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Tuesday, 3 May 2016

From Today's Papers - 03 May 2016

‘US nixed India-Pak peace treaty in 1984’
Rasgotra, then Foreign Secy, reveals details in autobiography ‘A Life in Diplomacy’
Vikas Datta

New Delhi, May 2
India and Pakistan had agreed on a peace and no-war treaty and were on the verge of signing it in July 1984 before then Pakistani President Zia ul-Haq, who had even dismissed any need to discuss Kashmir, backtracked on the advice of US lawmakers, reveals former Indian Foreign Secretary MK Rasgotra.

In his autobiography “A Life in Diplomacy”, Rasgotra, who was Foreign Secretary from 1982 to 1985 and is now in his 90s, recalled that ahead of his visit to Islamabad, then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who was leaving on a visit to the US, gave him a free hand, telling him, “You know it all and you can talk to them about any subject they want to talk about, including Kashmir and the no-war pact they are so keen on”. She only wanted to know if “there is a grain of sincerity” in General Zia.

As Rasgotra called on him at the President’s House in Islamabad, President Zia, with the humility and charm he was known for, was standing in the verandah, close to to where he would get out of the car, and welcomed him with a big hug. During the talks, to India’s willingness to talk about Kashmir, Zia’s response was “noteworthy”. “Rasgotra sahib, what is there to talk about Kashmir? You have Kashmir and we cannot take it. I want you and (Pakistani Foreign Secretary) Niaz Naik to work on a treaty of peace and good neighbourliness, including a no-war pact,” he quoted the Pakistani President as saying.

He said progress was made in discussions on the agreement, to the extent that in March 1984, Naik proposed that the Indian draft of a treaty of peace and friendship and Pakistan’s draft of a no-war pact should be “merged”. By May 1984, there was “full agreement on all six or seven clauses in the draft treaty’s preamble and on nine of the 11 articles of the treaty’s operative part” and both sides reached an agreement on these two.

“Accordingly, Naik announced in the final plenary meeting of the two delegations that on clauses IV and V, he and I had reached an understanding, to which he would obtain the President’s approval on his return from the UAE and we would all meet in Delhi in July to initial or sign the treaty. But the July meeting never took place,” he recalled.

According to Rasgotra, there were two reasons why Zia changed his mind, and the primary one was the advice of his American “well-wishers”.

“While awaiting the President’s return from the UAE, Naik had telegraphed the text to Foreign Minister Sahabzada Yaqub Khan, who was on a visit to Washington DC. Khan took the text around to his friends in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives, who strongly advised him against signing a treaty of that kind with India,” he noted.

Rasgotra said he learnt of this from a Congressman friend of his, from his earlier stints in the US, and member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee “asking me why we were coercing Pakistan into signing an anti-American treaty”.

The other reason was India’s troubles in Punjab, “in which General Zia saw an opportunity to weaken India by supporting a violent secessionist campaign by Sikh extremist groups lead by Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale”, said Rasgotra.

On Zia, Rasgotra said he reported to Indira after his first visit and meeting that he had “seemed anxious to win India’s goodwill and I had my doubts about his sincerity”.  —IANS
5 yrs after Osama catch, CIA chief eyes IS chief
Washington, May 2
Five years after killing Osama bin Laden, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) chief John Brennan said taking out the head of the Islamic State group would have “great impact”.

US special forces killed Al-Qaida founder bin Laden in Pakistan on May 2, 2011.

As the CIA live-tweeted the events as they unfolded five years ago, Brennan warned that Al-Qaida remained a threat and that IS was not just an organisation but a phenomenon.

“We have destroyed a large part of Al-Qaida. It’s not completely eliminated. So we have to stay focused on what it can do,” Brennan told NBC’s “Meet the Press” talk show.

“Now, with the new phenomenon of (IS), this is going to challenge us for years to come,” he said.

Asked if removing IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi from action was as important as bin Laden, Brennan, who does not often do interviews, was direct. “He is important, and we will destroy IS; I have no doubt in my mind. We have to remove the leadership that directs the organisation to carry out these horrific attacks,” he said.

“If we got Baghdadi, I think it would have a great impact on the organisation. And it will be felt by them,” he said, adding: “But this is large. It’s not just an organization but a phenomenon. We see it not just in Syria and Iraq, but in Libya, Nigeria, and other countries as well. We’re going to remain focused on destroying all elements of the organisation.” — AFP

  For Dr Afridi’s release, US uses carrot & stick policy

    The US Congress is persuading Islamabad to release Dr Shakil Afridi who assisted US efforts in tracking down Osama bin Laden
    Considered a hero in the US, Dr Afridi is serving 23-year prison term in Pakistan
    The Dawn reports that a group of Republican and Democratic lawmakers are working on a new measure to use aid cuts to get Dr Afridi out of prison
    In January 2014, President Barack Obama signed a Bill that proposed to withhold $33 million from assistance to Pakistan over Dr Afridi’s detention
Arms and the middleman
MoD, Army file review petitions against JCOs in SC despite AG advising against it
Attorney General Mukul Rohtagi wrote to the the Defence Secretary advising withdrawal of appeals in cases which have already been decided by the apex court.
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Disregarding the directions of the Attorney General, Mukul Rohtagi, on not filing appeals in matters in which the Supreme Court has already adjudicated in the past, the Army Headuarters and the Ministry of Defence are learnt to have directed government lawyers to file review petitions in a large number of pension cases pertaining to Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs).

The Indian Express has accessed the letter written by Mukul Rohtagi on October 9, 2015 to the Defence Secretary in which he has advised withdrawal of appeals in cases which have already been decided by the apex court. Giving specific examples in his letter, Rohtagi had pointed out to the Defence Secretary that the Supreme Court had taken a serious view of such appeals and in some cases it had even awarded costs ranging from Rs 5,000 to Rs 25,000 in these matters. Referring to the judgments pertaining to cases of Junior Commissioned Officers the Attorney general said, “It is advised to pass necessary instructions to the concerned departments to avoid loss of face to the state and embarrassment to the government”. A copy of the letter was also sent to the Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff and the Chief of Air Staff.
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Highly placed sources inform that despite the strongly-worded letter of the Attorney general, the Army Headquarters has, on the directions of some officials in the Ministry of Defence, ordered that appeals be filed in the case of disability pension of JCOs in the apex court. In the matter of JCOs, the 6th Pay Commission had recommended that the Honorary Naib Subedars should be given the same pension as that of regular Naib Subedars. However, the MoD only issued instructions for those Naib Subedars who had retired post 2006 thereby dividing pensioners of the same rank as the pre 2006 retirees were getting the pension of a Havildar.

This discrimination was struck down by the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) and was also upheld by the apex court in 2010. However, the MoD continued to file appeals in such cases and it was in this context that the Attorney General wrote this letter late last year. Earlier, an expert panel constituted by the Defence Minister, Manohar Parrrikar, had also recommended in the same vein and had labelled the appeals of the MoD as “ego-fueled” and “litigation of luxury”.

However, legal experts familiar with these cases have now revealed that despite these letters and recommendations and existing SC judgments, the Army Headquarters has ordered review petitions in all cases pertaining to honorary Naib Subedars again contesting benefits given to them from January 2006. The experts state that the MoD and the Army headquarters should gracefully accept the law as laid down by the courts and not indulge in appeals by treating them as a prestige issue.
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