Custom Search Engine - Scans Selected News Sites


Monday, 14 March 2016

From Today's Papers - 14 Mar 2016

Chinese troops spotted along LoC
PLA ‘building infra’; Army tightlipped
Arteev Sharma &Azhar Qadri

Tribune News Service

Jammu/Srinagar, March 13
After frequent Chinese incursions in the Ladakh region, the Army is learnt to have spotted People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops at forward posts along the Line of Control (LoC) on the Pakistan side of north Kashmir, sending alarm bells ringing among security agencies.

Intelligence agencies say “intercepts” of some Pakistan Army officers suggested that the Chinese troops were in the area to create some infrastructure along the LoC.

The Army authorities are tightlipped, but sources say higher-ups are constantly being updated about the presence of Chinese troops opposite Indian forward posts along the LoC in the Nowgam sector.

SD Goswami, defence spokesperson, Northern Command, said he was not “fully aware” of the development, while Col NN Joshi, defence spokesperson, 15 Corps, said there was no information about the presence of PLA troops.

Fresh inputs on Chinese troops have corroborated reports of a leading US newspaper that Pakistan had handed over de-facto control of the strategic Gilgit-Baltistan region in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) to China, where it had been witnessing simmering rebellion against Islamabad.

In August 2010, The New York Times had reported that there were two important developments in Gilgit-Baltistan: “A simmering rebellion against the Pakistan rule and the influx of an estimated 7,000 to 11,000 soldiers of the PLA in the area, which is closed to the world.”

“China wants a grip on the strategic area to assure unfettered road and rail access to the Gulf through Pakistan... It is building high-speed rail and road links,” the newspaper had said. On March 27, 2011, former Northern Command Chief Lt General KT Parnaik had said Chinese troops were present in the PoK, posing a military challenge to India.

“China has gained considerable foothold in Gilgit and Baltistan by way of infrastructure development and helped Pakistan in exploiting the resources in the region. It has made numerous roads, bridges and power projects in Gilgit and Baltisan. It (Chinese presence) poses military challenges to India and not only along the Sino-Indian border but also along the Line of Control,” he had said.

The PLA troops were first spotted in the latter part of last year. They have since been seen opposite the Tangdhar sector as well. In this area, Chinese government-owned China Gezhouba Group Company Ltd has been building a Jhelum-Neelum 970 MW Hydel power project in response to India’s Kishanganga power project in Bandipore of north Kashmir.

Intercepts also suggest the PLA is planning to dig tunnels in Leepa Valley in the PoK to build an all-weather road that will serve as an alternative route to reach Karakoram Highway.

In recent years, Chinese troops have occasionally transgressed into the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Ladakh region where the boundary between the two countries is not properly demarcated.
China-Pak economic corridor
Gen VP Malik (retd)
A game changer, it will impact the global discourse over J&K
IN the 1950s, China constructed a strategic road connecting Tibet to its Xinjiang province through Aksai Chin area of J&K. The intrusion became one of the triggers for the 1962 India-China war.

In 1963, China signed a border agreement with Pakistan in which Pakistan unilaterally ceded Shaqsgam valley, another part of J&K (called Gilgit-Baltistan now) to it. Both nations then built the Karakoram highway linking Kashgar in Xinjiang to Abbottabad of Pakistan.

In April 2015, China and Pakistan signed accords worth $46 billion to build the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) through Gilgit-Baltistan. This will extend to Gwadar Port in Pakistan and give China access to the Indian Ocean and beyond.

When China signed the boundary agreement with Pakistan in 1963, the objective given in its Article 1 was to ‘formally delimit and demarcate the boundary between China’s Xinjiang and the contiguous areas, the defence of which is under the actual control of Pakistan’. Article 6 stated ‘the two parties have agreed that after the settlement of the Kashmir dispute between Pakistan and India, the sovereign authority concerned will re-open negotiations with the Government of the People’s Republic of China on the boundary so as to sign a formal boundary treaty to replace the present agreement. In the event of that sovereign authority being Pakistan, the provision of this agreement and the protocol shall be maintained in the formal treaty.’ (Note the doubt over the status of J&K and China making sure of its national interest in future.)

India and China resumed boundary talks in the early 1990s. But China has refused to disclose its perception of the Line of Actual Control which could lead to a boundary settlement.

During the Kargil conflict, China preferred to go along with the overwhelming world opinion. It advised Pakistan to withdraw its forces and abide by the LoC. But nearly a decade later, when India refused to cede Tawang in the Special Representatives-level boundary dialogue, China made a perceptible pro-Pakistan shift in its stance on J&K. It started issuing ‘stapled visas’ to Indian citizens of J&K, and refused visa to the GOC-in-C, Northern Command, for military-level exchanges. Around the same time, China increased its civil and military presence in Gilgit-Baltistan, purportedly to improve the infrastructure in this area. Senge H Sering, a scholar from Gilgit-Baltistan, wrote: “China has a huge and long-term presence in Gilgit-Baltistan and is building extensive road, bridge and telecom networks to sustain it. The drivers compelling China to develop Karakoram Corridor are diverse and mainly pertain to its economic, strategic and political ambitions.”

According to India’s Ministry of Defence, the length of China-India boundary, measured from the extreme eastern side (India-China-Burma junction) to the extreme north-western end of POK is 4,056 km. This includes 2,175 km in the western sector, 556 km in the central sector, and 1,325 km in the eastern sector. But Chinese officials and the media started mentioning the length of the China-India boundary as nearly 2,000 km. This was first stated by China Daily in its report on the 13th round of boundary talks between China and India. In 2010, People’s Daily wrote that China and India share a nearly 2,000-km border and disputed areas cover about 125,000 sqkm on both sides. After the 14th round of border talks held in Beijing on November 29-30, 2010, the party-controlled Global Times quoted former ambassador to India, Zhou Gang: “The Sino-Indian border stretches for about 2,000 km and the two countries have never officially mapped it out. For a long time, the two sides abided by a traditional customary line based on their respective administrative regions.” Another former ambassador to India, Cheng Ruisheng, said in a TV interview: “China and India share roughly a 2,000 km border which has never been formally delineated.” Chinese officials and media have not only persisted with China-India border being only 2,000 km, but also attempted to correct figures, whenever quoted by Indian officials.

It is apparent that China, which had never openly questioned the Indian estimate of the length of common border earlier is now unilaterally seeking to exclude the Chinese-occupied territory in the Ladakh sector of J&K. It is also questioning India’s locus standi to discuss this part of the border due to Pakistan’s claims to this area. This may be an indication that China does not recognise India’s claims of sovereignty over J&K.

In the 2015 accord, China and Pakistan have agreed to work on 51 projects comprising network of roads, rails, pipelines and power plants, mostly in the area covered by the CPEC. The money will be lent by Chinese state and its banks to Chinese companies to carry out the work, thereby making it a commercial venture, with direct impact on China’s slackening economy. China also obtained a commitment from Pakistan for the security of the project and the workforce involved. The Pakistan army has raised a special security division for this, with headquarters in Diamer district of Gilgit-Baltistan. To ensure security at the Arabian Sea end, China will sell eight submarines to Pakistan, which would double its fleet.

If and when CPEC is completed, it will be a political, economic and strategic game changer in the region. China’s control of Shaqsgam and other valleys of Gilgit-Baltistan will enable this area to be linked with its military and industrial complexes of northwestern Tibet.

India claims that China is in occupation of nearly 38,000 sqkm of Indian territory in Ladakh region. Along with 5,500 sqkm of territory ceded by Pakistan, China occupies over 20,000 sqkm of Gilgit-Baltistan covering Shaqsgam, Raskam and Aghil valleys. The China-Pakistan collusion has enhanced strategic importance of Siachen sector whose northern part overlooks Shaqsgam valley.

Beijing’s new position underlines its centrality in J&K. While our debate on Kashmir is focussed on Pakistan, China has emerged as a decisive new factor. Just as the Chinese decision to call Arunachal Pradesh ‘South Tibet’ has begun to gain international traction, repeated references to the length of China-India border as 2,000 km will impact the global discourse over J&K. India has to come to terms with the changing geo-politics in its north-western region where its two fronts with Pakistan and China come together.

Henry Kissinger in his book On China emphasises the difference between Chinese ‘comprehensive approaches’ to ‘segmented policy making’ by other nations. He states that the Chinese think in civilisational terms. They are willing to strategise in long cycles and create levers of power based on realpolitik rather than morality. The Chinese style of dealing with strategic decisions is “thorough analysis; careful preparation; attention to psychological and political factors; quest for surprise; and rapid conclusion”. 

It would be useful to know and learn from Chinese strategic thinking.
Call Army as last resort
Lt-Gen Harwant Singh (retd)
Calling in the Army to restore law and order by ignoring time-tested protocol does not have a salutary effect, as seen in the recent Jat violence in Haryana. The presence of placard-carrying soldiers failed to act as a deterrent and to curb arson and vandalism.
The Army is called in to aid the civil administration to cope with natural disasters or maintain law and order. Although the civil administration has adequate resources to cope with such contingencies, yet more often than not it sends out a call for help to the Army. The civil administration and the police are low on organisational skills, discipline and leadership. Often on such occasions, the civil administration just disappears from the scene as was seen during the recent floods in Uttarakhand and now during the Jat stir in Haryana.

To maintain law and order and control the crowd, there are more than adequate state and central police forces. They are suitably armed to control unruly mobs and rioters. On their own they are in a position to handle riots and other cases of breakdown of law and order. At the drop of a hat, a call is made to the Army, as it happened in Haryana. 

Earlier, to discourage the civil administration from making frivolous calls for the Army's assistance, a certificate from the civil administration was required along with requisition of military help, stating that it has deployed all of its resources and the situation is well outside its control and, therefore, the Army’s help is being sought. This served a dual purpose: The civil administration made a genuine effort to control the situation and it indicated that it was truly grave, demanding  deployment of the Army. Consequently, it also justified the military's firm action against rioters to restore order. In the case of subsequent court cases, it was possible for the military to justify its stern action.

Under normal circumstances, a magistrate who gives written orders for the military to open fire on rampaging mobs is required to accompany a military column. The Army first makes an announcement through the public-address system to warn the crowd and ask it to disperse. If that goes unheeded, it may open fire adhering to the need for minimum force and fire to incapacitate and not kill.

Very often, it is not possible to have a magistrate with each and every column, more so when there are wide-scale disturbances across the state, as was the case in Haryana. There was large-scale rioting, torching of government and private properties and looting of shops and assaults on certain sections of society. In such a situation, the officer commanding the concerned column has to act on his own.  Where casualties amongst rioters take place, more often than not, long legal battles ensue and the Army is called upon to justify its action. Very often its presence has the necessary salutary effect on the crowd and the task at hand is accomplished. A range of central police organisations, against the prevalent laws, have adopted the Army’s uniform, badges of ranks and other paraphernalia, making it difficult for the common man to distinguish the police from the Army.

Unfortunately, the Ministry of Home Affairs has been complicit on this issue. Consequently, the all-important salutary effect of the Army's presence on such occasions has been lost. Therefore, one saw the sad spectacle of military columns carrying placards stating that it is a military column carrying out flag marches.

In law and order cases, it is most important to handle the situation firmly in the early stages, if not pre-empt it altogether. In event of large-scale rioting, spread over vast areas, firm action at one place has the desired effect at other locations as well. It instills fear and caution in the rioters.

On the face of it, the very fact that the military has been called in, implies that the civil administration has exhausted all of its resources. Therefore, for the Army to effectively control such an adverse situation, it must have a free hand  and, consequently, the authority to use force at its own reckoning, with little legal binding.  This calls for amending the relevant laws.  A desperate situation, as obtaining in Haryana, calls for extraordinary measures. The situation was most ineptly handled and allowed to get out of hand. It was an obvious case of breakdown of administration and police failure as the rampaging mobs were allowed a free run.

There are adequate police resources within Haryana to have effectively dealt with the developing situation. The police was nowhere to be seen as rioters indulged in arson, torching of cars and buses, looted a large number of  shops in many towns.  Some of them were already armed with weapons. The Ministry of Home Affairs has a large body of central police organisations. It should have made these available to Haryana. There was no need to seek the Army's help. Since the military is called only as a last resort, it must act firmly and restore order. If it fails to control the situation, then what will follow will be anarchy and the state can only wither away. During the current disturbances in Haryana, the Army's deployment did not have the desired effect and the arson and rioting continued because of alleged caution and restrictions on use of force imposed on it. Else it is difficult to explain the Army's inability to control the situation early enough.  It was a replay of  the riots in Delhi in 1984 on a smaller scale. Then too the military was instructed not to open fire on the rioters and the mayhem continued for many days.  In Haryana, the situation improved only when the state government announced its willingness to consider rioters' demand for reservation for Jats in government jobs.

The issue of reservation for Jats in the OBC quota has been grossly mishandled. Little heed has been paid to the Supreme Court ruling in this case. Conceding the demands of Jats is bound to trigger a chain reaction. Similar demands will surface from many other communities across the country. Mobs indulging in arson, looting and rioting were essentially made up of young men and boys. They are part of the millions who are uneducated, half educated, without skills and frustrated because there are no jobs for them.  India's young demographic dividend is in millions and poses a serious threat to peace.

The country has failed to provide education and skills to this multitude and create job opportunities for them. The growth of population has gone unchecked, without an effort to educate masses on the advantages of small families. We need to provide jobs to a million young men every month and that appears to be beyond our capacity. In Haryana, perhaps coming events have cast a shadow.

Given the spectre of lawlessness and ineffective administration, who would want to invest in Haryana?  Surely, events in Haryana will impact foreign investment in India on and adversely impact the Make-in-India drive. An inquiry by a retired police officer may not bring to light cases of dereliction of duty at various levels and uncover attempts at a cover-up. An inquiry by a sitting judge of the high court is required to enable facts to be brought to light and ensure remedial steps for the future.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Mail your comments, suggestions and ideas to me

Template created by Rohit Agarwal