of Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of prayer and fasting during the holy month of Ramadan that year. This year's Eid al-Zuha saw its worst violation by Pakistan since 2003. During the heavy firefight, the annual tradition of exchanging sweets on Eid was done away with. And so was the practice of holding a flag meeting by the BSF and Pakistan Rangers deployed along the international border.

A historical analysis of the ceasefire violations since November 2003 shows that the escalation in the number of violations has no correlation with the new NDA government coming into power in India. The escalation picked up gradually in January 2013 and then very steeply after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif assumed office in Pakistan in June 2013. According to reports, 347 violations were recorded in 2013, compared to 114 incidents in 2012. This year 334 incidents have already occurred till date. Despite much improved vigilance on the LoC, the number of cross-border infiltration attempts has also gone up in the last one year.

Many Indian journalists, who have been feted by Nawaz Sharif, believe him to be the messiah of peace. But Nawaz Sharif's rhetoric on improving relations with India fails to match up with the developments on the ground. Apart from the Kargil misadventure in 1999, his tacit approval — willingly or unwillingly — to keep the LoC alive and maintain terrorist pressure in J&K cannot be missed. He and the Pakistan army have always been together on this page.

According to intelligence reports, soon after taking over as Prime Minister in 2013, the Nawaz Sharif government cleared a new ‘Kashmir strategy’ and set up a ‘Kashmir cell’ in his office. The purpose of the cell was to keep track of developments in J&K. The other related fact in his current tenure is that as his political position weakens, he comes more and more under pressure from the Pakistan army, the ISI and the terror outfits of Punjab and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.

After the Modi government came into power, the last week of August 2014 saw the first major ceasefire violation in which Pakistani troops resorted to small arms fire and 82 mm mortar shelling (such mortars have never been used on this stretch ever since the India-Pakistan war in 1971) of nearly 35 Border Security Force posts, from Samba to Akhnoor along the international border. This was responded to in the usual manner. After four days of firefight, para-military commanders of both sides met and agreed to maintain the ceasefire.

This incident was followed by the Pakistani High Commissioner meeting J&K secessionists despite being warned by the Indian government not to do so. The Indian government reacted sharply. It cancelled the Foreign Secretaries' meeting. Soon after, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif raised the J&K issue in the United Nation General Assembly on September 26, 2014. He earned a sharp rebuke from Prime Minister Modi at the same forum the next day. Modi made it clear that “Raising it at the UN won't resolve bilateral issues.”

This is where Pakistan and its army went wrong. Without taking into consideration the Indian government's revised J&K policy and resolve, it continued with its attempt to increase pressure on the new Indian regime. In a major skirmish this time, the Pakistan army and Rangers targeted the entire LoC south of the Pir Panjal Range and the civilian population and towns along the international border. This engagement of soft Indian targets after October 2, 2014, left no choice with India except to retaliate with force. The Modi government could neither afford dilution of its policy nor be seen giving in to pressure of violence. After analysing earlier incidents of ceasefire violation, it had already given greater autonomy and escalation dominance/control to local military commanders. The forceful response was evident on the ground as well as in the political rhetoric. Pakistan was shocked by the massive retaliation. It had failed to appreciate the new Indian government's strength in public and Parliament, and that of its armed forces. Even more importantly, the change in its leadership! Such failures can be a fatal flaw in any armed conflict. The important lesson from Kargil had been forgotten.

What can we foresee in the coming days?

Will the Pakistan army give up needling India on the LoC or in J & K? I do not think so. As long as it is in the driving seat without being accountable to the public and political leadership, it will continue with its anti-India programmes without pushing it to the level of a war-like situation. With further weakening of Nawaz Sharif domestically, the Pakistan army will enjoy greater autonomy. Attempts at cross-border infiltration and 'tension' on the border can be expected to go up further. The Pakistan army would also be looking to the strategic advantage when the US troops leave Afghanistan, which would enable it to use its 'strategic asset' (militant groups) in larger numbers. It would also push the Pakistan government to raise the J&K issue in all global forums.

Will the November 2003 ceasefire come to an end? Unlikely! The governments in India and Pakistan do realise that the ceasefire, which remains ‘on sometimes and off sometimes’, is better than not having one at all. There is much pressure from the civilian population on both sides. That notwithstanding, the Indian government needs to consider safer habitat for people living close to the international border and the LoC.

India will have to remain alert on the border/LoC without closing its window(s) for purposeful negotiations or allowing the dilution of its revised policy. It will have to remain prepared for increased contingencies along the LoC and cross-border terrorism. The government must ensure that the synergy among all relevant stake-holding institutions — the joint services, ministries concerned, intelligence agencies, the NSAB, the NSCS, and within the CCS — remains high.
Apex court refuses to shut Army chief’s appointment case - See more at:
The SC Monday turned down the Centre’s request to wrap up proceedings on a petition filed by Lt General Ravi Dastane against the appointment of Dalbir  Singh as Army chief following Dastane’s retirement.

A bench led by Justice T S Thakur said that there were various issues related to Dastane’s service that were yet to be adjudicated, hence the court would hear his petition in due course. “What if this petition succeeds in certain prayers? There will be issues relating to his service that we will need to decide in that case. Let this petition be listed in due course,” said the bench.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi had earlier pleaded that the bench dispose of the case, stating that the petitioner had already retired. He said that besides getting some allowances, no other relief could be secured by Dastane after he has superannuated from the service.
Dastane’s counsel R K Anand, however, said that the question of seniority remained to be decided and that the basic contention in the petition related to whether Dastane was entitled to be promoted as Army commander or not.

On the last date, the bench had refused to stall Dalbir Singh’s appointment as the Army chief, pointing out that Dastane’s grievances pertained chiefly to his appointment as Army commander and not appointment of the Army Chief.

Dastane retired on August 31 while Dalbir Singh’s appointment took effect from August 1.
Five more civilians killed in worst India-Pakistan fighting for years
(Reuters) - Five civilians were killed and thousands took refuge in camps in the disputed region of Kashmir on Wednesday after some of the most intense fighting between nuclear-armed neighbours Pakistan and India in a decade.

A total of nine Pakistani and eight Indian civilians have been killed since fighting erupted more than week ago in the mostly Muslim Himalayan region. Kashmir is claimed by both countries and has been a major focus of tension in South Asia.

Each side has accused the other of targeting civilians and unprovoked violations of a border truce that has largely held since 2003.

While exchanges of sporadic fire are common along the de facto border dividing the region, the number of civilian deaths is unusual. Two Indian civilians were killed on Wednesday and three Pakistani civilians died overnight, authorities said Wednesday morning.

"We are all concerned and want an early solution to it (the fighting)," India's Air Chief Arup Raha told reporters. "We don't want to let the issue become serious."

A senior official with the border security force said Indian forces had retaliated for machine gun and mortar attacks on about 60 positions along a more than 200-km (125-mile) stretch of the border on Wednesday.

Some 18,000 Indian civilians have fled their homes in the lowlands around Jammu to escape the fighting, taking refuge in schools and relief camps.

"If India and Pakistan troops have hostility, let them fight. What have we done to them?" said Gharo Devi, 50, in Arnia, where five civilians were killed on Monday.

"We left our homes in the dead of night and are living here in this school in a wretched condition. We have no food. We want end of the firing so that we can return home."

Pakistani villagers echoed their complaints, with many saying they were walking away from the border each night to sleep in far-off fields.

"I feel like my heart will burst with each (mortar) blast," said Wazir Bibi, 65, in the Pakistani village of Dhamala.

A number of houses in Dhamala were hit by mortar rounds and Pakistani Major General Khan Tahir Javed Khan said the number of mortar rounds and bullets fired had surged in recent weeks.

"It is the most intense in decades," Khan said of the fighting. "My message to them would be please de-escalate."


The fighting comes at a time of changing power dynamics in South Asia, with Pakistan's army taking a more assertive role in politics and India's new nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi promising a more muscular foreign policy.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been weakened by opposition protests that started in August. He won the army's backing but in the process ceded space to the generals on some issues, including relations with India.

Modi is following through on a promise to take a harder line with Pakistan in its border disputes after being elected in May. Although Sharif came to Modi's inauguration, the Indian leader has since cancelled a round of talks with Pakistan, and in a further snub did not meet Sharif at a U.N. meeting in New York in September.

"This unrest is a logical consequence of worsening political relations between India and Pakistan," said Michael Kugelman, Senior Program Associate for South and Southeast Asia at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

"What's particularly worrisome is that Pakistan's military appears to now be in the driver's seat of India policy - and the military has much less enthusiasm for reconciliation."

In most cases India blames outbreaks of fighting along the border on Pakistani troops they say give cover to separatist militants trying to enter India's part of Kashmir. India claimed to have killed three militants on Monday.

Pakistan says India's military is abusing the human rights of Muslim Kashmiris and dismisses Indian claims of infiltration as greatly exaggerated.
Jitu says he feels 'shameful' about asking for promotion
NEW DELHI: 'Pistol King' Jitu Rai, who is employed with the Indian army, says he feels "shameful" about asking for promotion in his rank after winning gold in Commonwealth and Asian Games.

Jitu has been in the form of his life, bagging two gold in three months in two multi-sporting events, but he flatly refused to talk about promotion.

"I have been given two out of turn promotions last year and I am grateful to the Indian Army for that. If you ask me I will say it will be shameful of me if I ask for promotion thought I have won back-to-back gold," Jitu said on the sidelines of a felicitation function on Monday.

Jitu, now a naib-subedar at the 11th Gurkha Regiment, was given promotion last year after winning a silver in the National Championships and a bronze in Asian Championships in Iran.

"But for the Army, I would not have reached this stage. The journey has been amazing till now but it has happened due to the Indian Army. I have been given every facility by the Army and there has been no complaint from my side," said the 27-year-old Jitu who won gold in 50m pistol event in Incheon.

"From the paddy fields on Nepal upto here, I have come a long way. I have never imagined that I will achieved this much and I am indebted to the Army for my achievement."

Understandably, Jitu said his Incheon Asian Games gold medal was more satisfying than the Glasgow CWG win, also in 50m pistol.

"In Glasgow Commonwealth Games, I was a bit relaxed and took a bit easy. But, I had worked meticulously and I gave a lot of effort while going into the Incheon Games. So, it was more satisfying," he said.

Despite winning gold in 50m air pistol event in both Glasgow and Incheon, Jitu said that 10m air pistol was his favourite event.

"I have been doing well in both but if I have to choose, I will go for 10m air pistol. This event has given me a lot of success in the last few years," he said.

This year, Jitu won a silver and a gold in ISSF World Cup in Munich and Maribor respectively in 10m air pistol. He also won a bronze in 10m air pistol team event in Incheon. He also clinched a silver in the World Championships in Granada, Spain.

Asked about his next target, he said, "Now, I am competing in World Cup final this month and I want to do well there."

Modest as ever, Jitu said he felt the same old shooter despite winning seven medals, including three gold, in top events this year.

"I felt like the same old Jitu, I have not changed a bit and I did not think I have become a big star. It is you (media) which has made me big," said Jitu.

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