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Monday, 17 November 2014

From Today's Papers - 17 Nov 2014

The Wagah attack and the big picture
D. Suba Chandran
The suicide attack in Wagah, a few metres across the border is a new development with far- reaching implications for Pakistan, more than Indo-Pak relations. It signifies new emerging trends across the western borders of India. It is important to analyse the big picture evolving within Pakistan. Until now, two questions have been the primary focus in the media until now – who and why Wagah? The larger question to be addressed is: What does the attack in Wagah mean, along with similar high-profile attacks recently in Karachi and Peshawar. Since the Pakistani army is engaged in operation Zarb-e-Azb, there has been militant retaliation elsewhere. Are the militants on the run? Are they re-emerging and choosing targets outside the FATA and taking the war into the mainland?

The impact of Zarb-e-Azb

First and foremost, the attack in Wagah, when seen with other high-profile attacks elsewhere in Karachi and Peshawar highlights the impact and fallout of Zarb-e-Azb. One of the primary reasons for the attack apears retaliatory. The argument that the attack was aimed at disrupting the India-Pakistan dialogue process appears unconvincing. The India-Pakbilateral relations are already troubled.

Military strikes in the FATA seem to have only disrupted and displaced the TTP framework, instead of dismantling it. A simple explanation is the military offensive in FATA is focussed primarily on North Wazirsitan, that too a few tehsils. Military operations do not cover the entire tribal regions. As a result, as the Afghan Taliban did when the US started the war on terrorism post-9/11, the Pakistani Taliban seems to have disappeared instead of fighting back. Also, the TTP today has multiple factions; the military operations in North Waziristan target primarily the Mehsud fighters of the TTP, along with few groups allied with the Al-Qaida, primarily the Uzbeks. Factions of the TTP, are emerging elsewhere and choosing their own time and target to retaliate. The high-profile attack on the airport in Karachi earlier, is a part of this retaliation. The Wagah post, for the TTP, is a soft target. Given the nature of crowd assembling every day, it would be easier for a suicide bomber to infiltrate and inflict maximum impact. And that is precisely what the TTP bomber did, exploding himself and killing more than 60 people.

This disruption and displacement of the TTP has a larger implication for Pakistan’s internal security. A section of the erstwhile sectarian militants (of multiple groups from Lashkar-e-Jhangvi to Jaish-e-Mohammed) referred to as the Punjabi Taliban who were fighting along with the TTP in FATA and KP, are now returning to Punjab. The Pakistani military, as a part of its offensive could have cordoned off the FATA before starting the counter- offensive against the militants. Unfortunately for the military, precious time was wasted in the name of a political dialogue with the Taliban. Perhaps, the Zarb-e-Azb is too little, too late. It has resulted in killing of TTP fighters but the blowback elsewhere is bigger.

Punjab under the TTP shadow

Second, the attack in Wagah also signifies another important development as far as the TTP and the State is concerned. Though the attack took place in front of the Wagah post, geographically it is an extension of Lahore, the liberal bastion of Pakistan and the capital of Punjab, supposedly the most stable of all the provinces in Pakistan.

While Karachi has become a city of violence in the recent decades, the attack on Lahore is a recent phenomenon and has been constantly expanding in the last few years. Since 2008, there have been multiple bomb blasts and suicide attacks targeting State institutions, office buildings, cricket team, markets, shrines etc.

If the militants are returning to Punjab, the decision to fight them in the heartland will be a tougher choice for both the political and military establishments. If the recent attacks in Lahore are to be considered, the return of militants to Punjab is likely to take place sooner. Punjab as the battleground, instead of the FATA or KP, will transform the security situation for Pakistan into a nightmare. Why would the TTP limit its hideouts and area of operations only to the FATA and KP, if it realises Punjab would be Establishment’s achilles heel in terms of a counter-offensive? With the Punjabi militants being the bridge, it would not be difficult for the TTP to shift its base, or the Punjabi Taliban becoming the primary component of the TTP.

Will Lashkar join the party?

Third, until now, the Lashkar-e-Toiba has been on a leash; despite its huge infrastructure, ideology and number of fighters, the Lashkar has not opened a front within Pakistan. It has remained anti-Indian in its ideology and action until now. It is believed, today, the new generation cadres of the Lashkar are even more radical and expect their leader — Hafiz Saeed to be proactive vis-a-vis India. After the Mumbai attack, the Lashkar and Hafeez have been restrained by the Establishment. With so much action taking place in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, and new ideological churnings with new groups such as the Islamic State, the Lashkar cadres cannot be held back for a long time. If that happens, it will create a perfect storm for Pakistan, if the Lashkar (or even a section) decides to go against, unless they are either diverted to far flung regions such as Syria and Iraq, or into the immediate neighbourhood — either India or Afghanistan. There should be a study on the game plan of the LeT now, with so much happening s at national and international levels.

Fourth, for Pakistan today – its border on three sides with India, Afghanistan and Iran – all are on fire. The non-State actors play a destabilising role in making Pakistan’s borders really irrelevant; if they decide to breach the Wagah (and India-Pakistan border) independent of the Establishment, it would invite bigger trouble for Pakistan internationally. With the new Indian government reducing the threshold and tolerance level to any infiltration/firing from across, Pakistan will have to safeguard its borders from its erstwhile trump cards. The Durand Line has been continuously breached by the Afghan Taliban, Haqqani network and the TTP. While the Quetta Shura and Haqqani network have their bases in Balochistan and FATA, respectively, they cross the Durand Line at will. Same is the case with the Pakistani Taliban. With safe havens in the eastern border provinces of Afghanistan, the TTP moves across when there is military pressure from Pakistan.

While the role of non-State actors on Pakistan’s borders with India and Afghanistan are well known, the role of sectarian militants and that of the criminal gangs operating along Pakistan-Iran border have not been given sufficient attention. Multiple attacks on the Shia pilgrims in Balochistan on their return from Iran in the recent years have become a regular exercise; added to the problem has been that of trafficking and smuggling across the Iran-Pakistan border by professional mafia. With political instability and strained civil-military relations, for both the Sharifs, there are tough times ahead.
Pakistan’s duplicity on war against terror
The Pentagon report confirms independently that Pakistan is still conducting a proxy war against India as well as another one against Afghanistan in order to control that country.
Raj Kadyan
The Pentagon has recently submitted a report to the US Congress, exposing the double game of Pakistan on its proclaimed support to the war on terrorism. While professing support to the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, it has been sabotaging their efforts to tame militancy in that region. The US has pumped billions of dollars into Pakistan to solicit its support in combating the Taliban. The Pentagon's assertion of Pakistan using proxy forces to counter India's superior military is a mere reiteration of what India in particular, and the world in general, have known all along. Pakistan has been actively fighting a proxy war in Kashmir for the last 25 years. The report from the US, which has been supportive of Pakistan, should remove all doubts about Pakistan’s perfidy even among the sceptics. Apart from the diplomatic and political support that Pakistan officially claims it provides to the “freedom struggle”, there is ample evidence that it has been training, arming, and funding the militants to continue “bleeding India to death.”

The report confirms independently that Pakistan is still conducting a proxy war against India and Afghanistan. Besides the content, the timing of the report too is significant. The US had known this all along, but did not make it public due to its interests. During its Afghanistan campaign, the US needed Pakistan’s roads for supplies to its troops. The support of ISI, the mother board of all terror networks, was needed too. Pakistan was providing intelligence for drone strikes in FATA, while condemning them as violation of its sovereignty. Despite being paid handsomely for these services, Pakistan did not fulfil its part of the bargain. The Afghan Taliban are still being hosted in Pakistan. The Haqqani network, a Pakistani proxy for destabilising Afghanistan, has prospered. Not a single member of that group, or of the India-specific LeT, has ever been arrested or killed by the Pakistani forces so far, even in the much-touted Zarb-e-Azb.

Pakistan’s sabotage has resulted in the war on terror not achieving its goal of stabilising Afghanistan. US saw no visible gain from the over-$20 billion provided in civil and military aid since 9/11. Hostility towards the US is at an all-time high in Pakistan. US national interests are now losing their validity in view of the draw-down from Afghanistan. With this scaling down, Pakistan would lose much its leverage. Publication of the report is proof. Pakistan’s army chief is officially visiting the US shortly but the report still came out. This as well as UN ignoring Pakistani complaints against India's alleged firing across the LoC, indicates Pakistan's isolation. Any further US aid to it will be a token. The US and others are no longer likely to rush diplomats to New Delhi asking India to show restraint in the event of another terrorist act, or in its fight against the proxy war in Kashmir. Pakistan’s anti-India fervour continues and it has succeeded in turning Kashmir into a running sore that has been haemorrhaging our national energy and impeding our march to our deserved place in the global order. The current situation gives India enough space should it decide to coerce Pakistan out of meddling in Kashmir, which is a sine qua non for peace in the state. The political, diplomatic, economic and military environment is conducive. We should seize this opportunity to put multi-directional pressure on Pakistan. An aggressive domination of the LoC to prevent Pakistan from infiltrating jihadis into J&K is an obvious. We should prevent the harassment of our fishermen. The attack on our Consulate in Herat on May 23, 2014 affected both India and Afghanistan. There is ample evidence of involvement of LeT in it. Even the Pentagon report has corroborated it. Both should lodge a protest with Pakistan and demand action. Pakistan has not made any progress on the trial of terrorists who attacked in Mumbai. Nor is it likely to do so. We should not let that gory attack be forgotten and pursue the matter with vigour.
 India, China start military exercise
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 16
India and China today started the fourth edition of their joint military training exercise named ‘Hand-in-Hand’ in Pune. Senior military observers of both countries will attend the formal opening ceremony scheduled at Aundh Military Station tomorrow.

The joint training aims at sharing the drills and practices learnt while tackling insurgency and terrorism and developing joint strategies of conducting operations in a counter terrorism environment. Indian Army spokesperson Col Rohan Anand said: “The exercise is planned at the company level with respective battalion headquarters controlling the training and manoeuvres.” A joint panel comprising senior officials of both nations will supervise the exercise.

Helicopters of the Indian Air Force will also be taking active part in various manoeuvres planned in the exercise.

The exercise comes two months after aggressive posturing along the LAC in Ladakh and is being seen as an important confidence-building measure between the two armies.

This will be the fourth edition of the ‘hand-in-hand’ exercise since it started in 2007 with Kunming in China hosting the first edition.

This time the original venue exercise was slated to be Bathinda in Punjab. But, the Chinese, in the planning conference with India, said the location was too ‘hot’ in terms of weather.

Terror focus

    The training aims at sharing the drills and practices learnt while tackling insurgency and terrorism, and developing joint strategies to conduct operations in a counter terrorism environment
    A joint panel comprising senior officials of both nations will supervise the exercise
    It is being seen as an important confidence-building measure between the People’s Liberation Army of China and the Indian Army
 Pensioners await arrears despite SC orders
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 16
Even as the Seventh Pay Commission constituted by the government is deeply engrossed in working out new pay scales for government employees, anomalies arising from the Sixth Pay Commission continue to dodge pensioners despite court rulings in their favour.

Over a year after the Supreme Court ruled that government servants, including defence pensioners, were entitled to arrears of pension arising out of the rectification of anomalies of pre-2006 pensioners from January 2006 instead of September 2012, they continue to await their benefits. Retired officers said they had not received any intimation from the government regarding implementation of the SC orders.

Consequent to removal of anomalies, the government ordered that the pensioners would get arrears with effect from September 2012. This was contested by the pensioners who claimed that they were entitled to arrears from January 2006, the date of implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission, and any other date was arbitrary.

The controversy had been simmering for defence as well as civilian pensioners since January 2006. The issue involved the interpretation whether pension would be based on the minimum pay within the pay band (PB 1,2,3 or 4) or the minimum of pay of the pay scale applicable to various grades and ranks. Each pay band consists of several pay scales. The Central Administrative Tribunal had, however, ruled in favour of pensioners and had directed re-fixation of pension from January 2006.
Make Henderson report public: Capt
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, November 16
Former Punjab Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Capt Amarinder Singh has urged the government to de-classify the controversial Henderson Brooks report which went into the reasons for India’s defeat in the 1962 war with the Chinese and blamed the then PM Jawahar Lal Nehru’s policy for the debacle.

The report is yet to be made public even though an Australian journalist had recently in the run up to the Lok Sabha polls this May made parts of the report public generating a huge controversy in India about the document being kept top secret years after the war.

Amarinder, Deputy Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, demanded publication of the report yesterday at the launch of his book “Honour and Fidelity” which celebrates the heroism and sacrifices of 74,000 Indian soldiers who died in World War 1.

“There is no reason why the report should be kept under wraps. It should be made public. If any politician made a mistake we should know it; if any General messed up, we need to open up,” he said.
 Pak pitches for better ties with India

Hyderabad, November 16
Hoping that the stalled dialogue process will resume soon, Pakistan today pitched for building relations with India, saying there is convergence of agendas of the Prime Ministers of the two countries.

"Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj had said there are no full stops in diplomacy. I concur with her that in diplomacy...You do not completely shut it down. So, let's hope there are possibilities that will emerge. So, I am hopeful," Pakistan's High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit said in a media interaction at the Hyderabad Press Club.

India had called off the scheduled foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan in August, objecting to its envoy meeting Kashmiri separatists on the eve of the dialogue. — PTI
Parrikar to hold meeting of defence top brass
To fast track the acquisition and up gradation process in the armed forces, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar will hold a series of meetings with top brass of the three Services and his ministry here tomorrow.

Parrikar, who took over the reigns last week, had held the first round of meeting in which he had directed the Army, the Navy and the Air Force to prioritise their demands.

The Defence Minister had made it clear that the acquisition process under him would not only be transparent, but also fast.

There was a perception that the defence acquisition under the previous UPA government was slow. Many of the critical projects initiated under the previous regime were still in negotiation stages.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who was holding the additional charge of defence, had undertaken a series of swift decisions and cleared projects and purchases worth about Rs 1.2 lakh crore.

Defence Ministry sources said key projects would come up in the agenda of the meeting of Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), to be held later this month.

Though date for the DAC meeting is yet to be finalised, this would be the first DAC that Parrikar would be chairing.

The DAC was set up in 2001 as part of the post-Kargil reforms in defence sector.

The council approves the long-term integrated perspective plan for the forces, accords acceptance of necessity (AON) to begin acquisition proposals, and has to grant its approval to all major deals through all their important phases.

It also has the power to approve any deviations in an acquisition, and recommends all big purchases for approval of the Cabinet committee on security.
- See more at:
India Launches Drive To Buy Half of Its Weapons From Indigenous Sources
Under a new policy, at least half of India’s total weapon and equipment needs in the next 10 to 12 years — worth more than $100 billion — could be produced domestically.

Analysts and military officers are divided about the wisdom of relying so heavily on the local defense industry to meet the military’s needs quickly and effectively.

The new approach, announced this month, is based on a countrywide “Make in India” campaign launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to boost the domestic industry, a source in the Defence Ministry said.

Under the new policy, the categories of Make India and Buy and Make India will be used for about half the weapon purchases. Under these categories, tenders will go only to domestic industry.

“The new policy will be one step forward and two steps backwards as the domestic defense industry is not mature enough to meet such big orders for weaponry and equipment, and depending on it will only result in further delays in acquiring weapons for our defense forces,” said Nitin Mehta, a defense analyst here. “How can a defense industry which exports weapons worth only $100 million a year suddenly balloon to manufacture weapons and equipment worth nearly $100 billion in the next 10 years?”

A senior Defence Ministry official said India’s defense industry has the potential to produce submarines, warships and high-tech weaponry, and that the percentage of imported Indian weapons and equipment could even be reduced from the current 70 percent to 40 percent in 10 years.

“Committing orders and encouraging the domestic industry to partner with overseas defense companies on an equity sharing basis or through a consortium approach will be the new way procurement of weapons will be done in future,” the official said.

An executive with private-sector defense major Larsen and Toubro defended the government’s move.

“During the past decades plus, India has been importing weapon systems under Buy [global] or Buy and Make [with transfer of technology to state-owned defense companies], which has not altered the import-vs.-domestic ratio of 70 percent imports and 30 percent [domestic],” he said. “That the national security cannot continue to be in the hands of the foreign original equipment manufacturers is long felt and must be realized.”

Defense analyst Amit Cowshish said he favors boosting domestic industry, emphasizing the urgent nature of weapons for the military. “Everything that the armed forces requires is urgent and if the assumption is that Buy and Make Indian or Make projects entail unacceptable delays, obviously these options rule themselves out.”

But because top officers with the defense forces are represented during the procurement process, “it is, therefore, inconceivable that a proposal would get categorized as Buy and Make or Make if the services, as users, do not support such categorization,” he said.

Vivek Rae, former director general (acquisition) in the MoD, said, “Most weapon systems and platforms would need to be imported in the foreseeable future. There is no short-term fix in the quest for indigenization. Make India projects should focus on key futuristic technologies and not on low-tech areas.”
Cancellation of Global Tenders

Since August, MoD has canceled two global light utility helicopter (LUH) projects, one for the Air Force and the other for the Navy, and sent a request for information (RFI) to domestic companies to determine interest in producing the helicopters. However, none of the private-sector defense companies — which have no experience in manufacturing military helicopters — has been able to forge partnerships with any overseas company to compete for the LUH order.

Under the Make India category, domestic companies are allowed individually or in a consortium to design, develop and produce weapon systems in which the government contributes up to 80 percent of the funds in the design stage.

The Future Infantry Combat Vehicle program, worth $12 billion, and the Tactical Communication System program, worth $2 billion, are the two projects designated in the Make India category, but have yet to take off.

So far, no big-ticket defense projects have been executed in the Buy and Make India category.

Rahul Bhonsle, retired Indian Army brigadier general and defense analyst, said, “Categorization has to be done based on the capabilities of the domestic defense industry and not arbitrarily. Moreover, the primary aim of the defense procurement procedure is to ensure that the armed forces capacity building remains on stream.”

“The sudden turn towards the domestic companies with RFIs worth billions is unlikely to turn into production, and the Indian defense forces will suffer,” said an Army official.

In the past year, MoD has issued more than a dozen RFIs to domestic industry worth $15 billion and sought participation in numerous high-tech projects. But the domestic industry has no experience in manufacturing such systems, the MoD source said.

However, Rajinder Bhatia, CEO of private-sector defense company Bharat Forge, said, “Indian industry has responded to a large number of RFIs.”

He added, “Make India programs should be for high-tech projects only. Rest of the procurement should be either Buy Indian Or Buy and Make Indian.”

A serving Air Force officer said that relying on only domestic sources under a fixed policy will lead to undue delays in acquisition of weaponry affecting the combat worthiness of the defense forces.

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