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Thursday, 19 November 2015

From Today's Papers - 19 Nov 2015

Pakistan’s Islamic bomb
Multi-pronged approach must to deal with its nuclear illusions
IN his prison memoirs, while awaiting execution, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto lamented in 1977 that while the “Christian, Jewish and Hindu” civilisations had nuclear weapons capability, it was the “Islamic civilisation” alone that did not possess “full nuclear capability”. Saudi Arabia, Libya and others initially financed fulfilment of this Bhutto dream and aspirations. Bhutto’s successors were liberal in transferring nuclear weapons technology and designs to Libya and Iran and offering such technology to Iraq. These pan-Islamic views were and are shared by a number of Pakistan’s nuclear scientists. Shortly after the 9/11 terrorist strikes, two senior Pakistani nuclear scientists, Sultan Bashiruddin Mehmood and Chaudhri Abdul Majeed, were charged with helping the Al-Qaeda acquire nuclear weapons. Two other scientists, Suleiman Asad and Ali Mukhtar, wanted for questioning about their links with the Al-Qaeda and Taliban, mysteriously disappeared while on a visit to Myanmar.

A “fact sheet” published by the White House then stated that both Asad and Mukhtar had meetings with Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden during repeated visits to Kandahar, prior to 9/11. It is no secret that AQ Khan’s successor, Samar Mubarak Mand, is also a hard-core Islamist, no less India obsessed than AQ Khan. Pakistan’s contacts and partners for nuclear proliferation extended to Saudi Arabia, Iraq and even North Korea, with which it struck a deal for supplying enrichment technology in exchange for liquid fuelled Nodong missiles. It is not surprising that, given this dubious track record on nuclear proliferation, Pakistan has few backers for receiving an Indian style “nuclear deal”, in the international community, apart from its “all-weather friend” and partner in nuclear proliferation, the Peoples Republic of China.

Having acquired nuclear weapons, Pakistan was initially at a loss to spell out its nuclear doctrine, apart from repeating the mantra that its nuclear deterrent was exclusively “India centric”. About a decade ago, Lt General Khalid Kidwai, the longtime head of Strategic Planning of Pakistan’s National (Nuclear) Command Authority, declared that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons were “aimed solely at India”. Kidwai added that Pakistan would use nuclear weapons if India conquers a large part of Pakistani territory, or destroys a large part of its land and air forces. He also held out the possibility of the use of nuclear weapons if India attempted  to “economically strangle” Pakistan, or pushes it to political destabilisation.

In the decade that has elapsed since General Kidwai spoke, Pakistan has used its plutonium reactors and reprocessing plants in Khushab, located 200 km south of Islamabad, which have been supplied by China, to build light, relatively low-yield tactical nuclear weapons, mounted on short-range Nasr missiles. Pakistan describes this development as indicating that it now has “full spectrum nuclear capability” to launch low- yield tactical weapons against Indian army formations along the international border. On October 21, Pakistan Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry proclaimed: “Pakistan has built the infrastructure to launch a quick response to Indian aggression…Usage of low-yield nuclear weapons would make it difficult for India to launch an attack against Pakistan.” While this may appear to make sense in the Rajasthan-Sind region, it is certainly not feasible in Punjab, where the border areas in Pakistan are densely populated. Surely, the Punjabi-dominated Pakistan army does not intend to use its inability to fight a conventional war, to nuke its own Punjabi brethren, on its borders with India.

India’s nuclear doctrine, first officially enunciated in January 2003, asserts that it intends to build and maintain a “credible nuclear deterrent”. While adopting a policy of “no first use”, it clarifies that its nuclear weapons will be used against an attack on Indian territory, or on Indian forces anywhere, in which nuclear, or chemical weapons are used. There is no ambiguity about the Indian doctrine. An attack on its territory, or armed forces, in which nuclear weapons are used, irrespective of whether they are low-yield tactical nuclear weapons, or strategic high-yield nukes, will face a massive nuclear response. The Pakistani civilian and military elite in Punjab will find the costs of an Indian response, to Pakistan’s use of low- yield tactical nuclear weapons against Indian forces anywhere, not merely “unacceptable”, but also “unbearable”. Pakistan will be very foolish to test out Indian resolve to respond massively to its use of tactical nuclear weapons.

Pakistan will be particularly well advised to bear the reality in mind that its Punjab province, where both its civilian and military elite live, is densely populated. Its cantonments facing India are in this province. Moreover, Pakistan’s army has mounted military operations, involving the use of air power in certain cases, in populated areas of its three other provinces — Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Baluchistan and Sind. Thousands of innocent Pakistani civilians have perished in the damage the army has inflicted. The Punjabi army elite evidently regards people in these provinces as less than equal — a mindset that cost them dearly in Bangladesh. In seeking to dominate the Pashtuns in their homeland, the Punjabi-dominated army seems to forget that historically, it is only the Sikhs in Punjab who have prevailed over the Pashtuns, till the Khyber Pass. It is self-evident that Gen Raheel Sharif is no Hari Singh Nalwa, who led the forces of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Dealing with Pakistani nuclear illusions and delusions needs a multi-pronged approach. First and foremost, Pakistan should be presented a stark picture of what would happen to its Punjab province, if it resorts foolishly to nuclear adventurism, whether tactical or strategic. Diplomatically, India should expose the consequences to global nuclear safety and security of Pakistan’s refusal to join the Fissile Materials Cutoff Treaty. Given the Islamist inclinations of its nuclear scientists and a wide  cross section of its Punjabi military-nuclear establishment, and their past proliferation record, it will be necessary, for responsible countries, to seriously take note of the dangerous implications of Pakistan’s nukes falling into wrong hands. An equally serious effort needs to be undertaken to expose China’s role in the development and expansion of Pakistan’s nuclear and missile arsenal. China, which has violated every international norm to curtail proliferation of missile and nuclear weapons technology, believes it is not accountable to anyone, because it is a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council. This arrogance, by a country that professes to be a votary of peace, needs to be exposed.
Pay Commission Likely to Propose 23% Salary Hike for Government Staff: Report
New Delhi: In a bonanza for central government employees, the 7th Pay Commission is likely to recommend on Thursday a 22-23 per cent jump in their salary and allowances, according to sources.

The Pay Commission headed by Justice A K Mathur has suggested a 15 per cent increase over the basic salary plus dearness allowance (DA) for the central government staff, they said, adding that an increase in allowances like house rent allowance (HRA) has also been recommended.

The total increase will be 22-23 per cent of the gross salary (basic plus DA plus allowances), the sources said.

The recommendations of the 7th Pay Commission are scheduled to take effect from January 1, 2016.

Besides Chairman, other members of the commission are Vivek Rae, a retired IAS officer of 1978 batch, and Rathin Roy, an economist. Meena Agarwal is secretary of the commission.

The central government constitutes the pay commission every 10 years to revise the pay scale of its employees and often these are adopted by states after some modifications.

The Commission was set up by the UPA government in February 2014 to revise remuneration of about 48 lakh central government employees and 55 lakh pensioners.

The Union Cabinet had extended the term of the panel in August by four months, till December. The 6th Pay Commission was implemented with effect from January 1, 2006.
Remember Rezang La: The unimaginable sacrifice of an Indian army unit during the 1962 war
November 18 marks the anniversary of the battle in which 124 members of a company of the Kumaon Regiment fought off Chinese invaders. Only 14 survived.
One of the bitter ironies of life is that the greatest acts of heroism and valor mostly happen when the odds are hopeless and death and defeat are inevitable. Throughout history nations have always glorified such episodes in their ballads and poems, by honoring the heroes and commemorating the event. It is the common perception of these few and far in between episodes in a people’s history that forge a sense of nationhood. Why else would we celebrate the deaths of a Prithviraj Chauhan or a Tipu Sultan? Or a Porus or a Shivaji who battled great armies with little more than a handful of brave comrades and immense courage? Of course we rejoice in the triumphs of an Ashoka or Chandragupta or even an Akbar but that is about greatness and not heroism.

 Even if it is true that the end of history is at hand, we can be sure that the annals of heroism will never cease being written. However endless these may be, the heroic stand of C Company of the 13 Kumaon at Rezang La in 18 November 1962 will always be among the more glorious chapters. The monument that stands at Chushul asks: “How can a man die better/ Than facing fearful odds/ For the ashes of his fathers/ And the temples of his gods.”  C Company was fighting for neither ashes nor temples, for they were none at Chushul. The loss of Chushul would not even have had much bearing on the ultimate defence of Ladakh. But in those dark days of 1962 Chushul became a matter of national honor.

Chushul is only 15 miles from the border as the crow flies and even then had an all weather landing strip. It was the pivotal point of our frontier posts in this sector as it was astride the second route into Tibet from Leh about 120 miles further west. The road built after 1962 rises to nearly 17000 feet crossing the Ladakh range at the desolate and wind blown Chang La pass, steeply descends into Tangtse and then goes on to Chushul. Between the Chang La and Tangtse the road takes the traveler though the most beautiful scenery with matching beautiful wildlife. Golden marmots dart in and out of their holes and in the distance you can sometimes spot a snow leopard warily keeping an eye on man as it stalks Ibex on the craggy heights..

Chushul itself is at 14230 feet and is a small village in a narrow sandy valley about 25 miles long and 4 miles wide, flanked by mountains that rise to over 19000 feet. At the northern end it touches the Pangong Tso, a deep saltwater lake nearly a hundred miles long and that makes for one of natures most glorious sights. Also near Chushul is a gap in the mountains called the Spanggur Gap that leads to another beautiful lake, the Spanggur Tso that like the Pangong extends well into Chinese territory. The Chinese had built a road from Rudok in Tibet right up to the Spanggur Gap capable of carrying tanks. In the first phase of their assault on Ladakh in October 1962, the Chinese had overrun many of our major border posts on the line between Daulat Beg Oldi near the Karakorum Pass to Demchok astride the Indus on the border with Tibet. Chushul was the solitary Indian position east of the Ladakh range. Geography favored the Chinese and they were able to make a major concentration of men and material for an attack on Chushul.

Till September 1962, the defence of all of Ladakh was vested with 114 Brigade commanded by Brig. TN Raina (later General and COAS). It consisted of just two infantry battalions, the 1/8 Gorkha Rifles and 5 Jat. Initially, only the Gorkhas were deployed in the Chushul sector and when the gravity of the Chinese threat began to be realized 13 Kumaon, which was at Baramula in the Kashmir Valley, was sent in to reinforce 114 Brigade. In the first week of October the 3 Himalayan (later Mountain) Division was formed for the overall defence of Ladakh and the Chushul sector was entirely left to 114 Brigade. On 26 October, 114 Brigade set up its headquarters at Chushul and braced for the inevitable Chinese attack.

The newly arrived 13 Kumaon began deploying on October 24 in the lull that followed the first phase of the Chinese attack. The forward defenses of Chushul were on a series of hill features given evocative names like Gurung Hill, Gun Hill and Mugger Hill, but C Company of 13 Kumaon got Rezang La which was about 19 miles south of Chushul. Rezang La as the name suggests is a pass and is on the southeastern approach to Chushul valley. The feature was 3000 yards long and 2000 yards wide and at average height of 16000 feet. Digging defensive positions and building shelters was hard going for the men were still not acclimatized and cold wintry winds made life even more hard. At this altitude it took hours to bring a kettle to boil for tea and whatever fruit and vegetables that came were frozen hard. Let alone potatoes even oranges acquired weapon grade hardness. More than the thin air and cold the location of Rezang La had a more serious drawback. It was “crested” to Indian artillery because of an intervening feature, which meant that defenders had fight without the protective comfort of artillery. Both sides prepared feverishly, mostly within sight of each other, for the next Chinese attack. That attack came on that cold Sunday that was 18 November.

Most Kumaon battalions are mixed formations made up of hill men from the Kumaon Hills, Ahirs from Haryana and Brahmins from the northern plains. 13 Kumaon was the Kumaon Regiment’s only all Ahir battalion. The Ahirs who are concentrated in the Gurgaon/Mewat region of Haryana are hardy cattlemen and farmers. When the order to move to Chushul came, its CO Lt.Col. HS Dhingra was in hospital but he cajoled the doctors into letting him go with his men. Maj. Shaitan Singh, a Rajput from Jodhpur commanded C Company of 13 Kumaon. C Company’s three platoons were numbered 7,8 and 9 and had .303 rifles with about 600 rounds per head, and between them six LMG’s, and a handful of 2 inch mortars. The Chinese infantry had 7.62 mm self loading rifles; MMG’s and LMG’s; 120 mm, 81 mm and 60 mm mortars; 132 mm rockets; and 75 mm and 57 mm recoilless guns to bust bunkers.  They were much more numerous and began swarming up the gullies to assault Rezang La at 4 am, even as a light snow was falling.

The Ahirs waited till the Chinese came into range and opened up with everything they had. The gullies were soon full of dead and wounded Chinese. Having failed in a frontal attack the Chinese let loose a murderous shelling. Under the cover of this intense shelling the Chinese infantry came again in swarms. C Company, now severely depleted, let them have it once again. Position after position fell fighting till the last man. C Company had 3 JCOs and 124 other ranks with Maj. Shaitan Singh. When the smoke and din of battle cleared, only 14 survived, nine of them severely wounded. 13 Kumaon regrouped and 114 Brigade held on to Chushul. But the battalion war diary records that they were now “less our C Company.”

The Chinese announced a unilateral cease-fire on 21 November but little more than what the survivors had brought back was known about C Company. In January 1963 a shepherd wandered on to Rezang La. It was as if the very last moment of battle had turned into a tableau. The freezing cold had frozen the dead in their battle positions and the snow had laid a shroud over the battlefield. Arrangements were then made to recover our dead under International Red Cross supervision. Brig Raina led the Indian party, which recorded the scene for posterity with cine and still cameras. This tableau told their countrymen what actually happened that Sunday morning. Every man had died a hero. Maj. Shaitan Singh was conferred the Param Vir Chakra. Eight more received the Vir Chakra while four others the Sena Medal. 13 Kumaon received the battle honor “Rezang La” that it wears so proudly.

Few events in the annals of heroism can match this. C Company gave its all to defend Chushul, a small Ladakhi village, which for one brief moment in our history came to symbolize our national honor. At Thermopylae on 18 September 480 BC, 1200 Greeks led by King Leonides of Sparta died fighting the Persian King Xerxes’ mighty bodyguard called the Anusya or Companions. But Leonides was fighting for a great prize. In July 481 BC the Oracle of Delphi told him that in the next war with Persia either the King will die or Sparta would be destroyed. Leonides chose to die to save Sparta. But C Company willingly sacrificed itself to save a little village and that makes its sacrifice all the more glorious.  That is why we must never forget Rezang La.
Chinese Army entered India before Modi met Xi at G-20

A senior official said members of the PLA entered into Indian territory on November 14 and were reportedly shown banners to go back.

A day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi was scheduled to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping ahead of the G-20 summit in Antalay, Turkey, the Indian Army reported a transgression by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) at Chushul in Jammu and Kashmir’s Leh district.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh is now on a six-day visit to China.

A senior official said members of the PLA entered into Indian territory on November 14 and were reportedly shown banners to go back. Though transgressions by the Chinese are not uncommon along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), what worries the agencies is the spike in such incidents whenever an important event involving the two countries is under way.

Last year, when Mr. Xi was on an official visit here, Indian security personnel and the Chinese PLA were engaged in a face-off in Chumar sector of Leh district. The stand-off continued for three days with India sending extra personnel to push back the Chinese.

As for the November 14 incident, a senior official said a Chinese PLA team in a light armoured vehicle was seen patrolling on the Indian side of the LAC in Chushul and it was immediately asked to go back. As soon as the team came to the Indian side, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) force, which is the first line of defence and the Army personnel asked it to return. Mr. Modi met Mr. Jinping along with three other BRICS leaders before the G20 summit began on November 16.

On an average around 400 incidents of what India refers to as “transgressions” occur along the LAC in a year.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, before leaving on his visit to China, said, “I'm looking forward to my visit. Hope it would help in deepening of mutual understanding and trust. I intend to further strengthen the tradition of mutual learning and better understanding from each other.”

Mr. Singh will call on Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and hold bilateral talks with Guo Shengkun, State Councillor and Minister, Ministry of Public Security in Beijing.

He will also visit a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Unit besides a local police station on Friday.

The Home Minister will leave Beijing for Shanghai on Saturday. There he will visit the city’s Command and Control Centre on Monday.
Army hails Col Santosh as a soldier with a golden heart

New Delhi, Nov 18: The Indian Army on Wednesday paid rich tributes to Colonel Santosh Mahadik, Commanding Officer of 41 Rashtriya Rifles, who made the supreme sacrifice while undertaking counter infiltration operation in Manigah forest of Kupwara district on Tuesday. Col Santosh is survived by his wife Swati and two children. The Army paid rich tributes to their martyred hero in Srinagar today.

Hailing him as a soldier who always upheld the true traditions, the Indian Army said that Col Santosh was a soul with a heart of gold. His ever-willingness to help others, his liking for undertaking social work, his respect for elders and his undying spirit of leading any mission from the front, made him a different spirit. Known for his daredevilry acts, Col Santosh was awarded the Sena Medal (Gallantry) for his exceptional leadership as a young officer while fighting the terrorists in Lolab Valley of Kupwara district in 2003. The braveheart hailed from a humble family Col Santosh's orientation towards Indian Army emanated from his early days at Sainik School, Satara. His friends remember him as calm in composure, gentle in demeanour and carried a storm in his heart. He came from a humble family. During a school boxing championship, one of his friends congratulated him for his victory to which his father responded: "This is not the great fight of my son, his real fight will be on the borders protecting his nation and my son will always be victorious." Col Santosh worked tirelessly for bringing a positive change in the lives of the local populace. He often organised guidance for competitive exams, recruitment training for joining defence forces and even conducted sports and academic competitions for constructive engagement of youth. "He was passionately involved in bringing about a positive change in the youth of the remote border district of Kupwara. He always explored new ways to engage the youth in constructive activities, thereby making them self-sufficient," says an official. Army says Col Santosh was an outstanding sportsman and often appreciated the potential of sports in gainfully diverting the energy of youth. He organised many sports tournaments for the youth and distributed sports kit and lavish prizes winners. Always helped the needy with a smile While showering praise on his selfless attitude and life, the Indian Army said that Col Santosh was always willing to help the needy. "He often organised medical camps in the remote corners of his battalion area of responsibility. He ensured regular interaction with villager elders and gave them an empathetic ear in finding solutions to their problems. He was a familiar face in Kupwara town, who always acknowledged by the locals with a smile," says an official. Funeral to be held in Satara tomorrow Meanwhile, Army said that Col Santosh's funeral will be held in Satara on Thursday. Brig Mahajan, Southern Command, Indian Army, told OneIndia that Col Santosh's mortal remains reached Air Force Station Pune in a special aircraft on Wednesday evening. "Large number of people had gathered outside the station to welcome their hero. Col Santosh's body was carried in a specially-decorated vehicle to the National War Memorial. Retired Armymen and public on bikes performed pilot duties for vehicle carrying Col Santosh's mortal remains," Brig Mahajan said.

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