Saturday, July 24, 2010

Kargil Divas: Delhi Poetree on 30 July 2010

"Delhi Poetree" ('The Poets' Society of Delhi) is organizing a function on 30 July evening in the context of Kargil Divas.
It is a two hour program at the American Centre, KG Marg, New Delhi.
Please check in by 1900 hrs. Security is strict. Mobiles and Bags are not permitted.
To assist quick clearance, we propose to hand over a list of confirmed audience to the security. You are requested to carry an ID proof.
Its an interesting event. A MUST ATTEND. Come, you will enjoy it.
Invite friends. You will find it invigorating.
The Net Invite is attached herein.
Col RP Chaturvedi
(Coordinator of Kargil Divas on behalf of IESM in NCR)

Mumbai Mayhem: Why are we defensive?

Ref: India Too Complacent About Pakistan Complicity in Mumbai Attacks
India has the proof for Mumbai terrorist attacks, then why is our Government on the defensive?? Answer, complete failure of our DIPLOMACY, running to USA for retributions to Pakistan and being subservient to US policy makers, which means a confused and ineffective Indian Leadership, to put it mildly!!

The right policy would be to cut off diplomatic relations with Pakistan instead of the FM being humiliated in Islamabad during his visit trying to build confidence measures!!

The present Government is out of its depth in matters of diplomacy and national security; both internal and external.
Lt Gen Harbhajan Singh (Retd)

Related reading
Hard diplomacy: To counter Pakistan, India needs not S.M.Krishna but a Hillary Clinton in pants, says N.V.Subramanian.

Monday, July 19, 2010

IESM: RTI a formidable tool to fight pension injustices

Dear Friends,
1. The Central Govt has not only adopted negative and apathetic attitude towards the genuine demands of Defence Forces, it has crossed all limits of injustice wherein, it has appealed against the Judgement of Supreme Court in the Rank Pay Case. The judgement has long term implications and it should have been accepted and implemented by the Govt, specially when the similar judgement has already been implemented in the case of Major Dhanapalan.
2. There are other serious and glaring anomalies in Pay and Pensions of all ranks. While the efforts are being made to take up cases with the Govt, contact all political parties, other organizations and segments and society, file cases in various courts, carryout protest rallies across the country, deposit medals with the President, send memorandum to the President signed in Blood, raise the issues in both houses if Parliament, write articles ,discussions on TV Channels, hold seminars makes presentation to the All Party Standing Committee on Defence, it is felt that officers, JCOs and Jawans should start RTI campaign to seek information about the rational and logic of decisions taken by the Govt which have caused these serious anomalies. Through this letter, we request all RTI activists, ESM organizations, ESM to raise RTI applications seeking such information. Let us flood the Govt with our RTI applications. Copy of the information received from the Govt may please be sent to IESM HQ for collation and further action. Please forward names of volunteers to form part of the RTI Cell of IESM.
3. Relevant to the subject, I have received a copy of a letter written by Maj Gen Prince Jit Singh Sandhu to Mrs Neelam Nath, IAS Secretary Department of ESM Welfare. The same is attacvhed below.
4. Please give widest publicity to this issue. ESM who are already active in seeking information through the RTI may guide others to write RTI applications. Leaflet in English, Hindi and Punjabi indicating a few of the Injustices being heaped on the Defence Forces are attached. Conveners are requested to organize the RTI Campaign in their areas of jurisdiction. “LET THOUSANDS PETALS BLOOM”
5. Please light a candle on the Main Gate of your houses at 8 PM on 26 Jul 2010 to commemorate valour of Kargil War Heroes. After saying a prayer for those brave hearts who never returned, place a marigold (Genda) flower next to it as a silent Tribute.
With Regards,
Jai Hind
Yours Sincerely,
Maj Gen (Retd) Satbir Singh, SM
Vice Chairman Indian ESM Movement

Letter to Secretary Department of ESM Welfare
To: Mrs Neelam Nath, IAS
The Secretary
Department of Ex-Servicemen Welfare
Govt of India , Ministry of Defence
Room No.100, South Block
NEW DELHI-110 011

1. I have the honour to state that I retired from the Army in the rank of Major General after 37 years of service on 31 Jul 2003. My pension was fixed at Rs.11,450/, which included the benefit of one stagnation increment earned in the rank of Major General.
2. Consequent to the Sixth Central Pay Commission, the pension of Major Generals (pre-2006 retirees) has been fixed at Rs.26,700/-. There is no benefit of the stagnation increments earned in that rank.
3. The difference in the pensions of a Major General and a Lieutenant General (pre-2006 retirees) is Rs.9800/- (36,500 - 26,700), while the difference in their pay at the highest of the scale was Rs.2100/-(24,500 - 22,400). Considering that the pension is 50 per cent of the last pay drawn, this difference ought to have been around Rs.1,050/-and not Rs.9,800/- as is the case now. Similarly, the difference in the pension of a Lieutenant Colonel and a Major General which is three ranks higher is Rs.1,000/- only. This seems highly illogical.
4. I do not seek enhancement of the pension through this application as the same is not within your purview. I wish to know the logic and reasoning for the following :-
(a) The differential in the pension of a Major General and a Lieutenant
General (both pre-2006 retirees) amounting to Rs.9,800/-, while the difference in pay of these ranks at the highest of the respective scales was Rs.2,100/- only.
(b) The logic for depriving the benefit of stagnation increments earned for service in the last rank held, especially since the same had been granted at the time of retirement.
5. I reckon that the above in no way jeopardises national security; hence there should be no difficulty in providing this information. An early response is requested.
Thanking you,
Yours Sincerely,
Maj Gen Prince Jit Singh Sandhu (Retd)
Copy to –
Shri AK Antony
Hon’ble Minister of Defence
Govt of India
South Block
NEW DELHI-110 011

IESM OROP demand: A disciplined and dignified struggle to seek justice

Dear Colleagues,
An IESM rally was held today at Charkhi Dadri in Haryana. It was attended by Gen Satbir, Hony Lt Pandey and self. There was a good representation of Service families in the 1500 strong group of participants. The event was anchored by Subedar Ved Pal and had representatives of several Districts.
The proclaimed theme of the rally was to thank the IESM for being instrumental in getting the recent enhancement in pensions. Several became IESM members on the spot; many others collected membership forms. There was a free exchange of views. Non extension of the enhancement to the widows was unanimously deplored.
It was resolved to continue with the struggle till our demand of OROP is met by the government. The need for keeping the struggle disciplined and dignified was also adequately underscored by several speakers.
Best regards,
Lt Gen (Emeritus) Raj Kadyan, PVSM, AVSM, VSM
Chairman IESM
Related articles on disability pension and widows pension
Ex-Army vice-chief challenges disability pension policy Vijay Mohan/TNS
The curious case of Surjit Kaur: Babus new lesson on Military History and Geography

National Security: Media articles of interest

Editor, Mumbai
This has reference to the article "The Wrong Diagnosis" by Chetan Bhagat (July 17 2010) Click here.
Almost all (honest) policy makers, intelligentsia and administrators, are clear and fully aware of what ails India. So it is not the wrong diagnosis and consequential wrong remedial measures that have failed to deliver results as Mr. Bhagat suggests. There is no denying that there is a crying need to reform the core of the country. As he says- what can be done about it - is the final question and this is where there is no unanimity and where extraordinary confusion rules. But his solution of exchange programmes between city and rural areas is too simplistic to be put into practice. Because firstly, no city student would ever opt to go to rural areas, since a young person is (rightly) more anxious about his career and future in this competitive world and cannot be turned into an idealist who would waste his valuable years experimenting for others. This can be guaged from the well known reluctance of medical students to do internship in rural areas. Secondly, it is too presumptuous to think that only the city students have imbibed modern values while those in rural areas have not. Going by the current picture of a majority of city students, it would appear that the rural student is in a better position to infuse values-modern or otherwise-amongst the city bred. Indeed, this arrogance of city dwellers that "we know what is good for you villagers" is the root cause of the great divide leading to imposition of ideas, which are far removed from reality.Take for instance the principled opposition of villagers to creation of SEZs and construction of huge dams and power stations which the policy makers wanted to impose on them. Therefore, it would be more appropriate to involve people from the rural grassroots, give them the power to decide what they want and devise solutions for themselves. The government must move away from the idea that they are rulers and the people are their subjects.
Yours faithfully,
Shashank Bendre
Wing Commander (Retd)

Media articles of interest
Triangular distribution: The dynamics of US-China-India relations: How will the three states reconcile their political instincts with their material interests?
7 blunders that will always haunt India By Maj Gen Mrinal Suman
Where are the real leaders? By Maj Gen Mrinal Suman
Blame politics; The government misses the irony of pursuing a military counter to Maoism while simultaneously seeking the repeal of AFSPA, says N.V.Subramanian.
The military in Kashmir. The army chief has spoken sensibly about the crisis-like situation in J and K, says N.V.Subramanian.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Five steps to fix the Naxals

General J F R Jacob | 2010-07-06 14:01:07
The anti-Naxal operations currently being conducted have achieved little, with the Maoists now openly challenging the government to do its worst. This is mostly due to the lack of understanding on the part of those in command of the methodology and conduct of counter insurgency operations.

The author had taken part in counter insurgency operations in Sumatra in 1945-46. Our columns were ambushed numerous times, but we were trained to react. We moved in a balanced tactical formation, by bounds - scouts, advanced guard and main body. Once we hit an ambush, we were able to deploy, encircle and break it.

Unfortunately this pattern of operation does not obtain with our paramilitary forces like the CRPF.

In 1970, I oversaw the establishment of the counter insurgency school in Mizoram. We ensured that before being inducted for counter-insurgency operations in the northeast, every battalion was put through intensive counter insurgency training for two whole months.

I have worked with Central Reserve Police [CRP] battalions, and they are good, solid units.

In 1965, when I was commanding the brigade at Samba we had 16 CRP with us. They looked after an unfenced and un-demarcated border with competence. There were several shootouts, and their performance was commendable.

Later in 1971 in East Pakistan, 16 CRP and other CRP battalions operated in border areas against the Pakistanis with courage and determination.

There is an old army saying: 'There are no bad units, only bad officers.’

The army, on the orders of then Prime Minister Mrs Indira Gandhi, was employed to break the Naxal revolt in West Bengal in 1969-71. Mrs Gandhi was pragmatic and took hard decisions, like she did in 1971.

Was Mrs Gandhi wrong? I think not. The Naxals were driven out of West Bengal by mid 1971.

Incidentally Toofani (the Dassault MD-450) and Hunter aircraft of the Indian Air Force bombed Aizwal town on March 4-5, 1966, to evict the Mizo rebels who had literally captured the town.

I do not recommend such offensive action. The air force should be used only for surveillance and logistics.

There are two factors required to keep an insurgency going - firm bases and lines of supply for money, arms and ammunition. As long as these factors obtain, the insurgency will continue.

In the present Naxal insurgency, their firm bases are in the jungles and villages, though they have started moving into the towns. The money they get is from taxes and forcible contributions. The arms they use are captured from the CRP and police. They also buy weapons from Nepal and Myanmar.

Since these two parameters still obtain and remain unbroken, the Naxals are therefore well equipped to fight on and they will do so until they achieve their aims.

There should be a review of the tactics employed by the paramilitary in counter insurgency operations. It is of little use just sending columns into the jungle to take on the elusive and highly mobile Naxal gangs. They are mobile, far more mobile than our paramilitary troops. Mobility is comparative, but it is also a key factor. Our CRP units must strive to be more mobile than the Naxals if they hope to have any effect. So far, these columns have achieved little.

The following method used by the author in1974-75 in intercepting two Naga gangs going to China to collect weapons should be employed. The second gang of some three hundred was surrounded and captured.

In a nutshell, this was the doctrine used by the author in those days, and they still have relevance today.
  • Find (By surveillance, local intelligence etc),
  • Fix (Ensure contact is maintained),
  • Surround (This is imperative, otherwise they will melt away),
  • Close in and finally,
  • Apprehend.

    The Indian army still puts whole battalions into counter insurgency training for two months at the counter insurgency school in Mizoram before deploying them for counter insurgency operations. The CRP too should have a fully fledged counter insurgency school based on the army model.

    If appropriate corrective measures are implemented, I am confident that that the CRP battalions will overcome the Naxals. I wish them all success.
    Editor's note:
    - Lt Gen Jacob is not an armchair warrior. He has dealt with terrorism and insurgency over a period of many years.
    - As a young major, he took part in intensive counter insurgency operations in Sumatra 1945/1946.
    - In 1970, he was responsible for setting up the army counter insurgency school in Mizoram.
    - He was in charge of anti-Naxal operations in West Bengal in 1969-1971. The then chief minister Siddharta Shankar Ray used to say: 'Jake and I, we broke the Naxals.'
    - In 1974/1975 the army intercepted two Naga gangs going to China [Jacob camped at Mokochong to conduct operations]. The army attacked their bases and finally forced the insurgents to sign the Shillong Accord in 1975. To recap tactics; interrupted their lines of supply for arms and ammunition from China and destroyed their bases within Nagaland. Twelve years of peace followed.
    - He oversaw operations in Mizoram and got the hostiles to the negotiating table in Calcutta. [Calcutta Conference] (1978).
    - On the other side of the coin, he was responsible in setting up the Bangladesh Mukti Bahini in April 1971, and oversaw their operations.
    - In October 2007, He was invited to speak to the American military, State Department and CIA at Capitol Hill. The lecture was broadcast live. The US Marine Corps subsequently requested permission to incorporate parts of the talk in their counterinsurgency doctrine.
    By the same author:
    Hamlet and the Naxals
    The truth behind the Navy's 'sinking' of Ghazi
    The Af-Pak boundary is not a border
    Gen JFR Jacob on the Afghan war
    The rocky road to Kargil
    A Himalayan Blunder: How our maps ceded land to China
    1971 War: Izzat and lessons unlearnt
    An Indian Homeland Act
    Time to protect the Thunder Dragon
    What the Dragon won't forget
  • Targeted from within

    Sunday, July 18, 2010, Chandigarh, India A Tribune Special: It’s time to give our defence forces their due, says Maj-Gen Pushpendra Singh (retd)Illustration: SANDEEP JOSHI
    India faces the gravest external and internal security threats today. Pakistan and China are colluding in besieging the nation from all land and sea frontiers and the Af-Pak end-game will, certainly, aggravate the situation.

    Internally in Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan’s Lashkar-e-Toiya, aided by anti-national elements, including some political parties, has unleashed a virulent psychological war to curtail the operational freedom of our security forces. In central India, China-sponsored Maoists have inflicted demoralising setbacks on the CRPF.

    However, their prime target is the defence forces, which in people’s eyes epitomise the best in India by virtue of proven valour, self-sacrifice, character and national commitment. Pakistan and China regard it the only obstacle to their proclaimed intentions of dismembering the country. Yet, the Centre and the states, politicians, peaceniks and Maovadis continue merrily playing into their hands.

    Foremost is the government itself which has kept the defence forces precariously short of critical weaponry. Ships, submarines, aircraft, artillery, infantry modernisation and strategic weapons — all remain dangerously deficient even 25 to 30 years after these requirements were first projected. While some procurement preliminaries have commenced, their induction and assimilation would still take many years. Can India afford to lower its guard for close to half a century? Yet, responsibilities in the Ministry of Defence are deliberately diffused. No Defence Minister or bureaucrat can ever be held accountable. Some field commanders may get the sack, a la Kargil!

    Some days ago, a Parliamentary Committee ‘reviewed’ preparations on our frontiers. Our infrastructure is woefully short, they stated, China is way ahead of us. Did it really take a Parliamentary Committee to discover what has been articulated by the Army for decades? The Chinese railway to Lhasa took a quarter century, but babustan seems to have just woken up to its game-changing reality.

    The campaign to dilute the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) has the militants and their sponsors salivating at the mouth. To get a perspective, we need only compare current counter-insurgency conflicts. The US uses artillery, aircraft and other heavy weapons against insurgents. Collateral damage is accepted – after all, making an omelette entails breaking eggs!

    To avoid incurring heavy army casualties, even Pakistan employs such stand-off strikes against its citizens in the Afpak region — disregarding civilian lives. In contrast, our Army endeavours to avoid any civilian casualties, consciously uses only small-arms, necessitating face-to-face fire-fights — a high-risk, high-casualty option. Hence, militants often use civilian shields to engage the army.

    As regards civilian deaths, over 95 per cent have been found baseless. In all proven cases, exemplary punishments have been expeditiously awarded by the Army’s justice system. Despite such commendable restraint, the life-and-death AFSPA decision will be taken by people who have never handled the butt of a rifle, leave alone fancied its business end. The Army will thus be forced to fight with both hands tied. Will it result in another partition? Only time will tell.
    While all democracies ensure that servicemen’s sacrifices are nationally recognised and rewarded, India is unique in cheating them of their dues and attempting to undermine their prestige. The mandarins in the Ministry of Defence are perceived to be in the forefront of this unequal ‘corporate war’ against the defence forces. The rank-pay case is illustrative.

    The Fourth Pay Commission (1986-1995) unambiguously awarded rank-pay in addition to basic pay. But babustan deceitfully deducted it while fixing the basic pay. Thirty-odd years afterwards, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the affected personnel. However, the Ministry of Defence has filed a review petition, despite having paid these very dues to Major Dhanapalan for 12 years. Is Union Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily listening?

    A Right to Information (RTI) application sought to know how many Supreme Court judgments had been honoured by the Ministry of Defence without facing contempt of court? The MoD sections for Army and Navy gave evasive replies, but the one for Air Force replied, ‘Not One!’ No wonder in Sidhu vs Union of India, Supreme Court Judges Justice Markandeya Katju and Justice A.K. Patnaik made scathing comments against the government in admitting defence personnel’s emoluments and pensions.

    The apex court asked the MoD counsel, “Is this the way you treat our army officers who are bravely defending the country’s borders? It is unfortunate that you are treating them worse than beggars.” Only, after much grovelling by the counsel did the court consent to keep some, even more incisive, comments off-record.

    No wonder, despite Parliament’s Standing Committee on Defence having repeatedly asked the government to grant one-rank-one-pension, babustan constantly cites its inability to do so. Ninety-five per cent of IAS and IPS officers, all judges and scores of other categories already have this pension, yet it is found impractical for defence forces!

    On July 7, 2008, a blast in Kabul killed Brig. Mehta and IFS officer V.V. Rao. The Ministry of Defence awarded family pension and other routine benefits for Mrs Mehta. However, for Mrs Rao, the MEA specially sanctioned lifetime full pay and retention of the official bungalow. Clearly, discrimination dogs defence forces even beyond the grave.

    Officer shortages have been endemic now for so many decades that the issue has been killed by bureaucratic strangulation. The figures are alarming except for a don’t-care government. Some 30 per cent officers are deficient overall. However, in battalions and regiments in combat zone, the shortage of young officers soars above 55 per cent! With the government taking pains to deny honour to our heroes, to treat them as ‘beggars’ for every crumb of ‘largesse’ which is the norm for other services, is it any wonder that suitable youth no longer opt for the ‘honour’ of defending the nation – a sea-change in just a few years? Yet, even as officer-shortage is a severe handicap in the current proxy war, it may well result in reverses should there be a border war.

    Consider the plight of ex-servicemen (ESM). Nearly 20,000 medals and awards have been handed over to Rashtrapati Bhavan in several batches. But the Supreme Commander has neither met the ESM surrendering their precious medals — emblems of sacrifice for the nation she symbolises — nor even acknowledged their concerns.

    Soldiering is still a tradition in India. Even today, sons (and daughters) follow their fathers into the Army. Naturally, when their elders are treated shabbily by the government, it impacts their serving kith and kin. The forces cannot be isolated from their forebears, but the blind babustan fails to see. Its ESM Welfare Department, modelled on the US Veterans’ Department, has no defence officer. The USA’s is headed by a combat-experienced Lt-General, a Cabinet member.

    Simultaneously, a sinister campaign to malign the forces has been launched by our enemies. The media, obsessed by circulation or TRPs, has willingly or unwittingly become their cat’s paw. Take the so-called Sukna scam involving the No Objection Certificate (NOC) for a school on private land — No money changed hands. Yet this non-issue was used to tarnish the Army image in reams of newspapers and hours of TV bulletins.

    Now compare these column-acres and TV-hours, with the minuscule coverage of braveheart Colonel Neeraj Sud, martyred on June 23, 2010, while personally leading his troops fighting militants. Also compare the homage paid to CRPF casualties by the Union Home Minister, Chief Ministers and high dignitaries, with the military-only national honours for Colonel Sud.

    An eminent journalist, while being appointed to a reputed national daily, was told by top management, “circulation is our sole dharma; national interest is not our concern!” So true! While covering the Kandahar hostage crisis, newspapers and TV channels unleashed competitive emotional reports with footages of hysterical relatives. Finally, the government was compelled to swap JeM chief Masood Azhar plus two terrorists for the hostages. The rest is history!

    We need to emulate the American media after 9/11. It stood solidly behind the US government and inspired the patriotic fervour and fortitude that swept the country after it.

    In our context, recalling Kautilya’s wisdom is pertinent: “Pataliputra reposes peacefully each night... thanks only to the Mauryan Army’s vigil ...While citizens enable the nation to prosper, the soldier guarantees that it continues to exist.”

    Governments can function (or not), the media can ignore national interest and politicians can shut down the nation, only so long as the nation exists. Therefore, some self-regulation, if only in selfish interest, becomes vital.
    Targeted from within
    Can we Combat Corruption?
    Fight against corruption: the role of ombudsman by Sudhanshu Ranjan
    OROP: The Sixth Pay Commission has done inestimable damage to civil-military relations. The protest rallies are actually a manifestation of the seething anger which many veterans carry as baggage accumulated during service. We all seem to have very bitter memories of the shoddy treatment meted out to us by civil servants. Over the years, the quality of the ‘administrative’ service rendered by bureaucrats has deteriorated.
    Indian military: Nation owes you by Surjit Singh 23 Feb 2009

    Army major under UN probe attempts suicide

    An Indian Army major, who is under probe by the United Nations mission in Congo on sexual exploitation and abuse charges, allegedly attempted suicide, but is now out of danger.

    Major R S Ghumman, who came under the scanner of the UN's Conduct and Discipline Unit (CDU) after he was allegedly found in the company of sex workers in a hotel there on July 6, tried to end his life "over the humiliation" he faced, army sources in the headquarters said in New Delhi on Saturday.

    "The officer attempted to commit suicide and it took place about four or five days ago, reportedly over the humiliation he faced due to the probe against him. But we do not have information on the manner in which he made the attempt to end his life," the sources said.

    During the course of questioning, Ghumman reportedly asked for a recess and was later found in a critical condition. The sources said they were not aware if he was found in the residential facilities or at the UN Mission's office, where he was being questioned.

    Fellow officers and men noticed him and rushed him to a nearby hospital, they said. "He is out of danger now. He is safe and the questioning has re-started," they added. An Indian Army Brigade is in Congo as part of a UN Mission for peacekeeping operations in the civil war-torn nation.

    Ghumman, belonging to the Jammu and Kashmir Rifles battalion, was with another officer from the Tunisian Army and the two were noticed getting out of the hotel with local women by an employee of the UN's Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS).

    After the employee reported the matter to the UN Mission, the investigations against him and the Tunisian officer were started for violating the rules, regulations and code of conduct for troops serving in the UN's Congo mission.

    Visiting sex workers while serving under the UN flag is barred under the peace-keeping rules and code of conduct prescribed for the Congo mission. Ghumman is also under investigation for violating the curfew imposed in the North Kivu province and for venturing out of the residential facilities for UN troops at night, both offences under the UN laws for the mission in Congo. The major is on the verge of completing his tenure in Congo and is expected back in India soon. The Indian army too might initiate disciplinary proceedings against him based on the CDU's probe report, if the charges were proved against him.
    Army major under UN probe attempts suicide

    Pakistan Army and ISI amply rewarded for support to Islamic extremism and terrorism

    Afghan prize would reward Pak for terror
    SHAUN GREGORY, Jul 18, 2010, 07.20am IST
    The US strategy in Afghanistan is in deep trouble. President Obama's December announcement that US forces would begin to draw down from July 2011 is being widely read in South Asia as the beginning of the endgame for the US and Nato in Afghanistan. Regional states are beginning to jostle for influence. They will be left for the second time in less than 25 years to deal with the consequences of a strategic retreat by a major power from Afghanistan. The nature of America's problems and Islamabad's support for the Afghan Taliban has moved Pakistan into poll position to recover its "strategic depth" in Afghanistan. If it does so, the Pakistan Army and ISI will undoubtedly conclude that their support for Islamic extremism and terrorism has been rewarded.

    All four strands of the US-led transition strategy are going badly. Efforts to create a powerful Afghan National Security Force to provide security across the country are faltering; the counterinsurgency or COIN strategy has backfired in Marjah and the Kandahar operation has been delayed; the peace and reconciliation process is failing because some of the main Afghan opposition parties have declined to participate and Taliban representatives have insisted they will not negotiate; and the efforts to legitimize the Karzai government have been undermined by fraudulent elections and ongoing allegations of corruption and incompetence. America's hand is being weakened further by the civil-military tensions exposed in the "Rolling Stone" article, which led to the sacking of General Stanley McChrystal. The United States has seen nothing like it since the 1971 publication of "The Pentagon Papers" foreshadowed the ignominious withdrawal from Vietnam.

    The dilemma for the United States and the rest of Nato is that with so much blood in the soil of Afghanistan and so much money spent to resource the war, the Alliance needs a success story to provide the political fig-leaf for disengagement and persuade their respective publics that the price has been worth paying. For the leaders of many Nato members, political futures are at stake. Yet the scale of challenge in Afghanistan is so great, and the need to find a resolution to the residual question of al-Qaida so pressing, that neither the US nor Nato can achieve an exit strategy on their own terms.

    The most plausible success story, and one which would allow forces to come home with political cover and the al-Qaida issue addressed, is that the US and Nato have achieved a stable transition in Afghanistan to an inclusive Afghan government, that the Taliban have given up support for al-Qaida and come into the political process, and that the US will retain a residual regional presence — as it has in Iraq — to maintain downward pressure on al-Qaida in the theatre. The United States has come to believe that the key to this entire narrative is Pakistan.

    Pakistan has resolutely supported the Afghan Taliban since it was forced to flee Afghanistan in late 2001 and it is from Pakistani sanctuaries and the main leadership shuras in Quetta, Gerdi Jangal, Miram Shah, and Peshawar that the Afghan Taliban has staged its comeback. Backed by the Pakistan Army/ISI the Afghan Taliban is now once again in the ascendancy in Afghanistan and is thus key to any US/Nato disengagement. This is why Pakistan's Generals Kayani and Pasha have made a series of recent visits to Kabul in which they have offered to broker deals with the various Afghan Taliban groups and the Karzai regime; it is why Pakistan has now cleared the way for Mullah Baradar to be extradited to Kabul to participate in the process, and it is why secret meetings have been held with Sirajuddin Haqqani, and others to seek to engineer an endgame. Pakistan has simultaneously been pushing its erstwhile proxy Gulbuddin Hekmatyar into the process and quietly boosting militant strength in the Afghan-Pakistan border region by facilitating the movement of Punjabi Taliban into the theatre. Pakistan is also circulating the idea that the Afghan Taliban will give up al-Qaida to reach a deal, even though there are few reasons to believe this is so and no means to enforce any such offer the Taliban might make to ease the US/Nato withdrawal.

    Pakistan's price for being helpful to the US is acceptance of Pakistan's primacy in Afghanistan and that it has a strong role in shaping US regional engagement going forward. It is a measure of the desperation of the US that they seem prepared to agree this deal, cede the lead to Pakistan, and condemn the people of Afghanistan to Taliban rule or to civil war.

    Simply put, the United States seems ready to reward Pakistan's duplicitous support for militant Islamic extremism with the huge geostrategic prize of Afghanistan. The implications of this for India are grave indeed and it is difficult to believe that a White House friendlier to Delhi would ever have countenanced such a deal. India is emerging as a great power and with great power come commensurate obligations. India must take a stronger hand in Afghanistan and find a response which provides the United States and Nato with another way forward, which offers the people of Afghanistan an alternative to the Taliban or civil war, and which denies Pakistan a strategic victory which will surely resonate across the region for generations to come.

    The writer is founder-director of the Pakistan Security Research Unit at the University of Bradford, UK
    Afghan prize would reward Pak for terror

    CRPF Jawan was gunned down after 4-hour drama

    The Hindu 17 July 2010
    A “drunk” CRPF jawan allegedly opened fire from his AK-47 rifle killing six of his colleagues, including an officer who had reprimanded him for consuming alcohol on duty, minutes before the shooting spree in Saraikela district of Jharkhand.

    The alleged shooter was gunned down after a four-hour drama by other CRPF personnel on Friday night, preventing any further casualties.

    Shocked by the incident, CRPF headquarters in New Delhi has rushed its Additional Director General (Headquarters) J.C. Dabas to the spot to find the facts about the fratricidal incident, along with other senior officials posted in the State overseeing anti-Naxal operations.

    Constable Harpinder Singh of the 196 battalion of the CRPF, who was on sentry duty at a camp in Kuchai village of Saraikela district, started firing indiscriminately on his colleagues at around 10 p.m., a CRPF spokesperson said.

    Six of his colleagues, including Assistant Commandant Bikau Singh, were killed in the firing.

    According to sources in the force, an altercation broke out between Singh and other CRPF men over the quantity of food being wasted in the company mess. Singh, who was the mess in-charge, started arguing.

    Assistant Commandant Bikau Singh then called these men into his tent to solve the issue.

    Bikau found Singh to be “drunk” and ordered a medical test, which enraged him, the sources said adding, he picked up his AK-47 rifle and shot dead four personnel, including the officer.

    Shooting spree

    The men at the camp tried for three hours to persuade Singh to drop the gun and surrender but the last straw came when he killed a sentry atop a watchtower, the sources said.

    Then the other jawans fired at him to disarm him and stop further killings.

    As Singh continued to fire, CRPF personnel at the camp shot him dead at around 2 a.m., the officer said.

    The dead included Head Constables M.C. Patil and I.R. Khairnar from Maharashtra, Head Constables P.T. Rao of Andhra Pradesh, Jatav Bhav Singh from Gujarat and Constable Vijay Kumar from Uttar Pradesh.

    The District Superintendent of Police and the Commandant of the battalion reached the site in the night itself. Police have registered a case, they said.

    Sources said Singh had resumed duty on June 18 after returning from a vacation.

    A report from Saraikela-Kharswan district said an FIR has been lodged in connection with the firing incident.

    Superintendent of Police Abhisekha Kumar said Constable Harpinder Singh, who opened the fire, was made accused in the FIR.

    Post-mortem of the bodies was conducted in a local government hospital on Saturday, Deputy Commissioner of Saraikela-Kharswan district A.K. Mishra said.

    A jawan, who was injured in the firing, has been admitted to MGM Hospital, he said.

    The SP, who visited the spot, said the preliminary investigation suggested that Harpinder Singh opened fire in a drunken state.
    Jawan was gunned down after 4-hour drama

    Press Note: Kargil Divas

    Dated: 18 July 2010
    Dear Members of the Media
    1. We wish to remind the people of India that eleven years back on 26 Jul 1999, demonstrating courage, valour, grit and determination, our Defence Forces recaptured every inch of our mother land and either killed or threw back every Pakistani infiltrator who had deceptively occupied the heights in Kargil Region while our then Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee was extending his hands of friendship to Pakistan in Lahore.
    2. During this War 543 Jawans, JCOs and Officers achieved martyrdom and over 1200 were seriously wounded. This war was fought at the heights of over 16000 feet in a most inhospitable rugged, stiff and steep mountain ridges. To honour the bravery and valour of our soldiers, the President of India awarded four Pram Vir Chakra (PVC), nine Maha Vir Chakras (MVC) and 55 Vir Chkras (VrC). Capt Vikram Batra, 13 JAK Rif, Lt Manoj Pandey 1/11 Gorkha Rifles, Grenadier Yogender Singh Yadav 18 Grenadiers and Rifleman Sanjay Kumar 13 JAK Rif were the recipients of highest Gallantry award of PVC.
    3. The Pakistani intruders had positioned themselves on Tololing Top, Tiger Hill, Pt 4875, Pt 4590, Pt 5100 and Pt 5140. The names of these hilltops (points) became familiar to the people of India as these were getting reported in Press and electronic media during successes of Indian Forces. Capt Vikram Batra played a sterling role in the capture of feature Pt 5140, a critical peak from the point of view that it overlooked the Srinagar– Leh highway which was important for logistics and supply of reinforcements for the Indian Army. Its capture facilitated in the capture of other hill tops ie Rt 4750, 4875 and Tiger Hill and finally lead to Indian eventual victory.
    4. After the capture of pt 5140, Capt Vikram Batra radioed his commanding officer and said the success signal “Yeh Dil Mange More” The words later went on to become a motivational slogan during the war and is used even now at various occasions like the Vijay Divas.
    5. The Defence Forces of India are the most patriotic forces in the world. They have always proved their worth during external and internal threats. They are the strongest pillars of our democracy. Indian Ex Servicemen Movement (IESM) working for the welfare of Defence Personnel requests all citizens of India to join in commemorating the valour and bravery of soldiers on the Kargil Vijay Divas on 26 Jul 2010. All citizens are requested to light a candle at the main gate of their homes at 8 PM on 26 Jul 2010 and after saying a prayer for those brave hearts who never returned, place a marigold (Genda) next to it as a silent tribute.
    6. At National Capital Region (NCR), the people are requested to reach India Gate at the their own time and light a candle there at 8 PM onwards as a mark of respect to the Martyrs. Kargil Vijay Divas is also being commemorated in others parts of the country.
    “Lets us join hands to salute the brave soldiers of India”
    With Regards,
    Jai Hind
    Yours Sincerely,
    Maj Gen (Retd) Satbir Singh, SM
    Battle for Batalik: During the Kargil conflict, it was in Batalik that the Indian Army faced its toughest challenge. It was also here that it won its first and finest victories, writes Vijay Mohan of The Tribune

    Kargil Divas 26 July 2010 at Noida

    I am writing to seek financial support for the Kargil Divas Homage ceremony on 26th July at Noida from 1100 to 1300 hrs at Shaheed Smaarak, Sector 29 NOIDA.
    We need sponsorship for tentage and other infrastructure and for refreshments for attendees. We expect around 300- 500 attendees.
    Veterans wishing to contribute, may send in the cheque to the IESM Regd Office.
    NCR based veterans/ veteran groups can also commit to attend to ONE facet of the event, say refreshment, tentage, printing etc.
    Those veterans able to organize sponsorship from corporate may please chip in. Sponsorship banners would be displayed at the Reception counter. This can be good PR for hotel/ restaurant industry like Haldiram, Yo China etc.
    Contact undersigned for any clarifications. Thanks.
    With Warm Regards,
    Col RP Chaturvedi


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