Tag Archives | pdf

More Kashmir myth-busting

Only 198 detainees under PSA, as per Syed Geelani

Amnesty International claims (pdf) that thousands have been held in Jammu and Kashmir over the past two decades under the Public Safety Act (PSA), a law it terms as a “lawless law”. The lie is often repeated by separatists at all national and international forums. This has perpetuated a myth that due to the PSA, even now thousands of innocent Kashmiris are under arrest illegally without any charge. Many gullible and well-meaning Indians very conveniently fall for this myth, and end up propagating the lie.

In a booklet released by hardline anti-India Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani in Srinagar yesterday, here is what he claimed:

Giving details of detainees, Geelani says…198 of them are serving detention under controversial Public Safety Act (PSA).[GK]

Now, you wouldn’t accuse Syed Geelani of under-reporting the number of detainees under the PSA!

Of course, no one ever expected Mr. Geelani to observe the fact that Omar Abdullah government has already amended some of the provisions of the PSA.

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An announcement and a report

The Rs 8000 crore budget announcement and the Rangarajan Panel report on J&K

“The government’s special support to Jammu and Kashmir is anchored in the Rs.28,000 crore Prime Minister’s Reconstruction Plan. In addition, for the current year, about Rs.8,000 crore has been provided for the state’s development needs,” Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said in his budget speech.

Although an impression is being created that an additional Rs 8,000 crore has been given to Jammu & Kashmir, there is still no clarity about the details of this allocation. Is it over and above the plan outlays for the state? Or, as what seems most likely, is it just a sum-total of outlays already budgeted for J&K under various Centrally Sponsored Schemes for development?

There is no point of such announcements in the budget unless complete details are also disseminated immediately. It is precisely this kind of subterfuge by Delhi that has historically led to cynicism on all sides: Kashmiris believe that the Union Government is insincere and dishonest in its commitment towards Kashmir, while many in India assume that Kashmir is being given a special treatment by being provided with an additional Rs 8,000 crore.

Before making such duplicitous announcements, Union Government would be well advised to come out with a detailed status-report on the much-touted Prime Minister’s Reconstruction Plan. A fair portion of Rs 1,200 crore allocated for 2010-11 remains unspent (Status Report as on 31 January 2011 pdf) and the deadline for the PMRP continues to be extended every year beyond its original proposed date of 2008.

Meanwhile, the panel headed by C Rangarajan has submitted its latest report to “formulate a jobs plan” and increase “employability in the state” of J&K. It recommends a five-year skill development plan entailing an annual expenditure of Rs 761 crore. Among its other recommendations are a Rs 1,200 crore scheme for increasing access to education, Rs 500 crore initiative for professional training of 40,000 educated youths and Rs 257 crore project for skill development of up to one lakh youth, besides programmes for revising agriculture, textile and handicrafts.

The Prime Minister has commented favourably on the proposals contained in the report. The Chief Minister also hopes that they will be implemented soon. But Mr Rangarajan has eearlier submitted two reports about reviving the economy of J&K to the same prime minister, which have been accepted but never implemented.

Dr Rangarajan was the head of an 11-member task force to frame a long-term plan for the integrated social and economic development of J&K, announced on March 29, 2005. It had a large mandate of identifying sources of finance – locally, nationally and globally – to fund the development of the state and the projects it suggests. After eight meetings, Dr Rangarajan’s panel submitted a detailed report (summary pdf) to the Prime Minister in November 2006. The report suggested a series of projects that were worth around Rs 8000 crore. Apart from a number of quick yielding projects (QYP), the panel suggested a Rs 200 crore asset reconstruction company (ARC), Rs 200 crore investment in ‘image enhancement on this side of the LoC’, a Rs 200 crore satellite business city on outskirts of Srinagar, and an investment of Rs 200 crore in a special industrial zone (SIZ) on SEZ pattern.

Dr Rangarajan was in the middle of this assignment when, in May 2006, he was tasked to head one of the five Working Groups set up after the Prime Minister’s Round Table Conference on J&K. The working group on the economic development was tasked to evolve a strategy that would ensure: balanced economic development and employment generation; and balanced regional and sub-regional development within J&K. Dr Rangarajan repackaged his earlier report as the Working Group Report (pdf here) and submitted it to the Third Round Table Conference on April 24, 2007 in Delhi. This time he suggested various projects worth Rs 7947 crore but did not change the focus of his prescription. This time he wanted Rs 1750 crore for rural roads besides reiterating his suggestions over Dulhasti power project, SIZ and ARC. It was believed that the report would eventually take the shape of PM’s Reconstruction Plan-II but nothing of that kind has happened so far.

When all his earlier recommendations continue to gather dust, little has changed now to suggest a different fate for Dr Rangarajan’s latest report. It is perhaps for these times that Churchill said: “Men occasionally stumble on the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.”

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Weekday interpretation

The meaning of a single sentence

The Chairman Joint Chief of Staff of the US released a report titled, National Military Strategy of the USA 2011 – Redefining America’s Military Leadership (pdf here) yesterday. India is referred to in the report only once.

“We seek expanded military cooperation with India on nonproliferation, safeguarding the global commons, countering terrorism, and elsewhere.”

At the first instance, it is comforting to observe that the US military is taking cognizance of India’s interests so distinctly in a major policy document. But on second thoughts, is it that the sentence has been so constructed to flatter India, precisely because the Americans believe that this is what the Indians want to hear?

Readers are encouraged to draw their own conclusions.

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Bordereau roads

Appalling statements about strategic roads on our borders.

Two passages particularly stood out from the 8th Report [pdf here] of the Standing Committee on Defence on Construction of Roads in the Border Areas of the Country. First one is the statement by the Ministry of Defence on details of construction of roads being undertaken by different neighbouring countries in the border areas:

Ministry does not have full details of construction of roads in all neighbouring countries on the border. However, it is learnt that roads are being constructed by neighbouring countries on border.[Paragraph 2.4]

The second one is the statement by the Border Roads Organisation [BRO] about the slow pace of construction of border roads:

It would not be incorrect to say that two years back the philosophy of our nation was that we should not make roads as near to the border as possible. That philosophy is telling today very clearly as to why we do not have roads. It is only two or three years back that we suddenly decided a change of philosophy and said no, we must go as far forward as possible. It is going to take time. Unfortunately, the time cannot be compressed. Whatever we can do, it will take time. Probably the time that we are taking may be one of the least that could be taken by any other agency like PWD.[Paragraph 2.6]

It is truly mind-boggling that the defence ministry has no data on the roads being made by neighbouring countries in the border areas. Then there is the BRO, which conveniently deflects the question on the slow pace of construction towards the lack of roads in border areas due to historical reasons. And really, did the Government of India actually believe till two years ago — make it year of the Lord 2008 AD — that we should not make roads as near to the border as possible? Incomprehensible and inconceivable.

Enough said. Or as a wag swanned the other day: We are surrounded by insurmountable opportunities.

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Weekday trivia quiz

Answers please.

What is common to the countries ranked in the following list?

#1 Pakistan, #2 Bangladesh, #3 India, #4 Nigeria, #5 Egypt, #6 Nepal, #7 Ghana, #8 Jordan, #9 Rwanda, #10 Uruguay, #11 Senegal, & #12 Ethiopia

Tough one that. A far simpler question would have been to pick the odd one out in that list. The hands-down winner would be India at #3; with its G-20 membership, UNSC ambitions, economic rise and myriad other strengths, India is clearly a misfit in that list.

Just to answer the original question, that is the list(pdf) of Top 12 troop contributors to UN peacekeeping assignments, as on 31 May 2010. In other words, this is the company — from Pakistan to Ethiopia — that India keeps by sending its troops to serve under the UN flag. Power, influence, status and standing of the country in the new century be damned.

And if anyone believes that Indian soldiers profit from a UN largesse in payments, he may like to read the CAG Report No. CA 18 of 2008-09 (pdf here) to realise that the Indian taxpayer is actually paying a fair share of those salaries in US dollars (because Indian payments on UN deputation are much higher than the allowances being paid by the UN). And here is an old post from 2008 explaining why India needs to pull out its soldiers from UN peacekeeping assignments.

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Only 30 percent suicides in field

But then why are the studies not focused on suicides among troops deployed in peace areas.

The 4th Report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence [pdf here] provides an interesting data point about suicides in the Indian Armed Forces. This is from the reply of the defence ministry to one of the questions raised by the committee.

The approximate average ratio of suicides in peace versus field areas is 70:30. [Chapter III, Page 28]

This goes contrary to the popular impression that the troops deployed on risky and highly stressful counterinsurgency duties or in tough climactic conditions like Siachen are more prone to committing suicides than the soldiers serving in peace areas. Even the studies conducted by the defence services and DIPR — and their reports are marked secret — have focused majorly on soldiers deployed in field areas. This fact was pointed out by the standing committee in its 31st report of the last Lok Sabha. Why? Shouldn’t it have been the other way around?

One of the possible explanations — and note the big caveat, this is based on pure conjecture — is that it is easy to cover up suicide cases in counterinsurgency and other tough areas as operational casualties or medical deaths due to severe climactic conditions.  The same luxury to suppress facts  is not available in peace areas where all such cases have to be reported honestly and data collated. The top brass of the services are perhaps aware of the ground realities and are thus focusing on the field areas.

If that not be true, then the other possible answer is the same as why these subject reports were marked Secret in the first place. That subject has been covered in an old blogpost here.

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India’s lobbyists in Washington

From the Afghan ambassador’s memo.

Cribbing to Kabul about inadequate funding for hiring lobbyists in Washington to further Afghan interests in the US Congress and administration, Afghanistan’s ambassador to the US, Said Tayeb Jawad gives out the details of his competitors, embassies of Pakistan and India. Here is the list of India’s lobbyists in Washington from that confidential memo (pdf) [courtesy: MJ]–

1. Barbour, Griffith & Rogers (Republican leaning)
2. Westin Rinehart
3. Patton Boggs (Democrat leaning)
4. Venable (Democrat leaning)

Well, the memo has more lurid details on Pakistan, with specifics about “two firms that alone represent and promote President Asif Ali Zardari’s interests in Washington” and previous details of Musharraf’s and Benazir’s lobbyists. In all, as per Jawad, Pakistan employs nine lobbying firms in Washington while China employs nineteen.

What I value in life is quality rather then quantity. ~Albert Einstein

Update – Here is an update from a friend in Washington D.C.:

The contracts for some of the lobbyists in the Afghan memo are now over. BGR is no longer retained. Most were hired simply for the nuclear deal. The guys working at BGR on India have all left, now that the deal is done. The Indian government was also very reluctant to hire lobbyists in the first place, only going in after the Indian-American community and CII hired some.

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Lacking capacity, will and willingness

Testimonies in the US senate highlight these about the Pak army.

From the testimony of US Director of National Intelligence[pdf], Dennis Blair to the Senate Armed Services Committee:

Sustained pressure against al-Qa’ida in the FATA has the potential to further degrade its organizational cohesion and diminish the threat it poses. If forced to vacate the FATA and locate elsewhere, the group would be vulnerable to US or host-country security crackdowns as well as local resistance, and probably would be forced to adopt an even more dispersed, clandestine structure, making training and operational coordination more difficult. Without access to its FATA safe haven, al-Qa’ida also undoubtedly would have greater difficulty supporting the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.

From the Annual Threat Assessment [pdf] presented by the Director of US Defence Intelligence Agency to the Senate Armed Services Committee:

Pakistan’s military has expanded paramilitary forces and deployed additional troops to the area in an effort to contain the threat. Pakistani military operations in Bajaur Agency have been met with fierce resistance by militants. While militants previously have been unable to sustain attacks in the face of a military response, militants in Bajaur maintain extensive networks and reinforcements, helping them remain entrenched. In the Swat Valley, a “settled” district of the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP), the government recently agreed to militant demands to impose Shari’a law in the district, a move that could embolden militant organizations in other parts of the country.

Pakistani leaders stress the importance of national sovereignty and condemn crossborder military actions from Afghanistan. Nevertheless, while Pakistan has allowed limited U.S. assistance in counter-insurgency training, it is much more receptive to increased intelligence sharing, technical cooperation, and equipment and armaments to improve its counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency capabilities. Although U.S. efforts to address Pakistani counter-insurgency deficiencies are underway, it will take years before meaningful capabilities are likely to be developed.

So, here are three simple conclusions from these official testimonies. First, the lack of capability in the Pak army to fight the jehadi terrorists  evident from the militants remaining entrenched in Bajaur (guided tours of foreign media by the Pak army to present a different picture notwithstanding). Second,the lack of will among the Pakistan security forces to undertake counterinsurgency operations as displayed in Swat. Finally, the lack of willingness in the Pak army to undergo counterinsurgency training.

If the US wants the al Qaeda to be kicked out of FATA (and Taliban out of Afghanistan), then it can not afford to bank on an army that singularly lacks the capacity, will and willingness to take on the jehadi menace. The solution to the Afghanistan problem does lie in solving Pakistan but the solution to Pakistan doesn’t lie in the hands of Pakistan army. Just because bringing back the army to power in Islamabad (whether full-on or through the proxy) is the easier thing to do, it does not become the right thing to do. International retainership for Pakistan is the hard thing to do. But that is the only way to go for an economically, socially and politically decrepit country, which boasts of a dangerous cocktail of nukes and jehadis, supported by a sympathetic institutionalised army.

While the West can afford to waste its time exhausting all other options, India, sitting in the immediate neighbourhood, does not have that luxury of time. Mumbai terror attacks have brought home the lack of military and diplomatic options with India against Pakistan. It has to per force bank upon the US, citing a strategic partnership and a confluence of interests. Can New Delhi do something to drum some sense into the Obama administration to solve Pakistan at the earliest?

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Finally, standing committee says it

Need to reorganise, reform and restructure the armed forces.

In what is perhaps the final report [pdf here] from the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence for the Fourteenth Lok Sabha, the committee delves into the issue of jointness between the three defence services. While it falls short of proposing a truly integrated defence structure, the final recommendation of the final report of the committee is worth noting.

In the light of the evidence tendered by the representatives of the Ministry of Defence and after hearing the views of the experts having experience of serving the armed forces at the highest level, the Committee strongly recommend that the Government should constitute a high powered expert committee to reorganise, reform and restructure the Armed Forces…

On matters of national security, there can be no better start point for the next government than to pursue this single recommendation — a high powered expert committee to reorganise, reform and restructure the armed forces. If one were to get a touch greedy, a Blue Ribbon Commission for Defence would be even better.

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Information operations versus physical operations

From Strategic Communication: A Primer [pdf]–

We typically design physical operations first, then craft supporting information operations to explain our actions. This is the reverse of al-Qaida’s approach. For all our professionalism, compared to the enemy’s, our public information is an afterthought. In military terms, for al-Qaida the ‘main effort’ is information; for us, information is a ‘supporting effort’.

~David Kilcullen, Countering the Terrorist Mentality, New Paradigms for 21st Century Conflict

The physical operations in Mumbai might have ended after 60 hours of gunfights. But is India geared up to undertake sustained and proactive information operations against the enemy. It is the question that the Indian establishment needs to answer, when the media and the establishment — politicians, bureaucrats, corporates and even generals — feed off each other in an incestuous and self-serving relationship.

Perhaps it is time that the common man, more than the Indian state, also took a fresh look at the role and responsibility of the Indian media — print, electronic and new age. This consideration will be the key battle-winning-factor in winning this asymmetric war launched against Indians and the Indian state. Ponder!

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