Monday, November 18, 2013

CNR Rao calls politicians idiots
Bangalore, November 17
Venting out the dissatisfaction in the scientific community over “inadequate” funding, Bharat Ratna awardee and eminent scientist CNR Rao today had an angry outburst as he called politicians “idiots” for giving them “so little”.

Addressing a press conference a day after the award was announced, Rao, who is the Chairman of Prime Minister's Scientific Advisory Council, stressed the need for providing more resources for research.
“....for the money that government has given to scientific sector, we have done much more,” he retorted, when a reporter asked if he felt that the standard of the scientific research in the country. “....Why the hell these idiots these politicians have given so little for us. In spite of that we scientists have done something,” Prof Rao said, losing his cool.
“Our investments are marginal, comes late.... for that money we have got, we have performed. For the money we have been getting it is not bad at all, after all this kind of money is nothing.”
Asked about China progress, the scientist said that, “We also have to take blame on ourselves, Indians we don’t work hard, we are not like Chinese. We are easy going and we are not as much nationalists...If we get some-more money we are ready to go abroad.” — PTI
Pensioners to get arrears from Jan 2006 Apex court upholds earlier orders in favour of employeesVijay Mohan
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, November 17
The Supreme Court has dismissed the review petition filed by the Central Government wherein the government had prayed that the benefits of pension arising out of the rectification of anomalies of pre-2006 pensioners should be granted from September 2012 and not January 2006.
Consequently, all affected defence and civilian pensioners would now be entitled to arrears with effect from January 1, 2006, the date of implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission (SPC), and not just for the past about 14 months as was the government’s intention.
After the plea of the Central Government praying for release of pension arrears from September 2012 rather than January 2006 was dismissed by the Supreme Court in July this year, the Department of Pensions and Pensioners’ Welfare (DoPPW) had referred the file for further action to the law and finance ministries, which then directed the DoPPW to file a review petition.
The controversy on implementation of the SPC recommendations had been simmering for defence as well as civilian pensioners since January 2006. The issue involved the interpretation whether pension would be based on the minimum pay within the pay-band (PB 1,2,3 or 4) or the minimum of pay of the pay-scale applicable to various grades and ranks. Each pay band consists of several pay scales. The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) had however ruled in favour of pensioners and had directed re-fixation of pension from January 2006.
An anomaly committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary had finally corrected the anomaly but the arrears of the corrected pension were directed to be released by the government only with effect from September 24, 2012 rather than January 1, 2006.
When the decision of the CAT was challenged before the Delhi High Court, it was again directed by the High Court that arrears would flow from the date of inception of the anomaly, that is, January 1, 2006 and not September 24, 2012. The government had challenged the decision of the Delhi High Court by way of an SLP before the Supreme Court but the SLP was also dismissed.
A similar case filed by Maj Gen K Khorana for military pensioners is pending before the Chandigarh Bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal. Sources said the DoPPW had earlier supported the demands of pensioners but the same had been opposed by the Department of Expenditure in the Ministry of Finance. 
Army coup story came from a fertile brain: VK Singh 
A routine movement which is meant to test certain units for their efficiency for certain tasks, if that gets construed (as coup), then God help us.
General VK Singh, former army chief
Mumbai, November 17
Former Army chief General VK Singh has dismissed the story of an alleged coup attempt by Indian army in January 2012 as the product of a "very fertile brain" and said it was at "somebody's behest".
"That (coup bid) story was at the behest of somebody," he said. "A routine movement which is meant to test certain units for their efficiency for certain tasks, if that gets construed (as coup), then God help us," he said. The former Army chief was speaking at the launch of his autobiography, "Courage and Conviction", at the 'Literature Live' literary festival here last evening.
Asked if it was necessary to have live missiles as part of the movement, General Singh replied, "Obviously. You move with the complete ammunition. You don't take duds with you. How will you know the timing taken to draw those missiles. How will you get the lessons," he said. "This was a story which came out from a very "fertile" brain," he said. "When you mobilise, then you mobilise with everything," General Singh added.
To a query on the "phobia" about the armed forces in government, the retired Army chief said, "This phobia or this paranoid feeling... I have talked about it in the book.” — PTI

Sunday, October 27, 2013

                Army Officer: Butler in Public
By Lt Col S. Riaz Jafri (Retd.) Pak Army Signals
                                                 Westridge, Rawalpindi

During the recent swearing-in ceremonies of the PM and others being televised live, I noticed a senior army officer pushing the chair for a dignitary, which took me back to an event in1954.  Allow me to narrate it in some details.
It was the first re-union of the Corps of Pakistan Signals in March 1954  and the finals of the Inter Regimental Hockey were being played at the GHQ Signals Regiment Rawalpindi hockey ground. General Muhammad Ayub, then the C-in-C of Pakistan Army, was the chief guest. It was customary then, and it may be the practice is still in vogue now, to detail a local ADC from the unit for the visiting General as the unit officer was expected to be better informed of the local environs than the General’s actual ADC. I, a Second Lieutenant, was detailed to perform this onerous task and was introduced to the General on his arrival by our then Director of Signals, Brig. Zaman Janjua (an uncle and godfather of Asif Nawaz Janjua, later General and the COAS of Pakistan Army).
I felt heavy over my shoulders for the task assigned to me but at the same time was looking forward excitedly to the best part of the job -  to ride in the Chief’s car after the match, sitting in the rear all by myself, and directing the chauffeur to take it to the JCOs’ mess where the General accompanied by the officers was to take a short cut on foot for addressing a Durbar and later attend the Bara Khana there. During the match I was seated immediately behind the General in the second row on an upright chair while the Brig. was sitting next to him on the sofa. After a while General turned his head half back towards me and asked for the cigarette. (For security reasons Cs-in-C did not smoke others’ cigarettes). I cranked my body rearwards and signaled the Chief’s big moustachioed and turbaned chauffeur for the cigarettes, raising my two fingers motioning for a smoke.  He immediately produced a States Express Triple Nine (999) tin and the General taking a cigarette lighted it with his Ronson lighter. I felt pleased for having performed my first task efficiently and reasonably well. 
During the interval a mess waiter brought the tea for the General – a simple cup of tea and a few biscuits. While the General was helping himself with a drop of milk and half a spoon of sugar, I, without even getting up from the chair stretched myself a little forward and pushed the coffee table by the side of the General closer to him to place the teacup on it. The match came to the end and the General was chatting affably with the players when Brig. Zaman started  slowly closing in upon me. With a menacing look in his eyes, clenched teeth and in a low voice so that others around do not hear but certainly in a harsh tone, he chastised me stern and straight there, “Since when have you started behaving like a butler in public?”.  “Beg your pardon, Sir?”  I stammered. I did not have the foggiest idea of what I had done.
Don’t push the table yourself. Ask someone around to do it. You are an officer and behave like one.”
 Having scolded me well and proper he melted away, leaving me aghast.  Oh my God – that was some dressing down.  I forgot all about the prestigious ride in the Chief’s limo – in fact I did not have the heart to ride in it anymore.  I asked someone to explain the route to the driver and trailed behind the others  towards the JCOs’ Mess.
That evening we had the Corps Reunion Dinner in the Signals Officers’ Central Mess, Rawalpindi .  General Ayub was the Chief Guest and in his usual best. The Army’s entire top brass was there and so were many young and senior Signals Officers. Cold drinks were being served before the dinner and everyone seemed to be enjoying the evening. Only I had not recovered from the reprove of the evening  and was mulling over it quietly in a corner with other subalterns. Suddenly, I noticed Brig. Zaman, glass in hand, weaving through the maze of officers as if looking for someone and lo; sure he smiled as he spotted me. Seeing him making for me I lunged forward and wished him ‘Good Evening, Sir’.   Putting his arm round me he pressed it lightly and patting me on the back affectionately said, “Jaff, look after your guest (the General). Do anything you wish here. This is your home and you are the host. Go and get him a drink”. The Brigadier was clearly compensating for the reprove he had administered to a subaltern earlier that evening.
Oh! Blessed be the Lord, he didn’t have to do it. But, how thoughtful, how fatherly, how  magnificently compassionate of him?!  Second Lieutenant Jafri was immediately his old jovial self and part of the crowd.  The Brigadier had salvaged the spirits of a young officer.
Time marches on.  In comes  January 1970. Preparations to stage the annual Horse & Cattle Show at the Fortress Stadium Lahore are near completion.  General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi is holding one of his daily adm conferences for the final fine tuning of the event. 
The Shah of Iran was to be the Chief Guest at the Opening Ceremony.  “Who will present the Shah with the scissors in the platter to cut the ribbon?”, asks the General.   All present look expectantly towards him for the honor.  “Who else  deserves it more than the person  who has worked so hard to make this show a success ?” 
and then with a poignant pause, he announces, “ CO Signal Battalion”.  There is a thunderous applause from all.  But lo and behold, Lieutenant Colonel Riaz Jafri rises somberly and says impassively, “Sir, I am sorry, I cannot do it”. There is a hush. Everyone is wonder struck at such a response.   “But why,  oh Shah Jee, why?”, asks General Niazi. (Niazi used to address Col. Jafri as Shah Jee at times).  “Because, Sir, I cannot be a butler in public!” Replied Colonel Jafri calmly. Somewhere deep down in him Second Lieutenant Jafri had spoken out.
And, up above in the heavens. Brig. Zaman nodded his approval with an understanding smile. May he keep smiling ever there in the heavens. Ameen.

The Reality Behind An All-Weather Friendship

The much-lauded ties with Beijing has come at a terrible cost for Islamabad
Ayesha Siddiqa
2013-10-26 , Issue 43 Volume 10

 an equal footing? Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang
On an equal footing? Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. Photo: AFP
Does the the average Pakistani feel that bilateral relations with China are deeper than the ocean and higher than the Himalayas? Ask an ordinary citizen this question and he/she will parrot this myth without taking a deep breath. However, it takes a bit of unpacking before one begins to see that this statement is nothing more than a half-truth. At best, the bilateral ties can be described as a strong relationship between two States and their militaries, which is tactical from Beijing’s perspective and strategic from Pakistan’s.
I remember a conversation with Tariq Fatemi, a retired career diplomat and adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on foreign relations. The discussion was about Pakistan’s strategic relationship, and to Fatemi, China was the only country that qualified to be placed in that category. Using a traditional textbook definition of ‘strategic’, Fatemi believed that China was the only country in the whole wide world that strengthened Pakistan militarily.
Although a lot is made out of the assistance provided to Islamabad in the field of nuclear weapons technology, some scientists from the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) disagree with the notion. They believe that while a lot of attention was focussed on Dr AQ Khan and Chinese assistance, the PAEC did a lot of work indigenously. Pakistan had a fine bunch of scientists, engineers and technicians who will be buried in history without any reference in history books about their hard work and tremendous efforts in acquiring nuclear weapons technology. This is not to say that AQ Khan and China did not do anything, but that there is far more credit given than what is deserved.
In any case, many people believe that China has extracted far more in return for services rendered to Pakistan. This is obvious in three critical areas: defence production, economic cooperation and mineral exploration. For instance, most of the defence production deals have no inbuilt offset arrangements. Besides, in most of the projects, such as the co-development and co-production of the K-8 jet trainer, JF-17 Thunder fighter aircraft or the F-22P frigate, most of the value addition is done inChina. Indubitably, this is not Beijing’s fault but Pakistan’s where military men don’t understand transfer of technology and the necessity of direct and indirect industrial offsets.
However, the realisation that modern China is different from the mythical country, which opened its doors to Pakistan and gave it free weaponry during the 1965 war with India, often comes as a shock to military men, especially those dealing with the procurement of military hardware. It is not expected from a strategic friend to pack its financial estimates with a lot of fat and force Islamabad to buy certain equipment.
Then there are officers, who are clueless when confronted with the reality that the Chinese indulge in paying kickbacks as much as any other arms seller. As far as military equipment is concerned, Pakistan has serious limitations. Due to a dearth of resources, Islamabad is gradually building dependency on Chinese equipment. And this pertains to all three services. But generally speaking, we don’t hear a lot of chatter about China, mainly due to secrecy around military matters.
However, there is greater talk when it comes to economic ties where traders and businessmen often complain about the negative impact of the free trade agreement with China on business and industry in Pakistan. For instance, a glance at the 2011 trade figures show that while 18.9 percent of imports were from China, the comparative export figure was 7.7 percent. The dumping of Chinese goods has almost destroyed the small and medium-sized industry in Pakistan. Chinese manufacturers have even started to make traditional shoes called khusas or jutees, which does not bode well for small and medium enterprises in that area of production. Nonetheless, the government tends to curb these complaints and sacrifice interests of local business and industry to keep a military-strategic relationship intact.
A similar situation pertaining to preferential treatment for Chinese interests prevails in the field of mineral resources. Beijing has gradually consolidated its interests to dominate its allies’ mineral reserves. Pakistan, it is worth noting, has the world’s fifth largest coal reserves (184 billion tonnes) and a huge reservoir of copper, zinc, lead, gold and aluminum. There is already a lot of talk about using Chinese help to tap the coal reserves for use in producing electricity. As far as copper reserves are concerned, Chinabegan to establish its interests in 2001-02 when it managed to wrangle a contract already awarded to Australian company BHP Billiton. Sources familiar with these operations say that since China bagged the Saindek copper mine project, the country had its eyes on an even larger copper reserve at Reko Diq in Balochistan. The exploration project deal, which was given to a Canadian firm, was finally cancelled in 2011-12. Many believe it will eventually land with Beijing. The fact that the Reko Diq contract, initially awarded to a Canadian company, was cancelled by intervention of the Supreme Court raises a lot of questions whether the Chinese managed to approach the Chief Justice. After all the CJ’s son is known to be on the take from business firms and entrepreneurs.
Furthermore, China has a monopoly over oil and gas drilling in Pakistan. Officials and industry experts complain about how even government entities like the Oil and Gas Development Corporation (OGDC) are not allowed to compete for drilling bids against Chinese companies. This is despite the fact that the OGDC has better technical capacity than its Chinese counterparts. The quality of Chinese drilling is fairly poor with machines collapsing ever so often. But Islamabad does not want to annoy its partner, which is expanding in other strategic areas as well such as Gilgit-Baltistan and Gwadar. Although Chinese presence in Gilgit-Baltistan is rubbished as Indian propaganda, locals talk about a large number of Chinese operating in the area. As far as Gwadar is concerned, Islamabad is interested in China developing the port and adjoining areas. This is both from a development and military-strategic perspective. It is believed that building Beijing’s stakes in the area will be a counter-weight to New Delhi.
But then, Gilgit-Baltistan and Balochistan are not the only places that are seeing a spike in Chinese presence. Anyone comparing the Islamabad of five years ago with today would almost feel like there are Chinese dropping out of every tree. The presence of the Chinese is quite visible. They even have their own neighbourhoods. Many of the culturally liberal types appreciate the significance of the military-strategic relationship because a number of Chinese bars in posh neighbourhoods serve liquor while authorities look the other way. The final clash between the clerics of the Lal Masjid and government forces in Islamabad in 2007 had occurred after the madrasa students tried to close down a Chinese massage parlour.
Referring to the increased Chinese presence, there are different estimates for the number of Chinese people in the country engaged in various construction or other projects. The estimates vary from 30,000 to 100,000. Chinese companies tend to bring their own workforce, which means they contribute very little in job creation. In fact, the Chinese prefer their own people than building human resource potential in Pakistan. This could be due to the fact that not many people are familiar with the Chinese language in Pakistan. Although the Sindh government had announced the addition of Chinese language to the secondary school curriculum, and a few elite schools in Islamabad are also doing the same, this is probably a long-term investment that will bear fruit at a later stage. Meanwhile, Islamabad does not seem interested in engaging Beijing in a conversation in this regard. The government does not even object to the fact that most mineral reserves and oil and gas exploration projects are documented in Chinese, which makes it difficult for Pakistanis to hold the strategic friends properly accountable.
China is indeed a major factor in the future of Pakistan’s economy and, perhaps, politics. Beijing is well-liked because it does not interfere in politics or make claims like the US does. However, this is a very limited relationship in which tensions will grow in the future unless a conscious effort is made for the people of the two countries to become familiar with each other.
Siddiqa is an Islamabad-based columnist and the author of Military Inc
Strategic India moves on
October 25, 2013 14:06 IST
altThe India that needs strategic alliances, defence cooperation and engaging meaningfully with neighbouring countries is quietly moving ahead with confidence, says Tarun Vijay.

Eight is a lucky number in China and so is it in India. If people pay large amounts of money in Beijing and Shanghai to get the number eight on their cars and mobile phones, in India, from Jammu to Ahmedabad and Kochi to Dibrugarh, eight is the symbol of Goddess Durga, the provider of Shakti, ultimate power. Ashtbhuja Devi or the eight-handed Goddess is the most sacred and powerful goddess we worship.
Hence, when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh moved from Nehru’s five, ie, the Panchsheel, to number eight, in his speech given at the Central Party School in Beijing, dwelling at length the eight-point structural road of mutual cooperation and strategic partnership with China, it was more than mere symbolism. India’s latest eight points present a picture of a rising, confident power and, interestingly, doesn’t hesitate to seek Chinese expertise in various fields to build a partnership for accelerating growth.
Speaking about the ‘opportunities for cooperation between India and China’, Singh said, “I would like to highlight eight specific areas in this regard”.
One, we need to pay much greater attention to the expansion and modernisation of our infrastructure. India plans to invest US $ 1 trillion in infrastructure in the next five years and we would welcome China’s expertise and investment in this sector.
‘Two, we need to increase our agricultural productivity in order to reduce rural-urban disparities in income and manage efficiently the process of mass urbanisation, which is a phenomenon common to both our countries. China has significant experience of urbanisation and our national planners, city administrators and entrepreneurs should share experiences and seek solutions in dealing with the physical, social, environmental and human challenges of mobility and urbanisation.
‘Three, we want to draw upon China’s strengths in the manufacturing sector, which is vital for providing mass employment. India, for its part, has strength in services, innovation and certain manufacturing sectors, which can benefit China. A related challenge for India is in skill development, where we can learn from each other’s experience.
‘Four, as large and growing consumers of energy, we should intensify cooperation on the shared challenges of energy security, including the joint development of renewable energy resources, as well as working jointly with third countries.
Five, in an uncertain global environment, India and China can work together to impart stability to the global economy and sustain growth in our two economies by leveraging our resources, large unsaturated demand, economies of scale and our growing income levels.
‘Six, protectionist sentiments in the West have increased and the global trading regime may become fragmented by regional arrangements among major countries. India and China have a vital stake in preserving an open, integrated and stable global trade regime even as we work together to foster regional economic integration. We should also intensify our efforts to support trade and investment and reduce risks in emerging markets. The BRICS Development Bank and the Contingency Reserve Arrangement are examples of such cooperative efforts.
‘Seven, both India and China are heirs to civilisations that value nature and have practised sustainability through the ages. We should ensure that the international response to climate change does not constrain our growth and that it continues to be based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.
‘Eight, terrorism, extremism and radicalism emanating from our neighbourhood affect both of us directly and can create instability across Asia. Similarly, maritime security in the Pacific and Indian Oceans is vital for our economies just as peace and stability in West Asia and Gulf are essential for our energy security.’
We have come a long way from 1962 and if there are weaknesses, there are points of strength too. The 24x7 self-deriding attitude is not only demoralising for the forces but also lets the enemies become more offensive and aggressive. Whatever colour the central government wears, no one can dare to compromise on national interest. That’s the power of our democracy and the inherent flow of patriotism running through the veins of our foreign office constituents too.   
Fight we must in the domestic arena, but India abroad must wear only one colour, the tricolour.
Covering the PM’s China visit, the media dwelt more on the delicious food and the popular Hindi movie numbers played,but the real flavour lay in the delicacy of the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement signed by Manmohan Singh and Li Keqiang. The basic source of all tension and escalating anger against each other is the border tension. The BDCA is a major milestone that should prove helpful to reduce border area scuffles and the resultant public anger. That China and India agreed to ensure neither side will “follow or tail” the patrols of the other side not only in areas which are still awaiting a mutually agreed line of control, but also along the Line of Actual Control, is a major understanding achieved for the first time since 1962. Such a clause will help immensely to reduce the possibility of any gunfire or escalation of a confrontation on the borders. It also includes a clause that in case of a face-to-face situation, both sides “shall exercise maximum self-restraint, refrain from any provocative actions, not use force or threaten to use force against the other side, treat each other with courtesy and prevent exchange of fire or armed conflict”.
The other points of the agreement show a pathway to implement what is contained in the first clause, ie, exchanging information on military exercises, aircraft, demolition operations and unmarked mines, organising flag meetings and the India-China Annual Defence Dialogue. As a relaxing factor, joint celebration of each other’s national days, military days of importance and cultural festivals is also envisaged.
Apart from the major issue of boundary settlement and the humiliating stapled visa incidents, correcting the trade imbalance and ensuring a just and non-threatening usage of Tibetan water resource is a difficult terrain to be negotiated. According to the latest reports, in 2012-13, India’s trade deficit with China was about $39 billion, against $37 billion in 2011-12. In 2012-13, India’s exports to China stood at $13.53 billion, while imports stood at $52.24 billion. And can we envisage an agreement based on international law between India and China on the lines of being upper and lower riparian states as the two countries share 16 major rivers?
So one can safely say that whatever the flavour of desi politics, the India that needs strategic alliances, defence cooperation and engaging meaningfully with neighbouring countries is quietly moving ahead with confidence.
In less than a month’s time, India engaged with the US, Belgium, Turkey, Hungary, ASEAN, and now Russia and China. Perhaps it will be the first time that an Indian prime minister would be visiting Moscow after a defence hardware and technology transfer agreement with the US, although our foreign minister had dashed off to Kremlin from Washington, DC, ostensibly in a bid to remove any misgivings that India is slowly replacing Russian military suppliers with Western ones, the chemistry that was evident in Moscow during the Singh-Putin talks showed the importance India commands.
Emphasising that relations with India predate 1947, Putin gave Singh a precious artwork dating to 1890-91 that was brought by Nicolas II before he ascended the throne of imperial Russia. The media described as “a gesture beyond normal protocol” when Putin gave Singh a Mughal-era coin and a map of India that dates to the turn of the 19th century.
Even Putin’s Beijing visit was not successful in inking a long-term gas supply contract, so the Kudankulam kinks can wait a bit, but seeing the warmth both leaders exhibited, it shouldn’t be a problem to have it sorted out sooner.
India was obviously reminiscing about Russian help during India’s critical times and Manmohan Singh repeated once again what all other leaders have been telling Kremlin in emotional words: "No country has had closer relations with India and no country inspires more admiration, trust and confidence among the people of India than Russia".
With Russia we must sort out the differences in bilateral defence cooperation. Can the Akula-II (rechristened INS Chakra) submarine prove a cementing force once again? (The Akula-II class nuclear-powered submarine K-152 Nerpa was commissioned to the Indian Navy on January 23, 2012. The nuclear-powered submarine, to be leased to India for 10 years, has been rechristened INS Chakra by India, and will be the only submarine that India will have after a period of 20 years).
There have been a number of such steps, which have brought India and Russia back on the same old platform of trusted strategic partnership that existed before India’s experiments with military hardware supply diversification idea. India test-firing the new version of BrahMos cruise missile is one such feat. India and Russia have also reaffirmed “convergence of views” on Syria, Afghanistan and terrorism.
Really very true. It will be a folly if India chose to ignore Russia in search of other options. It may not only not get new long-term trustworthy allies but also lose Moscow’s time-tested friendship too.
And before Moscow, USA was quite warm. Not just good food, President Obama broke protocol to see off the Indian prime minister and came up to his car, a first that was projected so well by an obliging media.
India had the biggest defence cooperation agreement finalised in Washington, that includes defence technology transfer, joint research, co-development, and co-production. President Obama encouraged the further participation of US firms in India's efforts to enhance its defence capacities and welcomed India's decision to participate in the Rim of Pacific naval exercise hosted by US Pacific Command in 2014. 
"We believe that if there's a strong India, that's good for the world, and it's ultimately good for the US," Obama declared.
Prime Minister Singh flagged India's concerns over terrorism emanating from across the border and described Pakistan as the "epicentre of terrorism".
USA’s assurances notwithstanding, it will be imprudent to ignore Washington’s $ 1.5 bn resumed assistance to Islamabad immediately after Singh left. And during Nawaz Sharif’s Washington visit, US Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the US and Pakistan would wage a joint war against terrorism.
The newspaper headlines on Nawaz-Obama meet were: ‘Obama, Nawaz agree on joint strategy to counter terrorism for regional stability’.
And they want us to believe this.
The US certainly inspires in us democratic values, pluralism and an all-encompassing model of progress. The mere mention of Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr, John F Kennedy makes us feel energised by noble values. But it’s time we also see if the White House has implemented the values it espouses.
The recent Garry J Bass book, Blood Telegram, reveals more than what we had known all along. The disdain of the Nixon era, the Kissinger backstab, help to all the despots and feeding military hardware with unending dollar grants to India’s arch enemies like Pakistan, and the spiteful words used for Indira Gandhi and the Indian people by Nixon and Kissinger, are just a few examples of US duplicity.
Let’s wish that India gains more in strength to defend its interests more vigorously. It’s Indian sinews and will that matters the most.
Image: Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh with the premier of the People's Republic of China, Li Keqiang, in the Forbidden City, Beijing, China on October 23, 2013 ' Courtesy: Press Information Bureau.
Tarun Vijay is member of the Rajya Sabha; member, Parliamentary Consultative Committee on the ministry of external affairs; member, Parliamentary Standing Committee on the ministry of human resource development; member, Parliamentary Group on India China Friendship.
Tarun Vijay
India needs to deal firmly with Pak on Kashmir 
Resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir problem between India and Pakistan has defied most theories and approaches of conflict resolution. India needs to safeguard its interests and keep in mind that strength respects strength while the weak get pushed aroundDinesh Kumar

EXACTLY 67 years ago on 25th October 1947, an Army Airlift Committee headed by the Air Marshal heading what was then known as the Royal Indian Air Force (RIAF) was formed to initially discuss ways and means of sending supplies and arms to Kashmir which was under the invasion of tribesmen from Pakistan. Muzzaffarabad, Domel, Chinari and Uri had fallen and the invaders or razakars, as they were known, were closing in on Baramulla. That very morning the Defence Committee of the Cabinet chaired by Lord Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten met to discuss the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) Hari Singh's request for troops that had been received the previous night (24th October).
Army soldiers take positions during an encounter with militants at Tangdar area in Kupwara district.
Army soldiers take positions during an encounter with militants at Tangdar area in Kupwara district. — PTI
On 26th October Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession and a decision was taken to airlift troops to the Valley. That same day, the razakars went about brutally massacring about 11,000 of the 14,000 residents of Baramulla and wantonly raping and abducting women, including European nuns, while destroying the Mohra power station which supplied electricity to Srinagar. It was in fact this savage orgy of sordid killings, rape (the local theatre was converted into a rape centre), loot, plunder, vandalism and desecration that slowed the movement of the razakars or else they would surely have run over Srinagar and prevented the landing of Indian Army soldiers at Srinagar airfield thereby possibly changing the course of history.
Shortly before midnight the same day, a signal was flashed to 1 Sikh battalion, the nearest located Infantry unit to Delhi (stationed in Gurgaon), to reach Palam airport by 4 am the following morning (27th October). The battalion was not up to full strength and so in order to make up for the shortfall, Sikh personnel from 13 Field Regiment, an artillery regiment then stationed at the Red Fort in Delhi, were hastily organised into an Infantry company and temporarily placed under the 1 Sikh battalion.
An extraordinary operation
Thus on 27th October 1947, barely two months after Independence, 28 vintage Dakota aircraft carrying 474 Army soldiers took off for Srinagar. Six of these Dakotas were civilian and carried 15 soldiers each while the remaining 22 RIAF Dakotas carried 22 soldiers each. So uncertain was the situation in the Valley that the battalion's commanding officer, Lt Col Dewan Ranjit Rai, was instructed to first circle Srinagar airfield and carefully scan the countryside to check whether the raiders had already occupied it. If so, he was to fly back and land in Jammu.
"Such a rider to an operational intrusion", observes the official history of the 1947-48 war, "must surely be unique in modern military history, and was an indication of the uncertainty, hazards and difficulties facing the Indian troops when they went to Kashmir. Even the details and locations of friendly troops in the state on that date were not known to the Indian Army headquarters", states the history. Indeed, saving Srinagar and securing its airfield was of paramount importance since Srinagar was located 480 km from Pathankot, the northernmost Indian railhead at that time.
The first aircraft, piloted by Group Capt. Karori Lal Bhatia (later awarded the Vir Chakra), then commanding 12 Squadron, landed at Srinagar airfield at 8.20 am. Since then, 27th October is observed as Infantry Day.
During the 14 month and five day war which followed, the Army lost 1,103 soldiers including 76 officers and 31 junior commissioned officers (JCOs). Another 3,152 soldiers including 81 officers and 107 JCOs were wounded. The RIAF lost 31 men including nine officers. That the war was full of heroic deeds and valour by the Army is evident from the long list of gallantry awardees that include five Param Vir Chakras (three posthumous), the highest wartime gallantry medal, 53 Maha Vir Chakras (18 posthumous which included Lt Col Rai), and 313 Vir Chakras (57 posthumous).
However, instead of regaining the entire state, the political leadership of that time chose to pull its punches and stop. This was notwithstanding the death of Mahomedali Jinnahbhai (better known as Muhammad Ali Jinnah, in September 1948), the availability of more Army troops following the successful 'Police Action' against the Nizam and his troops in Hyderabad (September 1948), and the Army's successfully freeing Poonch of its year-long siege by the Pakstanis (December 1948). The latter was, however, made possible following a major diversion of troops which resulted in the Army being unable to retake Muffafarabad, Domel and the vital Haji Pir Pass that has subsequently proven to be a strategic blunder in Jammu and Kashmir.
A complicated problem
For decades now, the J&K issue has become badly complicated, mired as it is in ideological and territorial dispute. For, J&K is divided among three countries - India (48 per cent), Pakistan (33 per cent) and China (19 per cent) and has five types of borders — the International Boundary or IB (about 200 km) with Pakkstani Punjab; the Line of Control or LoC (740 km) with Pakistan Occupied Kashmir or POK; the Actual Ground Position Line or AGPL (110 km) ahead of the Siachen glacier starting from a point known as NJ 9842 to Indra Col; the Unnamed Boundary or UB (40 km) with Chinese occupied Shaksam Valley; and the Line of Actual Control or LAC with Chinese occupied Aksai Chin region of Ladakh. India has deployed three different forces along these five 'borders' — the Border Security Force along the IB, the Indo Tibetan Border Police along portions of the 'border' with China in Ladakh and the Army along the LoC, AGPL, UB and the LAC This is the only region where the Indian Army simultaneously faces armies of two different countries - Pakistan and China.
The J&K problem both started of as and primarily remains an Indo-Pak issue. It is the difference in approach that remains palpitating and will continue to come in the way of a solution. For Pakistan, J&K is a Muslim majority state that should logically form part of their country in keeping with their belief in the Two-Nation theory and remains an unfinished agenda of partition. J&K consistently figures at the centre of Pakistan's foreign policy and its national psyche vis-à-vis India. In India, J&K is viewed as a geographical region that Pakistan (and China) has illegally and forcibly occupied and therefore must vacate. India rejects the notion that division should be on religious lines considering that India has chosen to be a secular country comprising a society that is the most diverse, complex and pluralistic in the world in terms of its multi-regional, multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-lingual and multi-class segments.
Behind the complicated nature of the problem lies an unsuccessful history of what is seen in India as biased and manipulative mediations by the West starting with post-colonial Britain immediately after the sub continent's partition. This, in fact, set the foundation of a festering problem that does not seem anywhere near resolution.
No place for third party mediation
India never saw itself being rewarded by mediation except during the time of the Kargil War when a stern President William Jefferson (Bill) Clinton persuaded Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to vacate Pakistani Army incursions across the LoC in Drass, Mushkoh Valley, Kargil and Batalik portions of Ladakh in July 1999. Pakistan, on the other hand, always stood to gain territorially, except during the Kargil War.
Malignancies are best cured if detected and treated early. Alternatively, as conflict resolution theorists would argue, a ‘ripening’ of the problem leading to a mutually hurting stalemate (plateau) or a crisis bound by a deadline or precipice may offer the best way out. But evidently the opportunity of an early resolution was lost owing to the circumstances in which partition took place and the subsequent role played by Britain and the United Nations. And yet, despite a long and intense history of conflict, hostility and discord comprising four wars (1947-48, 1965, 1971 and 1999), at least three major stand offs, numerous skirmishes along the LoC, AGPL and the IB, sponsorship of insurgency and terrorism, an unending loss of human lives and unpleasant exchanges at the diplomatic, political and public level, the situation has not reached a 'mutually' hurting stalemate either. At the best of times, the J&K stretch of the borders with POK has been marked by no war no peace or, at best, negative peace.
The problem has similarly defied other models and approaches such as 'ripe moment', 'precipice', offensive goals' and 'defensive goals' that form part of third party mediation. At best, international mediation and bilateralism has helped in preventing or ending wars, but not in resolving the dispute. Some thinkers in India would argue that this is because the 'hurt' has mostly been one sided with India being at the receiving end of Pakistan's policy of inflicting death by a thousand cuts to which India's response has been that of applying a thousand bandages.
Nawaz Sharif, like his predecessors, will continue to talk about talks and engage in a charm offensive with Indian journalists and other opinion makers. Yet the Pakistani establishment is not expected to desist from both raising the Kashmir issue and seeking international mediation at every international forum that it finds convenient, even if it is for the sake of simply embarrassing India. Neither is the Pakistani Army or the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, which would lose its raison d'etre in case a resolution on Jammu and Kashmir is reached, desist from playing hawk against India. The rising jihadism in Pakistan has added to Islamabad's domestic 'compulsions' thereby impeding any serious detente let alone early resolution to the problem.
Need for new thinking and resolve
India needs to seriously rethink its 'thousand bandage' policy vis-a-vis Pakistan. The only time India succeeded in negotiating a bilateral treaty on its terms (although many argue that the opportunity was not optimised) was the Simla Agreement signed in 1972. That was possible because India had defeated Pakistan in December 1971 and dismembered the country. The taking of 93,000 prisoners at that time was the largest in post-World War-II history and remained so until the 'mother of all surrenders' by Saddam Hussain's Army to US forces in Iraq and then Iraqi occupied Kuwait in 1991. This bilaterally negotiated treaty continues to be cited by India as the basis on which all future discussions on J&K are to be held.
While diplomacy must continue, policy makers on Raisina Hill must always keep in mind the maxim 'strength respects respect and the weak only get pushed around'. Does India's political executive have the will and resolve at the national level? Are both the military and the intelligence agencies sufficiently equipped? Is India's soft power being optimised? Thousands of lives and an expenditure of lakhs of crores of rupees over 67 years (and still counting) later, is there not a need for the Indian leadership to come up with new thinking and approach to handling Pakistan on the J&K problem which does not seem likely to be resolved for a long time ahead?