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Thursday, 6 August 2015

From Today's Papers - 06 Aug 2015

Pak militant nabbed as terror strikes J-K highway
2 BSF men die, 11 hurt in Jammu-Srinagar NH ambush | Another terrorist shot
Jammu/Udhampur, August 5
Terror struck Jammu and Kashmir early on Wednesday when two Pakistan militants targeted a Border Security Force (BSF) convoy on the Jammu-Srinagar highway, near Udhampur, killing two security men and injuring 11 others. One of the terrorists was later gunned down, while the other was captured alive by villagers held hostage during the attack.

The security forces launched a search operation to capture two other suspected terrorists who reportedly took refuge in a nearby forest. Traffic on the highway remained suspended for several hours following the attack. The terrorists lobbed grenades and opened fire at the BSF convoy around 7.15 am soon after the Army and Amarnath yatra convoys passed the area.

Most of the BSF personnel were unarmed when they came under attack.

In retaliatory fire, one of the terrorists was gunned down, while the second, identified as Qasim Khan, alias Usman, alias Mohammad Naveed Khan, from Faisalabad in Pakistan Punjab, escaped with a hostage to a hillock where he took two more hostages at Chirdi village, 5 km from the scene of the encounter at Narsu nullah. He was later captured by security forces with the help of the three hostages and two village defence committee members.

The arrest of Qasim, in his early 20s, is being seen as a major victory for the security forces as he is only the second terrorist to have been captured alive during a terror strike after 2008 Mumbai attacks, when Ajmal Kasab was nabbed.

Deputy Inspector General (Udhampur-Reasi range) Surinder Kumar Gupta said after attacking the BSF men, the terrorist fled to Chirdi village where he remained holed up with three hostages. “He was zeroed in at the spot and was captured alive,” said the officer.

Narsu nullah, 17 km from Udhampur town — the headquarters of the Northern Command of the Army — has several tea stalls where most Kashmir-bound passengers halt before resuming their journey. The police said the bus was part of a BSF convoy carrying personnel on their way to the Kashmir valley to join their duties.

“Around 25 BSF men were in the bus when they were attacked. A BSF constable was killed on the spot while another died at the Chenani hospital,” said a police officer.

Sources told The Tribune that the two terrorists had infiltrated into India along with the group involved in the recent Gurdaspur terror attack and had separated with intent to strike at multiple places. The security forces, however, refused to confirm this. “We had inputs that more militants had infiltrated along with the Gurdaspur terrorists and had split into groups to strike on the eve of Independence Day. This group seems to be part of that module,” said an intelligence source.

The captured militant was taken to Udhampur where he was being interrogated by the police.

Infiltrated 12 days ago, claims terrorist

Captured terrorist Qasim Khan, alias Usman Khan, alias Muhammad Naveed Khan, has claimed he along with his accomplice Noman, alias Momin, from Bahawalpur in Pakistan, crossed over into India 12 days ago and had been hiding in nearby forests. He said they had come to kill people and take revenge. “I came here to take revenge and I am doing God’s work. This is my only job,” the militant confessed on camera.

NSA-level talks on; India awaits response

India will go ahead with the NSA-level talks with Pakistan notwithstanding the terror strike in Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday. "We are still awaiting a response from Islamabad to our proposal to hold the talks between the two NSAs on August 23-24," an official source said.

Mufti condemns attack

CM Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on Wednesday condemned the killing of two security men and prayed for the speedy recovery of those injured in the Udhampur attack.
No lessons learnt from Kargil
Ties between India and Pakistan have not improved despite efforts
INDIA-PAKISTAN relations are complex and unique. In Lahore, Bollywood-made Bajrangi Bhaijan brings tears to theatre-goers; just like it happens with my wife when she watches a particular Pakistani short film on Zindagi channel. From Islamabad, young students from Westminster School come excitedly to Chandigarh to participate in a Model United Nations and go back happily, clamouring ‘Yeh dil maange more’. A young Pakistani lady, pining for Bollywood actor Salman Khan, reaches Amritsar without a passport, proving filmi style that ‘pyaar koi bhi sirhad cross kar sakta hai’.

But around the same time, three Pakistani fidayeen cross over into Punjab, kill seven policemen in Dina Nagar and narrowly miss blowing up 250 passengers travelling aboard the Pathankot-Amritsar train. They were highly motivated, well trained, armed and equipped and, therefore, able to fight for nearly 11 hours before getting killed. My 42-year military experience tells me that they could not have embarked on this mission without substantial support from Pakistan’s state agencies.

Let us roll back the last 16 years. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is invited to Lahore by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Vajpayee inaugurates the Sada-e-Sarhad bus service between Delhi and Lahore on February 19, 1999. He travels on its first trip with band, baaja and baraat comprising Indian celebrities, and is received at the other end with much back-slapping bonhomie. Two days later, both Prime Ministers sign the Lahore Declaration, committing themselves to a ‘vision of peace, stability and mutual progress, full commitment to the Simla Agreement and the UN Charter’. Within a few weeks, the Pakistan army launches its pre-planned ‘attack by infiltration’ into the Kargil-Siachen sectors. Sharif and Sartaj Aziz, Pakistani political prime actors then and now, put the blame on Gen Pervez Musharraf. However, few strategists and military historians on either side of the border believe that these prime actors had no role in the attack.

Over the next 70 days, India was forced into its fourth war with Pakistan. We succeeded in achieving the political aim to throw the Pakistan army out but not cross the LoC or the border. There were heavy casualties on both sides. And yet, throughout that war, political leaders and their interlocutors remained in touch. The Sada-e-Sarhad continued to run.

Although the formal victory was declared on July 26, 1999, Pakistan lost the war psychologically when its people learnt of the Pakistan army’s perfidy — the Mujahideen fa├žade — through the Indian media, and when, on the day we recaptured Tiger Hill, Nawaz Sharif

desperately sought US intervention.
Ever since, I am often asked two questions: (a) Will there be another war with Pakistan? (b) Are we better prepared now as compared to the Kargil war time?

The first question is more political. It has less to do with the military. As reasoned by Von Clausewitz, a war starts from ‘a political condition called forth by a political motive and is, therefore, a political act. It is a mere continuation of policy by other means’. Between India and Pakistan, there has been no political progress on disputes like cross-border terrorism, Jammu & Kashmir, Siachen Glacier or Sir Creek. Notwithstanding the dramatic gesture of Narendra Modi inviting Sharif for his swearing-in ceremony in May 2014 or the summit meeting with a constructive joint statement from Ufa last month, there is no change in the ground situation. The continuing cross-border terror acts and daily violations of ceasefire along the LoC are a testimony to that.

To the military, I like to quote Admiral JC Wylie from his paper ‘Military Strategy: A General Theory of Power’ that “Despite whatever effort there may be to prevent it, there may be a war.” This assumption is neither being provocative nor a justification for the large expenditure on the armed forces in peacetime. Military history tells us that nations who neglect this historical determinism are  vulnerable to military surprise and defeat. The Kargil war was not the first time Pakistan initiated a war. We cannot assume that it would be the last time.

To the second question, I will say that our western border is much better manned than before. More troops have been deployed on the LoC and a border fence has been constructed. We also have surveillance satellites, unmanned aerial vehicles, thermal imagers, radars and ground sensors, which were non-existent in 1999. But apart from that, we do not seem to have learnt any important lessons from that war. The modernisation of the armed forces continues to lag behind. The existing state of weapons and equipment could be sufficient for border skirmishes, but if they escalate, which can never be ruled out, deficiencies of weapons and ammunition and the lack of modernisation will make the present day Chiefs repeat what I had said long ago — “We shall fight with whatever we have.” Over the years, our capability to deter the adversary has been seriously eroded.

An important war lesson called for faster politico-military decision-making, rapid deployment of resources and synergy among all elements involved in the war effort, particularly the three services; not only during war, but also in peacetime. This requires keeping the military leadership in the security and strategic decision-making loop. Unfortunately, there is no politico-strategic guidance to the military, no keeping them in the integrated decision-making loop, and no effort to promote jointmanship. The reason is that important recommendations made on the reorganisation of a higher defence structure have not progressed in letter and spirit.

We won the Kargil war primarily on the strength of our human resource. The young officers and men were daring, deeply committed and determined. The spirit was strong! Will such a spirit be there in our present rank and file when they see Kargil war veterans and others on hunger strike and agitating for months on the streets over the non-implementation of government committed One Rank, One Pension? Let us not forget the strong linkage between a serving soldier and a military veteran. The former will be a veteran tomorrow. It hurts him as much, and alienates him from the ‘powers that be’.

India will remain vulnerable along its borders unless it builds the will and the capability to deter and dissuade its likely adversaries. An enduring lesson of Kargil war, and indeed most wars, is that sound defence and security enables sound domestic and foreign policies. Indian civil and military leadership needs to keep this in mind.

— The writer was the Army Chief and Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee, during Kargil war
Tangoing with Israel, openly
Israel beefed up India''s arsenal during the Kargil war preceded by supply of high-end surveillance and communication interception equipment to help tip the balance of power in Kashmir.
President Pranab Mukerjee's proposed visit to Israel later this year has raised considerable dust in the left and left-of-centre circles. These unhappy voices contend the Congress would never have jettisoned a fundamental foreign policy tenet of keeping Israel at an arm's distance to force it into a compromise with the Palestinians.

Those currently swearing by the Nehruvian ideals chose to overlook that 2015 also marks the 65th anniversary of India permitting a local Jew to become Israel's honorary counsel in (then) Bombay. Two years later, Nehru upgraded this symbolic acknowledgment into a formal consulate. He then hung back from closer ties because a rapidly industrialising India was sourcing most of its oil from the Arabs. This factor is no longer at play. The final nail in the primacy of Arab oil as a geo strategy was struck with the discovery of shale oil.

The Left got its hackles up first when Modi met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York in September last year (his subsequent interaction with its President Reuven Rivlin in Singapore slipped under the Left's radar). Modi was hardly breaking fresh diplomatic ground. Indira Gandhi followed her father's policy of refraining from publicly interacting with Israeli leaders, although the two intelligence outfits maintained close contacts. Rajiv Gandhi became the first Indian Prime Minister to publicly meet his Israeli counterpart, at that time Shimon Peres, the principal military planner of the British-French-Israeli aggression in Suez in 1956, a morally indefensible adventure from any perspective.

Israel racked up considerable moral debt all through the Congress years in Delhi than during the six years of Vajpayee government. It chipped in with military supplies during the 1962 and 1971 wars and was among the first to recognise Bangladesh as a sovereign nation. At least half a dozen compelling reasons led the Narasimha Rao Government to establish full diplomatic ties with Israel.

The two most-recent doses of Israeli military assistance came under different regimes. A BJP-led coalition was in power when Israel beefed up India's arsenal during the Kargil war preceded by discrete supply of high end surveillance and communication interception equipment to help tip the balance of power in Kashmir, especially after footloose and battle hardened warriors from the Afghan war entered the fray.

Israel was by India's side after the Mumbai attacks in 2008 when the Congress was in power with the Left in a supporting role. At the end of the day, the volume of Israeli arms was large enough to temporarily dislodge Russia as India's biggest arms supplier.

In between, Israel took a largely unknown and unprecedented step in state-to-state ties. It cancelled orders from Beijing for the supply of airborne early warning and control system (AWACS) radars and diverted them to India. Mounted on planes, they give extraordinary information about enemy activity in the skies. At New Delhi's insistence, Israel partnered with Moscow in mounting them on Russian planes. India now buys the radars from the US but Israel welcomes Indian defence scientists and acquisition planners to its military warehouses and R & D outfits. There is a hefty measure of Israeli self interest. Indian orders gave its military manufacturing volumes of scale and later opened the Indian market to conventional war fighting weapons like anti-ship missiles.

Though India has racked up considerable debt of military and security gratitude, the progressives remain unconvinced because the Netanayhu regime has fast-tracked the construction of settlements for recently emigrated Jews on Palestinian land. They feel only a Hindu nationalist government could have been disregarded the Palestinian cause by abstaining from last month's United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) vote. The arithmetic showed India's remoteness from the global political mainstream. Of the 47 countries, four besides India abstained, only the US was with Israel and the remaining 41 countries held on to their positions.

Contrary to the fire and brimstone from a small section of social media activists on this vote, this also wasn't the first time. Nearly a quarter of a century back, India had voted for the annulment of the UN Resolution 339 that equated Zionism with racism.

 There was no Arab uproar then. There was none this July as well. By abstaining at the UNHRC, India was repeating its strategy at UN forums to protect larger national and security interests. India voted against Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board meeting in 2005 to keep American right-wingers from sabotaging the Indo-US nuclear agreement. It followed a similar course at UNHRC to show displeasure over Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse tie up with the Chinese in no-go areas from the Indian security establishment's perspective. The Congress was in power on both occasions.

The UNHRC abstention on Israel was also in line with this trend. The end game was to checkmate a renewed Chinese effort to get at the dual use Israeli high tech market. After being rebuffed on AWACS, China seems to have a longer game plan. Its investments in Israel will soon touch the $ 5 billion mark and Chinese companies emerged as the largest stakeholders in its latest investment fund. India needs to keep them away from the Israeli defence market because this is the only exclusivity it enjoys in military hardware-- China sources arms from Russia and sells their tweaked versions to Pakistan. 

This translates into 70 per cent of the arsenal of both countries which is common to Indian weaponry. Pakistan sources the remaining from the US and France who also supply them to India.

The unhinging of West Asia has spawned unlikely alliances. Saudi Arabia and Qatar arm anti-Assad rebels while Israel nurses the injured fighters on the Syrian border. In Yemen, anti-Houthi rebels receive intelligence and equipment from either of these antagonists. India has wisely kept its channels open with all sides. Undoubtedly, it must push for a two nation solution to the Israel-Palestine problem. The President's tour programme might include a visit to Palestine if not to Jordan, temporary home to lakhs of Palestinian refugees. When Foreign Minister S M Krishna went to Israel, his deputy E. Ahamed visited Palestine. The fact is all Central governments have tangoed with Israel. The only difference is BJP does it more publicly than the others to its left because it cares a little less about a public relations smokescreen on the issue. This is possibly because it does not have to bother about the Muslim vote. But neither did the Congress when it set about building bridges with Tel Aviv. If the Muslim vote drifted away from the Congress in some states, it was because of other reasons than Palestine.
Pak SC allows military trials in terror cases
Afzal Khan in Islamabad
In a landmark judgment, the Pakistan Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed petitions against setting up controversial special military courts for speedy trial of militants following the Peshawar school carnage that killed over 150 persons, mostly children.

In a majority 11-6 vote, the 17-member SC bench headed by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk upheld Parliament’s decision. It also upheld the 18th Amendment (14-3) that transferred most powers to provinces. The Bench also dismissed petitions against the incumbent procedure of appointing judges in a wide 14-3 decision.

The Chief Justice said: “In view of the respective opinions by a majority of 13 to 4, these Constitution petitions are held to be maintainable.” The verdict is the last major decision by Chief Justice Mulk who is set to retire on August 16. The decision will lift the ban on military court which can now hold speedy trial of militants involved in heinous crimes.

On January 28, a three-judge Bench accepted pleas against the 21st Constitutional amendment for regular hearing and sought concise statements from federal and provincial governments.

Later, a 17-judge full court of the Supreme Court clubbed the 18th and 21st Constitutional amendment cases and heard the arguments for several weeks.

The Supreme Court examined petitions challenging the procedure of judges’ appointment under the 18th Amendment and the establishment of military courts under the 21st Amendment to try militants.

After intense legal wrangling, the apex court examined whether the Constitution has a basic structure or not; if it has a basic structure then whether a constitutional amendment can be struck on the basis of it; and whether Parliament has the power to alter the basic structure of the Constitution.

The verdicts were widely acclaimed. However, former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Kamran Murtaza said: “It’s a disappointing verdict. The court just upheld the doctrine of necessity. We are going to file a review petition against this judgment.”

Murtaza and Asma Jehangir had earlier this year petitioned against the establishment of military courts on behalf of the SCBA.
Retired defence civilians extended CSD facilities
Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 5
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has agreed to extend CSD canteen facilities to retired defence civilian employees also. Though these employees are entitled to CSD (Canteen Stores Department) facilities while in service, they had to forgo this benefit after their retirement.

A letter issued by the MoD earlier this week states that Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has accorded his approval for the same. The issue relating to extension of CSD canteen facilities to retired defence civilian employees had been under consideration of the government for a long time.

Defence civilians are Union Government employees paid out of the defence estimate and form part of the Ministry of Defence, but they do not come under the purview of the Army, Navy or the Air Force Acts. They are primarily governed by central government employment rules as applicable to employees of other ministries. They are employed on administrative and technical posts in various defence establishments, including service headquarters, static establishments, defence accounts, military engineer services, NCC, ordnance factories, defence estates, quality assurance etc.

According to a census of central government employees conducted by the Ministry of Labour, defence-civilian employees have a total strength of about 3.75 lakh personnel, including gazetted officers, comprising about 12 per cent of the total regular employees under the Centre Government. Close to 42,700 defence civilian employees are women.

While the monetary limits for defence civilians for the purchase of CSD goods is on a par with armed forces personnel; defence civilians, however, are not entitled to draw liquor from CSD outlets. The sale of four-wheelers through CSD for defence civilians is restricted for officers. Defence civilians also enjoy several other benefits and perks applicable to armed forces personnel while posted in field and hard areas.

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