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Thursday, 21 April 2016

From Today's Papers - 21 Apr 2016

Women Navy fliers to patrol sea from next yr
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 20
The Navy will further open more opportunities for women and allow them as pilots on its fleet of reconnaissance planes.

Starting 2017, women officers can choose to join as pilots of Maritime Reconnaissance planes, the Navy said today. The Navy operates the Boeing P8I, Dornier 228 in a reconnaissance role along the sea line of communication, or sea trading routes, carrying billions of dollars of cargo. The Navy protects these from pirates.

On April 15, a Boeing P8I had scarred off possible pirates who were chasing a merchant vessel in the Arabian Sea. The Boeing had made low pass over the pirates’ boat in high seas which forced them out of fear to stop.

In the Indian Air Force, women already fly helicopters and transport planes and the first women fighter pilots are under training.

Women will also be allowed in the Naval Armament Inspectorate cadre from 2017. Thus, a total of eight branches/cadres will be opened for women officers in the Navy.

Several first-time initiatives have been taken by the Navy in the past few months towards empowering women officers. Recognising the importance of providing equal opportunities to women officers, seven women officers from the batch of Short Service Commission officers of the Education branch and Naval Constructor cadre, who joined in 2008-09, have been granted permanent commission.

The Navy is also finalising the policy for women officers to serve on select warships that have appropriate facilities for women. A crew of six Naval women officers, including the skipper, is meticulously preparing for the first, all-women, circumnavigation of the world in 2017 by an Indian team, in an indigenously built ocean sailing vessel, Mhadei II.

Meanwhile, the Navy commanders’ conference starts tomorrow in New Delhi. It will be inaugurated by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and the entire top brass of the Navy would discuss key issues such as shortage of submarines and naval helicopters.
Pakistan’s multi-front wars
G Parthasarathy
India shouldn’t have exaggerated expectations of any real breakthrough
PAKISTAN is one of the few countries today, which puts its defence minister in a virtual “purdah”. All those who deal with Pakistan, have heard of, or seen the ubiquitous Gen Raheel Sharif. Does anybody, however, know the name of the person who holds the high office of the defence minister in Pakistan? The peripatetic General Sharif is in Washington on one day, in Kabul on the next. He is also frequently travelling with Nawaz Sharif to countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran. When VIPS, including Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, or US Vice- President Joe Biden visit Pakistan, they visit the GHQ, to pay respects to the army chief. But defence minister Khwaja Asif, a Muslim League stalwart, is rarely seen or heard.

Pakistan’s defence ministry hardly has the gumption or authority to turn down anything that the army chief based in the GHQ in Rawalpindi says or does. General Sharif has never been seen accompanying, meeting or talking to the hapless Khwaja Asif. He is only seen sitting opposite, or besides the Prime Minister, behaving like a co-equal of the Prime Minister. Even federal ministers and the Prime Minister’s brother and Chief Minister of Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif, have to seek permission to meet the regal General Sharif in his hallowed GHQ. The army regards itself as being above the law, disregarding notices from the Supreme Court on its operations in Baluchistan and undermining the court’s efforts to bring Musharraf to book for violating Pakistan’s constitution.

Given this exalted role of the GHQ, one was surprised to recently read a widely publicised statement made to a parliamentary committee by Pakistan’s defence secretary. Incidentally, given their contempt for “bloody civilians”, the Pakistan army routinely insists that the defence secretary should be a retired army officer.   Defence secretary Lt Gen Alam Khattak told the parliamentary committee on April 6 that India’s “infamous” R&AW had set up a “special cell” to sabotage the much-hyped “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor”, which the Pakistan army believes is the “magic wand” to solve all the country’s economic ills. General Khattak’s statement came the day after General Sharif said the same thing while blaming India for “destabilising” Pakistan. General Khattak added the usual “masala” to his statement by alleging that Indian consulates in Jalalabad, Kandahar and Mazar-e-Sharif in Afghanistan were working with that country’s National Directorate of Security (NDS), the Afghan counterpart of the ISI, by carrying out “subversive activities” in Baluchistan and the Pashtun tribal areas of Pakistan, bordering Afghanistan.

Such allegations against India are not new. The recent addition has been the references to that “notorious” Indian “spy” Kulbhushan Jadhav, who was first said to have been arrested along the border with Afghanistan and was later claimed to have been arrested in Baluchistan. But here again, Pakistan finds itself in a bind. By denying India customary “consular access” to an arrested Indian national, statements made by Jadhav while under Pakistani custody will be seen to have been made under coercion. If Pakistan releases him, which seems unlikely for the present, Jadhav will sing a different tune and severely embarrass his captors with the many truths he will reveal.

The Jadhav episode has also cast a shadow on Pakistan’s efforts to mend its strained relations with Iran. The bumptious General Sharif chose not to be present when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met visiting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. With his customary swagger stick in his hand, he separately met President Rouhani the next day. The obedient army spokesman dutifully tweeted that his exalted boss had given “evidence” to the Iranian President about the evil Indians using Iranian soil to destabilise the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. An obviously irritated President Rouhani bristled with anger, when he was asked about this, noting that India, like Pakistan, was a friendly country. The Iranian embassy reiterated this a few days later.

All this is occurring at a time when Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan are going through a critical phase. With great difficulty and with significant help of Sirajuddin Haqqani, the head of the infamous Taliban linked Haqqani Network, the ISI has united a number of top Taliban leaders, including members of Mullah Omar’s family, with its handpicked protégé, Mullah Akhtar Mansour. The ISI calculation had been that with the Obama Administration beating a hasty retreat from Afghanistan, its Taliban protégés would take over, with China facilitating this process of transition. China obviously expects that a Pakistan-sponsored regime in Kabul would help it in eliminating the insurgency by its Muslim population in its neighbouring Xinjiang province. With the Taliban determined to seize control of more and more territory, one can expect heavy casualties in the ensuing months in Afghanistan. More so, as the China-US-Pakistan brokered peace talks, which are said to be “Afghan led” and “Afghan owned”, are going to be headed nowhere.

Pakistan cannot remain unaffected by the conflict across the Durand Line. General Sharif’s operation Zarb-e-Azb in Pashtun tribal areas has resulted in nearly one million Pashtun tribesmen being uprooted from their homes, with bleak prospects of early return and rehabilitation. The Tehriq-e-Taliban, now operating from Afghan soil, has hit back, with attacks on institutions in Pakistan, linked to the Pakistani military. For the first time, the army is fighting its citizens in all four provinces of Pakistan. With Pashtuns comprising around one-fourth of the army, its generals will have to start looking at the reliability of its Pashtun soldiers. General Sharif has obviously learnt nothing from history. The only time Punjabi soldiers have prevailed over Pashtuns was under the command of a Sikh General, Hari Singh Nalwa, during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Sadly for Pakistan, General Sharif does not have the attributes of military leadership of

Hari Singh Nalwa.
It is clear that the present dispensation in Pakistan has neither the imagination, nor foresight, to escape the inevitable consequences of its blunders in Afghanistan. Moreover, after the revelations of Nawaz Sharif’s family’s offshore accounts in Panama, Pakistan’s Prime Minister himself faces an uncertain future and tempestuous times ahead. While continuing a process of engagement with Pakistan, we should not have exaggerated expectations of any significant “breakthrough”. General Sharif should be left to stew in his own juice, along Pakistan’s western frontiers.
Truth behind Handwara violence: A propaganda against the Indian Army

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Srinagar, April 20: Was the entire Handwara incident in Jammu and Kashmir just about bringing down the army bunker? Going by the investigations being conducted both into incident in which a girl was molested and then the death of a lady, it suggests that there was a larger ploy to whip up passions against the Indian army. An army bunker was dismantled on Tuesday by the civil administration following angry protests that were triggered off by rumours of a girl being molested.

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The army bunker has been a bone of contention for long with many locals questioning the need for the same. However to link the protests with the demand to bring down the bunker is not right and there is a larger agenda. There are many gaps that could be found in the incident and the reactions in which five persons were killed after security forces tried to fight the mob. Was the girl molested in the first place? For starters this incident at Handwara took place just ten days after the new government took over in Jammu and Kashmir. Many are not happy with the BJP-PDP alliance in the state and there had been ample warnings that protests would intensify in various ways to make known the displeasure. There has been a sense of uneasy calm in Kashmir with separatists and terrorists going over board to paint the Indian army in bad light. Some of the officials feel that the entire exercise was to paint the army in poor light. The police have not yet been able to ascertain if the girl was molested or not. Police officials are unsure if such an incident had happened. Moreover there were so many twists to this story. At first it was claimed that the girl was molested by an army official and the moment this rumour spread, the town had erupted and the army retaliated in which 5 persons were killed. Later on the girl testified before a Magistrate that she was assaulted by two boys and not an army personnel. The police are now ascertaining if in reality such an incident had taken place or was it part of a rumour mongering propaganda to get the people up in arms against the Indian Army personnel. A chain reaction: The other puzzle is with regard to the death of Raja Begum. She was hit by a bullet in Langate. This death led to a massive protest which saw people come out on the streets and pelt stones. This also led to retaliation by the army and before anyone knew it the protest had turned violent. The police are yet to get the postmortem report and this would help ascertain the exact cause of the death. The police say that the death is quite suspicious as there had been no firing at Langate. Only the postmortem report would confirm the reason for the death. These incidents resulted in a chain reaction. The target was the Indian army as has always been in Kashmir. The idea was to spread a rumour and get the people on the streets up in arms against the army. Rumours such as these elicit a response in less than five minutes from the people. Moreover, the death of five persons only added to the problem. In short whoever plotted this rumour campaign in the first place has managed to stir up the emotions against the Indian army.

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Pakistan was unnerved by Indian Army’s paratroopers: Book

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Former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru's press conferences were not the oft-repeated question-and-answer sessions, says legendary communication guru I Ramamohan Rao. In Bengaluru, recently, for the launch of his book, Conflict Communication: Chronicles of a Communicator, Rao gave some rare insights into style of functioning of Nehru and others PMs who succeeded him later. According to Rao, Nehru was a different leader and he had a response ready to every question posed by the reporters.

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"The correspondents came to hear the PM on matters of national importance, on colonialism, India's relations with neighbours and on issues like economic development and planning. His answers sought to educate the people through the newspapers," says Rao in the books. The author goes on to narrate how the former PM often took provoking questions head-on. Nehru and the ‘fantastic nonsense' response "Some journalists would try to provoke Panditji and one waited to hear his favourite response -- what a fantastic nonsense - to be followed by a detailed answer to the question," says the author. As a young communication officer, once Rao was even invited by the Nehru for a cup of tea. "When I look back I wonder which young official will have the privilege of being asked by the PM to come into the house and made to sit down and offered a cup of tea. No wonder Panditji endeared himself to everyone who came in contact with him," says Rao. In the book, Rao also narrates on the last journey of Nehru from Teen Murti to the banks of the Yamuna on May 27, 1964. "I was put on the duty to conduct the photographers covering Nehru's final journey. The photographers were taken in an improvised three-tonne truck. There will be never be another PM as endearing as Nehru. He spoke, wrote and interacted in a transparent manner," says the book. Impressive narration of 1971 War with Pakistan The book has a chapter giving glimpses of India's psychological warfare as support weapon against Pakistan in 1971 war. "Much was achieved through psychological warfare, which was used as a support weapon, in the conduct of the war. This was done both in the battlefield as well as through the air-waves and newspapers," says Rao. Rao explains how he managed publicity under difficult situation, when the Indian Army dropped troops from the Para Brigade at Tangail, behind Pakistani lines.

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"The pictures of the para drop were published on the front pages of all papers all over the world. We had kept the number of troops para-dropped a secret. The march of the paratroopers from Tangail towards Dacca unnerved the Pakistani Army," narrates the book. Interestingly, Rao used stock pictures fort this publicity mission as none could capture the photos of the actual para drops. The man who served under four PMs Rao joined the Press Information Bureau (PIB) in 1956 and was later inducted into the Indian Information Service (IIS) during its formation years and head it for seven years from 1985 to 1992. During his period, he was the Principal Spokesman for the Government of India that saw four Prime Ministers including Rajiv Gandhi, V P Singh, Chandrashekar and Narasimha Rao.

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Hailing from Inna village of Dakshina Kannada district in Karnataka, Rao is widely revered to as the Bhishmacharya by his predecessors in IIS. May of his initiatives are even followed today by the Directorate of Public Relations under the Ministry of Defence. Rao has the rare distinction of serving the government right from Jawaharlal Nehru's era as a communicator holding different capacities. Currently, despite an advancing age, Rao is active on social media and also looks after the affairs of India's top video news agency, Asia News International (ANI). Conflict Communications: Chronicles of a Communicator, written by I Ramamohan Rao is priced at Rs 595. The book is published by Pentagon Press, which focuses mainly on military and national security subjects.

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