Thursday, November 5, 2009

Services had asked BCCI to change venue

As the mist caused by the controversy surrounding Services cricket team is lifting, it has emerged that the decision to stop the participation of the team in a Ranji trophy match to be played at Srinagar was taken after due deliberations. The Service Sports Control Board had even requested the Board of Control for Cricket in India to change the venue.

Even as the SSCB last night tendered an apology night while asking for the BCCI for fresh dates, sources said the SSCB had written to the BCCI on October 31 seeking change in venue. The request was sent through a special messenger, official sources said today.

The BCCI had suspended the service team for one full cricket season ending March/April 2010 after it opted out of a four-day match in Srinagar scheduled to start on November 3.

The decision of not allowing the team was taken after due discussion as there was specific intelligence input that the team could be under threat of a militant attack, sources said.

The Northern command of the Indian Army had indicated that it could provide for security to the team while it stayed in the Badami-bagh cantonment. It had said that it was not possible to secure the entire stadium.

Cricketers of the Services - a team that is open to Army, Air force and the Navy - would be an easy target, was the in house opinion at New Delhi. The matters to be discussed on file included that the act of not sending a team to Srinagar could send an erroneous signal.

On the other hand, it was also pointed out that if militants managed to harm any player or carry out an attack, it could send an adverse message and cast aspersions on India’s capability. The Services also did not want a Lahore-style attack when a Sri Lankan cricket team was attacked by militants.

Apart from the Commonwealth Games in 2010, India is also slated to host cricket World Cup in 2011.

Frivolous Litigation by MOD

In what is being described as an act of variance with the Law Minister’s announcement of reducing government-filed frivolous litigation, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is still filing appeals before division benches of High Courts against orders passed by Single Benches granting disability pension to voluntary retirees.

It may be recalled that 1998 onwards, High Courts have time and again held that the action of the defence ministry in denying disability pension to voluntary retirees was discriminatory and bad in law. In 2008, the Supreme Court also upheld the grant of disability benefits to voluntary retirees.

While forwarding proposals before the Sixth Pay Commission, the Defence Ministry had itself termed the rule denying disability pension in such cases as “archaic and out of tune with reality”.

The proposal was thereafter accepted by the pay commission, which directed the removal of this anomaly.

Ex-servicemen organisations are perturbed with the stand of the Defence Ministry in fresh appeals before the courts, wherein the ministry has justified the denial of disability pension to voluntary retirees whereas the same has already been held to be arbitrary by the SC and the pay commission acting upon the Ministry’s own statement.

Veterans have pointed out that such appeals filed by the Ministry are not only in total conflict with the SC’s verdict but also against the government’s own stand before the pay commission. They add that besides leading to extra burden the exchequer, this “unethical litigation” was also putting unnecessary work pressure on the government personnel concerned.

The MoD, on the other hand, has already released a circular authorising disability pension to voluntary retirees. Strangely, while the Courts had imposed no such restriction, the orders by the MoD stipulate that the new dispensation shall only be applicable to personnel retiring after January 2006.

Legal experts point out that the petitioner in the leading case on the subject, Mahavir Singh Narwal vs Union of India, decided by the SC, was a retiree of the 1980s. They contend that if a large number of voluntary retirees prior to 2006, have been granted disability pension by the courts, then the cut-off date imposed by the government was unfair and would only force earlier retirees to move court.
Source : Tribune 3rd Nov 2009

Chidambaram wants another Services match scheduled in valley


Union Home Minister P Chidambaram said the Services Board cricket team should play another match in Srinagar to repair the damage done by their decision to pull out of yesterday’s fixture against Jammu and Kashmir.

Talking to mediapersons at Jagti township this morning, about 20 km from here, which is being developed for housing displaced Kashmiri Pandits, Chidambaram said the decision of forfeiture of the match was taken at a lower level.

“I express my strong displeasure at the decision. If I had known it in time, I would have ensured it did not happen,” he said. “The Services Board must request the BCCI to schedule another match in Srinagar,” Chidambaram said.

He requested that we should look ahead now and he would ensure cricket matches and others sports tournaments were held in Srinagar.

“I will see that a cricket match takes place in Srinagar,” he asserted.

On the ban on pre-paid phone connections, Chidambaram said it was the need of the hour. “We have strong reasons for banning the phones. It was for national security,” he added.

Talking to mediapersons at the Pradesh Congress Committee office this afternoon, the Home Minister said Kashmir issue needed a political solution.

“We are talking to anyone, albeit quietly for the peaceful solution of the issue,” he said. Calling upon party workers to play their role in restoring peace in the state, the Union Home Minister said like the PDP and the NC, the Congress was also an important player, which has to play an important role in solution of this problem. “Besides other political parties and groups, I want to know the view of Congress workers,” he said, adding that the opinion of all shades of people would be discussed before reaching at a solution of this problem.

Stressing on the need of early solution of Kashmir problem, the Union Home Minister observed: “How long we will allow this problem to continue. If we have to act as an important player of world politics we have to solve our internal problems.”

The Union Home Minister was of the opinion that an effective government was must to solve internal problems in the state. He said the government had been a casualty in the state and there was a need to improve the quality of governance.

He stressed on the need of intensifying economic activities in the state to create more job opportunities for youth. “This state has sufficient human and natural resources,” he observed and stressed on utilising all resources.

No ‘actual’ infiltration

Addressing a press conference here. Chidambaram said there was no actual infiltration from across the border as security forces had foiled all attempts. He expressed satisfaction at the present conditions in the state after chairing a high-level meeting of the Jammu Area Command to review security, law and order situation in the state.

“There have been infiltration bids but no one has actually managed to sneak into the Indian territory in recent times,” he stated.

Maritime Multilateralism: China's Strategy for the Indian Ocean

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been tirelessly working to dispel the ‘China threat’ perception, which appears to be increasing concomitantly with the country's rapid economic and military rise. Beijing argues that China's growing initiatives in the Indian Ocean are for 'peaceful purposes' (, June 3). Yet, in recent years, many China watchers in India have captured another side of Beijing's foray that depicts China carving into the Indian Ocean's security architecture by regular incursions into the region and the recent naval deployment in the Gulf of Aden to fight piracy. These initiatives appear based on a strategy that pivots on energy sea-lane security, which can be broadly characterized by the ‘string of pearls’ theory, ‘Malacca dilemma’, sale of military hardware at friendly prices to Indian Ocean littorals, maritime infrastructure developments in Pakistan (Gwadar), Sri Lanka (Hambantota), Bangladesh (Chittagong), road/energy pipeline networks and electronic surveillance installations in Myanmar (Burma). The thrust of these traditional security and economic initiatives are complemented by naval diplomacy involving maritime multilateralism with Indian Ocean littorals, which Chinese leaders believe can facilitate the regional perceptions that China's intent in the region is benign. Indeed, these goodwill visits and naval exercises by the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) are an important tool to further China’s attempts to portray its presence in the Indian Ocean as benign. It has effectively created conditions to develop a broad and substantive agenda for building relations with other nations. In some cases, these initiatives have the potential to translate into strategic partnerships that would consolidate its presence and expand its engagements with the Indian Ocean littorals.

Multinational Naval Exercises

China’s forays in the Indian Ocean date back to 1985 when the PLAN made port calls to South Asian ports in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka [1]. Pakistan emerged as an important partner in South Asia for China and today their cooperation covers a wide spectrum of political, economic and strategic issues including the sale and joint development of military hardware and nuclear cooperation. Both sides have also engaged in bilateral/multilateral naval exercises. Commenting on the first ever joint exercise with the Pakistani Navy held off the coast of Shanghai in 2003, Rear Admiral Xiu Ji, a Chinese navy official observed that the exercises were ‘the first [for China] with any foreign country’ (, October 21, 2003). Two years later, the second bilateral exercise was held in the Arabian Sea in November 2005 (, November 24, 2005). In 2007, Pakistan hosted a multinational naval exercise, Aman 2007 (Peace 2007), off Karachi and invited the PLAN to join the exercises. Beside the Pakistani Navy ships, warships from Bangladesh, China, France, Italy, Malaysia, the United Kingdom, and the United States engaged in maneuvers in the Arabian Sea (Xinhua News Agency, March 9, 2007). Interestingly, the Commander of the Chinese flotilla Luo Xianlin was designated as the tactical commander for the joint maritime rescue exercise and the PLAN missile frigate ‘Lianyungang’ was entrusted with the coordination of the exercise (, March 10, 2007). The exercises were significant since it provided the PLAN with the opportunity to coordinate complex maneuvers with other naval forces. In 2009, the PLAN once again participated in Aman 2009, which was held in the Arabian Sea, and this time it carried out exercises along with 19 foreign naval ships (, March 17).

Although the PLAN has engaged in bilateral and multinational naval exercises, it is important to point out that deployments for multinational operations are relatively different and more complex. Conducting multinational operations involves structured communication procedures, synergy among different operational doctrines, establishing mutually agreed rules of engagement (RoE), helicopter controlling actions, and common search and rescue procedures, which the PLAN is still developing.

Shifting Geography of Peace Mission

A close partnership between China and Russia is evident in the maritime domain and rests on joint naval exercises, Chinese acquisition of Russian naval hardware including ships, submarines and aircraft and high-level naval exchanges [2]. In 1999, the two navies conducted a joint naval exercise that involved the Russian Pacific Fleet and the PLAN's Eastern Fleet (China Daily, July 8, 2004) and the 2001 joint exercises included Russian strategic bombers. Peace Mission 2005, another naval exercise involving the PLA Navy and the Russian Navy was conducted under the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the six-nation security group. The exercises were conducted off the East Russian coast-Shandong Peninsula in northeastern China (, August 18, 2005). Peace Mission 2007 focused on counter-terrorism and was conducted on land ( July 24, 2007).   

Interestingly, the two sides utilized their presence in the Gulf of Aden and conducted Blue Peace Shield 2009, a joint exercise involving counter piracy operations, replenishment-at-sea, and live firing (, September 18; Taiwan News, September 17). The exercise showcased Chinese intention to be more transparent in its deployment, test interoperability with foreign navies and the PLAN’s ability to engage in a range of operations in distant waters.

Engaging Straits of Malacca Littorals

China has adopted diplomacy as a tool to ally apprehensions among the Straits of Malacca littorals thus setting aside their fears that Beijing may deploy its navy in times of crisis to escort Chinese flagged vessels transiting through the Strait. Further, China is averse to any extra regional attempts to deploy naval vessels in the Strait for the safety of merchant traffic transiting. For instance, in 2000, it strongly objected to Japanese attempts to deploy vessels to patrol the Straits of Malacca where shipping had been threatened by piracy (, April 11, 2005). Instead, it has offered financial and technological assistance to improve the safety and security of merchant traffic transiting the Strait of Malacca. In 2005, during the International Maritime Organization (IMO) meeting in Jakarta, China reiterated its position of supporting the littoral states in enhancing safety and security in the Strait (Xinhua News Agency, September 7, 2005; China Brief, April 12, 2006). In 2005, China offered to finance the project for the replacement of navigational aids damaged during the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami and the estimated cost for the project is pegged at $276,000 [3].

Benefits of Multinational Exercises for PLAN

Multinational naval operations are fast gaining higher priority in the PLAN’s strategic thinking. There are at least three reasons. The first relates to the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami and the international disaster relief operations in Southeast Asia-South Asia. PLAN’s conspicuous absence in the operations had exposed the limitation of a rising power and its navy. As a result, China was excluded from the core group comprising the United States, Australia and India who quickly deployed their ships for relief efforts. The Chinese Navy's absence might also be attributed to its lack of experience in working with multinational forces.

The second reason for participation in multinational exercises is prospects for interoperability with international navies. Further, these operations assist the PLAN in identifying international trends in naval weaponry, gathering information on operating procedures and gaining a better understanding of the changing nature of naval warfare. The third reason is that multinational exercises help China showcase to the international naval community its military industrial prowess and PLAN technological sophistication.

Yet, China embraces selective maritime multilateralism. For instance, China did not participate in the U.S. Naval War College's International Sea Power Symposium in Newport (Bernama [Malaysia], October 1). This year's event is the 40th anniversary and provides an occasion for the heads of the world's navies and coast guards to discuss issues of mutual interest (, October 8). The 2009 Symposium focused on common maritime challenges and explored prospects for enhancing maritime security cooperation, including combating piracy.

Impediments to Chinese Maritime Multilateralism

Several Chinese initiatives in the Indian Ocean have stirred considerable unease among some regional powers, particularly India, which has a tendency to perceive every Chinese move in the region as a step toward its ‘strategic encirclement.’ Indian strategists have often argued that China’s naval capability is fast growing and would soon be capable of conducting sustained operations in the Indian Ocean supported by the maritime infrastructure being built in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar (Burma). Indian fears are accentuated by a suggestion by a Chinese admiral to Admiral Timothy J. Keating, then-chief of the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) of dividing the Indo-Pacific region into two areas of responsibility between the United States and China (, May 6, 2007).

According to the Indian press, the Chinese naval officer stated, “You, the United States, take Hawaii East and we, China, will take Hawaii West and the Indian Ocean. Then you will not need to come to the western Pacific and the Indian Ocean and we will not need to go to the Eastern Pacific. If anything happens there, you can let us know and if something happens here, we will let you know” (Indian Express, May 15).

New Delhi has not been receptive to Chinese requests to join Indian Ocean multilateral maritime security initiatives such as the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) and the trilateral grouping of India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA), which has a significant maritime component in its interactions. IONS is an initiative by 33 Indian Ocean littorals wherein their navies or the principal maritime security agencies discuss issues of maritime security, including Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster-Relief (HADR) throughout the Indian Ocean Region (, February 15, 2008). The PLAN had approached the Indian Navy to ‘explore ways to accommodate Beijing as either an observer or associate member’; however, New Delhi turned down the request because, in its perspective, there was ‘no strategic rationale to let China be associated with IONS as it was strictly restricted to littoral states of the Indian Ocean’ (Indian Express, April 21).

The IBSA trilateral grouping is an offshoot of the broader South-South cooperation started in 2003. Although cooperation in the security domain was not envisaged at its inception, maritime security issues (sailing regatta, trilateral naval exercises IBSAMAR, and high-level naval exchanges) have gradually gained momentum in the discussions. China has been exploring the possibility of joining IBSA, but the fact that “IBSA’s common identity is based on values such as democracy, personal freedoms and human rights” preclude its membership (The Wall Street Journal, April 7).

In response, China craftily has attempted to dent the IBSA architecture and wean some of the actors away through bilateral political-military engagements much to the consternation of other partners. Beijing has adopted a sophisticated strategy to build-up bilateral military relations with Brazil, and Brasilia has offered to help train Chinese naval pilots on NAe São Paulo, which is a Clemenceau class aircraft carrier (China Brief, June 12). According to discussions (August 2009) that this author had with some Indian naval analysts, there are fears that the above collaboration could well be the springboard for reciprocity involving the training of Brazilian naval officers in nuclear submarine operations by the PLAN and joint naval exercises in the Indian Ocean. Further, these initiatives would add to China’s power projection capability and could be the catalyst for frequent forays in the Indian Ocean.

Although the Chinese strategy of maritime multilateralism is premised on cooperative engagements, Beijing is leveraging its naval power for strategic purposes. The development of military maritime infrastructure in the Indian Ocean would provide China access and a basing facility for conducting sustained operations and emerge as a stakeholder in Indian Ocean security architecture. Maritime multilateralism has so far produced positive gains for China and would be the preferred strategy for conduct of its international relations in the future, particularly with the Indian Ocean littorals.

[The views expressed in the above article are the author’s own and do not reflect the policy or position of the Indian Council of World Affairs.]

Chinese Army exercises north of Arunachal

Guwahati, Nov. 4 (ANI): The Chinese Army is conducting exercises in areas adjoining Arunachal Pradesh. This was disclosed by Major General S.S. Jog, General Officer Commanding the Red Horn Division, during a seminar on counter terrorism organised by the Army for officers and allied personnel engaged in anti-insurgency operations in Guwahati on Wednesday.
Apart from the serving officers, several retired personnel of the Indian Army and para-military forces shared their views and expertise in counter-insurgency operations.
To a poser on intrusion by Chinese troops in the neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh state, Major General S S Jog, General Office Commanding of the Red Horn Division, said: “There is some sort of exercises, which they generally do during this particular time of the year. They have done a few exercises and certain amounts of troops have come in but it’s normal routine exercise.”
There has been a flurry of reports in Indian media of Chinese incursions along the border-shrugged off by both the Indian and Chinese governments.
Consequently, New Delhi protested against a Chinese Foreign Ministry’s policy of issuing different visas to residents of disputed northern region of Jammu and Kashmir state.
Major General (retied) Gaganjit Singh said that although things have improved a lot in Assam the ultimate peace is yet to return.
“The things have changed a lot. What it was in 10 years back it’s not now today. Firstly, the public of Assam have realised that insurgency has given them no benefit. That realisation is a big achievement. Secondly, I can only say that ultimate peace has not come. It takes time for everything,” said Major General Singh. (ANI)

Lashkar targets National Defence College

NEW DELHI/WASHINGTON: Determined to demonstrate its continued resilience in a spectacular fashion, Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) has set its sights on the prestigious National Defence College in Delhi, two high-profile boarding schools in north India and tourist destinations frequented by foreigners ahead of the 26/11 anniversary.

The selection of targets has been done because of their potential to get the LeT worldwide attention, and reflect the same scale of planning that went into plotting the atrocity on Mumbai a year ago.

Home ministy sources said LeT's plan to hit NDC -- located in the heart of New Delhi opposite Gandhi Smriti on Tees January Marg -- was revealed during interrogation of David Coleman Headley and Tahawwur Hussain Rana, Pakistani expatriates arrested by FBI in US. Targets like elite boarding schools in north Indian hills and tourist spots, mainly in Goa and Kerala, were tagged after intelligence authorities here cracked terror sleeper cells.

The disclosure by FBI and the investigation by IB may also help explain home minister P Chidambaram's warning to Pakistan last week that India would retaliate if targeted by terrorists again. On Wednesday, Army chief General Deepak Kapoor spoke in the same vein, signalling the concern in the government.

After the three-day mayhem in Mumbai got LeT global attention, the group is now desperate to repeat a strike, at vulnerable soft targets -- be it renowned institutions or tourist destinations.

In a Chicago court on Tuesday, US prosecutors said Headley (formerly Daood Gilani) and Rana had discussed the NDC in New Delhi among five potential targets in India and Denmark, as they sought to keep the duo in custody.

Court papers filed by the FBI on Tuesday said that on a long automobile drive in September, Rana and Headley "discussed Denmark and other targets, including the NDC in India", developing on the earlier affidavit that they had discussed an unspecified "defence college" as a potential terrorist target.

While opposing Rana's bail application, prosecutors scoffed at the defence plea that their client had been "duped" into taking part in the terror plot by Headley and he believed it was all a joke, by producing exchanges between the two men that showed the seriousness of the plot.

Though officials in New Delhi were tight-lipped over specifics of other targets mentioned by the terror duo in the US court, they hinted that "the places frequented by foreigners" were obvious vulnerable spots.

Concerned authorities have been alerted to take adequate security measures.

Terrorists have targeted tourists -- from Bali to Egypt to Mumbai -- to garner publicity and cripple tourism with, relatively speaking, little risk.

As a visit by TOI correspondents revealed, the NDC is indeed quite vulnerable. There are only unarmed private security guards at the gates of an institution where around 100 senior military and civil services officers, including 25 foreigners, study national security and strategic issues at any given time.

Asked about the LeT plan to target NDC, minister of state for defence M M Pallam Raju on Wednesday said, "There is a constant review of threat perceptions and targets... You can rest assured that adequate precaution is taken wherever there is a threat perception."

"We are taking all kinds of measures in terms of coordinating intelligence sharing and information gathering in order to prevent an event like 26/11 from happening," he said, adding the government was also working to ensure improved `response time' of security agencies to any emergency.

Expressing outrage at the repeated attacks by Pakistan-based terrorists on Indian targets, Army chief General Deepak Kapoor, in turn, declared enough was enough. "The US has not allowed a second 9/11 to happen, Indonesia has not allowed a second Bali-bombing to happen," he said.

"India has allowed people to get away after the Parliament attack, Delhi blasts and finally the 26/11 incident. The time has come for all of us to say no more," he added.

Holding that the country "cannot afford to witness a repeat of 26/11", the Army chief stressed the need to forge ahead towards acquiring "a nation-wide architecture" to facilitate swifter intelligence flow, decision-making and execution of operations. 

India has let terrorists get away: Army Chief

 In a strongly worded statement, Army chief General Deepak Kapoor has said that India repeatedly allows perpetrators of terror attacks toget away and that the country should adopt a zero-tolerance policy.

“The US has not allowed a second 9/11 to happen. Indonesia has not allowed a second Bali bombing to happen. India has allowed people to get away after the Parliament attack, the Delhi blasts and, finally, 26/11. It’s time for all of us to say no more,” the Army chief said at a function organised by CII. This comes a day after he warned that there is a possibility of an attack similar to the one that occurred in Mumbai last November.

On Wednesday, Kapoor had underlined that India cannot afford a repeat of 26/11 and emphasised the need for better intelligence sharing. “There has to be speedy flow of intelligence and updated data for a speedy decision based on the geographical location and a swift action by the nearest security agencies,” Kapoor said.