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PAKISTAN: FOREVER THE BRIDESMAID, NEVER THE BRIDE?

Pakistan would do well to continuously re-evaluate its status in the Chinese calculus and make efforts to reduce potential China-Iran bonhomie.

Ashish Singh

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PAKISTAN - FOREVER THE BRIDESMAID, NEVER THE BRIDE

China and Iran are ostensibly moving towards what is being touted as a “comprehensive partnership”, if a leaked agreement between the two countries is to be believed. This agreement envisages potential Chinese investments of up to $400 billion in Iran. Analysts around the world, including in Pakistan, have already dedicated copious amounts of ink on assessing what impact this agreement would have on various stakeholders. What is confounding is the evident optimism, bordering on gullibility, among some self-professed ‘experts’ of the so-called Pakistani intelligentsia. One would think that history has taught Pakistan a lesson about being circumspect when examining the effects of such international moves on their security and well-being. Alas, they seem to suffer an affliction for self-congratulatory assessments in all facets of life, with breathless acolytes of political affiliations providing ‘expert analyses’ on television about issues from national security to the mundane.

Oft repeated is the maxim that if one does not learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it. For instance, the disdain with which one-time best friend USA treats Pakistan today is evident from frequent foreign policy utterances by the highest levels of US Government. As recently as 22 September, William Todd, President Trump’s nominee as US Ambassador to Pakistan informed the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee that “Pakistan must take sustained and irreversible action against terrorism”. Pakistanis never miss an opportunity to highlight that the US professes deep friendship with them when it is expedient and, subsequently drops them like a hot potato. If Pakistani policy makers do not take lessons from their own history, their relationship with China could go down the same road. Chinese investment in CPEC is estimated to be anywhere between $46 billion to $70 billion. This prima facie appears to be a huge amount, and should portend extensive development in Pakistan. It should however also be viewed as an additional tactic to glue Pakistan with iron brother, China. However, Pakistan was recently shocked when a leaked agreement indicated that Chinese investment in Iran under the ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’ (SREB) is in the range of $400 billion, nearly six-fold of the prospective investment in Pakistan. The agreement includes development of the Jask Port in Iran, which is a mere few hundred kilometres from Gwadar. There is also indication of investment in the electricity sector in Iran, to aid it in eventually exporting electricity across the region. What then of Pakistan’s vision of self-sufficiency in power generation through the Thar Coal Project under CPEC? What then of Gwadar becoming a major hub of shipping in the region? What of the insurgents operating with impunity against Pakistan from across the border in Iran?

Optimists such as Dr Muhammad Tayyab Safdar of the University of Virginia tend to see positive outcomes for Pakistan in the China-Iran agreement. He speaks of Pakistan becoming the conduit for Chinese trade and energy in his elucidation for the Diplomat. He also mentions some issues highlighted in this article, but sheds a positive light on them, without specifics as to how the agreement will aid in Pakistan’s power generation, or how Jask will foment growth for Gwadar? Is Pakistan, then, to be a mere conduit or a major partner?

The strategic community in Pakistan is presently finding its feet in the rapidly evolving geo-strategic paradigm, post pandemic. As the world realigns, Pakistan is likely be caught flat-footed. Recent strained relations with Saudi Arabia, traditionally, one of its greatest supporters, followed by a Chinese drift towards Iran could be a precursor to Pakistan’s strategic inconsequentiality in regional dynamics. The Abraham Accords have also isolated Pakistan which does not have diplomatic relations with Israel. Coupled with their Turkish-leanings, it is very likely that Pakistan will soon be distanced by UAE and other Middle East nations. Saudi Arabia’s new 20 Riyal banknote issued in October this year has removed Gilgit-Baltistan from Pakistan’s map, a move clearly intended to humiliate Pakistan on the world stage, and particularly in the OIC.

Pakistan would do well to continuously re-evaluate its status in the Chinese calculus and make efforts to reduce potential China-Iran bonhomie, particularly if it comes at their expense. Pakistan’s response would be based on the axiom: ‘There are no permanent friends or enemies—only permanent interests’. Pakistan’s interests, for now, lie in making potential benefits of the CPEC more lucrative to China than the SREB. Else, Pakistan runs the risk of being used… yet again. Maybe it is time for Pakistan to extricate itself from its fool’s paradise and engage in some actual realpolitik, lest it give credence to the adage of forever being a bridesmaid, never the bride.

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Defence

Assam Regimental Centre conducts attestation parade in Shillong

Ashish Singh

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The Assam Regimental Centre held attestation parade of 331 batch in Meghalaya’s Shillong. 225 Recruits have now been attested in a scintillating ceremony conducted at Parson Parade Ground. The parade was reviewed by Major General P.S. Behl, Colonel of “The Assam Regt and Arunachal Scouts”. The ceremony was conducted with Covid-19 protocols.

The ceremonial attestation parade marks the completion of the training schedule for recruits in The Assam Regimental Centre. These young soldiers will be joining Assam Regiment Units at various locations.

Major General P.S. Behl, the Chief Guest and reviewing officer of attestation parade extolled the virtues of selfless service to the nation and recounted the contributions of the North East and Assam Regiment towards nation building. Complimenting the passing out batch for their immaculate standards, he exhorted the warriors from the North East to persevere in pursuit of excellence.

The reviewing officer also complemented the staff for having conducted the training following Covid protocols and using innovative methods which will help the young soldiers in serving the motherland in efficient manner. Swaying to the tilting tune of the Regimental song, the young soldiers erupted in joyous to mark on a successful transition from enthusiastic recruits to valiant soldiers.

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Defence

Passing out parade of 58 Gorkha Training Centre

Ashish Singh

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The passing out parade of Recruits of 58 Gorkha Training Centre was held at Happy Valley, Shillong. The passing out parade marks the culmination of rigorous Recruit training and completes the transformation of a determined recruit into a young soldier of the Indian Army.

In an impressive ceremony marked by immaculate turnout and precision marching, a total of 248 Recruits took ‘Oath of Affirmation’. These young soldiers will now be dispatched to the numerous locations of Indian Army, always dedicated to protect our  Motherland whenever the need arises.  

The parade was reviewed by Brigadier M Narendranath Sajan, Commandant 58 Gorkha Training Centre wherein he exhorted the Young Soldiers to strive to be the finest of Indian Army and congratulated them on this important juncture of their life. During his address, the Commandant stressed upon the importance of valour, honour, ethos & fine traditions of Indian Army.

He also complemented the staff for having conducted the training following Covid protocols and using innovative methods which will help the Young Soldiers in serving the Country in more efficient manner. In the presentation ceremony Recruit Abhishek Sakia was awarded the Overall Best Recruit & Recruit of 8 GR and Recruit Manish Ale Magar was awarded Best Recruit of 5 GR (FF).

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Defence

COMBINED COMMANDERS’ CONFERENCE BEING HELD AT KEVADIA, GUJARAT

Ashish Singh

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The Combined Commanders’ Conference (CCC); a premier brain-storming event of the Military Commanders from the three Services is being conducted this year at Kevadia in Gujarat. The three day conference from 4th to 6th March has the combined apex level military leadership of the country reviewing the security situation and defence preparedness of the Armed Forces, and deliberating pertinent organisational issues for evolving a joint military vision for the future.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will join the military commanders along with the team of Secretary level officers from the Ministry of Defence for deliberations from Day two of the conference. The Valedictory Session on the third and final day will be chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the National Security Advisor Ajit Doval also in attendance.  

In a major change from the past, the scope of the conference this year has been expanded to make it a multi-layered, interactive, informal and informed event with the added participation of about 30 Officers and soldiers of various ranks from the three Services. Key events encapsulate series of discussions & deliberations on a range of issues pertinent to the Armed Forces and its role in nation building, with the participation of senior most political and bureaucratic hierarchy in addition to the multi-layered participation of military personnel.

It is interesting to note that the CCC in 2014 was held at Delhi. Since then it has been moved out to different venues across the country. The conference was held on board INS Vikramaditya in 2015 and in 2017 at the Indian Military Academy at Dehradun. The last edition of CCC was held in 2018 over a period of two days at Air Force Station, Jodhpur.

There have been several major developments in the Higher Defence Organisation since including appointment of first ever Chief of Defence Staff and setting up of the Department of Military Affairs (DMA), and several important & multifarious issues affecting modernisation & transformation of the Armed Forces are currently under active consideration/ implementation.

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Defence

Turkmenistan Special Forces commence combat ‘free fall’ training in India

Ashish Singh

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The Indian Special Forces (SF) have, over a period of time, earned immense respect and reputation of being one of the finest Special Forces in the world due to their professionalism, operational expertise, and sacrifice. Special Forces of friendly nations including the US, Australia, countries of Central Asian Region and the Middle East have increasingly shown their desire to train with the battle-hardened Indian SF troops. In response, the Indian Army‘s Special Forces have increased their engagement with their counterparts from friendly nations.

Based on a request from the Turkmenistan Special Forces, the Special Forces Training School (SFTS) of the Indian Army, which is a unique institution providing training to the Indian Army‘s Special Forces, has commenced training of paratroopers from the Turkmenistan Special Forces in Combat Free Fall as a precursor to a series of other customised professional courses which will assist in capability enhancement of Turkmenistan Special Forces.

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Defence

Major Gen Arvind Kapoor is the new Addl Director General of NCC, Gujarat

Ashish Singh

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Major General Arvind Kapoor took over as Additional Director General, National Cadet Corps (NCC), Gujarat, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu from Major General Roy Joseph who proceeded on superannuation after completing thirty eight years of distinguished service.

Maj Gen Arvind Kapoor an Armoured Corps Officer, is an alumni of the National Defence Academy, Khadakvasla and the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun. He is a Post Graduate in Defence Studies from Madras University.

The General Officer has rich and varied experience in serving in different terrains. He has also done tenure in NCC as Group Commander, Ahmedabad. The General Officer was posted as Chief of Staff in High Altitude Terrain in a Corps Headquarters, prior to being posted as ADG of Gujarat, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu.

The General Officer has also attended all important courses of instructions, the notable amongst them include the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington, the Higher Defence Orientation Course at Mhow and the Senior Defence Management Course at Secunderabad.

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Defence

VICE ADMIRAL ATUL KUMAR JAIN TAKES OVER AS THE NEW CISC

Vice Admiral Atul Kumar Jain paid obeisance to fallen heroes at National War Memorial in New Delhi upon taking charge of the crucial CISC position.

Ashish Singh

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Vice Admiral Atul Kumar Jain has assumed the charge of the Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman (CISC). Before taking over the CISC charge, he was the Eastern Naval Command Chief based at Vizag. The new Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee (CISC) Vice Admiral Atul Kumar Jain paid obeisance to fallen heroes at National War Memorial in New Delhi upon taking charge of the crucial CISC position.

ABOUT VICE ADMIRAL ATUL KUMAR JAIN

Vice Admiral Atul Kumar Jain was commissioned in the Indian Navy on 1 July 1982. He is an alumnus of Sainik School Rewa, National Defence Academy (Pune), the Defence Services Staff College (Wellington), the College of Naval Warfare (Mumbai) and the National Defence College (Pretoria, South Africa).The Flag Officer is a Gunnery and Missile Specialist. During the earlier part of his career, he has held various operational and staff appointments, both afloat and ashore including Gunnery Officer of Destroyers INS Ranvijay and INS Ranvir.

He has commanded Indian Naval Ships Nirghat (Missile Boat), Khukri (Missile Corvette), Rajput (Destroyer) and the indigenous Guided Missile Destroyer, Mysore. He also had the privilege of being the commissioning Executive Officer of INS Brahmaputra and the Fleet Operations Officer of the Eastern Fleet at Visakhapatnam.

His appointments ashore include Director Naval Intelligence (Protocol), Director Foreign Liaison and Principal Director Staff Requirement at Integrated Headquarters, Ministry of Defence (Navy), New Delhi.He was appointed as the first Flag Officer Commanding Karnataka Naval Area, Karwar on promotion to the Flag Rank on 3 October 2011 as Rear Admiral. Thereafter, he commanded the prestigious Eastern Fleet and then served as the Chief of Staff, Southern Naval Command. On promotion to the rank of Vice Admiral on 1 April 2015, he tenanted the appointment of Controller Personnel Services (CPS) at IHQ MoD(N) and then served as the Chief of Staff, Eastern Naval Command, Visakhapatnam. The Flag Officer also held the appointment of Deputy Chief of Integrated Defence Staff (Policy Planning & Force Development), at HQIDS, New Delhi and was the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Naval Command from June 2020 to February 2021.

He took over as the Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman, Chiefs of Staff Committee on 2 Mar 21.For his distinguished service, he was awarded Vishisht Seva Medal in 2009, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal in 2015 and Param Vishisht Seva Medal in 2020.

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