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Saturday, 14 November 2015

From Today's Papers - 14 Nov 2015

Committed to reconciliation with Pak: Mufti
Says it’s a must for restoring peace in J&K, but Prime Minister not bound to comment on the issue
Arteev Sharma

Tribune News Service

Jammu, November 13
After the National Conference accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “snubbing” Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed at a public rally in Srinagar by refusing to say anything on improving ties with Pakistan, Mufti today said the PM was not under any pressure to comment on the issue.

He, however, said he would continue to impress upon the Prime Minister to have reconciliation with Pakistan as only this could ensure lasting peace in Jammu and Kashmir.

“Don’t jump to conclusions. Everything is in an evolutionary process... We have incorporated reconciliation with Pakistan in the agenda of the alliance… It is there. I have high hopes on that. Why should we make the Prime Minister say everything like that (talk about reconciliation with Pakistan)? Why should he say that? He is not under any pressure to say that,” Mufti said at his official residence while fielding media queries on PM’s rally at Srinagar on November 7.

Mufti said, “I believe the people of J&K have suffered a lot. Whenever there is a war or any such situation, we have to suffer. Good relations between the two countries can restore peace in the state… I met the PM in private and impressed upon him that it will be good to talk to Pakistan the way Atal Bihari Vajpayee did… But he is the PM of the country.”

“There is no option, except reconciliation with Pakistan. I am committed to have friendly relations with Pakistan and I will not give up my efforts to pursue it with the Prime Minister,” he said.

Former CM Omar Abdullah, in a statement after his party’s working committee meeting in Srinagar, had condemned and accused Modi of “snubbing” Mufti, saying: “The Prime Minister snubbed an elected chief minister during his public meeting in Srinagar by saying that he did not require anyone’s advice on the Kashmir issue.”

This was indicative of the systematic erosion of the institution of the chief minister under Mufti, Omar had said.

It’s on alliance’s agenda

"We have incorporated reconciliation with Pakistan in the agenda of the alliance… It is there. I have high hopes on that. Why should we make the Prime Minister say everything like that (talk about reconciliation with Pakistan)? Why should he say that? He is not under any pressure to say that" - Mufti Mohammad Sayeed,  J&K Chief Minister
US drone ‘kills’ Jihadi John
London, November 13
Islamic State’s dreaded masked executioner “Jihadi John” has reportedly been killed in a US drone strike in Syria with UK officials saying “there was a high degree of certainty” over his death.

The American military was 99 per cent certain that Mohammed Emwazi, 27, who appeared in IS’ gruesome propaganda videos executing hostages, has been killed in the strike. Downing Street and sources in the UK Ministry of Defence were marginally less certain in their response to the reports of his death than US sources, but added there was a “high degree of certainty that he has been killed”.

The Pentagon is assessing whether the extremist was killed in the military action.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said although it was not yet certain whether the strike had been successful, targeting Emwazi was “the right thing to do”.  If the raid killed the man seen in numerous IS beheading videos, “it will be a strike at the heart” of IS, Cameron said. He described Emwazi as an “ongoing and serious threat” to civilians around the world, particularly in Syria and the UK.

“He was IS’s lead executioner and let us not forget he killed many, many Muslims too, and he was intent on murdering many more people. So this was an act of self-defence.” “Emwazi is a barbaric murderer.”

The PM said his thoughts were with the families of those “who were so brutally murdered”. A senior US military source said the strike involved two MQ9 Reaper drones. A formal statement from the Pentagon stopped short of asserting that Emwazi had definitely been killed, adding that it was assessing the operation.

Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook, said, “US forces conducted an air strike in Raqqa, Syria, on November 12, targeting Mohamed Emwazi, also known as Jihadi John.”  Emwazi, who speaks English and is believed to be born in Kuwait, is frequently seen in hooded hostage videos carrying out violent beheadings.  — PTI
China trains monks in anti-espionage ops
Beijing, November 13
China is training Buddhist monks and nuns in Tibet to carry out anti-espionage operations along the remote India-China border to prevent attempts to create “conflict” by “ethnic separatists”, in a veiled reference to the Dalai Lama and his supporters.

“Twenty-two monks and nuns from three temples in Nyingchi, a city in southeastern Tibet, close to the Sino- Indian border, received the three-hour lecture at Lamaling Temple on the counter-espionage law by local and national security officials,” state-run news portal reported.

The lecture conducted in the Himalayan region along the border with India was about how to abide by the counter-espionage law and the legal consequences of violating the law, it said.

“Nyingchi is of special importance to anti-espionage efforts because there are many military sites,” said Penpa Lhamo, deputy head of the contemporary studies institute of the Tibet Academy of Social Sciences.

Monks and nuns are considered vulnerable to espionage activities, as many senior officials in China often visit eminent monks. And temples have always been a focus of government to maintain the stability of Tibet, said Li Wei, an anti-terrorism expert with the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations. — PTI
IS ‘on the run’; Kurds seize Iraq’s Sinjar
Win over militants critical for battles in other areas | Major supply routes disrupted
Sinjar town, November 13
Kurdish peshmerga forces backed by US air strikes seized the Iraqi town of Sinjar from Islamic State on Friday, a witness said, in one of the most significant counter-attacks since the militants swept through the north last year.

“IS defeated and on the run,” the Kurdistan regional security council said in a tweet, using an acronym for Islamic State. It said the peshmerga had secured Sinjar’s wheat silo, cement factory, hospital and several other public buildings.

Iraqi Kurdish regional president Massoud Barzani also declared victory in an offensive that could provide critical momentum in efforts to capture the western provincial capital Ramadi, and Mosul in the north, an Islamic State bastion.

“The liberation of Sinjar will have a big impact on liberating Mosul,” Barzani told reporters atop Mount Sinjar, overlooking the town. The recapture of Sinjar from Islamic State came as evidence grew that the group had suffered another setback with the probable death in an air strike in northern Syria of Jihadi John, a Briton who had appeared in videos showing the beheadings of American and British hostages.

In the Sinjar area itself, the operation severed vital supply routes used by Islamic State to move fighters, weapons and oil and other illicit commodities that provide funding for its self-proclaimed caliphate.

Civilians appeared to have fled the town before the operation began. But it was still not clear if most Islamic State militants had carried out a tactical withdrawal.

Kurdish forces, backed by US air strikes and volunteers from Iraq’s Yazidi minority, which has suffered atrocities at the hands of Islamic State, entered Sinjar on Friday after cutting it off from east and west.

The Kurdistan council said peshmerga forces had entered Sinjar “from all directions” to begin clearing remaining insurgents. A Reuters correspondent saw hundreds of peshmerga fighters walking into the town and along a main road without facing immediate resistance.

Kurdish commanders expressed concerns that some were hiding and would blow themselves up as the peshmerga advanced.

The number of Islamic State fighters in the town had risen to nearly 600 in the run-up to the offensive, but only a handful were left in Sinjar on Friday, said Brigadier General Seme Mala Mohammed of the Kurdish peshmerga. Reuters could not independently verify his account.

Islamic State, made up of Iraqis, other Arabs and foreign fighters, poses the biggest security threat to OPEC oil producer Iraq since a US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Campaigns to contain Islamic State have moved slowly in Iraq, where sectarian divisions and corruption have hindered military progress. — Reuters
Kejriwal calls govt’s OROP order farce, backs veterans
Parrikar says burning medals an insult to nation
Arakkonam/New Delhi, Nov 13
The OROP row escalated today with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar terming attempts by veterans to burn medals as an insult to the nation and asked the protesting ex-servicemen to prove there was no political motive behind their stir even as Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal voiced support to them.

“If I say something, it will become an allegation. Let them prove that it is not political,” Parrikar told reporters in Arakkonam in Tamil Nadu when asked if he saw a political link to continuing agitation despite the government’s response and notification on “one rank, one pension” (OROP) scheme.

He said the medals were a recognition of the nation for the sacrifice done by the armed forces. “Burning and returning them is an insult to the nation and the defence forces,’ Parrikar said.

His comments came on a day when Kejriwal visited the protesting ex-servicemen at Jantar Mantar wearing a cap and T-shirt with OROP slogans.

He asked the Centre to implement OROP for the veterans in its “true spirit” rejecting its recent notification in this regard.

Kejriwal, who spoke to the media near the makeshift stage of the protesting veterans, however, he did not address the gathering as he was asked not to make any “political statement” by Major General Satbir Singh (retd), who is spearheading the movement.

“The government notification is a farce because it is not in its true spirit. Please don’t fool the veterans. Implement OROP as per its definition. They are not begging but asking for their rights. It is unfortunate that the country’s soldiers are fighting for their rights on the streets,” Kejriwal said.

The Chief Minister also tweeted his support for the ex- servicemen saying all their demands are “logical” and that the BJP-led Centre has been “unjust” to them. “Centre shud immediately accept their demands.”

The protesting ex-servicemen had earlier met Kejriwal and briefed him about the “shortcomings” in the OROP notification. — PTI
Gentleman Officer unaware of political googlies
Returning medals. is an act of renunciation. They won these by putting their life in danger. So it is an act of immense heart and love for the nation. The soldier does not indulge in doublespeak — he is loyal to the nation and not a particular political dispensation. Do not read too much into the means that the veterans are using to express their dissent.
The unfortunate (though not surprising) comment by the ostensible voice of the defence forces in the Union Cabinet, Manohar Parrikar, that the  behaviour of the protesting OROP veterans was “Unlike that of a soldier” and that “These acts are not in line with the Army discipline. It is hurting the basic ethos of the Army”, is the sad unfolding of a telling reality, beyond slick political observation.

To understand the sophistry of this comment, it is imperative to understand the genesis of the 40-year-old OROP impasse, which was conveniently propped up and repackaged in the run-up to the 2014 parliamentary elections. Amongst many other political and electoral deceptions, a stridently “military” campaign which allowed the ruling dispensation to appropriate a martial, nationalistic and soldier-friendly posture and perception was successfully undertaken. An innocently apolitical comity of the defence services (a familial setup of brothers-in-arm from all services, irrespective of race, religion, region or rank) fell for it hook, line and sinker and took the political promises (of very exact and detailed nature) in the innocent spirit of a true soldier — OROP, a specific and key component of the political spiel.

Subsequently, reneging on a word given, bargaining and procrastination of the electoral promises by the political classes were a new and unfamiliar battleground for the defence forces. Pyrotechnics of jingoistic bravado, inside and outside the country, barely concealed the horrific sight of decorated and gallant soldiers sitting by the roadside asking the government to honour the word given, “honour”, being the operative word for themselves and for the government to keep. These dark times for the veterans also saw the birth of a slew of new military “experts”, like a much-celebrated fiction writer, who condescendingly suggested: “It's time to analyse OROP with our head, not our heart” or like another famous political spinmaster and journalist who alluded to the financial burden and administrative issues as principal reasons against the OROP. Remember, this is not like decoding results of the Bihar election, where the famed political gravitas can come into play by deftly using sharp convincing logic, for and against a result, depending on how the results pan out during the day.

This subject is about the men, women and families who give up their lives knowingly, often using the heart and not the head — it is such raw sacrifice that keeps India, as it is. That said, we are proudly a democratic and free society and everyone is entitled to their views, however unpalatable or “half-baked” they might be.

So, what constitutes  “soldier-like behaviour”, as referred to by the Defence Minister? Actually, the proximate concept of a “Gentleman Soldier or Officer” is instilled in the very first day of initiation or baptism as a soldier in a training institution. It is unique, sacred and uncompromisable as a prerequisite for an officer, to be called so (note very carefully, applicable to all serving or retired veterans, also).

It is a quality that stands out from the other citizenry that is best reflected in the way they talk, walk or conduct matters professional or personal — nothing that can besmirch the name of the nation, forces or at a more granular level, the paltan. 

You need to belong to the fraternity to understand and appreciate the nuances and subtleties, therefore a rare journeyman and a proud former cavalry officer Jaswant Singh, as the former Defence Minister from the very same political party, stood head over heels in terms of military correctness and restraint in all matters, including passing judgement on qualifications of soldier-like behaviour.

Therefore, before being commissioned as an officer in the armed forces, one is proudly prefixed with the nomenclature as a “Gentleman Cadet” and not just as cadets — a telltale and irreversible augury of behavioural expectation and standards for life that are expectedly to be carried along to one's graves — pray, which other institution political, civil or professional lays similar emphasis on the behavioural uprightness and correctness?

Perhaps, little known outside the services domain is the prompt and strict codes of Army laws that potentially courtmartial any serviceman for any matter that is considered improper or unbecoming of an officer or a soldier. Sometimes, the financial quantum of misconduct or misdoing is of an amount that would seem ridiculously low to warrant a dishonourable exit from the service, without any benefits — but that is how the organisational construct is. The serviceman usually walks with his chin up.

It is this spirit of wrongdoing or corruption and not the quantum of the same that is germane to the ethos of the institution. The codes of conduct and terms of engagement are above board, surely there have been issues and concerns, however the process of internal cleansing kicks in and the institution is thankfully spared of any outside interference.

The current standards of the services and public adoration is not without a reason. Conduct of the OROP struggle by the veterans is an unparalleled case study in terms of dignity and maturity. Nothing political, mutinous or anti-national should be affixed to it. Please spare it the political shenanigans and condescending banalities. This institution is incomplete without its veterans — the bond is inexplicably strong. Therefore distasteful and insensitive observations such as those of the Defence Minister reek of political chicanery, compulsions, backtracking and inability to honour a word given. Thankfully, the majority of the fraternity do not comprehend the concept of electoral jumlaas. Imagine, a situation of reciprocal logic from the military to the extent that, “all demands cannot be fulfilled” is filed back to the civilian masters when tasked to clear a breach on the border or addressing a natural calamity. The defence services are justifiably proud of confining themselves to the call of the nation either on the borders or internally, otherwise remaining content within their own barracks. There is nothing unsoldier-like about returning medals. It is an act of renunciation for something won by putting one's own life in danger is an act of immense heart and love for the nation. The soldier does not indulge in doublespeak — he is loyal to the nation and not to a particular political dispensation.

It is shameful enough for the nation to see veterans treated like common criminals, as it happened in Jantar Mantar where the policemen forcibly tore up the shirt of a geriatric braveheart. In a democratic nation, our consciencekeeper with the civilian authority cannot be passing loose comments on “soldier-like behaviour” with political googlies and subterfuge of facts and commitments, after reaping the political harvest.

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