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Friday, 22 April 2016

From Today's Papers - 22 Apr 2016
Hotline with China’s DGMO
Parrikar punctures BJP’s claim on Rafale, says deal not done yet
Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 21
India and China have agreed to have a hotline at the level of Director  General Military Operations (DGMO) and have additional border meeting points for troop formations on either side of the contentious 3,488-km Line of Actual Control (LAC), the defacto boundary between the two neighbours.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who returned from a three-day trip to China last night, today said the new hotlines and border meeting points would be a reality soon. The drafts of the agreement have been exchanged. Parrikar was speaking to mediapersons on the sidelines of the Naval Commanders Conference here.

The two countries currently have five border personnel meeting points along the Himalayas where formation commanders on either side discuss local irksome issues.

Parrikar, who had led to a delegation to China (April 17 to April 20) termed the talks in China as “frank and positive”. The two sides discussed renewal of the existing memorandum of understanding on defence that was first signed in 2006.

While the two sides discussed the need to maintain peace along the LAC, Parrikar said India’s argument remained there should be an accepted principle on the LAC. “We have raised all issues, the LAC is pending for decades. It cannot be done in days,” the Defence Minister said.

Parrikar said the issue of China using its veto powers in the UN Security Council on disallowing a ban on Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar was also raised.

He said the Chinese side also raised the issue of India and US agreeing in principle to sign the Logistics Exchange Memorandum Agreement (LEMOA).

Meanwhile, Parrikar punctured the premature announcement by the BJP on signing the Rafale fighter deal with French company Dassault aviation. Parrikar said: “The deal is in advanced stage. We intend to close it very soon. We cannot say the deal is done till its signed or at least sent to the Cabinet for approval.” The BJP had on Wednesday announced on its Facebook page that the deal had been signed.

Lt-Col Purohit to get papers

On the future of Lt-Col Srikant Purohit, one of the suspects in the Malegaon blasts case, he said the Army would provide him with whatever documents he needed to prove his innocence. But portions inimical to national security would be redacted.
China sitting on a tinderbox in Xinjiang
Lt Gen Bhopinder Singh (retd)
It is the forbidden lands of Xinjiang that test the Chinese regime’s stranglehold over the global Pan-Islamic wave of puritanical militancy and secessionist tendencies
China has been a cradle of religio-cultural diversities that were historically tolerated by the various ruling dynasties who claimed the ‘mandate of heavens’ to shape the overarching traditions, philosophies and cultures as opposed to the rigidity of a formal and definitive religion. However, since the Communist Party of China’s reign in 1949, Mao Zedong initially suppressed all expressions of societal religiosity, only to see a certain liberal acceptance of religious autonomy in recent times, as long as it didn’t conflict with regime survival.

Amidst a total population base of 1.4 billion, an estimated 1.7 to 2 per cent are of the Islamic faith (approximately 25 million). In addition to the majority Han population (91.6%), the Chinese government officially recognises 55 ethnic minorities (8.4% of population), of whom 10 are predominantly Sunni Muslims. Old manuscripts claim the advent of Islam to the 620s when Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas, uncle of the Islamic Prophet, supposedly came to China on a mission and established the Huaisheng Mosque, over 1,300 year ago.

Broadly speaking, there are two distinct groups of Islamic adherents in China – the majority Hui people (who are similar to the majority Han Chinese in terms of ethnic-lingual profiles, spread across China) and the more restive Turkic ethnicity based Uyghurs, who are concentrated around the Xinjiang Autonomous Region.

Interestingly, official Chinese cartography encompasses the Indian territory of Aksai Chin, within the Xinjiang Autonomous region – affording it borders with India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Mongolia and Russia. Within the cauldron of Xinjiang, the majority Uyghurs (46.4% of population) aggressively jostle with Han (39% of population) to practise, preserve and perpetuate the Uyghur identity and relevance.

It is the forbidden lands of Xinjiang that test the Chinese regime’s stranglehold over the global Pan-Islamic wave of puritanical militancy and secessionist tendencies – often, resulting in violence, popular unrests and hidden fissures that are kept away from the glares of the world. Chinese absolutism is practised to ensure the lid is kept on the region’s simmering dissent by the Uyghurs. However, the Chinese government’s Uyghur-specific discrimination has resulted in further alienation and hardening of the Uyghur Muslims and their causes of separatism.

The famed Chinese ‘strike hard’ approach against the ‘three evils of separatism, extremism and terrorism’ has clearly divided the Islamic adherents into two groups – one of the ‘patriotic Chinese Muslims’, i.e., Hui people (they have no secessionist group or tendencies), who are allowed to practise their faith and beliefs, and the other of the discriminated Uyghur, who pray in different mosques from the Hui, and who have East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) as the main secessionist group to form an independent ‘East Turkestan’.

The divide-and-rule of the Chinese government is clinically effective with the Hui Muslims seamlessly integrated into the Chinese mainstream. The taint of Islamic terror and fundamentalism is restricted to the Uyghurs. Usual tactics of repressive security cover to blank out news, demographic resettlements of Hans and the economic discriminations have increasingly marginalised the Uyghurs and therefore turned Xinjiang into a veritable tinderbox.

The footprint of the ETIM is visible from the cadres operating in Afghanistan (where they were trained by Al Qaida and 22 of them were arrested and detained in Guantanamo Bay), Pakistan (where they attacked Chinese engineers in the port city of Gwadar) and even in the ongoing conflict in Syria-Iraq, where the Uyghur cadres are seen fighting along the Al-Qaida affiliate, Nusra Front.

However, the ETIM (or Turkistan Islamic Party, as they call themselves) have been designated as a terrorist group by the US under Executive Order 13224 (blocking financial transactions) and the US Terrorist Exclusion List (which debars members from entering US). This terror designation is further confirmed by the UN, UAE, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and obviously China, thereby squeezing and limiting international support and funding. But, they have competing baiters amongst the ISIS, Al-Qaida and even the Taliban who empathise with the Uyghur cause and recruit their foot soldiers, arming and training the frustrated Uyghurs to the ultimate consternation of the Chinese.

Strategically for China, the import of Xinjiang unrest goes beyond the fears of Uyghur Islamic fundamentalism and militancy – it also tests the Chinese ability to cover its intrinsic fault lines in Tibet, Inner Mongolia and Taiwan, each of which has its own secessionist rationales against the mainland-Han Chinese rule. It forces doubts in the minds of the Chinese strategists and policy planners to invest in a restive area that is the principal highway of the strategic China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), as indeed the gateway to the energy-flush Central Asian Republics that are key to keep the Chinese engines of economic growth running.

So far, heavy boots on ground and providential international environment of most countries clamping down on terror groups has spared Xinjiang from going completely out of control, though over 200 acts of terrorist strikes have been attributed to the ETIM. There is no visible or credible Chinese governmental effort to economically or socially try and integrate the restive Uyghurs. On the contrary, it is the sole ‘strike hard’ approach, bereft of any inclusive imperatives, that is getting deployed and the same has diminishing returns in the modern era, especially for a religious movement and insurrection that knows no official border or emotional appeal amongst the adherents across the globe. Its appeal is theoretically more readily available than say for a Tibet or Taiwan that is restricted to its constituents, beyond a point.

Xinjiang is the underbelly of a glaring Chinese reality that potentially posits the duplicitous Chinese stand of vetoing against India in the UN forum towards Indian efforts to designate Maulana Masood Azhar as a terrorist, as the Chinese still feel comfortable to egg on the Indo-Pak game of cloak and dagger as a willing accomplice of Pakistan. Though like Pakistan, which self-admittedly is atoning the sins of supporting fundamentalism, this is Chinese augury for chickens to come home to roost in Xinjiang. The dynamics and intrigues of international diplomacy may force the wary Western powers and the other stakeholders to recognise the tactical utility of the Xinjiang unrest as a counter-check to Sino aggression, duplicity and hegemony in the region.
3 Lashkar militants killed in Kupwara encounter
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, April 21
Three militants of the Lashkar-e-Toiba were killed in the nearly seven-hour-long gunfight in north Kashmir’s frontier Kupwara district on Thursday.

The fierce gunfight broke in the wee hours at Patushai Lolab village, nearly 110 km from here on the Kupwara Sogam road, when the Army and J&K Police zeroed in on a house where militants were hiding.

“We received an input about the presence of militants in the area late last evening after which a joint operation was launched by the Army and the police. As searches were going on, the militants holed up in a house opened fire in the wee hours, triggering a seven-hour-long gunfight in which three Lashkar militants were killed,” said Senior Superintendent of Police, Kupwara, Ajaz Ahmad Bhat.

“Out of the three militants hiding in the house, two were killed while they were trying to break the cordon.”

Three AK rifles, three under barrel grenade launchers and ammunition was recovered from the slain militants. The identity of the militants is yet to be established.

The house in which the militants were hiding and a cowshed were damaged during the gunfight.

The SSP said it could not be ascertained whether the slain militants had infiltrated recently or were active in the area. A defence spokesman in Srinagar said the security forces gave a very “calibrated response” due to the presence of civilians in the house.
Pak dismisses 11 top Army officers over graft charges
Islamabad, April 21
Pakistan’s two senior Generals were among 11 top officers dismissed by Army Chief General Raheel Sharif on charges of corruption, a rare move in the country where the military wields enormous power.

A Lieutenant General, one Major General, five Brigadiers, three Colonels and one Major were dismissed by the Army Chief on corruption charges, security officials said. Two soldiers were also dismissed on similar charges.

Gen Raheel’s move came days after he demanded “across the board accountability”, saying the ongoing war against terrorism and extremism cannot bring enduring peace and stability unless the menace of corruption is not uprooted. “Therefore, across the board accountability is necessary for the solidarity, integrity and prosperity of Pakistan,” he had said. No official announcement was made but all local TV channels reported the sacking of the officers.

Gen Raheel’s move to dismissed the top officers assume significance in the wake of raging scandal in Pakistan over embattled Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s family offshore wealth after the Panama Papers leak mentioned his children’s name for having shell companies. — PTI
Xi is ‘Commander in Chief’ of military
Beijing, April 21
President Xi Jinping has assumed a new title of “Commander in Chief” of China’s new joint forces battle command centre, in his latest move to exert greater control over the world’s largest army and consolidate his status as China’s most powerful leader in decades.

Xi (62) is already General Secretary of the ruling Communist Party and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, which manages the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

Xi is now Commander in Chief of the military’s Joint Operations Command Centre, state media reported, showing him visiting the centre wearing camouflage fatigues.

The Xinhua news agency and the state broadcaster CCTV both carried reports referring to Xi by the description for the first time after he visited the command centre on Wednesday.

“The current situation requires battle command to be highly strategic, coordinated, timely, professional and accurate,” Xi said, urging staff at joint battle command centres at both CMC and theater command levels to bear in mind a sense of crisis and adapt to the strategic demands of national security.

Xi told the officers to closely follow the trends of global military revolution and strive to build a joint battle command system that meets the need of fighting and winning an informationised war.

“All must be done with the ultimate goal of improving battle command capacities and measured by the standards of being able to fight and win wars,” Xi said, urging a focus on solving conflicts and problems limiting joint battle command. — PTI
Indian Army holds war game to deal with tactical nuclear attack

About 30,000 soldiers participated in the exercise led by the elite Mathura-based Strike Corps
Jaisalmer: A strike formation of the Indian Army on Thursday undertook drills to counter any tactical nuclear attack on its mechanized unit, as part of the war games being conducted in the deserts of Rajasthan.

The simulation came as about 30,000 soldiers took part in a major exercise Shatrujeet, led by the elite Mathura-based Strike Corps, in the desert area of Mahajan firing range where it is honing its skills to counter chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) warfare.

The aim of the CBRN simulation was to validate the army’s response in case its faces a tactical nuclear attack.

“Our policy has been always that we will never use nuclear weapons first. But if we are attacked, we need to gather ourselves and fight through it. The simulation is about doing exactly that,” an army official said.

The aim is to practice the capability to strike deep into enemy territory in an integrated air-land battle environment. The exercise is in the last phase and next week on 22 April, army chief Dalbir Singh Suhag is likely to visit to review the exercise.

As part of its training and operational preparedness, various drills involved in CBRN warfare were executed by the troops including use of individual protective equipment and fighting in a CBRN contaminated area.

Troops underwent simulations of chemical and nuclear attacks and practised measures to mitigate the effect on persons and operations. A tactical nuclear attack was also simulated on one of its mechanized formations spearheading the attack, people familiar with the matter said.
Shashi Tharoor on the Declining Status of the Indian Armed Forces

For better or worse, force is the guarantor of a nation’s security. It protects the nation from threats extending beyond or within its borders. The Indian armed forces act as the guardian of the legitimacy enjoyed by the government through the spirit of the democratic process. The officers of our armed forces swear “true faith and allegiance” to the Constitution of India upon enrolment in the military. But do we, the political establishment, show the same faith and allegiance towards our uniformed citizens?

I fear not. Petty slights, ranging from deliberately downgrading the military in protocol terms, to persistent actions to lower the status and compensation of our military personnel, have eroded the dignity of the Indian armed forces. The consequences will inevitably be suffered by all.

The armed forces are among those very few citizens of India who, at a moment’s notice, might be summoned to sacrifice their lives in the service of their country.

However, with each Central Pay Commission (CPC), the seventh of which was released last year, we have proven to be blind to their enduring sacrifice. We have short-changed the remuneration of our armed servicemen. One such change put forward in the CPC is the status of Brigadiers, who, until the 3rd CPC, were granted a higher salary than the deputy inspector general (DIG) of the police.

Today, Brigadiers are equated to the deputy inspector general, and, after the implementation of the 7th CPC, will be relegated to a lower pay scale than DIGs. These changes defy reason: only 2% of defence officers achieve such a rank, which is only received after 12 more years of service than the designation of DIG.

7th Central Pay Commission

The 7th CPC also recommends, among other things:
-a separate pay matrix and
-disability pension policy for defence forces, which largely disadvantages the defence personnel in favour of higher allowances for their civilian counterparts.

According to the 7th CPC, disabled junior commission officers in the IAF are given Rs 12,000 as a disability pension while the equivalent civilian with the same level of disability draws over twice that amount (Rs 27,690).

But remuneration, as delineated in the CPC, is but one facet of a larger trend of diminishing the status of our servicemen. The Order of Precedence is the official hierarchy of the Republic of India. It denotes the rank of government officials in the ceremonial protocol; an important point of pride and status for all government servants. By codifying government’s official rankings, it is a convenient illustration of the inconvenient reality of the lowered status of our military personnel.

Marginalizing Military Officers
Since 1947

Since 1947, subsequent to every Indian military victory (1947-8, 1965, and 1971), our military officers have been marginalized further and further down the Order of Precedence.
Post 1962

After the 1962 Indo-China war, the three Chiefs of Staff were put below the newly created Cabinet Secretary. The Major Generals were equated to a rank below the Director of the Intelligence Bureau.
Post 1965

After the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war, the Chiefs of Staff were further downgraded below the Attorney General.

In 1968, Major Generals were placed below the Deputy Controller and Auditor-General.

In 1971, the Service Chiefs came below the Comptroller and Auditor-General (both of whom were previously below Lieutenant General). Similarly, Lieutenant Generals have been placed below the Chief Secretaries, who were previously ranked lower than Major Generals.

With each war came the deaths of countless of our nation’s children, who gave the ultimate measure of devotion in service of their nation.

Protocol, Policy-Making and Peacekeeping

I still recall in my UN peace-keeping days my astonishment at meeting an Indian delegation wherein an experienced and impressive Brigadier had to cede place to a less-informed Director-rank civilian from the MEA, purely on grounds of protocol. It taught me a great deal about what was wrong with our policy-making on peacekeeping.

Issues of status and remuneration might appear trivial, but they augur ill for the future well-being of the country.

The armed forces are already arm-wrestling with the invisible hand of the market to capture the available talent and capacities of the younger generation. But their ability to recruit young citizens is, ironically, undermined by the very economic development that they guarantee though keeping our nation secure.

The armed forces are as critical to guaranteeing the safety of the nation in this century as in the last. Conventional wars over territorial disputes may appear improbable today. But make no mistake, while we are not at war, we are also not at peace.

The lowering of status and remuneration of the Indian armed forces is an attack on the very insurance that guarantees the liberties endowed to all citizens of India. We must empower our officers and soldiers and grant them the position of prominence they deserve. Revising the errors in the 7th Pay Commission decisions and in the Order of Precedence would be a good place to start.

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