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Monday, 14 December 2015

From Today's Papers - 14 Dec 2015

Pak generals have their way
India will have to keep up its guard
AMIDST the obfuscation on the government’s decision to revive the dialogue process with Pakistan, one conclusion stands out: The generals in Rawalpindi have prevailed. They had insisted that the National Security Advisers of India and Pakistan would not meet to discuss only terrorism. In doing so, the Pakistani generals had challenged the decision taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif at their meeting in Ufa, Russia, in July this year, on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation conference.

It was also becomingly increasingly clear since about a year that Pakistan desired that the full bilateral dialogue be resumed. That position was being conveyed both publicly and privately, especially in the Track II circuit. The generals were supportive of this move because it would diffuse the terrorism issue within the full process. It would also help in toning down international concerns about Pakistan’s dangerous approaches in its neighbourhood.

Mr Modi had rightly rejected the Pakistani generals’ demand in August. In December, he gave in by allowing the NSAs, accompanied by the two Foreign Secretaries, to meet in Bangkok to discuss a host of subjects, including Jammu and Kashmir and terrorism. This was a double concession, on substance as well as venue; the latter because the meeting was to take place in Delhi. Was this a wise move?

Some argue that the essence of diplomacy lies in showing flexibility at the right time. There is merit in this argument, but only as a general proposition. The weight of experience of dealing with Pakistan shows that the generals always construe flexibility as weakness and not as maturity. Besides, the lesson they derive is that those who are flexible can be pushed to make ever more concessions. There is little doubt that they will interpret Mr Modi’s concession as a signal that he too can be pushed.

It is being put out that the Bangkok meeting enabled External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to visit Islamabad to take part in the Heart of Asia conference on Afghanistan. This too is not accurate, for she could have made the visit in any case. During the visit, she could have met Pakistan’s leaders on the sidelines to discuss the Afghan situation and also make it clear that India looked forward to the NSAs meeting on the basis of the Ufa decision. That would have been diplomatically entirely tenable. Now this is only an academic question, but it may well come back to haunt Mr Modi if the calculations which have made him take such a risky course prove incorrect.

There is no doubt that Sushma Swaraj did well to ensure that the India-Pakistan joint statement issued on the conclusion of her visit to Islamabad gave prominence to India’s terrorism concerns. Pakistan agreed that the NSAs will continue to discuss all issues related to terrorism. It also mentioned the assurance of the Pakistani side to “expedite the early conclusion of the Mumbai trial”. Interestingly, both sides also “resolved to cooperate” to eliminate terrorism.

Over the past few days, government sources are asserting to the media that all this will put Pakistan to the test. Only the naive will believe that the Pakistani establishment will take such tests seriously. They have never done so in the past. In 2004, Musharraf committed not to allow the territories in Pakistan’s control to be used to launch terrorist attacks on India. In 2008, the Mumbai attack occurred.

One senior source is reported to have revealed that Nawaz Sharif told Modi the generals were serious to go after the terrorist groups, including the Lashkar-e-Taiba. Decisive action against the LeT would require a fundamental transformation of the security doctrine Pakistan has followed since it fomented insurgency in Punjab. Pakistan may well calibrate the use of terror and even dismantle a portion of the infrastructure that sustains it, but it will not abandon it.

India-Pakistan engagement will have a new name — Comprehensive Bilateral Dialogue. However, all the issues that were contained in the Composite Dialogue which was finalised in 1998 are still there. The modalities and the schedule are to be looked afresh by the Foreign Secretaries. One obvious change would flow from the decision empowering the NSAs to handle the terrorism issue. Earlier, the Home Secretaries of the two countries did so.

Will Pakistan want that the Jammu and Kashmir issue be given the same profile that terrorism will inevitably have as the NSAs will now discuss it? The question is significant for it had taken a year and a half to work out the modalities of the Composite Dialogue because Pakistan wanted the Kashmir question to be profiled. That demand was successfully resisted. Indian diplomats will now have to be careful to prevent any new attempt.

The Siachen issue has also been included for discussions. There is a consensus among Indian security thinkers that Indian forces should not withdraw from the Saltoro ridge. The increasing Chinese presence in the northern areas will harm India’s security interests. The Army has also resisted any thinking to withdraw, for if the Pakistanis break commitments and occupy those heights, nothing short of an all-out war will dislodge them. It would have been appropriate to drop the issue altogether though Pakistan would

have resisted the move. It gives high priority to the forces withdrawing from the heights.

Some clarifications would be needed on the government’s August and December positions. Also, if the Pakistanis have given an indication that they will stop meeting the Hurriyat before and after official dialogues in India? Mr Modi’s decision on the issue was correct and should not be diluted. Finally, what will be the government’s policy if another terrorist attack takes place from Pakistani soil? The same tired approach of breaking off dialogue or a more robust response?

Mr Modi has now invested in peace and cooperation with Pakistan and also visiting Pakistan for the Saarc summit in 2016. He will, as is his wont, wish to make that visit lead to transforming relations. The generals will see this as an opportunity to exploit, and India will have to keep up its guard.
Lalit first cadet from Garhwal _to win Sword of Honour
Jotirmay Thapliyal

Tribune News Service

Dehradun, December 13
Lieut Lalit Thapliyal, who was awarded the coveted Sword of Honour at the passing-out parade of the Indian Military Academy yesterday, was in all probability the first cadet from the Garhwal region to get this highest honour in the 83-year-old glorious history of the academy. 

Lalit, who belongs to Adali village, near Kotdwar in Pauri Garhwal district, is a Rimocollion. He had won the overall silver medal in the National Defence Academy (NDA) before joining to the IMA for further training. While boys from the Garhwal region had been coming to the IMA in increasing numbers in the recent times and a few of them had even won gold and silver medals, the coveted Sword of Honour had eluded them. Akshat Joshi from Kumaon was awarded the Sword of Honour in 2013.

The Sword of Honour is presented to a cadet who excels in the passing-out course. The best cadet gets this prestigious honour. Lalit has been a keen sportsman, which can be gauged from the fact that shortly after passing out of the IMA, he left to play hockey for an Army team and would return to Dehradun by December end. An avid sportsman, Lalit also loves to play squash and has been part of the IMA squash team.

A proud father, DN Thapliyal, is vice principal at Rashtriya Indian Military College (RIMC), Dehradun, and has completed 28 years of service.  “It is a proud moment not only for me but also for the entire Uttarakhand that a local boy has bagged the coveted Sword of Honour,” Thapliyal said while speaking with The Tribune. Asked whether his son was the first Garhwali to win the Sword of Honour, Thapliyal said he had enquired about it and in all probability he indeed was the first.

Thapliyal’s daughter Swarnima is a Captain in the Indian Army. Capt Swarnima’s husband Gaurav, who hails from Himachal Pradesh, had bagged the Sword of Honour in 2010.

He said it was a matter of honour for him that his children had kept up the glorious tradition of Garhwalis by joining the Army. He admitted that institutions such as the RIMC and also Sainik School play an important role in grooming and encouraging school students to make a career in the Army.

Lalit studied at Silver Oak School, Garhi Cantt, before joining the RIMC in class VII. His mother Yashoda, a teacher by profession, gives the credit to his son for successfully completing training.
Indian Army reaches 34 lakh followers on Facebook
Imagine the Indian Army Brigade commander in Ladakh tweeting over a face-off between Indian and Chinese soldiers.

That's one of the things senior officials at Army headquarters here claim to be aiming at in coming years by expanding the scope of their social media domain. There would be a caution on strategic and operational details and anything that goes out in public domain would have to be information which is not classified, the officials, however, underline.

A ministry of defence (MoD) expert committee recently recommended that senior commanders shall have a participative social media presence through blogs so that they stay connected with the rank and file. The committee advocated 'proactive' use of social media to counter rumours and sensitising officers on its use.

As of Thursday, the Indian Army had 34-lakh, 17 thousand, two hundred and thirty one (3417231) followers on its Facebook page and the number growing by the hour.

And going forward, in its expanding social media base, Army is also looking at a situation where it could cut down on its recruitment advertisement costs for officials believe a large number of youth are motivated to join them on being given an exposure of day to day activities of the force.

An analysis of the Army's Facebook page reveals that 48% of the followers belong to the age group of 18-24 years while 6% fall in the 13-17 age group. However, women constitute only 9% the total following.

Further reading into Army's Facebook presence throws other interesting facts.
While over 25 lakh followers are English speaking, 40-odd thousand Hindi speakers follow the Army on Facebook. This, followed by close to four thousand Marathi speaking ones to close to three thousand each Tamil and Bengali-speaking followers. Indian Army is followed by French, Portuguese, Arabic, Dutch, Persian,Japanese, Greek and Spanish speaking people.

Back home, Kolkata has highest number of followers at over three lakh, followed by Lucknow at over two and half lakh, New Delhi at over two lakh while cities like Kollam in Kerala and Karnal in Haryana, Amritsar, Vishakapatnam, Nagpur, Rajkot having less than ten thousand followers.
Chennai, where the Army's Facebook page helped coordinate SOS requests from residents stuck in recent floods has close to two lakh followers, several of them joining it during the course of the massive rescue operations by the three services along with the Indian Coast Guard.

"Our role during such emergencies like in Chennai get us substantial traction," says a senior official.
PMO Tells Defence Ministry to Laud all Forces for 1971 Victory

NEW DELHI: The Narendra Modi-led government is unhappy about the haphazard way the 1971 victory over Pakistan is celebrated by the Army on December 16 as Vijay Diwas. Criticising the indifference of previous governments on the subject, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has asked the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to laud the ‘glorious’ victory of the entire Indian armed forces. The scale and size have been left to the three forces to decide, but the PMO is insistent on “bringing out the concept of jointmanship” and create a spectacle worthy of the achievements.

In the 1965 victory celebrations, only the Army and the Indian Air Force (IAF) had played a role. For the 1971 war celebrations, the PMO now wants the Navy to participate to make the exercise a joint effort. The war was the only one India had fought, which involved the Army, Navy and the IAF.

India’s naval blockade on the Bay of Bengal trapped the Eastern Pakistan Navy, and prevented repairs on its warships. Aircraft carrier INS Vikrant and warships INS Guldar, INS Gharial, INS Magar, and submarine INS Khanderi wreaked havoc on Pakistan Navy. It also sank Pakistan’s moribund submarine Ghazi. In ‘Op Trident’, the Navy used missile boats to damage Pakistani destroyer PNS Khyber and minesweeper PNS Muhafiz on the nights of December 4 and 5. Simultaneously, IAF fighter jets, some of which took off from the INS Vikrant, bombed enemy territory, and effectively wiped out Pakistan’s air capability.

On December 16, 1971, the chief of the Pakistani forces, General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi, along with 93,000 troops, surrendered to the Indian Army and Mukti Bahini, led by General Jagjit Singh Aurora.

Modi has been insistent on giving due credit to the armed forces, by glorying India’s wars. In August-September, the defence forces held 25 days of mega events to mark the golden jubilee of the 1965 Indo-Pak war. The PMO was firm that these should not only pay tributes to our war heroes but also “negate Pakistan’s incorrect” perception on the war’s outcome.

The PMO had earlier directed the Army to commemorate the centenary year of its participation in WW I. In a testimony to the Modi government’s focus on Indian military history, projects like creating a National War Memorial and a war museum have been cleared. The MoD is publishing a coffee table book on the history of India’s Republic Day parades since 1950. The  ministry is also making telefilms on the wars fought by the Indian armed forces.
193 officers inducted in Army
GAYA: Proud parents and other family members watched as 193 newly-inducted officers of the Indian Army on Friday morning took a vow to make sacrifices for protecting the territorial boundary and honour of the nation.

The 193 Army officers took the vow at a special function organized at Gaya Officers Training Academy (OTA) on the occasion of their passout ceremony. They are a mix of 127 freshers and 63 lower-rank Army personnel selected for yearlong basic military training to become special commissioned officers (SCOs).

Lt Gen K J Singh, general officer commanding in-chief of the Western Command, was the reviewing officer of the passing out parade, the most important event of the Gaya OTA.

Besides the inducted Army officers, a batch of 142 Gentlemen cadets also completed their basic military training and would now be joining different technical institutes of the Indian Army to pursue Engineering degree course.

Addressing the newly-inducted officers, Lt Gen Singh recalled the glorious traditions of the Indian Army and hoped they would do the country proud.

Indian Army was always in a state of preparedness to meet any challenge, said Singh.

He also exhorted the officers joining the Army to adapt themselves to the ever-changing techniques of warfare and make good use of technology. Lt Gen Singh also said the SCOs held special responsibility as they were expected to work as a bridge between the Army rank and file. Gaya OTA commandant Lt Gen Vinod Vashist also addressed the newly-inducted officers.

On Friday evening, Gaya OTA cadets and their trainers teamed up to present a scintillating multi-activity display that included fly past by two microlight aircraft, horse show, Malkhamb display, physical training, Khurki dance and Gatka. Malkhamb, Khurki and Gatka represent different regional martial arts. Whereas Malkhamb is the traditional martial art of Western India, Gatka is associated with northern India. Gatka was basically developed for territorial defence against invaders.

The show jumping presented by the cadets displayed horsemanship, jumping technique and obedience level of the horse. Combining jumping skills with tent pegging, the performers enthralled an invited audience that included the family members of the cadets.
Indian Army gets 469 new officers
The historic and imposing Chetwode Building of the Indian Military Academy (IMA) was the perfect backdrop to the spellbinding passing out parade of 519 gentlemen cadets of the 137 Regular and 120th Training Graduate (TG) Courses, who were the cynosure of all eyes on Saturday morning. While 469 of the cadets were commissioned in the Indian army, fifty were foreign cadets from countries like Afghanistan, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Mauritius, Seychelles and Sri Lanka.
Over 2,000 people had gathered at the venue much before the parade began. The last night drizzle had made the air nippy and there was a distinct chill which however slowly dispersed as the sun came out.
For most people though, their eyes were riveted on the majestic Chetwode Building named after Philip Chetwode, commander-in-chief of Indian forces who delivered a stirring address at the inauguration of the academy in 1932, a part of which has now become the IMA credo. Even before the parade started, the audience could hear the loud roar of the cadets, practicing at the far end of the academy.
The parade began soon after the arrival of the reviewing officer, army chief, General Dalbir Singh, who arrived on a four-horse carriage, originally belonging to the Maharaja of Patiala, which was gifted by the erstwhile royal family to the academy.
Speaking on the occasion, Gen Singh, said that he was transported back in time to 42 years ago, when as a gentleman cadet, he had participated in a similar passing out parade while graduating from the academy. "This is a very important day in your lives as you join the Indian Army and take the pledge of serving the country," the Army chief said, advising the cadets to "lead by example." He also quoted from the IMA credo to emphasize the responsibility which each officer had: "The safety, honour and welfare of your country come first, always and every time. The honour, welfare and comfort of the men you command come next. Your own ease, comfort and safety come last, always and every time."
The majestic parade came to an end after each of the cadets had taken the 'antim pag', the final step inside the Chetwode Building symbolising their induction as officers in the Indian Army. A highlight of the parade was the fly past of three choppers that dropped flowers on the venue from the air which lent a festive touch to the entire atmosphere.

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