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Wednesday, 7 January 2015

From Today's Papers - 07 Jan 2015

The need to rethink, radically
Ashraf Jehangir Qazi
A state of “no war, no peace”, with a neighbour several times our size provides no context to pursue counterterrorism policies. That too against organisations we have ben using as proxies and which have done us no end of harm diplomatically and domestically.

Another all-parties conference; a dash to Kabul; a rage of hangings; a 20-point National Action Plan to succeed the still-born Nacta and NISP; a committee for every point of the NAP; subcommittees for every committee; an overall oversight committee led by the prime minister who proclaims zero tolerance; a defining moment; a do-or-die challenge; an unending jihad against jihadis; eternal cooperation with the military which is invited to discharge his responsibilities; military courts of dubious value and still more dubious constitutionality.
“Democratic” political leaders who until recently were locked in mortal combat are now united in complicit support for a  “soft coup” and a resurrection of the doctrine of necessity.
The Supreme Court judges realising the gravity of the situation met under the chairmanship of the chief justice to assess how the prosecution of those accused of terrorism could be prioritised and completed expeditiously. They have, accordingly, agreed on an eight-point plan. Their plan has been summarily shoved aside by the 20-point plan. So much for the rule of law! Will the Supreme Court now accept amendments to the Constitution that are against its “basic structure” and clear intent and purpose? The superior judiciary is not incompetent. It has been impeded by those who would now supersede it.
There has been no collective and public (civil and military) leadership apology to the bereaved families and the nation. No acknowledgement of responsibility — indeed guilt — for bringing about a state of affairs in the country that directly and indirectly made the atrocity possible, if not likely. How can anyone say “this is a watershed moment” or “we have at last turned the corner”? Our 9/11, no less, have been so many self-inflicted tragedies in our short history including the fall of Dhaka, military surrender and the break-up of the country. There has been the loss of the Siachen Glacier and the fiasco of Kargil. There has been the intermittent war in Balochistan over decades. There were unprincipled deals ceding control in a number of Fata areas to dangerous militants.
These militants have become today’s monsters responsible for the school atrocity and murder and mayhem of every kind in Pakistan. There has been Abbottabad leading to national humiliation and isolation abroad.
Have we responded to all this criminal impunity with a greater concern for national security, governance and leadership? Why, or rather how will it be any different this time? Well, because enough is enough! Our cup of patience runneth over! The leopard will at last change its spots. Inshallah! Indeed, we have a plan for it. Mashallah!
We know the history of inquiry commissions in Pakistan. Even so, why has our suddenly “united” civil and military leadership not immediately sought to “break the mould” by establishing a genuinely independent, repeat independent, and competent commission to inquire into all aspects of how December 16 came to pass? Such an inquiry should, needless to say, seek to ascertain who bore the greatest responsibility for the political and security milieu, as well as the specific lead-up circumstances, including lapses, that resulted in the tragedy. It should make a meaningful and comprehensive set of concise, relevant and mutually reinforcing policy recommendations that are continuously monitored and reported upon to the nation on a weekly basis by our “born-again” leadership.
Counterterrorism in Pakistan has to be part and parcel of a comprehensive state and, indeed, societal transformation process. Yes, this is a longer term effort. But given our truly rotten circumstances, unless our action plan is embedded in a simultaneous commencement of this longer-term and much bigger project, it will lose direction, momentum and credibility very rapidly.
Solemn assurances to the contrary are rhetorical and meaningless because outside this broader transformation context they cannot be credible. This credibility of our counterterrorism commitment will also need to manifest itself in our foreign policy.
Take Afghanistan. Unless we deny the Afghan Taliban and their various cohorts and networks safe havens, sanctuaries and cross-border supply routes on our territory, how do we expect our commitments to President Ashraf Ghani and his government to be taken seriously? How would we play an acceptable role in a peacemaking and political reconciliation process in Afghanistan if the government in Kabul has grave reservations about our reliability as a partner?
If the Afghan Taliban in Afghanistan are viable inside Afghanistan without our assistance we can still play a constructive role in facilitating reconciliation without seeking to use them as a check on India’s influence. If a terror-prone Afghan Taliban once again takes over Afghanistan, with or without our deniable assistance, it will be the TTP and not us who will gain “strategic depth”.
Take India. We need to have a predictable working relationship with it despite our continuing and significant differences on Kashmir and other issues. We will need to develop and implement modalities for managing our differences on Kashmir and building essential bilateral and regional cooperation to confront the challenges of the 21st century.
A state of “no war, no peace” with a neighbour several times our size provides no context in which to pursue counterterrorism policies against organisations we have been prone to use as ‘proxies’, and which have done us no end of harm diplomatically and domestically.
Unless we radically rethink our external policy strategies how will we develop a credible counterterrorism policy and transform our economy and society? There is no indication of any of this in the national action plan. Will we finally do what we say and dismantle the whole infrastructure of terror inside Pakistan? Will we begin to rationalise our India and Afghanistan policies and come across as credible to ourselves and the international community?
In memory of our lost angels:
You were the faces of tomorrow
Our living dreams of today.
May you help transcend our sorrow
May you abide and show the way.
10,000 panicky J-K villagers flee as Pak targets border areas
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria

Tribune News Service

Jammu, January 6
In the wake of the overnight shelling by Pakistan Rangers in Kathua and Samba districts, the number of people, who have fled their homes from over 75 border villages and took refuge in 23 relief camps, has swelled to nearly 10,000.

Pakistan again opened fire with small firearms around 5.30 pm at Manyari, Pansar and Bobiyan areas of Hiranagar sub-sector in Kathua, triggering fresh migration.

“Heavy shelling that started around 2 pm yesterday lasted till around 11 pm last night. Pakistan opened small arms fire around 4.15 am today that continued till 6.30 am”, said Kathua DC, Shahid Iqbal Choudhary.

At 5.30 pm, they again started firing with small arms in Manyari, Pansar and Bobiyan areas of Hiranagar, he said, adding that till 3 pm, 4,841 people had shifted to 14 camps in his district.

However, there was no Pakistan firing in Samba district till 6.45 pm today. “There is no fresh fire till now. The last night was also calm,” said Samba DC, Mubarak Singh.

So far there are nearly 5,000 persons in nine relief camps in Samba. The number is likely to go up as people return to the camps for night’s stay, he informed.

Director General of the BSF DK Pathak attributed intense Pakistan shelling along the International Border in Samba sector to several factors, including the presence of a large number of terrorists on the other side of the divide at the behest of Lashkar-e-Tayyaba chief Hafiz Saeed and US President Barack Obama’s New Delhi visit on Republic Day. Pathak rushed here to review the situation on the border amidst heightened tension.

“Jamat-ud-Dawa chief and mastermind of Mumbai terror attacks Hafiz Saeed could be a factor behind the presence of a large number of militants on other side of the border, who want to infiltrate into the state.

“Since December 31 night we have witnessed three to four intrusion bids. We have proof of that. We are on a high alert,” he said.
India-Pak: Stop waging war in the shadows
Munir Akram
A quick viewing of a Facebook video of a recent lecture delivered by Ajit Doval, India’s ex-spymaster and now the national security adviser, should set all doubts about India’s clandestine wars at rest.
ALL people of goodwill desire peace between Pakistan and India. Given their historical animosities, a close relationship is probably unachievable in the foreseeable future. But a “cold” peace, which does not eliminate their fundamental differences but enables coexistence and cooperation, is possible.
Unfortunately, even such a “cold” peace is unlikely to be realised so long as India and Pakistan continue to wage their wars in the shadows.
A lot has been written and said about Pakistan’s support to insurgencies in Afghanistan and Kashmir. Not much has appeared about India’s longer and wider role in clandestine warfare against its neighbours, Sri Lanka, Nepal and particularly Pakistan. A quick viewing of a Facebook video of a recent lecture delivered by Ajit Doval, India’s ex-spymaster and now the national security adviser, should set all doubts about India’s clandestine wars at rest. Mr Doval calls Pakistan the “enemy”; extols Indian intelligence’s ability to compromise and infiltrate the Kashmir insurgency; crows about the beheading of Pakistani soldiers by the TTP and advocates a policy of “defensive offense” against Pakistan.
Pakistan will have to defeat India’s secret war against Pakistan if it is to defeat the TTP.
Actually, India’s shadow wars against Pakistan commenced in 1971 when it actively trained and financed the Mukti Bahini to fight the Pakistan Army in East Pakistan, laying the ground for India’s eventual military intervention to break up Pakistan. Even after the Simla Agreement, bomb blasts continued in Karachi and other Pakistani cities to keep Pakistan destabilised and defensive. New Delhi has missed no opportunity to support Baloch, Pakhtun and Sindhi “nationalists” and other dissidents in Pakistan.
Indira Gandhi’s attack on Amritsar’s Golden Temple created an opportunity for Pakistan to pay India back in its own coin. But its support for the Khalistan insurgency was also a “defensive offensive” move to neutralise the threat of an Indian attack at the behest of its Soviet ally which Pakistan, in collaboration with the US, had pinned down in Afghanistan. India’s “warrior” prime minister was assassinated by her Sikh guards. Eventually, after president Zia’s demise, the Khalistan insurgency was brutally put down by India. There is considerable speculation to this day whether the incoming PPP government released a list of Sikh insurgents to the Indians.
 Even as the Khalistan insurgency died, Pakistan was offered its own “opportunity of the century” — as the East Pakistan revolt was called by the Indians — to secure self-determination for the Kashmiris. In December 1989, the Kashmiris revolted at the rigged elections there. On December 20, hundreds of peaceful Kashmiri demonstrators were mowed down by Indian security forces, unleashing an armed struggle for freedom. Pakistan’s intelligence agencies, fresh from their success in backing the mujahideen in Afghanistan, opted to support the religious parties, instead of the indigenous Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, to lead the Kashmiri struggle.
Under the pressure of the insurgency, India agreed in 1994 to discuss a Kashmir settlement with Pakistan. India’s Foreign Secretary offered a settlement based on “autonomy plus, independence minus” for occupied Kashmir. Unfortunately, Pakistan was not quick enough to press its advantage and secure a good deal for the Kashmiris. India used the time to infiltrate and compromise the insurgency (as Mr Doval boasted). Some jihadi groups, like Al Faran, resorted to kidnapping and killing foreigners. This was the initial step in India’s campaign to transform the Kashmiri struggle from a legitimate liberation struggle into a terrorist movement.
 When the US, after 9/11, launched its war on terrorism, India’s principal aim became to equate the Kashmiri struggle with global terrorism and Al Qaida. New Delhi got its chance when “terrorists” attacked the Indian parliament in December 2001. Despite the fact that Pakistan’s culpability was unproven, a commitment was extracted from president Musharraf’s government that Pakistan would not allow its territory to be used for ‘terrorism’ against others. Acceptance of this ‘obligation’ was interpreted as an admission of Pakistan’s culpability. The Kashmiri struggle was over for all intents and purposes.
When Pakistan, under US pressure, attempted to curtail support to the Kashmiri jihadi groups, some of them — who had developed connections with Al Qaida and the Afghan Taliban — turned on their Pakistani patrons. Hence the two attempts on the life of former president Musharraf. However, some groups, like the Lashkar-e-Taiba, although outlawed and aggrieved with the government, refrained from attacking the Army or Pakistani targets and maintained their focus on India. They demonstrated their extensive capabilities in the Mumbai terrorist attack.
India, for its part, had already unleashed its so-called “defensive offence” policy against Pakistan. Under the auspices of the Afghan intelligence directorate, headed by a member of the Northern Alliance, with which India had developed close relations during the civil war against Mullah Omar’s Taliban, India set up bases (in the guise of consulates) close to the Afghan-Pakistan border to sponsor and support the Balochistan Liberation Army.
When the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) emerged from the embers of the Red Mosque operation, Afghan and Indian intelligence were quick to seize the opportunity to infiltrate and utilise some of its elements, particularly Baitullah Mehsud’s kin, against Pakistan and its armed forces. This has been openly admitted by Afghan intelligence. As Doval noted, there have been 40,000 Pakistani casualties attributed to the TTP’s acts of terrorism.
The situation in Balochistan and Fata became murkier due to rumours about the sponsorship of the anti-Iran Jundullah by certain Western agencies and the spate of recent attacks against China by the East Turkmenistan Independence Movement (ETIM), which was co-located with the TTP and other terrorist groups in North Waziristan and adjacent areas of Afghanistan.
Thus, for Pakistan, the Zarb-e-Azb operation against the TTP and its associates became an imperative, first and foremost, to protect the homeland, but also to prevent damage to its strategic relationship with China. It may be an added bonus that this campaign, which has also damaged all other militant groups in North Waziristan, has had a beneficial effect on Pakistan’s relations with the US and Afghanistan.
 However, Pakistan will have to defeat India’s secret war against Pakistan if it is to defeat the TTP. It is difficult to expect a change in Indian policy while people like Mr Doval are in charge.
 The key to defeating India’s designs is to secure the full confidence and cooperation of the Afghan government and utilise the influence of China, America and Russia to isolate and attack the TTP and its associated groups, especially Al Qaida and ETIM, and deny India the bases and facilities to operate against Pakistan from Afghan territory.
It is only when the wars in the shadows are terminated that conditions may emerge for some form of normalisation between Pakistan and India.
Panel mulls online shopping for military canteens
Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6

After their belated but highly successful foray into the social media, the armed forces can now well be smitten by the online shopping bug. Parliament’s Standing Committee on Defence, in its report tabled recently, has mooted the concept of the Canteen Stores Department (CSD) hopping onto the e-commerce bandwagon.

The suggestion for the CSD introducing online shopping comes in the backdrop of declining budgetary support from the government, reducing profits and other issues like pilferage, sub-standard goods and non-availability of items in smaller outlets or those located in far flung areas.

“The concept of online purchases should also be encouraged because extension counters or mobile canteens may not have all the items in required quantity. These online purchases may be made through smart phone applications or using the Internet and ex-servicemen and their family members can order exact number and type of items required,” the committee’s report stated.

“These items could be delivered on their doorstep. For the purpose, the CSD can have private sector participation in sending the items to the ex-servicemen,” the report added.

With increasing Internet proliferation and business initiatives, online shopping in India is becoming a huge market.

Some reports have estimated the market to touch $15 billion by 2016 and $45 billion by 2020. This concept is already popular with the armed forces personnel, especially those posted away from big cities, because of easy availability of a wide variety of items as discounted prices.
Army roadblock hits commuters
In July last year, the Army’s Pune Sub Area had blocked a road to erect arches and conduct repairs, forcing commuters to take a long detour. It has been a couple of months since the work was completed but the authorities are yet to open the road to traffic, prompting the commuters to demand its immediate reopening and the traffic police to take up the matter with the Army.

They called blocking of the entrance to Manekji Mehta Road in Pune Cantonment as “unwarranted”. Pune Sub Area has constructed an arch at the entry and the defence authorities said they were looking into the complaints, and considering reopening of the road.

The Pune Sub Area started construction of the arch in July last year and simultaneously undertook repairs on Manekji Mehta Road. Defence authorities had marked October for completion of the road.

The work has been completed but the Pune Sub Area has not reopened the  road to traffic, leading to hardships for commuters.

DCP (Traffic) Sarang Awad said, “They have completed the work. We do not see any work currently on. We have communicated to them repeatedly, but unfortunately, the Pune Sub Area authorities did not respond. Our officers visited their office four times in the last two weeks, but there has been no response. The blockade caused a lot of inconvenience to people who want to cross to the Hadapsar side. They have to take a long detour now.”

An officer from the local traffic division said, “Even when work started, defence authorities had no prior discussion with us. They started the work, prevented entry of vehicles and then informed us. There was a display board that said they would complete the work by October. They have removed the board but have not opened the road. We have no objection to Army stopping and checking vehicles for security reasons. But stopping vehicles at the entry of the road and some other approaching roads is unwarranted.”

The officer added, “Now the Army authorities are saying they want to install security cameras and some automatic barricades. We have told them we can divert traffic for sometime in the day when this work is on. There is no point in keeping the road closed 24 hours.”

Avinash Shikare, an autorickshaw driver said, “Many times, the defence people stop vehicles without reason. They should resume traffic on the road. We have to take a long route to go to Hadapsar and Solapur road side.”

A senior Army officer from Pune Sub Area who did not want to be named said, “It is not true that traffic police communicated with us many times. We received their communication on Monday. We have put the matter before higher authorities asking for permission to reopen the road.
India wants to divide Pak Army’s anti-Taliban focus: Sethi
LAHORE: Senior analyst Najam Sethi has said that India has adopted the policy of aggressive defence in its relations with Pakistan. He said Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval has declared the Taliban as weakness of Pakistan and wants to use them against Pakistan. Meanwhile, India wants to divide Pakistan’s military might in two directions in order to render it unable to wipe out the Taliban. He said the United States knows how India is using Afghanistan against Pakistan.

He was talking to Aapas ki Baat host Muneeb Farooq on Geo News. Giving an in-depth analysis on new Indian policy, Sethi said signs of disturbance had been visible since India suspended talks at foreign secretary level. He ruled out any nuclear fight, but warned that the game will be intense. Commenting on a video showing Ajit declare Pakistan enemy of India and threaten that Pakistan will lose Balochistan if another Mumbai attack was launched, Sethi said the video shows that India is behind the situation in Balochistan.

Sethi said Indian policy of interference in Pakistan has been continued before the installation of Modi government and will be made more active after Ajit’s taking the charge of national security advisor. He said soon after Afghan visit of Pakistan army chief Raheel Sharif and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to meet with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Ajit had rushed to Kabul and offered one million dollar military aid to Afghanistan which Ashraf Ghani, however, rejected. Doval’s defeat on this front much agonised him, Sethi said, that is why he is talking of Balochistan and the Taliban.

The senior analyst said if Pakistan army controls the Taliban with concentration, Pakistan will remain no longer weak. That is why, India has started aggression on the Line of Control in a bid to split the Pakistan military into two directions.

Sethi said India also used Afghanistan to suppress Pakistan before Aghan jehad, in response to which Pakistan had adopted the policy of aggressive defence. In response to the Indian role behind separation of Dhaka, Pakistan had supported the Khalistan movement in pursuit of its aggressive defence, Sethi said. Meanwhile, the Kashmiris indigenously started their freedom movement, finding circumstances in favour and Pakistan had no role in it, Sethi added. He said Pakistan tried to turn Indian Punjab and Kashmir into a quagmire which may entrap the Indian army, leaving it unable to launch any adventurism against Pakistan. Najam Sethi said in view of this aggressive defence of India, there will be no development in connection with Aman Ki Asha; rather tension will further mount.

He said Pakistan has planned its policy in this connection and Sartaj Aziz has raised Kashmir issue in the United Nations and has arranged marches in London over Kashmir issue and started sending letters in this connection.

About attack on rally in connection with fourth death anniversary of Salman Taseer, the senior analyst regretted that one is not left with possibility to hold requiem for the lost ones. He said punishment to murderer of Salman Taseer has not been given, despite elapse of four years, while some people who are part of our judiciary had garlanded that killer constable. He said the issues of terrorism which Salman Taseer raised still exist.

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