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PAKISTAN: ANATOMY OF A U-TURN

A strong military in Pakistan and a strong political leadership in India were supposed to be the harbingers of a peace settlement between the two nations, but the politico-military leadership of Islamabad is weak.

LT GEN PR SHANKAR (Retd)

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As I keep reading Dawn, I come across some thought-provoking articles. I am sharing them with you. It will give you an insight into this troubled frontline nation which prided itself on the terrorists it produced as national assets rather than investing in vaccines. Like always there is nothing original in these articles except my comments.

WHY HAS PAKISTAN MADE A U-TURN?

Complete Solidarity with Kashmir @ https://www.dawn.com/news/1617119/army-huddle-reaffirms-complete-solidarity-with-kashmiris-in-struggle-for-self-determination

The Pakistan Army’s top brass on Thursday reaffirmed its “complete solidarity” with the people of Indian-occupied Kashmir in their struggle for the right to self-determination, the military’s media wing said. The support was expressed during the 240th Corps Commanders Conference chaired by Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa at the GHQ. 

My Comment: Pakistan Army will lose their reason to exist if they do not express complete solidarity with Kashmir. Every one forgets one thing above all, the Pakistani army wants revenge against all defeats they have suffered at the hands of India. Their only option is Kashmir. How will they give it up? Some things never change.  

U-turn on ECC decision @ https://www.dawn.com/news/1616152/u-turn-on-ecc-decision

The cabinet’s reversal of the Economic Coordination Committee decision on imports from India is a bizarre development—one that falls squarely under the unfortunate category of the left hand not knowing what the right is doing. Not only does it betray a lack of coordination within the government, it also points to poor decision-making on a serious matter that requires a sensible and level-headed approach. The episode raises several questions, and cannot be shrugged off by ministers. It points to a faulty system, creating the impression that the key job of decision-making is conducted in a juvenile manner. At the moment, this fiasco is casting a cloud of uncertainty over Mr Khan’s leadership skills. As demonstrated by this latest U-turn, communication problems, an inability to make and stick to decisions and poor conflict-resolution skills are becoming the hallmark of this government. The nation deserves to know who is responsible and what action will be taken to avoid such blunders in the future.

My Comment: The U-turn only indicates that a weak Pakistan—economically and politically—is not suited for peace. In fact a weak Pakistan can never be at peace with itself. How can it come to peace with India?  

A Line on the Map by Khurshid Kasuri @ https://www.dawn.com/news/1616153/a-line-on-the-map  

The formula had 11 or 12 important ingredients:

 (i) Substantial demilitarisation beginning with major urban centres with an agreement to keep troops to a minimum along the LoC.

(ii) Defining units of Kashmir: There would be two units for the purposes of the agreement regarding the disputed State of Jammu & Kashmir under the control of Pakistan and India(where) governments would be free to have more than one administrative region in the units under their control.

(iii) Maximum self-governance would be granted in legislative, executive, and judicial areas to each unit. A mechanism would be evolved to achieve this objective

(iv) A joint mechanism would consist of a specified number of elected members from each of the two units. It would be entrusted with the responsibility of increasing the number of crossing points, and encourage travel, trade and tourism. It was decided to further streamline transport services and encourage interaction between the peoples as well as exchange of commodities.

(v) This mechanism was to encourage the promotion of common policies towards the development of infrastructure, hydroelectricity, and exploitation of water resources.

(vi) Centres to wean militants away through DDR (de-radicalisation, disengagement, and rehabilitation).

(vii) Elections: Free and fair elections in the respective units would be held regularly. They would be made open to international observers and the media.

(viii) Monitoring and review process: Any solution that was presented could experience unanticipated difficulties. The foreign ministers of Pakistan and India would meet at least once a year to monitor the progress of the agreement and it would be subject to a review at the expiration of 15 years.

(ix) LoC – ‘A line on the map’ would cease to exist between the Kashmiris, and they would require no visas or passports to travel across the LoC.

(x) The signing of a treaty of peace, security and friendship like the Élysée Treaty between Germany and France.

(xi) Unwritten understanding/agreement that neither side would proclaim victory.

(xii) There would be equal self-governance in both units.

My Comment: The ‘Midnights Children’ have changed in four decades. As per Salman Rushdie, they have changed in a manner he never visualised. That is a fair comment. After all he is not god and 1.5 Billion people either side of the divide have a mind of their own and have morphed as per their wishes in four decades. In any case in the 17 years since this plan was conceived, the pace  of change in both countries has been great in diametrically opposite directions. Laudable as it seems, this peace plan is just a whiff  of an ill-fated romance  gone sour.    

Changing Security Paradigm @ https://www.dawn.com/news/1616292/changing-security-paradigm.

A series of recent events has led many to speculate that winds of change pertaining to the national security paradigm may be blowing in Islamabad’s policy corridors. From the Pakistan army chief’s calling on India and Pakistan to bury the past and move on, and the exchange of letters between the two countries’ prime ministers, to the renewed discourse on bilateral trade  despite the subsequent backtracking – it reflects Pakistan’s apparently changing and intertwined national security and economic diplomacy outlooks. On the whole, in Pakistan, democracy or democratic processes are hardly considered a factor in nurturing national cohesion, building trust among communities and bringing economic prosperity to the country. The existing power structure is not capable of conceiving new ideas nor can it implement even what it devices on its own. To handle its internal and external challenges, Pakistan needs a strong economy and good relations with the world, especially with its neighbours. Among the neighbours, India is the most critical challenge, mainly because of the Kashmir issue. To deal with India, there are several courses of action possible, including direct talks, mediation or complete disengagement. In that context, does there need to be a shift in Pakistan’s security approach? Does the conventional security paradigm not serve the purpose? If so, why, and what kind of shift does the power elite have in mind? These questions need an open discussion on public forums, media, and most importantly, in parliament. Pakistan has to focus more on transforming its economy, which may require good relations with India, Afghanistan and Iran. 

My Comment: This article gives you the sense that the Pakistani establishment can never ever get peace for Pakistan. Too coiled up. 

PDM Collapse No Relief For PTI @ https://www.dawn.com/news/1616291/pdm-collapse-no-relief-for-pti

Even when the opposition PDM alliance, in the form we have known it, is collapsing, the question being asked is if the governing PTI really needs enemies given its incredible propensity to cause self-harm as the events of the past few days have demonstrated again.

Take for example the lead headline in this newspaper’s April 1 edition that said: ‘Govt moves to restore trade ties with India’. It was based on the news conference of the newly crowned Finance Minister Hammad Azhar.

This seemed to be a natural progression from the main story the day before, on March 31, whose heading was: ‘Pakistanis want peace with India, Imran tells Modi’. The story summarised the letter of thanks the prime minister sent in response to a message of felicitation sent by his Indian counterpart on March 23.The March 23 message and its response, for their part, did not come out of the blue as earlier in the month addressing the Islamabad Security Dialogue the prime minister and then the army chief offered an olive branch to New Delhi which represented a policy rethink. The Islamabad Security Dialogue saw the two Pakistani leaders call on India to move towards a solution of all bilateral issues including Kashmir but a reference to Article 370 was missing. But then the day after the trade resumption headline, the main story in April 2’s Dawn, read: ‘Cabinet nixes ECC decision to allow imports from India’. Who knows what happened in the 24 hours that saw the decision announced and later rescinded. Perhaps, reminders in the media that Nawaz Sharif was vilified for trying to better ties with India and called a traitor, made key decision-makers nervous.

My Comment: Very clearly it is not the opposition which made Imran Khan take the U-turn.

Covid Registration After Eid @ https://www.dawn.com/news/1617103/govt-to-open-covid-vaccine-registration-for-all-citizens-post-eid-asad-umar

Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar has said that the government plans to open registration for Covid-19 vaccination for all citizens after Eid. “We will be able to vaccinate more than 125,000 people per day after Eid,” Umar told media representatives.

My Comment: For the next two months Pakistan will not have any vaccines, not even those ineffective Chinese ones. After that Pakistanis can register themselves however vaccines might not be available there is complete silence on any concrete plan this will only push Pakistan deeper into the hole that it is inbtw a study conducted by American newswire Bloomberg showed that it would take a decade for Pakistan to inoculate 75pc of its population despite the fact that over one million people have already been vaccinated against the virus…the hole has a long time span too.

Pakistan-India Peace @https://www.dawn.com/news/1617777/pakistan-india-peace

Even over the last few weeks there have been many ups and downs, with the first positive sign in a long time coming in late February, when both sides agreed to silence their guns along the LoC. This was followed by an exchange of pleasantries and public pronouncements calling for peace in the region from the highest offices in both capitals, along with a decision by Pakistan to import Indian sugar and cotton. However, shortly afterwards, the trade plan was nixed. Now, two fresh developments have posed further questions. Firstly, the Foreign Office has said the SAARC summit, due to be held in Pakistan in October, can take place if “artificial obstacles” are removed, in a thinly veiled reference to India. In the second, more ominous development, the US National Intelligence Council has said Pakistan and India may “stumble” into a large-scale war within the next five years.

My Comments: The US has started the old game raising bogeys of a nuclear holocaust remains to be seen whose arm it is trying to twist. The India-Pakistan fledgling peace process has hit a rude wall after the EEZ fracas; there is a need to remain careful as to whose bed we are getting into in the Quad, I mean.

Overall comments: A strong military in Pakistan and a strong political leadership in India were supposed to be the harbingers of a peace settlement in the India-Pakistan scenario but the politico-military leadership of Pakistan is weak. Make no mistake. A strong India will never compromise since any compromise on Kashmir is only feasible if the CPEC and China are out of Kashmir. Will that happen? The Pakistani expectation of a compromise involves rescinding Abrogation of Article 370. Article 370 is history; it existed once upon a time; it will not get reinstated. It brings us to the pointed fact that peace with Pakistan is a pipe dream. In fact it has gone out of the window. Let us not live in a fossilised world where peace with Pakistan continues to be a romantic obsession. All we can foresee is a no-war situation; let us be happy with that in the meanwhile. We need to see beyond Pakistan at the composite challenge presented by a predatory China and a toxic Pakistan. 

Lt Gen P.R. Shankar was India’s DG Artillery. He is highly decorated and qualified with vast operational experience. He contributed significantly to the modernisation and indigenisation of Artillery. He is now a Professor in the Aerospace Dept of IIT Madras and is involved in applied research for defence technology. His other articles can be read on www.gunnersshot.com.

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Defence

‘ARMY CAN MEET ANY CHALLENGE TO SAFEGUARD COUNTRY’

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The Army is fully prepared to meet any challenge like the use of drones and social media by adversaries to safeguard the country, said Commandant of Chennai-based Officers Training Academy (OTA) Lieutenant General M K Das. Lt Gen Das, who is also the colonel of the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry (JAKLI) regiment, said the situation in J&K is getting better with the Army and other security agencies working together to stamp out terrorism. Speaking to media on the sidelines of the maiden attestation parade of 460 new recruits of the 126th batch after a successful 40-week training period at Dansal here, he said the Indian Army is aware of the challenges and prepared to give a befitting response to the enemies of the nation.

Talking about the need to introduce special training courses for soldiers in the aftermath of the developments in Afghanistan, he said, “Our training is very contemporary as it caters for all the contingencies and unforeseen situations. My young soldiers, who have taken the oath to defend the constitution and the country, will live up to all the challenges. One of the unique things of this regiment (JAKLI) is all our troops hail from J&K and Ladakh. They have ingrained quality to be security conscious much more than others.” Lt Gen Das said, “All the situations unfolding in the country or in our neighbourhood, the JAKLI regiment will continue to excel and be the lead agency in the fight against terrorism.” Asked about the challenges posed by the use of drones to hit targets and deliver weapons and narcotics from across the LoC and International Border, he said a capsule course on anti-drone measures has been introduced. “On Army Day on 15 January, our chief took the threat seriously and our soldiers are being prepared to deal with the challenge in a better way.” During recruitment training, Lt Gen Das said that besides the arms handing and exercises, thrust is also given on science and technology, cybersecurity and other new challenges. He said the misuse of social media by “anti-national” elements is a reality and the new recruits are being trained in cybersecurity during their basic and orientation courses.

On attempts by Pakistan to mislead the youth of J&K, Lt Gen Das said, “The youth of J&K is showing keenness to be a part of the regiment which is a message to those who think they can mislead our youth. Joining the regiment is the best way to serve the nation, the youth live like a family and there is complete communal harmony.” He said the regiment is increasing the number of local youth from Ladakh and would also go for recruitment in J&K to provide an opportunity to the local youth to become part of this regiment. Asked about his message to the misguided youth, he said, “J&K is the crown of India but if I focus as a soldier, I feel they (misguided youth) have not understood their country… the situation has not gone out of hand and the Army has kept its window open to allow them to surrender and join the national mainstream.”

He added, “We have a unit of 162 Infantry Territorial Army who are former militants but have become upright soldiers.” Lt Gen Das said the Army and other security agencies are working in close coordination and the situation in J&K is getting better and the “day is not far when this region will make our country proud.”

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Defence

SOUTHERN NAVAL COMMAND OBSERVES INTERNATIONAL COASTAL CLEAN-UP DAY IN KOCHI

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The Southern Naval Command observed International Coastal Clean-up Day on Saturday with a focus on mangrove plantation and clearance of plastic/non-biodegradable waste along with waterfront areas in and around Kochi, said a press release from the Ministry of Defence.

Pursuant to the global campaign of keeping coastlines clean, more than 600 Naval personnel and the families of Southern Naval Command undertook clearance of plastic and non-biodegradable waste at different locations spread across the city, coastal areas such as Fort Kochi beach, Thevara waterfront, Willingdon Island, Cherai beach, Bolgatty and around 2 km stretch of the Venduruthy channel while restoring around 1 lakh sqm of mangroves to the pristine condition. In addition, 80 mangrove saplings were also planted along the Venduruthy channel. Similar coastal cleanup drives and lectures/webinars/competitions emphasising protection of the coastal and marine environment were undertaken with the enthusiastic participation of the Naval community at other outstation Naval units located at Lonavala, Jamnagar, Chilka, Coimbatore, Goa, Ezhimala and Mumbai.

Being the Training Command of the Indian Navy, the Southern Naval Command has always been at the vanguard in promoting environmental conservation activities both at the Command Headquarters, Kochi as well as at Naval stations spread across the country.

Mandated to oversee naval training, the Southern Naval Command has conceptualised and implemented a variety of green initiatives. Keeping environmental preservation as one of the Key Result Areas, the Command has constantly endeavoured to motivate young officer and sailor trainees of the Indian Navy to imbibe the habit of protecting mother nature as part of their grooming efforts in preparing them to become responsible future Naval leaders and dependable citizens of India.

Particular attention has also been given to create more awareness among the families and more importantly the children.

During the last three years, the Command has adopted a multi-dimensional approach towards conservation of the environment and implementation of energy conservation methods.

To highlight a few, the personnel of the Command were actively involved in the rejuvenation of 4.5-km-long Venduruthy Channel near Kochi Naval base, creating awareness in and around Naval establishments.

Efforts were undertaken to enhance green cover by conducting mass plantation drives which included planting more than 75,000 trees, using the fast-growing Miyawaki forestation method. In addition, regular coastal clean-up drives, mangrove plantation drives, in-house handling and recycling of bio and non-biodegradable waste, adopting efficient energy and water-saving methods etc were also undertaken. The Command has also earnestly endeavoured to continue all the efforts for protecting and conserving the environment and natural resources. Towards achieving the same, the Command has implemented a Green Initiative and Environment Conservation Roadmap with a prime focus on Carbon footprint reduction.

With the personal involvement of Vice Admiral Anil Kumar Chawla, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Naval Command is committed to creating a clean, green and healthy environment in line with the visionary environment conservation policies of the Govt of India. On the occasion, Adv M Anilkumar, Mayor, Kochi Municipal Corporation and staff also participated in Kochi.

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Defence

IAF TO HOLD AIR SHOW OVER DAL LAKE IN SRINAGAR ON 26 SEPT

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An air show will be held here on 26 September where IAF’s skydiving team Akash Ganga and Suryakiran Aerobatic and Display Team and paramotor flying will manoeuvre the skies over the famous Dal Lake, officials informed on Saturday.

The air show will be organised by the Air Force Station Srinagar and the Jammu and Kashmir administration as part of the ongoing celebrations commemorating ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’, they said. The main aim of the exercise—under the theme ‘Give Wings to Your Dream’—is to motivate the youth of the valley to join the Indian Air Force (IAF) and to promote tourism in the region, the officials said.

The event will be flagged off Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha at the Sher-e-Kashmir International Conference Centre (SKICC) overlooking Dal Lake.

More than 3,000 college and school students are expected to participate in the programme to witness the impressive manoeuvres of the IAF, which will motivate them to dream about a career in the force and in the aviation sector, the officials said. “The show will also develop passion among the students to give wings to their dreams. Along with the students, 700 teachers will also be present at the venue,” they added.

During the demonstration, students will also be familiarised with the new technological advancements achieved and incorporated by the IAF while flying aircraft in the sky over the world-famous Dal Lake, the officials said. Stalls will be established at SKICC where students will be familiarised with the achievements of the Air Force, employment opportunities in the IAF, recruitment rules and eligibility criteria, they added.

Srinagar-based PRO Defence Col Emron Musavi said the display will include flypast by various aircraft of the IAF. The spectators would also get to witness paramotor flying and IAF’s skydiving team Akash Ganga in action. ‘Ambassadors of IAF’, Suryakiran Aerobatic Display Team, will be performing in the valley after a gap of 14 years, he said. Col Musavi said the symphony orchestra of the IAF would also be performing at the event. The event would also consist of a photo exhibition depicting the history of the

IAF, he said. 

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Defence

ARMY ORGANISES EXHIBITION IN JAIPUR TO COMMEMORATE INDIA’S VICTORY IN 1971 WAR

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JAIPUR : South Western Command of the Indian Army on Saturday organised an exhibition showcasing defence equipment at Chitrakoot Stadium in Jaipur to mark the 50th anniversary of India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war.

Speaking to ANI, an Indian army official said, “We have displayed the defence equipment in this exhibition to make people aware of the Indian army achievements. We want to motivate the youth by showcasing these types of equipment.” “Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, these events had been started to make people aware of Indian Arm Forces. So, we are also continuing the move by organising these kinds of events,” he added.

Further, he said that India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war is memorable for all the Indians, so, every citizen should be aware of this war.  

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Defence

BRO makes history, appoints woman Army officer in-charge of road construction unit

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The Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has appointed a woman Army officer for the first as the Officer Commanding of its 75 road construction company (RCC) in Uttarakhand, the Defence Ministry said on Sunday.

The three platoon commanders under Major Aaina, Captain Anjana, AEE (Civ) Bhawana Joshi and AEE (Civ) Vishnumaya K became the first women RCC. The appointments were made on August 30.

BRO on Sunday recalled the list of women officers who were assigned higher leadership roles in the organisation in the current year.

According to a statement issued by the Defence Ministry, BRO has inducted a large number of women into its workforce over the years, right from officers to the level of commercial pilot license holders. “In this regard, a General Reserve Engineer Force (GREF) officer EE (Civ) Vaishali S Hiwase took over the reins of 83 Road Construction Company on April 28, employed on an important Indo-China road connecting Munisairi-Bughdiar-Milam, in an area full of adversity and challenges. The lady officer has taken control and is leading the charge with meticulous execution of her tasks,” the statement said.

“The BRO created history again on 30 August when Major Aaina of Project Shivalik took charged as Officer Commanding, 75 Road Construction Companies (RCC) at Pipalkoti in Chamoli district in Uttarakhand. She is the first Indian Army Engineer Officer to command a road construction company. Not only this, all three platoon commanders under her, Captain Anjana, AEE (Civ) Bhawana Joshi and AEE (Civ) Vishnumaya K are lady officers and they have together created a first-ever women RCC. The Border Roads plans to make four such all women-led RCCs, two each in North Eastern and Western Sectors.”

As India celebrates 75 Years of Azaadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, it also celebrates the ongoing efforts of our Nation towards women empowerment. Women today have started assuming their rightful, equal place as the frontrunners in nation-building and representatives of our strong national character, the statement read.

Over the last six decades, in a graduated and steady manner, the BRO has increased the number of women employed in various roles and duties of road construction. A consolidated effort is being made to empower them by giving them authority and responsibilities to undertake work independently. These women have become symbols of Nari Shakti in their respective areas.

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Defence

IN FIRST FOREIGN VISIT AFTER TAKING OVER AS CDS, GEN BIPIN RAWAT TO VISIT RUSSIA, US

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In his first visit abroad after taking over as the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Bipin Rawat will be visiting Russia and the US.

Rawat took over his new office as CDS on 31 December 2019, and since then has been declining foreign invitations for focusing on the new assignment of integrating the defence forces as a combined fighting force. “There is a conference of the CDS-rank officers of the Shanghai Cooperation Agreement member countries. China and Pakistan are also part of this grouping,” senior defence officials said.

The CDS conference would be focusing on addressing the regional security issues and Afghanistan is also likely to come up for discussion, they said.

The CDS would also witness the activities of the respective armed forces taking part in the SCO peace mission drills being held in Russia. Indian Army and Air Force are also taking part in the exercise there.

The visit will take place in the coming week and soon after return from Russia, Rawat would be leaving for the US for meeting his counterpart and other American military leadership at the Pentagon.

The two countries have been coming closer militarily in the last few years and have been holding multiple military exercises and hardware cooperation.

The Indian military saw a major change in senior-level structures under the Narendra Modi government as the focus is now on the theatrisation of the fighting forces and bringing in more capabilities and jointness among the three services. 

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